As a wildlife buff, my mantra to head to the forests leads me both, to exotic and sometimes unexplored but difficult terrains. Set amidst the beautiful Bandipur forest reserve, the Bandipur forest jungle cottages are picturesque; outwardly self-contained, simple concrete structures with beautiful names; chital, papiha et al.
PROS: Beautiful, serene setting, the cottages are located in the park, so easy access to booking safaris for the forest reserve.
The cottages also are large enough to accommodate many members travelling together. Lastly, for the setting and the view of thousands of deer wandering around the campus, wild hog, occasional bear and elephant, the cost is minimal, albeit trifle if one is to compare with others in the area. But that is where the pros end, for those travelling with families, particularly with small children.
CONS: Thousands of monkeys, langurs surround the campus and are aggressive enough to attack. Most of them seem to have mastered the art of stealing and aren’t hesitant or scared to open up suitcases, while scaring their occupants.
The doors of the cottages have to be closed at all times; so no standing in the verandah and watching wildlife! The canteen (not restaurant) serves terrible food; set thali, although the hoarding misleads one on what’s on offer! The closest restaurant is 25 kms away so please carry loads of food. If with a toddler or small children, carry sugar, eateries, processed food, canned food, milk and heating/cooking equipments. Also carry torch, fresh bedsheets, covers ( if travelling with toddler and worried about hygiene). Be prepared to be privy to loads of insects, dirt that essentially quantifies jungle life.
MY TAKEAWAY: As a wildlife enthusiast, I loved the experience of staying at the jungle cottages.If interested, you can book them at www. bandipurtigerreserve.in; very efficient and up to dated system, but as a mother to a toddler, I am not quite sure of the terrain and the suitability. Perhaps the amenities of a hotel, I take for granted or the brush with a thief monkey, I am not quite sure, but following this, I am hesitant about exposing my young to the wild world just yet. Or maybe, one part of me, yells, I ought to be better prepared for the jungle next time.