Jamtara – INDIAN WILDERNESS AT ITS BEST – Fiona visits

Apr 4, 2024 | Blog Posts, Indian Subcontinent, Trip Reports

I’m sitting on the decking outside my enormous canvas safari tent – which nestles among nine others overlooking a winding dry river bed or nullah. All around me tree frogs and cicadas create a perfect symphony interspersed with the occasional alarm call of a langur and chirruping of birds.

I am at the extraordinary wilderness camp of Jamtara, situated on the Northern edge of Pench National Park, some 3hrs drive from Nagpur in Central India’s Madhya Pradesh. It’s a 1hr 20 flight from Delhi plus the drive – and my oh-my is it worth it! Quite apart from the abundant wildlife, the camp is all about unique experiences. No two meals were eaten in the same place – be it dinner round a fire pit in a remote area of the forest, lunch under a 150 year old giant banyan tree rooted in a dry river bed or a delicious breakfast of eggs, parathas and seed cake washed down with steaming hot coffee served during our morning game drive.

Jamtara’s owner, Amit Sankala, is a true visionary with a family pedigree stretching back several generations in tiger conservation and owning/running these unique camps – and my goodness it shows. The location is sublime, the staff could not have been kinder and the naturalists were full of knowledge, enthusiasm and dedication to showcasing the best of India’s natural wonders. Game drives are morning and evening in nifty gypsy jeeps exclusive for each family. Open topped with tiered seating, they are perfect for exploring the park via its numerous sandy tracks through teak and sal forest, grassland and ethereal water holes.

Back to my planter’s chair on the verandah, I’m completely absorbed in the moment as I think back to our first thrilling morning in the park. Peering back at us through a dense thicket of bamboo – we’re held spellbound under a constant steady orange and black gaze – it’s a heart stopping moment for our sons who have just spotted their first Royal Bengal Tiger in the wild. We’ve only been in the National Park for half an hour and cannot quite believe it. A mother and cubs are resting up on a kill and we are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this iconic mammal. Shortly after we encounter wild dog (two on the track in front of us) and three shy jackals darting this way and that. The solid black form of a lone wild boar scuttles through the scrub, majestic herds of chital (spotted deer) graze under the trees and we have several great sightings of gaur and sambhar.

There’s plenty of interest for birders too with birds of prey, ducks on the water, owls and more – not forgetting the emblematic peacocks which seem to be round every corner. Jamtara is a must for any serious wildlife enthusiast and combines very well with Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks which are both within a half day drive.

Ask: Fiona about wildlife itineraries in India.

Cool option:  Try the JAMTARA STAR BED.  For generations, Indian villagers have spent their nights in the fields on machans (beds on raised platforms), to keep a watchful eye on their livestock. Jamtara Lodge close to Pench National Park in Central India allows guests a similar (albeit more comfortable) experience with its very own Star Bed. Under the night sky, you’ll listen to an orchestra of crickets, owls, frogs and jackals ceremoniously punctuated by the alarm calls of the spotted deer. It is wilderness in its purest form.

Action: Ask for details.


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