It was early evening by the time I reached Bhopal’s Raja Bhoj Airport to catch my flight back to Delhi after a weekend in the wild. I was returning home after spending three days in a Luxury Eco-Resort on the outskirts of Satpura National Park in Madhya Pradesh, in a place so far out in the wilderness that there was no sign of mobile or data connectivity for miles on end. But with the excursions in to the jungle, and the supreme comfort as well as remarkable hospitality extended to us by The Forsyth Lodge; I didn’t mind being disconnected from the world even for one second.
I first heard of Satpura a few years ago, when a very dear friend volunteered to teach at a local school in the village here. She spent a month in the village volunteering at the school and on her return, couldn’t stop raving about her experience, about the school and its children, and about the lovely people who hosted her.
Fast forward to a few years later and an email arrived in my inbox inviting me to live #TheForsythExperience, and spend a weekend with fellow travel bloggers at the Forsyth Lodge, located at the heart of the Satpura National Park. Aah, how serendipitous is the way of the world! My destination for the weekend and the place that hosted my friend on her memorable volunteering experience all those years ago, turned out to be one and the same!
Where we stayed: The Forsyth Lodge, Satpura
I was received at Bhopal’s Raja Bhoj Airport along with a few other bloggers, and driven the 135-kilometer distance to The Forsyth Lodge at the heart of the Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. The journey took roughly 3 and a half hours and was a smooth and pleasant one, giving us ample time to break the ice and get acquainted with the other bloggers on the trip.
We were welcomed into the property by the Lodge’s resident naturalists, aka our hosts, and post refreshments, were escorted to our rooms. Lying cocooned amidst 44 acres of jungle, the Lodge’s 12 luxury cottages are clustered together around a delightfully inviting swimming pool just a short walk from the main building.
Rustic chic from the inside, my cottage was a pleasure to return to every day. With its warm wooden furniture, neutral colours and ambient lighting, the room was cozy and comfortable; the bathroom was equally large, with a massive shower area and all amenities I might need including a hair dryer!
The main lodge building was just a few steps away and always brimming with energy! Guests coming and going, guests sharing stories from their excursions into the forest, guests discussing the day’s sightings and guests just milling about eating, drinking and making merry. There’s never a dull moment at The Forsyth Lodge!
What We Did: The Excursions into the Satpura Tiger Reserve
Integral to #TheForsythExperience is its focus on promoting a meaningful and sustainable wildlife experience. A wildlife safari, any wildlife safari really, is about the animals and the sightings, yes. But at Satpura’s Forsyth Lodge, the experience is about so much more.
It’s about exploring the forest; it’s about being attuned to the sights and sounds of the jungle: the snapping of a twig, the rustling of leaves, or the Sambhar’s distress call in the presence of a big cat. And as a by-product of your explorations in the jungle, if you spot a Tiger or a Leopard, then good for you! But even if you don’t, there’s an abundance of flora and fauna to keep the excitement going. Over the course of three days and multiple excursions into the forest, our enthusiastic group of bloggers spotted Giant Squirrel, Langurs, Crocodiles, Owls, Sambhar Deer, Wild Boar, Sloth Bears, not to mention the remarkable sightings of the winged kind, enough to induce oodles of envy in the birding enthusiasts. So what if the big cats remained elusive!
Designed around their ethos of being one with the jungle, the Forsyth Lodge has different modes of Safari on offer; and with the exception of the Elephant Safari, we were fortunate enough to experience it all!
From meandering through the forest lanes at a leisurely pace on our open-top Jeeps to creeping through the darkness on a Night Drive through the park’s buffer zone; from racing through the jungle chasing sunsets to floating on the calm waters of the Denwa River on a Canoe in anticipation of a surreal sunrise, we couldn’t have asked for a more thrilling time.
The constant banter and camaraderie created by Surya and David, the naturalists who accompanied us on all our excursions, enhanced the experience and made our time spent in the jungles of Satpura National Park truly memorable.
What We Ate: The Delicious Wholesome Food, all prepared in-house
The meals at Forsyth Lodge include everything from packed breakfasts to be enjoyed as a picnic in the woods during our early morning safaris into the jungle; to wholesome meals prepared by the resident chef back at the lodge.
Brunch is served around noon and includes fresh fruits and juices, a choice of eggs prepared to order, cereal and toast, with the breads prepared in house as well. There was also the option to have subzi and parantha served with pickle as well as Pasta Arrabiata. The next big meal would be dinner around 8-8.30 pm so you’re encouraged to eat to your heart’s content; a proposition I had absolutely no problem accepting.
Tea and coffee, along with little nibbles are served in the afternoon, so that you’re energized enough for your evening excursions.
Evenings at The Forsyth Lodge are a lively affair. All the guests and hosts get together, either on the terrace above or around a bonfire under the starlit sky, and clink glasses in merriment.
It’s the time to share stories from the day, get to know each other better, and generally have a good time. This is followed by yet another sumptuous feast of home-cooked Indian dishes: Vegetables, Pulses, Meats and Breads, always followed by Dessert.
What We Experienced: The Inimitable Hospitality
At the heart of #TheForsythExperience, the thread that binds it all together, are its people. The resident naturalists at The Forsyth Lodge, specially Surya and David whom we interacted with the most, radiated a passion for their work that was admirable and an enthusiasm for the jungle that was infectious!
Everyone at Forsyth, right from the Manager Rishi to the team of dedicated support staff keep the place running smoothly. From the 5am wake up calls, to the hot/cold towels and glass of refreshing juice waiting for us after every safari, the lodge is an epitome of efficiency, the polite service a lesson in hospitality. The people you will meet at The Forsyth Lodge are just another reason to plan a trip.
Disclaimer: I was a guest at The Forsyth Lodge and was invited by them to get a taste of #TheForsythExperience! But all opinions, as always, are entirely my own!
So, where are you off to today?