I clambered up a rickety wooden ladder and perched myself on the howdah. My legs dangled from an equally rickety platform onto the elephant’s massive body. The mahout tweaked the elephants head just behind his ears, using his toes to steer his charge into the thick sal forest. I don’t know if this was the Forest of the Night that William Blake had in mind, but it was full of shadows and dappled light. Strangely silent in the mid-morning heat.

We moved purposefully through the trees, the branches brushing against my legs. The elephant veered off his course and the mahout shouted and pointed to the ground. No more ten metres in front of us a tiger peered through the undergrowth. As my eyes adjusted to the camouflage I realised there was a mother and three sub-adult cubs all lying close to each other in the shade. She was big, magnificent, and my heart was pounding. She looked at the elephant and the elephant looked back. There seemed to be some kind of mutual respect, no animosity.

Tiger

 

She was so calm she didn’t even bother to move. It was an unforgettable sight, that tiger tiger burning bright!

The Samode Safari Lodge is a great place to stay if you’re visiting India’s fabulous tiger reserves. It’s got all the style of an upmarket African safari lodge but of course with beautiful Indian decor. It’s just outside Bandhavgarh National Park in India’s central state Madhya Pradesh, and this is the very best area to see tigers.

Samode-safari-lodge

“This lodge certainly lived up to it’s deluxe rating and did,without doubt,provide us with the ultimate experience when combining luxurious accomodation with a perfect safari adventure. The attention to detail was faultless and all of the staff were attentive without being intrusive,always polite and helpful. The chalets were beautifully appointed and provided us with the ultimate in comfort. The game drives were always well prepared with a lot of thought being given to where the best opportunities might be to spot tigers.Every drive was preceeded with a briefing from Vijay,our naturalist,explaining,with the help of a map,our plans for the day. This created an additional dimension to the whole safari experience and proved to be successful since we had four sightings out of six outings. Vijay was a very personable young man whose boundless knowledge inspired us to take great interest in all the wildlife in the park. Do not miss this wonderful Samode experience. “
Accommodation review by: Mr. John Middleton

The Samode Safari Lodge is the latest addition to a wonderful collection of stylish and sophisticated properties run by the descendents of the royal family of Samode. Their greatest showpiece is the Samode Palace near Jaipur. It’s been painstakingly restored to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan. If you’ve ever dreamed of a trip to India staying in a royal palace then this is the place to go. The first time I went there I just had lunch in the grounds, but I was blown away by the grandeur of the place and the personal service. It’s so nice to see them take this level of service out to the wilderness at Bandhavgarh.

Samode-Palace

“A true gem! And great place for a stopover to relax after days of hectic traffic and sightseeing. We had two days here, and received an upgrade to a very large suite, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Service impeccable and our private tour of The Palace Rooms with a complimentary champagne was delightful. Walking into Samode village was a highlight too, to be able to speak with the locals and laugh with them too was a treat. I even bought a baby goat (kid) but left it with the breeders. We enjoyed an afternoon at the neighbouring Samode Bagh which was once the hunting grounds for the Maharajahs. Hard to believe that it once had roaming animals in abundance, what a sight it must have been. If you get the chance, take the camel ride from Samode Palace to Samode Bagh as it takes you on the back roads, and you get some wonderful glimpses of Indian village life. And the children as so friendly. Spa services were good, but service room lacked some of the finesse of larger places (candles, gentle soothing music and proper massage couch) “
Accommodation review by: R Hughes