A Rare Old Time with Forsyth Lodge at Satpura

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I got back from the wild. 6 days in the dense jungles of Satpura, with no phone signal and Mother Nature for company felt nothing short of transformational. Having had the privilege to experience wild life safaris before, I thought I had prepared well for this journey. Right from the minute I landed in Bhopal till I bid goodbye to the wonderful people at Forsyth Lodge, every moment showed me just how wrong I was.

Thank you for following my updates from the forests on Instagram. While you would more or less have an idea of how gorgeous the trip was for me, I want to talk about all the technical details like where to stay, when to go, how to travel, etc in this blog post. Plus I’ll leave you with the highlights and some gorgeous #teampixel snaps, but let me tell you one thing- no picture could ever do justice to the beauty of these jungles in Satpura.

Why Satpura?

Because the jungles are relatively new to public, and are gorgeous to say the least. They’re the same jungles as the one in Kanha, but the lack of commercialisation makes this one an intimate experience with the wild.

How to reach Satpura

Fly down to Bhopal, after which you can book a taxi to the Satpura region. Satpura is 5 hours away by road.

If you’re staying at the Forsyth Lodge, your transfer from and to the airport will be taken care of by the property.

Where I stayed

I stayed at the Forsyth Lodge. I had an entire cottage to myself, with all the amenities that one would require while on a leisure break. The rooms are well-maintained, cleaned regularly throughout the day, clean, safe and cozy. There is a sense of comfort in the rooms, something that will remind you of a cozy winter home. When I do go back in warmer weather, I’m definitely going to check out one of those cottages with machans because who doesn’t like sleeping out in the fresh air on a hot summer day, listening to the sounds of the wild? (don’t worry, it’s all safe!

The package cost covers the meals and safaris, and they even book the safaris for you. When you set out to the forests, you’ll be accompanied by a naturalist at the property (our naturalist Siddhant was an absolute gem. The way he knows his way around the wild is almost magical. I’d like to think he’s gifted.)

Every meal time is an experience with Forsyth Lodge- one day you’re eating dinner at table in the property, the next day you’re eating breakfast on a rock in the middle of the forest, lunch is being served by the pool, or you’re at dinner around a bonfire. There is also a special lunch prepared by the local ladies of the village.

The meals cooked are all home-style, and there is an extensive menu (Indian and continental) that will keep you entertained. The snack time scones were my absolute favorite!

The hospitality here deserves all the applause, and so much more. We walked in as guests, and saying goodbye felt like saying bye to family. The entire family at Forsyth Lodge is warm and welcoming, and extremely patient. All your needs will be catered to, even if it is at some ungodly hour.

Safaris

You have the option of a morning safari, a day safari, a walking tour, a bird-watching canoe tour or a night tour.

My personal favorite would be the morning tour, but there was something magical about the night one.

I’ll take a minute of yours to tell you an interesting story about the night safari. The sun was setting, the jungle was waking up, and there were the 3 of us in an open jeep making our way around the forest. We heard a distress call, saw peacocks flying, and while we prepared ourselves to see what was around the corner, we heard a distress call of a languor in the distance. Siddhant (our naturalist) sprung to action and started driving towards the sound, going deeper and deeper into the jungle. Unfortunately we didn’t spot a predator, but I have no regrets because here I was in the jungle, in an open jeep in peak north Indian winter, driving along with a flashlight looking for animals. I was having a panic attack, my claustrophobia was kicking in, and I sat there talking myself out of it. I didn’t express even a single panic stricken worry, and kept focusing on being there in the present and enjoying the moment, knowing that it was a privilege to be this close to the wild, in their own home. We switched off our vehicle and sat in silence at one point, staring up at the sky. We spotted satellites, constellations, shooting stars, and we could have been there for 10 minutes, or an hour I wouldn’t know. Time stool still and I was in a trance. 2 hours of the night safari had a transformational effect on me.

Camping

Forsyth Lodge gives you an option to camp in the forest too. You need to intimate them  a day in advance so that they can set up the tents at the campsite after securing required permissions.

If you ask me, I’d say please take out an extra day and go for this experience. Camping in the forest, star gazing, enjoying dinner by a bonfire, sleeping in the silence of the jungle and waking up to the sound of birds, water and a beautiful sunrise is stuff worthy of a bucket list. Don’t miss out on it if you can help it.

Highlights
  • Safaris and the way Siddhant introduced us to the wild. Safaris with him were always so exciting- he’d point out the landscape, the birds, the animals, spoil you with gyaan about the wild, and there was so much that we’d end up learning with every safari.
  • Bird watching. I’m back in the city (still not liking it too much :/ ) and observing birds. Someone said Satpura turns you into a bird watcher. Couldn’t agree more 😊
  • The night safari
  • Spotting all those animals! The civets, the jungle cats, the deer, the wild dogs, bear, birds, and so much more!
  • The dinner on the last night where we all sat around the bonfire and exchanged stories about our lives
  • The Yoga retreat! Our visit coincided with the yoga retreat that was being conducted by Heena Patel. The adventure of the safaris combined with the relaxation at the yoga camp was the perfect break from daily routine. I needed that, mostly because my mind was buzzing all the time and I had to give it  a break!
  • No internet! I’d borrow 20-30 minutes of internet daily just to finish off the client work that I had, but never felt the need to check personal notifications or messages. It was bliss!

Check out Forsyth Lodge on Instagram and if you’re ever considering a holiday in the wild, I’d say you can book this one for the jungles, wildlife and hospitality.

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