Have you ever stayed in a jungle lodge? Here’s why you must
The idea of staying in a jungle lodge is attractive to many, as much to experience nature in the raw, as much as for tranquillity. Jungle lodges are dedicated to eco-tourism and conservation and staying in one can create unforgettable experiences. While you can relax in the lap of luxury, be mindful and respectful of your surroundings, and leave as minimal an ecological footprint as possible. For city-dwellers, this can present challenges, as city habits need to be left behind before your adventure in the wild.
India has some excellent jungle lodges, where your nearest neighbours come and go in their endless search for food, water and shelter. This is their land, and you’re the guest. Dhikala in Jim Corbett National Park is the only one amongst all the National Parks where you can stay overnight, literally in the midst of nature. You get an outstanding view of the valley, the Ramganga River, and the Kanda Ridge.
But there’s more to your stay at a jungle lodge – lessons to imbibe, take back, and incorporate into your daily life.
It’s a tautology that staying in a jungle can teach you life lessons. Of course, no one’s suggesting you try and outdo the experts on one of the many factual channels on TV, this is more about you discovering a part of your own life you’ve lost contact with.
Modern life is about ‘busyness’, deadlines, multi-tasking, and the biggest impediment to living – digital devices and social media. Conversations tend to be impersonal, carried out via a device. Fantasy is impersonally experienced through a device. Reality is vicariously lived, not experienced.
As much as you like the idea of seeing life in the wild, you need to take on board the more important lesson. Living life.
Disconnect from the internet, TV and iPod, and re-connect with what people did through the generations. Talk, converse, interact. It’s the only way to get to know people. Someone sitting half a world away will do what comes naturally when you post something on social media – live vicariously through you. Is that more important than the ‘real life’ experience you’re sharing with the people on the same adventure as you? That’s real excitement.
Your guides and hosts at any jungle lodge are experts at working with their natural surroundings. They can give you the best ideas on sustainability and remaining mindful of the impact humans have on the environment. So take advantage of the opportunity, return home and implement the lessons learned in your daily life. Who knows? You might become a bit of an eco-warrior yourself! Every little bit we do as individuals goes to an unseen collective effort in bringing our cities back to life.
You won’t even need to imagine this, but you’ll wake up to the sound of birds chirping, and an otherwise still dawn. Perhaps a morning mist drifts silently by, obscuring the view of the forest in the distance. Contrast that with life in the city – cars honking, pollution, and the rush to get ready. Unwind, relax, and feel rejuvenated. By embracing your surroundings, you let Mother Nature guide you. There can be no better feeling.
There are many amongst us for whom the jungles and all its denizens evoke a sense of fear. Creepy crawlies are the bane for many. But they’re just carrying on with their lives, just as you are with yours. If anything, you should talk to the experts with you and understand animal and insect behaviour. This can only help lessen any apprehensions you have – all that have been created by you in your own mind.
The first thing to remember is to enjoy yourself. But there’s a serious side too, and that’s to be ecologically responsible and leave as minimal a personal footprint as possible. Some general guidelines include:
• Bring and wear clothes that blend with the colours of the forest. Black, grey, dark blue, greens, browns and khaki are the most suitable colours.
• Don’t bring any plastic-wrapped products or other disposable materials. If you do, take it back home with you.
• Keep electricity usage to a minimum.
• Don’t litter on the lodge premises, and certainly not when on a safari.
• Don’t feed or otherwise try to attract the attention of the animals.
• Keep as low a profile as possible. The quieter you are, the more the likelihood of seeing wildlife.
• Don’t play loud music. Period. Listen to the sounds of the forest instead. Isn’t that why you went there in the first place?
• Avoid using perfumes and other scented materials during your stay.
• Observe and obey safety rules, which will vary between lodges.
• Unless you intend to use your mobile phone as a camera, leave it behind in your room. And don’t use the flash under any circumstances – be it for phones or cameras.
• Ideally, don’t carry eatables with you. But if you have packed some snacks for a safari, ensure you don’t litter or throw anything away, even if it’s edible. Take it back to the lodge.
• Don’t smoke while on safari.
So whether you’re a first-timer, or you’ve ‘been-there-done-that’ many a time, each stay at a jungle lodge will throw up something new. Experience it, so you can understand how to live it.