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Safari in Style: India's Tented Camps

| Words by Ellena Johnstone |

Move aside, Africa. India is the new safari destination...

India has a long history of luxury tented camps, and with wildlife to rival any African safari, India is fast-emerging as a leader in the luxury safari stakes.

Here are our top picks for luxury camping in India, proving there is no need to skimp on the finer things in life in order to get back to nature:

Chhatra Sagar, Rajasthan

Chhatra Sagar

Chhatra Sagar is a lush oasis in the heart of Rajasthan. The camp owes its existence to the vision of nineteenth century noble Thakur Chhatra Singh of Nimaj, who turned once dry scrubland into a verdant paradise by creating a vast reservoir.

Keen not to detract from the natural beauty of the site, permanent construction was banned and instead luxe safari-style tents were built to house his many guests. With so many visiting nobles and dignitaries, Chhatra Sagar soon become legendary for opulent parties, exotic dinners, high teas and, of course, it’s luxurious tented accommodation.

That spirit of opulence continues to this day, with the camp now run by his great grandchildren who welcome guests from all over the world. Its eleven luxurious marquee-style tents exude historic charm and each one faces east, allowing spectacular views over the lake. The camp is famous for its evening birdwatching walks, where guests can observe some of the 200 species found on the lake.

Manvar Desert Camp, Rajasthan

Manvar Desert Camp

Manvar Desert Camp, sitting majestically amongst the sand dunes of the Thar Desert, prides itself on beauty, tranquillity and solitude. While there is no shortage of five star resorts in India, few blend so seamlessly into their surroundings or have the same dedication to protecting local heritage, culture and wildlife as Manvar Desert Camp.

Opportunities to interact with wildlife are aplenty here. Not only can you take a camel trek across the Thar Desert, spotting local wildlife like Chinkara – Indian gazelle -, but just short drive from camp is the village of Khichan, famous for its hordes of migratory Siberian Cranes. The birds get through 600kg of grain a day, lovingly spread out by local villagers who have rallied to protect the species.

After a busy day of birdwatching and wildlife spotting, guests can retire to one of Manvar’s thirty opulent safari tents. Set back a staggering 6km from the main resort, they offer guests a true taste of the wilderness without compromising on luxury; each room is kitted out in heritage fabrics, teak furniture and ensuite bathrooms.

A stay at Manvar Desert camp is included on our 14-Day Highlights of Rajasthan small group journey.

Khem Villas, Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

Khem Villas, Rajasthan

Want five star luxury and the chance to spot wild tigers on your doorstep? Khem Villas, in the heart of Ranthambore National Park, offers just this.

From the porch of your lavish tent, it is not uncommon to spot crocodile, jackals, hyenas, desert fox and jungle cats amongst the camp’s wild grasslands. Yet the real highlight of a stay at Khem Villas is the chance to spot the elusive Bengal Tiger. With twice daily trips from the resort, you have every chance of seeing these magnificent big cats in the wild.

After a day in the jungle, guests can retire to their well-appointed tents. Chic, comfortable and full of rustic charm, each tent is built using natural local materials like bamboo, to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding grasslands.

Osian Desert Camp, Rajasthan

Osian Desert Camp

For a truly authentic tented camp experience, head to Osian Desert Camp in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. Osian was once a key trading post on the silk route between the 8th and 12th centuries, and the resort carefully recreates the original fortress-style layout and authentic feel.

The highlight of a stay at Osian is of course a safari, and the resort offers both camel-back and jeep varieties to spot desert wildlife, as well as village safaris to see local life. After a day amongst the dunes, dinner is served in the fortress-style main camp, with traditional entertainment like Rajasthani dancing and music laid on for guests.

A stay at a luxury desert or safari camp is a must-do while in India and can be arranged as part of a Private Itinerary or as an extension to our popular India Small Group Journeys. Contact us today to book your stay.