The modern jungle book

Sushmita Choudhury discovers deluxe campsites across India that are great value for money.

Sushmita Choudhury        Print Edition: May 1, 2008

A life under canvas—living wild, living free, living off the land. So say avid campers. To which we reply: cramped tents, uncomfortable sleeping bags, bathroom trenches, unappetising meals cooked over wood or dung fires, bugs in the bath, mosquitoes by the fire…Camping is really not such a romantic prospect, is it? Only the most masochistic will voluntarily put themselves through this. And then take a look at Amani-Khas in Ranthambore.

That’s glamour in the great outdoors, if you will. At $800 a night you get a five-star suite, complete with a huge sunken bathtub, under a canvas roof. That’s glamping—and may we all be happy glampers some day. But if you want to rough it out without letting go of the basic comforts (and without spending several small fortunes at one shot), here are some cheaper options. Each of these places offers tents with en suite bathrooms with running hot and cold showers, a verandah and a sitting area, apart from the bedroom space.

Park Woods, Shogi:

Rs 5,999 for two nights per tent at Park Woods
Rs 5,600 per person for a touch a glamping at Shergarh
Rs 3,750 per person, all inclusive, at Pench Jungle Camp

Shimla is going to be a sardine can this summer, but why should that do you out of your share of pine forests? This rustic retreat, a mere 18 km short of Shimla, offers both bamboo huts and tented accommodation, but it’s the latter that is really a steal. For Rs 5,999, a couple can enjoy a two-night stay at a comfortable Swiss cottage tent with all meals and taxes. For Rs 1,700 extra, you get adventure activity inclusions such as rock climbing, rappelling, night treks and forest hikes with a picnic lunch. The icing on the cake? There is a dedicated children’s play area too. And why is it value for money? Because a similar stay at the retreat’s bamboo huts, which are identical in size and furnishings, costs Rs 6,777 per couple.

For reservations log on to

Ivory Resort, Alibaug:

Located bang on Kihim Beach, just 110 km from Mumbai by road though a boat ride from the Gateway of India will be shorter and more interesting—this is a boutique campsite. Ideal for two, the air-conditioned tents cost Rs 5,000 a night over the weekend and Rs 4,000 from Monday to Friday. While breakfast and all taxes are included in the package, for the other meals you can try the in-house restaurant or explore the town. An extra bed can be accommodated in a tent for an additional Rs 500. Compare this with a regular brick-and-mortar upper end property at Alibaug, Tropicana Resort, which costs around Rs 4,000 a night plus tax.

Visit for more information.

Shergarh Camp, Kanha Tiger Reserve:

Summer is a good time to visit sanctuaries for the simple reason that there is little lush foliage for the game to hide behind. And what more can one ask for than a luxury tent to retire to after a day spent chasing tigers? A night at Shergarh’s tents costs Rs 5,600 per person, inclusive of all meals and two jeep rides or an elephant ride if possible. To ensure privacy and a personalised approach, the owner, Jehan Bhujwala, has limited the “camp” to only six tents, each tucked away in a wooded grove. If you are an ecoconscious traveller, then look no further.

For more details visit

Riva Beach Resort, Goa:

The sun and surf paradise may seem like a bad idea in summer, but this is the time to snap up bargain holidays. And this place shines through on three counts—price, privacy and appeal. Located on a near secluded beach called Mandrem in north Goa, 60 km from the airport, the air-conditioned tents here are located bang on the beach. And it costs just Rs 2,000 a night per couple. You will be hard pressed to find a cheaper alternative there—unless it’s rooming with a local.

For details visit .

Pench Jungle Camp, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh:

The 12 tents in this campsite are more deluxe than luxury but they are still as comfortable as a standard room in a regular hotel. In fact, each tent has a 220 volt electricity connection with battery recharging facility and air coolers to beat the heat. It will only set you back by Rs 3,750 per person, including one jungle safari, all meals and taxes. Even a state tourism department run hotel like Kipling’s Court, costs Rs 3,790 a night for room only, is more expensive.

For reservations check out .

 Island Vinnie's, Andamans:

Located on what is widely known as one of the world’s most beautiful islands, Havelock, the deluxe tented cabanas (or luxurious Swiss tents) here simply cry out for you to play Robinson Crusoe. (Bring your own Man Friday.) You pay only Rs 2,200 a night per couple, all inclusive, for this. An even better deal is the Andaman Diver Special package.

For Rs 24,500 per person, you get seven nights stay at a cabana, all meals, 12 scuba dives and an exotic night dive, plus all pick-ups and transfers in Port Blair and on to Havelock Island and back. The cheapest alternative is the government-run Dolphin resort, which is not even on the beach, which costs Rs 2,000 a night.

For reservations log on to .

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