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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Samode Safari Lodge: a homage to the tribes of Bandhavgarh

We don’t even call ourselves a lodge but instead a village…

By Yugdeep Singh
General Manager at Samode Hotels

We deliberately chose a location roughly 30 minutes away from Bandhavgarh National Park with no sign of other lodges and where we could make the biggest positive impact. If you were to take a drone shot of the area, you would hardly notice us. We don’t even call ourselves a lodge but instead a village, and we are exactly that in many ways. We have great support from the local communities and are passionate about giving back.

Twelve identical villas are strewn around the long grass, the idea being all our guests are equally as important. You wake up to the forest and maybe a glimpse of a tiger, you never know! You could see anything around the property because we don’t believe in fences. This zone belongs to the animals and the tribes.

The earthy colours, tiled roofs and wood beams are modelled from a traditional tribal hut. Then you have a courtyard, drawing room and outside deck where you can lie in the sun. The outdoor bathtub is fabulous especially at night when you can soak under the stars and listen to the nocturnal wildlife. We’re especially proud of the Gond tribal art murals. It’s incredible what the Gond artist has created. These villages are completely cut off with no television or radios, and he’s painted something incredibly sophisticated without experience of the modern world.

We offer wonderful private dining with all the ingredients sourced from the local tribes. One of the best dishes is this sweet pudding made from the mahua trees that you see all around. Even if you were to stay for five nights, you would never eat the same thing twice or dine in the same place. We set up dinners on the elevated decks, in the jungle grassland, by the swimming pool or under a tree strung prettily with oil lanterns. At night, all the paths and villas are lit with candles, it’s very romantic.

We have a client who has visited us every year for 15 years running. The naturalist guides say he knows the park better than anyone else. Other than the safaris, I think people come here for this type of hospitality whereby every time you step out of the room, be it for a game drive or lunch, your villa is completely made up upon you return. Out of 102 members of staff, all but four are locals who offer this authentic, spoiling service yet are completely in tune with the land. It’s a rare balance.

Categories

  • Community
  • Places to stay
  • Wildlife

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Alfred & Yugdeep Singh

Yugdeep worked with &Beyond India lodges for 10 years starting out as a ranger before working his way up to managing the camps. He takes a keen interest in delighting guests from all over the world and working with local communities. He is proud to work for the 13-time award winning heritage hotel, Samode Haveli, as well as Samode Safari Lodge.