• kabini river jungle lodge

Jungle Safari with Kabini River Jungle Lodge

I cannot begin to tell you how stoked I was to do a JUNGLE SAFARI! Prior to, I feel like it was almost a sin to be a travel writer in India and not have been on one single safari looking for India’s tigers and leopards. I was invited to do a jungle safari with Kabini River Jungle Lodge while I was on my goMowgli tour in Karnataka.

Because it’s a hop on hop off tour, the company dropped me off in the jungle with all the tigers and wild elephants just as I’d planned.

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodgeI was late, as always, so the second I got there I was swooped up by a big ass jeep to go touring around the forrest. I was literally smiling so big my face hurt the next day. Everything the tour guide said I was ooo’ing and aah’ing over.

The Safari at Kabini River

The moment we got into the Nagarhole National Park I spotted a wild elephant! We saw all kinds of animals and I’m not surprised as one, the Western Ghats have some of the most diverse wildlife in the world and two, it was voted top 5 wildlife resorts in the WORLD by Tatler’s.

kabini river jungle lodgeObviously, you want to know what animals you’ll see. While you can see tigers and leopards (and they did the night before I arrived) I didn’t see any. Bummed a bit, but know that they are elusive and it’s just a matter of luck. If you want to see tigers the best place is at a Ranthambore safari.

What I did see were: guars, sambars, spotted deer, wild elephant, serpent eagles, mongoose, kingfisher, boars, and lots of monkeys and other important birds that I’m sure your bird-lovers would go bonkers over.

kabini river jungle lodgenotice the birds on top?

kabini river jungle lodgeSambar, the biggest dear in India

kabini river jungle lodgeGuar and baby guar

We saw a tiger print and a leopard print and heard the panicked warning called from the “barking deer” (if I understood my guide correctly) and tried to track them but had no luck. We went out again in the morning which was when I saw the guar which were huge!

kabini river jungle lodgeleopard print and mongoose

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodgeI never knew that new antlers were fuzzy!

I was surprised how the animals hung out together: boars and deer roaming around while birds sat on the deer and mongoose popped up for a picture pose. In the gazebo by the lake were information boards explaining how the forestry department works to keep these animals safe. One thing’s for sure: the more spotted deer, the more there’s food for tigers, and the easier the population can rise. They talked about the problems with human population growth in India and the leopards getting into the villages- so the scared village people may kill that animal to save themselves.. it’s a problem that I don’t think anyone has the answers to.

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodgewho could fight in such a pretty place? ;)

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodge

The Rooms at Kabini River Jungle Lodge

The lodges were former hunting lodges of the Maharaja so they were pretty darn fancy. The resort has a fully stocked bar, ayurvedic treatments, WiFi near the office, delicious buffets with seriously the BEST veg soup I’ve had in India. It was like crack and I just kept going back for more. Sorry for eating all your soup, Jungle Lodge. I also loved the butter chicken, cabbage, and carrots.

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodgesome kind of fried chickpea patty & surprisingly spicy baked beans

Dinner is served at 830 and there is a wildlife movie before at 730. In the main lodge are some books you can borrow and ….. a stuffed TIGER that’s 9.5 feet long. It was killed in a territory fight by another tiger (which must have been massive) so they kept it at the lodge.

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodgeThe room was pretty massive and just absolutely perfect. It was a nice touch of luxury while in the middle of the jungle which is kind of the perfect thing for a “hippie in heels”. Kind of couldn’t get over having four pillows because this literally NEVER happens in India and actually loved the heavy soft towel I took a photo. No one uses dryers in India so usually towels are crispy from drying in the sun- these were soft as could be!

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodgeThere are cottages, rooms, and tents at varied prices. I loved that they do wake up calls for the morning safari so you don’t over sleep. The animals are only out at dawn and dusk so you have to wake up pretty early and start the tour by 615 am. You can opt to do the tour by boat if you want to as well. But even while sitting at the lodge, you’re bound to see wildlife. The spotted deer love being around people because that’s where they are safe so you’ll see them by the dozens.

kabini river jungle lodge

kabini river jungle lodgeThe full grounds are really big so it’s best to show up in the afternoon not at night so that you can get a grasp of the layout. I got a little lost finding the dinner space at night and started worrying a lost leopard was going to come steal me away before I could get my fried papads.

Practical information for your stay

Location: Kabini | about 90 km from Mysore, 90 km from Madikeri, and 225 km from Bangalore. You’ll see on the tour where a lake joins the national parks with 2 others, and can look across at Wayanad, Kerala.

Price: starts at 8,200 to 11,200 for foreigners per person and 4,950 t0 7,950 for Indians. Food and safari included. 50% off for children.

Other information: Best to go at dry season so the animals are out looking for water. It was accessible for people with disabilities and ramps were at all areas of the camp. Mosquitos were abundant and a headlamp would have been helpful. As a solo female traveler I felt very safe here.


I was on this tour as part of my goMowgli tour and with an invitation from Jungle Lodges. As always, opinions are my own.

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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Laura December 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Sounds so cool! I’ve never been on a Safari, but have always wanted to. It must have been such a rush to see so many animals in the wild!

  2. Kait @ Wanderlustkait December 2, 2014 at 12:09 am - Reply

    I would have died being that close to so many animals–especially elephants! So cool!

    • Rachel Jones December 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      It was such a treat! I was smiling so hard my cheeks hurt.

  3. Jackie December 2, 2014 at 2:46 am - Reply

    It looks like a great experience, I also had a look at their website, and it looks good. The only “thing” I have about it is that they charge double for foreigners. It is happening more and more in India, and I find it insulting. Is it that they think all foreigners are rich and want to make money from us, or is it some other reason that I’m unaware of??? I have travelled widely and very rarely come across this official extra charge for foreigners (although unofficially theres the ‘local’ price and ‘tourist price’ in markets, taxi fares etc) in other countries.

    • Rachel Jones December 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      I’ve noticed the price difference as well in Sri Lanka and Thailand. The way I try to look at it is the foreigner rate is the “real” rate and the Indian rate is the discounted rate they get for being local. I’m sure it has to do with money earned, as the average middle class Indian makes maybe 20,000 rs a month (most of my friends) which is 400 bucks about. In Goa, because I stay year round, I get local rates for classes like yoga, etc. It’s tricky, but I guess I’m just used to it.

  4. Glamourous Journeyler December 2, 2014 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Very cool! I’ve only been to Ranthambore to try and see the tigers. Trying being the operative word since even after doing three different safari trips, we couldnt catch sight of any. Also probably because the national park was pretty much run over with all the different safari jeep buses trying to track them down. Nice that you got to see a bunch of different animals though even if the Tiger remains elusive

  5. Christine @thetraveloguer December 2, 2014 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    That sounds like a great experience. I like the idea of a bit of luxury after a safari! I’m sorry you didn’t get to see tigers or leopards though! :)

    • Rachel Jones December 3, 2014 at 1:25 pm - Reply

      ahhh yea, no tigers was a buzzkill but maybe next time!

  6. Annie Tong December 2, 2014 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    Wow the photos look beautiful and it’s so nice to see all the animal running around free
    Thanks for shearing your wonderful safari experience!

    Annie ox

  7. Tim | UrbanDuniya December 3, 2014 at 9:58 am - Reply

    This is fantastic. Looks like you had a great time, although I have to say you are tickling my feet just a bit too much with those animal pictures! How cool is that?

  8. Justine December 3, 2014 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Tigers and leopards, oh my! I would love to go on a safari, but tracking a leopard sounds slightly terrifying to me! So cool that you finally got to have your Indian safari experience. I love all of your photos of the animals. How funny that the dear just chills with birds on its back. That might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. One thing I’ve noticed from traveling around Southeast Asia is that cows and water buffalo are always accompanied by these big white birds (I think they are called egrets). I always crack up when I see a field full of cattle and each one has a little bird friend :)

  9. Hanna December 10, 2014 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    I’ve been on my first safari in Sri Lanka and I’ve seen two young leopards playing with each other! That was so great to watch! And now wherever I go I’ll put safari on my to-do list! It’s really great experience, everybody should try at least once in a lifetime! :)

  10. Danni @Leftnleavin December 14, 2014 at 5:20 am - Reply

    Oh man this is making me so excited for our safari this Christmas in Sri Lanka. Also I can’t stop saying “guar”. I’m saying it aloud and now it’s starting to not seem like a real word. Awesome pictures.

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