For a four-week writing retreat out of the chaos – and smog – of Delhi, it’s hard to beat Kipling Camp, a wildlife resort situated right in the middle of India adjacent to the Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh.
That’s where I stayed from the end of October till November (2012).Kipling was the first private wildlife camp in India when it was opened in 1982 by Bob and Anne Wright. Its name is appropriate – Rudyard Kipling featured the area in The Jungle Books, although he never actually went there.
Now completing 30 years, the camp caters for Indian and foreign tourists, who mostly head out at dawn to see tigers and other wildlife in Kanha, which is five minutes jeep drive away. Guests usually stay only for two or three days and then rush back to work, or continue their holidays elsewhere, but Kipling is worth much longer.
There is far more to be seen than the national park. There are marvellous nature walks with birds to watch and photograph in adjacent forests and across the nearby Banjar River, plus day trips to forts and gorges, and Baiga tribal dancing some evenings. Cheetal wander through the camp and occasional alarm calls warn that a tiger or a leopard might be approaching.
On two nights while I was there, Around 11 pm, a large male tiger sauntered through the village fields and the forests around the camp. He stopped by our gate and we watched him by torchlight – he seemed much unperturbed! The next morning we saw his pugmarks going in the reverse direction, as he walked by the camp and beside the village. The following evening we were doubly surprised to find a leopard sitting on the road by the camp gate, its eyes shining like car headlights.
As I said, don’t rush in and out, desperate to spot a tiger, but take a leisurely holiday in this idyllic forest haven in Central India – and maybe even negotiate a long stay to write a book or some other task worthy of retreat!