Although I technically chose India, a part of me likes to think India chose me.
I went to learn something new, seek a different experience, and taste the real India.
They told me about the Pench National Park, tiger encounters, and vast landscapes that I would see.
My sister said, “Why not? Get off the beaten path!” My parents said “See – Explore. Do it while you’re young!”
A few weeks later I hopped off a plane in Nagpur, India, then took a private vehicle into the heart of rural India on my very own Eco Tour.
And there I was, on a self-guided project in Central India focusing on two subdivisions of ecotourism, nature-based tourism, and educational tourism. The project led me to intern at Jamtara Wilderness Camp.
Made from Nature
Jamtara Wilderness Camp is a 10 luxury tented Eco Camp teeming with wildlife, just 1 mile from Pench National Park aka Tiger Land. The park spans its 1,179-square kilometer in the southeast corner of Madhya Pradesh, flowing its elegant roots, touching the upper region of Maharashtra. There are approximately 38 tigers in PNP, 325 species of birds, and 1,200 flora species. Jamtara Wilderness Camps sustainability strategy supports, not only the camp but reaches beyond the property to preserve and protect the village of Jamtara, and surrounding areas.
Property with Priorities
I was amazed at the long-term efforts invested into Jamtara. They are truly interested in the preservation and nurturing of the land, on and off season. I learned the tents are disassembled before monsoon season, allowing the property to take its natural course throughout the rainy season, naturally.
Each tent in the Eco Campwas constructed from reclaimed timber and decorated with repurposed items and local materials in keeping with their philosophy of sustainability
When giving guests the full tour at check-in I always pointed out the blue- aztec colored flooring which was refurbished from an old ship off the west coast of India. Meals are served in a variety of spots on property but the most relaxed setting is served in an open-sided dining room on thick irregular shaped mango-wood tables. The room comes to life with daily travel stories, celebrations, and mid-day monkey sightings from your seat.
Jamtara truly believes in supporting the community of the lodge, and a night in the ‘Machaan’ is a direct revenue source for their neighbor farmer. So if you’re feeling adventurous, and want to fall asleep to the soundtrack of nature then sleep on high stilts underneath the vast Indian sky (Traveler Tip: Book in advance).
Building local economies is kind of their thing, from the food, staff and guides they are branching out their roots just as the 200 year old banyan tree does. I’ll share a quick story, one afternoon in March, I was walking with a guest into the village of Jamtara for market day, when we literally ran into our chef, Omkar, who was loading up on kitchen veggies and fruits for the upcoming week. A few times a week I would ride my bike to ‘the wifi tree,’ and wave to the parents of our wait staff, who were stooped up after a long day in the fields. One time when I was in charge of grocery shopping in Nagpur, I forgot the milk (Yes, small owned properties even forget to grab the milk), but lucky for us just .3 miles down the road is our reliable “Milkman.”
The human spirit becomes so vital in the countryside. Most days I felt as if the countryside in all its largeness seemed to quietly exclude itself from earth. A feeling I was perfectly fine in immersing myself into.
Dive in, Chill out!
The pool serves as a community watering hole for birds, and monkeys. Fresh well water is used from the camps personal well, so that animals can enjoy the pool water, and guests can be delighted.
“While planning this camp, we kept envisioning an old rest house from the British Raj, where English officers, lieutenants, and Indian rajas, and officers would come for hunting vacations. I built a tented camp as I feel there is something romantic about chic tented lodging, it gives you the adrenaline of being in nature. We believe that everyone deserves to experience the jungle and that is what I am trying to achieve here – spreading the knowledge and beauty of nature along with creature comforts and pampering” – Amit Sankhala, Owner of Jamtara Wilderness Camp
Most of Jamtara’s guests come for sightings in the wild. They gain knowledge from the naturalist, conversing with other guests and lounging with a book from the Jamtara library. Jamtara offers a wide variety of books ranging from local flora and fauna, to conservation, to birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Oh, and of course, the tiger. Drawing is kind of my thing so I memorized the birds by observing, then sketching the birds, and lastly coloring in their unique tones. I watched guests come and go, but when they left I could tell they left with a better understanding of the world around them. They became aware of their surroundings and they realized that there is good out there, like our naturalist. And that people are good, like the locals of Jamtara. And they realized the potential in themselves – that they are in essence, good itself.
We need more travelers like that. People who will be more conscious of the impact they have near home, and also in the far corners of the world. It’s my only hope that you too will be more aware of the companies you choose when booking your travels.
And I think we can all agree, Eco-Companion is a great place to start.
To go safari-searchin’ and visit my home away from home click, Jamtara Wilderness Camp