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India as you’ve never seen it

India is home to some of Asia’s most spectacular landscapes as well as some of the most incredible –yet little known – experiences, writes John Pond.

Filled with deserts, spice hills, tranquil backwaters, thriving cities, dramatic forts and snow-capped Himalayan peaks, India is an unparalleled kaleidoscope of remarkable experiences. It’s also home to incredible safaris and luxury desert glamping.

According to Insider Journeys’ Senior Product Manager, Eric Finley, India has had a long history of luxury tented camps, and with wildlife to rival any African safari, it is fast-emerging as a leader in the luxury safari stakes.

“As the land of the Maharajas, Rajasthan not only has forts and palaces befitting a king or queen, but is also home to India’s wild treasures within splendid national parks and sanctuaries,” Mr Finley says.

Chhatra Sagar, Rajasthan.

Chhatra Sagar is a lush oasis in the heart of Rajasthan. The camp owes its existence to the vision of nineteenth century noble Thakur Chhatra Singh of Nimaj, who turned once dry scrubland into a verdant paradise by creating a vast reservoir.

Keen not to detract from the natural beauty of the site, permanent construction was banned and instead luxe safari-style tents were built to house his many guests. With so many visiting nobles and dignitaries, Chhatra Sagar soon become legendary for opulent parties, exotic dinners, high teas and, of course, it’s luxurious tented accommodation.

Each one faces east, allowing spectacular views over the lake. The camp is famous for its evening birdwatching walks, where guests can observe some of the 200 species found on the lake.

Manvar Desert Camp, Rajasthan.

Manvar Desert Camp, sitting majestically amongst the sand dunes of the Thar Desert, prides itself on beauty, tranquility and solitude. While there is no shortage of five-star resorts in India, few blend so seamlessly into their surroundings or have the same dedication to protecting local heritage, culture and wildlife as Manvar Desert Camp. 

After a busy day of birdwatching and wildlife spotting, guests can retire to one of Manvar’s thirty opulent safari tents. Set back a staggering six kilometres from the main resort, they offer guests a true taste of the wilderness without compromising on luxury – each room is kitted out in heritage fabrics, teak furniture and ensuite bathrooms.

Khem Villas, Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan.

From the porch of your lavish tent, it is not uncommon to spot crocodile, jackals, hyenas, desert fox and jungle cats amongst the camp’s wild grasslands. Yet the real highlight of a stay at Khem Villas is the chance to spot the elusive Bengal Tiger. With twice daily trips from the resort, you have every chance of seeing these magnificent big cats in the wild.

After a day in the jungle, guests can retire to their well-appointed tents. Chic, comfortable and full of rustic charm, each tent is built using natural local materials like bamboo, to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding grasslands.

Osian Desert Camp, Rajasthan.

For a truly authentic tented camp experience, head to Osian Desert Camp in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. Osian was once a key trading post on the silk route between the 8th and 12th centuries, and the resort carefully recreates the original fortress-style layout and authentic feel.

The highlight of a stay at Osian is of course a safari, and the resort offers both camel-back and jeep varieties to spot desert wildlife, as well as village safaris to see local life. After a day amongst the dunes, dinner is served in the fortress-style main camp, with traditional entertainment like Rajasthani dancing and music laid on for guests

A stay at a luxury desert or safari camp is a must-do while in India and can be arranged as part of a private tour, or as an extension to one of Insider Journeys’ popular India small group journeys.

A stay at Manvar Desert Camp is included on Insider Journeys’ 14-Day Highlights of Rajasthan Tour. Insider Journeys is offering 10% off all Small Group Journey tours and a selection of private travel itineraries booked and deposited by 30 September 2016.




Note: Not responsible for errors or omissions, prices subject to availability, changes of terms and conditions may apply.


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Alana Lowes

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