After 10 months away from India, the longest I’d been away since 2012, I was dying to get back to “Mother India” and there was no better place to start my time there than a safari with Samode Safari Lodges, the most luxurious of the Bandhavgarh resorts. I’m going do a little Samode Safari Lodge review and share about seeing a tiger for the first time. Next week, I will put up a post with things to know before visiting Bandhavgarh National Park plus what to pack and wear in another upcoming post.
When I first came to India, I knew nothing about the country but really wanted to see a tiger. I lived here for five years, but alas, no tigers were seen – not due to lack of safaris! There were several reasons I chose to go on safari in Bandhavgarh, but the main reason is that it’s the most densely populated area of tigers in India so your chances of seeing one on safari are very high. Samode Hotels have a safari lodge there and staying with them was a no-brainer. I have stayed with them in Jaipur at the Haveli and the Palace and they are the most luxury over the top hotel in India when it comes to small touches and personal attention from staff. There are just twelve rooms at the lodge so it’s a really cozy environment.
When you stay at Samode, you pay a daily tariff like any hotel but this will include your meals, drinks, and safaris. You can book online to see the full breakdown of the rates and inclusions/exclusions. To get to and from the easiest way is to fly into Jabalpur and take a taxi to the property, which they can arrange.
Samode Safari Lodge Review
I’m going to share about the lodge itself, the food, the rooms, and the actual safari, all of which were amazing! One thing that is so important on a safari is having great guides and we were blown away with how awesome ours were.
Samode Safari Lodge Review: The Lodge and Grounds
There is the main lodge at the center of the property with a beautiful pool next to it. In the lodge are a games room, library, a main gathering area with sofas and fireplaces, and then the back patio for meals which was offering the best views. They have so much amazing vintage furniture (like all Samode properties) and everything from the napkins to the sugar dishes for coffee is all so cute and well thought out.
I love all the wooden rafters on the roof and the beautiful fabrics they’ve chosen for all the furniture. There was WiFi in the lodge, so I did come here in the mornings (so early, jet-lagged) to get some work done. They have a coffee bar set up for those going on safari. I also got time to use the pool after the morning safaris, where of course they come bring you cold towels and drinks while you relax.
Samode Safari Lodge Review: The Food
On the night I arrived at nearly 10 PM, I was so tired and they offered to bring me food to the room. They brought me the most amazing thali and butter naan, which I devoured (of course eating with my hands!) then had a bath and passed out cold for the night.
All the dinners are thalis. Their butter chicken was so good, I had to have seconds and every time I finished a naan, they brought another to the table. Dinners are sit down and they have them either on the patio, by the pool with candle-light, or inside a second lodge room. Sometimes they do fun alternatives like walking down a candle-lit path to tables set up near a movie projector, which they played a film about tigers on. Before dinner, there are cocktails and such down by the pool!
For breakfast, they have a buffet set up at the patio of the lodge, and you can also order fresh juice, coffee, tea, and egss, bacon, and sausage.
Breakfast and lunch are both a mix of Indian and Western cuisine and I went for the Indian food on most occasions! I loved chole bhatura was so mouthwatering (pictured above).
Lunch was all kinds of yummy things like baked chicken, pad thai, and a wide range of food. The bannoffie pie was so good – someone bring me another slice!
Samode Safari Lodge Review: The Rooms
Relaxing in the room without WiFi was actually amazing because it was so nice to unwind and enjoy the surroundings. The rooms are huge and the back patio, pictured below was so perfect to watch the jungle from.
The main living room was huge and had a little coffee bar, couch, TV, and a second bathroom. I love that they had a second bathroom – so great when you’re traveling with a friend.
Samode is all about the small touches. They put a little note and chocolates on my bed at night and after the evening safaris (which got cold) they had a warm foot bath waiting in the room. Perfection!
I loved the kantha quilts, hand-woven rugs, and all the traditional Indian touches in the room. I sat on the bed in the morning looking out at the jungle hoping to see a tiger. I didn’t, but it COULD have happened. They have tigers on the property and saw tracks one night while we were there.
The bathroom was HUGE. There was a shower, bath, and closet, plus two vanities. But then, because one bathroom wasn’t enough, there was a SECOND bath outside! I actually used it like a pool and filled it with cooler water and laid out and got a tan.
Samode Safari Lodge Review: The Safari
Your safaris are included in your room tariff and they take care of setting up everything for you with Bandhavgarh park, you just need to take your ID with you. It’s important to have good guides on safaris who can track the tigers and find them – and Samode has the best naturalists!
There are two safaris, each lasting around five hours. There is sunrise and sunset. The park is closed at lunch time. Both have equal amounts of visitors so it’s not that one is better than the other, although they said it’s more likely to see a tiger in the morning than evening.
Not just tigers are there, but leopards, jackals, deer, sambar, monkeys and more. There actually aren’t wild elephants here usually but lately, they have started coming into this park – but it’s not something that has been in the past so it causes issues with the safari meaning sometimes a zone will need to be shut. Wild elephants can be dangerous. The elephant above is a rangers – these are used to make sure tigers stay in the park and it helps keep the villagers safe.
Our first tiger sighting was so cool. First off, they are hard to see! They really do blend in – those stripes work! But, our tiger was sitting there while a buffalo walked up to it. At first, I thought that the tiger would attack but it actually ran off scared! Blurry shot I know, but it happened so fast.
On the morning safari, all the cars come together (not just Samode) and have a little breakfast snack at a meeting point. there is a real breakfast when you get back to the lodge but it’s nice to have some fruit, sandwiches, coffee, and just relax a second. Samode set up such a cute picnic.
Right before leaving the first morning, we went to the water hole and saw a tiger walk up for a drink. It was magical – we watched him for ten minutes!
I have two more posts coming about what to expect on the actual safari and then what to pack and wear for safari so stay tuned. If you want a boutique or luxury stay, then look no further than Samode. They are my favorite hotel chain in India (they have just four properties) and a safari is a once in a lifetime experience so spending a bit more for the time of your life to be absolute bliss, is 1000% worth it to me!
Seeing tigers and the safari is amazing, but the lodge, the food, the room and the people you are around make up the experience as a whole and Samode offers it all at their best.