Bengaluru: “On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it,” said Jules Renard. He could have been talking about pristine forests with their beautiful wildlife. In Karnataka, the Kabini wildlife sanctuary is one of the most picturesque. Nestled in the south-eastern part of the Nagarhole National Park, the sanctuary is spread over 55 acres.
With no waterholes nearby, all sorts of animals, including tigers can be spotted in its grounds. The Kabini River Lodge run by state-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR), is considered the best place to stay in at the sanctuary. But not everyone can afford it as a normal room at the lodge costs Rs 8000 upwards for a night and the Maharaja cottage,over Rs 11,000! The prices are driving away potential domestic tourists.
But Jungle Lodges seems more interested anyway in serving foreign clientele, while other more affordable resorts in the vicinity such as Orange County and Serai Kabini give it a run for its money.
“I just finished my master’s from King’s College, London and returned last month. I planned a trip to the Kabini backwaters as I had never been there. I checked the prices on the Internet and got the shock of my life! So I opted to stay at the Serai Kabini instead. In my opinion only foreigners can afford to stay at the Kabini River Lodge,” says Anil Das, a nature and wildlife enthusiast, who loves backpacking and trekking.
Hyderabad-based software professional Ashwanth Reddy too found the Kabini experience a little too heavy on the pockets. “I stayed at their Kabini River Lodge last year. True, the experience was exceptional and the staff members were very courteous. But I had to pay a lot. The two-day stay took a huge chunk out of my salary. Places like Kabini River Lodge are meant for people with deep pockets,” he mourns.
But Bengaluru-based PR consultant, Chetan Devraj begs to differ, “My in-laws live quite close to Kabini River Lodge and Orange County Resort. JLR’s Kabini River Lodge is value for money. Just compare the packages. Orange County is twice as expensive as Kabini River Lodge.
Besides one has to ultimately go to Kabini River Lodge because the safaris are organized by JLR and not some private operator. I would say JLR is worth it!” he contends. He may have a point as despite the grumbles from tourists, Kabini River Lodge did end up making a profit of `10.62 crore last year!...