One of Asia’s premier wildlife reserves, Kanha Tiger Reserve will always be special with spectacular forests of sal and bamboo, meadows and the rivers Banjar and Tannaur. The park is considered to be one of the best places in the world to see the tiger. It is blessed with a rich bird life and a variety of wildlife, including some endangered species, making it a delight for wildlife enthusiasts. Famed to be the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s novel The Jungle Book, it was declared a national park in 1955.
Kipling Camp with its legacy of conservation has set high standards for how a wildlife lodge should be run and managed. It has moved with the times and constantly improved and upgraded the facilities without changing the size of the lodge, the traditional values, and conservation and community support...
Kipling Camp with its legacy of conservation has set high standards for how a wildlife lodge should be run and managed. It has moved with the times and constantly improved and upgraded the facilities without changing the size of the lodge, the traditional values, and conservation and community support ethos. This allows for a very personal and unique insight into the wildlife of Kanha National Park.
Know Your Host
An intense love and respect for nature has been Belinda’s guiding force since she was a child and, as she says, you cannot absorb the magic of India’s wild places without also becoming close to the people who have lived there for generations and know it best. Belinda’s love affair...
An intense love and respect for nature has been Belinda’s guiding force since she was a child and, as she says, you cannot absorb the magic of India’s wild places without also becoming close to the people who have lived there for generations and know it best. Belinda’s love affair with the jungles of Central India began in the mid-1970s, when she worked there extensively as a wildlife photographer and filmmaker for National Geographic. This resulted in two Emmys and numerous other awards for her film ‘Land of The Tiger’. When widespread tiger poaching raised its ugly head in the early 1990s, Belinda put away her cameras and became a full-time wildlife conservationist, focusing on anti-poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Her parents set up Kipling Camp on the edge of Kanha in the early 1980s;Belinda has been running it with her mother since 2005, when her father passed away. Managing the Wildlife Protection Society of India (the NGO Belinda founded in 1994) and Kipling Camp now complement each other, and she is able to do a lot more for the communities that live near their wildlife lodge, which they manage as a not-for-profit.
One of the first lodges to be established in Kanha as early at 1982, Kipling Camp serves a benchmark of conservation and a firm pioneer of the ‘treading softly’ ethos in the forest environs. Managed and owned by Belinda and Anne Wright, Kipling Camp is set close to the Kisli side and is the perfect access to the Kanha and Kisli zones of the national park.
‘Shamiana’ is the camp centre and a social hub for guests at the camp. It acts as the dining room, library, lounge as well as the bar. A tiled pavilion, it is open on all sides with large cushioned walls set in a forest environment. This is also the area where guests are welcomed with hot or cold towels depending on the weather at the time.
Kipling offers double rooms in cottages under shades of trees with a lake close by. The cottages at the Camp have an ‘old world’ charm to them and transport you straight into the era of colonial forest bungalows. The comfortable two-to four-room cottages come with its own verandah offering views of the wilderness, the waterhole and the surrounding forest, each room has its own tea and coffee making facilities, and tiled en suite bathrooms with hot showers. The Camp functions on strict green values and adheres to a season from mid-October to April when the temperature is comfortable and hence requires no air conditioning. Since there is a good tree cover, the temperature at the camp is very comfortable during early summer months. Heaters and hot water bottles are provided during winter months for comfort in the cottages.
Safaris into the jungle in the morning are always accompanied with packed breakfast carried on the jeeps along with tea and coffee. For those choosing to relax at the camp or explore other activities offered by the camp, breakfast is served on tables outside the Shamiana under the beautiful mahua tree. Lunch is usually Indian, and served outside where one can take in the natural beauty of the surrounding forest. Drinks in the evening can be enjoyed at the bar or under the trees. Guests and managers eat together on the same table, where they share their experiences. Sseparate tables can be set-up on special requests.
Many guests stay at Kipling for 4 nights or longer. Most days begin with an early morning drive into the park in open 4WD vehicles in search of barasingha, sambhar, chital, wild dog, leopard, tiger and other wildlife. Breakfast is always set up in the park; back at the camp, lunch is usually outdoors. For the afternoon drive, guests can return to the Tiger Reserve, go bird watching, take a guided nature walk in the forests that surround the Camp, retreat to a hammock with a book, or – most popular of all – bathe Tara in the Banjar river. Evening time is to relax in the Shamiana around a campfire with drinks and dinner as, conversation flows among guests about their day in the park. Longer stays would allow for visits to 17th century forts, a colourful tribal market, climbing the mysterious black mountain, relaxing massages, volleyball for the energetic, a candlelit outdoor dinner, tribal dances under the stars (if there are sufficient guests) and screenings of films on Kanha’s remarkable wildlife.
A campfire at night, listening to the sounds of the jungle and sharing tales of adventure, provide the perfect end to an exciting day.
Kipling Camp is perfect for families and especially children as it is a great way to introduce the outdoors and wildlife to the young. It also makes for a great venue for small company offsites.
The Camp closes from May to mid-October. The resort opens again in October, after the monsoon has passed.
Kipling Camp has been closely associated with the local community for the past 40 years. When the Wright family first got to know Kanha in the early 1970s, the region was extremely impoverished, with no infrastructure, electricity, communication, or access to education and medical assistance. Wildlife tourism barely existed and the family vowed – long before these became buzz words – to create a destination that had low-impact on the environment and was responsible and sustainable, employed and assisted the local people in whatever way possible along with gently engaging and educating guests on wildlife conservation and local cultural issues. The Camp follows a code of conduct, that includes waste disposal, how construction and repairs are carried out. Further, noise levels, the use of wood, electricity and plastic and waste management and water use is taken particularly seriously. In October 2019, the lodge hosted a workshop for wildlife resorts in the area on these very topics.
All the staff, except for the Head Naturalist, are locals who have been trained. Many of them have been with Kipling Camp for over 30 years. Over the years, it has supported the local community with numerous specific needs, including marriages and funerals, and medical emergencies. Two local schools are regularly supported and are furnished, repaired and supplied with essentials, including a football pitch. At the start of winter, clothes and new blankets are distributed in the tribal villages in the area and support is given to medical camps when set up. The lodge supports the making and distribution of inexpensive and organic, washable and re-usable menstruation pads for local women and girls.
The Baiga tribals were supported by the lodge to set up a cooperative. They now put on daily dance performances at the National Park’s Interpretation Centre, and perform at Kipling Camp and other wildlife resorts and hotels around Kanha. Talented Gond artists are assisted with art supplies and to sell their paintings at a fair price. The artists visit Kipling Camp regularly to display their paintings and share with guests details about their art as well as animalistic beliefs and traditional stories. Guests can thus be reassured that the sale proceeds go directly to the artist.
Community support was extended in helping a talented local villager, – Pintu -bhai, to establish and expand his small organic native plant nursery. It now stocks over 80 species of native trees, medicinal plants, shrubs and fruit trees along with making rare and traditional organic compost, including Jeevamrut, Panchagavya, and Bael and Basma liquid, and jaivik keetnashak organic pesticide. Pintu -bhai now employs a number of local people to help with his nursery and every two or three months travels from Kanha to different parts of India to give talks about native plants and traditional compost.
In 1994, Belinda set up the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), a conservation awareness programme that reaches out to the hundreds of villages that surround Kanha Tiger Reserve. A team of two, who are based at Kipling Camp, use a modified, tiger-themed, audio-visual van to systematically visit every village that fringes the reserve. The aim is to encourage local stewardship for wildlife and motivate people towards tiger protection, and also spread information about the programme’s anti-poaching reward scheme.
The buildings on the property have been constructed using the local style of architecture, and with minimum use of cement. The objective was to create a wildlife resort that fits seamlessly and sensitively into the landscape. The architecture uses traditional local design, with cottages scattered among the trees. There are no formal gardens, and even the paths are small tracks through the forest, that are lit up by solar motion-sensor lights at night. The intangible heritage associated with Kipling Camp is the long history of the Wright family with this region. Anne Wright, Belinda’s mother, was brought up in the area in the early 1930s, the daughter of an ICS officer. Belinda spent much of her early years as a professional wildlife photographer with National Geographic, and later as a wildlife filmmaker, working in Kanha National Park since the early 1970s. The property was originally a treeless patch of agricultural land, surrounded by jungle. In the centre, there was a huge man-made mud ‘bund’ for water. Today, this land has a thicker forest and a richer canopy than the surrounding Reserve Forest. The bund has been re-contoured and deepened for rainwater harvesting; it has become a favourite waterhole of the wildlife in the area. The property is unfenced and surrounded by jungle. Only a small portion is used for the resort while the rest is maintained as a sanctuary for the wildlife. Once the hot summer peaks in late April, the resort is closed, so that the wildlife can use the waterhole completely undisturbed.
by Thankom on 03/12/2023
What is it about Kipling Camp, that fills my being with a shower of summer rain? Set in the forests adjoining Kanha....this property is carefully curated by my dear friend Belinda Wright. 5 quaint...
by Andrewselvaraj on 03/03/2023
We have just returned after a memorable stay at Kipling camp Kanha for 3 days. Our accommodation was spacious and clean and very eco friendly. The food was excellent, Indian food in the afternoons...
by Dermot B on 12/21/2022
This was the final place we stayed on our 14 trip to India and was the highlight . Saw tiger in the park on our first morning safari . Also the camp has motion cameras at the lodge and leopards and...