A last minute booking, we arrived at Forsyth Lodge for a night but ended up extending our stay by another. As one enters the premise, it is clear that the lodge is built and put together by a team of people who are passionate about the wilderness and the environment. An eco-friendly lodge, Forsyth is set within 44 acres of rehabilitated jungle on the edge of Satpura National Park; this was the first property to also be constructed near the park.
The main building has two levels, the dining area on the ground floor and a lounge bar and library with a terrace upstairs overlooking the jungle. The 12 independent cottages are nicely tucked away amidst trees and bushes around the swimming pool. The pool is eco-friendly and has virtually no chlorine. Fresh, cosy and colourfully furnished, the cottages have their own private veranda and all the buildings are made primarily of mud brick and wood, inspired by local village designs. Some of the cottages also have a sleep-out area on the first floor. We enthusiastically decided to sleep in the open on the first night; as adventurous as it was, every sound in the wild kept me awake all through the night till the morning staff arrived with a tray of tea and cookies at 5:45 am just before our morning safari.
Our stay at Forsyth Lodge is one of the best travel experiences I have had; complete credit goes out to the enthusiastic, knowledgeable and very helpful staff and naturalists. The sincerity of the staff running the lodge is evident from the time you step through the entrance gate. Each activity including the meals are well thought out and planned. We arrived at lunch and enjoyed a simple but wholesome feast. In fact all meals served here are delicious and just the kind of food that you would enjoy in the forest – less greasy, sumptuous and light on the stomach for an early morning safari wake-up. The delicious cakes served at tea-time are all baked in-house.
The naturalists at Forsyth Lodge are people who have left their 9 to 5 city jobs and moved bag and baggage to do something they love and respect. While all the naturalists and the guests literally break-bread together, the one assigned to us was David. There are a range of activities that you can choose to do – from a day and night safari to canoeing and boating in the Denwa river, an Elephant ride in the reserve or a walk in the forest. David was with us through all this; describing details of each plant, tree, bird, animal and insect that we came across. But my favourite part was the friendship that developed between us and the staff – this connection is really what I carried back home and will not forget the experience for a long, long time.
River Denwa and Satpura Forest Reserve.
You would be wondering by now, which animals did we get too see at the reserve. This forest is pristine and since it has very few visitors in comparison to other forests in India, it enjoys the calmness and beauty of what a forest should feel like. We saw Indian wild dogs, Indian bison (Gaur), sloth bear, wild boar, cheetal deer, samber deer, four horned antelope, Malabar giant squirrel, jackals, rusty spotted cat, blue bells, a crocodile and a Tiger. Yes, a Tiger, which is rare to see at the Satpura Tiger reserve. There are over 300 species of birds in this forest. We sighted hornbills, crested serpent eagle, hawk eagle, hoopie bird, jungle fowl, ducks, green pigeons, Indian night jar and black stork.
Besides being out in the wild and enjoying nature, you can also pamper yourself at the lodge. We managed to laze around by the poolside and also had a relaxing early evening sitting out in the veranda with a book from the library. Of course we also enjoy the freshly-pressed juice and never ending flow of tea and coffee at any time of the day.
With zero network, the lodge is completely cut off. Two days is a good time to spend here, but I would recommend one more day, just to indulge in that extra day of luxury in the wilderness. Forsyth Lodge costs approximately Rs. 18,000 plus service tax, per person, per night (inclusive of all meals). While it might seem a little on the higher side, Forsyth Lodge is one of those destinations that you have to experience first hand to understand what it can offer. No matter what I write, only a visit can really describe it. A special thank you has to go out to Rishi the General Manager of the property, for convincing us to extend our stay and really making it that never-forget experience.
Hope to hear all your forest stories soon!