Staying inside national parks is a supreme privilege in our opinion. You get to witness the jungle at close quarters and also listen to the anecdotes of locals who have resided around the jungle  for most of their life. These people and the rest houses are the very root of our national parks. They tie together the authenticity of a safari with the simplicity of an elementary lifestyle.

Guests who have visited private game reserves in Africa, often ask us if there exists a similar accommodation option even in India? Our answer is both yes and no.

Staying inside the Tiger reserve / National parks in India

We say no, since no private property, resort or a lodge is permitted within the premise of a national park. However, at the same time, there are certain accommodations where you can actually stay within the jungle. This is allowed by the government owned forest rest houses or Inspection bungalows that have been in existence for decades or even close to centuries in some cases. These camps were made for Forest Officers who were required to camp inside the jungle where no other alternative accommodation was available. Hence Forest Rest Houses were created for the officials to rest in the night after a long day of patrolling and forest-related work. Their jungle activities pertained to the conservation, protection, and management of forests and wildlife.

Since these accommodations are special, not every national park permits you to stay within them. Below is a comprehensive list of the national parks along with the rest houses that allow such accommodation for the common public:

The Forest Rest Houses where you are permitted to stay:

In Jim Corbett National Park (Uttarakhand)

  1. Dhikala
  2. Gairal
  3. Sultan
  4. Khinanauli
  5. Sarpadulli
  6. Bijrani
  7. Mailani
  8. Halduparao
  9. Jhirna

Dhikala Forest Rest House

Of the above list, the Dhikala Forest Rest House, is an absolute favorite among wildlife enthusiasts, both domestically and internationally. While people do stay in other rest houses as well, there is a certain bias toward Dhikala. There are multiple reasons for this:

  1. The location of Dhikala is pristine to say the least.
  2. You enter the Dhikala rest house after a 2 hour drive through the forest. This drive starts at the Dhangadi gate, and end in the heart of Corbett National Park, the Dhikala Forest Rest House.
  3. On this drive, there have been stories of people encountering wild Asian Elephants and even tigers at times! So photographers are known to keep their cameras handy at all times even during this drive!
  4. On reaching the Rest House, you will notice that the even the accommodation huts, dormitories, annexes and the restaurant are surrounded by stunning views. On one side you witness the Ramganga river with elephants and crocodiles bathing and basking in the sun, while on the other hand, in the far off background there lie the Himalayan Foothills.
  5. Its extraordinary location makes it an utter favorite amidst professional wildlife photographers,.
  6. The park gate for Dhikala Zone is right next to the forest rest house.
  7. Staying at Dhikala gives you exclusive access to this zone. Only people staying at the Dhikala Forest Rest House are allowed to enter this zone, making the safari experience premium and less crowded.
  8. The simplicity of this rest house is what makes it so sought after. People who are serious wildlife professions do not always wish to indulge in expensive retreats and services provided by hotels and resorts. The food here, unpresuming nature of the staff and even their conscious effort of minimalizing carbon footprint, is the USP.

If you wish to read about the Dhikala Rest House in a lot more detail, please click here.

Tiger Safaris in Corbett by Tiger Safari India:

In all of the tiger safari tours mentioned below, we book our guests at the special Dhikala Forest Rest House:

  1. Corbett, Kanha and Bandhavgarh Tour
  2. Best of Indian Wildlife and Golden Triangle Tour
  3. Tiger Safari in Corbett and Tadoba

In Nandhaur  Wildlife Sanctuary (Uttarakhand)

  1. Churgalia
  2. Jaulasaal
Staying inside the Tiger reserve / National parks in India

Jaulasal FRH Nandhaur Sanctuary

In Dudhwa National Park (Uttar Pradesh)

  1. Dudhwa
  2. Kakraha
  3. Chuka (Pilibhit Tiger Reserve)
  4. Katarniya ghat
  5. Motipur

Booking the Forest Rest House

Practically every state has Forest Rest Houses, but every state has its own rules for staying in them. But you may book the above listed FRHs online.

If you lodge within these resort houses, the booking process is fairly simple. They can be booked online through the respective state tourism website.

Even though we always encourage our guests to stay within forest rest houses, especially Dhikala, just to get the exclusive safari experience, it would be unfair if we did not apprise you of all features of these rest houses, so you take the right call based on your travel requirements

Pros of staying at forest rest houses:

  1. These rest houses have a deep rooted history attached to them. Some legends like, Jim Corbett, F W Champion, Billy Arjan Singh have stayed in these Rest Houses for days and sometimes even for weeks. So getting acquainted with the genesis of the rest houses is a very educational experience.
  2. These are perfect for a quiet retreat in the woods. Since these rest houses are located in the heart of the jungle, they do not get any network connectivity. It is therefore a perfect getaway from the city hustle and to relax with a book surrounded by the jungle greens.
  3. If you’re a wild child, these rest houses will truly intrigue you. Since it is cut off from the hum drum of the city, your only focal point during the travel will be wildlife safaris in the jungle. There are no special activities organized here other than safaris.
  4. The food here is prepared from the heart with a taste of local cuisine. It is very basic and is based on a pre-set menu.
  5. Their location has another advantage. If you’re a birder, you will get to see a plethora of species around your accommodation. So do not forget to carry your binoculars!

Staying inside the Tiger reserve / National parks in India

Cons of staying in a Forest Rest House

  1. While we have mentioned above that the Rest Houses are basic, people might have different connotation of what basic really is. To clarify, when we say basic, we mean that these forest accommodations do not have air conditioners, electricity backup or even supply during extremely hot months, they do not have suave toilets for you to take long showers either. They have very basic vegetarian food served in the canteen. They also do not permit alcohol and smoking within the rest house premises. While our team provides clean linen to all our guests staying at the rest house, we also would advise you to carry your toiletries if you’re particular about them.
  2. Since there is no mobile network, you are practically cu off from the city and even family at times. If you are not one to leave behind technology and mentally relax amidst the forest quiet, we would not recommend a forest rest house for your stay.
  3. Not all Forest Rest Houses serve food. In most of them, one has to carry raw material from outside. Take vegetables, flour, rice, spices, etc and hand over to the Forest guard who will cook it for you. It is only in Dhikala, and Dudhwa that there is a food canteen. So going to these places does not worry about carrying any raw material. But do not expect non-vegetarian food. Simple, fresh yet delicious food is available.
  4. Your room could be frequented by monkey’s, lizards, spiders and the occasional rat.

Some safety tips for your stay at forest rest houses:

  1. Since they are located in the heart of the jungle, it wont be surprising if you hear a Tiger growl in the middle of the night, or see some pugmarks next morning at the location where it passed by the rest house boundary the night before. So be prepared because it is perfectly normal for the jungle to wake up when we’re fast asleep.
  2. Most big predators are nocturnal. And since the rest house shares its boundary with the core zone of the jungle, we would recommend you do not venture out of your huts post sunset. You should aim for an early dinner (by 7 in the summer and 6 or 6:30 in the winter). and get back to the room before the sun sets.
  3. For the above reasons, we also recommend you carry a torch with you at all times when heading our of your rooms. The jungle gets dark and dense very quickly. Always be prepared.
  4. The nearest medical facilities will be at least 2-3 hours away. So incase you have underlying problems, ensure to carry all your medication properly.

     

    Staying inside the Tiger reserve / National parks in India

    Navadiya FRH in Haripur Range, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve

     

    Hopefully, this information was insightful for you to plan your next jungle safari better. If you are an adrenaline junkie and nature enthusiast, these forest rest houses are definitely for you. However, if you like luxury on all your holidays, then maybe we plan your accommodation elsewhere! We look forward to your queries on this and if we can help you in planning your next tiger safari adventure.

    Best Wishes

    Sharad Vats

     

    Share Via:

    Sharad Vats

    Born and brought up in New Delhi, it was Sharad’s childhood passion to play cricket for India. While on a holiday in 1990, he saw his first tiger. Little did he know that this one sighting would immerse him into a realm where forests and tigers were all that mattered. Sharad’s experiences as a wildlife photographer have inspired him to observe the tiger’s behavior for over 30 years and motivated him on his own journey as an entrepreneur. He started Nature Safari India Pvt Ltd, with a focus on “Conservation through Tourism.” to align himself to the mission of saving the regal species and repopulating them in India’s forests. In 2006, he set up one of India’s premier jungle lodges in Kanha National Park. Sharad believes that there are many lessons to be learned from a tiger that can be applied successfully to leadership—both in business and in life. Here's a new book by Sharad Vats on management and leadership skills to learn from a Tiger. Buy now on Amazon

    explore_safaris