Which is your favourite kind of holiday? Well mine is definitely seeing wildlife as I believe that going into the jungles is a matter of fortune. When I recently received an invitation to experience the Kohka Wilderness Camp, I did not think twice before saying yes and looking back, it has certainly been among my best travel experiences in recent times.
Located 100 km from the city of Nagpur, at the heart of ‘Incredible India’ is this beautiful property that is cut off from urban chaos and is in a world of its own. The drive from Nagpur airport takes about 2.5 hours but all the stress evapourates quite magically as I enter Kohka. The resort’s staff and owners welcome me with a refreshing lemon drink and soon I am tucking in a delicious breakfast that is fresh and wholesome. Started by Shourabh Gosh, Sanjay Nagar and Rajnish Mehta who are the founders of the camp, this is the place to not just come up and close with wildlife, being located on the fringes of the famed Pench Tiger Reserve but also experience Kohka’s tribal empowerment.
Started in 2014, the property has 14 rooms spread across well landscaped spaces. The architecture is rustic and blends with the surroundings. The rooms themselves are modern and yet have a nice homely feel. The red oxide flooring, bamboo light fixtures, locally embroidered bed spreads add to the charm of the room. The attached bathroom has toiletries that have been developed in house. Shourabh tells me that all the toiletries have been made using pure aloe vera sourced from the forest using natural ingredients by a friend and they are now developing a line of products based on neem as well. The fragrant and organic toiletries have many fans and the camp also retails them! The location of the camp is scenic as it is surrounded by Kohka village, the jungle and biggest lake of this area called Kokha Lake. A smaller lake is located on the opposite side of the property. The founders have ensured that this is a space where one can relax and have spent three years to get the property up and running. In fact the founders have been very hands on as far as the design was concerned and did most things on their own without hiring a formal architect.
The unique selling proposition that this resort offers is that everything is included on the tariff. So when you pay for the room, it also includes the meals. The food here needs special mention as everything is sourced locally. The property has its own kitchen garden and also sources fresh vegetables from the kitchen gardens of the villager around it. The surrounding area also grows rice and lentils in plenty and what is served here is completely home cooked food. This is why you will not find an a la carte menu here. Likewise there is no deep freezer here as everything is cooked and made fresh including milk and vegetables. Even the condiments like the pickles and papads are made in house. In fact conversing with Shourabh’s wife Mahua Bose, I come to know that she works closely with the staff and is completely hands on in the kitchen.
In order to involve and grow the local community, all staff who work here belong to the village and have been trained in house. This is also the reason the staff here is very attentive to your needs and ensures they are around when you need them. The resort also runs an NGO called the Kokha Foundation that has associated itself with local schools and is empowering children by ensuring they have a good education by trained teachers. In fact I visited a couple of schools as well and guests are welcome to go to the school and interact with students and also teach them if they wish. They are also associated with Mumbai based NGO Light of life foundation which supports them financially and also with content that helps them educate the village kids. The NGO also take care of basic healthcare for village clusters and organizes a doctor visit on specific dates for the different villages here. The NGO has also done a computer education drive for locals through a 21 day program and has ensured villagers are able to use computers and have been introduced to YouTube education videos. In fact it is a wonderful experience to visit the villages here and the Pachdhar village here is entirely into making pottery.
The best part of a holiday at Kohka Wilderness camp is that it allows you to reconnect with nature. I strongly recommend you take the guided early morning nature walk as this is when there is a nice nip in the air and you can walk to the lake to catch a stunning sunrise. I took the walk with Anil a senior naturalist who helped me spot several birds like white broad wagtail, black shouldered kite, owlets, paradise fly catcher, green footed yellow pigeon, black drango, parakeet, woodpecker and kingfisher among many others. The resort’s staff surprises you with a small picnic on the lake bed serving you morning tea and cookies as you take in the sights of the morning. The big draw however are the jungle safaris or game drives to the Pench jungle that happen in the morning at sunrise, in the afternoon as well as a night safari. The resort can organize the visits for you on request and has to be paid for separately. The forest is beautiful and is home to several species like tiger, leopard, jackals, wild boars, sambhar, deer, wolf, fox, wild dog apart from several hundreds of species of birds. If you are travelling with children, the resort has a small play area with slides, swings and a see-saw apart from a swimming pool. This is certainly a place for the family to bond and for me what I loved is that this is one place which has its heart in the right place. So what are you waiting for? Get set on a jungle adventure that will give you much more than the wildlife.
Address: Pench Tiger Reserve Post Turia, Kohka, Madhya Pradesh 480881
Phone: Shourabh: +91-9827271101; Sanjay: +91-9820282307
This story appeared in the Luxurylifestylemag.co.uk here: