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Waghoba Eco Lodge: Where the wild things are – Travel News

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“They were here just a few minutes ago,” exclaims Laxman, our forest guide, pointing to a wet spot on the ground. Leaning over the jeep’s guardrails, I scan the red forest floor, nothing but mud. When the strabismus fails, I try to blink quickly to bring up the patterns. No dice.

“They were here just a few minutes ago,” exclaims Laxman, our forest guide, pointing to a wet spot on the ground. Leaning over the jeep’s guardrails, I scan the red forest floor, nothing but mud. When the strabismus fails, I try to blink quickly to bring up the patterns. No dice.

β€œLara and her cubs. They must have come here for a drink, ”confirms Swanand Deshpande, one of the naturalists at Waghoba Eco Lodge, where I spend the weekend, a luxury resort surrounded by nature located in the heart of the reserve’s buffer zone. of Tadoba tigers in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. .

Our safari had started at dawn. After an hour of searching, we had our first real trail – a clear, four-fingered tiger pug mark, an unmistakable lazy kick to the heel, lightly encrusted in the wet clay, left behind by one of the 100 or so. tigers who call Tadoba their home.

I think an sighting might be close, but remember what my taxi driver Jabir said on the two hour trip from Nagpur airport to the lodge the night before: β€œI encountered tigers, some crossing the road we’re on right now. Meeting one is really a matter of fate, ”he joked. Having never seen a tiger in the wild, I had high hopes for this trip. I was surely in the right place for this.

The latest offering from Pugdundee Safaris, Waghoba Eco Lodge is a down-to-earth, sustainability-conscious property located half an hour from the Khutawunda and Moharli gates leading into the heart of the Tadoba wilderness. Surrounded by open spaces and jungle encrusted hills, the 12-acre property is nestled amidst wildflowers, native grasses, and trees in an unmanaged sprawl, perfectly in keeping with the rustic landscape.

A safari inside Tadoba. With a hundred tigers in the reserve, the observation of this magnificent but shy big feline is a good bet, if the luck holds.

This homogeneity is no accident: particular care has been taken in its construction over three years so that its presence has as little impact as possible on the district. Mughdha Deshpande, another local naturalist, cites a few examples: β€œSun-baked adobe bricks made from the local earth and stone ensure that degradation does not introduce non-native materials into the earth. The overlapping of the burnt clay cylinders forming the ceilings of the guna vault in each room reduces the need for air conditioning. The land itself, once barren and overgrazed, is coming back to life. β€œOnly the vegetation that grows naturally here is planted,” says Mughdha. From composting to collecting rainwater, Waghoba uses a variety of environmentally friendly means to meet its needs. β€œWe even have our own plant-based wastewater treatment plant that supplies clean water to a bird’s skin, a small body of water where many small animals come to take a sip,” she adds.

Larger wildlife – sambar and spotted deer, gaur, boar, nilgai, wild dogs, sloth bears, tigers and leopards – limit their reach to the thicker cover of the forest, although herbivores often venture into cultivated fields. the night. We meet most of them as our jeep passes through teak, jamun, forest flame and ghost trees as kingfishers, egrets and hornbills fly through the air. Along the shores of Lake Tadoba, a pair of Nilgai fawns chase after the adults stop for a drink. They don’t seem to notice the large swamp crocodile a few yards away, imperceptible but to the trained eyes of my guides. Perhaps we were just as oblivious to a nearby tiger, camouflaged among tall, winter-yellowed fronds and bamboo groves.

As we return from the safari, the forest, as if sensing my disappointment, seems to offer rare clashes as a reward: a huge male Sambar preening at a waterhole, a four-horned antelope (chausingha) – a extremely shy and a finicky ungulate – with her one-day-old baby.

The central Tadoba Forest offers visitors a glimpse of dozens of graceful herbivorous species, including the elusive four-horned antelope (chausingha) – seen here with her few days old baby

Much like the camera traps along the safari trails that capture images of the felines, Waghoba also takes a ‘here but not here’ approach. β€œZero impact is impossible, but we make sure our carbon footprint gets close to it,” says Swanand. This eco-friendly philosophy permeates all 14 cottage-style rooms, each with its own reading nook and outdoor seating area. Custom herbal bath products are supplied in refillable glass pump bottles, dental kits include a wooden toothbrush and toothpaste tablet bottle and two liter jugs replace plastic water bottles . A tent card on the desk sports a QR code that can be scanned for pre-set meals for the day. The rate includes regional, Continental and Indian cuisine, as well as homemade breads and desserts. Low-power LED lights stain both indoor and outdoor walkways, all facing downward to illuminate footsteps while keeping local wildlife quiet at night.

In all things, big and small, it is ultimately the environment that shines. No TV, limited network, Wifi only available in common areas, and a strict no-loud music policy mean true nature and wildlife lovers will find a haven of harmony. The outdoor swimming pool, guided nature walks, bike rides, boat rides along the scenic Irai Dam and the lounge’s library of books, wildlife films and board games provide relaxing entertainment. and family time.

Waghoba Eco Lodge’s outdoor pool offers panoramic views

The regret, I find, is surprisingly short-lived in this place. When darkness takes over, the sky responds with a tapestry of twinkling stars. The silence of a withdrawn day matches the song of tree frogs, the howls of foxes and the rustling of leaves. Where disarray turns into delight so quickly, what’s not to love?

Website: https://www.waghobaecolodge.com/home

How to get there: Waghoba Eco Lodge is 2.5 hours from Nagpur Airport on the NH-44 Nagpur-Hyderabad eight-lane highway.

Rate: Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000 per night, including three meals.

Ideal time to visit: October to January is ideal for nature safaris. Bird migrations and the annual flowering season between March and April may be of interest to photographers.

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