Sunday, July 1, 2018

Singinawa Jungle Lodge • India • Prestige Digital

Madhya Pradesh, India,  By Gillian McLaren
For that perfect  holiday in India, Singinawa Jungle Lodge  is a wonderful choice, being close to Kanha National Park Tiger Reserve, as well as to several fascinating villages of  indigenous tribal groups
There are twelve  stylish cottages  tucked away in a secluded part of the hundred acres of grassland and forest which comprise  Singinawa’s property.
Each tastefully decorated cottage has a lounge area, a shady veranda, and a spacious bedroom with an en-suite bathroom featuring a double vanity. The quality tribal art which is used in the d├ęcor is also on display in the  art gallery on the premises.
Central Indian cuisine is a highlight of the lodge, with a variety of superb dishes, all prepared with fresh ingredients sourced from local farmers.  Lunch is served on the balcony of the communal area, with pleasing views of the forest, teeming  with birds like the rose-ringed parakeet.
As the  soft morning light streams through the trees in Kanha National Park, you may go on safari in an open jeep, with a knowledgeable naturalist from the lodge and a guide from the reserve, . Thick with a tangle of mahua  and sal  trees, the jungle reverberates with sounds. Alarm calls of Hanuman langur, Sambhar (the largest Indian deer), or India robin may  alert possible prey to the presence of a leopard or a royal Bengal tiger.  You may also expect  to see flamboyant   Red Junglefowl, the  progenitor of modern poultry, or see the  impressive  one metre wide web of the Golden Orb Spider! Who knows, you might  discover a variety of beautiful butterflies too.
Easily spotted are herds  of Barasingha, or Swamp deer:  spotted  deer, with soft velvety antlers are often seen, , plus  the largest extant bovine  – the majestic Gaurs.
There is the opportunity to meet members of  the Baiga tribe, who claim to be the forefathers of the human race and the first people of India. They believe in one God, Bhagwan, whom they say handcrafted them. Although their lifestyle is very minimal, with simple clothes and undecorated houses,  women wear large silver necklaces which have been handed down from generation to generation, and tattoo their faces and body. Men collect bamboo leaves to fashion crafts.

Beyond the Taj
To have the perfect trip to a different  India crafted  for you personally, contact our professional and reliable company. We  will source for you  the most suitable and special accommodation options, and provide for you the services of , trustworthy drivers and well- educated English-speaking guides. We  specialise in tailoring  unique experiences, for those who do not wish to follow the outmoded general tourist track.
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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge • Nosy Komba • Madagascar

Island Elegance at Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge

January 10, 2018 - By Gillian McLaren

The spectacular beauty of Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge - situated on the slopes of a dormant volcano, amongst tropical trees on the island of Nosy Komba in Madagascar, with its panoramic view of the Indian Ocean – leaves Gillian McLaren spellbound.

Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge is a handpicked member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World and with good reason. Approaching the island in a speedboat from the port of Hellville on Nosy Be, the six Ocean View and two Suite Ocean View Lodges are visible only as woven palm-branch roofs, amidst lush greenery. Despite minimum interference with the indigenous nature, an appealing Garden of Eden has been fashioned, where totally non-venomous weird and wonderful creatures like butterflies, skinks and lizards abound. I stroll across golden sands to be greeted warmly by casually elegant staff that carries my dive bag and suitcase to my private suite.

Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge

Totally secluded, with a Zen garden next to the suite, I have a bedroom, indoor lounge – which has two daybeds, so suitable for two extra guests or family – bathroom with shower and two basins, plus a spacious verandah. To my delight, I discover an outdoor shower, made of hollow bamboo. Left alone I simply sit, sip my welcome drink of fresh juices while gazing at the view, mesmerized by the view of azure water with fisherman in bobbing traditional pirogues, a Catamaran berthing and village women with baskets on their head walking lazily on the beach below, where the tide is low. I can see the tiny island of Tanikely, where I will be scuba diving in the marine nature reserve.

Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge

My reverie is interrupted by the arrival of a dayglo-green Madagascar Day Gecko, with pink markings - a Phelsuma species - so I rush to get my camera. On the wooden wall of the verandah, I spot another species of gecko, strategically situated near to the outside light, where it surely hopes to catch insects in the evening. Up some stairs of stone, towards the dining area of Tsara Komba, I find a nursery garden where endemic baobab and Pachypodium species are being nurtured. Reaching the wide deck of the communal lounge and dining spaces, I am freshly overawed by the spectacle of the open ocean. Fellow guests excitedly point out a turtle nearby, which is gliding over sea grass. When a pair of Humpback whales appears, we abandon our lunch to rush down to the shore, hop into a motorboat, and follow the breeding whales. They oblige us by breaching and tail slapping, to our roar of approval.

Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge

After our spontaneous excursion we settle again at neatly set tables, to savor the prettily presented gourmet fare, created from locally sourced ingredients, using slow-food inspired techniques. Expect a variety of three course meals, with an abundance of fresh seafood, delectable duck or local Zebu beef, in creative sauces and reductions. Desserts include a choice of French-style tortes, cakes or homemade exotic fruit sorbets, served graciously by staff recruited from local villages. They share with me that Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge has helped to provide local communities with shelter in restored traditional wooden houses, clean water, a maternity clinic and classrooms for schooling.

Ready for some action, I use one of the lodge kayaks to paddle to a nearby snorkeling area. Resting the kayak on a deserted beach, I don my mask and fins, to discover a parallel universe under the waves, where a diversity of hard and soft corals are in surprisingly good condition, sustaining a healthy population of vivid tropical fish. On a still, cerulean ocean, I kayak back to the beach just below my suite, as the sun sets in a gentle haze of pastel pinks, casting a lambent glow on the water.

Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge

After a pleasant sleep, beneath draped mosquito nets, in a fan-induced gentle breeze, I get up early to trek up through the forest. I hear a Madagascar Coucal’s emptying-bottle-of-water call and the high-pitched chee-chee of Suimanga, then – to my delight - I manage to spot these birds. After my hike and a leisurely breakfast, I join Nosy Komba divers, to head for the protected waters around Nosy Tanikely. Snorkeling and diving in the sites here have the reputation of being absolutely fantastic, so I have high expectations. It is a shallow, easy dive and we see many kinds of wrasse, parrotfish, lionfish, grouper and Giant moray eel, a Blue-spotted ray, turtles and my favourite: colourful nudibranch. Corals are beautiful and varied, including Yellow Gorgonian fan and Table coral. As the sea is calm, we chat on the dive boat for our surface interval - sipping hot Malagasy tea and enjoying the extra-sweet small bananas - then we dive again. Exhilarated by the wonder of Tube and Vase sponge, Titan triggerfish and vast shoals of Yellowback fusilier, I return to my suite to read a book that I find in the bookshelf assembled from an old pirogue, placed upright.

Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge

Treading lightly on the island, working to conserve the tropical vegetation, serving local communities and providing excellent hospitality to guests, Tsara Komba Luxury Beach and Forest Lodge is an outstanding lodge in Madagascar. Intimate and exclusive, it sports an unforgettable view that will ‘flash upon that inward eye’ in future moments of solitude.

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Gillian Mclaren Travel and Science Writer