Back to Listing

India and Africa - For the love of Wildlife

India and Africa - For the love of Wildlife

We think we travel to discover new and exciting places, to feel alive in a city not your own. We do things when we are away that would never occur to us as plausible at home. In this dichotomy I think we find the paradox of life – the yearning to be both away and amid familiar, all at once.

My journey to Rajasthan opened my mind to so many similarities with Africa – quite comfortable beside new discoveries. The Palaces and the Forts, the simple welcome of Marigold Garlands and iced tea, the pulse of the mopeds in tiny alley ways, the packs of scruffy dogs seamlessly beside temples and the susurration of the call to prayer.

Yet this smorgasbord promised spice, some wilderness. Sujan came to my rescue and even added a quirky, elegant palace, Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur. These elegant boutique  styled destinations are also a part of the Relais & Chateau group. I use the word ‘destinations’ with the collective mind set that each of the hotels is stand alone in their own right, service levels are impeccable and attention to detail is a way of life.

Most of my working life was in Southern Africa, in the Sabi Sands, in the Greater Kruger National Park. In between there was Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and other wildlife hot spots. My joy at the thought of an Indian Safari was contagious – meaning people listened but walked away with a gentle head shake.

We started our journey in Udaipur on the lake, in the exquisite Lake Palace. This incredible soft landing was just the tonic we needed to refuel and ramble slowly towards the reserve. Along the way a stand out hotel for me was the Raas Devigarh – the 39 large, luxurious suites are each individually decorated. I loved how the beautiful maze of spaces were a visual and sensory theatre. Ampersand founder and managing director, James, called the design ‘achingly cool’ and that is the most real way to describe the authenticity of the décor and design. I would add playfulness, as the occasional splash of beautiful bright swashes of colour is an instant reminder to revel in the originality. The breath taking views of rural life, the Avravali Hills – unique invitations to go horse or camel riding, mountain biking, hiking or take in the rural small town that is less congested that the larger cities. The minimalist pared down haven is also the ideal rooftop space for early morning yoga.

Sujan Jawai was calling as soon as we turned off the main road and onto a dirt road (far less bumpy than any African gravel tracks). We were met by our guide and a lodge host, Will. We changed vehicles and the open game drive vehicle affirmed that the safari had begun.  Not a single Landrover or a Toyota Land Cruiser in sight and the compact, efficient Mahindra was a smooth ride! From the onset the attention to detail and the presentation of facts and information was excellent. As in most National Parks, there is no off road driving.

Sujan Jawai is not a permanent camp due to the seasonal summer rains. There are 8 Luxury tents 1 family tented suite and a Royal Tented Suite. The tents are large and spacious with minimalist black and white prints of leopards contrasted with red splashes against the white Linen. The main areas follow this style with a minimalist, striking display of red turbans in the main area.

Once you know that the camp has all the bells and whistles, your attention is focused on the incredible eco-systems the lodge has implemented in order to leave no carbon footprint. Their back of house has herb and vegetable gardens all on a systematic drip-irrigation. They have a vast selection of some of the best wine in the world – all refrigerated by a wooden framework packed with charcoal blocks! The best sustainable wine cellar I have ever encountered!

The food, as for all the Sujan properties is simple and beyond delicious. The wildlife experience is not so much about a ‘typical’ safari. The ticking off species only counts with the incredible number of bird species – Lifers will be ticked off at speed! The lodge has a far more ‘tread-lightly’ thinking in the ethos they follow. Leopards are seen frequently, and sparse general game is sighted. The focus is on sustainability and in conjunction with the local authority and the Indian Government they work together to facilitate village life, sustainability of wildlife areas and tourism. The immensity of the project and the shared commitment is impressive and extremely progressive. The sense of commitment and continuity to the land and surrounding communities is a powerful policy.

The Sujan group continues this formula at Sher Bagh. The lodge is also tented but on a more permanent basis than Jawai. The luxury Tents are spacious, beautifully appointed and generous in proportion. The lodge staff are polished, gracious and attentive – they live in the local villages and the lodge is a necessary source of income for local communities. The daily game drives are scheduled and enter different zones to contain the vehicle density. The guides and trackers are all local and extremely knowledgeable. The most touching part of the drives was to always see, towering over the wildlife areas – the Rathambore fort wall. I felt an overwhelming sense of endurance, commitment and hard labour. 

In this sparse contrast of history and wildlife preservation there is an eternal binding theme. The concept of looking back while all the time putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. The reality I have learned is that no safari is the same – there is no measurement. The preservation and commitment to sustainability is a global goal. India continues to add to the indelible commitment to preserve wilderness areas.

For more information or to start planning your wildlife holiday to India or South Africa please contact us: // +44 (0) 207 819 9770

Client Testimonials

Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences