Jaldapara in India

By Jane B. Holt
This item appears on page 30 of the February 2013 issue.
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My husband, Clyde, and I took a 35-day trip to India in March-April 2012 with arrangements made by Swagatam Tours (New Delhi, India; phone 91 11 25444000, fax 25444010).

We arrived at the Jaldapara Tourist Lodge-Maldarihat (phone/fax 91 3563 262230 or 91 3563 262606), one of the lodges where visitors to the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal stay. Swagatam had made our lodging arrangements, but the rack rate we saw was INR2,500 (near $45). Our wooden cottage with A/C was sufficient for our short stay, but we felt the food left much to be desired.

We would have preferred to stay inside the sanctuary at the Hollong Tourist Lodge (phone 91 3563 26228 — rack rate, INR2,500), next to the departure area for elephant safaris, but it has only seven rooms and was fully booked.

Rhino in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, India. Photo: Holt

Bookings for both properties (including all meals) can be made directly by phone or through the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation website.

Hollong must be booked several months in advance. Guests at both properties are given preference over walk-in visitors in securing places on the elephant safaris; Hollong’s guests have first preference. Elephant safaris cost INR600 ($12) per person.

Elephant safaris, which last one hour, have to be booked on site, but somehow Swagatam prebooked one for us the morning of our arrival, in addition to a jeep safari later in the day. We had good luck and saw a greater one-horned rhinoceros.

Our meet-and-great, Biswas, filled out an application and stood in line for us to get a 6:30 a.m. elephant safari the next morning, my birthday. On that safari, in addition to the oft-seen exotic birds, sambar deer and wild boar, we saw two rhinoceroses at very close range, one bathing in the river and another waking fuzzily up from a nap in the grass.

We returned to the concrete stairs used for mounting the elephants, dismounted and gave the elephants some treats (leftover chapatis). Our driver, Praveen, drove us the 15 minutes back to the lodge, where we had breakfast, then went to our room to prepare to leave.

Answering a knock on our door, we found Biswas and Praveen holding a birthday cake and singing more verses of “Happy Birthday to You” than I knew existed.

JANE B. HOLT
Hinesburg, VT

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My husband, Clyde, and I took a 35-day trip to India in March-April 2012 with arrangements made by Swagatam Tours (New Delhi, India; phone 91 11 25444000, fax 25444010).

We arrived at the Jaldapara Tourist Lodge-Maldarihat (phone/fax 91 3563 262230 or 91 3563 262606), one of the lodges where visitors to the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal stay. Swagatam had made our lodging arrangements, but the rack rate we saw was INR2,500 (near $45). Our wooden cottage with A/C was sufficient for our short stay, but we felt the food left much to be desired.

We would have preferred to stay inside the sanctuary at the Hollong Tourist Lodge (phone 91 3563 26228 — rack rate, INR2,500), next to the departure area for elephant safaris, but it has only seven rooms and was fully booked.

Rhino in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, India. Photo: Holt

Bookings for both properties (including all meals) can be made directly by phone or through the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation website.

Hollong must be booked several months in advance. Guests at both properties are given preference over walk-in visitors in securing places on the elephant safaris; Hollong’s guests have first preference. Elephant safaris cost INR600 ($12) per person.

Elephant safaris, which last one hour, have to be booked on site, but somehow Swagatam prebooked one for us the morning of our arrival, in addition to a jeep safari later in the day. We had good luck and saw a greater one-horned rhinoceros.

Our meet-and-great, Biswas, filled out an application and stood in line for us to get a 6:30 a.m. elephant safari the next morning, my birthday. On that safari, in addition to the oft-seen exotic birds, sambar deer and wild boar, we saw two rhinoceroses at very close range, one bathing in the river and another waking fuzzily up from a nap in the grass.

We returned to the concrete stairs used for mounting the elephants, dismounted and gave the elephants some treats (leftover chapatis). Our driver, Praveen, drove us the 15 minutes back to the lodge, where we had breakfast, then went to our room to prepare to leave.

Answering a knock on our door, we found Biswas and Praveen holding a birthday cake and singing more verses of “Happy Birthday to You” than I knew existed.

JANE B. HOLT
Hinesburg, VT