“Close encounters of the feline kind; a droolingly chic safari camp amongst the haunting beauty of the Jawai hills and lake”
Each of the 10 tents is set on dark grey slate looking out to the kopjes that rise dramatically above the bush. Most have a simple double bed and ensuite bathroom set-up, but there is one Tented Suite (consisting of 2 tents connected by a canopy), which is best suited to groups or families.
All-white canvas inners are topped with fly sheets and waterproof liners, ensuring you'll stay relatively cool in summer and, in the unlikely event of rain, bone dry. You also have the luxury of heating and air-con units (hidden behind white canvas). The same angular chrome, canvas and leather furniture that’s been used to such eye-catching effect in the dining tent has been used for the beds, the bedside tables, the desk and the campaign-style chairs, which you’ll find out on the deck.
In the coir-matted sleeping section, your kingsize double bed is backed by an enormous black-and-white photo of the same leopards you may just have seen on your game drive. The colour scheme is carried over in a triple bank of black cushions that are lined up atop a white cotton bedspread, whilst American designer Michael Aram’s whimsical bedside lamps up the 'glamp' quotient. Metal trunks are home to safety and cool boxes; torches and a bird guide speak more of the bush.
The tents’ shower rooms were no afterthought. You’ll find vanity units and a high rain shower in chrome and teak, twin basins and mirrors, bathrobes and slippers, stacks of white towels, and Michael Aram’s hammered-metal soap dishes and mugs. There are chunky bars of soap as well as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, along with a tube of mozzie repellant.
Mealtimes follow the rhythm of the game drives and Jawai is already making waves for its haute bush cuisine. After awaking to drinks delivered to your tent, and a snack during the morning drive, you’ll probably be feeling pretty peckish on your return to camp. Expect excellent coffee and an extensive selection of teas, a fresh fruit salad (maybe pineapple, papaya and mango), as well as juice, cereals, cheeses, cold cuts and the cooked breakfast of your choice.
Buffet-style lunches are served in the main dining tent and feature a big choice of salads with fish or white meat, subtly spiced sauces or, if you prefer, an omelette. There are also light desserts and bowls laden with fruit. If you’d prefer, opt for something lighter like a club sandwich and a fresh lime soda delivered to your tent: my triple-decker was simply scrumptious.
Dinners are the main culinary event and normally begin shortly after the evening game drive. Eating in the dining tent has a formal feel (join your fellow guests or dine à deux), though every second evening, weather permitting, you eat around a boma fire in a candlelit corner of the reserve. Whilst you’re sipping your aperitif and discussing the day’s sightings, delicious amuse-bouches are brought round: tiny pakoras with tamarind sauce or maybe skewered mutton tikka with a mint dip. The sailana chicken main course on our first night and the jungli mas the following evening were both superb and accompanied by delicately flavoured daals, vegetables and rice. If you’re celebrating a special event, you can even arrange to have a private dinner beneath the stars, way out in the bush.
Soft drinks, house wines and beers are included in the price of your stay. You can choose other wines, or even Indian bubbly, but you won’t be disappointed by the included Sula wines. They’re from the Nasik region of southwestern India, now home to India’s finest coupages and around 30 top-brand wineries.
Any teenager interested in wildlife would have a thrilling time at Jawai, but apart from the pool - and for much of the year it’s too cold for comfortable bathing - there isn’t a great deal that would be of interest to younger kids at the camp.
Tracking leopards can be about patiently waiting for something to happen, often for an hour or more, so as an outdoor activity it isn’t ideally suited to younger children.
Teens (over 12)
All tents have space for an extra bed, and would work well for families with one younger child. The Tented Suite is best suited to families with 1 or 2 older children, as it has 2 ensuite double bedrooms connected via a canopy (no twin beds). There is no charge for children under 7 years, older children incur a surcharge.
Baby cots are not provided as standard, so it's best to either bring your own or request one well in advance of your arrival.