“Close encounters of the feline kind; a droolingly chic safari camp amongst the haunting beauty of the Jawai hills and lake”
You’ll stay in one of 10 individually crafted tents which fan out a discrete distance away from the central dining and chill-out tents and drop-edge pool. White canvas interiors commingle chrome and leather with stunning black-and-white photography, whilst 5-star service, superb food and erudite tracker-guides ensure that your stay will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This ground-breaking camp, the first of its kind in India, is a brilliant add-on to any ‘Golden Triangle’ circuit, as well as a glorious destination in its own right.
- Nearly all guests get to see leopards at close quarters thanks to top-spec game vehicles and brilliant guides
- Magical at night, when hundreds of lamps and a boma fire are lit - the unpolluted night sky had us gasping in awe
- We’ve had the good fortune to stay in a number of top-notch safari camps, but rarely have we come across a swisher, more pampering tented creation than here
- The birdlife is mind-boggling and the low-growing Anogeissus scrub, punctuated by granite outcrops and sandy rivers, is uniquely beautiful
- The Sujan group has a reputation for superb food, no matter how remote the camp, and Jawai is no exception
- Not a wilderness experience as such: it's set on just 12 hectares of land, with a small village close by, temples within sight (and earshot), and herdsmen and vehicles seen on most game drives. But this just adds extra spice and colour
- Whether you arrive from Udaipur or Jodhpur, be prepared for a fairly long, dusty and winding drive
- It's not cheap, but rates include twice-daily game drives, all meals, soft drinks, house wine and beer, and a laundry service
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Luxury Tented Camp
- All inclusive
- Best suited to teens
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Game drives
- Cooking classes
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.
- Air conditioning
- Extra beds
- Heating unit
- Mosquito net
- Mosquito repellant
- Safe box
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.
- All meals included
- Communal dining
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Be amongst the first travellers to track leopards at Jawai, and become part of a ground-breaking conservation initiative whose long-term aim is to ensure that these majestic big cats stay around for future generations
- Walk out through the bush with a Rabari tribesman and get an insight into how the local communities farm their land and tend their crops
- Be amazed at the birdlife at the margins of the Jawai dam where, along with storks, herons, flamingos and eagles, you’re also bound to see crocodiles
- Visit the local temples, where you’ll be greeted by inquisitive langur monkeys and screaming peacocks; ‘temple leopard’ might even put in an appearance
- Treat yourself to a hot-oil massage or a herbal rub at the Suján Spa or in your tent; the therapists use indigenous herbs and oils for skincare and other beauty products
- Grab a book from Jawai’s library then chill out beside the beautiful drop-edge pool, or request an alfresco cooking lesson
- Head further afield with Jawai’s driver and car to visit the Jain temples at Ranakpur and the mighty wall and battlements of Kumbhalgarh Fort (additional cost)
- Quiz Resident Big Cat Specialist Adam Bannister about his pioneering work with leopards in Rajasthan, and listen to Director of Wildlife Experiences Yusuf Ansari’s fascinating stories about wildlife conservation in India
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Traditional cultures
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)
Family friendly accommodation:
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.
Families Should Know:
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.