Jawai

Udaipur, India Book from

Close encounters of the feline kind; a droolingly chic safari camp amongst the haunting beauty of the Jawai hills and lake
Know how the leopard got its spots? Well now it’s time to spot leopards, and there’s no place in Rajasthan where you’re more likely to get a bone-thrilling, close-up view of these feline Ferraris than here. Some 3 dozen inhabit the rocky granite kopjes that rise above the bush close to Jawai, the latest creation of owners Anjali and Jaisal Singh (of the Sujan luxury camps group), who aim to make the camp a model for eco-tourism and big cat conservation.

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.

Highs

  • 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

Lows

  • 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

Jawai is open from early September until mid-May annually - see rates for specific dates. The best time to visit is from October to early April, when it's dry, warm and less humid (though nights can be chilly). Temperatures rise to around 38C from March onwards, before the monsoon season arrives in July. The rains usually last until the end of September.

Our top tips

Jawai provides cameras and binoculars for guests (you can check if one might be available at the time of booking), but if you're a keen photographer you might want to bring your own. A decent telephoto lens is an absolute must if you hope to get decent shots of the leopards, and the birdlife and crocs next to the lake. Have a spare battery when out on your game drives, along with a heavy duty memory card: you’ll be snapping away as if there were no tomorrow.

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Tented Camp
  • 10
  • All inclusive
  • Best suited to teens
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Game drives
  • Cooking classes
Room:

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Extra beds
  • Heating unit
  • Mosquito net
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Communal dining
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wildlife

Kids

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.

Best for:

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.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Jawai