Sher Bagh

Ranthambhore National Park, Ranthambhore N.P., India Book from IRs40000

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
An authentic, luxurious tented jungle camp, perfect for game viewing and spotting the lucky tiger
It’s pretty hard to call it camping when you’re cocooned in a rather luxurious white linen tent that’s modelled after 1920’s safari quarters preferred by Princes of the time. Unlike the colonial days, you won’t be shooting tigers - except with a camera - but everything else about Sher Bagh is designed to make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, and the camp’s location next to Ranthambhore National Park means you may well glimpse one of these glorious creatures during your stay.

The camp’s tents are set in an arc around an immaculately clipped green lawn. Inside, they’re filled with character: old-style lanterns by the wooden beds, a writing desk complete with a ticklist of animals to spot, and bathrooms with rainwater showers and elegant copper fittings. Saunter over to the main lodge and you’ll find a host of fabulous tiger photos (all taken by owner Jaisal Singh or his wife Anjali), clusters of khaki safari hats and wooden walking sticks, and an open-air bar serving Bloody Marys before lunch and cigars afterwards. It’s slightly tongue-in-cheek but genuinely fabulous. A must-visit.

Highs

  • The camp managers are utterly charming and there's a wonderful atmosphere at night: a starry sky, the pathways lit by fire torches and everyone sitting around the campfire
  • The Pukka Sahib and Royal Suites are decadently romantic (choose from a Jacuzzi or private pool!)
  • Spectacular wildlife: the camp borders the national park and even tigers have been spotted nearby (no guarantees though!)
  • A lovely swimming pool, great for families with older kids
  • Lots of excellent food! And spoiling extras like hot water bottles and blankets for early morning drives

Lows

  • It's a bit off the beaten track - the journey may be a bit stressful, but the destination is worth it
  • It's expensive and the extras can really add up - we spent a small fortune on G&Ts
  • Tiger safaris need to be booked at least 6-8 weeks in advance...
  • ... And there's always the risk you won't see tigers, but the odds are better than they've been in years

Best time to go

Weatherwise, the best time to visit is from October to March, although you're more likely to see tigers in May and June if you can take the heat (temperatures can soar to 40C+). November, December and January can bring cold mornings and evenings, with crisp, sunny days. The monsoon season lasts from July to the end of September, and the camp closes during August and September.

Our top tips

You'll need at least 2 nights here - enough time to do a couple of safari drives and enjoy the camp. Make sure you bring sturdy shoes, binoculars, your camera and a spare memory card (you'll need it if you see a tiger).

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Camp
  • 12
  • All meals included
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 16 May 2015 - 30 Sep 2015...
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Royal Suite

Rooms

Each air-conditioned tent has a veranda with dark wood and leather camping chairs. A bamboo blind door leads through to comfortable wooden beds be-decked with plump cushions and white cotton. Bedside tables are adorned with old-style lanterns, providing a warm night time glow, and a jar of citronella oil wards off mozzies.

The Luxury Tents are stylish and relaxing, especially after tramping around the surrounding scrubland. In one corner is a writing desk (where you can easily picture a colonial gentleman dashing off a hunting epistle to the wife), topped with a folder of local information and The Jungle Book (a bespoke safari tick list of locals species).

The bigger Pukka Sahib Suite and Royal Suite are even more tempting, with private gardens and fun extras. The former has an alfresco Jacuzzi and shower, the later has a beautiful pool overlooking the open grounds.

Even the ensuite bathrooms are surprisingly swish, with sunken stone hot-water showers and copper fitted basins. During turndown service, the mosquito net is lowered and hot water bottles are left in the bed - a welcome surprise on a chilly night. And, despite the canvas walls, sound doesn’t carry as much as you’d think; we slept very well.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The food at Sher Bagh is absolutely fantastic - some Indian, some Western, all bursting with flavour. And this isn’t a place you’ll go hungry: the food just keeps on coming...

For the 3-course lunch, tables are beautifully laid with white linen and silverware; waiters coming one after another, each with a different dish. To start, utterly delicious creamy tomato gazpacho. A selection of mains included parmesan-topped spinach tart, mozzarella and tomato canapés, and salad. All fruit and veg is grown in the on-site organic garden. A rich cognac and chocolate mousse rounded things off - truly one of the best meals we had in Rajasthan.

Not surprisingly, we had no room for the sandwiches provided during our safari trip 30 minutes later(!), but we did manage the moist lemon sponge and Darjeeling tea on our return; just the ticket.

Lantern-lit dinners are usually served under the stars around the campfire. Guests arrive at dusk for aperitifs (spirits, cocktails or beers) and nibbles - perhaps tandoori chicken or crisp mini samosas. A local band provides entertainment as you chat with other guests.

The food is very good, a help-yourself Indian Thali: spicy mutton, cauliflower with coriander, black lentil daal, tangy homemade pickle. Naan and chapatti are baked in a clay oven, then authentically blackened on the camp fire. We lingered here for hours afterwards, sipping cognac and soaking up the safari vibe.

The buffet breakfast is served back in the dining tent and we were also treated to honey and brandy-laced porridge before our early morning safari.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Food and wine
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating: Dining area
Activity:

Activities

  • Most come here to see Ranthambhore Park’s wild tigers (sadly not guaranteed although, promisingly, the population has doubled in recent years). Daily morning and afternoon safaris can be booked through Sher Bagh (request in advance), along with binoculars, camera equipment and picnics
  • Even if you don’t see tigers, you’re bound to come across some fabulous wildlife. We spotted heaps of deer, peacocks, crocodiles, eagles, owls and monkeys
  • Hilltop Ranthambhore Fort was built in 900AD by the Rajput rulers and later invaded by Akbar's army. A camp-arranged guide can talk you through its fascinating history and the ramparts have wonderful views over the park and Lake Padam Talau
  • Keen birdwatchers can watch for over 350 species of birds and take Jeep expeditions to Soorwal Lake to view waders, ducks and various migratory species. If you want something more active, camel rides can also be arranged
  • Visit the nearby Dastakari Kendra women's co-op and purchase handmade block-print textiles and garments. Proceeds go directly to the local community - a great way to support sustainable tourism and keep creative traditions alive
  • Back at camp, laze by the pool or indulge at the massage tent. Full-time male and female masseurs offer aromatherapy massages and clothed shoulder, hand and foot, or head massages
  • Informal cooking classes are available - just ask to join the kitchen staff for an afternoon and see how it's done!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Camel rides
  • Food and wine
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

Popular with families, Sher Bagh is best for older kids (unless you have a rare breed that can quietly sit still for long enough to go on safari). That said, the expert staff are happy to keep kids busy with block-printing lessons and short drives around the camp boundaries.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

All tents can hold an extra bed for children aged 12 and under; families with children over 12 should book a separate tent. Parents with babies will need to bring their own travel cot and mosquito net.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement, so you may be able to arrange a tiger-spotting trip without the little ones.

Children's meals:

Food is available all day and nothing is too much trouble; if they don't like Indian food, grilled cheese sandwiches can be arranged, along with pretty much anything else. Everything from breakfast to afternoon tea offers variations on the theme to suit children.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Tiger-spotting safaris
  • Animal checklists
  • Swimming pool
  • Block-printing
  • Lounge with chess, board games and animal books
  • Viewing decks

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Camel rides
  • Ranthambhore Fort trips
  • Souvenir shopping at the local women's co-operative

Families Should Know:

There are of course hazards here, but 24-hour security means you don't need to worry about the surrounding wildlife. Bear in mind that you're a long way from an international airport. Sher Bagh is a 4-hour drive from Jaipur (or a 2-hour train journey, plus collection from the station). Mosquitoes are a pest.

Distances:

  • Airport: approx. 4 hours (Jaipur) / 6 hours (Agra)
  • Doctor: on call
  • Medical facilities: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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