Travel through a storybook

Travel through a storybook

Keep peace with Lords of the Jungle the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.

And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair.

- Rudyard Kipling, Jungle Book

With rolling hills of teak stands and animals around every bend, it is Pench National Park that inspired Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book. On my visit to the park, it was not hard to imagine Mowgli, Baloo, and Bagheera tromping through the trees learning the Laws of the Jungle. While I didn't spot a Baloo or Bagheera, I did spot relatives of Kaa (snake), Bandar-log (langur monkey), Tabaqui (jackal), and the Dholes (a pack of wild dogs), and of course Shere Khan (Tiger).

Pench National Park nestled in the southern reaches of the Satpura Hills in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. Named after Pench River, which divides the park in half. Declared a national park in 1983 and a tiger reserve in 1993. Pench is comprised of over 750 square km. is home to many species of animal, the most thrilling of which are tigers, leopards, dhole (wild dog), and sloth bears. Commonly seen and heard are spotted deer, sambar, jackals, langur monkeys, and over 285 resident and migratory birds.

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The best base for exploring this national park is Jamtara Wilderness Camp, located 4 hours north of Nagpur, the geographical center of India, and just minutes from the entrance of Pench. Surrounded by tall Arjuna Trees and an ancient Banyan rooted on a dry riverbed, each tented room overlooks the forest where animals can roam right into camp. I spent the hot afternoons between safaris in the pool below the Banyan tree watching young langur monkeys learn to climb under the watchful eyes of the elders. Their antics harkened to the Bagheera's cautions to Mowgli about the cheeky monkeys who don't always play by the Laws of the Jungle. Half of me wanted to be kidnapped by them to just lay around in the trees all day too, the other half loved the comfy bed in my tent too much to go wild.

An evening in the machaan or Star Bed was as far as I would go wild in the jungle. For generations, farmers in this region have been sleeping out in their fields so the farmer can keep a watch over his land. A lovely bed on a platform, complete with mosquito netting and a night guard, allows you to see, or rather hear, hear wildlife moving about you as the stars come out for the night.

Amazing guides and staff, delicious food, and unparalleled access to Pench National Park make this storybook adventure within reach and comfort of any traveler. To experience this national park and so much more of India check out our Ultimate India Cultural and Wildlife Safari.

 From your friendly India expert,

Laura Cahill

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