Looking for a quiet getaway from the Bangalore city life? Then Dubare Elephant Camp, Karnataka is the perfect place for you. Deep into the woods, beside river Kaveri, there stood a breathtakingly peaceful property of Jungle Lodges and Resorts. Dubare Elephant Camp is the joint venture of the forest department and the Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd in order to promote wildlife tourism at its natural best. We started our ride from Bangalore on a crisp Saturday morning, almost at the time of sunrise in our Kawasaki Ninja 350cc. And exactly before lunchtime we reached our destination. The highway till Dubare Camp is moderately decent. And have ample of good pit stops on the way for fuel or a quick bite. Driving or hiring a cab is the best plan to reach this place. The camp is nestled totally off the highway. So it’s highly recommended to use Google Maps or a printed map for the exact directions. If you speak the local dialect then you can seek the help of the natives as well to confirm the directions.While you are about to arrive at the camp give a call to the concerned person at the camp informing him about your arrival time. The polite staff of the camp will take care of parking your vehicle while a small steamer boat transports the guests to the property. Imagine crossing the weirdly peaceful and calm river dodging the extended branches of the trees that are kissing the river. One rarely enjoys such scenes while living in a concrete jungle.
So are the guests greeted by the elephants on arrival? Definitely no. In fact, there are no elephants to be seen around the lodges. The team saves the best for the last. Till then you familiarize yourself with the surroundings, dig into the delicious lunch spread at the rustique dining area whose foundation is submerged in the river and the windows provide an incredible tranquil view of the river. An occasional squirrel might join you for the lunch making its way through the tree branches sneaking into the dining area. Post lunch, you can wander around, capture the beautiful surroundings into digital frames or take a quick power nap. Around 4 pm, the jeep safari into the deep forest begins under the guidance of an expert naturalist. Make sure to carry your binoculars for the same. You are definitely going to need them. The camp is located in the Coorg district, hence enjoys idyllic weather conditions. Monsoons (July to mid-September) are difficult, but the swollen river makes it all the more interesting and the surrounding foliage is alive and vibrant. The post-monsoon months till the Spring is the ideal time to visit the camp as the weather is perfect. I would not recommend this place for summers, as the afternoons are humid, dull and dry.
As the sun sets, the silence of the Jungle is muddled by the sounds of the nocturnal critters. They kinda provide a thrilling background score to enhance your wild experience. And the crocodile warning signs near the river bank definitely scare the city folks like us. One useful advice – go to bed early. I know it is difficult not to build an interesting conversation over the scrumptious dinner besides bonfire. But at Dubare Elephant Camp schedule is followed very seriously. Next morning, you will have a wake up call around 5 am. Wake up to the birdsong, mist engulfed surroundings and greet the morning with a cup of tea/coffee. Get ready, wear your jogging shoes, as you are going to join a trained naturalist on a Jungle trail that too walking. He overloads you with an array of information. Don’t mind!! Remember whatever you can. Once the jungle trail ends, a Coracle boat is waiting for you by the side of the river. With a blanket of mist floating over the river, nature really puts its best show at this wee hour. Absorb every moment of this magical ride. Because it is definitely a rare display of mesmerizing natural beauty.
And then finally it’s the time to meet the giant mammals – the elephants. The sole purpose for which you have come to the camp. I think never in my life again I could be this close to an elephant. They come in groups, guided by their respective handlers, and they are seriously massive. With a calm persona, not intimidated by the human presence, they glide into the river like a professional swimmer. And then you get to give them a bath. Can you imagine giving a huge elephant wash and scrub like your pet? Yes, you get to do that at Dubare Elephant Camp. A trained naturalist is at hand to explain the various aspects of the elephant history, ecology and biology. And there are those naughty baby elephants in the group. They rarely miss a chance to play tricks in the water. The elephant adventure is not over yet. You get to feed these elephants as well. After all, who doesn’t like a good breakfast after the relaxing bath? Post eating if these elephants are in a good mood, they can give you a ride as well. Whether it is a jeep Safari into Dubare forest with a trained naturalist, watching wildlife documentary or sitting beside the campfire under the stars, Dubare Camp brings you more close to the mother nature. It instills a sense of responsibility and respect towards the wild ecosystem.
Must-Pack Items for Dubare Camp
- A pair of running/sports shoes. You get to do a lot of walking in the wild surroundings. So pack your most comfortable and covered footwear for the trip. You must also consider packing a pair of flip-flops or sports sandals. That comes handy while getting into the water with elephants.
- Dress for comfort and safety. Casual, comfortable, clothing is suitable throughout the year. Do avoid bright colors and stick to muted shades of green, black, grey and brown. The more you meld with the background, the better. Pack a pair of extra clothes as you definitely want to change post giving elephant bath.
- Wearing clothes in layers is the smart way to cope with fluctuating day/night temperature in the camp. Must pack a pair of sweatshirt or jacket for the wee morning hours.
- You’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors. Don’t forget your cap/hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, torch, binoculars and of course the camera.
- I know you will not miss any of these – mobile/laptop/iPod/kindle charger. There is rarely any mobile network in Dubare so don’t worry much about the mobile charger.
- Do not forget to put your prescription medicines and pain relief ointment. You will not get them anywhere around the camp.
- Try to restrict your luggage to one item – maybe one backpack. For no reason, traveling with hefty luggage in a wild expedition is always the cause of the uninvited trouble.
- If you are traveling with the kids or family. Better to pack your favorite munchies/aerated beverages/snacks as you won’t get these items at the camp.
Other useful clues:
- Browse through the website of Jungle Lodges and Resort. Reach out to them over a phone call to discuss the pricing, cottage type, and facilities. Their corporate office is in Bangalore and the staff is quite helpful.
- Book in advance. There are limited number of accommodations at Dubare Camp. If you are planning to visit around holiday season then it is better to book in advance via their official website.
- It is difficult to source gourmet or variety of ingredients in the middle of the jungle. Still the kitchen team at the camp layout a fabulous spread of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. If you have certain food preferences/allergies then it is better to tell the kitchen team. They are more than happy to customize the menu as per your liking. They take every feedback positively.
- Don’t expect luxuriously star hotel like facilities. But definitely, the cottages are spacious, well-built, nicely maintained and laced with all the basic facilities required to spend a night in the jungle. And trust me that rustique appeal adds to the entire jungle adventure experience.
- At Dubare Camp, credit/debit cards are not accepted for the payment. So either make the payment in advance or carry enough amount of cash. Also, there are no ATM’s nearby.
- Beware of faux elephant camps in the area. Always ask for Jungle Lodges and Resort rather than looking for an elephant camp.
.….and what weekend at Dubare taught me, “Nature is one of the finest art of God. Let’s respect it for that.”