Family Hotel Review: Diphlu River Lodge, Assam, India
Set on the banks of the Diphlu River, this family-friendly ecolodge is the ideal place to stay for your safari adventure in the Kaziranga National Park.
Best For: Explorers and nature enthusiasts; children 6 years and older (although all ages welcome)
Reviewed by: Elizabeth Owen
Why You’ll Love It
The exceptional service and unique location of Diphlu River Lodge set it apart as the place to stay when visiting the Kaziranga National Park.
Set in the forest on the banks of the Diphlu River, the grounds of the lodge are beautiful. Wild flowers adorn the grass, while elephants bathe in the river and birdlife sing in the trees. We travelled with little kids and the main lodge is a great place for the whole family to relax, watch a movie (not that you really have the time) and, if you’re lucky, listen to the grunting of the rhinos as they come to drink at the river edge.
The resort is made up of 8 individual and 4 semi-detached cottages. These delightful thatched chalets on stilts are made from bamboo and natural materials and are very comfortable. Each has a veranda, which makes an ideal place for you to enjoy the scenery with afternoon tea and for the kids to watch the resident elephant taking her lunch.
All the food at the resort is locally sourced and the self-service buffet includes a mix of local and international dishes. The breakfasts are great with homemade bread, eggs to your liking and local delicacies. We would recommend trying puri and aloo dum – simply delicious! If an early morning safari awaits or if the little ones are in need of regular snacks, the staff are happy to pack you off with a picnic hamper full of food of your choosing.
Why The Kids Will Love It
This is an ideal location for exploring the wildlife of the Kaziranga National Park. Kids, especially older ones (6yrs+) will love the opportunity to get close to nature and enjoy the variety of wildlife.
Each family is designated a guide from Diphlu’s team of naturalists who will accompany you into the park. Our guide, Palab was fantastic – very friendly, great with our little kids and he had an amazing knowledge of wildlife and birdlife.
The early morning elephant safari is a must do and suitable for the whole family. We even took our infant who fell asleep with the rocking motion of the elephant. You will get within metres of the great Indian rhinos and hopefully spot some of the other 34 major mammals including wild elephants, swamp deer, wild buffalo and gaur. In the afternoons, you can try another corner of the park with an open jeep safari. Your guide will help you spot the rich birdlife and, if you are really lucky, you may even spot a Bengal tiger!
With two trips into the park each day, there is not a huge amount of downtime. However, if you have the time, there are a multitude of walks including to one of the nearby tribal villages. For families staying longer than 3 nights, book ahead a Dolphin Boat Safari or, between March and November, book a visit to a tea plantation to experience the famous Assam tea.
It’s worth noting that the lodge is not entirely toddler proof with open steps leading up to each cottage, small spaces for them to wriggle between and the river not far away.
It is important to note that the National Park is closed between May and October although the lodge remains open during this time.
Disclosure: Diphlu River Lodge offered Elizabeth and her family a special media rate for their stay. All views and opinions in the review are entirely independent and Elizabeth’s own.
There are eight individual and four semi-detached cottages. All of the cottages enjoy pleasant views and four of the individual cottages are river facing. The spacious rooms, each with an extra-large double bed are comfortable and decorated with cane furniture and wooden furnishings. French doors open to a large veranda with comfy cane chairs and each cottage has ac and heaters for comfort.
Best Rooms For Families: All of the cottages are suitable for families.
Cottages 5, 6, 7 and 8 have river views (the river bank is about 20yrds from each cottage).
Cottages 7, 8, 9 and 10 are within baby monitor reach of the main lodge, Machaan.
While there are no interconnecting rooms, the semi-detached cottages share a large veranda and would be ideal if you are traveling with your extended family or friends. All rooms can accommodate two additional camp (single) beds. The lodge does not currently have a cot and so you will need to bring your own. However, they are considering providing them to families in the future.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served in the dining room in the main lodge, the Machaan.
All the food is locally sourced and the self-service buffet includes a mix of local and continental dishes. The lunch and dinner menus somewhat cater to the western tourist and can be a bit bland. Their best meal is the breakfast with homemade bread, eggs to your liking and local delicacies. We would recommend trying puri and aloo dum – simply delicious!
If an early morning safari awaits or if the little ones are in need of regular snacks, the staff are happy to pack you off with a picnic hamper full of food of your choosing.
On request, food is available 24hrs and can also be enjoyed on your own veranda if you like.
For Kids: There is no dedicated kids’ menu but a few basic favourites are on offer including macaroni cheese, pasta and tomato sauce, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, non-spicy daal with rice and rotis. Dinner is served in the dining room from 1930. The staff will happily arrange for the kids to eat earlier but let them know in advance. Snacks are available throughout the day.
Activities for Parents
Take an early morning elephant safari in the Kaziranga National Park. Foreign nationals can enjoy elephant safari in the Central Range, which is about a 25min jeep ride from the lodge. Indian nationals have a choice of selecting one of two ranges for an elephant ride. The central range is supposed to be the best. Elephant safaris need to be booked a day in advance so do let the lodge Manager know so that he can book this for you.
Open jeep safaris are available early morning or afternoon from 2pm. The park closes at 5pm. The closest range is a 3 minute jeep ride away and this is where we saw our Bengali tiger. The afternoon safari is a beautiful time of day when the light is great for photographs. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars to see how many of the 35 mammals and array of birdlife you can spot!
Visit a tea plantation during the months of March and November when the tea leaves are being picked and the tea is manufactured. Manufacturing of tea stops between December and mid-March every year.
We did not have time but we were told that there are a number of walks available near the lodge including to one of the three tribal villages, a rubber plantation or along the river. One of the lodge’s naturalists will be happy to guide you. The walks can take from a few hours to full day hikes. Most can be done throughout the year.
Finally, if like us you are exhausted from being up so early with little ones, the best thing to do is simply relax with a cup of tea and enjoy the scenery from the veranda.
Activities for Kids
In addition to above family activities, the lodge are happy to organise a Dolphin Boat Safari. They would recommend this to families staying for more than three nights. The dolphin safari is an opportunity to take a boat trip on the Brahmaputra and spot the rare Ganges dolphin. The safari operates from October until the end of June.
Play hide-and-seek with the friendly goats that come to graze in the grass around the lodge and keep a look out for the resident elephant, which makes an appearance for lunch each day.
For families with bigger kids, the lodge also has a collection of board games and a TV room where you are welcome to watch films. If this is something you think would be an option, it is a good idea to take your own DVDs.
Air-Conditioning, babysitting, heating in each room, common rooms, extra beds, kids’ activities, laundry service, pushchair friendly, shop, travel desk, WiFi, eco-friendly.
For non-Indian passport holders the price is 15,000 rup per night per person based on Jungle package which includes all meals and 2 safari’s per day. Indian passport holders pay 8,000 for the same package. These prices are pretty high but having visited other parks, we feel that you honestly get what you pay for and if you are visiting to experience the amazing wildlife, this is your best opportunity. Diphlu ensures that you get the best jeep rides and access to the park areas rich in wildlife.
When booking we were perturbed by the difference between Indian and non-Indian passport holders, especially as we are Indian residents (despite not being Indian passport holders) and pay Indian tax. Most hoteliers have done away with this discriminatory policy towards Indian residency holders. We would strongly urge the Diphlu River Lodge to follow suit.
Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
If you are visiting for safari, the park is open from 1st November until 30th April. The best distance visibility is between February and April when the tall elephant grass is burned.
Location & Travel:
Diphlu River Lodge is situated 220 kilometres east of Guwahati, the capital of the state of Assam. With direct flights from Delhi, Guwahati is the best option to fly into Assam. From the airport it is a 3.5hrs drive to the Lodge. There are also direct flights from Kolkata to Jorhat airport which is a 2.5hrs drive to the Lodge. Arrangements can be made to collect guests from the airport at extra charge.
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Contact The Hotel
For more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
Reviewed by: Elizabeth Owen
1) If traveling with little kids, don’t forget to take a travel cot. These are not available at the Lodge.
2) If you are visiting for safari, remember that the Kaziranga National Park is open from 1st November until 30th April.
3) Order meals and snacks in advance for little kids and let the hotel know if they would like to eat at different times.
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