Family Hotel Review: Jim’s Jungle Retreat, Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand, India
Located on the southern edge of Corbett Tiger Reserve is this eco- and family-friendly lodge that offers fantastic tiger safaris run by award-winning naturalists and dozens of fun, educational activities for kids.
Best For: Wildlife enthusiasts; big kids and teens (but children of all ages welcome).
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
Located on the southern edge of Corbett Tiger Reserve is this eco- and family-friendly- lodge that offers fantastic tiger safaris run by award-winning naturalists. The national park is home to over 50 mammals, including elephants, sloth bears and, of course, tigers as well as nearly 600 domestic and transitory birds. It’s a wonderful place for wildlife spotting and ideal for aspiring Attenboroughs.
The resort is within reach of three of the Corbett park zones; Jhirna (10 mins), Bijrani (25 mins) and Dhikala (40 mins) and safaris can be tailored according to your family’s needs. That said, jeep safaris are generally recommend for children over 5 years as they take approximately 3 to 4 hours, which may prove rather tiresome for little kids. The Jims Jungle team of guides are extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic and each member has their own particular speciality; Sanjeet for example is extremely good at catching snakes!
Jims covers 15 acres and the landscape and accommodation have been crafted to blend into the natural environments. As such, wildlife and birdlife spotting opportunities abound without you even having to leave your private veranda. In addition you can go fishing (for the ‘tiger of the fresh water river’), enjoy nature walks, go cycling, visit the Tumariya Wetlands, stop by to Jim Corbett’s former home that’s now a museum or simply laze by the hotel’s waterhole-shaped pool.
Why The Kids Will Love It
This is truly a wonderful place for kids, particularly big kids and teens that will really enjoy all the outings and activities on offer. The focus at Jims Jungle Retreat is on educating children to appreciate wildlife and the importance of conservation; their motto is “seek the tiger, find the jungle”.
As such, there are a lot of fun and educational things for kids to do from examining bugs and creepy crawlies with magnifying glasses to workshops where children can learn how to make plaster casts from tiger paw prints. Night time nature walks (with flashlights) are offered, elephant rides can be arranged and children as young as six can learn how to fish on a day trip. Younger children can grab a bamboo rod or net and try their hand in the nearby river. A large playing field behind the resort is the perfect spot for games of football and cricket and the swimming pool is always popular, particularly in warmer months.
Jims can also organise overnight stays in the Jungle and this is a fantastic experience for teens. A handful of Forest House guesthouses, originally constructed by the British for hunting purposes, remain in a couple of park zones and these are available to sleep in with advance booking. The huts are very basic with no electricity and staff carry all your essentials there (food, bedding etc.), but it truly is a real jungle adventure.
Jims Jungle Retreat usually closes for a month during the monsoon period (mid-July to mid-August).
Jim’s Jungle offers two types of accommodation, Jungle Cottages and Jungle Lodges. The aesthetic is very much ‘safari chic’ with old lithographs and plates of hunting scenes hanging on walls, individually designed pieces of wooden furniture, including glorious four-poster beds, richly coloured carpets and fine linens. There are some lovely touches such as the brass woodpecker door knockers and tiger cushions.
Jungle Cottage Constructed using techniques popular with the neighbouring Gujjar community, these cottages have sloping thatched roofs and mud-coloured exteriors. Inside, the rooms are elegant with an Out of Africa kind of feel to them. These rooms enjoy a wraparound veranda. There are also two-bedroom Jungle Family Cottages with a second bedroom for two children below the age of 15.
Jungle Lodge These elevated rooms afford spectacular views of the jungle, Shivalik Hills and the seasonal riverbed that regularly plays host to deer and wild hog as well as the occasional tiger or elephant. Inside the rooms have an old world charm to them as well as 10ft wide wrap-around verandas and rain showers.
Best rooms for families: Extra beds are accommodated on a case-by-case basis. The Jungle Cottages can accommodate one extra bed or rollaway bed and there is a window day bed that would work for little kids. If the children are small then Jim’s will allow one day bed and one rollaway bed. For bigger families or those travelling with older children then the Jungle Family Cottage is ideal. Located near the restaurant, these cottages come with two bedrooms. Children are not permitted in the Jungle Lodges.
Inspired by a Gujjar thatch and mud hall, the dining area is open to the forested surrounds. This is where breakfast and lunch are served and the food is a mix of cuisine from days of the Raj and local Kumaoni dishes alongside a range of continental dishes. Dinners are served in a different location nightly; this may be poolside, a barbeque around the bonfire or on the elephant grass platform.
All food and drink, including alcoholic beverages, are included in the rates.
The breakfast buffet offers both Indian and international options. Breakfasts are usually served post-safari and are hearty affairs.
Lunch and dinner are buffets but with table service. Order what you wish and your waiter will deliver it from one of the cooking stations. Lunch is generally international with salads, sandwiches and other light bites. Dinner tends to be Indian, although continental meals are available upon request. Dinners are held in a different venue every evening so you might enjoy dinner on the elephant grass platform one night and around the campfire the next.
Snacks are served throughout the day either poolside or on your veranda. Hot chai is served at the end of safaris. During the winter months snacks and tea are served near the bonfire alongside a wildlife slideshow in the afternoons.
For Kids: There is a children’s menu available with pasta, chicken nuggets, pizza, muffins, quiches and more on offer. Meal timings are flexible for children and early dinners can be arranged.
Activities for Parents:
Go on a tiger tracking or bird watching safari led by a qualified and enthusiastic naturalist. Tiger safaris are best booked 30 days in advance.
Have a sleepover in the forest. Corbett is the only tiger reserve in India that offers the chance to spend a night or two sleeping with the animals in one of the remaining Forest House guesthouses. These must be booked in advance.
Lumber along on the back of an elephant and explore hidden pockets of the jungle with the elephant mahout (rider) as your guide.
Rest your weary legs post jungle walk and enjoy a deep tissue massage at the resort’s Aranyam Spa.
Grab your fishing rod and set up camp at Jim’s Angler Shack, a tent high on a bank of the Ramganga River. Stay overnight or just enjoy a day’s fishing and a picnic.
Learn all about Jim Corbett on a heritage walk through the surrounding areas and then visit his old home that has reopened as a museum.
Enjoy a nature slide show accompanied by commentary from one of the knowledgeable naturalists.
Borrow a mountain bike and give you legs a workout cycling in the neighbouring countryside.
Visit the Tumariya Wetlands (40 min) where you can join local fishermen on their boats to try and catch dinner. This is also a wonderful spot for bird watching.
Activities for Kids:
Younger children will love exploring the grounds with magnifying glasses on the lookout for bugs and creepy crawlies.
Older kids (aged 10+) can jump on one of the all terrain bikes and pedal their way around the grounds and surrounds.
Grab a flashlight and go on a night time nature walk to discover which animals come out at night.
Go on safari! Walking safaris are specially tailored for families and there are early morning jeep safaris into the national park too (best for children aged 5 and above).
Elephant rides, rock climbing, fishing, rappelling, swimming, walks to the local village and more can all be arranged.
Camp overnight in the jungle. If you book early enough, Jim’s can organise for you to spend one night sleeping in the national park itself. This is a fantastic activity for teens.
Visit the local villages and learn to milk a cow, bathe a buffalo and feed the goats and cattle.
A/C, common rooms, baby cots available, dedicated kids’ activities, doctor on call, nearest hospitals are at Ramnagar (13km) and Haldwani (45km), extra beds, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ menu, laundry, pushchair-friendly, shop, spa, swimming pool.
Please contact the hotel for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
Corbett enjoys three distinct seasons: cold (November to February), hot (March to mid-June) and rainy (mid-June to October). Maximum daytime temperatures range from 26C in January to 44C in June, and minimum temperatures vary from 2C in January to 21C in August. A wind, known locally as dadu, blows down the valley most evenings lowering the evening temperatures. In the hot season it is followed by a hot wind blowing up the valley during the daytime resulting in a thick haze of dust.
The best time for spotting tigers is from the end of March to the end of June – the hottest months – owing to the sparse vegetation. Other good months for sightings are November to mid-December and January through to mid-March. Safaris do not generally operate during the monsoon months and some of zones in the park are closed during these months.
Location & Travel:
Jim’s Jungle Retreat is located on the southeast border of Corbett Tiger Reserve, 13 km from Ramnagar town in Uttarakhand.Pantnagar Airport is the closest airport approximately 113 km away, however flights are currently not operating out of here. Delhi is the next closest airport. The nearest railhead is Ramnagar, approximately 13 km from Jim’s Jungle Retreat.
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!
1) Bring warm clothes for the early morning jeep safaris, it can get chilly!
2) If travelling with younger kids you may want to bring some snacks with you, particularly for the safari rides.
3) If possible, take advantage of the option to sleep overnight in the jungle – definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
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