A stay at Evolve Back Kuruba Safari Lodge in Kabini, Karnataka lets you rekindle romance, reconnect with nature, and discover a unique combination of wilderness and luxury. By Parvati Mohanakrishnan

A minuscule stream of cold water manages to find its way under my raincoat as the jeep jolts in the middle of nowhere. A cloud of mystery hangs over us as the driver indicates that we should keep quiet; the cold breeze and incessant rain just intensify the suspense in the air. To my right, a peacock jumps on to the fallen trunk of a tree; a herd of deer appears out of nowhere; and a sudden chill envelopes the air, warning the forest of a predator at large. The peacock suddenly turns, and stares intensely at the bushes in the wilderness behind it. The deer follows suit. The forest stands still for a brief moment. And then it’s back to business. The danger has passed, and sadly, for the hopeful bunch in the jeep, so has the opportunity to catch sight of one of the glorious big cats that the Bandipur National Park is so well known for. Later, we catch sight of two elephants protecting themselves from the rain, and some sambar deer. Shanmugam, the naturalist (and my self-appointed Tamil teacher), tells us we’re lucky to have spotted anything at all as we head back to the lodge.

Set on the banks of River Kabini, Evolve Back Kuruba Safari Lodge evokes romance through its indulgent setting. The raw melodies of a hornand-vocal duo of Kadu Kabini musicians announce your arrival.

I arrived at the lodge by Evolve Back a day ago. And even before I’d checked in to my room, my demanding stomach insisted on lunch. So I perched myself down at a table overlooking the swelling river at the restaurant, Honey Comb. A large meal of fish and local cuisine—rice and curry—followed, and sated, I made slow progress to my room. The property is spread out over a large piece of land by the banks of the river. Accommodation is offered in a variety of huts—Pool Reserve, Pool, and Jacuzzi—each with its own verdant backyard. A long walk down fauna-lined cobble-stoned pathways brings me to my Pool Hut.

I unlock the door to find myself in a beautiful suite, one wall of which is a picture window looking out at my private plunge pool—its turquoise beautifully complimenting the 50 shades of rain-washed green of the surroundings. I walk through a door to find myself in a lovely bedroom, done up in earth colours, and through another into the lavish bathroom, its bathtub overlooking the pool. Above me, a thatch roof—heralded by a variety of fire warning signs—offers cover from the elements. It is love at first sight! But I leave the hut after a quick change to make it in time for a boat safari. Later, bobbing up and down in a boat in the middle of a seemingly boundless river, I fall in love again but this time, with the natural beauty around me—with a pair of hornbills who surprise me as I look into a thicket by the banks; with that natural force, which draws a sense of peace that I barely knew exists in me.

I make my way to the main swimming pool, where in a thatched pavilion, my private yoga session awaits me. I start a suryanamaskar just as the rain starts falling again, its putter-patter offering a soothing background score. A session at the spa, and a delicious dinner of grilled meats at Kuruba Grill follows. But at that moment, I am satiated.

Getting There

Regular flights operate between New Delhi and Bengaluru. The lodge is four-hours’ drive from the airport.

Stay

Starts from INR 28,000 per night.

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