Take a wildlife biologist, author, film maker and conservationist and a wildlife photographer, film maker & writer, add specialist knowledge of Panna National Park (since 1995) a location adjacent to the Ken River, and an idea which initially began as a community project & you know it’s going to be good. Good is in fact, an understatement.
The Sarai at Toria is a lodge, as eco as it’s possible to be, built with traditional architecture, complemented with modern comforts. But that doesn’t capture the essence of this place. Let’s start with the food, oh my word, delicious! Fresh, homegrown produce provides for scrumptious soups and salads, perfect for the summer months, if I had to pick one highlight, it would be the fennel & orange; light, crunchy & tangy, and whilst we’re at oranges, I’ll jump to Raghu’s Grand Marnier souffle, a tricky one to serve for groups, but with me just being one, I was treated to this delight.
Breakfasts & lunches are taken in the shade of the lodge, drinks and dinner under the stars. The team, attentive & efficient, quickly learns your preferences & appear with fresh lime sodas or chai as required.
Hours can be spent watching the birds and micro fauna from the verandah, but then there’s so much, or so little else to do! Four nights is barely enough. Visits to the National Park are a must. My two safaris here have yielded excellent sloth bear & leopard sightings, rutting stags, muddy wild boar and so much more. Just down the road is the ever so slightly famous town of Khajuraho, easy to disappear off to for a half or a full day, ending with sunset over the temples, and a cold coffee at Rajas Cafe. It would be easy to have more, but dinner awaits at Sarai and one thing you wouldn’t want to do is ruin your appetite!
There’s visits to NGO’s, bird spotting boat trips on the river & time spent just to sit and be, appreciate the special surroundings and chat to your hosts, Raghu and Joanna, fun, knowledgeable and who can provide an insight into the park, wildlife & life in India. It’s always hard to leave here and I’d always recommend one more night than you think you’ll need.