Sometimes life treats you so good that you wish why can't it be just like that forever and whether you are living a dream. And that is how I felt lying in my bed which had a view that made me so hooked to it. Being summer, it was endless fields of brown grassland and green trees popped here and there. The wind was rushing through the grass and I could feel it despite the closed glass window. It was as though I was sleeping amidst the nature. No rooms in vicinity, no people in vicinity. Just silence and a view to die for. I was told that in winter, the river would swell up and the view will be that of Denwa river flowing along. I imagined it too. How beautiful it would be to spend a vacation, lazy in the bed, overlooking the river and with no mobile network, there is nobody to disturb you too. This perfect hideaway and getaway is called Denwa Backwater Escape. And I was here to explore Satpura National Park with Pugdundee Safaris.
On a sultry afternoon I boarded the bus to Pipariya. I was coming from Pench National Park as opposed to driving in from Bhopal which is the closest airport to Satpura National Park. The bus took for ever to reach Pipariya and it was late night by the time I reached. I was super grateful that there was a vehicle from Denwa Backwater Escape ready to pick me up after a day long journey. The vehicle was passing through empty lands, it was just after harvest time and the fields were all empty. A million stars smiled at me as the vehicle zipped past them to the lodge. My lunch was just a pack of biscuits as I was hopping buses and did not get the time for it. I was super hungry when I reached Denwa Backwater Escape. I could already feel the wilderness with the way to the lodge getting rugged. Nipun, the manager of the resort was waiting to welcome me at the gate and said hot dinner was waiting for me. It was past dinner time and I felt bad to have held them up this long! I rushed to my room to freshen up as quickly as possible. I looked around to dispose off the empty biscuit packets that I was carrying and saw the dustbin neatly lined with a newspaper. Oh boy! I have just brought plastic into a plastic free zone, an ultimate sin committed!! I felt super guilty and for a moment was considering to carry the trash to the next city.. Over the next couple of days Denwa Backwater Escape stood apart as a responsible Eco Lodge in many such simple ways. A guard was waiting at my door to take me to the restaurant. The silence of the place fell upon with just toads croaking here and there. At the dinner table it was not just the food that was warm but the staff too.
Jeep Safari, Satpura National Park
The next morning I had an early morning safari and I was whisked away to the safari by the naturalist. The moon was still up and some stars too. Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai was on the other side of the Denwa river. All the properties are lined up on this side of the river and the jungle starts from the other side. As it was summer the Denwa river had dried up and we had to cross a makeshift bridge to the other side. On other days a boat picks you up and drops on the other side. Satpura is still one of the untouched forests and on Saturday there were just 6 or 7 jeeps including us entering into the park. Satpura is known less for their predators and known for its beautiful landscape and birding. What I did not know was that it is known for sloth bears too.
The forest was so rugged. Mainly because it is not so frequented, it was like off roading at places. Driving over rocks and dashing through canals. Apparently during winter some portion of the park will be closed as the water from the monsoon would not have dried up and it would be difficult to drive. Having an experienced naturalist accompanying you on the safari is an added advantage, for you get to hear lot more stories about the jungle and about their many experiences too. Mohan, the naturalist from Pugdundee Safaris was accompanying me and I was intrigued by his love for Satpura Tiger Reserve. "It is not commercialized, the forest has many landscapes, it is home for many more animals than just the tiger, it is much more peaceful here", as he kept talking about Satpura, the love for it grew on me too. We saw an awesome mother baby duo of sloth bear. I was thrilled for I have always seen sloth bears at a distance. But this one was not just close but the baby was piggybacking on its mom :D So cutee.. I was overwhelmed with that sighting.
We stopped for breakfast by the forest camp. The camp elephants were cooling themselves off and a group of langurs had caught my attention. When I turned around a feast was led out for me. Am just one person! There were muffins, stuffed paranthas, savory pastry, fruits, eggs, juice, tea, coffee. We all had a good breakfast and continued looking out for sightings. I was definitely greedy looking out for tiger and leopards but chances of spotting one in Satpura is usually less. Apparently if you have a morning and evening safari ticket, you can halt for lunch at Churna guest house and get to spend the whole day in Satpura, safari timings will still remain the same though. Denwa backwater escape also arranges for stay at Churna forest rest house in case you are stopping for more than 2 nights and want a different experience. Churna forest guest house is run by MP Tourism and it is inside the Satpura Forest. The summer heat was showing its intense and it was time to return to the lodge.
Denwa Backwater Escape - The Lovely Cottage
I came in late last night and left early in the morning that I did not even take a good look of the lodge. Even the resting area near the entrance was propped with nice cushions and I liked to just sit by the tree shade and sip on the refreshing lime cooler. The water cooler was right there to fill your water bottles. Not any water bottles but to promote a no plastic zone and for you to be a responsible traveler they gift a stainless steel bottle. I always carry bottle while traveling and this was super apt to hang by my bag. The way to my room was lined by branches modified into barricades. Almost everything was recycled from things found in the surroundings and modified tastefully to suit the luxury lifestyle this wildlife lodge was providing. I am sorry, I shouldn't be calling them as rooms! They are cottages! Huge cottages that even have terrace for you to spend night outs counting stars. I walked past the row of cottages to mine and I stopped for a minute to take in the place where I was staying. Am just lucky.
When I opened the door, the blinds were partially pulled up to let the light in and that is when I realized what a beautiful view it had. Endless fields of grasslands and at the distance was the river glistening. I was taken aback. It was just like lying amidst those grasslands. The cottages are spread apart that nothing comes in your view, no one walks around yours, it is just like the world is infinite. I walked out to sit in the chairs at the porch for a while.
The wind was pleasant in spite of the hot summer. The decor of the room was themed with subtle colors, rustic wood, tribal paintings, even the ashtray was shaped like that of a tiger paw. Everything around the room kept me hooked. the idea was to catch upon sleep before heading out for lunch. But no! I spent one hour on the bed, reading the wildlife magazine stacked on the room while enjoying the view. And the rest of the time spent in the powerful shower with some aromatic body wash and shampoo.
They also have two tree houses perched on top of cool Mahua Tree. Definitely a must try for the complete wilderness feel. The perched view is one advantage. Plus the tree houses have a sliding wall and in case you are a big family who wants to spend the time together then they can open the slide door and make it as one huge tree house.
Food at Denwa Backwater Escape
Usually I tend to lose a few inches when I travel but this time Denwa Backwater Escape ensured that am well fed and add on a little more.. I don't know the number of times I thanked for the yummy meal. Consistency is the key here! The night I came in late hopping buses, I was so tired and exhausted but when I saw my favorite bhindi on my plate along side warm dal, my happiness knew no bound. It was just like coming back home for a simple home cooked meal. Fresh organic veggies make a lot of difference to the meal, just like home food!
All day everyday I had this yummy four course meal of salad, starters, plateful of food and end with a dessert.. So lite and yummy, you don't even have the feeling like you are eating from a restaurant. and what innovation! A sabudana custard topped with mahua flowers was my favorite. So new refreshing and I got to taste Mahua flowers 😍 I was looking forward for my meal everyday and would promptly be there on time for the sumptuous meal. And then spend some time from the restaurant deck overlooking the Denwa river. In winters/monsoon the river would swell up almost up to the restaurant it seems. Upon request you can have a canoe ride in the morning and have a bush breakfast. There is also a bush dinner that they arrange which was like on a small mound of land with water all around! But these are perfect only when the river is full. Can I confess one more thing!! I shamelessly emptied the jar of cookies that were kept along with tea / coffee complimentary set in my room. It was toooo yummy, they bake fresh and I just couldn't stop myself with just one!
Nature Walk in the Evening - Activities by the Lodge
There are many activities arranged by Denwa Backwater Escape that one can opt for. They have a sundowner where you have a small trek, go up to a vantage point, watch the sun go down and then have tea/coffee along with snacks. Walk in the buffer area of the jungle. Satpura is the only national park that lets you go on a walking safari in the national park. There is a night safari. They have camping overnight by the river. I found one more interesting thing, to trek and camp for three nights in the forest and it is called as walking and mobile safari. They have defined camp sites and you have to trek from one camp site to another through the jungle. It is a 70km trek for three days starting from Panchmari and it can also be be customized as a one or two day trek having different starting points. The thing to be excited about is walking in the jungle and camping there! All these are more suitable in the winter because of the weather being pleasant and not exert off your energy.
So this being summer we decided to go on a nature walk and catch sunset by the Denwa river. Along our way Mohan stopped to talk about the flora of the place. About tendu leaves used to make bheedi from, the palash flower used to make natural color during holi, chironji fruit before its all dried up for consuming. So many things we learned on our way before walking on the river bed. Once we were in the river bed, it was just endless grasslands. Mounds of land going up and down and we just scaled it and sat down over the parched land. Few deer came down the other side of the river to quench the thirst, the birds were returning home, buffaloes were driven home, and we just sat watching the sun going down.. How much I love to just watch sunsets!
My time at the Denwa Backwater Escape was coming to an end and I sincerely wished it to not get over. I had to bid adieu to my room, that view, that writing desk, the cookie jar, that cottage, the food, oh that foooddd, that nature, that staff who kept checking on me like a family.. sighhhh.. I wish to get back there.. Hopefully in a different season and check out all their activities. Pugdundee Safaris is known for their exclusive wildlife safari lodges and Denwa Backwater Escape just exceeded my expectation.
Things to know before you visit Denwa Backwater Escape
It is a eco lodge - use minimal water, reuse towels, do not bring plastic
Dress appropriately to blend with the nature. It is a wildlife lodge and it will be common to easily spot langurs and birds around the lodge too. Do not disturb them and do not be a disturbance.
Food will not be delivered to the room. For the simple reason that you don't want to invite wildlife in your room to have some aromatic food. Plus the cottages are far apart.
Carry torch with you in the night and stick to the property. Guards are always there to accompany you to the restaurant and room after dark.
The only mobile network that works is BSNL. Nothing else. You can either take a bsnl sim on your trip or be happy that you are cut off from the world and enjoy the solitude
Follow what your naturalist and the staff say.
How to Reach Denwa Backwater Escape, Satpura
Bhopal is the nearest airport to Satpura from where you can drive down or book for a pickup by the resort at an additional cost. The nearest railway station and bus station is Sohagpur from where the property is about 20km and they will pick you up. I came from Pench National Park which was a pain to hop buses. Pench to Satpura route was and I had to change buses at Pench -> Khawasa -> Chindwara -> Pipariya -> Sohagpur -> Satpura.[mappress mapid="43"]
How to Book your Stay at Denwa Backwater Escape
Pugdundee Safaris offers a variety of wildlife experiences and exclusive wildlife lodges. So don't stick to just booking stay with them, book couple of activities too that will enrich your experience in the wild.
Their website: https://www.denwabackwaterescape.com/
Book your stay here - click here
Phone No: +91 - 124 – 4222657, 2570404, 2571404
Mobile No: +91-8800637711, +91-9990537711
Mail Id: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tour of the Property
If the words were not convincing enough, here is a short video that takes you around the property
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Disclaimer: I was invited by Pugdundee Safaris to stay in this wonderful property at Satpura National Park. Probably the best thing that happened to me in recent times. And have expressed my views from the bottom of my heart. Such a lovely stay and memorable experience.