Just outside the nine suites at Banjaar Tola, tigers roam through dilapidated temples, monkeys swing from trees, and, as if from a scene in The Jungle Book, young boys pilot elephants through thick brush. The lodge, which overlooks Kanha National Park, is the latest of four camps opened by Taj Safaris in central India, where safaris traditionally have been less polished and predictable than they are in many parts of Africa. However, the intimate lodges and guided outings from Taj Safaris—a joint venture between India’s Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces group and South African safari experts &Beyond—are on a par with those of the finest African camps.
Each of the lodges in the tiger circuit is next to a different national park: Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh, and Panna. Kanha is the largest (480,000 acres) and most remote of India’s tiger habitats. It is also arguably the best place to view the cats, especially when done on elephant-back during a Banjaar Tola safari. Banjaar Tola, +91.22.660.11825, www.tajsafaris.com ($360–$640 per person per night)