Camping in style... in India
The Ultimate Travelling Camp offers fascinating experiences in some of the most remote parts of India, and allows guests to visit remarkable places that are still off the main tourist trail. There are currently four luxury tented camps and one lodge.
The individually designed and air-conditioned luxury tented suites are inspired by the royal caravans of the 16th-century Mughal emperors with four poster beds, leather-bound trunks and inviting armchairs. The spacious suites also have private bathrooms, a veranda to enjoy the unspoilt views and a private butler service. All of the camps offer exceptional cuisine that use the best locally grown and sourced produce. Menus are created by award-winning chefs to offer a variety of Indian cuisine and international fusion cuisine.
Chamba Camp, Thiksey
The Chamba Camp Thiksey in Ladakh is open during the summer months from May to October. At this time of year the Himalayan foothills are warmer and each tented suite has large windows that keep it ventilated as well as offering views of the dramatic mountain scenery. You can sit out on your veranda and enjoy the surroundings, wake up in the morning to freshly baked goods from the in-house bakery and learn to cook with home-grown produce from the garden. Each day the restaurant serves a selection of traditional local specialities and international delicacies using organic local produce. At a height of 3,600 metres, evenings can get chilly so make sure you pack some warm clothing.
The nearby town of Thiksey has Tibetan-style architecture and the Thiksey monastery is one of Ladakh’s most iconic places of worship. Located on top of the hill, the 12-storey complex is decorated with stupas, thangkas – Tibetan Buddhist paintings on cotton or silk – wall paintings and Buddhist art. At dawn you can watch the monks’ morning prayers. From here you can also discover the city of Leh, where the fort-like walls of Leh palace stand tall on top of the mountain. The white-domed Shanti stupa holds the relics of the Buddha and offers panoramic views of its surrounds.
Cox & Kings’ CEO Peter Kerkar met the Dalai Lama at The Ultimate Travelling Camp’s Chamba Camp Thiskey in Ladakh. You can read about his experience here.
Chamba Camp, Diskit
The Chamba Camp Diskit is also only open during the summer months between May and September. Staying in one of the four luxurious and spacious tented suites in this intimate camp, you can wake up to views of the snow-capped Himalaya and the tranquil Nubra valley. The restaurant is award-winning, with the chef creating recipes from his family as well as taking influences from international cuisines.
Diskit monastery is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra valley and has a large statue of a crowned Buddha in the prayer hall. With help from an NGO, the monastery also runs a school that teaches science to the local Tibetan children in English. From the camp you can go on walks and hikes that range in difficulty, taking in the enchanting surroundings and keeping an eye out for the birdlife. Lake Tso Kar, also known as the Hidden Lake, is surrounded by marshlands, making it a prime spot for bird watchers. The camp’s resident naturalist can accompany you and help you spot birds such as Brahmni ducks, bar-headed geese and the great crested grebe.
Cox & Kings recommends combining the Chamba Camp Thiksey and Diskit. See our suggested itinerary Ladakh: Land of the Lamas here. A drive from Thiksey to Diskit will take you over the 5,580-metre Khardung La mountain pass, thought to be the highest motorable pass in the world.
Kohima Camp, Nagaland
Amid Nagaland’s forest in the remote north-eastern corner of India is the tranquil Kohima Camp, alive with birdsong. In the foothills of the Japfü mountains, this luxurious tented camp is the perfect base to explore the wild surroundings, keeping your eyes peeled for the birdlife.
The highlight of a stay here, however, is getting an insight into the lives of the 16 Naga tribes, who in the past were courageous warriors. The camp is open for two weeks each year around the start of December for the 10-day Hornbill festival. It is a celebration of the Naga tribe’s rich culture and fascinating traditions, drawing travellers from far and wide. Elaborate costumes and ritual headdresses made from bear skins and hornbill feathers play a large part in the festivities. The tribes compete against each other in sporting events, perform ritualistic dances and sell their handicrafts to travellers.
Kishkinda Camp, Hampi
Located near to the fabled ruined city of Hampi, the Kishkinda Camp is open from October to April. The meals are a highlight of the boutique camp and each day the award-winning chefs create a delicious menu of both Indian and international dishes using the offerings of the kitchen garden and locally sourced ingredients.
Hampi is often known as the ‘City of Victory’ and has been referred to as the Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat of India. The rocky ridges and large granite boulders that surround the ruins act as a natural defence to the once medieval capital. There are more than 500 monuments, including former palaces and temples that are lavishly and intricately detailed with statues and carvings. The city was once the capital of Hindu rulers for more than 200 years and the wealth is still visible today.
Jaagir Lodge, Dudhwa
This beautiful lodge was formerly a colonial mansion. Open from November until June, it is a 4-hour drive from Lucknow towards the Indian border with Nepal. Unlike the rest of the Ultimate Travelling Camp’s collection, Jaagir Lodge is a permanent thatched villa dating back to the 1940s, with colourful, stylish interiors and a sense of old grandeur with four-poster beds, antique furniture, plumped cushions and comfortable armchairs. The restaurant serves home-cooked cuisine typical of the region with international influences. The highlight is its close proximity to Dudhwa National Park, which is one of the few places where you can look for one-horned rhinos and elusive tigers. As there is no other luxury accommodation in the national park, you are unlikely to see any other vehicles on your safari drives. This means the chance of spotting a tiger is high. February and March are the best times of year for sightings.
The park has a dense forest with extensive grasslands and wet marshes that provide the perfect habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. The endemic 12-antlered Barasingha deer and the Indian crocodile are other animals to keep your eyes peeled for. In the nearby Jhadi Tal wetland you can spot an array of exotic birdlife, and in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve you can search for endangered big cats.