Since its inception, Reni Pani Jungle Lodge in India, has pioneered responsible tourism practices in Satpura Tiger Reserve. Along with the forest department they have developed a unique tourism model that is low-impact and focuses on promoting non-motorized modes of exploring the forest as well as restoring and highlighting Madhya Pradesh’s natural heritage.
Recently the lodge has created some lovely new tents in the forest around a water hole bring a new level of luxury into this incredibly authentic Indian wildlife experience. Featuring a private deck, en-suite bathroom, bedroom, living space and a traditional village angan or courtyard anyone staying in these will enjoy a very comfortable stay in delightful surroundings.
Unlike many other wildlife lodges in India, Reni Pani has developed opportunities for a variety of ways of enjoying a safari; from boat and canoe to walking and jeeps. Most excitingly more adventurous guests can also head to a former forest British Era rest house, which was once near to some 150 village houses but since the voluntary relocation scheme (for the protection of Tiger Reserves) was carried out in 2013 the area has become the ideal habitat for grazing wild herbivores. Accommodation here is simple but comfortable enough for an overnight stay.
Recently Natgeo Traveler has endorsed Satpura as one of the parks with the most potential for tiger in the future, but whether you are lucky enough to sight one there is just such a fabulous variety of wildlife amongst pretty scenery here, it would be impossible not to enjoy the time.
During a stay guests can enjoy a visit to the local villages to interact and see the culture and traditional ways of the inhabitants of the area who are predominantly Adivasi. The village visits are wonderful for the guests, however what makes Reni Pani stand out is the initiatives they follow with the local community.
The lodge procures local produce to support the local economy and most impressively the team are working with a well-known NGO ''Under the Mango Tree'' to train locals on the art of beekeeping to produce honey and the bi-products as an alternative source of income. The souvenir shop at the lodge sells local handicrafts and proceeds of this shop go towards the village development and conservation fund.
Almost 80% of the lodge’s staff are local. Reni Pani has worked closely with the forest department to train local guides and drivers who are now guiding not just Reni Pani guests but all guests to the national park, thereby giving these people a sense of belonging and achievement. Women from the nearby village are employed to paint the walls of the lodge with traditional mud and natural colors.
In addition, a key goal for the lodge is to educate locals (especially children) on the importance of the environment and thus the preservation of the area’s stunning wildlife. This is achieved through visits by the lodge’s naturalists to the local community and schools.
Other initiatives include helping a local school and providing books to the children, supplying bicycles so that many children are now able to cycle to and from school, teaching the children how to make solar lamps using a plastic bottle so they can read in the evening, planting thousands of indigenous trees, using low energy consuming LED bulbs and separation of waste material from the lodge.
Finally, and this I think is just so wonderful, children from the local village are treated to safaris occasionally into the park which not only educates them on the wildlife but also ensures that the park is not an unknown territory to them and creates an intrinsic link between tourism and the locals.