The Terai – a vast band of swampy jungle separating the Himalayan foothills from the Gangetic Plains – remains one of the least explored and wildlife-rich regions of Asia. Several pockets of remote forest and marshland in the Terai near the Nepali border are protected as nature reserves, and you can visit four of the best while based at the lovely Jaagir Lodge, near Dudhwa, a day’s drive north of Agra. Elephant, one-horned rhino, rare 12-horned deer, leopard and, of course, tiger may all be sighted, along with a wealth of birdlife. Best of all, because these parks are relatively unknown, when sightings do occur the animals aren’t besieged by other vehicles, as they often are elsewhere.
The accommodation is of an exceptionally high standard. Dating from British times, the former hunting lodge has been extensively restored and beautifully re-furbished, with sumptuous wall coverings and wood furniture creating a homely, fresh feel with nods to the building’s colonial heritage. It all feels like spending the weekend with friends who know how to live in great style. The service and food are five star, and grounds superbly relaxing, with a small pool for dips between safaris, and a ‘machan’ platform offering a vantage point over the surrounding jungle and sugar-cane fields.