Watercolor of landscape of Kabini River in India

Evolve Back Kabini: A wild experience in the Western Ghats

Just two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic rattled the world, I sat mesmerized by the glistening reflection of the Indian sun on the Kabini Dam. I was in India for an unforgettable and  shareworthy two-week tour of this beautifully wild and culture-filled country. The whole trip was a perfect series of fortunate events, a journey set forth with ideal travel companions and remarkable experiences. While our current travel climate remains stagnant, I feel it’s only fitting to dream and plan for future globe-trotting escapades. If India is calling to you, go, and allow me to recommend the following eco resort, a place unobtrusively nestled along the banks of the Kabini River, just a quick boat ride away from the wonders of Nagarahole National Park.

Map of Kabini River and location of the state of Karnataka

Evolve Back Kabini is a true eco resort located in the coastal southern state of Karnataka. Upon arrival, each visitor is greeted with chilled sugarcane juice and endless smiles from a warm staff. It is not an over-the-top fussy greeting, but rather a serene welcome with a splash of natural and sustainable luxury. You walk into an open-air sitting room that overlooks the Kabini Dam and distant Nagarahole National Park. A natural thatched roof and white walls pay homage to local cultural traditions and allow the sustainably built lodge to fall back and the surrounding landscape to dominate your view. Every single opening frames the glorious surrounding wilderness.

But the magic of Kabini goes beyond the perfectly built huts and storybook setting to the community of knowledgable, passionate individuals and wondrous wildlife. According to TIES (The International Ecotourism Society, 2015) the definition of ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” Evolve Back Kabini could very well be the face of ecotourism. During my short four day stay, I had the opportunity to interview Director of Ecotourism, Mr. Sarath Champati. (Here’s one of his TedTalks: link). The information he shared with me truly deserves its own blog post because we talked about everything from engaging local communities in riverbank clean ups to celebrating cultural traditions with interested visitors. He mentioned the sustainability tour, a walk of the grounds that exposes all guests to Evolve Back’s sustainable energy and clean water. It is evident that education is at the center of Evolve Back’s mission. If you ever find yourself visiting this paradise, be sure to take part in the tour where you’ll learn about how the resort has made it possible to eliminate all plastic bottles from their grounds. Contrary to popular belief, you can drink water from the faucet in India, and Evolve Back can show you how.

In addition to enjoying mouthwatering fresh foods and starting our mornings off with birding hikes, my group went on two safaris, one via jeep and one via boat. The lush forests of the Western Ghats brought forth a vibrant display of wildlife. Any reputable eco resort will offer the sobering truth that wildlife sightings are rare and absolutely nothing should be expected, and Evolve Back certainly prepped us for such an outcome. With minimal expectations, our excitement soared when we witnessed a Bengal Tiger sauntering down a path and a bull elephant lumbering through the forest. Peacocks, otters, grey herons, Sambar deer, gray langurs, crocodiles, and so many other wild characters held our attention. When the sun set, naturalists made sure we didn’t miss the nocturnal surprises by leading us on a night tour to see bats, snakes, and insects. Most importantly, throughout all of our exploring, the animals were always respected from a distance and left to thrive in their undisturbed habitats. This is the way to support, protect, and experience wildlife.

I have never witnessed an eco company setting and reaching such high standards. I have never been so overwhelmed with gratitude toward people for preserving the land and for inspiring care and responsibility. I have never been so in awe of such efforts. When you find yourself planning a trip to the rich country of India, check out Evolve Back and support their efforts. The experience will go unmatched, and you will come home with a newfound wonderment for Earth’s  biodiversity. You will leave with a yearning to see more, an urge to protect what is left, and the need to share this unbelievable experience with everyone you know. The world is so beautiful, and this is one remote location that warrants a long journey. There’s just no way you will leave the experience unchanged.

Check out their website to plan your next trip: https://www.evolveback.com/kabini/

To those working at this incredible establishment, all I can say is thank you. I hope to visit again in the future. 

This post is based completely on personal opinion and I am in no way affiliated with the company. I just want to share about my incredible experience and encourage others to support Evolve Back’s efforts.