Why I have returned to JAWAI!

After a lengthy break back home in South Africa I have returned for another season with SUJAN in India. I so enjoyed my first season helping set up, run and develop JAWAI that I simply had to return for more. Currently I am based in the head offices in Delhi helping out with odds and ends with regards to all the camps, but my heart is set on returning to JAWAI.

JAWAI
JAWAI

So what makes JAWAI special and why did I fly half way across the world to work there?

The leopards

The population of leopards in the area is incredible. Not only are they numerous, but we get to see them frequently. Our first season was incredibly successful with at least 23 individuals being seen within striking distance of camp. What’s more is how unusual their behavior and lifestyle is. As a Big Cat specialist I find this fascinating. If you think you know everything about leopards, well I challenge you to come to JAWAI. You will be pleasantly shocked. It is awesome!

An iconic Indian leopard at JAWAI
An iconic Indian leopard at JAWAI
Just when you think you have seen it all...
Just when you think you have seen it all…

The Landscape

We have close on 30 large granite based hills, of various sizes, surrounding the camp. They are each magical in their own right. The scenery is unusual, unexpected and captivating. Sunrises at Jawai are magical as light dances over the rolling hills. The best way to explore these hills is to hop off the jeep and explore on foot.

JAWAI is one of the few wilderness areas in India where you can actually get out of your car and stretch your legs. The scenery is spectacular!
JAWAI is one of the few wilderness areas in India where you can actually get out of your car and stretch your legs. The scenery is spectacular!
After a trickle of rain the hills start to glisten.
After a trickle of rain the hills start to glisten.

The Locals

The local Rabari people are wonderful! They have taken so well to our camp and our initiatives. We respect them and they respect us. Their culture and lifestyle has had a great influence on the look and feel of the camp. Any stay here will be enhanced greatly by opening up to the people of the land, observing them, learning from them and appreciating them. Timeless faces molded by the elements, together with extravagant moustaches create a photographers dream.

The local people and their tradition dress are the inspiration for the colour scheme of the camp.
The local people and their tradition dress are the inspiration for the colour scheme of the camp.
Harvest time in the fields around JAWAI must be one of the greatest times for a photographer to visit this area.
Harvest time in the fields around JAWAI must be one of the greatest times for a photographer to visit this area.

The Staff

Over the summer we have managed to get some more young, talented and energetic people on board. They will add to our already delightful small group of tightly knit staff.

Adam the Rabarismall
When I left India at the end of last season, all the staff at JAWAI, threw a surprise farewell dinner and party for me. One of the most moving moments of my life and perfectly summed up the attitude of the staff.
When I left India at the end of last season, all the staff at JAWAI, threw a surprise farewell dinner and party for me. One of the most moving moments of my life and perfectly summed up the attitude of the staff.

The Peace and Solitude

With a population of 1,3 billion people there is very little space in India. Around every corner you will find masses of people. I like to describe India as colourful chaos and something that everyone needs to experience at least once in their lifetime. Jawai is a rarity, offering respite from the crowds and the noises. It is quiet. It is open. It will refresh the mind and soul.

Sunrises over camp
Sunrises over camp

The Birdlife

There is something fantastic in being a keen birdwatcher and still ‘discovering’ species after having been in an area for some time. This is the case at JAWAI. I know there are still many birds still to be added to the camp bird list. I look forward to finding them, as well as appreciating those magical more familiar feathered friends.

Flamingoes on Jawai Dam
Flamingoes on Jawai Dam
Abundant but ever so beautiful - the Green Bee-eater
Abundant but ever so beautiful – the Green Bee-eater

The stars

There are few places in India where one is able to lean back in your chair , feel the warmth of a campfire tickle your feet, sip on a refreshing gin-and-tonic and stare up into the stars. Constellations dazzle the eyes.

13JAWAI Leopard Camp-2

Exploration

I love the fact that each outing offers potential for exploration. This is not your traditional safari! In fact, I do not believe an experience exists like this anywhere else in the world. This is the most wonderful merging of wildlife, culture, history and exchange. It tests me as a guide, pushes me and allows me to learn with every minute.

If you have already been to JAWAI do let us know, in the comments below, what your highlight was. If you have not yet been, then come join me, and the exceptional SUJAN team this season at JAWAI, and experience it for yourself.

Map in hand I am ready to explore the marvel that is JAWAI
Map in hand I am ready to explore the marvel that is JAWAI

Written and photographed by Adam Bannister

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