Denwa Backwater Escape – Eco Friendly Wildlife Retreat in Satpura

Satpura ke ghane jangal
Neend mein doobe hue se
oonghte anmale jangal..

.. a lovely poem by Bhavani prasad Mishra, which I faintly recalled from my childhood days, kept playing on repeat in my head as I set off to explore Satpura National park for the very first time.

jungles of satpura

In the lush green dense jungles of Satpura – on foot!

Some of my best vacations happen when I have absolutely no idea what to expect.

Quite honestly, I have literally grown up frequently visiting the dense jungles of Corbett, so, until now, I was biased towards this wildlife reserve. Even though the vast Savannah and ample game in Africa impressed me immensely, my first love has always been Corbett.

I am glad I decided to venture beyond my comfort zone and start exploring new parks.

Satpura and Kanha were highlights of my current trip to Central India and they were both love at first sight. My first stop was the lovely Denwa backwater escape in the lush jungles of Satpura and the quaint abode stole my heart.

Tree house at Denwa Backwater Escape, Satpura

Our stay was impeccably organized by Pugdundee Safari’s in one of the two exquisite tree houses this lodge boasts of, among eight other cozy cottages.

Stepping into one of them made me dance. Quite literally. I did one of my crazy chicken dances and went “Hell yeah” as soon as I saw; what would be my home for the next three days.

It took me a good 30 minutes to explore all nook and corners and jump with glee as soon as I saw something mind-blowing – like the sprawling veranda overlooking the river, for one!

I felt like a little kid in her personal tree house, the only difference being – this was the very epitome of luxury and comfort, with stunning decor and warm interiors.

tree house satpura

A peek inside the huge tree house at Denwa Backwater Escape

What more can a girl ask for? I was in heaven!

I could spend my entire three days simply enjoying my cozy new home but there was so much more to explore and do. As a wildlife enthusiast, I also had several mammals and birds to tick off my checklist, which are endemic to the forests of Satpura.

Food at Pugdundee

I kid you not, the food at Pugdundee lodges is some of the best I have ever had. Period!

pugdundee food

Organic, healthy and tasty food at Pugdundee

Masterchef finalist Chef Vijaylaxmi is the mastermind behind all the lovely organic dishes, carefully curated in all Pugdundee lodges. She keeps hopping between the lodges each month to train the local chef’s and might I add, she does a spectacular job.

From continental to Indian, food at Denwa backwater escape was simply delightful.

Denwa Backwater Escape – Quick Photo Tour

Let me take you around our lovely lodge..

denwa backwater escape

Lovely walking paths from dining area to rooms

cottages at denwa

Amazing cottages offering privacy and uninterrupted views

dining area satpura

Cozy dining area with rustic decor

library in jungle

Warm decor at the library -care for a read?

view from cottage

Lovely jungle (and river) views from every cottage

tree house

Our amaaaazing tree house

welcome area

Beautifully decorated welcome area where refreshments/welcome drinks are served

poolside fun

Here you can watch a documentary or enjoy bonfires at night, by the pool

What to Expect at Pugdundee’s Denwa Backwater Escape

In short, expect to be close to nature and have the best eco-lodge experience.

On our first night itself, we spotted wild boars while returning to our tree house post dinner. If this wasn’t exciting enough, next morning we were rewarded with a sighting of the jungle cat, right from our veranda.

jungle cat satpura

Elusive jungle cat spotted from my balcony – big win!

You will wake up each morning to the chirping of birds and sounds of monkeys jumping on your roof. Pretty exciting isn’t it?

Plus, the lodge also boasts of best river views in Satpura. No other lodge offers this rewarding view. At night, moon gazing was my favorite time pass.

moon gazing

Moon gazing in the clear skies of Satpura

During the day, post morning safari, you can enjoy boards games or books in their spacious lounge.

The lodge is fully sustainable and recycled wood and stone is used inside cottages. There is also a ‘No plastic’ rule which was brilliant.  You are handed a lovely steel bottle and you can fill up drinking water anytime you want. Its easy, fun and environment friendly since Pugdundee is a pioneer in responsible tourism. Check, check and check. It ticks all the right boxes.

stone bed

Notice the stone bed? How cool is that!

Well if you love nature, you WILL love Denwa backwater escape – there are no two ways about it.

Activities in Satpura National Park with Denwa Backwater Escape

Satpura range has a lot to offer for any avid nature/ outdoor/ wildlife enthusiast. Being in this lovely national park was a wonderful escape from city madness plus being close to jungles is always a big plus for the wild child in me.

Naturalist Harendra Sahu was with us throughout this trip and he was such a joy to be around in the jungles. From butterflies to trees, birds and mammals – he would enjoy the jungle just as much as we would , maybe even more. His genuine enthusiasm and love for the forests, plus ever-smiling attitude, made him instantly likable. Sweet, warm and kind, Harendra should be your go to guide if you happen to be at Denwa.

Naturalist Harendra Sahu

Naturalist Harendra Sahu – Always smiling and sweet 🙂

Walking Safari in Core Area

Not only was this my first time in Satpura, but also my very first walking safari inside core area of an Indian national park (or any wildlife reserve for that matter). This trip had many firsts 🙂

Walking safari in Satpura national park

Walking safari in Satpura national park

In fact, Satpura is the only national park in Central India that allows walking safaris in this core reserve area. 

To enter core zone of Satpura, you have to cross the Denwa river, which is a short five minutes boat ride. For any safaris be it on jeep, elephant, foot or canoe, you need to get to the other side first.

boat ride satpura

Short boat ride to get to the core zone

Once there, we were briefed about possible dangers and safety measures. Things like walk in a single line behind your guide, be quite and respectful of the jungle, watch where you step etc were the ground rules.

We had a forest guard with us holding a thick stick and a blow horn – I wasn’t sure if it make me feel more comfortable or nervous. I had to ask if he ever used either and he said no. Okay, so that was comforting.

Harendra, our naturalist, pointed out various trees and their uses/ unique features to us, whilst keeping us informed about butterflies and animals found in the area. We weren’t bored for a second in these three hours, to be very honest.

naturalist guide

Telling us about the birds and the bees, well in this case a cocoon

Mid-way through our walk we heard a Langur shriek loudly close to us. It was the familiar sound of an alarm call, which means there is a big cat in the vicinity.

Since Satpura is famous for Leopards and the alarm calls were repetitive, we were informed there was one.. very close to us. Maybe in the bush right next to me?

Instantly, I had goosebumps.

When you are on a jeep or elephant back, hearing an alarm call is quite thrilling but on foot – it’s a whole new level of rush altogether.

For next 15 minutes we looked around, waited and walked slowly and quietly through our path. Soon the alarm calls faded and we knew we won’t get lucky this time.

I am sure the leopard saw us that day, even though we missed it. With thick buses and tall trees surrounding us, the elusive cat could’ve been anywhere.

The thrill of not knowing… was unparalleled.

That was surely the highlight of our jungle walk even though we saw many birds, spiders, colorful dragonfly, butterflies and enjoyed a lovely picnic break en-route. We were told it is easy to spot a slot bear on these walks.

Well, maybe we have to come back and try our luck again, for now, we had enough adrenaline to last a week, even without a sighting!

Where to go for your walking safari in Satpura?

For a longer, slightly steep route, head to Peliya zone. This is around 8 kms and can take around 3-4 hours to cover. We did a smaller circle of 6 kms in our leisurely three hour walk.

Stunning sunsets of satpura

Stunning sunsets of satpura

For a shorter, flatter path, head to Basonghanalla which is much easier to hike.

If you happen to be in Satpura or plan to go after reading this, I would highly recommend you try walking in the jungle – its an unbeatable adrenaline rush.

Canoe Ride

Wait you could go on a tiny wobbly canoe inside the national park? Now, that was another first for me…and it was simply amaze-balls.

canoe safari satpura

Canoe safari selfie time – our little wobbly canoes

What a splendid experience to hop on a canoe and paddle your way through crocodile infested waters of the Denwa river. Just the right kind of adventure activity one would seek in the bush.

You get a guide and ofcourse the canoe owner paddles you throughout the safari but if you want to help, he is more than happy to let you.

canoe paddle

Hey , atleast I helped for the picture 🙂

I would recommend doing the late afternoon canoe safari so you can enjoy the melting sun on your way back, which is simply breathtaking.

sunset canoe

The sunset from canoe was one of the BEST memories from my trip

This ride is peaceful and serene with absolutely pin drop silence and perhaps the best way to enjoy the jungle. Quite honestly I wasn’t expecting much but this turned out to be my top activity in Satpura.

Plus, we happened to sight a pack of six wild dogs and a crocodile at close quarters – enough to call this a successful safari 🙂

wild dogs satpura

Extremely lucky wild dog sighting in Peliya zone, from canoe

Jeep Safaris

Wildlife safaris on jeep are popular in all parks of India, in Satpura the jungles are pretty and have a lot to offer. Apart from the royal bengal tiger, Satpura is home to wild dogs, leopards and sloth bear – all sough after mammals on your safari.

jeep safari satpura

Jeep safari into the lovely forests of Satpura

Best place for sightings is Keriya zone which is a 30 kms circle, followed by the lovely Lagdha zone.

Like is the case with every jungle, luck is a big factor so cross your fingers and learn the enjoy the jungle – sightings or no sightings.

the gaur satpura

We did see huge herds of the Indian Bison aka The Gaur – check out their white stocking, so cute!

However, there’s lots more to keep you entertained like the amazing view point in Lagdha which makes for perfect picnic in the bush – yes, you can actually get our of your vehicle and enjoy a leisurely breakfast inside the park at this designated stop.

breakfast in jungle

Breakfast in the core zone of a jungle – Big perk!

View point satpura

That too with a view like THIS!

Plus, the views are simply breathtaking and you can often spot a lone Crested Serpent Eagle here.

satpura national park

Just can’t get over this stunning view

Another fun activity is to head to elephant camp at Satpura to meet the new addition to their ellie family – a cute 40 days old baby elephant. He is simply adorable and you can watch him for hours without getting bored.

Other Activities

Even though I personally experienced only these three, you can also opt for cycling tours, nature walks, birding tours, elephant safaris, night safaris and boat rides. That’s a LOT more than your regular jeep safaris in the bush, eh? Pugdundee Safaris also has one of its kind mobile camping and longer walking treks in the jungle. Satpura should be on everyone’s bucket list simply for the number of things you can do here. You can quite literally spend a week here without running out of new, fun activities.

pool denwa backwater

After all the activities, you can just come back and chill by the pool

Plus, Pugdundee’s staff make these activities so much more interesting with their amazing insights and great knowledge of the jungle.

Convinced yet? If not, read reviews from other travelers here.

Ready to book your wild escape? Here’s some handy info –

Booking Information

morning views satpura

Remember, waking up to this is TOTALLY worth it

Phone – +91 – 124 – 2970497, 2570404, 2571404
Mob. no – +91-9810253436, +91-08800637711
Email –

Disclaimer – I was a guest of Pugdundee Safaris and Madhya Pradesh tourism board for this exciting trip to MP. It was truly an unforgettable experience that will be etched in my memory forever as one of my best jungle adventures. 


  1. Wow, girl looks like you had an amazing time! That treehouse looks really fun and rustic. 🙂 I wish I was there too. The moon picture is insane! Did you click it?

    • Hehe I guess we both have a thing for treehouses. Isn’t it fab? Wish u were there too hun. Yesssss another one of my “things” is clicking the moon haha. I use my Canon 50x zoom cam.

  2. I love those trips where anything can happen and you’re not 100% sure of what to expect. I’m super jealous of that tree house experience though…that’s near the top of my bucket list!

  3. This look like a gorgeous place to visit and I admire the eco focus. I’d love to stay in a luxury treehouse! The food looked so good too, can’t believe the chef is a Masterchef finalist!

  4. I think I might try night safaris while I am there! It sounds like an awesome experience and I cannot wait for my turn 🙂

  5. I’ve always wanted to stay in a tree house! Honestly, all these places look amazing. Thanks for the great insight! 🙂 I’d love to join your travel group board, if I can. My name is cairncompass – Thanks!

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