He was so close his breathing could be heard. Just feet from the open-air Jeep 4x4 sat T74, a four-year-old Royal Bengal tiger, one of about 60 in Rajasthan’s Ranthambore National Park, 80 miles south of Jaipur. It’s one of India’s largest tiger reserves, spanning 550 square miles, and one of the few places to see the cats in their natural habitat. Come for the tigers, but stay for Sher Bagh, the wonderful 1920s-inspired safari camp, near the park’s border. Among the first tour operators in the area—tents have been pitched on the land belonging to owner Jaisal Singh’s family since 1974—Sher Bagh recently underwent a top-to-bottom renovation.
The ten handstitched canvas tents, with superb en suite bathrooms and verandas, were enlarged, and two tented suites—one with a private heated pool—were added. Singh’s wife, artist Anjali, tended to the finer details, from the campaign-style furnishings and hand-embroidered tiger-motif pillows to the crystal decanters of Scotch on each desk. It’s an easygoing atmosphere, overseen by the attentive Hajra Ahmad.
Game drives go out twice a day; driver Satyendra Singh and guide Farooq Khan are top-notch. Days end with drinks in the WiFi-enabled Library Bar before sitting by the campfire for thalis, platters of small Indian dishes (American, European, and Indian fare is served for breakfast and lunch). Make sure to get a good look at the photographs on the walls throughout the camp—they’re from the Singh family’s collection—including one of John F. Kennedy Jr. viewing a tiger in 1982. He, too, was close enough to hear breathing. Sher Bagh is open from October to May. Rates, including meals, from $560 per person; 91-11/4617-2700; sujanluxury.com.