“A land of misty hills, lush forests, acres and acres of coffee plantations, and breathtaking landscapes – Coorg is the quintessential holiday destination.”
Says the website and it is. Kodagu is lush and beautiful as well as tranquil (a rarity if you live in Bangalore like us.) The air is fresh too, what a treat.
We arrived after a short 45 minute drive from the Dubare Elephant Camp through the fantastic scenery at the coffee plantation villa. It is a heritage bungalow that still has that period charm and look about it. It was very quiet. A bit too quiet as it turned out as I had to venture into the kitchen to locate any personnel. We checked in and we’re shown to our suite.
A very large bedroom with ensuite had a separate bedroom for Zahra – she was delighted. The room also had satellite TV and AC. The bungalow had a common area lounge, dining room and veranda as well as gardens and play area for children, surrounded by coffee plantations. It was idyllic.
Now the website promised several things including a bath (only a shower) and a “stunning view of coffee plantations” from the bedroom. That might have been possible before they covered the bottom part of the windows blocking any view whatsoever. It was disappointing as the view would have been fantastic. The website also promised “enjoy a steaming cup of coffee amidst the verdure”. We ordered a coffee after lunch (which we had had to order in advance days before, and still came without everything we ordered). We had to chase twice before the coffee appeared. Now the bungalow is not that big and there were not that many guests so I have no idea why the service was so appalling.
Coffee plantation tour
In the late afternoon we took the coffee plantation tour by jeep. We started late after having to wait 25 mins for two male stragglers who made no attempt to be quick (or apologise for their tardiness). We started the tour in the sprawling, coffee-scented plantation in the warm evening air with the songs of the birds singing sweetly in our ears. Our driver and guide stopped to show us the Arabica and Robusta beans and a white pepper plant. As we continued our jeep safari, enjoying the warm summer fresh air we wondered what fascinating facts about coffee awaited us. We continued to wonder after another 35 minutes when our tour ended without another word from the guide about coffee plants, the plantation we were in, the time it takes to grow coffee, the harvesting season, the drying and roasting processes or the sales. He did stop and point out a Kingfisher (bird not beer) though. We were left bemused.
We had pre ordered dinner at lunchtime and it was ready when we returned from the plantation tour. We quickly cleaned up and headed to the dining table in anticipation for a great meal ahead. After all the website had said:
“A visit to the Thaneerhulla Bungalow is not complete without relishing the lip-smacking Kodava delicacies whipped up by the talented in-house chef! Visitors, both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, can also enjoy various North-Indian and Continental dishes, and don’t forget to savour the delectable dessert of the day!”
Needless to say this was a triumph of hope over reality. Several dishes we ordered simply didn’t arrive and our dessert was substituted for a measly two pieces of Gulab Jamon. Clearly we were on an enforced diet! What we did have was fine but it certainly wasn’t fine dining.
The website says:
“Enjoy a cozy and comfortable bonfire with your friends and family after a long day. Every bungalow is equipped with a bonfire area, and visitors can indulge in snacks and/or dinner (extra charges applicable) by the warmth of the bonfire on chilly evenings.”
Yeah…that didn’t happen. We went to bed early instead (as we’d been up since 5:30am at the Dubare Elephant Camp).
The next morning we were up bright and early again and headed out for a bird watching tour at 6.45am. With over 300 species of birds nestled in the region, Coorg is a haven for wildlife. Which would have been nice….if we could have seen them. We had fog instead. By this time we were just laughing at the comedy of this stay and going with the flow.
We had an enthusiastic expert guide called Balu who took us on a tour around the golf course. He was a font of information and facts. He was also an expert bird caller, mimicking several birds and getting them to respond.
So what did we learn and what did we see and hear?
- Jungle trees are protected and can only be pruned, not cut
- The coffee in the plantation is shade grown coffee and needs natural shade to grow
- The coffee plantation is an elephant route so an electrical fence surrounds the plantation-but elephants disconnect the fence by throwing a log on it. There are 13 elephants in the herd which passes through.
- A Bird eye chilli plant produces tiny chillis which are 20x the normal strength chilli
- We saw a Cannon ball tree, a Pied Kingfisher, a White throated Kingfisher, a Plum headed Parakeet, a Barbit, a Pond heron, a Cattle egret, a Red vented bull bill, a Shikra, A Vernal hanging parrot, a Malabar parakeet, Mamat grey hornbill, a Plain backed woodpecker, a Jetroper plant (which has sap with which you can blow bubbles), Morning glory (purple flower plant), a Rat snake and a flock of Mina birds.
Not bad for a foggy morning.
We headed back to the heritage bungalow for a much needed breakfast and coffee. Did I say coffee? Oh how foolish of me…
We had dosas for breakfast and their was a small buffet selection to choose from but coffee was definitely not on the menu.
After breakfast we showered, packed and checked out. I also asked to buy some coffee and coffee beans, only to be met with the statement: “We don’t sell coffee”. I must admit that it took a few seconds for me to comprehend what was being said but I reverted to the very British “I’m sorry?” statement. To only be met with the same reply. I looked at the manager and pointlessly said: “But we’re in the middle of a coffee plantation!”. After receiving the same response I asked where indeed we could buy some coffee but the manager did not know. I headed out to the car half laughing and shaking my head. Only in incredible India would you be able to stay in a the middle of a coffee plantation and not be able to buy coffee. We asked at the gate security and they directed us to the estate shop… but that only sold green tea.
We headed to the nearest town which was 10km away. We found the one and only coffee shop there and finally bought some coffee.
In possession of the golden brown nectar we headed on the long journey back to Bangalore, safe in the knowledge that we would have more than one story to entertain dinner guests with over the coming months!