Ask the Expert Summer is a good time to tour the coffee plantations and forests that Coorg is famous for.
Enjoy a cool Indian summer in Karnataka
We're going to be in Bangalore, India, sometime next month, and want to take the opportunity to spend a weekend in Coorg. While we'd like to tour the coffee plantations the city is famous for, we'd also like to go on a safari in Nagarhole National Park. Is summer a good time to visit? Can you recommend a couple of resorts that offer hiking and jungle safaris?
Summer, from March to June, is the best time to visit Coorg. Because the city sits at 1,000 metres above sea level, temperatures rarely rise above a pleasant 28° Celsius during the day. The nights can get quite chilly so don't forget to pack a sweater or two.
Nagarhole National Park is a good 90km or so from Coorg. Be warned that the road is bumpy and usually swarming with herds of cattle on their way to the pastures, so progress can be painfully slow. The best thing to do is spend a night in Kabini, a small town on Lake Kabini, which is bordered on one side by the reserve. Serai Kabini Resort (www.theserai.in; 00 91 9945 602 305), a cosy lodge beside the lake, has a weekend summer package (two nights and three days) from 28,000 rupees (Dh2,282) full board, based on two sharing a waterfront cottage with terrace, including taxes. The resort has all kinds of outdoor activities - jeep safaris or walks in Nagarhole National Park, plantation tours, cycling expeditions, boat rides and kayaking, from about 1,000 rupees (Dh81) per person, depending on the activity.
The five-star Orange County Coorg (www.orangecounty.com; 00 91 8274 258 481) provides luxurious accommodation set in the midst of dense forests. Located on the banks of the River Cauvery, the resort sprawls across more than 100 hectares of a working coffee plantation, and offers private, beautifully designed cottages and villas, some with their own swimming pool and terrace.
A basic "county cottage" costs from 14,450 Indian rupees (Dh1,180) per night, full board and based on two sharing, including taxes, and outdoor activities such as guided nature walks, bird watching in the mornings, and a tour of the plantation accompanied by a naturalist. The resort has three excellent restaurants, a small cafe-cum-library with coffee on the house every afternoon, and a reasonably priced shop where visitors can buy fresh coffee grounds, black pepper, cloves and small souvenirs. Guests, if they wish, can ride around the lush estate in electric cars.
For less expensive accommodation in Coorg, try the Porcupine Castle (www.porcupinecastle.com; 00 91 8041 660 805), a small, quirky resort about 30km from Madikeri, the capital. Set high on a hill, the resort has 11 "chalets" with views of the valleys and forest-covered mountains. A chalet with a terrace costs from 5,500 rupees (Dh448) per night, including breakfast, dinner and taxes. Or choose to stay in the "Nest", a treehouse built in the branches of a silver oak (6,500 rupees [Dh530] for two, full board, per night). The resort also organises activities that include a camp fire every evening, star gazing, fishing in the large resort pond and trekking in the hills.