Coorg: Of coffee, wilderness and our first travel together

“The most beautiful places are at the end of really bad roads”. Coorg had fit this bill quite correctly back then. With its lure of coffee plantations, exotic homestays and the wild Western ghats, we knew Coorg had to be our honeymoon destination.

We want to share with you some highlights of our visit to Coorg.

Coorg is synonymous to Indian coffee

While talking about Coorg, coffee deserves the first mention. Besides visiting a coffee plantation, we could first hand see the various stages that coffee seeds go through before getting into our cuppa. Carpets of coffee seeds laid to sun dry outside the houses is a common sight in Coorg.

As are these mountains.

Many coffee estate owners have opened up their homes to tourists. So one can experience the local life and hospitality of Coorg while staying on a coffee estate.

Which brings us to the next most exciting part of our visit.

Exotic homestays of Coorg

We traveled through Coorg (officially known as the Kodagu district) from the north to the south. Our stay in north was in this charming homestay called Windcrest in a tiny village called Galeebidu near Madikeri, the district headquarters. It is home to Girish and Bollu. They spend their winters at Windcrest. The rest of the year, they spend with their daughters’ families in US and UK.

We would greet the sun from the gazebo over our outhouse. In between the outhouse and the gazebo was Girish and Bollu’s beautiful bungalow. Our day began with coffee followed by a full-blown breakfast. Followed by juice of the fruits that Girish grew here in the Windcrest gardens. Dinners were always some delightful local delicacies.

After a few days here in northern part of Coorg, we shifted to the south, to a homestay called Spice Garden near Kuta. While the north was all charming like a hill station, south was raw and rustic. If north was a well manicured garden, south was a wild forest.

Quite fittingly, we stayed in this tent on the grounds of Spice Garden. Tent with a personal porch, dining sit out and a tree house! Spice Garden is home to a modern 21st century farmer Naveen Criappa and his entrepreneurial wife Raina.

Their coffee plantations were just next to the homestay. Surrounding these plantations was a beautiful forest.

A passionate wildlife conservationist, who had also participated in the tiger census, conversations with Naveen were as delightful as they were insightful.

The tent accommodation was a surprisingly relaxing experience.Being in the outdoors, yet warm and cozy with all the privacy one would want, it was a perfect setting.

The Cariappa family would arrange our candle lit dinners on a dining sit out next to the tent. We feasted on organic home-grown ingredients in fresh local recipes supervised by Raina herself.

Post dinner, we would sit on the porch or by a bonfire, under a blanket of star-studded sky until it got too cold to be outdoors, then retire to the warm indoor comforts.

These homestay experiences got us totally hooked on to the idea of staying with the locals, they are now a huge part of our travels.

However, if you still feel that homestays aren’t your cup of tea, Jungle Lodges has a beautiful property by the Kabini river. Here too, you can enjoy the thrill of staying in a tent with a little more luxury (but a little less privacy).

With the stay sorted, you can set out exploring Coorg.

Bylakuppe, a little Tibet in South India

In the midst of all the coffee and forest is a surprising little Tibetan settlement in the form of Bylakuppe. Around 40 km southwards of Madikeri, the Namdroling monastery is located in Bylakuppe. It is built on the land donated to the Tibetian refugees by the Government of India.

The main prayer hall in the monastery has a series of such paintings on its walls rendering a very colourful feel to the prayer hall.

It also houses a religious college. Some monks were studying, preparing for their exams. Except for the maroon robes, it was a scene just like any other university campus!

Rich biodiversity of Coorg, thanks to the Western Ghats

The Western Ghats were added to the UNESCO world heritage list for their rich biodiversity. Being situated on the eastern slopes of these ranges, Coorg is a perfect spot to experience this biodiversity.

Everywhere we went, we could spot a variety of butterflies, birds and reptiles. Going on a nature trail with an expert in this field will be a highly enriching experience.

The highway from Mysore to Coorg passes through the forest. We didn’t have to wait for a wildlife safari to be enthralled by the forest life.

At one spot, we drove past this wild elephant. Naveen was driving us around and he informed us that this was actually a tuskless male elephant. Female elephants look down upon such males, so he lives a pretty isolated life.

We were glad we didn’t disturb this Chital’s early morning yoga routine!

Another great place to see the animals up, close and personal is the Dubare Elephant Camp

If you get your timing right, you can even participate in the bathing and scrubbing of the elephants in the Dubare camp. We got a little late getting to Dubare, so missed out on the elephants. But spent a lovely time by this section of the Cauvery river.

Meet the tiger at the Nagarhole Wildlife sanctuary

We didn’t, but many have. We did see the Indian bison, wild hogs, mongoose and the famous Malabar giant squirrel. But the early morning air, and the smell and sounds of the forest – that’s what overwhelms!

Sighting or not, it’s a highly recommended experience. Nagarhole has a variety of safaris to suit every budget. The quality also varies accordingly. Whatever the budget, just get into the forest. It’s a feeling words and photos can not do justice to.

Day/multi day treks for the more outdoor inclined

Its location makes Coorg a perfect starting point for treks in the Western Ghats. From simpler one day treks to the more arduous multi day ones.

One trek we went for was in the northern part of Coorg. On a clear day, the waters of the Arabian sea can be seen from the peak here. Our caretaker at Windcrest accompanied us as a guide for this trek. His trivia filled stories about the landscape and the flora-fauna made it a fun outing in the woods.

The second trek we did was in the southern part of Coorg. This was through the forest where the river Lakshmanteerth originates, near the Iruppu waterfalls. We had to get permission from the forest department for this trek. This time, our guide was a forest guard.

The trek started off in a bamboo forest, and went through some deciduous and later an evergreen section. Witnessing the rapid changes in the forest was amazing. And sightings of snakes, wild hogs running (escaping a wild elephant, the guide told us) and hairy droppings (indicating a predator’s habitat) was exciting!

Time to spend with nature

Even outside of the mountains or forests, Coorg offers a bountiful of rejuvenating nature time. There are several small islands, perfect for a casual stroll, some canoeing or just a picnic.

Or walk through farmlands.

You know you are in a special place when a walk around town involves sights like these.

Coorg is not your typical “tourist destination”. It is also a far call from the regular “honeymoon spots”. But if walking through stunning landscapes or under star-studded skies – with just you and that special someone – is your idea of romantic holiday, by all means go ahead and plans your honeymoon to Coorg!

Top tips for travel to Coorg:

  • Coorg is a relatively easy weekend getaway from Bangalore and Mysore. For getting here from most other major cities in India will involve some planning ahead.
  • We got to Madikeri via the coastal town of Mangalore in Karnataka. This route has been under repairs and expansion for a long time now. If you plan to take this route, check on its condition around your travel time.
  • There are many homestays in Coorg. They are a wonderful way of experiencing a slice of life in Coorg. Do consider these for your stay in Coorg.
  • Your local contact in Coorg will be able to guide you to some really offbeat places around. They can also arrange for local guides and drivers. As tourists or visitors to a new place, it is great to participate in the local economy this way.
  • Make sure you get your stash of coffee from Coorg. Or some organic spices. And if you are so inclined, a variety of wines (gooseberry wine, yum!) made from the local fruits.
  • Try atleast one outdoorsy activity in Coorg. It is a great setting to get back to climbing, swimming or cycling.
  • The Western Ghats – the “star attraction” of Coorg – have been crowned with a UNESCO world heritage designation. It is our responsibility to make sure we do not hamper this. As we always say, respect nature.

Need help planning your trip to Coorg?

Tell us your requirement.

Quick reference map of Coorg:

These blogs will help you plan your travels to evergreen India

day in trivandrum kovalam beach kerala

Kerala backwaters beyond houseboat tours

Share this story on:

The following two tabs change content below.
Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

37 thoughts on “Coorg: Of coffee, wilderness and our first travel together

  1. rajesh nemani

    sir,i(age;49) want to visit coorg on 21st.jan,2017 with my wife.i want a good place/resort to stay.My Budget: 8000/ rupees approx a day including food.Pls help me with one or maximum two names.Thanks in advance for the nice blog you are running.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Rajesh, Coorg in January is just perfect – make sure you are carrying your woollens. There are many luxury/eco resorts all over Coorg. But unless you are looking particularly for a secluded luxury outing, we would recommend a homestay in Coorg. Many homestays in Coorg have a separate place for the guests to stay – so you can mingle with the family but also have your own privacy. For the hospitality, food and just the “coolness” of the hosts, we would recommend Spice Garden in the southern part of Coorg near Kutta (Naveen/Raina Cariappa: 9448504061, 9448313965). Happy travels!

  2. Pingback: China's travel frenzy with 3 billion trips - ZOMO88

  3. Satish

    “The most beautiful places are at the end of really bad roads,” begins this write-up that paints a beautiful picture of Coorg with its lush coffee plantations, green rolling hills, and wildlife. The write-up speaks extensively about the many coffee plantations in this region, as well as the charms of visiting a coffee plantation.

  4. Priya Bernard

    We are playing to visit on 29th and check out on 31st mrng July.. what are the places that we must cover.

  5. Ratheesh M Balakrishnan

    We are a group of ten..could you please help us get a affordable stay there..ur help is very much appreciated

  6. Faisal Shaikh

    Amazing write up. Atleast now i am clear what i have to do in Coorg. Suggest a homestay for solo traveler.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Fisal, Coorg is a perfect place to do lots or nothing at all 🙂 We loved our stay in Spice Garden, a homestay in Kuta, in south Coorg. We stayed in a tent and sure they have options for solo accommodation as well.

  7. Raunak Yadav

    Hi Sandeepa & Chetan,

    Your blog style is really impressive. You let the pictures do all the talking. I really wanna know how you click butterfly pics. I try so many times but they just won’t stay calm 🙁 ..

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Thank you so much for your comments, Raunak! For the butterfly pics, patience really is the key! The moist air around the Irupu waterfall in Coorg did attract a lot of butterflies, helping us take their pictures.

  8. kavita

    dear sandeepa and chetan awsome photography. pl write detail in RTW. BECAUSE we r also enjoying traveling through blogs

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Thanks guys! The greenery of Coorg is soothing. As an avid coffee drinker, I would however, also add “just coffee” as well, to the list that makes Coorg worthwhile 🙂

  9. Amruta

    Hello guys.. firstly I would like to congratulate you for such a nice blog, classic experiences & perfect photography.. It made me enchanted..
    Can you please suggest which is the best season to visit coorg?

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Thank you so much Amruta! Winter is the best time to visit Coorg. It does get quite chilly in the evening and nights, so you need to carry some warm wear. But the days are perfect to just walk/drive around and explore.

  10. Sarita Banerjee

    “Hi Sandeep Chetan,
    I was planning to take to take a break from work in the near future and your blog helped choose the perfect location for the weekend getaway. I have been hearing that Coorg is a charming place to unwind and your photos and description have convinced me of that. Thanks! “

  11. Kim

    Every time I visit I learn more about the incredible diversity of the flora, fauna and culture of your country through your perfect photographs. Thank you both for bringing India into my home. I wish you all the best so you can continue to do so for a very long time to come.

  12. Sia Sharma

    Delightful Photography Chetan …I have heard so many things about coorg…Your Blog make me excitement to visit this wonderful place

  13. Maria Gomes

    Coorg does look super beautiful! I’ve heard a lot about it but this is the first time I’ve gotten a real good look at it (through a computer screen of course.) Must put it on my list of possible holiday destinations! Thanks for sharing, it’s a great post!

  14. Tina Leggio

    Wonderful pictures, as always. Your photos make me want to visit the places you write about. There is such beauty there. The images of the butterflies were so detailed and amazing but my favorite shot had to be of the forest because if you looked carefully, you could see three deer hidden in the leaves.

    1. Chetan Karkhanis

      We were smiling as we read your comment, Tina. It is such a delight when someone spots the hidden details in your photos! Thank you so much for your as always generous comment. Happy clicking to you too!