COFFEE, CULTURE AND ADVENTURE: A LUXURY VACATION WITH COORG WILDERNESS RESORT
Are you looking to visit Coorg and unsure where to stay or what to do? Read my detailed review about Coorg Wilderness Resort and the best places to visit in Coorg.
A luxury road trip in Coorg
Road trips are tempting and hard to resist, especially for someone like me who prefers being on the road to indoors. So, when the opportunity came in February to visit Coorg, I latched on to it. After all, I had planned to visit Coorg for a long time, and I didn't even bother to check when was the best time to visit Coorg or the best places to visit. Guess my regular readers would know that I am more of a spontaneous traveller who goes by the flow and recommendations of the locals. And that's precisely what I did on this trip to know. For people who don't know much about Coorg - Bestowed with lush green landscapes and acres of coffee and spice plantations. Situated in the Western Ghats of the Sahyadri Mountains in South Western Karnataka, Coorg is blessed with the natural beauty poets use in their poems. Coorg has an undulating variety of options to cater from cascading milky white waterfalls to dense forests to gurgling rivers to adventurous trekking routes to fascinating caves to traditional temples to ancient-era forts to meticulously preserved museums to all kinds of travellers. So, in this post, I'll share my experience of visiting Coorg and how you, too, can have a great trip.
Also, since I was visiting South India after almost two years and am pretty conscious about my carbon footprint, I decided to cover at least four places instead of one. My first destination was Bangalore, followed by Coorg, Fort Kochi and Kumarakom. You can read more about the Bangalore experience here - Hotel review: is Paul Bangalore one of the best 5-star hotels in Bangalore or not?
Now let me share my experience of visiting Coorg.
Table of Contents
- BANGALORE TO COORG JOURNEY
- DAY 1 - ARRIVING AND STAYING AT COORG WILDERNESS RESORT
- DAY 2 - REJUVENATING SPA AND COFFEE EXPERIENCES
- DAY 3 - BIRD WATCHING AND ADVENTURE THERAPY
- DAY 4 - EXPLORING THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN COORG
- DAY 5 - SAYING GOODBYE TO COORG
- COST OF MY COORG TRIP
- CLOSING THOUGHTS
- HOW TO BOOK THE COORG WILDERNESS RESORT
- ADDITIONAL TRAVEL INFORMATION FOR COORG
Bangalore to Coorg Journey
After a relaxed two day staycation at the Paul Bangalore Hotel, I was ready for an adventure-filled vacation in the lap of South India's famed hill station - Coorg. To beat the crazy Bangalore traffic, I left my hotel at 8:30 am. And, somewhere between my car naps, conversations and coffee breaks, the cityscape gave way to emerald landscapes and hectares of plantations on either side of the state highway 17. Six hours, one nariyal pani stop, two chai stops, five-car naps, and several spontaneous camera moments later, we were at our destination. On a winding road off the highway, about four kilometres from the main Madikeri town, there stood Coorg Wilderness Resort, my den for the next five days.
Day 1 - Arriving and staying at Coorg Wilderness Resort.
Coorg Wilderness Resort, genuinely living up to its name, is nestled amid Western Ghats' deep valleys and majestic hills. The fourth luxury offering from Paul John Resorts & Hotels, the resort is located just 3kms from the city centre. Yet, it feels like you have entered a world of true wilderness as your car enters the property premise. As I stepped out of the car at the reception of the luxury resort after a six-hour journey, I was greeted by a refreshing cool towel and a rejuvenating hot locally blended coffee. A perfect mix to perk me up from my slumber.
We finished the check-in formalities in no time, and within minutes I was in a “buggy”. A golf cart-type electric vehicle is the only mode of transport around the 40 acres of the resort property. I rode a few hundred metres uphill to reach my 1350 sq feet Hillview Suite perched atop a natural slope. Coorg Wilderness Resort offers three different types of accommodation for guests; Grove View Studios, Grove View Suites and Hill View Suites.
The exteriors of Hill View Suite at Coorg Wilderness Resort
The elegant European-style Hill View suite reminded me of my stay at a Swiss Alps Chalet in Zermatt. A spacious birchwood suite decked up with stately interiors and furnishings had traditionally designed electric fireplace and gothic-styled chandeliers. The well-lit suite opened up to a large bay window and a sun deck offering panoramic views of the famed Coorg forest and valley. The best part of the suite was the bathroom - way larger than an average bathroom, fitted with luxurious Jaguar bathroom fittings and a bathtub near a big window. There was a large vanity area where you could sit for hours dressing up or reading a book. The suites in the property are non-air-conditioned given the cool weather Coorg is known for and enjoy the different sounds of nature. Construction is done in such a way that the buildings blend in with the surroundings - roofs are green in colour, and no trees were cut for building the resort.
The interiors of my Hill View Suite at Coorg Wilderness Resort
As the night fell, the resort wore a magical attire adorned with dimly-lit paths leading up and down to the various villas, activity centres and restaurants. Although there was an option to call a buggy, I loved walking on the winding pathways lined with manicured gardens on both sides.
Coorg Wilderness offers two dining options to its guests - Habba restaurant offers Italian, American, pan Asian and Indian cuisines with a lavish buffet spread. Vembanad, a speciality restaurant, offers coastal dishes with a Coorg and Kerala influence. There are two bars; the Tipsy Bar and the Hunters Lodge. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lady bartender at Tipsy Bar.
A lavish multi-cuisine buffet is served every day at Habba Restaurant, Coorg Wilderness Resort
The quality of cocktails, mocktails and liquor is quite wide and wonderful at Tipsy Bar, Coorg Wilderness Resort
Day 2 - Rejuvenating Spa and Coffee Experiences
After a hearty breakfast and some rest, I decided to try out the recently opened Nikaay Spa at the resort, where I could choose from a range of rejuvenating experiences ranging from facial treatments to full-body massages and therapeutic yoga rituals. Being a Spa Enthusiast, I've tried a lot of treatments at different places. Still, Nikaay stood out with its wholesomeness and spa rituals. The process started with pre rituals, including a cold water shower and Swedish sauna for 15 minutes, followed by a 60 minutes massage (I chose Swedish massage). The spa process ended with fifteen-minute post spa rituals, including a spa drink, fruit platter, steam room and shower. After the treatment, I felt feather-light and totally rejuvenated.
Best things to do in Coorg - enjoy a rejuvenation spa treatment at Nikaay Spa
From one kind of rejuvenating experience, I moved on to discover the other rejuvenation for which Coorg is famous for. Coorg is the Coffee Bowl of the country as it accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the country's total coffee production. Therefore it would have been blasphemous to visit the region and not visit a coffee plantation. One hour away from the resort lay Mercara Gold Estate. Spread across an area of 30 acres, it is an ideal place to get a crash course on how coffee is made right from the berry picking stage to the moment it reaches you in a cup. Murudeshwar, our walk guide, gave us a one-hour-long insightful tour of the estate ending with a delectable Coorg coffee! Even the minimalist me couldn't stop myself from shopping for the fragrant spices and coffee from the estate.
Enjoying a coffee plantation tour at Mercara Gold Estate, Coorg, Karnataka
Around 5:30 pm, we returned to the Coorg Wilderness Resort to witness a glorious sunset at the viewing deck, offering a 360-degree view. We finally wrapped up our glorious day with Paul John Whisky and vintage collection Big Banyan wine at Tipsy bar.
Tracing the journey of a coffee from a plant to a cup at Mercara Gold Estate, Coorg, Karnataka
Day 3 - Bird Watching and Adventure Therapy
The next day I woke early to attend an early morning guided walk with a Naturalist in the forests known to house over 350 bird species. Post the walk and delicious breakfast; I decided to test my adrenaline rush by spending a few hours in the Adventure park trying out different activities such as a 5 rope course, rock climbing and Zipline along with one rope course at the exit.
Must try Level 1 (5 rope course) at Adventure Park, Coorg Wilderness Resort
Trying Level 1 (5 rope course) at Adventure Park, Coorg Wilderness Resort
Enjoying the zipline experience at Adventure Park of Coorg Wilderness Resort
Post lunch, I just let my weary muscles recoup from exertion by enjoying a bathtub therapy.
Bathtub decoration, Coorg Wilderness Resort, Karnataka
Enjoying the warm cosiness of a bathtub at Coorg Wilderness Resort
And the coastal cuisine at Vembanad restaurant was a perfect way to end a perfect day at Coorg Wilderness Resort. We started with one veg and one non-veg starter - the Hurule Cheer Vada (horse gram fritters with local spinach, served with spicy roasted tomato chutney), Kodanari Toppu Mean (curry leaf marinated fish wrapped in banana leaves, cooked to perfection on the griddle) followed by the main course - Malabari Pachakari Kurma (vegetables simmered in a thick spicy coconut based gravy) and Prawns Mappas (prawns cooked in coriander flavoured thick creamy gravy mildly spiced and served with appam)
Day 4 - Exploring the best places to visit in Coorg
Coorg is fondly called the “Scotland of India” for its sheer natural beauty. Hence I decided to spend the last day of my trip exploring the great outdoors of Coorg. While there is no shortage of best places to visit in Coorg, I could only pack a few in my limited time. Thanks to Anthony D'Souza, the travel and activities in charge at Coorg Wilderness Resort, who ensured Coorg left a lasting impression on me. I couldn't have asked for a better itinerary.
Sunrise at Mandalpatti Peak
My day started at 5:00 am with an early morning drive to Mandalpatti Peak, which is one of the best places in Coorg for sunrise and sunset. Situated approximately 30 kilometres from Madikeri in Pushpagiri Reserve Forest, Mandalpatti Peak is at 4050 feet above sea level. You can hike up the 4km trek from the main entrance, but we decided to take an off-road jeep to reach the peak before sunrise. There was an entrance fee of INR 25/-, and Drones were not allowed inside the forest area.
Best things to do in Coorg - watch a Sunrise or sunset at Mandalpatti Peak, Coorg
Sunrise view at Mandalpatti Peak, Coorg
Enjoying the morning golden hour time in Coorg
Breakfast at Kota Abbey Waterfall
While returning, we stopped for a short Tea and Maggie break at Kota Abbey Waterfall. The water cascading over rocks into the pool had an excellent therapeutic feel. It is a great picnic spot. The best time to visit Kota Abbey falls is early winter or during monsoons when the water level is high.
Entry fee - Rs. 20/- per person and Rs. 300 for Drone
Kota Abbey Waterfall is a great picnic spot to visit near Coorg
After quickly freshening up, I decided to explore the best attractions of Coorg and around.
Attending the afternoon prayer at Kota Omkareshwara Temple
We started the exploration of the town by visiting the revered Omkareshwara temple, the famous Siva temple in Madikeri built by Linga Rajendra in 1820 as penance for killing a brahmin. The architectural beauty of the temple is worth observing - the temple has both Islamic and Gothic styles of architecture. Another noteworthy architectural feature of the temple is the water tank in front, inhabited by different varieties of fish. There are four Minarets around and a dome in the centre of the temple. A footpath leads to the Mandap. Here the Sivalinga was named Omkareswara. Regular rituals are performed here, and I highly recommend visiting it at Pooja hour.
Best places to visit in Coorg - Omkareshwara temple
TSW Tip: No cameras are allowed inside the temple, and it closes at noon after the afternoon prayer. The temple is open every day from 6:30 am to 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Soaking in the panoramic view at Raja's Seat
If you like to be mesmerized by the scenic beauty and enchanting views, you'll love Gaddigey, which literally means “Seat of the Kings”. As the name suggests, Raja's Seat used to be a favourite place of kings of Coorg. The sunset and sunrise view from Raja's seat is exceptionally captivating and mustn't be missed. Golden sunlight falling on the lush greenery offers fantastic photographic opportunities as well. The calmness of the place and the scenic beauty of the well-maintained park makes it a fantastic nature retreat for morning and evening walks. An area for children's amusement makes it perfect for a family outing. There is a toy train that goes around the Raja Seat and is something that attracts both children as well as adults.
Gaddigey aka Raja's Seat in Madikeri is famous for scenic beauty and enchanting views
Entry fee - Rs. 5/- per person
Getting up close to the nature at Nisargdhama Park
Tucked between a lush coverage of bamboo groves and a serene Kaveri river, Nisargadhama Park is 28 km away from Coorg. Spread across 64 acres of land, this place is abundantly blessed with a good variety of flora and fauna. As soon as you reach here, a hanging rope bridge connects you to Nisargadhama. The place is home to rich wildlife and birds - deers, peacocks, rabbits, etc. Nisargadhama is covered with a thick foliage cover of sandalwood and teak trees, and bamboo groves. You could spend time boating, elephant riding, or simply sightseeing on foot.
Nisargdham Island near Kushalnagar is abundantly blessed with a good variety of flora and fauna
Entry fee - Rs. 10/- per person, Rs. 25/- for Elephant Ride, Rs. 100/- for Boating and Rs. 700 -
1000 per Night for Forest Resort Accommodation
Lunch at picturesque Harangi Dam
This place was one of my favourite places around Coorg. Situated in the Hudgur village near Kushalnagar of Coorg District, Harangi Dam was built across the tributary of River Cauvery. It was the first dam built across River Cauvery, creating a stunning view of the forceful stream of water. It is a slightly offbeat place that most tourists do not frequent. If you are looking for some break from the usual hustle-bustle of tourist spots, Harangi dam is your place. The best time to visit the Harangi dam is from August to September when the reservoir is brimming with water.
Situated in the Hudgur village near Kushalnagar of Coorg District, Harangi Dam is a must-visit offbeat place near Coorg
We then passed through Honnamana Kere Lake and a few other places before reaching our destination, Dubare Elephant Camp.
Watching the Jumbos at Dubare Elephant camp
Managed by Jungle Lodges and Resorts, Dubare Elephant Camp is located on an island in the Cauvery River. You can get really close to the gentle giants under the supervision of trained naturalists, who help you observe, learn, and participate in numerous elephant-centric activities. Since the water level was relatively shallow, we crossed the river barefoot (carry floaters or shoes that you won't mind getting wet) to reach the Dubare Elephant Camp, which was quite an adventure. Once we reached the camp, we watched the pachyderms being bathed, groomed, and fed. Though extremely touristy, the camp is a big hit among the kids and families.
PS: I've my reservations visiting places where captive animals are kept. So, personally, I would not recommend it.
An elephant enjoying a shower in River Cauvery at Dubare Elephant Camp
Entry fee - Rs. 20 per person, Rs. 30 per person for a boat ride, Rs. 100 per person for Elephant bathing and Rs. 20 for Elephant feeding activities. The daily Elephant interaction at Dubare Elephant Camp occurs from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and again from 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm.
Day 5 - Saying goodbye to Coorg
We started at 4:30 am the next day to reach our next destination, Fort Kochi. We drove for approximately two hours and thirty minutes from the resort to get to the Kannur International Airport.
Cost of my Coorg Trip
Accommodation: Rs. 25,500/- per night at Hill View Suite
Adventure Activities: Rs. 1500/- for Level 1 (5 rope course), Rs. 2000/- for Level 2 (5 rope course), Rs. 500/- for rock climbing and Rs. 500/- for Zipline along with one rope course at the exit.
Candle Light Dinner: Rs 7,500 plus taxes for a couple, inclusive of a 4-course meal and a bottle of wine at Vembanad Restaurant
Food - all three buffet meals at Habba Restaurant
Room decor and Floral bath: Rs. 3500 plus taxes.
Nikaay Spa treatment - Rs. 5000 per person for a Swedish massage
Pick and drop and two days of sightseeing.
The total Package cost me around 2,10,520/- plus taxes for two people.
The kind of luxurious experience I had, the cost is worth it. It's a holiday that you won't forget for a long time.
When you think about Coorg, plenty of clichéd adjectives come to mind - picturesque, tranquil, joyful and much more. But the core appeal of Coorg remains simple = a quiet hill station that's easily accessible via a well-connected road network, offering one of the best cuisines available in the south. If it's a self-driven vacation you're looking at, all roads lead to a perennially green pocket in southwestern Karnataka. And, if you are someone who enjoys a luxurious stay amidst the wilderness, then there can't be anything better than Coorg Wilderness Resort. Here are the top reasons why I recommend this resort
- Facilities - A wilderness luxury retreat where all your senses get pampered and rejuvenated. The architecture, facilities, food, activities, and service are top-class here.
- Staff: This is the most critical factor for me that can make or break my holiday. The team at Coorg Wilderness Resort is a mix of locals and outsiders. The common thing is their willingness to serve you the best and make your trip truly memorable. A special mention to Suresh Shahil, the front office manager, who left no stone unturned to ensure I had the best holiday. No matter what time and when I called, he was always there with a solution. He indeed spends time understanding your needs. Anthony D'Souza is another great asset for Coorg Wilderness Resort, who would make the best itinerary for you. My masseur at Nikaay Spa, Uma, had the softest but most potent hands. If you go to Coorg Wilderness, I highly recommend trying out the Spa treatments.
- Sustainability led Eco-resort - The Paul John Hotels pay attention to ensuring that their properties are built sustainably and cause no or minimal damage to the environment. Coorg Wilderness is no exception. The eco-resort has no air conditioners, has its own water filtration plant, STP plant for treating and reusing the wastewater, a home-grown organic garden where they grow their own vegetables, no plastic bottles and containers in rooms or restaurants, electric buggy to ferry the guests around the resort and adventure activities to keep the guests healthy and fit. Despite the resort being just a two-year-old property (it opened during COVID times), they regularly engage in CSR activities. For example, they undertook a donation drive to support the local old age home.
How to book the Coorg Wilderness Resort
You can book directly by visiting the Coorg Wilderness Resort website or through any third-party aggregator like Makemytrip, Yatra, Agoda, TripAdvisor etc. Use discount code INF20 to get an additional discount while booking any John Paul Properties.
The infinity pool at Coorg Wilderness Resort, Karnataka
Additional Travel Information for Coorg
- Accommodation - There are plenty of stay options in Coorg suiting every budget. From luxurious Taj Coorg to cosy Homestays. However, I'd highly recommend you to try out Coorg Wilderness Resort. It's a newly built property with excellent service.
- How many days are enough for Coorg - a weekend is enough if you are hard-pressed for time and just want to relax at the resort. However, if you're going to explore the way I did, a minimum of 5 days is required.
- Coorg Itineraries - 2 days (One day at the property and other day sightseeing in Medikari town - Omkareshwara Temple, Gadikey, Mercara Coffee Estate and Mandalpatti ) to 5 days (you can follow the itinerary I followed)
- When is the best time to visit Coorg - August to September if you want to see Coorg in its best lushness and brimming waterbodies. November to March for a pleasant stay.
- What to pack - comfortable shoes, sunscreen, umbrella/raincoat (if travelling in monsoon season), cotton clothes, light jacket if visiting in winters.