A little town on the way to Ooty, often overlooked by many. Masinagudi is well known to be a haven for those seeking a rich experience around the Nilgiri mountains, but with not as many tourists. A good time to visit would be right now, since many resorts are blooming up now. I first visited Masinagudi in 2011, and that was by sheer accident. I visited Masinagudi again this summer, and not much has changed. The photos in this post are from both outings – however, I’ve added recent experience as well to help you make a current booking.
The research: Back in 2011, me and a small group of friends were looking for an interesting destination which offered reasonably good photographic opportunities along with a stay to remember. We came across Masinagudi – the place seemed to offer both. Upon searching (standard Google R&D and travel forum methods), we came across a few resorts that offered the experience of staying in a tree house – something that none of us had experienced before. We took the bait and my friend Nagesh Kamath sent mails to a bunch of these guys. Safariland Resorts was the first to respond – they were prompt, and the mail was quite detailed. Not wanting to wait further and miss out on an opportunity, we decided to make the bookings. Switch to a few months ago – When planning a holiday with my wife, she expressed interest in living in a tree house as she found the photographs that I’d shown to her quite interesting. The rest of the process was very similar to what we did earlier.
Hotel Reservation: Details of tariff and how to book (including a phone number) are available in the resort’s website – http://safarilandresorts.com/ However, I decided to send them a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org I received a response quickly, and the types of rooms available were detailed in the mail as well. Booking process is simple – they expect you to transfer 50% of the total amount of your stay in advance. I transferred the amount via NEFT and mailed proof of transfer to them. They confirmed receipt of amount and blocked the rooms. The balance amount is to be settled during check out. The website is quite dated, but offers a reasonable idea of what you can expect. I booked the Deluxe Tree House, which turned out to be bigger than what I’d expected. They expect you to check in at 12 PM.
Location: Bokkapuram, where the resort is located, is about 4 KMs from Masinagudi. Directions to Masinagudi are quite straight forward – from Mysore, proceed towards Bandipur forest. Cross through the forest into Tamil Nadu, and continue towards Ooty. The first signs of human settlement that you will get to see is Masinagudi. Drive through the town, and continue towards Ooty. There’s a small bridge after at about 2 KMs after the town. You are to take the second left turn after this bridge to get to Bokkapuram. Safariland shares the same road with several other resorts (Zest, Jungle Retreat, Jungle Hut..) There’s a board (easy to miss) that tells you to take the left turn. Take the left and continue down the road. The road, as such is quite scenic and is a delight to drive on.
You’ll also pass by this small hillock on which there’s a temple. More on that on a later post.
Continue down the road through Bokkapuram village, and the boards of Zest resort are hard to miss. Right after Zest is Safariland.
Check in: The resort’s security room doubles up as reception – most of the people working here perform multiple tasks. Check in was fast – I had printouts of the booking confirmation mail. The receptionist handed over the keys to the allotted tree house and sent a valet to take care of our luggage. As I parked, I realized that we were the only guests. The valet mentioned that everyone had checked out a while ago, and we had the whole resort to ourselves. The receptionist had also called me at around 10 AM to check if we were having lunch at the resort so that they could prepare food which I had confirmed. As we walked to the tree house, we were welcomed by a swarm of a few hundred butterflies that were resting on bamboo trees.Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a photograph of the welcome we got.
The Tree House: This is what the tree house looked like when we walked to our room.
Yeah, that does look a bit scary. As you can see, one needs to climb two sets of stairs to get to the room. Here’s what it looks like climbing up.
A view of some of the supports tied together very well.
And this is what it looks like when you look down at the ground.
And on looking up, you can see the sit-out area of the room.
One more set of supports
And we’ve made it to the top.
Here’s what the Deluxe Tree House looks like inside.
Yes, that would be something like a balcony, with a two beds, two chairs and a table. The blinds open the room out to the forest.
Mosquito nets are essential – one has to keep the lights on in the evenings and insects tend to fly in. I didn’t spot any large or terrifying ones, but there were plenty of mosquitoes, bugs (not bed bugs) and moths that flew in.
The beds weren’t as soft as I’d like them to be.
They provide clean towels, soap and shampoo. If you have any special requirements, you’ll have to take them with you as getting whatever you need at Masinagudi could be a problem. Bathrooms are not cramped, and come equipped with a water heater.
There are no telephones in the room. There is sufficient coverage of cellphone network of all major providers throughout the resort. Take the phone numbers of some of the staff before you retire – just in case you need help in the night. There are no TVs inside the rooms, and there’s one at the common game room though.
Facilities: There is a common game room which has a few board games. They also provide badminton rackets to play in the lawn (there’s no court). There’s a ping-pong board as well. However, if you’re a nature enthusiast, you’ll probably never need these. The resort is filled with free roaming birds and langurs tend to visit from time to time. You can have a conversation with the Malabar Whistling Thrush, that responded to my whistles (not bird-call app!). There’s also a resident Malabar Giant Squirrel. We also spotted many Jungle Babblers, Spotted Doves, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, and the Indian Pitta inside the resort. A walk outside will keep one busy – it is said that the banyan tree near Jungle Hut provides shelter to around a 100 species, though I’ve managed to spot far less both times. For all the trips to nearby areas that are mentioned in the package, the guests vehicle will be made use of for transportation. Check with other guests if they’re willing to car-pool.
Restaurant: Good food is hard to get in this area, and the restaurant under these circumstances does a good job. Do note that the cost of food is not included in the room’s tariff and an additional amount has to be shelled out. Food package includes coffee/tea early in the morning, breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea/coffee mid-morning and mid-afternoon (snacks included too). The food package is expensive, but there are no other options unless you’re willing to drive to the town and hunt for a restaurant yourself.
Check out: The process took about 10 minutes time. I’d confirmed in advance on the morning of our last day about my check out. While the receptionist got the papers ready, I went to the restaurant and tipped the staff. I settled the bill (the remaining 50% of the total amount, and the amount for food) and was on my way.
I enjoyed my stay both times at Safariland. This is a great place to stay for someone who wants to spend a couple of nights away from a bustling city. There are no loud car horns, the two days were very relaxing and I came back home refreshed. I do understand that everyone is different and has their preferences – if yours aren’t similar, this place is best avoided.
A few pointers:
1. The room tariff, as mentioned before and on the resort’s website, doesn’t include the price of the food. You’ll have to shell out an additional amount of money for that. I had let them know in advance that we’ll be eating at the resort. Check with them on the current pricing (they generally mention this in the mail they send along with the room details before reservation). It’s hard to get food outside.
2. Check if the Nawab (owner of the resort) will be in town. If requested, he generally takes people out on his jeep to nearby areas. He’s a naturalist and is quite a man.
3. When driving through the forest area, slow down and keep a watch on the roads. Spotted deers are known to run across, many have seen wild elephants as well. You may also see peacocks and other birds as well. They have as much right as we do, if not more, in these areas. We saw this beautiful lady on the roadside.
4. Some of the roads are designated as a ‘No stopping’ zone. This is for a reason and for your own protection. Respect the rules. The road goes through elephant, tiger and leopard territory.
5. The staff will inform you about the timing of a bonfire in the evening just before dinner, if weather permits. If you’re the only guests and are not interested in this, let them know when informed.
6. You’ll get to see langurs come in and play around at the resort. Generally, these animals are quite shy and move away if approached – if left to themselves and observed from a distance, they do not pose any threat. Be careful of where you leave stuff in the tree houses when going out as it’s not very difficult for a monkey to get inside, although this isn’t heard of much.
7. It’s quite normal to hear the alarm call of a spotted deer in the evening or even late in the night. Generally, this is no cause for concern to humans.
1. I do not have any association with Safariland – I wrote this to thank them for the great experience I’ve had there. They probably are not even aware of this article.
2. Photos and text are my work and copyright. Please do not reproduce them without prior permission.
3. As always, if you have any questions, please use the comment box using an appropriate email ID (will not be published) and depending on the query, I’ll respond to you personally or through mail.
4. I’ll put up a separate post on where to go around Safariland later.