I spent the Diwali weekend at a beatiful home-stay in Kakkabe. Palace Estate, owned by the Apparanda family is located on the route from Virajpet to Kakkabe. Most visitors go there for the trek to Thadiyendamol peak, the highest point in Coorg. We headed there with the same plan.
The trek had to be abandoned within an hour. It had rained and there were leeches on the trail. When Preethi noticed a couple of leeches on her shoes, her shrieks could have woken up the dead. If birdwatchers around Kakkabe had poor sightings that weekend, they now know why. The number of leeches wasn't anywhere close to what we got on our trip to Narasimha Parvatha. Carry a dettol swab, and you can do the two hour trek easily, unless you are mortally scared of leeches. Some other guests did go up to the peak during our stay. Preethi convinced me that the whole point of taking a break was to beat stress and the trek wasn't working for her ("Stress?!?", I can see some at Kodiak snickering when they read this). It was decided that I would try the trek sometime later with the baays (and that could be as soon as this month for our team outing :)
Luckily, the place is enjoyable even if trekking on leech infested trails isn't your idea of fun. The estate has a private waterfall which is a five minute walk through the plantation from the rooms. Don't pack your swimming trunks though as you are not allowed to bathe in it since it's the primary water source. The walks within the coffee estate are refreshing. I could hear many types of bird calls in the mornings (though I'm no good at identifying birds), so birders will have a fun time here. A short walk away from the estate is the Nalnad palace which is more than a century old. There are paddy fields further downhill. The rooms have a vernadah with a beatiful view of the valley. Pick up a book or just relax watching the mist filled valleys below. On clear nights, the lights at Madikeri town are visible.
The hospitality is excellent. Prakash Poovanna, our host made us feel at home on arrival. The food is vegetarian and it is served in the company of Prakash's family in their dining room. I loved the traditional Coorgi dishes that were served. We picked up a couple of recipies from there. The breakfast was the best part- Kapputtu on the first day and Akki Roti on the next. Almost everything is rice-based, so your mileage may vary.
The tariffs are pretty decent. The room came for Rs. 1200 a day (accommodates two). Prakash told me the rates had gone up to 1500 by October. We got the deal since we booked a month in advance in September. Meals cost Rs. 70 per head for breakfast and Rs. 110 per meal for lunch/dinner. The services of a guide for the trek to Thadiyendamol cost Rs. 200. Our total expenses for a two day stay there came to Rs. 3600.
To get there from Bangalore, head to Mysore and take the Srirangapatna bypass before Mysore twowards Hunsur. Stay on the highway near Hunsur. Just after the fork on the left to Hunsur town, the highway will fork again. Take the road on the left that goes to Virajpet and Kannur (Cannanore) (the highway continues to Madikeri). At Virajpet, take the a turn towards Madikeri. After 4 km, there's a cement bridge where you need to take a left towards Kakkabe (follow the Coffee Country signboards from there till Nalnad Palace). There are a couple of bad stretches since the road from Mysore to Hunsur is being widened. Cars can go all the way up to Palace Estate. There are KSRTC buses to Virajpet from Bangalore.
For bookings, contact:
Mr. Prasad Poovanna
Ph: 98804 47702
Here's the trip photo album on flickr.