Orange County Resort – Friends-Vacation 2023

As dawn breaks over the Karapur Forest, the waters of the Kabini shimmer gold. The inhabitants of these parts stretch out their limbs (or wings), flutter and blink awake and make their way to their favorite watering hole. As the mist rises from the river in soft, gray bands, an astonishing variety of animals gather on its banks, drinking water, in search of food, coming to life. The good news is you can watch. The Kabini River is flanked by two of the best national parks in this part of the country – Nagarhole and Bandipur – which form the largest contiguous forest cover in the Nilgiri Biosphere. These forests are famous for their herbivores, especially the largest collection of Asian elephants, but the big cats also hunt. It is a nature lover’s fast track to nirvana. And Orange County will get you there in style.

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I’m late for the morning show because I’m arriving Orange Country in the afternoon after riding remote village trails. But as I am led to my ‘cabin’ I feel my return return. The monsoons are long over and the air is pleasant. The Kabini seems serene. The Kabini Dam has formed a lake in these parts and in mid-January the clear blue track is wide and deep for me, calmer than a massage. My fatigue disappears. There’s something oxymoronic about enjoying the wildlife in such luxury. ‘Back to nature’ has never felt so good – and I mean good in the royal bathtubs, chocolates on my pillow. By the time I’ve settled into my cottage with its beautiful river view, I’m starting to feel I can get used to this. The cottages are well spaced and there is a wonderful sense of privacy. Large patio doors open onto a seating area where you can recline on sun loungers. A gentle breeze stirs the treetops. Bright yellow birds – the common iora – clatter away on a nearby branch. The river is a few meters away and the forest awaits on the other bank.

Orange County Resort (Photo by Official Website)

Later, I tear myself away from the lazy riverbank and take the jeep safari from the resort to Nagarhole National Park. These 644 km² expanses of forests are a safe haven for numerous species including the sloth bear, flying fox, wild boar, panther, spotted deer and gaur (Indian bison), apart from an abundance of monkeys, snakes and birds. The big cats, tigers and leopards are the main (if more elusive) attraction, but this is also a pachyderm haven and herds of elephants roam these forests in great numbers. As we head into the jungle, the monkeys greet us: first the more common bonnet macaque, then gray langurs, watching the trees suspiciously. Malabar giant squirrels dart and play, swinging their beautiful tails from branches. We pass spotted deer at a salt lick and later their larger cousins, the sambar. Then at a pass in the jungle, we come to a stop. Across a clearing, almost perfectly camouflaged among the dry, golden-yellow bushes, a leopard is at rest. It ignores us, we act like eager schoolchildren, clambering onto the seats and sticking our heads out of the open jeep to get a better look.

Nagarhole National Park (Photo by Official website)
Nagarhole National Park (Photo by Official website)

Orange Country has tried to make use of the culture of the Kadu Kuruba tribes living in these parts, giving the cottages a rustic look to resemble the Kuruba hadis (villages). In keeping with the motif, the interiors consist of roughly hewn furniture and tribal print curtains. But you don’t have to scratch the surface to see that all the trappings of comfort are thoughtfully provided: spacious suites with softly cushioned sofas, large-screen LCD televisions, giant four-poster beds and well-equipped kitchens with kettles and coffee makers. The bathrooms are the size of small rooms with large bathtubs, shower cubicles and separate ‘his’ and ‘hers’ basins. They have ensured that the real draw – the Kabini River – takes center stage.

Apart from the generous sit-outs overlooking the river, in some cottages the bedroom wall is also lined with windows from which you can see the waters. You can wake up to these beautiful views. There are 8 pool huts and 29 jacuzzi huts. All rooms have an open courtyard with a separate Jacuzzi or a private pool with a built-in Jacuzzi. Decisions. But jokes aside, this is perfect for balmy evenings when you can take a dip or get a water massage (or both) while gazing up at the starry sky. It’s a good idea to take advantage of all the activities and there are quite a few of them. Coracle tours, tribal village tour, elephant interaction and guided bird watching. In the evenings, dance and documentary films are shown. In the unlikely event that you get tired of wildlife watching, there are carnival rides on the Kabini and visits to the tribal village where you can meet the people of the Kuruba tribe. If you have kids to entertain, the wildlife film shown each evening provides welcome relief as you watch the sunset from the Reading Lounge or relax in the infinity pool.

Buffet meals are served at Honeycomb, their only restaurant. It has a nice patio overlooking the river. The spread is quite lush with a mix of regional and continental dishes and a decent range of salads and desserts. There aren’t many specialties here, but the fish is fresh, so try the traditional preparation if it’s on the menu.

rate: INR 29,000-37,000, with all meals.

Tel: +91-8228-269100-06


Read also:

Nagarhole National Park-where the river runs wild

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Off the Beaten Path: Discovering Canada’s Lesser-Known Hidden Gems

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