Most of the hill stations around Mumbai require minimum of 3 days holiday. One of such hill station is Saputara. Situated on the border of Maharashtra and Gujarat, Saputara is small hill station offering nature, quietness and good food options (since it is located in Gujarat). Saputara is famous for its lake, around which you will find all the attraction and sightseeing. There is nothing much to see in Saputara, but it will offer you the peace and beauty. 

Let's see what one can Eat, Travel and have Fun in Saputara. 

Travel:
Saputara Lake
You can say the main attraction of Saputara is the lake. Located in the middle of small city, the lake is quite and offers activities like boating to spend your evening. Apart from boating, you can also spend time around the lake where game zones are created for kids to have fun and not get bored. If you are hungry, don't worry as you are in Gujarat, you will also find vendors selling Street Food like corn on the cob, maggie etc. 


Quite and pleasant Saputara Lake
Sunset Point
One of the most famous and I found most crowded spot in Saputara. The reason why the sunset is termed as magical time is because of the color and the beauty of merging two different worlds. See sun running behind the mountain and casting orange shade above the mountain, soon turning into black. Sunset point is indeed huge surface on the top of the mountain where you can either just sit and watch the sun disappear, or take a ride on a horse or camel, eat some snacks at small shacks created or maybe try your hand at the dirt bike (yes right, dirt bike or simply bikes available for you to drive around the space and splash some dirt around). People like me will spend time at sunset point clicking the pictures! The point not just show a sunset view, it also gives you the opportunity to see Saputara city from the top. 


Magical Times
Resting time for them too!

Ropeway / Cable car ride
Just near sunset point, you have an option to opt for a cable car ride. The cable car / ropeway will take you from one mountain (sunset point) to another one and back. The view of the ropeway is that of a whole Saputara city. It is at a high and in the middle of the way, a cable car will wait for some time so that you can click some good pictures of the city beneath you. The ride is relaxing and gives you the option to get a top view of Saputara. 

Picture Courtesy: Gujarat Tourism
Jain Temple
Even though people don't go on holiday to visit the temple, or maybe some do, Saputara also have a Jain temple for those who wish to pay a visit. Compare to other humongous Jain temple around the country, this one is a bit small and simple.
Jain Temple
Garden
Relax with your family or kids in this mini garden in the centre of the city. Since Saputara is a hill station, the Garden also resemble hills unlike standard gardens. Well maintained and good for evening stroll around the place. 


Gira Falls
Though they say Gira Falls is in Saputara, it is around 50 km away from the main Saputara city. You have to drive across the Vansda National Park to reach Gira Falls. The fall is huge and during monsoon, waterfall is quite heavy. During my visit, it was summer and fall had almost dried out. My drive was kinda waste, but the roads were surrounded by greenery making it a good drive. Must visit during monsoon and winter.

Not so attractive Gira Falls during summer
But that doesn't stop me from clicking my picture :P
Fun:
Boating
As mentioned above, in Saputara lake you can have a peaceful boating experience. The best one is paddle one where you are excited to paddle and go inside or edge of the lake, but the return journey is where we all struggle. The pain soon vanishes as we come closer and closer to the point of giving back the boat. Doing all this in the one hour given to us is indeed fun! 

Boating in the Saputara Lake
Paragliding
This is probably the new sport started in Saputara. Paragliding spot is closer to Jain temple. It takes you around the mountain and back in 20-30 minute ride. The entire setup look quite organise and during my visit, I haven't heard of any bad stories. The view of mountain from sunset point looks good, but experiencing the same closer with guiding over them with parachute, must do experience.

Picture Courtesy: Gujarat Tourism
Stay:
We stayed outside Saputara in the area called Hatgad. Since we are Club Mahindra Member, they recently acquired a hotel in Hatgad and re-branded as Club Mahindra Hatgad. The hotel is on your way to Saputara. Compared to other Club Mahindra Hotels, I found this one little small. The rooms are decent. They are in the process of converting the hotel into Club Mahindra hotel and basic standard of Club Mahindra is followed. The evenings are filled with entertainment provided by the hotel staff. As for the breakfast, the options are limited. We reached before check-in time and instead of waiting, we had our lunch in the hotel. The staff is friendly and when said no for dessert, they offered us complimentary dessert. 

Entrance of Club Mahindra Hatgad
Apart from this, Saputara offer all kinds of accommodation. You won't find big five star brands in the town, however, most of the hotels offer good stay and services. 

Eat:
Being in the state of Gujarat, Saputara offers many options for street food. My personal favourite from the streets is Hot Corn on the cob. In Gujarat, you get the boiled corn unlike other states where it is roasted. This corn on the cob are super sweet and very good for munchies.

Hot Corn on the Cob
We had most of your meals in Sugar & Spice Restaurant near the lake. It has many varieties in the menu from Indian to South Indian to Chinese. The quality differs from what you are used to having it in the big city, however overall, it is a good place for food. There are many other restaurants offering different cuisines and ambience. Vegetarian or non vegetarian, you won't find difficulty for food. 

Soup at Sugar & Spice Restaurant
Anybody for a slice of Pizza ???
 Saputara is not a fancy hill station, at the same time, it offers everything for everyone. Whether you are looking at boating or spending time with friends watching sunset and giving a try to paragliding amongst the mountains, Saputara offers all!

Category: Hill Station and Nature

Location: Saputara is located on the border between Maharashtra and Gujarat. The closest airport is Mumbai and it is around 250 km. You can reach Saputara by taking the Nasik Road from Mumbai. 

Time: Saputara can be reached in approximately 7-8 hours from Mumbai. You can either opt for 1 day or 2 day stay in the hill station. Ideal will be a 2 day stay as you get enough time to relax and also see surrounding sightseeing. 

Carry: In summers, do carry glares and a hat as the sun is pretty strong. Similarly, winters can be a little chilly at night. 

More Pictures:


Charm of sunset!

Road travelled less!
Everyone coming to a halt!
I have previously been to Sula Vineyards and during that trip, I wanted to stay in their accommodation called Beyond By Sula. When I got a chance to visit Nasik again, I made sure that I stay in a property which is overlooking the Vineyards. Beyond by Sula is now owned by Soma and names as Soma Vine Village.

Similar to Sula, Soma is also dedicated towards creating Indian wine. Soma is operational since 2 years and they have taken over Sula's property and re-branded under their name.


Soma Vine Village at night
The property is beautiful in the midst of Vineyards and also a lake in the front. There are various categories of rooms and to get the amazing view, opt for the 2 base category and above. 



If you are low in pocket, go for base category room and enjoy your time at an Infinity Swimming Pool or Restaurants overlooking the vineyards. Currently, in front of Infinity Pool, they have planted a new grape and since it is not grown, it looks bit dry. 


Infinity (Pool) and Beyond
Evening time near infinity swimming pool is the best time as you spend it watching sunset over greenery with calm music playing in the background. 


Even the place is lit up so beautifully that it ensures soothing feeling throughout your stay.



Walking aroung the property
Another favourite spot of mine is the restaurant. Similar to Sula, Soma Vine Village also has a restaurant overlooking the Vineyards on first floor. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perfect place to have food for your tongue and sight for your eyes. It revokes your senses with the beauty and the taste. 


Vine yards in front of the restaurant
If you are visiting vineyards, you ought to go for wine making and tasting session tour. Sula Vineyards, since they are into wine making for many years, have detailed tour unlike Soma whose trip is restricted. Though, they do give you all the needed information for understanding the basics of wine and wine making.

Wine Grapes
Best part of staying and touring the wine making is that it ends with a wine tasting. Whether you are wine drinker or no, the  tasting will surely give you something to brag about during wine parties :P Soma has their wines in the categories - Red, White, Pink and Sparkling. Read more about wine and wine tasting in my earlier blog during visit to Sula Vineyards.


Wine glass at room temprature to taste wine
The visit was surely the one offering relaxation. The management at the resort was helpful. Even the wine tour was well conducted by the educated staff. 

Category: Relaxation and Luxury

Location: Nasik is located 2 hours away from Mumbai. You can either opt for a day trip or a one night trip, both will give you the different experience.

Time: Wine tour with tasting will take around 2-3 hours. If staying, they opt on the first day itself.

Carry: Nothing but interest in knowing more about wine. Even though you are not a wine drinker, the view will make you taste one. 

More pictures:
Way towards the restaurant

Lobby of Soma Vine Village
Wine tasting sessions
Wall Murals
The world's third largest island, Borneo, is shared by three countries, Indonesia with largest part, Malaysia and Brunei with a small part of the land. The Malaysian part is called as East Malaysia

East Malaysia is divided into two regions known as Sabah and Sawarak. Both the regions are full of forest, yet developed. Doing the entire Borneo island requires more time, however, I had only 8 days to make the most out of it. I visited the Malaysian part of Borneo, which is easily accessible.

I have already shared my experience of Borneo attractions and city in separate blogs, this blog is a collection of all the blogs in an itinerary format. 

Day 1: Mumbai (India) - Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

We started our journey from Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur in the early morning flight. This was good as we got the whole day to travel around Kuala Lumpur, only down point was that our hotel, IBIS Frazer Suites, was not ready for early check-in. Next day out flight was early morning so we requested the hotel to have breakfast during the day of check in instead of checkout. 

Post breakfast and refresh up in our room, we headed for sightseeing of Kuala Lumpur. Read more about 24 hours in Kuala Lampur.

Overnight in Ibis Frazer Suites

Twin Tower in Kuala Lampur
Day 2: Kuala Lumpur to Mulu National Park via Kutching

Second day started very early with our flight to Mulu via Kutching. Mulu National Park is located in the Sawarak region. It is very close to Brunei and also place of Asia's rainforest. First half of our day went on traveling, but all pain was vanished when we reached our hotel, Mulu Marriott Resorts and Spa.

Mulu Marriott Resort
After lunch we headed straight to Mulu National Park and started exploring the rainforest of Asia. In the evening we opted for Night Safari at Mulu National Park

Overnight in Mulu Marriott Resort and Spa

Cave in Mulu National Park
Day 3: Mulu - Kota Kinabalu

Started our day with a cave visit in the Gunung Mulu National Park. Later, we headed to catch our flight to Kota Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu lies in the Sabah region. Compare to Sawarak, Sabah is more developed and popular amongst traveller.

Mulu National Park
The remaining day was spent on exploring Kota Kinabalu and doing nearby sightseeing. 

Overnight in Oceania Hotel

Day 4: Kota Kinabalu - Gaya Island

This was the most awaited day in the entire trip as we headed to Gaya Island for some water adventure. We opted for Multi day activity which was consisted of Scuba Diving and Kayaking on the shore of Gaya Island. Read more about Scuba Diving and Kayaking experience at Gaya Island.

We went to places like Devi's, Kohinoor and Little Italy for lunch and dinner in Kota Kinabalu.  


Overnight in Oceania Hotel

On our way to Gaya Island
Kayaking at Gaya Island
Day 5: Kota Kinabalu - Ranau - Mt. Kinabalu Park

Another day in Kota Kinabalu went on exploring places like Hotspring in Ranau and later post lunch, heading to Mt. Kinabalu Park. In between this two place, we also stopped by to the Rafflasia Garden to check out the world's biggest flower. 

Overnight in Oceanka Hotel 

Mt. Kinabalu View
Day 6: Kota Kinabalu - Sepilok (Sandakan)

We caught the early morning bus from Kota Kinabalu bus stop towards Sandakan. We opted to stay in the Sepilok region near Sandakan city.

Later in the day, we headed to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary to meet Proboscis and Long tail Macaque. 

Overnight in Sepilok Jungle Resort

Probaoscis Monkey at Labuk Bay Sanctuary
Day 7: Sepilok - Sandakan


They say that to see the smaller version of giant elephants, head to Kinabatangan River for a sight of Pygmy Elephant. Hence, after our arrival to Sepilok, we headed to Kinabatangan River for an evening cruise. On our way, we also paid a visit to Gomantong Cave. 

Overnight in Sepilok Jungle Resort

Kinabatang River Cruise
Day 8: Sepilok - Sandakan

The excitement of this day was high as it was not only the last day in Borneo, but also a day of Orangutan sighting. Directly after our breakfast, we headed to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. Just next door neighbour to Orang Utan are Bornean Sun Bear in the Sun Bear Conservatory Centre.

After meeting the friendly wildlife, we headed to see the Sandakan city. Sandakan is the second largest city in Sabah and is also the centre for trade. 

The best point of our trip, apart from all the other activities we did over 7 days, was when we opted for Night Safari at Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok. The last attraction of my trip was the high point as we got to see animals like Pygmy Monkey, Slow Loris, Viper Snake and many more! 

Overnight in Sepilok Jungle Resort

Orang Utan at Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Sun Bear Conservatory Centre
Viper snake during Night Safari at Rainforest Discovery Centre
Day 8: Sandakan - Kuala Lumpur - Mumbai (India)

The best thing in our life always comes to an end and similarly our wonderful trip to the land of Orang Utan came to an end with return flight to Mumbai via Kuala Lumpur. 

Reach Mumbai with lovely memories of trip to Borneo, an unexplored destination.

Places which we couldn't cover due to time constraint is Kutching, Miri, Tabin Wildlife Sanctuary, Tawau and few more! To roam around the island at leisure, you obviously need more than 10 days. 

The great thing about this trip was no need of SIM card as wifi was available at all places and it was free of cost. Most of our communication and research were done through Internet which made life easy! 

Trip sound hectic, however, the weather and people were so friendly that we didn't feel any pain in traveling across the country. 

Most of our tour booking was done through Downbelow Marine and Wildlife and you can reach them at info@divedownbelow.com

For any assistance with planning your trip to Borneo, write to us at eatravelfun@gmail.com
Coorg, also known as Coffee Capital is a region in Southern part of Karnataka. If you are a coffee lover, Coorg is must visit place for you. One of the best coffees in India comes from this region.


View as you ride across Coorg
Coorg is located on height and you will find many coffee plantations spread across the cities. As soon as our car reached the boundaries of Coorg, smell of coffee and greenery evoked our senses. At first I was not sure if they were coffee plants, but after checking with the local, we realised that many houses in the region have their own coffee plantation. In general cases, we have a garden outside our houses and verandas, in Coorg people have coffee plants. Apart from coffee, Coorg has many places for one to roam around. From local temple to waterfall to adventure activities like Rafting, Coorg has everything!

Let's see what one can Eat Travel and have Fun in Coorg

TRAVEL
It if difficult for me to give orders to any sightseeing as all of them are located in various part of Coorg and one can visit based on their hotel location and mode of transportation. The best way to roam around Coorg is when you have a vehicle (self-drive or chauffeur driven) as you can spot at any location and breath in the beauty.

Nagarhole National Park
Located in the south part of Coorg, Nagarhole National Park is indeed an unexplored place. Many people will visit Bandipur National Park to see the wildlife, however, Nagarhole is another national park located in the western ghats. Nagarhole is also very close to Kabini, which is another beautiful city to spend a night (relatively expensive hotels compare to the rest of Coorg). When it comes to wildlife, Nagarhole has many elephant sighting and tigers are pretty rare to see unless your Lady Luck is in the favour. Make sure that you visit the park before 3 pm to ensure safari trip as last safari goes at 4 pm only if they have more than 6 people.

All I found was Deer

Irupu Fall
Close to Nagarhole National Park is Irupu Fall. Located inside the forest, a short walk ahead is Irupu Fall. It is a pretty big Fall and gives you amazing sight and cold water to take a dip. Near the Fall, there is a small temple which one can visit. If you are staying in the north part of Coorg, visit to Irrupu Fall will be long one and entire day can be spent for that. If you have seen the biggest waterfall in the world, you can give a miss to this one unless you like to drive across the road surrounded by greenery (trust the roads are amazing, without any pothole).

View of Irupu Fall
Coffee Plantations
Well, this can be done in any part of Coorg. Most of the hotels and Resorts have their own spot where they take you around the coffee plantation and also pepper plantations. More than seeing the coffee plants, the tour is more informative in terms of knowing the process of coffee making and roasting. Roasting happens in Feb-April months, so if you also want to explore roasting, visit during these months. Don't expect a tour to whole roasting process as many coffee maker keeps this process under wraps as this decide the taste and flavour of coffee and they don't want anyone else to steal the recipe. Read more about Coffee Plantation.


Path across the plantation
Dubare Elephant Camp
This is located on the eastern side of Coorg, on your way to Mysore/Bangalore. Many people visit Dubare Elephant Camp on their way back to Mysore. If you are heading back to Mangalore, spend a day visiting Dubare along with other attractions nearby. Dubare Elephant Camp is located near Kaveri River where there is also River Rafting activity available. At Dubare, you will get a chance to click amazing pictures of Elephant, bath the elephant, feed them or take a ride on them. The Camp is dedicated in taking care of elephants and also giving a chance for visitors to come closer to them. Take a look at Photo Journey of Dubare Elephant Camp.


Elephant taking bath
Nisargadhama
It is an island created near Kaveri River. Around the island, they have rides, fun and fair for locals and tourists to enjoy. Inside the island, they have created a pathway for people to walk and also park for children to play. There are few deer also on the island. Honestly, I didn't find it an interesting place to visit as I just traveled from the forest like Bandipur and Madumalai. For those who are visiting only Coorg, they might like an hour spent in Nisargadhani


Deer at Nisargadhama
Golden Temple / Namdroling Monastery
Golden temple is basically Buddhist monastery. It is one of the biggest place where monks have resided in the southern part of India. The monastery is peaceful and quite big. It reminded me about my trip to Ladakh


Golden temple
Abbey Fall
Abby Fall is closer to the city compare to other falls around Coorg. It is small Fall in terms of height, however, the flow of water in Abby Fall was more than Irupu Falls. A short walk from the parking will lead to Abby Falls.


Abby Fall in the evening time
Talakaveri 
One of the best place to visit in Coorg. Talataveri is where the origin of Kaveri is. Before you reach the tip of the Kaveri River, you will see another temple on the way, Bagamandala. Bagamandala is on the bank of the confluence of three rivers, Kaveri, Kannike and Sujyoti. Driving around the mountain to reach a top of the mountain, a place called Talakaveri Temple. From noise temples in the city, Talakaveri is refreshingly quite place for one to pray. Best part of the visit was the view from there and being amongst the cloud. Must visit place for the driver, the view and for peace!


Temple on your way to Talakaveri
Raja's Seat
Another good place to visit in the centre of the region. Raja Seat is located in Madikeri. Apart from the garden at the entrance, Raja Seat is all about a view of entire Coorg. Raja Seat has a viewing point from which you can submerge yourself in the greenery and fresh air around you


Coorg view from Raja's Seat
Madikeri Fort
Situated in the city centre and close to Raja's Seat is Madikeri Fort. The fort compares to forts in states like Rajasthan is smaller and showcase the style of Southern emperor. If time is in your favour, do pay a visit to the fort

Picture courtesy: Karnataka.com
Chelavara Falls
Last but not the least (as there are many more things to do in Coorg) is Chelavara falls. Based on the reviews I got from the locals and concierge, it is smaller Fall than Irrupu or Abbi. If you have visited both of the above falls, you can give a miss to Chelavara Fall. The fall is located in the southern part of Coorg


Picture courtesy: TripAdvisor.com
Stay:
If you really want to feel like a local and eat local food, one should stay in Homestay. In Coorg, honestly is available from each and every part of the region and also from best homestay to pocket friendly ones. Homestay, some of them, are located in the interior of Coorg with coffee plantation around. For those who are not comfortable to stay in Homestay, Coorg has India's best five and four star hotels. Hotels are located in different cities of Coorg and if you want to stay in the busy part, opt for Madikeri. Madikeri is like centre of Coorg and from their visiting various sightseeing will be convenient.

During my visit, I stayed in both the property of Club Mahindra (Virajlet and Medikeri). Both the hotels were amazing and provided a unique experience to their guest. My person favorite is Club Mahindra Virajpet.


Club Mahindra Virajpet
EAT
Food will be no problem for anyone visiting Coorg. All types of restaurants are located in Coorg to offer you local flavours. There are few pure vegetarian restaurants offering amazing dosa's and Punjabi sabzi with roti. Non vegetarian lovers will have a good time exploring fish dishes in Coorg with their spicy curry. Must eat is actually must drink in Coorg and that is Filter Coffee. All restaurants will be offering filter coffee and it is must to have one after your mean. My personal favourite restaurant is Udupi The Veg in Madikeri (since I am vegetarian my choices are little biased).

FUN
White Water River Rafting
As mentioned before, River Rafting in Kaveri River an adventure you can try your hands on. The Rafting is about grade 3 and best time to do during Jan-Mar when water in the river is more. The Rafting is not as dangerous as the other places in India, however, for beginners, it can be the best place to start off!


Rafts parked before headed into the river
Tadiandamol Peak (Highest mountain in Coorg)
It is the highest mountain in Coorg and visit to Tadiandamol peak will require an entire day. The car can reach till midway from where you will have to walk till the top. This sightseeing is only for the adventure lover who are interested in challenging their strength and not visiting Coorg for relaxation. Honestly, I so wanted to visit the peak, however, due to time constraint, I had to miss it


Picture courtesy: TripAdvisor.com
Overall, Coorg is indeed a beautiful place to spend your holiday. It offers opportunity to everyone to enjoy, either it is relaxing or seeking adventure, Coorg is the place to be!

Category: Nature and Hill Station

Location: Coorg is 138 km away from Mangalore. Another option is to visit from Bangalore around 250 km away. Enroute, you can opt for stopover to Mysore. 

Time: Stay in Coorg requires a minimum 3 nights as there is so much to do and rushing everything in a few days won't make sense. Another option is to merge it with other destinations around Coorg like Mysore in between Coorg and Bangalore. 

Carry: During my visit in September, it was a monsoon, hence, it was important to carry an umbrella and jacket as it used to get cold during nights. Places like Virajpet and Kaushal Nagar are little low and have different weather like more sunny days. Also wear comfortable shoes if you are going out to explore the destination.

More pictures:



Near Irupu Fall


Merging of three rivers


Momma Elephant with Baby Elephant at Dubare Camp


Deer at Nisargadhama 
Buddha at Golden Temple