This is a 550 acre property that the owner has let nature take over. That is remarkable, as it used to be a working cardamom and coffee plantation, and would be worth crores in annual profits if worked upon. The fact that the owner has decided to let it revert to nature is truly admirable.
The place is small, with 5 rooms and 5 staff members. It is enveloped by the jungle on all sides. The place is between Tholpetty , Aralam and Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuaries, and is used regularly as a transit zone by wildlife. I saw a camera trap picture of a tiger taken on 18th Jan at 430 am, at a path barely 10 min from the cottage ! Other folks have seen Gaur & Elephant right on the cottage grounds. The place thrives with bio-diversity. There are Nilgiri Langur, Lion-tailed Macaque , Malabar Giant Squirrel and three species of deer. Many rare birds like Malabar Trogon , Black Eagle , Asian Fairy Blue Bird, Blue-capped Rock Thrush , Indian Nightjar. Other fauna like Malabar Gliding Frogs, King Cobras and many species of butterflies. This is as good as any jungle in terms of sightings. Photography will be tricky due to the distances , and light.
Shaji is a great guide with very good knowledge of the area and it's fauna. There are a lot of treks one can go on , of varying difficulty levels.
The rooms are sparsely furnished and a bit cramped, but very clean. The bathrooms are spotless and well equipped. This is a place , where you need to be outdoors and the rooms are just for sleeping.
The sitout area is very nice with some hammocks under a mango tree and a small bon fire area
Food is excellent local malayali cuisinne. I particularly loved the appam and veg stew, puttu and gram curry served for breakfast. They also serve excellent banana bhajjis at evening tea time.
The drive after Thalapoya is a bit tricky, I have a duster , and the last 4 KM took it's toll. My bumper guard fell off :-(. Ideally park at the village before the property and come up in their Jeep. The last 4-5 KM is pure offroad on a narrow path on the side of a steep hill. Do it by yourself , only if you have high ground clearance and excellent control over your car !
Fringe Ford is one of a kind, the staff is fiercely determined to keep it nature friendly. They discourage plastic , loud music and parties. Go if you love immersing yourself in nature, and you will love it
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Snuggled into a cosy valley, high up in the hills, with the grand old forest peaks towering paternally around it. Fringe Ford is as cut off from the world as you can get. It probably doesn't feature on a map, has no traffic fumes, no traffic, not even a road, and is thankfully ignored by the cell phone towers. What is does have however, is a fabulous, authentic experience of living in the middle of a remote plantation surrounded by forest, some great treks, silver silence punctuated only by the occasional warning calls of birds or monkeys when a carnivore comes visiting. And it offers you the best peace you've had on vacation anywhere anytime. There is a 360 view of the remote plantation surrounded by forest; all looking identical, but each with its own tale. The balding Namboodri peaks, named after the estate's ex-accountant, the range of hills that rises almost perpendicular at the back of the house, which once climbed, leads one on to Coorg, the peak out there, with the watch tower, which was built one day, and demolished that night by wild elephants. Fringe Ford was named by the Englishman who had first bought the land and built it into a plantation. It changed hands since then, and was finally acquired by its present landlord, Ahmed, who being a naturalist, let the land remain as plantation but adhering to strict eco friendly practices. In fact, the 520-acre property shares its boundaries, not fences with the wildlife sanctuaries of Wyanad and Tholpaty reserve forest, making this entire stretch, one of the last remaining bastions of the Malabar rain forests around, with shelter for its fauna and flora. ... more less