Every year we plan a get together with close friends and family to not so oft-visited places. This summer was no different. We zeroed in on Camp Noel Munnar, which is a solitary mountain resort located in the serene wilderness of Western Ghats at 7000 feet above sea level, in Idukki district, Kerala.
Camp Noel Munnar – A perfect getaway from home
How to reach here
I was in for a minor disappointment though when I heard of route and accessibility details. As it is we were to drive all the way from Karunagapally to Munnar, covering at least 600km, taking 8 hours. This place is a further 2 – 3 hour journey from Munnar town, near Pazhathottam village. It is advisable to travel in your own private vehicle instead of a tourist bus. Also note that, Idukki is not connected to other parts of Kerala by rail. We had a good lunch at SN restaurant at Munnar before going on our way.
The drive from Munnar to Camp Noel is breathtaking! You can get scenic views of tea plantations, the river along Mattupetti Dam, Kundalae Dam and the final stretch right through Pampadum Shola National Park. Roads are in good condition, except for a couple of turns with slopes when you reach Camp Noel. Make sure you get your vehicle refuelled at Munnar itself as this place is isolated and it takes you a good 2 hour trip downtown for fuel refill.
Camp Noel, Finally!!!
I looked around in awe and soon felt that the place was worth every effort taken to reach here. It took a few seconds to let the immense feeling of peace and calm sink in.
Camp Noel is definitely unlike the typical Munnar hotel, teeming with tourists. Here you can actually listen to the sound of silence! There are well furnished 8 double bedroom and 4 single bedroom cottages dotting the lush green landscape on a hilly terrain. There is a rustic elevated cottage or hunter’s cabin for those who favour adventure. Proud stately trees, flowering shrubs, succulents and terrace farms adorn the entire scenery. If you’re lucky, you can spot wild bison roaming around the place at night. We managed to spot one that night, right near the single bedroom cottage. We also spotted rare birds and a few woodpeckers on trees near the farms.
Cottage Interiors at Camp Noel Munnar
Each cottage has tastefully done up interiors with wooden flooring and elegant, pure wood furniture that adds a certain warmth and comfort to the ambiance. We booked the one bedroom cottage while our friends booked the two bedroom one. A rustic stone fireplace adds an old world charm to the living space. The housekeeping staff is friendly and has kept the place well maintained. They had a nice collection of travel and fashion magazines laid out on the tea tables.
What to do at Camp Noel
You can pick fresh strawberries from farms nearby or feast on passion fruit. Camp Noel is a botanist’s dream destination. Lots of flowering plants and shrubs like the dancing girl, peace lily can be spotted here. You can go trekking in the surrounding forest, visit Chinar wildlife sanctuary nearby, Munnar botanical garden or shop for spices and memorabilia in the town area. Matupetti dam also offers scenic views. You can hire a sightseeing guide at the camp.
We just spend the entire day lazing around and exploring the place. Totally disconnected from the world with no mobile network and wi-fi (free wifi is available at the reception desk only!) we played cricket, football and badminton alongside our kids without a care in the world!
camp fire and cottage interiors image via www.campnoel.com
You can enjoy campfire in the evenings with music, with prior intimation. Camp Noel Munnar has very good facilities for conference meetings.
The night sky is equally spectacular with zillions of stars sparkling away to glory. You can watch fireflies fluttering around adding a certain enigma to the nocturnal panorama.
Food is fresh, simple and delectable. They offer complimentary breakfast. However, you need to pre order lunch and dinner as they need to get a few supplies from downtown sometimes.
The only issue is hot water supply. You have to stick to their schedule. Hot water is not available 24 hours. Also, mobile networks totally conk off around here. You can access free wi-fi at the reception or use the landline available in your rooms to get in touch with your family or office if needed.
Do carry a few warm clothes as the nights can get pretty chilly at times. The best time to visit Camp Noel would be from September to May. The rainy season (June, July and August) is best avoided.
Do check out the Camp Noel Resort website for more details.
Would I recommend Camp Noel?
Camp Noel Munnar has my whole hearted recommendation as a must visit holiday for everyone out there who need to totally de-stress and isolate themselves from their day to day mundane and super-fast routine. This place actually heals your mind, body and spirit. It deserves a proud thumbs up!