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Wildlife Excursions

Wildlife Excursions

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary

From Ooty, it’s a 21/2-hour express bus journey (60 km; 37 1/2 miles) to Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. Before leaving, be sure to advance-book accommodation; there is a choice of either Rs20 dormitory beds or twin-bedded rooms from Rs75 in forest lodges (contact the Wildlife Warden in Ooty on Coonoor Rd, tel 3114). There are two private lodges at Masinagudi. Jungle Hut run by Joe and Hermie Mathias has comfortable rooms, great bird-watching, game-viewing and elephant rides for pRer pserslon0, in0clud0ing fod. Contact Mathias, Masinagudi PO, Nilgiris 64323 (tel Masinagudi 240—via Ooty, Bangalore 578686). Bamboo Banks Farm House, tnearer Masinagudi village (tel Masinagudi 222) has rooms from Rs450.

Mudumalai is 322 sq km of dense, varied deciduous forest over undulating terrain; thick jungle is interspersed with open areas which eventually connect with Bandipur and Nagarhole Parks. The animals in the sanctuary include gaur (often called bison in south India), sambhar, spotted deer, tiger, leopard, wild boar, pangolin (a type of scaly ant-eater) and many birds. Jeeps and vans can be hired, but the best way of seeing the reserve is on elephant-back. You can hire an elephant from Theppakadu village, in the heart of the sanctuary, from 6 to 8 am, 4 to 6 pm. The charge for a 4-person howdah-load (l-hour trip) is Rs80. It’s an amazing experience, for the elephants crash through the undergrowth, stopping for absolutely nothing; if there’s a tree in their path, they simply root it up. An early-morning ride is recommended.

If walking, pony-riding, boating and golfing are not enough, there’s good fishing to be had (carp and trout) at Avalanche (25 km; 15 3/4 miles away) Emerald and Parson’s Valley, and in Ooty Lake itself (contact the Assistant Director of Fisheries near the bus-stand (tel 2232) for a licence). For indoor games: badminton, table tennis, visit Anna Stadium, below the Botanical Gardens. Of the several cinemas in town, the Liberty in Commercial Rd is most popular.

Tribal Toda jewellery, shawls and silver can be found at Suraaj in Main Bazaar, or Suraaj Paradise in Commercial Rd. Prices are not cheap, so bargain hard. Vimal Gems & Jewellery, next to Nahar Hotel in Charing Cross, has a good selection of silver jewellery, semi-precious stones and Nilgiri spices and honey. Two government emporia nearby, Poompuhar and Chellarams, sell the full range of Ooty handicrafts at fixed prices. Buy tea and eucalyptus oil, the two most famous local products, at Idco Tea next to the tourist office.

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