Hermitage Guesthouse

Near Khanapur, Western Ghats, India Book from

Simple cottages and fabulous food on a working farm in the Western Ghats: a taste of life in rural India and a haven for nature lovers
If you want to get away from Goa's frenetic beaches and explore the lush forests and rich wildlife of the interior, this is a real sanctuary. An eco lodge, wrapped in jungle and set at 720m in the picturesque Western Ghat hills (just across the border into Karnataka), it's heaven for twitchers and butterfly-watchers, good fun for older kids and ideal for folk seeking a relaxing nature break, without forsaking too many creature comforts.

An Indian family whose members are all passionate about ecology and wildlife are your hosts. David leads treks into the jungle, jeep rides to swim in waterfalls, night walks to discover wildlife and hikes to local villages, whilst wife Morvarid tickles tastebuds with her south Indian fusion cuisine. Daughter Katrina - a trained entymologist - is on hand, too, to chat about local wildlife.

The guesthouse is also a working farm, growing chikko, turmeric, bananas and coffee. Around the grounds are 3 simple cottages made of wood, bamboo and thatch (one of which is raised up on stilts), each with an open-air bathroom alongside. If you're lucky, you'll see monkeys swinging through the trees above as you shower. A perfect haven to give you a slice of authentic Indian life without taking a vow of silence.


  • Incredible wildlife: we loved all the colourful birds (>300 species) and butterflies, plus we saw elephants, bison and porcupines. There are >1800 species of plants, too
  • The Fernandez family offer warm hospitality and personal service. Delicious communal dinners were a highlight of our stay
  • Trekking out to tribal village, meeting local people and experiencing the truly stunning scenery, colours and wildlife of the western Ghats
  • Fantastic value for money, and rates include all meals
  • Lazing in a hammock under a star-filled sky, listening to the monkeys in the jungle canopy above


  • Don't expect all creature comforts - 2 of the cottages don't have electricity or hot water on tap. Opt for Gota if this bothers you; it even has a Western bathroom
  • It’s a bit of a trek to get here - a 3-hour jeep trip from the airport - but its isolation is its appeal
  • No restaurants, bars - or much else - for miles around, but the food is so good and varied you won’t notice and David keeps a well-stocked bar
  • It can be wet from June to October, so bear this in mind when planning your trip

Best time to go

Come at any time of year, depending on what you want to see and do. Summer (March, April and May) brings temperatures of 20-35C, with the March winds and April showers dampening the harsh summers of the plains and bringing forth a magnificent spectrum of colour. May sees amazing summer storms - thick black rain clouds, lightning, hail stones, and the unforgettable smell of moist earth. This is an ideal time to spot the great hornbill, and the Indian laburnum is now in full bloom.

The monsoon season (June to October) starts with a brilliant palette of greens, blues and whites. The chorus of the frogs begin, the first wild mushrooms appear and the langur feasts on tender bamboo shoots. Orchids begin to flower and insects are everywhere.

Winter (November to February) brings clear, brilliant skies (ideal for stargazing), nippy evenings (down to 10C) and full rivers and lakes. It's the best time for waterfowl, bison, chittal and butterflies. You can smell maturing paddy fields and hear the jackal howl.

Our top tips

  • Make sure you bring any unusual medication and other supplies - the nearest shops and pharmacies are at Khanapur, 18km away
  • Bring long socks and a good pair of trainers of walking boots if you intend to do any hiking in the jungle
  • Great for...

    Great Outdoors
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Homestay Guesthouse
    • 3 cottages
    • All meals included
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym


    The farm has 3 cottages, each offering basic accommodation for 2-4 people.

    The Machan, a home on stilts, is built from bamboo and wood and sits 11 feet above the ground, with great views and a double bed. It has a private Western-style bathroom at ground level which is open to the sky, so while sitting on the toilet you can gaze up at the green forest canopy - which certainly beats reading a book! Cold running water is supplied on tap, and hot water is available from a bhum (storage pot) located near by. There's no electricity.

    Built in the traditional style of the area, The Kadaba is a typical village home made of bamboo, wood and mud plaster. It has a Western-style bathroom, open to the sky and built with bamboo and thatch, and cold running water. Again, hot water is available from the nearby bhum. There's no electricity in this cottage, which can accommodate a couple and up to 2 young children.

    The Gota is a rural cottage with cool, soothing interiors. The floors and roof are both made of local village tiles and the modern, Western-style bathroom has running hot and cold water. This is the only cottage with electricity. Like The Kadaba, it can accommodate a couple and up to 2 young children.

    Features include:

    • Extra beds
    • Internet access


    A full range of meals is offered at the farm - which is just as well, as there’s not much else nearby! You’ll find a wide array of meats, fresh fruit and veg (including vegetarian dishes), rices, pulses and nuts, all combined with local herbs and spices - and all of it extremely fresh.

    The owners pride themselves on their Parsi cuisine - a combination of Persian and Indian, with plenty of mint, coriander, cumin and ginger. But they also offer more traditional Indian dishes, such as pork vindaloo, and ‘Anglo-Indian’ fare like Irish stew.

    Breakfast consists of fruit (including banana fritters from time to time), cereal, local porridge (made from millet, cracked wheat and sago), rice dosas, eggs done any way you like, bread and butter, homemade jams and tea or filter coffee.

    A typical lunch might include fresh cucumber with curd, salad, popadums with pickles, and a main dish (perhaps rice and curry, pasta bake or chicken maiwallah), followed by fruit.

    Dinner often starts with soup (maybe pepper-water and lentil soup or thick Iranian ash), and finishes with a proper pudding (apple crumble, Malabar pudding or a Parsee semolina dessert called ravo). Unusual touches include cooked jackfruit, small elichi bananas (served as a vegetable), the sweet and crunchy ber fruit, and the nutritious hyacinth bean. There’s a strong emphasis on health and nutrition, profiting from the local dhangar tradition of medicinal plants.

    Most of the meals are served in a communal, earth-and-thatch building which is set in the woods and surrounded by shrubs. A combination of dining tables, low tables and sofas means you can be as sociable or private as you like. If you’re the only guests, you may be invited to join the Fernandez family in their home; they also serve afternoon tea on their front lawn from time to time. David has a well-stocked bar serving a variety of beers, wine and spirits

    Features include:

    • All meals included
    • Bar
    • Cooking classes
    • Organic produce
    • Vegetarian menu


    The Fernandez family will help you plan your stay, and arrange any (or none) of the following activities (a minimum of 2 people is usually required):

    • Hiking through the rainforest - a montane mix of beech, rosewood, cinnamon, bamboo and lianas - with a guide and a picnic. With the help of a jeep you can head to the waterfalls at Pohe Vajara near Gavali village, or, if you’re fit, to Bhimgad - a natural rock-fortress in splendid isolation with wonderful jungle views

    • Bird-watching - there are over 300 species in the area, including woodpeckers, vultures, bee-eaters, chats, lapwings, tailorbirds, flycatchers, parakeets, hornbills, owls, mynas, flowerpeckers, creepers and weavers. The owners know the best birding spots and can provide a birdlist or arrange a half-day or full-day tour with a guide (though don’t expect a highly qualified ornithologist)

    • Visiting bat caves - OK, so it sounds spooky, but seeing thousands of bats in a remote cave is an amazing sight and one species (Wroughton’s free-tailed bat, if you’re interested) is not found anywhere else in the world. There are 2 caves within a short drive and hike, another at Televadi and one at Krishnapur. If you like caves but dislike bats, visit the Kavala caves, a labyrinth of tunnels and passages reached by 1000 steps

    • Spotting butterflies - much less spooky, and much more varied: you can spot 330 of the 350 species present on the Indian peninsula, including the Malabar tree nymph and the striped tiger (a full list is available)

    • Trips to see other wildlife - macaques, lemurs, civets, geckos, flying foxes, ground shrews, giant squirrels, porcupines, deers, boars and various lizards (including the ‘Western Ghats flying lizard’). If you’re lucky you might spot leopards, jackals, elephants, bison and sloth bears; if you’re unlucky, you might come across pythons, boas and king cobras. You can see all of these the easy way at the Dandeli wildlife sanctuary or the Gattaprabha bird sanctuary

    • White-water rafting, kayaking and coracle-riding on the River Kali at Ganeshgudi adventure sports centre

    • A medicinal plants tour, learning how the local dhangar communities make natural cures for almost every ailment you can think of, using everything from the fire flame bush to the curry leaf tree

    • Cooking lessons with Morvarid, who speaks excellent English and cooks fabulous Parsi cuisine

    • Visits to the Tibetan monastery, settlement and carpet centre at Mundgod, beyond Yellapur

    • Trips to the colourful weekly markets in nearby towns (on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays); or the 12th-century temples at Halsie

    • Relaxing on the farm, learning how crops are cultivated

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Cooking classes
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Kayaking
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Rafting
    • Shopping / markets
    • Traditional cultures
    • Wildlife


    Children of all ages are welcome, but there are no baby cots and the basic nature of the accommodation might make things difficult for families with infants and toddlers. Nevertheless, kids under 6 can stay for free and those over 6 are charged a reduced rate. The Gota and The Kadaba can both accommodate 2 adults and 2 children or 3 adults and 1 child.

    Best for:

    Children (4-12 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Extra Beds Available

    Kid Friendly:

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