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Old 25th December 2021, 00:23   #1
Join Date: Aug 2021
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Road-Trip to Kabini in my Volvo XC40

The Journey

Now that I had my Volvo XC40 for a couple of months, it only made sense to try and flex its muscles. What better excuse than a road trip? So, without wasting time, we had booked ourselves in to a nice little resort in Kabini hoping to catch some big cats. This will be my third trip on a safari. The earlier ones to Tadoba (no sighting at all) and then Pench (Sighting so unsatisfactory and far off that I would not count it as one). Maybe third time charm?

We started off from Hyderabad around 5:30 AM and then quickly on to Hyderabad's Outer Ring Road from hi-tech city and then exit on to NH-44 and after which its a straight drive down to Bangalore.

A few per-departure pics
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Simply love those DRL's

Hyderabad’s ORR has become fairly busy these days and with speed cameras hidden almost everywhere, it’s best not to become adventurous. With 100KM as the speed limit on most of the ORR, it isn’t bad though. The ORR, I found, is the best place for me to test the autonomous driving features of the XC40. Quickly setting the speed limit to 100 and engaging pilot assist, the car takes over seamlessly. I have realized the best place for autonomous driving will be access controlled roads and with no two wheeler allowed on ORR, it is just easy. Essentially, all my driving was limited to using the indicators. The pilot assist works really well. This is a mature product from the Volvo stable, and they have had this technology for a while. The car also overtakes using pilot assist when you switch lanes. However, my leg at all times was close to the brake.

Once on NH-44 I took over. Traffic on Telangana side of NH-44 really increased. I had shortlisted some places we could stop for breakfast/ restroom break. Having my wife and young son traveling along meant we need to plan for hygienic rest stops.

M Food Court, Food Pyramid (opposite side) and Pitstop 44 were identified. I have used all of them on previous drives and they meet the criteria of good food and decent washrooms. However, it was early morning, and we had some snacks while driving, so we did not have the need to stop at any of these places. The place we halted was around 4 and a half hours of drive was a place called Maax4. Unfortunately, they were not yet open around 10 AM but they let us use the washrooms, which were above average. So, we started hunting for a breakfast joint but spotted a roadside food truck (noticed a few of those through the highway till Anantapur) so chanced it out and had had a pleasant experience with dose and Idly; the food was very tasty but the chutney’s were on the spicy side.

Now belly full, we started our journey. The next stop was outskirts of Bangalore for a lunch break around 2 PM and after a quick lunch we entered Bangalore and reached out hotel in Yeshwanthpur around 3:30 PM (a wrong turn costed me 30+ min in Bangalore traffic ☹

Overall NH-44 is fairly well maintained except for three road diversions; two at Kurnool which are a pain in the neck due to traffic and the other near Dhone. I kept my speed closer to 100 most of the time. For extended journeys I bought an inflatable car bed my son loves to lounge/sleep on and it has become our must have’s on a car journey. However, this also means he will not be belted in the back. So, I stick to lower speeds. The Volvo XC40 is effortless to drive. The steering being on the lighter side takes very little energy to operate so, you will be comfortable on longer drives. The car feels extremely sure-footed and maintaining three-digit speed is effortless. Suspension is superb, especially at higher speeds. With music blasting on the superb Harman Kardon speaker system, we had a great drive down to Bangalore.

Some picture on NH-44
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A Swede at a Kia Shop. Kia Factors at Penukonda on NH-44
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We stayed over in Bangalore for a couple of days, and it gave me an opportunity to meet with my team members there.

Then finally two days later we set out to Srirangapatna, to visit Tippu Sultan fort and summer palace.

Now, we did not take the usual Bangalore – Mysore road as we heard about a lot of construction activity. Instead took the alternative rout suggested by google maps. We took NH75 till Bellur and then got off on to 150A. Now, I have used NH75 in the past to go to Coorg and I must say, this is a lovely highway to drive on. Lovely landscape on both sides and fantastic road to top it off. There is no dearth of eateries on this road and easy to find a nice place to stop for some food. Since our destination was 3 hours away and we were full of the breakfast, we just drove through. I must say roads in Karnataka are generally well maintained including their state highways.
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We reached Srirangapatna and then did a quick drive through in the fort and visited the summer palace.

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We managed to wrap this up in an hour and a half and then went to have lunch.We found a place called Poojari’s Fishland right on the outskirts of Mysore, Pretty huge place with some local delicacies. They also had some vintage cars on display.

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Then we crossed Mysore quickly and were on road to Kabin and as you go towards Kabin the roads starts to narrow down from two lane to single lane on the last leg.

Quite some twists and turns on the road and one needs to keep their speed under check. Lot of accident warning signs on the road everywhere, can only imagine what drove them to put up so many signs, with a two-lane road and with curves, you have plenty of blind spots. Eventually this further narrows down to a single lane road, once we hit the single lane road traffic became non-existent, but you need to be vigilant. This road is used by buses as well. So after another two and a half hours from our lunch stop, we reached our resort.

Single lane road on the last leg and then a kuccha road

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Last edited by gismosin : 26th December 2021 at 21:55.
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Old 26th December 2021, 20:43   #2
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re: Road-Trip to Kabini in my Volvo XC40

The Resort

We booked Bison in Kabin and I must say this is a lovely place. It’s a boutique hotel with limited rooms which are fashioned like African tents (I reckon no more than 10) it has a laid-back charm, and our tent faced the river filled to brim with water. The food here is served in simple homemade style. Loved it. The rooms are all-inclusive, including use of their facilities, bonfire, boat ride on the river, etc.

Our Room is a river facing tent. This is the best view room/tent, they only have 4-5 of theses. The tents look worn out but overall very well maintained. Expect bugs in the room and always be careful to keep the tent mesh flaps closed at all times.

The other thing to watch out is that the bathroom is just divided by flaps and no real door. The flaps give you necessary privacy but need to be careful, especially if you are traveling with young kids

Room/tent interior
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View from room/tent
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View of the tents/room from the river
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View of the resort/tents
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View of common areas/lounge areas
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View of the pool area and bonfire/sit-out area
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The only extra is the safari, which is straight out pricey. Now, the safari is government controlled, which means you can only take if from one place, i.e, the Jungle Lodges and Resorts also commonly known as JLR. All the resorts nearby get their guests to JLR for safari, where we need to get into their vehicles. Also, if you book your stay in JLR, you get 1-2 Safari rides included in the cost.

There are two kinds of Safaris: one is the bus/canter and the other a Jeep. Our resort quotes 2,300/- per head on the bus and 3,000/- for the jeep. We opted for the Jeep for a couple of reasons. It will be less crowded, and you will have a naturalist accompanying you (these guys are amazing at finding animals you would never see on your own)

You can apparently book your safari online, but it never gives you the Jeep option. And with resorts charging 3K per head, it quickly adds up. I spent 18k on two safaris. One in the evening where we spotted some elephants, peacock, plenty of deer, but no tiger.

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Next day morning, lady luck smiled at us and as soon as we entered the safari, there was a call that a tiger was spotted up ahead and we rushed over. There she was, the backwater female in all her glory, taking a morning stroll, unperturbed by the surrounding spectators. She walked along for a while before disappearing into the bushes. In our excitement, did not manage to capture some good pictures.

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Mission Accomplished! With the successful sighting, we simply spent loitering around in the resort for the rest of the stay before we headed back.

On the way back, we stopped at Mysore Palace and took a tour, and then stopped at the Jaganmohan Palace Art gallery for a quick tour and view of the paintings. After a sumptuous lunch in Mysore, we reached Bangalore for our night break.

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Some sumptuous Andhra meals in Mysore
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A good night's sleep and a heavy breakfast was what fueled our journey back to Hyderabad. We stopped at Hampi Blue Moon restaurant on the way back for lunch. Decent food and clean restrooms here. Onward, we drove nonstop back home.

The total round trip clocked at 1698 Km. But a lovely getaway and a great drive with my able companion XC40 and some great memories carried back.

Last edited by gismosin : 26th December 2021 at 21:42.
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Old 27th December 2021, 08:05   #3
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Re: Road-Trip to Kabini in my Volvo XC40

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!

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Old 29th December 2021, 11:08   #4
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Re: Road-Trip to Kabini in my Volvo XC40

Excellent report with beautiful pictures, gismosin. Lucky enough to spot the beast. I had to return disappointedly with no sightings during both of my earlier trips.
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