Untravel weekends: Fringe Ford

Santosh shares how Fringe Ford offers a serene and ecologically responsible stay for travellers by keeping it minimalistic and no frills.


Santosh shares how Fringe Ford offers a serene and ecologically responsible stay for travellers by keeping it minimalistic and no frills.

“Get lost” with a cup of tea looking into the wilderness surrounding this naturally lush hideaway.

Pack your bags, get ready to go,

Gear yourself into real slow.

Climb the hills, it’s getting dark,

Was that a growl or just a bark?

The trees close in to left and right?

Pure green at morn but black at night.

A few days of detox jungle-style,

The thrill of the trek, the call of the wild.

Get lost where no one’s gonna know,

Nowhere to rush, but everywhere to go.

No stress, no calls, no traffic, no road,

Welcome home to Fringe Ford.

Fringe Ford was originally founded by an English setller in 1902 to derive profit from the pepper, cardamom and coffee plantations. As the website says, the hideaway got passed around many hands although the name stuck mostly owing to the way it nails the description of the hideaway. But when Ahmed, the present landlord and a naturalist by passion, took over the estate, he decided to maintain it the way it is and follow eco friendly cultivation practices.

Santosh, who also runs an adventure travel agency called Getoffurass, shares how Fringe Ford offers a serene and ecologically responsible stay for travellers by keeping it minimalistic and no frills.

1. Can you share you story of setting up the resort?

The 520 acres that we own remains untouched. When we got our hands on the property it was prime landscape for cardamom / pepper / coffee plantation with the entire logistical infrastructure in place.  But what we noticed was that – in a matter of months the forest was reclaiming its share and the wildlife extending its boundaries due to no activity. It was easy for us to continue cultivation but we didn’t have the heart to do so. The beauty of chaos we experienced when nature reclaimed its territory was a powerful reminder of the lands past glory. We just stood back and decided, that is the way and let it be consciously. Fringe Ford could have been a thriving profit making plantation today.  But it stands out there hidden in the ever-extending expanse of forest. And we are proud of the outcome.

Fringe Ford could have been a thriving profit making plantation today. But it stands out there hidden in the ever-extending expanse of forest.

The setup we run at FF is not a resort. We operate 4 rooms on the entire property. No new infrastructure was built; the existing building was up-scaled to offer stay facility and support expenditure of maintaining the property.

2. What are the 5 aspects of responsible travel you have worked on and what it took to implement?

We have specifically not worked on any responsible travel initiatives. Our philosophy at FF lays the foundation for low impact and non-invasive tourism. On top of the pyramid are the land and its species. Therefore, anything that we have done or planned for has been in the lines of protecting them.

1.     All our staff are from the neighbouring villages and hamlets.

2.     We do not offer any processed or packaged food / aerated or packaged drinks – it simply reduces the garbage to almost zero.

3.     Our refrigeration needs are limited to manage only fresh food.

4.     All our supplies come from the neighbouring villages and town.

5.     Other than entry and exit in motorised vehicles – all our activities are non-motorised.

The dining hall at Fringe Ford.

6.     We don’t offer accommodation to groups.

7.     We do have a grid connection, which supports our primary use for lighting etc. Water is heated in a low fuel consuming Gujrat boiler. Our water supply is connected straight from the streams using gravity,

8.     We do not organise any night field activities on the property.

9.     Every booking is scrutinised before we accept them. The idea being that the guest knows if it is the right place for him/her and for us to get the right kind of people who can appreciate the place, its people and experience of FF.

10.  It has been 8 years – the setup has been the same. We have not expanded even though we know that the commercial side of FF is demanding so.

3. What has been the impact of your venture – on the local people, environment, the place itself, traveller sensitization and anything else they’ d like to stress on.

Like I said, FF is a self-contained expanse. Our interactions with the local communities have been limited to employment and daily resources. The way we function reduces scope for any exploitation of the land and in the process exposes our guests to the idea of low-impact tourism. The people who work with us believe FF is a special place even though they live in the neighbourhood in similar environment.

All of Fringe Ford staff are from the neighbouring villages and hamlets.

What we are proud of is the fact that we have let the land be and remained a small operation. It gives us immense joy to see the species thrive and the land holding onto its primitive character.

4. Can you share experiences/anecdotes from travellers who’ve visited?

 Manoaj and Pavi, Chennai, India – I would call it the most excellent experience ever. Perfect place for a honeymoon. I was in two minds to get into the forest for a honeymoon trip but Fringe Ford proved me wrong. What a kickass place. Top of the line accommodations, finger licking food, breath-taking location, lovely treks, amazing campfires. My wife and I spent 3 nights at FF and this is something that we will never ever forget. Million thanks to Shaji –  This guy is the life of that place. A huge thanks to the cook, Muthu. The food was YUMM. I drove a long way from Chennai and was amazed at what I got for the next 3 days.

No cell phone signal, No TV, No traffic noise. Only the sounds of birds and the animals and the streams all around. Fringe Ford sure lives up to its “GET LOST” tag line. Will be back here for sure.


Sachin Narayan, Bangalore – We were pleasantly surprised by the location of this place, some 9 kms from the nearest highway, 4 kms from any piece of civilization, nestled beautifully in the middle of thick forest, with a huge hill thickly covered with forest on one side of the property and a perennial stream flowing in front of the stay, frequented by various denizens of the jungle. Rooms are clean and comfortable and there is no disturbance of any kind. The estate manager, Mr Mammooty, is a humble and polite man and the guide, Shaji is a wealth of knowledge of the surroundings, including wildlife, trek paths around and jungle fauna. We happen to trek around 15 kms around the property, visiting the locally called Namboothri`s patch and the nearby waterfall in the property. If one is interested in doing some hard treks in the thick jungle, where sunlight never touches the forest floor, then this is the place and Shaji is the guide.

This place is pristine and is a must visit for those who happen to love the wilds. There is a lot of scope to spot various forms of wildlife, so better come prepared 🙂

Photo courtesy: www.fringeford.com

Contact:

bookings@fringeford.com

+91 98800 86411, +91 98458 26411

Untravel Weekends is a feature series on resorts, homestays and guesthouses that are built and run on the foundations of responsible travel by means of nature conservation, using alternative energy, reducing waste, recycling, rain water harvesting, organic farming, sourcing and feeding into the local economy or promoting indigenous cultures.


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more

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