Blue Magpie Homestay is a beautiful, quiet, family-run homestay in the heart of the Middle-Himalayas, in the village of Satkhol, near Mukteshwar, in Uttarakhand. Nestled on a 50 nali property amidst fruit orchards and organic fields, it offers a holistic and interactive experience for all its guests. With its four rooms located around a central courtyard, welcoming atmosphere and gracious hosts, it is the perfect place for a short trip or a few peaceful weeks away to connect with nature and to experience mountain life. With well-frequented tourist spots and some more secluded day-trip options in the direct vicinity, its ideal location provides something of interest for all kinds of travellers. The homestay has been in operation for 7 years, and is registered with the Uttarakhand State Tourist Department. Among its four rooms, are the Trishul View room – a fully-furnished studio-apartment style room offering amenities like a kitchenette, refrigerator, bathroom with adjacent changing room, balcony, desk, and sitting area, all with a panoramic view of the Nanda Devi range from the windows. The Orchard View room offers a 180-degree view of the orchards and forests below the property, as well as of the Nanda Devi range from the balcony. It includes wooden panelling, a kitchenette, closets, a desk, a balcony and a sitting space. Both rooms are perfectly suited to guests planning longer stays, since their stand-alone design and attached amenities provide a degree of independence. All rooms have excellent Wi-Fi connection, making the homestay attractive for travellers seeking a stay to work-from-home, or focus on writing or research.
The hosts at Blue Magpie Homestay are a large and happy local family who are warm and welcoming. They serve simple, local food cooked with fresh ingredients from their own fields – and everything is grown entirely organically, without the application of chemical fertilisers or pesticides. During their stay, guests are welcome to engage themselves in the daily activities alongside the family to get a first-hand feel of life in the hills. A day can be spent helping to sow, irrigate, weed and tend to the various crops – including squashes, potatoes, tomatoes, local greens, beans, broccoli, capsicum, and many more. Alternatively, in fruit season, one can join in on the fruit harvest – helping to pluck apricots, plums, peaches, apples, and pears at the peak of their ripeness – and savour a few straight from the the field as a mid-work snack! Guests can also learn to make local cuisine in the family’s kitchen, which includes a plethora of chutneys, preserves, jams, and pickles made with fresh, organic produce and prepared with local techniques. Visitors can also learn from, interact with and buy products from a local Self-Help Group, which works with fruit preservation; growing and processing organic culinary herbs; and producing local grains, millets and pulses. For guests seeking a more recreational stay, many sites in the vicinity provide ample opportunities to explore the local bazaars, villages, forests, temples, and towns. The cities of Almora, Ranikhet and Nainital are a relatively short drive away and offer experiences of local shopping, cuisine and exploration. Two waterfalls at Dhokane and Suyalbari are potential activities, which include a short-walk and the enjoyment of natural beauty. The many forests in the region offer wonderful locations for hiking, and guided walks can be organised at the request of guests. The valley is a haven for nature-lovers, affording plenty of chances to bird-watch, observe over 250 species of butterflies, and watch native flora and fauna. A trek up from the nearby town of Odakhan to Mukteshwar is also an option for the more intrepid travellers – going through forests of pine and oak along an old stone path, and culminating in the mountaintop town of Mukteshwar where guests can have lunch, and visit the famous Mukteshwar Mahadev Temple. The Chauli ki Jaali rock formation at Mukteshwar is also a site for adventure sports such as rock-climbing and rappelling, offering stunning panoramic views of the valley entire below. The Kapileshwar Temple – an ancient 11th century shrine steeped in local mythology and devotion is also about an hour’s drive away, and makes for a tranquil afternoon trip. Day-trips slightly further afield can also be arranged to Binsar, Bagheshwar, Baijnath, and other similar local attractions.
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