Warning about Odisha Ecotour online booking

#1 Dec 3rd, 2017, 18:04
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  • Supra is offline
#1
Hi,

This is a warning for future travellers , especially from abroad, who plan to book Odisha forest development corporation forest rest houses through Ecotour Odisha on line portal.
A confirmation number does not mean anything. Unless and until you get a Transaction number it is not confirmed at all. Even after that you need to check if the money had actually gone out of your account or not. And surprisingly the system never gives you any warning that the transaction was unsuccessful.
And if you are using credit card then only use Visa or Amex. No Mastercard.

They have now put up a note on their site saying that but the system itself (run by a third party called CC avenue does not prevent you from using MasterCard)

I booked cottages at Debrigarh online originally using a MasterCard from UK and got two confirmation numbers. But even after two weeks no money had gone out of the account.
By this time my travel agent in India had also booked a tent at Tikarpada and I asked him to check what happened with my Debrigarh booking. He also realised that no money had gone out of his account. when he rang the DFO office they casually informed him that it was a "false" transaction and no bookings were made. No explanation was provided.
This caused major problem for me as when the agent tried to book the Tikarpada tent again there was no availability. He then refused to deal with OFDC Ecotours any more leaving me to do the online booking.
After exchange of a few e-mails, which was not helping to resolve my queries I actually rang them up from UK.
Their stupid on-line system does not allow letters in the Zipcode and all the UK zipcodes have letters.
I was told that I could use an Indian address with Indian Zipcode so I used one of my friend's.
This time I used an Amex card and I got 2 transaction numbers. I felt relieved initially but then started getting anxious as no money was going out of my account. When I rang UK Amex customer services they told me CC Avenue had not processed the transaction but no reason was given.
In desperation I rang again and I have to say Mr Swadesh Biswal from Ecotour Odisha was very helpful. He was also surprised to see that no payment was taken out.
After some digging he found that because my zipcode was Indian whereas the Credit card was registered as International so their system had blocked the transaction. But no one had bothered to inform me of that.
Further phone calls and then scanning and sending of my UK passport, authorisation letter, address proof and credit card statement etc eventually resolved the problem just in the nick of time as the system was about to cancel the bookings after seven days of non-payment.
What a palaver !!
I hope it is worth the trouble.
Cheers.
#2 Jan 9th, 2018, 22:11
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  • BIMAL PRADHAN is offline
#2
Supra, I am from Odisha and a very regular traveler to various Ecotourism sites in the state.

It is extremely unfortunate, what had happened with you. But I have never faced any such trouble.

Yes, the online site needs lot of improvement, both technically as well as delivering latest information wise. As a matter of fact, there are many sites which are operational but do not reflect in their site simply because they do not have the technical capability to do so till the outsourced IT company do it.

Debrigarh...the Zero point and Hirakud Dam....how did you like it? My hometown is just 50 kms away from there.

And what about Tikarpada? How was the stay? Please update
#3 Jan 12th, 2018, 04:49
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#3
Hi Bimal,
Thanks for your reply.
I have not been to these places yet. Travelling at the end of this month.
I'll most certainly feed back here as there is not a great deal of current info available.
I had to make a slight change in plans and asked the travel agent to cancel the booking at Tikarpada they had made online for me and then I myself rebooked the same tents for the next day as the agent was unwilling to deal with OFDC any more. Unfortunately the travel agents are now telling me that they are still waiting to receive the refund from OFDC after nearly 2 weeks and even after chasing that up with phone calls and e-mails. If that is true then that does not reflect well on the Ecotour online system where one would expect prompt online payment and refund.

Best wishes
#4 Jan 12th, 2018, 08:20
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#4
On a lighter note " they must have put the file of your refund in front of the tourism minister.. Once the approval comes, they will refund".

How many of you are coming? What is your total plan in Odisha?
If interested in birds, you can do a day tour to Mangalajodi.

Please keep me informed.
#5 Jan 13th, 2018, 02:15
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#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIMAL PRADHAN View Post On a lighter note " they must have put the file of your refund in front of the tourism minister.. Once the approval comes, they will refund".

How many of you are coming? What is your total plan in Odisha?
If interested in birds, you can do a day tour to Mangalajodi.

Please keep me informed.
::rolleyes :

I think the problem is with the outsourcing company called CC AVENUE who deal with the transactions on behalf of OFDC/ ECOTOUR Odisha. Clearly not very competent.

As you are showing some interest so I might as well share my itinerary with you. I am a keen photographer and interested in birding as well. Mangalajodi was mentioned to me several years back by someone who is a doctor by profession but is a much much better photographer. I have been thinking of visiting this place for a while.
I have also found a very nice home stay called Kila Dalijoda : the previous hunting lodge of Singh Deo family and booked couple of nights there to start with after getting off at Cuttack station. The place seems to be ideal to recharge in the middle of Kapilash hills.
Then travel to Mangalajodi Godwit eco cottage for couple of nights with 4 boat trips booked, Satkosia sands resort on the southern section of the Mahanadi for one night, Tikkarpada on the northern section for one night, Debrigarh FRH for 2 nights, and then catch the train back to Howrah from Jharsuguda.

I have been trying to find out more about how to visit two villages in Tangi forest area, which are apparently excellent for viewing the Giant Squirrels but OFDC never got back to me. I guess I'd get to see the squirrels in Satkosia and Debrigarh.

I'm travelling alone this time as this is combined with my thirtieth batch reunion and a conference.
Cheers.
#6 Jan 13th, 2018, 03:40
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#6
Jharsuguda is my Home town.But I stay in Bhubaneswar.

Sunday I am going to Mangalajodi with family.

Kila Dalijoda is a great choice.

Mangalajodi: I have never stayed in Godwit, But as there are not many options there so have to manage. The Mangalajodi eco cottage is prefered by more. The main time for Mangalajodi is from 15th Dec till 15th Jan. After that birds start their return journey.Still birds in plenty stay there till mid Feb.

If you can adjust some time from that schedule, I can suggest you BHETANAI (for freely roaming black bucks). This place is about 110 kms from Mangalajodi. You can see from the picture....they roam in the field along with other animals and hunam too.

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Not far from Bhetanai is a place called Saluapali (6 kms from Bhanjanagar). Forst guest house is available there. From the NH the road goes deep inside the forest for about 7 kms. The place is known as Giant Squirrels Camp. We went there last October. these photos are taken by my son.


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I feel 2 days in Debrigarh will be little more than the place can offer.But again it depends on the time you arrive there on the first day.

Are you going to book a vehicle for the entire trip or how?

Which days are you going to stay at Mangalajodi? Another Indiamiker from Kolkata is visiting there on 24th and 25th. He is a very good photographer.
#7 Jan 14th, 2018, 01:07
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#7
Hi,
First of all let me congratulate Junior Pradhan for taking excellent photos. From my experience I know it is very difficult to take photos of creatures high up in the canopy under shade.
Secondly the credit goes to you as well for instilling the love for nature in your son's mind. India and her wildlife definitely need the next generation.
I am finding the dialogue with you extremely helpful and it is better to have it in open forum so that others may also benefit in future.

In relation to Blackbucks : I was aware of Bhetanai but as I have seen them from close quarters in Blackbuck national park at Velavadr Gujarat so I was not keen to see them again this year. I did write a long tale of my Gujarat trip here.

I'm afraid I will miss you guys as I'll be in Mangalajodi on 1st and 2nd of February. Hope the feathery friends will stay. I know the accommodation options are limited but not complaining as long as I have a decent bed and a clean toilet. Please do let me know about the experience of your forthcoming trip.

I guess Mangalajodi was thrust into limelight by the article published in Sanctuary Asia by Panchmi Ukil : Magic of Mangalajodi. In that article towards the end she mentions :

" Places around Mangalajodi: A visit to Mangalajodi can be combined with a visit to the Bhetabara dam area, popularly known as the Tangi forests for passerines and forest birds."

I started looking into these places and came across an interesting article in Telegraph from 2011 titled " The Land of Giant Squirrels" which suggested a visit to two villages near Bhetabara dam, called Dimiribadi and Brahamanikumbi near Nayagarh, Tangi forest. The link is as follows :

https://www.telegraphindia.com/11105...y_14047027.jsp

I wonder if I can make a brief detour from my way to Satkosia from Mangaljodi to visit these places ? I'm always looking for off beat places and specially to offer my support to locals who promote conservation. Google map says it won't add too much to me journey to Satkosia sands but of course Google does not have local knowledge.
Do you have any suggestions on visiting these laces ? Worth it ?

I was aware of the giant Squirrel nature camp in Ganjam but I think that'll be too much of a detour on the way to Satkosia. I believe it is called Giant Squirrel Home stay. Looked very interesting.


Yes, I'll have a car and a driver at my disposal. Not a big car but something like a Swift Dezire as I'll have little luggage to lug along.
I think I'll leave Debrigarh late in the afternoon so won't have much time to do anything that day. I'm not sure if they will allow me to take the car inside for a night ride.
Hope they have some decent guides.

I hugely appreciate your input as local knowledge is way better than knowledge of Lonely Planet.

Thanks
#8 Jan 14th, 2018, 01:18
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#8
About the tangi forest, do not have much idea. Tomorrow will ask my staffs who are from Nayagarh. I am sure will get some inputs from them.

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