Things to do in Dandeli
Vacation number 5 for this year was Dandeli, a forested, mountainous region in Karnataka, abundantly blessed with blue-green rivers, lush wildlife and more. If I had to describe this place in a few words, it would be: Untouched, beautiful and colorful. It’s a quaint little place where you can just unwind and get close to nature.
Here are some amazing things to do in Dandeli:
1. Night safari: No, I’m not talking about going on a ‘’safari’’ in a zoo where animals are kept in cages. I’m talking about going in an open air jeep at 10 in the night, when the night is silent and dark. Where you have only the sounds of the jungle and the light of the moon for company. You can expect to see bisons, fox, exotic owls and even panthers.
Though we didn’t get to see any creature, the experience was thrilling. It was of course scary, especially when you turn back and see the dark, empty roads of the forest, but what’s life without some thrill, eh? The night was truly beautiful. I would say this is a must try in Dandeli.
Details: Your resort will be able to arrange this for you. If not, you can contact Jungle Lodges (Kali Adventure Camp). You’ll be accompanied by a driver and a guide with a torch who’ll search the jungles with his flashlight for a glimpse of the forest animals. It is relatively safe, as there are no dangerous creatures in the forest. However, I have heard that this is illegali, so proceed at your own risk.
2) A day of water sports: I never thought I would find an amazing place for water sports in Dandeli, but there you have it! We visited the White Water Resort that hosts a plethora of water activities and sports, for really reasonable prices.
You can choose from river crossing, rafting, kayaking, boating, natural jacuzzi and more. The minute you see the water, you’ll just feel like jumping and diving right in. It’s blue-green with white waves, clear and just so so so beautiful. Also, unlike other usual touristy spots, the water wasn’t polluted at all. I saw no traces of floating plastic or dirt. It was like a regularly maintained swimming pool. Definitely one of the best, unpolluted places I’ve seen in India.
I tried rafting and river crossing (aka zip lining) and the second one stole my heart. This basically involves you swinging off a ledge and directly landing in the middle of the river. It’s so thrilling and exhilarating! Once you’re in the water, you get to chill there until a boat arrives and drops you off on the other side of the river, where you can swim and play in the water. Without doubt, this was my most favorite part of the trip. And frankly, this is one of the best experiences of my life.
Though rafting was also fun, we couldn’t do the 9 km stretch as it was closed for the day. We had to adjust with the 1 km one. But it was still super fun and reasonable too. I so badly wanted to try the natural jacuzzi as well (where you basically sit amidst the river and rocks and let the water massage you) but it was too crowded so we had to skip. Next time, hopefully.
Details: You don’t have to be staying at White Water Resort to go here. There are few ‘’companies’’ offering these experiences, but I can vouch for these guys. Go here early on to avoid the rush.
The prices range between Rs. 250- Rs. 1000 for activities, but mostly it’s reasonably priced. They have a place for changing as well.
3) View points: There are a couple of view points in Dandeli that are definitely worth a visit. No activities there, but oh, the view! That’s something you don’t see everyday.
- Bridge near SUPA Dam: This bridge is located right above the backwaters of the Kali river and hence provides spectacular view of the trees, the forests and the water. The water is so blue here, you won’t feel like looking away! Come evening, you’ll find tons of birds flying around and singing. I got some good pictures too.
- Sunset point: The sunset point is a tiny spot where the trees suddenly clear out and gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire backwaters, with it’s islands. And apparently, this is where the sun sets. So go here around 5:45 and get enthralled as the sun slowly sinks behind the mountains, setting the sky and the water on fire. Just beautiful!
4) Tiger reserve: 2 hours from Dandeli is a 1300 square kilometres massive tiger reserve where the might beasts roam. This is called the Kali tiger reserve. You get to go on a safari in open jeeps and hope that you’ll catch sight of at least one Bengal tiger, panthers, deer or Indian elephants. The reserve is lush, green and beautiful, with the Kali river passing right through it. Even if you don’t spot a tiger, you’ll get to enjoy the beauty and mystery of the forest. Which is still amazing!
We decided to skip this as we visited Kabini just a couple of months back and happened to spot 2 fully grown tigers and 3 cubs chilling in a water hole during the jungle safari. And it’s quiet difficult to beat that, right?
Details: As mentioned, it’s a 2 hour drive from Dandeli. If you don’t have your own transport, your resort will take you. The park is open only from 6 AM to 6 PM. Also, sometimes, kids aren’t allowed so check that before going.
5) Road trip: Two uber cool beachy destinations are right next door to Dandeli. Karwar is just approx 104 kms away and Goa is around 98 kms away. If you leave early morning, you can reach in less than 2.5 hours. Spend the day beaching around, chilling in shacks and sipping on beer. You can make your return journey in the evening, post sunset and be back in Dandeli for a warm bonfire and hot, hot dinner. Now, that’s like a vacation in a vacation. It literally can’t get better!
Unfortunately, we were travelling with 2 kids and a senior citizen, so we weren’t able to make it. Otherwise, nothing would have stopped me from checking into Goa.
P.S- The photos below have been sourced from Google.
6) Natural Walk + Bird Watching: Though you might just want to snuggle up in bed in the chilly mornings, you shouldn’t. You can sleep even at home, right? Get up early and pay a visit to nature. Go on a nature walk in the surrounding woods and if you’re up for it, even do some bird watching.
We woke up early and went walking for almost 2 kms, where we even came across this pretty jungle stream right next to our resort. It felt great to start our day on such a great note, playing in the fresh water, taking pictures and just enjoying ourselves. We also some exotic, beautiful birds (though I can’t remember the names).
Details: Your resort will be able to arrange this for you. A guide from our resort came along with us and showed us around. He explained the local flora and fauna and took us to the stream as well. It was included in our tariff so we didn’t have to pay extra. But check with your resort as it varies from place to place.
Note: A couple of us got bitten by leeches at the stream. And really small ones too, which are hard to spot. So be careful while playing in the water, especially if you have kids with you.
7) Dhudh Sagar Falls: This magnificent waterfalls is located right on the border of Karnataka-Maharashtra and is just spectacular. It has 4 tiers and a place where you can swim as well. They also have a 20km trek near this sight, where they’ll take you via jungles and backwaters. If you’re looking for some adventure & fun, you’ll love Dhudh Sagar.
We didn’t visit this time since we covered this on our last visit to Goa. But trust me, it’s one of the best waterfalls I’ve seen in India and i loved my visit.
Details: It would make sense to club it with your road trip to Goa, if you plan on going. Otherwise, you can drive down or take a local bus. It’s again a 2 hour drive. It is open from 11 AM to 7 PM. Once you reach Castle Rock, you’ll have to book a jeep to the falls as your vehicles won’t be able to handle the terrain.
P.S- The image below has been sourced from Google.
8) Just Chill: I suggest this to everybody who’s going on a vacay. Yes, since you’ve paid money, you should definitely do sightseeing and stuff, but it’s also important to take some time and off and relax. We’re all so damn caught up with our work and other things all the time so vacations are perfect for doing nothing. Read a book, catch the sunrise, spend time with your family and friends and feel rejuvenated. You’ll need the energy when vacation withdrawal kicks in!
Here is some more information about Dandeli:
Stay- There are plenty of resorts in Dandeli that you can choose from. The one we stayed at was Dandeli Mist. It was a nice place with decent food. They arranged quite a few activities for us. But it wasn’t well maintained at all. Quite dusty and unclean. So I wouldn’t really recommend. The best option would be Kali Adventure Camp, owned by Jungle Lodges.
Duration- I think 3 night and 4 days is a good stay duration. You can explore as well as relax, without making the vacation too hectic.
Food- You will not find restaurants and cafes in Dandeli. Whatever food you eat will be from your resort, so be prepared. Carry some snacks with you. Also, it is advisable to carry alcohol as well. Your resort will be able to get it for you from nearby towns but your options will be limited.
Travel- You can drive down (if you’re in Bangalore, Mysore, Goa, Karwar etc), take an overnight bus or take a flight to Hubli and arrange for a pick up from the airport.
Dandeli, with it’s silence, mysterious roads, miles of greenery and beauty, is the perfect place for this. Time passes slowly and you’ll find yourself loving every minute of the peace. It might be similar to other places like Kabini and Bandipur, but its way more laid back, untouched, uncrowded and serene.
I’ve covered my trip quite extensively on my Instagram highlights, so you can check them out here.
I hope you liked my inputs on ”Things to do in Dandeli”. Feel free to reach out to me for any more information!
Happy travelling. Stay wild & free!