Having mostly taken off on leisure vacations before, Dandeli showed me how extremely different an adventurous trip was from them. Two girls, one two wheeler and a forest to sum it up in a sentence.
We took a sleeper bus from Bangalore to the Dandeli bus stand. With a package pre-booked with Rangers Camp homestay, we initially expected everything to be served to us on a platter. Package includes 3 meals, accommodation, and activities like kayaking, white water boating, cycling, swimming, jacuzzi, trekking etc. The journey was about 8 hours overnight reaching us to our destination at 8 in the morning.
Here’s a shot of river Kali from the bus.
On reaching the office of Ranger’s camp, Mr. Shamal greeted us and explained the package. It did not include internal transportation to the viewpoints. They had an option to hire a cab for 1500 INR per day which would work out for groups of 4 but not for us. We asked him if they’d rent two wheelers instead and they did. So we hired one for both days at 472 INR per day.
While the two wheeler arrived, we quickly found ourselves some breakfast. Shamal gave us a map and explained the routes to us during which we phased out because who uses maps printed on paper?
Hahah 5 minutes into running around trying to fish out network, we did. All hail paper maps! That’s one thing that I really liked about the trip, no network for absolutely anything around here except in the city area. Ended up finding our way through the forest the old school way.
We were very generously allotted the tree house for the day which we found out later needed booking well in advance.
First place on our list was the Bison river resort where we were to finish our water activities. Started with kayaking followed by boating and then the jacuzzi.
The Jacuzzi was my favorite for obvious reasons. Surrounded by tiny waterfalls we made our way through the current to find ourselves a nice spot and sunbathe. It’s safe to go here without any belongings which is why I have no pictures of the place. One of the girls from my boat had lost her spectacles in the water. She had good friends, who searched with her for over an hour, though we all knew it must’ve reached the river within seconds in such strong current.
It was 2.30 now and in no way could we make it back to the homestay for lunch. On the same road that leads to Bison resort we found this little dhaba like place called ‘Flycatchers cafe‘. The people here were so nice to us and the food served was fresh and yum.
Chickencurry, butter naans and some Jeera Rice. I also had some weird green apple soda here that I loved and never found in any other store after.
Nagoda backwaters has more than one route to access it, or so we were told. One requires you to trek 2-3 km. Another gives you a view of water from the bridge. Third one is a 2 km stretch of terrible road that takes you right into the water.
Of course we took the third one cause who wants to look at water from a bridge or trek down a lonely trail? We’d rather screw up the suspension of the bike we rented. But wo-man, was it worth it?! See for yourselves. With perfect cotton clouds reflected on still mirror like water and no other life in sight for as far as we could see. Okay there were two other humans who were walking around looking their way through the water. But other than them, no one. Nothing. We took a bunch of really cool pictures and chilled by the shade from the two wheeler for a bit.
Just the thought of riding back in that horrid road made us stay back for longer than required. But thanks to my travel partner for wo-maning up and taking us all the way back in one piece. (Why I didn’t ride? Well I learnt something new about myself that day. Extreme situations make me get into a laughing fit that scared my partner into taking over the bike. Probably my way of diverting attention from the actual problem. Lol you go girl.)
Back to the homestay an hour later we freshened up and rested a while. By 6pm the rest of the people staying here were out and socialising. So we joined them. Went for a walk. Twice. On the same road. Tried some plastic archery. Took a couple of cycles and rode off downhill and obviously panted my ass off while returning. Once the bonfire was on we moved and huddled up around there. Plan was to play some games which my partner repeatedly tried teaching these new faces but failed. It was entertaining to watch her nonetheless.
Dinner happened to be the first meal we utilised from the package. Two types of vegetables, some roti, rice and chicken curry. Not very great but definitely edible.
Part of the package was a short trek early in the morning. Guided by dogs most of the way, the walk was fun watching them. At the end of the trek was a cluster of rocks where we sat and appreciated the silence, the sun and everything around.
While this part of the forest was fairly dried up, it still has some killer views. Just beyond the rock was a dried up canal and some more tiny rocks. I’m sure this place would be heavenly during the rains.
Breakfast was our second meal from the package. A lot better than dinner for sure. A complete spread with idlis, sambar, chutney, bread, jam and tea.
With happy tummies we headed to our next stop quickly so we could make it back on time for lunch.
Syntheri rocks was another terrible ride with roads made of loose gravel. We spotted bikers with all their gear come prepared for this stretch. And there we were, my partner and I, with our scarves and scooter. Funnily we were riding parallely with these boys the entire stretch and while they were terrified for their bikes, we were on a rental. The main view point is a 500-600m steep trek downhill from the parking. There were a couple of benches here and there to rest and catch your breath which we made complete use of while returning. The view, though extremely beautiful, was ruined by the stink from the water. And the rocks were covered in fungi.
We walked around, held our breath and took some pretty pictures. Just when curiosity had started taking over us, we spotted a couple of snakes mating in the water and ran the fuck out of there. I ran back to take a short video cause this was really cool and we needed proof.
Lunch was by far the best meal at the homestay. Some rice, chicken curry, roti, veggies and curd. Delighted to see curd after a long morning under the summer sun, I over ate. So I ended up napping for a bit to get over it. We stayed under the fan in our tree house till 3.30pm hoping the sun would calm down a bit before we headed back out. We checked out while leaving this time and left with our bags which we carried around from here on.
Crocodile park unexpectedly is a private property where this guy charges people to view a bunch of these majestic reptiles from his backyard that has a view of the river Kali. We found out from him that the river we went kayaking in also has a few of them that are spotted sometimes.
The crocs were lazing around for most of the time till we saw them all jump into the water at the same time and swim around. Interesting to watch, we started saying ‘imagine if…’ with some worse case Croc related accidents to each other. After some quick directions from the owner we left to our final destination.
The Eco Park was the only crowded place in all of Dandeli. Filled with picnickers and families, we felt out of place there. We had to wait our turn for a rock to clear out so we could go sit and view the river for a while.
This was clearly the most dirty part of river Kali as well. We were sick of watching men in their underwear splashing around. We moved to the entrance where we had a nice and empty spot to rest our feet.
Around 5.30 we left the Eco Park and visited the restaurant next door. They didn’t have anything to serve so we just sat there with a bottle of Sprite. The owner came and spoke to us and said he had some rooms there as well and we should stay there the next time we visited. Sure Uncle, if only you had some food.
By 6pm we were back on the road, making our way to the office so we could return the two wheeler. Mr. Shamal very generously gave us a room right above his office to freshen up before we left. Room wasn’t very clean but hey, it was free. By 7.30 we got out and went in search of some decent dinner.
Down the same road we found a little cafe called ‘Italian cafe‘ with seating on the inside. From the outside it just looked like a bakery. Food here was quite good. We had some mushroom pizza, jalapeno poppers and some yummy brownie for dessert.
Our bus back was at 8.30 and it had arrived well in advance at the stop down the same road. Our trip was great, I hope you have a trip as fun as ours.
Trip expense per head.
Bus both ways- 1800/-
Homestay package- 1800/-
Bike rental- 500/-
Non included meals and Other expenses- 800/-