If you’re looking for adventure in Karnataka, Dandeli seems to be the place to go. With so many options, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend away in India.
8 Adventures in Dandeli
1. Visit Syntheri Rock.
It’s a big hike down and even harder to walk back up, but quite worth it. It’s a nice little rapid. I didn’t think much time needed spent here- more of a “see it and go” place.
2. Head to the river for white water rafting, kayaking, zorbing, boat rides and more.
I didn’t want to try the zipline, but went for kayaking since rafting was canceled on the day of my visit. We went to White Water Resort. It was a cool place, the curries smelled great and staff was nice. I didn’t sleep here, but think for backpackers it’s a cool spot with tents to camp out. Swimming in this river was so peaceful after all the sightseeing I’ve been doing! Cost of rafting for foreigners is 1800 rs and kayaking for 30 minutes is 250 rs.
3. Stay at a homestay.
Ours, Amara, was very cool. It was only 10 km from Syntheri rock which made a morning visit very easy. The place is pretty popular, so book ahead. It’s 1800 for foreigners and 1400 for Indians whether you stay in a tent or hut. The tents each have their own bathroom behind.
Food was very good and the staff was nice! I also got to enjoy a little girls birthday party which was really cool (although not the quietest night of sleep I’ve gotten).
4. Backwater tour on Kali River.
You can book this through a variety of places, but it was offered from our homestay. It was a bird watching tour for the most part and is on the same river as the rafting. This area of Karnataka is famous for bird watching, so a great option for an afternoon.
5. Eat Local!
I got to have tasty meals from the homestay, which is part of the fun of staying with a family rather than a hotel. Food in Karnataka (and southern India in general) is healthy, fresh, and oftentimes veg only.
I also lucked out that instead of lunch in town, the driver Anand, invited us home to have dinner with his family. It was so sweet of him and the food was delicious. They were shocked I started digging right in with my hands (I think they didn’t realize how long I’ve been in India) and they laughed while I ate.
a dosa from a dhabba… yum
6. Bird Watching at the Old Magazine House.
This is a government run Jungle Lodge property that most people come to Dandeli for, although I wasn’t so impressed. This place is for serious bird lovers. I’ve stayed at two Jungle Lodges (Kabini River and Sloth Bear Resort) and thought they were incredible. I actually think the bird watching at those was more natural and cool than at Old Magazine house.
I’m told that the variety of birds at Old Magazine is better, but it was some plastic chairs sat in the edge of the drive with a fluorescent green fence up with holes to look through. Not anything compared to the bird baths they had in Sloth Bear Resort. Overall, the property wasn’t as nice as the others looks a bit run down and the cabins didn’t look as nice either. I’m pretty sure it’s free to bird watch.
7. Kavala Caves.
Quite a famous spot that needs pre-arrangements to see; I wasn’t able to on this trip, but it is something that was offered from my goMowgli tour if you’re willing to wake up at 4 AM. It’s through the forestry department and you’ll have to go on a safari as the only way to see the caves. The safari is 450 for Indians and 1000 for foreigners.
PS, through all of Karnataka, the prices were higher for foreigners whether government run or not, sometimes the price different was far too much and as an expat earning a living in rupees, it was quite a shock and could prevent me from going back to some places.
8. Tour a Spice Plantation.
I was lucky that the homestay was on a betel nut and spice plantation, which of course we were given a tour of. If you’re not so lucky, you can search one out on tripadvisor.
Practical Information for visiting Dandeli:
- Dandeli was a 3 hour drive from Hubli. I did this trip with the tour company goMowgli.
- Rafting is based on if 2/3 dams are open. If not, they won’t allow rafting.
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