By now you must have all noticed that I spend a significant amount of time (26 days) on a tour through Karnataka with goMowgli. So, now for a goMowgli review.
They are a hop on hop off bus in the initial stages of launching and I was their first passenger! In the spirit of full disclosure, I was invited by them to take part and share my experiences with you. To learn about them and the loops check out two things: the goMowgli website and my Intro to goMowgli post I put up a couple months ago.
I’m going to go through the pro’s and con’s of taking a tour with goMowgli and give you an honest review of my experiences with them. I initially went on this tour because there is NOTHING like this in India and well, curiosity drew me in.
Perks of Traveling with goMowgli
- The team is incredible. Karan is kind of the brains behind it (he’s half computer) and taught me more Hindi while I taught him Spanish, Sunil is like the guy in charge, the planner getting things all settled, Anil is the financial advisor of sorts, Rashan who was the party lover of the crew, and Megha and Appu are your girly guides as well so you don’t wanna kill the boys!
- This is the first true hop on hop off bus in India and if you have the time to take advantage of the offers it can save you money in the long term. Basically, you can buy a “pass” for 3 days, 5 days, 21, whichever you prefer… and those counted days are “travel days” on the bus. Therefore you could take 6 months to do a 21 day pass if you feel like it for the same price as doing it in 21 days. Making sense?
- Because it’s hop off, while on your tour when you get to somewhere killer like the homestay they found us in Mandelpatti, you can hop off more than the one night listed and stay for 5 or 6, whatever you like. You just call them when you’re ready and catch the next bus passing through.
- It’s unbeatably off the beaten path.
bird watching in Chikmaglur
- Because they are new, there aren’t that many passengers at this point, meaning you’ll get great service and their undivided attention.
- It’s great they are only taking 10-12 people at a time to keep it running smoothly. The groups are small; therefore, guides have more time to help you explore.
- This is perfect for girls traveling solo because I have met and traveled with each guide and 100% can vouch for their professionalism and that they are there to keep you safe and sound.
- NO WORRYING! Basically, you can just shut off and let them take you from place to place. If you like a place a lot, stay longer. If you don’t love it, leave in the AM to the next stop.
- You get options. If you’re not the type to want to shut off and be told what to do, you can find your own lodging, eat where you want, and choose to do none of their free day tours or extra paid activites and instead find your own way. Lodging isn’t included, but they stay at cute homestays at a discounted price you can get too. If you have somewhere else you want to stay, you can do so. I tried this out many times when I wanted something a little more upscale like the glamping at Kabini River, Gorukana, staying in a palace called the Green Hotel in Mysore, and even taking a 3 night break at the Indus Valley Ayurveda Center. They accommodate with what you want and will drop you as close as they can to the hotel you want.You pay a fee upfront for the pass (prices for goMowgli passes) so it’s said and done, therefore leaving you to know you have a few days of travel costs covered. The lodging as I said isn’t and that’ll be pay as you go. Many of the homestays have food provided so you just pay for it all at once at check out.
- There are a bunch of included activities. Some of my favorites were the Mysore market tour, the treks in Coorg, hiking to secret waterfalls, Hampi walking tour, and checking out a shop making khaddi cotton. You can check them all out here. I think meeting the Soliga tribe was my all time favorite!
plus, they will patiently take photos of you next to doors without even laughing at you
- They get a discounted rate for you on the paid activites (most of them anyways). The paid activities are up to you and if you don’t want to do them there is usually another option for you to just chill out, like bird watching at the Old Magazine house for free while others pay to white-water raft.
- I think the most important point is that the know Karnataka well. Yes, eventually they will be operating outside their state in more states in India, but for now they are in their home state. One guide is from Coorg, another Mysore, etc. So when you go on the tour they REALLY know their stuff. It’s like staying with an amazing couchsurfing host that’s just dying to show you their hometown.
Important Tips: What To Know Before Booking
- The website is a little confusing, as other travelers on the bus told me. They’re well aware and are working at simplifying things for us. The fliers don’t have ALL the information, so you really need to read up online before you book. By the time this post goes live, they will most likely have already fixed this issue (I’m sure Karan is pulling all-nighters at his computer ;))
- When paying it’s important to remember that you are paying only for the transport and free tours. Your food, lodging, and paid activities are extra and those can add up.
- At each place there are a few options for lodging usually something like a dorm room on the cheap, a midrange homestay, or a nice hotel. It’s up to you which you take, but if you haven’t done your research ahead of time you will end up where the bus stops at the cozy homestay- which are usually around 1,000-1,700 per night with food included. You’ll have to speak up and TELL them your budget so they can drop you at a cheaper place.
- Since they’ve just started, you might be the only few people on the bus. When there are only a few, they are renting an Innova instead. If you’re doing this to make backpacking buddies, it’s a 50/50 chance you will until they really take off (which is happening as I write this). You can always ask them how many people are signed up on the tour.
- Some areas outside Hampi don’t have a lot of food options. goMowgli does the best to get you to something you’ll like, but sometimes a street side dosa is all there is in these small towns. If you don’t like it they will worry sick over you looking for chips or a Pepsi (anything to cheer you up!) until dinner.
- Speaking of food, South Indian is pretty much all you will eat on the tour. If you do a 5 day tour, you won’t be bothered. I was with them all together 26 days and I can’t look at rice right now. Mysore has more options, but outside of there it’ll be a South Indian thali. Although the homestays serve delicious food, as someone who’s not Indian, it was hard to appreciate it all because I was getting tired of the same thing. On the plus side, I lost a few pounds and am in great shape for season time in Goa! Bring on the bikini (screw the bikini ban!).
couldn’t even take rice at this meal, I had rice coming out my ears
this egg masala was new, loved it!
- It’s pricey, but not overpriced. You pay for what you get, and what you get is amazing. Having said that, the typical backpacker probably can’t afford this trip (and might not enjoy it). Most backpackers want that spiritual experience: yoga, tripping out in Goa, smoking hash in Rishikesh, and staying in cheap bungalows. This is a little more adult. This is perfect for the 25 and up traveler that isn’t as concerned with partying and has a few extra bucks a day to spend on a quality tour that will give you a more deep rooted experience in India.
- As of now, you’ll be touring only in Karnataka. Are you interested in Karnataka, nature, local South Indian food, Hoysala architecture and ancient temples, bird watching and safaris? There is one stop at the beach, but mostly this is a tour for people really interested in Indian culture.
- I don’t recommend doing the full 21 “Masala Dose” tour in only 21 days. Take your time or you will have absolute traveler’s burn out. It’s a long-ass tour and you’ll find that some things repeat, same same but different, as in you might see a few waterfalls and do a few treks. They will be in different areas, but still in Karnataka, so some feel very similar and you will start to appreciate them less. It’s great if you have 6 months and can travel slow, but I know not many people want to spend their 6 month visa in Karnataka. With the FULL tour you see it all, and I will cherish these memories, but you need to take your time.
- Adventure is one of their goals. Not to say it wasn’t adventurous, but if you’re into sky-diving, bungee jumping, and 5 grade rapids, you won’t find them here. The tour has found the most adventurous activities there are in Karnataka but in terms of adventure, India is lacking. Yes there are treks, rafting, safari’s, and more but none that will make your heart race like you’d get in somewhere in New Zealand. It’s a different type of adventure.
Overall Opinion of goMowgli
I’m obsessed with this company and think they’re going to do huge things. Would I go on a trip with them again? Absolutely. While scrolling back to add photos to this post, I was overwhelmed by how much I saw and did with them. Had I wandered into Karnataka on my own backpacking, the result would have been getting lost, spending too much money because I was lost, not seeing the cool things because I didn’t know about them, and leaving feeling like it was a boring state. The tour was the first tour I’ve done in my life, and now I’m a convert; it was brilliant.
Read up on the goMowgli PASSES. See what is involved in each one and which one calls out to you. I recommend choosing two loops and doing something non-gomowgli in between them. If I had to rank the loops in order starting at most favorite, I’d say: Coorg, Mysore, Chikkamaglur, Hampi, Gokarna (I think they plan to condense and combine the last two).
If you choose Coorg and Mysore, you can do them back to back. They are very different and you won’t have any repetition.
If you choose Coorg and Chikkamaglur, you should do something in between: Kerala backwaters, go party in Goa, or take a spa break at an Ayurvedic center. Then do the other tour. You’ll appreciate it more.
As I post about all these places and fun things I did in Karnataka with goMowgli, I will be tagging them “goMowgli” so you can see them all. You can also use the search bar and type “goMowgli” to see a full list. I have tons more posts coming about my time in Karnataka; what a surprisingly diverse state.
I HIGHLY recommend the goMowgli tour. It’s personal, fun, and cost-effective. You’ll feel safe and get a break form India’s chaos. The guests so far are RAVING about how incredible their experience was. Book now, because they will be filling up fast with season starting.
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