Road trip to Dandeli and Karwar

The city life can get so monotonous at times that you wait for those long weekends to escape from it! One such chance I got was April end, 28th and 29th is weekend holiday and May 1st being mandatory holiday. My cousins group thought about visiting Dandeli which is approximately 500 kms from Bengaluru.

Dandeli is known for White water rafting, picturesque landscape, variety of birds especially the elusive Hornbills. You might wonder if it is famous for rafting why go there during summer? It is because during monsoon rafting is not allowed in Kali river and in Summer they release dam water which is enough for adrenaline pumping rafting experience! After going though quite a lot of homestays available in and around Dandeli, we booked Sangway Homestay which is around 20 mins drive from Dandeli. We started on friday night 27th April at 10 PM. The route to Dandeli from Bengaluru is fairly simple, Till Hubli you have to take National Highway 48. After that stretch, road till Dandeli is not in good condition at some part but anyway they are not worst also.

We were group of 4, I was the only one driving so we gave lot of pit stops. On the way if you need break you can stop in any of the Cafe Coffee Day along the national highway 48

Cafe_Coffee_Day
Midnight snacks at Cafe Coffee Day

We reached Dandeli at around 8 PM. There is no good place to freshen up in Dandeli. We had breakfast at a Small Hotel (Kamath ) in heart of the city.

Later we called Vikram (owner of Sangway home stay) and he told us to wait in Dandeli so that he can guide us till his home stay. Drive to homestay is pleasant one with forest on either sides and roads are also good except last 500 mts leading to homestay which is unpaved. Even small cars can go easily. However there is no real shady area to park at homestay. Mobile signals are not reachable here except the BSNL. Thats the good part! Last thing you want to do on a vacation is waste time on that small gadget. We booked the place for 2 nights with 4 of us in a cottage.

There are two cottages in the property of around 2.5 acres ( studio room having attached bathroom). Nothing so great about the surrounding view. If you wake up early you can catch the glimpse of hornbills in a huge tree near the compound gate. Room is big , bathroom is neat so no complaints here.

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Food is served on a central dining place. Food is simple but very delicious. We are all vegetarians so cannot rate the non-veg food here. You must try the famous “Appe Midi” chutney. Evening snacks we had was Onion pakoda on one day and Capsicum, potato Bajjis another day ( quantity and quality is too good )

Appe midi is the endangered local tender mango variety which is tailor made for delicious pickles. These mango trees are found on the river banks of Kali .

Sangway homestay Food
Typical Lunch served at Sangway home stay, Dandeli

For any help Vikram will always be there and he suggests the places to see around in Dandeli.

Day 1, After we had lunch we went for Safari in Kali Tiger Reserve, Dandeli. Safari timings are 6AM-8 AM and 4PM-6PM. I suggest going on early morning safari as animal sightings could be more. Animals won’t be so active during the heat of the day.  Two days before we went, there was tiger spotted during safari which was mentioned on the board of ticket issuing office of Forest department. Safari charges are INR 450 per head usually 6-8 people are accommodated in a jeep.

kali tiger reserve

In around 2 hours of Safari we managed to see only Indian bison, Deer, Monkeys, Peacock, Indian giant squirrel. But the whole Safari experience was refreshing. Half way through the safari they stop at a view-point to catch the glimpse of the Majestic Western Ghats and its forests. We headed back to Home stay after the Safari to relax the rest of the evening and get ready for the next day’s action packed adventure 🙂

Day 2, I woke up early at 5:30 AM to have the Hornbill sightings near the home stay and I was not disappointed.

malabar pied hornbill
Near-threatened Malabar Pied Hornbill

After having breakfast we headed to the place which we were all eagelry waiting for! Yes, it’s white water rafting 🙂 there are different options like 1.5km rafting ( best rapid is covered in this) till 10km rafting costing from INR 500 to INR 1600 per individual. After rafting they take you to nearby natural river Jacuzzi.

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If you want to do further activities there is kayaking, Zorbing, Zip line above the river. We headed back to home stay for lunch. Vikram told us to cover Syntheri rocks post lunch which is around 35kms from home stay.

Syntheri rock is famous for 300 ft high monolithic granite structure. Road leading to this is unpaved and in really bad condition. Unless you are good behind the wheels I don’t recommend taking personal vehicle. Forest department charges entry fee of INR 5 per adult and INR 40 for Car. After parking the car you have to walk around 15 mins. There are steps and they have kept different types of stones with information all along the path. Getting down into water is very risky here. Also don’t get close to the water as there are millions of bees hovering around every second and you can expect shower of bee shit from the skies! It stinks badly so stay away!

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After returning from Syntheri rocks, we went to Supa Dam backwaters to catch Sunset. Nearby there is Kadumane ecoshop on Joida road. Here you can buy Appe midi pickles, chutney, honey, and other items. Don’t forget to have “Kokum Juice” there, its really good cooler for Summer.

Supa dam backwater
Supa Dam backwater

Day 3, Early morning we headed to the Timber Depot Dandeli to do some bird watching. Our guide Rajini was so sweet she explained us all different species of birds spotted there and helped us catch the live action of feeding behavior of hornbills. That was something really special. I would highly recommend for anyone who is visiting Dandeli to spend some time and appreciate these magnificent creations of God!

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Our time in Dandeli was coming to an end. But we had one more thing to do before heading back to Bengaluru. A visit to the rare black sand beach near Karwar. Yes you read it correct a black sand beach called Tilimati or Tilmati! Drive to Tilmati beach is around 3 hours from Dandeli (105 kms). You have to climb down towards the coastal area via Anshi Ghat. Roads are good though and the drive through Anshi national park will blow your mind away, it’s so green and noise free landscape.

Tilamati black sand beach
Tilimati black sand beach

After the sunset we started our journey back to Bengaluru. It was close to 1400 KM drive road trip overall with memories lasting forever 🙂 Do leave your comments and share the post. See you again in the next road trip post!

PS: Special thanks to my wife for encouraging me to write down the road trip experience and my cousins who made this trip a grand success. Last but not the least thanks to my darling MS Swift for the hassle free driving experience 🙂

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