I am in love with Indian forests. Every holiday planned in India has always had a few days in the forests. Each forest is unique and it provides a great way of seeing the wild animals up close in their natural habitat. As part of our yearly end of the year holiday, my best friend Akshata and I decided to head to Dandeli.
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Dandeli is a town in the Uttara Karnataka district in the Western Ghats in the southern part of India. Dandeli is a natural habitat for wildlife. The wildlife includes tigers, black panthers, leopards, elephants, sambar deers, spotted deers, gaurs, and sloth bears. It is the second-largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka and was designated as the tiger reserve. The forest also has a rich variety of birds and reptiles.
How to get to Dandeli?
Unfortunately, there are no direct flights or trains from Bangalore to Dandeli.
- Train – The train runs from Bangalore to Hubli, which is an overnight journey. Trains can be booked at IRCTC website. And a cab/taxi or a car is required to reach from Hubli to Dandeli, which takes about 1.5 hours each way.
- We took a train from Bangalore and then a cab to reach Dandeli.
Note: Ensure to ask the staff of your stay. Sometimes they arrange for pickups from the train station.
- Road – The distance between Bangalore and Dandeli is around 478 kilometres and the driving takes about 8 hours. Even though this is the quickest and easiest way to reach Dandeli, it is still a lot of driving.
- Bus – There is a direct bus from Bangalore to Dandeli and it takes about 10 hours. Buses can be booked at Red bus website. This is best for an overnight journey.
Best Time to visit
The best time to visit Dandeli is during winters and summers which is from October to May. The summers especially make it easier to spot the wild animals. The best place to spot the animals is near the water bodies as animals come over to them to drink water during the day.
Even though rainy season makes it hard to spot wild animals, the forests look extremely pretty and amazing during the rains.
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Places to Stay
There are plenty of resorts and home stays in Dandeli. They cater for all kinds of travelers including the budgeted travelers. However, I can recommend the two resorts that I researched on:
Kulgi Nature Camp – Just outside the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is this nature camp. They have glamping options that provide a very adventurous stay in the camp. I stayed here during my first visit and I had an awesome time. The food was extremely delicious and the staff was very friendly.
- Contact number: +919900917123
Kali Wilderness Camp run by the Jungle Lodges – I really loved this camp. I stayed at this resort during my second visit and I must say that the service provided was excellent. The staff is very friendly and approachable. The food is part of the packages that they provide and I must say that the food is fresh and delicious. And the best part of this camp was that it is along the River Kali and it provides a great view of the river.
Be careful of the fresh water crocodiles as there are crocodiles in the river. The locals say that they have never harmed any humans.
Whistling Woods is another great option. They are closer to the rafting place and arrange for their own private rafting tours.
Things to do
There are plenty of things to do in Dandeli. I suggest staying in Dandeli for about 4 to 5 days to cover most of the touristy things.
All of the above activities can be arranged and booked through any of the hotels or resorts.
- White water rafting – A must-do is the White Water Rafting. The rafting is on the Kali River and is for 9 kilometers. It has 10 rapids with a scale of 3+. The guides take extra precautions and ensure that the participants are well taken care of.
- Forest jeep safari at Dandeli National Park – Even though it is difficult to spot wildlife in Dandeli because of the dense forest cover, jeep safari is a good way to explore the abundant flora and fauna.
- Coracle boat ride on River Kali – This is another must-do activity in Dandeli. The ride provides an ample opportunity to spot the Freshwater crocodiles and various water birds.
- Bird Watching – Dandeli may not be a mecca for bird watching, but is definitely no less in spotting the various colorful birds. It is famous for the Indian Hornbills and they can easily be spotted along with any water bodies or in the forest.
- Sinteri Rocks – It is one of the beautiful places that have amazing rock formations with underground river systems. It also has lots of beehives.
Note: The current of the water is high and dangerous and hence swimming is prohibited.
- Ullavi caves – The caves are said to be 3.6 billion years old. This is an awesome half a day trip and is done in combination with the Sinteri Rocks. The cliff of the caves is said to be around 1000 feet high and there are 1000 steps to reach the base of the caves.
- Kavala caves – Formed in the pre-historic times, these caves are made up of volcanic origins. There are around 375 steps to reach the caves and these are the best place to see the stalagmite formations of rocks.
Is it safe for solo female travelers?
Dandeli is extremely safe for solo female travelers. The staff at the camps and resorts are very friendly and they take good care of their guests. If traveling alone, I would arrange all my activities with the stay.
Even though Dandeli is very safe relatively, I would suggest that like any other place, it is best to take precautions especially at nights and trust your instincts. And do not venture into the forests alone as it is illegal and there are wild animals in the forests.
Dandeli remains as one of my most favourite places in Karnataka. I have already been there twice and I still crave to visit that place again. The place makes a very good weekend getaway and has so much to offer. I suggest everyone visiting this stunning forest.