Seeking an Alternative to Goa? Try Dandeli Instead
After you’ve basked in the sun, been sprayed by the surf and soaked in enough of the languor that Goa has to offer, maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit. For a slice of the wild, just take a slight detour from Goa and head towards Dandeli in the neighboring state of Karnataka. The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, located along the meandering Kali River, is perfect for a quick two- or three-day escapade as it is just 125 km from Goa.
Here are the top three things that make Dandeli an offbeat alternative to the tourist swarms of Goa.
The richness of the jungles
Dandeli is a town set in the midst of dense forests in North Karnataka that are home to animals such as the tiger, black panther, bison, deer, and the endangered Malabar Giant Squirrel. The forest is also a treat for birdwatchers, and an especially unforgettable one if you manage to catch a glimpse of the stately Malabar Pied Hornbill. If you’re keen on birding, book yourself into a resort in the Ganeshgudi area that has a dense forest cover attracting many bird varieties.
While the forest department runs a crack-of-dawn jungle safari in the Dandeli Wildlife Reserve, there haven’t been too many exciting game sightings reported from here because the forest is very thick in these parts of Karnataka. Most people return to tell you about the usual deer, wild fowl, bison, and monkeys that they managed to spot here. However, that’s not to discount the possibility that you might just get a fleeting view of the elusive tiger or Black Panther by a stroke of providence.
When: October to May is considered the best season for the wildlife safari.
How: The Forest Department conducts wildlife safaris in open jeeps in the Jungles of Dandeli. Early morning and late afternoon safaris are typically scheduled on most days of the week. You can easily book a wildlife jeep safari through most resorts and homestays in Dandeli.
Gushing water, rushing adrenalin
Most visitors that plan a trip to Dandeli do so to experience rafting in the gushing rapids of River Kali, but are pleasantly surprised by the beautiful jungle setting and rich flora and fauna. Besides white water rafting, you can also hire the services of a professional guide to kayak and rappel in the river. A coracle ride is a rather charming experience and is recommended if the idea of leisurely floating along the river, watching the birds groom their plumage by the banks appeals to you.
When: If you are keen on a thrilling rafting experience, the best time to visit is between November and June. However, there have been instances of rafting activities being called off on account of insufficient water levels. You can expect a full refund if this should happen during your visit.
How: In Dandeli, Jungle Lodges and Resorts and the Bison River Resort have partnered with certified adventure companies to conduct rafting activities. Before rafting begins, given a helmet, lifejacket and oars before you are split into a group of six or eight and directed to your respective rafts accompanied by a trained instructor on each raft. On the raft, you are briefly familiarized with commands that you will need to follow during the course of the activity. That done, you’re in for a thrill!
Retreat into nothingness
So, you’re not an adrenalin junkie, and neither do you label yourself as being a nature lover. You still have several reasons to visit Dandeli. Here, you can do nothing all day and still return with a feeling of contentment at having strolled along spice farms, taken a guided unhurried walk in the lush tropical forest, having been put to sleep by the mellow tweeting of birds, or having spent an afternoon fishing. You could ask your resort to arrange these activities.
How: Most resorts give you the option of engaging in activities such as a jungle walk, a visit to the local rock caves, or a barbecue. (Pssst…You might want to check if these activities are chargeable before you permit these to be added to your package!)
By air: Dabolim airport (145 kms); Check flights to Dandeli
By rail: Alight at Londa (52 kms), Hubli (74 kms) or Belgaum (90 kms)
By road: Goa (125 kms), Pune (423 kms), Bangalore (459 kms)
Written by Anuradha Mane Wadhwani; Photo Credits – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dandeli_1.jpg