The sudden jerk woke me up and when I looked out of the window, sensed the bus was nearing Dandeli as the wide highways had given way to mud roads and lots of greenery. The sun had just risen and I was far away from pollution, traffic snarls and malls, inching closer to Dandel- Anshi wildlife sanctuary. Kali is definitely one of the best rivers in the country to enjoy river rafting and Dandeli has for the last many years acted as the base camp for adventure enthusiasts. People majorly see Dandeli as a adventure destination with options like river rafting, flying fox, rappelling, rock climbing etc being offered by all resorts. I however, wanted to stay away from all the adventure. Wilderness is what beckoned me to Dandeli and I pretty much wanted to see 'the Dandeli', which most visitors miss out on.
Mr. Dharmesh, the owner of Dandeli jungle camp, where I was put up, drove us to his resort, 11 Kms from Dandeli town. Nice curvaceous roads with intermittent settlements came to an end when the jeep took a detour onto a mud road. I could feel wilderness engulf as that road cut through a small forest patch. Nestled beautifully in the lap of nature, with macaques, giant malabar squirrels, hornbills and a few other avian species for accompaniment, is Dandeli jungle camp. The cottages are clean, have a rustic charm with basic facilities and definitely keeps you comfortable in the wild.
|Mud road to the resort|
|Malabar giant squirrel|
|Supa dam backwaters|
|Expansive vistas of western ghats|
|Malabar pied horn bills|
After a peaceful sleep that night, the next day began early with a jungle walk with Purushotham, my young guide. As we walked along the same mud path, he too mentioned about bear sighting on that road. The animals need to cross the path to get to the water hole and that is the reason for frequent sightings. However, he mentioned that the bears were not harmful and run away on hearing the smallest of noises. We trod on to a different path which led to a forest patch. There was a frail jungle trail that we followed. It was early morning, sun had just woken up and the forest looked gorgeous as the rays of light filtered through the canopy. Many trees were semi leafless and the two of us made noise as we trampled over the dry fallen leaves on the path. Looking at those deciduous trees, I told myself that forests look beautiful even when they are not thick green. A different perspective to natures beauty. We spotted a a few bear claw marks on the ground on the way. As we went deeper, all that we could hear were a few hornbills call out to their mates and the sound of the dry leaves under our feet. Nothing else. We cut through the forest patch to reach the main road and then crossed over into main forest area. Greeted by a langur and a couple of malabar giant squirrels, I followed my young guide who was quite familiar with the route. I was a bit apprehensive as there was hardly any trail and I blindly followed Purushotham. Shortly, we entered a huge open area, where we spotted a couple of wood peckers and remains of iron ore mining. It was deep jungle beyond that and with not even a stick to shoo away any surprise encounter, I contemplated about the walk ahead. However, the adventurer in me woke up and we trod on a directionless trail (atleast, that is what I thought). My guide, though a teenager was quite good at identifying paw marks and we found more animal (bear, jackal, elephant) droppings (some were quite fresh) as I followed him. We went deep for a while before getting back on to the main road, luckily without any encounters and unluckily without any sightings.
|Malabar giant squirrel|
After breakfast, I was back at Kali adventure camp for a coracle ride on Kali river. Again, this is organised only by Jungle lodges and resorts. As I was about to enter the coracle, Anand, the boat man smiled and asked if my camera had a good lens. I said yes and he asked me to focus on the other bank and zoom. I could not understand what he wanted to show me. He took the camera, clicked, and showed me the picture. A crocodile basking in the sun! As we enjoyed the coracle ride soaking in the lovely surroundings, my boatman spoke about the numerous birds that are found there and the large number of crocodiles that enjoyed being in Kali river. We paddled against the flow of the river and spotted egrets, a malabar horn bill couple, a wool necked stork, a black cormorant and a brahminy kite. We slowly made our way to the opposite bank, where the crocodile we spotted earlier was still lurking. Sighting the crocodile from close quarters was an exciting experience and it happily posed for us without a move with its half open mouth. We spent more time enjoying the coracle ride and then headed back to the bank.
|Wool necked stork|
There are more activities like honey bee interactive session and tribal interaction which might interest the travellers. However, I had to miss out on those due to various reasons. I would definitely come back to this less explored wildlife destination to spend more time in its wilderness and to experience all those adventure activities that I decided to give a miss this time.
Dandeli.com is a comprehensive website which helps travellers visit this wonderful wildlife destination and makes their stay a memorable one. For more travel information, booking and reservation, please contact Mr.Ramnath at 09449244567 or Mr.Sanjay at 09902474761. You can mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signing Note- Unexplored wilderness...!!
Route- Bengaluru- Tumkur- Davengere- Haveri- Kalghatgi- Haliyal- Dandeli
Distance- 465 Kms
P.S.- I was invited by Mr.Rajesh from Dandeli.com to visit Dandeli.