Living close to a town rich with its flora and fauna for five years, I was bound to see the tranquil nature of Dandeli. With the majestic Kali river passing through the dense forests, an ecosystem with a variety of exotic animals stands in the village. Not to mention, it also serves as a hotspot for white water rafting and many other watersports. Here goes my post on the Dandeli travel guide.
I visited Dandeli with some friends years back. I distinctively remember calling the homestays, arranging the budget, and all the activities we’d do. It was the first itinerary I’d planned out and it turned out a marvelous adventure.
However, there’s much more to do in Dandeli now. One of the latest attractions is the Dandeli Crocodile Park, Karnataka’s first official Crocodile Park. With my experience in glimpsing the scenic spot, I hope this Dandeli travel guide helps you travel better.
5 Top Places to Visit in Dandeli
Travelers across India visit Dandeli for its water activities, wildlife safari, trekking, and ultimately take a break from their busy lives. Here are the 5 best places I clustered that cover all the things to do in Dandeli.
1. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary
For bird enthusiasts, this sanctuary homes around 200 bird species including the famous Indian Hornbill. However, another reason to visit the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is for the Wildlife safari organized by Karnataka’s forest department. They take you around the Kali Tiger Reserve (Anshi National Park) with buggies in scheduled time slots.
Expect to get a glimpse of more exotic creatures like elephants, deers, wild boars, sloth bears, tigers, and even the rare black panther.
2. Kali River
The infamous Kali river is the very reason for Dandeli’s recognition by tourists across the state. Don’t miss out on the water activities like kayaking, coracle rides, zorbing, ziplining, and of course, the 12 kilometers stretch white water rafting. I’d also recommend staying by the river where you can wake up overlooking the water stream!
3. Kulgi Nagzari Valley and other Trekking spots
Dandeli’s one of the savored trekking spots among the districts of Uttar Karnataka. They’re famous today and they have been for generations. The Kulgi Nature Camp run by the forest department hosts the 15-kilometers trek to the Kulgi-Nagzari Valley. While this is the longest trek for 8 hours, most trekking spots in Dandeli are relatively shorter.
4. Backwaters of Supa Dam
Walk on the picturesque spot of the backwaters of the Supa Dam in the evening. The backwaters road is blocked from end to end and is only available to walk across. It’s best to visit when the dams are full otherwise all you’ll find is dirt and sand for stretches with no water in sight.
While there isn’t much to do here, it’s great to breathe in the air after a long day of water activities in the Kali river.
5. Dandeli Crocodile Park
This is the latest edition of the places to visit in Dandeli. Visit the Dandeli Crocodile park, the latest addition to the Dandeli wildlife sanctuary. It serves as an animal shelter for various animals and it recently became open to visitors as an attraction with an amusement park. Oh, and it’s the first official crocodile park in Karnataka.
Budget for Dandeli Trip
How much does a Dandeli trip cost? Depending on how one spends on their trip, the budget varies for different travelers. As the spot has a wide range of hotels, activities, and rental services to pick from, the Dandeli trip cost for a 2 days trip can range from Rs.4000 to Rs.15,000 per person.
Here’s how one spends on a Dandeli excursion taking into account the essentials of transport, activities, and accommodation.
|Accommodation||Transport||Meals||Average Daily Budget|
|Budget Travel||Rs. 1000-1300||Rs. 280-350||Rs. 0-300||Rs. 1280-1900|
|Mid-range Travel||Rs. 1400-2000||Rs. 300-500||Rs. 0-500||Rs. 1800-3000|
|Luxury Travel||Rs. 3000+||Rs. 500-1200||Rs. 0-500+||Rs. 3500+|
Keep in mind that watersport activities, rafting, and trekking aren’t included in this.
Most people book packages including watersport activities, campfires, and meals where it’s hard to tell how much does the standalone prices of accommodation are. The higher budget accommodations include water activities along with meals. Thus the start of meal prices with Rs. 0.
Watersport Activities Budget
The cost of kayaking, zorbing, jacuzzi, river crossing differs from one adventure camp to another. Some price them individually while others have a package that includes all for a fair price. The 12 km river rafting stretch stands popular among all. It’s the most expensive activity from Rs. 500-1350 depending on the distance range and the rapid grade.
- Short-range rafting, 1-2 km (Approx. 30 min) -Rs. 500
- Mid-range rafting, 5 km (1-2 hr) – Rs. 1200
- Long range rafting, 7.5 km – Rs. 1350 – Source: Dandeli.org.
However, the prices and distance of rafting vary based on the travel agency, season, and difficulty of the experience. For beginners, several grade II rafting is available while grade III is difficult to get and requires expertise.
Dandeli Travel Guide: Where to Stay
With Dandeli known by most locals and less by people outside, many local sites offer accommodation here. But I’d recommend booking from a trusted source where they provide all essential details on the stay. One of my favorite sites, Booking.com lets you book first and pay after you check out the hotel.
Here are some reputable stays for a family vacation I picked out for you along with their pricing, distance from the city, and inclusive features:
Though some state summers are hot and itchy for vacation in Dandeli, I believe it’s more pleasant for water activities under the cool canopies of the thick jungles.
Distance from City
Nadi Mane Resort
Under Rs. 6000
Starling River Resort
Under Rs. 4000
Dandeli Deer Haven
Budget homestays in Dandeli
For all types of travelers, there are lavish family resorts to backpacking jungle homestays in Dandeli. As a budget traveler myself, I stayed in a homestay in Dandeli with pleasant home food for meals. Read my guide on choosing homestays in Dandeli.
For budget solo travelers, here are some great jungle camps I picked out i.e. homestays starting from Rs. 2000:
This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost of the products to you. I recommend products that I trust.
Trekking in Dandeli
The best trekking routes in Dandeli are the Kulgi-Nagzari Valley trek, Potoli-Shiroli Trek, and Kavala Caves.
As mentioned earlier, the Kulgi-Nagzari valley trek is the longest trek (and a high difficulty one) that runs for a 15-kilometer stretch. It’s an 8-hour trek guided and organized by the forest department-owned Kulgi Nature Camp.
Potoli-Shiroli Trekking Route: This is a medium-difficulty trek of 13 km that lasts for 5-6 hours.
Kavala Caves route: This is the most popular among all Dandeli treks with a 3-4 km (2-3 hrs) range. With the limestone caves originating from volcanic activity, there’s a naturally formed Shivalinga inside. It’s open to tourists to see it inside where you’ll be taken 40 feet through narrow tunnels.
How to Book a Trek?
Apart from the JLR Jungle Lodges site, there’s no separate official booking site for this trek. To request pricing, the only option is to call or meet at their office.
Many tourists book through local travel agents and sites which take care of booking your trek instead. The last I checked, Thrillophilia offered the Kulgi-Nagzari Valley trek for Rs. 990 per head.
Dandeli Travel Guide: What to Pack
There aren’t any hardcore essentials to carry to Dandeli. But some things to pack for Dandeli are:
- Cash: Online payment services don’t work in many places. You’re lucky if you have network here.
- First Aid Kit: Keep at least a pack of bandages and the minimal essentials in case of emergencies.
- Sunscreen – SPF 15 at min: The wildlife safari and rafting are under the scorching heat in summers.
- Flip-flops or Sandals: Keep a pair of quick release footwear for water rides. Shoes aren’t advised here.
- Sports shoes: Wear sports footwear when you head out for trekking or cycling in Dandeli.
- Waterbottle: Hold a drinking waterbottle when you head out for trekking or safari.
- Plastic Bags: To keep your post-watersport wet clothes.
- Sets of clothes: Pack clothes according to the length of stay and change of clothes necessary after water rides.
Dandeli Travel Guide: Things to Know Before you Go
Best Time to Visit Dandeli
Some say the prime time to visit Dandeli is the months of January and February while others say it’s best to visit during the entire windy winter period from October to February.
In contrast to the belief, we visited towards the end of summer in June 2019 avoiding the peak season and experiencing the pleasant climate. Leaving out the rainy season, any time of the year should be fine to visit.
Excluding the rainy monsoon months from July to September, the best time to visit Dandeli is between October and July. To avoid the peaks of winter, visit during the summers from March to June.
How many Days are Sufficient to Visit
2-3 days are more than enough to visit Dandeli. We visited Dandeli for 2 days and we managed to cover most of the watersport activities, visiting the backwaters, a walk through the forests, and a campfire in the evening. Don’t miss out on the river rafting and trekking in Dandeli.
While 2 days are wonderful for a short trip, another extra day will let you cover all the spots visiting the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, its Crocodile park, and of course the safari through the dense forests. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot exotic creatures like elephants, rare birds, or even a tiger!
How to Get to Dandeli
Dandeli is well interconnected with its roads. But if you’re getting there by other means, here’s how to get to Dandeli:
By flight: The nearest airports to Dandeli are the Hubli domestic airport (73 km) and the Belgaum airport (87 km). From Hubli, you can come via Dharwad through the Haliyal road and the SH 46. Get there by either by bus or a rented car.
How to reach Dandeli By train: The nearest train junction to Dandeli is the Alnavar junction (34.1 km). From Bangalore, Rani Chenamma express and YPR VSG express are available to Alnavar. While there are only a few trains to Alnavar, another alternative is the major Dharwad Railway Station where many trains pass by from Bangalore, Belgaum, Hubli, and Dhavangere. From here, buses and taxis are available to Dandeli.
How to reach Dandeli from Bangalore
From Bangalore, the preferred route to reach Dandeli is by bus from Yeshwantpur or Anand Rao Circle (Majestic). It’s typically a comfortable overnight journey (9 hr 30 min) with sleeper coach buses.
Use MakeMyTrip or Redbus to book your bus – some trusted availabilities are VRL Travels, Navadurga Prasad, and SRS travels. It costs anywhere between Rs. 550-800 depending on seat availabilities and the bus itself.
The fastest way from Bangalore to Dandeli is to take a domestic flight from the Kempegowda airport to Belgaum or Hubli (approx. 1 hr 30 min) and take a taxi from the airport directly to your stay in Dandeli.
Dandeli Travel Guide: How to Get Around
It’s best to have a four-wheeler to get around Dandeli. But there are many local rental services for both bike and car rentals. Before you call up one, request your accommodation or travel agency for transportation. Most budget packages don’t include the transport charges but it’s worth the shot. Well-known accommodations have alliances with transport services, so find out if they can facilitate you.
For a 4-5 seater economy car like Maruti Swift, Rs. 1500 is a decent price per day. Here’s a local cab rental site I found to rent out your cab. Call and request quotes on pricing for your desired dates.
Note: In case you’re driving by yourself, have a backup tire ready for emergencies as it’s tough to find a mechanic when you’re cruising through the woods on narrow roads. Speaking of narrow roads, go for a rental car only if you’re well-versed with driving.
Dandeli Travel Guide: Related Blog Posts
Here are some more articles I wrote on Dandeli as well as nearby districts of Dandeli: