If you're planning to visit Dandeli, here are a list of activities you can indulge in.
Try white water rafting.
Kali river is one of the best places in India to try rafting. Rafting will be suspended during peak monsoon months (July-October). Best time to try rafting here would be November to Feb. There were two-three operators earlier, but currently only one organizer conduct rafting here. In coordination with dam authorities, organizers get some water released few moments before the rafting starts. This ensures some extra water and extra fun.
Rafting can be booked via travel agents like Dandeli.com or via your resort. Advance booking is recommended for weekends. Current cost is Rs 1400 per person. About 9 people are allowed per raft and there’re about 10-12 rafts when we visited. Expect water levels to dip a bit if you happen to be on last few rafts. [Related: we were made to wait for an hour in the forest by JLR)
Other water sports: Kayaking, boat rides. There’re more activities like rappelling, but these need to be planned in advance in consultation with organizers. A group might be needed or activity could be seasonal or subject to organizers’ availability.
Dandeli is famous for its birds-primarily the hornbill. Don’t expect them to come and pose in front of you but if you have some time and patience, you’re sure to spot one. Some resorts like Old Magazine house has a dedicated facility for bird watchers. Provisions are made to feed the birds with food and water and photographers can watch from a distance, separated by a net, so that birds don’t get disturbed. You’re very likely to find groups of bird watchers with their super bazooka lens here. Kattige depot near Dandeli town is also good place to watch birds. You’ll also see Indian Rollers and Malabar giant squirrels aplenty.
It is a scenic place where a river flows below a gigantic rock. Dangerous place to swin but good place to relax for a while. Read more about Syntheri rocks here (coming up)
Sunsets: There’re few very good places to watch sunsets. I clicked few from a rock inside private property of Kadu Mane estate, while S R bhagavat viewpoint and another one near Old Magazine house are very popular for this
Forest Safari: Dandeli forest is famous for black panther sighting. But you should be lucky to spot one. Probablity of sighting animals is much lower, compared to Safaris in say Nagarahole forest near Mysore.
Tribal visits: If meeting tribal communities interest you, get in touch with folks at Dandeli.com. They can organize a few visits. Read a post by Sankara Subramanian on this topic.
Doodhsagar falls: Scenic Doodhsagar falls is less than 100kms from Dandeli. You can leave early morning and come back by evening. However, for best experience go there immediately after monsoon, not after November.
Nature walks & Trekking: Just a simple walk around the trees early in the morning can be highly refreshing, accompanied by chirping sound of birds. Don’t be lazy, go for a nature walk.
But note that each activity can take about half a day, so plan your duration depending on what all you’d like to do. For a more exhaustive list, check this link.
Other nearby places to Dandeli
Karwar (100kms), Goa (150kms), Unchalli falls (150kms ), Yana (180 kms)
Goa is the nearest and practical airport at 150kms. Hubli is another airport (just 75kms) but there aren't too many flights to Hubli except one spicejet late evening flight from Bengaluru.
By Train from Bangalore-Rani Chennamma Express (Alight at Alnavar) or take trains to cities like Hubli, Dharwad, Karwar, Belgaum etc, which are in about 100kms from Dandeli
By Road: Not much direct buses to Dandeli from Blr- take a bus to any of the above cities and take another transport.
Places to stay: Old Magazine House * Kali Adventure Camp * Dandeli Jungle Camp * Kadu Mane * Hornbill resort, Kamats and half dozen other resorts provide stay options suiting various budget needs