Virgin forests to elusive panthers: A dream journey through Karnataka’s Kali reserve


With various functions these types of as trekking, wildlife watching, mountain biking, river rafting and tenting on the banking institutions of the picturesque Kali river on give, Dandeli in Karnataka is a best retreat for out of doors lovers.

My wildlife escapade commenced with a jeep ride by the moist, deciduous and semi-evergreen forests sprawling across the Kali Tiger Reserve, distribute in excess of an area of 1,300 sq km. Undulating streams, whispering bamboos, various wildlife and countless trekking tracts make the tiger reserve – which comprises locations of the erstwhile Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and Anshi Countrywide Park – a aspiration spot. Other than tenting in the lavish tents on the banking companies of the Kali river, Dandeli gives a wide range of activities these types of as forest exploration, trekking, wildlife observing, mountain biking and canyoning – making it a great retreat for outdoor lovers.

Other need to-sees are the roaring Virnoli Rapids, the splendid Supa Dam, the sinister Syntheri rocks, the Nagajhari viewpoint and the Shiroli peak, which is the greatest place in Uttara Kannada. Alongside with a stunning watch of the Nagajhari river joining the Kali, the Sykes stage offers a sweeping search at the deep valleys, thickly forested hills and the stunning sunset. This place owes its title to a British engineer, who learned it although doing the job on the Kalinadi Hydroelectric Energy Plant in the valley under.

The reserve lends most of its magnificence from its perennial lifeline, the Kali river and her tributaries Kaneri and Nagajhari, meandering via the dense forests. As it passes by the varied terrain, the majestic Kali is temperamental. It flows sedately in some stretches, and roars all over bends in other folks. It gives sustenance not only to the myriad flora and fauna of the park, but also to 1000’s of villagers outdoors the park.

The reserve shelters an astounding selection of wildlife. Although it is famed as the habitat of the elusive black panther, a slice of luck has to be associated to essentially sight a single. Typically, people make a number of journeys to the park for that just one glimpse. The reserve also shelters sloth bears and a little handful of tigers. I noticed a selection of spotted, sambar and barking deer, aside from gaurs and wild boars, all through the travel. But put it down to poor luck, we did not location a one elephant.

Just after a refreshing cup of tea in the evening, we set out for a 4-km coracle experience down the Kali river, which sweeps past the city of Dandeli. Drifting at an unhurried pace, we spotted a mugger crocodile basking in the sunshine on a protruding rock in the river. Out of the blue, it built a splash into the drinking water. At sunset, the riverside arrives alive with the birds at their chirping greatest. We found some of the winged creatures deftly circling in the sky, some traveling in a sample, all heading to roost. We sighted flocks of the great hornbill and the Malabar pied hornbill raucously roosting on the branches of trees and bamboo clusters alongside the financial institutions of the river. Grey langurs with their youthful types were being hopping from tree to tree, permitting out minimal hoots.

Great hornbills
Malabar pied hornbills on the banking companies of the Kali river | Dr Dinesh Kaushik

The next morning, a jeep ride of about an hour adopted by a trek brought us to Syntheri rocks, an idyllic picnic spot correct in the coronary heart of the forest, 22 km absent from the forest gateway. With the Kaneri river that originates in the Western ghats in Supa taluk gushing by its side, this monolithic granite framework is an brilliant sculpture of character. Wild animals come listed here to quench their thirst. A sufferer of erosion, large caves and crevices at the base line is household to a lot of beehives and pigeons. The location is really worth visiting for its sheer magnificence. We gazed at the hundreds of birds and bees that have colonised the countless nooks and crannies in the rock.

Syntheri Rocks, an awe-inspiring monolithic granite structure
Syntheri Rocks, an awe-inspiring monolithic granite framework | Susheela Nair

On our way back, we stopped for a even though at Dandakaranya, a normal forestland remodeled into a sprawling eco-park in the heart of the town. The park teems with deciduous, semi-deciduous and evergreen species of flora and 63 species of birds. Moreover a rose back garden rockery and a play place for kids, the park has a test checklist of practically 75 sorts of birds and 200 species of trees. The highlights include things like sculptures of characters from reputed Hollywood animated movies and Indian cartoons.

Dandakaranya Eco Park
Dandakaranya Eco Park | Susheela Nair

The Kulgi Timber Trails and Anshi Evergreen camps in the sanctuary also benefit a check out. The camps, both equally productive ecotourism ventures of the Karnataka Forest Department, have jungle safaris, nature schooling and tented accommodation to give. Make sure to stop by the herbarium, the properly-stocked library and the nature interpretation centre that residences a modest museum, in which the most chilling exhibit is the stuffed remains of a 13-ft-extensive cobra, caught in the place a couple many years in the past.

Camping on the banks of the Kali river
Tenting on the banking institutions of the Kali river | Susheela Nair

Very last in our agenda was white h2o rafting on some unpredictable stretches of the Kali river. Accompanied by a river guideline, we battled the swift currents in a rubber dinghy – oars in our arms, spray on our faces, and panic and trepidation in our hearts. On the way, we captured the diverse moods of the Kali at every turn. The thrill of the rapids and the breathtaking landscapes with occasional wildlife spotting created the encounter simply exhilarating.

Kali River Bridge
Kali River Bridge | Susheela Nair

Getting there: Nearest railhead is Dharwad (52 km)

By road: Daily luxury buses offered to Dandeli from Bengaluru, Goa, Belagavi, Karwar and Dharwad/Hubballi

By air: Goa – 2.5 hours

In which to keep: JLR’s Kali Wilderness Camp, Kulagi Timber Trails Camp, and Anshi Wilderness Camp run by the Karnataka Forest Department

Susheela Nair is an impartial meals, travel and way of life writer, and photographer dependent in Bengaluru. She has contributed material, content and visuals on food items, vacation, life-style, photography, environment and ecotourism to numerous reputed countrywide publications. Her writings represent a wide spectrum, together with guide books, brochures and coffee desk guides.


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