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Monday, 16 January 2017

Dandeli | My days in the jungle



The search is never-ending.      

When you’re drawn to water in all of its forms, you’re continuously looking for River Gods, observing river volumes and river beds, and waiting for that opportunity to actually feel the drops.
Kayaking on Kali
The inclusion of a Dandeli adventure into our South Indian one started with a documentary on Kali River. It dealt with the journey of a grandmother and of a grandson to the source, where Kali goddess would be honoured. Their journey took them along remote villages, electric green rice fields, and paths hidden in the jungle.
I wanted to be there, to experience it on my own! And Marcel agreed. We started searching for accommodation and decided that Dandeli Chalet would be perfect for us!
@Dandeli Chalet
After the monkey-dotted ride from Goa and the kind welcome, we realised that it truly was. Green, warm, authentic. As was our garden walk. We did learn a lot of things on spices right before the first mosquito attacks of that evening. Our dinner was surprising and very pleasant, not only through the food and its not-so-spicy versions – thoughtfully provided, but through the delightful two Indian families joining us, as guests. We shared travel memories and dreams, opinions on our nations, and laughed a lot.
Shade on Kali
An early wake-up followed. Except for the girls, who decided to have some extra-hours of sleep, we were all eager to conquer the 6:45am mist, walk around, get the chance to spot the jungle birds and potentially have an encounter with hornbills, up-close. [That was Marcel’s great wish. It came true on our way back, in the closest tree to our lodges.] It was the birthday of one of our new friends, so laughter continued throughout the day. We were enjoying some games after breakfast when we got the news that the water level was low and that there was no chance for rafting. Kayaking, however, could be done. I had some convincing to do, but – while our friends went for some more birdwatching , we finally experienced Kali. The conditions were not the greatest: not a large area to paddle in, old and unkept gear, dizzying heat. But the drops were as I thought they’d be and Kali was even more beautiful than I imagined the river – dark green, clear, and somewhat mysterious. And we were able to see it again from above when we went searching for the backwaters. We found them snaking in a rugged landscape that reminded Marcel and I of the Scottish Highlands.
Kali Tiger Reserve viewpoint
One thing I hadn’t realised until that morning was the proximity to Kali Tiger Reserve. I do admit that spotting a black panther or a tiger would have been extraordinary, so safari we did! In a vehicle large enough to carry us all. Thanks to our resourceful guide, it was also the first vehicle to leave the base. It felt very relaxing to get your sight onto the (sometimes) steep red-earth road contrasting with the vegetation green and not let go. We did see spotted deer, turtles, peacocks, but the felines lay hid. A beautiful surprise was the viewpoint, which offered a glimpse of the jungle’s vastness. And I realised again how small we, people, are before the greatness of the nature.      
Our evening was spent swapping stories and smiles around a campfire and by the time the morning came with yet another delicious meal and our driver to Hampi arrived, it felt hard parting. It was as if leaving a real family behind.  

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