Posts tagged nature

Bangalore to Dandeli – A Day in the Dandeli Jungle Camp

From Bangalore to Dandeli Jungle Camp

Our Dandeli trip started with a bus ride from Bangalore to Dharwad. Dharwad to Dandeli is about 55 km, and we booked a bus to Dharwad instead of Dandeli for we couldn’t find any direct ac and sleeper bus from Bangalore to Dandeli.

The bus journey was like any other night stay, except the desperation of the travelers for the occasional pee halts. If you ever use the sleeper buses in India, remember that you will sleep well but also remember to pee before you board the bus. And irrespective of how sleepy you are, if the bus stops in between and the conductor shouts that they are stopping for the toilet, drag yourself out of that questionable blanket and make use of the break. You never know when the bus will stop the next time.

Our bus journey was about 10-hour, and when I opened my eyes, we were approaching the Dandeli town. Now, we had to make way to the Dandeli Jungle Camp.

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Kali Adventure Camp – A Day on the Banks of Kali River, Dandeli

Introduction to Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and Kali Adventure Camp.

Though just 100 km from Goa, Dandeli is mostly absent from the travel itineraries of Indian and foreign tourists. Whenever I ask my foreign friends about their India tour, they mention Varanasi, Hampi, Goa, Dharamshala, Amritsar, Jaipur, Spiti Valley, Kerala, but never do they speak about Dandeli wildlife sanctuary. Even most of the Indian travelers visiting South India don’t have Dandeli in their list of places to visit in Karnataka. 

What is to be seen in Dandeli? What is Kali Adventure Camp?

Dandeli is a city in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, India.

I have spoken in detail about the Dandeli town in my article on Dandeli Jungle Camp where I stayed deep inside the Dandeli forest. But to give you an idea, Dandeli city is located in the Western Ghats, and the entire surrounding area of Dandeli is a forest. 

This 1200 square km forest is known as Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary or Dandeli National park, which is also known to be the second-largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka. Kali Tiger Reserve, that was previously known as Anshi National Park or Anshi Tiger Reserve, is part of the Dandeli Sanctuary. The sanctuary is now under the protection of the Karnataka government. 

As Dandeli lies in the Western Ghats, you can expect the forest to be dense and hilly. From a high viewpoint in the Dandeli wildlife safari that I took later, I saw how thick the forest was. 

The sunlight never reaches some parts of the forest, our guides from the Kali Adventure resort told us. I didn’t doubt them for I saw cauliflower-florets-like trees standing neck to neck fighting for space and air on all the rolling hills of Dandeli sanctuary. From that far, I didn’t see even an inch of empty ground.

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Your Appetizing Penang Travel Guide – Delectable 3 days in Penang 

What to do in Penang in 3 days

    1. Introduction to Penang
    2. 3 days in Penang — My Penang itinerary to fun and food-filled trip to Penang.
    3. Day 1 — Art, Street food, and historical places to see in Penang
    4. Day 2 — Penang hill, Clan jetties, and a seafood dinner at hawker center with live music.
    5. Day 3 — Penang National Park for nature or Hin Bus Depot for street art and Batu Ferringhi beach to end the day with a golden sunset and good food.
    6. Have only two days in Penang?
    7. Important information – Planning your trip to Penang
    8. Where is Penang Island?
    9. Where to stay in Penang city?
    10. How to reach Penang, Malaysia?
    11. What is the best time to visit Penang Island?
    12. Where to exchange currency in Penang?
    13. What would be your Penang trip budget?
    14. Resources to help you visit some of the Penang famous places.
    15. Supplementary reads to this Penang Travel Blog

Introduction to Penang 

After a short walk under the bright sun from the bus stand to my guesthouse in Georgetown at Lebuh Carnarvon, I put my bags in my room and went out for a stroll. For those who don’t know, Georgetown is the capital of Penang state or the Penang island.

I was famished after a long bus drive from Taman Negara, and Carnarvon street seemed like the right place to be. Little did I know that soon I was to be lost in the labyrinth of the streets of Penang flaunting exquisite art and some delicious Penang food.

The streets seemed empty, and I wondered if there were any tourists. A friend had questioned my Malaysia trip by saying that the only thing to see in Malaysia was Penang.

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Timeless Places to See in Hampi, Karnataka – India’s Unforgettable Ruins

Lost in the lost kingdom of Hampi. 

Everyone travels to Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to see the ruins of the ancient Vijayanagar empire that was once the richest, they say. But I didn’t visit Hampi just to see the ruins. My favorite part about Hampi was the nature that cradles Hampi in her lap as if sympathizing with her for the tragedies the empire suffered.

Also, this was not my first time in Hampi, and I was better informed about the place.

My first trip to Hampi from Bangalore was about a few years ago. Back then I had made a list of places to see in Hampi that included the main Hampi attractions such as the Virupaksha temple, the Vitthala temple, and the other ruins that form the groups of monuments at Hampi. That was a three-day Hampi trip from Bangalore that only left me wanting to see more of this archaeological wonder of the South.

When I traveled to Hampi the second time recently, I didn’t make a Hampi itinerary. Why?

When you Google search about Hampi, you are bound to get overwhelmed by the number of things to do in Hampi. Hampi images filled with historical buildings and unbelievable boulder arrangements amidst a lush spread of fat palm and tall coconuts would not only leave you amazed but bewildered.

I feel you.

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Manali to Naggar – Time Traveling in Himachal

Manali to Naggar Village, Himachal Pradesh.

Who would think that just 20 km away from Manali, India’s top tourist destination, lies the Naggar village, a town that refuses to think beyond stone temples, apple orchards, and wooden huts accommodating both cows and their humans equitably.

Manali to Naggar bus ride took about an hour. After roaring along with the Beas river for a while, the bus passed through tiny countryside settlements halting at them shakily. Call those clusters of country houses a hamlet or a village, but more often then not the bus had to stop for cows unabashedly crossing the roads or villagers dashing to the opposite side with baskets of farm-fresh apples on their heads.

Once you get down at the main road at which Naggar village peeks from the high Himalayan hills that rise above the Beas valley, one has to trudge up a steep uphill road to get close to any of the Naggar’s many historical attractions some of whose origins are still unknown.

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Hiking in Dharamshala – Under the Rhododendrons and Into the Icy Summits

During the six weeks that I lived in the Bhagsu village of Dharamshala, hiking in Dharamshala was one of my favorite activities. 

On a sunny day when I was walking from Bhagsu village towards Mcleodganj, the idea of going to Mcleodganj seemed mundane, and I took a detour. Instead of continuing going straight to Mcleodganj, I took the road on my left that went downhill.

I had seen the road many times before and had wondered about its destination. But that day the road seemed to promise the solitude I was looking for. Hell, we all know I wasn’t going to get much peace in Mcleodganj unless I strayed away in its back lanes.

When I had walked downhill for a while, the road disappeared after leading me to a cluster of few tiny houses. Where was I to go then?

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Not Your Typical Travel Guide to Parvati Valley

The Ravishing Parvati Valley.

Originating from the popular Mantalai Glacier below the Pin Parvati pass in Himachal Pradesh, Parvati river flows unrestricted towards the West to merge with her sister Beas at Bhuntar. On her way Parvati curls through the Himalayas to form a gorgeous valley which is known as Parvati Valley.

Villages of Kasol, Manikaran, Shilha, Barshaini, Gargi, Kalga village, Pulga are dotted around the rich banks of the curvy Parvati. Apart from the Pin Parvati, many high treks also rise up from the Parvati basin to meet the higher Himalayan peaks and snowy villages at their summits.

But from where does the Parvati river gets her name? Legends say that long time ago Lord Shiva meditated in the mountains for about 3,000 years. Oblivious of his landscape, he continued to meditate, only to open his eyes one day to realize that he was in a gorgeous valley. He called the valley Parvati, after his wife.

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Why I Ran Away From the Gorgeous Shila Village in Parvati Valley

Shila – A Timeless Village Ruined by Smokers

It was nothing less than perfect. A velvety green path going up to a small hut. A river flowed below while lush fields swayed with the wind. A deep blue sky watched from above. Snow-capped mountains peaked from a distance.

But even a storm of beauty couldn’t keep me hooked to Shila, one of the most beautiful villages I have ever seen. Do you want to know why?

Here goes my story of running away from Shilha village.

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Kalga to Kheerganga via Bunbuni Pass– Offbeat in Parvati Valley

When I was in Kalga in Parvati valley, I had almost decided to not go for the famous Kheerganga trek because almost every local and traveler I met talked about Kheerganga. As you might already know I don’t like going to the most visited places. This arrogance to avoid the touristy destinations further deepens when it comes to trekking.

The idea of hiking for me translates to strapping a small backpack on my back and then setting off into the forest and figuring out my way on the go. Sometimes I don’t even care if the trail takes me anywhere significant or if I am on a must-do hike as long as I am in nature.

The boisterous young boys trekking in Parvati Valley who told each other that they completed trekking Kheerganga in a couple of hours and they couldn’t have done the same if there was a girl with them further pushed me away from the mainstream hikes towards offbeat paths.

Suggested Read: My experience of hiking an active Chilean volcano – Climbing Volcano Villarrica

When a friendly guy at a supermarket in Kalga, also known as Kalgha, asked me if I wanted to join him and his friends for Bunbuni trek, I agreed. Of course not without first asking him if they carried loudspeakers and rushed towards their destination.

I already knew that Bunbuni — also known as Bhunbhuni or Bun Buni or Boon Booni — is vast open green meadows high up in the Parvati Valley.

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Kalga Village – You Won’t Believe Until You See

From the Sun-Kissed Balcony of Kalga Village, Himachal Pradesh.

Almost deaf with the loud music that blasted out of the speakers of Indian travelers who visit Kasol to escape the Delhi heat, I ran out of Kasol after staying there for a night. A steep uphill walk took me to the village of Shilha, a tiny apple village that seems to be pasted to the slopes of a beautiful green hill. Only I didn’t know that the speaker lovers from Delhi had discovered Shilha and were smoking away in the few guesthouses of Shilha village.

I gave up and joined the groups of Indian boys around a bonfire under a starry night. But rigid about running away from people who couldn’t appreciate the silence of Parvati valley, I strapped my bag and walked towards Kalga the next morning.

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How I Survived the Villarrica Volcano Hike

The alarm rang at 3:30 in the night. I peeked out of my blanket into the dark dorm room and wondered why I had decided to hike the 2,800-meter high volcano. Just then Alison, my Canadian friend, who was sleeping on the lowest bunk bed opposite me, snoozed the alarm on her iPhone, mumbled something, opened her eyes for a second, and then pulled the blanket over her head again. She was the one who made me signup for the Villarrica Volcano hike, the active volcano which had erupted a year ago.

I shut the alarm and got out of bed. Alison followed me. Though November is a summer month in Chile, Pucon, a city in the lake region, wasn’t that warm, especially at that early hour of the day. After barely washing our faces with the cold water, we walked to the cherry tree in the hostel where ten other hikers were following the directions of the Volcan Villarrica tour guides. We wore a pair of waterproof trousers over our track pants and strapped our rucksack in which we carried the rest of the gear on our backs. Then the twelve of us walked to the minivan that was to drive us to Villarrica 30 kilometers out of town.

I don’t know if I felt secured or alarmed when Alejandro, one of our three tour guides, told us that after the eruption in 2015 the government had mandated that there should be a guide accompanying every four trekkers.

After driving for an hour, we reached the base of Villarrica. Even at that wee hour, the area was flooded with minivans and travelers who wanted to climb the volcano. Until then I didn’t know that climbing volcano Villarrica is the sole reason for some of the tourists to visit Pucon, the city which Lonely Planet refers to as the mecca for adventure sports. And why wouldn’t it be? You can do river rafting, kayaking, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, and so much more in the bustling lake town of Pucon.

Recommended Read: My experiential travel guide to Chile

I craned my neck to look up to the summit. The twilight was dissolving away the darkness of the night. A rotund moon watched us from above. From its base, Rucapillán, or the house of the Pillán, (the Mapuche name of Volcano Villarrica) indeed looked like a superpower, an undefeatable giant.

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Why You Must Visit Santa Cruz –The City of the Rich in Bolivia

When I had stuffed myself with enough streetside potato empanadas, I flew from La Paz to Santa Cruz. My dream was to see the wild jaguars in the forests near Santa Cruz, amongst the many other things to do in Santa Cruz Bolivia.

Drifting off through a one-hour flight and waking up to chew upon the dry fruits that the Boliviana de Aviación attendant served, I landed at the Viru Viru international airport and hopped onto the airport shuttle to go to the central plaza. My travel friend was staying in a fancy hostel there.

As always, I had not read much about Santa Cruz. But my curiosity to talk to the local people makes up for my lethargic online research, mostly. In a casual conversation, the manager of the Santa Cruz airport shuttle told me that Bolivia was still furious about losing the Pacific coast to Chile. He added that the elite businessman and politicians of that wealthy city we were in had stopped caring as they were busy securing their bank balances.

And that is how I was introduced to Santa Cruz, a city where you would forget that you are in Bolivia, if not for the cholitas selling sinful salteñas on the roadside.

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