Any nature lover would be thrilled to hear the news of sighting a Black Panther!

Any avid birder would be thrilled to hear the sighting of Great Hornbills!
Any adventure lover would be thrilled to hear about amazing experience of white water rafting in river Kali!

One recent weekend, we experienced all the three!
That was in Dandeli.

I never thought that accepting an offer to experience Dandeli for two days would turn out to be so exciting and fruitful! It is not that I was going there for the first time.

I had a nice time in 2006 when I attended the first meet if India Nature Watch at Kulgi Nature Camp, very near to Dandeli.

Dandeli is arguably one of the most bird rich areas of Karnataka. It is a paradise for birders and it doesn’t take much to fall in love with birds after seeing the big birds like Malabar Pied Hornbill and its bigger brother Great Hornbill!

If you want to see Malabar Pied Hornbills then Dandeli is THE place to be! You will find them almost everywhere!

Summer has set in and the dry deciduous forest region of Dandeli-Anashi Tiger Reserve is embracing the pale brown color all over its canopy!

Our visit to the Sunset point inside the National Park in the morning gave us a nice glimpse of the summer attire of this portion of the Western Ghats!

The occasional flight of Malabar Pied Hornbills and the sightings of Malabar Giant Squirrels dwelling the canopies are treat to watch standing on the Sunset point.

The view of the vista combined with the flight of the hornbills over the canopy will offset the disappointment of relatively scarce wildlife in the park.

White water rafting in river Kali is another experience that is a must if you visit Dandeli. The rafting is conducted by the folks of Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR).

The total distance of rafting is about 10kms and it takes a good 60-90 min to complete all the eight rapids.

We had a wonderful time watching hornbills fly across the river on many occasions and at one point in time one bird came and sat on a low hanging branch while our raft was just under it! That was thrilling. It was my closest encounter with the bird.

Sighting of Black Panther in the dawn was an experience of my lifetime! As we were all talking in the jeep about possibility of sighting wild cats in the wee hours of the morning and our jeep was hardly 100 meters from the resort this fella was walking on the road gracefully!

It took us quite sometime to realise what we were seeing is true! Our driver had initially thought that it was a sloth bear and I was so excited that I couldn’t utter a single word!

I slowly went near his ears and ushered that ‘My boy, it is a Black Panther!’. By that time he had also realised that and was equally shocked! It was the first encounter with the most elusive cat for him as well!

Murphy ruled again! It was very early morning…no light at all…our jeep’s head light was quite dim….and…the panther was Black! My camera started hunting to focus and my 300mm lens was of little use given the distance between us and the cat.

By the time my camera caught something to focus the fella had happily left the scene by leaving all the thrill behind! So in the end it was just the memories of the encounter and the thrill of its sightings which remained.

There are many places around Dandeli for tourists. We visited Syntheri Rocks, a small falls beside a very huge rock! A very nice place to spend the evening.

But it is not advisable to get into the water here as there are lots of casualties reported from past several years of people getting drowned in the water.

About The Author

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A passionate photographer and an avid nature lover with a special interest towards winged wonders - birds, a keen observer of the world around and a music lover whose bandwidth of interest spans from classical Hindustani to Metallica, a terribly slow reader and above all a true Cancerian! 🙂 You can follow me here.