“I climb behind the steering wheel, I drive off immediately without once looking back; it’s a long journey, but it leads to freedom.” –Corinne Hofmann
Do you believe in the above quotes? Do you think you need a much-needed break from your monotonous life? I would then recommend you reading out my story on a road trip covering almost 1200 Km.
Before I begin narrating my road trip story, let me tell you that I have a full-time job with personal life and I get only weekends to travel and explore. One thing I have learned is, if you plan well and put in some effort, you can enjoy the best part of life as you aspire.
WHY LONG ROAD TRIP?
A long weekend was approaching, and it had been a while since I took a break from my mundane city life and spent some quality time with nature. Hence, it’s time to connect back to my real self, press that accelerator in full throttle and drive far-far away from the bustling city.
But what ideal location would fulfill my yearning for a calm, serene and adventurous experience, I did some research and decided upon this route Bangalore to Chikmagalur to Jog Falls to Gokarna & back to the city
DAY WISE ITINERARY
The day-wise itinerary, places we stayed at and activities we indulge in are as below:
- Day 1 – Drive from Bangalore to Chikamagalur
- Stay at Zostel.
- Sunset at Hirekolale Lake
- Day 2 – Visit Bababudangiri
- Drive from Chikamagalur to Jog Falls
- Stay at Mayura Hotel
- an evening at Jog Falls
- Day 3- Morning at Jog Fall
- Drive from Jog Falls to Gokarna
- Stay at Namaste Sanjeevni – Gokarna
- Evening at Kudle Beach
- Day 4- Gokarna Beach Hike
5. Day 5- Gokarna Zostel
- Drive back to Bangalore
DAY1: BANGALORE TO CHIKMAGALUR
Driving early is the easiest way to avoid traffic hence, we started the drive from Bangalore at 8 am. The drive to Chikmagalur via Bangalore-Hassan highway was very comfortable; also, it’s a toll road most of the way. With breakfast break on the highway, we reached Chikmagalur by 2 PM.
After hearing many positive stories and reviews about zostel, I really wanted to experience a community stay. Zostel is 7km from the Chikmagalur city bus stand and has options for a private room and a bed in a dormitory.
There is a cafe inside the campus that serves limited options; tea, coffee, omelet & Maggi for breakfast and veg/non-veg thali for lunch and dinner. Situated amidst the coffee and black pepper plantation, the place is very peaceful.
REVIEWS & CONCLUSION
The interiors are nicely done to give the place a traditional south Indian look, which gives it a very homely vibe. We stayed in a private room, which was spacious and clean, but the dormitories looked a little congested.
To conclude, the place has a lot of potentials and it felt like so much more can be done to add soul to this zostel. It’s a good place if you are looking for a budget stay away from the crowd and noise of the city.
SUNSET AT HIREKOLALE LAKE
After resting for some time, we headed to Hirekolale lake for sunset. The lake is around 20km from the city (paved tar road all the way) and took us 30 minutes to reach there. Surrounded by hills and coffee estate, it’s a pristine and peaceful place to spend your evening.
There are no activities on the lake, and that’s what keeps the water and surrounding so clean. If you have some time in hand, do stay post-sunset to have the lake all by yourself, enjoy the cool breeze and watch the mesmerizing sky sparkling with stars.
DAY 2: VISIT TO BABABUDANGIRI
Bababudangiri is located at 33km from the city and will take around 1-1.5 hrs to reach there despite a good cement road. The drive is beautiful, it’s an uphill drive with some steep hairpin bends; so be a little careful while driving.
I would highly recommend visiting here early morning to avoid the traffic, as the place gets crowded. If you need some peaceful time away from the crowd, the trick is to take the road less traveled.
HOW TO GET THE BEST VIEW
Once you reach the Dargah, there will be two ways, one on the right going up where most cars will be going, and the other one on left alongside the dargah boundary wall.
Take the road towards left of the dargah and drive till the road ends, there will be a small place on the edge to park your car/bike and post that walk on an unpaved path that goes up.
There you will find a small pond and a temple, walk past them towards the left and you will be amazed by the view. This is the most scenic place in Chikmagalur; carry some snacks and water. If you are like me, you will live to spend your day gazing at the lush green hills.
DAY 2: DRIVE FROM CHIKMAGALUR TO JOG FALLS
The distance from Chikmagalur to jog falls is around 205 km. We left Bababudangiri (Chikmagalur) by noon and with a lunch break on the way, reached Jog Falls by 5 PM. The most exciting part of the drive was the first 60 km on SH57 through western ghats.
STAY AT MAYURA HOTEL – JOG FALLS
We stayed at Mayura Hotel which is a KSTDC hotel located inside the jog falls entry gate. If you are visiting jog falls, I would highly recommend staying here as this is the only hotel inside the gate and you can spend all your time enjoying the beauty of the falls.
The best part is all rooms have a waterfall view. It’s difficult to get a booking here as there are only 8-10 rooms, so book in advance. The room tariff is fixed; the AC room would cost INR 4247 on weekend and INR 3539 on weekdays and non-ac rooms would cost INR 3539 on weekend and INR 2974 on weekdays.
You can book on the KSTDC website or booking.com. The rooms are very spacious, sparkling clean and have a huge window facing the falls. There is a cafeteria inside the fall entry gate for tourists that serve pretty good food.
You can only order room service for dinner and evening tea; for breakfast, you will have to go to a cafe. Overall a great experience and I would highly recommend if you plan to spend the night at jog falls.
AN EVENING AT JOG FALLS
We reached a perfect time for sunset, there is a sunset viewpoint at small walking distance from falls. The clouds were floating in the sky, to end the day with the most beautiful and serene picturesque view ever.
Post dinner we went for a walk and the sky was brightened up by millions of stars; this gave our exciting day a calm ending.
DAY 3 – MORNING AT JOG FALLS
We woke up at 6 am to see the sunrise at falls. The morning view of the fall is magnificent and peaceful. It’s the best time to click photographs as there are hardly any visitors at the early hours.
I did some morning yoga overlooking the falls, breathing in the cool fresh air; it was so refreshing. After 2 hours at falls, we headed to the cafeteria for morning tea.
DAY 3 – DRIVE FROM JOG FALLS TO GOKARNA
Gokarna is 110 km from jog falls and non-stop drive will take around 2.5-3hrs. Post breakfast, we checked out at 11 am and started drive to next & destination Gokarna.
Although it was a 2.5-3 hours’ drive, we took some detours and stopped on the way to explore the forest and surprise hike to the waterfall and reached Gokarna by 5 PM (our target was to see the sunset on the beach, and we made it).
The whole point of a road trip is to explore the unexplored & document our experience.
STAY AT NAMASTE SANJEEVNI – GOKARNA
We stayed for 2 nights at Namaste Sanjeevni. It is located at a walking distance from Kudle beach and there are no street lights so you will have to use torch while returning from the beach at night (it’s very safe though).
The resort has different categories of the room that serves everyone from the budget traveler to high spenders.
It’s a lush green resort which gives you the feeling of staying amidst nature. The added advantage is a swimming pool, which is well maintained and clean. There is no room service and no telephone provided in the room, so you will have to walk till reception if you need anything. This didn’t bother us much as we prefer eating at a restaurant where we can interact with other guests and staff.
The one thing that bothered me most was that the only option of drinking water was bottled water, there was no water filter from where guests can refill. I feel this was very environmentally unfriendly.
Overall a great experience, perfect location, great food, and friendly staff.
EVENING AT KUDLE BEACH
Kudle beach lies between the Om beach and Gokarna main beach. It’s a very calm and clean beach. We walked along the coast enjoying the breeze and the serene sunset.
The other less crowded option to enjoy the sunset and get a panoramic view of ocean is by walking up to the cliff through the White Elephant resort.
There are many restaurants along the shore for evening snacks and dinner. We retired at the shack for the evening where we enjoyed dinner listening to the sound of waves.
DAY 4 – GOKARNA BEACH HIKE
Gokarna beach hike covers 5 beaches in the order Kudle beach, Om beach, Half moon beach, Paradise beach, and Belekan beach. Kudle, Om and Belekan beach are accessible by the road whereas one can reach half-moon and paradise beach only by foot or boat. The one-way hike covering all beaches will take around 4-5 hours.
GOKARNA BEACH HIKE DETAIL
We drove to Om beach and decided to hike till paradise beach from there. Trek was straightforward, you start walking from Namaste cafe till the end of om beach, from there you will see a path climbing uphill. After 10 mins of climbing, you will see a breathtaking view of om beach, you can see the Om shape of the beach from up there.
It will take you 30 minutes to reach Half-moon beach. Trek from half-moon to paradise is a bit tricky, there will be a water stream that you must cross to find the actual path.
HOW NOT TO GET LOST?
If you feel like you are walking away from the coast then you are on the wrong path, just walk through the hills by the sea. If you don’t get lost like us, from half-moon beach you will reach paradise beach in 30 mins.
Water in paradise beach is calm, clean and perfect for swimming. If you plan to spend a couple of hours at the beach carry beach towels, snacks, and water. We spent around 3 hours there, as the sun was scorching, we decided to take the boat back to om beach.
Boats will be leaving almost every hour from paradise beach and will cost around INR 300 per person till Om beach. On our boat ride back, we saw a dolphin which made money spent on a boat all worth it.
DAY 5 – GOKARNA ZOSTEL
On day 5th, we planned to head back to Bangalore, but before heading back I wanted to check the Zostel of Gokarna, so we decided to have breakfast at Mantra cafe (which is part of zostel).
The Café is at less than a km from Kudle beach, located on a cliff overlooking the main Gokarna beach. The view from here was spectacular and the place has a very friendly vibe, seemed perfect for solo and group travellers.
I was so tempted to extend my travel and stay at zostel for a day, but unfortunately, the place was fully booked. One can spend a whole day sitting in the common area, lying on a hammock, enjoying the view.
BANGALORE FROM GOKARNA
Finally, all my attempts to stay back failed and it was time to head back to real life. We started driving back at 11 am and reached back to Bangalore by 11 PM.
Although the return journey was long, the roads were smooth and wide. The trip was very refreshing, and I was returning with loads of wonderful memories and stories.
SUMMARY & CONCLUSION
To summarize, road trips give you the freedom to move and explore at your own pace. The purpose of this trip was to rejuvenate, decouple from the day to day hustle of life and take a break.
I must say that I overachieved; 5 days, 1200 km, with INR 28K (for 2 ppl) less in my pocket and with priceless memories in my heart; I returned to my routine life fully energetic and ready to take on new challenges.
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