The Netravati Trek is a popular trek among the trekking circles of southern India. It has become popular in recent times as an alternative to Kudremukh Peak.
Netravati Trek is located in Chikmagalur district and is sandwiched between Samse and Belathangady.
The Netravati Trek gets its name from the Netravathi River, which originates at the base of the Netravati peak.
This is one of the few treks in Karnataka with excellent views throughout the trek. With rolling shola grasslands on all sides of the trek. From the summit, you get a birds-eye view of the smaller towns in Belthangady town.
The trek can be done by fit beginners. It will test your endurance, even if you are an experienced trekker. Just like you, we love trekking! And this is a trek we've documented in great detail to help you do it on your own.
➤What to watch out for
Views of some of the most prominent peaks of the Western Ghats.
The Netravati Trek is a paradise in itself. You can see the clouds playing hide and seek with the views of the beautiful rolling hills. These rolling hills are nothing but some of the most prominent peaks of the western ghats. If the clouds are clear, you will get to see Kudremukh Peak on your right and Rani Jhari on your left. Far on the horizon, you will also see other prominent peaks.
Kudremukh Peak (far center). Picture by Panchami Gaitonde
The shape and pattern of clouds at Netravati change every minute during the monsoons. It is probably one of the best places in Karnataka to view and enjoy the clouds. During the monsoon months, the southwest monsoon winds, along with the clouds, strike directly on the mountains and rise along the slope, creating a magical scenery for the viewer
Dense Shola Forest
Shola is the name of the high-altitude grasslands and shrublands that are found in the western ghats. You have to trek through the Shola forests to reach Netravathi Peak. The shola forests and grasslands are filled with various species of flora and fauna. If you are lucky, you might get to witness this beauty. Netravati has a few of the
Fog rises from above the shola forest. Picture by Amoga Vigram P
The Netravathi Trek can be divided into three sections.
- Walk from the forest office to the 2 tier waterfall.
- A walk along the canal to the stream crossing from 2 tier waterfall.
- Stream to Netravati Peak.
Section I: Trek from the forest office to 2-tier waterfalls.
Trek Distance: 2.5 km
Trek Duration: 1 hour
You start your trek on a rocky section with an ascent that flattens out as you reach the two-tier waterfalls. This is your water source for drinking water.
The trail to the waterfall is well-marked, with a couple of gradual ascents and descents. You might come across herds of grazing cattle from the nearby villages.
During heavy monsoons, the flow of water on the waterfalls may be extremely high, and it becomes quite difficult to cross the waterfalls without getting wet.
This waterfall is a perfect source of water.
Section 2: Two-tier waterfalls to the stream
Trek Distance: 3.5 km
Trek Duration: 45 minutes
As you navigate through the forests, you can hear the sounds of a canal that goes to the neighboring villages for irrigation.
If you look to your left, you can see Rani Jhari Cliff, along with Ballalrayana Durga Fort on your left. That's another trek that can be done.
The canal is connected to a stream uphill to send water. After a kilometer, you need to take a diversion to your left. After a short descent into the forest and a couple of gradual ascents and descents, you reach the stream.
You can remove your shoes and walk on the water for a few meters.
During peak monsoons, the level of water in the stream may be high and might be difficult to cross.
Rani Jhari and Ballalarayana Durga are seen along the way to the stream. Picture by Panchami Gaitonde
Section 3: Stream to Netravathi Peak through many false peaks
Trek Distance: 1.00 km
Trek Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes
This is the best part of the trek. You start trekking through the grasslands and get a 360° view of the rolling hills all around you. It's a steep climb along the shola grassland from here. You cross multiple false peaks to finally reach the summit. At one point during the climb, you will feel like the climb is not ending.
Fog rises from above the shola forest. Picture by Amoga Vigram P
From the summit, you will see a few of the prominent peaks of the western ghats. If the clouds are clear, you will get to see Kudremukh Peak on your right and Rani Jhari on your left. Far on the horizon, you will also see other prominent peaks. You get to see the little towns and villages of Belthangady directly below you.
➤The best season to do the Netravathi Trek
The best season to do the Netravathi trek is from June to February.
During monsoons, you will witness the lush greenery of the region of Kudremukh in its full glory. The trek can be extended until the summer season when most of the trek has a mix of brown and green. You will have much clearer views compared to the monsoon season. Post-monsoon or winter are the best seasons to do the Netravathi Trek.
The region receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon season. If you want to take this up as a monsoon trek, be ready with all the right gear. The difficulty of the trek also increases if you go during the peak of the monsoon. Please be wary of blood-sucking, friendly monsters The Leeches.
Difficult sections on the Netravathi Trek
The Netravathi trek is of easy to moderate difficulty.
One way, the trek will be close to 7 km. So, covering close to 13 to 14 km in a single day can be a test. However, we recommend long walks before you do the trek for the best experience
There are no difficult sections, but note down a few things to remember while trekking.
- Trekking in the forest section can be slippery. Make sure you wear proper trekking shoes and a trekking pole.
- Crossing the streams in the forest section can be a bit tricky. Watch out for rocks covered with moss. Any small twists or sprains will be difficult to endure or evacuate on the trek.
- The final stretch to the peak of Netravathi will be very steep. Go slow, take one step at a time, and enjoy the view on your way up.
Trekking poles on the trek are highly recommended.
➤How to reach Netravathi Trek
The Netravathi trek starts in a small village called Samse.
This is about 14 kilometers from Kalasa.
Reaching Netravathi by your own vehicle
If you are planning on reaching Netravathi using your vehicle from Bangalore, you can use this link to help set up navigation in Google Maps.
Drive to Kalasa through Hassan-mudigere-Kottigehara and then drive down to Samse.
From Samse junction take the left towards the forest checkpost.
Reaching Netravathi by Public Transport System
The base village of Samse is slightly more difficult to reach compared to other base villages on most of the treks. However, you can still reach Kalasa by 8 a.m. if you are taking a bus from Bangalore. Then take an auto/local bus to the homestay or Kudremukh National Park.
Go through the details here. Many buses from Bangalore to Kalasa can be booked online at the KSRTC website.
From Kalasa, buses are going to Karkala or Udupi; take the bus and get down at Samse.
The local buses are pretty sporadic with their timing. Check with the local shops, who will guide you through any recent changes in timing. Instead of buses, you can also watch out for shared rickshaws or jeeps that go to Samse from Kalasa at regular intervals.
From Samse, you can hire a jeep to the base of the trek. You won’t be missing out on much. The jeep ride will cost Rs 250 per person (as of 2022). The jeep ride can be fun and adventurous too.
Nearest International and Domestic Airports
Mangalore International Airport - 86 km
➤Permission and Camping on the Netravati trek
You need to get permission for the trek to Netravathi. The trek falls under Kudremukh National Park. You will find the forest check post at Kudremukh, which is roughly 9-10 km from the trek start point. Alternatively, the homestays can arrange the same for you.
The entry fee is Rs. 500 per person. There is a guide charge of Rs. 1000 for up to 12 people in a group. The guide will join you
Camping on the Netravathi trek is not allowed.
➤Stay Options near Netravathi Trek
If you want to stay overnight, there are quite a few options before the start point of the trek. You have a few Airbnbs and homestays.
Bella Homestay: Chandan - 9110684643 (Closest to the Forest office)
Pepper Coffee Homestay: Anush - 9353426075
➤Timings on the Netravathi Trek
Trekkers are allowed to trek between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on all days. However, after 2:30 pm, you are not allowed to trek past the forest checkpoint.
The best time to start your trek will be early in the morning or before noon. This will ensure you are back at the base of Netravathi. It takes easily about 3 to 4 hours to trek.
It is not advisable to start your trek in the afternoon. When the sun sets in the evening, it gets harder to reach the base of Netravathi
➤Food and Water source on the Netravathi Trek
Samse is your last reliable source for food. You will find a few small hotels. Nothing fancy or a big restaurant close by to the trek.
For water sources, if you are trekking in the monsoon or post-monsoon season, you will find one river and also a waterfall on the trail. This is clean, fresh water flowing down. You can fill your bottle from there.
The other option is to fill two bottles of water from the homestay or Airbnb.
Tip: If you are not comfortable with having water from the stream or the waterfalls, carry purification tablets or a life straw bottle to purify the water.
➤Emergency contacts for Netravathi Trek
Sri Manjunatha Memorial Hospital & Kaveri Hospital (Contant Number: 082632 74628)
Kalasa Government Hospital
is the nearest hospital on the Netravathi trek.
Both these hospitals are about 15 kilometers away from the starting point.
Kalasa Police Station (Contact Number: 09480805159)
Kudremukh Police Station is the nearest police station to the Netravathi Trek.
Kudremukh Forest Office/ Range Forest Officer (Contact Number: 08263255998)
In case of any emergency, you can contact the forest office of the Kudremukh Forest Division.
ERSS: For any kind of emergency help, you can contact the Pan-India Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number- 112
➤ATMs and Networks on the Trek
ATMs: Kalasa and Kudremukh are the towns with the nearest ATMs. It is better to carry cash with you than rely on any ATMs along the way. Carry cash either from Bangalore or at a reliable town route if you are driving to the base.
Mobile Networks: You get good coverage of Airtel, BSNL, and Jio through various patches on the trek. The signal connections are intermittent, however. Do not depend on them during the monsoon season.
➤Places to Visit after the Netravathi Trek
There are several treks and waterfalls in the same region as Netravathi Peak. If you wish to cover more places and treks after Netravathi, go through the list
- Horanadu Temple: It is famous for the temple situated on the banks of the river Bhadra in a corner of Chikkamagaluru district. This is 16 km from Kudremukh Entrance.
- Ballarayanadurga Fort Trek: This fort is a part of the Bandaje trek. One can do this from Durgadahalli. This route is easier compared to the Ujire route. This is 36 km from the Kudremukh Entrance.
- Aane Gudda Trek: This trek starts from Haluvalli. You have to take a deviation from Kalasa to reach the base. This is 15 km from the Kudremukh Entrance.
- Kudremukh Trek: Trek to the third highest peak in Karnataka, also Karnataka’s most beautiful trek.
- Lakya Dam Lake: This dam is built across the river Lakya, a tributary of the Bhadra River. This dam is inside the Kudremukh National Park. The distance Kudremukh Entrance is 13 km.
- Kadambi Falls: This fall is one of the major attractions for tourists who want to experience the greenery of the western ghats. This is close to the
Highway and 22 km from Kudremukh Entrance.
- Hanuman Gundi Falls: This fall is located in the Kudremukh National Park and 22 km from the Kudremukh Entrance.
- Kurinjal Peak: This is another small trek located 20 km away from the Kudremukh Entrance. It is a lesser-known peak in Kudremukh National Park.
So you can expect fewer crowds on the trail.
- Gangadikal Trek: A newly explored trail near Kudremukh.
Trek documented and explored by Manoj Ammoga , Amoga Vigram
Picture contribution - Panchami Gaitonde, Manoj Ammoga, Amoga Vigram P