We arrived in Hospet (the town just before Hampi, the bus does not go to the whole way to Hampi) just before sunrise and were greeted by the Tuk Tuk drivers all jostling for a fare. Knowing full well their game due to advice from other travellers, I walked past them and bought myself and Stu a chai before even indulging any of their claims.
The Tuk Tuk drivers will claim there is no other way to get to Hampi but by Tuk Tuk, that as it is before sunrise the fare will be higher, that it isn’t possible to do it for less than 400. THIS IS ALL BS. True, there is no bus to Hampi UNTIL 7am, but after 7am there are relatively frequent buses to Hampi, so chill out and have a Chai and wait for one if you want to do really cheap. In our case, I pointed out that we knew the buses were a half hour off, that I knew the buses came and that we also knew the distance and would not pay that kind of money to get to Hampi. After we called their bluff, and as the time got ever closer to when the buses would start, the prices drastically dropped and we ended up settling for 200 rupees for 3 of us to get to there.
Hampi is a little Oasis in the desert. Mountains made from boulders jut out against the green rice crops and a slow flowing river provides the locals with a place to wash clothes and bathe in the early morning sun. There’s even a sacred elephant who is brought down from the temples to bathe every morning.
We didn’t pre book any accomodation for Hampi as we had been told by other travellers that the best place to stay was Goan Corner and the best way to get a room there was to simply rock up. Rock up we did and we were cheerily greeted by ‘Mum’, the owner of the place. She seemed to know by heart how many rooms she had coming available and she said there would be no issue with us getting a room once check out and cleaning was done. So we sat and had a chai and some breakfast, watched people coming and going from bouldering or yoga and played some cards.
Goan corner has a few different options for accomodation, but all of them are a at a fair price for what you get. We opted for a hut with a double bed and shared bathroom for 500 rupees and it was perfect for us. There is also the option to stay on the rooftop on a mattress with a mosquito net for 200 rupees per person which is quite a unique experience.
We decided to spend 3 nights in Hampi and took most of the first day for washing, sleeping and exploring Goan corner and its surrounding boulders and fields. As sun set we headed to town to try and see the temples and ruins and catch the sunset on the riverbanks.
Everything in Hampi is picturesque and we found ourselves taken by the quite beauty of both the nature and the ruins here. With the sun truely set on the first night, we headed back to Goan for some dinner and a couple of beers before retiring early so that we could get up and climb the boulders for the sunrise the next day.
Getting up before 6 was a struggle, but we managed to get ourselves out and up onto the boulders just before the sun rose. Climbing up was fun. Stu and I both love a bit of ‘mountain goating’ as we call it and enjoyed the challenges of basically rock climbing and hiking combined into one. We managed to get up pretty high and rather exhausted we sat for a while to take in the scene before heading back down for breakfast. The rest of the day was spent checking out the town, reading books and eating more of the delicious food at Goan.
Next day we decided to rent a scooter for the day as we had heard there was a good swimming hole nearby and it was meant to get to 38 degrees and Stu is NOT a fan of the heat.
The watering hole was stupidly hard to find. After driving around for almost an hour looking for the mythical place we returned to Goan to seek out the guys who had told us about the place the night before. We found one of them instantly as our luck would have it and armed with new, more detailed instruction we tried again.
The waterhole was brilliant. Freezing cold, it instantly cooled you and helped you deal with the rapidly increasing temperature of the day. We stayed for a few hours, chatting to who ever came for a swim in that time and as early afternoon rolled in we decided to jump back on the scooter and head home for a quick bite and sunset on the boulders. Unfortunately, the day had other plans.
As we drove off, Stu didn’t see a rather large ditch up ahead. Hitting the ditch with some speed, our tyre instantly popped. Unsure on what to do, an epic afternoon of me waiting with the bike for two hours in the heat while poor Stu chased up where to go and what to do ensued. Long story short, 2 hours later – both hungry and hot – we were sat outside a tyre repair store as 5 large holes in the tube were repaired.
Still determined to catch up with friends we had met the night before for sunset, we hurried home and started the climb to the popular sunset lookout right next to Goan corner.
Over beers that night we were convinced to join 6 others from Goan to do a cycling tour of the ruins around Hampi. At 400 a head it seemed like a good way to get around and see everything and as the tour provided a guide it meant we had the chance to ask questions about the history and culture which was something so far in India we had not done.
The tour was well worth the money, though be warned, it is four hours of cycling in the sun and this can be too much for some. The tour did stop frequently in shaded areas and there were refreshments for sale at each point and thankfully the longest stretch of cycling you will do is only a little over 2 km. The guide is great at answering questions and gave very detail descriptions of the significance of each ruin.
Sweating profusely and facing a night bus later that night we rode back to town, did a little shopping, SHOWERED and ate before heading for the bus.
The bus trip ended up being a pretty interesting experience… firstly, the bus was no longer going to pick us up in town so a Tuk Tuk took the 6 of us to the next town, but took the strangest way possible and adding an hour to the trip. When we finally met up with the bus we managed to travel two hours or so before it broke down, taking over an hour to fix. The driver of course still needed dinner so we stopped for half an hour at 1am at a truck stop before finally finishing the journey, getting into Anjuna 3 hours behind schedule and very tired.