• gomowgli

Big News! Touring Karnataka with goMowgli, India’s first backpacker’s bus

This October, I’m going to be touring around Karnataka with goMowgli! It’s a state in India I haven’t seen nearly enough of. They’re going to be revolutionizing the way people travel in India- so take a second to check out their site.

UPDATE: As of 2018, gomowgli is no longer – sadly! If you still want a tour in India, I recommend checking out my blog post with the best group tours and this post which explains the best day tours for the adventurer!

To me, Karnataka is the “real jungle”.

I’ve been to Karnataka a couple times to Bangalore, into the waterfall areas at the border, and made a road trip to Hampi. It’s the only place I”ve been that while stopping on the road to use the toilet I’m afraid a giant cat may attack me. Signs through the jungle read: “don’t get out here- there are tigers”

Well, I’m about to see a lot more of Karnataka because I’m about to do something I’ve never done before: a hop on hop off bus tour!

Obviously, it would have to be a pretty damn good tour to get me interested, and it is. I am so positive the young, extremely educated owners of goMowgli, India’s first backpacking bus, are bound to change tourism in India forever… and I want to be a part of it!

gomowgli hampiSunset at the ruins of Hampi, Photo by Subbu KL

Some of the places I’ll get to go are Mysore, Coorg, Hampi, and Gokarna.

Unlike most tours, goMowgli doesn’t plan out your days unless you want them to. I’ll get more into it later, but they get you there safely, tell you what’s cool in the area and let you go do your thing. They have connections for discounted stays which it’s your call to use or not. If you have nothing planned then goMowgli hooks you up like only locals would know how. I LOVE to get the local hook up! In India it literally makes all the difference for whether you’ll love or hate the country.

The owners of goMowgli are travelers themselves, which is what got me interested.

gomowgli teamThe goMowgli Team with the Support Staff

It wasn’t some 50 year old disconnected man trying to start a company, it was these young adventurers with a passion for backpacking- which I would say is rare here. They have backpacked not just their home country but all around the world. Thanks to those comparisons, they know where the gaps are for backpackers in India and how to fill them.

gomowgliIncredible Stone Carvings at Somanathapura Temple

So, who are goMowgli?

They are a hop on hop off backpacker bus service in Karnataka. Their tours are experiential and truly off the beaten track. If you want that “real” Indian experience this is the way to do it. You’ll eat as local as it gets and chill with the people who make India the colorful country it is. I always tell people who want to come to Goa, it’s 10x better when you know someone. You get that with goMowgli. It’s like staying with a friend; they take you to those secret places you never would have known about on your own.

“Someday, we want to enable backpackers to backpack across India on a single ticket with goMowgli. All 3 million square kilometers of it on a single ticket. And fall in love with every inch of it.” –Sunil, goMowgli

gomowgliWildlife Spotting in the Western Ghats, Photo by Subbu KL

The BEST part about goMowgli: flexibility

You have safety conscious, local, english-speaking guides who drop you off. Then, it’s up to you. If you want to couchsurf, stay with a friend, find a cheap guesthouse, or check into a 5 star hotel- go for it. They will take you as close as they can and pick you up when you’re ready- BUT if you don’t have a hook up, they will tell you the hotel they like the best and you’ll get their special discount for staying there.

gomowgliBhutanatha Temple at Badami, Photo by Subbu KL

For all those girls that want to travel India and are afraid to be solo:

I think you’ve found your answer with goMowgli. Instead of hopping around local buses and sleeper class trains (although quite fun) you can relax knowing you’re safe on goMowgli buses, but at the same time it’s no typical “tour bus”. You still have your indepence once you arrive at a location.

Expect equal amounts fun and budget friendly backpacking.

gomowgli Trek inside the Western Ghats, Photo by Subbu KL


The passes are valid for 6 months (check out pass options).  In and around Mysore, Melukote, and Srirangapatna, they have some one, two, or three day passes. Each offers something different from coffee tours to local temples. There is a 9 day filter coffee pass which is all about the rich heritage and the Dharwad Peda which is a 6 day tour through Northern and Coastal Karnataka. 

All the passes are named after local foods, and the biggest pass: Masala Dose, is a 19 day pass (32,000 rs) that covers A LOT of ground. I’ll be going on this tour. You can hop off as long as you want in each place.

Keep in mind the days of the pass are “travel” days on the bus. You can take up to 6 months to complete the 15 legs of the tour!

“Just like the Masala Dose, this pass offers pretty much everything on offer in Karnataka. The rich heritage of Mysore and Hampi is contrasted by the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats stretching from BR Hills to Coorg to Chikmagalur. We discover the ancient kingdoms of Hoysala, Chalukyas and Viajayanagara. The temples of Somanathapura, Belur and Halebid compete for excellence with Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole. There are wildlife spotting opportunities at BR Hills, Kabini and Bhadra sanctuaries. There is that misty peak of Mullayanagiri along with the solitary beaches of Karwar and Gokarna. The pandi curry of the Kodavas, the kadabus of the Malnad cuisine and the seafood along the coast. There is so much to do in Karnataka. And we deliver it to you on a single platter.. err.. plantain leaf, accompanied by a butter masala dose, of course. “

gomowgliMysore palace, got our cycles loaded on to a volvo bus to bangalore back, Photo by Subbu KL

When guides are passionate it makes all the difference and did I mention the complimentary activities yet? There are fun things to do along the route, like popular treks, tours, and markets which are included in your pass costs and even more you can opt to do at a fee. The buses are A/C and at each destination you get a map with all the important things you need to know: ATM’s, chemists, supermarkets, toilets, and cafes in case you want to go on your own.

Of the highlights mentioned in the pass information, here is what I’m MOST excited about:

gomowgliBathe the elephants at Dubare Elephant Camp

gomowgliRockclimbing at Chamundi Hills

Sunil’s team sees the challenges for backpackers in India, and recognizes the negative images that media portrays. They want people to come and see for themselves and are giving them an afforadable option to do so. As Sunil said, backpacking is a phonomenon really yet to take of in India; the infrastructure isn’t available everywhere. They have built that in Karnataka and connected it in a safe way.

“The Indian tourism industry is still largely unorganized and not as professional as the world requires it to be. We are here to change that forever AND spread the word that the world is not as bad a place as it is made out to be. If a kid can be raised by wild wolves, there is still hope for this world- and this was the inspiration behind the name ‘goMowgli’

gomowgliTrek atop French Rocks near Mysore

gomowgliBeach Trek along Gokarna, Photo by Subbu KL

I will be a guest on the Masala Dose tour with goMowgli this October and will be filling you in along the way. I’ll introduce a hashtag before I go so you can follow along in real time! I’ll be ming and tweeting all through the jungle with live updates.

I get e-mails very often from readers who want to get off the beaten path in India, and you can’t really get more rural than a lot of these locations so I am so excited to share these new places with you. Want to know more now? Read up on the goMowgli FAQ.

Some photos courtesy of Subbu K as noted. UPDATE: After taking the month long tour, I wrote a full review here: The Nitty Gritty | A Review of goMowgli


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Alex, Speaking Denglish September 16, 2014 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Eeeeek sponsored trip! Exciting! And it really sounds like a fantastic travel solution for those wary of travel in India. What an awesome thing to be a part of and I can’t wait to hear about your experiences!

    • Rachel Jones September 17, 2014 at 2:27 pm - Reply

      I have such high hopes for this trip. I’ve met the “bosses” in Goa and they know what they’re doing. So stoked!

      • Francesca September 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm - Reply

        Hey Rachel!

        I’m just about to embark on the biggest adventure/challenge of my life!I have never travelled to another culture or backpacked before and leave for a solo india trip on october 15th for 3 months!I have found your blog the most helpful during my research and gomowgli just sounds great as I’ve been more anxious than excited since I booked my flights!I land in Cochin to visit Kerala for the first two weeks, only booked my first two nights stay so far eek! I had planned to do Karnataka after so this sounds perfect! I too am a hippie in heels would be so lovely to meet up with you! x

        • Rachel Jones September 20, 2014 at 10:57 pm - Reply

          I’m so glad the blog has been able to help you. Kerala is amazing. Maybe we’ll end up in Karnataka at the same time and be able to meet on the tour. I’ll be with goMowgli from Oct. 13-Nov. 6th

  2. Alex, Backpacking Brunette September 16, 2014 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Wow, this is so exciting! I’m in the beginning stages of planning a RTW trip and wasn’t really considering India. Between your blog and this new tour company, I think I’m going to definitely need to add it to my list of stops. Have fun!

    • Rachel Jones September 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      Perfect! Karnataka would be a great state to tour in India on your RTW because hardly any foreign tourists go.

  3. Jo September 16, 2014 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Sounds awesome! I think for my first trip to India, I’d want to do the more touristy sites, so hopefully GoMowgli have lots of success and expand some day soon! They sound like a great company, and I’m looking forward to reading your experiences with them :)

    • Rachel Jones September 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Yes, they have big dreams to expand all over India so we can only hope it happens :)

  4. Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe September 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    How exciting! Sounds like a fantastic opportunity!

    • Rachel Jones September 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Yeah, it’s really neat. It’s an area I haven’t explored and I’m so into what their team is doing.

  5. paperplane September 16, 2014 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Wow! This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, thanks for the info

    • Rachel Jones September 17, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      No prob! I hope everyone jumps aboard so they grow into a company that’s all over India.

  6. Ashley September 17, 2014 at 2:45 am - Reply

    Sounds like a great company. These activities make me wish I had time to include Karnataka in my India itinerary!

    • Rachel Jones September 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      Yeah, there is so much to see in India it’s hard to fit it all in.

  7. Emily from Let's Roam Wild September 17, 2014 at 4:32 am - Reply

    This is SO awesome. It sounds like it’s also a fabulous way to meet backpackers along the road! This company sounds truly innovative and local. Can’t wait to start reading your posts from it!

    • Rachel Jones September 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      Thanks Emily, they will hopefully bring the joy of India back into the focus.

  8. Oksana from Drink Tea & Journey September 17, 2014 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Sounds like you’ve got an amazing trip ahead of you! I wish I had known about goMowgli when I was looking into getting around the South of India last year. The transportation through that region is chaotic to say the least. Interested to hear how things will go with goMowgli for you.

    • Rachel Jones September 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      Yeah, they’re pretty new but already expanding so fast. I’ve heard that the buses are difficult although all my trips have been my flight recently. I’m happy to see more options in India for backpackers.

  9. Franca September 17, 2014 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    How exciting! This surely seems a great opportunity and I can see why you are so looking forward to it. I need to get to India and when I do I mustn’t forget about touring Karnataka too :)

    • Rachel Jones September 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Yes, don’t leave out Karnataka! I can’t wait to go back to Hampi and see so many new places.

  10. Katelyn @ Diaries of a Wandering Lobster September 19, 2014 at 6:27 am - Reply

    That looks so fun! Congrats and I can’t wait to read about your adventures! I’m beginning to plan my RTW and I’m seriously considering visiting India for a bit thanks to your blog. I think GoMawgli would be a great option for me as I don’t think I could pin-point where I would even want to go in the country. It’s so big! Too many choices! :-)

    • Rachel Jones September 20, 2014 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      You’re right, it’s huge and that makes it hard to plan. goMowgli would fit so well for you. I’ll be sharing a lot more about then so you’ll be able to decide!

  11. Anna September 20, 2014 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    This is really exciting and just what the Indian tourism industry needs – a way for people to backpack in a stress free, safe way and to explore off the beaten track experiences. I love India but traveling there can be challenging and therefore not for everyone but it is so so rewarding. Also, like you said, India is especially good if you can met and get tips from locals. The times when I met local people were the highlight of my trip around India last year. I’ll be excited to follow your travels and hopefully have a chance to join a GoMowgli trip soon.

    • Rachel Jones September 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      That would be so cool if you could do a goMowgli trip! I’ll be posting a lot about them and hope they grow huge so that travel in India will be easier.

  12. ellen Bak October 10, 2014 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    I want to Go! Whats the hash tag? Look forward to your posts on the GoMowgli trip!
    God Bless you !

    • Rachel Jones October 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      Thanks! I leave today :) I think they are still settling on the hashtag ideas, but i’ll let you know asap.

  13. Karnataka State Holidays List 2015, February 22, 2015 at 10:15 am - Reply

    I every time spent my half an hour to read this blog’s posts every day along with a mug of coffee.

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