I had never before been to a place that has just as many things that I absolutely love and completely hate. One minute I feel like I could come back here season after season, the next I wish I could leave immediately. The climbing here is endless; there are literally boulders as far as the eye can see. However, many of the rocks are blank, and most of the problems are sharp and of similar style. Food and accommodation are cheap, but many of the business people are unscrupulous and will blatantly lie if they can make more money. More than once, we made price agreements that vendors changed instantly once they found out that they could charge more to other tourists.
A few examples:
We rented a motor scooter from the place right after the boat crossing for an agreed upon price for a month. Two days later he hunted us down and told us that the price was now raised or we had to give the bike back. After arguing with him for 10 minutes, we begrudgingly agreed to return the bike after 10 days. Seven days later he started stalking us to return the bike and people we didn’t know were bugging us to return the bike.
We stayed at the Ravi Teja Guest House for a few days. After about a week, out of the blue, management told us that we needed to move out the next day, giving us the bullshit reason that they forgot that they had an online booking already by an Indian family. A couple hours later we saw them offering the room to some other random backpackers.
Of course you deal with this kind of dodgy horseshit in every third world country, but it never stops getting on your nerves.
The food here is pretty good, and cheap by Western standards, but almost every restaurant has the exact same menu and if you plan on staying for an extended time, you will get tired of the lack of options.
Finally, you will get sick here. People told me that when I was in Nepal, I would for sure get sick. I managed three months there without getting sick once. So when people told me the same thing about India, I wasn’t very worried. The warning very much applies to India. I’ve been sick several times and for the first month, my shit was solid maybe three times.
Like I said, a little bit of love, and a little bit of hate.
There are literally boulders as far as the eye can see and you can spend many a lifetime climbing here and still barely scratch the surface of what’s available. On the other hand, many of the problems are low quality; sharp with uninteresting movements. Despite this, there are definitely plenty of classics at every grade to keep you coming back season after season. If somehow you send everything you want to from the guidebook, there are plenty of developed areas that haven’t been put in the guidebook and even more untouched areas waiting for you to open up.
The guidebook is very good, but full of grading errors. Since most of the problems are crimp ladders, make sure to take advantage of the guidebook’s icons telling you when a problem has slopers, arêtes, dynos, etc. so that you can get more variety in your climbing.
If you need to get psyched, check out the old Chris Sharma video Pilgrimage, or this more recent video https://vimeo.com/134398755 which stars Jerry, Tom and Jerry’s climbing shop.
In Hampi, a higher price doesn’t always correlate with better accommodation. Take the time to ask prices at every guesthouse and make sure to take a look at the room as well. Some guesthouses offer tents or outdoor hammocks, but you don’t mind living outside of the main strip, you can find rooms for the same price or even cheaper. Keep in mind that even if you make a long term deal with a guesthouse, they may kick you out if you don’t eat there often enough or if they find other people that are willing to pay more than you are being charged. They will give you some bullshit excuse that they forgot about a booking made months ago and you will find yourself looking for a new place to stay.
On the main road just before the broken bridge (aqueduct) there are several locals who will rent out one of their spare rooms to you. Like with the guesthouses, prices and quality are all over the place, so shop around. A better option is to ask around the villages outside of Hampi Island. I had a great experience renting out a room in the village on the hill above Devamma restaurant. Just walk around the village and if ask the people you pass if they have an open room or if they know someone who does. You will get a better deal if you rent by the month, but if you need to leave early, you may need to pay for the entire month.
I recommend paying for day-to-day for the first couple of nights to see if a homestay is really for you. You will be getting a pretty authentic experience, which may or may not be to your liking. Loud people (especially children and parents yelling at their children), loud animals, lack of running water, shit all over the place (both animal and human), and lack of other amenities like a fan or mosquito net are some of the drawbacks. For me however, not being hassled by vendors all of the time, being closer to the cheaper restaurants, and having a genuine experience far out way the negatives.