Important Tips for First Time Campers
- Good Quality Camping Equipment: Even if you are going out for an organised camping tour, there is some necessary camping equipment which you will be carrying with you – backpack, hiking/trekking shoes, camping knife, compass, etc. You should get only the best quality products for these critical components so that that they don’t fail you in the remote location, you are planning to go.
- Prepare a Checklist: An outdoor camping trip is very different from other types of excursions, and you will be taking a lot of things (which you otherwise don’t carry) along with you. It is prudent to prepare a checklist so that all the necessary items are considered and packed, and you don’t miss anything.
- Plan to Reach the Campsite Before Dusk: It is always advisable to reach your designated campsite before darkness. This will enable you to familiarise yourself with the surroundings, particularly the narrow paths and trails, trees, water bodies, etc. which will be in abundance at the remote location. You should also scout around and identify the closest pharmacies and hospitals from your campsite.
- Keep the Campsite Clean & Avoid Creating Nuisance: Every traveller needs to ensure that there is no littering on the campsite or the natural environment surrounding it – check for instructions about litter disposal with the camp manager, else bring your litter back with you. You should leave a camping site as clean as you would like to see it on arrival. Littering also harms our environment, which everyone should avoid. Secondly, avoid creating a nuisance at the camping site – loud music blaring long after the designated time, screaming/shouting in the tent, etc. There will be other travellers enjoying nature as well, and noise travels more in a serene environment.
- Pack a Medicines/First Aid Kit and a Survival Kit: While packing your things for the upcoming camping trip, pay extra attention to your medicines/first aid kit and your survival kit. Adequate stock of medicines being taken by your friends/family regularly along with first aid items like antiseptic cream, band-aids, cotton, gauze, disinfectant, crepe bandage, anti-diarrheal and pain-reliever medication, etc. should be considered. For your survival kit, you should have a compass, a detailed map of the location, a torch with extra batteries, bug/mosquito repellents, a camping knife, water-purification tablets, etc.
- Type of Clothes: Staying outdoors, particularly in the night-time, is fundamentally different from staying in a temperature-controlled hotel room. Nights can be chilly and windy outdoors in the hills and mountains. If you are planning to go camping in Lonavala in the monsoons or winters, you should be carrying sufficient clothing not only to keep you warm but also to protect you from rain. You should also pack a hat/cap and sunscreen for the daytime.
Why is Lonavala One of the Best Tourist Destinations?
Lonavala is a beautiful hill station situated in the western Indian state of Maharashtra at an altitude of 2,000 feet (about 625 m) above sea level. It is 96 km from Mumbai and 64 km from Pune. Lonavala has emerged one of the top tourist destinations not only in Maharashtra but the whole of India. One of the main reasons for this is that Lonavala is blessed with mesmerising natural beauty – mountains, caves, lakes, forests, etc. along with a well-developed adventure tourism infrastructure – camping, trekking, hiking, kayaking, rappelling, etc., you can find the most thrilling adventure sports here.
Another reason for Lonavala’s popularity is its unbelievable connectivity by road and rail. It is situated on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway with a convenient drive from either city. It is also very well connected with rail from both these cities. The great connectivity from 2 of India’s biggest cities and the plethora of holiday activities Lonavala has to offer makes it a wonderful weekend destination to relax and rejuvenate the tired urban traveller’s body and soul. Lonavala is best visited during the monsoons and the winter months, with peak tourist arrivals being witnessed in the monsoon season. Summer months are best avoided as the temperature can become a little uncomfortable for some.
The Best Camping Sites in & Around Lonavala
1. Pawna Lake Camping
About 20 km from Lonavala is Pawna Lake – by far the most popular camping site in Lonavala. Pawna Lake is an artificial lake reservoir created by the construction of a dam across the Pawna river. The Pawna Lake campsite offers breathtaking natural vistas of green pastures, majestic hills, and beautiful sunsets. The campsites of major camp organisers are situated on the bank of the lake and offer everything from delicious food, bonfire, music and comfortable accommodation in tents.
The site also has a lot of sightseeing destinations nearby, including the Tikona Fort, Lohagad Fort, Tung Fort, Visapur Fort, and Bhaje Caves. These stunning forts are a testament to the glorious past of this region. The monsoon season is the most popular season for camping here because the entire landscape is covered in a delightful green blanket.
2. Rajmachi Fort Base Camping & Fireflies Trek
The Rajmachi Fort built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj during the 17th century comprises of 2 majestic fortresses saddling the Sahyadri mountains – Shrivardhan and Maharanjan. Situated at a trekking distance of 16 km from Lonavala, it is also visible from the Mumbai-Pune Expressway on the right of Borghat. The Rajmachi Fort base is a trekkers’ delight as there is tremendous scope for trekking here. Interesting tourist attractions nearby include Kataldhar Waterfalls, Udaysagar Lake, Mahadev Temple, Bahiroba Temple, and Kondhane Caves.
The best times to visit Rajmachi are the pre-monsoon and monsoon months. The camping site at Udhewadi Village is one of the most popular ones in this area. The pre-monsoon months of May and June are the time when this area is engulfed by fireflies, which illuminate the area with their faint glow after sunset. You can take an 8 km trek up to the base of the Rajmachi Fort to spot fireflies and savour a truly spectacular sight. Don’t forget to relish the delectable local cuisine on the way.
3. Camping Near Shirota Lake
If you want absolute tranquillity and breathtaking natural scenery, then Shirota Lake, at a distance of 18 km from Lonavala, will truly beckon you. Shirota Lake is a genuinely off-beat location not known to many travellers visiting Lonavala and Pawna Lake camping site. It is situated at a higher elevation than Lonavala, and you have to pass through dense forests to reach here. The drive is rough, and your luxury sedan may not be able to make it. It is therefore advisable to hire a jeep, Sumo, or a 4x4 SUV for off-roading tracks.
Soak in the beautiful scenery at your campsite, go kayaking (or fishing) on the lake or enjoy stargazing at night. All this in complete solitude far away from the hustle-bustle of the city. If you love stargazing, the best time to go camping to Shirota Lake is in the winter months when the sky is crystal clear at nights. Nearby attractions include Lohagad Fort, Visapur Fort, Lion’s Point, Tiger Point, and Narayani Dham Temple.
4. Korigad Camping
Korigad is famous because of the Korigad Fort built atop a hill at an altitude of more than 3,000 ft above sea level many centuries ago. The fort takes its name from Goddess Koraidevi, the presiding deity of the region. Korigad Fort is 20 km from Lonavala and has the renowned Aamby Valley planned township in the foothills. This is another off-beat camping location, which is a favourite for trekkers as there are numerous trekking trails here. The fort has a 2 km long unspoilt perimeter wall along with a few caves and two ponds. The fort also has a temple of Goddess Koraidevi along with Shiva and Vishnu temples. The fort presents a mesmerising view of the valleys and the neighbouring areas down below, including Aamby Valley, Tung Fort, and Tikona Fort.
5. Camping in Khandala
Khandala (immortalised by a popular Bollywood song) is 3 km from Lonavala at a lower altitude as compared to Lonavala. Both these destinations are often referred to as twin hill destinations because of their proximity to each other. If you plan to go camping in Khandala, you can be sure to get rejuvenated in the lap of profound greenery and numerous waterfalls. The most popular camping destination in Khandala is Canyon Valley, which is also known as Tiger Valley or Ulhas Valley. You can also go camping in the Canary Forest.
Top Camping Organisers in Lonavala
1. Pawnacamp Pawna Lake Camping
Pawnacamp, headed by Mr. Dinesh Dnyandev Bodke, is one of the oldest camping organisers in the Pawna Lake area. They have multiple sites on the Pawna lakeside catering to families, couples, and friends. They also provide adventure sports facilities like paragliding, rappelling, zipline, kayaking, etc. They also promise to arrange 2-way transportation from Mumbai and Pune on a chargeable basis. The camping packages are for a 1-night stay, and charges vary from ₹ 778per person to ₹ 1,799per person depending on the inclusions. For more details visit Pawna Camp.
2. Rusticville Farm Stay & Camping
Rusticville is a camping property on a hill overlooking the backwaters of the Pawna Lake in the village Tikona Peth on the base of the Tikona Fort. It is a family-managed enterprise. This completely family-friendly place offers mud huts and tent accommodation. In addition to campfires, outdoor games, etc., this camping site also has an organic farm whose produce is used on the campsite. You can try some farming here and also buy the organic produce to take back home with you. Overnight stay packages start from ₹ 1,500 per person for a mud hut and ₹ 1,350 per person for tent accommodation. Rusticville also organises training programs for corporate. For more details, check out Rustic Ville
3. Big Red Tent SH-92, Khopoli
BRT is one of the highest-rated camping organisers in the country. They provide personally curated outdoor destinations across India. They have four camping sites across Maharashtra. BRT SH-92 is a camping site in Khopoli, 2.5 hours from both Mumbai and Pune. The child-friendly and pet-friendly site features forest walks, rock pool, kayaking, lush greenery, Lonavala in the backdrop, and no mobile network. You will be hosted by their camping facilitator, Nitish. Prices start from ₹ 2,000 per person per night for adults, and you can make your booking on Big Red Tent.
4. Letscampout Star Gazing in Khopoli
Lets Campout is founded by Abhi, Mansi, and Santosh, who promise camping to be made convenient for Indians by providing them high-quality camping equipment. If you are into astronomy and love stargazing, this tour is just for you. The campsite near Khopoli is the idyllic location for this camping tour. The best time to go stargazing is the post-monsoon season when the night sky is clear, and temperatures normally drop to 12-15°C. You will be provided a world-class Celestron telescope, and a seasoned astronomy guide will take you on your journey to the stars. You will be accommodated in waterproof Coleman tents with a premium lake-view. The price of this camping tour starts from ₹ 1,999 per person. Visit Lets Campout for more details.
5. Camp Della Resort Super Luxury AC Tents
If you don’t want to compromise on your comforts and yet enjoy the pleasures of camping, there is no better place than the iconic 5-star super luxury Camp Della Resorts. Founded and designed by Jimmy Mistry, Della Resorts features 240 classic rooms, including 30 super-luxury AC tents perched on the crest of a hilltop. Each 450 sq. ft. tent features a king-size bed, 140 sq. ft. bathroom with walk-in shower cubicle and stunning views of surrounding areas. Next to the Camp Della Resort is Della Adventure, India’s biggest extreme adventure park with 50+ mind-blowing adventure activities. Prices start from ₹ 12,333 per night. For more details, visit Camp Della Resort.
Find Yourself Amidst the Nature, Away from Your Busy City Life!
In recent years, India has witnessed a tremendous surge in adventure tourism, something which was not even in its nascent stage until just a few years back. Reasons such as the availability of world-class adventure tourism infrastructure – camping/hiking/trekking/water-sports equipment, trained guides, well-maintained camping site, meticulously designed outdoor excursions for both individual and corporate demand, etc. and manifold increase in crowds in popular tourist destinations which prevents many travellers from experiencing peace and solitude in the lap of nature, away from the crowded, chaotic and bustling urban life (from which they are anyway coming from). However, Lonavla is one place that you can still explore, away from the city's lives of Mumbai and Pune!