With several camping destinations within easy driving distance from Mumbai, you may spend an overnight or a slightly longer holiday in the lap of nature with your family friends, while there is still a nip in the air. Setting up your own tent, cooking your own food and engaging in activities together is a great way to bond with family and friends. If you are not willing to carry your own tents and gear, you may approach the privately run camping companies for a customised trip or a package offered by them.
Bhandardara, about 185km by road from Mumbai, has one of the best locales for camping. Pitch your tent on the lakeside overlooked by low hills and verdure. Go on long walks along the river bank, trekking in the hills and on a boat ride in the lake. Climb to the top of Kalsubai peak (5,400 feet) to test your strength and to catch a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and lake. If the weather is mellow, you can hold barbeques and campfires by the lakeside. During monsoon, silver cascades running down the green slopes make for a beautiful sight. The Umbrella and the Randha falls are a big draw. The architecture of the old Amruteshwar Shiva Temple is interesting. If you do not want to carry your own tents and gear, there are several private organisations who offer camping trips into the area. Mumbai Travellers holds regular camping into the area.
One of the biggest advantages of Karjat is its location, only 65 by road from Mumbai. Located in the vicinity of the Ulhas River, the countryside is a mix of rolling hills, forests and meadows. The hills are a favourite with trekkers, especially during monsoon. If you are not keen to set up your own tents, you may avail the privately run camping facilities. In fact, try glamping at the Moonstone Hammock, who not only offer luxurious land-based tents but also floating tents (pitched on a raft) for you to enjoy a journey down the river. While at Karjat, you may go on treks, cave explorations and visiting some old temples.
Better known for its bird sanctuary and as the base for the eponymous fort trek, Karnala is also a good place to go camping. A little over 50km from Mumbai, it is a quick weekend getaway. Depending on your stamina, go for the short Hariyal Nature Trail or for the longer Hariyal Trail. Birds and butterflies are two of the biggest draws here. Do remember, use/carrying of plastics is banned inside the sanctuary. This being a rugged and wild terrain, it is better to opt for privately operated camping tours. Big Red Tent runs a pet-friendly camping facility next to the sanctuary.
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An 80km drive from Mumbai will take you to Khopoli. Skip the industrial town and escape to the countryside for a communion with nature. The farms, forests and hills offer an escape from the humdrum of daily life. In monsoon, the entire region is covered in a mantle of green with big and small waterfalls trickling along the slopes. You may bring your tents to pitch in the shade of the trees or avail packages offered by private agencies. You may try the pet-friendly Phoebe’s Farm, who call themselves a human-friendly pet resort.
A lakeside camping retreat, not far from the popular hill resort of Lonavla, Pawna is about 120km by road from Mumbai. The camping ground is located on the bank on the lake created by the reservoir. There are also private camping facilities. Many of them offer adventure activities such as rappelling, zipline, paragliding, etc. You may also visit any of the old forts located in the vicinity. However, some travellers have complained that during peak tourist season, many areas surrounding the lake are filled with garbage left behind by day tourists. Treks and Trails is offering fixed day camping trips to Pawna in February.
Enjoy the brilliant stars shining across the dark sky from your camping ground on the bank of the Vaitarna Dam. About 75km by road from Mumbai, this is another quick getaway with your family and friends. The tranquil surroundings are ideal for catching up on some family time. Share stories or play games with your children. Go boating or kayaking in the lake. There are some private groups who hold night sky watching programmes here. Mumbai Travellers, Treks and Trails and several others conduct regular camping trips into the area.
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