The wealth of scenic landscapes and natural surroundings all over Gujarat is such that you’re never too far away from an ecotourist haven. Travellers are increasingly looking at the state as an option to camp either in their own modified vehicle or get to a campsite and get into communion with nature and the great outdoors. The state’s new tourism policy for 2021-25 has caravan tourism among its high-priority areas, with subsidies announced for industry players and entrepreneurs.
Not only is the state’s heavily forested southern region packed with nature reserves and eco campsites—camping hotspots can be found aplenty at short distances from the cities. To the north is the vast white desert known as the Rann of Kutch, where the taste of luxury camping can be had, while the numerous well-regarded campsites in the south of the state offer starkly different, but equally captivating experiences. Here’s looking at the best of the camping opportunities that await you in Gujarat.
The value of Saputara as a destination is not limited to day excursions to the Saputara lake—camping activities are just as rewarding here. The Kilad Nature Education Campsite in Vansda National Park, almost a hidden secret, is a great example. The village is located by the banks of the river Ambika, in the woodlands of the Dang district. For accommodation, there are cottages, huts and tents available, along with a nature education camp, campfire area and machaans.
The Padamdungari campsite, located 23km from Kilad, is another excellent choice for campers looking to spend a little time away from the bustle of city life. It often draws visitors from Vadodara and Surat, and is cradled in the lap of the Sahyadris, boasting a forested landscape and an undulating terrain. AC as well as non-AC cottages and tented accommodation is available here along with machaans for viewing wildlife, and an amphitheatre.
Kevdi Eco Campsite (Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary)
That there are quite a few campsites within this forest reserve located 20km from Champaner is hardly a surprise, given the bounty of flora and fauna that its lush forested hills are home to. Kevdi Eco Campsite offers a well-equipped ecotourism experience, as does Dhanpari Eco Campsite. Kevdi Eco Campsite is located at the riverbank, a part of the Chhota Udepur division. The best part about a camping experience here is the chance to witness rich biodiversity as well as soak in the serene wilderness.
Just over 30 minutes away from the Kevdi Eco Campsite is Dahod district's Kanjeta Campsite, located inside the Ratanmahal Sloth Bear Sanctuary. The teak forest of this reserve is home to the sloth bear, as the name suggests.
Ambapani Eco Tourism Campsite, Vyara (Tapi)
Those looking to get some quality time off camping in treehouses amidst nature can head for Vyara (68km from Surat) in Tapi, where the Ambapani Eco Tourism Campsite awaits families, solo trippers and other groups of travellers. The central attractions here include walking trails through forests, the best of Dangi cuisine at the campsite cafeteria, and loads of relaxation by the riverside. There’s also a children’s play area at the campsite.
Mahal Eco Campsite (Saputara Hills and Dang district)
The Saputara hills in the south of the state remain an underexplored gem that offer endless opportunities for ecotourism and adventure activities. The larger Dang district is known for Mahal Eco Campsite, which is situated on the banks of river Purna and also offers scintillating trekking trails. Just pitch your tent in a lush clearing, cook your own food (be responsible with how you discard food) and simply enjoy the views.
Vishal Khadi Eco Campsite (Narmada district)
To the north, a little over 4 hours by road lies the Vishal Khadi Eco Campsite, which the locals rate highly. The tranquil bounds of the campsite are surrounded by the backwaters of the Karjan reservoir on one side and the forests and hills elsewhere. Vishal Khadi is located 20km from Rajpipla, and is held as the most important eco campsite in the Narmada district alongside the Zarwani Eco Campsite. The latter offers campers a variety of experiences, from the refreshing waterfalls of the same name, the amazing treks in the vicinity, to an adventure park close to the falls, and ultimately the campsite itself.
Polo Forest (Sabarkantha)
This scenic area spread over 400sqkm of dry mixed deciduous forest, is home to the Polo Campsite, where you can have a weekend of relaxation. At Polo Campsite, you can attend wildlife workshops, participate in nature education camps and do other interesting activities. The region is also a birdwatching haven, where nature enthusiasts often spot birds such as the brown-headed barbet and the endangered grey hornbill, among plenty of fruit birds, prey birds and woodpeckers. During your stay, you can also go on treks and explore the Jain temple and the Harnav dam site.