Camping out over a weekend can be just the break you need from the bustle of the city. And for a truly liberating experience, self camping or independent camping has become an increasingly viable option for many Mumbaikers. This DIY version of camping allows you to set your own pace for the trip and unplug completely.
If such self reliance scares you a little bit, fear not, it is easier than you may think. Over the years, several popular destinations have emerged where independent camping grounds have cropped up with the necessary infrastructure available for a quiet but enjoyable experience. So don’t waste another weekend on your couch, all you need is your car, a tent and a book or a friend to keep you company.
Here’s a list of the most popular camping sites to choose from at a driving distance from Mumbai.
Pawna Lake – Great views, buzzing vibe
Pawna lake is camping central for Mumbaikers and Puneries alike. A whole lot of private camping sites are already established here but it’s still possible to pitch your own tent or rent locally at good spots. The lake itself is big and beautiful, surrounded by green hilltops and provides an idyllic location to set up camp at it’s banks. Plus, there are watersports facilities available and the lake is in close proximity to several landmarks such as Lohagad Fort, Visapur Fort, Tung Fort and Tikona Fort. These provide good trekking paths as well. Overall, Pawna lake is an ideal spot to initiate yourself into camping as it boasts of pretty decent infrastructure and typically draws a good crowd of campers on the weekends.
125 km from Mumbai, it will take about 3.5 hours by road to reach. By train, the location is just 25-30 km from Lonavala Railway station.
Kashid- Arabian Sea on one side and a wildlife sanctuary on the other
If you feel like doing more than just camping then give Kashid a try. The beaches here feel like they’re untouched by humans and that’s not it, you can go fishing, visit Janjira Fort or relax by the camp. There are campsites near Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary that you can pitch you tent in. Infact, you can camp at the sanctuary periphery or anywhere on the wide empty beaches. It’s possible to rent a bicycle and enjoy scenic beauty all along the roadside of this picturesque village. Kashid has many stalls that serve eggs and poha from dusk to dawn; you can also get sea food in Murud, 1 Km away.
3 hour drive from Mumbai or a 30 Km drive from Alibag.
Karnala, Panvel – Drown yourself in greenery amidst singing birds
Karnala bird sanctuary hosts as many as 150 resident birds for you to look at and shoot, of course with your cameras only. It is a perfect getaway from the noise and pollution of the city; with plenty of camping sites to choose from, one can always find something to do. There’s camping ground at the foot of the sanctuary itself. Also, there is Karnala fort nearby for those who like the labour of a short hike, a perfect vantage point for the never ending greenery around, especially in the monsoons. Carry enough snacks and an extra pair of clothes as you’re likely to get wet. You can only go up to the sanctuary in your car, no vehicles are allowed inside the sanctuary.
Just a two hour ride from Mumbai via Thane Creek and Panvel, located on NH-17. Another way is to take a train up to Panvel and then an auto to the sanctuary.
Uttan- Get away from the city, in the city
Uttan is a part of the city that seems untouched from modern life; take a break and camp out under the stars in this fishermen village. You can visit the beach nearby and enjoy stargazing at night. The beach and surrounding area is perfect for setting up camp. Everything about this place is calming, full of breath-taking views and refreshing air. The seafood here is sure to bring you back for a second trip.
How to Reach-
Either drive up to Uttan in less than 2 hours via Western Express highway or catch a train to Bhayandar Railway Station (12 kms away from Uttan).
Tungarli Lake, Lonavla – Artificial lake and dam for some genuine relaxation
Made by the British in 1930s, this lake is always brimming & the lush green forests around provide for a surreal camping location. This is one of the few places in Lonavla that is usually not crowded, you can always expect some peaceful time here. Set up camp in the open grounds near the lake, although, it might get too lonely at night. Those who prefer seeing fellow campers around should stick to evening & day time.
Around 2 hours’ (80 km) drive via Bangalore-Mumbai Highway. The lake is 5 min drive from Lonavla railway station.
Matheran- Hill station for a splendid camping experience
Matheran will make you forget that you’re anywhere near a city like Mumbai. Camping on a hill is an experience in itself; add to it the beauty of dense forests and waterfalls that surrounds it all, it is sure to become one of your favourite camping spots. If you love being in the forests then pack up everything you need and enjoy a thrilling camp out amongst the hills. It is a pedestrian hill-station, no vehicle is allowed beyond parking lot. There are horse rides available to take you up the hill. You can camp at Charlotte Lake and enjoy a great night out beside the lake.
Around 45 Kms from Mumbai with a parking space at Dasturi peak, just outside Matheran.
Remember self-camping requires some preparation in terms of equipment. A tent, sleeping bag, a mosquito zapper light are the basic gear you will need. You can rent them and any other camping accessory you need from Bragpacker for as little as Rs. 50/day. Our basic camping package can be rented for Rs.300/day for two people.
So go ahead and simply – Eat, Sleep & Camp this weekend !