It’s time to dust off your rucksacks and head outdoors. From treks and overnight camps to abseiling and forest trails, here’s what the Western Ghats have to offer this season
Enter the forest
Pic Courtesy/ Ashwin Khadtare
Walk through Andharban forest
July 3: Trailing through the forest of Andharban near Pimpri village in Pune, brings to mind the ‘lovely, dark and deep woods’ that Robert Frost spoke of. The interesting part of this 13km long trek is the thick forest cover over your head. Andharban, by its name means a dark dense forest, and a major portion of this trek — conducted by SG Trekkers — involves walking through this denseness. The day-long climb begins near Pimpri dam in broad daylight, but as you step in, it gets darker, adding to the magic that this place has to offer. The trek concludes at the Bhira dam, which is the origin of the Kundalika river, famous for white water river rafting. You can travel to Pune via the Mumbai Highway. There are trains at regular intervals from CST and Dadar Central station.
Meeting point: Bank of Maharashtra, Lokmangal, Shivaji Nagar at 5.45 AM
COST: Rs 650
TO BOOK: www.sgtrekkers.in
Take your kids along
Join kids on a nature trek to Karnala
July 9: If you thought children can’t join in the trekking fun, Altitude Quest Adventure’s kids special trek to Karnala will prove you wrong. The two-and-a-half hour trek that begins at the Karnala bird sanctuary, winds through a forest, before leading you to Karnala Fort in Panvel. Parents will be allowed to accompany the young trekkers through the trail. The trek is open to kids above six.
WHERE: Bus starts from Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali at 5 AM
COST: Rs 1,650
Brave Bhimashankar’s wildlife trail
July 23 – 25: Explore Raigad’s Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary in a two-day long trek via the Ganesh Ghat route. The sanctuary is small (only about 100 square km), but is home to a wide variety of animals, including the highly endangered Indian giant squirrel — Shekharu. Organised by Altitude Quest Adventure, the moderate-level trek is open to all above the age of 10.
WHERE: Bus starts from Sanjay Gandhi National Park at 5 AM
COST: Rs 3,500
Take a long break
Discover the wilderness of Amboli
July 29 – 31: Join fellow nature enthusiasts on a three-day wildlife camp in Amboli, a hill station in the Sahyadri Hills. Nestled in the heart of the Western Ghats, 490 km from Mumbai, Amboli is home to magnificent creatures, including the Malabar flying frog, the Malabar green pit viper, and vine snake.
The three-day camp, organised by Amazing Amboli, includes a night wildlife trail, a three-hour trek in the thick forests of the ghats, a visit to the ancient Hiranykeshi Temple, as well as a workshop, where you learn about Herpetofauna and birding from local guides, wildlife experts and photographers. It takes around seven hours to reach Amboli from Mumbai, and the cost of the fare includes travel and accommodation.
Meeting point: Sawantwadi Road Railway Station, Niravade at 10 AM
COST: Rs 4,000 per head
TO BOOK: www.amazingamboli.org
Stand on the roof of Maharashtra
Aug 6: Head out on a day-long trek to Mt Kalsubai, which at 1,6464 metres above sea level, is the highest point in Maharashtra. Organised by Dark Green Adventures, the trek can be wrapped within four hours, and does not require any exceptional climbing skills. At the summit, one can also visit the small temple of Devi Kalsubai. Being the highest, the peak also offers a panoramic view of the region. To the north, forts such as Harihargad, Ramsej, Brahmagiri, Ghargad, Tringalwadi, Anjaneri are visible, while to the south, you can spot Pabhargad, Harishchandragad and Ghanchkkar.
Meeting point: Pritam Hotel, 20 Dharamputra, Pritam Estate, Dadar (East) at 10.45 PM
See Mumbai from the highest point
Ongoing: Enjoy a relaxing trek to the highest point in Mumbai, at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The trek begins once you reach the Kanheri caves. From here, you take one of the restricted trails. The initial 15 minutes of the climb offers you a stunning view of the whole western part of the national park. Once you head right to the top, you get to witness scintillating views of the Tulsi, Powai and Vihar lakes. If you are lucky, you can also spot deer and leopard pugmarks.
Meeting point: Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali at 7.20 AM
COST: Rs 1,150
TO BOOK: www.thrillophilia.com
Be a water baby
Get crazy on Kundalika river
Tighten your shorts, practise your prayers and get ready to ride nature’s rollercoaster in this once-in-a-lifetime white water rafting experience on the Kunadlika River in Kolad. The 12-km stretch — best experienced in the rains — is loaded with crazy rapids that will hurl you screaming all the way. You will need to arrange for your transport to the Kolad campsite. Children below 14 will be accepted at the instructor’s discretion. Kolad village (117 km from Mumbai) can be reached via National Highway No 17. From the village, it takes around 45 minutes to the rafting start point.
WHERE: Kolad, Village Saje, Raigad District
COST: Rs 1,299 (weekends) and Rs 899 (weekdays)
Abseil down waterfalls
There’s no better season to enjoy the thrill and adventure of waterfall rappelling than the monsoons. Imagine scouring down a rapidly streaming waterfall with slippery rocks and green vegetation all around you. Rapelling, also known as abseiling, begins at the top of the fall, where you stand over the edge, and held by a guide above, slowly lower yourself down to terra firma, using a rope. The main equipment used is high quality ropes, descender, seat harness along with gloves and helmet for safety. In Maharashtra, waterfalls in Dodhani, Panshet, and Bhivpuri offer some of the best experiences for adventure enthusiasts.
WHEN: July 2, 3
WHERE: Meet at Bhivpuri Railway Station at 7.35 AM
COST: Rs 850
WHEN: July 10
WHERE: Meet at platform 4 of Panvel Station at 7.30 AM
COST: Rs 1,200
TO BOOK: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEN: July 20, 21, 6 AM
WHERE: Panshet Village, Kuravati, Velhe, Pune
COST: Rs 1,045
TO BOOK: in.bookmyshow.com
Take it easy
Go on a secret picnic
Ongoing, 9.30 AM to 4.30 PM: Spend the day in your very own enchanted forest with rolling meadows, streams and a pond at a secret picnic spot, where you can enjoy quality time with your friends and family. The Secret Picnic team will meet you just off the Western Express Highway at Nalasopara and accompany you to the parking spot. From here you trek for 15 minutes through the forest, till you reach the spot. This picnic spot, which is a haven for butterflies, is a photographer’s dream. There is also a stream for you to splash in, or go kayaking.
COST: Rs 7,199 for a group of four
Enjoy a marathon in Durshet forest
Aug 7, 6 AM TO 10 AM: Sometimes, a marathon isn’t just another run against time. The Durshet Forest Marathon is one such intoxicating mix. The run amidst the breathtaking forest surroundings comes with its own set of challenges. The first phase involves running through a blanket of paddy fields. Tough terrains follow, with a track mixed with steep hills. The rains only make running through the stretch trickier. Durshet is two hours from Mumbai (over 75 kms), and can be reached via the Mumbai Highway.
WHERE: Meet at Durshet Forest Lodge, Khopali-Pali Road, Khalapur, Durshet
COST: Half marathon (Rs 1,050) and Full marathon (Rs 1,150)
TO REGISTER: www.townscript.com
Ride to Kondana caves
July 10: Head out on a day-long cycling trip to Kondana caves with Mumbai Travellers. The cycling trip will begin at Karjat station, and halt at Kondiwade village, which is the base of the Rajmachi peak in the Sahyadris. You park your cycles here, and leave for a 45-minute trek to the top. During the monsoons, Rajmachi offers breathtaking views of waterfalls. En-route, you will get to explore the Kondana caves, dating back to first century BC, and enjoy a delicious lunch at a villager’s house, before riding back to Karjat. You will be provided
cycles at meeting point.
WHERE: Meet at Karjat Station at 7.30 AM
COST: Rs 1,800
TO REGISTER: email@example.com
Spend the night out
Camp at Malshej Ghat
Aug 27 – 28: Camping at Malshej Ghat during the monsoon is a different experience altogether. The plateau, which is known for its misty hill tops and ice cold cascades, is in its prime during the season, sprouting wild flowers that only add colour to the lush green background. Join the Bombay Natural History Society on an overnight camp, and explore the forest belt, which is known to be home to the Indian Giant Squirrel, Whistling Thrush, and different kinds of moths.
WHERE: Bus will leave from Empress Mahal, Khodadad Circle, Dadar TT at 6.30 AM
COST: Rs 7,400