Under the summer sky: Go camping in Karnala with Big Red Tent
Summers are the time to appreciate the evenings. It means open spaces that are shady, hammocks, getting doused with chilled water from the sprinklers
The last thing you want to do at the peak of summer is step outdoors. The heat and humidity in Mumbai simply drain you. So imagine the thought of camping. Nah!
But we give it a shot when the Big Red Tent guys tell us that camping in summer is just as nice as camping in winter (which is what we had tried). Really? Well, it is how you do it.
Summers are the time to appreciate the evenings. It means open spaces that are shady, hammocks, getting doused with chilled water from the sprinklers. It is appreciating ice water, sliced fruits and delicious nariyal paani. And, there is nothing comparable to the gathering chill of the night, looking at the sky and being startled by how close and bright the stars are, all with a lazy barbecue of starters, followed by a simple Maharashtrian dinner.
And so we take it on. Armed with the lightest summer clothes, badminton racquets and assorted nibbles, we head to Karnala.
Emerald lawns pitched with rows of green tents send a thrill up my heart. We are a party of two families, including four ambivalent young adults. But the sprinklers are on and you can't help hurrying to the camp site in eager anticipation.
The site is lined with trees and no matter how bright the sun is, sitting in the shade in the vast open outdoors, with the breeze in your hair, keep the heat at bay. Tea and sliced watermelon and oranges with biscuits done, the sun sets quickly. We laze in hammocks while the kids seem to want to try all the outdoor sports possible: football follows badminton, followed by cricket and then Frisbee. It's only 7.30 pm. But because we are in the interior of Karnala, there is nothing to light up the property. We enjoy the delicious, cooling, ice lollies, and get ourselves ready for a night walk, armed with nothing but torches. The trail seems mysterious and under the guidance of the host, we walk uphill, listening to night sounds in inky darkness.
Now that we've worked up an appetite, we return for barbecue that has been set on coals. You only realise how ravenous you are when you sit around the set-up and sample the different, mouth-watering nuggets that are being speared and turned around the fire.
We are carrying marshmallows. Yum! We settle down for the night, simply too stuffed to have dinner. Yet, when the delectable Maharashtrian fare is offered to us, we dig in, once again.
I think the best thing about camping is the morning. The summer morning at 5 am is bright and cool. Everything is drenched in dew. My 11-year-old son and I wipe the surface of a wooden bench and sit silently, enjoying the din of the birds around us.
By 11 am it is hot again, even in the shade. Time to go. Just perfect.
Where: The Big Red Tent, Karnala
Best for: Boys and girls, eight years and above
How to reach: The preferable way is to drive
Timings: Check-in is 4 pm; check-out, 12 pm
Budget: Rs 2,000 per head, all meals included
Food: Plenty of it
Water: Yes, chilled
Rest Room facilities: Clean
Where else to go:
The Karnala Bird Sanctuary for one; there are also soap-making, pottery and oil-making facilities at a centre nearby
Parent Poll: Enjoyed the night sky and the outdoors at dawn
Kids' Poll: No devices were needed to keep them engaged. There is something so inviting about being in wide green lawns with balls and Frisbees lying around.
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