BENGALURU: Clare s’ recent trip was memorable for many reasons. Not only was it the 23-year-old’s first travel plan post the lockdown but it was also something she’d never tried before: To rent a caravan to Sakleshpur with her friends. The two-day trip left her with many sweet memories. “Once, we came across the ruins of a church, which was by the side of a water body. We halted there for lunch. And since the caravan comes equipped with a portable stove, we made some Maggi and fried chicken, and enjoyed it along a river,” says the engineer, who went on this trip with two other friends from the city.
Clare is not the only one hopping aboard the caravan express. According to Chandrakanth Ramoji, while this form of tourism was novel in India, the pandemic helped it become more popular.
So much so that even though Ramoji shifted his company Camper Trails’ base from Bengaluru to Goa, he is still getting enquiries about his trailers (where a caravan is hitched onto an SUV). “I get at least 2-3 enquiries daily from people,” he says, adding that he plans to launch again in October, with a minibus or tempo that has been converted into a caravan.
Similar to Camper Trails, companies like Trippy Wheels and LuxeCamper, offer caravan tourism. Sanjna Hangal, who co-founded Trippy Wheels with Vathsala C R, says their caravans – for 4, 6 and 8 people – come with sleeping and cooking facilities, indoor and outdoor games, and camping gear. “A driver comes along too. We left out a restroom in the caravan because waste disposal is a hassle. We have tie-ups with over 60 hostels and homestays in south India where people can use their facilities,” she says, adding that while enquiries are on the rise, bookings aren’t made until two weeks before the trip.
Tiger Ramesh, CEO and founder of LuxeCamper, sees five bookings a month. “Kabini, Bheemeshwari, Hampi, BR Hills, Sakleshpur, Kodagu, Goa, Mangaluru and Bandipur are popular,” says Ramesh. LuxeCamper’s caravans – which are 9-10 tonne buses – come with a driver, tour operator, AC, shower, toilets, WiFi, TV, etc.
Nazmi Rafique Hasan, who recently surprised her husband with a caravan trip to Bheemishwari, is glad she got a chance to travel like this during such times. “The jungle lodge we were parked at overnight was open and isolated, which made us feel safe. We started our mornings being greeted by monkeys jumping on the caravan’s roof and deer grazing on the grass outside,” says Hsan,who is now planning a trip with her parents.