The New Camp Followers 

Why many young Indians are moving away from the hotel experience to spend time under the stars
 

Published: 06th February 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th February 2022 04:19 PM   |  A+A-

Luxe Camps, Kodai

Express News Service

I could hear the waterfall all day and all night. It was right there.” This is Haritha Reddy, a travel curator from Bengaluru recounting her experience of glamping in Poombarai, 30 km from the hill station, Kodaikanal. “Because we were at a height, we could see the entire valley below us. We didn’t have to travel too far to trek down to the fall. The way clouds rolled in every few minutes was magical. After the trek, we soaked ourselves in the warmth of the jacuzzi and opened a bottle of champagne,” she describes her stay at a geodesic dome in the Vindhyas.

Camping is emerging as a popular outdoor activity in India, perhaps because it is the safest way to take a holiday in the age of the pandemic—a perfect antidote to polluted urban air, stressful schedules and isolated indoor living. Amit Shetty, the CEO and founder of Campmonk, India’s popular camping operator, says, “Our company has grown 150 percent year-on-year in the last two years.

Camping is a part of the alternative accommodation industry, which is slated to be at 48 billion right now. Homestays are bunched into this broad industry.” According to him, camping will become a lifestyle eventually. “At first, people take everything for a campsite. They slowly progress to owning their own gear such as tents, stoves and more.” His data tells us that the cost of a BYOT (bring your own tent) can be as low as Rs 1,500 per person per night. Then there is expensive travelling accommodation such as safari tents and A-frame cottages that go for about Rs 3,000 per person. 

Hobbit Homes by Camp Monk, Aventura, Ooty

And hold your breath, setting up a luxury camp by The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC), Ladakh, can stress your wallet up to Rs 25,000 per person a night. “TUTC Arunachal is priced one lakh. Their locations are phenomenal. My stay in TUTC Thiksey felt like living in the Gladiator movie,” Haritha recalls.After experiencing cabin fever during the many waves of the pandemic, it’s natural for travellers to get the feel of open spaces: camping is the solution they seem to have found. And there are many to choose from. Glamping is where luxury meets outdoor. The advantage of basic eco camps in remote parts is exclusivity. The quick getaways around your city are activity-based camps to get a dopamine boost. These are boons for people looking for a break.

Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Rann of Katch, Rajasthan and Daman are some of the popular camping destinations after the Himalayas. Astro-camping is for stargazers. There is a festival camping for music lovers. Glamping is for hedonists to luxuriate in a jacuzzi far away from town. Crackling bonfires are for dreamers and activity camps cater to adventure seekers. The active experience of being in the moment amidst Nature is the cachet of camping. It demands something extra from you as a traveller, pushes your boundaries which is high in itself. Camping newbies are advised to know about resourceful campsites closer to their cities compared to experienced campers who go further into Walden Pond.

While there is no reliable data, this camping is a nascent travel sector in India, the number of camping households has certainly seen a spike. Shweta Kapoor, partner at Deloitte, chose to glamp in Jaisalmer as her yearend holiday with family. “We glamped in Khuri. It’s in the back of beyond, and the tents are large and carpeted. They transport you to the Mughal era where you can imagine royalty taking a vacation. The bar is accessible, there are music programmes and desert trails,” says Kapoor, adding, “Our experience of camping in Ladakh was different.

Those locations are accessible only for two to three months of the year. Though the facilities are basic, you can experience serene beauty. In Jaisalmer, we went dune-bashing in an open jeep. There were vertical drops and the Dubai experience is not a patch on what Jaisalmer offers. They let you ride 260cc quad bikes and if you are a novice, you don’t realise what you are in for. You can paraglide on request too,” she recounts. One of the reasons why camping is rising in popularity is the need for unchartered experiences, enhanced by service improvements. It is also a taste of sustainability. 

The Popularity Quotient 
✥ Camping is a low-risk activity with more space per family
✥ You get to observe nature in its most pristine form
✥ Patchy cellphone signals ensure better family time
✥ It’s an active holiday with hiking, kayaking, cycling that boosts health
 



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