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Old 11th February 2019, 13:21   #1
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Default Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Living in Mumbai, we rarely get good weather for camping around town. The camping season usually lasts just a few months usually from December to end of February.

The summer months are hot as hell and the monsoon fury is too much to enjoy a camping experience. If we get lucky, we get a few days of good weather just at the start of the monsoons but then the mud gets into the tents, and the post-camping clean up is a pain.

This season we did camp a few times and when the mercury dipped last week and we heard that the temperature in Lonavla went down to 9C with the wind factor making it feel like 4-5C, we could not let the opportunity go!

We usually camp with known people; friends who are like minded and know who will contribute to the experience.

Thus, a quick WhatsApp (WA) group is formed for co-ordination. As with any plan, 50% drop out after confirming and by the last day we know who is actually in!

WA has ben a boon for planning with delegation of who will get food, plates, water, etc.

The plan is drive upto Salter lake and set up camp there.

Salter lake is near the famous Aamby Valley township by the Sahara Group.

Over the years, salter has grown into a camping spot and as usual, good places get royally messed up by irresponsible folks.

You Google Salter lake and the first few pages will throw up commercial camp sites organisers!

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-screenshot-20190211-1.23.51-pm.png

A quick walk to our existing camping spots and we see remnants of previous camping by others and a lot of litter and junk thrown around including broken glass bottles.

We usually even clean up the mess left by others if time permits though not always.

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-junk1.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-junk2.jpg

Additionally, private land owners are now beginning construction activities to cash out on lake side properties!

Thus, we made a decision not to camp on the lake but to move into a friend's property approximately 500meters inland from the lake.

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 11th February 2019 at 13:30.
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Old 11th February 2019, 14:06   #2
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Default re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Let's go back in time a bit and talk about the campers and the planning.

Planning is important especially when you are away from civilisation and more importantly in today's scenario, mobile network. Thus, you need to make sure you carry everything other wise it's a few hours drive to get basic necessities and in small villages, places shut early.

Thankfully, everyone in the group this time owns tents and sleeping bags. Sometimes we carry spare tents for those who don't and we try to encourage new folks to enjoy the outdoors.

Trust me, outdoors is a luxury that needs to be enjoyed! I'm waiting for my nearly 3 year old to turn 5 before I start taking him on overnight camps!

When was the last time you met friends and just talked without looking at your mobile phone social media?

This is only possible around a campfire and without mobile network coverage.

The campers:

The Nayar Family: Ravi, Carmen and their 12 year old kid, Kian. They also run an adventure drive company called Offbeat Drives and are into Uber Luxury camping in offbeat locations.
These are the folks who come equipped and how. If the Nayars are coming, then most of the headache is sorted. No worries about a fridge and food! His Endy has a huge Engel fridge and with a dual battery setup, no worries about draining the primary battery and he can keep it running all night long. The fridge is great for pre marinated food and keep beverages cold. They even pre beat eggs and store in the fridge. So it becomes easy to carry 20 eggs in a container pre beaten rather than carry 20 eggs and risk then breaking and also spoiling the vehicle.
He also carried his grill and cooking utensils.

Then there was Prasad Iyer and his 5 year old kid Rudra. Prasad's from the hospitality back end industry, prior from the Marriott and currently the Taj and this time his job was to get some lamb chops marinated and the young Rudy bough a boat along.

Then there was Ashish and his friend Jay. Ashish is famous for his restaurant Via Bombay in Chembur and his Bombay Food Truck. He's one of the pioneers in getting the Food Truck business running in India his job was arranging for bread and beverages.

Ankit Tank, a real estate investor and one the Expert Drivers with Offroad Junkie accompanied me in my vehicle and was in charge of disposable plates! Ankit is the most helpful folks around and he's the guy who helps setting up and dismantling the camp site.

Lastly, there's me in my Pajero (Read about my Pajero overland build here: https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-v...onversion.html (Mitsubishi Pajero SFX - Project Overland Conversion) ). I'm in charge of getting the firewood, some camp furniture, not potable water for the fire circle and washing and recovery tools if required.

I had some spare junk wood from previous carpentry at home and it's great to start a fire because it burns faster and then we can use it to kindle proper firewood.

Onroute, we stopped at Lonavala market and picked up 85kgs of wild firewood:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-wood-shop.jpg

Now the technical problem is that the car boot is filled with camping gear and we had to line the rear seat with tarp and filled the wood in large sacks to prevent damage to the seat leather.

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-putting-wood-bag.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-wood-car.jpg


Coming back to present.

After the sight we saw at the lake, we started moving inland. It's good that all vehicles were high clearance 4WDs so we could recce good spots and find a suitable area.

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-recce-campsite.jpg


Though we found some really nice locations, the dried grass was long and we could land up starting a forest fire.

Finally we zeroed into our old camping spot with less grass and surrounded by trees which would minimise the strong winds blowing from the lake! Trust me, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the night progressed!

We set up camp and finally get to put up our feed and have some nice coffee by 6pm

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-relax-after-camp-set.jpg


The Thar with Prasad and Ashish reaches by 630 since they couldn't leave earlier and they have to just set up their tents. We also prefer to set up campsite during day light hours.

Time to light the fire! The Nayars alway s delegate some work to their kid. It keeps him busy and makes him learn and more importantly, it keeps him off electronic gadgets and games!

So his job is to pile up the wood in a pyramidical fashion and make a fire circle. A fire circle is basically a line cleared of grass to prevent the fire from spreading and a generous watering of the surrounding area.

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-plywood-fire-fire-circle.jpg

So in the early days, starting the fire was a chore! Fire starters included, paper with twigs and grass, paraffin wax, collected lint from the clothes drier and in worse case with wet wood, petrol/kerosene/diesel. But, we have Mr and Mrs OffbeatDrives with us: A 1200 degree butane torch made the fire crackle within half a minute!

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 11th February 2019 at 15:53.
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Old 11th February 2019, 16:13   #3
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Default re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Up next, setting up the camp.

Carmen, started setting up the grill with help from the boys, Ravi setups up the music system.

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-table1-usic.jpg

We only play music softly because we know sound travels far at night! Classical rock it was that night!

The food getting ready:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-ankit-papad.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-cooking-1.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-cooking-2.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-cooking-3.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-cooking-paratha.jpg

While Carmen and ankit are getting the food sorted, the boys get time for a quick pose:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-boys-night.jpg

Seeing that, the other 2 leave the flame to get into the snap!

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-group-night-snap.jpg

Not to be left out, I click a quick selfie!

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-tk-selfie.jpg

Ravi Nayar has a wonderful table that attaches to the tyre of the vehicle:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-endy-table-2.jpg

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 11th February 2019 at 16:15.
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Old 11th February 2019, 16:19   #4
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Default re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

A couple of drone shots of the camp at night:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-night-camp-drone-4.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-night-cmap-drone-3.jpg

As the night progresses, varied topics were discussed over the campfire!

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190209_204908.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190209_213846.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190209_225300.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190209_225330.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190209_225349.jpg
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Old 11th February 2019, 16:23   #5
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Default re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Carmen,who was lying on the cot with Kian, says just look at the sky:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190209_213851.jpg

And we did!

It was a clear sky with very little moonlight and the stars were out in full strength!

We switched off the music and awning lights and stared! There was pin drop silence for the longest of time!

And then we experimented with the phone to try to capture the night and gave up soon because we just couldn't capture the glorious sky!

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190209_214531.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190209_215308.jpg

By 1am Jai and a friend came from Mumbai in a Thar. They got delayed due to work and we chatted till 5am!

We were really thankful for the trees surrounding us because they acted as wind breakers esle we all would have frozen stiff!

We snuck snuggly into our sleeping bags and called it a night!

Decathlon has really made life easier for campers with good and reasonable camping gear!

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 11th February 2019 at 17:23.
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Old 11th February 2019, 16:55   #6
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Default re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

One disadvantage of camping is that the sun wakes you early unless you are wearing an eye mask while sleeping.

A few of us were up by 730am!

We hadn't factored in staying awake till 5am and thus, ran out of wood at night and now needed wood to cook the morning breakfast.

Thankfully, there were dead branches lying around and we could pick up a few big pieces and haul it back to the camp site.

I had recently picked up from Switzerland, a hand saw for branches of uptown 10cms and i got to try it out the first time! Brilliantly sharp and sawed the thick piece of branch within a minute.

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-saw-2.jpg

This much wood was enough to boil water to make tea/coffee in the morning.

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-tea-wood.jpg

Used the quiet time to click some snaps:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-m1.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-m2.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-m3.jpg

A few villagers passing by to collect wood, saw us and asked if we need help. We asked them to collect wood for us and tipped them and started getting breakfast ready and started waking up the others.

Ankit getting ready to brush his teeth:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-ankit-brush.jpg


Breakfast:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-bf1.jpg

You see the plates being used? These are made from waste sugarcane which is compressed into plates and are completely biodegradable. We used to just chuck it in the fire after use.

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-bf2.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-bf5.jpg

Rudy gets the oar and demands the boat be inflated and we move to the lake:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-rudy-oar.jpg

Ravi first tries to inflate the boat with the air mattress electric pump:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-rn-boat-3.jpg

But soon gives up because its taking a lot of time and he is worried that he will burning out the pump.

So we use a foot pump before we bring out the tyre compressors. The foot pump works well though:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-tk-boat.jpg

Prasad realises that the boat makes for a superb easy chair!

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-boat-makes-easy-chair.jpg

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 11th February 2019 at 17:25.
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Old 11th February 2019, 17:03   #7
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Default re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

As soon as my breakfast is done, I fire up the Spark for some pics:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-dron-5.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-drone-6.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-drone-7.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-drone-9.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-drone-10.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-drone-13.jpg
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Old 11th February 2019, 17:10   #8
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Default re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Time for dismantling the camp and head out to the lake for a quick swim/boating lesson before heading back home.

Shutting the Pajero awning:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190210_105541.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190210_105717.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190210_110039.jpg

I have a "wheelie bin" from bushranger that attaches to the spare tyre.

Dump the trash:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-wheelie-bin1.jpg

Zip it up:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190210_110753.jpg

Empty at the first public bin. This way you keep all the trash outside the vehicle.

In the meanwhile I load up the boat on my roof rack to transport it to the lake side:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-pajero-boat-11.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-pajero-boat-12-snapseed.jpg
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Old 11th February 2019, 17:18   #9
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Default re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

The others are dismantling the camp. Even the kids are involved in small tasks like winding up the rope or assisting in folding:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190210_105723.jpeg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190210_110054.jpeg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-20190210_110057.jpeg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-dismantle-kian-rope.jpeg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-dismantle-tent.jpeg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-dismantle-anwing-zip-nayars.jpeg


Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-dismantle-nayars-awning.jpg

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-dismantle-prasad-kid.jpg

We finish the dismantle and check:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-camp-dismantle-finsih.jpeg

Still see the fire smouldering and put it out:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-fire-out-water.jpg

Done:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-fire-out.jpg

We normally bury the ash but the villagers asked us to leave it along with the unused wood. They wanted the ash.
We finally head to the lake for the kids and adults to enjoy alike:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-lake-nayars.jpg

In this pic you will see on the top left of the pic, the construction activity in the background:

Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-lake-boat.jpg


We leave with great memories and will come back post the camping season to do a quick clean up of the area because we saw a lot of Storks and similar birds around and thought it was our civic need to do this.

Hope you had as much fun reading this as I had writing and re-living the weekend.

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 11th February 2019 at 17:27.
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Old 11th February 2019, 20:29   #10
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Arrow re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Note from Support: Thread moved to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th February 2019, 10:58   #11
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Default Re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejas@perioimpl View Post
We usually even clean up the mess left by others if time permits though not always. A fire circle is basically a line cleared of grass to prevent the fire from spreading and a generous watering of the surrounding area. ]We only play music softly because we know sound travels far at night! You see the plates being used? These are made from waste sugarcane which is compressed into plates and are completely biodegradable. I have a "wheelie bin" from bushranger that attaches to the spare tyre. Dump the trash: Zip it up:Empty at the first public bin. We normally bury the ash
We leave with great memories and will come back post the camping season to do a quick clean up of the area because we saw a lot of Storks and similar birds around and thought it was our civic need to do this.
So awesome! If everyone did show this much concern about the impact we have, going out into the wilderness could be such a joy and so sustainable.

Unfortunately as it stands now, 'camping' is mostly large groups heading out, starting random fires, eating and drinking all night and dancing to loud music, leaving plastic, paper and food waste strewn all around!

Kudos to you guys for the way you do things! And the best part is that your children will watch and learn the correct way to do these things.
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Old 12th February 2019, 11:44   #12
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Default Re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Awesome Doc! You guys are really lucky out there in MH, down here we have so many restrictions these days, and unless we find some private land it would be a nightmare with the authorities. Back in the old days, we had some options we could try, but with ever increasing tourists crowd flocking these areas, now that also has gone off limits.

Wish the authorities come up with dedicated area so that such recreational activities can be conducted without trouble. Especially for children this would be memorable outing, where else would they get chance to experience nature like this? living in the urban jungles we have built.
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Old 12th February 2019, 12:26   #13
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Default Re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

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Originally Posted by Tejas@perioimpl View Post
We leave with great memories and will come back post the camping season to do a quick clean up of the area because we saw a lot of Storks and similar birds around and thought it was our civic need to do this.

Hope you had as much fun reading this as I had writing and re-living the weekend.
Wow what a fun read! Never been camping in India before, but the bug is definitely there.


Saw you on Peddar Road today morning. The Pajero looks better in real
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Old 12th February 2019, 15:08   #14
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Default Re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Superb Pics Tejas and specially the ones from the Drone.

These are one of the few preserved locations for camping luckily only 4x4 can make it there, else these would also be ruined. We always camp responsibly leaving nothing behind.

I have done several trips with Ravi and have met you once at the Fortuner drive at BKC. With our hectic life these weekend off-the-grid camping trips in the lap of nature is rejuvenating.

A couple of pics from our previous trip at similar location.
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Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla-ae352ff98ce94602a6882367ff9bd1b7.jpg  

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Old 12th February 2019, 16:35   #15
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Default Re: Weekend camping at Salter Lake - Near Amby Valley, Lonavla

Great thread Tejas. It's good to have had a team of experienced campers. Newbies can mess up big time.

Twenty years ago, there were many places where one could go camping. With increasing population and development, their number has come down drastically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejas@perioimpl View Post
Planning is important especially when you are away from civilisation and more importantly in today's scenario, mobile network. Thus, you need to make sure you carry everything other wise it's a few hours drive to get basic necessities and in small villages, places shut early.
I've done a little bit of camping myself in the past and I know how important this is. There can be times when you might need to travel for miles just to procure something.

Quote:
Trust me, outdoors is a luxury that needs to be enjoyed!
Absolutely true. There is very little that can match this. The sounds and smells of nature with none of those blaring car horns or construction noises is very relaxing.

Quote:
We leave with great memories and will come back post the camping season to do a quick clean up of the area because we saw a lot of Storks and similar birds around and thought it was our civic need to do this.
Noble thought. It's sad that people irresponsibly leave behind a heap of trash after they have finished.

Quote:
Hope you had as much fun reading this as I had writing and re-living the weekend.
Yes and good to see some familiar faces in the pics too. Also nice to see the children helping. It will toughen them up and also make them healthier and more responsible citizens.
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