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Living in Bombay, we’ve been used to the few conventional weekend getaways- Lonavala, Pune, Matheran and sometimes Mahableshwar. But over time, these have grown stale and have failed to cater to our need for something new. Mumbai-kars are dynamic and restless, constantly seeking out new adventures and blissful retreats.

And White Collar Hippie has curated one such weekend experience for everyone waiting to escape the city- Camping under the Stars @ Bandcamp.

Having spent the night there two years in a row let me give you the lowdown!

What is it?

If traditional camping doesn’t appeal to you and you can’t exactly afford glamping, this place is the in-between you’re looking for. Camping under the Stars @ Bandcamp combines the best of both worlds as you enjoy tenting, bonfires, barbecues, a live band, the sea-breeze and the company of many like-minded people.

When?

Weekends- October through March

Where?

The campground is located about an hour away from the city, behind U-Tan Sea Resort, Uttan. Uttan is a lazy fishing village located in the Thane District (so technically, you do go out of Bombay).

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The easiest way to get to Uttan would be by driving down. The resort offers ample parking and if you happen to be an amateur driver, it’ll put your up-hill skills to the test.

Else you could take an Uber which would cost you about Rs. 800.

However, there is another route to get there. If there is a thrill seeker within you, you would do well to take the untraveled path. Grab two friends and get onto a ferry to Madh at Versova Jetty (Rs. 10 per person), a rickshaw to Marve (Rs. 140), a ferry to Manori (Rs. 10 per person), a bus to Uttan Naka (Rs. 17 per person) and a rickshaw to the resort (Rs. 80). Congratulations, the three of you just made it there in Rs. 110 each with wind-ruffled hair, sandy feet and a great story! You could return the same way or call a cab (it takes an hour to come so schedule it accordingly).

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I’ve done both the routes and one of them was a lot more enjoyable, hands down!

The Camp

The place does have a vacation-vibe to it so you can unwind peacefully. However, there is perfectly good cell phone connectivity which may or may not work in your favour.

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The campground is a welcome change from the buildings of the city. Bright green tents, streamers, Chinese lanterns and hammocks are easy on the eyes. There is a selection of books, board games and hoola-hoops to keep you going for the evening.

After collecting your sleeping bag and welcome-kit and grabbing a snack, get ready for a hike (walk?) down to the sea side. The views are spectacular and the breeze, calming. If you weren’t feeling like you were on a vacation yet, you will now.

After going back, the barbecue is lit up with plenty selection for both vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians.  Grab your drinks (bring your own booze) and settle down as the band, Cool Waters Project, starts to play for the evening. If you look into the sky, you will also sight some stars!

Both the times I’ve been, I’ve had extremely diverse crowds and yet I have managed to find some great people and had good conversation.

The evening does come with its fair share of mosquitoes but the welcome-kit comes with Odomos to tackle this problem.

Dinner is served and there is more variety than a camper is usually accustomed to. Dig in for the food is delicious! It might even be followed by a bonfire with marshmallows which I got to relish last year.

For the cleanliness-freak inside you, the camp is equipped with communal showers, clean western-style lavatories and sinks to wash-up.

Settle into your tent for the night. Depending on the time of the year and how lucky you are, you might get chilly to pleasant to mildly warm weather. One time I needed a jacket and the other time, a hand-fan. The sleeping bags are standard Quechua ones which are comfortable but do carry a pillow in case you have a sensitive neck.

If you’re an early riser, you will be treated to another hike up a slightly more difficult terrain from where again, you get different yet beautiful views. It adds to the camper feeling.

The breakfast spread is as good as dinners, maybe even better with a lot of option including eggs, poha, Nutella and cereal.

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Frolic in the grass, play a game of throw-ball and laze around until it’s time to leave (about 11am).

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PROS

  • Lavatories with a cleaning crew
  • Delicious food
  • Hikes/walks add to the ‘camper’ feeling
  • Optimal distance from the city
  • Approachable and friendly people

CONS

  • Mosquitos- sometimes Odomos isn’t enough
  • A stray dog problem that is being dealt with as we speak
  • Unpredictable weather. And not much can be done when it gets hotter than your liking

COST

Rs. 2500 per person per night.

VERDICT

Go for it! It is definitely worth a visit and a pleasant change from the usual weekend affair. It will be a weekend well-spent. They are working on building Bandcamp into a platform for various bands to perform and a number of other exciting prospects.

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I have only visited on Saturday nights. On Friday nights instead of a band, they organize ‘Movie Night’ where they screen an undisclosed movie. Have you been there yet? What did you think?

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