Imagine waking up by a calm serene lake, as gentle mist wafts over the water, shrouding your tent with a white blanket. Wouldn’t that be the prefect way to start the day?
That was the promise that got me interested in this camping event. It was December and I had just gotten back from a rather long assignment overseas. Having missed most of the trekking season, I wanted to at least get back into the groove of traveling in and around Mumbai, before the winter ended. And this trip to a rather unknown lake near Mumbai was the perfect way to get started.
We left rather late in the morning with the intention of getting to our camp site by evening. Since none of us had been to this place before (barring the organizers, of course), we rendezvoused at a McDonald’s on the highway, most of us strangers meeting for the first time. After some cursory introductions it was time to leave for the campsite.
They say the best journeys are less about the destination and more about the road taken. And this was one fabulous drive indeed!!!
After taking the expressway, we drove through Lonavala and took some rather unkempt roads including some that passed through thick patches of forest. After a rather wonderful and longish drive that went decidedly off-road in parts, we finally made it to our campsite.
It was evening and the sun was beginning to dip in the horizon. So, while daylight still lasted, we quickly pitched our tents by the lakeside and then relaxed by the lake.
Now it had rained just a few days earlier in Mumbai, and thanks to that there were still a few clouds in the sky. In addition to camping, we had hoped to also see some stars. I had personally hoped to be able to click some nice pictures of the sky as well. Heck, we had even carried a telescope and bought along an astronomer !!!
But it was all for nothing. The Rain Gods played spoilsport and covered the sky in a thick blanket of clouds. Not to be deterred, we tried to have an astronomy session sans the stars. And boy did that last long !!!
After that short introduction to the stars, it was bonfire time and we roasted succulent mushrooms on a charcoal fire, enjoying both the warmth of the fire and the coolness of the air. Soon after dinner though, the ghosts came out to play and we took turns narrating tales of the supernatural around torchlight and the dying embers of the campfire.
The next day I awoke to the most surreal scene of the entire campsite covered in mist. It was like waking up in a cloud ! This is why I had come here, to enjoy this wondrous display of nature. Sipping hot tea in the morning, while being surrounded by mist was probably one of the best experiences of the year!
Finally it was time to bid goodbye to our campsite, and set back home to Mumbai – carrying back sweet memories of the trip.
Saltar Lake, lies in Aamby Valley, about 50km from Lonavala and is fairly remote location. The location of the lake is marked accurately on Google Maps and is about a 3-4 hour drive from Mumbai
Best Time to Visit
Salter is best visited in the winter months to enjoy the wonderful misty experience. Camping trips are generally held here from about November to February. While it is possible to visit this place throughout the year, the monsoon months are generally avoided.
Where to Stay
Since this is a remote camping site, the only stay option is to camp here. It’s probably better to visit the place as part of an organized camping trip. Canvas N Chrome, a Mumbai based adventure travel outfit, conducts regular trips here during winter.