10 Incredible Places to Camp Out in India – Let's Be Outdoorsy

10 Incredible Places to Camp Out in India

Camping season is here. Whether you’re a noob or a veteran, we’ve picked 10 of the most awesome outdoorsy destinations that will get you to pack up and pitch tent – or glamp it up!

1. Sangla Valley, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh

The picturesque Sangla Valley is known for its orchards, lush with apricots, apples and peaches. At an altitude of 2,700m, the region offers views of the majestic Himalayas amidst cedar trees and Bespa River. Camping here is pretty organized with options varying from permanent Swiss-style tents to DIY setups. Activities around the area include nature trails, treks to surreal viewpoints, trout angling, rappelling and more.

When to go: Mid-March to October.

How to go there: Shimla is a 7.5-hour drive from Sangla, and houses both, rail and air heads.

Duration: 5 to 6 days

Difficulty level: Beginner

2. Banasura Hill, Wayanad, Kerala

Located on the southern top of the Deccan plateau, Wayanad district is charming with its misty views of the Western Ghats, dense biodiverse forests and plantations. The region is steeped in history and culture. Banasura Hill is among the tallest peaks in the Western Ghats. The eponymous dam, at its foot, is India’s largest earthen dam, built in 1979 across the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River. Although touristy, the spot is ideal for a weekend camp. Its home to several permanent campsites that offer a mix of tented and cottage accommodation. Activities in the area include nature trails, mountain biking, boating trips, etc.

When to go: June to January.

How to go there: It takes approximately 3.5 hours by road to reach Banasura Hill from Kozhikode – a well-connected air and rail head.

Duration: Weekend

Difficulty level: Beginner

3. Pench National Park, Seoni and Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh

Rudyard Kipling fans will know Pench National Park as the setting of his famous ‘The Jungle Book’. The 293-square-kilometre sanctuary is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including the elusive leopard and over 285 resident and migratory birds. The Park is part of several conservation programmes, the most well-known being Project Tiger, since 1992. If you’re lucky, you just might spot Collarwali (T-15) the star tigress of Pench. On the outskirts of the park you’ll find plenty of accommodation options. Several of these offer pampered glamping experiences, replete with naturalists-led park tour, BBQ bonfires and more. Park activities include boat rides to its islands, safaris, birding trails, etc.

When to go: February to April and October to June.

How to get there: Nagpur (92km) and Jabalpur (192km) serve as convenient rail and air heads that are well connected to major metros.

Duration: 5 to 6 days

Difficulty level: Beginner

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4. Great Rann Of Kutch, Kutch, Gujarat

One of the world’s largest salt deserts, the Great Rann of Kutch lies between the Gulf of Kutch and the mouth of the Indus River in southern Pakistan. The region is sparsely populated by tribal groups known for their exceptional handicrafts, textiles and embroideries. The region is frequented around Rann Utsav, an annual festival held from November to early February. The occasion is marked by the building of a temporary tented city across an area of 5,00,000sqm. Event highlights include handicrafts stalls, traditional entertainment, and sightseeing. Camping here is a highly organized activity with permanent accommodation that varies from rustic tents to Swiss cottages (both, AC and non-AC). Plan your trip around the full moon cycle – the glistening white Rann is a sight to behold.

When to go: December to February.

How to get there: The nearest airport to Kutch is in the city of Bhuj (80km). Bhuj also has a railhead that’s connected to all major cities.

Duration: Weekend

Difficulty level: Beginner

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5. Kundalika River, Kolad, Maharashtra

Set around the Kundalika River, the tiny village of Kolad is situated in Maharashtra’s Raigad district, just off the Mumbai-Goa highway. The area is a sought-after monsoon destination for white-water rafting (Grade II & III) and picturesque waterfalls. Incidentally, the river is the fastest flowing one in southern India. Tucked into the Sahyadri range, Kolad offers plenty of outdoorsy activities that range from trekking, rappelling and kayaking to picnics, village tours and nature trails. Bird nerds can get their fix at the nearby Sutarwadi Lake that’s home to a variety of migratory birds. You can set up camp yourself or choose from one of several organized camping options.

When to go: June to October.

How to get there: Kolad is approximately a 3-hour drive from Mumbai. There is a direct train between Mumbai and Kolad (2.5hr ride).

Duration: Weekend

Difficulty level: Beginner

6. Pangong Tso Lake, Ladakh 

At 4,350m above sea level, the Pangong Tso Lake straddles India and China. Camping on its banks is an otherworldly experience with views of the glacial waters that are known to change colours – from aquamarine to red! Being a salt water lake, marine life is limited to crustaceans and low micro-vegetation. Birders look out for bar-headed geese and Brahminy ducks. The destination rose to fame for a sand spit nicknamed ‘Shooting Point’ that was the set of 2009 Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots. When it comes to camping, choose between setting up your own gear or staying at one of several permanent camps replete with all the amenities of modern-day life. Being a military zone, a visit to the region requires an Inner Line Permit, which can be obtained at in.

When to go: June to September. Despite being saline, the lake freezes between December to February.

How to get there: Pangong Tso is a five-hour drive from Leh, which is approximately 490km away from Manali’s Bhuntar Airport.

Duration: 5 to 6 days

Difficulty level: Intermediate

 7. Umngot River, Dawki, Meghalaya

The Umngot River and the border town of Dawki through which it flows, is Megahalaya’s well-kept secret. Well, fairly well-kept. In recent times the waterbody has made an appearance across social media for its pristine, crystal clear waters that create the illusion of a boat levitating over its surface. The natural boundary between Ri Pnar (Jaintia Hills) and Hima Khyrim of Khasi hills, the river is the gateway to Bangladesh, and a major trade point between the two countries. Its banks form the ideal spot to set up camp and a base for a plethora of outdoor activities such as scuba diving, rafting, trekking, ziplining, rock climbing and more.

When to go: November to March

How to get there: Guwahati is the nearest railhead (180km). Guwahati is the nearest rail and air head that’s well connected to Shillong. From thereon, Dawki is 95km by road.

Duration: 2 to 4 days

Difficulty level: Intermediate

8. Shivpuri, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

The 36-kilometre stretch between Kaudiyala and Rishikesh has been a camping and rafting hotspot for ages. However, irresponsible tourism has put a strain on the surrounding environs. In April 2018, the number of beach campsites on the banks of the Ganga was reduced from 25 to five, by order of the National Green Tribunal. A win for eco-warriors, for sure! More recently, a ban was imposed on water sports and camping in the area. Restrictions on the former have been lifted. As we’re hopeful of a positive verdict on conscientious camping, we’re still counting Shivpuri in Rishikesh as one of India’s top 10 campsites. Who could resist those white, sandy shores and turquoise waters along the foothills of the Himalayas!

When to go: September to November.

How to get there: Rishikesh is about an hour away from Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport. The nearest railhead is Haridwar, approximately 25 km away. Buses and taxis are  Vavailable from thereon.

Duration: Weekend

Difficulty level: Intermediate

 9. Chandra Taal, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
A trip to Spiti Valley (meaning ‘The Middle Land’) is not for the fainthearted. The 3,800- metre high-altitude desert is sectioned off by the Kunzum Pass, and the drive to it is marked by winding, rugged terrain. Once there though, it’s totally worth the effort. The remotely populated region draws travellers with its unspoiled naturescapes and Buddhist-influenced culture. The glacial lake of Chandra Taal, 13km off the road to Spiti, is the ideal place to camp. Prepare for a bit of a trek on the final kilometre there. While the campsite is well-equipped with hot water, meals, a guide and even a doctor, you’re also welcome to set up your own gear – with required permissions. Activities include: hikes around the lake, mountain biking, bird watching, and more.
When to go: May to October.

How to get there: Kullu-Manali airport is nearest and well-connected. From there it’s a 6.5-hour drive to Spiti Valley – you can either hire a car/cab or catch a bus.

Duration: 3 to 4 days

Difficulty level: Pro

10. Dzükou Valley, Nagaland

At 2,438m above sea level, Dzükou Valley lies on the border of Nagaland and Manipur. According to legend, the word Dzükou translates to mean ‘cold water’ in the Angami dialect. The region is known for its seasonal blooms; the most popular being the Dzükou Lily. Getting to Viswema, the starting point of the trek, is a challenge itself, requiring multiple modes of transportation across rugged, winding terrain. From there, it’s about 15km to the valley. Basecamp is the village, about an hour’s walk from the valley below. You can set up your tent here for a minimal fee. The final destination is well worth the effort with its bamboo landscape that pops with rare flowers. Note: Inner Line Permit required for non-residents.

When to go: April to September and November to January.

How to get there: Dimapur is the closest airport; 90km (approx) from Khonoma. From there, Viswema is about 40km away.

Duration: 3 to 4 days

Difficulty level: Pro

Tell us about the outdoorsy campsites you have visited around India in the comments section below.

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