Thursday, September 22, 2016

Travel: A weekend getaway to strawberry farms in Wai

Get your hands dirty at a strawberry farm
Get your hands dirty at a strawberry farm

In a couple of months, you'll be able to bite into bright red, juicy, tart-yet-sweet strawberries. How about making a weekend trip to a farm to help plant the bushes on which they grow?

Give archery a shot
Give archery a shot

Less than five hours away from Mumbai, en route to Panchgani, awaits Wai, where Krishna River Camp is holding its first strawberry plantation camp.

Go trekking in free timeGo trekking in free time

But, apart from spending a morning at the farm, you will have plenty of time to indulge in other outdoor activities.

Milan Wadkar, its founder, says, "Campers are asked to arrive by around 4 pm. After tents are allocated to them, they can go for a swim in the Krishna river, which flows right beside the campsite, or go on a bamboo raft ride. Following this, tea and snacks will be served, and, if it isn't raining, you can put your archery skills to test at the range."

Get on a bullock cart (activities vary through the year)Get on a bullock cart (activities vary through the year)

After the sun melts into the horizon, settle down outside your tents and prepare for a fun DIY barbecue (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) session. At dinnertime, and lunch the next day, you will be digging into scrumptious fare prepared by local cooks.

Return to the farm in winter to harvest strawberries
Return to the farm in winter to harvest strawberries

No camping experience is considered complete without a campfire. Strum on your guitar or listen to some relaxing music as the heat from the crackling bonfire keeps you warm.

If you have the time after checking out, visit the famous Dholya Ganpati Mandir in Wai. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
If you have the time after checking out, visit the famous Dholya Ganpati Mandir in Wai. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

The next day, after a hearty breakfast of upma or poha, head out to the strawberry farm. "There are different varieties of strawberry grown in the area. We've zoned in on some types, which are cultivated in a farm that's only a five-minute drive from the campsite," says Wadkar.

The all-year campsite facing the Krishna riverThe all-year campsite facing the Krishna river

You'll spend about three hours planting strawberry bushes, after which you can freshen up at the campsite, have lunch, and say your goodbyes.

Post checkout, you could either head straight back to the city, or embark on a self-driven tour of Wai; the camp's organisers will be more than happy to direct you. You could visit the picturesque Balkavdi or Dhom dams, the Dholya Ganpati Temple, or Menavli Ghat. If you have more time on your hands, you could also head on to the hill stations of Panchgani or Mahaleshwar.

The best part about this trip is that the campsite is always open, and you can go back during winter to harvest the strawberries you helped plant.

On: October 1 and 2
At: Krishna River Camp, Wai.
Cost: 2,500 (package does not include transportation; only activities and meals)
Call: 9819833345
Log on to:

Good to know
>> There is a strict no-littering policy. Litter bins are provided across the campsite.
>> All music must be turned off post 10 pm, and campers are asked to turn in by 12 pm due to gram panchayat permissions.
>> Shared washrooms with running water are available.
>> For those who do not wish to stay in tents, the camp’s organisers offer two homestay options. Enquire while booking.
>> Smoking is not allowed on the campsite.

What to pack
>> Mosquito repellent
>> Comfortable cotton clothing (including swimwear) 
>> Cap/hat
>> Sunblock
>> Rain gear 
>> Personal toiletries
>> Prescription medication 
>> Empty water bottles (a mineral water dispenser is provided at the campsite)

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