Adventure trails in Durshet – a weekend exploring the lush Western Ghats

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Beautiful day at Durshet Forest Lodge

Monsoon is the time to be happy. In a dry state like Maharashtra, arrival of monsoons not only brings relief to the people, but also pulls off a curtain from the landscape, covering it with lush, rich greenery. Being city animals when all you want to do is appreciate nature, its vastness and its majestic expanse, what does one do?

You take a trip off the beaten track! Just as we did last weekend with Nature Trails Resorts in Durshet, a lesser known gem located at only 95 kms from Mumbai, in the Raigad district. The idea was to get out and explore something not so far, and Sterling Holidays came to our rescue. With a motto of #joyofdiscovery , the legacy of the renowned hospitality major comes at play through its modern approach to travel. We were joined by a bunch of new faces on our journey, each of them vibrant and full of interesting anecdotes about the joy of exploring.

We set out on a rainy Saturday morning from Mumbai and reached the Durshet property in about two hours. Welcomed by the lush backyard and luxury tents, we were utterly happy that we chose the right place. Vóila!

After munching on hot Misal, we set out on a tour of the property that extends till the edge of the river Amba to the back. Being a seasonal stream, the river bed was only awaiting a little more downpour and it will be flowing, making for a great kayaking experience, in a resort near Mumbai! Who could imagine that?

It was also Father’s day the very same weekend and we met a bunch of children playing around and excited to go on an adventure trip later in the afternoon. We played cricket under drizzling skies and bonded with them before our rappeling session. The fun fact of visiting here is that we came across a large variety of travellers. Families seeking a weekend getaway, a summer camp for kids, corporate groups and friends looking for an active weekend in the jungle and people like us, who never lets go of an opportunity for a little adrenaline boost!

The real joy of exploring is in being out there, and we did exactly that after lunch. We hiked across the property’s 15 acre forest to find a rope bridge – called Burma bridge. After a wobbly walk across the structure, a sudden downpour got us drenched from head to toe. Honestly, the feeling of being in a jungle and getting completely soaked is one of the best we can recommend to you. Next up was ziplining, a short but cute stretch and J and I both had quite fun jumping off in our wet clothes. Failure however was awaiting me at the Tarzan Swing down below. I promise i tried very hard to reach the edge of the trough but it was a slip of half an inch! Result? I ended up in the pool of water below and climbed back up completely wet, again! #ExploreNatureTrails

The boys went rappeling after that and managed to beat the average record by completing the task in just above 90 seconds. What can I say, J is born with mountain instincts, I suppose!

Durshet has a curious history with the richness of being a battleground in the time of the Maratha Empire. The rivers, the meadowing valleys and strange rock plateaus added to the significance of these jungles as an impregnable land during wrfare. Such charming history led the founder of Nature Trails, Mr. Hari Divekar to look at this piece of land as the ideal location for his adventure camp 20 years back. A strong history of being an ecological conservationist, closely associated with Dr. Salim Ali and the Bombay Natural History Society led Hari to try and preserve the essence of the natural terrains of the ghats, ideal for training children in adventure activities and physical training.

So whats so special about Durshet Forest Lodge?

  1. It is spread over 35 acres of forest land
  2. It has both budget and premium options for stay
  3. It has amazing adventure activities for beginners and if you like to spend your time trying out new things like ziplining, rappeling, rope climbing and more
  4. The food is authentic Maharastrian and delicious!
  5. You wont feel once that you are only 95 Kms away from Mumbai. Its lush!

Nature Trails has four properties in Durshet, Kolad, Dabhosa and Sajan respectively, all in Maharashtra. With their 20 year old hospitality and adventure travel expertise, they are now a part of the famous Sterling Holidays. This adds to the portfolio of stay options and the recent addition of luxury tents, which are by the way beautiful, comes as a welcome offering for those who don’t mind paying a few extra bucks for greater comfort. Let us also tell you, the views from the brand new pool at the property is a +1! We recommend Nature Trails for families and groups of friends looking for a taste of adventure, have a chill weekend or even a day trip (yes they have that option) in the lap of nature.

You can participate in the #LookWhosChilling contest by #LookWhosTalking and win exciting prizes. Click here for more information!

Check out our latest video for a full experience at Nature Trails Durshet:

You can check here for booking: www.naturetrails.in

For more pictures from the trip, you can always go to @dmoonchazers

Tell us your recommendations of #weekendgetaways near Mumbai in the comments to help us explore better!

Next up on the blog: Kundalika River Rafting Camp

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Misty mountains, rain and friends – Magical Wayanad

It was the monsoon of 2017, that time when Bombay got almost flooded, again, remember! We were all set for our trip to Bali, all the bookings being done well in advance. Traveling to a different country for the first time ever, the excitement, caution and pre-planning gave us a lot to think about. Yes, we do not have money to travel the world just as yet!
Joy helped chalk out the itinerary for 5 nights and 6 days. The brilliant part was we were doing so many things on different corners of the island paradise in so less time. But lets keep that for another story. This story is about an impromptu plan, a bunch of crazy friends in a car and Kerala in the monsoons.

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Cure to travel hangover- another trip!

We had two days left from the scheduled leaves after our return. To fill that up and cure the hangover from being mesmerised in Bali, which we were pretty sure we would, we had to plan something. It is almost impossible to head straight back home after such a long awaited trip!
So, we booked ourselves on another flight to Bengaluru the same night as our return. Crazy as it was, we did manage to come back home, drop beach bags and pick up the road trip packs, making it back to the Mumbai airport, well, just in time!.
My cousin picked us up from the Bengaluru airport on a Thursday morning, and we were joined by my school friend. We headed for Wayanad after stocking up for the road (the essentials of course and some beers).
Despite being in Bangalore for over three years, I had never really travelled to Kerala. Wayanad seemed like the best place to absorb the richness of the monsoon glory, starting our interaction  with Mallu Land.
Moving on, we had some epic moments on the way right from being refused toilet access at a local resort, asked to share our beers with some local boys taking a dip in the pond beside the highway, to hunting little town markets in search of smoking papers. We could find none after hours of wandering about.
The best part was when we reached our resort in Kalpatta, little outside the main town around 7 PM. The Manager, Mr. Sunil had called us  prior and told us we will have to park our car and take the resort jeep to reach our cottages. Little did we know what was in store for us all tired and jet lagged from back to back flights and a 6 hour drive. It was drizzling slightly.

A Jeep ride like never before!

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Upon taking a wild jeep ride (it felt like we were in the arms of Kong, who is climbing a mountain blind! No joke.) for straight 20 minutes in pitch dark blackness, pouring sky and the eerie sound of crickets, we reached the mountain top. Mr. Sunil of Marmalade Springs welcomed us with hot coffee from the estate and an invitation to dinner. We were the only guests that night so one can imagine the lovely Malayali cook to shower us with his culinary specialties. We stuffed ourselves to the brim because the food was yummier than anything I had had in the whole of South India! Forgot to take a picture. OOPS!
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Marmalade Springs Coffee Estate

The balcony of our cottages opened straight to the beautiful valley below, and we thoroughly enjoyed catching up on long lost conversations as a family for the night. Next morning started with sumptuous breakfast at the courtesy of Selva, who was thrilled to get double the amount of whatever we asked for. The view was simply breathtaking after all the rain from previous night. The lush was fresh and blooming, the mist was slowly clearing and the swans at the little pond were visibly unhappy with our arrival. It was the perfect setting for a great start to the day.
We headed out to explore a few monsoon musts after a curious and bumpy ride back to the bottom of the resort. It was only in daylight that we discovered the beautiful coffee estate surrounding us. Little coffee beans were hanging by the bunches on every bush. Sunil later explained that the coffee picking season will start in December and we must visit again to get a hands on experience of roasting and brewing the best of Nilgiri coffee!
We visited the Banasura Sagar Dam, hiked to Meenmutty and Soochipara waterfalls and got drenched in the fresh raging waters with almost all our camera gear. A speedboat  ride at the dam under the monsoon sky added a special memory to our archives. Having friends who will always jump around with you with the same energy is a powerful emotion. We are glad to have such people travel with us!

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The second part of this trip calls for a special treat. We have made a video for you all from the first day too! Stay tuned for updates!
Check out the photos below and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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