On the off chance that this doesn’t appear sadistic, we hope this article reaches you in times of deep desperation and exhaustion. Partly because every once in a while we like to play vacation God and believe that we can put an end to your frustration with criminal weekdays; and partly because we have an important announcement to make. Weekends are awesome, but long weekends are even better a wise man once said, and so in honour of his incredible revelation, we decided to gently remind you that the options are far more plentiful when you add an extra day to the unwinding.
In the past, we kept things light with some enticing just-outside-the-city homestays for your unwinding pleasure but even relaxing gets tiring after a while. If you have as much restless energy as us, activity-based getaways might seem even more enticing so that’s exactly what we’ve got rounded up this time--some of the most adrenaline-fuelled adventure activities you can partake in in locales worthy of a short trip, that are close enough to us obviously. Good Friday, we have to admit, you really are living up to your name.
I. Surfing in Gokarna
Gokarna is a small temple town on the coast of Karnataka with scenic beaches, which have long since become popular among western tourists and those who love to conquer the waves alike. The Cocopelli Surf School here provides exciting surf lessons from professionals who are well-versed in the sport and the beach itself has been rated perfect for beginners. The courses offered range from beginners who are just trying to achieve their “Lords Of Dogtown” moment or professional surfers who are aching for some much-needed wave therapy in India. Better still, it’s far removed enough to give you a real breather from urban life. Downside? It’s no longer as idyllic as it once was. While the locals are pleasant, visiting Indian tourists tend to make life a little uncomfortable for women who dare to don bathing suits and get into the water. This isn’t always the case, but timing is everything.
How To Get There: You can undertake a short train journey from Mumbai to Gokaran Road or take the NH4 highway to make a road trip of it, both of which will take half a day of transit.
II. Paragliding & Trekking in Kamshet
While Kamshet is technically a part of Pune district in Maharashtra, the offerings which have cropped up in the small town over the decades will leave anyone surprised. While it’s quietly nestled in the Western Ghats, Kamshet is now a globally renowned paragliding destination thanks to the host of flying facilities that have opened up in the past decades (one of them being Nirvana Adventures).
One of the oldest paragliding schools in the area, Nirvana is loved by Indian and foreign paragliders alike. Manan Vora, an avid para-glider had this to say about the centre - “Nirvana Adventures is the best option for paragliding among all the schools there, with an impeccable safety record and amazing instructors.” He recommends a stay at the Native Place Resort as well which owns Nirvana Adventures on the banks of the lake in the middle of the mountains. Native Place offers combo packages inclusive of food, accommodation and paragliding lessons.
Nirvana Adventures also offers treks in the form of its adventure groups which are planned amidst scenic locales with a specially designed guesthouse which acts as a base camp with weekend packages which include valley-crossing, hiking, rappelling, ropes course and outdoor survival techniques. So if sailing through the wind is not your cup of tea, you can also traverse through the beautiful mountainside of Kamshet.
How To Get There: A mere 2 hour journey by the Mumbai-Pune Expressway will ensure your due arrival so that you can take ‘flight.’
III. Surfing, Kite-Surfing, Stand Up Paddleboarding & Kayaking In Goa
If you’ve been reading Homegrown for a while, you already know we’re die-hard fans of Goa’s best adventure/yoga/beachside retreat, The Vaayu Waterman’s Village. The dynamic place offers an incredible array of water sport rentals, lessons, stay, food all tossed up with some fantastic art and a nod towards greener living. And somehow, they do all of this without ever being weighed down by it all. Better still, they’ve got something to offer for just about every kind of adventurer. If kite-surfing seems like too much exertion for you (and let’s be honest, 3 days in Goa is not enough time to really get going) you could always grab a few SUPs and languidly paddle yourself up the back-river at sunset or maybe a kayak into the ocean for a little dolphin watching. Like we said earlier, there’s something for everyone here.
How to Get There: Do we really need to tell you? All standard Goa routes apply - train, road or flight. If you find the hotels and resorts a tad bit over-budget, might we suggest some exciting homestays in the region? But if you’re going the Vaayu route, we’d suggest staying right there itself.
IV. Scuba Diving & Snorkeling in Goa
Can there ever be a weekend list in India without Goa on it? While being a perennial party favourite, Goa has much more to offer over the weekends than the lazy sunbaths and off-the-hook nightlife, but nothing is quite as fascinating and popular as learning scuba diving and snorkeling with the various centres and dive sites available for your perusal because apparently, the real party is beneath the water.
Barracuda Diving at Baga was established in 1993 and is the oldest scuba diving center in the state with a comprehensive training program and a hotel accommodation of their own in the form of the Sun Valley Resort. They organise diving training, trips and packages as per your liking. If you prefer to have a customised itinerary made to suit the requirements of you and your team, you could check out Dive Goa as well which organises trips to the nearby Netrani Islands. But if you are someone who likes prefers casual water escapades, Goa Aquatica promises to offer the most stress free diving trips with minimal test and slogging efforts.
How to Get There: Do we really need to tell you? All standard Goa routes apply - train, road or flight. If you find the hotels and resorts a tad bit over-budget, might we suggest some exciting homestays in the region?
V. Horse Riding in Pune
The Indian Derby is one of the most high profile sporting events of the year in Mumbai but the equestrian adventures at disposal for the common man are limited. This is where the Japalouppe Equestrian Activity Center plays a significant role as one of its kind Equestrian Riding School. The Center was setup by the mother-son duo of Lorraine and Rohan More in 1998 to take equestrian knowledge and activities to the lay man. There are scheduled camps, activities and riding facilities available along with petting farms and accommodation at the estate itself. Time to curate the jockey in you!
How To get there: Follow the NH4 highway route to Shankarwadi. If you have time and and yearning for some seriously good food in Pune, here’s our guide to cure the munchies in Pune.
VI. River Rafting In Kolad
Kolad is perhaps most famous for the Kundalika White Water Rafting, which is the only all-year white water rafting location in India. Kolad River Rafting represents the only white water rafting option available in the vicinity of Mumbai and Pune. If you are busy looking for options to accompany your stay at Kolad, we suggest the Big Red Tent camping ground which boasts of a hammock, camp-fire options, picnic tables and dimly lit hurricane lamps on a private space. But if you are not interested in those perks, don’t feel shy to skirt your hangout group away with limited camping facilities and resources to take full advantage of the adrenaline pumping rapids.
How To Get There: While we recommend a road trip to Kolad on the NH17 for the 2 hour journey, you can also take a train with the same transit time.
VII. Kayaking and Fishing in Vasind
Vasind may lie just a few kilometers outside Mumbai but it’s surely a distinct world in itself. The most scenic locations in Vasind lie nestled in between the Mahuli hills and Bhatsa river with kayaking offered by Easy Adventures from training, kayaking safaring and even moonlight kayaking. If you have always earned for the rod and trap form of fishing, they have got that covered as well with special instructors helping you bait that perfect catch and even plate and offer it to you for dinner.
How To Get There: You can hop on the Central line to reach Vasind or take your car for this short transit - 1.5 hours at the most.
VIII. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving In Malvan/ Tarkarli
If you are not too keen on the long journey to Goa to test your underwater skills, Malvan offers a perfect alternative with its snorkeling and scuba diving options with the added bonus of even meeting some dolphins. A part of the coastal Konkan villages, Malvan houses many deep sea attractions which have adventure enthusiasts from all corners rushing to experience. There are elaborate packages available which offer boat rides and sightseeing of the nearby islands.
How To Get There: You Need to take the NH17 for an almost 6 hour journey or plying trains for almost 10 hours. C’mon, exploring the deep seas is worth that much suffering!
IX. Extreme Adventure and Jungle Camp at Della Adventure, Lonavala
You may accuse us of spoiling this list of lesser known adventure activities to do around Mumbai by listing this resort and adventure park but the offerings at Della are unparalleled for the region. The Motocross rides bring the thrill of dirt racing which were so far limited only to gaming consoles and PC games for the urban youth as well as scores of other unique activities such as crossbow,All Terrain Vehicles and Zorbing. But what piques our excitement is their Jungle camp package which offers trekking and trailing in the wild with expert Rangers who offer their guidance about the terrain and the regions unique history.
How To Get There: An almost 90-minute journey on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway will bring you to this extreme adventure hub.
X. Parasailing in Mandwa
The Mandwa beach serves as an essential connect between Mumbai and Alibaug through the regular ferry service between the places as well as an over-exhausted and cliched reference to a town in an Amitabh Bachchan movie. But what most people fail to see is the scenic beauty the beach offers as well as the ample of adventure sports and activities available. But the must try activity of the beach has to be the para-sailing where you can get as bird’s eye view of the region as you strut behind a speedboat and feel the thrill of flying.
How to Get There: A simple ferry ride from Gateway Of India of less than an hour should suffice. All those aboard, say aye.
Researched by Sanyukta Shetty