Saat Taal. A jewel in the wilderness.
The Saat Taal Camp offers an action packed, no frills adventure.
I have never been a big fan of manicured holidays. Staying at luxurious 5 star properties, does have its allure, and I admit that I do indulge in it, once in a while. But I find that the most fun I have had on a holiday, is when I am roughing it out, amidst nature.
In this vein, a little known jewel, that we were fortunate to discover, is a place called Saat Taal.
The name translates into ‘Seven Lakes’ and is meant to signify the seven lakes that once existed in this area.
Saat Taal has many tourists visiting for joy rides, sightseeing and a quick meal. But because most people treat it as a day trip, this chaos happens for only a few hours.
Once the last joyrider has left, you have the entire lake, its surroundings, its silence and its beauty at your disposal. It is only you, your fellow camp guests, the locals and nature.
Many years ago, a close friend of mine suggested I visit the Saat Taal camp and put me in touch with a bunch of young guys, who are great holiday-makers, but extremely poor businessmen. Because, they have resisted the urge to go commercial and rake in the moolah, focusing instead on providing an affordable, no frills, but action packed and thoroughly enjoyable holiday experience.
But then that’s what makes me like them so much.
What I loved about their website is their tag line – “Not the kind of holiday most people like”.
A statement that rings true, because what they provide you with is basic tented accommodation, in a makeshift camp. There’s no electricity, no mobile signals, no luxuries. In effect you’re cut off from the world while you’re there.
It is the closest you’ll come to actual camping, but with basic amenities in place.
If you’re looking for a luxurious holiday to pamper yourself, you’re reading the wrong article. But if you’re prepared to walk for miles, climb steep hills, trek around mountainsides and participate in adventure activities, read on.
Here’s why the Saat Taal camp would make sense.
Firstly, you sleep on a bed in a sleeping bag provided by them. So while you’re living in a tent, you’re not really exposed to the elements. In a way you’re camping out, but in a controlled environment.
Secondly, the bathrooms and toilets are permanent structures, so if you’re squeamish about living in the wild outdoors because of this reason, you can rest assured that you won’t need to wander off behind bushes to attend to nature’s calls.
Thirdly, they provide you with all meals. These are usually simple meals, cooked by village locals and are cooked in a style reflective of the region. It is predominantly a vegetarian fare with non-veg served once a day. If you like to choose what you want to eat, this isn’t the place for you. There is no room service or a la carte menu. You eat what is placed in front of you. But then the food, though vegetarian, is really tasty, so you never feel the need to have a choice.
Fourthly, they guide you through the location and escort you to visit every nook and corner of the place, take you on treks and organize adventure sports activities like rappelling, mountain climbing, river crossing, flying fox, boating, kayaking, swimming, a visit to a waterfall and fishing.
Finally, the icing on the cake is their pricing. Because the team at Wildrift set this up as an eco tourism camp that would help locals to find meaningful employment, their pricing has been structured, not as a means to mint money, but as a means to earn enough to keep the camp running.
So they charge you on a per-head per-day basis, and this cost includes your stay, food and all your guided activities. I was shocked to see their pricing, and must admit that in hindsight, I’d be willing to pay a lot more for the experiences that I’ve had there.
Saat Taal holds a special place in my heart because of the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met and the friends I made there. So much so, that I’ve visited there four times already. And I wouldn’t mind going back again.
Saat Taal can be reached easily by road and by train from Delhi so is an ideal location for a long weekend (though if you’re visiting by train, you’d still need a car to go further than Haldwani – something the camp organizes at a cost)
If you’re looking for a ‘get away from it all’ kind of holiday and are willing to rough it out, look no further than the Saat Taal camp run and managed by Wildrift.
Trust me, you’ll have the time of your life.
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