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Camping atop Duke’s Nose

Travel to Scenic Duke’s Nose:

Most memorable trips are the ones which are impromptu. This is what happened with me, on a recent visit to Pune. A work meeting turned into a fun getaway.

On my visit to Pune for a work-related meeting, few of us colleagues from different cities were staying at the same hotel. Similar work and mutual interests helped us in quickly becoming friends from being just co-workers. So to commemorate our newly formed friendship, we all extended our trip by one more day. Idea was to spend a relaxing day, away from city and pollution, to unwind from our hectic schedule.

The obvious choice was Lonavala, both for its scenic beauty and the short distance from Pune. Camping under the stars was the main attraction for all of us concrete jungle inhabitants. A short Google search and we found our perfect spot- Duke’s Nose. It has everything we wanted- nature, mountains, forests, weather, and solitude.

Our departure was for next day afternoon and it was already lunchtime. So we had a whole day. But two issues were there- how to go and how to camp, as we all were novices. Never went camping and not from Pune, so we were sceptical regarding safety. Luckily a local colleague knew of a trekking and camping group in Kuruvanda. He reached out to them and they assured us a memorable and safe trekking and camping experience after we reached there.

Now only how to go was left. We all wanted to relax and enjoy the scenic views of Pune- Mumbai highway, making pit shops as per our mood. So the only option was to rent a reliable cab in Pune with an experienced driver.

Once again, we made a few checks and called a few taxi providers since Pune to Lonavala taxi fare is economical. So we finalised on Savaari for their economical prices and the expert advice they offered after understanding our needs and itinerary. Additionally, a prompt pickup was also promised from a road trip expert driver.

Overview and daily activities:

Our designated driver picked us up at the promised time from our hotel. There were six of us, so we had booked a comfortable Innova. The driver was courteous and helpful. He explained to us the route we would be taking.

Leaving the hustle-bustle of Pune and zooming on Pune Mumbai highway was good enough to relax us. The picture-perfect Sahyadri mountain ranges and the cool breeze were a remedy for us. The greenery, the clear clouds, all promised an enjoyable trip.

Before leaving Pune, we bought plenty of water bottles, some light refreshments, torches and batteries as advised by our driver. Our city minds wanted to argue that small local stalls/shops are found on all tourist places selling water, cold drinks, etc. but as the Saavari driver informed us earlier, we followed it. Our driver was carrying an emergency safety kit with him if any such need arose. We were impressed!

The distance from Pune to Lonavala was not much, so we didn’t stop in between. It took us one and a half hour of leisurely travel to reach the meeting point in Kuruvanda village. Our camping organizer was waiting for us there. He suggested we have some refreshment before starting the trek.

Our driver, through our conversation with him, knew we are not locals, so he offered to accompany us for safety (we were two females in the group). So our trek started with eight of us, including our driver and the trek coordinator.

The Duke’s Nose was named after the Duke of Wellington as its shape resembled the shape of his nose. Well, it did resemble a sharp nose but also a snake’s hood, maybe that’s why it was earlier called Nagphani. Locals still stick to this name. It was a bit steep trek but not at all difficult. The weather was cool as it was already evening, the forests adding to the coolness.

Soon we reached the top of Duke’s nose where the rocks were flat, making it ideal camping site. The view was breathtaking from the top. All around valley and greenery making it an ideal spot for loads of memorable pictures. We all spent some time doing that and admiring the natural beauty all around us, watching the setting sun and the sky getting dark. We all pitched in to set our tents and lighting a bone fire (though it was not cold, we all wanted a complete camping experience). The night was spent enjoying the cool wind and sky full of stars, reminiscing about past experiences, hearing local tales from the coordinator and driver. Both turned out to be talkative, keeping us engaged with various stories they had from their travelling experiences.

We slept for some hours and woke up early morning to experience the beautiful sunrise. Sitting on the cliff side, watching the rising sun in silence is the best surreal experience I had till now. One realises how small one is as compared to the magnificent beauty of nature.

Soon it was time to return to reality with a heavy heart and peaceful soul. The return journey was quiet, with everyone re-living the beautiful experience, savouring the early morning sights along the way.

How to reach Duke’s Nose from Pune:

There are plenty of cabs to Lonavala which one can book online or offline but the main point is to book. Savaari offers various features: one can choose cabs that range from 4-seaters to 6-7 seaters or even tempo travellers according to the group size. They also have a transparent billing system, with zero cancellation fees. Courteous chauffeurs, who are road trip experts along with a clean car, are an added benefit.

Passengers can enjoy timely pick-up and drop facility at their doorstep. The drivers provide all the timely information and ensure one is comfortable throughout the journey, in addition to ensuring one gets back safely and contended.

Distance and time taken:

If one plans on booking a cab to Lonavala, then depending on where one starts from, the distance and time may vary. From Pune, the distance is around 67 kilometres and takes roughly around one and a half hours.

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