A New Year event at Trip Hermit Camps Naldehra
It was that time of the year when there is only one thing in our mind i.e. how to welcome new year in our life with great zeal and uniqueness. December 2017 was of no new as me and my friends started searching for New year parties across Delhi since early December. Our search started from Delhi, slowly it began expanding to Noida, Gurgaon and finally to nearby hill areas.
During our search we stumbled upon a unique party hosted by this adventure tour company called Trip Hermit Expeditions. They had this New Year Party in Naldehra set up in complete camping style. I was intrigued with this idea because first I did hear a lot about New Year Party in Shimla and second my craving for things which is out of the box. I started reading their offerings and came to know that it was a complete camping style set up where accommodation was in dome tent (used for treks and climbs) accompanied with sleeping bag and mattresses to complete that. They had few more things in the list however I was sceptical in booking the package as I had some really bad experience while visiting Rishikesh. So, to be sure I thought of discussing the same with my friends.
I presented this plan in front of my friends and to my amazement they agreed on it and we decided to go ahead with the booking, and Voila it was done. The booking process was seamless, and the prompt response of the team made it even more beautiful experience.
So, with over the moon excitement we reached Shimla by bus (it is difficult to find bus tickets at that time so advance booking is recommended) and we were greeted with a hot cup of tea and a welcoming team of Trip Hermit Expeditions at Tuttikandi Bus Stand Shimla. After waiting for a while for others to reach we started for Naldehra.
During our drive towards Naldehra we were told that Naldehra is one of the places to explore nearby Shimla as it is the home of Naldehra Gold course, one of the oldest golf courses of India and one of the most scenic one. Although Naldehra has nothing else but it’s scenic beauty and height made Lord Curzon to make this place his camping site. He was so mesmerized by the beauty of this place that he named this place after his 3rd daughter Alexandra Naldehra. Best time to visit Naldehra is between April and November however you can also reach here in December easily to experience Snowfall.
It was really a scenic drive and we were enjoying the snake style roads. The road was lined with high deodar and pine trees driving through which was fun. After a drive of almost an hour covering 22kms we reached Naldehra. We were greeted by the manager of Trip Hermit Expeditions and were asked to follow him to the camps. It was a short but beautiful trail in midst of the jungle. A narrow trail mostly used by the locals residing in the nearby jungles which has a gorge in one side and pine laden mountain on the other. We were not required to carry our luggage, so it became easy for us to walk while enjoying the trail. It was merely a 15 min walk and we could see our camp site. I could never imagine that a company will sell exactly it looks in original.
The set up was really a camp type set up with Blue tents placed side by side in a bow formation aptly distributed to maintain the privacy. There was a separate place for bonfire, party and food. The set up was at a serene place and all the tents were facing towards beautiful view of Shimla valley. The camping ground was covered from all sides with dense forest of deodar and pine. The place was neat and well maintained.
Upon reaching the camp site we were welcomed by the complete team and 2 cute and naughty kids (which we later found out belonged to the caretaker). We were served with hot tea and were called upon to freshen up before the breakfast. They had a traditional Hamam as well as bathroom geysers which we used for hot water. It was so cold that we all decided to skip the bath but just freshen up while washing our face. I know it sounds bad but the chilly weather outside made us to take this decision. We hurriedly reached the table for the breakfast and yet we were not disappointed. We were served with hot paranthas, tea, bread, jam, butter and pickle. The paranthas were delicious and above all it was hot just out from the griddle.
While having the breakfast I can see that the team was busy setting up our tents with sleeping bags and mattresses. After the breakfast we were assigned with tents of our choice. Some of the couples requested for separate arrangements which were readily catered. We were asked to relax for a while if we wanted or else we could go ahead and enjoy the beautiful sun light. We decided to relax and wait for the next thing in the store.
At around 2PM we were wake up for our lunch. The lunch was served, and it was a vegetarian platter with Paneer, Rice, Lentil Soup, Green Salad, Indian flat bread, Pickle etc. Believe me it was not like a hotel meal, it was just like home cooked. I did enquire the manager about the source and he said that all the ingredients are locally procured from the farmers and was prepared by the caretaker and his family. I was amazed by the fact that the caretaker was also their cook and they managed to cook so well and that too for a group of 50 people. We enjoyed our lunch with some light conversation with our fellow travellers and tried to learn a little bit about everyone. I was amazed to see that there were people from Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata and even a couple from Ireland.
After our lunch we were told that they will be taking everyone to a short trek on a nearby jungle trek, however it was completely voluntary, but everyone decided to go for it. After a short rest we headed onto that trek with the tour guide. It was a picturesque trail crossing through thick forests. Most of us were busy clicking photographs while enjoying this easy trek. The trek concluded with a view of sunset over beautiful Naldehra Golf Course. After filling our eyes with the beautiful view of this sunset we started back to our campsite.
You won’t believe Trip Hermit had all the areas covered and were ready to surprise us at every step. As we approached our camp site it was dark and once we reached the site we couldn’t believe our eyes. The camp had a completely different aura. It was decorated with beautiful fairly lights, nearby trees were laden with these lights and in midst of the camp they had a huge bonfire lit. The fire was circled with chairs. We quickly settled ourselves around the fire and talked into the night before having another sumptuous food platter. We enjoyed the first day to the fullest and decided to lay down and welcome the new morning before stepping into the new year.
The next morning, we woke up fresh and could see beautiful golden rays coming into our tents. It was a comfortable sleep with warm sleeping bags and alpine style mattresses. At once I thought it will be cold inside the tents, but it was not. Anyways, it was a beautiful morning with clear blue sky and warm sunshine with occasional cold breeze. We freshened up and assembled over the breakfast table to enjoy once again a good food spread.
Over the table everyone was worried about only one thing and that was cold water of Sutlez. Yes! It was our day for white water rafting in the river Sutlez. It is December, approaching January and only the craziest will think of stepping into the glacial water of Sutlez. But everyone was crazy here it seems as I can see everyone on the banks where we were given instructions by the rafting instructors. We were told how to handle the row and how to manoeuvre the raft and all safety precautions. But the biggest challenge was the ice-cold water. I put my feet in the water and it went numb. But here I am sitting in the raft and that too in the front as I had some experience with rafting in Rishikesh. It was hell of a ride navigating through big and complex rapids. Everyone was drenched however none of us caught cold because as soon as we completed our rafting experience we were accommodated in a decent and warm restaurant where we changed our clothes as well as had our lunch before heading towards our camp site.
Trip hermit expeditions also had arrangements for less crazy people in the form of a tour of places to explore nearby Shimla, Shimla city tours, Shimla cultural tours, Para Gliding, tour of Kufri Adventure park etc. I later came to know that there were few guys who were less crazy than us who opted for city tours and they were also happy with the services they received from them.
We were excited to head for our camp as it was our party night. Yes! 31st December which we have planned for long. We were all in party mood and we were hoping for an extravaganza and Trip Hermit’s team put everything in there to make it for us. The camp was lit with flood lights, a beautiful spruce tree which was there in the middle of the camp site was decorated with fairy lights, there were lanterns throughout the circumference of the camp, barbeque arrangements and the bonfire made the environment magnificent.
There were booze, snacks, music and conversation. It was a self-service theme which we enjoyed a lot. There was a cap on the amount of liquor you can consume because one it was a drink responsible party and two at this altitude consuming large amount of alcohol can be fatal. It made few people got annoyed but Trip Hermit’s team politely convinced them and for few adamant ones they did procure extra alcohol and made separate arrangements for them until the party was over.
After our light drinks and enjoying homemade pakodas we decided to try our feet on their dance floor. The DJ was a local talent, but he had some good music. He started the party with a mix of soulful tracks before moving into groovy tracks. There was a time when everyone was drained, and that time the Trip Hermit’s team made sure that the party goes on as they performed their traditional dance over traditional music. It was a beautiful experience for everyone. NOTE: It was not a rave party.
We were so into the party that we did not realize that it was 2018 already. We were reminded by beautiful fire cracker show in the starry sky. We greeted each other and continued to party. At around 2 we all retired in our bed to wake up and see the sun of 2018. I was awake, and I can hear the team of Trip Hermit in the distance sitting around the dim fire enjoying their drink and food. I was thinking about couple of days that we spent with them, they were on their toes to make us feel comfortable and they succeeded in that. They were really mind blowing. While thinking about all this I don’t know when I fell asleep.
Next morning, we were awakened by the sounds of birds in the distance. We were happy to be here, but suddenly realized that it’s the time to go back to Delhi. We packed our stuff, had our breakfast and headed towards the vehicle which was ready to leave for Shimla bus stand. It was a new year and it was a new experience as well. I never imagined that there are people who can get you into the groove with the simplicity and while using the environment that god has granted them. It was one of the most serene, simple yet beautiful new year party package we could have got. We thanked the team for their efforts, their approach and their management skills. We decided to be there for next year party as well.
I was taking many beautiful memories with me. I realized that people search for best weekend getaways from Delhi and they settle on Shimla, Kufri and all these cities in Himachal but they never tend to go a little off road to find these beautiful camp sites where you can achieve tranquillity while doing what you want to do and no one to disturb you on that. During the new year eve people flock to Shimla and make it over crowded. Hotels’ prices go up sky rocketing, even a shanty costs over couple of thousand rupees with below average amenities. I really do not understand why not go for places like these where you can enjoy the beautiful Himalayas and admire the nature while partying into the New Year.
Anyways, it was a beautiful experience for us and I will be back next year for sure.