Friday, July 04, 2008

AVOID - 'Dhanaulti Woods' Camp of Wanderlust

I went to Doon couple of weeks back and we had planned to do a night at Dhanolti. We had a bad experience and I thought I would share it here.

We have booked a tent at 'Camp Woods' which is run/managed by Wanderlust. This was the first time, we have planned to stay at a property of 'Wanderlust' and probably it would be the last time. The camp was sold to us as a wonderful place with a swiss tent and all those things. We were asked full advance (Rs 3800 for two people for a night) and even for a swiss tent, it was quite a premium. We spoke to one called Uma at their Delhi office.

Initially we were refused as there was no place but surprisingly when I e-mailed them, they readily agreed. We were told to pay the full money in advance. It was something which should have alerted me and we really paid the price for that lapse.

So we reached there and what we really saw was a small piece of land, next to road having some tents. The tents were not swiss ones as they didn't have the attached loo and were not as big as what the standard swiss tents are. It was all vacant and spooky. There were three punters who claimed to be the ones who would provide services. From a distance, we could guess it that we have been taken for a ride. The tents were not swiss and at best they looked like a concoction built to survive a traveling-camping group. The infra was really poor. Not that I haven't been to such place but I have never paid through my nose for this kind of infrastructure. When I confronted with the guy at the camp who was more like a poor-chap who works for 2K a month and handles the cheated travlers, he really had nothing to say. He had no phone (only BSNL phone work so our phone was not working) and there was no office. We were promised that we will get the invoice at the camp and as you could have guessed it, the guys there had nothing like that. If not for that worn-out board at the road which has the name of the camp, the place could be called anything w/o any change, say 'The great Dhanulti Camp' or whatever. They were surprised when we told them that we were supposed to get an invoice :) They genuinely were.


Photo from the road. Its about 20 steps away from the road, though the other side opens out into a valley.


Row of tents. There is nothing else there and its not child safe.


It looks good in photo, as long as you dont get cheated for the price.

We went back to Doon and stayed there. We called them from Dhanaulti and told them to refund our money. Even after repeated calls and follow-ups, I am still to get the refund and I hope that they realize their mistake and I dont have to resort to legal ways :) which I am fully prepared to , if need be. It was really amusing to hear back from Uma and Anuj (someone at Wanderlust) that its our fault since we were looking for a luxury holiday and tents are not like that. May be next time, I book something I should go with my log of travels. I didn't even feel like responding to these remarks :)

I know some of you must be thinking that why dont I write this at www.ghumakkar.com and alert other ghumakkars. I thought about it and I was so pissed off by this experience (they actually ruined a vacation) that I didn't want to spread that.

Still I am writing it here, just to vent. If you do go, then negotiate hard, from my camping experience, those were not more then 1000 Rs including meals. Infact if you can drive about 20 KMs further, there is this camp called 'Whispering Pines' (there is another one with the same name but thats more like a hotel, this is true-blue campers place) where you can get one for a night at Rs 600- Rs 800. And mind you, we were in off-season :) It was all empty, not sure whether other people did the same thing as what we did.

So AVOID Wanderlust. I waited for four weeks to write all this and probably if they would have apologized and returned my money by now, I might have not done this.

So Avoid them and dont ruin your much earned vacation.

11 comments:

indicaspecies said...

Nandan,

Thank you for the word of caution.

I hope you have better camping experiences next time.:)

- celine

Nandan Jha said...

I hardly do any camping and whatever little I tried, it failed :) so I really need wishes. :)

kavineet said...

hey Nandan,
Thanks for the alert, I was getting in touch with them for camping trip for 40 ppl...... you saved me from getting murdered ;)

Kavi

Nandan Jha said...

Kavi - I never got any money back :). Glad that someone reached this post and found it useful.

If you are keen on this stretch then you should be able to find other places.

Ashish said...

I am from Bangalore and almost going to book this until I came across your blog, thanks for cuation.

Nandan Jha said...

Glad that it was of use to you Ashish.

Alka said...

Hi,

We had booked the Wanderlust camps in Dhanaulti for about 40 people and had made the half payment. But due to natural calamities, we could not reach the destination. At the time of negotiations, they had said that they own around 20 tents, but later on they said that they had got tents on rent for us and since we couldn’t reach there so it was a loss to them. They refunded not even 20% of the booking amount that we had given them and that too after much persuasion. We spoke to others who had been to the camp and they also said that the area and camping gear were not that good. This is definitely one camp which you can miss. It’s not worth going there. Please avoid it if you want a better experience and an enjoyable trip.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nandan
I am planning for Dhanolati
So thanks for your valuable comments on this type of malpractice.

Sunny Bhatia said...

Dear Nandan,

I am a very frequent camper and have been traveling for over 30 years now. I have camped not only in India but also various parts of Europe and Africa.

Basic idea of camping is to enjoy nature with minimal or no modern amenities. Also a camping trip requires you to have an Adventure mindset only then you will be able to enjoy camping. The camping companies in india offer very basic camping and in my dictionary its not camping at all. But if a person doesn't have an adventure mindset then its just not worth the effort/trouble.. Enjoying and getting close to nature comes with lot of positives but you must be prepared to face few negatives as well..

A swiss tent is merely a tent that has a size of more than 12ft x 12ft and a central pole height of above 7 fts. Please note that a swiss tent does not necessarily mean a tent with attached loo/washroom.. usually a Camping company specifically mention whether the tents have attached toilets or not. So not a valid point brother. Though I agree that you were overcharged and only you yourself to be blamed for that. People like you pay and only thats why such camping companies continue to make money.

My personal opinion is if you really want to camp then do it yourself and not through these so-called camping companies. All you need is few things like folding dome tent, rucksack & ofcourse necessities like food, water n yeah torch too.. And you're all set to camp anywhere in the forest and the hills.. Trust me you will save yourself a lot the money and get limitless joys of being close to mother nature.. :)

Nandan Jha said...

That is great to know Sunny.

Please write your travel experiences at ghumakkar.com.

monika singh said...

CAMP CARNIVAL DHANAULTI Comment Thanks for sharing good information !