For those looking for a weekend getaway from the stressful grind of city-life in Mumbai or Pune, taking a wilderness backpacking trip to the banks of the river Krishna in the small town of Wai in Maharashtra is a great option.
The commercial city of Mumbai is about 236 kms away from Wai and there are two ways to get to this town from Mumbai. The first is to drive to Wai while the second and the more economical one for a backpacker is to hop onto one of the many buses that ply to the famous hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. The bus ride takes about 4 hours.
The city of Pune is at a distance of 88 kms from Wai and hence the drive is much shorter and takes about 2 hours. There is no railway station near Wai and hence travel by road is the fastest and the easiest.
Once in the town of Wai the best way to reach the banks of the River Kirshna is to take a share-a-jeep that ply towards Nandgane village. These jeeps can be easily found opposite the bus stand. The jeeps charge a minimal fare and are much faster than the local state transport buses.
Taking a jeep to Balakwadi is a good option as from there the banks of the River Krishna are just a 20 minute walk away. The walk goes along the foot hills of the Western Ghats and all along farms that grow a variety of crops.
Striking a conversation with one of the locals is a good idea since they provide the best information about where camping is possible on the area around the banks of the river. The villagers from Wai are very friendly people and hence befriending them is not very difficult. Most of the villagers invite travellers to their homes for refreshments.
Jakmi Ghand, a fort that belonged to Shivaji is easily accessible from the village of Nandgane. Travellers should also not miss visiting the strawberry farms that are in the village of Parthawadi.
A tent can be set up anywhere on the banks of the River Krishna without the need of any sort of permission. The place is also very safe and the tent can be left unattended all day long.
The water from the river is safe to drink and can also be used for cooking. It is also possible to borrow vegetables from the villagers to cook a meal. It is advisable to collect some fire wood before sun down since it comes in very handy for cooking and also to be used as bonfire.
The best time to go camping to the banks of the River Krishna is during the winter months from November to February. During this time the sky is cloud-free and is covered by a blanket of stars. It is even possible to spot shooting stars in the middle of the night.
The days during winter are cool to moderately warm while the nights are chilly with the mercury dipping to as low as 8°C. It is advisable to carry sleeping bags and some warm clothes while camping in Wai.
The town of Wai is a great place to go wilderness backpacking and camping and this trip can be done even over a weekend and hence is ideal for people looking for a short break who like river-side adventures, star gazing and cooking their own food.