Customer Review: For the Love of Detail!
Dramatic landscapes, mysteries of a bygone era, and a luxurious nomadic camp fit for the royals; sounds great doesn’t it! Ms. Namita Kulkarni had the opportunity to discover just that on her maiden trip to The Ultimate Traveling Camp (TUTC)
Join her as she relives her extraordinary glamping adventure at the magical Chamba Camp in Thiksey…
The last time I had a bedtime story waiting for me at night was back when I still believed in fairy tales and dreamed of getting lost in the wild. So a good-night card on our bed in the tent – with a Ladakhi folk tale inside and chocolates outside – came as a sweet surprise on our first glamping night. And became a ritual we looked forward to.
It is this kind of imaginative and tasteful attention to detail that makes itself known in every aspect of the camp. And in these innumerable details we were treated to something surprising and comforting, with a just-right mix of familiarity and novelty.
Ladakh is the kind of place you bring your wildest expectations to, and then watch them pale in comparison to reality. Nature puts up a show no amount of online trawling or books can prepare you for. Knocking our socks off is in nature’s job description, as evinced by her everywhere in Ladakh. From snow-draped heights to sun-spangled poplar trees. But what one doesn’t expect is a man-made slice of heaven sandwiched seamlessly between those heights and those trees.
Welcome To Chamba Camp, Thiksey
After a night of two flights and a sleepwalk through the Delhi airport, we rolled through the Chamba Camp gates all wide-eyed under sunglasses and wanderlust. Hot towels (like those on flights) were served with smiles. Three lovely local women in Ladakhi headdresses and robes greeted us with Jooleys and white stoles at the reception marquee’s entrance. Sunflowers as big our faces beamed right back at us, and soon we were led inside.
Amidst the decor (all ingeniously foldable) that included a chandelier, a chess board, bookshelves, artwork and handicrafts, the in-house doctor waited to check the oxygen levels in our blood. A little thing called altitude can make a whole lot of difference to the body at 12,000 ft and the TUTC takes no chances with that. While we got tested, we were briefed about the activities in store and advised to rest on the first day so as to acclimatize.
Warm (thanks to the heater) and wooden-floored, the tent was replete with everything that a five-star hotel room would offer. Minus the massive carbon footprint. Between snacks and stationery on separate tables, a queen-size four-poster bed stood in the centre, and some warm robes hung on a stand next to never-get-up sofas. And a cellphone on the nightstand to connect us to the rest of the camp. The ensuite bathroom was a delight with all its thoughtful details.
This is how the camp travels from one place to another, folding up all its contents to be unfolded all over again in Kohima, Nagaland this December.
Luxury Meets Wilderness
A luxury camp in the midst of a cold desert sounds enough of a guilty pleasure to rile up the tree hugger in me, but here’s where the true marvel of the camp lies. This is a camp where luxury is premised on a respect for nature and its ways, exploring rather than exploiting it. Made possible by people who understand and love the land and all that it offers. Instead of arm-twisting nature until there’s nothing left, the idea here is to give back to nature in every way, while uncorking the best wines and amenities you’d expect in any luxury accommodation. Man and nature aren’t adversaries here, but collaborators on a labour of love and endless detail. ‘Nothing is wasted’ is a phrase we heard often on our walking tours here with the camp’s manager, and we could see that.
The camp benefitting the land and the locals in so many ways, this is a new variant of luxury that sees no point in being at odds with its environment. Luxury that explores nature and new ways of being attuned with it, rather than exploiting it. Most five-star hotels in cities will no doubt continue making a dent in the earth’s finite resources without a thought for the repercussions, churning out all the canned experiences that add up to their five-star ratings. Being cut off from nature may well be your thing, but for a firsthand experience of the wilderness with the amenities and feel-good features of civilization, TUTC is your deal. The elements one tent flap away while your personal butler stands one phone call away. One yank at the tent zip and you step out from five-star indoors into five-billion-star outdoors. A best-of-both-worlds experience that leaves a positive impact on the land and lives of locals.
The Constant Gardeners
Despite the non-conducive weather most of the year, it had a rich variety of produce to show for the year-long effort that goes into it. Zucchinis, red cabbage and edible flowers, all growing in bunches like they meant it. We were going to be well-nourished by the camp’s kitchen next door to this steady stream of vegetables, flowers and fruit.
Well, that’s all from my end for now, watch this space for my next article on the experiences offered by TUTC!
Published on: Apr 12, 2017
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About The Author
Namita Kulkarni is a nocturnal creature who sunlights as a writer, Yoga teacher and artist. She loves going where she’s never been, having (mis)adventures, dancing with words and music, learning new languages and stories. Tabasco, sunshine, poetry, the night sky and words are some of her many loves. Lucky for her, they’re location-independent and tag along wherever she goes. She bares her soul at www.radicallyeverafter.com, tweets @namitakulkarni and instagrams @namita_nefarious