On Wednesday, Bengaluru-based startup Campervan Camps and Holidays India launched its fleet of India’s first commercially approved premium motorhomes.
Off-beat, eco-friendly drives around Karnataka
“Since lodges cannot be built in and around protected areas, the best way to travel without impacting nature is a caravan,” says Tiger Ramesh, founder of this new experiential holiday company. “LuxeCamper is glamping on motorhomes. We partner with small campsites in scenic locales off the beaten track,” he explains. These include select campsites of Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd, and other lodges, homestays and inns across Karnataka. With Ramesh is Vinay Luthra, director & advisor, who was formerly the head of forest force in the Karnataka Forest Dept, and who developed Jungle Lodges & Resorts Ltd. Ramesh says theirs is the first company in India to have central government approval for motorhomes for public use. “With Automotive Research Association of India approval, our RVs are certified.” The duo has pulled in a motley crew of angel investors including former cricketer Anil Kumble, musician Vijay Prakash, TaxiForSure’s Aprameya Radhakrishna, and ex-Infosys honchos Subhash Dhar and Phaneesh Murthy.
How to rent a LuxeCamper from Bengaluru
“LuxeCamper offers a full holiday curation–sightseeing, meals activities and adventure,” says Luthra. For logistical reasons, a self-drive is not an option at the moment, and each campervan comes with a driver and a guide. You can choose from one of the recommended itineraries or have one customised. Experiences currently on offer include historical sites (Belur-Halebid or Hampi), beaches (Om or Gokarna), wilderness (Kabini), sanctuaries (Bandipur, Sitanadi) and the lush Western Ghats.
What’s inside the campervan
LuxeCamper’s caravans are built from an Ashok Leyland chassis, and marry German design with Indian aesthetic. A seating lounge for four welcomes you into the luxurious RV. A separate cabin for the driver and tour leader gives guests privacy and social distancing. Inside, here’s what you get:
- Around 200 sq ft of space, including the seating area (with seat belts) with comfy sofas and cushions
- Two smart TVs, and Bluetooth in case you get the urge to rock
- A rear lounge that converts into a queen bed; the front folds into another one
- A kitchenette that comes fully loaded with three hobs–induction, gas and electric; a kettle, toaster, large freezer for a week’s supply, microwave, RO system and a refrigerator
- A separate shower and incinerator toilet, powered by solar panels, LPG and an external 230V power
- For safety, there are seatbelts, 360-degree cameras, a speed governor, a GPS tracker, first-aid kits and fire extinguishers
- On the outside, you have a shower, a sleek awning with wind sensors, and a bicycle rack
Meals are cooked at camping sites by the team, and you’re welcome to pitch in. Pre-cooked meals like MTR and ITC are also available, just in case, and the campervan also has an outdoor barbecue connection.
Rent a caravan: what would it cost?
The experience starts at Rs25,000-Rs30,000 for two adults per day. Meals would be at the campsite or through tie-ups with highway restaurants. For reference, a two-day excursion to Bheemeshwari is priced at Rs49,000,a three-day drive to the Sakrebailu Elephant Camp would cost Rs74,000 and a three-day experience in Kabini is priced at Rs69,999. These prices are for two, and taxes are extra. [For the record, you can also buy a LuxeCamper—priced at approx Rs1 crore—and lease it back to the company.
The first campervan is ready, with nine more in queue. The company says it will have all-India permits for all, but for now, itineraries are restricted to Karnataka. Goa is next, once it’s safe to travel.