PLAN YOUR PARAGLIDING HOLIDAYS WELL

Here are a few pointers for those of you planning to travel to Kamshet. Please go through the points and plan your paragliding holidays well.

Our location - Kamshet

Kamshet is located within the western state of Maharashtra, about 110 km from Mumbai City via the Mumbai Pune Expressway. It is an hour away from Pune and 3 hours away from Mumbai City. Kamshet is a rural village with 7 little villages, bumpy country roads and a one-road town.

The majority of the population here consists of farmers. Marathi is the local language, however, the staff at the Native Place homestay and the Nirvana Adventures crew is familiar with Marathi, Hindi and English.

Being situated at 2000 ft above sea level the weather here is cooler than in the plains. Coolest weather lasts from November to mid-March, with cool, fresh mornings and evenings and dry, sunny days. Really hot weather, when it is dry & dusty is between April and June although even at midday if you are in the shade the breeze makes the heat bearable and the mornings and evenings are definitely pleasant.

Although, flying until the late sunset that more than makes up for the afternoon heat. Monsoon rains occur between June and September. Paragliding pilots can expect almost 8 months of non-stop flying. Check out Current Weather Kamshet

Once you arrive at the Native Place homestay, transport won’t be much of a problem. Whether you are booking a course or a paragliding holiday, your package will cover your daily trip to the flying site and back each day. Should you like to visit town or do some sightseeing, the manager at the homestay will be able to help you with booking a vehicle.

The Native Place homestay where Nirvana Adventures is housed is the best place to stay in the area. “The Cross Country Travel Guide (2012/13) describes it to be a friendly guesthouse with a tropical garden. It boasts of great views of the lake, excellent food, great ambiance and good company.

It provides you with a holiday atmosphere, an intro to home style Indian cooking, evening company and entertainment too. You can choose from private rooms, dorms and tents pitched in the garden. There is a bank of western-style washrooms and showers that service the dorms and tents. Rooms have attached washrooms. A Permaculture garden filled with a bio-diverse and fascinating flowering and fruit trees, birds, medicinal plants, herbs, and salad veggies. In addition, there are many seats and hammocks to lure you into the garden.

If you decide to bring the family along on your flying trip or decide to have a non-flying day, you have a choice of things to do besides paragliding – spend time by the warm waters of the Vadivali reservoir; bird-watch or read a book while lying in a hammock; take the native place garden trail and explore the bio-diverse garden; or go to the nearby Buddhist cave monasteries or a temple in the forest. All sightseeing details are provided at Native Place.

The Native Place homestay serves home-style meals inspired by north and south Indian cooking cuisines, which gives you a great introduction to a range of Indian food. The food is mild on spice and takes into consideration the western palette. Look forward to chapatis, papads, naan, and tandoori fair, as well as a range of interestingly cooked veggies, dals (pulses) and salads, some of which are picked fresh from our organic Permaculture garden.

Every Saturday night dinner is served on the roof top under a blanket of stars. As you enjoy the cool night air, mingle with the pilots from the city, you can partake of our famous tandoori chicken, roasted potaoes and naan (flat bread).

When at the site all day people sometimes have lunch at an Udipi restaurant that serves a mix of south Indian dosas, idlis, and vegetable rice pulavs and curries, or the local highway dhabas famous for butter chicken, naan and creamy spicy non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes.

There are also quick refreshment shops in Kamshet town, serving snacks like vada pao and samosas (savoury fried snacks with a spicy potato and pea filling), sweet jalebis and other sweets and lassi (beaten drinking sweet yogurt).

What fruit is available varies with the season. At Native Place we serve papaya and bananas, star fruit and other fruits as and when they appear for the picking.

But there’s always a fine choice available in the market. You can stock up on your fruit on your way back from the flying site.

We serve the regular Indian chai at breakfast and also some herb teas with ingredients plucked fresh from the garden. If you are a fussy coffee drinker we suggest you carry your own.

Locally, there are many village festivals that take place through the year. They follow the Hindu calendar which is based on the lunar cycles.

Weddings are great fun too, but these usually happen in the months of April and May. You may, while in Kamshet, be lucky enough to be invited to a wedding, which are jubilant affairs, scheduled on auspicious days.

 

The trails in hills behind the guesthouse are perfect short and long treks.These walks in the wilderness are great to unwind and soak in the sense of adventure.

 

Resident yoga guru and paragliding pilot Ivan Stanley lives at the Native Place homestay for most of the paragliding season. If you are interested in exploring yoga and meditation or deepening your practice with an experienced yoga teacher, speak to Stan to set up a class with him. We promise you it will be worth your while.

A visit to the village temple when the elders are practicing their devotional songs at night has intrigued many pilots. A few Buddhist Cave temples dating back to BCE are located within 30 km radius of Kamshet and are worth a visit (details available at the Native Place guesthouse).

The tropical climate calls for loose cotton pants and long-sleeved shirts to protect yourself from the constant sunshine, especially if you are on the hill all day. However, it is quite all right to wear shorts and sleeveless tops, too, in Kamshet. Skimpy, revealing clothes to be avoided in town.

The shopping at Kamshet is not much to write home about. Check out the stores in town for silver, gold and faux Indian jewellery, sarees and other Indian clothes. For arts and crafts etc. it would be better to check in Mumbai or at the airport itself.

Kamshet is a small town and not at all touristy. People are mostly simple and honest. Please don’t bargain while buying things from the local shops, fruit sellers etc. While hiring a taxi or rickshaw ask at the guesthouse or the Nirvana Paragliding crew for the on-going rates and act accordingly.

Kamshet is a safe place to travel to. All the same don’t leave your valuables, gizmos, sunglasses etc. lying around to tempt people.Common sense suggests a few precautions.

Travel Essentials

Anyone over 17 years of age can carry one US quart of spirits, or a bottle of wine and 250ml spirits, and 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 250g tobacco. You may have to register anything valuable on a tourist baggage re-export form to ensure you can carry it home with you. You may also have to fill in a currency declaration form if you are carrying more than US$10,000 or equivalent.

Generally 220V 50Hz AC, though direct current supplies also exist, so check before plugging in. Most sockets are triple round-pin (accepting European-size double round-pin plugs). British, Irish and Australasian plugs will need an adaptor, preferably universal; American and Canadian appliances will need a transformer too, unless multi-voltage. Power cuts and voltage variations are very common; voltage stabilizers should be used to run sensitive appliances such as laptops.

It’s imperative that you take out proper travel / adventure sport insurance before setting off for India. A typical travel insurance policy usually provides cover for the loss of baggage, tickets and cash (up to certain limit), as well as cancellation or curtailment of your journey. Most of them exclude the so-called dangerous sports unless an extra premium is paid.

Native Place offers you the use of wi-fi connection. Speeds can still be painfully slow especially if you are accessing difficult to load complex websites or to perform online transactions (like booking a train ticket).

Our housekeeper, Pasaba, will wash and sun-dry your clothes for fee. You will find her in the guesthouse in the morning wearing a traditionally draped Maharashtrian saree.

India’s unit of currency is the Rupee, usually abbreviated ₹ and divided into a hundred paise. Almost all money is paper, with notes of 5, 10, 20,50, 100, 500 and 2000 rupees. Coins in circulation are 1, 2, 5 and 10
Rupees, the latter two gradually replacing the paper versions, plus(rarely seen) 50 paise. Note that it’s illegal to take Rupees in or out of India (although they are widely available at overseas forexes), so you might want to wait until you arrive before changing money.

Large denominations can also be a problem, as change is usually in short supply. Many Indian people cannot afford to keep much lying around, and you shouldn’t necessarily expect shopkeepers or rickshaw drivers to have it (and they may – as may you – try to hold onto it if they do). Larger notes can be changed for smaller denominations at hotels and other suitable establishments.

The easiest way to access your money in India is with plastic. You will find ATMs in and around Kamshet town so you can withdraw from time to time. Most transactions in and around Kamshet are done in cash. Ensure that you have some cash with you once you leave the airport to facilitate your journey from the airport to the Native Place Guesthouse. Your card issuer may well add a foreign transaction fee, and the Indian bank will also levy a small charge, generally around Rs 25.

Your card issuer, and sometimes the ATM itself, imposes limits on the amount you may withdraw in a day – typically Rs 10,000–20,000. Credit cards are accepted for payment at major hotels, top restaurants, some shops and airline offices, but virtually nowhere else. Visa, American Express and some other financial institutions offer prepaid cards that you can load up with credit before you leave home and use in ATMs like a debit card – effectively replacing the increasingly defunct travellers’ cheques.

Forex: US dollars are the easiest currency to convert, with euros and pounds sterling not far behind.

Bring your phone along and buy an Indian SIM card at the airport SIM cards are sold through most cell phone shops and network outlets, though the process for obtaining one is rather complicated and can take up to 48 hours. You have to provide a photocopy of your passport (photo and visa pages), fill in a form and be registered at an Indian address,
though the hotel you are staying in usually suffices. There is an initial connection fee ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 250, depending on the dealer and network.

Coverage – Vodafone and Idea work best at Kamshet. Call charges to the UK and US from most Indian networks cost Rs 2–3 per minute. Also, ask your card supplier to turn on the “do not disturb” option, or you’ll be plagued with spam calls and spam texts from the phone company.

Tips – Ten percent, or a simple rounding up, should be regarded as acceptable if you’ve received good service – more if the staff have really gone out of their way to be helpful. Taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers will not expect tips unless you’ve made unplanned diversions or stops.

Travel advice

Besides your paraglider and all related paragliding equipment, batteries and adapters included, do bring your sunscreen, personal medicines, hat, day and rehydration pack, mosquito repellent, ORS, towel and toilet paper too. Also, carry a light jacket for chilly evenings.

When flying abroad or at home, having a flight incident can become too costly a luxury. Therefore, we encourage all pilots to err on the side of safety on the ground and in the air. Bring a fully protected harness fitted with a recently refreshed reserve. Any modern DHV 1/1-2 glider will serve you perfectly well for all your flying needs here. A speed system is a must too. Have your insurance checked out as well.

Emergency Phone Numbers

Bharat Ambulance (Pimpri – Chinchwad): +91-073040-50500

Indrayani Hospital (Kamshet):+91-99210-08832

Pawna Hospital: +91-2114-221076/7

Aditya Birla Hospital (Pune):+91-20-3071-7500

Ruby Hall Clinic (Pune): +91-20-66455100

Lilawati Hospital (Mumbai): +91-22-2675-1000

TRAVEL GUIDE

Almost everyone requires a visa before travelling to India, though the process for obtaining a standard tourist visa has been streamlined a great deal in recent years, and online applications are now accepted for shorter visits.

e-Tourist Visas

For those planning a visit to India for up to one month India offers an e-tourist visa application facility to 166 countries including UK, Ireland and the US. Apply online for an e-Tourist Visa (eTV) through the Indian government’s official online portal (indianvisaonline.gov.in).

These single-entry visas are valid for thirty days from the date of entry and must be secured at least four days (and no more than thirty days) before travel. You have to fill in the application, upload your photo and pay the fee online, then carry a printed copy of the eTV with you to India; you’ll be issued with your visa on arrival. Fees vary between zero and US$60, depending on your nationality, plus a small bank charge.

Tourist visas

If you wish to stay in India for longer than thirty days, or are a passport holder from one of the few countries not covered by the eTV scheme, you will need to organize your visa in advance. Standard tourist visas are valid for a year from the date of issue (not of departure from your home country or entry into India), with a maximum stay during one visit of 180 days. Your passport will need to have at least 180 days’ validity.

The fee structure depends on the nationality of the passport holder and type/duration of visa applied. It ranges from $5 for a to $50 for a visa with a one-year validity.

Click here to check out the list of Indian embassies:

http://www.mea.gov.in/indian-missions-abroad.htm

Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji International airport is the closest and most convenient to get to Kamshet and handles the maximum number of international flights to and from India.

It takes around 3 hours to reach our the Native Place Guesthouse – Nirvana Adventures base at Kamshet. Ask for our airport to site transfer service to have you fetched from the airport and driven up to our doorstep. Should you take a cab from the airport remember to download the google maps directions on your device in case the signal drops enroute.

If you have entered the country through another Indian city (besides Mumbai) book a domestic flight to Pune ( this airport is an hour away a shorter drive and therefore more convenient which is approximately an hour’s drive from Kamshet. A prepaid taxi service from the airport will bring you in to Kamshet. You can also book an OLA or Uber from Pune to Kamshet if you have the app. Remember to mail us for the directions to our base (Native Place). Alternatively ask for our airport to site pick up service.

Getting flight tickets is not usually a problem but it is advisable to book in advance.

India Standard Time is 5.5 hours (5 hours 30 minutes) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. GMT+5.5, and Indian Standard TIme does not operate Daylight-Saving Time.

Click here to check out the current Indian time.

Where possible choose a destination, tour operator or hotel with a proven ethical and environmental commitment, and if in doubt ask. Spend money on local produce (rather than on imported) goods and services and use common sense when bargaining – Your few dollars saved may be a week’s salary to others.

Use water and electricity carefully. Travelers may receive preferential supply while the needs of local communities are overlooked. Learn about local etiquette and culture – consider local norms and behaviour and
dress appropriately for local cultures and situations (e.g. while visiting places of worship).

Protect wildlife and other natural resources. Don’t buy souvenirs or any goods made from wildlife unless they are clearly sustainably produced. Consider staying in local (rather than foreign owned) accommodation. The economic benefits for host communities are far greater and there are far greater opportunities to learn about the local culture.

HEALTH AND PRECAUTIONS

No inoculations are legally required for entry into India, (except for yellow fever) but do check your embassy recommendations decide for yourself on the precautions you need to take.

Rabies is widespread throughout the country, and the best advice is to give dogs and monkeys a wide berth – do not play with animals at all,no matter how cute they might look.

Yellow fever: Any person coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa (including infants) arriving by air or sea without a certificate is detained in isolation for a period up to 6 days if arriving within 6 days of departing from an infected area.

Except for the above no inoculations are legally required for entry into India, but do check your embassy recommendations decide for yourself on the precautions you need to take.

Diarrhoea: There are plenty of scare stories about tummy problems in India due to food and drink. At the Native Place Guesthouse you will be having home cooked meals. If you have a weak tummy tread lightly when sampling the food outside.

Malaria: No certificate required. If you do get bites or itches, try not to scratch them. Tiger Balm or dried soap may relieve the itching. Preventing mosquito bites – the best way of combating malaria is to avoid getting bitten. Malarial mosquitoes are active from dusk until dawn and during this time you should use mosquito repellent and take all necessary precautions. We provide you with mosquito coils and electrically heated repellents in your rooms and dorms. An Indian brand of repellent called Odomos is widely available and very effective should you forget your own. Please check the guidelines issued by your country.

 

The sun and the heat can cause a few unexpected problems if you are not used to spending time under the tropical sun. A cool shower, loose cotton clothes should help. Dehydration is another possible problem, so make sure you’re drinking enough liquid, and drink rehydration salts frequently, especially when hot and/or tired. The main danger sign is irregular urination.

The sun can burn, or even cause sunstroke; a high-factor sun block is vital on exposed skin, specially when you first arrive. A hat and sunglasses are also a must especially at the flying site.

High body temperature without fever, and accompanied headaches indicate an oncoming heat stroke – drink fluids, stay, avoid the sun, take a cool shower to cool off.

The general recommendation is to drink bottled water. We have an RO water filter at the Native Place Guesthouse and urge you to bring your own bottle so you can refill it.

next steps

Checkout the Paragliding Courses from Basic to Advanced, that Nirvana Adventures offers you.

If you’re a paragliding enthusiast already, with some flying under your belt, learn how you can have a rollicking time on a Paragliding Holiday with Nirvana Adventures.

If you’re keen on Corporate Adventures and Team-building activities, learn how Nirvana Adventures can help you with it.

If you don’t want go through the hassles of learning paragliding but just wish to experience the sport, then we recommend Tandem Paragliding for you.

 

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