On our Himachal sojourn, I and my wife were sure that we didn’t want to visit the usual places like Shimla, Dalhousie, Manali etc. We wanted something exciting and that’s when we got to know about this camp. There were multiple options that we could choose for and we opted for a package which has a trek and paragliding. We exchanged couple of calls and emails with Varun who owns this place and the booking was done seamlessly. This was just the start of something truly special.
Reaching Bir Billing
We were advised by Varun to reach Bir by 6 PM as the camp was in the middle of the forest. As the climate was foggy and it has rained in the morning, Varun advised us to finish off the Paragliding in late evening as the forecast was of more rain for the entire week. We were thrilled as that happened to be our 3rd Wedding Anniversary as well. We reached Bir around 3PM and were escorted by Babloo to the camp. It might be difficult to locate the camp without an escort though the maps show the exact location of the camp. After parking, you need to hike for about 100mts to reach the camp.
It was like finding an oasis in middle of a desert. The camp area is surrounded by thick green forest yet is very neat and clean. The tents are well spaced so as to maintain privacy. The tents are equipped with mattresses, blankets, towels, bottled water, a light and a charging point. You will not find even 1 speck of dust or stain inside the tent. The toilet and bathroom complex are separate and super clean. A lot of effort has gone into maintaining this place so neatly. There is no designated dining area but you can choose to have it under any of the tree or near the camp fire. The food is absolutely lip smacking. You can place your request if any and Pintu will be more than happy to make it for you. We wanted to taste something local and he had made a special sabzi out of Lungdu. The next day he made Khatiyal ki sabzi which was equally great to taste. The puri chole, paneer bhurji, aloo mater, dal……. basically everything he made was simply too good. Hot water was made available to us in the mornings by using Hamam for boiling the water.
We had opted for the 16 KM village trail trek while booking. Varun introduced us to Khadak Singh – a 67 year young man who knows every nook and corner of these mountains. It was indeed refreshing to have such an enthusiastic man for company. He took us to such amazingly beautiful places that for once we thought we are in a foreign land. We got a feel of the local culture and cuisine when he took us to the house of a local farmer. As we were completely drenched in rain and shivering, the old man, Mr. Nihal Chand was kind enough to light a camp fire and make tea for us at his house. What hospitality! This certainly was the highlight of our trip. Finally after 16 km and 9 hours of trekking, we came back to our camp by 6 PM. If you are trekking in rain, be careful of the leeches as we encountered lot of them during the trek.
This was the anniversary gift. The ride from Bir landing area to Billing take off zone was nothing short of an adventure with narrow roads and near zero visibility. We reached the top in about 30 min and since it was foggy there were not many people waiting for the jump. Luckily, as soon as we reached, the fog cleared and we were ready for our jump. Prem, who was my pilot, gave me clear instructions on Do’s and Don’ts and was very professional in his approach. We opted to video record the jump using a Go Pro. This will cost you 500 bucks but it’s worth the money. After you are strapped, you need to run for some distance till the edge of the cliff before u actually take off. Once you are in air, the feeling is of a bird for the next 15-20min. The mountains will look like they have been covered with a thick green carpet and clouds will feel like soft cotton. You will love every second you are in air and wish that the ride continued for a little longer. You can request the pilot to do some stunts in the air which will take the entire experience to the next level. As instructed by the pilot, I kept my legs parallel to the land while landing and after a 15min dream ride, we finally landed in Bir. The immediate feeling was I want to do it again and I want to do it now. There are few photographers available in the landing area who will click you landing photos and offer it to you for Rs 200. This experience was our best anniversary gift till date.
Varun, Lucky, Pintu, Babloo and Khadak Singh are the nicest people you can meet in Himachal. The warmth and hospitality shown by them cannot be described in words. You have to experience it to believe it. For the period of stay, this camp was our home – 3000 km and 8500 ft away. Thank you guys for giving us such memorable moments and making our trip ultra-special—-Mr. & Mrs. Vivek Krishnamurthy