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RTC (Road Trippers Club) was started with the cause of getting people out of their homes to explore places near their city and gain confidence to take their vehicles out for longer trips. Driving in the city and driving on the highway are two completely different things. After a year of doing more than 300 trips and taking over 8000 members pan India through unique experiences, we were ready to take another trip from Mumbai this February. Our destination – Chandoli National Park.
One of the only national parks and forest areas in the South of Maharashtra, Chandoli is famous for the Indian Bison. Nestled within it is the Chandoli dam and flora that is a mix of the moist Malabar forests and the deciduous Western Ghats. Once a forest that was known to have tigers roaming freely, presently, the Bison rules the roost here. Our 400 km drive from Mumbai needed to be planned well and executed to the T. The convoy was limited to 5 cars and 5 bikes since the resort in Chandoli had only a few rooms. Our friends from the Pune chapter also wanted a piece of the action and we decided to meet them just outside the city.
Convoy driving has its own charm and in our case, a captain leads the way and a sweeper makes sure no one is left back. Everyone in between is safe while travelling. One of the reasons why a lot of new drivers love to be a part of the community. We had 3 families, one with a kid in tow, a retired colonel who was driving with a prosthetic limb, and solo riders on bikes, all travelling together. But the common factor was to explore and have fun. Making friends was a guarantee! We left at 6:30 am sharp from Kharghar, near Mumbai, our meeting spot. A quick breakfast halt on the expressway and we were off to our meeting point in Pune.
One of the best things about this drive was that there was no delay from any person in reaching and starting the drive or any dilly-dallying at the meeting points. Disciplined driving saw us enter the resort exactly at 2 pm, the planned time of arrival. A sumptuous lunch of proper Kolhapuri dishes and a quick nap later, the group went about exploring the nearby dam. One of the other key reasons people stick with the club is the lovely gems that we identify as places to stay. The resort was in the lap of the forest and had wooden chalets and Swiss tents for accommodation. A gentle breeze made sure none of us felt even a bit tired after the long drive.
As is the norm, we had the entire resort booked for us and could plan all our activities there as per our whims and fancies. In the night, the chill was quickly dispensed with a bonfire, around which the participants gathered around to introduce themselves and talk about road trips and their experiences. It was a brilliant fun-filled session that went on until the late hours of the night. Dinner again was a local affair packed with flavour. A morning safari was arranged and we went in the search of the Indian Bison. And we saw plenty of them! We were also able to sight a lot of birds, deers and peacocks amongst other animals during the 2-hour safari.
We came back filled with dust and dirt, but extremely satisfied. The next morning was spent playing games like cricket and badminton, after which, we reluctantly had to return back to our homes. Over the past 1 year, the club has been helping people of all ages and backgrounds come together to experience the diversities that our country has to offer. There are a few tenets that we adhere to. For e.g. we never leave trash back at the place we visit. Garbage bags are carried with us and all our trash is carted back to our homes to be disposed of in a proper manner. Every trip is a learning experience, be it kids learning about the animals or a flower in the forest or grown men about how to drive safely through state highways or even the ladies taking an initiative to change the tyre of a punctured car, everything is a group activity.
This trip was not so different in that sense. Not a single member of a convoy thus far has had the misfortune of wandering off and getting lost while travelling to or from the destination and that is because of the learnings that the captains and the tails are able to impart to the group as rules, meant to be followed. This was yet another successful trip that will go down the club’s memory lane and promises were made to come back here in a different season to see the ever-changing face of MotherNature! Please visit the RTC website to know more about them and join their camaraderie on wheels.