The notion that adventure activities like camping and trekking are all about roughing it out is not misplaced. That one drives or treks out to a remote spot, sets up camp, cooks and enjoys the wilderness doesn't, however, mean it has to be devoid of comfort. And luxury. Having been born into a family whose idea of vacationing was camping, trekking and hiking, I grew up holidaying in makeshift homes (read tents) all over the country. I still do one or two camping trips a year, but with a twist.
Last year, we (my husband and I) decided to fine-tune our adventure expeditions by adopting the glamping approach-defined by the Oxford English dictionary as a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping; the word 'glamping' comes from blending the words glamorous and camping. Now, a capable and sturdy vehicle is a natural companion when heading out to camp. (Being the auto enthusiast that I am, I have always been partial to motor camping over trek camping.) But an adventure expedition vehicle that met all our glamping and comfort requirements didn't exist, so we decided to build one.
The wish list was long. It started with an ultra comfortable rooftop tent. Driving for hours to reach relative wilderness, then getting down to pitching tents and organising food can be exhausting. Finding an appropriate site to camp at-flat, clean and near a water source-can be a real challenge, especially in the dark. Our rooftop tent, which comes with a mattress that is as comfortable as a bed at home, sets up in under five minutes with minimal effort. Super Milo-named after my dog Milo, who was a fixture in all my camping trips-is fitted with a stainless steel water tank carrying enough water to cook, wash and even shower. It has an auxiliary fuel tank (giving us extended range), which allows us to do away with carrying fuel in jerricans as we traverse terrain without fuel stations.
The seats of Super Milo are retrofitted and made luxurious for long drives. We have additional lighting all over the vehicle to light up our campsite, when needed. The luggage bay of Super Milo has slots to stow away comfortable camp chairs, tables, an axe, shovel, flashlights and gas used for cooking. And it is not just frills. Super Milo is also extremely capable. It has been lifted for greater clearance, has an electric winch to get us out of trouble, a high lift jack, performance torsion bars and mud terrain tyres to give a comfortable ride in the worst of terrain.
Super Milo allows us to explore and stay in the wilderness, enjoy stark landscapes in luxury under a canopy of stars, seen today only if you make the effort to drive far away from cities. Glamping is not luxurious just because it is camping in luxury and comfort, but because getting away allows you to breathe the clean air and experience space, both of which are luxuries in most of our present lifestyles.
Panag is a Bollywood actor.