A little background
I remember getting up in the middle of the night to the buzzing of giant flies and some odd-looking insects crawling up our tent. Being deep into the woods and far from civilisation, it’s the only vivid piece of memory I have of my first and only camping experience years ago in Sonmarg, and clearly it isn’t a blissful reminder. We left the next morning and I voluntarily swore off camping forever.
That was until last week when Ameya who, unlike me, doesn’t mind being eaten alive by bugs, claimed it would be a good idea to go lakeside camping, somewhere not too far from Mumbai. Oddly enough, it didn’t take long for this guy right here, who swore his camping days were behind him, to check for locations.
So why did I persist? Simply because this time around, I wasn’t summoned into camping after hiking for hours into the wilderness. I was more than happy to drive the impressive Renault Captur to a campsite beside a beautiful lake and help Ameya set up our tent that’s within walking distance of the nearest village.
Among the countless quick-getaway options one has from Mumbai, we began to look for the right place. In fact, the perfect location ought to be a good three to four-hour drive away, with a copious amount of greenery along the way, not to mention the quaintness and tranquillity of an undefiled lakeside. Following a brief discussion and with a couple of locations marked on the map, we decided to head off to Vaitarna Lake near Nashik. Located roughly 105km off Bombay city, it offers a breath-taking view of the Western Ghats and fits our purpose, as well.
The road leading to our campsite from the Mumbai-Nashik highway is anything but plush. That said, we couldn’t have had a better companion for this trip than the all-new Renault Captur petrol. Be it broken roads or the harsh heat, the Captur braved it all. “Such a great looking SUV, especially in this red colour” “and it’s got a big boot, too” as it took all our luggage, a full-size tent and all of Kaustubh’s camera equipment with ease.
It’s always better to drive out of Bombay either late in the night or well before sunrise. However, neither would assure you roads free of heavy vehicles. Naturally, the first full hour of the drive had us manoeuvring through streaks of multi-axle trucks invariably taking up all the lanes. To our surprise, not only is the Captur’s clutch incredibly light, it’s also well-weighted which is crucial to drive smoothly in stop-and-go traffic. The other drivetrain highlight is the steering which doesn’t require much effort to turn, even at low speeds. Thankfully, it weighs up adequately as you up the pace. Speaking of pace, the 1.5-litre petrol motor makes 104bhp, more importantly it develops 142Nm of torque low down the rev range, allowing for a nice, relentless pull. The strong bottom end pull and midrange punch became apparent as we crossed Bhiwandi bypass and approached the fast sections of the Mumbai-Nashik highway. Out on the open stretches, overtaking slower motorists was a piece of cake and going through long corners at speed was, again, quite effortless for the Captur.