Travels and Excursions

Sunday Nature Trek at Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, jungle trekking, bamboo hut trail, gaumukh trail, sunday trekking, women trekkers

Having fun at a fresh water stream at SGNP

Sundays are usually spent lazing in the bed, cooking elaborate dishes for the family and watching movies on Netflix. However, this Sunday, I decided to do something different, something solely for myself. So while hubby was minding little A, along with two of my friends from the gym, I visited Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali for a trek.

‘In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks’ – John Muir.

Thinking that we are regular weight lifters and have a reasonably fit body, we chose the most difficult trek called the Bamboo Hut (Gaumukh) Trail (the entry point of the trail had a few bamboo huts once upon a time, hence the name). We started trekking around 8:30 along with our guide, Sandy, provided by the park itself. We knew that the path was rocky and slippery, but we realised the actual extent of it only once we started the trek.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, jungle trekking, bamboo hut trail, gaumukh trail, sunday trekking, women trekkers

My fall on the rock

There were many other trekkers along the way, some first timers and some seasoned ones. Passing through fresh water steams, holding on to branches for support and treading carefully on rocks, it took us nearly two and a half hours to reach the summit.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, jungle trekking, bamboo hut trail, gaumukh trail, sunday trekking, women trekkers

Mumbai view from Sanjay Gandhi National Park

The summit is the highest point of Mumbai, some 1500 mtrs from the sea level. From the tall watch tower, you get a beautiful view of Mumbai, right from the Pagoda in Gorai to Haji Ali in South Mumbai. Due to a dense fog, we couldn’t see much of Mumbai’s skyline, however we could clearly see the three prominent lakes of Mumbai – Tulsi, Vihar and Powai.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, jungle trekking, bamboo hut trail, gaumukh trail, sunday trekking, women trekkers

View from machan at the summit at SGNP

Seriously, the top was worth the falls, pains and bruises.

While coming down, we decided to take another route, that is via Kanheri caves. It was a more tricky and treacherous route, and except the guide, all of us slipped at least once on the mossy basalt (volcanic) rocks.

What to see in Borivali National Park:

Most people come to visit the 2500-old Buddhist Kanheri Caves. It is a good spot for picnics and some fun and frolic in the nearby streams. There are rides and mini toy train for kids. People also visit the park for cycling and running.

But, the jungle houses some enthralling flora and fauna. Our guide, Sandy was a naturalist and shared some valuable information to us regarding the trees, flowers, animals and insects found in the park.

What was remarkable about the park was its cleanliness and the fact that the jungle was left untouched by the humans. There was not a single plastic bag, juice carton, water bottle or human debris in the jungle. Trees that had fallen down were left to decompose on their own. It was jungle at its purest and wildest.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, jungle trekking, bamboo hut trail, gaumukh trail, sunday trekking, women trekkers

Deer Skull at Sanjay Gandhi National Park

The jungle is resident to 40-45 leopards, deer and wild boars, however, we didn’t come across any. We came across a deer skull nicely locked in a tree trunk. We saw perfect spider webs, fresh water crabs, furry caterpillars and a bamboo pit viper who was sleeping coiled around a plant.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, jungle trekking, bamboo hut trail, gaumukh trail, sunday trekking, women trekkers

Bamboo pit viper at Sanjay Gandhi National Park

We ate sour ambadi leaves that the local adivasis (forest tribes) use as a souring agent. We even saw ghost trees, the sap of which is used to make ‘dink laddoos’. You can’t miss lichens on trees and rocks. Lichens are made of fungus and alga. Their presence is an indicator that the air in the surrounding is not polluted. Can you imagine we breathed clean and fresh air in the middle of Mumbai?

What to carry?

  • Wear comfortable trekking clothes.
  • Be fully clothed as there are some hungry mosquitoes in the jungle and they stick to you like leeches.
  • Take a mosquito repellent. Spray or apply from time to time.
  • Good trekking shoes that can hold onto rocks during the rains.
  • Cap in the summer and windcheater during the monsoon.
  • Water – at least 1-2 ltrs.
  • Carry nutrient packed food as there is no food available in the jungle.
  • A bag to collect your garbage. Do not litter in the jungle.

Some useful information on booking your trek:

  • Reach Borivali National Park by 7:30. That is when the gates open for trekkers.
  • The entrance fee is Rs. 53 per person. If you are driving there in your own car, you can take it inside by paying a separate fee.
  • Go to the Nature Information Center (100 mtrs from the main gate) to book your trek. Trek booking is Rs. 300 per person.
  • You will be assigned a guide. You cannot enter the forest without a guide/naturalist.
  • The guide fee is Rs. 250 per hour for a group.
  • From the Center, the trail start point is a good 6-7 kms. Now, you can choose to walk till there, take you care there and park. Or rent a seat in one of the many Omni shuttles available. A one-way transfer costs you Rs. 50 per person. Best bus no. 188 operates inside the park only on Sundays. You can avail of its service at any point in the park. Just signal and the bus will stop. Bus tickets costs Rs. 14 per person.
  • Avoid Sundays especially in the rains as the park is a favourite hub for family outings and picnics. The endless honking and the mindless traffic jam inside the park are bound to upset you if you are a nature lover.

There are many trails in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park to suit all fitness levels and interest. Bamboo Hut trail being tough is ideal for medium to seasoned trekkers. However, if you want to introduce kids to trekking, Shilonda trail and Upper trail or Kanheri trail are ideal. I am planning to take Miss A sometime soon for Shilonda trail. Playing in parks is fine, but nothing like witnessing the wilderness for kids to understand and appreciate the true beauty of nature.

25 Comments

  1. wow anshu.. that’s an amazing experience. we do have the reserves for trekking here too. this is such inspiring that i need to push hubby for a trek.

  2. Wow! Indeed a Sunday spent well! Great idea, I must say, considering most of our weekends are either spent at home or strolling along in some malls. You chose the perfect spot, far away from the maddening crowd! 🙂

  3. This sounds so interesting. We visit SGNP regularly however never took a guided tour. Now, I am inspired to do this. It really seems so much fun.

  4. Hey…so cool. I remember many monsoons back I had trekked to Lonavla. Was so much fun. Not gone for a trek since ages. Monsoons are the best time for a trek. I remember my feet would get sore and I would step into a small puddle or wash my feet under a waterfall to get rejuvinated again. I ‘ve been to the caves but not for the trek. Maybe soon. 🙂

    Glad you had so much fun Anshu. 🙂

  5. mammaspeaks

    Yes, Lonavala has some really good treks. Will try them soon. We started our trek by crossing a stream and ended with one. Have not been to the caves, will visit them next.

  6. mammaspeaks

    It was quite fun, Balaka! This was my first trip to SGNP and I was impressed. Wanting to go again and again!

  7. mammaspeaks

    Thank you Shilpa. Yes the trek was far away from the maddening crowd. In fact because of the difficult level of the trek, we didn’t meet a single person during the last half hour. However, the park was crazily crowded with tourists and picnickers.

  8. mammaspeaks

    Go on a trek with your hubby Deepa! I am sure you will enjoy it!

  9. wow. terrific trekking. I’m so gonna go for it. I liked the pics. crossing the streams.. sounds so wonderful. you simply are a wonder-woman, Anshu.

  10. Very well written! Do try the Jambhulmal point trail the next time you visit the park! 🙂

  11. mammaspeaks

    Crossing the steams was so much fun. It was clear water. Had some good fun after a long time. Thank you, Priya! Wonder woman – I need to go find my cape!! 😉

  12. mammaspeaks

    Sure will. Our guide had mentioned Jambhulmal trail saying there were jambhul trees once upon a time, hence the name! Thanks for commenting. Will let you know once I do it!

  13. What a great weekend it was! Nothing beats a Sunday spent outdoors!

  14. Your blog just makes me feel as if I was there too and I really appreciate the practical advice at then end. Will certainly put it on my places to visit list! Thank you.

  15. Wow you guys are so lucky that you got chance to visit this place for trekking, wish if I could also be there ..
    But thanks for the point which you have mentioned in the post that what to carry whenever planning to visit the jungle

  16. Oh my God! To go on a trek in a place which is inhabited by leopards and wild boars sounds scary to me. I do not have the heart to do such a thing even if I would have been fitter and stronger. Cheers to you and your friends for attempting this.

  17. mammaspeaks

    True that, Nanditha! A fun trekking that too in the heart of Mumbai takes the prize!

  18. mammaspeaks

    Thanks Maureen. Glad you liked my pointers.

  19. mammaspeaks

    Yes, Priyal. Do take care of the pointers as they are needed in the jungle trek. Thanks a lot!

  20. mammaspeaks

    Anamika, there are leopards and wild boars, but really they are more scared of us than we of them. They know humans are predators and more dangerous, so they keep their safe distance from us. Also, when you are in groups, they will never come near us.

  21. Looks like an interesting trek. We also have a couple of places where we trek in Jaipur. Jhalana Park is quite similar to the one you have over there but it was recently converted to Leopard safari therefore now it is closed for us.

  22. mammaspeaks

    SGNP has many interesting treks. I plan to do many more in the future. I am so sorry to learn that the park has been closed for public. SGNP has leopards and wild boars too but it allows runners and joggers from 4:30-6:30 am. May be you could talk to your local administration office and suggest the same.

  23. Sometimes, the greed for generating money in alliance with private players leads to such a situation. There are plans to promote Jhalana Van as the only leopard safari in India. There were protests by wildlife lovers but all in vain. We have plenty of other places to explore so we don’t encroach into this area anymore. 🙂

  24. mammaspeaks

    Sad state of affairs. Even in Mumbai, there are talks about encroaching parts of Aarey Colony and SGNP. Glad you have other places to explore!

  25. yup! that we are! Also, the forests here are monsoon forest so they undergo a huge transformation depending on the season.

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