What is overlanding

An overlanding trip to the land of Indigenous people and forests - Meghalaya, India! I met Bibin this year in June during one of our trips to Mawphlang Sacred Groove, Meghalaya. He was our guide for the jungle trek. The way he took our photo through a dead leaf I knew he has to be associated with The Camping Co, over a period of few months we kept in touch. I would share his number with all the guests who plan to visit the forest. I couldn’t contain my excitement when he told me that now the place can be used as one of our partner campsites. I had to go there again and see if it fits our requirements. It was the time for Shillong to turn pink with Cherry blossom blooming everywhere. I could instantly feel the freshness in the air as we crossed Umiam lake. As usual, I was lost looking at all the beautiful trees on the side of roads and 2 hours just flew away. As soon as we entered the compound, we were greeted by Bibin with a big smile on his face and said oh! You came! Like an over-enthusiastic child, he started to show us around and how much the place has changed since our last visit. The starting of the forest has a big open ground on which teenagers from nearby villages play football in afternoons. With lush green forest on the one side and valley on the other side, this is by far the most scenic playground I have come across during my travels in Meghalaya and I was glad that my favorite scene didn’t change a bit. This is beautiful, I said with a lot of excitement in my voice when we reached our campsite. In my mind I had already started to visualize how our camp would be set up for the night. Our overlander parked in one area, food getting prepared near a small pit surrounded by rocks and bonfire at one side, I was once again zoned out for a few minutes before Harsh asked me you think our guests will like it and I said absolutely. We had just enough time before it gets dark to go Bibin’s friend's house and bring them to our spot. It was a diverse group of people. A footballer who was excited for the tournament next Saturday, a musician who played more instruments than I have seen in my life and a teacher. We built the bonfire while the musician tuned his guitar. Bibin and his friend talking about a position of one of the constellation. He started with one of his favorite Khasi songs and soon we were singing from grunge rock to old Bollywood songs. I would look at the sky until my neck hurt while sitting on the chair and then start singing and then look up again. I kept doing it till dinner time. We talked about family, life, career, world, village during our music break sessions. We said our goodbyes after we finished the meal and I climbed inside the tent finally opened it up, took out just my face from one of the sides and looked at the stars wondering about the decisions I have made in my life to be here, to form Camping Co. till I fell asleep. One more day ended, one more starry night witnessed, one more life-long memory created! What is Overlanding, Camping Vs Overlanding and where can it be done in India? My day to day work also entails answering queries about the kind of trips Camping Company does. To give them a visual I always ask them if they have been on a camping trip before (most of them say no!) which is again not a true representation of overlanding trips but due to lack of information available about this in India, I resort to this example. But, what is Overlanding? According to the standard definition, overlanding is self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey is the main goal. A typical overlanding trip consists of a robust, all-terrain vehicle equipped with a rooftop tent and camping gears required to survive in remote areas. Historically Australians pioneered this concept and overlanding is highly popular there. In India, there are a few companies/tour operators that organize this form of travel but it is mostly guided except The Camping Company (such an ironical name) What’s the difference between camping and overlanding, globally? Camping is a bit relaxed and is restricted to exploration and stay at one place whereas overlanding gives the freedom to cover different terrains where normally people don’t go and you are mostly reliant on your vehicle for the stay, food, comfort etc at the end of the journey. In my opinion, having done both camping and overlanding trip, I would say camping is a subset of overlanding. What’s the difference between camping and overlanding, in the Indian context? Camping in India is majorly done in groups or at pre-pitched campsites organized by a tour & travels agency and usually, everything is set up from the kitchen to toilets by the same folks. A couple of overlanding companies that exists conducts guided expeditions to remote places in a group. Where can it be done in India? The Camping Company has set out to provide a platform to have a close and immersive experience with nature. It enables travelers to explore the unexplored with the help of SUVs, jeeps equipped with rooftop tents and gears for a comfortable overlanding expedition in Northeast India. It is India’s first self-driven overlanding expedition company based in Guwahati - the gateway of Northeast India.