Trekking and Walking Trails in Mumbai
For Mumbai, one of the most loved and cosmopolitan city of India, is also a cosmopolitan wrt to nature and its infrastructure. When you hear of a metro city, you typically associate skyscrapers, traffic jams, congestion, and at times river / sea front. What about trekking? No? Staying back for the night in the jungle? No again? But according to me – Yes!! Yes! Yes! Yes, trekking is possible in Mumbai.
Mumbai always throws out a surprise now and then and Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Borivali (Northernmost suburb) is one of them. About ~103km in size, it is home to caves and natural jungle in middle of concrete jungle. Apart from the kid and fun activities of safari and boat ride, if you are missing nature, then this is the place to go to in Mumbai. Safari is about 20mins long and takes place in the fenced part of the forest and lasts about 20mins. For adults, there are plenty of walking and trekking trails in middle of jungle, and rapids.
Though SGNP has been existing for long, it came into focus only few years back as search for quiet space in the city to unwind expanded. It is now frequented in mornings esp on weekends for the elusive morning walk / jog and during daytime by families for recreation. Being a national park, there are various paid trails which one can take and explore the natural habitat. Guides or naturists, as they are called, are compulsory. Apart from ensuring that you do not deviate from into unmarked path, they also put there biology and zoology background to use and give you details explaining the vegetation and wildlife in the national park. Groups are not necessary for any trail now. Also, do not forget to carry your own water as water during walk / treks will not be available.
When in the park you can select from atleast seven possible walks and treks. The popular trekking and walking trails are:
- Kanheri Caves:
~15min drive from the gate, you can also cycle down on the well laid road or walk as you desire. Caves are one of the prime attractions of the park, dated to be from 1st century BCE. There is a small ticket to enter the cave compound. Caves are open to all without a guide / naturist.
- Upper Kanehri Trail:
This trail treks goes beyond the Kanehri caves taking you to next highest point / observation tower. It requires about 3hrs of total time, up and down and costs Rs. 200 per head with naturist charge of Rs. 600
- Bamboo Hut Trail:
Though upper Kanehri trail is located at small height, and gives WOW views of Mumbai, taking alternate route to reach even higher heights will enable you to get even better views of the city. However, you will have to negotiate slippery rocky slopes to reach the watch tower. Trek time is about ~5hrs to go up and come down while it costs ~Rs. 250 per head with naturist cost of Rs. 750
- Highest Point Trail:
This trek takes you to the final and the highest point of the park. Route of this trek continues ahead from Bamboo Hut trail into dense Ashoka tree grooves and allowing you to see the three lakes of Mumbai and the surrounding areas. It will take about 7 – 8hrs to finish the trek and cost Rs. 300 per head with Naturist cost of Rs. 1000
- Shilonda Trail:
This is more of a two hour walk in the middle of jungle, seeing the natural floral and fauna and insect / bird life if any. Walking through the vegetation, you end up at a rapid stream, where you can rest and starting walking back. Taking about Rs. 75 per head with naturist cost of Rs. 400, you can expect to come back to the starting point in two hours time.
There are more walks / trails such as Yeoor and Malad trail which can be explored but they tend to be less frequented. And if you are really tired of the congestion of the city, then spend a night in the jungle watching birds and stars. Dorm beds, rooms, and camps all are available. Contact the entry point of the park for details.
Happy trekking in nature’s jungle surrounded by concrete jungle