During our Great Kumaon Monsoon Mission in June 2011, we spent a night at ‘Binsar Eco Camp’ and here is a short review of the hotel, including pictures and videos. We were there for only one night and it was not the friendliest season so certain things would be discretionary (like tariff). As the name suggests, the camp/hotel is located close to Binsar but is NOT on the obvious default road that people use to reach Binsar.
Beyond Almora, there is a regular connection to Binsar and then there is a road that connects Almora to Dhaulchhina. You need to take this road and it is about an hour away. Here is a graphic to get a better idea.
I got this from mapmyindia.com . Google Maps does not show this.
In terms of location, this camp, though called ‘Binsar Eco Camp’, is not the best staying option if you are keen on Binsar since it is a little away. But, if you are headed towards Munsyari or Chaukori, then this is a brilliant place for a halt. With this halt, you can do Munsyari in two days. And yet, it is very beautifully located but more on that later.
Before I begin the review, here is a picture of Mr. Kesar Singh Mehra – the owner. I had a good chat with him and I was very impressed with what he has build. A very hands-on person, he was available all through.
Infrastructure / Rooms
It is not a single monolithic structure though there is a a central, primary building that probably has many rooms with individual entries. There is a large lawn in front of it and that is simply great for folks traveling with kids.
The herbal connection – Rosemary, thyme, lemongrass
Rooms are humble and washrooms are utilitarian. If you are looking at spending time indoors over cosy conversations and luxurious room-service then this is not the place. Rooms are best used for sleeping (and do a good job with that) and then you should be outdoors. Room fittings, furniture, bathroom fittings are all there for their functionality, they are comfortable and value for money.
Bed sheets were OK (not crisp as in Chaukori) but I would blame that on rainy season.
There is no running hot water but you can request for a bucketful and you would be provided one promptly. I was very impressed by their heating system though. I have never seen this kind of contraption before.
Sufficient parking for 5-6 cars and I am sure more space can be found elsewhere if you are planning with a bigger group.
Dining / Food
There is a semi-open dining hall and I really liked the cafe-like ambience. It is next to Kitchen so it helps. There is no room service. When we were there, the camp was at full occupancy and probably because of that the service was not upto mark. It took forever for the dinner to arrive and once it did, it tasted too spicy/chilly. The same was for breakfast and snacks.
We also peeped in the Ktichen and it was OK. It could benefit from some more cleaning. Overall the quality of the food was not impressive.
We paid INR 1.2K per night for a couple including all meals. I am not 100% sure on whether I remember this correctly the tariff was pretty reasonable. I would imagine that it would be much higher in the peak season, i.e. during summers.
Now, here is a bonus video that I found on youtube.
Now, the big question of why should one go there and what should one do. The biggest highlight of this camp is the herbal connection. There are enough plants in-house and then you can take a walk around and Mr. Kesar Singh is more than happy to spend time with you and help you identify many variants, herbs.
There is a short hike next to the camp and one can enjoy the majestic view of Himalayan Peaks. This in itself can be a great motivator.
A day’s ttip to Binsar National Park. Just leave early, drive up till the last point and then enjoy walk to the Zero point inside the park. Come back and have lunch at KMVN before heading back to camp.
Jageshwar Dham is very close. There is a kuccha (muddy) connection and jeep-able road. If you are keen then you can make a mix of trek and jeep.
Overall rating – 3.5/5
From here we moved to Getaway Jungle Camp at Sattal which is almost like our second home. We spent a couple of days there and then braved few landslides to get back to urban world. This concludes my King Kumaon Drive of 2011.