We recently went on a 15 day workcation to Manali and Kasol and I just have one thing to say – I am so regretful of coming back in 15 days. I miss the crisp air, the deodars, the beautiful green views, the snow clad peaks and the pristine rivers all around. It was just wonderful. Too difficult to put in words. Living in a cottage in the middle of hills is a dream come true for me. I could also mention that I woke up early to enjoy the beyond ethereal mornings but I continue being the same shit who wakes up late even there.
We were for a week in Kasol and another week in Manali, and its just nothing but a fortunate coincidence that both the stays turned out amazing in their own ways. I am going to mention a bit about them before I begin with the points to remember for a Himachal workcation. Especially because both the stays were nothing like anything I have stayed at before. 🙂
Kasol: We stayed at a place called Kasol Heights. It’s difficult to categorise it as a resort or campsite. Well, it’s not luxurious like a resort but it’s like this – multiple camp style rooms spread over a valley, with a pond, river, waterfall and, of course, man made activities (indoor games, pool etc) all within the campsite area. It’s amazing to get up and step out of your room to have a river flowing right outside the room. We had to cross a tiny bridge to go to the dining area. 🙂 Below is a picture of the bridge and the pond. It’s a very offbeat experience. Few downsides to the place – located on the outskirts of Kasol and it’s a downhill trek from the main road so every time you have to go to the Kasol city, you have to do this. Secondly, it’s not a luxurious place if that’s what you are looking for. Thirdly, the in-house meals are very home style, in case you are expecting anything else.
Manali: it’s an interesting story how we booked this property. So, we had no plans of going to Manali and the initial plan was of 2 weeks in Kasol itself. We had not booked any stay until we left for Manali. Now there’s a portal for finding workcation friendly stays called, well, Workcation, but they don’t give you the location until you have booked. We had shortlisted a few properties from their portal on our way and we were trying to locate them on Google Maps after entering Manali. On our way to do that, we came across Himachal Tourism’s ‘Log Huts’. It was my suggestion to check out this property, reason being I hold Himachal tourism to very high standards due to a dinner I had been to in Shimla as a kid. 🙂 The guy on the reception was more than excited to show us the stay. Log Huts offers cottages complete with bedrooms, dining, kitchen & living room and they have such an old world charm to it. Every cottage has their own garden area where we used to play cricket. I should also mention that the location of this property, popularly known as Log Huts area, is one of the best in Manali. Manali is basically divided into 3 main areas – New Manali (has mall road and full of tourists), Old Manali (more hipster vibe and cafes but cramped), Log Huts area (my favorite as this has a very old world and clean vibe, right out of Ruskin Bond books). If I had to nit-pick a con of this place, then it can be you getting bored of restaurant food for a long duration stay (not a con for me though).
Now coming to the 5 things you should remember when planning a workcation to Himachal:
1. WiFi: A lot needs to be addressed here. First of all, many properties mention that they have WiFi but they may mean a dongle. A dongle is less likely to work smoothly as compared to a well functioning WiFi. Having Wifi may also mean it’s patchy. I observed this myself in some hotels. Point being, if you are planning a workcation in Himalayas, be fully assured of the WiFi situation at your stay. Best bet is testimonials from someone known, but I would consider proper discussion with the property contact bare minimum. Same is applicable for power cuts.
2. Where to go? This is a tricky one. When we went to Manali, it was not brimming with travellers. Currently Manali is literally flooding with vacationers. It’s neither safe given the Covid situation, nor it would be fun. Now let’s talk about the more offbeat Himachal options like Jibhi, Shoja, Chitkul etc. I have not been there but I would imagine that the wifi situation would be poorer as they are more remote. I would still consider them a good option if you can be sure of network and that the number of people visiting that place is not too many. I would apply this same rule to places in Uttarakhand. My suggestion, though, would be to give serious consideration to some offbeat homestays which have properly worked on making themselves workcation friendly as they will have better amenities for a comfortable working environment and not a lot of people. Not to mention differentiated experience. Linking one such here I saw on instagram – Mokshamcampsite
3. How to go? We did a road trip and if you are planning to go to a place in Himachal or Uttarakhand from Delhi or around, this is a pretty plausible option. (Provided you are comfortable with driving and not a newbie). Otherwise, I would consider taxi as an option, I would personally avoid flights or trains as much as I can. I have taken multiple flights during the pandemic as my parents and parent-in-laws are in different parts of India, but that is sort of unavoidable. A trip on the other hand is.
4. How to pack? This depends on what you are expecting out of your day. If you are mostly working through the day, you can pack your lounge wear, basically what you wear at home but with at least one warm jacket and socks thrown in for the night. If you are planning long treks, please do a proper Google search on what to pack for a trek. I have never been on a long trek (I really want to but I am also scared due to my vertigo and fear of height issue). In general, I am a pretty light packer. I usually like to find substitutes from local markets of what I could have brought, which could also ultimately become a souvenir. Obviously, I only mean this for things which are not adding to my carbon footprint. On this trip, I did end up carrying my electric kettle for a change. 🙂 this is something unlikely for me being a light packer!
5. Being in line with the situation: if you are traveling in a limited capacity vehicle, going to be in a secluded place, avoid the crowds , you are essentially doing the same things you would do at home, so I would request you to be mindful of the ongoing situation. All the precautions that you take while stepping out for groceries need to be taken here. Even more so, since there will be many clusters with a lot of people. Apart from that, you Want to be mindful of dealing with the property staff, for your as well as their safety. If you are mindful, you may end up benefiting the tourism industry in these trying times, and if not mindful, then it could actually get worse for them.
So these are the stories I wanted to share of my travel and I am so happy that I managed a detailed post after a long time. Especially glad for having done this on a weekday, which is why I am not proof reading it. 🙂 I am waiting for your comments and feel free email me for any other questions as well!