Caravan hire and tour experience in Bengaluru with TrippyWheels

This week I had a day trip in a caravan. We traveled in it, slept in it, camped, cooked food and had fun for a day, without blowing too much money. This post provides all the details of our Caravan rental and tour experience.
This is not my first time in a Caravan. I have stayed earlier in Sai Vishram's camper trailer (FAQs here, detailed experience here). I have seen people enjoying caravan and camping holidays abroad, including nearby Srilanka.

This week when I was in Bengaluru I had a day to spare and while I was scouting for things to do, Trippywheels caravan came to my attention. With some due diligence, after checking with few friends and family for their availability and interest, I confirmed the booking. Had to pay rental amount in advance, which I did. I wanted to visit TrippyWheels campus in HSR layout and take a look at their vehicles but next day being holiday it was not possible.

Caravans come in different sizes and shapes. The one I stayed with Sai Vishram was a trailer on wheels without an engine which needed to be towed to wherever it had to be taken. Coming to Trippywheels, they have two types of caravans- A smaller pickup based one that can accommodate 5 people (including driver) and a bigger Force Traveler based one that can accommodate 10 people. What I experienced was the former.

About the caravan
The 5 seater caravan is named El Zorro. I could see 3 reference of El Zorro on Wikipedia- a Mexican wrestler, an Australian railway operator and an Italian movie- not sure which one inspired the name. I would have mostly named it El Neeru! (Tender coconut water) TrippyWheel's El Zorro caravan is built on top of a Mahindra Imperio dual cabin pickup truck, 2.5 litre diesel engine with about 75PS power. Thanks to double cabin, 5 people can sit inside, though second row doesn't recline and comforts are basic. On the back, a caravan unit is affixed on the pickup bed. 2 people can sleep comfortably, 3 if required. There is a small bunk bed that extends over the cabin- ideal for small kids or not so well built adults. In total 4 people + driver can travel comfortably in the caravan.


Above: A closeup of bunk bed
Below: Interiors of the caravan and storage spaces with accessories.


Mahindra Imperio is not 4x4. Thus we have to stay on paved roads, can't go offroad a bit deeper into woods or hills or fields. If the caravan was built on Tata Xenon 4x4 or Mahindra Bolero Camper 4WD it would have given more abilities to the vehicle. But 4x4 is expensive, gives less fuel economy and just having 4WD doesn't give ability to go anywhere- there is always a risk of getting stuck even with 4x4. So I think 4x2 is more wiser choice.

Looks like modification is minimal. The camper setup is positioned nicely over the pickup bed, with about 1 foot extension in length.

Driver mandatory: You can't drive the caravan. It is a yellow board goods vehicle and needs a badge to drive. Plus Kakhi uniform. So Trippy Wheels will provide a driver. Advantage is that you don't have to worry about accidents, vehicle damage etc. (If a self drive vehicle suffers a dent or scratch or anything agencies will charge 1000s of rupees). Also more safe n secure as you can go trekking or elsewhere leaving behind the vehicle under the watch of driver. On the downside you can't enjoy driving experience, one seat is taken by driver so you have to take one less guest plus privacy concerns. A black and yellow number plate that permits self drive would have been a great option but Indian RTO has some stupid rule requiring 50 vehicles in the fleet before permitting black & yellow registration. Caravan is fitted with 80 kmph speed governor as per Govt regulations, so factor this while calculating journey time.

Facilities in the caravan:
Caravan has some storage space- a portable gas stove, few utensils, some essentials like salt and sugar, as well as few camping equipment- a 2 pax tent, a hammock, a chair, a mat, badminton rackets etc are provided with the vehicle. Guests can use these camping and cooking facilities to relax, play and cook meals.


There are lights, power sockets to charge phone, laptop, two fans, windows with curtains, lots of pillows. There is no AC and no sunroof.

No Toilets: Unfortunately there is no shower or toilet in the caravan, which kind of makes it incomplete. Not having shower is somewhat manageable- you can manage without a shower for 24-48 hours or use a river/waterfalls. But not having toilet kind of limits how far you can go from civilization. You have to plan your itinerary such that you either stay at a hotel/homestay or very close to highway restaurants that provide toilet access. Easy for me to complain but obviously there're design and operational limitations to include toilets in small caravans. To compensate, Trippywheels has tie up with a few homestays in Madikeri, Sakaleshpura etc- these home-stay owners reportedly allow guests to use their restrooms and park the caravan in their campus for a small fee of INR 150-300 (information as told to me, haven't tried or verified, please cross check with Trippywheels)

TrippyWheels 5 seater Caravan Rental charges:
#1 Rental: Normal rent is INR 5000 per day weekdays, more on weekends. They had an offer going on, so I paid half of it-INR 2500 per day as rent for a weekday (Thursday)
#2 Driver Batta: INR 400 per 12 hour shift. No need to pay if vehicle is not moving for entire shift. Like if you rent from Saturday 6 AM till Monday 6 AM and caravan is parked between Satuday 6 PM till Sunday 6PM then you pay for only 2 shifts- INR 800, but during most short trips it is difficult to keep the caravan stationery for entire 12 hours, so factor INR 800 per day
#3 Fuel: Fuel has to be paid by customers. The Mahindra Imperio gave us a fuel economy of 10 kms per litre of diesel. At today's price, that is about INR 7.20 per km
#4 Incidental expenses: Toll, Parking, Entry fees at actual
#5 Groceries: Any food item you may need for use during the trip- like noodles or ready to eats- you'll have to buy them
#6 Penalty for damage- if you damage/lose any camping/cooking equipment you have to pay for new one.

We rented it for a day during a weekday and cost us about 5200 INR (2500 rent+800 driver batta + 1650 fuel for approx 230 kms + 145 Rs entry fee at Ramanagara etc). Food expenses extra.

Value Proposition:
Caravan is not economical if you calculate purely from transportation point of view. We spent about INR 23 per km for our trip. Ola Outstation, Zoomcar/self drive rental or regular taxi booking will be cheaper if your sole objective is to reach a destination.

However, Caravan's value proposition comes from its camping abilities. If four of you are traveling, you will have to book two hotel rooms, that cost minimum 3000-4000 INR (INR 1500-2000 per room per day for decent hotels). If you can stay in caravan/camp you can save this amount and that alone pays back for most of the rental expense.

Plus food. For four to five people, two meals per day at a highway restaurant means spending INR 1000-1500. With kitchen facilities in the caravan you can cook basic meals/noodles etc by spending a lot less (Say INR 300 for groceries). This savings also can bring down overall cost of the trip.

Thus if you can use Caravan's kitchen and camping facilities effectively, overall trip expense can be controlled or even be cheaper than conventional options. Plus the experience of camping, caravan journey is priceless and you will have lot to talk about it with your friends later.

Where to camp with caravan?
This will be a big question you have to factor while planning a trip with caravans in India. Day time temporary parking/camping can be done anywhere without an issue. Overnight parking and camping needs some consideration. There's no caravan culture here and there're no designated caravan parks. Without a stipulated policy, there's no rule prohibiting you from parking in regular parking spots or any random place. However you will attract attention from locals who are just curious to know more and possibly some inquiry from beat police asking you what are you doing here, who gave permission and so on. The local police might be more keen to see you go elsewhere, so that they can avoid any untoward incident in their zone. There is also risk of robbery or safety risk if you are camping at public places noticeable by everyone. The best place to park/camp will be someone's private property, farm etc. Check with various home-stay owners if they are OK with you parking in their premises, or stay close to any of your friends/ relative's houses, or camp at home stays Trippy Wheels has tie-up with. Beware of fire risk if you are lighting the stove outdoors, particularly in summer- you don't want to trigger a forest fire. Will be great if Karnataka tourism can designate a few spots for caravan/camping purposes. This will boost caravan/RV culture in the state.

Alternatively you can travel and camp somewhere during day time and at night drive back to Bengaluru while sleeping in the back

Our experience: We started from Bengaluru Thursday morning, drove to Magadi to visit the temple and Magadi town, then drove towards Ramanagara. We stopped at Shilandra resort thinking we will have lunch there and try some adventure activities- but they only sell day package costing INR 1000 per person- can't just have lunch and try ziplining, so since it was not value for money we moved on. Visited Ramanagara temple, camped here for a few hours, then drove to a farm in Chennapattana, set up tent, rested here till night and returned to Bengaluru early hours of next day. We totaled around 230 kms that day. While vehicle was moving we sat in cab most of the time, except in night we slept in caravan while returning to Bengaluru. We cooked some food but also visited a restaurant once. We spent a total of about 6300 INR for four people including food, groceries and miscellaneous expenses.

Vehicle arrived promptly on time- no complaints on that. Caravan was clean, well equipped and well stocked. Driver was from Assam, settled in Bengaluru- knows reasonable Kannada and was very cooperative throughout the trip.

We felt limitation of chairs- like there were four of us but only one portable chair is provided- but I am told this is more due to space constraint than cost. If more chairs are to be included they will have to remove either hammock or tent etc. Of course if you need anything particular you can buy them and carry with you. Most of these camping equipment are available at Decathlon for reasonable prices.

In the night at the farmhouse one PVC pipe was crushed under the wheels of the caravan. It was night, it was dark, driver had just got up from sleep and not very familiar with the area, so not really blaming him. I was nearby but didn't sense this possibility- noticed only when I heard crushing sound of the pipes. Should have been alert and done some spotting myself. But farm caretaker now needed to get new pipe from city, have it transported, get it fixed to pump water to the tanks.

My feedback to TrippyWheels
1. I wanted to see photos of the caravans and understand the facilities etc- this part was hard to find on the website. There is a caravan section but it doesn't explain their products and offerings. Eventually some videos gave me key details I was looking for, but company can possibly make it easier for visitors to see photos of the caravan and understand better.
2. Reverse camera will be nice for the vehicle. Adding a seat cover with seat pocket will give more storage space to passengers.

Check Trippy Wheels official website for more details and inquiries: https://www.trippywheels.com/
As of now they don't have an online availability check- reservations are done on WhatsApp or phone upon paying rental amount as advance through netbanking or Gpay etc. Company is set up by two enterprising women-Sanjna and Vathsala. I was told they have been in business for about an year now, with 4 caravans in their fleet total and one more joining soon.

There are a few more caravan rental agencies in Bengaluru but most of them seem to be focused on corporate rentals or providing caravan as vanity van to movie stars at shooting sites. If you have any questions ask below, will try to answer. You can of course check directly with the operator Trippywheels.

A video on this experience is available now. Watch video below or watch on Youtube

Similar: 10 adventure activities you can try around Bengaluru

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