Disrupting India's tourism sector, these 6 experiential travel startups are perfect for those looking for out-of-the-box vacation ideas.
Experiential travel is a window into a whole new world of possibilities. Whether it is learning to cook a traditional meal, being mentored by the locals while learning a new sport, or simply living with them and hearing their stories; every moment is unique. Here’s where you can experience this magic –
When engineer friends Mohammad Thaha Paloli, Jethin Krishna and Fazil would get a weekend break during their college days, they would immediately plan a hike. So, when it came to ideating for a startup, they knew what they wanted to do.
‘Tentgram’ launched in 2017 was started with the idea of hosting travellers at a campsite. In this way, guests would be surrounded by nature. The idea was loved and soon their campsites grew in number.
Today, travellers have several options to choose from – like the Dal Lake boat rides at sunset, and trips through the floating vegetable markets or kayaking through the backwaters of Alleppey.
2. Planet Trotter
If you’re hiking with Nikhil Pratap Singh, founder of ‘Planet Trotter’, falling in love with experiential travel is inevitable.
The travel-for-impact social venture is giving a whole new meaning to travel and bucket lists through their projects in Uttarakhand. The unique model couples adventure and rural development initiatives in a way that fosters a bond between the city folk and the rural communities.
One of the most popular is their ‘Valley of River’ expedition in Champawat, Uttarakhand. During the six-day expedition, trekkers must embark on a 17 km walk across the valley while experiencing local life.
3. Curtain Call Adventures
The Northeast is a world of unexplored activities, notes Assam’s Julie Kagti. But its potential often goes unrecognised. After a fulfilling stint in the textile industry, Julie started ‘Curtain Call Adventures’ which specialises in packages that unearth the beauties of the Northeast.
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While she encourages travellers to explore the place’s tourist sights, there is also a keen focus on inking the right partnerships with the locals.
Ask Julie her intention behind this and she answers, “Tourists come to the Northeast and watch waterfalls, rhinos and sunsets. But no one visits the local villages or walks into the forests.”
4. Map My Stories
Shreyas, the founder of Map My Stories — a community-centric, immersive travel experience curation project — found his calling in slow travel. Today he has replicated this model with a unique spin. And his guests love it.
Evidence of this fact lies in the numerous groups Shreyas caters to throughout the year. The best part about slow travel he says is how one intentionally spends time in a certain location. “People completely immerse themselves in its local culture, communities and surrounding landscape instead of covering too many locations to check off bucket lists.”
The customised trips curated by Shreyas include a host of handpicked experiences such as exploring Sikkim’s royal heritage and Arunachal Pradesh’s wonders.
The travel startup has two overarching aims — to generate alternative livelihoods for people and minimise unskilled migration from smaller villages. This would greatly benefit local communities, the founders Kumar Anubhav, Sandeep Kumar and Manuj Sharma, thought. It would allow them to engage with people who want to live and travel sustainably.
The idea was born when travel buddies Anubhav and Sandeep observed how livelihoods in scenic locations in rural India were disintegrating. “They were heavily dependent on agriculture, and those who did not engage in it, had to migrate,” says Anubhav.
The idea of NotOnMap is to let travellers explore rural India while living with the locals. This ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’ also boosts the economy of the village.
6. Oasis India Camp
Colonel Mahendra Mohan Prakash Singh’s favourite moments of his army days were being amidst nature and interacting with different cultures. So, when he retired after a 24-year stint in the army, he wanted to give people the same experience.
‘Oasis India Camp’ enables tourists from across the world to revel in the magic of Jaisalmer’s desert.
Guests can choose to unwind under the starlit skies, partake in adventure sports, learn pottery from the locals, or even attend a local traditional Rajasthani cooking session.
Edited by Padmashree Pande
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