They put a spin on adventure tourism in Kerala



Commander Sam T. Samuel, 50, managing director of Kalypso Adventures, who is a former naval pilot with over 4,000 hours of flying experience, said that he has no regrets over quitting the navy because their company is doing roaring business.

"Our latest products - 'voluntourism' and 'accessible tourism' - have started reaping clients, especially from the UK. For voluntourism, we have tied up with UK-based World Challenge Youth Organisation and Raleigh International and we have already handled a group of 100," said Samuel.

He started the company along with Commander Thomas Zacharias, a former electronics engineer with the navy, who is executive director of the company. Both put in 20 years of service in the navy.

Kalypso Adventures was declared winner of the award for Innovation in Adventure Tourism 2009 given by the Adventure Tour Operators' Association of India.

As part of the company's "voluntourism" offer, those looking to fulfil corporate social responsibility or even otherwise come here to do some sort of voluntary work, be it painting a school or building a compound wall or any sort of physical activity. This segment attracts people from abroad in the age group 18 to 24.

Spread over a period of more than 10 days, a group splits its time between physical activity and travelling and exploring the beauty of the state.

Another tourism product which has now been accepted is their effort in chalking out packages for physically challenged travellers from abroad - as part of "accessible tourism".

"This is a niche product because extra care has to be taken to handle this section as they cannot move freely," said Samuel.

The company expects to do business of 10,000 room nights this year. It covers the entire state but mostly bases its adventure tours in Idukki, Wayanad and Ernakulam.

Right from the time they launched their company, they have been thinking differently. "We decided to sell Kerala with adventure as a vehicle," said Samuel.

"While a hardcore adventurer would love to climb an 'un-climbable' mountain, not bothered about coming across anyone else in the process, we offered climbable mountains, but interacting with lots of people in the process.

"We offer exclusive wildlife and safaris, the kind of tours most travellers are looking for," said Samuel.

Another product they have successfully developed is "charity challenges", which is promoted in Britain, where people pay an initial registration fee.

"The entire money is collected in the UK, following which the group arrives here and for five days this group cycles for around 500 km across various tourist locations in the state.

"We have with us 150 state-of-the-art mountain bikes. Our job is to organise the tour package here for which we charge a certain rate per person," said Samuel.

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