Blend nature with culture, and the rich experiential mixture is what Mumbai based Blueberry Trails aims to offer. Founded by Sudeepta Sanyal, The Blueberry Trails is an experiential company ‘where travel is more about experience than destination.’ So, for all the vagabond spirits, here is a sneak peek in to Sudeepta Sanyal’s trails- a corporate turned adventurer
A road trip in Maharashtra in September 2010 was the springboard for The Blueberry trails. “The trip unearthed exquisite locations unknown to people. The initial plan was to write travelogues and display the essence of these places through pictures, but it eventually shaped into a business plan. The intent was to expose enthusiasts to such unspoken places that needed voice. Hence, the Blueberry Trails came to life. A beach gateway with a dolphin spotting ride, a visit to local Warli artisans, learning pottery from the village potters, meeting the Kashmiri woodcarvers, a camping trip combined with a stargazing experience or exploring Hampi on a bike are some of the experiences we provide,” says Sudeepta.
So why is it called ‘The Blueberry Trails’? Says Sudeepta, “Blueberries are rare to find. Their cultivation is quite difficult and requires effort. Similarly, The Blueberry Trails is a journey to discover peace, contentment, again something, which is not very easy to come by! Also, did I mention? I could kill for a blueberry cheese cake!”
The Blueberry Trails conducts trips in Maharashtra for weekenders. For longer exploratory trips, they visit Ladakh, Konkan Maharashtra, Pench, Bandhavgarh, Kashmir and Hampi. Usually, they travel in a group of 7-10 members. Solo travellers are their biggest target group. “They just want their time out to do some exploring on their own, away from the urban jungle. As we entertain small groups, the travellers come as strangers but head back home as friends,” says Sudeepta.
In their tours, The Blueberry Trails helps unfortunate communities to generate income via tourism. They promote local art, cuisine, local culture by taking their travellers to their workshops, thus providing them with exposure as well as financial benefits. “Let me narrate an interesting incident that took place during our trips to Dangs in South Gujarat. We were doing it in liaison with the Forest Department as the forest officer was willing to provide the tribal population with an alternative source of income generation through tourism. This guided them away from engaging in to smuggling of teak,” says Sudeepta.
The Blueberry Trails is aware of other similar start-ups in this space who specialise in adventure sports, treks and wildlife safaris but they believe they don’t stick to one way of travelling. “We essentially are on the lookout for new experiences. We don’t stay in hotels, but at local guesthouses to be at proximity with the ethnic culture. Trekking, camping and beaches are all time favourites, but we also bring to the platter trips to appease your senses,” says Sudeepta on what differentiates The Blueberry Trails.
The customer response The Blueberry Trails has received so far has been positive. “In the initial phase we thought we’d be catering to solo travellers mainly. But, you will be surprised at the number of families, friend circles and couples who eventually approached us. We have a lot of travellers who come back to us in search of another enthralling experience,” says Sudeepta.
“We are looking at expanding the team, designing some longer trip plans, making more customised trips for those who can’t join current groups and spreading the love (for travel). Going global to locations that will excite our travellers is a part of the natural progression. Experiences like home-stays, exploring random streets and cafes, engrossed in your own world of photography cannot be contained within geographical boundaries for too long now. Can they? Our God is in the detail; hence the day we can chalk down a detailed itinerary for a location beyond India, we should be good to go!” says Sudeepta about The Blueberry Trails’ way forward.
“I am a free spirit and the corporate cubicles couldn’t contain me for too long. I think corporate life makes you specialise in a particular genre of work, and brackets do not really make it to my favourites list. You have myriad roles to play, some you love, some you don’t; but they do help you introspect and know your best preferred role. I think the big shift from being a senior executive at a retail brand to an entrepreneur took me a whole lot of convincing. Although, hands down it turned out to be the best decision ever. Unlike in my previous corporate life, today I welcome Monday mornings with a smile!” concludes Sudeepta, beaming.
We like the spirit Sudeepta! Here’s wishing The Blueberry Trails good luck from the team at YourStory.
- Aditi Wagh and Meghna Chhabria