From The Corporate To The Safarist
Best friends Tanmay Keshav and Maulik Desai gave up their corporate jobs to make a career out of their love for wildlife and travel. Thus was born ‘The Safarist’. The duo explains why India needs a wildlife community that travels together.
Photo: Jetal Shah.
The idea and the origin
Four people from four states – Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, unknown to each other, connect on The Safarist and travel together. Over the next three days they stay together to share safaris, experiences and expenses…
There are quite a few things incredibly powerful in the above sequence of events. Above all is the willingness of people to trust others with similar passions, so much so that they are ready to share an entire trip with them. The benefits of the same are many: not only do you get to enjoy the company of like-minded people while learning from each other’s experiences; you also drastically reduce your travel costs!
We are avid wildlife and nature lovers ourselves and have been traveling together for the past 10 years. During our many visits to wildlife destinations across India, we resorted to every possible means to share safaris and make our trips more affordable. While doing so, we realized that traveling together with people who share your passion for nature is a lot of fun. Apart from making travel easy on our pockets, we ended up making lifelong friends! These experiences have lived with us ever since and led to the conception of ‘The Safarist’ – a nature-focused community which travels together.
Courtesy: The Safarist.
India is home to about 160 national parks, over 500 wildlife sanctuaries and hundreds of birding and trekking destinations. Given a chance, we all would like to do justice to this rich biodiversity. A single person may be familiar with certain destinations owing to past visits, and when you add up the experiences of the entire wildlifer community, there would hardly be any places left which would go uncovered. Wouldn’t it be great if somehow the collective travel experience of this community could be put to use? Well, a recent trip conceived on the The Safarist resulted in three travelers coming together for a trip to Gir, the idea for which was floated by Mehul Patel, who had been there 43 times already! The entire group drove down together in Mehul's car and shared the next few days, all while sharing the costs involved. What's more, Mehul later joined other travelers for a trip to Tadoba himself and now it was his turn to soak in the experience and knowledge of someone else!
Though we’d all like to travel more frequently than what our hectic work schedules allow us, in most cases it’s difficult to overcome the inertia of planning a trip. On The Safarist, all you need to do is simply look up all the trips that have been planned by travelers and choose the one which suits you best. In a way, people are able to piggyback on the travel plans of the trip creator.
Our journey so far
Although the benefits of embracing co-traveling within this community are immense, there are a number of dynamics which come into play- the various personality types involved, diverse backgrounds, varied interests and trip goals. Yet, at the center of it all, there is a common passion which binds us all together- a deep love for nature and wildlife. Invariably, when such people get together, things are bound to click – be it each other’s experiences, absorbing conversations, notes on photography or anything related to wildlife and nature. Many of these people turn into great friends and future travel partners. It was the determination to give rise to such memorable experiences that gave birth to this unique community.
Over the past one month, about 60 such trips have been created and over half of them have been joined by travelers around India. What is amazing is that the people who are creating these trips and connecting with others are not just doing so to share costs, but to share experiences with. Moreover, the idea has appealed to solo travelers, friends, families and couples. Every trip conceived on the platform is a moment to celebrate for us!
Photo: Anurag Kumar.
Developing a conservation centric model
In the future, we hope that the platform will connect travelers with local stakeholders who depend on tourism. To aid in the conservation effort, it is imperative that the benefits of tourism trickle down.
We are also striving hard to develop a conservation-linked model. The wildlife and nature community in India is home to some incredibly passionate people who wish to make a difference in protecting India’s rich biodiversity. Going forward, the platform will actively play host to conservation focused trips, volunteering opportunities and build bridges between people working in this field and people who have a keen interest in being involved. For instance, recently Anurag Kumar, who himself is actively engaged in Dudhwa's conservation effort, created a trip on the platform. The trip was joined by a couple of travelers from Delhi who traveled together with Anurag from Lucknow. Our first female safarist, Varsha and her brother got a chance to experience the first hand ground realities of Dudhwa, and learnt how they could make a meaningful contribution thanks to Anurag’s guidance and experience. By seeing these kinds of experiences unfold before us, we feel that the concept of traveling together will find widespread acceptance within the community.
So, here’s to travelling responsibly on such amazing trips, gathering memories and making connections; not just to the most prominent destinations but even to destinations that are off the radar.
Tanmay is an engineer with an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. He previously worked in the finance domain for three years. Maulik is an engineer with an MBA from NITIE, Mumbai. He previously worked with a leading FMCG company. Avid wildlife lovers and the best of friends, The Safarist was born as a result of their experiences while traveling together over the past 10 years! Go to www.thesafarist.com for more.
Author: Tanmay Keshav.