The HSBC Jade Enrich List of 50 inspiring experiences refers to these unique travel opportunities as Curated Adventure, and they feature heavily among the list, alongside three other categories: Ultimate Wellbeing, A Purposeful Life and Game Changers
Curated Adventure defines experiences that offer a ‘path less travelled’. Some are also wonderfully luxurious, but luxury alone doesn’t qualify. Instead, the common thread linking these journeys of discovery is an ability to be transformative.
In remote regions of rural India, guests of NotOnMap are invited to live like locals and to enjoy unique, grassroots hospitality that couldn’t be experienced in a traditional tourist setting. The ‘concierges’ are the villagers. The ‘suites’ are spare rooms in locals’ homes.
“After training villagers in hospitality, hygiene, building, education and agriculture, we then choose certain houses with spare rooms where guests can stay,” explains Kumar Anubhav, NotOnMap founder.
“We use local resources to make these houses fantastic for travellers, so they have a comfortable stay and a chance to experience authentic, traditional cuisine. What we say is, ‘You will not have five-star accommodation but you will be sleeping under five million stars’.”
Recognising the need to give something back, NotOnMap works on the principle of providing villagers with training and opportunities so they aren’t forced to move away to urban areas, while offering guests the chance to experience a profoundly different way of life to the one they are accustomed to. Most guests would have no other way to truly access these remarkable rural worlds.
Anubhav says that the accommodation represents only about 10-15% of the travel experience. “Our guests also get involved in activities centred around the village, and we encourage villagers and guests to share their skills and learn from each other. Our travellers create impact based on their capability and also expose villagers to new ways of thinking.”
“People talk about personal transformation as a result of these trips. They say it’s a phenomenal experience, living as a family member rather than a guest, and the memories and the experiences stay with them long after they’ve returned home.”
The dizzying heights of the Himalayas, where many NotOnMap travellers end up, could hardly feel further from the location of another – equally unique – Enrich List experience, which takes place 3.8 kilometres beneath the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean.
More than 100 years after the sinking of the Titanic, adventurers will soon be able to participate in unique research trips to the wreck of the famous ocean liner. Commencing in 2021, with further dives scheduled from 2022 onwards, this remarkable underwater experience will take nine adventurers per mission from the coast of Newfoundland in Canada on a deep-ocean discovery expedition to the Titanic wreckage.
In sharp contrast to traditional ‘relax and enjoy’ tourism, the divers will be expected to contribute to the research. Referred to as ‘mission specialists’, they will engage with the project from the moment they sign on, with training assignments and tasks ahead of and during the dive itself.
“More people will climb Everest in one day than have ever seen the Titanic, but we know that it is being eaten by bacteria and is decaying,” explains Stockton Rush, CEO of expedition operator OceanGate Expeditions.
“The objective of our 2021 dive is to survey the wreck with high-resolution sonar and laser-scanning systems to create a model. Research from the trip will be publicly available after the voyage and will shine a light on wreck decay and how it impacts on sea pollution levels.”
Rush says the mission specialists will enjoy being part of a diverse team and will learn a lot about themselves in the process.
“It’s amazing how unique it is to go underwater to these depths. In 2021, our clients will be the earliest adopters of the early adopters. They will realise during the first set of missions that things will go wrong. And, as a team, we’ll overcome them.”