There is a thin line between a genuine tribal village visit and an overly mawkish ‘human safari’, which is a media-coined term highlighting the superficiality of most of these visits. Desia is a responsible tourism initiative that falls well on the good side of things. It focuses on promoting visits to Koraput Valley in southern Odisha, a region abundant with tribes. The founder of the initiative, Yugabrata Kar, is from Puri, and so happened to know the area very well. He and his team set up a lodging facility here to connect travellers with the indigenous people, and their forests and villages. The initiative is a response to the loving hospitality extended by Koraput’s Banatalabiri village to Desia’s members. The latter wanted to showcase this hospitality to the rest of the world. Today, Desia has transformed the place into a tourism hotspot. This effort has even won them a National Tourism Award.
The operator is assisted by Heritage Tours, which is an expert in nature and cultural tours, and Barefoot, a team of volunteers from various developmental fields. All year round, Desia offers plenty of activities and packages, which include village visits, hiking trails, excursions to chief attractions, participation in tribal celebrations, folk performances, local food, voluntourism, organic farming, sports and handicrafts. As for the itineraries, you should really go for the 21D/20N Village Tours in Odisha, which includes visits to many occupational villages–settlements of weaver communities, bell metal workers, appliquÃ© workers, painters, artisans and boat makers, etc. A shorter itinerary is the 3D/2N Hill Tours in Odisha, which includes a visit to Deomili, Odisha’s highest peak.
For more information, call +91- 9437023656 or visit desiakoraput.com.