This travel company is crafting sensory holiday experiences for the visually impaired

Rafting, surfing and more

On a trip to Rome in mid-2017, travel bugs Divya Saxena and Ritu Sinha came across two blind gentlemen at a tourist spot. “We asked ourselves why we don’t see more of them [visually impaired travellers], and that’s what sparked the idea,” says Sinha, speaking of Bat Travels, their company that is devoted to crafting sensory holiday experiences for the visually impaired.

Ritu and Vamshi2

Photograph: Aratrika Bhattacharya

From white-water rafting in Rishikesh and beer tasting in Mumbai, to trance-Sufi nights in Karjat and surfing in Puducherry, Bat Travels looks to engage the other senses. So, at a monument, travellers touch a 3D model to get a sense of its architecture. Saxena and Sinha also hope to combat ignorance. “People ask us how the visually impaired can raft or rappel. We always say, ‘They are able bodied. If you explain the activity, they can do it,’” says Saxena. Then, there’s the travelpals system—where sighted travellers are paired with their visually impaired counterparts. Now, less than a year in, Bat Travels is set to add six more destinations to its line-up.


White water rafting photograph: Anand Oinam