Desert Bloom is an experiential travel company with a difference. Operating in Ladakh, Desert Bloom offers curated travel experiences that focus not just on the sights and sounds of the destination but on mindful activities that allows the travellers to explore their own creative process and also helps them be better aligned with their inner selves.
A Desert Bloom journey is all about co-curationbetween the operator and traveller. Desert Bloom, founded by architect and graphic designer Nishita Mohta and Ladakh-based restaurateur Jigmat Rabgias, wants to allow complete creative freedom of choice to the traveller, yet ensure that the team's expertise is delivered through every journey that they want to head on. Thus the co-curation process takes into account the traveller’s individual inclinations, the range of possibilities in the destination itself, and the team’s expertise in crafting immersive creative experiences.
To co-curate their journey, the traveller picks the core qualities (modules) that they want to explore during their journey with us. The modules have been designed by understanding the intersection of two factors:
1. External Factors or 'The Environment': Experiences available in the destination (Ladakh) have been curated in order to highlight the principles of the design and creative process that are reflected in the destination,
2. Internal Factors or 'The Self': Every traveller will relate to different core qualities and can choose the modules they want to explore further.
From here on, each module is designed to incorporate the four stages of the creative process: Thought, Experience, Reflection, Expression. The traveller’s activities are planned to align with the four stages. 'Thought' refers to the practice of mindfully beginning an experience. So Desert Bloom experiences start with a creative meditation session through freewriting and other practices. 'Experience' is about visiting sights and engaging with their historic and contemporary stories and includes inter-disciplinary interactions with notable local creators and non-profit organisations, It also is focused on helping the traveller live like a local and gain an authentic experience of cultural and natural heritage, including art, craft, cuisine, thought philosophy and lifestyle. 'Reflection' is about hands-on activities, like working with traditional craftspersons and nature excursions that allow the experiences of the day to brew in the background, before proceeding to the next stage. The next stage is 'expression' and every day in a Desert Bloom experience ends with travel journaling (with helpful prompts, if required). This is a daily creative challenge where the travellers create their own souvenir of the day’s experiences.
For example, one of the modules, “Harmony”, focuses on Harmony as a design and creative principle, as well as a principle that is reflected in Ladakh through the harmony between all components of nature and human life. During the Harmony module travellers get to discover an erstwhile way of life where humans lived as one with nature. Hike up to the summer pasture lands where no roads can take you even today, forage through the orchards and farms, cook a Ladakhi meal together and indulge in journaling through eco-printing.
One of their other experiences that is interesting and useful is their Evening of Acclimatisation. Travellers flying into Leh need to acclimatise to being 11,000 ft above sea level and most do not really want to just sleep in their hotel room. Desert Bloom's acclimatisation experience starts with a wholesome lunch and all the inside knowledge about wellness precautions to be taken during your time here. This is followed by the Travel Journaling session, which is your perfect primer into the lifestyle and ecology of Ladakh. You are now ready to be a Responsible Traveller in Ladakh. After a tea-tasting session, participants step out for a light acclimatisation walk guided by the travel facilitator, during which they get to explore the hidden lanes in the heart of Leh Town – the Main Bazaar.
Desert Bloom also conducts events, ‘Travel without Moving’. The events are held in the heart of Leh Town. These events range from film-screenings to cross-cultural evenings.
Price: Starting from Rs.6,980
Read more: https://www.desertbloom.in/
Desert Bloom aims to be ecologically responsible. It curates activities and experiences that are respectful towards nature and closely aligned with the traditional ways of life, which have the lowest possible impact on the surroundings. Since Ladakh is a particularly vast destination with very large travel distances, the company attempts geographical grouping of experiences to minimise the impact on the environment because of excessive fuel consumption. They do this through extensive on-ground research to discover and curate interactions in the local landscape that are not part of the mainstream tourism industry, yet add meaning and value to the traveller’s experience. Ladakh, being an isolated landscape and no major waste-processing facilities, faces a major crisis for waste management and landfills. Desert Bloom follows a philosophy of ‘frugal is beautiful’ where their aim is to generate the minimum possible amount of waste, whether it is through a reduction in printing processes, upcycling “waste” for their facilities or eliminating single-use plastics during outdoor excursions. Local lifestyles in Ladakh exemplify deep-rooted respect for each other's fundamental human needs and an acceptance of the natural limitations of the environment. Desert Bloom facilitates an authentic experience of the Ladakh where travellers see the multitude of possibilities for living in an ecologically-responsible manner, even in the modern times, by adopting a frugal approach. The larger vision is for the traveller to be inspired by it and carry forward the approach into their everyday life back home. With a background in architecture and user experience design, the Desert Bloom team is working on the design of a contemporary Ladakhi toilet that combines the ancient knowledge of the past, which created the traditional compost toilet, with the contemporary advancements in mechanical and climatological studies. The dry toilet of Ladakh is the most ecologically-efficient solution to solid-waste management, especially in a climate like Ladakh, which not only eliminates the wastage of water for flushing (Ladakh being a cold desert) but also provides organic manure to the farms. Their design is aimed at eliminating the user-discomforts that have been discouraging travellers from using it, and thus discouraging the hospitality industry from building and incorporating them. All Desert Bloom experiences are designed to provide meaningful interactions between the host community and travellers, so that cross-cultural exchange may facilitate the traveller to understand Ladakh’s heritage and culture in the most authentic manner possible. Desert Bloom partners with local stakeholders such as artists, NGOs, hotel owners, local businesses and restaurants to take their concerns into account and design experiences that are mutually beneficial to them and to the traveller. Desert Bloom collaborates with local businesses not just in Leh town but also in the rural areas of Ladakh so that the economic-benefits of the tourism industry are spread out across the landscape.