Ms. Tanvi Thatte – Director, Pugmarks Eco Tours Pvt Ltd. Pune
Pugmarks Eco Tours Pvt Ltd was started in Pune 17 years ago. It is a well known wildlife company, exploring national parks and jungles of India. Initially the wildlife sighting was arranged within Maharashtra catering to children and adults. With increasing demands from public, Pugmarks founded a niche market for themselves catering to educational and environmental exposure during vacations for students.
Ms. Tanvi mentions that the company has introduced wildlife sighting and adventures and trekking camps for kids starting from 8-10 years. The adventure tourism includes rafting, surfing, scuba diving, and sky diving for which they conducted 2 camps. She is proud to point out, “We took kids to Switzerland as study tour. Our horizon is expanding. The best part is that there is always trust on us and that is how we have gradually grown.”
Switzerland Tour for Children
Ms. Tanvi is happy to declare that the study camps in Switzerland were meant to make the kids explorers. She is quick to point out, “With parents when they go abroad, it is all escorted tours. They don’t have to put them to test. Here the moment we got down at the Zurich airport, they were given maps of the city, told OK, we would be getting into this particular tram, directions would be so and so, let us try and take out tickets.” She is glad that the kids were given the chance to speak to locals, understand how the tickets were drawn even in the high speed railway tickets, and they were drawn by the kids itself. She says the kids got their groceries, enjoyed preparing different cuisines, interacted with the locals in the farm and took to walking which gave them the exposure to local culture.
Variety of Itinenary
Ms. Tanvi says that based on the requirement of each school, she draws the itinerary. She points out that in that particular program, the kids visited Paris where they had different things to see and explore. This experience has helped her in drawing standard itinerary, customized ones as per the requirement, and taking them to colleges. The Botany and Zoological departments require an itinerary which suits students for exploring the lighter side, seeing culture, enjoying the cuisine, etc.When asked about the number of students per team, she says that for the tour to Switzerland, they wanted a small group. For an educational tour within India, the number can go even up to 65.
She prefers “Students from 8 years till 24 years which covers all PG students also.” She has designed a special category called “Tree Top” for kids within 8-10 years. Her argument is that it is for beginners where “the kid has not stepped out of home, so he learns to be independent. He knows when he is away from mom, when he has to brush his own teeth, he has to do up himself or herself, what kind of clothing he has to wear” etc. She is willing to help them but eventually happy to see the child becoming independent. She points out how the child starts to enjoy the experience of sharing things with other team mates, conduct activities, seek support from fellow beings and learn quickly. With kids in the age group of 11-14 years who are more adventurous, she offers them adventures like rafting, rock climbing, etc to allay their fear of whether they can do it. Above 14 years, she has plans for kids who are exposed to trekking, rock climbing, rafting, scuba diving, or wind surfing which she feels is “very very enjoyable.”
Ms. Tanvi points out that the company is approved by Adventure Tourism Board of India and interacts with appellate of many organizations and with the help of certified experts conduct the activities. Talking about the safety measures, she says, “Whenever they go for such adventurous activities, they have to wear a life jacket if it is a water-based activity, helmets, gloves, etc.” She ensures that they are first tested, tried, and then allow the activities to be conducted. She cites an example where they have safety ropes well placed when there is an emergency, the rescue mechanism is available to rescue the child. In the event of any fall or injury during playing, there is a doctor on call.
Many clients are from Hyderabad and Bangalore. Kids from Chennai take part in the camps and there is a demand from Gujarat also. For those interested in camps, she arranges for transportation to pick up and drop them at Pune.
Ms. Tanvi points out that her experience has been different because “when we approach various schools, the trend is changing, the schools believe in learning.” She feels that since the parents demand such learning, the trend is picking up. Some of the experiences the child would get are the anthills, the marks made by the animals on the tree trunks, how the male tiger would go and have a boundary for no one to enter, the alarm calls made by the animals when they see a tiger, the monkey alarm call, small birds cautioning the other birds, mother sparrow saving the younger ones from snakes, etc.
To conclude she says that whatever be the nature of camps, “the theme is always to explore a country on your own, without much guidance…you have to look through the window and look at the world outside.” She is firm in her belief that, “I would say whenever they go for an adventure activity the effort is always made to motivate them than to force the activity on them, because motivation is needed at all the levels.” She quotes the example of a child who has to overcome the fear when asked to do cliff jumping. The kid is supposed to jump about 20 feet into the water in Ganges. He would be scared as he does not know swimming. She points out, “But with a life jacket on, when you are told that it is perfectly safe, you see somebody doing it, and then you do it once and when you enjoy the fun of it, you do it 20 times in a row.”
The same is the case with bungi jumping, when one has to jump a height of 300 feet, it is scary and he would never feel he would ever do it. But once he does he feels that he is not scared and would enjoy the thrill again. She is very firm when she says, “On the superficial level you will feel we are into business of travel and tourism but if you ask me seriously we are changing life.”
When asked about the types of schools associated with them, she is quick to point out that right from schools in Hyderabad, a few top notch schools in Mumbai such as Jamnabai school, Bombay Scottish American School, and Symbiosis International Schools deal with them for many years and there are about 15 schools in Pune alone which patronize Pugmarks each year.
Below is the feedback/testimonials
Switzerland-France educational adventure for a school group was a unique tour for kids as well as teachers. Students stayed like locals in rented home & cooked for each other. While safety was ensured by supervision of mentors, kids enjoyed the freedom to cook what they wanted and the way they wanted. They visited snow mountains & enjoyed the world’s highest altitude Alpine coaster. Scientists at CERN labs, (European equivalent of NASA), enthusiastically shared each & every detail of 40km pipeline and all the scientific inventions around particle physics (Including creating Internet & grid computing). While tourists visit DisneyLand, our kids were busy in thrilling rides & 4D futuristic cinema experiences at the unique Science Theme based park in France, the Futuroscope. Mix of science & fun was complimented by visits to art museum in Paris & of course the wonder of the world, Eiffel tower. While in Paris, be Parisien. So kids did 12 km of jogging along river Seine, along with locals. It was an all round personality development experiences coupled with practical application of science, but it is the experience each one had individually is what will remain with kids forever….
Sr Faculty from Symbiosis International School
I went to Spain with Pugmarks in May and did activities like scuba diving and sky diving .The 10-day experience was awesome and it also made me independent, because we had to do everything on our own like locals. The walking tours gave us the real exposure to the European culture and made us more involved in it.
Pugmarks Eco Tours Pvt Ltd.
Address: 131, Poornima Towers,397 Shankarsheth Road,Pune 411 037
Phone: Pune – 020- 6649 9999 Mumbai – 022-24218928 /+91 8879366191
Name of Head/Director: Tanvi Thatte