Kavvayi has everything to boast for a perfect destination in Kerala. Gifted with numerous islands, rivers, mangroves, and beaches, the place is truly magical. For a long time, Kavvayi Kayal/Kavvayi Backwaters were unexplored and untouched. Even the natives were not aware of the possibilities and opportunities it offered. But today, Kavvayi is known for Kayaking. Kavvayi Stories, the unique start-up from two passionate young entrepreneurs has gained popularity within a short span of time.
After spending nearly a decade in the corporate industry, Rahul Narayanan, the founder of Kavvayi Stories, decided to leave his job to pursue his interests and passion. Though he wanted to start something in his hometown, he had no solid plan. He spent some years in researching and figuring out things. It was through his mentors and the former district collector that he came to know about the potentials of Kavvayi in adventure tourism and water sports. ‘During that time, we became members of the SMiLE program by BRDC. The workshops and training organized under this program opened our eyes to the wide possibilities in experiential tourism. Insights into marketing and storytelling aspects in tourism were new knowledge. These workshops made us more focused to venture into the tourism industry”, says Rahul Narayanan.“The initial days were hard. The Kayak was either rented or borrowed from a nearby resort. But that was how we set off a mission to find out the possibilities of the region. Our primary task was to find out the destinations around Kavvayi through a Kayak. And it took us several days to complete this task. We explored the vil
lages, their life, and culture and also researched on the homestay options. We understood each village is unique in its culture and food. To the south of Kavvayi is Ezhimala, and to the north, there are numerous islands and estuaries, and its beauty unparalleled; never fails to surprise each visitor. It was based on this initial assessment that our plans and packages were developed in further stages.”
Kavvayi Stories was started in 2016. During that time, water sports were not widely recognized as a tourism activity in Kerala. It was out of their personal interest in Kayaking, that they got the license from the National Institute of Water Sports, Goa. They depended on Cooperative banks and their own personal savings for finding capital amount. Networking was essential to open up the prospects of the region. For that, they worked closely with Tour Operators, conducted seminars and workshops to grab the attention of the public. Kayak festivals were also conducted for two years, by themselves and with the support of DTPC and Municipal Council.
Slowly, they pitched from camping activities to diverse areas in the tourism sector. Kayaking Tour Program is their main activity; they don’t limit themselves to it. Swasthikam Heritage Inn, a homestay accommodation at Payyannur, and a serviced villa are the ventures they started in the hospitality sector. Along with these, they also conduct Tour Packages such as Theyyam Tour, Heritage Walks, Trekking activities, and various other cultural and food tours. In Kayaking, they offer Individual Kayaking, Group Kayaking, Mangrove Kayaking, and Kayaking Expeditions. They receive a greater response for two-day long Kayaking Expeditions, from international travellers, particularly from Europeans. ‘What is special to us is this diversity that we offer. Moreover, we were the first ones to initiate such activities in North Kerala’, says Rahul Narayanan. To date, we had visitors from almost 18 countries. It was only through online marketing that we could get people to this place.
Kavvayi and the nearby places in North Malabar are perfect destinations for community-based tourism activities. Each village has its own cultural ethos and unique tastes. Kavvayi Stories plans to take up a notch to develop their present packages to weeklong plans to rediscover the true spirit and life in these villages and provide that experience to each traveler. They build their brand out of nothing and their success story is special for their passion for the homeland.