Brunch

Eco Grip: ‘For Trips Money Can’t Buy’

Speaking with Founder Sameera Liayanagamage, better known as Sam, Brunch learnt that rather than being a profit-making entity, Eco Grip is an initiative by passionate individuals who wish to expand the horizons of those who love adventure travel, particularly those of us in Sri Lanka. 

Canoe and kayak expeditions in session

With a vision to introduce the experience of kayaking to the Sri Lankan mainstream, Sam shared that their purpose is to become the most entrusted and admired partner of the adventure water sport industry in Sri Lanka, and they’ve laid the groundwork by putting quality and safety first. 

In their journey to the top, Sam commented that while it hasn’t been without its challenges he must point out that they were able to experience the benefits of some of the earlier decisions they made in the last five or six years of their company being in operation. 

Despite having a general target audience of mid to upper-middle range of customers, typically corporates and executives, geared towards an international consumer, Eco Grip has paid special attention to their local customers, and therefore, when travel restrictions were imposed, they were lucky enough not to feel the detriment of not having tourists frequent their service. 

Sam did share, however, that they made some adjustments to better accommodate their guests, primarily by implementing smaller groups to afford safety and comfort for their customers who may not want to mingle in a large group, despite maintaining social distancing rules and proper sanitisation. He said that in addition, they also have taken extra precaution in sanitising their gear, making sure to do it before and after every session, and even going so far as to arrange for private transport for their staff to absolutely minimise chances of contamination. 

Sam, who himself is a travel junkie, together with his fellow collaborators, who each also harbour an element of near devotion and reverence to adventure travel, have created something special in Eco Grip. Putting passion first, they have diversified their business model in a way that allows someone, who is for the first time foraying into experiencing travel, to take their first steps with them, with confidence and without concern. 

Eco Grip’s goal is to accomplish a greater experience and satisfaction to whatever adventure you choose, and to do that, they have employed certified instructors who understand the value of your experience and are therefore ready to help you optimise on your adventure travel experience. 

Eco Grip also offers a diverse portfolio when it comes to their services, not only do they provide large expeditions for four nights and three days, camping and canoeing with a group of adventure junkies, but they also have services at the other end of the spectrum; Sam shared that their services are three tiered with the first tier being the two-hour kayaking programme, or a half day programme which can be for those who do not wish to dive head first into something new. But for those who are a little more daring, they have their mid-range of full day programmes with a night of camping, or the final tier of going all out and camping for several nights. 

Eco Grip Founder Sameera Liayanagamage

Sam shared that whether you are doing it for just a few hours or several days, Eco Grip has one thing that they will keep consistent and that is safety. He said that it is too often that we see in Sri Lanka where there is a considerable lack of dedicated regulatory bodies for businesses such as adventure travel service providers and therefore, often you can come across risky situations for which the service provider isn’t entirely equipped to mitigate. However, Eco Grip can guarantee your safety and they’ve gone a step above in ensuring that you as the customer are also educated in how to protect yourself. 

Regardless of which experience you chose to have with them, Eco Grip always makes it a point to teach the best practices and correct techniques. “Often you get people who kayak for a few hours and feel aches and pains and they say it is tough,” said Sam, when in reality, they tend to utilise incorrect methods which put strain on the wrong parts of your body. He said that this is primarily because there is a lot of misinformation and also because, in the case of kayaking, what you get is the gear from your service provider – safety gear, a kayak and a paddle – with no real instructions on how to turn your kayak, how to break, and you are set off into the wild to fend for yourself. 

While Eco Grip has provided the opportunity for beginners and any interested parties to get started with them, they also showcase their true love for the sport by encouraging adventure sports lovers to get started by any means, regardless of whether they do it with Eco Grip or not. A great first step has been adopted by the company as they have shared numerous blogs educating future kayakers on the tips and tricks of the trade to kayak safely and to reap the best experience. The company recently joined the “Digital Evolver” programme initiated by Good Life X to enhance their online presence and to better their reach in creating awareness.   

Sam shared that because they believe that Sri Lanka is ideal for this kind of adventure sport due to its endless waterways and gorgeous nature, they wish to promote it to the best of their abilities. He also added that they hope to start a YouTube series as well to further encourage people to pick it up as a sport, and to learn these best practices. While for now there is a bit of reservation when it comes to adventure sports in Sri Lanka, Sam shared that the mindset is changing rapidly and Eco Grip is happy to be a part of the change.