Looking to book a fourteen day expedition in Alaska, or a day of walking in the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia? Perhaps, you fancy snowmobiling in Iceland or trekking in Nepal…?
Simply download the free Envago app, which has many such adventures to offer in 12 countries – from Croatia to Oman and from Brazil to Saudi Arabia.
Founded by travel tech entrepreneur Lujaina Al-Kharusi, the adventure travel app Envago www.envagoapp.com was launched in late 2016. Although still in the nascent stage, the focus has been on finding planners offering unique, once in a lifetime adventures around the globe. The app allows those seeking adventures to search by category of adventure (air, earth, water, rock and ice or volunteer), listed activities or by map to access a range of providers.
“The Envago app will change the way we access and experience adventure… I want people to have choice and opportunity, whether they are seeking their next adventure or looking to utilise their passion, talent and experience to become verified as a planner with Envago. Our app is putting those small, independent planners on the map, and giving adventurers around the globe access to once in a lifetime experiences,” states Lujaina Kharusi, who is a full time economist and a mother of four children.
In the following interview, she talks about the app and the potentials for adventure tourism in Oman.
How did the idea for Envago come about?
The growth in the usage of smartphones has been intense; almost ten years after the launch of the very first smartphone we are at near peak penetration. It’s the way we go online, it’s how we do our shopping and, increasingly, it’s how we book our travel. And the travel industry itself has had to adapt, making room for nimble start-ups who are ready to offer customers the marketplace as they want it. With Envago, it’s about allowing travellers to search hundreds of adventures at once, by location or type of adventure, giving them choice and saving them time. The idea also grew from my love of travel. We lived in the UK when I was young and we travel regularly as a family now – one of our favourite things to do is camp in the desert.
How will the app benefit travel and tourism enthusiasts?
Imagine, you are heading off for travel and you want to make the most of your time and experience uplifting, inspirational adventures. You could spend hours trawling the web looking for adventures, or you could find them all together in one place with reviews. Or, you are in Nepal and you want to try your hand at paragliding or boating on Phewa Lake. Grab your smartphone and, through the Envago app, you are all booked in five minutes. At Envago, we are also passionate about putting those small, independent planners on the map and giving our customers access to unique deals, like our Amazon survival experience. With the app, you can also connect with others booked on the same adventure and meet other travellers with similar adventurous tastes!
What is the potential for Oman?
Oman is a huge focus for us at the moment. It is such a beautiful country and its landscape is so perfect for adventure, from the peaks of Jabel Shams to the desert sands, the mountains and beyond. I want travellers from around the world to come to Oman and experience some of our amazing adventures. We are working with one planner currently in Oman, who offers the Lost Falls of Jabel Shams, Snake Canyon and the Wadi Jadis, and we are happy to hear from other adventure planners who have exciting, life enhancing adventures that would inspire our customers and drive adventure travel in Oman.
As an entrepreneur in Oman, what were the challenges you faced?
I was lucky in that I was always encouraged to create and be entrepreneurial. My mother set me a wonderful example that I could be whatever I set out to be. After graduating from the University of Brunei, I started my career as an economist in 2005. But, alongside, I also operated various businesses, like a baby boutique and an antenatal service venture. Juggling a professional career with a family and a start-up business can be challenging, as I am always mindful that I give each the proper attention they deserve; but again, the support of my family has made this possible.
Any future plans…?
For now my business focus is on Envago and I wish to significantly expand our range of adventures, particularly across the Middle East and also the rest of the world. One of the categories of adventures we offer at Envago is volunteering, and this is also something that I want to develop. At the moment, you can book to volunteer at the idyllic Lang Tengah Island in Malaysia, saving the endangered green turtles’ eggs from poachers, or to help in the community or at a local school in Nepal. Travel now is about more than self-interest; travellers want to combine their holiday with activities that support the country they are visiting and incorporating this, and sustainability more generally is where I see the future of Envago.
Envago is available on iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/envago/id1140098064?mt=8