A new breed of tourism is emerging. Rather than simply whiling away the hours, lounging at the beach with a frothy drink in hand; travelers are showing a renewed sense of spirit and adventure. In a concerted effort to expand their horizons, increasing numbers of vacationers are booking trips which have the ability to transcend them beyond their every-day visceral and physical existences.
In 2004, bookings for trips defined as “adventure travel” (one that involves some degree of mobility) nearly doubled. In 2005, on account of travelers’ desire to maximize dollars and vacation time; post 9/11 and Tsunami realizations that time is precious; and a new found-choice to become more alive in all areas of life, these figures are expected to continue along a steady incline.
To meet this evolving demand, in rapid succession, travel service companies have begun to expand their repertoire of packaged outings. Particularly noteworthy is the addition of more trips to the Amazon, South America, Antarctica and such North American wilderness destinations as: Utah, Colorado and Oregon. The inherent commonality among all of these packaged plans is to fully integrate the traveler with the indigenous culture.
Within the evolving realm of adventure travel, depending upon travelers’ levels of physicality; aptitudes for challenge; and appetites for stimulation, there are a wealth of navigational options from which to choose. To help travelers identify their itinerary of choice, the following three companies are looked upon as exceedingly reputable expedition providers within the industry.
At the more amenity-laden end of the spectrum are: Abercrombie & Kent (A&K- not to be confused with Abercrombie & Fitch, the apparel retailer), known worldwide for its emphasis on comfort and tailored excursions, and Travcoa, which offers distinct luxury packages to magnificent locales. At the more affordable end of the economic spectrum, G.A.P. Adventures (once again not to be confused with the ubiquitous retailer), rather than relegating tourism to the beaten path, takes travelers into the authentic cores of the cultures in which their trips inhabit.
ABERCROMBIE & KENT
In reference to the state of the travel industry and A&K’s philosophy, Pamela Lassers, Director of Media Relations for the Oak Brook, Illinois, based company relays. “While adventure travel is the fastest growing part of the travel business, A&K takes the unique approach of offering travelers unexpected amenities in remote destinations. Our guests look for authentic experiences to quell their curiosity and provide both physical and intellectual stimulation.”
Offering travel to more than 100 countries on all seven continents; approximately 60 percent of A&K’s trips are nature -adventure based with an ecological, archeological or historical slant, and 40 percent are tours with guided support.
SOUTH AMERICA- Galapagos Islands: a Natural Adventure
Continuing to build momentum as a popular travel destination, the Galapagos Islands – also known as the “Enchanted Isles”- in that it is protected by land conservationists, remains a veritable kaleidoscope of Technicolor plant and wildlife unspoiled by modern civilization.
Led by master divers and level-three, naturalist guides, the trip offers activities of snorkeling and open water diving; nature watching; trekking to Cladera Lakes; hiking up the crater rim of the island; exploring lava tubes of Santa Cruz and kayaking along coastal cliffs.
Decidedly upper class, guests stay in the Swissotel/ Quito two nights prior and one night following a seven-night journey aboard the Lammer Law, a handsome, 93 feet vessel.
11 days/ ten nights/ Priced from $3680/ person*, double occupancy
SOUTH AMERICA – Peru: Signature Peru
Independent travel sans groups allows tourists to go at their own pace as they meander through the historical treasures of Peru and trek through the wondrous landscape along the fabled Inca Trail leading to the mysterious, yet spiritual Machu Picchu, where overnight stays are encouraged at the Sanctuary Lodge. 12 days, 11 nights priced from $4,445 / person*, double occupancy
NORTH AMERICA – Utah : Sorrel River Ranch and Health Spa
A private Utahan retreat on the banks of the Colorado River near Moab’s famed Slickrock Trail, in addition to presenting a spectrum of world-class activities, i.e., mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, river rafting, horseback riding and even a Hummer 4 x 4 wilderness tour; the Sorrel River Ranch offers enervating Ayurvedic spa treatments to keep the body stress-free and functioning at peak performance.
Conceived of by rock musician Robbie Levin, in conjunction with his wife, former actress | model Hope Carlton-Levin, the rustic Ranch and Spa reflects their combined passion for the balance between body, mind and spirit and was an outgrowth of their desire to create a space focusing on preventative health treatments.
Five nights priced from $1,665/ person*, double occupancy.
For more information visit Abercrombie & Kent’s web site at www.abercrombiekent.com or call toll-free, 1-800-323-7308.
Celebrating 50 years in the business of offering escorted journeys, Travcoa, which means life-experienced, is renowned for elevating travel to an art form. A member of Grand Expeditions, Travcoa, is most definitely on the luxury-end of the family’s ensemble of travel operators.
Designed for those who crave five star hotels; top-notch gourmet dining; exclusive site access; personal travel directors; carefully mapped out itineraries; and wondrous global locales, Travcoa, based in Newport Beach, CA, entices travelers with an infinite range of singular journeys throughout the world.
Australia | New Zealand: – a Blissful Journey to Two Exhilarating Countries. As the brochure states, “Guests of this impressive foray are certain to discover electrifying colors and dazzling textures in nature’s own creation, the Great Reef Barrier.” From the beaches to the museums, the river rapids to the Opera, the Aboriginal customs to the contrast of urban versus rural cultures; travelers are presented with a host of awesome Aussie sights, as well as “list of things to do,” inclusive of: a visit to the legendary Sydney Opera house, snorkeling, observing the rare species’ inhabitants of the Great Barrier Reef and those nearly extinct creatures of the Outback, i.e., koalas, kangaroos, pandas and wallabies. 16 days/ 15 nights priced from $7,995 / person*
Libya: the Forbidden Sahara – Formerly off-limits to travelers, Libyan excursions now tops the list of Travcoa’s most sought after trips. Covering some of the greatest Roman and Greek cities that exist, i.e., Tripoli (est. in 1000 B.C.) to the Paleolithic ruins and the expansive sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, visitors will be astounded by the depths of history, as well as, enlightened by the rich folklore brought about by the melding pot of cultures from Arabs to Byzantines. Highlights include: the Paleolithic vestiges of theatres and coliseums that remain, the preserved Roman cities lining the Mediterranean coastline and the area known as Jebel Akhdar, site of the magnificently preserved Greek cities of Apollonia and Cyrene. 13 days/ 12 nights priced from $7,195 / person*
For information on Travcoa, visit their web site at www.travcoa.com or call 1-800-992-2003.
G.A.P. Adventures, the economically affordable, grass roots-style, tour provider, takes travelers where other companies dare to tread. For those who believe themselves ready to boldly immerse themselves into the culture of the land and become one with the locals, G.A.P. asks, “Are you certain this trip is for you?” Definitely not for the persnickety, guests stay in simple dwellings, i.e., local hostels, they are often required to share rooms, to tour the land amid public transportation and to dine at restaurants frequented by locals.
In accordance with the personalized and localized principal on which G.A.P., based in Toronto, Ontario, was founded -they continue to limit trip sizes to small groups of 12 persons or fewer. All about sustainable travel, G.A.P. remains a strong supporter of local cultures’ economies.
Italy: Hike, Bike and Raft
Quite a different take on Italy than most of the traditional “Under the Tuscan Sun” versions, while the G.A.P. package still focuses on the breathtaking region of Umbria and Tuscany, it offers an unparalleled view as seen and experienced in the air, on the water and by bike. Travelers are led both on whitewater raft and bicycle through the city of Florence and such smaller inhabiting towns as: Lucca and Cortona to the final destination -that of Rome. Sheer rock faces overlooking the Italian coastline provide fantastic terrain for hiking adventures high above the miniature seaside villages. Biking expanses take place through the scenic wine trails and rolling green hills. Once in Rome, visitors are entreated with ancient historical explorations through Etruscan tombs, Renaissance palaces, and even a trip to the Vatican.
15 days/ 14 nights priced from $1865/ person with a $200 local payment fee.*
Patagonia: Patagonia Dreaming
If spending three weeks in a remote region of stark beauty suspended over more than 11,000 feet of sheer granite and ice sounds appealing to you? Then, Patagonia, one of the Earth’s last untouched regions, bordered by the Argentine cities of Chile and Buenos Aires, with its full range of outdoor offerings including: camping, mountain biking, hiking, glacier treks along the rugged terrains of the Paine and Moreno Glacier National Parks; eco-tours of the Otway Penguin Colony; whale watching in Puerto Madryn; cruises along the Beagle Channel; and a visit to the quaint town of El Calafate, may indeed be the ideal place for you.
23 days/ 22 nights priced from $2965/ person with a $400 local payment fee.*
For more information on G.A.P. Adventures visit their web site at www.gapadventures.com or call toll-free 1-800-465-5600
*Note: Prices quoted only reflect land costs; airfare NOT included. Prices are seasonal and are subject to change without advance notice.
With all the options and deals that abound, there really is no excuse not to go somewhere and do something different from the norm. So get off your duff and instead of sitting idly by, plunge into life via an adventure travel excursion of your own construction.
Some questions to ask yourself when planning your next outdoor adventure travel trip are:
• Where have you never been but have always wanted to go?
• What type of dollar amount are you looking to spend?
• How long of a trip are you interested in taking?
• What types of activities do you enjoy doing while on vacation, i.e., athletics, tourism, culinary excursions, historical – archeological explorations, etc.
• If you are interested in the adventure trips to what degree of activity are you comfortable? Answers may vary from low to moderate to extreme. Have you determined the level of stimulation or challenge you are seeking from the trip?
• How much supervision, guidance, pre-planned agendas are you seeking?
• What premium do you place on high-end luxury accommodations, are you willing to forsake some degree of deluxe for additional exposure to a particular locale? .Do prefer a more indigenous, authentic experience?
• How important is the social – ecological component of the trip. There are journeys specifically tailored to the Yucatan, Amazon Rain Forest, organic farms, re-building communities, etc. which provide this type of concentration on active consciousness.
Words of wisdom to relay are for those traveling outside of the U.S.
1) Don’t forget to make certain your passport is current and that it extends six months beyond your date of travel.
2) Take an introductory course on the native language spoken in the land to which you are traveling.
3) Learn some of the basic cultural practices, i.e. mid-afternoon siestas in Latin American countries to not disturbing the wildlife in the Galapagos Islands and Patagonia.
4) Familiarize yourself with the exchange rate prior to departing.
5) Remain calm under and any all circumstances. Regardless of whether your source of frustration is due to you losing your luggage or having difficulty getting through customs; best not to rile any authorities’ | officials’ feathers for this never proves to be a useful tactic with regard to solving a dilemma.
6) Like your mother always said, always where clean underwear cause you never know what may happen.
7) Check with your doctor prior to traveling. And while on holiday, monitor your excursion rates and ranges so that you do not exceed far beyond your normal activity ranges.
8) Watch the amount of rich, exotic, overly salacious cuisine you consume. Attempt to eat small meals to ensure food digest safely without resulting in discomfort or other digestive troubles.
9) Studies have shown travel can produce rushes of excitement and adrenaline highs. It is critically important that you do get swept up in the romanticism of the land that you neglect to monitor physical health & status of personal belongings, i.e. money, identification, etc.
10) Have fun & enjoy yourself. Engage in new experiences and diverse cultures. The key to keep in mind is balance & moderation. Retain a sense of equilibrium throughout your trip instead of going overboard.