Category Archives: Active Travel

Stargazing Journeys throughout Latin America with Naya Traveler

If stargazing is your passion, travel company Naya Traveler can design the ultimate journey to see the stars throughout Latin America (photo by Joshua Earle)

Long before European explorers set foot in the South American continent and discovered a mysteriously different sky, the indigenous people of the region had already established a scientific understanding and deep spiritual connection with the heavens. For ancient civilizations like the Incas—who at the height of their time controlled the western expanse of the continent—their way of life was dictated by the motions of celestial bodies like the sun, moon and stars. The bright star-strewn constellations were indeed a map of time and spirituality, though their devotion went a step further, identifying and venerating the ‘dark constellations’—the shapes formed in the absence of the stars. 

In Latin America, North has always been South, and the constellations of the night sky map out a mysterious and exciting landscape. Blessed with a diverse range of remote and wide-open spaces, the South American continent enjoys some of the clearest skies on earth, making it the perfect destination for travelers looking to indulge in the bliss of isolation and wander amongst the stars. From the high-altitude desert plateau of Atacama in Chile and the mars-like salt flats of Uyuni in Bolivia, to the dramatic wind-swept terrain of Patagonia, the options to walk amongst the stars in South America are endless. If stargazing is your passion, let travel company Naya Traveler design the ultimate journey to see the stars throughout Latin America. Here are a few of their stargazing itineraries:

Atacama Desert, Chile

An astronomer’s paradise, Chile provides a clear view of the spectacular southern sky, which is largely invisible from countries north of the Equator. With more than 200 cloudless nights per year and a dry desert atmosphere with very low air pollution, the northern region of Atacama Desert—the highest non-polar place on earth—boasts ideal stargazing conditions. During the day, expect to find a surreal lunar landscape, complete with arid desert, infinite salt flats, shimmering lagoons, peering volcanoes and the fruits of geothermal activity. In fact, this is where planetary scientists tested the early prototypes of their Mars rovers. The alien quality of the terrain makes you feel as if you’re hiking on a forbidding yet magnificent planet orbiting a distant star.

Using the oasis of Nayara Alto Atacama as a base, venture out into the Valle de la Luna by day, and explore a series of star-strewn observatories by night. On Saturday, professional observatories open their doors to a select number of guests, offering tours and introductory astronomy lectures. During the visit, your guide will  help you identify planets, colorful nebulae and more mysterious celestial beings, as you peer through the telescope, uncovering a fantastical universe beyond what the naked eye can see. 

Naya Traveler curates tailor-made journeys to Chile starting at $700USD per person per day, based on itinerary specifics. Rates do not include international airfare or COVID-related travel expenses.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Bolivia is home to Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. Covering an area of over 10,000 square kilometers at an altitude of 3,600 meters, it’s one of Latin America’s most breathtaking natural wonders. And while a daytrip might be enough to fulfil the dream of what it might feel like to land on another planet, there’s now the option of spending the night under one of the clearest, unpolluted skies on Earth. A collection of six luxurious geodesic domes sitting at the foot of the Tunupa Volcano, Kachi Lodge offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dwell in the glittering white salt plains by day, and enjoy some of the most spectacular stargazing in the world by night.

Naya Traveler curates tailor-made journeys to Bolivia starting at $800USD per person per day, based on itinerary specifics. Rates do not include international airfare or COVID-related travel expenses.

Lago Titicaca, Peru

The Andean Altiplano might just be one of the best places for stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere. Geographical factors such as its isolation, high altitude and dry climate all come together to offer pristine clear skies, where one can revel in the wonder of the constellations even with a naked eye. Stargazing in Peru however, is not just an indulgence in the beauty of the cosmos, it’s also an experience that brings us closer to the heart of ancient Incan civilization. For the Incas—one of the most advanced civilisation in ancient times—had great faith in the stars and an unwavering devotion in the events of the astros. Lake Titicaca holds great spiritual significance for the ancient Inca and modern Quechua, hence a stargazing experience in Titicaca isn’t just about xx, but also, about spiritual connection. 

Naya Traveler curates tailor-made journeys to Peru starting at $900USD per person per day, based on itinerary specifics. Rates do not include international airfare or COVID-related travel expenses.

Patagonia, Argentina

The Patagonian Steppe might be known for its dramatic landscapes and temperamental weather conditions, yet on a cloudless winter night, nothing beats watching the Milky Way dance over the snow-capped peaks of the Andes and reflect on the icy glaciers. Settling into the cozy comforts of Eolo—a property built on the land where the first creole and European immigrants of the area initially set foot—one can’t help but sense the aura of adventure that the thousands of travelers who journeyed through this area have left behind. Trek the mesmerizing Perito Moreno glacier by day, and trek the other-worldly Southern constellations by night, guided by an astronomer that with unveil the mysteries that lie beyond our galaxy, just as they were seen by the first explorers who settled in the ‘Land of Giants’. 

Naya Traveler curates tailor-made journeys to Argentina starting at $1000USD per person per day, based on itinerary specifics. Rates do not include international airfare or COVID-related travel expenses.

Contact Naya Traveler, 301-358-5096,  info@nayatraveler.com, www.nayatraveler.com.

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REI Co-op Expands Domestic Adventure Travel Program

Hiking in Death Valley. REI Co-op’s adventure travel program includes Death Valley National Park trips for hiking and cycling. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

SEATTLE – REI Co-op is expanding its domestic multiday adventure travel trips, guided day tours, rentals and adventure center locations as part of a continued multi-year strategy designed to get 3 million people outside each year. Consumer interest in the outdoors and related activities has soared across the country in recent years, and many have turned to spending time in nature for physical and mental well-being during the pandemic. REI has grown its experiences offerings by more than 60 percent in the last 12 months to meet the demand.

“The co-op was founded in 1938 by a group of 23 friends who loved to explore nature and share their passion and expertise with others. REI strives to build on this tradition and community through the expertise of our retail staff as well as our award-winning guides across the country,” said Mark Seidl, REI Experiences divisional vice president. “As the nation’s leading outdoor experience operator, we are working to expand our offering to new locations that will empower all to experience urban and iconic destinations in new and unforgettable ways.”

This month, REI opens the doors of a new Bay Area Adventure Center in Richmond, California with bike, paddling and camping gear rentals. The facility will be a home base for a 50-person guide team that leads day tours and multiday trips in the region. REI also hosts kayaking classes and day tours from the adjacent Richmond Marina and broader programing throughout the Bay Area.

To further complement REI’s regional ecosystem of experience offerings in the Bay Area, REI will soon launch bike and e-bike rentals in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf for urban cycling opportunities along San Francisco’s famed waterfront and minutes from the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge. According to the San Francisco Travel Association, more than 75 percent of the city’s visitors include Fisherman’s Wharf during a planned trip. The location will open in early August.

In addition to the Bay Area facility, the co-op operates an Arizona Adventure Center in Scottsdale that offers gear rentals and day tours while serving as the base for the co-op’s multiday guide teams in the Southwest. REI also has seasonal rentals and programming through two boathouses in Bellevue, Washington and a winter snowshoe rental pop-up at Snoqualmie Pass outside Seattle, Washington.

Adventure travel done right

REI Experiences offers 124 multiday adventure travel trips led by professional local guides. Fully hosted small groups explore the country’s natural places as guests hike, backpack, cycle, paddle, climb, snowshoe and more. So far this year, 22 new trips have been added to REI’s active travel assortment, of which more than half are hiking and backpacking itineraries. REI now operates a new private signature camp adjacent to Bryce National Park that is featured in five itineraries. Other new trips include:

The co-op will continue to add more trips to meet continued demand especially for weekend adventurers, travelers 35 years and younger, women and families.

Day programming in 14 major cities

In addition to multiday adventure trips, REI continues to offer day tours and educational programming in 14 cities through a wide range of expertise for anyone to learn or sharpen their outdoor skillsets for camping, cycling, paddling, climbing and more. The co-op’s most popular classes are Wilderness Survival Skills, Map & Compass, as well as the Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder training courses from a decade-long partnership with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). The co-op is also a leader in teaching youth and adults how to ride a bike.

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Go Glamping Dude Ranch Style!

At Goosewing Ranch, Wyoming, glamping means staying in a custom, handcrafted wagon with a dedicated chef, wrangler, and event coordinator at your service.

Cody, WY – Some call it glamorous camping, others call it luxury camping, but what better way to experience the Wild West? Several guest (dude) ranches now offer the opportunity to get off the beaten path and truly get out into nature by sleeping under the stars. What really makes these glamping options special is that they are all all-inclusive –  meals, lodging, horseback riding, and other activities are all included.

Bar W Guest Ranch – Montana

Bar W Guest Ranch offers an unforgettable glamping experience right outside of Glacier National Park. Each of the four luxury canvas tents has a queen size bed, handcrafted log futon, private porch, refrigerator, and coffee maker. Don’t worry–your private, heated bathroom is located just a few feet from your tent. Grab your coffee, sit back, and relax while you watch the horses graze in the meadow from your own front porch.

C Lazy U Ranch – Colorado

Glamping at C Lazy U Ranch will no doubt top the list as your most memorable accommodation set-ups! A ranch hand will guide you to your Conestoga Wagon where the great outdoors (and a s’mores kit!) await you. After an evening around the fire, cozy up in your king-size bed made with luxurious linens and let the sounds of peace and serenity drift you to sleep.

Flat Creek Ranch – Wyoming

For the more adventurous glampers, visit Flat Creek Ranch! Ride into the backcountry by horseback and take in views of the Tetons and Wind River mountain ranges, Cache Peak, and the headwaters of Flat Creek. After a good night’s sleep in your cozy, canvas tent under the stars, you will wake up to coffee brought to your tent. A hardy breakfast will leave you well rested and ready for your ride back to the ranch!

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch – Arizona

Experience the best of the Southwest from a pioneer wagon at Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch. This wagon can comfortably sleep five with a king-size bed and three bunk beds and has electricity, air conditioning, and heat to ensure a relaxing stay under the stars. Private bathrooms and showers are provided nearby. These wagons are a once-in-a-lifetime experience

Greenhorn Ranch – California

Tucked away in a discrete part of Greenhorn Ranch, awaits a charming 1972 Airstream. This fully restored camper, located along a seasonal creek, takes glamping to a whole new level! The soothing white classic is complete with a queen bed, small fridge, and a streamlined bathroom. Sit under the stars on your private deck and enjoy California glamping at its finest.

Bull Hill Guest Ranch – Washington

Glamping at Bull Hill Guest Ranch brings back a tradition that began when the ranch first opened in 1995. Beautifully furnished with two comfy queen beds, these tents are ideal for young couples, families, or those seeking privacy with a romantic twist. Each glamping tent has its own private bathroom 100 feet away as well as power, heat, and fans to keep you cool in the summer.

Goosewing Ranch – Wyoming

Get away from the world and internet-and cell service for that matter-and truly unwind while glamping at Goosewing Ranch! Three of their custom, handcrafted wagons can sleep up to five guests, while the fourth wagon with a king-size bed will make for the perfect romantic getaway for a couple. This is glamping, not camping, so you will have a dedicated chef, wrangler, and event coordinator at your service!

Glamping at a dude ranch is the new favorite way to relax and unwind while on vacation. Which ranch do you want to visit? Need help narrowing down the options further? Contact the experts at the Dude Ranchers Association. 

See the full list of The Dude Ranchers’ Associations’ ranches using the Find a Ranch tool or choose a ranch by location.

Contact the Dude Ranchers Association, 1122 12th St., Cody, WY 82414, info@duderanch.org, 307-587-2339.

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EF Go Ahead Tours Designed to Travel with More Meaning: Itineraries Promote Animal Welfare, Local Communities and the Planet

EF Go Ahead Tours’ trip to India: Delhi, Agra & Jaipur hits the “Golden Triangle” and include must-sees like the Taj Mahal © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

EF Go Ahead Tours believes travel is a powerful way to foster understanding and respect for the people, cultures, and places of the world. From protecting and promoting animal welfare to more sustainable tourism practices and support for local communities, EF Responsible Tourism Initiatives work toward a more sustainable world and fulfill its mission of opening the world through education.

  1. South Africa: Cultural Cities & Wildlife Safaris (NEWLY OPENED): A 17-day tour of spectacular scenery, cities, and amazing wildlife sightings are a given. This tour integrates education via living history walking tours of apartheid to world animal protection initiatives within some of the world’s most endangered populations. There’s learning in pleasure too! After a long day of touring, let the unique ecology of the region and its botanicals, tease your palate with a Gin workshop and tasting. Who knew flora played such a critical role in creating fine gin! 
  2. Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & WildlifeA 9-day tour of this majestic land that is leading the world on sustainable travel practices with meaningful education highlights that encompass all aspects of land and sea. Visit and eat on a carbon neutral ranch, work with endangered toucans and owls and see first hand how sea turtles bear the brunt of environmental challenges. 
  3. Thailand Adventure: Bangkok, Chiang Mai & the Islands and Thailand: The Golden Kingdom: Two ways to see Thailand through the eyes of its most beloved treasures — elephants and ancient farming practices. A pioneer in World Animal Protection, the Changchill Elephant Sanctuary allows visitors to prepare medicine and food for the elephants and chat with the mahouts, or elephant caretakers, and enjoy an included vegetarian meal overlooking the elephants’ natural bathing spot. These itineraries also include a visit to the Thai Organic Farm & The Sampram Model Movementwhich originally started an organic farm to grow produce for hotel and restaurant guests. They saw the impact that organic produce had on their family and guest’s overall wellness and wanted to extend those benefits to the entire community. In 2010, they gathered local organic farmers and created The Sampran Model Movement, which connects farmers with the same values and encourages them to grow organically, which then provides consumers with more organic produce at a fair market price.  
  4. Greece, the Balkans & CroatiaFrom Athens to Dubrovnik, spend 17 days exploring mountains to sea and the rich history of Greek and Adriatic nations. Visit Lake Ohrid, Europe’s oldest and most biodiverse lake for an expert-led talk on conservation efforts there to preserve the local biodiversity, threatened by unregulated development and poor waste facilities in the region, and preservation of archaeological sites like the Bay of Bones. Tease your palate with farm-to-table experiences in North Macedonia, Albania and Croatia; then compare notes later. From vegetables, to honey, to wine to oyster farms, learn how this part of the world is pioneering sustainable food practices through tourism. 
  5. India: Delhi, Agra & JaipurNot only does this trip hit the “Golden Triangle” and include must-sees like the Taj Mahal, living history via the Gandhi Museum, and Qutub Minar, an early Islamic tower; but you will start one morning off with the time-honored ritual of yoga. Finally, one whole day is spent with the Dhonk Craft workshop, to learn about socially responsible enterprise and anti-poaching initiatives aimed to protect tigers. 
  6. A Week in Belize: Ruins, Reefs & Rainforests: 9 days in Belize is like a mini trip around the world and equally beckons beachgoers, history buffs and nature lovers! Home to the world’s healthiest barrier reefs, archaeological sites once at the center of Mayan civilization and a lush rainforest. Go Ahead Tours’ travelers snorkel side-by-side with a marine biologist who will explain the Mesoamerican — the Western Hemisphere’s longest reef — ecosystem. Swim among beautiful animals and learn how to protect them better in Belize and at home. 
  7. Ireland: A Feast of Culinary Flavors & Local Traditions: Start in Dublin, go clockwise through lush Irish scenery and culture ending in Galway. A country steeped in tradition, the Irish food scene has evolved significantly from Granny’s pot roast and potatoes. Whisky distilleries, pints of good beer are requisite, of course. Timeless, yet current? Work on a farm to learn how one modern family is implementing ancient farming techniques so that all animals, plants and water on the farm work together for a truly sustainable practice. 
  8. Israel: Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea & JerusalemHoly Land for three world religions and home of the infamous Dead Sea are what you’d expect in a tour to Israel. EF Go Ahead’s tour digs deep into the exploding food scene in Israel with memorable meals. Also, eat lunch with a Kibbutz and then spend a day with an Olive Oil farm, Sindyanna of Galilee, a female-led non-profit, which is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization. A large part of their mission is to connect Arab farmers with the Israeli market, specifically by introducing modernization techniques like climate resistance crops and forming cooperative relationships between Jewish and Arab producers. 
  9. Grand Tour of Peru: Machu Picchu to Lake Titicaca: From city to sacred mountains to indiginous floating islands on a lake, this tour marries ancient footsteps with modern wonders. Sink into Spain’s colonial influences in Lima, then travel back to ancient Inca learnings in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. New for 2021, travelers will meet members of the Inka Roots Experiential Tourism Association for a walk to Raqchi Village. Inka Roots is a tourism cooperative intended for a balance between environmental care, income generation for locals, and fostering respect for local traditions. 
  10. Tanzania Wildlife Safari: Sure, you’d expect to see the “Big 5” on Safari in Tanzania. And you will: 12 days exploring the Tarangire, the legendary Serengeti and the “Garden of Eden ” at Ngorongoro Crater. However, this tour goes beyond the obvious! After visiting the Nunqwi village, you will visit the Mnari Aquarium, which is a sea turtle conservatory run by a community group. 
  11. In addition, a brand new tour from EF called Ghana: A Cultural Adventure is designed to promote animal welfare, support and give back to local communities, and sustain the planet.This brand-new tour is rich with cultural immersion, education, history and sustainability. Highlights include learning about how Ghana started the wave of independence across Africa, visiting Trashy Bags, a factory that pays locals to collect and wash single-use plastics to be turned into resalable products, and a visit to Global Mamas, a wholesale seller of fair-trade products produced across Ghana helping Ghanaian women gain economic independence by connecting them to global markets.
  12. www.goaheadtours.com,800-590-1161 

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With New Zealand Reopening Borders in May, Active Adventures Predicts Boom in Adventure Travel

Active Adventures offers 11 all-inclusive small group trips across New Zealand’s North and South Islands, including their popular “Rimu,” “Kauri,” and “Takahe” trips. Each trip offers a range of activities like hiking, biking, and kayaking.

QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand– After two long years with borders closed, New Zealand is ready to open its doors to international travel again. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s March 16th announcement not only fast-tracked re-opening but assured the world that New Zealand is safe for travelers and ready to welcome the world “with open arms.”
 
Queenstown-based Active Adventures has weathered the pandemic storm and is poised for a high-season boom, beginning with their first departure of the company’s most popular “Rimu” trip on September 19th. But well before that, the small-group adventure tour operator is ready to show off New Zealand’s winter to international travelers this May through September.
 
“After two challenging and uncertain years, there’s finally a buzz of excitement,” Active Adventures CEO Wendy van Lieshout states. “We’ve used the time wisely, improving nearly every aspect of our company to hit the ground running when the first international guests arrive. We’re prepared and are confident and excited to welcome thousands of travelers over the next year.”
 
The small-group adventure travel company kept their skills sharp throughout the pandemic, running their internationally popular New Zealand adventure tours for Kiwis and have expanded their portfolio by merging with Montana-based Austin Adventures.  
 
With the high season beginning in September and pent-up demand higher than ever, the tour operator urges travelers to book as soon as possible. Many guests have had to reschedule trips for the past two years but would like to assure travelers there is space for those who are ready for a real New Zealand adventure.
 
Active Adventures offers 11 all-inclusive small group trips across New Zealand’s North and South Islands, including their popular “Rimu,” “Kauri,” and “Takahe” trips. Each trip offers a range of activities like hiking, biking, kayaking and more, with comfortable accommodations to help guests recharge each night. In addition to New Zealand, the company operates in the Himalayas (opening in August), Europe, South America, Africa, and Australia. To view all trips and see full itineraries, head to activeadventures.com.
 
“To echo our Prime Minister’s words, we’re ready to welcome the world,” says van Lieshout. “But most importantly, we’re ready to explore and experience the joy of adventure New Zealand has to offer with guests from around the globe.”

With over 60 years of combined experience, Active Adventures and Austin Adventures set the standard for inspiring, all-inclusive, small-group adventures in the most breath-taking regions of the world. Their teams across New Zealand, North America, Peru, Nepal and the Netherlands ensure every detail is looked after. Hand-picked guides with a wealth of experience and local knowledge lead the way as guests enjoy exclusive accommodations, top-notch dining and unique activities showcasing the best of each region. Each of their 100+ trips are crafted to encourage and enable guests to not only challenge themselves physically but also to take a deep dive in the local way of life in every destination.

For more information, visit  activeadventures.com and austinadventures.com.

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Holiday River Expeditions Offers Alternative Way to Experience Magic of Wild, Untamed Places Overrun With Crowds

By coordinating with other companies and scheduling launches and camps for maximum privacy while limiting the numbers and size of groups, Holiday River Expeditions guests won’t have to share their wilderness river or trail experience with unregulated crowds flocking to similar unpermitted, front country experiences nearby. (photo courtesy of Holiday River Expeditions)

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — It’s sad but true that too many people can spoil the appeal and magic of wild, untamed places, like our national parks. Due to too much love leading to overcrowding – especially in the last two years – many national parks are having to limit entry and trail access through new reservation policies, permits and user limits.
 
In Utah alone, Deseret Media reports, “all-time visitation records were broken at four of the state’s “Mighty Five” national parks in 2021.” Totals reached more than 11 million visitors, far exceeding the 7.7 million recorded in 2020, the year when visitation plummeted as a result of the pandemic. As a result, long lines formed at entrance gates, tailhead parking filled quickly, roads and trails were over-populated and some visitors were turned away altogether.
 
Experts are predicting more of the same, if not worse conditions for 2022 and beyond. So how does one truly enjoy the serenity and wild beauty of the backcountry without having to share it with too many fellow travelers? “This is the year to leave the masses behind and experience the benefits of joining a small group, professionally guided tour,” says Karen Johnson of Holiday River Expeditions, based in Salt Lake City.
 
Offering a variety of whitewater rafting and mountain biking adventures from two days to over a week long, Holiday River Expeditions trips are limited in number of participants and have real Covid-wise appeal; from the small trip sizes, to low ratios of guests to guides on a boat, not to mention the canyon breeze making contagions float farther away than any indoor excursions.
 
By coordinating with other companies and scheduling launches and camps for maximum privacy while limiting the numbers and size of groups, guests won’t have to share their wilderness river or trail experience with unregulated crowds flocking to similar unpermitted, front country experiences nearby.
 
“What we are offering with our trips is an escape into the backcountry without the crowds,” explains Johnson. “You can experience Canyonlands National Park and not have to wait in a line or worry about getting a campsite. Our backcountry trips require federal permits – which regulates the number of people able to access certain areas at any given time, so no unpleasant surprises.”
 
Johnson also points out, “Due to the desire to create a ‘pandemic bubble”, custom and exclusive group outings are on the rise. With this increase in interest in private trips and the ability to secure such permits becoming very difficult, signing onto a scheduled tour departure may be the only good option to still get out on a trip this year.”
 
A guided tour comes with other benefits as well: 

  • Tours are a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors without the hassles and crowds with guides and staff performing all the work and heavy lifting. 
  • Get real! Disconnect from electronics and the “virtual” world.
  • Quiet the noise! Disconnect from the daily barrage of negative news. 
  • Reconnect with friends and family in a setting that you can feel safe in (from the throws of the pandemic). 
  • Clear your mind and soul. Feel the healing power of nature. 
  • Escape civilization! No concrete, paved trails, parking lots, traffic, crowds, lines to wait in, overpriced concessions and inconsiderate tourists. 
  • See the Milky Way in International Dark Sky Parks. 
  • Campgrounds are private. See some of the most beautiful places imaginable with minimal effort exerted. Better chances of seeing wildlife. 
  • Enjoy multiple days’ worth of interaction with knowledgeable and charismatic guides who have worked in these places for years. Better than a single short interaction with a park ranger or curator. 

“The park system was really ahead of its time in setting use limits for commercial operators decades before overcrowding and pandemic contagions were a concern,” Johnson points out. “Thanks in no small part to our founder Dee Holladay’s participation in the creation of ‘Backcountry Management Plans’ in the 1970’s we have a system that works perfectly for the public and for those of us who make a living providing controlled backcountry access to anyone seeking adventure and nature at its purest.”

Holiday River Expeditions began in 1966, when Dee Holladay and his wife Sue took the plunge to become river outfitters. The family-owned-and-operated company has grown exponentially due to its respect for the lands, rivers, guests and employees. Each of its guides is professionally trained in first aid and river safety, and with 50+ years of experience, the company provides guests the opportunity to explore the nation’s wild lands in comfort and security. Holiday River Expeditions has a commitment to protect the environment through education and conservation, and as such, uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.

For more information, availability, reservations or a copy of the 2022 call 800-624-6323, Email: Holiday@BikeRaft.com or log onto: http://www.bikeraft.com/

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Ride & Seek Adventures Introduces 36-Day Bike Across Europe Tour: France to Estonia

Ride & Seek Adventures, has announced an epic, 36-day, 3,693 km “Bike Across Europe” tour from Paris, France to Tallinn, Estonia.

(Provence, France) — Ride & Seek Adventures, the adventure travel company known for its Hannibal Expedition cycling tour from Barcelona to Rome, has announced an even more audacious excursion taking riders on an epic 36-day, 3,693 km “Bike Across Europe” tour from Paris, France to Tallinn, Estonia.

The epic adventure crosses eight countries and two continents following in the footsteps of Napoleon’s Grande Armée. It begins in Paris with a spin down the Champs-Élysées, followed by aperitifs under the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe before departing for Germany, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—through rolling vineyards, deep forests, medieval villages, and historic cities. The tour is slated for July 2 – August 6, 2022 and starts at $17,208 USD. There is an option to ride 8-day or 15-day stages of the tour starting at $4,006 USD. For more information, download the tour itinerary

“This is our most epic of epic tours through eight countries as we cycle in the footsteps of Napoleon from Paris to the Russian border,” said Dylan Reynolds, Founder and Director of Ride & Seek. “It is our very own Ride Across Europe tour that seeks out the road less traveled as we embrace the cultural and culinary highlights along the way”

Guests will ride across the Champagne region of France into the picturesque, castle-clad green hills of southern Germany. The route then heads through UNESCO-protected medieval villages in Poland to the North Sea. From here, it moves east via the great lakes of Poland and The Baltics. Riders will eventually arrive in Tallinn, Estonia, the country’s cultural hub and capital on the Baltic Sea. 

We will visit expert champagne makers eat wonderful regional cuisine, explore UNESCO recognized sites, and ride through beautiful forests, remote territory and bustling cities, all in the footsteps of Napoleon.” said Reynolds.

For more information, download the tour itinerary

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New Website Spotlights Guest Ranches That Add Wellness, Spa Dimension to Horseback Riding

Many guest ranches today, in addition to offering horseback riding and a cowboy spirit, are base camps for a host of outdoor adventures, and some are going beyond, with new additions to their offerings of spa and wellness facilities and Mind, Body & Spirit programs.

SONOMA, CA – Gene Kilgore, one of the world’s leading authorities on ranch vacations, has launched a new website dedicated to spa and wellness ranches: https://wellnessranches.com/

“This is the perfect moment to highlight the wellness work that some innovative ranches are focusing on,” said Kilgore. His new website shines the spotlight on 11 such ranches in North America that are breaking new ground in the wellness movement, a multi-billion dollar Mind, Body, Spirit phenomenon.

These properties in Arizona, British Columbia, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Montana and Wyoming represent the best of the best in both traditional ranch activities (life in the saddle) plus healthy wellness and spa-focused offerings.
 
He noted that the personal wellness movement is spurred on, in part, by the desire to recover from life under a pandemic and by a new-found appeal of America’s Wild West, its cowboys and ranch life, as evidenced by the popularity of Kevin Costner’s hit TV series Yellowstone.
 
Originally, ranches offered horseback riding activities for adults and families as the main focus of a ranch vacation, while ranches today are base camps for a host of outdoor adventures.  But some are beefing up what they may have offered in the past with new additions to their offerings of spa and wellness facilities and Mind, Body & Spirit programs. Wellnessranches.com is organized into these categories:

In addition to exploring the wellness-related features each ranch offers, the website provides the following services to potential guests:

  • Check for Availability Form  which is sent to ranches that match search parameters (budget, dates of stay, party details and preferred location). To begin the selection process, visitors to the site are invited to fill out the form with as much information as possible for ranch staff who have committed to respond the same or next day.
  • Personalized Concierge Service assists those who wish a little extra help in trying to choose the right ranch for themselves. Although not a booking service, no fees are charged for this assistance. The only goal is to give the user ideas that hopefully will assist them in finding one’s perfect “home on the range”. To use this service, visitors to the site can call 707-217-5205 or complete the online form provided.
  • Travel Advisor Center provides access to the website to professional travel advisors to help them expand their portfolios and business. There’s a simple interface for viewing select ranches, rates and more. Advisors simply log in or sign up via the online form to get started. 

While there are a host of ranches to consider, here are four examples of properties that combine focused wellness programs matched with traditional ranch activities.
 
Bishops Lodge – https://wellnessranches.com/wellness-ranches/bishops-lodge: Near Santa Fe, NM, Bishops Lodge combines nature’s offerings, such as river floating and hiking, with outdoor mindfulness sessions. The Wellness Lodge offers relaxation massage, deep tissue massage, couples massage, EMF learning, aromatherapy massage, meditation, land dance, CBD massage, botanicals remedy, sound healing, sound healing facial, sacred sound massage, intuitive healing and energy medicine
 
Echo Valley Ranch and Spa – https://wellnessranches.com/wellness-ranches/echo-valley-ranch-and-spa: A small, eco-luxury ranch located near Clinton, British Columbia is known for its warm, sincere and anticipatory service. When guests are not on horseback riding the spectacular backcountry you may find them mountain biking, engaged in Yoga, bird watching, hiking, enjoying some archery, marksmanship, canyon tours, and meditation. Although a major draw is the spa offering relaxation massage, deep tissue massage, couples massage, scrubs, manicures, facials, and pedicures.
 
Bitterroot Ranch – https://wellnessranches.com/wellness-ranches/bitterroot-ranch: Near Dubois, Wyoming, Bitterroot Ranch retains its original commitment to making matches between riders, new and old, and their mounts. The ranch’s yoga program focuses on stretching and conditioning muscles that are most engaged when riding. Resident Yoga instructor Hadley Fox is a certified Vinyasa Yoga teacher and on set weeks offers clinics with instructor Marc Holzman, a certified Ayurveda practitioner with over 18 years of experience teaching Hatha Yoga and Meditation.
 
Rock Creek – https://wellnessranches.com/wellness-ranches/the-ranch-at-rock-creek. This ranch near historic Philipsburg, MT, offers yoga and golf along with such treatments at its Granite Spa as relaxation massage, deep tissue massage, rock treatments, couples massage, scrubs, manicures, facials, pedicures and its signature Saddle Sore Soak.
 
Kilgore also offers these other ranch and western lifestyle vacation-related websites to make the journey from research to booking as informed, fun and easy as possible:

Kilgore (https://genekilgore.com/) began his ranch journey some 40 years ago and has spent most of his adult life and professional career taking the ranch message to the world.

“Our Ranch Vacations websites reconnect travelers with unparalleled natural beauty, hospitality and a goodness that weary city folks are craving,” Kilgore says. “The pandemic has only heightened this demand and for years to come ranches will offer this magnificent way of life for all to enjoy.”

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Utah’s Arches National Park Introduces Timed-Entry Program for Independent Travelers; Tour Operators Exempted

A new advance-reservation timed-ticket entry program is in effect at Arches National Park, Utah for independent travelers from April  3 through October 3. Tour operators, however, are not restricted. © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

MOAB, UT – New admission protocols have gone into effect for visitors to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Visitors traveling on their own will have to make advance reservations through Recreation.gov. Under a timed entry system, each registered visitor (an individual, couple, group or family is covered under a single booking) will be assigned a one-hour time slot between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time. They will be able to enter the park anytime during that one-hour window.
 
The new timed-entry program will run from April 3 to Oct. 3, 2022. Reservations will open three months in advance. For example, visitors who hoped to go to the park in April needed to reserve a slot beginning Jan. 3, 2022. There will also be small numbers of last-minute tickets made available every day for the following day, since not everyone is able to plan their visit so far ahead.
 
Another good strategy is to leave the car behind and arrange to visit the park under the guidance of a professional tour operator. 

Moab Adventure Center, the go-to hub for all things adventure in the region, has arranged guided tours throughout the season and is not limited by these new restrictions. This will be a benefit for those who aren’t able to plan their park visit so far in advance.

Visitation grew to new heights in the 2021 season, the busiest year on record. Many people had to wait hours in line before being admitted. Others were turned away altogether and asked to come back the next day.
 
“Overall, we are very excited about the new system, and the changes it will bring. With the new system, the aim is to reduce the lines to get into the park, further enhancing the experience for everyone. The timed-entry system should keep the crowds at a manageable level at each point of interest, as well as parking lots and trailheads, making parking and access much more available and predictable,” said Cort Wright, Moab Adventure Center Manager.
 
The timed entry program does not apply to tour operators who have concessions contracts, such as Moab Adventure Center. The park will continue to accommodate travelers (even that same day) who book a guided tour through Moab Adventure Center. For details see https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/arches-national-park-tours and https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/arches-national-park.
 
“If tourists miss getting a reservation or something unexpected comes up, Moab Adventure Center will always be able to get them in as long as we have a scheduled tour operating. We are not required to participate in the reservation process and are not limited by the restrictions placed on the public,” Wright added.
 
Wright recommended the following tours for first-time and repeat visitors to the region: 

“In addition to not having to worry about advance reservations or having to enter the park at an assigned hour, these guided tours have several other benefits. Our guests love the fact that they can sit back and enjoy the ride, taking in every view out the window vs. having to pay attention to roads and traffic. Guests also appreciate learning about the history and geology of the area from an experienced guide. It’s really a great way to see Arches National Park,” Wright explained.
 
Moab Adventure Center (https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/) is a division of Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah with operations and offices in Moab and Fredonia, AZ. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, Utah. The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main St., Moab, UT 84532. For information and reservations call 435-259-7019 or 866-904-1163.

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TRIPS by Culture Trip Launches New Immersive, Experiential Tours with Special Deals, Discounts

Experience rural life in Vietnam and cycle through rice fields to experience farm life first hand with TRIPS by Culture © Laini Miranda/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

TRIPS by Culture Trip launched in September to offer multi-day small-group adventures with itineraries that combine immersive activities and distinctive places to stay, and experiences for the young at heart, the off-the-beaten path enthusiast, the culturally curious and those with the belief that “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”.  Behind TRIPS by Culture Trip is Culture Trip itself – the travel website and app for booking hand-picked places to stay, unique travel experiences and now also small-group adventures.

To kick off the new year, Culture Trip is also offering special deals and discounts now through January 31, 2022 including a $100 Culture Trip voucher when you book with TRIPS by Culture Trip; a $50 Culture Trip voucher when you spend $200 on a hotel; and a $20 Culture Trip voucher when you spend $100 on an experience. T&Cs apply.

TRIPS by Culture Trip offers over 30 itineraries in some of the world’s most captivating and off-the-grid places across the world.  TRIPS range from four to 13 days, welcoming up to 18 travelers aged 25 and over who can join solo or with friends. With a focus beyond mass-market offerings, TRIPS itineraries often avoid areas of over tourism and aim to put local people at the center; the team is dedicated to avoiding unethical activities or wildlife interactions that aren’t in the best interest of the animals.

“With everyone looking for that vacation or escape in 2022, here are some trips that many will never experience in their lifetime because, well, they didn’t know they could.”  Check these out:

●      Stay with a Bedouin Family in Jordan & sleep under the stars in the Valley of the Moon

Wild camping under the stars and staying with a Bedouin family in the breathtaking Wadi Rum — also known as the Valley of the Moon and as filming location for Star Wars: the Rise of Skywalker — is an unforgettable experience. On this trip, travelers also learn how to make Arabic coffee, cook a traditional meal with local Bedouins, milk camels and help shepherds herd their goats in the sunrise. Treks through rust-colored mountains, street food tours in Amman, and visits to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra through a back door to avoid the crowds are also part of this itinerary. 9-day trip from $2,599*      per person

●      Explore Casablanca’s design with a local architect & stargaze with an astrologer

Before exploring the tangerine dunes of the Sahara’s Erg Chebbi, bedding down in a desert camp in a Berber-style tent with a canopy of twinkling stars above, and stargazing in the desert with local astrologer Astro Hamid, travelers get to explore Casablanca’s diverse and historically significant architecture together with a local architect. 13-day trip from $2,809*      per person

●  Experience rural life in Vietnam & cook with a gastronomy artisan

A trip to Mai Chau is unforgettable — a lush valley lined with rice paddies between forested mountains, inhabited by several ethnic groups in the Hoa Binh province. Here, the group will cycle through rice fields to a White Thai village to experience farm life first hand — including collecting food for buffalos and feeding them, while learning about the history and culture of the White Thai ethnic group, named after their white clothes. The trip also takes travelers to Hue where they will get to learn about the flavors and techniques behind the local cuisine through a market visit and cooking class with gastronomy artisan Ms. Huy12-day trip from $1,609* per person

●  Immerse yourself into Sri Lankan wildlife and culture & learn the ancient dances

This epic 12-day ‘Treasure Island’ adventure avoids the usual tourist areas for a glimpse of real Sri Lankan culture. Travelers get to visit a quieter, lesser-known side of Yala National Park — reducing the impact on the wildlife and environment. The park has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world with plenty of elephants, monkeys, and crocodiles. Equally memorable will be seeing herds of wild elephants in Minneriya National Park, visiting a rural village school to learn about Sri Lankan education, and attending a dancing school in Lankathilaka, where a generational dancing master will teach the ancient art of dance in his own backyard. 12-day trip from $2,039* per person

● Learn taiko drumming and aikido & witness sumo wrestling training in Japan

As part of the ‘Japan Rising’ 12-day journey through the land of the rising sun, travelers get to learn from a local aikido expert this Japanese martial art that involves breathing, stretching and self-defense techniques. They also can witness sumo wrestling training to learn about the centuries old history of this traditional sport, and test their rhythm over a taiko drum — played in traditional performing arts and festivals in Japan — with a local expert instructor. 12-day trip from $4,239* per person

Naturally, TRIPS by Culture Trip has an extremely flexible and generous cancellation plan in place should Covid restrictions change your plans      , including rebooking for free up to 48 hours before departure and if TRIPS by Culture Trip cannot change your booking dates, they will refund the booking.  

To learn more and book TRIPS by Culture Trip, visit culturetrip.com/trips or call 678-967-4965.  

* Prices include the Local Insider; activities; accommodation based on two people sharing, with single occupancy available with a supplement; transport throughout the trip and a range of meals

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