Category Archives: Adventure 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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Seeking More From This Summer’s Travel? Add Adventure to the Itinerary

Experience extraordinary landscapes and incredible biodiversity on a new 15-day Madagascar Wildlife & Rainforest Expedition from Adventure Life

With pent-up demand unleashed for summer travel, it is important to book early.  From family cycling tours on Cape Cod to cycling across America, following the footsteps of Napoleon’s Grande Armée across Europe, river cruising in Europe, exploring the Galapagos and Amazon rainforest, here are a sampling of active travel ideas with a measure of adventure:

Cycle Across the USA: Plan an epic bike tour or bikepacking trip of your own with the assistance of the Adventure Cycling Association. To help riders find their way, the organization offers maps for 50,000 miles of bike routes through the U.S. and into Canada, the Bicycle Route Navigator app and other resources. Cross the country on the TransAmerica Trail, ride the Rockies on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route or try a shorter adventure in between. https://www. adventurecycling.org/

Bike Across Europe: Follow in the footsteps of Napoleon’s Grande Armée on Ride & Seek Adventures’ 36-day, 3,700-kilometer “Bike Across Europe” tour. The epic adventure crosses eight countries and two continents between Paris and Tallinn, Estonia, taking in the Champagne region of France, the green hills of southern Germany, the great lakes of Poland and the Baltics. https://www.rideandseek.com/  

Zimbabwe Safari: Summer is peak safari season in Zimbabwe and a tour with Adventure Life will bring breathtaking views and an abundance of wildlife. Guests will take in the thundering Victoria Falls and Batoka Gorge, then travel by train to a tented lodge near Hwange National Park, where elephants, buffalo, hippos, lions and other wildlife can be seen on game walks and drives during this six-day safari tour. https://www.adventure-life.com/zimbabwe/tours/11300/classic-hwange-safari

Madagascar Wildlife + Rainforest Adventure: Experience extraordinary landscapes and incredible biodiversity on a new 15-day Madagascar Wildlife & Rainforest Expedition from Adventure Life. Visit the hillside capital of Antananarivo, Morondava and its famous baobab trees, the white-sand beaches of Sainte Marie, the port city of Tamatave, and national parks and reserves filled with unique natural wonders and endemic wildlife while staying in upmarket hotels, beachside resorts and forest lodges. The 15-day tour, one of several new tours in Madagascar from Adventure Life, is available starting at $4,707 per person based on double occupancy. https://www.adventure-life.com/madagascar/tours/16437/madagascar-wildlife-rainforest-expedition

Galapagos, Amazon & Andes: Discover the magical Galapagos archipelago at Scalesia Galapagos Lodge, explore the Amazon Rainforest at Sacha Lodge and experience the Ecuadorian Andes at Hacienda Piman. Guests will hike active volcanoes, explore the Napo River by dugout canoe, enjoy a train ride in the Andes and visit one of the biggest craft markets in South America. http://www.scalesialodge.com/programs/

Rhine River Cruise: Sail the Dutch waterways and Rhine River from Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, to maritime Rotterdam, medieval Ghent and Belgium’s second city, Antwerp, before arriving in magnificent Cologne on Riviera River Cruises’ new Amsterdam, Cologne and the Best of Holland & Flanders itinerary. In 2022, guests will enjoy a visit to the once-in-a-decade Floriade Expo and its stunning array of flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables. https://www.rivierarivercruises.com/river-cruises/amsterdam-cologne-and-the-best-of-holland-flanders-river-cruise

Dolomites Cycling Tour: Experience dramatic mountain beauty and fairytale towns of Italy’s Dolomite Mountains with Tourissimo. Each day, guests will be surrounded by stunning Alpine scenery as they cycle through some of the most beautiful towns and villages of this breathtaking region. Ride over exhilarating passes, climb by soaring spires and coast downhill to charming hamlets on routes made famous by the world’s greatest cyclists. https://www.tourissimo.travel/dolomites-bike-tour

Sardinia Chef Tour: Tourissimo and SHS in Sardinia present a NEW project: a 7-day “Blue Zone” culinary cycling tour of Sardinia hosted by celebrated Chef Mary Sue Milliken. Guests will experience the culinary specialties of both the coast and the mountains and discover the cultural roots of the island while cycling some of its most scenic and traffic-free roads. Chef Milliken will play an important role in helping guests understand and experience the local cuisine and culinary techniques that tell the story of the territory. https://www.tourissimo.travel/chef-tours/sardinia

Family Cycling Adventure: Experience four days of family-friendly bike travel on Massachusetts’ scenic Cape Cod during Adventure Cycling Association’s new Cape Cod Family Adventure. At the core of the trip is nearly 100 miles of great biking between Provincetown at the tip of the outer cape and Brewster on the lower cape, including traffic-free paved trails such as the Cape Cod Rail Trail and the Head of the Meadow Trail. There’s even time off the bike to go hiking, swimming and stand-up paddleboarding.  https://www.adventurecycling.org/guided-tours/family-adventure-tours/cape-cod-family-adventure/

Tetons Tiny House Getaway: With sustainably built, LEED-certified “tiny house” cabins, Fireside Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, embraces modern, yet rustic design and presents a fresh approach to luxury lodging. Nestled in a wooded setting at the foot of the Teton Range, the cabins allow guests to get back to nature while enjoying the intimacy of a boutique hotel and the ambiance of their own cozy residence. https://www.firesidejacksonhole.com/

Yellowstone Country Adventures: Celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Yellowstone this summer with a stay at The Wilson Hotel in Big Sky, Montana, on the edge of America’s first national park. Guests can explore the natural wonders and wildlife of the park on their own or with a guided tour, and find hiking, mountain biking, ziplining, fly fishing, whitewater rafting and more around Big Sky. https://thewilsonhotel.com/

MTB Hut System in Southern Utah: The new Aquarius Trail Hut System offers a backcountry mountain biking experience like no other in the region. A system of five huts furnished with beds, a bathroom, a fully stocked kitchen, and solar power has been strategically placed along a 190-mile route through some of Utah’s most scenic backcountry and best mountain biking trails. https://aquariustrail.com/

Maui Multi-Sport: Escape Adventures’ Maui multi-sport tour loops around the valley between Pu’u Kukui on the Hawaiian island’s west and Mount Haleakalā on the east. In addition to world-class road biking, surfing lessons and sea kayaking allow guests to add water sports to their experience, while several unforgettable hikes offer a chance to see the beautiful island on foot. https://escapeadventures.com/tour/hawaii-maui-multi-sport-road-bike-tour/

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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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Atlas Deploys Two Ships to Antarctica for Winter 2022-23; Travelers Save 20 Percent Plus Up to $2,000 When Booking with a Travel Advisor

Atlas Ocean Voyages, a luxe-adventure cruise company, will deploy two luxury expedition ships to Antarctica for the winter 2022-23 season.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – Atlas Ocean Voyages will deploy two luxury expedition ships to Antarctica for the winter 2022-23 season. World Traveller will embark on her inaugural Antarctica season, while World Navigator will return to Antarctica for its second.

Travelers who make a new booking through a travel advisor by March 31, 2022, can save up to $2,000 per suite or stateroom on newly announced itineraries, as well as an additional 20 percent when paying in full.

The two ships offer a choice of 20 expeditions, ranging from nine- to twenty-night itineraries, sailing from November 2022 through March 2023. The two ships offer different kinds of expeditions: World Navigator sails shorter nine- to 11-night expeditions, while World Traveller offers extended immersive itineraries, ranging from 13 to 20 nights.

“Atlas Ocean Voyages brings travelers to remote and captivating destinations for once-in-a-lifetime and bucket-list experiences,” said Alberto Aliberti, President of Atlas Ocean Voyages. “In our brand’s second Antarctica season, we offer travelers a choice of two different Antarctica experiences by deploying both recently launched World Navigator and newly constructed World Traveller to the region. Whichever Atlas expedition ship travelers choose, our expert expedition teams will deliver fascinating context and unforgettable experiences on the Southern Continent.”

World Traveller will sail nine expeditions to Antarctica on 13-, 16- and 20-night itineraries for an in-depth exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula. Her inaugural Antarctica voyage departs on November 1, 2022, with a 17-night expedition from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Ushuaia, Argentina. Guests on this voyage, as well as those aboard the January 16 and February 18, 2023, expedition will visit and make select landings at the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Islands, South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula to catch sightings of a variety of penguins, including King, Rockhoppers, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Megellanic and Macaroni penguins. Travelers can also choose among three departures that cross the Antarctic Circle and join the Order of the Red Nose on the December 1 and 14, 2022, and February 5, 2023, expeditions. On the November 18, 2022, and January 3 and March 10, 2023, departures, World Traveller will bring guests to the Diego Ramirez Islands, Chile, which is situated in the Drake Passage. All World Traveller expeditions, except for the November 1, 2022, voyage will sail round-trip from Ushuaia.

World Navigator will sail 11 round-trip expeditions from Ushuaia on nine-, 11-, and 20-night itineraries starting on December 3, 2022. For the most accessible Antarctica expedition, travelers can choose among five, nine-night departures that feature some of the must-see sites throughout the South Shetland Islands and on the Antarctic Peninsula. Furthermore, World Navigator will also bring guests into the Antarctic Circle on 11-night expeditions departing January 10 and 30 and March 2, 2023. The December 12, 2022, expedition brings guests on a unique nine-night, Tierra Del Fuego expedition that visits Chile’s most awestriking and scenic fjord lands and glaciers. Furthermore, travelers can combine the Tierra Del Fuego expedition with the subsequent 20-night Antarctica immersive expedition, departing December 21, for an epic Tierra Del Fuego and Antarctica New Year’s expedition.

Atlas Ocean Voyages is a luxe-adventure expedition cruise brand designed for discerning, fun-seeking travelers to immerse in unique and awe-inspiring moments in remote and captivating destinations. World Navigator, Atlas’ first ship, has begun service and World Traveller will launch in July 2022, with three additional sister ships, World Seeker, World Adventurer and World Discoverer, to join the fleet by the end of 2023. At 9,930 GRTs, Atlas Ocean Voyages’ ships are Polar Category C- and Ice Class 1B-certified.

The luxe-adventure cruise brand welcomes travelers to ‘come back to something brand new’ in its ongoing marketing campaign “At Last… Atlas” (www.AtlasOceanVoyages.com/itstime.)

For more information about Atlas Ocean Voyages and World Traveller and World Navigator’s winter 2022-23 Antarctica season, visit www.AtlasOceanVoyages.com.

Travel Advisors can call 844-44-ATLAS (844-442-8527) to book.

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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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VISITED Travel App Helps Travelers Keep Track of Where They’ve Been, Where to Go

Got the travel bug? The travel app VISITED can help you keep track and plan where to go next. Is Venice on the list? © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

The mobile app development company, Arriving in High Heels Corporation, based in Toronto, Canada (arrivinginhighheels.com) has launched three new features in its VISITED travel app that are specifically designed to motivate travelers to find new experiences and help the travel industry recover from the stay-at-home coronavirus pandemic.

“People are ready to travel again and VISITED is ready to get them excited about new opportunities and destinations,” Founder and CEO Anna Kayfitz said,  No other travel app has these three features.

The new features are Inspiration, Lists, and City Maps. Together they highlight those places not necessarily popular but worth a trip, as well as well-known tourist attractions. They allow travelers to swipe photos of famous and not so famous places to add to their own picture database of destinations they have experienced or want to visit. VISITED has over 1.2 million users.

For individual travelers, the VISITED Inspiration feature tracks personal travel stats, such as percentage of the world visited, number of countries and cities visited, as well as regions on a personal wish-list. The List feature names capitals of the world, wonders of the world, and art museums. Museums and other attractions are constantly added to provide even greater options to choose from. The City Maps feature is invaluable in planning upcoming itineraries.

The app enables travelers to keep personal stats on the number of countries visited, percentage  of the world or country seen by region, how you rank against other world travelers, number of cities visited, percentage of the world that you WANT to see vs. where you are in your travel journey.

For the travel industry, the VISITED app’s features present a sponsoring opportunity for hospitality related companies, “because we know where the users have been and where they want to go,” Kayfitz said. “This is also an opportunity to showcase travel products and destinations without losing the focus of the user.”

She is looking forward to seeing a resurgence in travel. “In the meantime, users can start planning their trips with VISITED, discovering places to go, things to do, and sites to see domestically and internationally.”

Kayfritz is the founder of Arriving In High Heels, a mobile app company, which she started 2014 and incorporated in 2017 converted it to a corporation. The company, now known as Arriving in High Heels Corporation, and has 3 apps including Visited, to help keep track of your travels;  X-Walk Fitness app, a Nordic walking app that tracks progress and lists the top 25 famous hikes and Pay-off Debt app that helps people get out of debt faster.

All her app ideas came from a personal need for them, Kayfitz said.

The idea for Visited, for example, “started while I was flying back from South Africa with my husband (then boyfriend, Brian). I would use a little notebook and make a list of all the countries I visited and places I still wanted to visit. When I could not remember a few smaller islands such as Curacao, I became frustrated and spent the enter long haul flight trying to remember the islands we had visited. Brian had mentioned there has to be an app for that. When we could not find one, Brian, who is an app developer decided to make one for me for my personal use. We launched it in iOS only. When we started seeing downloads coming in, we knew we had something. So, we slowly began working on it to make it the app it is today. We currently have 1.2 million plus users and are growing.

“My travel industry experience did not really impact the development of the app. I was always into travel. My parents would always visit new places while I was growing up and that started my interest in travel. When I had the chance at 18 to go abroad with a friend, we went on a tour to London, Paris, Rome, and that’s when the travel bug bit me.”

The Visited app, she said, “has opened my eyes to new destinations especially with the inspiration section of the app. Gathering the hundreds of photos that are currently in the app, it made me realize how much more of the world there is to see. It has also motivated me to check off even more countries I want to visit.”

Prior to developing Visited, she said, “I would discover new places by browsing the web, travel brochures, reading magazines and even talking to other travelers while abroad. I kept track of my travels and things I wanted to see in a journal. I hate to write, so it was just a simple continuing list or a drawn map of all the places I have visited. I used to love to check off top destinations, lists found in magazines, blogs to see what percentage I have seen. This is what we hoped to capture in our app. We also added the top 10 countries to visit based on where you live to inspire people to travel to easy to reach/popular destinations.”

The app doesn’t replace guidebooks, she maintained. “It is a complimentary app to these books. Guidebooks offer a way into a destination with detailed explanations, and insightful information while we offer a macro approach to travel to simply tick off places you want   to travel or have already visited.

“As an analyst I always start by asking the questions of why and so what? Since Visited was designed for my personal use at the beginning, I wanted the app to answer the following questions:

  • How many countries have I seen?
  • Many of our copy-cat competitor apps show you what percentage of the world you have seen. However, what use is that? I do not want to visit every country in the world although for some that may be their goal. However, I wanted to know what percentage of the world I WANT to visit and what percentage I have seen. So, we have included the metric that answers those two questions.
  • We also added the top 10 locations for people to visit from their home country. This allows users to discover easily accessible countries. This was done to inspire additional travel. For example, if Canada is their home country, Canadians will find plenty to see in destinations easy to visit in Canada. This answers the question what sites can I visit in my home country?
  • We also have a rank of how you compare to other international travelers.
  • We now allow users to count the UK as 4 countries vs 1, so., we now have the options for you to select it as 4 or 1. This will help answer the question how I count the number of countries I have visited.

“The app is designed to show your progress and to inspire you to complete your journeys.”

As to who the Visited app can benefit, she says, “Anyone that likes to travel regardless of their style of travel. They can be a once-a-year family trip traveler, a backpacker or someone who has rented an RV to visit every state. They will all benefit from using our app to keep track of their trips and get inspired to visit new locations. We find that it is a good reminder of all the places that you have been to, to make yourself feel better especially during the coronavirus pandemic. That is why we added the list feature that lets you check of all the art museums, world wonders, and other lists to help keep up travel moral during the pandemic.”

Users can use the app to share their trips, by clicking an icon that pops up with all the different ways you can share – text, email, print, download as PDF, as well as via social media you have installed such as WhatsApp, Instagram.

Visited now has 1.2 plus million users. XWalk and Pay Off Debt are niche apps that were launched in the past 2 years; the number of users has been growing.

Travel apps have taken off with people getting back to traveling once again. According to Sensor Travel Apps 2021 report, U.S. Travel Apps surpassed 85 million downloads, growing 128%.

How to use Visited:

  • Download the app for free via App Store or Google Play Store
  • Sign up – with email – (email is required because this is a unique identifier to keep track of the data that the user has select that way if they change phones, they will always be able to get back to the selection).
  • Input where you live, countries visited and countries you wish to visit
  • The map will display the selections. You can then click on each country to see additional information such as regions and cities, and input notes for that destination.
  • If you click on cities (Paid Feature) you can select different cities by tapping on the country.
  • You can see on the) dashboard the top countries you visited, how you rank against other international travelers as well as the top 10 countries that are most visited from the country you live in.
  • You can swipe to see photos of places and add them to your wish or been list.
  • You can click on experiences and see the different lists such as capitals of the world, art museums or world wonders, etc. In addition, you can also see the percentage of the world you have visited. You can also tap on experiences (such as hiking, skiing) and can select all the countries you have been to and doing that activity. For example, if you select: Canada, the US, and Switzerland for skiing it will display the 3 countries where you skied. You can also select where you want to ski.

The app can be downloaded for free on iOS from the App Store and on Android from Google (due to copy-cats, the app is called Visited with the blue world icon and a yellow pin).

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Global Scavenger Hunt to Decide World Travel Championship Set for 2022 – Think You’re the World’s Best Traveler?

Team Lazy Monday, Eric & Kathryn Verwillow of California, who would go on to win second place in the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt, dash out of Petra, Jordan on to their next challenge © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 2022 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt™ is the 16th annual “world travel championship”—an around-the-world travel adventure competition that takes Teams of two on A Blind Date with The World™ that eventually crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers™.

Held every spring, with our 2022 event to take place over three-weeks starting on April 22nd through May 14th, 2022. Fifteen international Teams will travel from Vancouver, Canada to New York City—the long way around!

Event participation is open but limited to 15 teams of two from around the world.  Previous events have drawn savvy globe tottering travelers from: USA, Canada, China, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, England, Poland, Germany, Dubai & Barbados. With travelers having previously applied from over 60 nations.

The World’s Greatest Travelers™ trophy, along with an accompanying free trip around the world to defend their titles in the next event are at stake in this winner-take-all event.

The whole world is our game board. It’s a circumnavigation of the globe touching down in at least 10 countries, that may include in 2022: Peru, Colombia, Indonesia, Laos, Oman, Tanzania, Russia, Morocco and Italy. (Note: These are only potential countries as The Global Scavenger Hunt™ is indeed A Blind Date with The World™ for all its participants—they do not know which country they will be visiting next until they are given a 4-hour notice. So far, the event has visited 85 countries.

For additional information visit GlobalScavengerHunt.com or call GreatEscape Adventures (CST#2071053-40) at +1.310.281.7809.

See Global Scavenger Hunt: In the Scramble to be Crowned ‘World’s Best Travelers’ and more features on the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt at goingplacesfarandnear.com

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