Tag Archives: adventure travel

Active Adventures and Austin Adventures Unite to Create Global Adventure Travel Company

The merger between Active Adventures of Queensland, New Zealand and Austin Adventures of Billings, Montana will enable more adventure travelers to benefit from a broader range of global destinations and experiences. Both companies specialize in off-the-beaten-path small group adventure trips delivered with a personal touch.

BILLINGS, MT — United by a powerful belief that travel creates inspiring and life-changing moments, Austin Adventures of Montana and Active Adventures of Queenstown, New Zealand have merged to provide a wider world of opportunities for global travelers. 

The merger will enable more adventure travelers to benefit from a broader range of global destinations and experiences. Both companies specialize in off-the-beaten-path small group adventure trips delivered with a personal touch.

“Travel today is not just about choosing a destination. Now more than ever, it’s about how we travel,” says Wendy van Lieshout, CEO of the new merged adventure travel company.

“It’s about precious time together – creating lifetime memories, being inspired, and connecting with the people and environment around us. It’s about feeling you can trust the company you are on that journey with that all the little details will be taken care of to create the best experience possible.”

“To expand our offerings to our loyal customers, it was critical we find a like-minded brand to join forces with. Just like us, Austin Adventures was born out of a deep passion for sharing authentic, curated, and inspirational adventure experiences with their guests.” 

What does the merger mean for travelers? More choice of destinations, dates, and trip styles:

  • 100+ adventure trips available across the globe
  • More departure dates available throughout the year
  • More life-changing experiences – to be able to share with family and friends
  • Two customer service teams in different time zones, providing extended hours to help adventurers find the best trip to suit them

Each brand brings its own specialties and experiences that form an expanded, unified collection of adventure opportunities across the globe. Now, Austin Adventures’ tours will be available for booking on Active Adventures’ website, adding adventures in the USA, Canada, and Central America for both brands, including specific family departures. Active Adventures’ unique hiking, biking, and kayaking experiences in New Zealand, South America, Europe, the Himalayas, and Africa will be available via the Austin Adventures’ website. 

Dan Austin, founder of Austin Adventures, stressed that the homework has been done to make sure the match was a natural fit and would create new opportunities for each company’s loyal guests. “We were founded in different countries, yet our companies have very similar stories. Each business is like a family – now we’ve just created one bigger family!”

Shared features:

  • Skilled local guides who have in-depth knowledge of every destination and years (if not decades) of experience
  • Small group sizes – average of 12-18 travelers per trip with two guides.
  • One-of-a-kind experiences, away from the crowds
  • All-inclusive, multi-day, fully guided, multi-activity adventures in the most stunning adventure travel destinations around the world
  • Authentic, personalized service – taking care of every detail, so guests can just relax and enjoy their vacation
  • Hand-picked accommodations in amazing locations
  • Great food and memorable meals are part of the adventure and experience

The two brands have come together as one global team across New Zealand and the USA, with operational bases around the globe.

“We share the same commitment to putting our guests at the heart of everything we do. We look forward to sharing many more special experiences with our guests and partners,” says van Lieshout.

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. 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 activities showcasing the best of each region. Each of their 100+ trips are crafted to perfection, encouraging 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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Autumn Fun in Moab: Zip Lining, River Rafting and Hummer Tours

Hummer tours are on Moab Adventure Center’s short list of how to enjoy autumn in the world’s red rock playground of Moab, Utah.

Moab Adventure Center, a division of Western River Expeditions, has a short list of how to enjoy autumn in the world’s red rock playground of Moab, Utah. This region becomes an artist’s dream world when fringed by the Colorado River’s yellow cottonwoods along the Colorado River and the golden aspens of the LaSal Mountains.
 
After the summer rush, daytime temperatures in September and October cool down to around the mid-70s to mid-80s. Fewer people around means more elbow room to be had on every adventure in not just one but two National Parks – Arches and Canyonlands.
 
Here are seven suggested adventures that continue through the end of November, with the exception of rafting which concludes the end of October.

  1. Fall River Rafting Adventures are full or half days, some served up with a BBQ lunch on a world-renowned stretch of the Colorado River, winding through scenes made famous by dozens of popular movies. https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-river-rafting
     
  2. Horseback Adventures come with cowboy-trained quarter horses. A professional wrangler leads the way on trails made famous by John Wayne himself.  Rides are three hours in the mornings and 90 minutes in the afternoons. https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-horseback-riding
     
  3. Hummer Tours are conducted in style and comfort aboard the world’s most serious 4×4. Spectacular backcountry opens up in the hands of professional guides who help visitors explore seldom-seen, awe-inspiring Moab overlooks. Tours are two, three and four hours including a sunset safari. https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-hummer-tours
     
  4. Zipline Tours are always a thrill, but how about skimming over sheer sandstone cliffs and canyons on Moab’s only zip line? The Raven’s Rim Moab zip line tour begins with a spine-tingling ride to the top of the cliff faces overlooking Moab, swooping like a bird of prey landing on each of six gaps.  https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-zip-line
     
  5. Hot Air Ballooning can be likened to riding a magical carpet for 3.5 hours over the astounding red rock landscape of Moab. It’s an unbelievable way to experience the sights of Moab in the quiet of the early morning. https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/hot-air-balloon-rides-moab-utah
     
  6. Arches National Park Tours are stunning, morning or evening. Arches National Park Tours showcase the more accessible of more than 2,000 arches, the highest concentration on the planet, after which the park is named. https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/arches-national-park-tours
     
  7. Mountain Bike Tours requests a commitment of 4.5 hours to experience why Moab has become the undisputed mecca for mountain bike enthusiasts from all over the world. Whether beginner or advanced the Moab Adventure Center offers professionally guided mountain biking tours on all of Moab’s classic rides.     https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-mountain-biking 

America’s red rock playground, Moab, Utah, home of two national parks that are coveted icons to explore in post-pandemic lockdowns, has experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity this summer.

This influx means that visitors should “nail down your accommodations and your preferred guided excursions as soon as possible and certainly before you arrive in Moab,” said Cort Wright, manager of the Moab Adventure Center. This is the go-to outfitter for securing pre-set backcountry and national park access and tours. Moab Adventure Center specializes in all there is to do in Moab and bundles assorted activities and lodging to maximize enjoyment of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park and the surrounding Colorado River country.
 
“Arrangements made in advance help deliver the peace and privacy you expect when surrounded by this natural playground,” Wright said. In fact, for early bird planners, Moab Adventure Center is offering excursions in 2022 at 2021 rates when booked this season. (www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-lodging)
 
The company has seen growing demand unleashed by the desire to return to nature and outdoor recreation. Compared to their record 2019 season, programs have seen phenomenal growth through the end of July 2021, including Moab Zipline Adventure, Arches National Park Sunset Discovery, The Ultimate Moab Canyoneering AdventureMoab Hummer Tours, and Full-Day Colorado River Rafting Adventure.

 “Making reservations well in advance of arrival helps assure that we can gear up to accommodate your specific adventure requests,” Wright said. “Now is the perfect time to plan for a fall escape to Moab. Everyone loves autumn in Moab. Just about every trip operates right through the end of October and all land-based tours through mid-November.” 
 
Moab Adventure Center is a division of Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, 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 please call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear, clothing, maps and souvenirs. Visit https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/.

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Adventure Travel Rebound: 9 Trip Ideas for 2021

Sacha Lodge, an ecolodge set on a 5,000-acre ecological reserve in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, is a haven for nature lovers, birdwatchers, scientists and adventure seekers.

Adventure travel is expected to recover about three to four years before mass travel – and grow more rapidly, according to a recent report by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) at the first-ever Adventure Travel Xpo,. In fact, tourism ministers and secretaries around the world have identified adventure and nature travel as leading segments in the travel industry’s restart.

Here are nine adventure travel vacation ideas for 2021. 
 
1. Ecuadorian Amazon Adventure: Sacha Lodge, an ecolodge set on a 5,000-acre ecological reserve in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, is a haven for nature lovers, birdwatchers, scientists and adventure seekers. It features luxury accommodations, first-class meals and expert native guides. Step into the heart of the animal and bird kingdom, home to eight species of monkeys, 50 species of bats, anteaters, three-toed sloths, ocelots, and birds of more colors than you could ever imagine. https://www.sachalodge.com/

2. 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 and a fully stocked kitchen has been strategically placed along a 190-mile route through some of Utah’s most scenic backcountry.  https://aquariustrail.com/

3. Explore National Parks by RV: Blacksford is a new recreational vehicle rental business with an all-inclusive pricing model that includes unlimited miles, no generator fees, bedding, bath and kitchen supplies, free Wi-Fi, free annual national park pass and 24-hour roadside assistance. Blacksford also curates road trip experiences by connecting travelers with vetted campsites, guides and other hand-picked attractions. https://www.blacksford.com/

4. Ride the Mighty Mississippi: Join Cycle of Life Adventures on a 2,057-mile bike tour from the humble headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota’s Lake Itasca to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans. Along the way, pass Minnesota’s many lakes, the metropolises of Minneapolis, St. Louis and Memphis, the rolling farmlands of Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, and the levees of Louisiana. And while the tour is southbound, it isn’t all downhill. Take on the entire 33-day trek or any one of four shorter stages. https://cycleoflifeadventures.com/

5. City Slicker Dude Ranch Retreat: At Red Reflet Ranch, a 28,000-acre guest ranch in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, guests stay in fully stocked private cabins and enjoy farm-to-table cuisine while participating in equestrian programs, cattle branding, hiking, mountain biking, ATVing, fly fishing, shooting, family-friendly activities and cooking classes. https://red-reflet-ranch.net/

6. Galapagos Glamping: Scalesia Galapagos Lodge is situated in the highlands of Isabela Island on the slopes of a volcano, about 20 minutes from the town of Puerto Villamil. The modern, luxurious, safari-style tent resort is in the middle of a magical forest with a spectacular view of the coast of Isabela Island, the Pacific Ocean, and other islands of the Galapagos archipelago dotting the horizon. http://www.scalesialodge.com/

7. Tiny House Basecamp: 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/

8. 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/

9. Yellowstone Adventure: A stay at The Wilson Hotel in Big Sky, Montana, offers the opportunity for outdoor adventures in the surrounding mountains, rivers and Yellowstone National Park. Go hiking through shaded forests and wildflower-filled alpine meadows, float or fly fish a clear, cool river, experience the adrenaline rush of lift-served mountain biking, or tour the natural wonders and wildlife of the world’s first national park. https://thewilsonhotel.com/

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Holiday River Expeditions Invites Adventurers Back to the River In Their Own Private Travel Pod

To take any lingering fears away from being out and about in Nature with family and friends together, Holiday River Expeditions has retooled its offerings by encouraging “pod” travel, or teaming up with a small group of friends and family who share pandemic protocol wave lengths.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – “Take me to the river” takes on whole new meaning this season as the lock-down weary seek Houdini-like strategies to free themselves from the shackles of the pandemic’s captivity.
 
Holiday River Expeditions for over 50 years has been freeing people’s souls on river rafting adventures and they hope that in 2021 the same opportunities abound.
 
To take any lingering fears away from being out and about in Nature with family and friends together, this trail-blazing company has retooled its offerings. Primarily, they have made it easier to travel in confidence by encouraging “pod” travel, or teaming up with a small group of friends and family who share pandemic protocol wave lengths.
 
When Holiday River Expeditions began running its 2020 trips it was quickly evident that adjustments needed to be made for guests to feel more secure joining a trip. One of those adjustments was allowing for and encouraging smaller, private trips. On most trips the company has lowered its required minimums in order to schedule an exclusive group trip. The smaller group minimums have allowed guests to travel with just their family members, or close friends with whom they’ve already created a pod or travel bubble.
 
The new 12-person minimum for private rafting charters in 2021 apply to:

Holiday River Expeditions has also changed minimum requirements for its mountain biking itineraries to just 8 people for a small group, private charter backcountry trip. This applies to: 

Considered by enthusiasts to be Utah’s ultimate multi-day mountain bike trip, The Maze, deep inside Canyonlands National Park, is naturally a small group trip with a maximum capacity of just 7 guests.  Private charters can be arranged on two available dates; May 18-21 and September 7-10, 2021.
 
For more details, please see https://www.bikeraft.com/what-your-2021-trip-will-look-like-2/ and https://www.bikeraft.com/custom-charter-trips/.
 
Other Covid related adjustments and protocols the company has adopted and will carry into 2021 include: 

  • a 4 to 1 guest to guide ratio (to increase social distancing while in a raft),
  • decreased capacity in vehicle transportation with masks required,
  • a mandatory “Statement of Good Health” a week before departure,
  • temperatures taken at meeting point,
  • meal service change from buffet to served, with guides wearing masks and gloves during preparation and service,
  • always-available sanitizer,
  • additional PSA’s to create a “culture of care” that addresses comfort zones. 

For more information, availability, reservations or a copy of the 2021 catalog call 800-624-6323, Email: Holiday@BikeRaft.com or log onto: http://www.bikeraft.com/.
 
Holiday River Expeditions began in 1966, when Dee Holladay and his wife Sue took the plunge to become river outfitters. Due to its respect for the lands, rivers, guests and employees, the family-owned-and-operated company has grown exponentially. 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 safely and securely. Holiday River Expeditions has a commitment to protect the environment through education and conservation, so uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.

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Western River Expeditions Re-Opens with Limited Availability on Previously Sold-Out 2020 Grand Canyon Rafting Trips

Western River Expeditions is offering limited availability on previously sold-out
2020 Grand Canyon rafting trips.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – With the official announcement from Grand Canyon authorities that river operations will again resume on June 14, many are looking to get a spot on an epic outdoor adventure this summer.
 
Snagging seats on 2020 Grand Canyon rafting trips was impossible just a few months ago. However, pandemic-driven cancellations by international travelers has opened up seats for some of Western River Expeditions’ 2020 departures.
 
“Select departures June through September of 2020 now have limited availability,” said Brandon Lake, company CMO. “Normally last-minute inquiries would be directed to 2021 or even 2022 selections. This is an incredible opportunity for those who are making last-minute plans and feel like an outdoor adventure may be the best choice for a summer adventure this year.”
 
Vacations that embrace fresh air and the healing powers of nature can work wonders on pandemic-driven nerves. “On these iconic expeditions our guests immerse themselves in a remote world that provides a much-needed escape from civilization,” explains Lake. “A trip through the Grand Canyon becomes not only a celebration of the river and its untamed surroundings, but of life, providing a way to reconnect and refresh.”
 
This is Western River Expeditions’ promise for a true trip-of-a-lifetime far removed from the stress and challenges of today’s world. The more time spent on the river, the more the canyon reveals its sublime mysteries.
 
Western River Expeditions’ 6 or 7 Day Grand Canyon Rafting Vacation carries guests 188 river miles in custom-designed J-Rig rafts, maneuvering Class III-V rapids and each day descending deeper into geologic time, before a helicopter transports them back to the rim.
 
Their Grand Canyon 4 Day River & Ranch Tour and Grand Canyon 3 Day Lower Canyon Trip brings visitors down 100 river miles over Class II and III rapids. But first there’s a scenic helicopter ride to access the put-in. Guests on the 4-Day tour enjoy a pre-excursion overnight at Bar 10 Ranch on the North Rim of the Canyon, complete with horseback riding and optional ATV adventures.
 
Western River Expeditions for nearly 60 years has operated five-star-quality river rafting vacations. This year they are also applying their decades of professionalism to pandemic-related challenges. (For more details on Western River Expeditions’ protocols see https://www.westernriver.com/covid-19.)
 
Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is one of the largest licensed outfitters in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/).
 
Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah and Idaho rafting, and international multi-sport trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the “Best of State” award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for the past sixteen consecutive years (2004-2019). 

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2020/2021 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866-904-1160 (Local: 801-942-6669) or visit http://www.westernriver.com/.

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Been there. Done that. World’s Greatest Travelers List of 8 Epic Travel Adventures for 2020 (Also Known as: The 2020 Travel Bucket List for the Jaded Traveler)

Discovering a village on stilts on Inle Lake, Myanmar during the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt. Where will they go this year? © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Bill Chalmers & Pamela L. Chalmers, GreatEscape Adventures


Los Angeles, USA – Getting a kick taking an adventure used to be easy: visit South Atlantic’s remote St Helena, scuba dive Mexico’s underground river Cenote, hike up Mount Etna. Been there. 

Nowadays, travelers looking for the next great adventure rush must: traverse Karakorum Highway, spend a night at Everest Base Camp, or swim with jellyfish in Palau. Done that.

But for those of us that: have zip-lined across the Grand Canyon, hiked Tasmania’s Overland Track, and are frankly sick of sand in every orifice after Burning Man. What’s next? 

You may be among the World’s Most Interesting People, but for jaded travelers who have supposedly done everything and have nothing left on their Bucket Lists, here’s your what’s next eight over-the-top adventures from The World’s Greatest Travelers.

1. A long way to go to maybe be eaten alive! But, head to Cape Town, South Africa and go cage diving with Great White sharks. Come face-to-face with the world’s meanest badest coldest predator along the shark-abundant shores of South Africa. You will be sunk in a cage and given a poker stick for protection. Chances are, you’ll be okay. You’ll probably even see whales and dolphins too—being the smart mammals, they are always interested in watching stupid human tricks. 

2. Take A Blind Date with the World – really! – by joining the 2020 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt. This real-life Amazing Race-like event is for savvy globetrotters who want to test their travel IQ in a competitive setting where they will circumnavigate the globe in 23-days visiting ten countries as a participant in the annual travel adventure competition that crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers. Not for anal Type-A planners though, because you won’t know which country you are going to until you actually get to the airport! It’s the ultimate magical mystery tour. Their 2020 event takes place between April 17 and May 9, 2020. Applications now being accepted. I dare you…

3. Bike from sea-to-sea across a country. No, not across Canada (9,525+ km), but the more manageable country of Nicaragua that is only 568 km (352 miles) from the Pacific Ocean’s San Juan del Sur to Pearl Lagoon on the Atlantic Ocean side. The amazing 13-day mountain bike expedition will take you to volcanos, colonial towns, national parks, rainforests and lakes, as you share the road with trucks, cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. Do it now before the Chinese slice the nation in two ala Panama!

4. For the culinary daredevil in you, while you are in the geographic neighborhood, take in the wild-west of food: a pop-up jungle-to-table extravaganza in the Bolivian Amazon basin along the Beni River. Once every few years, local “back to nature” chefs converge to prepare exotic semi-illegal outside the villages dishes like: crocodile fillets in a coca leaf broth, grilled giant tapir meat served with a cocktail of fermented kecho fruit and cacao beans with a spicy chili pepper twist, paiche (a really big fish—a carp really) served with figs and spicy-sweet beetle larvae. They might also conjure up a purplish fungue—that may or may not have hallucinogenic effects, along with steamed giant river turtles. Caiman sushi anyone?

5. I took this serendipity challenge last year and ended up in Madagascar—pre-plague outbreak. Take the 24-Hours to Anywhere Challenge: It is our belief that with today’s growth of regional air carriers that you can be anywhere in the world in 24-hours. So, pick a destination furthest away geographically from you and attempt to get there in 24-hours. On a bet, I recently went from the San Francisco Bay Area to Antananarivo, Madagascar—17,599 kilometers away! SFO to IST (12:55 hours), then IST-ADD (5:30 hours), followed by a flight between Ethiopia (ADD) and Madagascar (TNR) (4:50 hours). I got to Madagascar in 23 hours and 41 minutes—but I did do it on the night we changed clocks! Tip: Bring a really good multi-media playlist.

6. We humans have gazed in wonder at the night skies before words hit paper; and you don’t have to be an astrophysicist to wonder what’s up. Nigh-sky travel (aka astrotourism) are great adventures to take. We suggest two spellbinding panoramas to be found: 1) Head to the Canary Islands international observatory at Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma for some sensational light pollution-free heavenly viewing. Or 2) for some really deep dark-sky space stargazing at a gold-certified Dark Sky Reserve, head to NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia where you can sleep out under the cloudless skies of Africa for a look at infinity…or at least some amazing celestial sights. 

7. With age comes experience, and over the years we have suggested how to get higher highs: a lost weekend at an infamous Vegas dive bar, visiting a Bolivian pop-up cocaine bar, a Laotian opium den and how best to enjoy Peruvian ayahuasca. For this year’s vibe adventure, forget BC Bud, Emerald Triangle Kush and Colorado Wedding Cake, take a Jamaican Ganja tour. Turned up bright, the tour will take you and other like-minded and bud-tended friends to Rastafariland, with highlights including: Nine Mile, the boyhood home and final resting place of reggae superstar Bob Marley; Ocho Rios to relax and hike in nature; along with several plantations…aka ganja farms. Pick up is around noon, munchies and rum included, but hotel drop off time is vague. 

8. Give peace a chance: start travel podcasting and make some faux press credentials, then head to Damascus and interview the loneliest man in the world: Syria’s Minister of Tourism. From 8 million tourists and 40% growth in 2011, to the nasty civil and chemical war, mostly, behind us, Syria is open for business again. You can visit one or two restaurants still open and err, ruins. Their catch phrase: “Syria … come see for yourself“. We know the UN Weapons Inspectors did. A few travel-related glitches though: all legal border crossings are closed, no FAA-approved commercial flights into or out of Damascus, those beach-side cabanas along the Mediterranean beaches are now refugee tents, and crime might be down, but war crimes are up. Sure, it is dark tourism at its finest, but so too is visiting Venice and Barcelona these days. We double-dare you!

As for us, we’ll be going on the around-the-world event, The Global Scavenger Hunt…better destinations, better experiences and better food. Got any novel adventures to share?

The title of The World’s Greatest Travelers and free trip around the world to defend their titles in the 2021 event await the travelers worthy enough to win the 16th edition of the world travel championship. The date for the 23-day 2020 Global Scavenger Hunt is April 17-May 9, 2020. Event participation is open but limited; the $25,000 per team entry fee includes all international airfare, First Class hotels, 40% of meals, and special event travel gear. All travelers are interviewed for suitability and single travelers are welcome to apply. For additional information visit GlobalScavengerHunt.com, or contact GreatEscape Adventures Inc. at 310-281-7809. 

(See full coverage of the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt at goingplacesfarandnear.com)

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Western River Expeditions Offers Tips on Adventure Travel to Costa Rica

In the heart of the Costa Rica jungle sits the Pacuare Lodge, a remote rainforest paradise. Western River Expeditions guests raft in with a small group and, once at the lodge, find themselves surrounded mostly by dense jungle and the sounds of the nearby river.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – When it comes to a vacation in Costa Rica, the experts advise that “you gotta know the territory.” But how can you if you’ve never been there?
 
Follow the tips of Western River Expeditions, soon to enter its 59th season of award-winning adventure travel. Here are a few of many questions this company suggests you ponder before booking a Western River Expeditions’ 9-Day Costa Rica Vacation Package

When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?  This is the question that everyone asks and the answer is, “It depends!” Mid-December to April can often be drier, but due to this, and the fact that it’s a popular time to get away to warm destinations, the crowds can be greater. During May through the first half of December, daily rainfall is more common. It’s a period the locals refer to as “the green season.” During this period, you might experience different wildlife and fewer crowds. Generally, the rain doesn’t last all day and guests find periods of lovely sunshine each day as well.
 
But here’s a little secret! In some years, visitors reap the rewards of Costa Rica’s “Little Summer” (Veranillo de San Juan or Little Summer of Saint John) in July. Because of a little-known weather phenomenon that in-the-know wildlife lovers are keen to, July is one of the best times to visit Costa Rica. The secret is a drier break after the rains of May and June that yield flowering trees and fruits, which attract a lot of wildlife.
 
Do you appreciate crowds or are you looking for something more secluded?  The time of travel will affect the crowd levels in popular destinations such as Arenal and Manuel Antonio, but Western River Expeditions has built in to its Costa Rica itinerary a few days of blissful seclusion. In the heart of the jungle sits the Pacuare Lodge, a remote rainforest paradise. Guests raft in with a small group and, once at the lodge, participants find themselves surrounded mostly by dense jungle and the sounds of the nearby river. A hike along centuries-old trails to the top of the Talamanca Mountains brings a visit with the Cabécar Indians, the largest indigenous group in Costa Rica. This is only one of the eight lodge-based activities to choose from. Extending a stay at the lodge (optional) gives visitors even more time to participate in the various experiences offered.
 
When is the best time to go rafting in Costa Rica?  The Pacuare River (rated among the top 10 rivers in the world by National Geographic) offers 38 Class II-IV rapids over 16 river miles with the caveat that the excitement varies by how high and fast the river is flowing. During the dry season of January to April whitewater rafting in Costa Rica is more sanguine than during the misting and green months of May through December. That said, there can always be unpredictable rainfall any time of year that raises the water levels – and the excitement levels.
 
Is birding a passion?  From a bird watching tour at the Pacaure Lodge, to the Mistico Hanging Bridges tour which boasts over 200 species of birds, to the Manuel Antonio National Park which is home to more than 180 different species visitors will find plenty of rare picture taking opportunities.
 
Interested in surfing?  Experienced surfers appreciate the bigger waves of September and October on the Pacific Coast. Adrenaline-seeking travelers wanting to take optional surfing lessons while in Manuel Antonio (highly recommended), might appreciate the somewhat tamer surf during the remainder of the year.
 
Do you love authentic wildlife viewing?  You’ll likely find wildlife in Costa Rica no matter when you choose to visit. One of the top destinations on the Western River 9-Day Costa Rica itinerary is the Manuel Antonio National Park. Home to a variety of mammal species, it is a thrill to be personally greeted by multiple curious Mono Titi monkeys on a day tour.

 
“Our guests experience Costa Rica by the activities they choose, such as river rafting, zip lining over the rainforest canopy and a 3km walk over 15 bridges suspended from the ground to the treetops. But guests are also taken to the base of the Arenal Volcano where they can soak in therapeutic cascading hot springs, through the sights and sounds of primitive rainforests and jungles as well as to Manuel Antonio National Park (named one of the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks by Forbes). This park is home to 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. Here on the Pacific Ocean are the sandy beaches and gentle surf that fulfill the requirements of a great vacation,” said company CMO Brandon Lake. 
 
The basic rate is from $3,705 per person, double inclusive of transfers, hotels, activities, 11 meals and most activities. Western River Expeditions’ core Costa Rica program can be arranged for just two people or for up to 25 and can be customized by lengthening or shortening the trip and by adding or deleting activities. Year-round departures on a space-available basis can be tailored to travelers’ schedules.
 
The tour utilizes four distinguished properties selected for panache, location and comfort. In the gateway city of San Jose is Hotel Grano de Oro. At Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort guests enjoy a swim-up bar, local and international gourmet cuisine and they are positioned to explore the geology of Arenal Volcano and nearby hot springs. While on the Pacuare River guests enjoy Pacuare Lodge (National Geographic Traveler World’s Best Ecolodge). Tulemar Bungalows (a Travel + Leisure World’s Best award winner) in Manuel Antonio National Park offers and ocean and beaches.
 
For vacation package details please see https://www.westernriver.com/costa-rica-vacation-package.
 
For more on how Costa Rica weather varies from season to season, see https://www.westernriver.com/costa-rica-vacation-package/weather.
 
To request a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2020 catalog and for questions, availability and reservations, call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit the award-winning website at: http://www.westernriver.com/.
 
Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/).
 
Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah and Idaho rafting, and international multi-sport trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the “Best of State” award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for sixteen consecutive years.

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Travelers to Moab, Utah, Encouraged To Take Responsibility For Protecting Environment

Moab Adventure Center, a major tour company, addresses the ying and the yang of the popularity of Moab, Utah for travelers.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT– Taking ownership – and responsibility – for a pet, a cause or even a place comes after people feel vested in the pet, cause or place. Take a place called Moab, Utah, for example. Every year this region known as the red rock playground is a joyful discovery for thousands of first-time visitors. But as the word continues to spread about this breathtaking destination, a new set of challenges arises.
 
On one hand, it’s a blessing to local businesses and economy that this remote region of Utah along the Colorado River is so popular. On the other hand, with every sound of an ATV and even with the quieter pace of a mountain bike or step of a hiking boot comes the potential to erode the playground’s fragile infrastructure.
 
“When our guests depart the river after a rafting adventure, or hike out of a canyon after canyoneering or step off a horse after horseback riding, or float over all of this beauty in a hot air balloon, they’re forever changed. And they ‘get’ why we ask them to become stewards of this landscape,” says Brian Merrill, CEO of Western River Expeditions that guides guests through the rapids of the Colorado River. A sister company, Moab Adventure Center, arranges activities for people staying for a day or a week in or around Moab.
 
Merrill’s team is taking a lead in inviting its guests to “Do It Like a Local.” This is the Moab Area Travel Council’s engaging video campaign showing guests how to vest themselves in Moab’s future by being respectful visitors. See https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiCq99E3e2EQkpbJIq0pnAw
 
“I don’t think we have a problem of too many people, but we do have challenges on how to disperse them at certain times of day and in busy months,” says Merrill. “Our challenge is to showcase the region in the spring, fall and winter. The beauty doesn’t go away – but the crowds do.”
 
The region is expanding infrastructure to keep up with visitor demand. In 2020 an additional 500 lodging rooms are scheduled to come on line. However, since this infrastructure was approved, both city and county have created moratoriums on new nightly rentals, including turning a spare bedroom into an Airbnb. To help disperse visitors, regional and state marketing efforts are trying to divert people to a myriad of iconic sites beyond the bucket list Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
 
“Some long-time locals want the town to go to sleep again. Others value the fact that things are going well here. Fairly recent transplants bring along a not-in-my-backyard attitude and want to shut the door behind them. I understand all these sentiments,” Merrill says. He notes that Western River Expeditions does have approval for occupancy in a building that will house up to 64 employees, helping the company retain valuable seasonal employees and reducing the demand on local housing.
 
Jason Taylor is operations manager for the company’s Utah and Moab-specific programs. His messaging to Western River Expeditions and Moab Adventure Center guests echoes that of the Moab Area Travel Council. Additional sustainable practices include giving guests who are on multi-day outings steel vacuum water bottles they can take home with them, thus eliminating plastic. Recycling and using energy-efficient tools are imbedded into the protocol, as is the importance of hiring locally.
 
In addition, a major part of what Western River Expeditions and Moab Adventure Center are doing, according to Brandon Lake, VP and Co-Founder of Moab Adventure Center, is to help guests understand how to create a low impact during their guided exploration of the area. “Guides who can teach guests how and where to hike, ride and drive in our fragile landscapes can make a major difference in reducing impact over those who explore these same areas on their own without understanding the damage they may be doing.” This is one of the many benefits to choosing a local tour company to help you experience Moab.
 
For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2020 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669) or visit the website at: http://www.westernriver.com/.
 
Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon.
 
Moab Adventure Center (http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/) is a division of Western River Expeditions and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT. Located at 225 South Main St., Moab, UT the center is a one-stop resource for a myriad of outdoor adventures. It also boasts a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear, clothing and souvenirs. For information and tour reservations call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163.

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Poseidon Expeditions Offers Close Encounters with Reindeer and Polar Bear On High Arctic Expedition Cruises

Poseidon Expeditions, specialists in Arctic cruises, offers opportunities aplenty in the high Arctic wilderness between Norway and the North Pole to see reindeer as well as the King of the North, polar bear in their natural habitat. On Arctic Wildlife Safari and Bet of Svalbard cruises, guests can observe and learn such fun facts about these animals.

PROVIDENCE, RI– In an ancient ice age the four-legged critter we associate with Santa’s sleigh lived as far south as Tennessee. Whether those reindeer picked up a southern drawl is still up for debate.

What’s non-debatable is that Rangifer tarandus or reindeer (aka caribou), meaning snow shoveler, was so named by the Mi’kmaq, who were among original inhabitants of the Atlantic Provinces of Northern Canada.

The specialists in Arctic cruises, Poseidon Expeditions, offers opportunities aplenty in the high Arctic wilderness between Norway and the North Pole to see reindeer as well as the King of the North, polar bear in their natural habitat. On Arctic Wildlife Safari and Best of Svalbard cruises, guests can observe and learn such fun facts about these animals as… 

A reindeer’s hide is covered with hair follicles that are hollow and that trap air that provides insulation.

Their noses warm the air before it reaches the lungs.

In the winter, facial hair grows long to the mouth, protecting muzzles while grazing in snow.

Its body temperature adjusts to just above freezing to avoid losing body heat in extremely cold conditions.

Both male and female reindeer sport antlers.

They vocalize through air sacs in their neck, males warning other males away from girlfriends and females communicating with their young.

The knees of one subspecies of reindeer make a clicking noise while walking, sounds that allow a herd to stay together in a blizzard. 

And about the polar bear? 

Adult females often weigh between 500 and 600 pounds; males are double these weights. Cubs enter the world at around one pound, females reaching full weight at age five and males by age 10.

Ask anyone what color a polar bear is and they’ll reply “white” with total confidence. The fact is, their fur is actually transparent and holds no color. It only appears white because it reflects visible light. The transparent fur also traps in the sun’s heat to help keep the polar bear warm.

When polar bears swim, they use their large front paws to propel themselves through the water and their back legs to steer. They can actually move pretty fast at approximately at 6 mph, closing their nostrils when under water.

They can go days, even weeks, without eating. When they reach a week or more without food, their metabolism slows down and goes into starvation mode until the next meal.

Polar bear cubs learn to freeze or “play dead” while momma bear hunts for food. If they’re caught moving, mom will discipline them, with a smack to the head.

Two-thirds of polar bears could disappear by 2050 due to disappearing hunting grounds, or sea ice. They are now compelled to swim such long distances that they are drowning from exhaustion.

While cruising around seldom-visited, natural preserves of the far north, guests may also experience polar wildlife from the perspective of a kayak. Imagine paddling with bearded seals, large and peaceful creatures that are often encountered at close range reposing on ice floes in sheltered bays and fjords. Harbor seals and ringed seals can be seen from a kayak as well. Sometimes massive walrus can also be seen.
 
Guests may also access beluga whales via kayak. Paddling with these gentle and intelligent creatures in the wild — hearing their breaths and feeling their inquisitive gaze upon you — is a life-changing experience, especially if it happens to be a pod of over a hundred beluga whales swimming in long procession past and underneath the kayaks.

Poseidon Expedition’s sea kayak guides are well versed in the wildlife viewing and protection protocols developed by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO).

The rates for 2020 Arctic Wildlife SafariWest Spitsbergen & Polar Ice Edge, are discounted: May 31-June 8, June 7-June 15, June 14-June 22 from $5,895 to $5,305; June 21-July 1 from $7,295 to $6,566 and June 30-July 11 from $8,095 to $7,286. On the June 7 departure guests receive a bonus, the opportunity to mingle with a polar bear expert from the Cincinnati Zoo.

Best of SvalbardSvalbard & Polar Ice Edge cruises offers three departures in June and July 2020. Children under age 12 travel at half the regular rate when sharing a double-occupancy cabin with an adult. Per person double rates are from $10,095 double in a main deck suite.

For inquires and reservations in North America, or to request a catalog, contact the company’s Providence, RI, sales and reservation office at www,poseidonexpeditions.com or call 347-801-2610, or contact your travel agent.
 
With offices in the US, UK, Germany, Russia, Cyprus and China, Poseidon Expeditions is a leading provider of polar expeditions in the cruise industry. The company is committed to safe and environmentally responsible polar travel. It is a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).

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Special Holiday Offer by African Travel, Inc. Showcases an Authentic, Luxurious Experience in South Africa

Stay at the renowned Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, famed for its warmth, vibrancy and legendary hospitality. Huge viewing decks are the ideal setting to relax while spotting game, birdwatching, or cooling off in the pools.

For travelers seeking spectacular holiday specials,  travelers who book African Travel, Inc.’s Southern Explorer safari by December 31, 2019– for travel anytime in 2020– will receive $1000 per couple in savings. 

The Southern Explorer adventure is one of African Travel, Inc.’s most popular safaris, 10 days from $9695 per person. Travelers experience the vibrant culture, scenic beauty and natural wonders of Southern Africa. Spectacular Cape Town and Kruger National Park are artfully combined with the majesty of Victoria Falls. 

While in Cape Town, explore the breathtaking scenery of the Cape of Good Hope and the surrounding winelands on privately guided sightseeing tours. Stay at the luxurious Cape Cadogan–a stately double-storied Georgia and Victorian building dating back to the beginning of the 19th century.

Travel to the renowned Krugar Private Reserve and enjoy twice daily game drives in search of Africa’s “Big Five” the leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo and the mighty lion. Stay at the renowned Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, famed for its warmth, vibrancy and legendary hospitality. Each of the spacious, air-conditioned thatched suites features en-suite bathrooms with al-fresco glass-fronted indoor showers, affording wonderful views of the bush. Huge viewing decks are the ideal setting to relax while spotting game, birdwatching, or cooling off in the pools.

The next stop is Zimbabwe, where rainforests surround the thundering Victoria Falls. Take a helicopter flight, and be awed by the sheer size and grandeur from above. A stay at The Victoria Falls Hotel, popularly known as “the grand old lady of The Falls,” takes guests back in time to the early 1900s. The Edwardian-style hotel is surrounded by carefully tended tropical gardens, lily ponds and century-old shade trees.

End  the experience  with the golden glow of an African sunset meandering along the Zambezi River on a sundowner dinner cruise (be ready with binoculars to zoom in on the hippos cavorting in the river).

To book a safari, contact your local Travel Advisor, or African Travel, Inc. at (800) 421-8907, or visit www.africantravelinc.com

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