Tag Archives: adventure travel

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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Austin & Active Adventures Cyber Weekend Sale Saves $500 on Trips

Dan Austin expects Yellowstone National Park itineraries to sell out early. Travelers can take advantage of $500 off trips during the tour company’s Cyber Weekend sale © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

BILLINGS, MT– Recently merged Active Adventures of Queenstown, New Zealand and Austin Adventures of Montana, USA have announced a holiday offer for the travel-starved this Black Friday through Cyber Monday.
 
From Friday, Nov. 26 through Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, this special offer saves travelers $500 (per person) on trips priced over $3,500 that are sold and operated exclusively by either travel brand. This booking offer for departures now through the 2022 season is valid through phone and/or online reservations. (Note: This offer excludes Australia hiking adventures and cannot be combined with other promotions, discounts or offers.)
 
In designing what has turned into Active Adventures and Austin Adventures’ biggest sale ever, Dan Austin, Founder of Austin Adventures, focused on these conditions:

  • Widespread hunger for the spiritual healing an adventure vacation in nature can bring,
  • The release of pent-up desire to travel again in the wake of the worldwide pandemic,
  • The general expectation that 2022 trips will fill quickly now that people are feeling better about travel domestically and abroad.

Due to earlier than usual interest and bookings, Austin expects the following itineraries to be best sellers:

Active Adventures programs anticipated to be highly popular and sell fast include:

Interested travelers can reserve a spot and take advantage of these special savings by calling 800-575-1540.
 
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, 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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Global Scavenger Hunt Returns for 2022; Applications to Join now Being Accepted

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

After a COVID-enforced two-year hiatus, the Global Scavenger Hunt is back in 2022 – an around-the-world travel adventure to crown the “World’s Greatest Travelers.”

Unlike the Amazing Race (which was inspired by the Global Scavenger Hunt), The Global Scavenger Hunt isn’t a race, but rather a contest to amass the most points by doing scavenges designed to immerse you into local culture, heritage and environment of the places you visit.

In the course of 23 days, the teams of two travel to 10 countries, not knowing your next destination until your team is given instructions to get to the airport. You have to figure out how to get around without the benefit of GPS, smartphones or computer. Paper maps are allowed, but asking locals for directions is preferred.

Trusting strangers in strange lands is the shibboleth, as the intrepid travelers circle the globe (which is why you can’t use your own GPS or smartphone). The event has touched down in 85 countries to date.

“We’re thrilled about the growing momentum for travel and are feeling so positive and excited about it, that we have scheduled the takeoff dates for our Spring 2022 event: Wheels up April 22 thru May 14,” writes Event Director Bill Chalmers, who calls himself the “ringmaster.”

“Our last event in 2019 was fully subscribed, and we are currently reserving spots for our 2022 adventure while holding on to our 2019 price structure on all deposits made before December 10th this year.”

(Full disclosure: I was on the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt.)

The event, which will be the 16th Global Scavengee Hunt, pits savvy international travelers against each other by taking them on A Blind Date with the World, visiting ten secret destinations without any prior preparation, and then have them unravel a constant blitz of highly authentic, participatory and challenging culturally-oriented scavenges along the way.

For example: meditating with monks, training elephants, taking flamenco lessons, cooking local dishes with local chefs, searching out Lost Cities, cracking sacred temple mysteries, joining in local celebrations and learning local languages enough to decipher their scavenger hunt clues. 

The Global Scavenger Hunt is limited to a small group of world travelers. All travelers are interviewed for suitability and single travelers are welcome to apply (you will be paired up for a team).

For additional information visit GlobalScavengerHunt.com, or contact GreatEscape Adventures Inc., at +1.310.281.7809.

See our coverage of our experience on the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt at goingplacesfarandnear.com

Global Scavenger Hunt: In the Scramble to be Crowned ‘World’s Best Travelers’ 

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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.

For more travel features, visit:

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