Adventure Collection’s Top New Trips for 2011
Coming off a robustly rebounding year, the member companies of the Adventure Collection are excited about the prospects for adventure travel in 2011. Combining the best principles and practices of sustainable tourism with passionate curiosity about places and cultures, Adventure Collection trips offer life-enriching pathways to destinations around the globe and close to home.
As industry path-breakers and pace-setters, the Adventure Collection companies continue to forge exciting trips that visit new destinations or utilize new activities with conscientiousness and care, always with the goal of offering travelers life-changing experiences. I asked each company to choose one new trip they are especially excited about for 2011. From yeti searching in a remote region of Bhutan to gorilla tracking in Rwanda, biking in Crete to rafting in Costa Rica, mushing in Alaska to ziplining in Canada’s high country, here are ten of their adrenaline-pumping choices.
Backroads: The Mythical Magic of Crete
Few Mediterranean destinations can match Crete for its ideal blend of untouched beauty, rich history, tranquil villages, sun-drenched beaches and warm, friendly people. One of Europe’s lesser-known gems, it’s a stunning island crisscrossed with quiet roads and steeped in ancient history. Best of all, this unique new trip brings this spectacular island within reach of all.
This singular trip design utilizes world-class van support to bring guests to the best rides on the island — whisking them out of town and up the hills for some coasters back to the seacoast. Or they can choose the challenge of hearty climbs.
Travelers will revel at the incredible concentration of history—Minoan walls dating back thousands of years, Greek amphitheaters, Venetian ports and Turkish mosques.
Backroads’ two inviting hotels are nestled in the historic seaside towns of Rethymno and Chaniá. Stroll out and explore the narrow streets, lively cafés and colorful harbor — there’s plenty of time to experience it all. Plus guests will savor vibrant Mediterranean cuisine in the culinary cradle of Greece.
Pristine beaches, deep mountain gorges, abundant orchards of citrus, apricots, figs and pomegranate — and 300 days of sunfall per year. Let yourself fall under the spectacular spell of Crete!
The Mythical Magic of Crete: 6 days/5 nights; multiple departures in April, May, September and October; from $3598.
Bushtracks: 10-Day Alaska Family Adventure
What images come to mind when you think of Alaska? To many the “last frontier” state is home to our most treasured images of a vanishing North American natural world: brown bears gulping down salmon in icy rivers, whales leaping out of the water, and moose and caribou with frost-covered antlers sparkling in the sun. Alaska’s fabled activities beckon the adventurer in all of us: from mushing a team of sled dogs, to listening to the roar of a calving glacier or kayaking in pristine waters, it’s all here.
This new Bushtracks Family Adventure was crafted to capture all this iconic imagery, and, remarkably, includes all of them so that the Alaska you’ve dreamed of becomes the Alaska you and your family will discover together. Designed with private air travel to cover long distances, this trip also includes the Bushtracks Ranger Program to help your kids and teens get the most from their experiences. From late bedtimes under the midnight sun to fantastic wildlife encounters, historical and cultural discoveries, and opportunities for adrenaline-charged activities, there is something for everyone on this Alaska adventure.
10-Day Alaska Family Adventure: July 12-21; $6,995 adult, $5,595 child (11 years and younger).
Canadian Mountain Holidays: Four-Night High-Flying Adventure
Looking for an adrenalin rush? Our guides have combined some introductory mountaineering elements with the Bobbie Burns via ferrata and our ziplining adventure trail. The program is not set in stone so you may find yourself summitting a craggy peak you hadn’t believed accessible. Or roped up together with fellow travellers, traversing a snow-covered glacier. Maybe you will rappel over sheer rock-face. No matter what, you will push yourself beyond your comfort zone and discover a deep sense of pride and achievement. This is your chance to gulp – and experience an adventure like no other.
Four-Night High-Flying Adventure: July 8-11; from $3,260 CAD
Geographic Expeditions: In Search of Bhutan’s Yeti: The Merak Sakteng Trek
The yeti (or migoi, as it is called in Bhutan) is extremely, perhaps vanishingly, rare. But the idea of the migoi packs a lot of interesting cultural heft. In fact, the migoi is important enough to the Bhutanese that way out in Bhutan’s far east, they’ve created a national park dedicated to its protection. Our new 18-day tour and trek (which staffer Michael Steigerwald was recently one of the first outsiders to make) gives us an ultra-lovely look at the quintessentially Bhutanese cultural and scenic treasures of Punakha, Phobjikha, and Bumthang, and takes us into far, far eastern Bhutan for a typically top-notch, quintessentially GeoEx trek in the new park—which, in addition to being prime migoi habitat, is also a beautiful and spectacularly rare Himalayan experience.
In Search of Bhutan’s Yeti: The Merak Sakteng Trek: April 11-28, Oct. 24-Nov. 10; from $5,450.
Lindblad: An Island Odyssey — Azores, Madeira & Channel Isles
Why do we love islands and island life? Immerse yourself in the theme of island exploration and make plenty of discoveries of your own: secluded archipelagos and virgin wildness, world-class whale-watching, springtime gardens in bloom, birds and ancient lore. We explore both the natural and cultural aspects of these islands on our new expedition, An Island Odyssey: Azores, Madeira & Channel Isles. And we’ll do it at the absolutely best time of year, when exquisite gardens are at the height of springtime bloom. We’ve set aside three days for the Azores, a great place to whale watch, and we arrive in May at the height of activity. One of our Global Luminaries, Scientist Greg Marshall, has been to the Azores previously to conduct whale research using the Crittercam he developed, funded in part by National Geographic, and he will share his research.
Take advantage of time at sea with Lindblad’s new Skills@Sea Learning Adventure Program, offering workshops on maritime navigation, photography with a National Geographic Photographer, cooking, wellness and more. For the first time, we’ll be offering the services of a Miraval Specialist, joining us from the top-rated Miraval Resort, focused on healthy and sustainable living. And our other extraordinary guest, Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, is a renowned scientist who will speak on how we can improve our brains’ function as we age.
This singular island expedition aboard the renowned 148-guest National Geographic Explorer will take you through some of the most beautiful places in the world at the best time to be there.
An Island Odyssey: Azores, Madeira & Channel Isles; May 2-17; from $10,990.
Micato: Rwanda Gorilla Tracking Adventure
In 2011, we’re excited to unveil our Rwanda Gorilla Tracking Adventure — one of the most captivating and unforgettable wildlife experiences imaginable. Following a night in Kigali, with time to explore this bustling city’s museums and craft centre, we drive to the Parc National des Volcans and settle into our luxurious lodge in the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes. We spend the next two days tracking two families of mountain gorillas, hoping for the opportunity to watch their fascinating daily rituals. During our time here we also visit a group of conservationists and perhaps explore a local food market. This trip can be linked with any of our scheduled programs departing throughout the year or incorporated into a bespoke itinerary with departure dates that suit your journey.
Per person rates for this five-day journey, based on double occupancy, are $5,355 in April and May; $5,955 January through March, June through July 15, and November through December 14; and $7,282 from July 16 through October and December 15-31.
For more information about this trip, call Micato at 1-800-MICATO1; for general information about Micato and its other trips, visit the Micato web site.
Natural Habitat Adventures: The Great Tanzania Migration Safari
On the East African savannah, the pulse beat of the planet reverberates. Our Land Cruiser is a tiny island in a vast, grassy sea, its idle drowned out by waves of pounding hooves. Like endless, shaking thunder, wildebeests and zebra flow in a living current across the Serengeti. Lions and cheetahs follow in their wake, finely tuned hunting machines ready to stalk and take down the weakest members of the herds. In the center of the world’s greatest ancient migration route, we are subsumed in a primal spectacle as the drama of predator and prey unfolds before us. Our adventure includes stays at Natural Habitat Private Luxury Mobile Tented Camps for unparalleled seclusion and comfort.
The Great Tanzania Migration Safari: Jan. 16-23, Feb. 3-10, March 13-20, Dec. 21-28; $6,295
NOLS: Alaska Backpacking and Packrafting
The classroom for this expedition is the mountains, streams, rivers and lakes in South Central Alaska. Within this geographic region are the Talkeetna Mountains, the Alaska Range and the Wrangell St Elias mountains. These mountains, rivers, streams and lakes are remote and wild. It’s possible for you to see Dall sheep, moose, caribou, wolves, wolverines, black and grizzly bear, and lynx as you travel. You’ll learn how to backpack through these rugged mountains and you’ll learn how to paddle a pack raft when your route is better accomplished by paddling a river, stream or lake. You’ll learn the skills you need to paddle and backpack on your own long after your course has ended.
Alaska Backpacking and Packrafting: June 24-July 23; $4,770.
OARS: Costa Rica: Pura Vida
What, in the vicinity of paradise, could be a finer juxtaposition than mixing the pulse-quickening of a world-class wild river with the quiet awe of one of the greatest natural phenomena on earth: the annual turtle nesting on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica? Join us for a week-long escape to raft the best river in Latin America, explore the unique wildlife of the rainforest canopy, and witness the million-turtle nesting miracle in Tortuguero National Park. Experience the best of super natural Costa Rica on a multi-sport tropical adventure based out of two of Central America’s most legendary eco-lodges.
Costa Rica: Pura Vida: six days, five nights; departures June 25, July 9, July 23, Aug. 13, and Aug. 20; from $1899.
Off the Beaten Path: Peru Family Adventure
Active adventure mixes with personal connection on this great family journey! Your introduction to Peruvian culture and Inca history begins with a fascinating day in Cusco, and gets wilder from there, with a whitewater float in the Sacred Valley, and two nights in a comfortable camp hosted by a rural village. One morning you fix breakfast for village schoolchildren, then it’s back to your other adventures as you bike, zip-line, visit a potter, plant a tree, and tour the very mysterious Machu Picchu. The journey finishes out with desert sand-boarding, dune buggies, and a flight over the baffling Nazca Lines.
Peru Family Adventure: June 4-11, July 2-9, Aug. 6-13, Sept. 3-10; from $3,595 to $3,895.