Tag Archive | "adventure travel"

Transformational Travel with Michael Bennett

Tags: , , , , , ,


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
Michael Bennett of Muddy Shoe Adventures

Michael Bennett of Muddy Shoe Adventures

Interview by Everett Potter

I met Michael Bennett of Muddy Shoe Adventures at the Adventure Travel World Summit in Ireland two years ago.  He had lots to say about something called “transformational travel,” so I thought it best to have him explain what this movement is all about.

EP: What is “transformational travel?”

MB: Transformational travel (TT) is an emerging style of travel that intentionally combines challenging physical adventures with immersive cultural experiences and inspirational group discussions. Travelers are often — but not always — joined on their adventure by an expert program leader who leads them through a series of discussions and conversations that help them reflect on and learn from their experiences and begin to apply what they are learning to situations, opportunities, and challenges in their lives.

EP: How did the idea originate?

MB: In 2009, after a series of life-changing travel experiences of my own, I set out on a quest to explore the transformational power of travel in more depth. The intention of my doctoral dissertation was to identify the critical elements of a truly life-changing adventure experience, specifically within the adult population.

My findings largely mirrored Joseph Campbell’s concept of The Hero’s Journey: People felt called to go on an adventure and set out on a journey that challenged them in a variety of ways – physically, culturally, spiritually, emotionally, etc. Throughout the process of overcoming those challenges, they learned important lessons about themselves, other people, and life in general. Having gained wisdom, skills, and new perspectives from their adventures, they returned home with an action plan for transforming their own lives. The outward journey of the travel experience ended up being a catalyst for the internal journey of personal exploration and discovery.

By the time I completed the research, it had become clear to me that, while programs such as Outward Bound and NOLS existed to help young people transform their lives through travel and adventure, few (if any) of these programs were available for adults. I launched Muddy Shoe Adventures as a way to support adults in adventuring out on their own Hero’s Journey and using those experiences to change their lives.

download

EP: Tell us about your partners.

MB: We work with several key partners not only to deliver our TT programs, but also to help spread the word about the concept of transformational travel. Jake Haupert of Evergreen Escapes, Kurt Kutay of Wildland Adventures, Don Mankin of Adventure Transformations, and I recently launched the Transformational Travel Association (TTA) as a platform for us to work collaboratively in sharing resources and information about transformational travel with people, promoting our TT adventures, and even offering programs and services for tour operators, accommodation providers, and tourism boards looking to create more transformational experiences for people visiting their destinations.

 

Unsplash-270EP: From the standpoint of adventure travel, what does it mean to “get out of your comfort zone?”

MB: Adventure travel and “getting out of your comfort zone” are synonymous. The whole point of an adventure travel experience is to push your personal boundaries, expand your horizons, and shift your perspectives. And while some people still think that adventure travel only includes activities like scaling mountain peaks or navigating down raging rivers, organizations like the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) are doing a great job of promoting the fact that cultural experiences can push our comfort zones as much (or more) than any physical activities. Adventure experiences — whether they are physical adventures, powerful cultural experiences, or spiritual encounters — invite us to reconsider our perspectives and beliefs about the world and about who we are. This process of exploration and discovery is what “getting out of your comfort zone” is all about. Adventure travel just happens to be a natural catalyst for it.

 

downloadEP: You mention that part of the process is to “engage in rich and inspirational discussions about what they are experiencing.” Could you tell us more how this actually works?

MB: A critical part of the transformational process is taking time to reflect on and make meaning from your experiences. We have found that, in addition to personal reflection, group discussions are particularly powerful in that they naturally provide a variety of new perspectives, thoughts, and ideas for people to consider. On our TT programs, a trained program leader joins the group to foster these conversations. Sitting around the campfire or the dinner table after a day of hiking or whitewater rafting, they ask questions that invite clients to share and reflect on what they experienced (what?), learn from those experiences (so what?), and begin integrating what they are learning into their life (now what?). These conversations help people process their experience while building bonds with their fellow travelers.

 

Unsplash-58EP: What are the end goals? 

MB: Simply put, the end goals of any transformational travel experience are to inspire, empower, and support people in using travel experiences to create positive changes in their lives. That could mean starting a company or launching a new career, moving across the country or the world to follow a dream, connecting with their spirituality in a powerful way, or shifting their perspectives and living a more mindful and compassionate life. Beyond the individual, we have also seen how these changes positively impact the families and communities of those transformed through travel. In short: TT is not only about transforming lives … it is truly about transforming the world. That is what the Hero’s Journey is all about!

For more on Transformational Travel

Transformational Travel Association

Muddy Shoe Adventures

Evergreen Escapes

Wildland Adventures

Adventure Transformations

Adventure Travel Trade Association

The Interview: Rafa Mayer, Say Hueque

Tags: , , , ,


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
Whale watching in Patagonia with Say Hueque

Whale watching in Patagonia with Say Hueque

Interview by Everett Potter

Planning a trip to Patagonia or the wilds of Chile? Chances are you’ve come across Say Hueque, Argentina’s leading adventure travel company. Founded by Rafa Mayer, it offers everything from guided weekend tours to Iguazu falls to 16 days adventures to the high deserts of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia and even customized stays in Buenos Aires. I met Rafa last year in Ireland of all places, where we were both attending the Adventure Travel World Summit. I recently had a chance to catch up with him to ask him a bit about Say Hueque.

Rafa Mayer and family

Rafa Mayer and family

Rafa, what is your background and how did Say Hueque begin?

I come from a home of travelers, I used to be a backpacker and used to save money to spend it traveling. When I received my degree in Marketing and Advertising, I left Argentina to travel around the world. In that trip — to be more specific, in a bar in Ireland — I decided I wanted to help people to travel to my country. When I came back I settled down and decided to build a travel agency, focus on independent travelers who wanted to avoid tourist traps and wanted to discover the best of our country.

What makes Say Hueque different?

The best assistance. We are from Argentina and we specialize in Argentina. You will receive personal assistance from one of our Travel Specialist who will help you plan a perfect trip. As local operator we also offer the best prices.  We are recommended by the most important travel guides and travel sources, including The New York Times, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, USA Today, and Budget Travel.    We are members of the most prestigious associations, including the  Adventure Travel Trade Association, ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents), LATA (Latin America Travel Association), BACC (British Argentine Chamber of Commerce) and CAT (Camara Argentina de Turismo).  Say Hueque is also committed to making the world a better place. For this reason, Say Solidario was launched two years ago. Say Solidario is focused on giving back to the people, culture and environment of the destinations we visit. On every purchase you make with us, a portion goes to our Project.

Hiking in Patagonia with Say Hueque.

Hiking in Patagonia with Say Hueque.

 

For someone who’s never been to Argentina or Chile, which of your trips might you suggest?

One of our favorites is our Argentina Highlights, a 12 days trip which includes Glacier Perito Moreno, Iguazu Waterfalls, cultural Buenos Aires, and the city of the end of the world, Ushuaia. For those who are more adventurous and want to focus on Patagonia, we would suggest our Best of Patagonia 13 days which allows to spend time in the most beautiful national parks of Argentina and Chile and gives traveler plenty of oportunities to  hike.

Finally, for nature-lovers we have the Impressive Wildlife & Cultural Heritage, which goes to less explored areas as Bahía Bustamente, a bird paradise, Puerto Madryn, which is home of the biggest Argentina Magallanic penguin colony and southern whales, which visit the area every year. It also includes a stop at Camarones, the most unexplored penguin colony of Patagonia.

 

Tell us about your Family Trips

Argentina is itself a perfect destination for families. Favorite spots and activities include visit to local working ranches, biking tours in the city, kayaking in the pristine lakes of Patagonia and rafting in the rivers of Mendoza. Since our tours are tailor-made, we work close with every family to make sure we design the perfect trip for them. Each family is different, and it of course varies a lot depending on the age of the children age. Some parents need connecting rooms in hotels, teenagers will prefer longer hikes, and the most curious ones will enjoy swimming with sea lions.

In the Chilean desert with Say Hueque

In the Chilean desert with Say Hueque

Say I’m traveling to Buenos Aires for work and I have a couple of days to spare to take a little adventure. What would you recommend?

Iguazu Falls is a must. Daily flights from Buenos Aires to Iguazu will bring you face to face to some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. Walk along Iguazu’s impressive collection of waterfalls and feel the mist from the stunning Garganta del Diablo. Surrounded by tropical jungle and home to incredible biodiversity, tour Iguazu Falls eco-train and discover why Igauzu Falls is one of the true natural wonders of the world.

Rafting in Patagonia with Say Hueque

Rafting in Patagonia with Say Hueque

Let’s say I really want to experience Patagonia. Which of your trips would you recommend and why?

 Argentine and Chilean Patagonia  gives to every true traveler the opportunity to explore Patagonia from both sides, Argentina and Chile. The highlights include trekking in Chalten with great views of Fitz Roy, exploring Torres del Paine National Park, visiting Ushuaia, the lake district on both sides, Argentina and Chile and the glaciers in El Calafate. It is an amazing trip, where you will see the most pristine lakes, the beautiful white glaciers, hike through the green forest, cruise along Beagle Channel, and more. Truly a trip of a lifetime.

For more information, visit Say Hueque

 

 

 

A Short Vacation from Your Comfort Zone

Tags:


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

IMG_458475066

by Everett Potter

If you ask me to define adventure travel, I will likely skip a description of a Moab single track trail, Class IV rapids on the Colorado River or a Via Ferrata in the Dolomites. Instead, I’ll cut to the chase and say that after three decades of writing about adventure travel, the best way to describe it is a physical experience that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Thirty years ago, remarkably few people traveled to get out of their comfort zone, a phrase that had yet to enter the lingo. They traveled to hang on a beach or visit museums in Europe or visit their aunt in Indiana. The concept of a sports-oriented vacation where you would try something new and test yourself physically, with like-minded comrades, all the while drinking in the magnificent scenery around you, was in its infancy.

My immersion into this world began in Costa Rica in the early 80’s, when I found myself paddling down the Reventazón River. I had never been on a raft in white water and the outfitter, a true pioneer, was the first guy I ever heard use the phrase “adventure travel,” putting a fine point on getting soaking wet and having a lot of fun as the jungle slipped past. Not long after, that buzz phrase infiltrated our language and our lives.

It’s a big world out there, and I discovered that getting out of my comfort zone involved trying many new sports that I could never have dreamed of from my home in Manhattan, where “comfort zone” was defined by how many deadbolts you had on your front door.

I found myself doing things that not only stretched my muscles but my imagination as well. Like all day hikes in the Tetons, stepping through rock-strewn meadows that were a pointillist composition of columbines, punctuated by the surreal and unmistakable rack of a bull moose at rest. Or snorkeling in the Galapagos, watching white-tipped reef sharks circling in the depths below me. Or kayaking the milky, glacial melt waters near Mendenhall Glacier, knowing that if I tipped I had maybe five minutes or so for a rescue, despite the dry suit I was wearing.

I gamely rode an Icelandic horse, that sturdy all-terrain creature gifted with a fifth gait, during the “rettir”, when sheep and wild horses are brought down from high mountain pastures some 60 miles from the Arctic Circle. It was the first week of September and it was snowing and raining sideways, so we drank Brennivin, the Black Death, in the saddle to stay warm. GoreTex was in its infancy and the flu that I contracted was a small price to pay for hanging out with Icelandic cowboys.

The adventures continued. I went sea kayaking in British Columbia and walked 16 miles a day on England’s famous Coast-to-Coast walk, nearly too tired to hoist a pint at day’s end. There was my introduction to single-track mountain biking in Yellowstone, trekking in the Annapurna region of Nepal and a week on a hybrid through the dusty, Biblical roads of Morocco. Of late, it’s paddle boarding and zip lining that have grabbed my attention, at the behest of my adventurous 13 year old daughter.

A tourist tours Tuscany in a rented Fiat, remembering churches and eating at trattorias. Fair enough. But a walker adds wildflowers, wild boars, and the song of the cuckoo to that list. At day’s end, the meal at the trattoria feels earned, not merely scheduled.

This is a vital part of getting out of your comfort zone—having a new experience that’s not only physical but sensual, auditory, visual and in the best cases, transporting. You may well forget the name of the magnificent horse you rode through Wyoming’s Wind River Range but you won’t forget his snort or his smell as he propelled you across the sagebrush. Only by walking or trekking or riding a bike or kayaking or rafting do you find yourself in places that everyone else fails to see, too busy racing from point to point in their comfort zones.

 

Five Myths about Adventure Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

By Everett Potter

What is adventure travel? Depending upon whom you ask, the answer might be surfing off the coast of Peru, biking in the South of France or taking a hike with the kids in Acadia National Park. What’s clear is that it means something different for every traveler. Here’s a rundown of five myths about adventure travel.

Read more …

The Interview: Rumit Mehta of Immersion Journeys

Tags: , , , ,


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
Traveling in Gurjarat, India with Immersion Journeys

Traveling in Gurjarat, India with Immersion Journeys

By Everett Potter

(Photos copyright Rumit Mehta/Immersion Journeys)

This month, we’re offering a giveaway to Ghana’s Zaina Lodge in partnership with Immersion Journeys. I met the company’s founder, Rumit Mehta, a few years ago at the Adventure Travel World Summit and was struck by his friendliness, knowledge and passion for adventure travel. I quickly learned about his remarkable company, Immersion Journeys, and its deeply rooted trips in both Africa and India. That comes as no surprise, since he was born in Kenya to parents of Indian background and raised in Tanzania. Immersion has a wide range of African trips and their India tours are becoming ever more far reaching. In fact, the new Immersion Journeys tour to the western Indian state of Gujarat was just named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 50 Trips of a Lifetime for 2015, the third time they’ve been so honored. I caught up with Rumit in Manhattan, where he lives.

Rumit Mehta, founder of Immersion Journeys

Rumit Mehta, founder of Immersion Journeys

EP. What is your background and how did Immersion Journeys begin?

RM. I am actually an architect by training and worked in the field for 13 years or so in various roles as a designer, and in management and construction. In the mid-2000’s I had a desire for a career change and by then I had already begun dabbling in planning custom trips to Africa for people. Pretty soon it became clear that I could do this full time and pay the bills and Immersion Journeys was born.

EP What makes an Immersion Journeys tour different?

RM We always say that the road from point A to B may be followed by all travelers, but it’s what we do between points A and B that sets us apart. Our trips are highly experiential and guests tend to often get spontaneity on our trips. For example, there might be a sudden stop on the highway in India because there is a camel train and local herdsmen coming towards us, which allows us to get out of the car and interact with them.

Immersion Journeys travelers in Gurjarat

Immersion Journeys travelers in Gurjarat

EP Tell me about the trip that was just named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime.

This is an itinerary that travels through Gujarat, a state in western India. It has been under the radar as their core GDP has always been manufacturing and mineral extraction. Plus there’s Rajasthan, the neighboring state has always taken kudos for highly developed tourism. Of late, in the past five years or so, the Gujarat state government has aggressively begun promoting the arts, culture and crafts of Gujarat. It is a state with overwhelming diversity: archeological digs of the Indus valley civilization, a long coast line, a history of trading between Persia, China and Africa for hundreds of years, amazing textile work and hand embroidery that is sold in stores in Europe and the US. It has a deep and patriotic culture involving music, food and dance rituals, and is the only place outside of Africa where lions can be found, and the only place in Asia where one can see herds of wild asses, a now protected species. It is also home to one of the largest Jain temple complexes in the world, accredited by the Guinness Book of World Records, which to this day remains a pilgrimage site and not officially a tourist site. There’s also the famous Raan of Kutch, a white expanse of a salt desert that hosts the annual White Desert festival visited by tourists from the world over. We put all this together to develop an 11-night trip that provides an opportunity to visit Gujarat and lets visitors immerse themselves in many of the experiences mentioned above.

Children in Gurjarat.

Children in Gurjarat.

EP. For someone who’s never been to Africa, which one of your trips might you suggest?

RM. We always suggest first timers visit either East Africa — Tanzania or Kenya –or South Africa, with an extension to Victoria Falls and/or Botswana. The infrastructure and service levels are amazing plus there’s a high density of wildlife. A lot of decisions are also based on budget. To make things affordable for, say, a party of only two people, we would recommend they take a ‘scheduled departure’ where they share the vehicle with a maximum of four others for a total of six. It makes the trip less expensive but they would still have a fantastic time. If the party is more than 2 people, we would recommend the trip on a private basis.
Our top selling East Africa trips are Discover East Africa, Gems of Northern Tanzania and Kenya Wild life Adventures.
Our top selling Southern Africa trips are Splendors of Southern Africa and Best of Botswana & the Falls
Of course, we can mix and match any of the above.

Musicians in Gujarat, India

Musicians in Gujarat, India

EP. And which trip in India for newbies?

RM. A difficult question. India is a country that has no starting or end point for any traveler. Ever! This is because it is so vast and diverse. However, first time travelers to India want to see the highlights, such as Jaipur, Taj Mahal and New Delhi, which is repeatedly marketed and most recognizable world over. Wild life in India is quite amazing with the Bengal tiger as the highlight of any time. India also offers an opportunity to do side extensions like a quick 2 night trip to Amritsar’s Golden Temple or Lucknow. Two of our most popular trips for newbies are:
Classic India and Tigers & Kings.

Elephants in Mole National Park, Ghana

Elephants in Mole National Park, Ghana

EP. Tell me about the Ghana project with Zaina Lodge?

RM. This is a 25 chalet eco-lodge in northern Ghana Molé National Park is the first of its kind in Ghana. The pioneering vision is to have a guest experience a safari in west Africa, when traditionally they would have gone to east or southern Africa. The lodge is set on an escarpment overlooking two watering holes that animals use for their water source. Each tented chalet is luxuriously furnished and has views of the escarpment for miles, indoor and outdoor hot showers, and flush toilets. The common areas consists of an infinity pool, bar and restaurant. The lodge will provide game drives and walks led by professional guides. To get to the lodge is a quick 60 minute flight from Accra to Tamale and then a 90 minute drive on the highway to the park gate. Immersion Journeys is involved in the project as an investor and to also help promote this unique destination.

EP. Is Ghana really a destination for seasoned African travelers?

RM. No, Ghana is a destination for all travelers. It’s also an easy country to travel to as practically everyone speaks English there and is incredibly hospitable. What makes Ghana unique is that it has a long Atlantic coast line offering spectacular beaches, a deep rooted heritage of the Ashanti and other important tribes, and a decent infrastructure of roads and airports. One can learn more about the slave trade and American civil rights leaders who frequented Ghana. You can do a nice 9-10 day trip to Ghana in a relaxed manner and see a lot and end on a high note on a safari. It’s only an 11-hour direct flight from the east coast of the United States to Accra, the capital, so for those with limited time, this is the ideal destination be it the first time in Africa or the forth.

15877097115_50080cd926_zEP. I know that you travel a lot, personally leading many of your trips. You were born in Africa, of Indian descent, and you live in Manhattan. But at the end of the day, where’s the place where you feel most at home?

RM. I still yearn for Africa despite having lived in the U.S for 25 years! Our travelers who have visited Africa can attest to this feeling, as once you visit it you want more. Despite the globalized and free-wheeling atmosphere felt in big cities in Africa, there is a level of simplicity that still exists. I am fortunate that I can travel to Africa on business which allows me to go back to my childhood. I am extremely lucky I can also visit India and connect with my heritage. Just a few months ago I went there and took part in the annual kite flying festival. But home for me is the U.S. now. That’s where I live and own a business. But I still have the option to travel to my former home to re-connect.

 

 

IJ Logo with RVisit Immersion Journeys

Discovering Ireland with Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland

Tags: , , , , , , ,


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
The view from Gougane Barra, Cork

The view from Gougane Barra, Cork

by Everett Potter

Just when I thought that I’d seen it all after visiting Ireland for the past 35 years – the greatest vistas, the venerable pub that I swore pulled the best pint ever, the most comfortable country house hotel anywhere – I had a pleasant awakening last October. I owe it to a five day adventure-laden meander through Counties Cork and Kerry with Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland.

Now this is unlike any “tour” that your great aunt Mary or your parents may have done once upon a time in the auld sod. You know, the classic mad dash in a bus or rental car from Donegal to Waterford with barely time for tea in Dublin, all in less than a week.

Seeing the Wild Atlantic Way with Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland.

Seeing the Wild Atlantic Way with Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland.

Vagabond uses custom-designed Land Rovers that take no more than 13 passengers and one loquacious guide who acts as driver and raconteur. The idea behind Vagabond is to bring travelers well off the beaten path in this remarkable country. You won’t see everything in Ireland, not by a long shot. But what you do see will remain with you long after you’ve left.

Such as sea kayaking around a boulder-rimmed bay near Sneem, paddling out to watch foaming Atlantic rollers –coming from Boston, presumably — and spied upon by a curious bunch of gray seals as we paddled. Hill walking through a rugged Kerry landscape that seemed populated solely by sheep. Or mountain biking in a forest in Limerick. I would have found none of these on my own, regardless of how good my GPS might have been. It’s all down to local knowledge, like so much of what goes on in the West of Ireland.

Pub lunch along the way with Vagabond.

Pub lunch along the way with Rob Rankin of Vagabond, right.

“We set out to create a unique way for people to experience the full range of what Ireland is all about,” says Vagabond’s founder, Rob Rankin. ”Most adventure travel is ‘soft adventure,’ such as walking, cycling and kayaking, and that’s the type of adventure that Ireland is so well suited for. We pair that with the country’s rich culture and history.”

Much of where they took us is part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a recently designated 1,600 mile route along Ireland’s West Coast that is said to be the longest defined coastal touring route in the world. Dramatic cliffs, ancient ruins, impossibly pretty villages and empty beaches comprise this route that twists and turns from the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork. More than just a driving route, it’s an endless invitation for adventures. On a Vagabond trip, that can mean surfing, horseback riding on one of those empty beaches or mountain biking in an old growth forest. Every day is a different adventure and a different activity. It might be the single best use of the term “multisport” that I’ve ever experienced.

All the while, our driver, Larry Coady, kept up an incredible stream of history, folklore, jokes and observations, a finely tuned mix of entertainment and pedagogy. He also had the remarkable and truly Irish talent of doing it solely from memory. In the age of Twitter, when we’re forced to reduce our “bon mots” to 144 characters, this was impressive indeed. Larry also had the gift of knowing when no words were needed, such as when we came upon a view of a brilliantly sunlit wave-lashed Kerry coastline or spied half a dozen rainbows in a single afternoon on the Beara Peninsula. And if things needed to be livened up, then tunes by Imelda May or The Pogues were readily at hand.

Pub lunches ruled, and the best was at MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbeare, one of the Holy Grail’s for pub-lovers. It was the inspiration for Pete McCarthy’s book “McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland,” a personal favorite that is funny, touching and dives to the heart of all matters Irish.

Sitting room at Gougane Barra, Cork

Sitting room at Gougane Barra, Cork

While we stayed at several small Irish-owned hotels, the centerpiece of the journey for me was our time at Gougane Barra. Five generations of the same family have run this classic Irish country house hotel set on a remote, mountain-ringed loch in the middle of nowhere in County Cork.

The owner, Neil greets you in Irish – this is part of a Gaeltacht, a designated Irish speaking region  – as you enter one of the coziest lobbies in the country. There’s a small lounge with a warming fire, and an equally small bar where Neil will pull you a pint of Murphy’s stout. Your only mandate after a day spent walking or cycling is to make it to dinner.

The Lucey family, the fifth generation to run Gougane Barra, Cork.

The Lucey family, the fifth generation to run Gougane Barra, Cork.

The proprietress, Katy, was a chirpy blur between her Aga stove in the kitchen and the dining room that night, using the legendary appliance to produce such delights as a roast supreme of free-range chicken on traditional potato stuffing with crispy thick slab local Irish bacon and rosemary gravy, followed by a most amazing traditional baked apple crumble warmed with homemade custard.

The guest rooms are simple and comfortable, but what they may lack in luxury is compensated for by million dollar views of the loch and the surrounding mountains. You can keep your Egyptian cotton sheets, I’ll take this view and my room any day.

The next morning, we ventured on a wettish walk into adjacent Gourgane Barra National Park, Ireland’s first National Park, which opened in 1964. It was followed by Katy’s cooking demonstration – “We try to do Irish food with a twist,” she told me –  as she made brown bread and Irish stew, two classics but with subtle “twists.” The bottle of poteen – traditional Irish moonshine – that was mysteriously produced and passed around seemed to be an unexpected twist and raised the enjoyment level considerably.

The shepherd and his flock on Kissane Farm in Kerry.

The shepherd and his flock on Kissane Farm in Kerry.

I haven’t spoken about walking to half forgotten stone circles and castle ruins, the frenetic sheepdogs at work on a Kerry farm, the late evening traditional music sessions in Kenmare, and the general sense of “craic” that informs a Vagabond tour. But I will say that it added up to extraordinary discoveries in a country that I thought I knew so very well.

Visit Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland. From $1,340 for seven day trips along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Smart Deals: Travel with Adventurous Joe Coffee to Costa Rica

Tags: , , ,


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Zip rt-lodge-02-912c941a9b

What’s the Deal: John Connelly used to head up L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School. Then he started Adventurous Joe Coffee, importing fair trade coffees to the US. On this trip to Costa Rica, he combines both of  his passions.

Details:  On this trip, participants will

  • Jungle kayak on a placid river through the Torteguero National Park amid howler and spider monkeys and a spectacular array of birds.
  •  Enjoying the famed Mawumba eco-lodge at the Torteguero National Park on the Caribbean Sea with its tree frog project.
  • Raft the whitewater of the Pacuare River Gorge.
  • Explore the Rios Tropicales rainforest eco-lodge, which has zip lining through the canopy.
  • Learning about the sustainability initiatives supporting the lodge and the local community
  • Have a coffee farm tour to learn about sustainable practices, the cultivation, harvesting and processing of coffee.
  • April 24- May 3, 2014

Fine Print: $2,050 per person, all inclusive except for airfare and gratuities.

Booking: Adventurous Joe

Notes from Namibia

Tags: , , ,


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
Himba people performing a dance at ATWS 2013 in Namibia

Himba people performing a dance at ATWS 2013 in Namibia

By Everett Potter

I am in Namibia, the Africa that I never knew existed, for the 2013 Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS). This 10th gathering of the ATWS is a mosh pit of ideas and creative energy emanating from tour operators, destination specialists, journalists and others in the world of adventure travel.

Choosing Nambia was a stroke of genius. Located on the southwest coast of the continent, Namibia has the oldest desert in the world and an Atlantic coastline where the waters of the Benguela Current push chilly seas up from Antarctica. It is one of the driest places in the world, a mélange of sand and stone and beating sun, and it defies your imagined version of Africa.

Namibian sand dune

Namibian sand dune

Namibia is a place where “middle of nowhere” takes on fresh meaning, a country twice the size of Germany with a population of about two million people. Emptiness and endless horizons are its stock in trade. In the north are safaris to see elephants in lions. In the south, where I traveled, it’s desert in all of its endless variety, where kudu and springbok and zebra roam.

In Swakopmund, where the ATWS is being held, the wide empty streets have churches with onion domes, bars that pour Weissbier and streets named for prominent Germans, who colonized it briefly over a century ago, when it was German Southwest Africa. Yet you can also order oryx served with monkey gland sauce at dinner and look down its streets, past blocks of Lego-like buildings, and see a massive wall of sand a mile away, a wilderness at the doorstep of order.

In the Tsaris Mountains of Namibia for the Adventure Travel World Summit 2013

In the Tsaris Mountains of Namibia for the Adventure Travel World Summit 2013

There are plenty of ideas to take away from this gathering of the adventure tribe – visionaries like Zita Cobb of the Fogo Island Inn and Tim Cahill, the author and founding editor of Outside, were among the speakers — and I’ll be writing more about this amazing summit in the coming weeks. But the most concise thoughts seemed to flow from travel writer Pico Iyer. In a country where saving the rhino is paramount, a place where poachers have been transformed into protectors, Iyer summed it up by saying that “Just as humanity needs to preserve the wild, it’s the wild that preserves our humanity.”

For more information on Namibia, visit www.namibiatourism.com.na

 

Smart Deals: BikeHike Adventures

Tags: ,


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

What’s the Deal: BikeHike Adventures is offering an early booking incentive for 2013 trips. During the month of October, any two travelers booking the same 2013 trip will receive 25% off one of the bookings.

Backstory: Travelers can choose from any of BikeHike’s 53 active tours worldwide. Trip styles include point-to-point biking journeys, remote treks, and multi-sport samplers. Each trip has an emphasis on cultural connections with locals around the world. BikeHike Adventures is a Vancouver-based global adventure travel company that offers guided tours to 30 destinations worldwide. BikeHike caters to outdoor enthusiasts with a passion to go a little deeper during their travels.

 What You Need to Know: Space is subject to availability (many 2013 departure dates are already filling up) and this offer will expire when the limited space is sold. Limit one per family.

 Booking: Call 1.888.805.0061 or visit www.bikehike.com and use promocode BHAPROMO24.

Greenloons

Tags: ,


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Sponsors

Sponsors

Sponsors