The Best Adventure Travel Companies
By Candyce H. Stapen
One of the best ways to go “adventuring” is with a reputable tour company. Why?
The outfitters take care of transportation, lodging and food, and, importantly, add an extra element of safety. The guides know the region, whether it’s how to navigate the class III-IV rapids, where to look for lion in the bush or how to find the best paths to hike along China’s Great Wall.
Good adventure tour companies come in all price ranges from budget to mid-range and high-end. The following are some of the best.
Asia Transpacific Journeys specializes in small group trips—no more than 18 people—as well as custom journeys to Asia. Among the countries visited are China, Vietnam, Fiji, Cambodia and Thailand. On the tours you see the main attractions and also enjoy special outings. China trips may include tickets to an acrobatic show and the Beijing Opera as well as a private performance of classical music on traditional Chinese instruments. 800-642-2742.
Butterfield & Robinson offers luxury walking and bicycling tours in Asia, Italy, France, Poland, and other European countries as well as journeys in North America. U.S. trips go to the Berkshires as well as to Santa Barbara. Whether it’s the goulash in Hungary or a “boil up” in Newfoundland, B&R outings always include a dinner of local fare. 866-551-9090.
Myths & Mountains features educational travel that emphasizes interaction with locals as part of understanding the culture. Some trips focus on culinary tours, festivals or the tribal worlds of a region. Custom and private trips explore Asia, South America, Antarctica and Africa. 800-670-MYTH.
Abercrombie & Kent hosts deluxe adventures in destinations such as Africa, Europe, China, Australia, New Zealand and Egypt. You can board a luxury yacht for a cruise expedition to the Galapagos, Antarctica or Alaska as well as book a villa in France, Germany, Italy and Spain to use as a base for day trips. 800-554-7016.
Austin-Lehman Adventures covers the U.S. and Canada as well as Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Africa. AL keeps groups to just 12 people, a size that makes it easier to get to know the destination as well as your fellow travelers. Lodging tends to be moderate to upscale and the company showcases local cuisine and experiences. In Costa Rica, lunch at a native farmhouse and a soak in a private hot springs after a hard bike ride. 800-575-1540.
Sierra Club takes adventurers, whether never-evers or experienced outdoors people,on trips in the U.S as well as in Central America, South America, Asia and Africa. The naturalist guides help participants get comfortable with the wilderness. Depending upon your skill and thrill level, pick from beginning backpacking in California’s Yosemite, to hiking with llamas in Wyoming or canoeing the Suwannee River in Georgia and Florida. Hut-to-hut hikes in the Alps in Germany and Austria, a trek through Costa Rica’s rainforests or a literary walk in England and Wales are some of the international trips. In general, the Sierra Club trips tend to be moderately priced. 415-977-5522.