We all have that big adventure we’ve really wanted to go on but have put off for one reason or another over the years. The opportunity will always be there, we tell ourselves. If there’s one thing we know after seeing life abruptly come to a halt, it’s that things can change in a hurry and nothing is truly guaranteed. Once it’s safe to travel again, it’s time to take that adventure. And the time to start dreaming about it and planning it is now.
As part of our “Travel Dreaming” series, Dr. Travel himself Paul Largay spoke with three people who know their way around an adventure: Lesa Bain of Lindblad Expeditions, Don Martinson of Natural Habitat Adventures and Ashish Sanghrajka of Big Five Tours & Expeditions. They’ve always specialized in going off the beaten path to seek out what there is to discover in the remote areas of the world. With those places soon to be more sought out than ever, they’re the ones to turn to for an authentic and sustainable adventure. There’s no better time to get started with the planning and settle on the dates when more is certain. As Dr. Travel put it, “What coronavirus has not stopped is our curiosity, our need to know and, most importantly, our desire to dream.”
With that, our guests shared some of their favorite adventures, from polar bear viewing in Manitoba to gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda to getting up close and personal with Adelie penguins in Antarctica. Whatever your definition of adventure, these companies can accommodate it while making you feel comfortable at the same time.
Expeditions are not, “eating borscht and sleeping on a wooden pallet,” Bain said, Lindblad trips offer the opportunity to go on an exerting hike then have a great glass of wine when you get back. Martinson stressed the abundance of options on a Nat Hab trip. There are always activities for those who want them, but no one is left out if not feeling up to the challenge. For instance, on Nat Hab’s Yellowstone wolf quest photo adventure, participants have the option to snowshoe to Old Faithful or ride to the iconic geyser in a coach. Sanghrajka noted that on the same trip in Colombia, guests can paraglide then do a rum tasting with the mayor of Cartagena’s son. “It’s the stuff you can’t script that speaks to me,” he said.
While as Martinson said, if you walk across a football field unassisted, you can go on most of these trips, you might want to ease yourself into adventure, especially if you have young kids. The Galapagos is a great place to dip your toe in the water. “Each time you go, it’s a different experience,” Bain said. “It’s great for kids and a good precursor to Africa.” Martinson also recommends the Galapagos, along with national parks and Costa Rica for getting kids hooked on adventure and science. Sanghrajka relayed that he first took his kids to Guatemala, where the roasted marshmallows in steam from an active volcano before watching another spew lava from deep within the earth. “When your teacher asks what you did for summer vacation, you’re gonna win,” he told them.
As the kids get older and your family works it way up the adventure rung, you can discover places such as East Greenland, “a place that made me feel smaller than I’ve ever felt before” as he kayaked around huge icebergs and waterfalls in a transformative experience. While the guides are world-class and the accommodations comfortable, some places are hundreds of miles from the nearest five-star hotel. “It’s not about the thread count, it’s about the animal count,” Martinson said. If you’re an avid diver exploring the waters of the South Pacific, Bain noted, that’s where true luxury lies, in making a dream come true.
What remote adventures are on the horizon for when we can finally escape and get back out into the world? Bain recommends the Russian Far East and Northeast Passage from Norway to Nome. Martinson is keen on small-group and private excursions in America’s national parks. Sanghrajka is excited about northern Peru. “Kuelap is 1,000 years older than Machu Picchu and sees about 100 visitors on a busy day,” he said. “The third highest waterfall in the world is there. I can’t wait to get up there.”
We know we can’t wait to get out into the wide open spaces again and take the road less traveled. We’re thrilled to have partners who have blazing trails in these remote areas for years. “When you people say we’re going to want to get out of the box, I say we’ve been waiting for you. What took you so long?”
Sunday marked the 120th anniversary of the birth of Ernest Hemingway. The Nobel Prize-winning author lived a life as full of adventure as any of his characters, and he traveled the world in pursuit of a good story throughout his life. “Papa” left his mark on several places, and they left their marks on him, appearing as characters in their own right throughout his works.
Hemingway was the first American wounded in Italy during World War I as he had joined the Red Cross after being rejected from the U.S. Armed Forces because of poor eyesight. He was bringing supplies to soldiers on the front line at Fossalta di Piave when he was wounded in a mortar attack. He spent six months recuperating at a military hospital in Milan and fell in love with a nurse, inspiring the plot of “A Farewell to Arms.”
Hemingway’s first novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” popularized the San Fermin Festival and running of the bulls that is an annual rite in Pamplona. His nonfiction work “Death in the Afternoon” details the culture of bullfighting in Spain, and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” dramatizes events of the Spanish Civil War, during which Hemingway worked as a foreign correspondent.
After World War I, Hemingway and his first wife moved to Paris, where he began his writing career in earnest and hung around with the likes of Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and James Joyce. It was this time in Paris between the world wars, living in the Latin Quarter that Hemingway really came into his own as a writer and voice of the “Lost Generation.” The posthumously published memoir “A Movable Feast” chronicles this time.
Though he suffered near fatal injuries in successive plane accidents in Africa later in life, Hemingway’s 10-week safari in 1933 had such a profound impact that it inspired his works “The Greens Hills of Africa,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” He and his second wife toured around what are now Kenya and Tanzania, marveling at the abundance of wildlife.
Hemingway spent several winters in Cuba, raising cats and possibly hunting German U-boats in the waters around the island. He returned to Cuba after working as a foreign correspondent during World War II, when he was a witness to the D-Day landings in Normandy. His time in Cuba inspired “The Old Man and the Sea,” which he wrote in eight weeks and for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and which was cited as a major factor in his winning the Nobel Prize in literature.
Happy new year! Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful 2018 full of great adventures. As always, travel is evolving to match the changing world. Here are a few destinations and experiences that will be popular in the coming year.
More and more travelers are focusing not so much on getting to a particular destination but a particular state of mind. Dozens of Virtuoso-preferred resorts and cruise lines are putting an emphasis on helping their guests restore mind, body and spirit. Using spa treatments, fitness activities, nutrition and education, these preferred partners enable travelers to achieve or restore balance in their lives and come home feeling refreshed and more connected to the world around them.
Another way to escape the every day and experience the beauty of the world is to go to remote places and challenge yourself. Whatever is on your bucket list: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, heli-skiing, tracking elusive wildlife or just getting away to the far corners of the earth, there is a Virtuoso-preferred partner specializing in that exact type of experience. If you really want to go to the middle of nowhere, that can be arranged too. Black Tomato offers a Get Lost experience, where travelers arrive at the airport without knowing where they are going, then dropped in a remote area and tasked with finding their way out. There is a team tracking your progress, and you have all the necessary supplies, so you’re in no danger of being stranded. But you’ll need to journey into yourself to find your way out.
Living like a local means immersing yourself in a destination, from where you eat, to where you shop to, increasingly, where you stay. Utilizing the vast resources of the Virtuoso network, you can have a home away from home knowing you’re staying somewhere that has been properly vetted and offers amenities such as housekeeping and a private chef if you’re so inclined. From a villa in Tuscany to an apartment in New York City, there is a place for you in more than 180 destinations worldwide.
From the otherworldly landscape of the Uyuni salt flat to hydrofoil cruises on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia has a lot to offer without the crowds you’ll find in its more trafficked South American neighbors. One of two landlocked countries on the continent (Paraguay is the other), Bolivia has unique geography, ranging from the Amazon basin to Andean highlands, and is full of Inca trails and ruins ripe for exploring. The silver mines of Potosi produced so much for the Spanish Empire that it was once the second largest city in the Americas, and the lagoons of the Salar de Uyuni are home to a wealth of unique flora and fauna and serve as a breeding ground for several species of flamingos.
Just like its counterpart the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland is full of natural beauty. It’s so alluring that is has served as a frequent filming location for Game of Thrones and the Star Wars franchise. Giant’s Causeway, made of thousands of interlocking basalt columns, is a unique geological site and right outside the town of Bushmills, home to one of Northern Ireland’s many whiskey distilleries. There is uncertainty about Northern Ireland’s future in the wake of the Brexit decision, but the country has come a long way since The Troubles and is asserting itself a top destination in its own right.
By Damien Martin