THE SOFT SOUNDS OF WATER DROPS falling back to the lake from our paddles, and of our paddles dipping into the water, were nearly all we could hear. Around us, icebergs floated atop the lake and plummeted deeper below as they transitioned through their frozen existences. The stillness surrounding our small group of eight kayakers — novices and experienced paddlers alike — and our two guides on our kayaking adventure was unreal. Together, we navigated the icebergs on a glacier-fed lake near the small fishing village of Cordova, Alaska, enjoying a quiet on that summer day seldom found in the connected world in which we live.
A sense of adventure may be as individual as travelers themselves, so it’s nearly impossible to land on just one definition when it comes to adventure travel. One person’s idea of adventure travel may be taking a bicycling tour through a new city, while another may go snorkeling with whale sharks in Mexico, and a third, paragliding over the French Alps. Fortunately for us travelers, there are plenty of outfitters to suit everyone’s sense of adventure.
The aforementioned iceberg kayaking experience is but one of myriad offerings by John Hall’s Alaska and was part of the 11-day Untamed Alaska land tour. This year, John Hall’s Alaska celebrates 35 years of offering remarkable opportunities for travelers to discover the wildlife, native cultures and geographical wonders of The Last Frontier. Its one-of-a-kind itineraries guide guests through Alaska, the Yukon and the Canadian Rockies in the summer, fall and winter, customizing tours to suit guests’ wishes.
“The beauty of our tours is they can be tailored to each traveler’s desires,” said John Hall, Sr., CEO and president, John Hall’s Alaska. “Whether they seek adventure, relaxation or a combination of the two, guests just have to let their travel experts know how they dream of exploring Alaska, and John Hall’s Alaska can create the perfect custom tour.”
Travelers with John Hall’s Alaska become alumni after their first trip and are invited on exclusive Alumni Adventures to popular destinations around the world. This year alumni are traveling to Australia and New Zealand, Ireland, the Panama Canal and the Rhine River, all custom-built and with the same attention to detail found on The Last Frontier tours.
Butterfield & Robinson encourages travelers to “slow down to see the world,” and for more than 50 years the active travel company designed journeys to enable its guests to do just that. New this year is a six-day Berlin to Prague Biking tour, designed for those who occasionally bicycle, as the route is mostly flat, on bike paths and quieter roads; more enthusiastic riders can opt for longer daily rides, too. Accommodations along the way include a wellness center, once a royal property, and an urban retreat, once a monastery, complete with contemporary décor and spa, at the foot of Prague Castle.
“Along with Prague to Vienna and Vienna to Budapest, this new trip completes the trilogy of journeys linking the four grand capitals of Middle Europe,” said Chris Mark, director of Central and Eastern Europe, Butterfield & Robinson. “And like its counterparts, Berlin to Prague Biking serves up remarkable variety over six days: city and countryside, high culture and pristine nature, wine country and beer halls, German hospitality and Bohemian chic.
“Travelers should seize on any opportunity to visit Berlin. Harnessing the edgy energy from its days as an encircled city on the front line of the Cold War, the German capital has become a nexus of art and sculpture, cool architecture and an even cooler urban ‘scene.’”
In addition to the Berlin to Prague Biking tour, Butterfield & Robinson offers 90 itineraries in 60 destinations worldwide.
Marine life enthusiasts delight in the seven-night, small-ship sailings with UnCruise Adventures in Mexico’s Sea of Cortes. The full week of adventure below and above the water’s surface includes visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site, often likened to a marine life-rich natural aquarium; watching for whales, mobula rays, dolphin and birds; hiking; kayaking; stand-up paddle boarding; and exploring by skiffs. Did we mention snorkeling with sea lion pups and vibrant reef fish? And if the season’s right, searching for whale sharks in Bahía de La Paz.
All of UnCruise’s sailings — also in Alaska, Costa Rica, the Galápagos and the Pacific Northwest, to name a few more destinations — focus on exploring nature and wildlife outside, and each ship carries its own adventure equipment and a team of knowledgeable expedition guides to off-ship adventures.
If your sense of adventure has you looking to Antarctica, Intrepid Travel and its 7-, 11-, 14-, 20- and 23-day sailing itineraries take its guests to the land as far down under as you can go. Intrepid’s once-in-a-lifetime journeys take travelers to the ends of the Earth — literally — and immerse guests in a frozen landscape that provides the setting for unforgettable experiences.
“At a time when it feels like every hidden vacation spot has been discovered and everyone seems to be traveling to the same places, Antarctica remains a destination few people have ever seen,” explained Leigh Barnes, North American director, Intrepid Travel.
The adventure tour operator invites guests to cross Drake Passage and set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula, explore ice-dotted bays by Zodiac and get up close to gentoo penguins and migrating blue whales. Back on board, they’ll settle in and warm up in the comfort of Intrepid Travel’s state-of-the-art polar vessels.
“We at Intrepid Travel are committed to helping people reach even the farthest corners of the world, which is why we’re thrilled to offer several different Antarctica departures,” Barnes added. “Our itineraries give travelers a unique opportunity to explore the continent, where they will embark on adventures through pristine frozen landscapes, sail across icy seas and even witness penguins and blue whales in the wild.”
Back on solid ground, Eleven Experience simply states, “Our purpose is to custom-make powerful experiences that impact the people who impact the world.” The experiential travel experts’ unofficial mission is to hear the words, “That was the best day of my life.” Fortunately for its guests, the Eleven Guide Team, an international group of highly trained outdoor and adventure specialists, does everything it can, every day, to make that happen.
“Our job is to show guests the best places in the world and, while doing so, push beyond their comfort zones where they begin to open up and engage with nature, themselves and each other in ways they never have before,” said Alan Bernholtz, director of experience and a guide with Eleven Experience.
Eleven Experience’s best places in the world, or Hideouts, are found in The Bahamas, Colorado, Florida, France and Iceland, and adventures in these Hideouts include cycling, fishing and skiing. Choose where you want to go and when, and Eleven’s team of Experience Managers will work with you to plan your dream all-inclusive itinerary, which means you spend more time having the best days of your life rather than hassling with details.
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