Imagine yourself paddling a kayak through the dense belly of the Amazon rainforest. Can you picture walking side by side with the mighty elephants of Africa? Maybe a bike trek along the Great Wall of China or a cattle drive through Patagonia is more your speed. How does traveling into outer space sound? If any of these wild trips sound like a great way to spend your holiday, then adventure travel may be for you.
One of the fastest-growing trends in the travel business is adventure tourism. Defining exactly what it means is a little tricky. For some, adventure could mean leisurely biking and hiking tours. For others, it might entail BASE jumping into an underground cave in Mexico. The main facets of adventure tourism usually include traveling to a distant location, interacting with different cultures and undertaking a physical activity of some kind.
Adventure travel is typically grouped into two categories -- "hard" and "soft" adventures. Hard adventures involve some kind of extreme and often dangerous sporting activity. Paragliding, rock climbing, surfing, spelunking and scuba diving in remote and exotic locations are some examples of a hard adventure. Soft adventures are leisurely, often educational and don't involve hazardous and strenuous adventures. Culinary and wine tours, bird watching, architectural tours and religious pilgrimages are activities that are likely to be found on a soft adventure.
The father of adventure travel is Leo Le Bon, co-founder of Mountain Tours, the world's first adventure travel company. In 1967, Le Bon and eight travel mates made the first commercial expedition to the Annapurna region of Nepal and founded their travel company after returning stateside. Now retired from Mountain Tours, Le Bon still consults for various travel entities through his aptly named firm, Wanderlust Consulting. The industry has grown by leaps and bounds since Leo went to Nepal, with thousands of companies offering adventure vacations to every corner of the globe.
In this article, we'll look at who might be likely to go on an adventure tour and how you could benefit from taking one yourself. We'll also look at some of the more interesting adventure vacations that are on the market today.