Married soon after founding the company, we naturally organized a wild honeymoon mountain biking down the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. Here we are on our last morning when all we had left to eat for breakfast were granola bars and coffee liquor. We’ve had many other memorable, and more upscale, romantic anniversary adventures over the years.
Inca Trail Cleanup Trek and Award from Peru Ministry of Tourism.
In the early years when back packers freely camped anywhere along the Inca Trail and the Peruvian government had no management program along the popular route, garbage and human waste became a major problem. So, we announced a series of clean up treks and lead volunteers on the pilgrimage to Machu Picchu collecting hundreds of bags of refuse hauled out of the Sanctuary by porters. The Peruvian Government presented an award to Wildland and thereafter started a program to control tourist use and protect the archaeological sites along the route.
Founding Board of Directors: The International Ecotourism Society
Wildland was founded on the basis that tourism, one of the biggest industries in the world, should be a force for protecting, rather than degrading, our Mother Earth. That travel to remote regions of the world often visiting native cultures, is an opportunity to support land rights of indigenous peoples and support rural communities often living a subsistence lifestyle. Kurt Kutay joined the founding Board of Directors of The International Ecotourism Society and helped define the term ecotourism: “Responsible travel to natural areas the conserves the environment and supports the well-being of local people.”
First family adventure to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica was one of the first destinations offered by Wildland Adventures, so when the Kutay’s son, Tarek Kutay, was 5 years old we started our first family adventure there. Each year thereafter, the Kutays led a new family adventure to another destination, each year developing our expertise in family travel, eventually including more active adventures for families with teens. Costa Rica remains our top family travel destination.
Founding Board of Directors of The International Galápagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA).
In the mid 90’s, adventure travel was rapidly growing and the Galapagos Islands were threatened by uncontrolled tourism, commercial fishing, and an incipient conservation program in the national park. Many of the tourist vessels were polluting the fragile habitat, and some were downright unsafe. Together with a few other conscientious US-based travel companies, we helped establish IGTOA to use our collective influence and finances to lobby the Ecuadorian government for better maritime control, tourism management, and conservation of the terrestrial and marine national park habitat.
First family adventure to Africa: When Tarek Kutay turned 8 years old we lead our first family adventure to Africa among the Maasai of East Africa. Since that time, we have developed close connections with local Maasai communities who have had a deep influence on our family of travelers for the simplicity of their life and their age-old connection to earth. Tanzania remains our number one African family destination for the abundance of wildlife, indigenous culture, and good value relative to other regions of the continent.
Founding Board of Directors: Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition.
At the turn of the 21st century, a local Maasai political activist, Metamei Dapash, arrived in Seattle with his family as political refugees who fled their homeland due to persecution for speaking out to protect land rights of his people. Together with Mark Poole, the minister of a local church who took the family under their wing, Kurt Kutay and Meitamei founded the Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition, dedicated to reforming safari tourism that usurped indigenous territories for tourism development and impacted the cultural integrity of indigenous peoples of Kenya.
India program started with 20th-Anniversary celebration gala:
Over the years we were cautious about opening new destinations until we had the expertise and experience to deeply understand the culture, know the places, and develop relationships with guides and local people on the ground. Designing Wildland Adventures through the vast landscapes and rich cultures of Incredible India was almost like starting in adventure travel all over again. Eleven years later we know India with local guides, exceptional accommodations, and comfortable transportation illuminating your path through a spectacular labyrinth of mysteries to reveal natural wonders, ancient sites and the contemporary cultural fabric of modern India.
National Geographic Traveler Magazine ID’s Kurt as “The Family Adventure Guru”.
After Kurt and Anne had personally designed and led over 15 family adventures, Kurt was recognized as a tourism industry leader in family adventure travel. Today, many of the young travelers who ventured out to wild places with their parents are now alumni travelers with their own families exploring our wild world.
National Geographic Adventure Magazine ranks Wildland Adventures “Best Do-It-All Outfitter”.
In an extensive survey of hundreds of travel outfitters worldwide, National Geographic ranked Wildland Adventures the #1 "Best Do-It-All Adventure Travel Company on Earth" for our global reach and limitless expertise. The evaluation and rating system was based on the following five criteria: 1) education, 2) sustainability, 3) quality of service, 4) spirit of adventure, and 5) customer service. Adventures “Best Do-It-All Outfitter”.
National Geographic Traveler Tags our Tigers and Travels in India
Distinguished by National Geographic as a “Tour of a Lifetime” and one of their “10 Great Adventure Trips That Give Back,” Our Tigers and Travels in India adventure is an in-depth nature and culture exploration dedicated to the search for the elusive Bengal tiger and the discovery of ancient civilizations out of which arose the contemporary cultural and spiritual fabric of modern India. We have worked closely with tiger conservationists in India through our “10,000 Tigers of India” conservation program that seeks to restore the number of tigers that once roamed India.
Bedouin Trek to Petra Garners National Geographic Tour of a Lifetime:
Yamaan Safaady lived with local Bedouins for 3 months, following their off-road migratory, shepherding and hunting paths to develop strong relationships and mutual respect with local tribes while discovering on of the most iconic treks in the world. We joined forces with him to offer this trek through deserts and mountains of Jordan walking through the back door of the ancient city of Petra. Today it is part of the Jordan Trail, a 400-mile walk across the country.
Fodor’s ranks Wildland one of “World’s Best Tour Specialists.”
Fodor’s hit the mark when they not only recognized us a one of the best tour specialists, but they also distinguished us as “…an eco-outfit that ventures off the beaten path without sacrificing style.” That is exactly how we have strived to be one of the best, by creating ways to bring travelers closer to real life for the most authentic experience possible, while finding the coolest accommodations that are not only comfy but add real charm characteristic of the environment and local culture.
First trip to Cuba: Farewell to Fidel Tour!
The adventures never end at Wildland Adventures! When we led our first group trip to Cuba in November of 2016, the day we arrived was the same day Fidel died. So, we renamed our trip the “Farewell to Fidel Tour.” And there will never be another one like it: For the first 9 days of our 14 day trip, the country was in mourning which meant no music, no dance and no alcohol. But to be in Cuba at that time of history was momentous—we even joined a million Cubans on Revolutionary Square, along with dignitaries from around the world, to witness his national memorial service. Then the last 5 days of the trip our guides re-scheduled 2 music and dance events a day to make up for what we missed during mourning.
Wildland Adventures 30th-Anniversary!
It’s been 30 amazingly wild years, and we have so much to be thankful for, but especially for you, our travelers, many of whom keep coming back for more adventures. We also acknowledge the amazing network of guides, outfitters and local communities we have established to who share their home and culture in the most personal and professional ‘Wild Style’ way. We have several trip give-a-aways, new alumni perks, and more destinations on the horizon to share with you so be sure to sign up for our Wild Enews to join in the celebration with us!