I just returned from a stunning exploratory trip to the Dolomites and I'm heading off to get my feet on the ground in Georgia and Armenia, so for this month's Closer Look I'm inspired to share with you what goes into the creation of a new Wildland Adventure.
Exploring new lands and being immersed in other cultures is what we love most about our "job", especially when we get to share our new discoveries and design new trips so you'll get the most out of your next Wildland Adventure.
Here are 7 ways we go about creating life-changing adventures for you:
We may be called to adventure from our hearts, but often in the business of adventure travel, we are also invited by tourism boards and local outfitters. Sometimes conservation organizations call on us to bring eco-travelers like you to remote areas to help protect them, or local indigenous communities want to share their culture and what they have to offer the world as a source of scare revenue in a subsistence lifestyle. We've been invited to travel to Madagascar by Conservation International to help generate travelers' interest and tourism revenue for protecting wildlife in rural areas. Another time, I worked closely with Maasai communities to reform safari tourism in Kenya to bring more revenue directly to the communities and create more authentic and personal cross-cultural experiences with our travelers like our Maasailand Safari.
Like any good adventure travelers, half the fun is the research. We pour over maps and multiple sources of information, but in our case, we also go to our professional network of guides, outfitters, and hoteliers to determine where to go and how to focus our time. Sometimes, as in the case of my Dolomites trip hosted by the local South Tyrol tourism board, I stepped into an itinerary whereby they showed me the best of the best! We hiked in the high-country, inspected a range of alpine-designed boutique lodges, dined in a few Michelin star establishments, and visited top winemakers, rural cheesemongers, Italian spas and more. We are also a founding member of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, a professional network of the world's best guides and outfitters with whom we collaborate to plan new adventures. Together with our in-country counterparts, we design an in-depth and often fast-paced R&D itinerary to cover as much ground and create the best experiences when we get there.
Once there, we ask lots of questions to local guides and adventure outfitters. We talk to local chefs, restaurateurs and winemakers (and of course try them out), as well as drivers who really know the territory and how best to get around. We immerse ourselves in the local community, meeting residents from all walks of life visiting farmers, artists, merchants and markets that best reflect the local culture. We make sure to get our feet on the ground hiking, biking, on safari or expedition vessels, exploring by whatever means fits the place. On my recent trip to the Dolomites I used cable cars to access the high country where I hiked, climbed on a via ferrata, and rode a mountain bike (e-bikes are also available). I dined in two Michelan star restaurants, visited a family-run boutique cheese farm, and spent a day wine tasting in the regions' best vineyards. And we also spend a considerable amount of time tracking transfer times and making hotel inspections—sometimes to discover incredible places like my favorite in the Dolomites--Rosa Alpina--but often to discern where you don't want to stay! We do all this for you!
6. The Launch
Everyone in the office gets behind the launch when we announce a new trip (and our alumni are the first to know). Our marketing gurus upload the itineraries, launch videos, and post photo galleries to share our excitement and knowledge with you. This is when the fun conversations begin with you. In as much as we have crafted a perfect itinerary, we are ready to design custom trip variations that fit your interests and style, like the Hochkammer's, with whom we designed a trip to Croatia to search their family roots, or the Bahorich's, who got us started in the Dolomites when they wanted to add it on to their Slovenia trip. Having worked our way through this process, we can now advise you how to prepare and what documentation you need especially in more complicated places like Cuba where we make it easy.
7. Return to Adventure
And we're happy to say our adventures are never over. Once you return from a trip, we follow up with a phone call and an evaluation asking for your feedback to learn more about your experience, what you liked, and where there may be room for improvement. Often, you may have made new discoveries along the way that we can build into the trip for the next traveler following on your path.
This is just a small part of everything that goes into a creating a new Wildland Adventure but we hope this behind the scenes look shed some light into the travel world.
Keeping it wild,
PS: You might also like my 7 Essentials for Designing a New Trip.