A Sampling of Adventure ToursFebruary 8, 2008 By: Jennifer Merritt Home-Based Travel Agent
From Alaska to Africa, here are a few ideas for the trip of a lifetime for your clients
As with the creation of any itinerary, scheduling an adventure tour requires careful attention to detail—though this time, there are some questions to ask that might not be in your usual repertoire: How fit is the client? Is there a medical history to consider? When planned right, the results can be lucrative for you and highly satisfying for your client.
If you're looking to expand your adventure travel sales, check out Gordon's Guide (www.gordonsguide.com), a free resource for agents on adventure trips, sorted into more than 75 categories—including jungle tours, cruises, dogsledding, snowcat skiing and even storm chasing. Agents can carry the products and packages in Gordon's Guide on their own web sites and take bookings for them. Participating tour operators pay a minimum 10 percent commission.
A longtime leader in active travel is Butterfield & Robinson (www.butterfield.com), operator of deluxe bicycle and walking tours all over the world. In one special itinerary, clients can ride the spiritual path from Thailand to Laos. The journey takes place through backcountry, led by a guide and local biking expert. The 10-day trip starts and ends in Bangkok and though it may sound intense, the luxurious accommodations and amenities more than make up for it. Highlights include riding elephants to the door of a luxury resort, discovering the secrets of Thai cuisine at the Four Seasons' cooking school and, of course, biking through forests to the monastery of Wat Umong.
Departure dates are November 5 and December 28, with prices starting at $9,895 per person double for accommodations, some meals, guides, support vehicles, admission to events, maps, all transportation, gratuities and use of custom-made bikes and equipment. Butterfield & Robinson pays a commission of 10 percent (12 percent to Virtuoso agents). For further information, e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-678-1147.
If sun and surf is more your client's turf, suggest G.A.P Adventures' (www.gapadventures.com) trip to Hamanasi Dive & Resort in Belize, which has treehouse accommodations. The eco-friendly resort sits between the Maya Mountains and the Caribbean Sea and offers such activities as barrier reef diving and snorkeling, waterfall hikes and visits to a jaguar preserve. Guests can choose to be as active as they want, as G.A.P has dubbed the trip an "independent" adventure without a guide. To ensure a treehouse stay, be sure to ask for the "Reef & Rainforest" package. Each of these nine units measures 17 by 26 feet (including a porch) and sits 12 feet above ground, surrounding guests with trees, orchids and birds. Rooms feature king-size beds and futon couches.
The package, priced at $2,080 per person, is available year-round and includes seven nights' accommodation, transfers, meals and flights within Central America. G.A.P Adventures pays a 10 percent commission. Agents can contact any reservationist at 800-708-7761.
For the serious adventure traveler considering Alaska, recommend Chugach Adventure Guides (www.chugachpowderguides.com), which offers heli-skiing, snowboarding, rafting, fishing, snowcat treks and accommodations at its base, the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, located about 60 miles west of Anchorage. At the lodge—open July through October—guests stay in deluxe rooms and can play table games, hang out at the bar or get a massage.
Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, however, is anything but a resort meant for staying in and relaxing. Activities include rafting, fishing, glacier exploration, heli-hiking, wildlife viewing and flightseeing.
The lodge requires a minimum two-night stay, with prices starting at $1,300 per person, including accommodations, roundtrip floatplane transportation from Anchorage or Talkeetna, use of such recreational equipment as canoes, kayaks and fishing waders, meals and wine at dinner; guided activity fees are extra. Chugach Adventure Guides generally pays a 10 percent commission; for agents who generate a substantial amount of sales, it's bumped up to 15 percent. Contact Chris Owens at 907-783-4354 or email@example.com.
Elsewhere in the West, for clients interested in hiking through California's Redwood National and State Parks (www.nps.gov/redw), an agent's best bet is Redwood Adventures (www.redwoodadventures.com), which operates the only accommodations within the park system. Redwood Adventures owns 40 acres in Orick, CA, with seven acres of it composed of Redwood Adventures' Vacation Village—structures originally built to house sawmill workers.
The company recently remodeled six buildings into luxury 1,200-square-foot vacation cabins with three bedrooms, 1½ baths, a kitchen and attached garage. Future plans include a campground and Adventures Center to host activities and book excursions. Rates begin at $200 per night; commission is 10 percent. Agents can contact Donna Hufford at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-733-9637.
Clients planning an international trip with the kids? Check out Austin-Lehman Adventures' (www.austinlehman.com) South African family adventure safari. The 10-day trip features wildlife viewings, game drives, guided bush walks, horse rides and cycling adventures in Johannesburg, Madikwe Game Reserve and Capetown. Adults can take a wine tour, and the entire family can take part in a visit to a local school. Accommodations include stays at an African homestead, safari lodge and beach guesthouse.
This summer's departures are July 6 and August 17. Land prices are $5,998 per adult and $2,998 per child under 12. Commission is 10 percent; agents can contact Carmin Arnot at 800-575-1540.