July 28th is an exciting date for everyone at Active Adventures – it marks the beginning of a series of custom trips that we’ve designed for the Texas Ski Council (TSC). Aside from their traditional winter skiing trips across North America and often overseas (there are no ski areas in Texas, of course!), the TSC mixes things up every now and then with a summer expedition. A very social group of like-minded international travellers has spawned, from years of skiing together with friendly rivalry and, I’m sure, many Après ski sessions. So embarking on a few summer adventures seems like a damn good idea!
|The islands are a dream for photography enthusiasts!|
The idea of visiting the Galapagos Islands was first suggested to the TSC last year, when in February, their tour committee met to review tour proposals. Our proposal clearly inspired the committee as they asked us to present our idea at their annual BidFest meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The following month Andrew Fairfax, Active’s founder, together with Phil Boorman stole the show at their inaugural presentation, putting on a song and dance that not only got the crowd cheering, but also excited everyone about the possibility of adventuring in the Galapagos Islands. The adventure was on! And what started out as a Galapagos trip quickly grew to include a 5-day pre-Galapagos trip to the Amazon and a 4 to 6-day post-Galapagos trip to Peru! We’ve now got nearly a hundred TSC members signed up and even at this late stage there’s a couple more in the pipeline to join.
|Ecuadorian Cloud Forest|
When delivering a once-in-a-lifetime adventure tour for such a large group, the most important question is “how do we maintain all the essential Active ingredients – immaculate planning, legendary hospitality, multi-activity adventure and local, authentic guiding with such a large group?” Well, some of it is the ‘secret sauce’ that really makes Active stand out from the other adventure tour operators, so I can’t give too much away, but what I can say is that one part of it is to maintain small group sizes, which is crucial in terms of providing an authentic and fun adventure tour in a wonderful location. After all, who wants to be on a boat with a hundred other travelers when you could be exploring the islands that Charles Darwin made famous with just a dozen or so friends?
|Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World|
With the trip all planned by August last year, everything fell into place and all the ski clubs were happy. As the chief planner for this trip, it was then up to me to get my head around some fairly creative ski club names – for instance, where were the ‘Twisters’ from again? Oh and who represents ‘Space City’… I can assure you now though, that I know well all the club names, each of their club leaders and probably half of the 89 members set to join us!I could also describe the trip that our Texan friends are looking forward to forwards, backwards or in any order you’d like! Some of the highlights include: Swimming with sea lions and turtles at Kicker Rock, snorkeling with reef sharks, cycling San Cristobal Island, Hiking Sierra Negra Volcano, sea kayaking the Isabela coast and of course, visiting Lonesome George at the Charles Darwin Research Station! In the Amazon we’ll be river tubing on the Napo River, visiting an indigenous Amazon community, gold panning, hiking in the Antisana highlands and relaxing in thermal hot springs. Finally, in Peru our adventurers will be exploring Cuzco, the Pisac markets and Ollantaytambo, delving into the Inca city of Machu Picchu and climbing Huayna Picchu Mountain. Two keen TSC members are even embarking on the ultimate bucket list journey, taking on the infamous Inca Trail!
You can read all of the full custom itineraries on our TSC information page.
|The Galapagos Islands:one of the world’s greatest places to snorkel and dive|
Just writing about this makes me excited and luckily I won’t be living the experience vicariously – I’ll be there amongst my new found friends – joining this epic adventure with all those TSC representatives that have been involved in the planning. Like many, I too have checked and double-checked our gear-list; any excuse to visit an outdoors store. I’ve also got my new flash-whiz-bang camera, so I can catch the Boobie doing its blue-footed waddle, the classic sunset from Beto’s bar on Isabela Island and the famous Galapagos Giant Tortoise in all its ageless glory. I’ve even got a GoPro video camera ready, to take underwater shots; after all, the Galapagos Islands have the best marine life in the world and August is one of the best times of yea to visit, with rich nutrients flowing north via the Humbolt Current – Woohoo!
|The bluer the feet, the more attractive the mate…|
It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Ecuador, so I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with the attractive capital city, Quito and brushing up on my Español, although it’s unlikely I’ll be able to impress our TSC club members, whom I believe one or two are already fluent in Spanish!Anyway, that’s enough from me for now, but stay tuned for a post-Galapagos TSC blog full of ‘Nat-Geo-worthy’ photos and tall tales of heroic adventures. And if you’re reading this and think you might want to organise a custom trip of your own, please do get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org!
|One of our comfortable boat in the Islands|