Newsweek article - September 2000


Ann Worthington, a work-at-home lawyer and mother in Capistrano Beach, Calif., rarely breaks away from her telecommute and Teletubby routine. So what was she doing last spring, sans husband and child, bungee-jumping off New Zealand's Kawarau Bridge? No, she wasn't caving in to domestic pressures. She was just embarking on a multi sport vacation, the latest adventure-travel trend. Leaving her husband at home with their toddler, Worthington spent the rest of her week hiking, biking and sea-kayaking across New Zealand's South Island.

Why such a frenetic vacation?

"I want to be moving at all times," she says.

Join the club. Worthington is just one of a growing number of people using vacations to test their limits and new muscle groups while traversing rain forests and mountains, rivers and the open sea. According to Adventure Travel Society statistics, active vacations have been increasing for decades, and now multi sports account for up to 14 percent of specialized adventure trips. Why would anybody want to cram so many sports into a single vacation? Many travelers are simply put off by the thought of spending a full week riding a bike, hiking a mountain or God forbid lying on a beach. "They want a little bit of everything, rather than just one week of one sport," says Debbie Shroeder, a travel agent specializing in adventure trips. "People don't want to feel they'll get bored."

Adventure outfitters are making sure there's no time for boredom. Active Adventures New Zealand, which arranged Worthington's trip, runs a two-week marathon that starts with three days of kayaking Queen Charlotte Sound or hiking mountainous terrain in Nelson Lakes National Park. The rest of the trip almost seems like Olympic training: canoeing, long-distance bike-riding and glacial hiking (they provide the crampons). But it's all optional, insists company founder Andrew Fairfax. "This is a vacation," he says. "We're not pushing people [into] anything."

In fact, multi-sporters tend to push themselves. Kellie Markovcy, an electrical engineer from the Washington, D.C., suburbs, considered taking a week-long kayaking trip. But she opted instead for an adrenaline-pumping itinerary offered by Outer Edge Expeditions' Borneo Sports Spectacular. "I like to be challenged," she says. Markovcy's two-week trip included spelunking, white-water rafting, sea-kayaking and a two-day ascent of Southeast Asia's highest peak, 13,454-foot Mount Kinabalu. Bill Barrios, a Pittsburgh graphic designer who also survived the Borneo adventure, hinted at the toll of the trip's pace. "It was horrible at the time," says Barrios, laughing, "but afterwards you wanted to do it again."

Not every trip is designed to be daunting. Dan Austin founded Adventures Plus three years ago to offer multi-sport trips for vacationers "who may not have been on a bike in 20 years." His tours to Alaska, Montana, the Grand Tetons and the Canadian Rockies combine instruction, short distances and plenty of pampering, including snack breaks of sliced melon served on silver trays. "We can introduce people to activities and they don't have to commit a full week," Austin says. They also don't have to participate in every activity. These trips aren't cheap. But for Lynn Wall, a Minnesota letter carrier who went on an eight-day Adventure Plus trip to Montana, it was well worth the $1,700 fee (for meals, lodging and equipment, but not airfare).

"I never could have planned it myself," she says. "I wouldn't know where to go or how to get around." That's the selling point of increasingly complex itineraries such as Untamed Path's two-week backpack, mountain-bike arid white-water-rafting trip that begins in the Andes and ends in the Amazon, with stops in remote villages and lectures on local customs scheduled to break up the breakneck pace. "People in the working world may be fairly active but they don't have the time to put together a two-week trip," notes owner Jen Hamar. "We know what to do if the van breaks down."

But the vacationers often don't know what to do when it's time to pack up and go home. Ron Locklear, a regular runner, hiker and biker, left Tampa, Fla., in July for a KB Mountain Adventures trip in Colorado to "prove something" to himself on his 40th birthday. After a week of Outward Bound-style action, the Harley-riding construction manager proved he was a softie, bonding with his "bunk" of fellow vacationers. "We met in a lobby Monday morning as strangers and by the end of the week we're in tears because we have to leave one another," he recalls. Somehow, the adventure guides never talk about this final hurdle: the emotional hangover.

Copyright (c) 2000 Newsweek, Inc.

Trip Reviews

  •   4.54 out of 5 (from 1029 reviews)

    Latitude 53 degrees and Loving It,

    What a privilege it was to travel to Patagonia with three generations of our family. It is such a beautiful part of the world but also, so removed from the anxieties and pressures of the modern, social media/plugged-in world, and the Trump nastiness. The trekking was especially beautiful with the wild flowers in bloom and sunshine on our shoulders.

    Active Adventures organized us perfectly in the sense that our transportation, refugios, and food were efficiently and tastefully selected. Arturo was so, so nice to our grandkids. Chem was delightful and so kind. What brilliant new friends we made and how kind and inclusive they were with the teenagers we had in tow.

    We loved the ACTIVE in Adventures. We earned our good meals and good beds by stretching our limits over our two week trek. My husband and I were by far the oldest pair on the trail, but we loved it and who knows, maybe we will be back for our 60th anniversary.
    Carolyn Johnson Review Image
    – Florida, United States
    Condor, January 2017
  •   4.54 out of 5 (from 1029 reviews)

    Condor - incredible Patagonia with great guides

    Patagonia, both Chile and Argentina are absolutely breathtaking. The itinierary of the trip ensured that we saw all the major sights, and experienced the hiking, food and culture of both countries. Our main guide Jait, was very knowledgeable and worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone on the trip were included, whilst keeping the mood light, and everyone's spirits high. This is the way to see and experience Patagonia with Active Adventures it is an excellent trip.
    Varina Nissen Review Image
    – Queensland, Australia
    Condor, January 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 5044 reviews)

    Trip of a Lifetime!

    I am still basking in the glow from this remarkable trip! I admit that I was a bit nervous at first as I was the oldest person in our group and not as fit (for hiking) as some in the group, so I worried about 'keeping up' on the hikes - especially the steeper climbs. Ben and Lauren were very reassuring and encouraging and I felt that I was able to 'hold my own'. In fact, while the hiking was probably the most challenging I've done in at least 7 years, it was the most rewarding/exhilarating part for me. I loved our group - a very positive, health-conscious and fun group of people from all walks of life. It was also wonderful that we were only 12 people - it helped to create a much more intimate and personal atmosphere. I felt we bonded together well - again, thanks to Ben and Lauren's great skills with ice-breaking, fun games, and ability to set and maintain a positive atmosphere from the beginning.
    From the moment we set off from the airport to the emotional farewells back at the airport at the end of the trip, this was a top notch adventure. Our transportation was comfortable, our accommodations were always different and unique and very comfortable - I loved that they weren't all in your standard hotel and that some of them were really off the beaten track. The food was amazing - from the snack basket in the van, loaded fresh every day with fruit and other snacks, to the amazing meals that Lauren and Ben created and the breakfasts and dinners that we had at various restaurants - there was a lot of variety, special dietary considerations were accounted for and there was lots of it!
    I did the kayak option and it was outstanding. The B&B and our hosts were wonderful (the hot tub at the end of the day was most appealing!) and our kayak guide, Nick was terrific - very accommodating, skilled and he made it all very interesting and fun!
    I cannot say enough about our incredible guides - Ben and Lauren - they truly moved the bar for me from a great trip to one that will go down in history for me as the trip of a lifetime. They were so knowledgeable about the island - I loved listening to the legends/folklore and learning more about the vegetation, birds, etc. Ben was a terrific driver - I always felt safe. Lauren was terrific with her cooking and meal presentations - meals looked fantastic and tasted even better! Both Ben and Lauren added those special touches from decorating the bus for the Christmas season, organizing our Secret Santa, making a fantastic Christmas morning breakfast, complete with Christmas crackers and special hats, managing extra logistics like re-booking the paragliding for us, setting up the helicopter tour, taking the time and effort to help reconnect people with items they had left behind either in our accommodations or on a hike/kayak. They even had the perfect music for when we went through the Homer Tunnel and down into Milford Sound - the combination of the music and the scenery was so moving it had several of us in tears! They really ensured that they got to know each person and took a genuine interest in each person. Their positive energy and enthusiasm was infectious. They took kindness and customer service to a new level! The scenery was breathtaking everywhere we went. It would be hard for me to say what the favourite part was or favourite view as the South Island is simply spectacular. I felt that the trip was organized in such a way that I really got a good feel and appreciation for the South Island. Truly New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places (both 'inside and out') that I have ever visited (and I've visited over 20 other countries around the world). I really loved the more laid-back way of life and the local people we met were so welcoming and kind. I would love to come back again and see the North Island but also re-visit the South Island!
    I highly recommend this trip and have already suggested it to a number of my friends. It really was transformational for me on so many levels! My heartfelt thanks to Ben and Lauren and everyone at Active Adventures!
    Sue Hazell Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Rimu, January 2018
  •   4.54 out of 5 (from 1029 reviews)

    Active is the Word!

    I thoroughly enjoyed my Condor adventure. I've been on a few of these hosted by other companies and I think Active Adventures is the best so far - a good value too. When you say all-inclusive, you mean it. We often ordered whatever we wanted right off the menu. Arturo and the other guides did a great job. The itinerary was excellent - I know because a few times we barely made the connection to a boat. There was little down time. Doing the W Hike in the first week is also key - We were fresh and ready then. The weather on our trip was not ideal. We totally missed seeing Fitz Roy, despite 4 days in El Chalten. Oh well. Mother Nature didn't cooperate. The only thing that would've made the trip better would be better accommodations at some of the refugios. I know you can't control this and there's not a lot of choice, but, boy, some of those shower facilities and bathrooms were just awful. I'm looking forward to hiking with you guys again soon. :)
    Henry Gorecki Review Image
    – Illinois, United States
    Condor, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 5044 reviews)

    What an adventure!

    Great adventure with wonderful guides Alex and Tia!
    Stephanie Eskuri Review Image
    – Michigan, United States
    Rimu, January 2017



Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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