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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

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Simply said: Excellent

    We’ve booked our trip with Active Adventures from NZ but ended up with Galakiwi Adventures as the implementing party. A bit confusing at the beginning but it turned out quite well.
    Our trip through the Galapagos Islands started in San Cristobal, followed by Floreana, Isabela and ended in Santa Cruz.
    We booked an all-inclusive trip and it turned out to be a very good decision. In fact we realized only after a few days how convenient is was to have everything organized for you and how much time you can actually safe. Starting with swimming gear that is provided as part of the package. Transportation to the ferry, getting on & off, having the transportation ready when you arrive, all those organizational aspects are taken care off which makes travelling from island to island very easy and smooth. Then hotels are ready, check in & out done super fast, luggage’s pick up etc. all organized. Lunch and/or dinners arranged in advance to maximize the vacation time and reduce wasted time to a bare minimum. What else to say besides that the organization was simply said excellent!!!
    Then we had Zambo our tour guide, a fantastic & very knowledgeable person.
    Not only questions from adults were not a problem for him, our kids and the other families kids who were also part of the group constantly came up with all sorts of questions and somehow, Zambo always had an answer.
    All of this made it a great vacation; we enjoyed it a lot
    Thomas Mueller Review Image
    – Sai Kung, Hong Kong
    Tortuga, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 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 15866 reviews)

    Lean Review

    What an incredible trip! The itinerary has the perfect balance of activities to keep the trekking exciting but not too exhausting, and provides flexibility in the case of unexpected changes that may come up. The food was one of the highlights of the trip; there is nothing quite like setting up a picnic on the side of a mountain full of cheeses, meats, and other delightful treats. But what truly made this an exceptional adventure were our guides Phil, Andy, Jean Marc, and Jean Marie. Their energy, enthusiasm, and flawless teamwork provided the signature of an ACTIVE Adventure, and continues to make these trips stand miles apart from any other travel company. Though we started as 10 individuals, we quickly became 1 family. Thank you for another unforgettable journey; we look forward to the next one!
    Georgina Lean Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tour du Mont Blanc, July 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Absolutely AMAZING!

    The Condor trip was definitely a trip of a lifetime! My husband and I loved every aspect of this amazing experience. We got to see scenery that was straight out of a magazine. The guides Cynthia and Gem were outstanding! I love them both! Our group of 14 was beyond my expectations. They were some of the best people I have ever met and feel enriched by this experience. Thank you Active Adventures!
    Blanca Lapointe Review Image
    – California, United States
    Condor, February 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)


    Stunning is the first word that comes to mind. This was my 4th trip with Active and as usual it was 5 stars across the board. When I first heard about the trip I called Phil to learn more. He told me the Dolomites were the most stunning, picture perfect landscape he's seen and he wasn't exaggerating. I've never said WOW so many times before. Every turn would lead to a breathtaking scene.
    The trip was managed very well as are all Active trips. The guides were great, within days feeling like long time friends. The food and accommodations were excellent, luxury mountain hiking with 5 course meals, electricity and plumbing to be found at every stop!
    The Dolomites are a must visit and I can't think of a better group to do it with than Active Adventures. Looking forward to my next adventure with them.
    Boris Diskin Review Image
    – New Jersey, United States
    Dolomiti, October 2016



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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