There are many misconceptions that continue to prevail to this day among travellers about various types of travel activity. The famous phrase: ‘Newly-wed, over-fed and nearly-dead’ was the disparaging comment that was often made in relation to the cruise industry and although that was never the reality, it gained traction, particularly in the minds of people who had never actually cruised. The same phenomenon that causes certain people to condemn some controversial book, song or film even though they’ve never read, heard or seen them also applies to the world of travel. Another common misconception and the subject of today’s blog is what is generally referred to as ‘Adventure Travel’ and I must confess that I, too, was guilty of misinterpretation although in my defense you must agree that the term ‘adventure travel’ does have a certain connotation to it that would lead one to suppose that that is exactly what one would expect to be doing. As it turns out, it is a generic term that covers a whole sub-section of travel, part of which does indeed involve some ‘adventurous’ undertakings.
My first experience of ‘adventure’travel was about six years ago when I undertook a riverboat cruise down the Amazon, starting off from Iquitos in the Peruvian jungle. Although the riverboat looked Victorian, it tuned out to be just a few years old and was actually a replica of a similar vessel that had sailed the same waterways over a century earlier. The boats had about 30 or 40 cabins but they were all air-conditioned and all meals on board were prepared fresh each day from the most beautiful of local produce — giant catfish, palm hearts, yellow tomato juice (which we had at breakfast and which was sweet like orange juice). Chef even cooked some piranha one evening that we had caught earlier that day in one of the many ox-bow lakes that accompany the Amazon along its length.
It was an amazing week and the best way I could describe it was that it was the river equivalent of a land-based safari where we went out in zodiac-like boats around sunrise each morning (and again at dusk) and explored the various tributaries of the mighty river where the abundant flora and fauna of the Amazon was pointed out to us by one of the three or four highly qualified naturalists that accompanied the trip. On these various river safaris we saw iguanas, pink water dolphins, sloths, various species of monkeys, anacondas, tarantulas, soldier ants and an unbelievable array of birds and parrots. On one night time foray, one of the naturalists grabbed a small cayman right out of the water and after having taped up his mouth, allowed all of us on the boat to handle him and get a sense of his strength and muscularity.
Now the reason I’m telling you this (and I haven’t even scratched the surface here) is that prior to undertaking this trip, i was under the impression that adventure travel was something that was confined to the young, super-fit, adrenaline-seeking junkies that like abseiling down mountains and sleeping in hammocks in the jungle and whilst it certainly caters for those types it also provides for people like you and me who want to experience the real thing but don’t want to forsake our creature comforts or who don’t have the stamina to undertake any kind of arduous travel arrangements. Truthfully, there were a couple in their late seventies/early eighties in our group and they just loved the whole thing and didn’t overly challenge them physically in any way. Similarly, when visiting Machu Picchu the following week, I came across a young couple who were trekking around the lost Inca city with an infant in a sling!
The point I’m making here is that you should suspend whatever misconceptions you have about what is doable and what is not. You can still have adventures without necessarily having to be as fit as Sir Ranulf Fiennes and you can meet jungle tribes in the Amazon, (as I did) without having to get a gazillion vaccinations beforehand. So, if you have a bucket list already written that includes doing some of these things then start planning straight away. It’s not that difficult and it’s not actually as expensive as you might think!