Soft land­ings for ad­ven­tur­ers

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MICHELLE ROWE

WHENEd­mundHil­lary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay planted their flag on Ever­est’s sum­mit 60 years ago, they were at the thresh­old of a new tourism fron­tier. ‘‘Ad­ven­ture travel’’ was then the pre­serve of a few hardy souls will­ing to stretch the bounds of en­durance and self-sac­ri­fice. To­day, ven­tur­ing into re­mote re­gions, get­ting close to danger­ous an­i­mals and buck­ling up for heart-stop­ping ac­tiv­i­ties such as canyon­ing in Cor­sica or ice div­ing in Rus­sia has been em­braced by ev­ery­one from Gen-Y back­pack­ers to cashed-up baby boomers.

Tour op­er­a­tors have up­dated and ex­panded their itin­er­ar­ies to en­sure ev­ery age, fit­ness and scaredy-pants level is catered for. Sa­fari tourism is a good ex­am­ple of the myr­iad op­tions that now­fall un­der the ‘‘ad­ven­ture’’ um­brella. Chalk­ing up those ex­hil­a­rat­ing an­i­mal ex­pe­ri­ences no longer has to mean hours of ar­du­ous trekking or overnight­ing in spar­tan tents.

Op­er­a­tors such as Aber­crom­bie & Kent have tai­lored their pack­ages to max­imise pre­cious hol­i­day time and min­imise dis­com­fort, choos­ing camps and lodges best lo­cated in terms of game move­ments, in­tro­duc­ing more per­son­alised itin­er­ar­ies with stays in bush lodges or tented camps, and in­cor­po­rat­ing a wider range of ac­tiv­i­ties into daily sched­ules. The chance to ex­pe­ri­ence des­ti­na­tions pre­vi­ously thought too chal­leng­ing — in a high de­gree of com­fort — has proved ir­re­sistible.

A&K’s sa­fari book­ings to Botswana, for ex­am­ple, have al­most dou­bled in the past year. ‘‘There’s a def­i­nite in­crease in re­quests for more un­usual des­ti­na­tions and off-the-beaten-track properties,’’ A&Kre­gional man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Su­jata Ra­mansays. ‘‘In re­sponse to this trend, [we are] in­tro­duc­ing a trip to Mada­gas­car next month and in­clud­ing a new prop­erty in a pro­tected coastal re­gion of eastern Tan­za­nia.’’

In Bhutan, like­wise, the ar­rival of lux­ury op­er­a­tors such as Aman­re­sorts has opened up a pre­vi­ously for­mi­da­ble des­ti­na­tion to a wider au­di­ence. With its five lux­ury lodges trac­ing a foot­print across the ter­rain, pri­vate driv­ers and guides as­signed to each guest, Aman­re­sorts has lifted the bar in terms of soft ad­ven­ture. In my­book, things don’t get much bet­ter than com­bin­ing a leisurely walk through the scented pine forests of the Paro val­ley or a hike up to the stun­ning Tiger’s Nest monastery with the prom­ise of a 90-minute spa treat­ment back at one’s five-star moth­er­ship. Su­san Kurosawa is on leave.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.