“Beauty is not in the guidebook and adventure is not on the map. Seek and ye shall find.”
–Terry and Renny Russell, authors of On the Loose
Big Wild Adventures is in the adventure travel business, and we want you to have a real adventure! We believe that real adventure begins where the road ends. We also believe that real adventure generally implies muscle power, not machines, and that even on a guided trek, a true adventurer takes a good measure of responsibility for her or his personal well-being. On any of our well-planned adventures into the big wilds, even though we plan and prepare all meals and trip details, because you travel on your own two feet (or via canoe paddle) in a primitive environment, you are accepting that responsibility. Thus you enter the realm of true adventure. In choosing a reputable adventure travel company for your vacation, there are a number of things that you should look for. Don’t hesitate to ask these questions:
- Does the company comply with agency regulations, including required commercial use licenses, first aid training for guides and liability insurance? Avoid outlaw companies that “fly under the radar”!
- Is the company happy to send you a list of references of clients who will readily tell you about their past experiences with the company?
- How long has the company and its owners been in business? Are they very experienced in the exact realm of adventure travel that you’re looking at, or is much of their past experience just in the adventure travel industry in general? Look for lots of experience in exactly what you’re signing up for.
- Are their guides experienced, not just on the trail but also in life? In other words, are they adults who’ve been around and experienced all sorts of people and situations, or are they relative youngsters just out of college or still of college age? There is no substitute for life experience!
- Is the company the permitted outfitter with the agency, or do they operate under another company’s permit? The latter might indicate that they may not have a great deal of expertise or experience in that area, or that they are recent additions to the adventure travel industry.
- Does the company have a good safety record? Guide/outfitters don’t have absolute control over everything, but beware of any company that reports lots of accidents.
- As a matter of policy, do the guides conduct a comprehensive orientation and safety talk prior to the trip, and do they make sure that all participants are well prepared, bringing the proper clothing and personal items? This is very important!
- Does the company send out (and not just leave it to the client to download from the company website) a comprehensive list of clothing and personal items that the client must bring?
- Does the company utilize top quality equipment, including the gear that they outfit clients with?
- Are the guides also quality naturalists, well versed in sharing their knowledge of the local flora, fauna and geology?
- Does the company emphasize getting folks off the beaten track into really wild and remote wilderness enclaves, or do they simply trek the main trails?
- Are the guides experts in locating and understanding the local wildlife of each area?
- Will the company cancel your trip if it doesn’t book a minimum number of clients, or will they guarantee to run the trip once you’ve signed up? You certainly don’t want your vacation plans to be yanked out from under you, especially if it’s almost trip time!
- Does the company provide healthy food and is at least some of it organic? Are they knowledgeable about the caloric requirements of people engaged in protracted daily physical activity?
- What is the company’s commitment to the environment, and what conservation organizations does it support and associate with? We at Big Wild believe that it is the responsibility of all outdoor adventure travel companies to give something back to our planets’ beleaguered natural environment.