Adventure Travel is a catch all term for scores of ways to get into uncrowded, unspoiled countryside or untouch wilderness and to be actively involved with the environment and with your fellow travelers. It is an escape from the pressures of urban living as well as a welcome change from passive travel that shows you the world through the windows of a tour bus or a car. Since groups are small and camaraderie between participation is strong, the percentage of single vacationers who choose this kind of vacation is predictably high.
For years, travel labeled "adventure" was considered exotic, limited to hardy backpackers or thrill-seekers who delighted in climbing Mount Everest or careening over dangerous rapids in a rubber raft. But owing to their explosion in popularity over the last decades, adventure trips have become accessible and safe for almost everyone.
In 1949, eighty years after John Wesley Powell completed the first descent of the Colorado River, only one hundred people had ever rafted through the Grand Canyon. By 1972, the National Park Service was forced to limit traffic on the river to 17,000 people a year.
By now, millions of people have experienced the thrill of exploring the bottom of the canyon by boat. Figures published in 1998 by the Travel Industry of America reported that ninety-eight million people had taken an adventure trip in the previous five years. In 2001, 17 percent of travelers included outdoor activities in their trips, a total of 173 million people.
With so many people signing on, the number of operators offering adventure outings has zoomed, and the variety of trips is truly amazing. Just a few of the choices include rafting, backpacking, backcountry skiing, horseback trekking, mountain climbing, and gentler pursuits such as sailing, biking, and walking. Tour operators grade their offerings to suit a wide range of abilities, making it easy for travelers to make a wise choice.
Trips are offered on the seven continents and almost every place on earth, from the subarctic ice floes to the jungles of the equator to the placid countryside of Europe or the United States. You can take your choice of camping out or staying in quarters that are positively plush.
Adventure trips depends for its success and safety on the experience and skill of the operator, so check references carefully before you make your choice. There are a few sources for information. Groups operating in national parks must have a permit from the superintendent, so you can write or call to verify the credentials and ask park authorities about the reputation of the company.