Is there an animal-loving kid inside you or inside your home waiting to get out in the real wilds next vacation? Summer is here and there are some wild specials for animal lovers who want to go beyond zoos, television, and stuffed toys.

Wild Planet Adventures Director Josh Cohen at Tiger Sanctuary in Thailand.

“After 23 years of feedback from families,” says Josh Cohen, Wild Planet Adventures founder and director, “we’ve selected our top five summer trips for animal-crazy families based on kid-friendly activities and experiences that appeal to all ages and attention spans.”

For best summer exotic wild animal trips, he recommends Brazil, Borneo, Galapagos, Peru, and Costa Rica. For summer planning for the top fall and spring trips, he advises you think Thailand and India. He also offers trips that aim to maximize the opportunities for wildlife in each destination.

Whether it’s customized night tours for nocturnal animals, quiet boats, walking safaris, kayaks, or remote floating lodges, Cohen works on including privileged access and exclusive activities that he has developed through years of guiding, scouting, and hands-on research.

Proboscis Monkey in Borneo

He hopes travel can ignite kids’ passions and concerns about protecting the world.

“Kids will thrill to cuddle a newborn monkey in the Costa Rican rainforest, witness the spectacle of hundreds of macaws at a clay lick in Peru, snorkel with playful sea lions in the Galapagos, glimpse a female jaguar nuzzling its newborn cub in Brazil, or wander the quickly disappearing rainforests of Borneo in search of adorable tarsiers, slow loris, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, and orangutans, the most human-like of all primates.

A Tarsier in Borneo

“These are life’s defining moments. They provide a counter to our violent video-game culture and remind us that life is precious. They inspire, exhilarate, and provide perspective to kids growing up. They remind us that we are a part of nature.”

Keep reading for seven super-sounding family trips picked by Cohen and described in his own words (from an interview this week and his writings.)


Brazil

Jaguar’s Trail: Pantanal to Amazon 15-day “Brazil is the new up-and-coming family destination when it comes to wildlife travel, with possibilities for adventurous activities exceeding even Costa Rica. This trip includes the seldom-visited Taiama Ecological Reserve in a remote part of the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands.

“A Wild Planet Adventures exclusive, Jaguar Safaris in Taiama, average 1.5 jaguar sightings per day viewed from the safety of a river boat. Tiama Ecological Reserve and the Paraguay and Pixiam rivers are home to the largest concentration of jaguars on earth. Giant anteaters and otters plus silvery marmosets can be spotted from horseback, boat or jeep.

Extraordinary photo opp. Jaguar photo by a non-professional client of Wild Planet.
Image thanks to Mary Ellen Endo/Wild Planet Adventures

“Guests then transfer from the world’s largest wetlands to the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, and are introduced to Wild Planet’s exclusive Primate Program, designed by a primatologist.”

*$6,898 per person double can be shortened to 11 days for $4,998 per person double.

A Wild Planet Adventures Borneo trip where families can see families of Orangutans in Danum Valley, Borneo

Borneo

Borneo’s Weird & Wonderful Wildlife – 12 Day tour  “The primeval rainforest here harbors an Orang-Utan sanctuary, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys with huge noses, and Borneon Gibbons who sing to each other, among countless other rare and endemic species.

“Highlights include a special expedition to see Borneo’s unique flying and gliding mammals, and a night excursion to view tarsiers and slow loris, two of the world’s smallest and cutest primates. Borneo’s rainforest is disappearing at alarming rates due to palm oil cultivation, making it the world’s #1 ‘see it while you can’ destination.”

*$5,898 per person double.

Family watching seal pups in the Galapagos. Photo courtesy of Ecoventura.

Galapagos

“Galapagos Islands Ultimate Wildlife 8 Day Nature Cruise on 20-passenger yachts in the Galapagos.  Two naturalists accompany groups of no more than 10 people on land tours. Guests can kayak, walk amongst colonies of sea-lions, witness the mating and courtship rituals of sea-birds, track giant tortoises and snorkel surrounded penguins and other marine wildlife. Many summer dates are designated as special family departures, or family-with-teens departures.”

*$3,375 to $4,350 per person

Macaws in Peru at a Salt Lick. Photo courtesy of Rainforest Expeditions

Peru

Peru Ultimate Wildlife Adventure comes in 13- and nine-day versions. “Nine days includes the cultural meccas of Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley. However, the focus of the trip is the Amazon Rainforest. Manu Biosphere Reserve is the world’s most bio-diverse park, with 200 species of mammals, including 13 species of primates.

“Nearby Tambopata Reserve is home to the world’s largest macaw and parrot clay licks where travelers can see up to 1,000 macaws and parrots transform the sky into a kaleidoscope of color. Exclusive family-friendly activities include a Wild Planet Adventures’ special ‘Jaguar Kayak Float,’ a shaman-led medicine trail to learn about the medicinal value of rainforest plants, and a special excursion to see the world’s smallest — and cutest —primate, the pygmy marmoset.”

*$3,375 to $4,350 per person

Costa Rica – In the Wild and to the Rescue!

A baby sloth for hands-on fun and education for the family at Proyecto Asis In Costa Rica

“On some tours guests, experience animals in the wild as well as at wildlife rescue centers, some of which offer ‘hands-on’ experiences sure to thrill kids of all ages.

“Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife Eco-tour for 14-days focuses the wildlife of eight national parks harboring 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Included is a visit to Aviarios Sloth Wildlife Sanctuary where, says Cohen, ‘the cuteness factor is off-the-charts.’ Families enjoy hands-on interaction with animals at Proyecto Asis wildlife rescue center, and meet biologists studying the rainforest at La Selva Biological Preserve.  Activities include moderate whitewater river rafting, flat-water wildlife float-trips, cloud forest canopy tours, viewing volcanoes and hot springs, night hikes for nocturnal animals, sea-kayaking with dolphins and snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence.

Visitors can help feed a baby sloth at the ASIS Wildlife Shelter in Costa Rica


“Wild Planet is currently offering a special for the six weeks between early July and mid August, which includes free binoculars, extra nights in Corcovado and more. This coincides with a weather pattern called ‘veranito,’ (little summer) which tends to be one of the best times of year for seeing wildlife.”

*$4,598/person or 9-days at $2,998/person

Summer Planning for Other Seasons

“Not all of our most family-friendly wildlife trips are in season during the summer. November through June  – including Christmas and Easter breaks – offer a few additional options for wildlife adventures ideal for families:

Thailand

“Our #2 overall destination for families and #1 destination for women travelers, Thailand is the ‘Costa Rica’ of Asia in many ways. Wildlife safaris by jeep, foot, long-tail boat, and kayak in the national parks combine with mindful cultural experiences and end with snorkeling and relaxing on Thailand’s incredible islands.

“The Buddhist culture oozes joy and open-heartedness, and the sensuality of Thai food, Thai massage, and the Asian aesthetic combine to create a richly joyous experience. And did we mention feeding and playing with elephants and cuddling baby tiger cubs?”

Clouded Leopard on a Wild Planet Adventure

India

“India will ignite your family’s passion to make a difference in the world. It will instill a genuine sense of gratitude and appreciation for your life, for the opportunities you have, and for the things you take for granted. It is ideal for families with teens and adult children, who want a meaningful – and potentially transformational experience.

“Our wildlife expertise shines at India’s top national parks, wildlife reserves, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites where you can thrill to the sight of wild leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, tigers, and more. You’ll feel transported back to a romantic era of turbaned warriors, valiant princes, and sultry harems as you explore the forts and palaces of Jodhpur and Jaipur, the magnificent Taj Mahal, the remote villages of Rajasthan, and the contrasting bustle of modern Delhi.”

For more information and a complimentary 2013 catalog call toll-free 1.800.990.4376, or e-mail: trips@wildplanetadventures.com. To review current trips, schedules and itineraries log onto:
http://www.wildplanetadventures.com.
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/mywildplanet

Lisa TE Sonne, Luxury Travel Mavens
Photos provided by Wild Planet Adventures unless credited otherwise in the caption.
Explore the Family and Adventure sections of Luxury Travel Mavens for more great trip ideas.

The Zen of Ziplining with Dan Austin, founder of Austin-Lehman Adventure now Austin Adventures

Dan Austin, founder of Austin Adventures, not only walks his talk.  He ziplines it, kayaks it, and  ash-boards it. He makes the world his office and playground, as he aims for each AA adventure travel vacation to be “incredibly fun and deeply memorable”, (part of the company’s mission statement.) Not an easy feat, with 80 programs “evolving” in the Americas, Africa and Europe, but his family- run company keeps getting top awards and high praise.

 He credits his family, AA team and the hand-picked local guides. It’s also clear, he is all-around hands-on (both paddles and plans,) and is comfortable with a variety of Boards ( executives and sports.) He even ash-boarded down a young volcano with fellow travelers and me on AA’s inaugural trip to Nicaragua-

Dan Austin stays plugged in (with camera, smart phone and smiles) so guests can stay unplugged if they want.

enjoying the field research with his wonderful enthusiasm and observant eye.     He  slipped in some texting to his family and AA team  between zipline stations in  jungle canopy, from a kayak, and between courses to help keep things “fun and memorable” on this trip and dozens of others.

How do you define “adventure travel “?

Austin: “That is a tough question Lisa, Adventure Travel can be anything from climbing Everest to a walk in your local dog park.  It really comes down to what it means to the individual (or company in our case).  To AA it simply means staying active and exploring a bit more off the beaten path in each and every region we visit.  Definitely not a “typical bus tour.”

Family adventure travel by an award-winning, family-run company

“As you experienced in our recent trip to Nicaragua, we tried to balance seeing the country and cultural activities, with a bit more calorie burning modes of transportation like kayaks or hiking along with some heart pounding activities like ash boarding off a volcano.  Key is knowing what adventure is to you and making sure your goals and ideas are in line with your fellow travelers or an outfitter if you so choose. Also key to trust you always have options and that everything is introduced in a way that is as good for a novice as a veteran.”

 Why did you found your company?

Austin: “Now that is a bit of an adventure on its own.  I had a bit of experience in the industry back in the late 70’s.  I was a passionate rafter and thought it would be great to get people to pay to join me. Then some 25 years later my wife talked me into joining an “adventure vacation” to the Tetons with what was then Backcountry Tours.  I reluctantly agreed. I mean I was one of those macho do it yourself guys that looked at group travel, led by a couple of young guides as it had to be painful.

LTM Adventure Travel

River Rafting continues to be part of the Austin story. Rafting the Yellowstone River on ALA’s Montana Adventure. Photo Credit: Austin-Lehman

“Boy was I wrong!  It took all of the first day for me to realize this was my first true vacation.  Everything from someone else fixing the flat on my bike, to deciding where we would eat or what trail we would hike.  That and they carried by bags to our room and were a wealth of non-stop energy and learning’s.  After that week, a group of us approached the owners and ended up buying the company.  That was back in 1995, I have had no regrets since!”

 What are some of your most popular trips over the years and what is your rate of customer return?

The lower falls of Yellowstone River, a popular Austin adventure destination. Photo courtesy of Austin-Lehman.

Austin: “Yellowstone continues to be our #1 selling trip as it has for decades!  It is simply sensory overload and offers something for everyone. From the rich history (our country’s first National Park), to its spectacular geography (a giant caldera and more geo thermal features then the rest of the world combined) and of course the wildlife!  But that is just one of many tried and true favorites.

“Year after year Alaska continues to shine, as do the Canadian Rockies.  In Europe, Holland, Germany and Italy are always at the top of the list. Heading south, Costa Rica is our #2 selling program overall, with Peru and the Galapagos not far behind.  In Africa, my favorite and that of many of our guests, has to be Namibia, with South Africa a close second.

“About 70% of our guests are either repeat travelers or direct referrals from repeats.  One of our favorite alumni couples Chuck and Judy will be taking their 52nd and 53rd trips this year. In fact they will be repeating a trip the first trip they ever did to the Loire Valley, led by our Europe Operations Manager Ron van Dijk who was their guide on that trip so many years ago.”

Do you have anything particularly exciting coming up that you want to share?

Austin:We are always “cooking” up new trips.  We just finished putting the final touches on a new Inca Trail Luxury Camping program (Glamping)  combining hiking the Inca Trail with over- the-top services and amenities like massages and down comforters. We also are just finishing up a new Montana Based Best of the West family program.  Best bet is to sign up for our E-News letter and or catalog, of course that and Facebook. We are always communicating what we are up to.

 How can your company tailor things to be more luxurious if the client wants? Can you give some examples of things your company has done along those lines?

Sweet Adventure Travel, photo from Austin-Lehman

Austin:” Now that is clearly the fun part of the business!  About 25% of our guests choose “custom or exclusive” adventures.  Fact is if you can dream it, we can create it.  I love sharing these stories.

“There was the guest that had a vision of his wife standing knee deep in the surf off the coast of Kauai on her 60th birthday, cocktail in hand, Hawaiian trip playing as the sun set, topped off with rose petals falling from the sky!  Or the grandparents that wanted to treat their six- year-old twin grandsons to five National Parks in six days by private jet!  Then there are a lot more conventional adventures where a multi-generational family just want to get together for an adventurous family reunion.

Would you say you have a “family company”? What difference does that make?

Family Adventure: Austin guests hike up Athabasca Glacier in Alberta, Canada. Photo Credit: Austin-Lehma

Austin: “You bet I would or could say that. We are family owned and operated.   But I actually think the readers –and our guests– said it better when they awarded us the #1 Family Tour Operator in the world recognition in 2012! And  #2 overall !  It just helps that we know families!

“My kids grew up in the business as my crash test dummies (just kidding.)  We have always put a focus on doing family adventures right, not just calling an adult program “family” to sell more spots.  They are truly built for families, by families.  Here is a link to a fun webinar we did just to learn more from kids as to what kids wanted out of a family vacation.

 How would you define “Sustainable” or “Green,”  “Eco-travel?”  How important is it to your company?  Can you give examples of how you implement/ integrate it?

Austin: “Another great question and like the question on defining adventure travel, its all about what it means to you. I like to look at it in its simplest form.  The triple

In the middle of the hike, guide extraordinaire Julio Flores surprises everyone with Nicaraguan pastries. Ken sets a good example.

bottom line:

  • People
  • Planet
  • Profits

“All working together.  Another helpful definition is that of Sustainability: “ The ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their needs.

“We look to work with hotels and restaurants that follow these beliefs.  Is the produce local or flown in?  Do they practice recycling? Conservation?  But also things like hiring locals (starting with our guides).  Are they giving back to the communities they reside?

“One of our more significant programs that we are exceptionally proud of is our own nonprofit Wheels of Change.

Also check out www.austinadventures.com  for more.

What kind of awards have you gotten? What moments are you most proud of?

Austin: “We truly have been blessed in this arena. As I mentioned Travel and Leisure recognized us as the #1 Family Travel company in 2012 (beating out companies with names like “Disney”, that same year we were ranked #2 overall.  We have finished in the top 3 since we were first announced as #1 overall Tour and Safari operator in 2009.  But that is really just a start.

Austin-Lehman Awards

“National Geographic Adventurer listed us as one of the top companies in the World, several times as well as recognizing specific trips in the top trips category, year after year.  Outside Magazine gave our Cuba program the 2012 Hall of Fame award and so much more.  You can see more. You asked what award am I most proud of.. that has to be the Global Vision Award for our efforts with our bike program Wheels of Change.”

What else should potential travelers know about Austin Adventures for luxurious, adventure travel?

Austin: “I think it is not so much Austin Lehman –although we would love all your readers to join us– it is just travel itself.  As I recently penned for an email broadcast, travel is good for the soul!

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, photo thanks to Austin-Lehman

“I think Mark Twain said it best ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  

“You can of course start with our website  or on Facebook.  I also just encourage all to just call or email.  1-800-575-1540 or even better yet.  email me direct at dan@austinlehman.com  Yes, you will get a personal response.

“We are all eager to talk about travel and adventure anytime!  And if we don’t go where you want, we probably know who does and does it well, and are just thrilled to help you on your way!”

by Sonne

Dan Austin in the largest lake in Central America, Lake Nicaragua

(c)Lisa TE Sonne,  Luxury Travel Mavens

Photos by Lisa TE Sonne, unless credited to Austin-Lehman or Austin Adventures

Stay tuned for more Q & A with Dan Austin about how to Design an Adventure trip and for more on ALA’s innovative travel philanthropy

What do you think “Adventure Travel” is? Do you have Austin-Lehman trip stories to share in the comments below? Here’s my Luxury Travel Maven story and photos of the Austin Adventures Trip to Nicaragua

 

Anytime can be a good time to think about our love for this planet we so passionately like to travel on and explore.  As Valentine’s Day approaches, are there Luxury Green Travel gift trips that provide tlc (tender loving care) for the planet and the traveler?  How can we  visit places and not harm the cultures and nature we seek? Machu Pichu, Patagonia, Kenyan safaris, Belize….

The main room at Toka Leya Camp, a recommendation for Green Luxury Travel from Greenloons

To learn more about how trips might be both  “luxury travel” and “sustainable travel” and how they could count as Valentines for us and the people and places we touch, I  contacted Irene Lane founder of Greenloons.

She  describes her company: “Greenloons is the only web platform that connects mindful travelers with unique, meaningful and eco-certified travel experiences all over the world.”

Please check out her tips and five top trips, and share your own tips and trips in the Comments section to add your own “Valentines” to the earth (in what I will call “Thoughtful Luxury Travel”  as we continue to explore what “green,”  “sustainable” and “eco” and “luxury” mean.)

Why do you think it is important that we be responsible, thoughtful loving travelers?

 Lane: “Genuine green travel that incorporates the values of social empowerment, economic viability and environmental responsibility can help travelers have more meaningful journeys and enable communities to achieve on their own where charities and international loans do not.”

How can luxury travel HELP not HURT?

Lane: “When done properly, luxury travel has the power to help communities AND help create unique travel experiences that benefit visitors.  A luxury property that is built using locally-sourced sustainable materials, that links its natural resource capital such as landmarks, ecosystems and wildlife with financial capital, and that is locally managed/owned can help communities by increasing their standards of living, their collective pride and their likelihood for preserving their surrounding ecosystems for generations.  The resulting experiences can provide visitors with opportunities for authentic cultural immersion as well as enlightening history, vistas, architecture and art.”

What are some of your top trips that you recommend that are both “luxury” and “sustainable”?  Lane’s written answers are quoted below:

Salkantay Lodge in Peru, Photo courtesy of Mountain Lodges of Peru, Provided by Greenloons

South America: Machu Picchu Trekking & Lodging Experience

“It is a seven day program and the only lodge-to-lodge trek to Machu Picchu. Adventurers trek among four mountain lodges from the Salkantay Peak of the Peruvian Andes to Machu Picchu.

“These four premier mountain lodges, stretching from the Salkantay Peak of the Peruvian Andes to the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu, are committed to providing exciting travel experiences for their guests in a safe, eco-friendly and socially responsible manner. There are three unique adventure experiences available to visitors including a lodge-to-lodge trek, an equestrian program and a Peruvian immersion experience.  Each adventure provides fun and interesting ways to enjoy the nature, culture and history of Peru while supporting local people and communities. The per person rate is $2,690 including accommodations, meals, luggage transport, activities and guide.”

Irene Lane traveling green

The LuxuryAll four mountain lodges, which are only used by trekking guests, have been designed and built in accordance with traditional building techniques, Inca architectural & mythological concepts, and respect for the surrounding environment. The lodges have private double, twin or triple rooms with private bathroom facilities (with hot water), outdoor Jacuzzis and saunas as well as personalized services such as professional massage.  Gourmet meals, fine wine and seamless transport of your personal belongings by pack horses/mules round out the experience.”

Central America a la Alexandra Cousteau Expedition

Central America: Alexandra Cousteau Expedition offers eight days in the footsteps of Explorer Alexandra Cousteau, experiencing Belize as she did when she was gathering information for “Expedition Blue Planet: Belize”, a documentary to raise awareness about Belize’s crucial water issues. Travelers will learn about the conservation work for endangered Scarlet Macaws, Maya Mountain Massif, Jaguars, Pumas, Ocelots and Raptors. The per person rate is $3,015 including internal air transport, accommodations, meals, activities, and guides.”

 The Luxury: “The small resort of Blancaneux Lodge is a haven of relaxation and tranquility. Offering concierge, ‘private dining’ experiences as well as full dining services, the lodge is also a center of wildlife exploration, cultural interaction and discovery.  The enchanted cottage at the lodge affords panoramic views of the Privassion Creek, surrounding valley and waterfalls all unfolding beyond the infinity pool. Luxury bathroom with steam room and open fire, full kitchen, wireless internet and private staff make this the ultimate hideaway with sustainability in mind.”

Luxury Lodge In Botswana, Courtesy of Wilderness Safari, Provided by Greenloons

Africa: Greenloons Conservation Safari of Botswana,

“An exclusive for Greenloons’ clients only, it is a 12-day Botswana safari focusing on commerce, conservation, community and culture through its wildlife and tourism businesses that ensure the sustainability of conservation and wildlife areas of Botswana. The per person rate is $13,995 including luxury accommodation, internal air transfers, meals, activities, park and entrance fees, laundry, guides and applicable taxes.”

 The luxury:Greenloons Conservation Safari of Botswana Vumbura Plains Camp is a private luxury camp situated in the extreme north of the Okavango Delta.  Vumbura Plains Camp comprises two separate seven-roomed satellite camps, each with its own raised dining, lounge and bar area tucked beneath a canopy of cool, shady, indigenous trees. Magnificent vistas across the Okavango Delta floodplains are a feature. A star-gazing deck with comfortable cushions protrudes into the floodplain, a place to gaze upwards, or a convivial campfire setting.  Each large, luxurious room is raised off the ground on wooden decks and each comprises a bedroom, lounge, shower and full en-suite bathroom. Outdoor showers are standard. It is open on three sides, and the billowing curtains between the various areas create the sense of a yacht floating through the floodplains. Each room also has a plunge pool and ‘sala’ – a comfortable area to lie and relax, watching the waving grasses of the floodplain.”

Eco-camp dome in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Photo courtesy of Cascada Expeditions, provided by Greenloons

South America: Patagonia United

“Explore the best of Chilean & Argentinean Patagonia including the highlights of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and Los Glaciares NP and Perito Moreno in Argentina with the comfort and charm of private services, high-quality local accommodation including staying in a suite at the world’s first Geodesic dome camp and unparalleled nature. “

 The Luxury:  “Patagonia United” EcoCamp Suite domes cater to those looking to combine adventure and nature immersion with a more comfortable relaxed stay in the heart of Torres del Paine. Suite domes were designed for sleeping in the highest level of comfort allowed by sustainable development in a natural untarnished environment.  They are comfortable 300 ft² Geodesic domes built in the same shape as the ancient Kaweskar tribe dwellings. Their structure produces minimal environmental impact while providing an efficient thermal and wind resistant unit, with great exposure to nature in the most magnificent Patagonian setting. Guests can gaze at the stars through the ceiling windows while falling asleep each night, after enjoying a spectacular sunset from their private terrace.”

 Africa: Maasai Conservation Safari

 “Kenya’s Campi ya Kanzi (Camp of the Hidden Treasure) is a community project with the local Maasai on their Kuku Group Ranch of 400 square miles. Set within the Chyulu Hills and overlooking Mount Kilimanjaro, the boutique eco-lodge built by the Maasai shelters only 16 guests at a time in the solitude and adventure of true wilderness. Guests stroll down (rather than ride in a 4×4 vehicle) the foothills of the savannah, go on walking safaris with a Maasai leader and learn cultural traditions from the Maasai by visiting them with their families at their homes, schools and medical clinic.

The Hemingway Suite of the Masai Conservation Safari, courtesy of Camp ya Kanzi, provided by Greenloons

The Luxury: “Located near Mount Kilimanjaro and at the foothills of the Chyulu Hills, you will be in one of the most iconic (if not the most iconic) places for a safari with many opportunities for spotting the ‘Big 5’.  Campi ya Kanzi accommodates a maximum of 16 guests (within its 280,000 acres) in six thatched roof luxury tented cottages and in the Hemingway and Simba suites. The tented cottages and the suites are conveniently located, with ample distance from one to the other, to guarantee every guest’s privacy.

“Each accommodation has a dedicated Maasai attendant and all activities are customized based on your desires, from classic game drives in many different habitats, to lovely game walks with a Maasai guide and a Maasai tracker. Furniture was made at the camp with local logs (trees fallen by elephants). A table, two safari chairs, a colonial trunk, kilim rugs, brass lamps, shelves and hangers for your clothes, and daily fresh flowers complete the interior décor of the tented cottages. The suites feature a clothes room between the bedroom and the bathroom, and a sitting area next to the bed.

“All accommodations are constructed of stones, canvas, and wood, and they feature a full elegant bath with shower, bidet, basin, flush toilet and electric light. Bathrooms in the suites have double sinks. Brass plumbing fixtures add an unexpected touch of elegance and comfort, with hot (solar heated) and cold running water.  Each accommodation has a wide veranda to let you enjoy superb views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Tsavo Hills, and the Chyulu Hills.”

 

Travel with your conscience and body comfortable? Greenloons offers trips they say are both “Luxury” and “Green”

 

South America: Galapagos Islands Yacht Cruise

“Sail through the Galapagos Islands on a yacht that serves as a means to access, with minimal environmental impact, and learn about endangered species.  With higher quality wildlife viewing spots away from the crowds and a certified naturalist on board, guests can go on nature and birding walks, sea kayaking through mangrove forests, swimming with sea lions, or just slipping into provided wetsuits and safely exploring on your own.  Whatever the activity, guests are directly contributing to the economy and preservation of the archipelago.”

The Luxury: “Built in 1991 and refurbished annually, the company’s first-class yachts accommodate no more than 20 guests and feature three decks of spacious staterooms with polished teak interiors trimmed with brass fittings. Accommodations are fully air-conditioned with private bathrooms (hot and cold water showers), bio-degradable soap/shampoo dispensers, plenty of storage space, intercom and separate climate controls for comfort.  There’s a dining room that serves gourmet international meals, a well-stocked bar and a conference area with a flat screen TV, library and panoramic picture windows. There is also the opportunity to relax in a lounge chair on the sun deck, enjoying sea breezes and a sky full of stars.”

Double Room on a Yacht in the Galapagos, photo is courtesy of Ecoventura, provided by Greenloons

How do you define “Sustainable” and” Luxury”? Hw can a traveler be comfortable and consciously thoughtful?

Lane: “Greenloons focuses on ecotourism, which is slightly different than sustainable tourism.  Ecotourism travel focuses on the discovery of a natural or wildlife habitat in a manner that maximizes local economic and social goals, and reduces the possibility of environmental degradation.  It is about preserving ecosystems, educating visitors about conservation, empowering localities, operating environmentally responsible tourist attractions – and, most of all, having fun and unique travel experiences!  Greenloons defends the principles of ecotourism in that it should:

  •  Support the conservation of natural areas and wildlife
  •  Minimize air and water pollution as well as tourist waste
  • Offer safe and enriching or educational visitor experiences
  • Respect the cultural tradition of the host destination
  • Maintain and enhance the landscape so as to avoid physical or environmental  degradation
  • Efficiently use scarce or non-renewable resources, and
  • Maximize opportunities for local prosperity for the host destination in the form of long-term economic viability for tourism, local management control, quality employment, local retention of visitor spending, and fair distribution of economic and social benefits.

Natural views from Bed, Botswana luxury

“While sustainable tourism does not deplete resources and allows for a smaller number of tourists to experience nature so as not to disturb an animal’s normal mating, feeding, or migratory patterns (i.e. rafting trips on a free flowing river), the difference with ecotourism is that there may not be a focus on the preservation of the natural habitat or a focus to economically benefit the host destination.

“Mindful travelers can search trips using various parameters including country, activity, departure date and eco-style.  There are three eco-styles to choose from namely eco-luxurious, eco-ventional, and eco-nomical. 

“Eco-luxurious trips are ones where travelers are not giving up the spirit of adventure to enjoy more comfort.  Depending on the itinerary, which is for the most part customized, travelers will get around via upgraded transportation-using private vehicles, comfortable trains, and convenient flights (if applicable).  As a result, they spend more time exploring.  While this service level offers a greater number of inclusions, it still offers the flexibility to be independent with activities.  Travelers are to expect accommodations that have been handpicked for their great locations, upgraded amenities, facilities and personalized service – all with sustainability in mind.”

For more information on “Eco-Certified” travel, click here.

For Greenloons’ “Six Traps to Avoid” in Eco Tourism Marketing, click here to download a pdf

Greenloon’s take on “What makes an Eco-Hotel”

Related Luxury Travel Maven’s articles:

Top Trips from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council

Travel in Central America: Nicaragua Adventures

Galapagos Snorkeling with Ecoventura, and other great snorkeling sites

Machu Pichu Travel by   train in Peru (two articles)

Please add your own tips and trips for Luxury Green Travel in the comments section below.

Happy Valentines Day to you and the planet!

-Lisa TE Sonne for Luxury Travel Mavens

Bio provided by Irene Lane:

Irene Lane, leader of Greenloons, advocate of Green Travel

Irene Lane is the founder of Greenloons, which is a premier online resource dedicated to inspiring people to think different, be different and travel different – in ways that help to ensure a more sustainable planet.  An advocate of social empowerment, financial viability and environmental preservation, Greenloons is the only web platform that connects mindful travelers with unique, meaningful and eco-certified travel experiences all over the world. 

 Prior to Greenloons, Irene was at eBay where she was recruited to manage an IT group assigned to solving difficult customer service challenges.  She also spent more than 10 years working for various Fortune 500 companies as a process improvement specialist and overseeing software implementations.  Her clients included high-tech companies as well as domestic and international government agencies.

 Irene is a dual EU citizen who has lived in 5 countries and visited 30 more in Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Europe.  Drawing upon her professional and personal experiences to address authentic ecotourism from community, ecological and financial points of view, Irene is a frequent conference speaker, blogger and radio talk show guest.  She is a graduate of Boston University with a BA in Political Science, The American University with a MBA in International Finance, and earned a Certificate in Sustainable Tourism Management from George Washington University. 

 

A cow glances at the foreign kayak in the land of the Masai in Africa.

This is the week I hope to be kayaking in a lake with the world’s only fresh water sharks, amidst volcanos, islets, and prolific birdlife as part of Austin-Lehman Adventures’  compelling flagship tour in Nicaragua. To prepare, I contacted fellow Explorer’s Club member Alan Feldstein who teaches kayaking in the Pacific waters of Los Angeles, and leads a company that offers customized water safaris via kayaks in Tanzania, Africa—Infinite Safari Adventures(More on Feldstein’s other colorful ventures below.). He shares some tips and trips with me and Luxury Travel Mavens readers:

What is “luxury kayaking”?

Feldstein: “Most kayak trips, which I have done and love to do, involve paddling to a remote site with your gear in the boat, setting up camp, and then paddling the next day.  Us aging boomers are less into camping so the better way is to paddle to a lodge or paddle to and from a comfortable wonderful lodge with nice beds, hot showers and great meals.”

What does it take to be a kayaker?  How does it relate to health?

Feldstein: “Kayaking is a great sport for active people who do not want high impact.  Anyone can kayak and our trips are offered with no experience necessary.  General good health is all that it takes.  You use your core and are not putting stress on knees, hips and other joints.”

What are your five best tips for “good” kayaking?

Feldstein: “Have good equipment, have guides who are certified and know what they are doing, eat and hydrate well before paddling, and remember ‘the journey is the destination’ so go out and enjoy, and do not worry about how far or fast you paddle.  It is that Zen rhythm you get into when paddling that I enjoy so much.”

How do you recommend someone prepare for a kayaking trip? Any advance physical training? Anything special to pack?

Feldstein: “If you have never kayaked before, it would be if possible to take a lesson or introductory course.  Otherwise that is one of the great things of kayaking – anyone can do it. There are techniques to learn but anyone can paddle with out them.  We provide everything so the only thing you will need is a pair of waterproof shorts, shirts and shoes, a hat, some sunglasses and sunscreen, and a desire to have fun!”

How is kayaking different than canoeing or rowing? Why do you prefer it?

Feldstein: “I tease my friends who are rowers that they look at where they have been.  We look to where we are going!  Canoeing is similar, but I feel more comfortable in a kayak, because I am more connected with my boat.”

What inspired you to start a safari company and include kayaking?

Feldstein: “My story of how I started my safari company, which has now expanded beyond kayaking, and offers traditional wildlife safaris as well as other adventures including climbing Kilimanjaro, scuba diving in Zanzibar and tracking chimps, is born from my love of Africa and kayaking.

In 2000, I made my first trip to Tanzania. It was during that trip that I fell in love with Africa and everything about it – the people and their culture, the animals, the natural beauty. The first time a giraffe bent her graceful neck to peer into the vehicle window – well, she had me at jambo (Swahili for hello).

The trip left quite an impression on me. I dreamed about returning. In 2005, I made another trip to Tanzania to try new adventures — climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and tracking wild chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains. While “chimping” at Mahale, I met Steve and Teena, who managed the beachfront lodge where I and my wife were staying. Steve and I discovered we shared a passion for kayaking, and much to my surprise, Steve produced an aging boat and makeshift paddles so I could go for a paddle on Lake Tanganyika.

A few years later, I brought my children to Tanzania, and they too fell in love with Africa. Steve organized our safari. I wanted to include kayaking on the trip, but there were no kayaks available in Tanzania, so Steve custom built two beautiful fiberglass boats. He and I became the first to paddle the warm waters of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania.

During that trip, I thought about what makes a safari a great one from a good one.  I also thought about how to incorporate kayaking, and much more. I believed that many other adventurers from around the world would enjoy the same exceptional experience. From that dream, Infinite Safari Adventures was born.”

When are your upcoming trips?

Feldstein: “We only do custom trips, so they can be done anytime people are ready to do them!”

Any good kayaking related stories from past trip?

Feldstein: “My last trip was a family of 11 – grandparents, adult kids, 2 grandkids, and an 80-year-old friend from Japan.  I loved the fact that we took the grandfather, his son and granddaughter on a paddle one day.  She was so proud of kayaking with the adults (she did great), and it was a great bonding experience for the whole family.”

What’s your personal favorite “luxury” trip that you have been on?

Feldstein: “Of course my favorite are my trips, but my next one was paddling in Halong Bay in North Vietnam.”

What is on your bucket list for future “bucket list” Luxury travels (with or without a kayak)?

Feldstein: I spend so much time traveling to Africa.  If I had time, I would like to go to South America – anywhere.

Pampered Paddling

Thanks Alan!  I would also love to try kayaking just about anywhere beautiful on every continent. In North America, I’ve savored kayaking while on American Safari Cruises (now Un-Cruise Adventures). They lower kayaks off their yachts for memorable paddling and pampering experiences in the Inside Passage of Alaska, Hawaii, and Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

Now I head to the largest country in Central America to dip into Lake Nicaragua!  I will remember to stay hydrated, and hope to see and photograph monkeys on the islands, the world’s only freshwater sharks, and the volcanic landscapes, but will remember that phrase “the journey is the destination.”

For more on kayaking (and ashboarding?) in Nicaragua, you can “follow me” at @ExploreTraveler  and other adventurers @AustinLehman.  To plan your own paddling journey in Africa, you can contact Feldstein via his website.

 —Lisa TE Sonne for Luxury Travel Mavens

-Photographs by Alan Feldstein, except for the one of him.

Alan Feldstein, Founder, Infinite Safari Adventures

 

Feldstein’s bio, provided by him: In addition to paddling and teaching kayaking, Alan Feldstein has paddled all over the world, including California, Baja, British Columbia, Cape Cod, Hawaii, Turkey, The Hudson River, Vietnam, West Africa, Lake Tanganyika, and was one of the first people to kayak and explore the coast of Tanzania. Alan is also an avid nature photographer whose work has appeared in Wavelength Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the paddling.net calendar.  In addition, Alan has traveled extensively throughout the world.  He is a member of the Adventurer’s Club of Los Angeles and Southern California Chapter Chair of the Explorer’s Club.  He also sits on the board of Trustees of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Most importantly he is the Owner and Founder of Infinite Safari Adventures.

 

 

What is sustainable travel?

Luxury travelers can afford to make choices for choice travel, so why not aim for destinations that are sensational and “sustainable,”  places that are both good and great?  But how can you tell what’s marketing for the green of your pocketbook and what’s for the green planet?  Who is ranking and rating? And how and why?  In some of my columns this year, we will look at some “Choice Travel.”

We start with six sensational, “sustainable” destinations chosen by The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), a group  founded by the World Tourism Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, UN Foundation, Rainforest Alliance, Sabre/Travelocity to ” be a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism efforts around the world.”

  • The Fjords of Norway
  • Teton County,Wyoming
  • Mt. Huangshan, China
  •  St. Kitts & Nevis, Carribbean
  • Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
  • Okavango Delta, Botswana

According to the  Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC), the destinations above and below meet the new and evolving  GSTC Criteria for Destinations that “a destination must reach in order to move toward social, cultural, and environmental sustainability—maintaining the cultural and natural attractions that tourists come to see, while benefiting the local population. This pioneering group of destinations will be the first to test and provide feedback on the Destination Criteria, which complement the GSTC’s existing Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators.”

How do hot spots for travel meet hot issues?

If you are interested in traveling to a place not on the list above,  Kelly Bricker, Phd, board president of GSTC, recommends that you “Look for third party certifications from recognized bodies when booking an accommodation and/or tour operation.” The GSTC website posts their growing list of approved third party groups that vet with the same standards as GSTC.

As provided by the GSTC. here are the words and images of six places aiming to be memorable for you and future generations:

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone

Where in Wyoming?

GSTC: “Wyoming’s Teton County–takes pride in a long history of sustainability, dating back to the creation of the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, in 1872; forty years later, local outcry at the elk starving near the town of Jackson led to the creation of the National Elk Refuge, and less than 20 years after that, Grand Teton National Park was added to the county’s roster of natural splendors; the Teton and Yellowstone area comprises the largest intact ecosystem in the continental U.S.

Says Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tim O’Donoghue, “As stewards of one of the most beautiful places on Earth, our community has made a strong commitment toward sustainability, with significant results. Our participation in the GSTC Early Adopter Program gives us the tools to achieve even more.”

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Sustainable in Africa

GSTC: Botswana’s Okavango Delta region is one of Africa’s premier wildlife destinations, famous for the enormous herds of elephants, buffalo and other animals that flock to this oasis within the Kalahari Desert each spring. Despite pressure from mining and farming interests, the area has been developed with a “low volume, high yield” model of ecotourism—fewer visitors, paying higher rates than those in other parts of Africa. This model has since been replicated elsewhere, leading to greater economic benefits with less environmental disturbance.

Lanzarote island in the Canary Islands, Spain

Spain’s Sustainable Destination

GSTC: Lanzarote is the easternmost of the Canary Islands, just off the African coast but belonging to Spain. Of nearly 500 animal species found only on the Canary Islands, 97 are endemic to just Lanzarote. This great biological wealth, along with year-round sun, quaint fishing villages and lovely beaches, make the island a popular tourist destination. But Lanzarote has been careful about its tourism development. The island has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and more than 40% of its area is protected.

Huanghsan, China

China and GSTC

GSTC: In China, Mt. Huangshan—known for its spindly granite peaks and the painterly pine trees that grow up through their cracks—sees more than 2.5 million visitors every year. The area’s administrators have already made efforts to reduce the impact of these sightseers by promoting alternative footpaths, encouraging winter visits, and closing the most frequented “hot spots” on a rotating basis.

 

One of the beautiful beaches of St Kitts

Norway’s Beauty

GSTC: Likewise, Norway’s Fjord region, along the country’s southwest coast, has been attracting travelers since the mid-19th century. In 2006, two of its fjords were named among the world’s best-cared-for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the region has published a “white book” to help other destinations develop sustainably. But they’re eager to do even more explains Fjord Norway’s CEO, Kristian B. Jorgensen, “Being part of the GSTC’s Early Adopter program is a very concrete way of helping us find the balance between preserving our spectacular landscape and growing as an attractive, nature-based travel destination.”

Beach walk in St Kitts

Sustainable Carribbean

GSTC: The twin-island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis is relatively new to tourism, certainly when compared to some of its Caribbean neighbors. However, the destination has seen exponential growth in cruise visitors over the last few years and the government is eager to make sure that this development happens sustainably and with the preservation of the local culture and environment in mind.

In the coming months, a sustainable tourism consultant will visit each of these early-adopter destinations to see the criteria implemented, and to provide valuable feedback as the GSTC finalizes the Destination criteria. Once the GSTC publishes its revised criteria, these early-adopter destinations will have the opportunity to apply for formal recognition that they operate in accordance with these universal principles of sustainable tourism

GSTC is evolving criteria for vetting how travelers can best capture great experiences.

The GSTC is collecting comments from the public on the criteria; input and suggestions can be made online.

GSTC is also currently conducting a second review phase for additional destinations.Destinations interested in becoming an early adopter of new Criteria for Destinations are encouraged to contact the GSTC as soon as possible.

The GSTC works to expand understanding of and access to sustainable tourism practices; helps identify and generate markets for sustainable tourism; and educates about and advocates for a set of universal principles, as defined by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The Criteria is a set of voluntary principles that provide a framework for the sustainability of tourism businesses across the globe, and is the cornerstone of our initiative.”

Sustainable?

Grand Tetons in Wyoming..Sustainable?

All the  images in this piece and the words above about the destinations are the point of view and information of the GSTC as part of a new series to look at how travel can best enrich the traveler and the destination. As tourism grows as an important part of nations’ economies, and people’s lifestyles, the impact on cultures and ecosystems is even more critical. And the luxury traveler’s choices increase.

Please let me know if you have suggestions for my upcoming pieces on “Choice Travel” –people or groups like Irene Lane at Greenloons which offers “green” trips and lists goals for ecotourism.   Please share your own experiences and join the dialogue about how “luxury” and “sustainable” can be in the same sentence.

-GSTC materials included in this week’s column by Lisa TE Sonne for Luxury Travel Mavens

 

Museum musings in Morocco

Have you ever wanted to create a destination with-in a destination? Places that both spark and sate curiosity?  Museums and gardens that restore and motivate the human spirit?

In the midst of Marekkesh, Morocco, Yves Saint-Laurent, helped create an artistic oasis that now offers visitors a wonderful Museum of Berber culture, the restored gardens of Majorelle, and a restful café . In the 1920s and 30s,  Jacques Majorelle a French artist, landscaped the gardens as canvases.

He also used blues and yellows and oranges in buildings for contrast, and the vivid cobalt like blue is named after him- Majorelle bleu.  In the 1980s, fashion designer Saint-Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge  restored the place and now visitors can walk peaceful paths between cacti, palms, coconut trees, bamboo and fountains as well as immerse in authentic Berber artifacts in the museum.  There’s even a YSL gallery that includes the “love” cards he made each year for friends as holiday greetings.

This eclectic destination within the great destination of Marrakesh was one of many memorable places we visited as part of my recent, wonder- filled  Access Trips culinary journey of Morocco, and it prompted many musings while I meant to be writing about the delightful  riads of the royal kingdom of Morocco. Good travels tend to stir dreams, memories, and ideas for new mixes.

FAMOUS MAGNETS

I grew up exploring the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, California just a few miles from the Pasadena Rose parade route.  Thanks to Henry E. Huntington, and the transformation of his former home, the Gutenberg Bible, Gainsborough’s Blue Boy painting, the Shakespeare Gardens, an imaginative range of growing fauna, and the big bell in the Japanese gardens were a part of my childhood and are available to the many thousands who visit the peaceful grounds and rich repositories of knowledge and beauty.

Getty Museum, Los Angeles

The Getty Museum, thanks J.P Getty, is another visual feast inside and out in Southern California.  Perched on a mountain top over freeways and high-rises with far reaching views outside and extensive art inside, it’s one of my favorite spots to meet friends and family for a meal, shared walks in the gardens and some satiating gawking in galleries.

Thanks also to Solomon R. Guggenheim whose eponymous spiraled museum in New York is a lovely respite from the intensities of New York city streets.  The Guggenheims also sponsored public museums in Venice, Berlin, and Bilbao, Spain.

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

The Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, inspired the transformation of a whole region of the Basque Country for locals and tourism. Who knows how many visitors the artful destination has sparked?

 YOUR OWN

Many travelers I know, have places in their homes that are aesthetic sanctuaries with goodies culled from the globe, integrated domestic shrines to the wonders of the world. But those places are only available to friends.

What cultural public oasis would you love to leave that others could enjoy?

POSSIBILITATOR PARK
If I were to write a mega best seller or win some stupendous lottery so I had a surplus of funds, I would love to create “Possibilitator Park”  with a library full of eclectic inspiring works from around the world and different times , and gardens full of places to sit and think or stroll and muse. Trees that are symbolic and literal parts of stories would be spaciously placed so people could picnic or nap or sketch the lyrical branches.  It worked for Buddha and Newton… There would also be conserved wilderness with running water, and open spaces for cloud watching, and, and.. well I have more than a few ideas gathered over the year while thinking about such a place.

Place to reflect and revel in the Santa Monica Mountains

Right now I imagine this sanctuary and stimulus on some mountain top acreage in the Santa Monica Mountains with a view of the Pacific Ocean, but places along the Hudson River in New York also come to mind—some gorgeous natural setting not far from an urban center, accessible to locals and travelers.  The library would make available (via latest technology) all kinds of exemplary stories, quotes, art, social history,  and research about creation and invention and “dreams turned deeds”—tales of true “Possibilitators”  both the famous and the unsung.

On our first date, hours into our conversational meandering, I told this attractive, intelligent man named Victor that I wanted to resurrect a word I had found in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary)– the verb “possibilitate” meaning “to render possible.”  “How could the American language have lost the active use of a verb conveying such a great concept?” I asked him.

He leaned over the wooden table at the Miracle Grill in New York and said,  “Why don’t you and I be Possibilitators?”  He made it a noun, and a loving challenge.  I had written in a journal weeks earlier “I want to meet a man who is a victor not a victim.” Now I had met him. We were married five months later- the first marriage for both of us. We will enjoy our 15th wedding anniversary this Friday, 12/21/12 on the Solstice.  And I smile deeply thinking how fortunate I am to be in love with the person I am married to, a man who inspires musings and is amusing.

MUSE CENTERS

Musings

Whether any of us go to a museum, library or garden within our home town or seek them out in exotic locales or create our own mini-versions in our homes and yards to share, they can be places for us to both escape and ignite, to empty out and then better fuel the best parts of ourselves.

Wouldn’t a park and museum that helped you contemplate and manifest what you want “to render possible” be wonderful?

What are your favorite incubators for musings? For possibilitatings? What do you want to possibilitate in the New Year?

-Lisa TE Sonne for LuxuryTravelMavens.com

Photographs by Lisa TE Sonne

The adventures of the known and unknown…

Are you itching for a travel experience that is rare and “hot”? Or looking for a trendy trip for a great luxe gift to someone wonderful? Customized travel group Kensington Tours shares their top ten travel trends for 2013 with vacation adventures that include dragons, lemurs, soccer, white sand beaches in Africa, the land of the Hobbit, and the best Northern lights in 50 years.   They polled people they call Destination Experts  i.e.  in their own words “Kensington’s team of seasoned nomads, globetrotters and adventure enthusiasts.”  I have never experienced a Kensington trip so the specific adventures linked below are not personally vetted,  though I have enjoyed exotic river cruises, safaris and night-time lights shows in other ways and recommend the concepts ! Read on for the top travel trend results as Kensington sent them to Luxury Travel Mavens:

Trending Wonders in their Words:

1. Asian Safaris – Dragons, Tigers, Orangutans & More
One wild trend that is on the 2013 hotlist – More families are requesting animal safaris in Southeast Asia than ever before!  Borneo’s orangutans, Cambodia’s elephants, Thailand’s tigers, Laos’ gibbons and Indonesia’s komodo dragons, these animals add another dimension to the temples and treasures of these culturally rich countries.

2. Glamping – The Glam In Latin American Camping
Take some of Latin America’s wildest destinations, a large dose of fresh air, mobile tents and evening campfires, add porters to carry your gear, breakfast mimosas, and a personal chef – this is what glamping is all about! Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Patagonia all have a growing collection of luxury mobile camps for those who love the great outdoors but don’t want to miss out on prerequisite holiday pampering.

 

Discover……

3. River Cruises – From Europe To The World
The popularity of European river cruises in past years has gone global.  Quickly cruising their way on to the top of 2013’s travel hotlist are small ship adventures along the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, South East Asia’s Mekong, the Brazilian Amazon and Botswana’s Zambezi.

4. Island Hopping, African Style
Mozambique’s Benguerra, Zanzibar, Seychelles and Mauritius. After a week of going wild on game drives, safari-goers aren’t shy to ask which way to the beach? While the white sands of these African isles aren’t near as busy as Miami, Phuket, Bondi or Rio, 2013 sees them drawing more North American sun-worshipers than ever before.

5. Set Jetting – Lights, Camera, Travel
A blockbuster hit in this day and age can play a real role in driving tourism. Hollywood movies inspire people to visit far off lands and can arouse a strong sense of wanderlust for the destinations showcased on film. For 2013 we anticipate fans building trips around New Zealand’s The Hobbit, India’s Life of Pi and the Wild West’s The Lone Ranger.

6. 2013 Year Of The Northern Lights
Give into the call of the north as the dancing green glow of the Aurora Borealis will be shinning brighter than ever for winter of 2012-2013. NASA has predicted a 50-year peak in the auroral cycle and there’s no finer place to see this natural phenomenon than now through to the end of March from Sweden, Norway or Iceland.

If your dreams take flight, where will you go?

7. Last Call For Untouched Sri Lanka
With publications like Lonely Planet and the New York Times putting Sri Lanka on the top of their 2013 bucket lists, the time is now before crowds hit and prices rise.  Go at your own pace with a private guide and driver for a more personal experience and discover Sri Lanka’s tea plantations, elephant sanctuaries, wild jungles, divine temples, sun-kissed beaches and more.

8. Brazil World Cup Warm Up – 2013 Confederations Cup
Held the year before World Cup, Confederation Cup is regarded by football aficionados as the dress rehearsal for the big event and will be drawing travelers in droves to stadiums across Brazil June 15th- 30th 2013. Die-hard fans who want to experience Brazil and World Cup without the high prices are making travel plans for 2013 as they know this is the perfect kick-off

9. Lemur Fever! Madagascar
Bizarrely beautiful, this eco rich isle’s playful lemurs, phenomenal beaches, baobab trees and outlandish creatures are quietly climbing their way to the top of every globetrotter’s hit list. The country is only now beginning to embrace tourism after years of being off the map and it’s an exotic add-on to any African safari.

10. Travel Smart – With A Smartphone
HD cameras and travel apps on smartphones are bringing the days of lugging around heavy gear, books and other gadgets to an end. With apps such as Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, you can share their travel moments those instantly as opposed to weeks later when the postcard arrives.

You

What are you own predictions for travel trends?  Which of the above would you add to your bucket list? Which have you already enjoyed? What was it like? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below the field of wildflowers.  Happy Travelling!

Posted by Lisa TE Sonne for Luxury Travel Mavens

Photographs by (c) Lisa TE Sonne Please contact her for permission to re-use.


Malcolm looks to the future of Luxury Travel

Alex Malcom in Africa
Photo provided by Jacada Travel

Heli-surfing in Chile? Private picnics above Angel Falls in Venezuela? A tailored-to-you luxury safari honeymoon in Africa? Jacada Travel prides itself on originality with its luxury adventure trips. The founder, Alex Malcolm, started life in Oxford in the United Kingdom, but found his passion for unique travel in Brazil. Since founding Jacada Travel in 2008, he has aspired to share some of the best of South America and Africa with personally crafted trips. He shares recommends and trends in this cyber interview with Luxury Travel Maven Sonne while he was in the  Amazon.

Q: How do you define luxury travel?

A: Where one has space and time. Settings and experiences which take us far from the everyday as such to renew and replenish us. The ability to experience something completely unique and beyond the reach of the crowds.

Q: How is South America different than other continents for discriminating travelers?

A:I am a great fan of the landscapes of South America. There’s such variation, even within each country. However, what I think really makes South America stand out as a destination is how one can really interact with people and the cultures of the area. The people of South America really are open to outsiders, so it’s a great place to engage with the local people.

Q: What are the unique luxuries in South America for travelers?

The variety of experience, being able to stand atop a glacier one day and to be in a tropical rainforest the next. Remote private lodges tucked between mountains where one can experience true solitude.

Jacada Travel

The remote Atacama Desert in South America
Image provided by Jacada Travel

Q: What shouldn’t be missed in South America?

A: Taking a more private experience of Patagonia and visiting the glaciers where the crowds don’t visit. Experiencing the unique atmosphere of Trancoso in Brazil, or flying over the Amazon by hydroplane to reach your luxury riverboat deep in the pristine rainforest.

Q: What are some of your favorite luxury memories in South America?

A: Watching the sunset in the Colca Valley of Peru on my own with not a sound around me. Flying over the amazing landscape of the Pantanal wetlands in Brazil, a lattice of green and blue with brilliant white light shimmering on the top.

Q: What are some of your favorite luxury moments elsewhere In the world? 

A: Outside of Latin America, it has to be my time in Africa. Lying in my large tent in the Okavango Delta listening to the sound of the elephants right outside of the tent or watching the sun set from a coppice in the Samburu area of Kenya, joined by the local Samburu people as I relaxed and took in the landscape.

Q: What’s still on your dream list of luxury experiences in the world?

A: I would really very much like to get up close with the gorillas.

Q: What does Jacada offer that other travel services don’t?

A: An amazing attention to detail, from start to finish. We’ve all lived in the places that we work with, so we have a unique insight into the way the country works and how to genuinely get the best out of your time there. It’s very much like plugging into a vast network of friends.

We’ve always felt that travel is a very personal experience so we listen well and ensure our guests have the trip they are looking for. We hand pick our guides and select the right guide for the right client. We know many of the lodge/hotel managers personally and are in touch before the arrival of every client to ensure they get a special welcome on our behalf.

Jacaa Travel in the Galapagos

Galapagos Penguins are the only penguins that live in the wild north of the Eguator. Image provided by Jacada Travel.

Q: Your company sent out a press release predicting that your Travel Designers will be the future of luxury travel. What is a Travel Designer?

A: We put together a complete experience from an intimate, personal knowledge of the area the guest will be travelling to. There’s so much detail involved, from choosing the correct guide, to selecting a restaurant you will like for your trip. Or even adding in little touches and surprises.

Q: How is it different than a travel agent?

A: First of all we are not selling an “off-the-shelf product” and are really not just a booking service. The knowledge and the depth of planning that is involved from our end is exhaustive. We go the extra mile to ensure our guests have a trip that is perfect for them and it is something that we can personally vouch for on a first-hand basis.

Q: What do you predict is a trend in South American and African luxury travel?

A: We are trying to push the boundaries ourselves for our clients, creating brand new ways of experiencing the most remote, pristine, and beautiful areas away from the crowds for a privileged few.

Q: What will be offered within five years that isn’t now?

A: I think more “experience-based” properties are likely to spring up in remote locations, where clients can experience comfort in a unique, pristine environment.

Q: What are the three most popular Luxury Jacada trips?

A: In South America

  • Luxury Peru Explorer, which takes in the Amazon, Machu Picchu and Cusco
  • Luxury Argentina Explorer, which takes in Patagonia, the wine Region, and Buenos Aires

In Africa

  • Safari Wine and Waterfalls Tour, which takes in Cape Town, Wine Lands, Safari and Victoria Falls.

Q: Do you have any stories to share about how a Jacada trip changed someone’s life?

A: We had a couple on their honeymoon in Argentina. They were actually lodge managers of a safari lodge in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. After their trip, they enjoyed Argentina so much that they moved there!

by Lisa TE Sonne for Luxury Travel Mavens

 Photographs provided by Jacada Travel

Jacada Travel in Africa

Rhinos in Africa

Malcolm looks to the future of Luxury Travel

Alex Malcom in Africa
Photo provided by Jacada Travel

Heli-surfing in Chile? Private picnics above Angel Falls in Venezuela? A tailored-to-you luxury safari honeymoon in Africa? Jacada Travel prides itself on originality with its luxury adventure trips. The founder, Alex Malcolm, started life in Oxford in the United Kingdom, but found his passion for unique travel in Brazil. Since founding Jacada Travel in 2008, he has aspired to share some of the best of South America and Africa with personally crafted trips. He shares recommends and trends in this cyber interview with Luxury Travel Maven Sonne while he was in the  Amazon.

Q: How do you define luxury travel?

A: Where one has space and time. Settings and experiences which take us far from the everyday as such to renew and replenish us. The ability to experience something completely unique and beyond the reach of the crowds.

Q: How is South America different than other continents for discriminating travelers?

A:I am a great fan of the landscapes of South America. There’s such variation, even within each country. However, what I think really makes South America stand out as a destination is how one can really interact with people and the cultures of the area. The people of South America really are open to outsiders, so it’s a great place to engage with the local people.

Q: What are the unique luxuries in South America for travelers?

The variety of experience, being able to stand atop a glacier one day and to be in a tropical rainforest the next. Remote private lodges tucked between mountains where one can experience true solitude.

Jacada Travel

The remote Atacama Desert in South America
Image provided by Jacada Travel

Q: What shouldn’t be missed in South America?

A: Taking a more private experience of Patagonia and visiting the glaciers where the crowds don’t visit. Experiencing the unique atmosphere of Trancoso in Brazil, or flying over the Amazon by hydroplane to reach your luxury riverboat deep in the pristine rainforest.

Q: What are some of your favorite luxury memories in South America?

A: Watching the sunset in the Colca Valley of Peru on my own with not a sound around me. Flying over the amazing landscape of the Pantanal wetlands in Brazil, a lattice of green and blue with brilliant white light shimmering on the top.

Q: What are some of your favorite luxury moments elsewhere In the world? 

A: Outside of Latin America, it has to be my time in Africa. Lying in my large tent in the Okavango Delta listening to the sound of the elephants right outside of the tent or watching the sun set from a coppice in the Samburu area of Kenya, joined by the local Samburu people as I relaxed and took in the landscape.

Q: What’s still on your dream list of luxury experiences in the world?

A: I would really very much like to get up close with the gorillas.

Q: What does Jacada offer that other travel services don’t?

A: An amazing attention to detail, from start to finish. We’ve all lived in the places that we work with, so we have a unique insight into the way the country works and how to genuinely get the best out of your time there. It’s very much like plugging into a vast network of friends.

We’ve always felt that travel is a very personal experience so we listen well and ensure our guests have the trip they are looking for. We hand pick our guides and select the right guide for the right client. We know many of the lodge/hotel managers personally and are in touch before the arrival of every client to ensure they get a special welcome on our behalf.

Jacaa Travel in the Galapagos

Galapagos Penguins are the only penguins that live in the wild north of the Eguator. Image provided by Jacada Travel.

Q: Your company sent out a press release predicting that your Travel Designers will be the future of luxury travel. What is a Travel Designer?

A: We put together a complete experience from an intimate, personal knowledge of the area the guest will be travelling to. There’s so much detail involved, from choosing the correct guide, to selecting a restaurant you will like for your trip. Or even adding in little touches and surprises.

Q: How is it different than a travel agent?

A: First of all we are not selling an “off-the-shelf product” and are really not just a booking service. The knowledge and the depth of planning that is involved from our end is exhaustive. We go the extra mile to ensure our guests have a trip that is perfect for them and it is something that we can personally vouch for on a first-hand basis.

Q: What do you predict is a trend in South American and African luxury travel?

A: We are trying to push the boundaries ourselves for our clients, creating brand new ways of experiencing the most remote, pristine, and beautiful areas away from the crowds for a privileged few.

Q: What will be offered within five years that isn’t now?

A: I think more “experience-based” properties are likely to spring up in remote locations, where clients can experience comfort in a unique, pristine environment.

Q: What are the three most popular Luxury Jacada trips?

A: In South America

  • Luxury Peru Explorer, which takes in the Amazon, Machu Picchu and Cusco
  • Luxury Argentina Explorer, which takes in Patagonia, the wine Region, and Buenos Aires

In Africa

  • Safari Wine and Waterfalls Tour, which takes in Cape Town, Wine Lands, Safari and Victoria Falls.

Q: Do you have any stories to share about how a Jacada trip changed someone’s life?

A: We had a couple on their honeymoon in Argentina. They were actually lodge managers of a safari lodge in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. After their trip, they enjoyed Argentina so much that they moved there!

by Lisa TE Sonne for Luxury Travel Mavens

 Photographs provided by Jacada Travel

Jacada Travel in Africa

Rhinos in Africa