The 7 Best Adventure Travel Companies of 2022
Jessica Macdonald lives in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province and has been TripSavvy’s Africa Expert since 2016. She also covers travel products and has written about everything from camping knives to climbing chalk.
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Best Luxury: &Beyond
“Your &Beyond adventure will be defined by flawless, around-the-clock assistance, first-class guides, and extraordinary guest experiences.”
“You could take your children to meet the whales in Baja, or on a multi-sport itinerary to the Galapagos Islands.”
Best Senior: ElderTreks
“The company specializes in off-the-beaten-track adventures, with land and boat-based trips to over 100 countries.”
Best Female: AdventureWomen
“Offers itineraries especially for moms and daughters who want to reconnect in an exciting new country.”
Best Nature: Naturetrek
“You can join birdwatching or photography trips, or see expeditions that focus on finding specific iconic creatures.”
“Includes all kinds of adventurous pursuits and is the brand of choice for adrenalin junkies.”
“Destinations include Easter Island and Tahiti voyages to cultural trips down the River Nile.”
Best Luxury: &Beyond
Courtesy of &Beyond
Established in South Africa in 1991, &Beyond originally became famous for their ultra-luxurious African safaris. Today, the company also offers high-end adventure tours to Asia and South America, with 29 boutique lodges and luxury camps in 23 different countries. You can choose from a selection of privately guided small group journeys, which range from tracking snow leopards in the Himalayas to exploring Southern and East Africa by private jet. Alternatively, you can speak with a dedicated Travel Specialist and organize your own bespoke adventure according to your specific interests or requirements.
However you choose to travel, your &Beyond adventure will be defined by flawless, around-the-clock assistance, first-class guides, and extraordinary guest experiences. As an example, you could find yourself being waited upon by butlers as you picnic on the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater; or leaping from a helicopter to find virgin snow in the Chilean mountains. &Beyond is also an ethical choice with a real commitment to sustainable travel. They support several conservation and community initiatives, including The Lionscape Coalition and Rhinos Without Borders.
Best Family: Thomson Family Adventures
Courtesy of Thomson Family Adventures
Thomson Family Adventures focus exclusively on family expeditions. With worldwide destinations ranging from Europe to Antarctica, you could take your children to meet the whales in Baja, or on a multi-sport itinerary to the Galapagos Islands. Want them to make friends en route? Join a small group tour. Want exclusive family time? Build your own custom itinerary. All groups are accompanied by expert local guides, while groups of eight or more usually come with a “rafiki” whose job is to engage younger travelers with fun games and activities.
Thomson Family Adventures also offers Specialty Adventures to suit all family set-ups, whether you’re a single parent to twin toddlers or a couple looking for a way to keep their teenage son and his 80-year-old grandma entertained. Themes include Solo Parent Travel, Family Reunions, and Multigen Travel. One particularly exciting Thomson initiative is the Friends Across Borders program, which pairs your child up with a foreign pen pal and then arranges a memorable meeting between the two – a jungle soccer game, perhaps, or a family meal at home.
See more reviews of our favorite family adventure travel companies you can book today.
Best Senior: ElderTreks
Courtesy of ElderTreks
Canadian company ElderTreks has over 30 years of experience in designing adventure tours exclusively for people aged 50 and over (although companions aged 18 and over are also welcome). The company specializes in off-the-beaten-track adventures, with land and boat-based trips to over 100 countries. Each one is ranked by difficulty from 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging). From Arctic cruises to gorilla-trekking in Uganda, choose the itinerary that best suits your fitness level.
Benefits of booking with ElderTreks include the company’s small group sizes – a maximum of 16 people for land-based tours and between eight and 200 passengers on expedition ships. This guarantees a more authentic experience and a more personal level of care and service. All trips include every expense, from your meals and accommodation to domestic transportation, entrance fees, and tips. Hotels are chosen for their comfort and character, and you’ll always have access to a private bathroom unless there is no available alternative. As long as you’re willing to share a room, you won’t have to pay a single supplement charge.
Best Female: AdventureWomen
Courtesy of AdventureWomen
Exploring the world’s more adventurous destinations as a solo female traveler can be an intimidating prospect. With companies like AdventureWomen, you can journey safely in the company of other, like-minded ladies. Women-owned and women-run, AdventureWomen has been in operation for over 35 years and specializes in active itineraries to more than 65 countries worldwide. Options range from high-energy tours of the Canadian Rockies with opportunities for hiking, biking, spelunking, and rafting; to more laid-back adventures on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
The company also offers itineraries especially for moms and daughters who want to reconnect in an exciting new country. You could ride ATVs together in Iceland, or go zip lining, sea kayaking and horse-back riding in Costa Rica. All trips are accompanied by vetted local guides and an AdventureWomen Ambassador, whose job is to take care of the details, help build relationships and ensure that every traveler gets the very most out of their experience. Because the company specifically welcomes solo travelers, there’s no single supplement (although you will usually be assigned a roommate).
Need some more help finding what you’re looking for? See our guide to the best women-only adventure travel companies.
Best Nature: Naturetrek
Courtesy of Naturetrek
UK-based company Naturetrek specializes in wildlife holidays and expedition cruises to some of the world’s most remote locations across all seven continents. Join a small group tour and search for harpy eagles in Panama, discover birds of paradise in Papua New Guinea, or photograph leopards on a walking safari in Zambia. Itineraries are conveniently grouped by theme on the company’s website, so you can browse birdwatching or photography trips, or see expeditions that focus on finding specific iconic creatures.
It’s not all about animals, though. You can also join astronomy tours and botanical holidays, or journey to the Arctic Circle in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. All tours are led by expert naturalists, most of them with a background in the country you’re traveling to. Usually, they will share their in-depth knowledge via a series of fascinating lectures held throughout your trip. Naturetrek can also create bespoke private itineraries. Best of all, the company works to protect the planet you love by off-setting carbon emissions with a donation to the World Land Trust for every booking.
Best Active: Adventure Unbound
Courtesy of Adventure Unbound
With Adventure Unbound, you can embark on a high-octane adventure to Eastern Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa or either of the polar regions. The company started life in 1979 as ROW Adventures and originally specialized in whitewater rafting expeditions. Today, it has expanded to include all kinds of adventurous pursuits and is the brand of choice for adrenalin junkies. You can filter itineraries online by adventure level (from “easier” to “challenging”) and adventure type (with options including biking, hiking, rafting, snorkeling, multi-sport and more).
Helpfully, you can also narrow your choices down by selecting the month that you want to travel and your ideal trip duration. Signature itineraries include Galapagos Unbound and Peru Unbound. On the first trip, you’ll spend your days sea kayaking, hiking up volcanoes and snorkeling with turtles. On the second, you’ll explore the Peruvian countryside on a mountain bike, trek to the top of Machu Picchu and kayak to remote offshore islands. All itineraries are expert-led, follow sustainable travel practices and can be made private or customized to suit your specific interests.
Best Cruise: Lindblad Expeditions
Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions
For 50 years, Lindblad Expeditions has been breaking cruise stereotypes by offering adventurous itineraries to some of the world’s most remote locations. Their departures include something for everyone, from paradise Easter Island to Tahiti voyages to cultural trips down the River Nile and extreme expeditions through the Northeast Passage from Norway to Alaska. Lindblad’s 13 ships are not like other cruise ships. They are scaled to go where larger vessels can’t and equipped with everything they need to function in environments where no human infrastructure exists.
Groups include 28 to 148 guests, depending on the ship you choose. Onboard, you’ll find adventure gear ranging from zodiacs, kayaks and snorkel equipment to bow cams and hydrophones. On select departures, qualified divers deliver HD footage of little-known underwater worlds to your screen in the comfort of the ship’s lounge. On all trips, a certified photo instructor/naturalist gives tips on different camera settings and how to anticipate wildlife behavior to get the best shots. Luxury touches including great food and surprising wellness facilities complete the Lindblad experience.
July blog with Adam Keen, Managing Director 23/06/2021
As Managing Director of Adventure Travel, I am responsible for ensuring that the business operates reputably and sustainably, whilst also ensuring the safety of those who work for us and travel with us. I share these responsibilities with my colleagues and as a team, we work to ensure that Adventure Travel is on a path to becoming the employer of choice for public transport workers and the operator of choice for bus passengers. I manage a small team of senior managers who are responsible for running our business in a compliant fashion on a day-to-day basis, but I also get heavily involved at ‘ground level’ because it’s important to never become detached from the passenger experience.
What part of your job do you enjoy most?
Without any doubt at all, the most enjoyable part of my role is being able to say ‘Thank You’ to someone for a job well done. There is no better feeling than receiving a commendation from a happy customer or a grateful employee. I also enjoy the variety of work within my role, as no two days are ever the same. I enjoy the interaction with the local business community but I also get great pleasure from watching the company progress and develop. Whilst business development in general has been pushed back by some 18 months or so as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, we are now once again developing and expanding Adventure Travel, with some exciting plans in place, which generates excitement and enthusiasm. I also get immense satisfaction out of seeing people develop as individuals and as professionals, as a result of the experiences that we can offer
What does a normal day look like for you?
The first thing to know is that no two days are ever the same and therefore, there is no such thing as a normal day. There is inevitably a colossal amount of administrative work to cope with on a daily basis, including the usual emails and business correspondence. Like most companies, we are encouraging a degree of home working for those people who are office-based and I tend to work from home at least one day a week, which gives me a chance to concentrate on any detailed documents that I need to read somewhere which is free from distraction. On most days, I will usually have at least two or three meetings with colleagues, although these tend to be split between face-to-face meetings and video calls now, given the developments with video conferencing in the last 18 months. My role is unique as I end up dealing with everything from negotiating new contracts with major suppliers, to identifying emerging markets. I still see at least five things every day during the course of my working day which I think we could do better at and as such, I often send the first email each day and also send the last one at night! Having done the job at ground level at the start of my public transport career, I know how important it is for drivers and engineers to be supported by managers who understand the challenges of their role, so I always try and make time each day to speak to at least a few people to understand the latest issues within our business.
What are some of the biggest changes you have seen since you started?
The easiest answer to give to this question would be anything related to coronavirus because the effect of that on our business has been something that we would never have expected. However, there are other challenges which don’t get anything like the coverage of the recent pandemic which cause a good deal of work for us. A good example of this would be the terrible congestion within Cardiff City centre which needs urgent attention by local authorities and local government if we are to truly promote the bus as a convenient alternative to the car. There are some extremely positive and enthusiastic people within Cardiff City council who genuinely want to make things better but the speed of progress for someone as impatient as me is simply not quick enough. Other challenges include changing the culture of this business to better suit the vision of the company that we want it to be going forwards. It’s always difficult taking over a firm which has essentially previously been run as a family business, but I want our organisation to have the best drivers, the best engineers, the best cleaners and the best managers to lead them. Finding people to undertake those roles who possess the appropriate skills and mindsets has been far from easy. We have some great people within our team, many of whom have been here for some time and many of whom are new. Our quest to identify and attract the best candidates continues…
What would you like to see going forward?
In terms of public transport in Wales, the one thing that I would like to see going forward is a meaningful and significant change to local authority policy where cars are concerned in city and town centres. I have visited some stunning locations in Europe which do not allow cars to enter the centre of cities and towns, which results in an extremely relaxed ambience and of course, it results in buses being able to travel freely and swiftly around the places the passengers wanted to visit. It’s within our gift to deliver those services if we have the support from our local authority and local government colleagues to get cars out and help buses move freely. In fairness, there are plenty of discussions going on at present with TfW and Welsh Government which may well result in some really positive partnerships with positive outcomes.
In terms of our business, I’d like to see much more being done to promote the exceptional work that our frontline colleagues do. Some of the work undertaken by our engineers, for example, is first-rate and we don’t do enough to shout about it. That is a key priority for the coming months, along with making sure that we move mountains to become the employer of choice.
How did you start out?
When I left school, I went to College in Cheltenham to do my A-levels but the thought of another three years of full time education filled me with dread, so I decided not to go to university and got myself a job instead. I became an antique dealer for a short time and whilst I enjoyed the work immensely, I simply wasn’t making enough money to get by. I had always wanted to drive a bus for reasons that I cannot explain, so I decided that I would sign up as a trainee bus driver with Stagecoach in Cheltenham as a stop gap until I decided what to do long term. Like so many people in our sector, I was bitten by the bus bug and I’ve ended up working in the sector now for in excess of 20 years! Some of my best friends now are people who I have met in the bus industry over the last 20 years.
What would you like to say to our colleagues?
The most important thing that I would like our colleagues to know from my point of view is that whilst there will be some frustrations during our journey to success, the frustrations are shared by all of us and we are all working hard to make sure that we deal with them. I am busy developing a management team who are not only willing to deal with the problems that you face, but who want to deal with the problems that you face. You are unlikely to find an employer who wants to do more for its employees. I have done many of the jobs that you folk undertake and I know how important it is to have a manager who listens and responds. On the days when you are feeling down and the job is becoming tiresome and frustrating, try to keep your spirits high. Your friends, your families and your workplace colleagues enjoy being surrounded by cheerful, positive people so for the sake of everyone, come and tell us about what has gone wrong and then put your happy face on for the rest of the day. It’s often easier said than done but it makes the world of difference to your colleagues and your passengers. “The job is what you make it”…
Give 3 reasons why the public should choose us for their public transport?
Firstly and most importantly, we are now a passenger-lead business. A good example of this is the recent fares and tickets survey that we have undertaken, which was a way of us gaining an understanding of what our customers need so that we can react accordingly. We want to be a business which always acts with the customer need in mind.
Secondly, we are committed to providing the very best levels of service. We have covert mystery shoppers who report back on what we could improve, to ensure that we deliver exceptional customer service. Many of our loyal passengers tell us that the reason they choose us over other operators is because of the cheerful, helpful drivers that we provide.
Finally, we are an innovative business with technology and development always in mind. In the last two years alone, we have introduced contactless ticket machine technology, we have developed an app to reduce the need for cash, we have introduced newer vehicles, we have invested in analytical software to identify passenger trends and we have lots more planned. Not all bus companies are the same…
KE Adventure Travel Joins the French, Voyageurs du Monde Group
Following an agreement effective 5th July 2017, Voyageurs du Monde acquired KE Adventure Travel, one of the original specialists in adventure travel.
This acquisition of KE (100% of capital) follows an earlier purchase in 2017 of 60% of Original Travel’s capital, a specialist of tailor-made travel. This acquisition increases Voyageurs du Monde activities on the UK market and is in line with its international development strategy.
KE Adventure Travel, based in Keswick, was founded by Glenn Rowley and Tim Greening in 1984. KE Adventure Travel offers walking, trekking, climbing, family and cycling holidays around the world. Both founders will continue to work with the KE Adventure Travel team, playing an important part of developing KE within the VdM group.
Joining the Voyageurs du Monde adventure group in France, with its main brands (Allibert Trekking, Nomade Aventure and Terres d’Aventure), will allow KE Adventure Travel to expand its product range and introduce a self-guided programme.
KE Adventure Travel will also help accelerate growth in the English-speaking market for the VdM group which today accounts for 20% of its customers. KE Adventure Travel has 27 employees and in 2016 had a turnover of GBP 7.9 million. They are forecasting a +10% growth in 2017. The Voyageurs du Monde group had a global turnover of €379 million in 2016.
Tim Greening of KE Adventure Travel, says “The Voyageurs du Monde group is one of the most respected in France and KE has been working successfully with many of the group’s companies for over 10 years. We welcome the many opportunities of joining a larger group with international ambitions that shares our ethos of ‘real adventure travel’. Our clients can rest assured that KE Adventure Travel will continue to deliver a personal service and fantastic holiday experience as usual.”