Extreme Outdoors

Sitting on a beach. Walking tours. Visiting Museums.

Did simply reading that first line nearly put you to sleep? I nearly feel asleep writing it. Let’s try this again.

Helicopter rides. White water rafting. Off-roading.

If reading that line spiked your heart rate, I’d reckon you’re longing for a good old fashioned outdoor adventure. But not just any romp in the wilderness, you fancy something a little more extreme. Well my thrill-seeking friend, you are far from alone.

In fact, more travelers than ever before are ditching their Mai Tais, walking shoes and audio guides for water bottles, hiking boots and helmets as they seek out the thrills of adventure travel. This thirst for heart-pounding activities has turned adventure travel into a $263 billion a year industry (that doesn’t include the $82 billion spent on related adventure gear, apparel and accessories) and the fastest growing segment of the leisure travel industry according to a 2013 study conducted by George Washington University.

While extreme outdoor adventure can, in some cases, be found near traditional hotels, why would you just dip your toe into the great outdoors when you could jump all the way in? Why drive into nature for only a few hours when you could stay, eat, sleep, and play in nature 24-hours a day?

That’s where glamping comes in. With glamping, you can experience the comforts of a hotel, all while being within the epicenter of the outdoor adventures you’re seeking. And the sounds of crickets, babbling brooks and crackling campfires, those won’t be coming from a sound machine.

So to get you thinking about your wild escape, here are just a few epic outdoor activities and a sampling of properties that’ll let you release your inner adrenaline junky like never before.

Helicopter Adventures

PHOTO 1 Image Credit “Nimmo Bay Website”

For the ultimate in helicopter adventures, look no further than Nimmo Bay, a tiny, family-owned wilderness resort located in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. Here, you can heli fly fish, heli kayak, heli stand up paddle board, heli hike or just heli picnic. What exactly does that mean? It means you and your provided gear will be picked up by a chopper and flown to remote and pristine locations to fly fish, kayak, paddle board, hike or dine. Now that’s extreme!

Rappelling

PHOTO 2 Image Credit “The Resort at Paws Up Website”

Picture this: you’re standing on the edge of a 170 foot cliff, the Blackfoot River tumbles by below and beyond that, a picture perfect Montana valley-scape. This is the scene for your rappelling adventure at The Resort at Paws Up. With harness and ropes secure, you turn around, back facing the 170 drop below, and take your first step off and down the cliff. A few leaps and bounds later, you’ll be at the bottom smiling from ear to ear ready to do it again.

Hot Air Ballooning

PHOTO 3 Image Credit “Mahali Mzuri Website”

The views on the ground at Sir Richard Branson’s safari camp, Mahali Mzuri, in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve are legendary (from the comfort of your tent’s balcony you’ll see giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and more). But gently and quietly float hundreds of feet above the ground in a hot air balloon at sunrise, and this landscape, one of the world’s most awe-inspiring, will truly get your heart racing like never before.

Hunting

PHOTO 4 Image Credit “ Brush Creek Ranch Website”

If your idea of a extreme outdoor adventure calls for a little more firepower, then hunting at Wyoming’s The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is for you. Amidst massages and fine dining, you can head out into the 30,000 acre property with expert guides to hunt for ducks, deer, antelope, elk and more. The trill of the hunt never felt this good.

River & Ocean Kayaking

PHOTO 5 Image Credit:Credit “Clayoquot Wilderness Resort Website”

While Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, located on west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has it all (from heli adventures, to rock climbing, to fishing and horseback riding), don’t pass up the opportunity to hone your kayaking skills under the supervision of expert guides. Whether you want to learn to navigate small rapids or paddle in search of bears, whales and eagles, you’ll end your day feeling even more confident for tomorrow’s extreme adventures.

Trevor Morrow is a Los Angeles based travel who runs the experiential, adventure and luxury travel blog TrevorMorrowTravel.com. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @trevormorrow.

Main Image Credit:“ Brush Creek Ranch Website”

Glamping on the Rise: Travel + Leisure Lists 20 Glamping Properties Among 70 Best New Hotels in the World

It’s official: glamping has arrived, landing on the 2014 Travel + Leisure “It List” in no small fashion. With only the “coolest new hotels that are changing the travel landscape” making the list, glamping makes its mark with 20 properties (nearly 30%) that feature glamping as their primary accommodation, nestled among urban trendsetters, scene makers, and Next-Gen business hotels. The best glamping spots easily keep pace with the “hip,” “swank,” and “luxurious” newcomers, bringing with them “experiential travel” to round out a list that prides itself on recognizing the most exciting changes in the travel landscape.

1000-7_000 Mahali Mzuri

From jungle to savanna, and snow-topped mountains to tropical islands, choices are what is cool about glamping. Glamping accommodations that made the T+L list were safari lodges, beach resorts, and “remote outposts.”  It List safari lodge choices range from the traditional, such as Chinzombo in Zambia that offers “stylish austerity and unforgettable wildlife encounters”  to Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri in Kenya that T+L refers to as a “futuristic riff on the classic East African lodge,” with tents resembling  “spaceships.”

022_Villa Three At Night_original Chinzombo Camp

Beach resorts on the list span the globe from great escapes in the Caribbean like Eden Roc in Dominican Republic and The Cove Eleuthera Resort and Spa to sublime island resorts like Australia’s Bedarra Island Resort, Hawaii’s modern, renovated Andaz Maui Villas, and the decadent Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives.

Not surprisingly, several “remote outposts” are listed, such as Cresto Ranch and Outlook Lodge, both in Colorado.  What may initially come as a surprise however is a property in the United Arab Emirates, Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Sahel Villa Resort, until you learn that it is set amid “savanna-like grasslands of Sir Bani Yas Island’s famed Arabian Wildlife Park,” a welcome surprise indeed.

Bathhouse_at_duskDunton Hot Springs and Cresto Ranch

What may not come as a surprise are the price tags. To be the best in the world often means the most expensive, and glamping by Travel + Leisure standards can be pretty pricey, with 14 of their glamping choices (70%) costing guests $500 or more a night. Five properties in the more reasonable range of $350-500 were Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel, Selfoss, Iceland, the culturally rich Anantara Xishuangbanna Resort and Spa in China, and It List five time winner Hotel Escondido in Mexico. One bargain made the list Outlook Lodge of Colorado Springs, Colorado, costing less than $200 a night. Regardless of price however, a discerning traveler on the lookout for a new experience will find that it really is no surprise that glamping is on the rise.

Spotlight: Mahali Mzuri

Mahali Mzuri is the new kid on the block for Kenyan safari camps, but they certainly do not lack talent for creating a fantastic glamping experience. Mahali Mzuri is also part of the Virgin Limited Collection of luxurious destinations around the world.

Mahali Mzuri is located within the Motorogi Conservancy in the Kenya’s Maasai Mara ecosystem. The camp has a prime location for observing abundant game in the area and also to take advantage of the annual migration, which sees up to one million wildebeest.

1000-14Photo: Mahali Mzuri website

There are 12 luxury tented suites accommodating up to a maximum of 24 guests at any one time. Each tented suite sits on a raised platform and includes a spacious bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, sitting area and a large deck with views over the landscape. The deck gives you the perfect vantage point for spotting the game that will almost certainly wander into view. There are strict limits on the number of guests that can stay at any one time. Luxury rarely gets this close to the action!

MahaliMzuri2013JB-1397-Edit_001Photo: Mahali Mzuri website

Anyone who’s been on safari before knows that no two game drives are ever the same. Catch glimpses of wild animals roaming the Kenyan plains including wildebeest, elephants, zebra, lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffe, impala and gazelles. On a typical game drive at Mahali Mzuri you’ll spot an abundance of wildlife characteristic to the area. A number of lion pride territories meet in the Motorogi Conservancy which can make for some interesting encounters as the different groups battle for dominance. The experienced and highly trained team of field guides will guide your twice daily (morning and afternoon) game drives. Enjoy navigating the Motorogi and Olare Orok Conservancies in open vehicles.

There are plenty of things to do aside from game drives including walking safaris, hot air balloon tours, and cultural day trips where you can learn about the local Maasai Tribe whose traditions and customs are still practiced. And, of course you should take the opportunity to relax at the spa.

1000-4_000Photo: Mahali Mzuri website

Mahali Mzuri’s spa is called Nasaro – which literally means ‘refuge’ or ‘relaxation’ in Maa. A whole range of treatments is available, from facials to massages to those essential grooming rituals. Nasaro is located down near the valley floor and provides a private, intimate setting in which to be pampered with truly stunning views over the bush. The range of products used comes from Africology, ethical skin care products to capture the rejuvenating and healing essences of Africa.

Mahali Mzuri opened in 2013 and is Sir Richard Branson’s Kenyan Safari Camp located in the Motorogi Conservancy within the Maasai Mara. Mahali Mzuri’s main priority is to leave as small a footprint as possible on the land while collaborating with local Maasai communities and select. tourism partners. The evidence is apparent because Mahali Mzuri has been working with the Maasai since the projects inception and the staff is from the surrounding communities.

Learn more about Mahali Mzuri