Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Get out of the vehicle - adventures with the Kusini Collection on land

Maya Trails' Maya Community Trek slowly unveils Guatemala's magic
to travelers

We love everything about travel, but sometimes what we love the most is getting out of the vehicle and getting our boots onto the ground to immerse ourselves in our destination - literally and figuratively. This week we're exploring activities outside of the vehicle on land...


Tad admiring the gorgeous biplane just before takeoff
Albatros East Africa: There's no shortage of active adventures in Kenya. From camel rides to tracking wild dog, there are myriad opportunities to enjoy all of the country's offerings. One of our favorite areas to get out of the vehicle is Laikipia, and a fantastic way to do it is splitting a visit between Borana and Lewa. Walking safaris, horseback or camel rides, going out with the rhino rangers and mountain biking are all great options. A big-time Kusini favorite is taking flight in the open cockpit of Will Craig's (of the family who have long owned and operated Lewa) biplane. Will zooms right above the treetops and weaves through gorges to show off the beauty of his homeland. The plane can take two lucky passengers on a journey over forests, herds of game, and through ravines that are otherwise virtually inaccessible. We can't recommend it highly enough! Ask Albatros Travel about adding a flight to your client's itinerary!

Geladas can be seen in the Simiens on lodge based day hikes
Travel Ethiopia: The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Ethiopia might not be trekking, but perhaps it should be. Its highlands, which are split by the Great Rift Valley, are a dramatic tableau of unusually shaped peaks and gorges. The highest peaks are found in the Simien and Bale mountain ranges, both of which are fantastic for trekking. Simien Mountains NP is a haven for hikers. Not only can they tackle some of its challenging terrain (with peaks topping out at nearly 15,000 ft!), four of Ethiopia's seven large endemic mammals - the endangered walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf, the engaging gelada baboon and the Simien red fox, all call the park home. Travel Ethiopia can arrange day hikes for travelers touring the Historic North, or multi-day deluxe mobile camping treks for intrepid explorers.

Mountain biking at Jozi provides a heart-pounding wildlife
viewing experience!
Imvelo Safari Lodges: While Imvelo Safari Lodges are known for superb game drives, it's everything else that they offer that really sets them apart. We realize getting into a train isn't exactly getting out of the vehicle per se, but getting into The Elephant Express open-air rail car for a train-based game viewing experience is a cool Land Cruiser alternative. From there, we love taking the steps down below ground to peek out of the look-up blind at elephants at the watering hole, totally unfussed by the humans just a few steps away. Other game viewing options include horseback riding from Camelthorn and Bomani, or mountain biking (!!!) from blissfully remote Jozibanini Camp in southern Hwange. Even getting to the park can be done differently with Imvelo's new Stimela Star overnight sleeper train. It's a delightful step back in time to a more genteel day.

VIDEO: Warning - watching this may cause you to book
tickets to Guatemala
Maya Trails: Travelers looking to escape the vehicle when visiting Guatemala need to look no further than Maya Trails' Maya Community Trek. This 8-day trip includes 4 days of hiking and glamping (ask us about the 2 day option for the time-strapped). Travelers begin by exploring the quaint cobbled streets of Antigua, then setting off into the hills the next day with a trek through the highlands to the first camp. A delicious dinner and a crackling fire are the perfect prelude to a restful night. Ensuing days include more trekking, incredible scenery, meeting locals, and even tortilla making lessons. The trek ends at Lake Atitlan where there will be time to explore some of its villages. The final stop before Guatemala City is the famous Chichicastenango market for a bit of shopping and culture.

//Huab Under Canvas has the highest success rate for rhino
trekking in western Namibia
Ultimate Safaris: The tribe at Ultimate Safaris is known for getting back to the root of safari, and delivering unforgettable experiences to visitors as a result. This rediscovery of safari's true meaning includes launching their own exclusive-use 'Under Canvas' camps that allow visitors to get out of the vehicle and have a true back-to-nature experience. Instead of focusing on thread count and the wine cellar, these camps let guests hear and smell and feel the wildness all around them. Hikes on game trails to track desert-adapted rhino are richly rewarded, engaging nature walks including visits to prehistoric rock art, multi-day walking safaris and adventurous sleep-outs are all options for travelers seeking a connection with nature. We don't think we could put it better than Ultimate's Birgit Bekker when she said 'when we are forced to disconnect, we truly connect.'

Vehicles? Where we're going we don't need vehicles!
Costa Rica Sun Tours: Costa Rica has a lengthy roster of options for getting out of the vehicle. Perhaps one of the most unique is a special waterfall rappel near Arenal and Chato Volcano with Costa Rica Sun Tours. Guests will be nowhere near the vehicle when they begin their day by zip lining 340 meters and rappelling a total of 80 meters down alongside the stunning Pino Blanco waterfall. After the descent, there's no vehicle waiting. Instead, visitors will keep the adrenaline high with a climb back up on a perpendicular cable ladder, followed by another zip line to the Pino Blanco lookout point. After the heart-thumping adventure, things take a cultural turn with a visit to the Maleku Indian Cultural Rescue Center, to learn about their traditions and cultural roots, as well what's being done to protect one of the smallest ethnic groups in Costa Rica. 

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