Some people find package holidays appealing: free drinks, all-you-can-eat buffets and a few cookie-cutter “cultural” day trips satisfy them nicely. Other people — me, for example, and quite possibly you too — find cruises and resorts completely uninspiring. We long for more stimulation: a totally original vacation we can lose ourselves in, and one that offers us real insight into the culture we plan to visit. Sounds risky, right? Thankfully, the adventure travel agencies can help us plan exciting yet safe trips.
DIY Adventure Travel
Before we look at the benefits of adventure travel agencies, let’s examine what can happen when you decide to go it alone. Sure, you can get a flight to the middle of Sub-Saharan Africa for about $1,000 on a good day, but if you don’t know the culture and you’re not sure where to go when you get there, you could end up in a whole heap of trouble.
Let’s look at some examples: me, for instance. As a young person (many moons ago) I went on a DIY adventure to India. My friends and I wandered the streets of Jaipur, spoke for hours with jewel merchants and Persian carpet traders while imbibing strong rice wine, and rode up to the Red Fort on elephants. We slept under the stars in the Rajasthan desert — which is surprisingly cold at night, by the way — and bought hot chilis in bulk at the Pink City market, just because we could.
Then one day, we decided to hire a couple of jeeps and drivers to drive us back to Rajasthan. Everything went well until we hit the border, where four corrupt local policemen came out at the checkpoint with large guns and demanded money in exchange for the crossing. Our drivers went missing and we found ourselves alone, at the end of a couple of long barrels, wondering how much cash we could scrape together at the drop of a hat.
Hurrah for Adventure Travel Agencies
Thankfully, we got through that snafu — and for one reason. We had a guide who knew what these bozos were all about and who had the wherewithal to get us through the drama. Our guide proved himself invaluable on several occasions: the time my camel almost bolted into low-hanging electrical lines with me on his back, for example, or the time we all got lost in Agra during an afternoon monsoon rain.
Bonus story: Years ago, our guide had gone on a DIY adventure holiday with a friend. While walking through the rain forest, he’d felt something drop from a tree and slide down his pants. It was an enormous leech — but he didn’t know that until hours later, when his friend removed the creature from a very personal anatomical location. They didn’t have a guide, so they had to perform the extraction procedure in the middle of the jungle without any medical intervention whatsoever.
You have been warned …
Adventure travel agencies can help you learn about local culture and can prepare you in advance for potential issues. They can also provide you with a quick exit if things get really hairy at any point. So, don’t go DIY. Instead, increase your budget a little and go with a good adventure travel agency when you plan your trip.