5 trips for the group of… intrepid explorers

Date Posted: 23/03/2016

It’s all well telling someone you’re a party of travellers; but what is your group’s specific interest? Are you a gang of gardeners? A posse of photographers? A herd of history enthusiasts? A gathering of golfers?

Here are five inspiring travel ideas for the group of intrepid explorers, which promise the adventure of a lifetime.

1. Sail to the Galápagos Islands

Be inspired by the Galápagos Islands (pictured above), a destination famous for wildlife watching and its variety of terrains. The archipelago, which is 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is made up of 13 big volcanic islands (larger than four square miles) plus six smaller islands and more than 100 islets.

Each one has its own atmosphere, distinctive topographies and wildlife; the landscapes vary from stark lava formations and green highlands to cactus forests and tropical beaches.

Groups visiting the islands might spot penguins living in the tropics as well as various bird species like boobies, albatrosses and frigate birds. The Galápagos is also home to giant tortoises, sea lions and marine iguanas.

The best way to explore the islands is by live-aboard boats, which travel between islands and make different stops each day. More than 80 vessels are licensed to operate in the archipelago and there are various combinations of stops and routes. Most cruises go ashore twice a day, so ten full days on a boat typically means 20 shore landings.

Groups who’d like to explore in a less structured way might find it a little trickier, as all visitors must be accompanied by a licensed naturalist guide at all landing sites. There are four islands, however, that have hotels of varying size, and these offer selected day trips by boat.

2. Chase an American tornado

Pictured: storm cloud spins in a circle over a corn field. (Photo credit: Matthew Ragen).

Storm Chasing Adventure Tours in Colorado does just what it says on the tin: the company takes groups on trips to chase storms across the American plains, in an area known as Tornado Alley. 

Explorers will get to observe supercell thunderstorms and lightning shows at night, as well as storm structures during the day.

Tours are available between May and July – tornado season – and parties will be split into comfortable vans, holding up to six people in each one. The party of vans will follow severe weather patterns to catch remarkable sights of thunderstorms, lightning, large hail, massive wall clouds, and violent tornadoes.

Storm chasing tours include six days of storm chasing, seven nights of accommodation, and ground transportation during the tour. Discounts are available for five or more people in a group; GTOs should e-mail todd@stormchasing.com for group bookings.

3. Walk next to a volcano

Pictured: View of volcano Etna from a small Sicilian village. (Photo credit: alanstix64).

Volcano Adventures is a tour company which specialises in guided tours around areas with volcanoes. Destinations include Italy, Greece, Japan, Iceland and Indonesia.

All tours visit volcanic areas, but groups don’t have to be knowledgeable about volcanism. Interesting environments, plus a focus on nature and culture make these tours great for those who enjoy photography, adventurous walking and experiencing a new country as well.

An example of a guided tour is an Italy Volcanoes of Italy holiday. This is a 15 day study and walking tour from Vesuvius to Etna. Groups can expect to see the Etna volcano in eruption, as well as the permanently active Stromboli. The tour also visits volcanoes on the Aeolian Islands Lipari and Salina.

All active volcanoes of Italy are encompassed in this tour, as are archaeological highlights such as Pompeii and Herculaneum, boat trips and stylish hotel accommodation.

Group discounts are available, and GTOs can also tailor-make their own tours with the help of Volcano Adventures.

4. Gallivant at the Grand Canyon

Pictured: The Desert View watchtower and Colorado River.

Arizona’s Grand Canyon lends itself to many forms of adventure for the intrepid traveller; it’s up to 29km wide and 1.6km deep in some areas, and visitors can climb it, hike it, raft it, fly over it or simply enjoy views over it from the rim.

Main areas at the canyon that adventurous groups might want to visit include the Desert View, which is a settlement with a watchtower complete with observation decks, and the North Rim, known as the ‘other side’ of the Grand Canyon. It’s visited by only ten per cent of all Grand Canyon visitors; great if you want to avoid the crowds of peak season tourists.

As an outdoor attraction with plenty of trails for walkers and bikers alike, there is no limit for the number of people GTOs can take on a trip. And if groups would like a guide, the Grand Canyon Association Field Institute offers a variety of expert-led hiking and backpacking tours, both day-long and longer, to provide explorers with information as they go. 

Make note of where to stay, as during peak season (May to October), accommodation in the settlements around the canyon will book up quickly. GTOs can contact the groups department at Grand Canyon National Park Lodges for bookings of over ten people wanting to stay overnight.

5. Hike in a Malaysian rainforest

Pictured: Palm trees in Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia. (Photo credit: Valery Shanin).

Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia caters for travellers who love wild life viewing, jungle trekking and hiking, as well as rock climbing, fishing and camping. The rainforest in the park is said to be 130 million years old, and is home to a vast array of wildlife including elephants and tigers, as well as the peaceful Orang Asli hunter-gatherer Nomads.

Taman Negara’s resident adventure company, JustExplore, offers a variety of activities for groups of up to 250 people. These include jungle walks at night, rainforest treks, sailing down rapids, and walking along rainforest canopies.

For groups who’d rather go it alone without a guide, the gateway to Taman Negara National Park is Kuala Tahan, which acts as a base for the nearby canopy walkway, river trips and treks through the jungle to the top of Mount Tahan.

Accommodation options include the luxury Mutiara Taman Negara Resort – which has bungalow, chalet, hostel and dormitory options – as well as resorts and guesthouses in the local village.

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