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5 Personality Types Who Love to Trek in South America

Ever wondered who takes an active vacation trekking in South America? The type of folks who will be your fellow adventurers on an active tour of Peru or Patagonia? The answer might surprise you—because there is no one answer. We see an endless panoply of unique and interesting individuals, but they do share a few common traits: Openness, curiosity, enthusiasm, courage, and more than a little love of adventure. Over the years, we’ve identified a few general personality types that many—not all, of course—of our guests tend to display. Take a look at our list and see if you can find yourself or someone you know in one of them. Let us know in the comments if you think we’ve hit the nail on the head with any of them, or know of a type we missed.   Aaron the Adventurer – Age 56 Aaron is a bank VP by day, with a corner office overlooking a bustling cityscape. He’s a classic adventure personality, escaping the stress of his job with active weekends hiking, biking, and kayaking. Each year, he plans one extraordinary adventure to test his limits, to pit himself against Mother Nature and all she has to offer. Last year, Aaron spent 12 days hiking and kayaking the fiords of Norway. This year, he’s trekking somewhere new—Patagonia and the infamous “W” trek in the Torres del Paine National Park, a four-day journey through snow-covered mountains and sheer granite cliffs, summiting at one of the most incredible and widely recognized mountain landscapes in the world. At a height of 900 meters (about 3,000 feet), the “Towers of Blue” are believed to be the world’s highest natural cliff faces. Even that isn’t enough for intrepid Aaron. He’s going to strap on his crampons and shoulder his pick axe to ice climb Grey Glacier in Chile before exploring Argentina’s breathtaking Perito Moreno Glacier. He’s debating a third week to explore Northern Patagonia and the Ring of Fire, the volcanic belt in the Chilean Andes.   Culturally Curious Carl and Christine – Ages 48 and 47 Carl, an architect, and Christine, a social worker, met 25 years ago on a cultural tour of China during their last year at university, and they’ve always shared a passion for cultural travel. They’ve recently made the last tuition payment for their daughter’s university education and decided to celebrate their new financial freedom with their first couples’ holiday in 13 years—a cultural exploration of Peru seemed like the perfect fit. They’ll begin in Cuzco, in the heart of the Incan Empire, visiting the archaeological marvels at the “House of the Sun.” They’re excited to hike the Lares Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and watch the morning sun break through Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. They’ll even do some trekking through the Amazon rainforest. What really speaks to their heart, though, is travelling through the farms and villages of the Andes, especially visiting the Quechua people near Lake Titicaca and experiencing their ancient culture, unchanged over the centuries.   Bucket-List Betsey – Age 61 Betsey recently retired from her job as a

Celebrate Like A Kiwi – Hike New Zealand’s Milford Track this Christmas

Anyone living in the northern hemisphere will be familiar with the term ‘white Christmas’… but have you ever heard of a ‘golden sand Christmas’? Or a ‘lush green rain forest Christmas’? Maybe a ‘glass of wine as you’re sun baking beside a lake, high in the Southern Alps Christmas’? Ok, we’re getting carried away now, but what an amazing idea – a Southern Hemisphere Christmas! Summer solstice lands on December 22nd in New Zealand this year, so during the Christmas/New Year period our days are the longest, warmest, and it’s the perfect time to be exploring the great Kiwi countryside. This also means it’s the most popular time to visit New Zealand, but I’m here to tell you that the crowds don’t matter – if you choose your trip wisely. Most Christmas travellers from the Northern Hemisphere will have 2 or 3 weeks of vacation time, and the most popular way to spend that time is 1 week on the North Island, and 2 weeks on the South Island. Along the way you’ll want to hit a few beaches, visit a few wineries, get off the beaten track to hike a few local hiking and biking trails, and most importantly; hike a handful of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Of the 9 Great Walks, the Milford Track is without a doubt the most famous, and for many travellers it’s the single most important reason for choosing to travel to New Zealand. The Milford Track is one of the longest established and best-known walking tracks in the country. It starts on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau and crosses McKinnon Pass to Milford Sound, taking in glacial peaks, a mountain pass, New Zealand’s highest waterfall and the dense rain forest of the West Coast. Some hikers choose to hike the Milford Track in its entirety on a guided walk, or take a day walk it, along with a handful of nearby Great Walks. Fiordland National Park is home to 3 of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks; the Milford Track, the Routeburn Track and the Kepler Track. All of which are a short drive from one another, but all 3 of these Great Walks have very distinct personalities, and the scenery you’ll experience on each trail clearly distinguishes it from the others, meaning that day hikers can absorb a greater variety of countryside, in the same time as others hike one trail in its entirety. For those keen hikers looking to complete the Milford Track in its entirety, it’s possible to hike the track solo, or with a guided walk. The Department of Conservation has placed a limit on the number of hikers entering the track to prevent overcrowding and excessive damage to the trail – so with only 40 independent hikers allowed on the trail each day, and Christmas hiking passes sold out months in advance – the next option is to take a guided walk. The Milford Track guided walk is four days of breath taking scenery. It’s loaded with additional benefits over doing it solo,

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

So you like to be active, huh? That’s totally cool with us. In fact, our new tour features the best of the best when it comes to an active vacation—hiking volcanoes and kayaking fiords—and you may just see some really amazing things along the way. Here’s the perfect itinerary for 14 days in Patagonia for all of the ultimate explorers out there:   Day 1: Get your bearings in Bariloche with an authentic Patagonian meal. We all know travelling takes a lot out of you. One of the best jet lag cures? Food! And you’re going to love Patagonian cuisine. Your arrival to Bariloche brings you to the chocolate capital of Argentina. Artisan chocolate shops line the streets, beckoning you inside. And why not? You’re about to spend two weeks on the move—live a little! Dinner tonight features a typical Patagonian meal. Entrees include beef, spit roast lamb, trout, king crab, and wild boar. Served alongside your meats are potatoes, breads, and cheeses. All of the foods come from the surrounding landscapes, from the glacial rivers (trout) to the dense forests (wild boar) to the Atlantic Ocean (king crab).   Day 2: Warm up your hiking legs with a trek to Cerro Llao Llao and cool off with a dip at Playa Tacul. It’s your first official day on the trail! And what better way to spend it than amongst the lakes and peaks of Patagonia. Cerro Llao Llao sits in the midst of three different lakes, all of which can be seen from the top of your hike. Popping up in the distance are the tops of Cerro Lopez and Cerro Capilla. Wind your way through a wooded trail to the top for a mid-morning tea break, a very “Patagonian” thing to do! After finishing your tea (or maybe mate!), descend Cerro Llao Llao to lake-level. Here you can walk the sandy shores of Playa Tacul or even jump into the crystal clear and clean waters of the lake. No matter how you choose to spend your time, you are sure to love the lago (that’s Spanish for lake!).   Day 3: Get your heart pumping with a brisk climb to Cerro Bella Vista—you won’t believe the views. It’s day three in Argentina, and you may be feeling one of two ways: Completely ready for the next adventure or exhausted as your body is still trying to adjust to Patagonian life. The good news is you get to choose how you want to spend your day! For those ready to hit today’s Patagonian path, head to Cerro Bella, which literally means “beautiful views.” You’re going to want to make sure you have your camera and/or smartphone for this one. Binoculars wouldn’t hurt, either. It’s quite a trek to the top, with a heart-pumping ascent above the treeline, but it’s well worth it for 360 degree views of the myriad lakes and crowded horizon line of huge peaks. If you’d rather spend the day exploring Bariloche and its surroundings, that’s completely fine too! Who wouldn’t want to sample the rich and smooth chocolate the town is

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

“Am I too out-of-shape for an adventure trip?” It’s the number-one question we’re asked by so many travellers inquiring about our trips. It’s the nagging worry that especially keeps 50+ adventurers from taking the plunge on the vacation of their dreams – and that’s a shame, because anyone who loves the outdoors is a good candidate for an adventure tour. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to prepare before your trip to make it more enjoyable. A little investment in your overall fitness before you go pays big dividends in terms of what you can accomplish out on the trail. That doesn’t mean you have to join the gym or punish yourself with a triathlon-level training regimen. There are a lot of common sense steps you can start right now to get yourself ready for the adventure of a lifetime. So if you’re a 50+ adventurer and wondering where to start, try these eight fitness tips to give yourself the confidence to achieve your personal goals.   1. Give yourself time to prepare. In general, it can take your body from three weeks to three months to really see a significant improvement in your fitness level and to respond to a change in routine. So if you’ve already booked your trip, you’d best get started now!   2. Focus on your cardiovascular fitness. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week for people 50+ with at least 30-minute sessions at a time. The best aerobic activities for mature athletes are swimming, cycling, brisk walking or jogging—all of which are great preparation for an adventure like exploring Peru and Machu Picchu. Even if you can’t get outdoors or make it to the gym, there are lots of great cardio exercises you can do at home to get your heart pumping. Jumping jacks, half-jacks, squats, leg raises, hops, and even plank-jacks are great bodyweight exercises that require no special equipment or skill. If you’re doing a hiking adventure (like Mt. Everest perhaps), high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is particularly beneficial because it improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and prepares your body for the bursts of strength you’ll need on your climb. HIIT sounds more complicated than it really is – it’s simply adding a short period of more strenuous exertion into your daily walking, jogging, swimming, or biking routine. For example, if you take a 45-minute brisk walk, try to jog for 30 to 60 seconds every 5 to 10 minutes of your walk. Same if you swim or bike – add a few sprints during your usual routine. A note of caution for you mountain adventurers: Even if you’re in pretty good shape, it’s important not to push yourself too hard at higher altitudes. Exertion is a key driver of altitude sickness.   3. Focus on leg strength. Strength training is generally a good idea for athletes of all ages, but for hikers, leg strength is essential for an enjoyable experience. Your

Multi-day Hiking in New Zealand’s Backcountry, and 8 Reasons Why You Should Go Guided.

Hiking up Siberia Valley in Mt Aspiring National Park The team here at Active Adventures are an outdoorsy bunch. Every weekend you’ll find a handful of us out there in the hills, or on the rivers, getting stuck in to New Zealand in all its natural beauty. One of our favourite ways to spend a long weekend is by grabbing a backpack, packing a toothbrush, a cooker, a few meals, and a sleeping bag, and heading for one of the 950 huts dotted all over the country. Here we’ll talk about spending time in the backcountry on overnight ‘missions’ and offer some advice on how best to tackle the great New Zealand outdoors! Angelus Hut on the edge of Lake Angelus in Nelson Lakes National Park Background on New Zealand’s backcountry As kiwis, we are lucky enough to have some of the best walking in the world, in our backyards. New Zealand has hundreds of trails, amongst vast mountains, rainforests, coastline, glacial valleys, and volcanoes. Even better than that, is that those trails, and (most of) the 950 huts that serve them, are maintained by the Department of Conservation, DoC. The huts started appearing in the 1800s, and were initially a network of shelters for hunters overnighting in the hills. Today they’ve become a big contributor to tourism in New Zealand, and a part of our national identity. For us the most unique thing about hiking in New Zealand is the variety of landscapes you can immerse yourself in. That’s why we love getting out there, because every time (and every hut!) is different. Taking a moment for reflection on the stunning Milford Track Few people who think of New Zealand do so without thinking of Milford Sound. It’s one of the things that put this country on the map, we don’t deny it. And it is absolutely stunning in its scale, and its untouched nature. The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks – walks of stunning natural beauty, maintained by DoC, and taking in the most impressive scenery in the country. But the Great Walks are not the only walks worth doing when you get here! There are quite literally hundreds of multiday walks here, and between us, we’ve probably knocked off most of them! Learn More About Multiday Hikes Why are we so addicted to getting out there? We’d describe our love for multiday adventures in the hills as natural, and an essential part of growing up, and living in New Zealand. Being able to get away from traffic noise, light pollution, even cell reception, in a matter of minutes from home, is a special privilege, and not one we waste. There’s something primitive about arriving at a hut under your own steam, after a tough day, and being greeted by a log fire, smiles, and a cosy bunk. When you’re in a backcountry hut, sharing the experience, and stories, with others, you’re living in the moment; the last thing you’ll worry about is work, or bills. Instead you’ll be worrying about who’s

“For me, this was the best experience I’ve ever had.”

The crew from Andrea’s ‘Kiwi’ trip celebrating at Braemar Station. Over the last twenty years or so we’ve been honing our skills in adventure travel. We started with a group of three guests on a trip around New Zealand’s South Island in 1996, and have progressed to taking groups to nine different countries on four different continents. As kiwis we are famous for our hospitality, we love welcoming people, taking care of people, and sharing in experiences with people. When our guests finally arrive in New Zealand, they’ll often pop into our office in Queenstown mid-trip, because like us, friendships are so important to them. We love being able to put a face to the voice we hear on the phone before the trip! A group of Active adventurers meet Lynette and Fiona at Active HQ in Queenstown. That hospitality, and the sharing of experiences with new visitors to any of the countries we travel in, are the reasons we love doing what we do. And it’s guests like Andrea Rudolph (recently returned from New Zealand adventures) who help us to remember that: ‘Not only was the scenery breathtaking and the tour well run but our fun loving adventurous group made it even more special. Even the experienced travelers in our group felt it was the best tour they had ever been on. It’s been difficult to settle back into my ’normal’ life after such a life-changing experience.’ We find that guests on our adventures, because they always share common interests (adventure being just one!) really buy in to this idea that sharing the experience makes it so much more powerful. The willingness to be honest and open with one another about your life, and your achievements, and even your regrets, adds another dimension to the experience in a way that we find difficult to put in to words.   Andrea wrote some lovely comments about her South Island Explorer trip the ‘Kiwi’. On top of that she also took the time to write an awesome poetic review about the trip, here’s some of our favourite bits: Active Adventures had everything planned For a ‘better than average’ trip to Kiwi land Our fearless leaders, Rachel and Koru In every instance knew what to do prepped us on schedules and weather every day And tried hard to make us listen to what they’d say.   Koru told myths of Maoris and war His tales were creative and never a bore He showed us plants like the silver fern This land is so varied there’s a lot to learn.   The Hector’s dolphins near the beach were rare They amazed us by doing flips in the air At the wildlife center we saw kiwis being fed And heard how they’re kept safe till they’re bred.    Braemar gave us bright stars at night Sharing toilets and co-ed showers was also a delight We ran through the hills, and drank lots of wine Singing old songs and jingles, it was divine.   New Zealand is perfect except for the sandflies Which bite all our legs as they drop from the skies They even dare follow us into the van Where we smash them on windows as

What to expect from your Milford Sound Cruise

Whether you’ve arrived into Milford Sound under your own steam via the Milford Track, or ridden the exciting 950m (3100ft) final descent from the Homer Tunnel to sea level by bus, we’re sure you’ll agree it is a magical place. The scale of the granite mountain faces, the flooded glacial valleys, and the mostly untouched forests, are simply breathtaking. Rudyard Kipling described this place as the eighth wonder of the world; it’s easy to see why. A still day on Milford Sound gives a perfect reflection of Mitre Peak and the surrounding peaks. So where does the name Milford Sound come from? Milford Sound has had a bunch of name changes since it was discovered in 1812 by Sealer Captain John Grono, who named it Milford Haven after his home town in Wales. As us Kiwis have become more conscious of conservation, and protecting our Maori culture and influence, Milford Sound became Milford Sound/Piopiotahi in 1998. But wait! There’s more! Milford Sound is actually incorrectly named… A sound is a river valley which has been flooded by the ocean, and just like so much of our dramatic South Island, Milford was formed by glaciers, and so it’s a fiord. This is a popular trivia question, so take note for your New Zealand adventure! Milford Sound has several permanent waterfalls, including Stirling Falls – more than three times the height of Niagara Falls. And Lady Bowen Falls; a short distance from the wharf area. Seeing as the granite landscape doesn’t absorb a drop of the annual 6,412mm (252in) rainfall, it made sense for Bowen Falls to be used to power the small town of Milford Sound.  It is during the regular periods of rain in Milford when the waterfalls really come alive. Hundreds of new falls cascade down the steep faces of the mountains, and if you catch Milford on a rainy day, why not name your own? A group of Kayakers approach Lady Bowen Falls. Overnight Cruise on Milford Sound If you choose to take an overnight cruise on Milford Sound, you’ll be choosing luxury, tranquillity, and stunning natural beauty. You’ll board the ‘Milford Wanderer’ mid afternoon and cruise the 15km (9.3miles) out to the Tasman Sea, passing by Lady Bowen Falls, and getting close enough to Stirling Falls to feel the fresh spray from the Wanderer’s deck. As the afternoon fades into the coloured light of evening the captain will drop anchor in a sheltered cove, where you can go exploring with specialist nature guides, either by kayak or in the vessel’s small craft, until it’s time to climb back on board for your carvery buffet dinner and some stargazing with a glass of New Zealand wine. The Milford Wanderer cruises, under sail, on the fiord. The next morning we suggest emerging from your private cabin in time to watch the sunrise, it should help to clear your head if you really enjoyed the Kiwi wine! Then tuck in to a hearty buffet breakfast. Your captain will once again point the Milford Wanderer in the direction of the Tasman Sea, take this opportunity to do some wildlife spotting: Dolphins of three different species,

Top 10 Guest Photos 2016

Happy New Year everybody! We love this annual photography competition – every year we gather around a couple of big screens and let the imagery soak in, over a hot cuppa. It’s truly inspiring to see the adventures and creativity from all our travellers. And it’s safe to say, debates ensue as we do our best to select a winner. That’s why we always select the top 10 photos, so you get a chance to see how difficult our decision is. Once the winner is chosen (read on below to find out who that was…), one of our team get the lucky task of letting them know they’ve just won a 2 for 1 deal on any of our Active Adventures – that’s here in New Zealand, Nepal, Europe and throughout South America. If you’re coming on an adventure with us in 2017 be sure to take your camera, because you may be the next winner! See the 2013 Top 10 // See the 2014 Top 10 // See the 2015 Top 10 Here’s our top 10 for 2016, in no particular order: 1. Stan Jacobson, Patagonia Hiking Adventure ‘Condor‘ trip Stan is no stranger to our annual photography competition, as a finalist in 2014 with his group photo at Taquile island, as part of his ‘Jaguar’ trip. All of his photos are amazing, in fact one of his Patagonia images made it to the cover of our new South America brochure, whilst another is the cover on our Facebook page. 2. Boris Diskin, Ultimate Dolomites Adventure ‘Dolomiti‘ trip Our 9-day ‘Dolomiti’ trip offers up some of the most stunning mountain views anywhere in the world. But it’s more than just a pretty face, as our clients discover the “inside mountain” experience of the World War I tunnels of Lagazuoi. 3. Dennis Wilson, Everest Base Camp Trek ‘EBC‘ trip Just when you think the views can’t get any better, you’ll venture round the next corner, and you’ll have to reassess your thinking all over again. 4. Rebecca Washlow, Ultimate Peru Adventure ‘Jaguar‘ trip A great selfie, under a blue sky canvas, whilst hiking the Lares Inca Trail in Peru. 5. Mitch Pfeiffer, South Island Explorer ‘Kiwi‘ trip The world’s only alpine parrot – the native “Kea” is found in most mountain areas in the South Island. We often have to warn our clients to not leave their socks on their room balconies, as these cheeky birds steal them! 6. Eugene Ngo, Galapagos Land and Sea Adventure ‘Tortuga‘ trip Iguana aerobics session in full swing on San Cristobal in the Galapagos. 7. Louise Burpee, Mont Blanc Circuit ‘Tour du Mont Blanc‘ trip Sweeping meadows, cows, delicious wine and cheese… Oh, and incredible mountain vistas – that’s the Mont Blanc region. The hiking isn’t too bad either! 8. Jeremy Chambers, Essence of the South Island ‘Tui‘ trip You’d be forgiven for thinking this shot of Milford Sound was an oil painting. A trip here is an assault to the senses. We’ve used this image countless times on our website, it’s just so perfect. Kudos to Jeremy and congratulations on being the 2016 Active photography winner!  9. Ed Dahlberg, New

Best time to go to New Zealand?

You know, it’s going to be great whenever you come to New Zealand, and people will travel here for different reasons. So if you’re coming here to ski, you probably don’t need our advice! Although… for what it’s worth, September is better than July! That said, this is a question we’re asked A LOT, so we decided to come up with six compelling reasons to travel here at certain times of the year. And the good news is, these periods all fall outside of peak season! Autumn Colours New Zealand is green. There’s no two ways about it. You can’t really go anywhere without being confronted with rolling green hills and vast swathes of native forest. Even the waters of the Marlborough Sounds have a stunning emerald green colour. But we’ll not be accused of being so one dimensional! No. Not even when it comes to the colour of our landscape. In addition to the widespread green we enjoy here, there are a couple of areas you can take in shades of orange during our Fall months – Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes District and the McKenzie Country near Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Autumn colours in Arrowtown – possibly one of New Zealand’s best Fall season locations Cheapest Flights Contrary to popular belief, New Zealand has more than one international airport. While Auckland airport takes care of most of our international arrivals and departures, there are six other international gateways. Most of which are no larger than the baggage claim area of LAX, but we only like to be grandiose and go over the top when it comes to things like scenery, our rugby team, and hospitality. Other international airports include: Wellington, Rotorua, Queenstown, Christchurch, Dunedin and uncle Bob’s farm shed on the West Coast. Ok, so it’s not an international flight. But the good news is, this flight is free! As part of your ‘Tui’ wilderness experience Lambing Season Spring is a great time to be in New Zealand. Every August to October, the 40 million sheep in New Zealand multiply and become quite a few more (sorry – we can’t find the stats on this one). Our green landscape becomes dotted with tiny white lambs figuring out how to walk and follow their mother around the paddock. They’re also dropped in the deep end, so to speak, figuring out how to avoid ending up on the dining room table come Christmas time (roast lamb is especially popular as Christmas dinner in New Zealand). So if you want to see new born lambs before they’re part of the December menu, you’re best to visit in our Spring time. A quintessential photo of New Zealand rural life – taken from Braemar Station, looking directly at Aoraki Mt Cook Southern Lights The northern hemisphere has the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) and we have the Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights). Whilst the best time to get a view of this phenomenon (caused by the collision of gaseous particles in the atmosphere) in New Zealand is during our winter months, you should know that we’re

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