For the second time in as many years, we’ve conducted an unprecedented survey of adventure travel companies, based on the idea that a traveler’s most important decision is not always where to go but who to go with. For the 2009 edition, we spoke to more guide services—and their clients—than ever before (248 in all). We contacted companies that lead 85,000 people a year and those that cater to a hundred. We surveyed paddling outfitters, trekking guides, safari specialists, and the ones that do it all. We evaluated companies that will take you places you’ve only dreamed of (the Tibetan Plateau, the Serengeti on foot) and those that specialize in your own backyard (the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons).
And after asking them the tough questions (Have you tested your risk management strategies? Are your guides trained to “leave no trace”?), we scored each one using criteria synonymous with National Geographic—environmental awareness, reliable service, local knowledge. Because in a time when travel dollars are stretched, it’s essential that an outfitter deliver the trip of a lifetime, the first time. These are the world’s leading travel specialists. Each offers a unique way to explore the planet. The only question now is: Who will you go with? See top companies in each category, as published in the magazine >>
Category Criteria For Inclusion in Magazine “Top Ten” Listings
Operate on at least three continents and offer a wide range of outdoor adventure activities.
Operate in multiple countries and specialize in road cycling and/or mountain biking.
Hiking + Trekking
Operate on multiple continents and specialize in trekking.
River + Sea
Operate on multiple continents and specialize in flat- and whitewater padding.
Operate in one or more African countries and specialize in wildlife viewing excursions.
Operate on multiple continents and deliver adventures with first-class services and amenities.
Average Cost Per Person, Per Day
$ - 0 to $100
$$ - $101 to $200
$$$ - $201 to $400
$$$$ - $401 to $600
$$$$$ - $601+
Outfitters continue to offer special rates—be sure to ask about them.