London mayor launches refreshed tourism strategy ahead of autumn season

London mayor launches refreshed tourism strategy ahead of autumn season

London mayor launches refreshed tourism strategy ahead of autumn season

London mayor Sadiq Kahn has launched a new vision to accelerate the capital’s status as a world-class tourist destination.

Tourism numbers in London are set to rise sharply, with more than 40 million people expected to visit the city annually by 2025, an increase of 30 per cent on the 31.2 million visitors who came to the capital in 2016.

The Tourism Vision for London, which is backed by more than 100 industry partners and supported by the mayor, also projects visitor spending to grow by almost 50 per cent to £22 billion a year, up from £14.9 billion last year.

The surge in visitor numbers could be bolstered in the short-term by currency fluctuations, and according to separate research from London & Partners around two thirds of international visitors say they’re more likely to visit London given more favourable currency rates.

Other key findings from the Tourism Vision for London show some of the fastest growing markets for visitors to London by 2025 are China (103 per cent growth), India (90 per cent growth), the USA (43 per cent) and the UAE (43 per cent).

At the same time, London’s tourism industry is revealed to be worth 11.6 per cent of the capital’s GDP and nine per cent across the UK as a whole.

However, the tourism vision states that the growth in visitor numbers is not a given with increasing competition from other destinations, particularly emerging markets that are fighting to attract new visitors.

In response, it makes four recommendations:

  • Invest in more pre-visit promotion to attract more first-time visitors and the boost numbers travelling in off-peak periods.
  • Invest in information and the visitor experience to allow people to explore more of the city.
  • Ensure London can sustain and accommodate growing numbers of visitors through investment in cultural infrastructure, improving visitor amenities and harnessing digital technology.
  • Develop the infrastructure for business visits to ensure the city remains attractive for event organisers and delegates.

London and Partners’ findings coincide with data from Google that reveals the capital is the most searched for global destination for city and short breaks.

According to Google, London leads worldwide searches for city and short breaks ahead of Barcelona, Rome, Paris and Amsterdam, with the overall number of searches up by 17 per cent on year-on-year.

The Tourism Vision for London and this year’s autumn season were launched last night by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, at an event at the Natural History Museum.

Kahn commented: “London is the world’s greatest city, so it comes as no surprise that we lead the way when it comes to international tourism.

“Visitors to the capital bring huge benefits – the industry boosts London’s economy, as well as supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and showing the world that London is an open, welcoming and diverse city.

“It’s important that all Londoners benefit from a growth in tourism.

“By inspiring visitors to come to our great city during quieter periods like autumn and to find hidden gems off the beaten track, we can ensure that the projected growth in visitor numbers is sustainable and that the tourism and cultural industries work for everyone.

“London’s Autumn Season will show visitors what it is like to explore the city like a Londoner, whether that’s finding the capital’s secret treasures or visiting its world-leading exhibitions and shows. More than ever it is vital to ensure that the capital extends a warm welcome to all guests of our incredible city.”

Singapore Tourism Board launches new brand – Passion Made Possible

Singapore Tourism Board launches new brand – Passion Made Possible

Singapore Tourism Board launches new brand – Passion Made Possible

The Singapore Tourism Board and the Singapore Economic Development Board have jointly unveiled a unified brand, Passion Made Possible, to market Singapore internationally for tourism and business purposes.

Launched officially in Singapore by minister of trade and industry S. Iswaran, and supported by the ministry of communications and information, the agencies’ first joint brand is a bold move to put forth Singapore’s unique attitude and mindset: a passionate, never-settling spirit of determination and enterprise that constantly pursues possibilities and reinvention.

Over the last five decades, Singapore has built a strong reputation as a global business and tourism hub, recognised for its quality infrastructure, safety, stability, connectedness and accessibility.

However, global competition to attract tourists and investments has intensified, and the media landscape has become more crowded and complex.

Visitors have become more discerning in their travel choices, seeking to immerse themselves in cultures and build deeper connections with destinations, while international businesses want to create new solutions that make a difference.

The unified brand thus aims to communicate the country’s value proposition in addressing these new needs of travellers and companies, and help Singapore stand out on the international stage.

G.B. Srithar, STB regional director for south-Asia, Middle East and Africa, said: “With Passion Made Possible, STB is presenting a brand that can tell a fuller Singapore story beyond just tourism.

“This brand articulates what we stand for as a country and supports the telling of many stories about this destination and its people.

“The unveiled brand will allow us to build a deeper and more personal connection between Singapore and our fans and friends in the UAE, even when they are not actively thinking about travel.”

Intrepid Group expands operations with first Japan office

Intrepid Group expands operations with first Japan office

Intrepid Group expands operations with first Japan officeThe Intrepid Group has opened its first office in Japan to meet a growing demand from increasingly adventurous travellers visiting the country.

Inbound tourism to Japan has been growing rapidly, up 16.9 per cent, and the country is expecting to see a further increase in travellers in the lead up to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

But a recent McKinsey report argues that the industry needs to take travellers beyond Japan’s three major cities to ensure sustainable tourism growth.

Intrepid Travel’s itineraries in Japan include a trip to Ashaikawa’s ice festival, cycling in the Noto Peninsula, a food tour to Koya-san, and a new trip to southern Japan in 2018.

The multi-brand Intrepid Group, which began as Intrepid Travel in 1989, takes small groups travelling off-the-beaten track and supports the local communities they visit.

The Australian-owned company is now a vertically-integrated global business that employs 1,600 staff in 27 offices and takes 350,000 travellers to more than 100 countries each year.

The new Kyoto office, which is operated under the PEAK DMC brand, will be the base for 20 local staff and guides to take thousands of travellers throughout Japan’s most iconic sites as well as lesser known destinations for Intrepid Travel, Peregrine Adventures, Geckos Adventures and other tour operator brands.

“We’ve seen a huge appetite for a more sustainable and experiential style of travel globally, across all ages and budgets,” said Intrepid Group chief executive, James Thornton.

“One of the benefits of this style of travel is to bring tourism into smaller communities, which is increasingly important for preserving culture and natural beauty in a country like Japan where people are moving to into large cities.”

The company is currently recruiting for Japanese product and sales staff, as well as tour leaders to join its new Kyoto team.

This is the Intrepid Group’s eighteenth destination management company in its global network, with new PEAK DMC companies due to open in Iceland due in November and in three Central America locations in January 2018.

Kagame opens World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda

Kagame opens World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda

Kagame opens World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda

Rwandan president Paul Kagame has officially opened the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Kigali.

Curated by the Corporate Council on Africa, Africa Travel Association, and Rwanda Development Board, the event is designed to set the tone for how tourism can be utilised as an engine for economic growth in Africa.

Also on the agenda are the pressing topics of job creation through innovative business models, new technologies and strategic partnerships.

The conference will also provide a platform to network and explore new tourism markets and products including the promotion and preservation of Africa’s rich cultural heritage and wildlife.

Opening the event, Kagame said: “Like other countries in Africa, Rwanda is keen to convert our favourable demographics into economic growth and prosperity.

“The services sector, in particular tourism, provides some of best opportunities for citizens and attractive careers for young people.

“This sector is Rwanda’s biggest foreign exchange earner, but we can and should do better.”

Rwanda has placed MICE tourism at the centre of its offering in recent years.

The capital has recently welcomed the unveiling of a new US$ 300 million Kigali Convention Centre.

Positioned on a hilltop in the heart of Kigali, near the Rwandan parliament, the development is set to be one of the most recognised modern structures in Africa.

Encompassing a translucent dome, a multi-functional hall with a maximum capacity of 2,600, the KCC will help position Rwanda as the leading MICE destination in east Africa.

Addressing delegates, president Kagame added that harnessing the full potential of tourism industry will require continued focus and investment on several fronts.

“We will soon have a more modern, efficient base, when the new Bugesera International Airport is completed.

“At the same time, our national carrier RwandAir continues to expand to destinations within Africa and beyond.”

The carrier recently launched flights to London, while RwandAir opened its route to Cotonou, Benin, last month.

There are also plans to start flying new routes to three West African cities – Libreville (Gabon), Brazzaville (Republic of Congo), and Abidjan (Ivory Coast) – at the end of this month.

Kagame also argued: “We want to strengthen collaboration within our region and across the continent.

“The single tourist visa and passport-free travel with Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda is already a reality.”

Rwanda is a member of the 125 million persons strong East African Community.

The residents of Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi include a blend of both nationals as well as a vibrant expatriate resident population.

Many of these neighbours are curious and in search of short getaways they can access with ease for weekends and holidays.

Rwanda is becoming an ideal option with its high level of safety, excellent travel infrastructure, friendly local hosts and a variety of attractions to keep visitors entertained for days.


Industry leaders from around the world were in attendance

Conferences

The World Tourism Conference comes at a busy time for Kigali and Rwandan tourism more generally.

Next month the capital will welcome the Africa Hotel Investment Forum – bringing international hospitality leaders to the city.

The event is attended by the highest calibre international hotel investors of any conference in Africa.

It is the leading hotel investment conference that connects business leaders from the international and local markets, driving investment into tourism projects, infrastructure and hotel development across the continent.

The event takes place from October 10th-12th at the Radisson Blu and Kigali Convention Centre.

At the same time, Avia Dev will welcome the aviation industry to Rwanda.

The event is a unique in bringing together airports, airlines, governments, industry suppliers and tourism authorities to determine the future air connectivity and infrastructure development of Africa.

Combined, the events provide an opportunity for the aviation and hotel development communities to share intelligence on their future plans, catalysing tourism development on the continent.


World Travel Awards will welcome hundreds of hospitality leaders to Rwanda

World Travel Awards

Also in Kigali in October, the World Travel Awards will host its annual Africa Gala Ceremony.

Taking place at Radisson Blu on October 10th, the event will welcome over 300 industry leaders to the destination for a glittering ceremony.

World Travel Awards Gala Ceremonies are widely regarded as the best networking opportunities in the travel industry, attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries and international print and broadcast media.

The organisation was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

NYC & Company signs tourism partnership with Cape Town

NYC & Company signs tourism partnership with Cape Town

NYC & Company signs tourism partnership with Cape TownNYC & Company has joined Cape Town Tourism to sign a first-ever city-to-city partnership to boost tourism between the two destinations.

This is the first agreement of its kind NYC & Company has signed with a destination marketing organisation on the African continent.

NYC & Company president Fred Dixon and Cape Town Tourism’s chief executive Enver Duminy were on hand to sign the tourism partnership agreement this afternoon in New York.

The two-year alliance includes a collaboration agreement between the two destination marketing organisations, the sharing of best practices in tourism marketing and the exchange of marketing assets to boost reciprocal travel.

“Today, we are proud to sign a first-ever partnership with Cape Town, one of the world’s most iconic and beautiful cities,” said Dixon.

“New York City and Cape Town share a lot in common as capital cities of culture, cuisine and design, and we look forward to cultivating this productive tourism relationship in the year ahead.”

The city-to-city partnership includes a swap of marketing and advertising assets to be activated in early 2018 to influence seasonal travel.

In New York City, advertisements will appear on bus stop shelters and LinkNYC kiosks to promote Cape Town, reaching an estimated 17.6 million in media impressions.

In Cape Town, an equivalent value of New York City advertisements will be featured through digital and out-of-home media, with specifics to be determined.

“This announcement has been years in the making, but at the outset it was clear that New York is the ideal city for collaboration with Cape Town,” said Duminy.

“We’re greatly encouraged by this tourism twinning agreement; after all, a city with a global reputation for world-class tourism is acknowledging that we have just as much value to offer the global traveller.

“We look forward to this partnership and to sharing the benefits with our communities.”

As part of the agreement, New York City and Cape Town will share best practices in tourism management to increase the number of visitors between both markets in the years ahead.

The two organisations will also collaborate on ways to boost travel between Cape Town and New York City through offers and incentives provided by third-party travel providers.

South Africa is the largest African origin market for visitors to New York City with nearly 50,000 visitors in 2015.

South Africa accounts for a nearly 30 per cent share of African visitors to New York City.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Looking for a better way to spend your winter instead of staying inside all season long binge-watching Netflix? No offense to the binge-watchers out there—it certainly has its time and place! But after awhile, don’t you crave something a little more… adventurous?

Sure, you could travel to the beaches of the Caribbean, along with every other coworker in your office. Who wants to lay out on a cramped beach or wait in a long line for a cocktail?

Traveling just a little further south—south of the equator, in fact, takes you to a continent basking in the warm, golden rays of the sun, but also filled with many natural phenomena just waiting to be explored. This place is full of magnificent mountains, wondrous waterfalls, and amusing animals. Don’t believe it? Here are seven reasons why South America is the ultimate winter destination:

 

1. Escape from the bitter cold to a continent with both tropical and temperate climates.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

While those wallowing in winter in the Northern Hemisphere are freezing, South Americans at or below the equator are enjoying warm weather conditions.

Ecuador, while partially in the Northern Hemisphere, straddles the equator, giving the whole country a tropical climate year-round. It’s particularly pleasurable January through May, most of which are cool months for Europe and North America.

Just below Ecuador is Peru, known for its mountains, lakes, and Machu Picchu. November through April is considered the “wet season,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to visit. On the contrary, during these months the trails are much quieter—better to enjoy your scenic surroundings. Conservation work takes place on the Inca Trail during the month of February, but it is still possible to reach Machu Picchu and explore the magic of the ancient site.

Patagonia (made up of Argentina and Chile) is at the base of South America. Here the climate is more temperate during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months, perfect for hiking Chile’s Andes Mountains or kayaking across Argentina’s many lakes and rivers. Peak traveling season for Patagonia is January-March, but if you want to avoid the crowds while still escaping the cold, consider visiting during November or December.

 

2. While everyone back home is skiing, snorkel off the shores of the Galapagos Islands.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

You’ve heard of the Galapagos Islands, right? They make up an archipelago just off the coast of Ecuador famous for century-old tortoises and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

But these islands are more than just pieces of land in the Pacific Ocean—they are teeming with life, both flora and fauna. Want to know an amazing way to see all that these islands have to offer? Climb on a bike! Starting at the top of San Cristobal’s highest point, cycle your way down from the highland cloud forest that covers the top of the island to La Loberia, a beach home to a large sea lion colony and nursery.

Ready to get up close and personal with the cute and cuddly creatures as well as other marine life? Snorkel or scuba dive around Isla Lobos and watch the sea lions catch a meal. Afterwards, cruise to Kicker Rock to swim some more with turtles, tropical fish, and maybe even some sharks at the remains of an underwater volcano.

Want to see a volcano on land? Try hiking Sierra Negra Volcano, which rises nearly a mile above the ocean. As you ascend, the vegetation changes before your eyes from full flora to a barren lunar-like landscape. Its caldera is one of the largest in the world—seven miles wide! Bird enthusiasts will appreciate the opportunity to see Galapagos hawks, short-eared owls, finches, and flycatchers in this region.

These are just some highlights of the many ways to explore the Galapagos Islands. Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime trip island-hopping, something that only a handful of people will ever have the chance to do.

 

3. Explore beautiful mountain ranges without all of the ice and snow.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Sure, you will see some snow-capped mountains while hiking in Peru, but thankfully the snow stops at approximately 4,500 meters in mountain ranges close to the equator, allowing for exceptional exploration! Start your journey in the ancient Incan city of Cuzco (not to be confused with a certain grooving emperor) in the Andes Mountains. Make your way to Sacsayhuamán (meaning House of the Sun) fortress, an awe-inspiring archaeological site that represents a set of jaguar’s teeth. Each massive “tooth” is perfectly fitted and can weight up to 130 tons.

If the idea of exploring Sacsayhuamán is enticing, just wait until you hike to Machu Picchu. This centuries-old Incan city is mind-blowingly advanced for its age. How and why did they build the tall walls and carve the magnificent terraces and ramps? It’s a mystery we’ll probably never know the answer to, but part of the fun when exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Can’t imagine going all the way to South America without seeing the Amazon rainforest? Well, forest fans—rejoice! The Amazon Jungle extends into Peru, providing perfect wildlife viewing for any adventurer. Motorized canoes glide you down the Tambopata River, one of the many headwaters of the Amazon, into the forest basin. Tropical birds like the macaw fly overhead through the canopy as howler monkeys fill the air with their call. The diverse flora includes many medicinal plants. There truly is no place like it anywhere else on earth.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a visit to Peru without kayaking on Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America and the highest in the world that is still navigable. The lake’s colour is a deep blue unlike any water you’ll have ever seen. Make your way across the immense body of water to Capachica Peninsula, then hug the shore line, grazed by sheep and shadowed by ancient remnant agricultural terraces. For those seeking a more thrilling vacation, consider all that Peru has to offer.

 

4. You don’t have to travel to Antarctica (or be freezing!) to hang with penguins.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

At the bottom of South America lies a completely different land than that of Ecuador or Peru. This is Patagonia, a vast area of land that starts in the plains of Argentina and moves to the mountains of Chile, finally reaching the edge of the world.

What’s a better way to start your trip than with a visit to Magdalena Island, home not to humans, but to Magellanic penguins. Hike across the island, exploring all the nooks and crannies. Cameras are essential for this hike—you don’t want to miss out on capturing the tuxedo-wearing bird and other wildlife!

Hiking continues for a special trek, the legendary four-day “W” hike! This journey inside Torres del Paine National Park takes you across granite peaks, snow-clad mountains, glacial lakes, and the thick Magellanic forest. On the first day of your hike, you’ll come across the stunning Torres del Paine (that’s ‘Towers of Blue’)—three monstrous mountain peaks rising to a height of 3,000 feet and thought to be the highest natural cliff faces in the world. These natural wonders are breathtaking.

After completing the “W” trek, give your legs a rest and let your arms do some work. Kayak across Grey Lake, known for its grand glaciers and immense icebergs.

If cycling is more your speed, you’re in luck, Argentina’s landscape provides a better terrain for bikes. Ride through the valley basin of River de las Vueltas, viewing river vistas and waterfalls along the way.

 

5. Even kiddos need to “get away” sometimes!

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

These days, it’s more important than ever to get kids outdoors and spend time with their families. With all of the distractions in our lives—from technology to school work to work projects—it can be hard to find enough time to bond with our loved ones.

Want the chance to get away as a family? Embark on a family-friendly adventure to Peru! Together you’ll journey through the Amazon rainforest with some incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. You might spot a capybara, or macaws perched atop the river banks or hear the howls of troops of howler monkeys from the tropical forest canopies above. Hike to Las Salineras and learn about salt production, and explore the ancient Incan cities of Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

What could be better than a vacation that gets the kids active, and also educates them? Not to mention, it’s a ton of fun!

 

6. Heat things up while visiting Ecuador’s volcanoes and hot springs.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Maybe you like the idea of adding some rest and relaxation into your adventurous trip? Ecuador is the place for you.

Begin your trip at a ranch on Cotopaxi, learning about Ecuadorian farm life. Try your hand at milking cows, take in the serene scenery surrounding the ranch, or just curl up with a good book that you’ve been meaning to read.

The next day, pick up the pace as you cycle down Cotopaxi, which, by the way, happens to also be a volcano. The views on your way down are unparalleled—the Valley of Volcanoes provides vistas unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Ready for a hike? After traveling into the heart of Ecuador’s rainforest, you’ll find yourself hiking through waterfalls, making your way to the Papallacta highlands and cooling yourself off at the same time. At the end of your day, soak in a steaming hot spring that is right outside your lodging for the night.

At the end of your trip, fly out of Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. But before you leave, consider enjoying some free time in this historical mountain city.

 

7. Biking is way more fun when you’re under the golden sun!

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Want the best of both Peru and Ecuador? You got it! Enjoy seeing highlights from both countries as well as island-hopping around the Galapagos Islands.

An important part of any trip abroad is to take in the culture around you. One of the best ways to get up close and personal with the locals is via bike. While in Peru, cycle through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the once great civilization of the Andes Mountains before they were conquered by the Spanish. Speaking of the Andes, did you know they stretch all the way from Venezuela to Chile, making them the longest mountain chain on land?

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

On your cycling excursion, ride through breathtaking scenery, dotted with local villages and surrounded by the massive, green slopes of the Andes. Finish your ride at the small town of Pisac, a typical Peruvian village. A must-see is the colorful mercado artesanal, a fresh market full of local fruits and vegetables.

Finish your time in Peru with visits to Machu Picchu and Cuzco before departing for Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands are just a plane ride away and will enthrall you with their lush vegetation, diverse marine life, and peculiar land animals.

 

Quiero visitar América del Sur? Want to visit South America?

Your South American winter adventure is waiting for you. Don’t have the same old winter holiday as everyone else—embark on a journey that both challenges you and feeds your soul. Get in touch today to see how easy it is to plan the winter trip of your dreams, or sign up for our free email course if you’d like to know more about adventure travel in South America.

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

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

“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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

Strength training is generally a good idea for athletes of all ages, but for hikers, leg strength is essential for an enjoyable experience. Your legs are doing the bulk of the work, after all.

Lunges, squats, and calf-raises are all good exercises you can do at home. Try slowly stepping on and off a step or exercise platform, gradually increasing the height as you progress.

Setting your treadmill at a higher incline is also great preparation – or just walking up a few hills on your evening stroll.

 

4. You need a strong back to carry your pack.

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

Your adventure pack and a few bottles of water are a portable gym to help you get in shape just about anywhere. Strap on your pack and practice “step ups”. This will really get your calves and back ready for the weight you’ll be carrying on a hike! Walking up and down the stairs with your pack is also great training.

Push-ups and planking with a loaded pack build up essential muscles in your core, shoulders, and upper body that you’ll need on longer hikes. Here are some good exercisesyou can do with your pack to strengthen your back.

 

5. Don’t neglect your core.

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

Your core muscles are your abdominal muscles, back muscles, and the muscles in your pelvis and they give you balance and flexibility – and underpin just about every other physical activity you’ll do on an active adventure.

Crunches, bridges, and planks are some of the best exercises to build a strong core. You can tune up your core by sitting on an exercise ball while you read or watch TV at night; step up your core fitness game with these stability ball exercises.

 

6. Keep it balanced.

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

This sounds too simple to mention, but a few minutes spent improving your balance can prevent injuries on your trip and give you more stability when you climb. Walking heel-to-toe with your arms out at your side and your eyes looking straight ahead is an easy and effective balance exercise. So is simply standing on one foot for 30-60 seconds at a time (longer if you can manage) before switching to the other foot.

Here’s a great video with some easy exercises to improve your static and dynamic balance (and you’ll need both on the trail).

 

7. Don’t forget the practice hikes.

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

Now’s the time to put all those exercises to work for you with a few practice hikes. Look for places with variable terrain and elevation so you can get the feel for how your body responds to the stresses – and areas where you may want to improve.

Remember to wear your pack and toss in a few water bottles, adding more as you progress, so you get used to handling your body with a weighted pack.

The practice hikes are essential for one more extremely important reason: You’ll get a chance to break in your boots – or buy a new pair if the ones you have aren’t supporting you correctly. There’s nothing worse than hitting the trail with a pair of painful, poorly fitting boots.

Remember that new boots rarely feel great right out of the box. The lighter models may break in with just a few hikes, but some of the sturdier leather ones may take weeks to really conform to your feet. Keep that in mind if you’re considering a new pair of hikers before your trip.

 

8. Mental preparation is important, too.

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

Fear is the enemy when it comes to trying something new. Combat it with physical preparation – knowing you’re doing positive things to get your body ready for the trip.

Focus on the “why,” the personal benefit you hope to attain by completing an adventure: “I want to hike the Inca Trail because I will _______________________.” Keep that benefit firmly in mind when you’re feeling discouraged, both in your preparations and on the trail.

Finally, visualize success. See yourself standing on the vast Tibetan Plateau or hiking Grey Glacier in Patagonia. Seeing success is the first step toward achieving it.

Don’t be afraid of a little self-doubt – it happens to everyone, even the most well-prepared. But you can combat it by knowing why you’re taking an adventure tour in the first place and what success looks like to you.

Of course, a really knowledgeable and supportive trip leader can make all the difference, too.

 

Final thoughts…

You don’t have to be in the best shape of your life to have a memorable and successful adventure tour. But it helps to give yourself confidence with a little preparation before you go.

Just remember – no matter how you feel when you leave, you’ll return renewed, refreshed, and alive with a sense of accomplishment.

If you’re ready to take the next step and start planning your own active adventure, why not contact us today to talk about your travel goals?

And if you’re not ready to have a conversation, but want to know more about adventure vacations and how to plan and prepare for them, sign up for our free email course today.

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

Multi-day Hiking in New Zealand’s Backcountry, and 8 Reasons Why You Should Go Guided.
5 hikers in colourful gear walk a flat track along a valley surrounded by snowcapped hills.
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!

A backcountry hut sits in a basin next to a large alpine lake.
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.

A person lays back above a glacial valley enjoying the view.
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 taking up the most boot space around the fire, or who’s next in line at the sink to wash their dishes. It’s a special experience, and it’s made special, in part, by the sense of achievement, but so much more than this by those you share it with.

Two pairs of boots dry on a fence at the head of a valley.
Hiking Boots drying out at Siberia Hut in Mt Aspiring National Park.

And guess what! Aside from the warm fuzzy feeling that multiday hiking gives you, there’s also a whole heap of health benefits, and not all of them are physical! Maybe that’s why people say us kiwis are such a friendly bunch?!

Benefits of going guided

Over the years our guides have learned a few tricks when it comes to overnight hiking. And we know how valuable local knowledge is. When you’re on the trail you’ll want all sorts of information about the area you’re hiking in, its history, the plants, birds, even the elevation changes for each day – your guides can share that with you. And that kind of knowledge adds so much to an experience in the backcountry. They’ll also share a few secrets to having a successful trip, the kind of things you didn’t know you needed to know, or to pack. They’ll take you to the best viewpoints for the perfect photo, and tell you how to make your own pillow – no need to pack one. All you have to do is turn your sleeping bag stuff bag inside out, and fill it with your spare clothes. Now you can rest easy!

A group of hikers and their guide stand on a ridgeline.
Guide Andy, and his group of adventurers on Robert’s Ridge in Nelson Lakes National Park.

Our guides have comprehensive training in all sorts of areas, some of which we hope they’ll never need. They’re trained in outdoor first aid, efficient radio communications, and river crossing techniques, to name a few. And they’re also backed up by an awesome Operations Team here at Active HQ. The team is always just a phone call away, anytime day or night.

Two hikers on the trail, a river running beside, and a small aircraft flying overhead.
To hike in Siberia Valley you’ll need to catch a plane in!

Everyone’s number one priority in the outdoors is safety, especially on multiday hikes. Because of its separation from other large land masses, New Zealand gets some very interesting weather. Add that to the geography of the country, and particularly the South Island, with the Southern Alps dictating weather patterns as they do, and we end up with very changeable conditions. Our local guides have spent their lives amongst those conditions, and are always prepared for four seasons in one day. They’ll approach every hike with a plan A, a plan B, and often a plan C. Rivers can change course, or rise rapidly, groups can be super keen and want to hike further, or struggling, and need to do less, or rest more often. A guide is ready for anything, they’ve seen it all before, they’ll react calmly, and smoothly, and ensure you’re comfortable and safe.

Panoramic shot of glacial lake, icebergs floating, and a group sitting on the shore.
Icebergs floating in Crucible Lake in Mt Aspiring National Park. The kind of place you wouldn’t know to visit without a guide!

Our guides are also logistical magicians, and they work in pairs. You’ll hop off the bus for a hike from A, and the bus will pick you up at B just as you arrive off the trail, or back at civilisation from the hills. They’ll also give you some advice on the best way to ensure you get a comfy bed when you arrive at each hut – if it’s not pre booked. Your guides will carry the little extras, like bug repellent, hand sanitizer, and candles too. They’ve spent heaps of time in the hills, they know exactly what you need for a perfect trip. And to top it all off, they’re masters of the backcountry cooker! You’ll be fed delicious, nutritious meals after a day’s hiking, and wake up ready to go again.

 Why go guided recap

  1. Knowledge of flora, fauna, mountains, rivers, and viewpoints.
  2. Tricks of the trade e.g how to pack your bag, or make a pillow.
  3. Comprehensive safety training.
  4. Backed up by an Operations Team.
  5. Experience of the conditions – plan Bs+Cs in place.
  6. Logistics – arranging transport, organising beds, putting up tents.
  7. Providing the small things that are easily forgotten – bug repellent, hand sanitizer etc.
  8. Excellent cooks.

We’d advise…

So if you’re itching to head out into the hills, and see what the real New Zealand is all about, we reckon your best bet is to do so with a local guide. The best advice we can give you though, is to embrace the whole experience, trust in your guides, and keep in mind that it’s sharing these experiences that makes them special. Head for the hills willing to share your space, and your stories, because it’s the story that you’ll remember long after you’ve taken your boots off.