Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Adventure Company: Find yourself in Sri Lanka!

Our next blog entry comes from Kelly Geoghegan who has recently returned from a trip in Sri Lanka, this February. She took part in our Sri Lankan Discovery Tour

She tells what it is they should expect from the island:

"Sri Lanka more then exceeded my expectations in every way.  There were so many memorable moments everyday. The friendliness of the locals and the beauty of the places combine to make this a wonderful holiday destination.


Dolphin watching, elephant safari and climbing Adams peak in time for sunrise were definite obvious highlights. However there was something new to see, to learn and to experience everyday, a fantastic itinerary.

Having travelled extensively in Asia I would rate Sri Lanka as the safest and easiest SE Asian country to travel in. I see the current political situation as certainly no reason not to travel. Because of this, the island is certainly suffering from a lack of tourists, most places we went were quiet, and this is the high season. 


But, everyone seems genuinely pleased to see you there. You will come away with a lasting impression of the friendliness of the Sri Lankan people.
As it is to be expected, accommodation standard does vary from excellent 5* resort to basic resthouses, but these are the best available in some of the areas you will visit. 

My best tip would be to always eat local food, it’s amazing and the western dishes offered are often disappointing.

We used local guides often, for nature walks, village tours and other excursions.  We ate in local villagers houses sometimes and tried to shop in local stores. 


We travelled in our own private bus, which whilst not being the most environmentally friendly option, was the only way to follow our itinerary. Travelling this way also does get you 'off the beaten track", and this after all, is why we were there! We wanted to see the heart of Sri Lanka, not the outskirts.

Our guide, Ruwan, made every effort to ensure we got the most out of our holiday, stopping whenever he saw extra things we might want to witness.


Especially memorable was a lady at the side of the road who showed us 101 things to do with a coconut! His love for his country was obvious in everything that he did and his local knowledge and explanations made every situation come alive.

In all honesty, I thought my holiday was fantastic. The people, the places and the experiences made this one of the most memorable holidays I have had. The excellent guide, Ruwan, and my fellow travellers helped to make every experience fun.


I think we got a reputation for laughing too much wherever we went!  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Sri Lanka to anybody.  It really is an amazing country and this trip allows you to experience all aspects of the island, its people, its culture and its beauty."

Kelly went on our Sri Lankan Discovery Tour but The Adventure Company also offer 6 tours to the island of Sri Lanka find out more on the Adventure Company Website

Have you been to Sri Lanka? We'd love to hear from you too! Get in touch by leaving a comment or using the contact details at the side of the page.

Thanks for reading,
The Adventure Company

The Adventure Company: Comic Relief Update!

As many of you know, we excitedly posted news a few months back, after we heard that a gaggle of the UK's finest celebrities would be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief this year. If you didn't read it before, you can find out more by reading our past entry, "Follow in the footsteps of the Comic Relief celebs.


Since then, training has begun and the various celebrities included have dealt with it in very different ways. Chris Moyles has publicly battled in his attempts to shift the pounds, bring in the muscle and thwart his daily take-away dinners. Gary Barlow, finally showing SOME sign of aging, has had his back go into spasm, throwing the whole trip into chaos.

All climbers plan to leave on this Friday (27th March) with their efforts to be shown on Red Nose Day- Friday 13th March- make sure you tune in.

For all the Take That fans out there, here is an interview Barlow gave about the trip:

And just because we don't like to leave our male viewers in the dark, here is a lovely Q&A with Cheryl Cole and Kimberly Walsh:

Book a Kili Trip!
We recommend you head over and sponser the team but why not use this as a chance to really tick off a "must-do" for '09?.


As a goodwill gesture, The Adventure Company have decided to donate £10 to the Comic Relief team and their causes, for every booking made on a Kilimanjaro trip, if booked before the 15th March. To ensure your donation is made, you must also quote "Red nose" at the point of booking.


The donation is available on the following four climbing trips to Kilimanjaro:

Peaks of Tanzania Tour
A great trek for beginner climbers, as the itinerary includes an initial climb to Mount Meru, which helps climbers acclimatise and increases the chance of success of making it to the top of Kili.

Marangu Route:
Commonly thought to be the least strenuous route, it is also the only one offering the relative comfort of huts at night, so if you don’t like the idea of crawling into a tent at the end of a hard day’s hiking, this is a good option.

Rongai Route:
This route offers a different perspective of the mountain as it approaches from the north. Although you can expect a large number of climbers on Kili at any time, Rongai tends to be less frequented as numbers are more strictly regulated on this route and it can only be used for the ascent; you will descend via one of the other routes.

Machame Route:
Arguably the most challenging option, but considered to be the most scenic. The day-walks are longer and steeper than on the other routes, but your extra efforts are rewarded with breathtaking views while traversing the Western Breach.

The Adventure Company are keen to donate to the team, because their good cause touches an area of tourism we are keen to support. We offer many trips to Tanzania , and the Comic Relief celebs are climbing to help raise money to help fight malaria in the country.

If you've got any other madcap ideas on how you are planning to raise money for the big day, or if you have plans to climb, or have climbed Kili, get in touch- we'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,
The Adventure Company

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Adventure Company: Tour Guide Entry: South Africa

This month our blog comes from Francois Senekal, a tour guide with The Adventure Company.

He gives us an insight of what he sees on a day to day basis, and even shows us some juicy video content which shows birth, death, and mother nature at its very best....

"Hello there!,

I am a tour leader for The Adventure Company in Southern Africa, and wanted to let you know a little more about what I do, and what you can expect from tour guides when you are here.

I am not able to get online very often, but I am in-between tours this week and thought that I would show you some videos that I have taken on some of the tours that I have led in Southern Africa

The above video was taken in Etosha National Park in northern Namibia. We visited Etosha on the The Cape To Victoria tour. Etosha is the prime game viewing area on Namibia.


Etosha means "Great White Place" and it is dominated by a massive mineral pan which takes up about a quarter of the National Park. The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River, however the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up.


But the perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife. There are numerous species of antelope present in the park, large concentrations of elephant and the ever present, predators.


This video of Springbok giving birth was taken on an early morning game drive. Springbok time their birth to coincide with the start of the rainy season to ensure that there is sufficient grazing to raise their young.

Springbok also have the ability to delay the birth of their lambs so that the conditions are perfect to give the young the best chance of survival. The herd also time the births so that all of the pregnant females calf within a few days of each other.


This is vital because “safety in numbers” is the strategy for survival. By “flooding the market” with young, the idea is that the predation of the young will not have an adverse effect on the population.

The group who witnessed this birth said it was one of the highlights of the tour. It is not often that one gets to see a wild animal giving birth. The females usually head off to a secluded spot.

This video was taken in Savuti in Botswana. The parks of Botswana are a wildlife paradise, and the game viewing in the parks is, in my opinion, the best in Africa.

On a morning game drive we came across 2 lionesses. They were moving with purpose through the bush (most sighting of lions are of them sleeping) so we knew that something interesting was going to happen. All of the lionesses, stopped, crouched and started stalking. We could not see what had taken their interest.


Being on a “hunt” with lions is an amazing experience. The tension and excitement that you can see in the lions is instantly mirrored in your own emotions. The adrenalin starts pumping, vision and hearing become sharper – it feels that you are actually taking part in the hunt!


Out of nowhere this warthog emerged. It saw the lions and started running. It did not have much chance. The lions were on it in a few seconds and it was over. It is amazing how quickly these life and death struggles unfold in the bush.


Soon after the adults had the warthog down, and under control, the cubs appeared. During the excitement of the hunt we had not even noticed the cubs hiding behind a bush. I only managed to get my camera out of my bag after the chase. It’s a pity that I did not catch the whole sequence on film but I was not interested in my camera while the drama was unfolding.


Watching a kill is an emotional experience. Some in the group felt for the warthog, while others were supporting the lions. Either way, this is nature at it’s most raw, and definitely puts things in perspective for us humans in our very safe living environment.


I hope that you enjoy these videos. Working as a guide means that I am exposed to these daily dramas in the bush many times, but it always excites me, and I love showing people the many wonders that are in Southern Africa.

I hope to see you on tour sometime soon, and when I am close to a computer with internet access, I hope to send some more interesting videos.

Francois Senekal
Tour Leader
Southern Africa."


You can come across Springbok on two of The Adventure Company tours to South Africa. The Cape To Victoria tour and the Cape Desert Delta tour include visits to the Victoria Falls, the Namib Desert and lots of exciting wildlife during their 24 day itineraries.


Check out Lions and travel through waterways by riding in mokoros (dugout canoes) on the Delta to Victoria Falls tour.

Follow a similar route and even swing by to see elephants in their natural environment on the Okavango to Victoria Falls tour

Thanks for reading
The Adventure Company
"Adventure is our middle name"

Monday, 9 February 2009

The Adventure Company: Staff Profile of The Month: Rebecca Pride

This months Staff Profile comes from Rebecca Pride, who is Direct Marketing Executive here at The Adventure Company. She tells us about her travels, her favourite places, her best tips and other fab experiences:

"I joined The Adventure Company at the beginning of last year and have just come back from my first trip, a brilliant week of winter activities in Slovakia.

I didn’t take the usual break before or after university to go travelling so have tried to squeeze it in during my own holidays. To date my most exciting adventure has been visiting my brother when he lived in Japan, a fascinating country that keeps you on your toes!


Last year was a pretty big year for me as I got married, and my poor work colleagues can vouch for the fact that it kind of took over 2008! I’m looking forward to a much calmer 2009, although we’re in the middle of renovating our house, so not much chance of that!"

What do you love most about your job?
I’m passionate about understanding our customers and then using this knowledge to communicate with them. Every day is different and a challenge. I’m learning something new each day and constantly inspired by the amazing countries we visit.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
When visiting my brother in Japan we were lucky enough to be invited to a family party by one of his Japanese colleagues. It was a party to celebrate the arrival of the fireflies and we marked the occasion with a feast of local delicacies and a traditional tea ceremony.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened on a trip?
On our Slovakia trip we spent the whole week in fits of laughter whether it was from learning to ski, rolling in the snow at the thermal pools, or teaching the local folk band some English songs on New Years Eve.


The funniest moments had to be one of the members of the group being presented with a whole pork knee after misunderstanding the menu, and cross-country skiing, which involved endless comedy falls as we struggled to figure out how to stop!

Where have you been?
Japan, America, Dubai, Tunisia, Turkey, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Slovakia and France.


Where are you going next?
We had quite an extravagant holiday year in 2008 with our honeymoon and our winter trip to Slovakia so this year is going to be a bit more low key and we’re planning a driving trip around France.

Best travel tip:
Try learning a bit of the language before you go so you can practise your skills when you’re away.


What inspires you to travel?
The endless opportunities to try something new. From new activities like rafting or snowshoeing, new foods like raw koi karp or stag goulash, visiting new places and meeting new people.

Would you like to tell us some of your travel tips or experiences? Drop by our Facebook page and speak with our other fans there, if you'd like to submit a blog- we'd love to hear from you too!

Make your next trip something to brag about, find out where to go on The Adventure Company Website

The Adventure Company: Nature’s Great Events on BBC.

Here at The Adventure Company, we clearly love mother nature, and hold a special place in our hearts for the animal world too. Therefore, we are naturally very excited about the latest show to hit the BBC, because Nature’s Great Events is going to knock the socks off the average nature programme.

Using the most up-to-date technology, the show has captured the earths most dramatic and epic wildlife spectacles, and the animals, which feature in them. Whilst these have been filmed many times before this is the first time that such grand migrations and occurrences have been captured in such detail.

If you have digital, you can also watch the series on BBC HD, and really marvel at the detail. This is because they have used cutting-edge aerial, underwater and ultra slow-motion filming techniques. For geeky fans amongst you, the series also used a rare and unique camera- a FrankenCam, a motion-control macro camera developed by Ammonite Films and capable of shooting extreme close-ups of tiny subjects.

Everyone’s favourite naturalist, David Attenborough also narrates the series. You can watch the first programme this Wednesday (11th February) from 9pm-10pm on BBC One.


Episodes are set in the most glorious of settings including the Okavango Delta in Africa, the Arctic, and the northern Pacific Ocean.

The first episode of the series focuses around springtime in the Arctic where everything begins to melt and thaw. The episode focuses on the challenges polar bears face as their habitat is thrown into disarray, and how others such as the arctic fox, beluga whales and flocks of birds adapt so well to the climate change,

This particular episode was also filmed during the largest “Great Melt” ever recorded, as during the lengthy filming 400,000 square miles of extra ice disappeared. We first see the baby and mum polar bear here as they look for food, and the episode also focuses on the Hudson Bay bears as they fight, out of hunger.


Aerial camera also follow a large group of narwhals as they travel along giant cracks in the ice, a nail biting mission due to the fact that if the ice slides shut, they would suffocate. Beluga whales provide one of the most light-hearted moments of the show as hundreds gather in shallow rivers to rub themselves on smooth pebbles and gently exfoliates away their year old skin.

Other episodes also focus around The Great Salmon Run which follows the 500 million salmon who travel 20,000 miles to return to the exact patch of gravel in the river from which they were born they fight to make it up river along the way, dodging the prey who want them as their next dinner before they finally spawn and die. Revolutionary camera film 100 times faster than normal and slow motion shots show specific hunting techniques the bears use.


The Great Migration follows the huge amounts of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles as they migrate across Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains. Using a gyro-stabilised helicopter mount, the team captures the action as the herds fight the odds and an erupting volcano whose billowing smoke and ash is hot on their trail.

The Great Tide tracks the hundreds of millions of sardines who are on the search of warmer waters in South Africa and the reams of ocean hunters, including dolphins, sharks and whales who are waiting for them.


The Great Flood tracks herds of elephants as they try to find water in the Kalahari Desert, and then have to adapt again as the Okavango Delta floods. Finally The Great Feast focuses on Alaska and British Columbia as the increased sunlight brings a wealth of nature including sea lions and whales. Using advance camera techniques the programme checks the growth of phytoplankton, which are the basis of all life in this vast area.


The Adventure Company also has a few tours, which take you to the same areas, and let you witness these fascinating events yourself.

There are 6 Arctic expedition trips to choose from, alongside our Serengeti Explorer Tour and we also offer 9 Tours To South Africa

Did you encounter any cool wildlife on your latest Adventure Company trip? If so, leave us a comment or let us know!
Thanks for reading
The Adventure Company

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Adventure Company: Bear Tracking in Slovakia!

For this entry, Linda Harris, European Product Executive here at The Adventure Company tells us about the project she is involved in Slovakia, which is helping to track the infamously reclusive Brown Bear.


Due to its solitary nature, no one really knows the exact habits, or numbers of the species in the world. The purpose of this project is to track the bears, and find out more about them.


You can get involved with this by taking part in our Bear Tracking in the Tatras trip, which is part of the Hands On collection.

Brown Bears
The Brown Bear can be found in Europe, North America and Asia. There is a dense population in the Tatras, but actual numbers are very rough- it is estimated that between 400-1400 live in the forests. The bears are omnivorous, and are very reclusive, but the mothers with their cubs are very tactile.


They often dig dens for winter hibernation, often holing up in a hillside. Females often den whilst pregnant and give birth during the winter, usually it is to a pair of cubs. The bears then nurse from the mother up until spring, and stay by their mothers’ side for around two and a half years.


They are powerful creatures, but much of their diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves and roots. They do also eat rodents and deer in sparse months. They are big, but are very agile, with past speeds being clocked at 48km an hour. They are not as dangerous to humans as myths lead them to be, but we would advise humans to not approach mothers who are with their cubs- they are very protective!

The Project:
The main purpose of this project is to develop and expand a greater awareness in Slovakia’s magnificent wildlife, especially its populations of bears and wolves. Unfortunately, these animals have always been seen as a danger to the community and a top target for sport hunting. We think that if people had a common understanding of the animal, and its behaviour, this wouldn’t be the case. We think they should be regarded as magnificent natural assets and therefore protected and celebrated.


We use collaring to gather the information we need. Recent advances in collaring techniques have vastly improved data collection for all mammals, especially those that may have been untouched before, such as those who live deep in forests.


The GPS collars we use allow animals to be monitored on an hourly basis wherever they roam. It also lets us know when they edge near human populated areas, and provides an extra safety barrier for them.


This equipment also needs less man-power to monitor, and provides higher quality data, leaving our guides more time to help the bears in other ways, such as setting up safe areas and helping any sick bears. It also means research budgets can be switched to helping people become more educated about the species, allowing myths that have been spread about the bear to be demolished.


We work alongside the High Tatras National Park, where we have chosen four bears to collar and will take a comprehensive look at their lives. We first collared the bears in June 2008, and since then have launched the Bear Tracking in the Tatras trip, which allows others to come along and play a vital part in our research. To do this, visitors are encouraged to get stuck in with the research by analysing tracks and printed findings, measuring tree scratching, and even analysing dung!


We also use the project to establish habits between bears and their community, and are in the midst of establishing bear tracks, and key drinking and feeding locations, which we can eventually help to protect.


Every year the number of Brown Bears dwindle because they are shot. Our long-term aim is to set up a sanctuary to prevent this from happening. We would love to have a bear research centre, youth education programmes and a way to observe the beers acting in their own environments.

The Cage
We have also placed a cage within the park that helps us locate bears for collaring. We don’t keep the bears in the cages but we like to monitor the movements of animals around the cage with the door open, until a bear that is big enough stumbles across it. We have installed cameras near to the cage, which means we can monitor the bears closely before collaring them. It also means someone doesn’t have to hide out in the cold and observe them all night!


We put out a combination of apples and corn as bait, and this works well when the juicy berries in the forest aren’t distracting them! We also only capture bears in daylight, and once the animal has been comfortable in the surroundings around the cage. We also work closely with rangers, and always have a vet on hand when collaring.

To give you an idea of what visitors to the project can expect, here is a little information about one of the “regular” bears in the project, Miso:

Miso is a five year old brown bear, weighing in at 120kg, 70 cm high and 130cm nose to tail. He isn’t the largest bear that we have monitored, but he is our most regular visitor! He was our first bear to be collared, and makes a very interesting subject. Due to our monitoring we feel like we know Miso’c character, and since he is quite young, a great example because he hasn’t yet laid out his own territory yet, he is like an eager puppy!


It means we can see him pushing his levels, and watch eagerly to see how far he will roam to gather food. Because he is so young, we will be interested to see how he grows into being dominant, so we can pinpoint any changes that occur.

Bear Track with The Adventure Company!
Help out with this important project as you explore stunning Slovakia. The Bear Tracking in the Tatras trip allows you to track the bears in a beautiful national park where you are surrounded by mountains.


Stay at remote mountain cottages which are normally only used by rangers, and spot wolves and wildcats alongside bears. You can also explore the quaint Spis towns, some of which are 700 years old. You also get to spend the night in a castle and explore the polish city of Krakow – all in all a fantastic experience!