REI Adventures, the active travel company part of national outdoor co-op REI, is launching 20 trips, bringing the total for the year to more than 40 new itineraries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America. The industry leader is also formally introducing a collection of lower intensity trips to meet the diverse interests and abilities of its broadening traveler base.
"Throughout our 30-year history of offering active vacations to classic and emerging destinations, we've proudly stayed true to our heritage by designing unique itineraries with physical activity at the center of the experience," says Cynthia Dunbar, general manager of REI Adventures. "Our new collection quickly struck a chord – we've heard from some of our most seasoned travelers who've accomplished our most intense itineraries and those new to active travel and trust REI to provide a transformational experience."
REI Adventures' new lower intensity collection is designated as level two on the company's activity scale. Consistent with all REI trips, travelers will be active daily but at a more relaxed pace and with less intensity. A sample day includes hiking two to six miles with minimal elevation gain and/or loss. Physical activities will be interspersed with local experiences to highlight a region's cultural and natural history, and unique interactions with communities made possible by local expert guides. During REI Adventures' most strenuous trips (level five), guests can hike more than 10 miles a day and carry backpacks weighing up to 45 pounds with constant and dramatic elevation gain and/or loss.
Nine level two trips are now available in Italy, Japan, Myanmar, Peru, Thailand and the United States. For example, Japan Hiking – Kumano Kodo & Nakasendo is an 11-day trek across ancient trade and pilgrimage routes from the country's imperial capital to modern Tokyo. Adventurers traverse through awe-inspiring bamboo groves and temples, visit the Hongu Grand Shrine UNESCO World Heritage site, and dine on local cuisines. So many highlights are woven into the journey, including the hospitality of local communities and learning about the art of sake and miso production. Accommodations include hotels and traditional guesthouses tucked into quaint communities. The unique combination of these classic routes is a first for the active travel industry.
Other new REI Adventures trips that range in activity level include:
Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb – Rongai Route: REI has helped adventure seekers summit Africa's highest mountain since the travel company's founding. Complementing the popularity of its other two itineraries, Rongai is the less-traveled path on Kilimanjaro's northern side. Members hike through wide climate zones as elevation increases – from lush forests with sightings of colobus monkeys to sparsely vegetated alpine desert to the volcanic landscape. The itinerary features REI Signature Camping with deluxe accommodations such as spacious tents, elevated cots, thick sleeping pads, and touches of home for a restful sleep. At the heart of the trip is the expertise of a local guide and porter team who encourage and support each traveler to achieve their personal accomplishment.
Other new Africa itineraries include a nine-day Tanzania Family Adventure and Safari and a 13-day Tanzania Ultimate Adventure and Safari.
France Hiking – Provence: Over nine days, explore picturesque landscapes of vineyards and olive groves, oak forests, mountain passes and hilltop towns that were celebrated by Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse. The journey begins with Avignon's Papal Palace, a jewel of medieval architecture, and includes visits to the still-working 12th-century Senanque Abbey in Gordes, the Luberon region that has grown lavender for 2,000 years, Aix-en-Provence's tree-lined and lively promenade, and more. Throughout the trip, travelers dine on Provencal farm-to-table cuisine.
REI Adventures also increased its Italian collection to 14 trips. New itineraries include Italy and France – Piedmont to the French Riviera where hikers traverse vineyards and country trails, forage for truffles, learn about prehistoric carvings in Mercantour National Park and reward themselves with a soak in cool waters. On REI's Italy Hiking – Amalfi Coast & Capri trip, explore the country's southern Mediterranean by hiking the Path of the Gods, visiting a medieval castle on the Isle of Ischia, kayaking the dramatic coastline, and learning the art of Neapolitan cuisine.
As the largest operator in the U.S. National Parks, REI Adventures launched hiking and backpacking trips in the country's national treasures, including Texas Hiking – Big Bend National Park and Beyond where members hike seven days from the Chisos Mountains to the Chihuahuan Desert and through the region's culturally significant border towns of Marathon, Alpine and Terlingua. On REI's Yosemite Winter Adventure, travelers have a magical experience as they snowshoe and hike during the park's lightest visitation period.
Through the end of the year, REI Adventures will continue its robust expansion with a Botswana Adventure Safari, multisport exploration through Croatia's islands and more than 10 itineraries in the United States. For example, hiking and multisport adventures will launch in Alaska, while backpacking, hiking and family trips will soon be available in epic Pacific Northwest destinations. For those wishing to travel in warmer climates, backpack Arizona's Aravaipa Canyon or explore the Sonoran Desert by bike.