Adventure travel shouldn't be luxurious

By Kirrily Schwarz

Can it really be called adventure travel if you're helicoptered to a luxury lodge in the middle of nowhere? Kirrily Schwarz dosen't think so.

If there's little chance of encountering mud or rolling an ankle, perhaps your holiday's not really all that adventurous. Photo / 123RF
If there's little chance of encountering mud or rolling an ankle, perhaps your holiday's not really all that adventurous. Photo / 123RF

There's nothing quite like an outdoor adventure.

You wake with the sun, walking for hours up and down mountains, through valleys, across plains, and along rivers. You feel the wind in your face, the weight of your belongings on your back, and the burn in your legs.

You might do a side trip to a lake, scramble up some rocks and take in the view, build an impromptu snowman, roast marshmallows on a campfire, and gaze at the stars.

At the end of the day you're so tired you can't wait to fire up your trangia, cook your two minute noodles, roll out your sleeping bag, and crawl into your tent.

You're disconnected from the internet, a few days' walk from the nearest road. Your bones are aching, you probably have a blister or two, and your hair has self-forming dreadlocks.

There are times when you're in so much pain you want to cry. There are times when you fall on your butt in a glacial river and your friend laughs so hard they nearly fall over too.

There are times when you look at a landscape so incredible you're speechless.

Stripping your life back to the bare essentials — food, water, shelter — means leaving your worries at the trailhead. Your mind becomes free to rest, wander and dream.

It's so much more than a rush. It's the stuff of great novels.

At least it was, until we went soft.

Hiking has gone high-end.

International luxury travel network Virtuoso says hiking and trekking are at the top of many people's lists. But they don't want to rough it, oh no.

"More and more, people of all ages are realising the benefits of an active lifestyle," Ange Wallace, a travel adviser for Virtuoso in the USA, told CNN.

"The infrastructure of many of the world's more remote and beautifully untouched places has grown to support the desire for comfort after the physicality of the day."

It's great people are increasingly interested in keeping fit and appreciating the Earth's beauty, but it really takes away from the wilderness experience.

Your brain cannot switch off if you're helicoptered to a lodge where your Wi-Fi-connected laptop is waiting with a full inbox after a day of hiking in Iceland.

You won't get over your dependence on material things if you're retreating to a luxury yacht in the Galapagos instead of rolling out a sleeping bag.

You won't appreciate the intense pleasure that comes with the smell of cooked noodles, or the tremendous fun of cooking on a camp stove with friends.

You won't get to fully appreciate the extreme weather conditions of Patagonia if you're running away to a hot shower and comfortable bed.

Oh yes, I'm guilty of it too.

I've thanked the stars for duckboards that saved me from wading knee-deep through swampy marshland. I've hired a porter to help carry gear through the Himalayas. I've opted for a rustic shack over a tent when the temperature plunged below zero.

However, adventuring is a mind, body, and soul experience.

It's an opportunity to realise exactly how small we are in the universe, but how capable we are of overcoming adversity.

It's an opportunity to marvel at the world we live in, and understand why so many people believe in a higher power.

It's an opportunity to figure out the things that really are important, and forget the small stuff.

But maybe you just want a cool new cover photo for Facebook?

- news.com.au

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