BOYS TRIPS

 
Bucket list / up and coming...

  • Kayaking around the Scilly Islands in July – visiting all the major islands in a week

  • Covid willing we will be on a multi activity trip to Kazakhstan in August.

  • The ‘Overland’ Trek in Tasmania looks good

  • And the big one is to drive up though the whole of South America – probably around 3 months.

 

Plus any other ideas or war stories gratefully received…

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Peddle, paddle and hike the Gower Peninsular - S Wales

Forced into UK only trips this was a tough 3 days, experiencing the beautiful Gower peninsular in kayaks, on foot and on bikes. The Kayak was 6 hours/18 mile paddle from near Rhossili to The Mumbles. The 20 mile walk (with 12 of us) took 9 hours from Rhossili to Caswell mirroring the kayak route. The cycle was a loop around Gower taking 5 hours and covering 40 miles. Different people dipped in and out for each event with 5 of us doing all three - then taking 3 more days to recover. Based in my sisters hotel Patricks www.patrickswithrooms.com - but I'm sure other hotels exist. Enjoy!

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Mexico – Kayaking

Kayaking around Isla Espiritu Santo off the coast of the Baja peninsula. Six or seven days in sea kayaks for around 6 hours a day – with occasional treks to stretch the legs. Taking all provisions with us and camping and cooking on deserted beaches – swimming with seals and diving pelicans in remote crystal clear waters. Back at La Paz with a swanky hotel and an organised trip swimming with whale sharks. Adapted and organised by Journey Latin America.

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Yukon – Canoeing

Yukon trip involving canoeing up the mighty Yukon River and wild camping/fishing for around 5 day. Then transferring to a horse riding expedition in the remote hinterland where you will not see another human. Bears are the biggest threat to life unless you count the impromptu axe throwing competitions. All things in the Yukon seem to start in White Horse which is a town soon forgotten – but Dawson city, as the old gold rush centre, is worth going to (a good place to end the kayaking). We had a guide for canoeing and organising the horse riding but you could do it yourself via the many outfitters who can provide all you need – I wouldn’t recommend our guide but there are many others to choose from. There is an accredited guide organisation for the Yukon. The people we met were great, having the outdoor life as part of their make-up. We tried to not be city slickers but I still managed to bear spray our guide’s very expensive husky.

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Laos – Multi-activity

Multi-activity traveling via zip wire, treks and canoes. There is messing about getting over the border, into what is a communist country, but worth the effort. We started with 4 days zip-wiring in the ‘Gibbon forests’, though I suspect the only gibbon we saw was a stuffed one in the distance to appease the tourist (but you do hear them every night). Then taking canoes down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang, camping and eating on the river banks for a couple of days. This was followed by multi activities because Luang Prabang is the perfect crazy traveller’s town – cheap, dynamic and full of adventure. We did quad bikes, swimming, cycling and an overnight trek into the forest – including abseiling down a huge and scary waterfall. Finished off with more zip wires and abseiling where the biggest danger was over confidence. This was set up and adapted by Wild Frontiers who are one of my favourite travel companies.

Wild Frontiers: https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_GB

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Cuba – Mult-activity

Most people know enough about Cuba to consider it as a destination. We did a combination of trekking and horse riding, together with snorkelling and wild swimming. This comment may be out of date but there was a significant difference between the government set up and the private sector organisations. In the first government place the horses were poor and not well looked after – the second commercial organisation had horses that were far too good for our skills – brilliant though. The same dynamic could be said of the restaurants and hotels. Havana is definitely worth a visit and the people were positive, well-educated and proud of their country. Maybe more of a cultural trip than pure adventure. Wild Frontiers again.

Wild Frontiers: https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_GB

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Southern Brazil – Horse riding

Mainly horse riding from ranch to ranch, with some real cowboy stuff thrown in. When someone says to you “there’s a hundred head of cattle over there boys, go bring them in” I defy you not to get goose bumps. Lassoing, cooking on open fires and playing at being a Gaucho – what’s not to like? The south of Brazil isn’t big for European tourists but it’s really worth the visit. This was organised by Paul in South America who has become a friend. His bias is towards horses but he will be a great guy to contact if going to the South American region. You will just have to get used to the accordion playing most evenings.

Entre Orejas: https://www.entreorejas.org/

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New Zealand – Multi-activity

Alps to Ocean trail on a bike. From the bottom of Mount Cook to Oamaru on the coast – great town worth a night’s stay. Really well built trail that took us about 5 days. At the beginning there is an exciting option to take a helicopter on a 90 second ride across a small river or there are other less crazy ways to get across. This might have been changed in the last 7 years but it’s a great cycle ride anyway. Then get to Queenstown which is a Mecca for travellers, party goers and adventure junkies – rafting, jet boats, and the obligatory bungee jump which wild horses wouldn’t make me do. Great treks out of the town too.

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Egypt – Desert Trekking

Desert trekking in the Sinai. Deserts are the most varied and spectacular of places to travel through and this is special. Then maybe climb Mount Sinai with the other tourists - but worth the effort. Beyond that we avoided the cities but it was only a 7 day trip. Our travel company wasn’t brilliant but there are many options.

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Ethiopia – Trekking

Trekking in the Simian Mountains. Because of direct flights it can be done in a week if you don’t have much time. However I would have loved to fit in the Danakil Depression, camping on the side of an active larva lake. There is a lot to see in the country, though the population is sadly very poor. Also there is a baboon somewhere in Ethiopia that has my mate’s phone – we tried to call but it won’t call back. Self-organised.

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Mozambique – Horse riding

Mainly horse riding on beaches and up and down dunes, including swimming with horses in beautiful clear seas. We also organised deep water fishing but the main attraction is the freedom to ride and the general ambience of the place. Pat and Mandy who run it will make the air fare worth it in their own right – extraordinary people with an extraordinary life story, having been forced to leave Zimbabwe with very little except around a 100 orphaned horses. Organised by Mozambique Horse Safari.

Mozambique Horse Safari: http://www.mozambiquehorsesafari.com/

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Chile to Argentina – Horse riding

This was crossing a chunk of the Andes on horseback, going from Chile across to Argentina in some of the most remote and stunning countryside you will ever see. 5 days without seeing a soul, other than the owner of the various shacks and huts we stayed in – “war criminals R US”. Then trekking, swimming and fishing in the remote lake region before flying down to the bottom end of South America and the ice flows near El Calafate. There we were able to climb on the famous Perito Moreno glacier and spent a crazy day horse riding with the South American version of Mad Max. If you haven’t been to Buenos Aires before it’s a great stop on the way back for at least one tango night. The trip is a signature one for Wild Frontiers but our guide, Maria (Patagonia Trails), is a good direct contact – she called us ‘Malos Muchachos’ and I hope by now has forgiven us for turning up as nothing like the intermediate riders we should have been.

Wild Frontiers: https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_GB
Maria's Company - Patagonia Trails: https://www.patagoniatrails.cl/

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Sweden – Kayaking

Kayaking the archipelago islands off the coast of Stockholm. Wild camping on remote islands after 5/6 hours paddling in open sea. Assuming good weather this is a 5 day trip but there are hundreds of Islands so you could make it as long or short as you like. Stockholm worthy of a good night out in the old town or pretty well anywhere. Don’t make the mistake of buying big rounds as booze is eye wateringly expensive. I’m afraid I can’t find the details of who organised it but it’s pretty straight forward.

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Colombia – Trekking

Mountain trek to the “lost City”. From memory it was founded in the 7th century but only recently discovered in the 1970s. It’s a fabulous hike more in the tradition of backpackers than the organised world of Machu Piccho. We were probably the oldest doing it by about 30 years, which was fun in its own right. You sleep in hammocks with basic cooking, washing and covered areas. We did it in 4 nights and 5 days but it could be done quicker. The site itself is superb for its mountain setting though none of the buildings are left standing – so it’s a much wilder historical site. We also did a couple of day’s horse riding and generally travelling around the county though we didn’t make Cartagena which was a miss. Travel isn’t especially easy in Colombia and usually planes are best – in an out of Bogota which is a typical sprawling South American town, but with a nice old town and good museums/galleries.

Entre Orejas: https://www.entreorejas.org/

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Sweden – Multi-activity

Climbing Ice waterfalls, cross country skiing, ski-doos, dog sledding and riding on small Icelandic Cob horses. Sadly the company that organised it isn’t still going but I imagine it’s possible to put something together reasonably easily.

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Morocco – Trekking

Trekking in the Atlas Mountains. This was a 6 day hike over pretty tough terrain, culminating in climbing Mount Toubkal. Passes were closed due to snow at times, so often we were going the long way round. I think we went end of April so you need to pick your time for the right weather. We started in Fes which was extraordinary and without a guide we might still be lost there. Then the normal sights of Marrakesh and Essaouira, which are still worth visiting despite their familiarity. Wild Frontiers again I think.

Wild Frontiers: https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_GB

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Finland – Dog sledding

Dog sledding. Over 20 years ago but being out for days driving your own team is ‘Jack London’ type stuff, especially up north by the Russian border. My best advice is that as dogs crap at full speed and in harness, keep your mouth closed.

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Spain – Cycling

My first trip was cycling around Northern Spain in and out of Bilbao (which deserves at least one night for the old town and the Guggenheim). Down to Pamplona over mountains and back via San Sebastian which is one of my favourite cities (try a tapas tour). My second trip was in the South, flying in and out of Gibraltar. Up though the white towns of Ronda/Gaucin, then Cordoba, Seville, Sanlucar de Barrameda (for the sea food), Cadiz and back – a week should do it as its pretty lumpy terrain. Both trips self-organised.

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Bhutan – Trekking

Trekking in the High Himalayas. This trip was around 20 years ago so may be hopelessly out of date. At the time Bhutan was the posh way to see the Himalayas, or you went to Nepal with the students – but it was the same mountains. We trekked for around 7/8 days through spectacular mountains and valleys, and by accident had chosen the Rhododendron season so it even more beautiful. Tough walking and we made the mistake of not taking the acclimatisation day, so it was very hard to begin with. Eating Yak meat with altitude sickness is not a memorable meal. Culturally it was special with monasteries and different communities all along the route – as you’d expect from a peaceful Buddhist country.

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Mexico – Horse Riding

Riding in the centre of the country staying on farms and estates. I did this with our South American organiser, Paul, and with a bunch of Belgium, Dutch and French people who were significantly better riders than me. My horse was called Hercules who disliked me from the get go -so I saw the spectacular countryside and culture at different speeds and with different levels of terror. But it was the seat of the Mexican war of Independence and Civil war, so really interesting. I loved the Mexican culture and atmosphere, though I doubt if that extends to Cancun etc.

Entre Orejas: https://www.entreorejas.org/

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Alaska – Canoeing and hiking

Canoe and hike in the Arctic Circle. I often view this as a formative trip in my life. It was so wild and difficult to get to, yet so rewarding. We had to take a small plane and another float plane to get up to the Noatak River from Anchorage. Then build our canvass canoes and just go – hoping to be met in 8 days time. We saw bears, musk ox, all kinds of arctic animals and birds, but most special of all was to be in the middle of a Caribou migration. Thousands of animals walking or stampeding just below us. There isn’t really night time in the Arctic and you get the northern lights, so it’s a weird and magical experience. I can’t find the company who organised it and I suspect they are no more – but there must be a way.

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Peru and Brazil – Multi-activity

This must have been around 18 years ago but none the less it still covers some iconic travel spots. We did the trek up from KM 82 to Machu Picchu in around 4 days, camping in set campsites. At the time it was pretty crazy but it has now been much better organised/restricted depending on your view point. However going through the Sun Gate at sunrise/sunset is a magical experience and, if you choose your time of year well, it will keep the magic. The start city of Cusco is captivating and you will need a couple of days to enjoy it - but more importantly to get used to the altitude. Most people get the train back from the site. Lima was forgettable and really a hub to get to other places. We flew on to Brazil firstly to an eco-lodge in the Pantanal which was extraordinary for wildlife and general exploring – with horse riding and canoe options. Secondly we went trekking in Mato Grosso, then back to Rio which is special and a great place to finish – just unashamedly do all the tourist stuff. This is easy to self-organise.

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Canada and Algonquin – Multi-activity

This is where the concept of boys’ trips started for us and one of the best things I’ve ever done. It can get busy at the start but pretty soon you are on your own. It’s a massive region of inter-connecting (portage) lakes that for us was 7 days of hardly seeing another human. Try and avoid the mosquito season. We got all our kit and food from outfitters and with a simple map just set off. There are designated areas where only one group can camp, so again it’s remote. We fished, paddled, camped and carried all our kit between lakes – before turning up at the end smelling like old bears. Next we went white-water rafting on the Owl River before driving up to Quebec via Montreal. North of the city is the Saguenay Fiord near Tadoussac. There we kayaked through stunning terrain and, most memorably, a few meters from a pod of beluga wales. Hiring a car is probably the best option if covering the distance we did.

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Greece – Cycling

Cycle from South Wales. Way before boys’ trips became institutionalised a couple of us cycled to Greece, straight after University. Living on £3 per day and sleeping by the side of the road it wasn’t glamorous, and it’s probably a young man’s adventure now. Before the days of mobile phone we did it with a scruffy map, a piece of cotton to measure how far we needed to go that day and an agreement that if we got separated we’d meet by the biggest church in the next town. Somehow it worked and 7 weeks later we crossed the Greek border. Then sold the bikes, brought a spear gun with the proceeds, did some island hopping and took the awful 3 day magic bus back to the UK. Narrowly avoided our ‘Midnight Express’ moment but came home older, wiser and a stone lighter. Good to look back on from the safety of middle age.

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