There is a growing breed of traveler not content to simply follow the herds on package tours, fancy restaurants and all-inclusive resorts. The attraction of transcending the mundane draws these people to the remote corners of the world, climbing mountains, hiking jungles or experimenting with extreme sports. While many might choose to hit the road with a backpack and see what happens, others who may have time constraints or wish to join up with others are signing up with adventure tour operators. Adventure tourism is growing by leaps and bounds and not just for the most extreme thrill-seekers. Even traditional resorts are providing a wider range of activities to appeal to mainstream travelers that want a taste of once-in-a-lifetime challenges and exotic vistas.
Much of the excitement of adventure tourism springs from the rush of leaving the comfort zone behind and perhaps embrace culture shock and real or perceived risk. It may include trekking, bungee jumping, zip-lining, kayaking, mountaineering or paragliding. The demand for adventure travel continues to grow with the heightened interest in conservation and environmental issues. Traveling off the beaten path provides participants a new appreciation for the world's natural wonders but comes with its own challenges of preserving fragile ecosystems in the midst of increased traffic.
Adventure tour guides aren't just there to smile and regurgitate programmed messages to their clients - they are in the middle of the action, responsible for educating groups on cultural etiquette, respecting the environment, coaching the basics of new activities and ensuring everyone is safe and having fun. Many of these brave souls have spent years of independent travel gaining worldly experience before enrolling in a tourism management school. A love of the outdoors, recreational activities and sharing the joy of these experiences with others is essential. The most rewarding aspect of the job might be that it is never the same twice. Working with an adventure travel company, guides may lead a new type of activity each day and must learn to smoothly adapt to unexpected circumstances and go with the flow. A passion for travel and experiencing other cultures is a prerequisite.
The best guides have multiple skills in activities and first aid procedures, often coordinating travel arrangements, including reserving lodging and dining, making activity reservations and researching latest conditions or potential access-limiting difficulties. There is much planning required, making lists and packing necessary items such as documents and survival tools.
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