The 8 Best Adventure Travel Companies of 2019

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The Rundown

Best Luxury: See &Beyond Rates "Your &Beyond adventure will be defined by flawless, around-the-clock assistance, first-class guides, and extraordinary guest experiences."

Best Family: See Thomson Family Adventures Rates "You could take your children to meet the whales in Baja, or on a multi-sport itinerary to the Galapagos Islands."

Best Senior: See ElderTreks Rates "The company specializes in off-the-beaten-track adventures, with land and boat-based trips to over 100 countries."

Best Female: See AdventureWomen Rates "Offers itineraries especially for moms and daughters who want to reconnect in an exciting new country."

Best Student: See STA Travel Rates "Specializes in affordable backpacker itineraries to just about anywhere in the world."

Best Nature: See Naturetrek Rates "You can join birdwatching or photography trips, or see expeditions that focus on finding specific iconic creatures."

Best Active: See Adventure Unbound Rates "Includes all kinds of adventurous pursuits and is the brand of choice for adrenalin junkies."

Best Cruise: See Lindblad Expeditions Rates "Destinations include Easter Island and Tahiti voyages to cultural trips down the River Nile."

Our Top Picks

01 of 08

Best Luxury: &Beyond

&Beyond

Courtesy of &Beyond

Established in South Africa in 1991, &Beyond originally became famous for their ultra-luxurious African safaris. Today, the company also offers high-end adventure tours to Asia and South America, with 29 boutique lodges and luxury camps in 23 different countries. You can choose from a selection of privately guided small group journeys, which range from tracking snow leopards in the Himalayas to exploring Southern and East Africa by private jet. Alternatively, you can speak with a dedicated Travel Specialist and organize your own bespoke adventure according to your specific interests or requirements.

However you choose to travel, your &Beyond adventure will be defined by flawless, around-the-clock assistance, first-class guides, and extraordinary guest experiences. As an example, you could find yourself being waited upon by butlers as you picnic on the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater; or leaping from a helicopter to find virgin snow in the Chilean mountains. &Beyond is also an ethical choice with a real commitment to sustainable travel. They support several conservation and community initiatives, including The Lionscape Coalition and Rhinos Without Borders.

For more options, take a look at other luxury adventure travel tours.

02 of 08

Best Family: Thomson Family Adventures

Thomson Family Adventures

Courtesy of Thomson Family Adventures

Thomson Family Adventures focus exclusively on family expeditions. With worldwide destinations ranging from Europe to Antarctica, you could take your children to meet the whales in Baja, or on a multi-sport itinerary to the Galapagos Islands. Want them to make friends en route? Join a small group tour. Want exclusive family time? Build your own custom itinerary. All groups are accompanied by expert local guides, while groups of eight or more usually come with a “rafiki” whose job is to engage younger travelers with fun games and activities.

Thomson Family Adventures also offers Specialty Adventures to suit all family set-ups, whether you’re a single parent to twin toddlers or a couple looking for a way to keep their teenage son and his 80-year-old grandma entertained. Themes include Solo Parent Travel, Family Reunions, and Multigen Travel. One particularly exciting Thomson initiative is the Friends Across Borders program, which pairs your child up with a foreign pen pal and then arranges a memorable meeting between the two – a jungle soccer game, perhaps, or a family meal at home. 

See more reviews of our favorite family adventure travel companies you can book today.

03 of 08

Best Senior: ElderTreks

ElderTreks

Courtesy of ElderTreks

Canadian company ElderTreks has over 30 years of experience in designing adventure tours exclusively for people aged 50 and over (although companions aged 18 and over are also welcome). The company specializes in off-the-beaten-track adventures, with land and boat-based trips to over 100 countries. Each one is ranked by difficulty from 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging). From Arctic cruises to gorilla-trekking in Uganda, choose the itinerary that best suits your fitness level.

Benefits of booking with ElderTreks include the company’s small group sizes – a maximum of 16 people for land-based tours and between eight and 200 passengers on expedition ships. This guarantees a more authentic experience and a more personal level of care and service. All trips include every expense, from your meals and accommodation to domestic transportation, entrance fees, and tips. Hotels are chosen for their comfort and character, and you’ll always have access to a private bathroom unless there is no available alternative. As long as you’re willing to share a room, you won’t have to pay a single supplement charge.

04 of 08

Best Female: AdventureWomen

AdventureWomen

Courtesy of AdventureWomen

Exploring the world’s more adventurous destinations as a solo female traveler can be an intimidating prospect. With companies like AdventureWomen, you can journey safely in the company of other, like-minded ladies. Women-owned and women-run, AdventureWomen has been in operation for over 35 years and specializes in active itineraries to more than 65 countries worldwide. Options range from high-energy tours of the Canadian Rockies with opportunities for hiking, biking, spelunking, and rafting; to more laid-back adventures on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The company also offers itineraries especially for moms and daughters who want to reconnect in an exciting new country. You could ride ATVs together in Iceland, or go zip lining, sea kayaking and horse-back riding in Costa Rica. All trips are accompanied by vetted local guides and an AdventureWomen Ambassador, whose job is to take care of the details, help build relationships and ensure that every traveler gets the very most out of their experience. Because the company specifically welcomes solo travelers, there’s no single supplement (although you will usually be assigned a roommate).

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? See our guide to the best women-only adventure travel companies.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Best Student: STA Travel

STA Travel

Courtesy of STA Travel

STA Travel is the world’s largest student and youth travel company, with physical stores in 13 countries where first-time travelers can go in and discuss their options with experts face-to-face. The company specializes in affordable backpacker itineraries to just about anywhere in the world, from American road trips to island-hopping tours through Southeast Asia. They also organize volunteering and work abroad placements. If you’re embarking on your gap year, take advantage of STA’s round-the-world flight packages, which give you multiple international stops for one low price.

Other cash-saving initiatives include the book now, pay later scheme, which lets you put down a minimal deposit to secure tours and flights in advance (when they’re at their cheapest). You can then pay off the balance in flexible installments – making adventure travel a possibility for everyone, no matter your income. STA also offers exclusive discounts on flights for students and travelers aged 26 and under, while their FLEXI scheme lets you change the dates of your flights, tours, rail passes and more without being penalized.

06 of 08

Best Nature: Naturetrek

Naturetrek

Courtesy of Naturetrek

UK-based company Naturetrek specializes in wildlife holidays and expedition cruises to some of the world’s most remote locations across all seven continents. Join a small group tour and search for harpy eagles in Panama, discover birds of paradise in Papua New Guinea, or photograph leopards on a walking safari in Zambia. Itineraries are conveniently grouped by theme on the company’s website, so you can browse birdwatching or photography trips, or see expeditions that focus on finding specific iconic creatures.

It’s not all about animals, though. You can also join astronomy tours and botanical holidays, or journey to the Arctic Circle in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. All tours are led by expert naturalists, most of them with a background in the country you’re traveling to. Usually, they will share their in-depth knowledge via a series of fascinating lectures held throughout your trip. Naturetrek can also create bespoke private itineraries. Best of all, the company works to protect the planet you love by off-setting carbon emissions with a donation to the World Land Trust for every booking.

07 of 08

Best Active: Adventure Unbound

Adventure Unbound

Courtesy of Adventure Unbound

With Adventure Unbound, you can embark on a high-octane adventure to Eastern Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa or either of the polar regions. The company started life in 1979 as ROW Adventures and originally specialized in whitewater rafting expeditions. Today, it has expanded to include all kinds of adventurous pursuits and is the brand of choice for adrenalin junkies. You can filter itineraries online by adventure level (from “easier” to “challenging”) and adventure type (with options including biking, hiking, rafting, snorkeling, multi-sport and more).

Helpfully, you can also narrow your choices down by selecting the month that you want to travel and your ideal trip duration. Signature itineraries include Galapagos Unbound and Peru Unbound. On the first trip, you’ll spend your days sea kayaking, hiking up volcanoes and snorkeling with turtles. On the second, you’ll explore the Peruvian countryside on a mountain bike, trek to the top of Machu Picchu and kayak to remote offshore islands. All itineraries are expert-led, follow sustainable travel practices and can be made private or customized to suit your specific interests.

08 of 08

Best Cruise: Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions

Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions

For 50 years, Lindblad Expeditions has been breaking cruise stereotypes by offering adventurous itineraries to some of the world’s most remote locations. Their departures include something for everyone, from paradise Easter Island to Tahiti voyages to cultural trips down the River Nile and extreme expeditions through the Northeast Passage from Norway to Alaska. Lindblad’s 13 ships are not like other cruise ships. They are scaled to go where larger vessels can’t and equipped with everything they need to function in environments where no human infrastructure exists.

Groups include 28 to 148 guests, depending on the ship you choose. Onboard, you’ll find adventure gear ranging from zodiacs, kayaks and snorkel equipment to bow cams and hydrophones. On select departures, qualified divers deliver HD footage of little-known underwater worlds to your screen in the comfort of the ship’s lounge. On all trips, a certified photo instructor/naturalist gives tips on different camera settings and how to anticipate wildlife behavior to get the best shots. Luxury touches including great food and surprising wellness facilities complete the Lindblad experience.

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