Adventure travellers are not just interested in seeing new places, meeting new people and experiencing new things. They want to challenge themselves. They want to push their limits. They are specifically looking for a challenge. They may challenge themselves by immersing themselves in a foreign culture, they may take on a task that tests their physical abilities. They also want to experience nature in a less sheltered way than regular tourists. Some types of adventure travel are more extreme than others. For instance, climbing Mount Everest is a lot more dangerous than zip lining. Extreme or not, adventure tourism is anything but leisurely. It may involve driving cattle, driving race cars, running a marathon in the wild, skiing, surfing, immersing yourself in a different culture, working on an organic farm, hiking or biking. It all depends on what you want. The common thread among all adventure travellers is that they are active participants. They are not there to be entertained or to relax but they travel to do something different or to experience something different.
Some adventure travellers are after extreme sports which may sometimes be dangerous. Extreme surfers will travel in search of the next big wave they can catch. Skiers will travel in search of better and more exciting ski destinations. Many companies will offer a multi-sport adventure featuring two or three sports. It could be cycling, running and climbing.
There is a steady market for Paragliding and wingsuit flying which is considered extreme too. Over the last fifteen years, the number of people trying to climb Mount Everest has been growing steadily. This indicates that adventure travel and extreme sports specifically has been gaining popularity. Every year thousands of people take their first bungee jump. For many of these thrill seekers, the adrenaline high is the attraction.
While the more extreme side of adventure travel is more attractive to young males, less risky forms of adventure travel attract all ages and genders. More and more women are seeking adventure travel. Some travel agencies now focus on doing tours for women because men and women are not always attracted to the same things. Women are more likely to enjoy food and wine tours than men and men are more likely to enjoy extreme sports. More ‘tame’ sports like walking attract both men and women. Obviously, there are a good number of women who enjoy risky sports.
An adventure safari may involve walking in the wild, cycling or riding a horse or elephant. Sometimes adventure safaris are working safaris where the tourist becomes part of the work of animal conservatíon. It is an opportunity to lend a hand quite literally.
Adventure travel has enormous benefits. Strenuous physical activity has its health benefits. Preparing for a mountain climbing expedition, a marathon or a bicycle journey involves physical preparation that makes one fitter. There is a great feeling of accomplishment after completing a challenging task. Succeeding at something challenging builds self-esteem and confidence. They are an exercise in willpower. Adventure travellers end up with more varied travelling experiences because their travels take them everywhere from Ethiopia to Egypt, to Chile China or Nepal.
Adventure travellers who immerse themselves in a different culture benefit from a different perspective on life. Religious pilgrimages are a lifetime experience for people of different religions. Buddhists will likely go to India or Nepal. Christians travel to Israel and Muslims make their way to Mecca. Catholics highly value a trip to the Vatican.
Adventure travellers tend to be more ‘conscious’ than the average traveller. They want to know the impact of their actions on the environment. They have a keen interest in issues like climate change, global warming and sustainable livelihoods. They don’t just want to see the sights and go. They want to gain some knowledge and to know the history of the place.
Research conducted just recently by the Adventure Trade and Travel Association has shown that more than anything, adventure travellers want to experience personal growth and experiences; so it is not all about thrill-seeking. The adventure traveller who loves to jump off planes and bridges is a small minority. Most are keen on softer adventures, like taking a bike tour of a tea plantation. An adventure can either be a luxury experience or a low budget trip. It is not just for backpackers. While some experiences demand a high level of physical fitness, most adventures are not that demanding.