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Adventure doesn’t stop for the over-50s, writes Joanna Booth
Don’t make the mistake of thinking adventure holidays are all about Generation Y. Yes, those 18-30s are the ones most likely to be found bungee-jumping off a bridge or touring overland and sleeping in a bus, but this is only one aspect of the adventure market – and hardly the most lucrative one.
The Baby Boomer generation may be semi-retired, but they’re still fit, healthy and keen to explore the world – and, unlike their younger counterparts, in possession of the funds to do so in style and comfort.
Not every adventure holiday will work for this market. Over 50s tend to prefer a degree of luxury and, typically, a trip where the active elements are on the softer side. But meet these needs and you could persuade clients to use their freed-up pensions on a trip of a lifetime. They, better than anyone, know you only live once . . .
1. Canadian Thrills
The Canadian Rockies is prime mature-traveller territory, with high quality infrastructure that means the gorgeous scenery can be experienced at any pace you like, from leisurely through to hardcore.
Grand American Adventures’ 10-day, small-group Canadian Rockies tour, which travels from Vancouver through wine country and up into the mountains around Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise, has its own designed-in flexibility from this point of view.
While most of the bones of the trip come as part of the package, including hotel accommodation, transport, guiding and hiking, some of the more active elements are at extra cost.
So older clients can choose whether to horse ride, white-water raft or zipline, and aren’t paying for activities they’d rather opt out of. Prices start from £2,839 including flights, accommodation and guiding.
2. Tuscan Walks
If clients are more into tipples than trekking, tempt them with a stroll through glorious scenery, a bit of history and a fine vintage or three on Explore’s Tuscany – Walking and Wine tour.
The walking elements on this eight-day trip are graded ‘easy’. Rambles to the hilltop town of Montepulciano and ambles among the villas of Lucca are interspersed with wine tastings and a night staying in a winery, so the focus is as much on sips as steps.
All accommodation is in hotels and there is free time built into the itinerary, so clients can make a choice between relaxation and sightseeing in Florence and Lucca. Departures run in May, June, July, September and October, and cost from £1,095 including flights, accommodation with breakfast, transport and guiding.
3. Safari Adventures
With stunning luxury lodges and the thrill of tracking game, safaris are perfectly suited to active older travellers. Classic trips are very tailored to couples, but a group safari adventure can provide solos with all the excitement and companions to share it with too.
KE Adventure Travel’s 17 day Game Trail of Zimbabwe and Botswana starts and ends in Johannesburg, travelling up through Zimbabwe with plenty of time for game drives before a stop to hike up to the ‘smoke that thunders’ – Victoria Falls.
Then it’s on into Botswana, with sundowner cruises on the Chobe River and a stay in the unique Okavango Delta, where they’ll spot wildlife from jeeps, traditional mokoro canoes and on foot. The trip starts from £2,595 including flights, accommodation in hotels, lodges and two nights’ serviced camping, entrance fees, transport and guiding.
4. Indian Exploration
The southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu have all the exotic fascination of the north, but are less frenetic, so it’s unsurprising that Intrepid Travel finds its Classic South India tour is particularly popular with customers over 60.
Clients on the 15-day trip will explore the magnificent temple complexes of Madurai, spot elephants in the Periyar Wildlife Reserve, sip tea on a plantation in Munnar, cruise the Kerala backwaters on a traditional kettuvallam and have an Ayurvedic massage before spending a night relaxing on Kovalam Beach at the country’s southern tip.
Accommodation is in hotels, except for the night on a houseboat, and land-only prices start from £1,250.
5. Icelandic Hikes
Iceland’s extraordinary landscapes – ranging from lush green valleys to stark lava fields – make it a thrilling spot for hiking. There are few proper paths, so clients need to be nimble enough to walk over moraine, lava, snow and through streams.
On Taber Holidays’ Hiking Like A Viking In Volcano Territory tour, the not-too-challenging hikes are all guided and travellers also have the chance to relax in the hot springs at the famous Blue Lagoon.
Accommodation on this five-night tour is in comfortable hotels and prices start from £1,630 including flights and accommodation with breakfast.
6. Cuban Cycling
If cigars, salsa and saddles appeal, suggest a cycling trip in Cuba to your pedal-friendly pensioners. G Adventures reports that its eight-day Cycle Cuba itinerary is one of the most popular trips with clients over 55.
With rides through terrain such as the pincushion hills of Pinar del Rio and along the coast fringed by white-sand beaches, they will need to be regular cyclists, but there are less-active elements to the trip too, including a tour of a tobacco factory, a visit to a rum museum, and sightseeing in Havana. Prices start from £899 excluding flights.
7. Galapagos Voyage
With its high price point and bucket-list singularity, a cruise around these wildlife-rich islands off the mainland of Ecuador is a perfect match for older clients looking for a whiff of adventure.
Cruisers joining Exodus’s 12-day Galapagos Islands trip will spend seven nights on a charming yacht with just eight air-conditioned, en-suite cabins, with days on the volcanic islands spotting Galapagos’s famed giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, or snorkelling among marine life including friendly sea lions and indigenous marine iguanas.
Prices start from £3,499 including flights, accommodation, most meals and guiding.
8. Alpine Walks
Fresh air, glorious mountain scenery, schnapps and schnitzel – it’s little wonder the Austrian Alps are a summertime favourite for retired holidaymakers. Active clients can walk off a few hearty dinners with the comfort of a guide on Inghams’ Scenic Seefeld seven-night trip.
They can choose their hotel in this pretty Tyrolean village and the trip includes four full-day guided walks with plenty of time for photos and refreshment stops along the way.
A free lift-pass ticket, weekly bus pass, walking map and Alpine flora and fauna guide mean free time can be used as guests please, either on walks of their own, or just for relaxing in the sunshine. Prices start from £639 including flights, transfers, half-board accommodation and guiding.
9. Burmese Cruise
Since opening up to travellers five years ago Burma has been a continual flavour-of-the-month destination and visitor numbers have soared. Part of its attraction is being untouched by tourists, but with its popularity growing, clients may have to venture a little farther from the newly beaten track.
This is where Sanctuary Retreats’ new itineraries on the Chindwin come in. Less cruised than the Ayeyarwady, clients on the 10-day exploration cruises will visit some of southeast Asia’s most secluded spots, including the colonial town of Mawleik and the Po Win Taung caves.
And they’ll do it in the lap of luxury on all-suite river cruiser Sanctuary Ananda. With sailings in July and August, prices start from £2,062 including full-board accommodation, some drinks and a full programme of excursions and activities.
10. German Rides
Rivers find the path of least resistance, so a self-guided cycling holiday along the banks of the Elbe in Germany works perfectly for independent-minded clients who like gentle exercise.
Paved and well-signposted, the Elbe Cycle Route is flat to rolling and Fred Holidays has launched three itineraries along different stretches of the river. The 10-day Hamburg to Berlin trip takes in sleepy riverside villages along the Elbe before branching off along the quiet Havel river to Potsdam and Berlin.
Prices start from £1,069 including flights, transfers, overnight accommodation, luggage transfer and bicycle hire. For an extra-easy experience, they can hire e-bikes for an extra charge.
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