In a previous post I talked about “glamping” — a contraction of “glamorous camping” — that seems ideal for baby boomer travelers who still seek adventure but don’t want to sleep on hard ground in tents anymore.
Some lodges have taken up the concept, offering roomy tents with beds in them — a creative piece of marketing — and now Austin Adventures (formerly Austin-Lehman), one of the premier adventure travel companies in the U.S., is offering a Peruvian trip called “Glamping on the Inca Trail,” with five departures in 2014.
It’s a 10-day, nine-night trip that leads from Lima to Machu Picchu via Cusco and the legendary Inca Trail, complete with plenty of high-altitude trekking that provides incredible views and takes you through a number of other Inca sites and an Andean cloud forest along the way.
Machu Picchu, of course, is a classic bucket list item for many baby boomer travelers, who may be wavering about the best — and most doable — way to make the trip.
That’s where Austin Adventures’ glamping comes in. Hotels (often atmospheric, including one at Machu Picchu) are the accommodations for six of the nine nights, but three nights will be spent glamping in an Inca Trail tent camp.
Here’s how the Austin Adventures website describes it, which should whet the appetite:
“Safari size tents with inflatable beds and warm duvets are provided as well as hot shower facilities along the trek. Your chef will prepare gourmet camp cuisine while you enjoy spirited cocktails like the famous Pisco Sour. Dinners are served using silverware, table linens, and a selection of wine (served in actual wine glasses). Native ‘Quechua’ porters are employed to assist along the way with all the necessary gear, so that you only need to carry your essentials (camera, water bottle, rain jacket, etc.) There’s even a massage therapist available on your evenings in camp!”
I asked Dan Austin, who heads up Austin Adventures, about the level of difficulty of the trekking aspect (sounds like just about anyone could handle the glamping). On a difficulty scale of one to five, he said, this one would be a four.
But, he added, “while it’s challenging, most reasonably fit people can do it. A little effort in pre-trip training, such as walking after work, makes the trip that much more enjoyable. We take a pretty easy pace and have contingency plans if needed.”
Before booking any such trip, Austin suggests that talking with his sales representatives first will give you a good idea of what you can handle, and the company provides a simple pre-trip guide with training suggestions.
Austin says most people rise to the challenge. “You’d be amazed how many times we hear, ‘I did way more than I ever thought possible.'”
That includes participants up into their 80s — well above baby boomer age — going on hiking and biking trips “like never before,” he says, “In general,” he adds, “people are just staying healthy longer.”
Austin Adventures offers plenty of other options for boomers or any age travelers who don’t want to tackle the Inca Trail, including options for boomers who want to travel with their grandchildren. They’ve recently expanded to more than 100 trips around the globe (except for Asia, which they plan to add in 2015). I found their website very easy to navigate, too — a big plus.
Austin says Yellowstone National Park trips, where group members get off the beaten tourist track to hike backcountry trails, are his favorite “entry level” offerings. Classic African safaris are another good option for travelers seeking something less physical than trekking through Peru. And on their European biking trips, you have the option of riding an electric bike — sign me up!
Still, I hope to meet up with you sometime along the Inca Trail — glamping all the way.
What do you think, readers? Is “glamping” going to take off in a big way now that waves of baby boomers are off in search of adventure around the world — but want comfortable accommodations to go along with it? Or will traditional sleep-on-the-ground camping still rule? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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