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How To Book a Safari Tour with Monkey Adventures

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Embarking on your dream tour is just a few steps away. In this article, we'll walk you through the step-by-step process of securing your dream tour effortlessly. From choosing the perfect itinerary to finding the ideal accommodations,we'll walk you through the seamless process of reserving your spot on an unforgettable adventure with us!

If your are yet to plan out your journey and need help with it, be sure to check out our page on How to Plan A Safari in Tanzania - In 15 Easy Steps.

Let us then quickly dive in and figure out how you can easily book your tour with us today.

Step 1: Finding The Perfect Itinerary

The first step in planning your tour to Tanzania is to click on the Tanzania option located in the header of the website. By selecting this option, you will be seamlessly redirected to the dedicated Tanzania tours page. To jump to that page right now, please click here. This page serves as a gateway to a wide array of tour options available specifically in Tanzania.

Once you have landed on the Tanzania tours page, you will notice a range of useful filters that can help you refine your search. These filters allow you to customise your tour according to your preferences. You can start by selecting a desired starting date, specifying the size of your party, and setting the minimum and maximum duration of the tour. Additionally, if you have more specific preferences or requirements, you can choose tour features such as group or private tours, the great migration, or select specific national parks to further tailor the results to your liking.

As you apply these filters, the website will update the tour results section, displaying tours that match your selected criteria. In this results section, you will find a comprehensive list of available tours, each accompanied by the per-person prices. These prices are typically presented with low-priced ensuite accommodations, allowing you to get a sense of the tour's affordability and make an initial assessment of your options.

Feel free to explore the list of tours and evaluate the different offerings based on their itineraries, highlights, and prices. When a particular tour catches your interest, simply click on it, and a new tab will open, providing you with more detailed information about that specific tour.

If you are still facing trouble finding the perfect itinerary, please drop us an email and we will happily help you find your perfect itinerary.

Step 2: Finding The Right Accommodation

Once you have opened the tour page, you will be presented with a day-by-day quick summary of the tour's itinerary. This summary provides you with a clear overview of the activities, destinations, and experiences you can expect throughout the duration of the tour. Going through this summary will allow you to understand whether the tour will align with your interests and preferences.

Below the day-by-day summary, you will find further options to adjust your dates and party size, enabling you to fine-tune the tour according to your specific requirements. This flexibility ensures that the tour can be personalised to accommodate your preferred travel dates and the number of individuals in your group.

Additionally, on the tour page, you will come across pricing details that encompass different accommodation options. If the tour offers basic camping as an option, you will find prices associated with that choice. However, if you prefer a more comfortable and convenient experience, ensuite accommodations will be available. These ensuite accommodations are categorized into different options, typically labeled E1 to E5 or E7, denoting varying levels of accommodation standards and pricing tiers. As you move from E1 to E5 (or E7), the prices increase, indicating a higher level of comfort and amenities. To understand how these accommodations are categorised, check out our guide to safari accommodation classification system.

To proceed with your booking, you can select the specific accommodation option that best suits your preferences and budget. Once you have made your choice selections, you may reach out to our team to check the availability of the selected accommodations. They will assist you in verifying the availability and provide you with any additional information or clarification you may need to work towards finalising your booking.

Step 3. Provisional Booking Stage

Once you select an itinerary and accommodations and travel dates are fixed and inform us of your interest in proceeding with the tour plan, we check availability of accommodations and airlines (domestic) for your dates as per tour plan and if they are available, we temporarily block them for a period of about 5-7 days.

If any of the accommodations or flights that are part of your tour plan are not available, we share alternative accommodations and flights that are close to the price range and location originally chosen by you. After receiving your confirmation we will check the availability, and block the ones that are available. This process can take a few iterations depending on how busy your travel period is and how much in advance you are planning.

After we are able to block all accommodations (that are approved by you) required for your tour plan, we share the tour summary in a mail that includes itinerary, accommodations, meal plan for each day inclusions, exclusions, special notes, cancellation policy, payment details and payment links.

You will be required to pay a deposit within 3 days (It can be less for bookings close to travel date). Deposit required can range between 30-60% of the total booking amount depending on the itinerary and accommodations. You can pay the deposit by wire transfer (we offer bank accounts in multiple countries/currencies) or card (surcharge of 5% applies).

Four poster bed

Step 4. Confirming the Booking

If an advance payment or deposit is made within the given window, we proceed with the next steps. For card payments, clients get instant, auto confirmation mail about the deposit payment. For wire transfer, it can take 1-3 working days for the funds to reach us depending on your country. If you are paying deposit by wire transfer, we request you to share the wire transfer receipt or screenshot that shows our account details and the amount wired. We consider the funds paid through wire transfer as processed after the funds reflect in our bank account.

Once we receive the confirmation that your advance payment has been received (which is instant for card payments and 1-3 working days for wire transfers), within one working day, we will proceed to inform accommodations and airlines that its a confirmed booking and ask them to change the status from provisional reservation to confirmed reservation. (Our reservation team then continues to work with each of the accommodation partners to arrange deposit payments required as per our contracts with them to confirm the reservation.)

Within 3 working days after receiving the confirmation on advance payment, we create an online voucher that sumarizes your tour details that includes itinerary, accommodations, room configuration, meal plan for each day, pickup/drop off details, briefing/feedback timings, inclusions, exclusions, special notes, cancellation policy, deposit payment details and balance payment links.

We send the link to this voucher by email along with requesting information like your passport copies and any other missing information. We request you to go through the voucher carefully and let us know if there are any corrections to be done or additional information to be added. Along with voucher link we also send some important information like what to bring for tour etc.

Domestic Flight tickets (if included in your tour) will be shared about a week before your travel dates.

Remaining balance for the tour can be paid in multiple ways. If opting to pay through wire transfer, it must be paid two weeks before the tour starts. Balance payment can be also made with a card with a 5% surcharge. Or, if you wish to pay in cash, you will have to pay in USD notes that have been printed after 2009. Cash will be collected by the team that will meet you before your safari in Tanzania.

If you need to cancel the tour for any reason, you need to send us a mail. The cancellation policy(as shared by email during the booking process) will be applicable based on the number of days between your cancellation request mail date and day 1 of your tour. If there is any refund applicable, it will be processed to your bank account or your card (same mode of payment you opted to make deposit payment)

Our online customer support team will be available to respond to your mails and messages till you arrive in Africa. Once you arrive for your safari tour, our ground operations team will meet you and you can contact either them or the online customer support team for any assistance required.

We hope to see you in Africa!

For help, support or advice for your upcoming adventures!

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Founded by highly experienced Safari veterans, we offer Safaris to all Major parks in Tanzania, Kenya & Uganda. We are highly ranked on Tripadvisor for Tanzania & Kenya and received certificate of excellence from Tripadvisor for 2018. Our safari landcruisers & 4x4 minivans are very well maintained & equipped. We work with some of the top guides in East Africa. Working with over 300 lodges & camps, we can quickly tailor make a perfect itinerary for you at best prices you can find anywhere.

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Reviews 62 – About Monkey Adventures

Latest user review.

United Arab Emirates

Tour operator was ok, guide was horrible.

First we would like thank you for always replying quickly and the driver always being on time. Secondly I would like to tell you what happened on our first day: - We landed on time and were stuck in traffic on the way to Lake Navaisha so...

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  • All corporate and/or tour info is provided by Monkey Adventures, not SafariBookings
  • The tours offered by Monkey Adventures are subject to their terms & conditions

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We are a tourist company and we offer incredible and unique experiences through a quality service that promotes the cultural and natural heritage of Panama.

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Other Services.

We offer options on tour packages, trips to other parts of the country, private excursions, connections to Costa Rica, Colombia or other countries in Central and South America. We are at your disposal to make your trip to Panama an unforgettable experience.

Our vehicles are reviewed before starting any tour, we also have a first aid kit in each vehicle. Over customers are covered with medical insurance.

Our Travel Guides.

Our guides are at your service and will give you detailed explanations of the sites we visit so that you may know the cultural and natural heritage of our Country. Tours are offered in Spanish, English and Portuguese.

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"Monkey Adventures Tours, are in compliance with “Corporate Social Responsibility” demonstrating that business and culture are the key for success"  

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Great team, I booked the Trans-Sib with... - Monkeyshrine Trans-Siberian Tours

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  • Monkeyshrine Trans-Siberian Tours

Matt, the group, have now all received the deposit refund for our May 2020 Trans-Mongolian trip and... read more

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When my boyfriend told me that the Tran-Siberian railway was on his bucket list, I started my... read more

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Great team, I booked the Trans-Sib with them twice and both trips were smooth as silk.

I took two trips with Monkey Shrine, one in winter and one in the summer. Both were Beijing to Moscow and each was great in different ways. The green of the forest in Siberia was beautiful, though seeing it in the winter was striking as well. Mongolia was more interesting in the summer, the winter was pretty brown and monotonous, but the camels outside Ulaan Baatar were cool. I didn't see them in the summer. Watch for raptors in Mongolia. There were quite a few if you looked, but I think they were there due to the lack of toilet containment tanks encouraging rodents, which look pretty good to eagles and hawks. The trains may be more modern now which means the raptors will have less reason to follow the tracks. MS knows how to get the visas and the contacts which saves you a ton of time! I definitely recommend splitting the trip in two, or in three. Otherwise the trip really seems endless as I found out the first time in the summer of 2004. On the second trip in 2012 I took off a couple days and spent them at Lake Baikal, which was great! Bring cards, load your smart phone with plenty of books, bring a sharp knife and at least 2 or 3 ramen or dried soups, crackers, some hard cheese and a sausage or two. I brought a bottle of schnapps and it was a good choice. The dining cars were ok, but eating in your room is good too. When you get to Lake Baikal definitely buy some of the smoked white fish, stinky but great. If it is winter you can rig a harness and hang your big beer bottles out the window to keep them cold, but don't leave them too long or they will freeze and spray beer all over the outside of the car. The conductor will hate you if that happens. I thought I had left a review years ago, but I don't see it. My "When did you go" response is way wrong since they don't go back that many years on the choices on it.... Most of all, just talk to Monkey Shrine and have them book the trip for you.

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Matt, the group, have now all received the deposit refund for our May 2020 Trans-Mongolian trip and we thank you and your company for your prompt attention to this. As a group, we would like to convey our appreciation to you for your professionalism, swift efficiency and attention to detail in these most difficult of times for the tourism industry. We can completely endorse your company for your fair and efficient treatment and plan to rearrage the trip with you once it becomes safe to travel again and the CoVid-19 virus is eradicated.

When my boyfriend told me that the Tran-Siberian railway was on his bucket list, I started my research. One thing became apparent, you can NOT plan this on your own! My Lonely Planet guide highly recommended Monkeyshrine so I reached out to Matt. They were able to custom plan a trip to my specifications that included China, Mongolia and Russia. Everywhere we went we were greeted by a driver and a guide who took personal care of us. In Mongolia that meant 24/7 for 4 days. I felt safe at all times and truly enjoyed the one on one tours I took while my boyfriend hung out with the drivers due to mobility issues. We paid a small fee for the upgraded package which was well worth the money. It is without hesitation that I highly recommend Monkeyshrine, in fact I am planning another trip for 2021!

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Thanks for the excellent organization of this trip – there has not been a single breakdown. All trains, transfers, hotels, the guides, have worked perfectly and were on time and in any manner in order. 
The trip was in my – in our view – a complete success.

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We specialise in Trans-Siberian tours through Russia and Mongolia. Start your trip in Beijing, Moscow or Vladivostok – travel the entire Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian route, or depart from Beijing on a round-trip circuit through Mongolia and Siberia.

Whatever your travel style, time frame or budget, we can help plan your next adventure.

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5 hidden adventure travel experiences in Russia

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1. The Polar Urals

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For most travelers, the Ural mountains are perhaps best associated with the scenic interlude that they offer between Yekaterinburg and Kurgan on the Trans-Siberian Railway. However, for those interested in getting off-the-beaten-track, the northernmost reaches of this historic geographic border between European Russia and Siberia, the Polar Urals, offers one of Russia’s greatest adventure experiences.

The Polar Urals cut between the northern cities of Salekhard, Vorkuta, and the Yamal Peninsula, and serve as a focal point for one of Russia’s most remote regions. For travelers willing to navigate the mountains, a unique insight into the nomadic Nenets culture of Yamal awaits, alongside a night in a chum (a Nenet version of a teepee) in the otherworldly arctic tundra.

In the midst of the polar nights, travelers can fly from Moscow to Salekhard, before enjoying a snowmobile trip across the Polar Urals to the Yamal Peninsula. Despite the gale-force arctic winds and competing with minimal visibility on a trip last winter, it’s by far one of Russia’s most exciting adventure travel experiences.

2. North Caucasus

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Russia is often stereotyped as a land of snow and ice, but, Adam Sloper, a fellow British Backpacker Society co-founder, said that “a trip to the North Caucasus smashes any such preconceptions.” On Russia's southern border lies canyons, ancient castles, and sand deserts, and forces visitors to re-evaluate their understanding of the Russian Federation.

Travelers can fly from Moscow, Istanbul, or Sharjah to the up-and-coming capital of the Chechen Republic, Grozny, before then overlanding to the Russian-Azeri border at Derbent using just marshutkas (minibus). En-route, travelers can visit Sulak, one of the world’s deepest canyons, and climb the Sary Kum sand-dune, which lies just outside of Makhachkala. Despite enjoying the world-class adventure travel attractions in the North Caucasus that he discovered on a recent trip, keen-traveler Michael Worrall commented that “the hospitality of the Chechen and Dagestani people that is the real highlight of the region.”

3. Yakutia in winter

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Visiting the coldest inhabited region on earth in mid-winter may seem like an unusual choice for a holiday, but, with the right coat and a sense of adventure, a trip to the land of frozen eyelashes can be one of Russia’s most unique adventure travel experiences. Endless snow-covered natural parks, dramatic crystal-blue ice-roads and temperatures touching -50 °C ensure that adventure is not hard to come by in Yakutia, but, with wonderfully hospitable (and, critically, well-heated!) homestays dotted along the main tourist trails in the region, travelers will leave this winter wonderland with warming memories that will last a lifetime.

Truly adventurous travelers can enter the region by taking a 24-hour marshrutka from the Siberian city of Tynda, but most visitors fly to the regional capital of Yakutsk from Moscow, Seoul or Harbin.  From Yakutsk, common destinations include Oymyakon, the world’s coldest inhabited city, or the Lena Pillars Natural Park for a dramatic winter hike. However, with the Yakutian region almost being as large as India, there is no shortage of potential travel destinations!

4. Chuysky Trakt

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From Novosibirsk to the Russian-Mongolia border snakes one of Russia’s most exciting roads for road trip-obsessed travelers: Chuysky Trakt. Cutting straight through the dramatic mountain scenery of the central Altai Republic and ending in the magical steppe landscapes of the Kosh Agach district, a roadtrip in this region offers travelers a scenic tour-de-force that features yurts, volcanic hot springs and snow-capped mountains. The route is certainly not all about driving though – visitors to the towns on Chuysky Trakt can zip-wire through gorges, gallop horses across the steppe and raft down some of Russia’s most exciting white-water rapids.

Gorno-Altaisk, the capital of the Altai Republic, has direct flights from Moscow, but, due to their low frequency and comparatively high cost, travelers often prefer flying to Novosibirsk, before then taking a sleeper train to Biysk and onward taxis to Gorno-Altaisk. From Gorno-Altaisk, travelers can easily arrange marshrutkas or taxis all the way to the Mongolian border, stopping-off on the route’s scenic high-points such as Chibit to revel in the awesome natural beauty that is southern Siberia.

5. Kamchatka

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Kamchatka, a peninsula of fire and ice almost half a world away from Moscow, is a land of superlatives. It’s one of the world’s most geologically active regions, and is home to landscapes so unusual that visitors may feel that they have arrived on a completely different planet. Expect horizons packed with smoking volcanoes – this is a place that offers nature at its most raw, primal, and, for Instagramers, photogenic.

Due to a lack of roads between Kamchatka and the rest of Russia (yes, it really is that remote!), travelers usually enter the peninsula aboard direct flights from Moscow or Vladivostok. From the regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, travelers can be seen jumping on snowmobiles to climb to the smoking Mutnovsky Volcano, or even boarding a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter-trip to the Valley of the Geysers. Kamchatka is a real Shangri-la of adventure travel, but winter travelers should pack some really big gloves, as -30 °C  feels particularly chilly on the back of a snowmobile!

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Get ready for your next iconic adventure like a pro with these tips

From climbing Kilimanjaro to walking the Camino de Santiago, we asked guides, travelers, and explorers for hacks on how to train for these trips of a lifetime.

A scuba diver looks at a school of orange and pink goat fish swimming above a colorful and diverse group of coral.

The start of a new year is often the time people resolve to tackle bucketlist travel goals: rafting the Colorado River , scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef , exploring the poles. But how does an entry- to intermediate-level adventurer start preparing to make those big dreams a reality?

In 2010, to train for an assignment that required me to live for weeks at Mount Everest Base Camp (elevation 17,598 feet), I snuggled into my cold-weather sleeping bag on the deck outside my home in northern Minnesota during a few weeks of sub-zero temperatures in January. I started with a few hours in daylight and eventually slept out all night without a tent. That exercise helped me discern the number of clothing layers I would need to stay warm and put to rest my fear that I would freeze to death.

The best training isn’t always physical, sometimes it’s psychological or even spiritual. And every adventure requires developing a specific set of skills. That’s why we’ve asked the following experts for their advice on how to approach seven iconic travel experiences.

Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef

A scuba diver holds a comparison picture of a once colorful and diverse coral reef underwater at the same spot, which is now mostly damaged and colorless

“It’s preferable to learn to dive in a place where there’s warm, clear water, as poor visibility can be disorienting and cold water makes it difficult to equalize and draw deep breaths,” says Carrie Miller, co-author of National Geographic’s A Diver’s Guide to the World . Neither should be a problem on the Great Barrier Reef, off the northeastern coast of Australia . There, visibility ranges between 30 to 100 feet depending on the season and water temperatures range from 72 degrees Fahrenheit in the austral summer to 84 degrees in the austral winter.

With many dive training organizations, she says, you can do the coursework and pool sessions in your hometown and complete your course on the Great Barrier Reef.

“Some people don’t take to scuba diving straight away and that’s okay,” she says. “It’s common to struggle with skills like mask clearing and the experience can feel overwhelming.” Practice doing laps in a pool wearing a mask that’s half full of water. This will help you get used to the sensation of water sloshing around your nose.

( Scared to scuba? Here are five reasons it’s finally time to learn .)

One thing to know about the reef is that it has already lost half its corals, so instead of expecting to dive in pristine beauty, use your trip as “an opportunity to learn about the pressures facing the reef,” says Miller.

Whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon  

A group of people on a yellow raft, paddling a whitewater raft through rapids on Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Extreme heat and submersion are two major risk factors when rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon —neither of which are easy to prepare for in advance, says Kevin Fedarko, a former Colorado River guide and author of the forthcoming book , A Walk in the Park: The Story of a Spectacular Misadventure in the Grand Canyon.

“There’s an old saying among river guides: ‘If you’re hot, you’re stupid.’ ” To cool off in summer temperatures that often rise well above a hundred degrees, Fedarko recommends that rafters, always under the supervision of their guides, jump into placid sections of the river with their clothes on several times per day. “The Colorado is the best AC you’ve got,” he says. “Getting all of your clothing completely wet allows the effect of evaporative cooling to bring your body temperature back toward normal.”

( Explore 10 amazing river trips in North American parks .)

As for getting dunked in a monster rapid, says Fedarko, “unless you’re a Class V kayaker, the pure shock of being tossed in is so overwhelming there’s little you can do to prepare short of filling up your bathtub with 59-degree water and trying to simulate what it’s like.”

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Hikers, dressed in pants, longsleeve shirts, backpacks and walking poles, walk along a dusty trail near a snow capped peak in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania.

The trip to the “ Roof of Africa ,” which soars 19,340 feet above Kilimanjaro National Park , Tanzania , does not require technical climbing skills, but it still calls for caution. Many people ascend too quickly before properly acclimatizing, ultimately succumbing to altitude sickness.

To prepare physically for the ascent, Dave Hahn, a mountaineer and guide for RMI Expeditions , recommends pushing pre-trip workouts beyond just one or two hours at a time. Spend entire days outside doing just about anything. “Ski, snowshoe, pull weeds, whatever. Be slightly uncomfortable for twelve hours at a time,” he says.

( Here’s how the pursuit of one European peak gave rise to modern mountaineering .)

On Kilimanjaro, Hahn tries to time it so that he reaches Uhuru Peak with the sunrise, requiring a near-midnight start, followed by a nearly 10,000-foot descent back to Mweka Camp. “Summit days are extremely long, like 11 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Kili.”

Skiing the Alps

“Skiing in the Alps is so different,” compared to the U.S., says Gordy Megroz, the author of National Geographic’s 100 Slopes of a Lifetime . “The resorts are enormous and often connected.”

For example, Matterhorn Ski Paradise , the highest ski area in the Alps, spans Switzerland and Italy . Because “the hotels are better in Zermatt and the food is better in Italy,” Megroz prefers to stay in Switzerland and ski 6.5 miles in the shadow of the Matterhorn to Cervinia, Italy, to eat lunch.

To prepare for such epic runs, he says, build your endurance and strength by signing up a few months in advance for two- or three-times-per week CrossFit (a workout that focuses on varied, high-intensity, functional movements) or Orange Theory (a workout that focuses on heart-rate zone training) classes. Or find a personal trainer who can set you up with a specific ski training plan.

( Climate change is altering how visitors experience Switzerland’s Eiger mountain .)

“There are no ski areas in the Alps that are easy,” says Megroz—the reason he advises beginner or intermediate skiers to stay on groomed trails, known as “on-piste,” in Europe. If you’re an advanced intermediate and want to explore off-piste, says Megroz, hire a guide. In Europe, unlike in the U.S., many of the ungroomed runs are not bombed by the ski patrol to clear avalanches. “You can certainly ski the off-piste stuff on your own,” says Megroz, “but it’s dangerous.”

Four skiers, ski down a steep, snow-covered mountain side with the towering Matterhorn Mountain in the background.

Cycling in Tuscany

Few journeys are more idyllic than cycling past the olive groves and vineyards of the Tuscan countryside. On trips like these, “endurance serves travelers more than speed,” says Lauren Hefferon, the founder of 35-year-old bike tour company Ciclismo Classico .

“I always remind people that if they are going on a bike trip, they have all day to cycle the 35 to 40 miles from point A to point B. But even if you ride three to four times per week [pre-trip],” she says, “that will not prepare you for the hills of Tuscany.”

( Take a road trip through Tuscany's breathtaking countryside .)

In addition to logging hours on your bike, Hefferon also recommends going to a gym two to three times per week to build core strength, always reminding clients that multi-day cycling trips are not a race. “Speed might cause exhaustion, disappointment, and an accident.”

Exploring the poles

A group of men, dressed in red, winter coats, snow pants, and boots, pitch a tent in a snowfield during compulsory survival training near the US Base at McMurdo, Antarctica.

“People look at these big trips and see the end product,” says Eric Larsen, the polar explorer who in 2010 was the first to reach the North and South Poles and climb Mount Everest in one year. “What you don’t see is the process of getting there.”

This January, Larsen is leading an eight-day polar training course that aims to train BIPOC polar adventurers. His co-leader is Emily Ford , the first Black woman to hike Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail . “I have this philosophy: Train hard, travel easy,” says Larsen. During the course, held on Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota, the attendees spend three days learning how to dress even before they step on to the ice to train.

“It’s very deliberate how slow we go,” says Larsen. “We’re not just throwing people into the woods and telling them, ‘Here’s a toothpick and a piece of jerky.’ The more time you spend outside getting to know your body, the better off you’ll be.”

Walking the Camino de Santiago

Two young women walk with backpacks down a road winding through green wheat fields on the Camino de Santiago near the town of Granon in La Rioja, Spain. The sky is blue with a few clouds and the rolling, green hills extend for miles.

Millions of people have walked the Camino de Santiago, the iconic pilgrimage created in the ninth century by the Catholic Church. It’s the one bucket-list travel experience that doesn’t require much—if any—preparation, according to Andrew McCarthy.

In the 1990s, the actor and writer, a self-professed “long-ago lapsed Catholic,” walked the route from Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, France , crossing the Pyrenees mountains, and arriving 500 miles later in Santiago de Compostela, Spain . Halfway through, McCarthy had a life-changing moment when he broke down sobbing in the middle of a field, realizing that fear had dominated his life, a story he retells in his book The Longest Way Home . McCarthy returned to Spain in 2021 to walk the Camino again with his then-19-year-old son, which resulted in his latest book, Walking with Sam .

( Here are three ways to plan a Camino de Santiago hiking pilgrimage . )

So, what is it about this path that is so compelling? “I find walking a powerful thing,” says McCarthy. “It’s the natural rhythm at which we are meant to process things.”

His advice? “Go! Buy your ticket and go within a week. The beauty of the Camino is that it requires no preparation, just a good pair of walking shoes.”

Related Topics

  • EXPEDITIONS
  • EXPLORATION
  • ADVENTURE TRAVEL

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Russian court begins trial of U.S. soldier arrested on theft charges

A guard escorts a handcuffed man into a glass cage in a Russian courtroom.

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The trial of an American soldier arrested in Russia this year on charges of stealing began Thursday in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, flew to Vladivostok, a Pacific port city, to see his girlfriend and was arrested after she accused him of stealing from her, according to U.S. officials and Russian authorities. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported from the courtroom in the Pervomaisky District Court in Vladivostok that Black agreed to testify in the trial and will respond to the accusations against him later in the proceedings. The report also cited local police as saying that Black is cooperating with the authorities.

Black’s arrest further complicates U.S. relations with Russia, which have grown increasingly tense as the fighting in Ukraine continues.

Russia is holding a number of Americans in its jails, including corporate security executive Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich . The U.S. government has designated both men as wrongfully detained and has been trying to negotiate for their release.

Member of the Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang, Filip Dewinter, center, speaks with the media outside the National Conservatism conference in Brussels, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

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Others detained include Travis Leake, a musician who had been living in Russia for years and was arrested last year on drug-related charges; Marc Fogel, a teacher in Moscow who was sentenced to 14 years in prison, also on drug charges; and dual nationals Alsu Kurmasheva and Ksenia Khavana .

The U.S. State Department strongly advises American citizens not to go to Russia.

Under Pentagon policy, service members must get clearance for any international travel from a security manager or commander.

FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted from a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Gershkovich was detained on espionage charges in March 2023 – an accusation that he, his employer and the U.S. government denies. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

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Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich marks a year behind bars Friday following his arrest by Russian authorities who accuse him of espionage.

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The U.S. Army said last month that Black hadn’t sought clearance for the international travel and it wasn’t authorized by the Defense Department. Given the hostilities in Ukraine and ongoing threats to the U.S. and its military, it is extremely unlikely he would have been granted approval.

Black was on leave and in the process of returning to his home base at Ft. Cavazos, Texas, from South Korea, where he had been stationed at Camp Humphreys with the Eighth Army. Cynthia Smith, an Army spokesperson, said Black signed out for his move back home and, “instead of returning to the continental United States, Black flew from Incheon, Republic of Korea, through China to Vladivostok, Russia, for personal reasons.”

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Black’s girlfriend, Alexandra Vashchuk, told reporters after the court hearing on Thursday that “it was a simple domestic dispute,” during which Black “became aggressive and attacked” her. “He then stole money from my wallet and I didn’t give him permission to do it,” Vashchuk said.

U.S. officials have said that Black, who is married, met his girlfriend in South Korea.

According to U.S. officials, the Russian woman had lived in South Korea, and last fall she and Black got into some type of domestic dispute or altercation. After that, she left South Korea. It isn’t clear if she was forced to leave or what, if any, role South Korean authorities had in the matter.

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FILE - A view of the bridge connecting the Russky Island and Vladivostok, in Russia's far east, is seen on Aug. 26, 2023. An American soldier has been arrested in Russia and accused of stealing. That's according to two U.S. officials who spoke to The Associated Press. The soldier, who is not being identified, was stationed in South Korea and was in the process of returning home to the United States. Instead, he traveled to Russia. According to the officials, the soldier was arrested late last week in Vladivostok. It was unclear Monday, May 6, 2024, if the soldier is considered absent without leave, or AWOL. (AP Photo/Alexander Khitrov)

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U.S. citizen Robert Woodland Romanov, center, is escorted into a glass cage prior to a court session on drug-related charges in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, April 25, 2024. The U.S. citizen arrested on drug charges in Moscow amid soaring Russia-U.S. tensions has appeared in court. Robert Woodland Romanov is facing charges of trafficking large amounts of illegal drugs as part of an organized group — a criminal offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the First Appeals Court of General Jurisdiction in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 23, 2024. A court will consider an appeal against the arrest of WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was detained on espionage charges in Yekaterinburg last year. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy, left, enters the Moscow City Court to attend hearing on Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's case, in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. A court in Moscow considers the extension of the pre-trial detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, arrested on espionage charges. The current arrest term of Gershkovich runs out on March 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted from the Lefortovsky court after the hearing in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. A Moscow court extended the pretrial detention of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was detained on espionage charges, through March in a Friday ruling. A 32-year-old United States citizen, Gershkovich was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg while on a reporting trip to Russia in late March 2023. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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FILE - Writer Grigory Chkhartishvili, also known as Boris Akunin, is seen during a presentation of the book " Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Articles. Dialogues. Interviews." in Moscow on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. A Moscow court on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024 has ordered the arrest of bestselling detective novelist and dissident Grigory Chkhartishvili, known under the pen name Boris Akunin, on charges of "justifying terrorism." (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

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