Pros and Cons of Adventure Tourism experiences
By Dallas Sherringham
The terrible destruction of the deep-sea Titan submersible has thrown the spotlight on to Adventure Tourism, one of the fastest growing segments of the travel market.
In years gone by, adventurers trained for months to climb Mt Everest, paddle the Amazon or trek Antarctica. They were young and fit and well prepared to take on the difficult challenges.
And young adults still dominate the extreme end of the market, but today’s “soft” adventurer is more likely to be a 60-y-o retiree or an office worker who dreams of “going wild” once a year.
In our amazing modern world, it is possible to fly out of Sydney one day and be standing on top of Victoria Falls or gazing into a volcano the next. Anyone can be an adventurer including those people who have a disability.
This puts many underprepared travellers in the firing line for an accident at the hands of a cowboy operator…or worse, as the submersible disaster graphically illustrated.
In other cases such as the White Island volcano explosion, it is simply a case of bad luck- being in the wrong place at the wrong time,
So how risky is it and how can you guard against an accident?
Every adventure has a risk element, but participants are willing to take that risk for the thrill of it all.
My advice is to do plenty of research before you go. Read reviews to find out the most professional operators versus the cowboys attracted to the big amounts of money people are willing to pay.
Operators who have been in the business for years without having an accident caused by negligence are your best bet. English speaking operators are preferred simply because they instruct you in our language and they can answer your questions and concerns.
A good operator is wholly concerned about your safety and will have the best equipment available and never take a major risk with your life. He wont allow anyone in your group to take a risk.
They will fully school you on the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of walking with elephants or sky diving from 5000m. And you need to pay careful attention.
I have been in groups where some members are more interested in taking selfies or having a good time than listening.
One particular memory stands out. I was white water rafting with a group of Japanese in North Queensland and the instructor said: “whatever you do, sit on the side and paddle when we go through rapids.” As soon as we entered the rapids, they panicked, threw their paddles away and dived into the centre of the raft. The raft was out of control and hit rocks, Luckily it did not flip over.
The Japanese group learnt some new English words as the Instructor erupted in a tirade of expletives,
For the solo traveller undertaking an adventure as a single, it is a good idea to team up with a group or a couple of fellow adventurers.
The other aspect of planning is to understand what safety equipment is necessary for a specific location where you are going. You may need correct communication equipment, for example: GPS equipment and emergency radio which shows the weather forecast, a radio phone and correct clothing and footwear.
Also, the adventurer needs correct knowledge of the environment in order to protect themselves.
A good safety rule is to go through survival school on the environment where you are going and in order to have opportunity to defend yourself and survive high risk situations.
When people undertake adventure activities without appropriate experience of activities or training, it can be dangerous with a high risk of possible injuries or death. People, if they are travelling independently, should have a good attitude towards their own safety to survive or not get injured.
A handful of adventures I have done and recommend:
-walking with lions in Zimbabwe
-heli-skiing in the New Zealand Alps
-climbing Yasur Volcano on Tanna island, Vanuatu
-swimming with sharks in New Caledonia
-swimming with a sea lion
- being attacked by crocs in a tinny in the Daintree
-taking a dive on a submersible in Hawaii
-walking with bears in the Sierra Nevada mountains
-climbing Uluru and trekking the Snowy Mountains