Rafter Mysteriously Goes Missing In Grand Canyon

The Grand CanyonThe National Park Service has a mystery on their hands and it is proving to be a difficult one to solve.

Twenty-one-year-old Kaitlin Kenney was part of a month-long private rafting party in the Grand Canyon when she mysteriously went missing last week. Kenney was last seen on Friday, January 11, in a camp near Tapeats Creek along the northern bank of the Colorado River. What happened to her after that is still open for speculation, as no trace of the young woman has been found since.

Other members of the rafting group used a satellite phone to contact the Park Service over the weekend and the NPS scrambled search parties to go looking for Kenney. Searching from both the air and on the ground, teams have combed the area where she was last seen and so far have come up empty. The Park Service says that they spent two days checking every accessible trail, beach, drainage and backcountry area in the vicinity to no avail. The search is ongoing, although efforts have been scaled back.

What might have happened to the missing rafter is open to debate. Other members of her party say that she would never have tried to climb out of the canyon on her own and speculation is that she may have accidentally fallen into the water sometime in the night. At this time of year the Grand Canyon can be a cold place and the waters of the Colorado are frigid, making hypothermia a real danger. SAR teams have combed the river looking for Kenney, however, and still haven’t found any clues.

[Photo Credit: National Park Service]

10 Big Travel Adventures For 2013

Travel adventures to Denali National Park in AlaskaThough 2013 may only be a few days old, it is never too early to start planning our travels for the year ahead. If you’re looking to put a healthy dose of adventure into your life this year, then Gadling is here to help. We have ten suggestions for big travel adventures that are sure to challenge and delight in the months ahead. These journeys are not for the faint of heart, however, as they will carry you to the very ends of the Earth in pursuit of a true once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

Backpack Through Denali National Park
Even in the 21st century, Alaska remains a wild and untamed frontier that is quite simply the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers alike. At the heart of that beautiful landscape is the incomparable Denali National Park, which is essentially 4.7 million acres filled with breathtaking scenery and spectacular wildlife. Alaska Alpine Adventures offers both seven- and ten-day backpacking excursions into the park, taking travelers across massive glaciers, high into mountain passes and along remote rivers that few people ever see. These trips are a backpacker’s dream come true in one of the last great wildernesses on the planet.

Explore Namibia’s Skeleton Coast
Located along Namibia‘s northern-shores, the Skeleton Coast is so named for the smashed hulls of ships that have washed up on its beaches. More than a thousand vessels have come to rest in those sands, giving the place an otherworldly feeling that is difficult to describe. Desolate, yet incredibly beautiful, the coast is home to an array of wildlife including sea lions, baboons, elephants and even rare black rhinos. The region is inaccessible by land, but several adventure travel companies, including Audley Travel, can arrange for safaris to this remote corner of the world. This is a destination for those who truly want to get away from it all, as it is seldom visited and far from the traditional travel crowd.Travel adventures in the Himalay with Sacred RidesMountain Bike The Himalayas
For decades, one of the staples of adventure travel has been trekking in the Himalaya. But for those looking for a completely different challenge amongst the tallest mountains on the planet, Sacred Rides has a fantastic alternative. The company, which specializes in unique mountain biking tours around the globe, gives travelers the chance to pedal their way through Nepal on a 12-day tour that is truly unique. This adventure takes riders into the remote Mustang Valley, through the shadows of both Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, and into the deepest mountain pass on the planet. Along the way, they’ll catch their breath in ancient Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries and rustic mountain villages.

Whitewater Raft The World
We’ve told you about Mountain Travel Sobek’s amazing new rafting excursion before, but it is so ambitious and grand it’s worth mentioning again. The company’s Six-Continent Whitewater Adventure is unlike any other, offering travelers the ability to experience Class III-IV rapids in California, Ecuador, Spain, Kenya, India and Australia on a single 25-day whirlwind journey. If you’re a fan of whitewater rafting, it simply doesn’t get any bigger or more adventurous than this.

Trek The Atlas Mountains
Already hiked through the Andes, Alps and Himalaya but still find your feet are itching for an adventure? Why not hit the trail in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco? Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains offer unexpectedly rugged routes that wind through verdant valleys, across sparsely populated alpine meadows and over snow-capped summits. Travelers are treated to breathtaking vistas and are welcomed by the friendly locals who inhabit the tiny villages that are sprinkled throughout the region. Explore World Wide offers a variety of travel options to the Atlas Range, including short climbs to the top of the 13,671-foot Toubkal Peak and extended 15-day treks across the region. Like all great hiking excursions, these options provide a good mix of scenic landscapes, physical challenges and unique cultural immersion opportunities.

Learn To Sea Kayak In Patagonia
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to sea kayak, there are few places on the planet that are better suited to obtain those skills than Patagonia. The incredible wilderness located along the southernmost tip of South America is amongst the most beautiful settings on the planet and it remains an incredibly remote and wild place even today. And who better to train travelers in the art of sea kayaking than the folks at NOLS – the National Outdoor Leadership School. The organization leads a couple of trips to Chile each year where their guests gain paddling skills while traveling through lush rainforests, past towering granite spires and around pristine beaches. Paddlers will encounter plenty of wildlife along the way as well, including sea lions, giant otters, Andean condors and much more. This trip is a mix of equal parts adventure, learning and exploration that lets travelers go home with new skills and a host of wonderful memories.

Travel adventures on the SerengetiTake A Walking Safari Across The Serengeti
The Serengeti is one of those iconic destinations that every adventure traveler should have on their list of places to visit. With its dizzying array of wildlife, it is simply a magical place for animal lovers and naturalists alike. But those looking to experience the traditional safari in a unique way will want to check out the Walk on the Wildside itinerary from the team at Mountain Madness. This trip gets travelers out of the safari vehicle and actually puts them on the rolling savannah on foot. Specially trained guides will keep travelers safe as they spend their days hiking from one campsite to the next, all the while moving amongst vast herds of antelope, wildebeests and zebras, keeping their eyes peeled for elephants and lions along the way. At night they’ll actually camp right on the Serengeti, drifting off to sleep to the sounds of wild animals grazing just outside their tent.

Go Camping In Antarctica
For many, a visit to Antarctica is the ultimate adventure, as the frozen continent is the very definition of the “ends of the Earth.” While there are numerous travel companies that offer cruises to the bottom of the world, not many of them also offer the ability to actually go camping while there. But adventurous travelers looking for the ultimate cold weather camping experience will want to check out the itineraries available from Quark Expeditions. Their Crossing The Circle tour not only offers the option to go kayaking with whales and visit remote penguin colonies, but travelers can actually camp on the Antarctic Peninsula itself. Just be sure to pack a warm sleeping bag and your long underwear.

Climb The Highest Peak In South America
Located in western Argentina, the 22,480-foot Aconcagua is the tallest peak in South America and the highest in the world outside of the Himalaya. Despite its extreme altitude, however, the mountain requires only a few rudimentary technical skills to climb, making it accessible to adventurers who enjoy venturing into thin air. The standard route to the top is essentially a challenging hike requiring about three weeks to complete, including acclimatization and shuttling gear to high camps. The climb also happens to serve as a great training ground for a potential attempt on Everest or other more demanding mountains. The Adventure Consultants are one of the best companies around when it comes to organizing an Aconcagua climb, offering multiple expeditions to the mountain each year and providing top notch service, skills training and guidance. This is the trip for those who have trekked to the summit of Kilimanjaro and are now looking for new high altitude challenge.

The Ultimate African Adventure – Cairo to Cape Town Overland
If you’re looking for the ultimate African experience, it’s tough to beat Intrepid Travel’s amazing Cairo to Cape Town overland adventure. As the name implies, your excursion will begin in Egypt‘s capital city and proceed south to the capital of South Africa. In between, travelers will pass through the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. The trip is an incredible 117 days in length and offers a mix of camping and rustic accommodations. The itinerary features stops in some of the continent’s more vibrant and exciting cities, while also providing plenty of opportunity to encounter Africa’s famous wildlife in a number of fantastic natural settings. If you’re a fan of African travel, it just doesn’t get any better than this. That is, provided you have four months of vacation time saved up.

Hopefully this list has provided you with some ideas for your own big adventures for 2013. Good luck in your travels in the year ahead and enjoy the road.

[Photo Credit: Kent Miller, Kraig Becker]

Mountain Travel Sobek Offers Rafting Adventure That Spans 25 Days, 6 Continents

Mountain Travel Sobek has a 25-day, 6-Continent rafting adventureAdrenaline junkies and globetrotting adventure travelers will want to take note of an impressive new itinerary being offered by Mountain Travel Sobek. Yesterday, the company unveiled a new excursion that will send travelers on a whitewater odyssey that spans six continents in 25 days, taking them to some remote corners of the planet in the process.

The trip runs from May 9 to June 2, 2013, and begins in California where the thrill seekers will cut their teeth on Class III and IV rapids along the Kings, Kaweah and Upper Kern Rivers. After getting their feet wet on those rafting experiences, it’ll be on to Ecuador, followed by Spain, Kenya and India, before finally wrapping up in Australia.

Each destination will provide a similar, yet uniquely different, rafting experience, as travelers take on South America’s famed Rio Blanco and raging rivers in the high Pyrenees. In Africa they’ll spot wildlife along the Athi River and in India they’ll take to the water in the shadow of Nanda Devi, considered to be one of the most beautiful of all the Himalayan peaks. Finally, after three weeks of travel and training, the group will run the famed North Johnstone River in Australia, which rushes through a remote volcanic gorge that few people ever see.

For adventurous travelers this is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The opportunity to visit any one of these rivers independently is a fantastic experience but to get them all on one itinerary is unbelievable. The trip will even be led by Mountain Travel Sobek’s co-founder John Yost, a renowned rafting guide in his own right. Cost for the trip is $8695 without airfare and group size is limited to just 8-12 guests. For more information click here.

On a personal note, when I read about this new rafting option, it immediately earned a spot on my bucket list. A whirlwind adventure that spans the globe, visiting highly diverse landscapes, sounds like a fantastic journey to me. I would absolutely love to join this expedition.

Video: Beautiful Bhutan Footage

Bhutan – A Journey Through The Land of Thunder Dragon” from info@drukasia.com on Vimeo.

It’s not every day that I find myself liking promotional videos, but this video seems to be an exception. Sponsored by Bhutan‘s board of tourism, this video pairs dramatic music and beautiful Bhutan footage. The end result is a gorgeous video featuring hiking, rafting and wildlife that makes me want to look into flights to Bhutan immediately. If you’ve been to Bhutan, tell us about your experience in the comments. Be sure to point us in the direction of any fantastic photos or videos while you’re at it.

Tourist Attractions in Bhutan

How To Face Your Fears Through Travel

skydiving For many people, traveling is about trying new things and making inner discoveries. It’s a great primer for getting your mind ready for an adventure. While you’re having these unique experiences, why not take the opportunity to conquer a fear, as well? Here are some ideas on how travel can help you face your anxieties head-on.

Flying

Being afraid to fly is very common, and the best way to overcome your fear is to face it. While simply going to an overseas destination is a step in the right direction, why not go all out and try skydiving? Some of the best places for skydiving are the Fox Glacier in New Zealand, Mount Everest in Nepal, Cairns in Australia and Seville in Spain. If you’d like to start out smaller, zip lining can also provide an aerial adventure. You’ll be able to attach yourself to a harness, which is connected to a wire, and fly over tall trees and beautiful landscapes.The Ocean

This is a big one for me. During a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, I sat on the boat shaking as my guide fitted me for scuba gear. I watched jealously as my friends jumped into the ocean without a care in the world. However, my fears slowly drifted away as the instructor showed us step-by-step how to safely navigate the water. It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life. Some other great diving areas to explore on your travels are East Java, Madagascar, Raja Ampat and the Galapagos Islands.

spider Spiders

For those who are afraid of spiders and other creepy crawlers, a trip to the jungle or rainforest will be just what you need. In places like the Amazon Jungle in South America, where you can see the world’s largest species, the Goliath Tarantula, you’ll find enormous spiders and unique insects you can’t find anywhere else in the world. And after you face these bugs, the average house spider will seem as harmless as a kitten.

The Unknown

For many people, not having a set schedule or itinerary can be terrifying. I actually used to be the kind of person who constantly planned out every detail of a trip and would get anxiety if something went off course. Help free your mind on your travels and try not making a plan. Simply pack a bag, buy a plane ticket and show up at your destination. Not only is it liberating to travel with a blank itinerary of endless opportunities, it’s a lot harder for things to go wrong when you had no plan to begin with.

ghana Commitment

Are you the type of person that shakes at the thought of committing to something for longer than the afternoon? Get over your fear and sign up for a volunteer project abroad. There’s usually a two-week minimum commitment, but to get the most out of the project I’d recommend going for a month or longer. Volunteer at an orphanage, teach English, coach sports, provide medical help or work with animals and help another community. You’ll not only get over your fear of commitment, you’ll also grow as a person.

The Dark

It’s unfortunate that so many people are afraid of the dark, as there are so many great things that happen when the sun’s not around. One great experience to have is camping. You’ll be able to roast marshmallows over an open fire, sing songs, go on night hikes and feel how small the Earth really is through stargazing. One tip: it’s probably best to skip the scary campfire stories the first time around. Some great camping destinations include The Outback in Australia, the Inca Trail in Peru and Torres del Paine in Chile. Another fun adventure to have in the dark is black water rafting, or cave tubing. While it doesn’t need to be nighttime, you’ll be rafting through dark caves where anything is possible. It’s a lot of fun, and a very different experience from white water rafting in the sunlight.

cuy Eating New Foods

While being afraid to try new foods isn’t too serious, tasting unique and “scary” dishes can open you up to new things and lead you to say “yes” to more opportunities. For some people, eating a food they’ve never had can be terrifying. The best remedy for this is immersing yourself in a unique food culture, ordering something unknown and asking what it is only after you’ve tasted it. In my opinion, the best place to do this is Asia, where they have some of the most unimaginable foods ever created. Some unique dishes to try include tarantulas, durian, smelly tofu and white ant eggs.

Death

Death can be a hard thing for anyone to face; however, it’s also a part of life. Many dark tourism sites offer a look into the more morbid part of history, and usually leave you with an important takeaway point. Some of these sites include Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, Napoleonland in France, and the slave castles of Cape Coast, Ghana. There are also less intense ways to explore death through travel. For example, there are some beautiful cemeteries you can visit like Recoleta in Buenos Aires, St. Louis #1 in New Orleans and Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.

bungy jumpHeights

There are many ways to overcome your fear of heights when traveling: high-altitude hikes, zip lining, hang gliding, parasailing and, my personal favorite, bungee jumping. The first time I bungee jumped was in Cairns, Australia, and I was scared out of my mind. After the jump was complete, however, I found myself laughing hysterically and asking to do it again. Some of my favorite destinations for the activity include Interlaken, Switzerland, Queenstown, New Zealand, and Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.

Ghosts

To really face your fears of the walking dead, the best thing you can do is visit a haunted site. There are tons of haunted houses, haunted castles, haunted hotels and creepy abandoned cities to explore. For your next trip, why not find out for yourself just how these sites got their reputation?

[photos via Alexander Savin, cheetah100, Jessie on a Journey, Jessie on a Journey, LIN HSIN YAO]