Gates of the Arctic National Park
And Preserve, Alaska
As domestic travel continues to overtake international trips, the
beloved gems of the U.S. National Park Service are under stress.
It’s becoming increasingly di;cult for visitors to stand slack-jawed at
sites such as the Yosemite Valley or Angels Landing in Zion National
Park without getting jostled by a pack of tourists angling for the
perfect group sel;e.
However, there are plenty of spectacular national parks beyond
the top 10. And for hardcore adventure clients, there’s one o;en-overlooked wonder: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.
;e northern Alaska destination is the least-visited park in the U.S.,
seeing under 11,000 guests per year. But the 8.4-million-acre area is
a backpacker’s dream: ;ere are no roads or facilities in the park,
necessitating that travelers truly blaze their own trails while exploring
landscapes that vary from boreal forests and tundra to craggy limestone and granite peaks.
Gates of the Arctic isn’t for the faint of heart, but Alaska Alpine
Adventures, which has been leading clients into remote Alaska
territory for almost 20 years, provides guided multisport trips into
the park’s vast wilderness, such as the 10-day Backpacking the
Arrigetch Peaks or 12-day Arrigetch-Alatna Pack Ra; itineraries.
In addition to experiencing the terrain like the nomadic hunters
and gatherers who once called this area home, clients may see wildlife
including caribou, grizzly and black bears, wolves, moose, Dall
sheep, wolverines, musk oxen, foxes, bald eagles, peregrine falcons,
great horned owls and more. www.alaskaalpineadventures.com,
It’s likely that the 16th-century coastal city that inspired magical-realism writer and Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez will
stir similar emotions in clients. Cartagena, Colombia, with its old-world,
seaside charm and sensuality, is primed to provide clients with an
experience like that of Cuba or Dubrovnik — without the masses of
docked cruise passengers.
Intrepid Travel is one operator bringing visitors here, running multiple
Colombia itineraries ranging from nine to 19 days that include Cartagena
and its nearby under-the-radar treasures.
“At Intrepid Travel, we’re all about tackling the negative impact of
overtourism,” said Leigh Barnes, director of North America for Intrepid.
“Our style of travel has always been low-impact in nature. We are the
largest carbon-neutral travel company in the world, and we build all of
our itineraries with cultural and environmental sustainability in mind.
For us, the most exciting way to combat overtourism is to expose travelers
to lesser-known destinations, which is why we are constantly adding new
destinations to our product line and bringing travelers to new places in a
country, outside of the popular hot spots.”
;e company’s Cafe Colombia trip, for example, a;ords two days in
the historical city to explore its churches, monasteries, plazas, mansions
and UNESCO-protected port, fortresses and monuments. An optional
excursion includes Volcan de Lodo El Totumo, a mud volcano with
supposed healing properties located about an hour’s drive outside the city.
;ose with adventurous spirits will want to head even farther outside
Cartagena to trek in Ciudad Perdida (“Lost City”), an archaeological site
believed to have been founded about 650 years earlier than Peru’s Machu
Picchu. ;e area — which consists of tiled roads, circular plazas and a series
of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside — is about a four-hour drive
from Cartagena and accessible only via a multiday, moderately di;cult hike
through the jungle. www.colombia.travel, www.intrepidtravel.com
the old-world charm of
destinations like Cuba.
Find remote adventure
in Gates of the Arctic.