Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shopping Around for the Best River Trip?

Advice from the five most experienced river companies on the Middle Fork: how you can be assured a treasured "trip of a lifetime".

Sun Valley, Idaho - Americans know it can be difficult, and sometimes frustrating, to choose a vacation date, decide what to do, where to go, how to go there, and who to go with. Americans also know that a vacation is an important investment of time, money, and planning. You should demand the best experiences, the best opportunities for lifetime memories, and limit the hassles so the whole process is enjoyable, valuable, and relaxing. When your trip is over, you should feel that every penny was well spent, and that you and your family adventured with people who really cared.

Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon holds a reputation as being one of the “must see” adventures on Planet Earth. With the advice from the five most experienced river companies on the Middle Fork, here is how you can be assured a treasured "trip of a lifetime".

Idaho River Journeys on “The Guides”

How is your crew family friendly? This question is meant to determine if the outfit has given family dynamics some thought. If it is a multi-generational trip, what activities will entertain the different age groups?

How long has your crew been working together? What is your staff turnover rate? As a customer, you should look for a crew with long term, multi-season experience working together. An outfit with frequent staff changes or a history of hiring guides from other outfits is a warning sign. Guides tend to stay with the best outfitters and not move around much.

Rocky Mountain River Tours on “The Food”

Can you show me your menu? Cuisine is a major factor of the experience.
Progressive outfitters now take the concept of outdoor/riverside dining to the highest level. Menu preparation is designed so the day's meals complement each other, and the evening meals provide a week-long balance of fish, poultry, and meat. The meals should satisfy the tastes of all the guests, while at the same time encourage them to experiment with unique foods during their vacation. Dinners should be accompanied by a selection of wonderful wines. Just add the song of the river for the ultimate in culinary adventure.

Hughes River Expeditions on “Camp Provisions”

How do you make camping comfortable and what gear is provided? You will want to know about tents. Are they spacious enough? Keep in mind that a so-called “four-person” tent is most comfortable for two adults. Where will the kids sleep? What are toilet facilities like? Does the outfitter provide camp chairs or will you be sitting on the ground? Are freshly laundered sleeping bags provided?

If you are considering going by yourself, ask about the tents. Will I get my own tent? Some outfits provide a set number of tents. Some have tents for singles. If you have a family of five, you should expect three tents.

Solitude River Trips on “Moving Down River”

How do you divide the boats up each day? Will I get to paddle with my family? The outfitter should have a varied fleet of boats to accommodate different guests. You should be able to make the choice between just floating and actively participating. This is particularly important if you have teens in your party.

How are your trips fun for all members of a family? If the entire emphasis is on the boating aspect of the trip, chances are the crew doesn’t know the best hikes, fishing holes, hot springs and other attractions. Your vacation is a guided tour of a wonderful place and - although boating is the central theme - take advantage of the crew’s knowledge to learn about the area.

Far and Away Adventures on “Safety and Sustainability”

What kind of emergency training does your staff have? All of their guides should have advanced first aid and CPR.

Satellite phones and GPS units are absolutely necessary in the wilderness if an emergency arises. The phone also allows an emergency from home to be delivered to your group.

Support outfitters that support stewardship. Choose wisely the company that practices low impact ethics and who are giving back to the resource.

And remember, companies with the lowest prices may have the oldest equipment and lower paid guides. All trips are not equal - shop for the best all-around experience. Lastly, get references.

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