This year, 2023, marks 10 years that I’ve been hosting, organizing, and crafting small-group active adventures around the world. It’s been so thrilling and enriching to have an opportunity to take travelers to wonderous places around the globe like Machu Picchu, The Holy Lands of Israel and Jordan, Cuba, Camino de Santiago, Egypt, Patagonia, Africa, and many more where we learned the unique world heritage of the area, tasted traditional foods and drinks while visiting, danced to their exotic music, and immersed culturally with the locals who ultimately expanded our horizons while making us feel welcome when we are so far from home.
Here’s a brief overview and some travel nuggets from each of the tours in case you’re thinking of traveling to any of the places we’ve been to in the last 10 years. Feel free to reach out to me for more details to plan your next exciting adventure abroad:email@example.com
In 2013 I organized my first international active tour to Costa Rica. At the time, I had been organizing hiking trips in the USA for my fitness clients (I’m also a certified professional personal fitness trainer) and my client Gina had some family in Costa Rica who knew a tour guide and so we hatched a plan to do a group hike of Mt. Chirripo, the highest mountain there at 12,500 ft., taking hikers through several ecozones. We also went zip-lining in a rain forest, white water rafting, visited an active volcano, toured a coffee farm, and got some relaxing beach time in as well. Costa Rica was so lush and beautiful and the spirit of the people there gets summed up with their expression and their way of life; “pura vida,” which means the pure life or simple life. My tour leader confidence, however, was a little shaken though after the Costa Rica tour as I fell out of the white water rafting boat into the river and then on another day I got car sick in our tour van. I was a little embarrassed, to say the least, but all’s well that ends well. And Costa Rica went well.
Helpful travel nugget for a Costa Rican Adventure:
Allow two days to hike Mt. Chirripo. It’s 8.5 miles to the Crestones Base Camp on day one where you’ll spend the night, and then another 5.5 kilometers to the summit the next morning (from the top you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea simultaneously) and then back down the mountain on day two.
In 2015 I teamed up with Zephyr Adventures for a trek on the Inca Trail in Peru to the Machu Picchu site. You hike and camp for four days on the ancient trail and arrive at dawn at the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu. You have the magnificent world heritage site all to yourself for a while before all the tour bus crowds come up for their visits. This was truly one of the most enlightening and spiritual experiences of my life. I meditated for a while there and then as we meandered our way through the sacred ruins, I realized that this combination of active travel, spiritual adventure, world heritage sites, cultural immersion, and exploring exotic sites and countries was in my blood now and there would be no looking back.
Helpful travel nugget for Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu:
Spend a couple of nights in Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire to allow your body to acclimate to the altitude before setting off on the classic four-day Inca Trail Trek. If four days is too long for you to hike or you are short on time but still want the experience hiking on the 500-year-old Inca stone roads, there is a one-day Inca Trail Express hike (5 miles) to Machu Picchu.
So, in 2016 I developed a tour and called it “Hike the Holy Land.” We’d have an active adventure around the holy lands of Israel, Palestine, and Jordan; including day hikes and seeing all the most famous sites relating to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I had a lively group of 22 people of various faiths and even a couple of atheists that came along. This tour is still to this day my largest group of travelers. We hiked in the Galilee area of Israel on The Jesus Trail, floated in the Dead Sea, hiked up to Masada, the ancient fortress in the Judean desert, walked on top of the old city walls of Jerusalem, rambled around the lost city of Petra in Jordan and camped with Bedouin people in the moonscape looking desert of Wadi Rum. It was on this tour I realized the fellowship and strong bonds that are forged between travelers on a hand-crafted group tour are special. It still gives me joy to know that many of the people that were on this tour are now life-long friends, and in fact continue to travel together on my tours.
Helpful travel nugget for hiking in the Holy Land:
Hike a section of The Jesus Trail in Israel, a long-distance trail that runs from Nazareth to Capernaum, tracing places from Jesus’ childhood and ministry. Be intrepid and also hike The Battir Trail in Palestine, which lies between Bethlehem and Jerusalem and features ancient agricultural terraces and lots of olive, fig, and almond trees.
In 2017, we walked the last 75 miles of The Camino de Santiago trail in Northern Spain, spread out over about 6 days. Since the Middle Ages, pilgrims have been walking hundreds of miles on this route to pray on the bones of St. James in Santiago Spain where the trail ends. Hearing “Buen Camino” from every pilgrim on the trail that passed us by never ever got old. The Camino is both an inward and an outward journey. And the special pilgrim mass at the Santiago Cathedral was quite special with the giant Botafumeiro (incense burner) that uses a complex system of pulleys and swings from the central cupola of the cathedral, from which it hangs, towards the side aisles. It takes eight men to move it, and it’s heralded as largest incense burner in the world.
Helpful travel nugget for walking the Camino de Santiago:
There are lots of hostels along the Camino for budget-minded travelers, but if you’d like private accommodations, there are many very nice rustic and charming former manor houses, rectories, and mills that you can stay in. They are usually a little bit off of the trail, but in most cases, the owners will arrange to come and pick you up and drop you back off on the trail the next morning.
The year 2018 saw me hosting a tour of what I consider a “forbidden fruit” country: Cuba. Despite the politics that surround this Caribbean nation – Cuba is as pure, real, and fascinating as a country can get. Its most precious resource is her people, they are warm, friendly, happy, and passionate. We sampled cigars and rum, danced to salsa, rode in the ubiquitous American classic cars, and learned about the revolution that changed everything. Coinciding with that “out with the old and in with the new “ revolution theme, it was time for me to unveil my new travel brand: Active World Journeys. I was now officially providing customized private and public active tours, self-guided tours, and travel blogging to educate and inform like-minded travelers.
Helpful travel nugget for a visit to Cuba:
American credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. It’s best to pre-pay as much of your trip before leaving and then bring the cash you’ll need for extras and exchange it for local currency when you arrive at Havana airport.
Also in 2018 it was a bit of a reunion tour for me with an Egyptian family I met and stayed with way back in the early 90s when the travel bug first bit me as a 20-something young man. I had met my good friend Mohammed from Egypt in Germany way back then when we were both living there and taking a German language class. We were both in the hotel industry at the time and were getting a lot of German tourists at our respective hotel properties (his in Cairo and mine in South Florida). He invited me to come out and visit Egypt and stay with his family. I have many cherished memories of that time period. But then life happened, and decades went by, and I lost touch with Mohamed and his family. But then we finally re-connected on Facebook in 2011 and slowly hatched a plan for me to bring a tour group out for an Egypt tour. And the Egypt tour was magnificent! I felt right back home again in Egypt, and it was so nice to see Mohammed and his family again after all the many years. His two little boys called me “Uncle Jack,” which was endearing and reminded me of travel guru Rick Steves’ travel quote;
“when we travel, we humanize people not demonize them and we build bridges not walls.”
When you visit and tour Egypt, you realize that nothing compares. The pyramids and tombs are mind-blowing, and ancient Egyptian history is so intriguing and mysterious.
Helpful travel nugget for an Egypt Tour:
After your day visit to the Giza Pyramids in Cairo, return in the evening for the Sound and Light show. Yes, it’s very touristy, but there’s something special about it that makes you feel the intensity of the beginning of time in Egypt.
In 2019, I led a hike across Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. The ancient roman wall stretches about 85 miles from coast to coast. This was ancient Rome’s furthest outpost. There are charming British Inns you can stay at along the way. Along the route you pass the castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for 17 years, and the famous sycamore tree that sits in a dramatic dip in the landscape. It’s quite possibly the most photographed tree in England. Be ready for lots of sheep grazing on the undulating green hills each day as you hike and make some time to stop and visit the various roman themed museums that are found along the wall path.
Helpful travel nugget for walking Hadrian’s Wall Path:
Watch the 20-minute 3D movie “Edge of Empire” at the Roman Army Museum along the wall path. It’s an immersive film that follows the life of a roman soldier who is stationed at Emperor Hadrian’s Wall.
In 2020 I lead a trekking tour of Patagonia, Chile. The landscape there is a feast for the eyes. We hiked the 4-5 day “W” route in beautiful Torres del Paine National Park. We stayed in full-service forest huts and camping sites along the way. Kayaking past amazing blueish glaciers is also an activity along the “W.” What I loved about this trek was that for breakfast and dinner at the mountain huts, you eat in a communal atmosphere with the other trekkers. It was a great way to meet people from all around the world with the same interests of hiking and the great outdoors. There is something special and cozy about traveling to “the end of the world,” Chile is the southernmost country of the world, and Patagonia is the southernmost part of Chile. (Patagonia also extends into southern Argentina.)
Helpful travel nugget for trekking in Patagonia / Torres del Paine National Park:
Before hiking up the French Valley and up to The Towers, one of the iconic viewpoints of the “W” trail, you can leave your backpack at the ranger station. Don’t shlep it all the way up there with you adding more weight on yourself. We learned this the hard way!
Perhaps one of the most life-changing tours ever was 2021’s South Africa Safari Adventure and Uganda Gorilla Trek. South Africa was magical. We learned about Mandela in Johannesburg, witnessed the massive Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, explored the beautiful Cape Town region, and went on a safari that featured the Big 5 animals, at a private game reserve near Kruger National Park. Then it was up to Uganda, a place that really felt comfortable. The chimpanzee and gorilla tracking experience there is the kind of thing that can change your life. I’m excited to be hosting another South Africa Safari Adventure later this year from November 3-14, 2023. Come along with us!
Helpful travel nugget for Safari in South Africa:
While the Big 5 animals are somewhat acclimated to humans in the private game reserves in Kruger National Park, when your safari guide stops the vehicle and shuts off the engine for a viewing, don’t stand up or talk loudly because that alerts/surprises the animals. Remain inside the vehicle (limbs included) at all times.
Then, 2022 was the Amazing Turkey Tour. Turkey is an eager traveler’s utopia and it’s no question a favorite for tour operators to bring groups to impress. There is so much to see, experience, learn, and taste there. And the Turks are the most hospitable people you’ll ever meet and really make you feel comfortable and welcome in their country. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, where east meets west and ancient meets modern. And a hot air balloon ride over the tall-cone-shaped rock formations in Cappadocia Turkey is world class and mesmerizing, and no pun intended…uplifting. If Turkey isn’t on your travel list, put it there now and please let me know your experience once you’ve visited this must-see country.
Helpful tip for a Turkey Adventure:
Travel a little deeper and Kayak over a sunken ancient Roman/Byzantine city in Dolichiste, Turkey.
Coming up next here in 2023, I’m looking forward to hosting a Classic Morocco Tour, April 20-30, 2023. We’ll visit cities of history and architectural heritage such as Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Meknes, Volubilis, Marrakech, and Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou. We’ll discover the natural sites and diverse landscapes of Morocco’s breathtaking lakes, majestic cedar forests, tranquil Atlas-Mountain Springs, spectacular Sahara Desert Sand Dunes, dramatic Gorges of Dadès, and beautiful Valley of Roses. There is still time to register to join us, so contact if you are interested and I’ll get you in: firstname.lastname@example.org | 323.739.4510.
What’s the next 10 years look like for me and Active World Journeys? Well…stay tuned as there just might be a big announcement coming soon! In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of my all-time favorite anonymous motivational quotes;
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach
Individuals / Groups / Corporate
310.562.5629 Cell / 818.760.3891 Main
11-Day Classic Morocco Tour – April 2023 – Click Here
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