O.A.R.S. Lodge-Based & International Adventures
Like all O.A.R.S. adventures, our lodged-based and international trips are designed to provide travelers with unique access to particularly wild and untouched places that many might not be able to access on their own. Our permits, relationships, veteran guides and knowledgeable adventure consultants combined with more than 45 years in the travel business all contribute to our ability to offer our guests comfortable, active travel experiences with small groups to places like Bhutan, Costa Rica, Galápagos, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Peru, and Yosemite. Not only that, we specialize in taking travelers off-the-beaten path with expert guides who will introduce you to the very best a region has to offer. All trips include lodge-based accommodations and most meals and some trips include a night or more of comfortable catered camping.
Are you ready for the experience of a lifetime?
“I love OARS—I have done extensive research on other adventure outfitters and I would not even consider a trip without first (maybe even exclusively) thinking of OARS.”
—Anna M. Baluyot, Chicago, Illinois
The Lodge-Based & International Experience
We love camping (we could go on and on about the virtues of a night, or even a week in the wilderness), but we know not everyone shares our appreciation for “roughing it.” But the good news is that not every great adventure involves sleeping in a tent (at least not for the whole trip anyway).
That’s why when it comes to O.A.R.S. lodge-based adventures you get the best of both worlds: Rafting, sea kayaking, hiking and other exciting activities by day, cozy lodge-based accommodations by night. Or, in some cases, a perfect mix of lodging combined with a few nights of camping.
And while we offer some lodge-based excursions in the Western U.S., like our Grand Canyon Rim to River Hiker, many of our trips that include hotels or lodges are international adventures.
The Adventure Begins
You’ll arrive at your destination and settle into your hotel. That day or the following morning, an O.A.R.S. representative will greet you, review the next few days with you, and answer any questions you might have. Typically you’ll have some time to explore the local scene on your own before your adventure begins.
On most trips breakfast on day one is on your own before your guide picks you up for the start of your adventure. On a multi-sport trip this might be a hike, zip lining, or rafting. The activities will differ with each itinerary.
Lunch on lodge-based and international trips is typically provided and is often at a local restaurant. This gives you the opportunity to experience both the culture and cuisine of your destination. In some cases, we might also provide a sack lunch if the activity that morning is in a remote area. If you’re on the river, lunch is always provided and prepared by your guides. They might lay out an abundant spread of cold cuts, cheeses, veggies and breads, fresh fruit, cookies, as well as cold water and lemonade.
After lunch the adventure continues, or you might have some time to explore on your own. This time might also be spent traveling to the next destination on the itinerary.
Dinner on our lodge-based and international adventures is typically included and may be at the lodge or a local restaurant. On our Galápagos Island Explorer dinner is prepared by our on-board chef each evening. Many itineraries also include a night or two on your own. This allows you to independently explore and create your own unique travel experience. Don’t stay up too late. You’ll want to get a good night’s rest before your next exciting activity in the morning. Sea kayaking perhaps? Or a trek to ancient ruins or a temple?
On the river, your afternoon will likely include more whitewater action before arriving at camp for the evening. Yes, we said the “c-word,” but we assure you that we go out of our way to make sleeping under the stars as comfortable and effortless as possible. That means your guides will do all of the heavy lifting, including setting up camp and preparing a tasty riverside feast, while you sit back and relax, take a swim in the river or maybe curl up in the shade with a good book.
If your trip includes several days on the river, click through to read more about our multi-day rafting experience. And don’t let the camping deter you. In most cases, especially on our international rafting trips, we’ve worked in at least a night of lodging at the end of your trip, so you can freshen up with a hot shower and sleep in a cozy bed before your flight home.
Hotels and Lodges
We appreciate the importance of a cozy bed and a hot shower on an adventure (even if it’s only 1 or 2 days at the beginning and end of your trip). Whether you’re nestled in a riverside jungle bungalow, a remote mountain lodge or a quaint hotel in the middle of a bustling city, we strive to offer our guests comfortable and practical accommodations that offer good value in the areas we visit.
On our lodge-based and international trips, accommodations are chosen based on their comfort, reputation and affordability, but most importantly their proximity to the sites and activities you’ll be experiencing. That means in a place like Zambia, before a Zambezi rafting trip, we’ll put you up in lodge situated just upstream from where your thrilling whitewater experience will begin. Or like on our Mystical Peru Lodge Trek, each day’s hike concludes at a cozy lodge with hot showers, gourmet food, personalized service by local staff, and even outdoor hot tubs. Closer to home, some of our lodge-based adventures include the opportunity to stay at a riverside guest ranch before or after your rafting trip.
“The Peru trek was incredible. We saw so many sights, learned a lot about Incan history, and went through more ecosystems than I can count. Originally we thought the trek was a little expensive, but after 3-course meals at lunch and dinner EVERY DAY, fabulous accommodations, flawless logistics including bus tickets, train tickets, vans, additional tours, etc., it was absolutely, no question about it, worth it.”
We operate 100 percent of our trips in the U.S. with guides who are trained and employed by O.A.R.S. And we pride ourselves on the fact that O.A.R.S. guides are recognized as some the best in the industry. All of our guides are trained in CPR, First Aid and Leave No Trace principles, and many are also certified in swiftwater rescue and Wilderness First Responder. Our guides are the single most complimented element of our organization and are the key factor in making a good trip great.
On our international trips we believe it is a fundamental part of adventure-tourism to work with local guides while at the same time bringing our wealth of experience to the table. These highly-skilled local tour guides share their personal experiences with guests as well as general information about the region and their culture. Our like-minded partners realize they are accountable to O.A.R.S. high standards.
“We were all inspired by the attitudes of all the guides, their knowledge, their expertise, everything. They all made this the best vacation ever.”
Frequently Asked Questions
When choosing your trip, consider the location, length of trip, time of year, activity level and age range of your group. Are you willing to camp for a few nights, or do you prefer only lodge-based accommodations? O.A.R.S. offers lodge- based and international trips everywhere from Fiji to the American Southwest; and activity levels ranging from leisurely sea kayaking adventures to off-the-chart adrenaline-pumping rafting trips. The choice is yours.
While there are some physical requirements for joining our trips, weight restrictions may apply, and being healthy and reasonably fit certainly makes the experience more rewarding, we’ve had travelers well into their 80’s enjoy their adventures with O.A.R.S. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip. Persons with various disabilities are welcome on O.A.R.S. trips, pending a discussion of any special requirements. If you’re in doubt about your fitness level, we recommend checking with your doctor before you go.
Some of our lodge-based and international itineraries are suitable for children as young as age seven; however the minimum age will vary greatly depending on the nature of the activities involved with the trip. We want your kids to have the time of their lives, and we want you to be relaxed and able to appreciate their enthusiasm and delight. If you’re unsure about which trip is right for your family, you can scan some of our itineraries that have been designed especially for family adventure.
On international trips, O.A.R.S. requires emergency medical evacuation insurance. Additionally, although every effort is made to provide a safe trip for all, we strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a short-term traveler’s policy. A trip cancellation policy covers your non-refundable payments in most cases, should you have to cancel your trip due to illness or injury even at the last minute.
In collaboration with our guides and operations managers, our expert adventure consultants have compiled detailed packing lists for each trip we offer. What to bring on an adventure is as varied as the itineraries themselves. Your clothes and gear will depend on the time of year, weather, and in some cases, water temperature.
If you’re an avid photographer, we recommend bringing a waterproof digital SLR camera that can be used on land and at appropriate river or ocean locations. Please bring a small bag, preferably waterproof, to hold your camera and other items you might want during the day when rafting. To further protect your camera you may wish to place it in a zip-lock bag or special waterproof camera case. We also strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. If you are planning to bring a digital camera, don’t forget extra media cards, batteries, etc. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
Alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost of most of our lodge-based or international adventures but are frequently available for purchase at many hotels and lodges, as well as dining establishments. For river trips, you may bring your own supply of beer, wine or liquor in non-glass containers. If you choose to bring alcoholic beverages, please let us know in advance. For your safety and the safety of others, alcoholic beverages are limited to camp.
Yes, but we need to know as soon as possible about any dietary requirements we should consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. If you are a vegetarian or vegan and you let us know well in advance, we can provide meals for you without any difficulty. For more complicated dietary restrictions, it’s important that you let us know right away so we can discuss and make arrangements ahead of time.
Guests often ask whether gratuities are appropriate, and in what amount. “Thank you” is always enough to put a smile on the faces of your guides and staff, but tipping is one of the many ways to reward them for their extra efforts. Because many of our lodge-based and international adventure consist of several components with various staff, we provide gratuity guides within our detailed itineraries to assist you with extending a tip to the people who make your trip more enjoyable.
Yes. O.A.R.S. is more than happy to provide prospective travelers with names and contact information of past guests who have agreed to be references. Call any of our friendly adventure consultants at 1-800-346-6277 or 1-209-736-4677 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will happily provide you with that information.