OUTSIDE Honors O.A.R.S. with Two Best of Travel Awards: Best River Trip and Best River Guide

best of travelANGELS CAMP, CA, Mar. 11, 2015OUTSIDE, America’s leading active lifestyle brand, has selected O.A.R.S., veteran river outfitter and nature-based adventure travel company for two top awards this year in its annual Best of Travel awards.

From newly revealed travel territories to the best deals, OUTSIDE’s Best of Travel 2015 celebrates the destinations and travel providers that inspire people to participate in an active lifestyle.

O.A.R.S.’ Highlands to Islands: Ultimate Fiji Explorer was chosen as “Best River Trip” for 2015. Not stopping there, OUTSIDE also honored O.A.R.S. standout from Utah, Lars Haarr, as “Best River Guide” for 2015. The entire list of winners appears in OUTSIDE’s April issue (on newsstands March 17), and online atwww.outsideonline.com/bestoftravel.

“While we are honored to be recognized by OUTSIDE again this year, two awards definitely exceeded our expectations! In both cases our hard-working, passionate river guides and support staff make all the difference,” said Steve Markle, Director of Sales and Marketing.

This year, OUTSIDE’s adventure travel veterans scoured the globe to identify the coolest mountains to climb, food to eat, rivers to float, guides to hire, beaches to lounge on, and lodges to luxuriate in. The result is 40 breathtaking options—from the guides to show you around, to the cameras to capture it all, to the places to stay, to the best place to grab a snack at a food truck along the way.

“OUTSIDE has been covering the adventure-travel beat for nearly four decades,” said Editor Chris Keyes. “We know this terrain, and now we’ve narrowed your choices of hotels, destinations, outfitters, and travel gear from approximately 10.6 million to 40. The final choice is still on you, but now the task is at least manageable.”

With O.A.R.S., rafting in Fiji can be the experience of a lifetime. While navigating Class II and III whitewater on the Navua River through dense tropical rainforests and fern-fringed gorges with waterfalls around every bend, native Fijian guides sing and laugh as they share legends of warfare and love. Behind the scenes, there’s a unique conservation story. The Upper Navua Conservation Area was established in 1998 when Rivers Fiji, with the dedicated support of O.A.R.S. president and founder, George Wendt, and an unlikely group of local entities including two villages, nine mataqalis (land-owning clans), a logging company and a government organization, opted for long-term sustainability through tourism. To protect the area’s natural assets, the group banded together to set up a 25-year land lease that precludes logging, road building or mining in the fragile river corridor. For more information on the Upper Navua Conservation Area and to watch a short film by National Geographic Freshwater Hero Pete McBride, visit http://riverofeden.com/.

Top guide Lars Haarr has been a river guide for nearly 20 years, 15 of which have been with O.A.R.S. An expert boatman trained in wilderness medicine and swiftwater rescue, Lars routinely guides on the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon—including some of the biggest whitewater in the U.S.—and is well-recognized among his peers for successfully navigating a dory through Cataract’s Big Drops at 83,000 cfs (a rarely seen high-water level). Over the years, he’s also earned a coveted spot as a dory guide in the Grand Canyon.

According to Tyler Wendt, who oversees more than 300 guides as the Operations Manager at O.A.R.S., “Lars is the kind of guide who is so good at what he does that he can’t help but elevate everyone around him to a higher level. Lars has earned a reputation and stature with O.A.R.S. guests and managers alike that is unparalleled. The number of times he’s mentioned by name in guests’ post trip evaluations is almost matched by the number of complimentary letters we receive via postal mail with his name on it.” Lars is on the river non-stop during rafting season and typically leads up to 16 trips per year for O.A.R.S. that range from one to three weeks in length.

For more information on all of O.A.R.S. programs, trip availability, reservations or a copy of the 2015 Adventures catalog call 209-736-4677 or 800-346-6277, email info@oars.com, or visit: http://www.oars.com/.