Month: July 2011

Adventure Travel News: Vital Wave Consulting Acquires Xola Consulting

Some very interesting news in the adventure community this week: emerging markets specialists Vital Wave Consulting acquired Xola Consulting specialists in sustainable and adventure tourism since 2004:

“Vital Wave Consulting recognized tourism’s increasing importance in emerging markets and the expanding role adventure and nature tourism are taking within the sector,” says Vital Wave CEO, Brooke Partridge.  “Tourism is generating more than $200 billion in foreign exchange for developing countries, and adventure tourism’s growth within the sector is estimated at 17% in 2010 and 2011.  Building our capacity in this space is important for providing business consulting across major vertical industries of emerging markets.  We are very enthusiastic about this acquisition.”

Vital Wave Consulting accelerates revenue growth in emerging markets through end-to-end commercialization services, with a focus on technology as a business enabler.  The company engages multinational corporations and development organizations to design, market and distribute solutions across a range of industries in diverse global markets.

Xola’s consulting service promises new forms of value to global organizations looking for revenue growth and sustainable products and services in emerging markets. Vital Wave Consulting’s strong relationship with global clients such as the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, Intel, Microsoft, and others offers tremendous potential for building synergies in the fast-growing adventure travel industry.

“Vital Wave Consulting provides us with a platform from which to provide services to a broader set of clients,” said Xola President Christina Heyniger. “It also gives us an opportunity to bring specialists with cross-sectoral experience – such as health, education, information and communication technology – to the field of sustainable tourism.”

The Adventure Travel Trade Association, a longstanding partner of Xola Consulting, is enthusiastic about the deal. ATTA President Shannon Stowell, says, “We are thrilled to see Xola Consulting reaching out past traditional tourism partners.  This is an ideal combination of cutting-edge thinking and experienced business practitioners that can help solve our industry’s complex challenges.”

The Xola team will continue to support its government and corporate clients with sustainable and adventure tourism strategy, product development and marketing under the name Vital Wave Consulting.  In addition to its core services, it now offers clients a larger team of highly-specialized consultants based around the developing world and a broader set of services, including technology solutions for business growth.

Christina Heyinger has been a great friend to PathWrangler and myself in our early stages.  We are really excited for her and her team as they begin the next stage in developing and driving sustainable travel beyond where it is today.

Tunnel Vision. The Future of Airport Security Checkpoints Has Promise

“Passengers should be able to get from curb to boarding gate with dignity. That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping.”

Could this be a ray of hope coming from the airline industry? In an effort to get more people to fly and relieve some of the annoyance of the airport process, the International Air Transport Association is working on a plan to reduce stress of the nightmare that is security checkpoints. Calling it the Checkpoint of the Future, passengers would be categorized as ‘Known Traveller’, ‘Normal’ and ‘Enhanced’ based on data information and would go down a high-tech scanning tunnel accordingly. This new type of checkpoint will rely on passenger information that is collected from security and customs & immigration agencies.

“Combining biometrics, stand-off screening, and passenger data, travelers would walk uninterrupted through a ‘tunnel of technology’ where all security and customs processing would occur in a transparent manner.”’s article elaborates more about IATA’s ambitious endeavor. I for one would be thrilled to stay fully dressed and packed from airport entrance all the way to my seat on the plane without the encroachment of my privacy.


A Unique Two-Way GPS Communicator Is Coming

One of the invaluable features of the DeLorme inReach is the ability to receive emergency SOS and message delivery confirmation while on your adventure.”

The technology minds over at DeLorme are coming close to their Fall launch of inReach. It is important for adventure travelers to have the ability to stay in touch, especially in remote areas where anything can happen and cell signals usually do not exist. inReach will let the user not only send, but also receive text messages via pole-to-pole coverage.  This was made possible through a partnership with Iridium Communications Inc., who operates 66 low-Earth-orbit communication satellites. At present inReach can standalone or be used with the Delorme PN-60w GPS.  It also works on any Android devices.  However, there were no plans revealed for an iPhone version at this time.

Stephen Regenold over at Gear Junkie gets into more detail about the inReach. The device will set you back $250.00 and messaging plans start at $9.95 per month.


Help Your Favorite Park By Voting

Do you have a favorite local, state or national park that every time you think about it fond memories come rushing back and you cannot wait until you can go again? Now wouldn’t it be great if you could help that park win some project improvement money that would enhance your next visit there? Well, you can! Kraig Becker explains how easy it is to vote for your favorite park online at and the top three parks with the most votes get to share grants totaling $175,000. The grants will be used to restore, rebuild or enhance places within the park where people can play or be active. You have until September 6 to vote and with a little luck both the park and you could benefit.


Flying Disease Infested Vampires

I found this story by Christian DeBenedetti about his river barge encounter with mosquitoes en route to India to be amusing and it started me wandering. Why is it that mosquitoes seem to know you are a visitor and not a local and then proceed to bite you incessantly? What do the locals know that we do not and can they let us in on it?

“The insects themselves were unimpressive. I’d expected them to be as big as crocodiles… Of course, size doesn’t matter if you’re packing malaria, dengue fever or Japanese encephalitis.”

I always attract these flying disease-infested vampires on my trips. It is as if I have been dipped in honey and rolled in granulated sugar from head to toe. Especially on safari, along with their trusty sidekicks, the no-see-um flies. It feels like they ignore the locals and feed on the travelers as if we were some sacrifice to the insect gods. I know these little blood suckers do not have the mental capacity to discriminate areas of our bodies, but it always appears like they know exactly where the ears are and head straight for them while we are trying to sleep.

I can sympathize with Christian and I feel secure in knowing that I live in a disease-free mosquito area, but I am still packing plenty of the insect repellent spray and lotion when I travel.


Cycling Beer Journeys In Bavaria

The region of Bavaria embodies everything I love about Germany: friendly inhabitants, old world charm, modern cities, which retain their historical architecture, the famous Oktoberfest, well-made automobiles, grilled bratwurst and of course, beer. With over 640 breweries located here, it is as much a part of Bavaria as Bayern Munich soccer, BMW and the fabled Neuschwanstein Castle.

But there is more to southern Germany than big cities, fast cars and oversized opulent, gold gilded residences that no one actually resides in. It is home to some of the cleanest towns, romantic countrysides and emerald green lakes. The ability to see all this on the back of a bike as opposed to whizzing by it on the autobahn makes it resonate that much more. Now imagine cycling passed beautiful winding rivers, through memorable medieval towns and stopping off at breweries along the way to quench your thirst at the end of a long ride. A cycling beer journey if you will.

Bavaria is a cyclists’ paradise and there are miles and miles of scenic paths throughout the area. There is a route close to my ancestral home that takes you from the ancient walled town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Nuremberg, through Bamberg along the Regnitz River and ends back in Rothenburg. Every town on this 183-mile circuit offers a wide variety of some of the best beer Germany has to offer.

Perhaps to get a better introduction to Bavarian beer, instead of slipping into your spandex bike shorts and two wheeling it to the first beer garden you see, it would be to start your beer adventure with some beer knowledge in Kulmbach. Kulmbach is about three hours from Frankfurt and home to the Bavarian Brewery Museum. A museum dedicated to the origins of “Manna” (Bavarian name for beer) where you can learn about this centuries old libation. And the museum, with its own pub, makes it convenient to put new knowledge to the test right away.

From Kulmbach the cycling commences down the easy Main Valley trail that follows the Main River. Within 70 miles the quaint town of Bamberg, with its cellars bulging from beer barrels, is the first destination. Here is where Rauchbier (smoked beer) is popular and worth a try. The beer gets its unique taste from barley that is beech-smoked before brewing.

Moving on from Bamberg follow the Regnitz, the Regnitz Valley and the Five Rivers trails while taking in the soft rolling hills with churches and palaces dotting the landscape along the way. After 70 miles the town of Neumarkt appears and it is this town that is proud to give the world 13 varieties of Neumarkter Lammsbräu organic beer.

57 miles further, along the Tour de Baroque trail, is Kelheim and an opportunity for a brief respite for the legs via a relaxing river cruise on the beautiful blue Danube that stops in Weltenburg. Back in 1050 monks founded the world’s first brewery, the Abbey Brewery. 11 types of Weltenburg Kloster beers are still made here.

Leaving the Benedictine monastery behind cycle the flat Danube trail and take in the scenery of hilltop castles perched high above the river. Connect with the Abensweg trail then the Isar trail and finally the Durchs Erdinger Land trail to arrive 60 miles later in the town of Erding and the land of wheat beer. There is a selection of 9 delicious Erdinger specialty beers to relax with after covering so many miles planted on a bike seat.

The 34 miles from Erding to Aying via Wörth, Markt Schwaben, Ebersberger Forst and Oberpframmern are along roads that cars occupy, but the serene beauty of grassy meadows, onion domed churches and farming fields makes up for it. Since Ayinger Brewery sits in the region known for growing some of the best barley for malting and brewing it is no wonder its tastings of 9 brews is taken as seriously as wine tasting.

The Lake Constance-Lake Königsee trail from Aying passes picture book scenery of alpine lakes, forests, hamlets and the Zugspitze. Situated at the end of the last stretch of 70 miles is the town of Mittenwald. A nice place to finish this cycling beer trip. Mittenwald sits at the base of the Karwendel massif, is world renowned for making violins since the 18th century and making beer since 1808. With 15 varieties of beer made at Mittenwalder it would be easy to park the bike, relish the view of the German Alps and enjoy the beer in the perfect setting.

This is just one of the many cycling routes in Bavaria. There are countless little villages and large cities en route to taste even more beer. I would venture to say that it is impossible not to have a great beer with your bratwurst, sauerkraut and spaetzle while soaking up the scenery and culture. Explore both the region and the beer as you cycle, but just know that after awhile it gets difficult to drink and peddle. Prost!