Let's face it, an increasing number of Americans have lost interest in spending their vacation relaxing on a beach somewhere or getting their thrills at amusement parks. All that time in conference rooms and cubicles has gone to our collective head and we need to get out in the air. More and more Americans are spending their vacation time hiking, or scuba diving, or white water rafting. The Travel Industry Association of America's first-ever adventure travel survey showed, incredibly, more than 50 percent of the U.S. adult traveling population has taken an adventure trip in their lifetime.That's a staggering 147 million people - 75 percent of those people in the past two years.
As adventure travel continues to grow, it becomes harder and harder to really find true adventure anymore. The rivers and trails in many of our national parks are overrun by people who want a little visceral, outdoor experience, reducing them to not much more than parking lots with great scenery. Rafting the Colorado through the Grand Canyon can often be an exercise in patience, with a gridlock of motorized boats, crowds of people, and a waiting list that stretches for decades.
But that isn't the case on the Fu. Patagonia offers an incredible absence of people. The region barely has roads, let alone cars to contend with. Southern Chile is an undiscovered eco-travel paradise. The glacier-crowned peaks of the southern Andes dominate every view and rival the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Small rivers and streams offer unparalleled trout fishing. Primeval forests are everywhere. "It's like Switzerland. It's like the Grand Tetons. It's so many places rolled into one," says Aleen Steinberg, a retiree from North Carolina joining us on the trip. But once you get a glimpse of the river, it immediately becomes the center of attention.