The ‘2016 Adventure of the Year’ went to Belgian long distance cyclist Peter Vansumere and the punishing 1,250 km Trans Ecuadorian Mountain Bike Route (TEMBR) that runs the length of the country’s volcanic corridor. Not only did Peter finish the lonely, rutted, white-knuckle ride, he did so in record time to ensure he met the December 31 deadline for the 2016 competition. Bonus points were in order.
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Adventure travel exponents Adventure Junky this week launched the earth’s first adventure travel game. The game brings together adventure travellers of every genre - from hikers to bikers, climbers to divers, sailors to snowboarders and wildlife watchers to wing suiters - on the same playing field, and pits them against one another in friendly rivalry. The goal: to determine the Earth’s Number 1 Adventure Junky.
An initial 500+ adventures, from almost every country and culture have been hand-picked by the Adventure Junky team for their authenticity, sustainability and uniqueness of experience. Add to that a rapidly growing number of adventures drawn from players and Destination Partners. Each adventure has been allocated a Points Score, based on a set of challenge factors. Players earn Points and progress up the Leaderboard by completing Adventures.
Adventures range from the softer, such as a Patagonia winery safari or foraging in the Sweden wilderness, to the extreme of summiting the seven volcanoes of Guatemala or a Favela tour in Rio. There’s self-guided (DIY) local adventures for the weekend warrior and fully guided international trips, led by the world’s best operators. Whilst the adventures are undertaken by individuals in the real world, the game is played in the digital world via the Adventure Junky App.
The Adventure Junky App has been designed to streamline the traveller’s journey from the high of one adventure to the next. On it users can browse, bucket list, book, plan, share and add adventures. The app keeps track of, ranks and rewards their achievements. Friends and heroes can be followed creating a strong social community. The App is available on iPhone and iPad, with Android available shortly.
Australian Adventure Junky co-founders Fuchsia Sims and Nigel Malone have a pedigree in tourism marketing, having rebranded three World Heritage Sites and become recognised as specialists in cultural tourism. They’ve also both worked as adventure guides in past lives. Their evidence-based business model was built after a solid six months of market research into the experience economy. The Chairman of Adventure Junky is John Morse AM, former head of Tourism Australia.
Mr Malone outlines the phenomenal growth in Adventure travel. “Of the more than six billion trips that travellers make every year, 40% have an adventure component. That’s 2.4 billion adventures a year, and growing at 15 per cent per annum. Gamification is the glue that can bring adventurers together,” he said. “You only have to look at Fitbit and Strava to see the rise in massive online communities created through gamification.”
But for the founders, it is the psychological side of adventure and games they find most fascinating. Ms Sims explains, “Adventure is addictive. It takes you out of your comfort zone. But not all those who wander are lost. Adventure enables us to grow and develop as individuals. To better understand the world and people around us. It can heal the greatest lows, and inspire us to the greatest heights. Our mission is to fuel the addiction to adventure.”
Kangerlussuaq is a stunning inland area, famous for its stable climate and rolling tundra filled with wildlife. It is also the easiest place to access the Greenland Ice Cap, due to a road established by the U.S. military forces during their presence in Kangerlussuaq. Kangerlussuaq was founded in 1941 by the U.S. Air Force base and Americans remained there until 1992.
For those who don't mind some heavy-duty biking, it is possible to cycle to Russell Glacier. This challenging 25 kiilometer route will take the better part of a day to complete, and you should expect that you will cycle over stones and sand to get there. Your journey will take you over scenery that echoes the Scottish Highlands, passing lakes, mountains, plains and the occasional military wreck. There is also the possibility to see Greenlandic wildlife such as the muskoxen, hares and birds.
Once you have reached the picturesque Russell Glacier, it is possible to cycle further on to Point 660, or return back home. Bikes can be hired from a few places in Kangerlussuaq town and airport. The season is summertime from approximately June to September.
Download the Adventure Junky iPad App to learn more about this and more of the earth's greatest adventures. iPhone and Android apps coming soon. Subscribe at AdventureJunky.com for alerts.
Photos by Mads Pihl