The Jaguar Preserve

And other good reasons to keep your vacation ideas under control

September 2020

This year, it would be a safe bet not to take an adventure vacation. Or any vacation, for that matter, unless you stayed home. And, we’ve all certainly done our share of staying home, eh?

I have a penchant for travel magazines. I love to page through them, not that I really go anywhere exotic or adventurous anymore. Especially these days. I’m sort of glad to have an excuse to stay home.

The most recent issue I received of a national travel magazine was devoted to “adventure travel.” Gee! As difficult as it may be to put out a travel magazine in these times, don’t they realize any attempt at travel would be an “adventure” of sorts?

I laughed out loud at several of the articles. First, it’s not as if they were promoting France or Italy or Greek islands. No. They were suggesting places like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mongolia, Siberia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. None of these are places I would ever consider vacationing. I mean, really: Kyrgyrzstan? Who can even correctly pronounce it?

Several of the articles promoted staying in tents. If I wanted to do that, I would go to a nearby state park, thank you. And, some of these “luxury” tents cost upwards of $2,000 for a night or two. In a tent? How luxurious could a tent possibly be?

One article promoting bicycle trips features a photo of two cyclists hunched over their handlebars, pedaling across a giant sand dune in the Namibian desert. Uh, have you ever tried to pedal a bicycle through sand? It’s not a lot of fun; the only adventure you can be almost assured of is taking a tumble. I know; I’ve been there and done that. Once you pay $5,075, you’re locked into this dubious adventure for 12 long days.

In a story promoting Belize (not the safest place for tourists, by the way), your adventure can include “a night hike through a jaguar preserve.” That’s an adventure I can live without.

From there, the adventure suggestions get even more bizarre.

Let’s say you have $20,000, plus airfare of course, to spend on a vacation. Well, call the oddly named “Black Tomato” outfit. The blurb invites you to “channel your inner Bear Grylls.” Black Tomato will “drop you on the edge of the Sahara, or above the Arctic Circle, with ‘a handful of supplies’ … and basic directions to a pickup point. The rest is up to you!”

They throw in a satellite phone, though food is left unmentioned.

If you like hot weather, a $5,000, 15-day trip takes you to the Amazon, the Andes and the Galapagos. “It culminates with a night alone in a cozy, but basic, tent … on the slopes of a dormant volcano.” Yikes! Keep an ear tuned for faint rumblings. “You can’t take your phone; just a journal to connect deeply with yourself.” Maybe they’ll find that journal near your body … after the volcano turns active.

Finally, there’s the pricey “luxury travel” company Brown and Hudson, with “seven-day trips from $125,000.” One trip is recommended for “those overcoming trauma, or struggling to make business decisions.”

“Clients are dropped into the wilderness of Mongolia with a satellite phone and basic provisions to last a week.” No mention is made of a map. Or a final destination. Good news, though: When the trip concludes, “a therapist is brought in to provide counsel … The goal is to gain accelerated clarity that would normally take months of conventional therapy.”

You know, I’m glad I don’t have to ponder over a vacation somewhere this year. These magical misery tours guarantee you’ll be perfectly content to simply stay home.


To order Margo’s book, “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147, Mon.-Thurs., 9-5, or email [email protected].