Photo: Galyna AndrushkoShutterstock

Interview With Allen Burt, Founder of EpicThrills

Outdoor Miscellaneous
by Sarah Park Jul 20, 2011
Allen Burt puts the “adrenaline back into the adventure travel marketplace.”

LONG-TIME MATADOR MEMBER and contributor Allen Burt is celebrating today. His new project, EpicThrills, launches with its first sale — an 11-day, 200-mile cycle tour in Nepal.

Allen was inspired to start EpicThrills “out of purely selfish frustrations” while on a backpacking trip around the world in 2008:

I love travel magazines and can say that the majority of my personal trips have been inspired after reading a story in a magazine like Matador or National Geographic. Unfortunately, most of the great adventure companies and outfitters profiled in these stories tended to have notoriously terrible websites and booking processes.

Hoping to bring together the ground-level dispatches found in travel and adventure magazines with the convenience and ease of an advanced online booking engine, EpicThrills aims to handle all the legwork for you. By providing exclusive access to one carefully selected adventure per week, they are able to work with tour operators to secure the kind of prices I’d be too nervous to haggle for on my own.

Simply put, the internet is overrun with watered down, plain vanilla travel offers. EpicThrills is our attempt to inject the fire and adrenaline back into the adventure travel marketplace. Our members are looking for EPIC adventure experiences and that’s what we deliver.

Eager to learn more, I asked Allen to answer a few questions about EpicThrills and the experiences they offer.

SP – EpicThrills was inspired by your own adventures around the globe. From your experience, what do you think needs to be on everybody’s “bucket list?”

AB – Great question and it’s tough to only list a few. But, I tend to lean towards more extreme experiences and would therefore insist that the festival of San Fermín in Pamplona (aka the running of the bulls) is a must. It doesn’t get much wilder than running down a cobble stone street side-by-side with a Spanish bull. Also, Patagonia in Southern Argentina/Chile is one of my favorite places on earth and a place I believe everyone should see before they die.

These days, I’m eyeing a number of bareboat sailing trips. There is an allure about traveling long distances under the power of sail and your own navigation that has me hooked. A month-long bareboat sailing trip through the Grenadines is definitely on my bucket list.

How do you curate the experiences you offer to your members?

We take our curation process extremely seriously. We’ve developed some fantastic relationships with grassroots outfitters, guides, and travel writers around the world from whom we seek advice. Most importantly we rely heavily on our own experiences and the experiences of trusted adventure resources. For example, our first four trips are all run by outfitters who’ve been recognized by National Geographic as the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.” We feel pretty good about that.

I love adventure as much as (if not more than) the next girl, but ultimately, I’m a beer-guzzler who isn’t always in tip-top shape. Would I be able to keep up or are there fitness level recommendations for these adventures?

Not only is EpicThrills a place to find and book EPIC experiences, but it is a place to be inspired…

We admit upfront that EpicThrills is not for everyone. We cater to a unique and elite set of traveler that isn’t happy simply sticking to well worn trails. Our sales are geared toward athletic and/or adventuresome travelers looking for an experience like no other. We don’t mess around with the fluffy stuff.

That being said, not all of our trips require a particular fitness level. Many do and many don’t. For example, you don’t need to be a marathon runner to go whitewater rafting on class IV and V rapids in the heart of Patagonia or to fly down an F1 race track in Spain. But, you better have a healthy appetite for gnarly adventure.

The unfortunate truth: epic adventures aren’t typically cheap, and I’m not very good at saving up. Are these adventures that travelers might be able to take advantage of on the fly?

Travel, in general, is not cheap. But it also doesn’t have to break the bank. Most of the trips we offer are all-inclusive of transportation, food, lodging, etc (excluding international flights). Once you take this into account, those previously high-sounding prices become much more reasonable. Not to mention, we negotiate bottom dollar rates that are impossible to find anywhere else.

Tell us about the EpicThrills blog.

We believe that every great adventure begins with inspiration. We’ve partnered with some incredible travel writers around the world to produce top quality travel content that speaks to the modern day explorer. Not only is EpicThrills a place to find and book EPIC experiences, but it is a place to be inspired by the tales of a new generation of men and women exploring new frontiers and pushing the envelope of modern day adventure.

AFTER MY BRIEF CHAT with Allen, I’m pretty excited about this new project.

While a rugged 200-mile cycling trip through the Himalayas would probably chew me up and spit me out, the colorful photographs and the gnarly trip itinerary almost has me convinced to give it a shot.

On second thought, I think I’d better wait for the 5-night Costa Rica surf adventure set to go on sale next week.

Allen has kindly provided Matador readers with an invitation to join EpicThrills. To check it out for yourself, use this link to register.

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