Icon of Adventure Travel Slows Down For A Conversation
photo by Louise Bangs
Childlike Wonder - Richard Bangs'
Travel Filter, Pure & Inspiring
Richard Bangs co-founded one of the first U.S. based adventure travel companies, Mountain Travel Sobek after rushing into the heartbeat of his young life with a first descent on one of the greatest rivers in Africa in 1973. His creds are numerous and his style is anything but predictible. He is the ultimate hybrid of poet, adventurer, entrepreneur and courageous explorer. According to Bangs, "Adventure is anything that quickens the pulse and moves you beyond your ordinary life and into the extraordinary."
An Adrenaline Driven Soul Translates Slow Travel But First
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As the co-founder of Mountain Travel Sobek, the first US-based adventure travel company, what does the notion of Slow Travel mean to you?
Travel, of course, suggests movement, and adventure implies a well-planned trip gone wrong, so from the outset our concept of Slow Experiences was a radical departure from the typical travel provider train station, something perhaps akin to the Glacier Express, which bills itself as the slowest express train in the world. The idea is to take the long-way…the multi-day trek over a pass, rather than motoring through the tunnel…so that the world winds down and delight and enlightenment seep in.
You have said in an Outside Magazine article, “ The more granular you go, the bigger the universe. Can that be applied to a slow travel philosophy?
Very much so. The meander is the beeline of poets, and we are all poets in some stage of reduction, unwinding the path, like a mountain trail to a spring. And the more we see the more we realize we have yet to see, the paradox of plenty.
A Younger Richard At Play In Ethiopia With His Tribe
William Blake presaged the movement in “Auguries of Innocence” when he wrote: "To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower. To hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour."
photo by Laura Hubber
The “Ultimate Slow Adventure?”: A long life examined and enjoyed Richard Bangs
Slow travel is an emerging movement and can be applied to a lot of elements. Since you are one of the founders of adventure travel, how would you define slow adventure travel? I think it is still up for interpretation, please take a crack:
photo by Wendy Abrams
Slow adventure travel is the deliberate deceleration of a journey so that the small looms large, the particle becomes profound, and the blood races with the adventure and discovery of the Amazon in every dewdrop, the Everest in every trail stone, the Redwoods in every swath of grass, and the galaxy within every snowflake.
Can you think of a few slow travel menu items that you cover now or are about to uncover? Libraries and sheep shearing or slow kayaking? As a master curator of experiences, what would be an “ultimate slow adventure” in your book.
Slow travel can be applied to any journey, as it is more about the noticing and absorption of all the available input, rather than the pacing. There have been movements when I was crashing through a major rapid when, as in a snapshot, I would freeze the world and drink in all the details, and then allow a mindful interpretation over time.
photo by Didrik Johnck
Could you give us a snapshot of examples of slow travel in say Latin America, Ireland, New Zealand, Thailand. I’m thinking food trucks, a day of surfing then laying around for a few days or writing poetry in a field of heather and drinking local beer and whittling. Hiking in Switzerland and playing checkers by a fire and drinking hot chocolate. Slow and active, give us your best shot.
Slow adventure involves risk…the risk of discovering truth and meaning through examination. It’s not really a juxtaposition of active and passive, or rabbit and tortoise. You can choose any adventure…which often means an experience that ushers beyond a comfort zone…and fashion it to slow adventure just by opening eyes, arms and hearts a bit wider, and letting the delights, as well as the inconvenient, pour in.
You have written so much about travel and its sublime effect. You have a strong literary foundation and the soul of a romantic yet a rugged adventurous constitution. As time ticks away, could you see creating slow travel tours or stories with a slow theme? Is a slow philosophy already embedded in your coverage of experiential travel based on approach, filter, pacing, location?
Yes, I think once I was a card-carrying member in the cult of adrenaline, but with time discovered that as many, if not more, thrills can be had by hazarding the mountains of mind, the incognita coordinates of the spirit, all of which are accessed through the legwork of the lingerer on the negligible trail.
Slow travel can be a convergence of nature, culture, farm stay, handmade luxury, preservation and art appreciation. With so many categories in travel today, how do you cut through the clutter and distill what really resonates for people when choosing to experience life fully while they travel?
The gifts of understanding are presented to those who travel and seek. It really doesn’t matter which category of travel undertaken, but rather in deciding how to travel. For to move, is to permit change and open doors of perception. If opened slowly, considerately, then bouquets of clarity and compassion rush in, and we might indeed discover a quiet place in ourselves that is a state of grace.