Welcome to our list of the Best Outdoor Adventure Companies.
Which companies have mastered the art of running to the hills?
Who can take you out further, and for longer, in conditions that might otherwise have you turning back?
We tossed a few ideas around and established our list of epic tour operators and adventure facilitators, who specialise in taking customers outside their comfort zones and into the (not always smooth) realms of true adventure.
Here is our list of the Best Outdoor Adventure Companies for Epic Excursions:
5. Outdoor Adventure Companies – 57 Hours
Founded by Perica Levatic and Viktor Marohnic, 57hours began life with traditional annual retreats. As kids, both founders spent the majority of their childhood outdoors and got sucked into the usual pastimes of climbing rocks and pedalling down bike trails and generally cutting loose in the woods, like feral maniacs.
Hours spent figuring out how to scale difficult rocks, or navigate a mountain ski slopes, or just simply getting lost, were invaluable lessons in working through obstacles and forming strong identities.
They actively participated in all kinds of outdoor adventures and were stronger, healthier and, best of all, happier for it.
Eventually, Perica and Viktor decided to make it their work to introduce more people to wild adventures. Soon, the idea for 57hours was hatched and the company became an outlet for anyone whose lives were dominated by work, or who had lost touch with nature – an open platform connecting everyday people to certified outdoor adventure specialists.
They had figured out a way to make the most of every weekend, which is why they were so-named: 57hours.
Since there is exactly 57 hours between 3:00 pm, Friday, to midnight, on Sunday. In their minds, this would be a way to maximise those hours after leaving work on Friday.
There was enough time in there to head off for a proper adventure outdoors and still make it back in time for the Monday grind – tired, but elated and recharged.
On their adventures, participants spend time outdoors in often uncharted terrain and engage in challenges and problem solving to develop strong relationships and keeps bonds strong among friends and families.
A structure of mentorship is one of the keys to their success and the means to unlocking your full potential. Mentors and guides are on hand to lend advice on everything from ethics to skills, fully certified and trained by the foremost organisations in their locations.
They are also environmental conscious and highly knowledgeable in Leave No Trace methods to inspire a better understanding of sustainable adventure.
4. Outdoor Adventure Companies – Swim Trek
SwimTrek surfaced back in 2000, when founder/lifelong swimmer, Simon Murie, opted to hit the water and celebrate his 30th birthday in style.
As a boy, he had heard stories of the poet Byron and his crossing of the fabled Hellespont – a historic swim from Europe to Asia, in north-west Turkey. The swim itself was preserved in Greek mythology and described Leander, who embarked on nightly swims across the strait, to reach his lover, Hero.
The story told of how Hero would light a torch and guide Leander’s crossing. Byron later visited the strait to retrace Leander’s nightly feats – in fact, he was the first known person to make it across the strait in 1810.
So, Simon went off to Turkey and went through all the requisite council permissions and regulations to find a pilot who would escort him across the strait. He finished the swim in just under an hour and later lamented the imbalance of time, between the logistics and the actual swim itself.
He founded SwimTrek to address this issue and to bring great swims to more people, who would be otherwise put off by the logistical hoops and bureaucratic swamps.
3 years later, Simon dredged-up a unique collection of adventure swims worthy of his endeavour.
He also found time for a solo swim across the English Channel, in 2002.
Then, in July 2003, the company ran their first trip to the Greek Cyclades. Today, they run swims to over 40 locations worldwide, including the Galapagos Islands and Indonesia.
They don’t just swim for the sake of it. Trading repetitive laps in pools, for the endless opportunities of open water. They’ll take swimmers of varying abilities out to the idyllic islands of Croatia’s Kornati National Park, or they’ll safely escort you in the water as you share a few strokes with the rare Mediterranean Monk Seal.
After 17 years in operation, the company has curated an extensive programme, throughout both hemispheres, and helped to strengthen the ongoing popularity of open water swimming.
3. Adventure Fitness Consultants
These guys offer elite training packages and plans for outdoor athletes. They specialise in the bespoke design and delivery of comprehensive mountain training too.
Covering all kinds of extreme mountain sports, their guiding programmes include the educated provision of physiotherapy and rehabilitation for injuries. Each package is specially designed and set out by a team of seasoned specialists.
We’re talking full support from personal trainers, expedition leaders and mountaineering instructors. Specific training for outdoor adventures and programmes that span three specific areas: physical fitness, technical skills expertise and mental preparation.
They also offer courses to develop climbing and other outdoor skills among the rugged peaks of Scotland and Wales.
Regular weekends run with mountain experiences and escapes to explore the breathtaking UK scenery.
Aside from their bespoke training programmes, they select a number of expeditions each year and offer clients unique trekking and climbing excursions around the world. Join outdoor adventure skills courses and gain expertise and conditioning that translates to the mountains.
Adventure Fitness Consultants are qualified in all relevant areas to prepare you for the more gruelling aspects of adventure travel.
They will combine their expertise and knowledge to develop your physical fitness and technical knowledge – in no time you will be both physically and mentally prepared for the specific rigours of extreme outdoor fitness challenges.
2. Outdoor Adventure Companies – Shackleton Challenges
Ernest Shackleton stated that it was – “…in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown.”
A century ago, during the Heroic Age of Exploration, Shackleton was one of the most courageous figures dedicated to extending the limits of the known world.
He remains one of the most enduring historical figures. In his life, between the years 1908 and 1922, Shackleton led three British expeditions to Antarctica, including the famous Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, from 1914 to 1917.
Many regard that particular expedition as one of the most extraordinary stories of camaraderie and survival ever told. Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, trapped in pack ice, surrounded by the deadly black depths of the Weddell Sea.
The 28-man crew were left stranded on drifting ice, forced to sleep on the ice, among breaching orcas and the punishing cold. For months on end, the crew moved and camped and suffered unimaginable hardships – no lives were lost under Shackleton’s command.
Finally, Shackleton and five others headed out across the sea to South Georgia in a 23 foot rowing boat. It was an 800 mile trip across the freezing Southern Ocean. The party of five returned 137 days later and rescued the rest of the crew, who were housed in upturned boats and almost out of supplies.
Founders Ian and Martin, who met in 2014 due to their mutual attraction to Shackleton and the Heroic Age, set out to create a modern British brand, inspired by their hero.
With a bedrock of true and a yearning to inspire people to live more courageously, they created an expedition-grade outdoor apparel brand and expedition travel company, worthy of The Boss himself.
Their designs carry the nine-pointed star etched onto Shackleton’s gravestone.
Recently, they have introduced Shackleton Challenges – expedition experiences led by record-breaking leaders, like Louis Rudd MBE, who is a record-breaking polar adventurer and former Royal Marine Commando and SAS soldier.
Lou was the first and only person to traverse Antarctica twice through human power alone.
He has covered more than 3000 polar miles on skis and is a veteran of extreme cold-weather tours, having served in Northern Norway with the special forces and guided many expeditions, including a 1100-mile crossing of Antarctica and 350-mile crossing of Greenland.
Lou is accompanied by Expedition Manager, Wendy Searle, who is the seventh woman in history to complete a solo, unsupported journey from Hercules Inlet to the geographic South Pole.
She also completed a full traverse of Greenland and was the manager for Lou’s record-breaking Spirit of Endurance Expedition, back in 2018.
So, you’re set up with incredible leaders. The challenges themselves are laid out to suit both accomplished explorers and novices.
Each challenge has a special mission, varying in difficulty, from Level 1 to Level 5. You can travel to wild and unforgettable places, from Svalbard to Antarctica. The itineraries are led by the in-house Shackleton team and guaranteed to make your heart beat faster.
1. Lake District Adventuring
Outdoor activities abound in the Lake District. It’s the perfect setting for these mountain navigation courses and adventure holidays. Lake District Adventuring offer a superb range of unique challenges and adventure activities, including ghyll scrambling and mountain navigation skills courses. Ghyll scrambling is seemingly invented for the Cumbrian fells.
Cut loose jumping into water and climbing up rocky streams and abseiling down rushing waterfalls. You can take part in trekking weekends and adrenaline-fuelled challenge events.
Rock climbing is available for beginners, combined with gorge scrambling to make a full day of it. It’s the perfect chance to explore something new, or to consolidate and expand on your existing adventure skills.
You’ll be supported by high level instructors – no matter which adventure, from the Lake District to places much further afield, like Nepal.
Many of the challenges are fast paced and physically demanding, with hair-raising climbing portions and varying terrain.
Rush up the three highest mountain tops in the UK, take the Scafell Pike sunset walk, or hike up to Everest Base Camp Trek, with the Nepal Trekking challenge, which takes you right up to the rugged foot of the world’s greatest mountain.