Arguably, solo travel has always been a significant method of going places, and to many the only way of getting to see and feel a destination without assuming personal responsibility for anyone else. Many solo travelers also feel that going alone is a necessary adjunct in personal growth, assuming truth to the old adage, "he (or she) who travels fastest travels alone."
But even the august Abercrombie & Kent, the luxury travel/safari company that has been in business for over half a century, has been surprised by the growing number of solo travelers that have recently left family and friends behind, and taken up singular and single adventuring. In 2010, solo travelers made up 10 percent of all A&K's bookings, and this year, there appears to be substantially more.
"In a recent survey of Abercrombie & Kent's solo travelers, nearly 40 percent chose to travel solo because their partner doesn't share their interest in the destination or time and scheduling conflicts may prevent family or friends from joining them," said Scott Wiseman, President and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, "25 percent prefer to travel alone - perhaps to pursue a special interest - like history, hiking, or wildlife photography."
Certainly, part of this attraction has been Abercrombie & Kent's offering travelers significant savings by waiving the single supplement travel fee or reducing it - by as much as 75 percent - on journeys to the destinations most requested by these travelers.
To enhance the needs and interests of this growing trend, Abercrombie & Kent has offered more than 30 solo savings departures on multiple programs featuring their most popular destinations. Here are a few, from the many offered:
Highlights of China:
The Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors, the Three Gorges and a behind-the-scenes tour of the country's only underground museum reveals the secrets of ancient China. In addition, this tour explores the Yangzi River and life along its shores, on a luxury cruise aboard the award-winning Sanctuary "Yangzi Explorer." Twelve days from $5,475 + $945 single supplement (was $1,890).
The Snows of Kilimanjaro: The solo traveler can ascend Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, skirting both highlands and dense rubber tree forests, moving through volcanic lava landscapes. In the forest zone, elephants, blue monkeys, bush pigs, perhaps even baboons can be seen. Eleven days from $5,340 + $0 single supplement (was $945).
Tanzania Wildlife Discovery: The solo traveler can explore the wildlife haven, the Ngorongoro Crater. He or she can view game by hot air balloon over the Serengeti's immense, open plains. The traveler can meet the Maasai and visit Olduvai Gorge, where ancient fossils provide clues to human origins. Ten days from $5,650 + $0 single supplement (was $530).
Wings Over Kenya:
The traveler can witness the beauty of Amboseli National Park, the Laikipia Plateau and the Masai Mara, while flying between permanent tented and A&K mobile camps, and can survey a private stretch of river where hippo gather. In the evening, he or she can unwind over elegant meals and intimate sundowners. Eleven days from $8,775 + $0 single supplement (was $1,625).
The traveler may explore Egypt's historic wonders, featuring visits to pyramids and temples; and a scenic, luxury Nile cruise aboard Sun Boat IV stopping at Luxor and off-the-beaten-track Denderah, Edfu and Kom Ombo; and sail around Elephantine Island in a felucca. Eleven days from $5,165 + $0 single supplement (was $1,380).
Turkey: A Journey Through History:
The traveler can see how Turkey evolved from Greek and Roman beginnings through the Ottoman Empire, as he or she views its ancient cities - Perge, Ephesus, Phaselis, Aphrodisias - and those created by master builder Sinan in Istanbul. Thirteen days from $9,975 + $951 single supplement (was $3,805).
In addition, Since A&K launched their adventure travel dimension, Extreme Adventures, it has seen great interest from solo travelers, especially on personal challenge experiences like climbing Mount Olympus or crossing Iceland's glaciers.
"It seems that those solo travelers who partake of our Extreme Adventures," continued Wiseman, "are those who don't have partners who share in this idea of adventuring, while others just simply prefer the freedom of temporarily leaving their everyday lives behind to embark on a major and challenging adventure half way or more around the world, with an expert local guide."
More than half of Abercrombie & Kent's 30 Extreme Adventures programs offer single supplements of 15 percent or less, much lower than supplements that can reach as much as 50 percent or higher. The five new solo-friendly Extreme Adventures for 2011 include:
Greece: Ascent to the Home of the Gods:
Hiking through grassy uplands to rocky ridges and along narrow gorges, the traveler ascends to the high peaks of Mount Olympus. The ancient Greeks believed these mountains were pathways to reach the gods and named them accordingly. Level 3: Demanding. Ten days from $4,245 + $220 single supplement.
Iceland Tracks Across the Glacier:
The solo traveler sets off in Super Jeeps with expert driver/guides to explore treacherous glaciers, camping in the open and braving blinding snow and winds that can top 60 miles an hour. Level 4: Strenuous. Seven days from $10,125 + $315 single supplement.
Norway: Lillehammer Olympic Challenge:
Lillehammer, the site of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games is the destination where the traveler can try curling, participating in biathlon and speeding across the ice on a rubber bobsleigh, a four-man bobsled, a skeleton sled and a toboggan. Level 4: Strenuous. Five days from $7,795 + $320 single supplement.
Mexico: Kayaking the Baja Coast:
Baja California's rugged coastline is the setting for a kayaking and snorkeling adventure. Travel from island to island by kayak. Camp under the stars each night on the beaches of Isla Espiritu Santo. Level 2: Moderate. Seven days from $4,275 + $395 single supplement.
Jordan: Ancient Strongholds & Desert Camps:
The ancient fortresses and landscapes are explored via Jeep, by camel and on foot in this rugged desert expedition. Travel from the Dead Sea to the "rose-red" city of Petra, lunch at Lawrence of Arabia's home and overnight at a Bedouin-style desert camp. Level 1: Mild. Eight days from $7,150 + $400 single supplement.