Pushing the Limits in Paradise

Aaron Bedford at small citadel outside of the Las Maras Ruins with a Peruvian Child

AARON BEDFORD, NORTH DAKOTA / 2012 Peru Trek to Machu Picchu / 2011 New Zealand South Island Adventure

Student, NDSU; Sergeant, U.S. Army

My Thrive Adventures Trip to New Zealand described in one word: Amazing! In all sincerity, to try and put the amazing experience that I had in New Zealand into words is impossible; not because there isn’t more than enough material, there just isn’t an adequate way to describe a life changing experience in words, you just had to be there.

I’ve always wanted to get out of the US “Words just can’t do my experience justice and that’s really what the point is at Thrive. This isn’t talking about doing, this IS doing.”and see the kinds of sights and experiences that seem to be only possible through the travel channel. The pristine beaches with impossibly blue waters, hiking through trails with breathtaking views, the glimpses into local cultures that have a deep and rich history, kayaking into what can only be described as paradise, swimming with the Dusky dolphins at sunrise, jumping out of plane at 16,500 ft., bungee jumping in the middle of a rocky chasm, surfing (at least trying to), meeting local people as well as people from all over the world, taking a glacier cruise, and most of all seeing in person one of the most beautiful places on Earth.


This seems like a tall order, more like 5 vacations rolled into one, but in 15 days I was at the mercy of Al, Jen, and Sam with Thrive Adventures and I had every one of these amazing experiences and more. From the time I got to the airport everything was arranged taken care of, and every step of the way I had experienced guides who wanted nothing more than for me to have a once and a lifetime trip in New Zealand. I told Al from the beginning what I had in my “Do Somethin’ Crazy” bucket list and I was only hopeful that I could accomplish “some” of it in two weeks. My (what seemed like a lofty) list was in trouble by the end of the first week and was reduced to shreds by the second, there really isn’t a moment wasted, if you are looking for the trip of a lifetime you will not be disappointed.

Like I said before, words just can’t do my experience justice and that’s really what the point is at Thrive.This isn’t talking about doing, this IS doing. This is trying to think of all the things you’ve wanted to do, being able step into a place that has all the resources, and having the professional guides there to point you in the right direction, all you have to do is jump…literally.

Candid shot of Aaron B. as the sun rises over the ruins at Machu Picchu after completing the Inca Trail Trek with Thrive Adventures

Embracing New Cultures

Sarah Jopp Painting in Ollantaytambo

SARAH JOPP, MINNESOTA / 2012 Peru Trek to Machu Picchu

Reporting and Analytics Analyst, Internal Audit Analyst at Mayo Clinic

Peru was such an amazing place and time for me. The guides were awesome! From communicating, biking, and rafting, to the Inca Trail hike – The guides were always funny, very knowledgable about the area, history and culture, and all the while it was clear that our well-being and safety remained their chief concern. You guys rock!

I thought that everywhere we stayed was great, especially KB Tambo Hostal! The rooms were clean, there was hot water, and the rooftop veranda overlooking the city was a great place to relax and chill out. Plus the fresh fruit and breakfast every morning was a treat to accompany a great location in beautiful Ollantay. “I felt we were able to experience more of the culture in that smaller town, and truly meet and appreciate our hosts.”The food was AMAZING!

I am glad we stayed in Ollantay for majority of the tour. I felt we were able to experience more of the culture in that smaller town, and truly meet and appreciate our hosts. I was able to spend my free day painting with a Peruvian family who owned an unbelievable art gallery, take part in one of the city’s most important festival of the year, Festival de Choquekilla, and it was pleasant to not be surrounded by thousands of tourists.

Sarah J atop Huayana Picchu

I tell everyone I know about Thrive Adventures! I would describe all my Thrive trips as once in a lifetime trips that you don’t want to be just once in a lifetime because you want to keep seeing more and more and would do it again in a heartbeat!

I keep telling everyone they need to go! ha! I will definitely be keeping my eye open for the Costa Rica trip! 🙂 Thank you guys for the awesome trip!!!! And thank you for being such great guides. Your energetic and positive attitudes always help make it a great trip and experience!

Don’t just live, Thrive.

Feeling Welcome Amongst Strangers

Donovan Walker taking heed in a beautiful art gallery in Ollantaytambo Peru

DONOVAN WALKER, ARIZONA/MINNESOTA / 2012 Peru Trek to Machu Picchu – Salkantay Trek

Developer, Outsell; Lead Developer – frontend, Best Buy

On the last flight home before reaching the U.S. we were all tired. We’d had quite an adventure. We’d gone from sea level to fourteen thousand feet. Experienced snow, rivers, mosquitoes and ancient ruins. Some of us had gone zip-lining from the height of the empire state building, others had ridden horses along cliffs in the Andean Jungle.

I looked across the aisle at Al Macdonald as the flight attendants played the usual safety video. Al’s a very social guy. Fun with a mischievous sense of humor and a ready smile. This time he didn’t look back. It struck me, he was paying close attention to the safety video. Even though he’d been on planes probably hundreds of times and seen variations on the theme at least as often, he was paying attention, just in case something was different this time.“Every step of the way Thrive helped me have the best trip possible. All of the optional activities and flexible scheduling helped me make it ‘my trip’ instead of a canned set of hoops to jump through.”

That sums up Al and how Thrive Adventures, the company Al founded, tries to operate. He pays close attention to the people who go on his trips. He takes care of them and works to make sure they have the best time possible.

I’d signed up for Thrive’s first Peru trip. Al billed it as a ‘trial run’ with “rough edges”. I didn’t know anyone else who was going and had only spoken with Al and his partners, which included his wife Jen, and Co Founder, Sam Kurachek, for a total of fifteen minutes. They chose good people, and a good group size. Every day I had the opportunity to choose an activity or ‘mini trip’ they’d scoped out, or I could wander on my own for ½ a day. Abra Salkantay the highest elevation on the trek - 4600m (15253ft)I was in the process of rehabbing my knee after an injury. One of the big ticket items on the trip was a hike to Machu Picchu. Al made sure someone on the hike would be able to help if I ran into issues. I did, and they did!

Sam was really good, particularly ‘in the moment’ on the trail once we cleared up the communication lines a bit and was always helpful and considerate (not just of me, but of everyone. Everyone on the trail enjoyed his company. )

Every step of the way Thrive helped me have the best trip possible. All of the optional activities and flexible scheduling helped me make it ‘my trip’ instead of a canned set of hoops to jump through. If you’re someone with an adventurous spirit but want someone else to sweat the details, Thrive has what you need.

Don’t just live, Thrive.

Taking in Everything We Can

Bryce Lyle Thrive NZ AUS trip participant playing saxaphone

BRYCE LYLE, MINNESOTA / 2009 New Zealand North & South Island Adventure / 2007 New Zealand & Australia: Heart of the South Pacific

Sergeant, U.S. Army

I have now taken two trips to New Zealand guided by Al Macdonald. Both experiences have been highlights of my life. Seeing the countryside on the way to each destination is awe-inspiring, and the destinations and activities themselves will blow you away. Each one is unique and something you won’t be able to do on a typical vacation destination close to the U.S.

Before I traveled to the South Pacific, I was already experienced with traveling internationally and considered myself to be a rather proficient traveler. Even so, if you are thinking of going by yourself without a guide I would strongly urge you to reconsider. “…it would be impossible for me to give up any of my experiences from these trips, and for me that makes it worth more than bliss.”Aside from the fact that both Al and Sam are wonderfully enthusiastic, and will enhance your trip just by being themselves, I don’t think I could have made it to all the destinations that I paid for in the allotted time never having been there prior. It is a jam packed trip! Even if I WERE savvy enough to make the entire trip, all the driving would have exhausted me and I don’t think it would have felt like I was on vacation. To pay for the plane ticket alone and not see enough of the major highlights of the country would definitely not have been worth it for me. Ignorance may be bliss, but it would be impossible for me to give up any of my experiences from these trips, and for me that makes it worth more than bliss. Al’s fee is modest, so take it and don’t look back! I guarantee once you take the trip, you will not regret for a second having a guide who knows the country!Our friend Bryce Sea-Kayaking in Abel Tasman
Thrive on the trip, and in life!
Bryce Lyle and Al Macdonald Desert Jump

Don’t just live, Thrive.

We believe an adventurous spirit and a wonder for this glorious Earth lies within each of us. Together, let us set yours free.

phone: 1 + (424) 272-1386

email: Info@thriveadventures.com

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