Surf and Snow board giants meet on shared ground – Sustainability

Firewire and Arbor have announced a collaborative surfboard offering that will arrive in stores this spring. The designs combine Firewires use of epoxy resins and EPS foam materials, which are less harmful to the environment, and Arbors signature, sustainably sourced, structural wood power ply technology.

The new “Koa” Dominator will feature the same sustainably sourced, Hawaiian Koa power ply used by Arbor for years in the legendary Element snowboard and across half of the popular skateboard line. Koa wood represents a strong tie in for this new offering as it was originally used by the native Hawaiians to build the first surfboards over 600 years ago. The new “Wasteland” Dominator uses laser cut / inlay wood technology pioneered by Arbor in the snowboard industry. The Wasteland’s inlaid wood power ply is made up of 78 individual pieces of laser cut veneer, selected from 6 different sustainably sourced species.

In its short history, Firewire has had a significant influence on the surf industry, bringing a range of new materials and cutting-edge technology to the forefront of surfboard design. This makes them the perfect partner for Arbor who has been using environmentally friendly, natural materials to improve the performance, durability, and style of snowboards, skateboards, and apparel since 1995. The two companies share similar philosophies that seek to develop their products through innovations that have less impact on the environment.

Were stoked to collaborate with a company whose DNA so closely matches our own, says Firewires CEO, Mark Price, and to capture the essence of Arbors unique wood signature, while at the same time adding a stunning aesthetic to Firewires high performance surfboards.

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Alex debating at UK Aware in London this Saturday – come and say hi.

What are you up to this Saturday (26th March)? Our very own Alex is going to be debating alongside Richard Hammond of greentraveller, Tricia Barnett of Tourism Concern, and Joanna Yarrow of Beyond Green at the UK Aware show at the Kensington Olympia in London.

The Topic? ‘What is Sustainable Tourism, and does it even exist?’

It’s a pretty feisty topic with no clear answer, and some very engaging speakers from the forefront of the movement, so it promises to be an interesting debate.

If you are free, come on down – it would be great to meet you. The debate kicks off at 4.30pm.

The Uk aware show itself promises to be worth a visit – it’s the UK’s largest sustainable lifestyle show and is packed with hundreds of exhibits, seminars and workshops across the whole range – fashion, energy, lifestyle, food, and of course plenty of interesting new ideas flying about.

As a friend of Much Better Adventures you can grab HALF PRICE ENTRY – making it the hefty price of 3.50 if you book online. Follow this link to grab your tickets and enter the promo code MBA2011.

See you there!

More adventure travel operators going ‘muchbetter’

We have been buried under hundreds of applications from adventure outfits around the world recently, but only a few make it to full ‘muchbetter’ status. These are latest.

We will keep putting the rest through their paces, and providing advice to help them make their practices muchbetter so that one day they might be in this list. Know somewhere cool? Suggest them.

Alaska Alpine Adventures, Alaskan guides

Alaska Alpine Adventures is a top notch and experienced operator in one of the most scenic and adventure-happy areas of the world. With fun guides that know all the areas gorgeous routes and trails like the back of their hands as well as a fantastic appreciation of their extraordinary environment, this really is a muchbetter way to explore the best of what Alaska has to offer.

The Bentwood Inn ski accommodation, Jackson Hole

What do we say? Keith’s Bentwood Inn in Jackson Hole is a great addition to the muchbetter community thanks to its superb location. Situated in the stunning Rocky Mountains region, its perfectly placed in a hot spot for some great adventure sports available close to the understandably popular Yellowstone National Park. This highly acclaimed inn prides itself on its warmth, friendliness and peacefulness and it is fantastic to have them in the muchbetter family.

Help our Penyu Turtle conservation in Malaysia

What do we say? Help our Penyu is a really innovative project helping preserve the turtle population in Terengganu, Malaysia. They offer a range of exciting opportunities, from full on voluntary positions to relaxing breaks in their idyllic location. Sounds great to us!

Travel Dream West

Helen’s Travel Dream West is a great tour operator that provides carefully planned and enjoyable nature tours in some of the greatest landscapes around America. From great canyons, to lush cactus forests and sunny sandy beaches, Helen is committed to providing experiences of America’s greatest natural phenomenons in a fun and challenging (and muchbetter) way.

More Mountain Ski Chalets, Morzine.

What do we say? Jon and Sam have built up a reputation for offering you more on your holiday, whether snowboarding in Winter or Mountain Biking in Summer. Their modern, stylish chalets will welcome you in, and you can be sure to be well looked after. Their ongoing commitment to being ‘muchbetter’ is excellent, and we are delighted to be working with them to make Morzine greener.

Marine Life Tours, New Zealand

What do we say? Kayaking, fishing, swimming and walking around the Opotiki coastline of New Zealand with Marine Life Tours will open your eyes to natural marine environment and what is being done to protect it at the innovative community reef.

Bike on Tours, Ontario self guided biking

What do we say? Howard’s Bike on Tours is a great operation that exists to allow riders to get the very most out of the incredible and scenic routes available in Ontario. Promoting self-guided tours, Howard is extremely knowledgable and knows this biking hot spot like the back of his hand. A muchbetter way to cycle this part of the world indeed!

    Who’s new on muchbetteradventures.com?

    Now live on the site and waiting to hear direct from you, please say hello to…

    Adventure Yogi – yoga, surf and skiing in Uk the and Europe

    Why do we like them?

    ‘The freshest concept in yoga holidays’, AdventureYogi is the ideal set up for free spirits who love to mix things up – skiing, surfing, yoga, adventure, great food, no rules. A small, passionate and lively team, Claire and Michelle are developing a growing itinerary of yoga and adventure retreats from weekends to week longs, and we are sure a few day with them will leave you wanting more.

    Sample packages – Ski and yoga holidays in France, yoga weekend in somerset, surf and yoga in Cornwall

    Cabana Buena Vista – surf cabins in Pichilemu, Chile

    Why do we like them?

    Having surfed at Pichilemu before, Alex can vouch for the quality of that surf! Cabanas Buena Vista offer good value accommodation in a great location to enjoy everything that is good about Pichilemu, whether you are passing through with a group of friends, or keen to stay for a while and discover the local area.

    Full listing coming soon

    Botanical Treks and Excursions – Nepal mountaineering and trekking outfitters

    Why do we like them?

    Bijay Raj Devkota leads a group of ten passionate and experienced Nepali guides. They are well equipped outfitters for treks and expeditions in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan Himalayas. From classic treks like Everest basecamp and Annapurna to remote and off the beaten track treks that take you into the heart of lesser seen parts of the Himalayas, you can be sure these guys will provide the professional support, local expertise and facilities you need.

    Sample packages: Mt Mansalu Circuit Trek, Lower Dolpa Trek, Everest Base Camp trek

    Catch a Wave C.I.C – Cornwall surfing and wellbeing holidays and courses

    Why do we like them?

    An exciting new surf based project to come out of the ever green south west of England. Anne, Kit and the team are putting together an exciting range of surf, yoga and complementary therapy holidays which will have you enjoying the waves and putting back into this friendly community. Time to Catch a Wave!

    Sample packages: Weekend surfariz, 4 day surfariz

    Chalalan Eco Lodge – community run jungle lodge in Bolivia

    Why do we like them?

    Chalalan Ecolodge in Bolivia is one of the rare success stories for a community owned jungle lodge in South America, and is becoming the model for many others. An amazing, well preserved jungle location, comfortable accommodation in traditional cabins with good facilities, friendly and caring service and knowledgable local guides will make this a jungle experience to remember. Your presence supports the continued conservation of the Madidi National Park and support to the local communities.

    Full listing coming soon.

    Chumbe Island – eco lodges on remote island off the coast of Tanzania

    Why do we like them?

    You only need to look at their list of awards to know that Chumbe Island is an innovative and progressive tourism destination. Stunning diving in the bio-diverse private marine reserve, the first of it’s kind in Tanzania, and beautifully designed eco-bungalows on the beach front. It is about as close as you get to your own tropical paradise: there are only 7 bungalows in total. A fantastic honeymoon destination if you want to avoid the whole ‘resort’ thing and feel a part of the places you visit, and equally special for anyone travelling in East Africa and looking for somewhere truly unique for a few days. That all revenue goes straight back into advancing their conservation aims just makes Chumbe Island even more worth visiting.

    Full listing coming soon.

    Comrie Croft – hostel, camp site and mountain biking destination in Scotland.

    Why do we like them?

    In the central highlands of Scotland this unique farmhouse, hostel, camping and mountain biking set up, owned and run by the community, is a real gem. Great value, not far from Edinburgh and Glasgow and with outdoor activities coming out of their ears. We are delighted to welcome them to the site and suggest you get in touch for your next holiday in Scotland.

    Full listing coming soon.

    Count Kalnoky’s Guesthouse – Accommodation, horse riding and walking from a Transylvanian estate.

    Why do we like them?

    A truly unique experience in Romanian Transylvania. Stay in the estate of one of the oldest families in Romanian history, and discover the unique heritage of this beautiful and remote region. Combine that with a variety of horse riding and walking opportunities and chances to explore the rustic villages in the heart of Transylvania, and you have a recipe for an extremly memorable adventure!

    Full listing coming soon.

    Cycle Catalan – quality cycling holidays in Catalonia

    Why do we like them?

    Exploring Catalunya and Northern Spain by bike seems the logical choice, as the network of cycling trails is excellent. Vivian and Alan bring that local expertise, personal touch and level of flexibility that will ensure a cycling holiday in Spain which is tailored to your ambitions. They are proud to be part of the local community, determined to support it, and passionate about sharing the beautiful surroundings with you. Enjoy!

    Sample itineraries: Cycle and Chill, Discover the Gavarres by mountain bike,

    Cyclomundo – European cycle tours

    Why do we like them?

    Cyclomundo cycling holidays will expose you the real Europe. Every aspect of their guided and self guided cycling routes is
    carefully planned to maximise your interaction with local people, from local guides and the independent hotels you stay in, to the diverse places you cycle through. As true cycling specialists and local experts for road biking holidays in France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, Cyclomundo will ensure you get the most from your biking break in Europe, whether you are looking to clock up maximum miles or set a more leisurley pace on an independent trip.

    Sample packages: Geneva to Alp d’huez, Perigord and Quercy for avid riders, Gastronomic Catalonia

    Eco-Frontiers Ranch – Accommodation in Carpathian Mountains, Poland

    Why do we like them?

    The Eco-frontiers Ranch in Poland is a unique place to escape. In the heart of the Carpathian mountains, they will get you out horse riding Hutsuls (the local breed), hiking, biking and tracking wildlife. Join them in winter for ski touring, cross country skiing and snow shoeing. The lodge itself is a lesson and an inspiration in how good sustainable living can be.

    Fieldskills – mountain biking, jungle expeditions and survival training in Malaysia

    Why do we like them?

    The experts for climbing, mountain biking and jungle expeditions in Malaysia, Field Skills will train you up, kit you out and get you going, whether it is for a few days or a full scale expedition in Malaysian Borneo. Partnering with schools and other organisations they provide the crucial link between outdoor activities, education and important conservation work.

    Sample options: 7 day mountain bike explorer of Borneo; Flagship 5 day mountain bike adventure

    Gondwana Brasil – Adventure tours in Southern Brazil

    Why do we like them?

    Gondwana Brasil Ecotourismo are a small and passionate tour operator in Brazil. These are the guys to turn to for help organising active holidays in Brazil, whether you fancy surfing in Florianopolis, heading out on rainforest expeditions or meeting local communities. They have been pioneering ecotourism and sustainable travel to the south coast around Parana for many years, and it their continual presence at the forefront of this movement which demonstrates just how pro-active and innovative a tour operator can be when it comes to responsible travel.

    Sample: Escape Serra Verde train ride into the rainforest

    Montecristo River Lodge, Nicaragua

    Why do we like them?

    Montecristo Jungle Lodge in Nicaragua has a brilliant reputation for combining adventure, tranquility, great service and environmental protection. Exploring this rainforest paradise and Nicaraguan wildlife refuge will have you kayaking, horse riding, hiking, fishing and bird watching. If you are in Nicaragua, why would you miss it?

    Pamir Horse Adventure – Tajikistan expeditions and horse treks

    Why do we like them?

    Aslisho is passionate about sharing his stunning homeland of Tajikistan with you. He is here to connect you with the guides, services and equipment you need for trekking and horse riding in Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains. Why? For his people, the local communities who will be delighted to welcome you and support your adventure through their lands. An incredible off the beaten track expedition in historic and awe inspiring Central Asia awaits. We just wish we could be there too.

    View itinerary: Horseback Adventure in Pamir Mountains

    Shakti Himalaya – Himalayan village walks and luxury accommodation

    Why do we like them?

    Shakti Himalaya provide an exclusive, unique and intimate experience in remote, lesser seen parts of the Himalayas. Their innovative approach offers the discerning and inquisitive traveller an incredible opportunity to walk or trek from remote village to remote village, accompanied by their own local trained guide from the community. Getting in touch with the real people and places of the Himalayas, whilst maintaining an excellent level of comfort and quality, and ensuring benefits to the local community are maximised, Shakti Himalaya is a truly innovative, one of a kind adventure in the Himalayas.

    Full listing coming soon

    We continue to scour the globe for much better adventures, and when we find them we get straight in touch. Who are we looking for?

    If you can reccommend someone or somewhere you have stayed recently, then please get in touch. If we agree, we offer them a free place on the site so more people like you can find them. It’s all about rewarding the people that deserve it…

    Who won the summer hike and bike holiday giveaway?

    A few months ago we announced we were entering all our first subscribers into the draw to win a hiking or biking holiday in a beautiful part of the French Alps, to thank them for joining us early in our much better adventure towards a sustainable adventure world.Since then you have no doubt been on tenterhooks to find out who won, so without further delay, we are delighted to announce the lucky winner was Sarah Dowding.Congratulations Sarah, it is an amazing place for an action-packed weekend and we are sure you will love it.To everyone else, don’t despair, no doubt we will dream another prize for you very soon! The good people at Karibuni will also be sending you a short one off email later this week to say hello and introduce themselves. If you haven’t yet sorted your plans for the summer, these guys would be well worth considering. Do also be inspired by our friends and competition partners Trip Bod – your friend at the other end, and The Conch – the online community for adventure people.In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine, and keep an eye out for the next issue of our sustainable adventure e-mag which will hitting your inbox in a few weeks. If you missed the last issue, you can read it here – we met a man swimming on Everest, found out what it is like to start an eco lodge in remote Nicaragua, surfed the wave of change in Peru, reviewed Patagonia wetsuits and watched Mildred the surfing sheep carve it up in Cornwall!Somehow we have still been finding time to scour the globe for more great local adventure choices that really make a positive difference to the places you visit. We’ve still got plenty to go, so keep your eyes peeled as the choices keep growing, and spread the word!

    Welcoming the latest members to the much better adventure travel community

    Please welcome the latest additions to the fast growing much better adventure community. From China to Nicaragua, Estonia to South Africa, they are a diverse and inspiring bunch, just as we like it! Its going to be a busy few months here at HQ in the mountains, so expect plenty more to be joining them.

    Bike Asia

    Bike Asia are your local cycling partners for a range of destinations across the back roads of Asia. A friendly, expert and passionate local crew, you can be sure these guys have been there, found the best biking route and worked out how best to share them with you. Their cycle trips are designed to get you under the skin of the amazing and diverse places you visit, and be giving plenty back to them too. Take a look:

    Biking in Mongolia, Cycling Tiger Leaping Gorge, Biking in Southern China

    El Coco Loco, Nicaragua

    If you are looking for a surf lodge in Nicaragua, El Coco Loco has got it all. Amazing location next to world class, quiet surf breaks, a friendly, sociable atmosphere, and comfortable accommodation whether you want a bargain shared dorm or the privacy of your own cabana. With their ecological operations and Waves of Hope foundation giving back to the local community, El Coco Loco is a living example of what a much better adventure is all about.

    Check out their company profile. Detailed listings coming soon.

    Great Wall Hiking, China

    Hiking and sleeping along the Great Wall of China, one of the wonders of the world, is always going to be an unforgetable experience. Travelling with the locals and sharing their world as you do it only adds to the adventure. Thats what Great Wall Hiking are all about. Whether a day hike or multi day hike way off the visited path, these guys can get you to the best spots.

    Hiking mutianyu, sleeping on the Great Wall, Jinshanling to SimataiMatava Resort, Kadavu, Fiji

    Matava Resort on the stunning Fijian Island of Kadavu is the ideal choice if you are looking for a south sea getaway, but are not interested in sunning yourself by the pool. Perfectly geared up for unforgetable diving, snorkelling, fishing, and world class surfing lies beyond the protection of the Great Astrolab Reef. The comfortable accommodation, welcoming local staff, relaxed atmosphere and great food will top of this memorable adventure experience in Fiji.

    Kayaking on Kadavu, Scuba Diving holiday on KadavuOverland China

    Trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the Sichuan province of China? Hiking in remote Tibetan villages, way off the beaten track? Going with local guides, learning about local minority cultures and really getting under the skin of South West China? If this sounds like your cup of tea, then we would say Overland China are your crew.

    Check out their company profile. Detailed listings coming soon.OU Karuskose, Estonia

    Truly your local adventure experts for the bogs and wetlands of south west Estonia, Aivar and the team have been running trips ever since Soomaa National Park was founded over 15 years ago. The largest intact peat bog system in Europe, this is an important wilderness area, and offers up some great and unique activities. Pass me my bog shoes….

    Beaver safaris by canoe Rivertime Resort, LaosThis relaxed rural eco lodge in Laos, just outside Vientiane, is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture and countryside.Take your time cycling through the Lao countryside and exploring the local villages. Swim, float, take out the Kayak or swing in the hammock overlooking the river. You can also head out on overnight treks into Phou Khao Kwai National Park.Comfortable, friendly and spacious, and with a stunning floating restaurant for your meals, look no further than Rivertime resort if you are looking to hang out in Laos.

    Check out the eco lodgeTailwind Jungle Lodge, Mexico

    …rainforest, deserted beaches, surfing empty waves, kayaking, yoga. Friendly hosts, natural cabins amidst the trees, a true concern for the local area. Does it get much better than that?

    Find out moreThe Samhitakasha Cob House, Cape Town, South Africa.

    The Cob House is a Cape Town accommodation with a bit of a twist. Welcoming, comfortable and unforgettable, it will challenge your perceptions of a B and B! The Cob House couldn’t be better located either – right across from Muizenberg beach, considered the home of surfing in South Africa, and ideal if you are learning to surf. For land lovers, part of the Table Mountain range is right behind you for rock climbing, hiking and caving. Where do we sign?

    More details of the B and BEkoClub, Bulgaria

    Ivo and George are madly passionate about sharing Bulgaria and their local region with you. They offer a unique opportunity to get under the skin of the place, see life from the locals perspective, and of course get out in the great outdoors, hiking and exploring some beautiful areas.

    West and South Bulgaria Adventure tour

    Member nominated for world travel award

    One of our new members, BikeHike Adventures, has been nominated for a World Travel Award as North America’s Leading Tour Operator 2010!The World Travel Awards are considered “the Oscar’s of the travel industry” so it’s awesome to see them nominated.Locally run, action packed travel choices…it gets our vote!Winners are determined by number of public votes so please click HERE to find out how you can vote for BikeHike Adventures.Check out some of BikeHike’s trips here.

    Much Better Adventure Mag – the 1st Issue!

    We have just sent out the first issue of our monthly(ish) e-magazine!

    Dedicated to local, sustainable, action-packed adventures, this community generated mag will be keeping readers in the loop with destinations, amazing stories, kit developments, photos and videos. In the process we will be providing exposure and support for the people who deserve it.

    View it online here.

    Sign up to recieve future editions.

    Our carefully chosen travel members provide articles for destination features, and we welcome contributions from elsewhere in the adventure community as well.

    Do send us your press releases and articles for inclusion here and in future editions of the e-mag.

    Adventure Radio

    Just five minutes ago I was led on my back in a world of pain. Its great to have a bouldering wall in your appartment, but not when you set yourself a challenge too far and pop fully off missing the mat.

    So what can pull you off the tiles in this situation and make you try it again? This time it was the chilled out mix that Radio Meuh – based over in La Clusaz, just a couple of valleys over from muchbetter basecamp – was sending my way.

    So that is why Im now chalking up my keyboard, to say thanks to the guys, and to let the muchbetter community know that we are working to get these guys on the site so that you too can listen to the unique adventure soundtrack that is Radio Meuh.

    Sustainability focus at ISPO 2010, and we are going to be there!

    Green issues and sustainable ecology have been designated the primary topic at the ispo 2010 in Munich this February. The eco focus of the world’s largest sports industry fair will be reflected in the many different projects and platforms. We are excited to say we will be there, sourcing suppliers for our ethical outdoor shop, and meeting with many interesting people. It should be an interesting and productive few days.

    Do get in touch if you are going to be there too.

    FYI, here is what the ISPO have to say about their green focus:

    The Eco Village bundles sustainable products and companies, considered pioneers of eco-friendly manufacturing methods, as well as hosts the winners of the Eco Responsibility Awards. The Eco Responsibility Award, presented for the second time in 2010, honors extraordinary product innovations, which embrace sustainability not just as a fleeting fashion trend, but as a long-term challenge. For the first time since the inception of the ispo BrandNew Awards the new special category Eco / Fair Trade was added this year. This category is ispos response to the many entries that included sustainable production and fair trade conditions in their applications. The jury will not just evaluate style and finish of the products; it will also review additional criteria, such as eco-certification, materials used, the brands self-concept and message, as well as ecological and social involvement. In addition, ispo endorses a number of projects and organizations in form of partnerships. There is a close cooperation with the Association for Conservation, an organization which counts ispo among its founding members. AfC supports projects protecting areas where flora and fauna, and thus their recreational value, are endangered. The new research project by TU Munich on Sustainability of Sports Technologies is another project ispo is involved with. The goal of this project is to develop evaluation methods to determine sustainability of sporting goods. Furthermore, ispo has also begun to work with bluesign technologies ag, and thus sets clear signals in the area of sustainable textile production.