Editor's note on April 2, 2019: Alas, REI Pet Ventures is not a new offering for REI, just a little April Fools’ Day fun. For human-powered trips, head on over to the REI Adventures site. While we haven't yet found a way to take your hedgehog climbing, we can guarantee that when you travel with REI Adventures, you'll be sure to return with plenty of stories to regale your pet with.
REI Adventures has been guiding people on adventure travel trips for more than 30 years. Whether it’s cycling the winding roads of Zion National Park, exploring the unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands or trekking through the Himalaya, REI guides have earned a reputation for delighting wanderers with excursions across the globe. Today, REI Adventures is announcing a new offering: REI Pet Ventures—global adventure travel just for pets.
“We branched out into family adventures over a decade ago, to much success, getting parents and young children experiencing nature and travel together,” said James Rodgers of REI Adventures. “For many of us, our pets are a valuable member of our family, sometimes even more than a child or spouse, so expanding into REI Adventures trips for pets felt like the next logical step.”
The inspiration for Pet Ventures—active adventures designed with pets in mind—began with REI customers. For the last few years, customers traveling with REI Adventures raved about the trips, but consistently told trip leaders that they wished they could expose their pets to the same level of adventure. “Our first thought was to have folks bring their pets along on the adventures, but to be sensitive to those allergic to or fearful of animals, we thought, why shouldn’t the pet be able to travel on their own?” explained Rodgers. “There’s many a turtle or goldfish who would prefer to leave their humans behind and have an adventure.” From there, Pet Ventures was born.
Longtime REI member Laine Cherashore was one of the first people to send her cat on a Pet Ventures pilot trip, Great Smoky Mountains Glamping for Cats. “I've felt guilty about keeping Tosh indoors from the beginning,” Cherashore said. “She's always longed to be an outdoor cat. I couldn't be happier that REI finally provided a safe and fun environment for her to live out her best adventure cat life!” Tosh, the cat, came back with a glossier coat and improved fitness levels. Cherashore was thrilled, she said.
Curious? Pet Ventures is starting with four unique offerings:
Great Smoky Mountains Glamping for Cats
In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the valleys are dotted with homesteads where cats can mew for milk and trees tower tall, making them perfect for getting stuck in. This four-day adventure brings your kitty face-to-face with this iconic park’s most beloved trails, including the Appalachian Trail. Cats wanting to tread outside their comfort zone can sign up to raft the rollicking Class III rapids of the Nantahala River, while others can choose to fly high above the forest floor on a mountaintop zip-line tour.
Best of all? Each night a private, deluxe REI Signature Camp awaits. Your cat will nibble farm-to-table kibble lit by campfire and pad their way into down-filled sleeping bags made from claw-proof nylon. It’s the purrfect balance of comfort and connection to nature.
Yellowstone Kayaking Escape for Betta Fish
Abundant wildlife, unearthly geothermal features and an array of wide-open landscapes epitomize Yellowstone. Designed specially for the betta who prefers to travel solo, this private adventure offers four days spent paddling the lakes of the United States’ first national park in the world’s only kayak made to accommodate fish bowls.
Local guides lead the way to high-altitude lakes in the backcountry, far from the crowds. Your pet will be welcome to proceed at their own pace and even extend their days with solitude-filled trips along the lovely waterways surrounding the lakes. Each evening, they’ll be offered a flavorful bloodworm meal before being lulled to sleep by the vast, star-speckled night sky.
New Zealand Country Cycling: Mini-Donkey Route
Nine days, two quintessential New Zealand trails and one 35 percent grade street (the steepest in the world): It’s the trip of a lifetime. Your miniature donkey will pedal the car-free Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail and Otago Central Rail Trail to discover towering mountain ranges, awe-inspiring glaciers, picturesque lakes and historic towns. Between two-wheeled tours they’ll savor local, ass-approved brews and carrots and meet fellow four-legged cyclists who are sure to become their new friends.
Each day brings vibrant scenery and challenge, from Lake Tekapo to Queenstown. Their free day will be spent in Dunedin, a sweet city with Victorian and Edwardian architecture and plenty of nearby trails, to discover city life and wildlife, including the albatross, sea lion and rare yellow-eyed penguin.
Thailand Beach Climbing Adventure: Hedgehog Route
Spend nine days climbing near the sun-drenched beaches of Thailand. Your hedgehog will begin in Chiang Mai, the hub of the north. Zip-lining gives a taste of what’s to come and a view of the jungle canopy. The evening allows for the option to wander Chiang Mai’s famous night markets, browsing handcrafted silk, paper and textiles, and indulging in fat worms. Next up are tropical beaches with giant pillars of karst limestone.
This introductory course will allow beginners a chance to learn or practice rock climbing at a premier destination. All the technical equipment is provided, so your hedgehog can simply focus on gaining skills and enjoying the journey. They’ll return home with plenty of stories, friends and newfound confidence on rocks.
Editor’s note: All animals belong to a co-op employee or are a friend of the co-op. No animals were put in harm’s way in the making. Please remember to take your beloved pets on adventures that are suitable and safe for them!