Wednesday, December 21, 2011

International Travel Planning

Stella Point with Mt. Mawenzi in the Background
The allure of far off places and remote regions of the world are what makes international travel so exciting and invigorating. We see the pictures of places so pure and so spectacular it’s almost as though we feel drawn to them. In our haste to see the world we often neglect the importance of preparation and diligence required to safely explore. When traveling internationally, your adventure does not begin when we board the plane but rather when we make the commitment to do so. Prior to departure there are four key things to consider: travel insurance and visa requirements, inoculations, currency and exchange, and most importantly the environment in which you will be exploring. For the purpose of this article we will focus on traveling to Tanzania, Africa and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or going on a safari through the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.

One of the most often asked questions by clients traveling to Africa is “will I need travel insurance?” The answer is always YES and we cannot stress the importance of obtaining adequate insurance prior to traveling. Why is travel insurance critical? For places such as Kilimanjaro, where altitude sickness is common, it is critical to have ample medical and repatriation coverage prior to departure. Further, if you are planning on traveling with an organized tour where deposits and prepayment are required, it is strongly recommended to purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance within 21 days of departure. Your visa requirements are easy to obtain but something you must not overlook. For traveling to Tanzania you will be required to obtain a visa from the local embassy by providing: an application, a valid passport, two photos, a self-addressed stamped envelope, visa fees, proof of travel, and a bank statement to prove sufficient funds. Additionally, should you make a stop into another country, such as Zambia, Uganda or Zimbabwe, be sure to check with their department of foreign affairs for the appropriate paperwork.

With Africa, inoculation requirements are higher than most parts of the world. For example, a Yellow Fever Certificate is a compulsory requirement for entry into Tanzania. Also, ensure your childhood vaccines (e.g. Tetanus/ Diphtheria) are up to date. Additional requirements for travel to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro or go on a Safari might include:

• Hepatitis A: recommended for Kilimanjaro and Safari

• Typhoid:

• Meningitis:

• Tetanus, Diphtheria: All travelers should have a booster dose within the last 10 years.

• Anti-Malarial drugs (e.g. Doxycycline or Chloroquine or Malarone): Any of these medications might be considered. In relation to altitude sickness, you may consider conversing with your doctor the approach to minimize the effects of altitude sickness. You may wish to discuss:

• Acetazolamide (Diamox) for prevention of altitude sickness

Please consult your physician prior to taking any of these medications and be sure you understand the appropriate dosages for each.

Prior to traveling to an international destination be sure to understand the local currency and the appropriate exchange rate. It is recommended that you exchange a small amount of funds prior to departure since airport rates do not offer the ideal exchange. Further, inquire about specific credit card use and whether large bills are accepted in your destination country. For example, the Tanzanian Shilling can be exchanged at any Bureaux de Exchange, rate of $1 USD = $1,303.00 TZS, with traveler’s checks and major credit cards being accepted. When traveling away from major city centers, such as to Mt. Kilimanjaro or a safari, we recommend carrying cash on hand since the use of credit or check is typically unavailable.

Finally, while these tips are general, and can apply across the board to any international destination, for seamless and safe travel I recommend checking, understanding and researching the area in which you will be exploring. Additionally, for any international adventure program I always request a copy of my clients passports, travel insurance, and drivers license to keep on hand in case of an emergency. Further, leave a list of you contact information whilst on the trip and where you will be throughout. Following these pre-trip suggestions will make your once in a lifetime climb or safari the perfect escape from your everyday life and provide a chance to immerse yourself into a new world.

5 Things To Do Before You Go

1 Obtain Travel Insurance at least 21 days out

2 Apply for appropriate visas

3 Get your inoculations early

4 Make copies of your passport and drivers license

5 Provide a list of your contact details throughout your adventure

Kevin Jackson is the owner of The Southern Terrain, an elite adventure training and guiding organization in San Diego, California. To learn more about their global adventures, or corporate development programs in San Diego, call (858) 309-2311 or e-mail at

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 5 Hikes in the United States

The diverse nature of the U.S. landscape offers backpackers an excellent opportunity to explore its many different climates, terrains, and geographic regions. Trying to select the top hikes in the country was difficult so I decided on a series of hikes along the four major treks in the U.S. as well as one additional hike which is a favorite of many veteran hikers. The four major treks include the Appalachian Trail (AT), extending 2,170 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine; the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) covering 2,650 miles from Campo, California, to Manning Park, British Columbia; the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), spanning 3,100 miles from Glacier National Park to Antelope Wells, New Mexico; and the Colorado Trail (CT) running 483 miles from Denver to Durango, Colorado. Each of these long trails is unique and special in its own right ranging from the cultural experience of the AT to the high peaks of the Eastern Sierras. The trail sections I selected are considered to be stand outs within these great walks. They are truly worth experiencing solely because they exist.

1. John Muir Trail

Area: John Muir Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sequoia, Minarets, Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks
Location: Yosemite Valley to Lone Pine, CA
Distance: 211 miles
Best Time to Explore: July – September

Mt Whitney

What makes This Hike Unique: This spectacular section of the PCT mesmerizes hikers with its stunning view. The John Muir Trail is quite possibly the most famous trail in America and blessed with the mildest and sunniest climate of any major mountain range in the world. The John Muir Trail is a wonderful rollercoaster, rising and falling through the incredible variety of scenery of the incomparable High Sierra, a glorious mountain world of glacier-sculpted, granite domes and peaks, pristine conifer forests, timberline lakes, high waterfalls, and tumbling creeks. The trail passes through a land of 13,000 and 14,000 foot peaks on your way to the highest point in the lower 48, Mt. Whitney at 14,505. The trail is named in honor of John Muir, the Scots-born environmentalist and mountaineer who explored these mountains from 1869 onward and whose campaign for their preservation resulted in the formation of the Sierra Club and the creation of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.

2. 100 Mile Wilderness

100 Mile Wilderness

Area: Maine Woods
 Location: Monson, ME
Distance: 100 miles
Best Time to Explore: May - October

What Makes This Hike Unique: The final miles of the Appalachian Trail weave through a wild landscape flush with the diversity of northern Maine, through some of the most remote-feeling mountains and forest traversed by the Trail. The spectacular "100 Mile Wilderness" of the Maine Woods represents the longest stretch of uninterrupted wilderness along the entire Appalachian Trail. Here, intrepid hikers can visit meandering rivers, reflecting lakes, monster trees, and airy viewpoints. Approximately half way through this spectacular hike and 0.8 miles off the Trail you can summon a pickup by boat across Lake Pemadumcook with an air horn to take you to White House Landing Wilderness Camp for an opportunity to shower, sleep in a bed, and have a burger and ice cream.

3. Elk Park/Chicago Basin Shuttle Hike

Area: Weminuche Wilderness
Location: Durango, CO
 Distance: 40 miles from Elk Creek Trailhead to Needleton train stop.
Best Time to Explore: June - September

Weminuche Wilderness

What Makes This Trail Unique: Boarding an old steam train in Durango and riding through the spectacular mountainous scenery of the Animas River to the Elk Creek Trailhead. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad provides one of the more popular access routes to the Chicago Basin in the Weminuche Wilderness. The CDT and the CT are part of this 40 mile hike where your reward will be stunning vistas, abundant wildlife, colorful wildflowers, and waterfalls. From the Chicago Basin you can summit three of the most remote fourteen thousand foot peaks in Colorado; Windom Peak (14,087Ft), Sunlight Peak (14,059Ft) and Mt Eolus (14,084Ft).

4. Maroon Bells Four Pass Circuit

Area: Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness
Lcations: Aspen, Colorado
Distance: 30 miles
Best Time to Explore: August - September

Snowmass Lake
What Makes This Hike Unique: Located only a few minutes out of Aspen, CO, the Maroon Bells four pass circuits is a wonderful mix of rugged mountains, beautiful lakes, flower-filled meadows, and forested valleys. The peaks are high and steep, six rise above 14,000 feet, and the valleys are narrow and deep. The most dramatic and well-known peaks are the Maroon Bells, North Maroon and Maroon Peak, named for their bands of dark red sedimentary rock. Snowmass Lake is a beautiful timberline lake with Snowmass Mountain and Hagerman Peak rising above. It's also very popular as the base camp for the ascent of Snowmass Mountain. The four passes; West Maroon(12,500ft), Frigid Air, Trail Rider and Buckskin(12,500ft) make this a very challenging and unforgiving 30 miles of Colorado wilderness.

5. Highline Trail

Area: Wind River Range
Location: Pinedale, Wyoming
Distance: 90 Miles from Green River Bridge to Big Sandy River
Best Time to Explore: July - September

Wind River Range
What Makes This Trail Unique: The Highline Trail winds through the Wind River Mountains which make up the south-eastern end of the northern Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide runs down the crest of the range; the highest peak, 13,804ft Gannett Peak, is the highest in Wyoming. Beautiful cirques, 1,300 or more lakes, hanging valleys, rushing streams, and cool forests make this wonderful country for the wilderness-lover and backpacker. Much of the hiking is on or above timberline, with spacious views of the peaks. Excellent views of the jumble of spires, cliffs, and peaks around the Titcomb Basin make the trail to Island Lake and Lester Pass a mountain-lover's delight. The Cirque of the Towers was first visited in the early 20th century. With the spectacular scenery in the Cirque of the Towers, this area attracts many hikers and climbers. The Cirque is a wonderful climbing Mecca and should be on everyone's tic list.

Kevin Jackson is the owner of The Southern Terrain (, an elite adventure guiding organization in San Diego, California. To learn more about their global adventures, or corporate development programs, call (858) 356-9411 or e-mail at

Friday, November 25, 2011

Canyoneering with Kellogg LEX

Canyoneering in Arizona
The Southern Terrain has been offering canyoneering in northern Arizona for several years and this past program with the Kellogg LEX team was one of the best. This group of future leaders are all studying at the prestigious Kellogg School of Management. Each fall this group travels to the southwest to enjoy a weekend in the canyons to push their boundaries by trying something outside their comfort zone.

Rappelling at the Overlook in Sedona
The team arrived into Phoenix late on Friday night and made it to an already set up camp in the wonderful town of Sedona. The following morning the guides at The Southern Terrain prepared a hot breakfast before departing to the spectacular overlook in Oak Creek Canyon. It was very windy at the overlook which made this training day challenging yet effective for the LEX team.  After several rappels and climbs the group loaded up in the vans and began the drive up to the Grand Canyon. The drive gave everyone a chance to catch up on sleep before we began our next day of adventure.

The Famous Horseshoe Bend
Can You See the Person Rappelling?
As we arrived to camp we were greeted by our guides who had camp all set up and amazing snacks ready for us. After an hour of relaxing at camp we were wowed by the magic of the Dutch Oven and fabulous cooking by Josh. We all had a great night's sleep underneath the Vermillion Cliffs with thoughts of what was to come the following day. The next morning we woke up to spectacular weather, and while it took a little to get going, the entire team was up and out of camp by 7:30 AM. As we ventured out of the region we had the chance to look at the famous Horseshoe Bend which is certainly one of nature's true natural wonders.

The hike into the canyon is almost as amazing as the canyon itself. Once we arrived to our canyon everyone was glad we had the opportunity the previous day to practice our technique and be more comfortable being on the rope. The first person down had an uninterrupted view of the canyon and the images we saw were something out of a story book.

Our first rappel was almost 200 feet and the guides at The Southern Terrain were patient and helpful in trying to encourage the group to enjoy the experience.
Final Section of the 200 ft. rappel

After the group was in the canyon we began navigating through the slot with several rappels of various lengths. There is one section where we had to jump into the cold water up to our waist and wade through before making it out to the other end. There is a section just after the water that is extremely picturesque with all the rappels lined up in a row. All this while surrounded by an amazing streaked wall of sandstone soaring a thousand feet up above. 

Tapestry Wall
As we moved through the canyon each person was becoming more and more comfortable with the rappels. The final rappel was special, and even though it was over 150 ft., it is so smooth and fun it was one of the best of the day. 

The final day of the program was a great hike down to the River. The hike traveled through a narrow slot canyon, without any rappels, and made its way out to the River. 

The trip was fantastic and we wanted to thank all the participants for an amazing effort throughout each day. We are looking forward to seeing you all again on a future program.

If you are interested in canyoneering in Los Angeles or canyoneering in the remote canyons of northern Arizona, The Southern Terrain would love to share their passion for this region with you. Please visit our website at or give is a call on our office line + 1 (858) 356-9411. You can also e-mail is directly at

Until next time this is TST signing off.

Last Rap
The Kellogg LEX Team

Thursday, October 6, 2011

LA County Canyoneering

The Southern Terrain and Epic USA just spent an incredible weekend Canyoneering for two days with a group of great friends from the travel industry.  The most amazing part of the adventure was that we only had to commute less than two hours from our office to have all this fun in some canyons that are located in Southern California just 20 minutes East of Los Angeles.  

We began the adventure on Saturday morning with a group of 7 of us on a beautiful Southern California day with plenty of sunshine.  The steep 2 mile hike up into the canyon quickly rewards us with a view of the surrounding hills and canyons and a glimpse at the city.  As we hike on we begin to see the canyon we will navigate today and the sound of it's many waterfalls.

About an hour into our adventure we cross the main ridge and begin heading down into the canyon and towards the creek that cuts through it.  Everyone is very excited as we put on our harnesses and helmets and begin wading and sliding down through the canyon.  The cool water feels great after working up a sweat hiking to the top of the canyon.  After a bit of hiking, wading, sliding and down climbing we begin the first of many rappels of the day down a running water fall and into a nice pool.

It's great to hear the joyful screams and yells as people slide into pools and lower themselves off of the top of 50 foot drops on a rope descending towards the next obstacle in the canyon.  Everyone is amazed by how beautiful the trees, rocks and water is and even more stunned that we're just a stone's throw from the most popluated area in the U.S.  After about a mile of rappels, waterfalls and pools we find a nice sunny spot to have a great picnic lunch and warm up a bit.

We move on and tackle the second half of this canyon which rewards us with 3 more tall waterfalls and several smaller rappels along with plenty of sliding, splashing and wading.  The day ends with a bit of boulder hopping and a short walk back to our cars.  It certainly was a day full of friends, fun and lots of adventure and now we're ready to tackle the next canyon.   There are many more canyons to explore in this area and we can't wait to have more fun in them.

Thanks for following our adventures,

The Southern Terrain

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Catalina Island Hike & Kayak Adventure

View from the Trans Catalina Trail
The Southern Terrain recently returned from as three day two night hiking and kayaking adventure to Catalina Island. This Island getaway was highlighted with great people, plenty of buffalo, amazing weather and a close encounter with a pod of dolphin.

Catalina Island Kayaking
Departing on the helicopter from Long Beach for a short scenic 15 minute ride is a great way to start the trip. This particular crossing was enhanced with two Grey whale sightings along the way. The group arrived into Catalina Island ready to tackle the 7 miles of hiking beginning high on the island's peaks. The Island boats a peak elevation of 2,103 feet with Mt. Orizaba looking over the airport in the sky. We began hiking from Blackjack Campground and traversed the mountain ridge along the spectacular Trans Catalina Trail.

Along the hike we came across several buffalo graving in the fields. These giant animals were left behind when filming the movie "The Vanishing American" and now call Catalina Island home. We made it to camp with plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine of Little Harbor Beach and concluded the evening with an amazing chicken burrito dinner with a nice glass of wine.

Campsite at Rippers Cover

The following morning we set off on the Trans Catalina Trail towards Two Harbors, which was hosting the annual beer festival, on a 4.5 mile hike across Catalina Island's coastal trails. We arrived to Two Harbors for lunch and loaded into our kayaks to begin the second leg of our journey. Paddling down the coast we were offered amazing views of the island and it was clear enough to see all the way to the mainland. When we arrived at camp we had our tents set up and enjoyed the afternoon on the beach with snacks, swimming and plenty of great stories from the kayaking.

Rippers Cove

Our final day started at 8:45 am as we began out paddle further down the coast back to Avalon.  We stopped over at Long Point Beach for a chance to relax and enjoy the warm weather. The sun came out early on our last day and just as it broke a pod of over 50 dolphins playing in the water were breaching directly in front of the kayak. We paddled the remaining few miles back to Avalon with a stopover at Willow Cove for lunch.

This was an amazing expedition with a great group of people. We enjoyed spending time with you and look forward to seeing you again in the future.

If you are interested in our Catalina Island Hike and Kayak adventure please give us a call on (858) 356-9411 or send us an e-mail at You can also view this program on our website at: Catalina Hike & Kayak.

Thanks for following our adventures!
The Southern Terrain

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Rock Climbing Promotion

Get outside this fall and come climbing with The Southern Terrain, great special for a 4 hour session only $45.00!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Catalina Island

Have you always wanted to get out and explore the magnificent Catalina island? Now's your chance to spend 3 days kayaking and navigating the island at a excellent discount. Check out the link below.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mt Rainier Climb 2011

The Southern Terrain recently completed a climb of Mt Rainier just outside of Seattle, WA. It was a great trip with a n even better team. the trip began out of Seattle, WA when we all met at the airport Starbucks to talk shop and exchange information on our newest piece of gear. 
We loaded up our gear into a 12 passenger van and made our way to the mountain. we stopped off at a great diner just before the park and talked about the climb and what was in store for us over the next 24 hours. 

Our first day on the trail had us winding up past White River all the way to Glacier Basin camp where we had the lunch. We continued up through the glacial moraine and found ourselves at our first camp called Inter Glacier Camp. we dug out the snow and built shelter for the night.
The following morning we had coffee made from a french press to go with bagels, cream cheese, and MRE's. We proceeded up the glacier to Camp Curtis for lunch before we traversed across Steamboat Prowl and down into camp Sherman. We prepped for the night and ate a hearty dinner as we all looked up at the summit in anticipation of what was to come.

Summit through John's eyes
3 AM came and we boiled hot water and ate oats before leaving at 5:00 AM for the summit. The sky was clear and everyone was feeling good as we pushed through the corridor and on up into the Emmons Glacier. We slowed gained elevation and by 1:00 PM everyone stepped up to the summit with plenty of cheers, photos, and congratulations. We slowly meandered our way back to camp Sherman for a well deserved meal and small glass of wine.

Once we made it back to Seattle we cleaned up and had an amazing dinner. The night was capped off with awards handed out to each person.

Check out our website to find out more about our adventure programs at


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Climbing To The Roof of The Americasacon summit

We always strive to provide the highest level of service and technology for our clients and in doing this we have recently begun carrying a real time online computer that updates via text and pictures of our status on our expeditions. 

To see how the group is progression or just to check in on the weather click the link below starting January 9th for hourly updates.  You can even fly in and see the route we're taking to the summit.