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ExpeditionTrips in the News

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On the Virtual and Dusty Road
Bostonia Magazine

by Taylor McNeil


The Duffel Bags are finally in the closet – at least for now. And that must be a relief for Kristy Royce who’s been on the road pretty much ever since graduation. After living in open-air lodges with Amazonian Indians, guiding tours through Arctic ice floes, and climbing the Andes in Bolivia, among many other adventures, she’s now settling into her home in Seattle, running a travel company geared toward those daring souls who prefer the back of beyond the Disneyland. Final proof, though, that she’s really back in America is that she and her husband have joined the dot-com gold rush, having received venture financing for ExpeditionTrips.com, their soon-to-be Web site for booking passage on small ships that tour out-of-the-way places. Currently it’s difficult to find information on expedition ships, but not for long, she says.

Royce knows all about those ships – she and her husband worked on them as tour guides for more than five years, traveling remote waterways where tourism is at its most basic, form the Antarctic to the Amazon. It’s an adventurous life that sometimes has a little too much of a good thing. A couple of summers ago, for instance, Royce was leading a tour on an old Russian icebreaker, circumnavigating Baffin Island in Canada. One of the Arctic’s attractions is seeing polar bears, and to that end, the guides take groups out on Zodiacs, which are small, nimble boats, to get a closer look. “The Zodiacs hadn’t been as well maintained as they were supposed to be, so the engines kept stalling. I was driving a group of ten people, and all of a sudden my engine just goes, and there’s a polar bear fifteen feet away. Never in my life have I experienced adrenaline like that,” she says. “You get real quick at getting engines started.”

Royce hopes the Web site will be successful enough to subsidize the travel company, so she can plan more trips like one later this year to the Machiguenga Center for Tropical Studies in Peru’s lowland Amazon rainforest. Royce and her husband helped the Machiguenga, a native tribe, set up the center and its lodge several years ago, a model of community-driven ecotourism, giving the locals more control over their destiny.

Given the nature of the business she’s in, you know that sooner rather than later, Royce will do what comes most naturally: Drag the duffel bag out of the closet, and hit the road again.