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Jun. 3, 2010
12 Trips of a Lifetime
The people here at Clif Bar & Company are loaded with incredible travels -- seriously. And with an eight-week sabbatical awarded every seven years with the company, why wouldn't we be? So after listening to countless tales of amazing worldly adventures, I figured it's time to share. Here are 12 inspiring trips that will leave you yearning for a life-changing vacay of your own!

1. From Cape Town to Cairo
Clif Traveler: Claire

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My sister and I had planned to spend the last week of our African adventure (which began in Cape Town, then routed through Kenya and Mauritius) in Madagascar where we would be lemur spotting, hiking in the national parks, catching the local transport taxi-brusses and walking down the Avenue of Baobabs. We initially convinced each other that we could simply avoid a developing military coup, sneak away to the less-populated parts of the country and continue on with our agenda. Then we heard that the U.N. was evacuating all non-essential personnel, and we discovered that all flights into the country were being diverted.

So, time for plan B. Having already spent time in Kenya, both of our curiosities peaked at a 4 a.m. scheduled departure to Cairo glowing on the international departures board, and we set off to wake up the only travel agent in the airport. Moments later our flights were purchased and, less than eight hours after that, we landed in Egypt.

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The photos document a snippet of the best trip I never planned – finding the 357 bus after a crash course in Arabic numerals, navigating Cairo’s vibrant street markets, sampling Egyptian coffee and its famous accompaniments, the obligatory camel, the majestic pyramids in Giza, marveling at the resourcefulness of Egyptian taxi repair-work, and ending up in Alexandria where the Nile meets the Mediterranean…just a little bit farther away than we had set out to travel from our starting point the month before. At the end of the day, the most amazing part of the trip was not necessarily the places we visited or the things we saw, but rather the way in which we saw them – without expectation, without a master plan – without a clue really. But sometimes the best journeys are the ones that take you for a ride.

2. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Clif Traveler: Carly

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Amazing for the physical journey/challenge, but also for the terrain and ruins you pass through. We started in the capital of Spain’s empire in the Americas (Lima) and then traveled through Cusco, the Incan capital of the empire before we started on the trek. On the trail, I felt like I was in another time. Every rock on the trail was moved and placed by hand...the same story for all of the ruins en route and once you arrive to Machu Picchu. On the way we saw (literally) hundreds of species of orchids, many birds and other wildlife. Ultimately, you climb up into the clouds and sleep nestled into the tops of some of the Andes highest peaks, and then wake and discover huge, amazing buildings, paths and civilizations created by human hands about 600 years ago.

3. Polar Bear Watching in Churchill, Manitoba
Clif Traveler: Noreen

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I went up to Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson Bay to watch the polar bears and go dog sledding a few years back. In October right before the lake freezes over, a ton of polar bears migrate towards the edge of the huge bay waiting for the freeze. Then they can travel over the ice and find seals to eat. It was absolutely amazing! The polar bears, the arctic landscape, the cool trucks we traveled in through the snow and ice...and the dog sledding was so much fun. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime, one that I will most likely do again...and hopefully their habitat stays intact.

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4. Wanderfoodlust in Singapore
Clif Traveler: Aaron

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Singapore is a foodie’s dream. There isn’t a ton to do in Singapore otherwise, unless you like shopping (I don’t); Gucci and Prada are as ubiquitous there as Starbucks is here. I spent the better part of three days eating my way through various Hawker Centers and markets. You might think that 8,000 miles is a long way to go just for a nosh, but I was in heaven. I usually base my choice of travel destination on whether there is good food to be found there, and in Singapore I tried more foods than any other place:

Ayam buah keluak - A stew-like chicken dish made with buah keluak, a fermented nut that is poisonous in its raw state. Fermentation renders it black and gives it a pungent and intriguing flavor.
Durian – The infamous tropical fruit that smells like rotting garbage and tastes about the same. It’s very popular in Singapore (although it’s illegal to bring one on a bus or into an enclosed space), and I thought maybe the excitement of being there would make it taste better. It didn’t.
Fuzhou fish ball soup –A ball of pureed and cooked fish (like a meatball), stuffed with seasoned ground fatty pork, served in a light broth. Very simple but VERY good.
Laksa – A Malaysian noodle soup with a spicy and sour broth, bits of seafood. The level of spiciness can vary; mine happened to melt my face off.
Many tropical fruits not found outside the region. Their names are now lost to me, but the memory of those flavors is beckoning me back for another visit.

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5. Farmer's Market in Aix (Bonus! - Cooking Class in Barcelona)
Clif Traveler: Shelley

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I was lucky enough to be staying in a French farmhouse with friends on my August birthday — we celebrated by hitting the renowned market in Aix for fresh fish and produce, and cooked up an incredible feast complimented by locally produced Rose’ wines. In Barcelona I participated in a Catalan cooking class preceded by a shopping tour of the infamous Mercat de la Boqueria to buy provisions for the communal meal—(seafood paella, anyone?). There’s a theme here: dear friends, delicious shared meals, cultural and scenic masterpieces, and friendly people of the world — it all played a part in a wonderfully memorable trip!

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6. Cycling through Northern Italy
Clif Traveler: Rich

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A few years ago I ventured on a cycling trip through Northern Italy that was, let’s say, epic on all fronts. The format of the trip mirrored the “white road” journey referenced in the book, “Raising the Bar” written by Gary Erickson, founder of Clif Bar & Company. It was a nine-day journey starting in Bassano del Grappa in Italy’s Veneto region and ending in Chamonix, France. The terrain was mountainous as we climbed famous passes throughout the Dolomites and the Italian Alps without a support car.

All you bring is a credit card, passport, Euros, toiletries, tubes/tools, one set of street clothes, underwear, cap, shoes, CLIF SHOT BLOKS, rain pants and jacket and they need to fit snug in an oversized saddle bag. It weighs roughly eight pounds and you need to lug it over steep climbs like the Giau, Fedaia, Gavia, Stelvio, Umbrail, Spluga (to name a few). You forget about it after the first day and it allows the rider to be self sufficient and adventurous. At night we stayed in small hotels in little mountain towns, drank fresh weissbier and ate copious amounts of pizza, local pastas, salumi and carne. The scenery was stunning as it snowed the week before our arrival so the dolomiti were capped with snow with blue bird days.

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7. Biking the Himilayan High Country
Clif Traveler: Bryan

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A 10-day bike tour in the Himalayan High Country of the Himachal Pradesh, Northern India -- not an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination, but an outlandish adventure of epic proportions. Leaving out of Manali over the Rhotang La 13,051 ft, veering right into Lahaul, up the river valley and over the Kunzum La, 15,780 ft, dropping into the Spiti Valley (aka Little Tibet) and finishing in Tabo, the final resting place of the 14th Dalai Lama. A 200-mile ride, (average elevation 12,500 feet), 20+ miles hiked and portaged, 4 monasteries, 1 close friend, and infinite smiles and laughs. Plus, there was daily chai tea and cookies. Bars and gels? Countless.

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8. Women's Moguls at the Vancouver Winter Olympics
Clif Traveler: Melissa

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I had the opportunity to go to the Olympics this year to see a friend, Shannon Bahrke, compete in women’s moguls. It was a phenomenal experience to be there — the energy in Vancouver and Whistler was contagious and inspiring, as we blended in with such a mix of people from all over the world excited to cheer their countries on. It was also amazing to be watching Shannon compete and win the bronze (on my birthday!).

This was the first event of the Olympics, and what made it even more exciting (is that possible?!) was that her teammate Hannah Kearney won the gold -- a shock because the hopeful, Canadian Jennifer Heil, ended up with the silver. Even after enduring six hours of sideways rain, we were all so excited and nervous for Shannon, and it was super exciting watching this event as it took place on the mountain ahead of us. A memorable birthday indeed! We went to the awards ceremony the next night, and then spent some time at the USA house attempting to act cool in the presence of some incredible Olympic athletes including my favorite gymnast (and Dancing with the Stars winner!) Shawn Johnson. It was really an incredible lifetime experience. Bring on London 2012!

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9. Walking the Routeburn Track in New Zealand
Clif Traveler: Wendy

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In December ’09, Ryan, a fellow Clifster, and I traveled down to the South Island of New Zealand. While there were helicopter trips, fantastic wine and organic cheese, and a rabbit-hunting black Lab named Gus, the highlight of the trip was walking the Routeburn Track. One of the 10 Great Walks in the country, the Routeburn Track is 32 km of natural wonder – verdant wetlands, trout-filled rivers, lush forest and sub-alpine open range. All of this coupled with plush huts courtesy of the Department of Conservation (no tent necessary) and friendly natives (and non-natives) along the track, the Routeburn was one for the books. Do yourself a favor and go!

10. Cycling the New Zealand's South Island
Clif Traveler: Christine

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The mission was hatched the summer before our final year of business school: cycle 900 miles around the South Island of New Zealand in 12 days with 2 days of rest peppered in. We started in Christchurch, headed North towards Kaikoura and Hanmer Springs and then cut across the country to head south toward our final destination of Queenstown. We planned to fit in some lake swims, hikes, runs and winery stops along the way. Success!

I knew New Zealand would be beautiful, but words cannot describe the countryside we saw over the course of the two-week trip. From lush forests, crystal blue streams, glacier topped mountains, and thousands of sheep every curve of the road brought another breathtaking view. If you have the time to do it, cycling is by far the best way to see New Zealand (and it's also the most environmentally friendly, of course).

We finished off our trip with a challenging four-day tramp on the Reese-Dart Cascade Saddle trail just North of Queenstown. (Key learning: Bring plenty of Clif products! We ran out of bars after only 5 days and had to fuel with dried fruit and potatoes. Can you say bonk….and ick!)

11. Biking the USA in 52 Days
Clif Traveler: Tina

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In 2003, I started riding my road bike. I quickly figured it out and decided to go for my first metric century in the spring of 2004. It was fun, so I decided to go on a weeklong bike tour in OR that summer. Even with rain everyday, it was fun, too. I decided to complete a full century (100 miles) that fall. That, too, was fun. So, naturally, the next step would be to ride my bike across the country.

Together, my sister and I learned what bike touring was all about. We faced ice, snow and rain as we crossed the Sierras in our first week of the trip, headwinds across the highways of the west, salty eyes across the salt flats of Utah, the Continental Divide across the Rockies, hills (yep, hills!) in Kansas and Missouri, more cornfields than we ever ever needed to see, vineyards in NY, the steep pitches of West Virginia and finally, on July 25th, the rolling hills leading to New Hampshire where we dipped our front tire in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Seeing the United States at 13 mph was truly a gift – and to connect with my sister made it awesome. I always knew she was a fun gal, but nearly eight weeks on the road with her also taught me that adventure is also about attitude. We saw every side of each other and pulled each other through some tough moments – and still had one heck of a good time!

12. Honeymoon in Gresten, Austria
Clif Traveler: Tom

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My wife and I went to Austria on our Honeymoon. I had been doing some family research and found out my maternal-side ancestors we’re farmers near Vienna in a small town called Gresten. After a day long drive through the Austrian countryside with many stops along the way, we finally found the family name on a map in the town of Gresten, about 50km outside of Vienna. It is still a working farm and is still in the family name of Plankenbichl. It was pretty cool to see where your family was 350 years ago. Oh yeah, the honeymoon was awesome too!
Posted by:
Chris Morell
Events, From the Road, Office Life

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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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