There are a handful of adventure travel companies that really define the genre. Wilderness Travel is among them. The company creates extraordinary itineraries, has legions of repeat travelers and has a knack for discovering or rediscovering lost corners of the earth.Forbes
Wilderness Travel’s founder, Bill Abbott, literally grew up a traveler, moving from Ohio to Brazil at the tender age of six months old. Bill would go on to spend his entire childhood living in a variety of South American countries and has been a devoted world traveler ever since.
In his early 20s, he spent years as a young adventurer, amateur mountaineer, and aspiring photographer hitchhiking completely around the continent (including down the Amazon River!). He dedicated himself to getting as far off the beaten path as possible by concentrating on South America’s most remote mountains and wilderness regions. It was during this time that he met his wife, Barbara, in La Paz, Bolivia, who was embarking on a South American odyssey of her own.
Wilderness Travel opened its doors in 1978 in a tiny office in Berkeley, California, with a desk made of a spare hollow-core door set across two filing cabinets. The original concept was to provide travelers the opportunity to enjoy some truly off-the-map expeditions in the company of hand-picked local insiders who knew all the secrets of an undiscovered realm.
The first trips were truly expeditionary in spirit, including a “live-off-the-jungle” expedition traversing the Upper Amazon, the first commercial group to cross the Strait of Magellan and explore the remote western fjords of Tierra del Fuego by sea kayak, and an anthropologist-led expedition to a remote corner of Irian Jaya where they experienced a Stone Age tribe’s “first contact.”
As WT has evolved and expanded through the years, we have had the honor of working with some of the world’s leading researchers, explorers, and conservationists, including Jane Goodall, Sir Edmund Hillary, Mary Leakey, wildlife biologist George Schaller, astronomer Alex Filippenko, mountaineers Alex Honnold, Conrad Anker, and Reinhold Messner, and renowned adventurer Thor Heyerdahl.
From this pioneering beginning, our commitment to offering our guests the most innovative and active travel experiences has remained steadfast. Throughout our 45+ year history, we have remained true to concentrating on the quality, design, and unique spirit of the trips themselves, while at the same time understanding the importance of maintaining a commitment to operate these exotic adventures in an environmentally responsible, low-impact manner.
Today, the legacy of this family enterprise continues as Bill’s children, Nicole and Scott Abbott, have taken over the reins of running the company’s day-to-day operations, thus remaining a true family-owned business. Nicole and Scott were raised in the world of adventure travel. Growing up, they traveled extensively with their parents, scouting new trips and visiting with Trip Leaders around the globe. They have each worked their way through every position in the company, including in the overseas offices of some of Wilderness Travel’s closest partners. They have a deep appreciation of the importance of the intimate, long-term (often multi-generational) relationships Wilderness Travel has nourished, and they have grown the company’s conservation ethos further than ever, making the decision in 2020 to offset all carbon emissions from WT’s land-based trips and expanding partnerships with grassroots conservation organizations in the local communities we explore around the world.