Sun Vally, ID – Known for blending river rafting with wilderness adventure and backcountry luxury, Far and Away Adventures (http://www.far-away.com/) delivers American Safaris in a style that brings out the stars.
As river outfitter to Hollywood’s A-Listers, Steve Lentz, founder and owner, says the patronage of celebrities and VIPs keeps his company on its toes. “A-Listers look for cutting edge, and what we do is just that,” says Lentz, noting that when the stars yen for a splash on a wild river, they travel with his company. He attributes this in part to the fact that the point of departure, Sun Valley, ID, “has always been a place where Hollywood could come, sit on bar stool and avoid paparazzi. It’s very easy for celebs to come, be real and have privacy. The area has always has attracted the tabloid elite looking for an escape.”
To protect the privacy of, among others, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, VIP guests board and disembark at discreet river access ramps to avoid attention. “After that, it’s just them, us and the river,” says Lentz, noting that the stars’ most popular river option is a six day expedition down the Middle Fork of the Salmon.
Lentz said that fashion designer and film director Tom Ford lavished kudos this year when he said, “Rafting the Middle Fork with Far and Away is the perfect adventure.” Ford was celebrating a very special occasion which Lentz’s team orchestrated and produced before disappearing down the beach to give the party privacy.
Dennis Miller called Steve and Annie Lentz and team “the sweetest people, the best trained staff, the nicest experience…. You walked away – you had tears in your eyes that you were splitting up with your new family. Probably the best vacation I’ve had in my 57 years on the planet – rafting for four days with them. The time of my life!”
Ford, Miller and his wife Caroline, and Julianne Moore traveled with Far and Away Adventures in 2011 on private, exclusive trips. Lentz said that Bruce Springsteen and Patty Scialfa are looking at a future trip. However, movie star Barry Bostwick (of The Rocky Horror Picture Show fame) joined a regular scheduled trip one year. The level of sophistication, comfort and concierge attention Lentz’s team lavishes on all guests, including Stephen Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Mariel Hemingway, and the Nordstrom’s, to name a few, is world class.
Lentz says another draw is the quality of North American big game wildlife sightings in their natural setting that rivals an experience on, for example, Botswana’s Okavango Delta, but requiring a fraction of the cost and travel time of a comparable African safari. And just like tramping about a savannah in Africa, if guests choose to leave the river and walk or run along it, there is a 75-mile maintained trail adjacent to what what’s called “The Crown Jewel” of the River of No Return Wilderness. An oar boat shadows hikers who return to camp for showers and hors d’oeuvres as friends and families approach from the river.
The adrenalin highs that come with sightings of an American Big 5 (elk, wolf, Big Horn sheep, bear and moose) are intensified by the river itself. In May and early June rafting is on Class IV rapids on fast-moving, higher waters thanks to the season’s dependable snow pack. This river is famous for its 100 rapids spilling over 100 miles in a 3,200-foot elevation drop ending in a canyon deeper than the Grand Canyon.
Tented camps that could be straight out of Africa embrace guests after a day on the river. A chef prepares moveable organic feasts with local microbrews and wines to be sipped from crystal stemware. Solar lanterns, hot water for showers and state-of-art tents with elevated beds, flannel linens, carpets and nightstands ensure sweet dreams.
Set departures for 2012 are May 28, June 6, June 15, June 24, July 2, July 10, Aug. 3, Aug. 11, Aug. 19, Aug. 27, Sept. 6, and Sept. 14. Pricing at 2012 rates is $2,750 adult, $2,450 child. Arrangements for custom trips and private family groups are by request.