Award-winning tour operator Austin-Lehman Adventures, the active travel company setting adventure travel standards in The Americas, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, announces its version of the Golden Globes and Academy Awards for 2013. A panel of judges consisting of both staff and guides, selected the world’s best in 20 categories ranging from Top Hikes and Bike Rides to Best Picnic Spots and Desserts.

“By asking our traveling team to keep an eye – and taste buds – always cocked for quality, we continue to notch up experiences for our guests. You’d be surprised what a pristine beach and a caring massage can do for morale at the end of a cycling day,” says Dan Austin, founder, whose own preferences led him to chair the category of Top Ten Massages. One of his favorites was at Ant’s Nest, a lodge in South Africa’s Waterberg district. “We were in a thatch hut overlooking the savannah enjoying the expert massage services of beautiful Bapedi women, who by the way are very strong.”

Dan’s wife, Carol, ALA’s Guest Services Administrator is known for her sweet tooth. She can’t get enough of Chocoholic, a store in Bruges, Belgium, a must-stop and included in the best in Top Ten Desserts and Chocolates.

Among the Top Ten Places to Unplug, Blake Eden, Marketing Associate, selects Fox Island, Alaska, as one of her favorites. The secluded island is the perfect spot to relax, spot marine life and, if you are brave enough, take a polar bear plunge.

Kasey Austin, Field Operations Liaison & Guide, taps a picnic on a private yacht on Croatia’s Korčula Island near Lumbarda among her Top Ten Picnic Spots. Fountain Flats Picnic Area inside Yellowstone National Park is also high on her list.

Cycling expert Ron Van Dijk, Director of European Operations, chose three domestic U.S. adventures among the Top Ten Bike Rides including South Dakota’s Mickelson Trail (110 miles), the state’s first rails to trails project. It follows the abandoned Burlington Northern line that took trains from Edgemont, SD, up north to the Black Hills and gold mines of the Deadwood area. Over some 110 miles of riding through blasted hard-rock tunnels and over 100 converted railroad bridges, cyclists see a lot of different country ranging from unique granite rock formations to farmland dotted with hay bales.

Because heritage and culture are intrinsic to Austin-Lehman Adventures anywhere in the world, guests visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites when located in the regions they’re traveling. In ALA’s Top Ten UNESCO Sites, Travel Consultant Bill Callahan says Mont-Saint-Michel, France is “my favorite spot on earth.”

Costa Rica’s Arenal Observatory Lodge, is listed in General Manager Christy Hamill’s Top Ten Hotels/Lodges. Perched high on a ridge only 1.7 miles from Arenal Volcano, the lodge offers the area’s best views of Costa Rica’s most spectacular volcano and namesake lake – Arenal. She suggest that you, “Make time for yourself to sit outside on the observation deck, not only taking in the impressive views of the volcano but watching for one of the hundreds of species of birds to flit into view.”

Other Top 10’s include The Best Family Trips, Top Must Pack Items, Top Canyons, and Wildlife Destinations and more. For a complete list of the company’s Top Tens in 20 categories please see http://www.austinlehman.com/about-us/austin-lehmans-top-tens-pages-677.php

Image courtesy Widness & Wiggins PR

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