Each of Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism's trips are rated on a challenge system that gives our clients an idea of what to expect on the trail.  Physical fitness, accomodation comfort, and trip solitude are rated on scales from 1-5, and each trip is given a designation in each category.  In addition, each trip is given an overall rating of Undergradute, Graduate, PhD, or Professor that indicates that required level of physical and mental skills of the geologist adventurer.  These are general ratings, and your geologist/guide will dial you into your specific adventure in your pre-trip briefing.  If you have questions about your trips demand level don't hesitate to contact us .
Fitness
1–2–3–4–5

1. Guest will need only the ability to walk on improved surfaces with little elevation change for up to 5 miles per day with the ability to travel at their own speed and/or reroute/shorten a hike as they see fit, carrying no weight. 

2.  Guest will need the ability to walk on established trails with some elevation change, over uneven natural surfaces for up to 8 miles per day with the ability to travel at their own speed and/or reroute/shorten a hike as they see fit, carrying no more than 10 pounds of gear.

3.  Guests will need the ability to hike on established trails with noticeable elevation change over uneven natural surfaces for up to 10 miles per day, carrying up to 15 pounds of gear.  Some routes may not have a shorter or turn-around option and the group will move at a 2 to 3 mph pace with breaks.

4.  Guests will need the ability to hike on less maintained trails that may have physical obstacles or barriers with aggressive elevation change for up to 15 miles per day, carrying up to 25 pounds of gear. In every case other than an emergency situation, hikes are one-way and are performed at a 2 to 3 mph pace with breaks.

5.  Guests will need the ability to hike on and off trail in places that may have physical obstacles or barriers with aggressive elevation change for up to 15 miles per day, carrying up to 40 pounds of gear. In every case other than an emergency situation, hikes are one-way and are performed at a 2 to 3 mph pace with breaks.
Comfort
1–2–3–4–5

1.  BackPack – no showers or electricity available. Restrooms are primitive. Guests can expect to sleep on a pad outdoors or in a small tent. Meals will consist of single-entrée foods, some of which will be freeze-dried or dehydrated foods with few fresh options, and will be served by geologist/guides group-style out of pots and usually eaten out of personal utensils while sitting on ground. 

2.  BaseCamp – Solar shower may be available, electricity will likely not be. Restrooms are likely primitive and may consist of a "groover", but some could have running water or composting toilets. Guests can expect to be sleeping on a pad outdoors or in a large tent. Meals will consist of single-entrée mostly fresh options and will be served by geologist/guides group-style out of serving dishes/platters and eaten with camp utensils while sitting at an outdoor table. 

3.  Luxury Experiences – Solar showers and electricity will be available. Restrooms will likely consist of a "groover", but some trips may have closing/flushing toilets. Guests can expect to be sleeping on a large, fluffy pad outdoors or in a large tent. Meals will consist of all fresh food with courses and more complex additions/spicing, although often will be limited to one entrée. Meals are served by geologist/guides and may be plated or served group-style out of serving dishes/platters and eaten with camp utensils while sitting at a covered outdoor table. 

4.  Lodge-based – showers and/or electricity available nearby but showers may not be private. Restrooms are established/modern. Guests can expect to be sleeping on a bed indoors, likely with climate control. Meals will consist of all fresh food, often with multiple entrée options. Meals are served by geologist/guides on the trail or by wait staff at an established canteen, restaurant, or similar. 

5.  High-end lodge-based – private showers and electricity always available. Restrooms are established/modern. Guests can expect to be sleeping on a bed in a private room with climate control. Meals will consist of all fresh food, often with multiple entrée options. Meals are served by geologist/guides on the trail or by wait staff at an established restaurant. Other services provided by vendors (such as room service, massage, cleaning services, etc.) are likely available.
Solitude
1–2–3–4–5

1.  Guests will primarily visit the most popular attractions in the locations listed in their itinerary. They can expect to spend some time either waiting for parking or waiting in line for shuttles, meals, etc. Crowds are likely and overnight accommodations are popular and generally close to capacity.

2.  Guests will primarily visit the most popular attractions, with some side trips to less visited areas. They can expect to spend some time waiting for parking or waiting in line for shuttles, meals, etc. Crowds are either moderate or are easily avoided in some locations and overnight accommodations are generally popular and utilized by other guests on a nightly basis.

3.  Guests will see attractions less visited by the masses with some side trips to more popular areas. They can expect very little waiting time for parking, shuttles, meals, etc. Crowds are moderate and/or are easily avoided if present. Overnight accommodations may be popular but have a feeling of solitude and privacy.

4.  Guests will move through popular attractions but will spend most of their time in hard-to-reach or less popular areas. They can expect no wait time and a practical lack of crowds once they’ve left these more populated areas. Overnight accommodations are remote and/or private.

5.  Guests will visit only remote, hard-to-reach, and secluded attractions. Few, if any, other visitors will be encountered throughout the itinerary. Overnight accommodations are remote and/or private.

Overall Ratings

Undergraduate:   The Undergraduate geologist adventurer will be capable of handling daily hiking mileages of 3 to 7 miles on well-maintained trails with 1500 feet or less of elevation change, and a BackPack weight of 25 to 35 pounds. Participants should be in good health, regularly active and exercise 2 to 3 days per week.  Prior backpacking experience is recommended, but not necessary.

Graduate:   The Graduate geologist adventurer will be capable of handling daily hiking mileages of 5 to 9 miles on generally well-maintained trails with up to 5000 feet of elevation change, and a BackPack weight of 30 to 35 pounds. Participants should be in good health, regularly active and exercise several times per week.  Prior backpacking experience is recommended.

PhD:  The PhD geologist adventurer will be capable of handling daily hiking mileages of 7 to 10 miles on generally unmaintained trails with up to 5000 feet of elevation change, and a BackPack weight of 35 to 40 pounds. Trails are often steep with loose footing and there may be exposure to intimidating heights. Expect periods of rugged and physically demanding hiking. Participants should be in excellent health, regularly active and exercise 4 to 5 days per week.  Prior backpacking experience is required.

Professor:  The Professor geologist adventurer will be capable of handling daily hiking mileages of 9 to 12 miles on unmaintained trails with up to 5000 feet of elevation change, and a pack weight of 35 to 45 pounds. Trails are often steep with loose footing and there may be exposure to intimidating heights.  There may also be technical portions with required ropes and helmets, high water crossing, and other managed-risk activities in a very remote setting. Expect long periods of rugged and physically demanding hiking. Participants should be in excellent health, regularly active and exercise 4 to 5 days per week.  Prior backpacking experience is required, and technical knowledge (ropes, belay technique, swimming, pothole rescue) is recommended.


"+" Rating:  
The + indicates that, although your trip is rated at a certain level, it may require short sections of increased physical exertion, rougher terrain, or a step-up in skill.