OLIVIER SMOLINSKI, Founder & Tour Director
Olivier's Trails is a one-of-a-kind travel operation that offers the utmost trip experience. My tours are the perfect choice for any active individual seeking solitude, wilderness and adventure. The trips are a satisfying blend of taking in breathtaking landscapes by day, all while having the luxury of comfortable lodging amenities at night. Leading a one-man operation allows me to be super responsive to the needs of individuals and flexible to specific circumstances such as dietary needs or sudden changes in route/trail conditions. Last but not least, a small trip group (10 max.) not only minimizes impact on fragile wilderness environments, but also allows us adventurers to be efficient with the time we have and take full advantage of our always scant vacation days. I recognize the powerful effect several days of exploring the wild can have on a person’s well-being and have realized it is my life’s mission to bring these unforgettable outdoors experiences to people.
It all started with my love and passion for maps, travel and travel planning when I was four years old.
I would plan trips for my family ever since I knew how to dial a hotel’s phone number and when studying abroad in Europe, my student group would always ask to join me on my weekend trips. However, it was when I started guiding trips to the National Parks of the United States when I lived through my defining moment; it occurred on my tour of the American Southwest when I took my friends to the Grand Canyon. I knew that none of us had ever seen the Grand Canyon before and I wanted to make this sunrise one that none of us would ever forget. Following a short hike through the dead of the desert night, we patiently waited at the edge of this cavernous abyss as the sun shone its first rays of light through the canyon. What we saw was almost beyond comprehension; there were rainbows, hailstorms and thunderous clouds all contained in one vast expanse. At this moment I felt that wild places and experiences this beautiful need to be shared and that I should make them available to a larger audience. This out-of-the-box approach to seeing a National Park, a raw and unfiltered look at the majestic beauty of the places our Planet Earth has to offer, is what I pride myself and my trips in.
RESEARCH & ADVENTURE EXPERIENCE
The itineraries are the bread and butter of my trips. I have devoted anywhere from 100 to 200 hours of research to each one of my destinations. In my eyes, every part of the trip is equally important. For optional excursions, only the most highly-rated adventure activity operators (whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc.) are taken into consideration. I place as much importance on the food as I do the hiking, so I select establishments serving local specialties/locally-sourced food that reflects the culture and color of the region. When it comes to lodging, it is always chosen by location, comfort and uniqueness first to serve as the perfect complement to a smoothly flowing itinerary. I keep a focus on providing the most authentic surroundings. Whether it’s a remote beachfront cabin or a simpler accommodation, I always strive for the ideal balance of comfort, charm and amenity.
The hiking trails are cherry-picked to bring the best scenery of every region visited in front of your eyes. I make it a key point to blend various types of scenery and ecoregions into a single trip itinerary to make the trips as scenically diverse as possible. Patrons of my trips have actually come up with the term “scenic overload” to describe how they feel after one of my hiking tours. Lastly, each trip is a unique entity and scheduled for optimal time slots. For example, spring snowpack or early winter storms can make travel in mountain areas difficult for the majority of the year, so these trips are usually done around the summer months. Other trips, however, are timed for optimal wildlife viewing or the blooming of glacial wildflower fields. Hotter regions such as the deserts of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona are best hiked in the spring and fall to avoid the intense summer heat. These are just a few examples of the careful planning that goes into each journey and I don’t think any serious adventurer should have to settle for less! I will ensure the quality of these adventures remains at the highest level and to my satisfaction and therefore I intend on remaining the only guide for all of my tours. Along the journey, it's one of my goals that more than a handful of people will look back on any of my trips and say "that was a life-changing experience", like the one I experienced in the Grand Canyon a few years back.