Celebrating 50 years of Adventure Travel

Our Heritage

In 1969, three intrepid mountaineer-explorers, Leo Le Bon, Allen Steck, and Barry Bishop, came up with a then-radical idea: to create a business out of their incurable wanderlust for global adventure, sharing backcountry wilderness trips to remote areas where foot travel was the only means of access. Their venture was called Mountain Travel and with it, the business of “adventure travel” was born. Around the same time, Richard Bangs, Lew Greenwald and John Yost were rafting first descents of rivers across the globe. In 1973 they formed Sobek Expeditions—an international rafting company named after the ancient Egyptian god of crocodiles.

For the next two decades, each flourished on its own—earning word-renown as a leader in the adventure travel industry. In 1991, the two companies joined forces, becoming Mountain Travel Sobek, offering the world’s single largest selection of active adventure journeys across the globe.

In 2019, MT Sobek turns 50 and our deep passion for adventure is as strong today as it was in ’69. We are proud of our adventure travel legacy and thankful to our founders, guides, and intrepid guests who have helped craft the adventure company of today.

The Legends of MT Sobek

A Company of Firsts

Check out the history of MT Sobek from 1969 to the present day.

  • 1969

    Leo Le Bon, Allen Steck, and Barry Bishop found Mountain Travel. MT's first-ever trek to Nepal takes place in October.

  • 1970

    MT organizes first Galápagos sailing cruise for the Sierra Club.

  • 1971

    Author Colin Fletcher scouts MT’s first “pure” walking safari in Kenya.

  • 1973

    Richard Bangs and John Yost found Sobek Expeditions. They descend the Omo River, Ethiopia.

  • 1978

    Sobek makes the first descent of the Bío-Bío River in Chile.

  • 1979

    MT offers the first US trek to Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.

  • 1981

    Sobek makes the first descent of the Zambezi River, Zimbabwe.

  • 1983

    MT is the first US company to organize a trek through Sinkiang to the northern base of K2.

  • 1987

    MT launches the first departures of Patagonia’s Paine Circuit.

  • 1989

    MT fields the first commercial cross-country ski expedition to the South Pole, an epic ski traverse of the Antarctic continent.

  • 1991

    MT and Sobek Expeditions merge operations, becoming Mountain Travel Sobek (MTS).

  • 1994

    The first “Save the Tiger” trip is operated, raising funds to protect endangered tigers.

  • 1997

    MTS offers the first-ever sea kayaking trip to Panama’s San Blas Islands.

  • 2000

    MTS acquires Alaska Discovery, the oldest and largest wilderness guiding company in Alaska.

  • 2001

    The first full season on Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho launches.

  • 2004

    US lifts travel restrictions to Libya in February. In April, MTS takes a group to Libya.

  • 2008

    MTS becomes the first North American tour operator to offer hiking trips in Bosnia since the signing of the Dayton Agreement.

  • 2011

    MTS becomes a preferred outfitter for National Geographic Expeditions’ adventure program.

  • 2013

    MTS runs the audacious “Six Continent Whitewater Adventure,” a grand tour of the world’s great rivers.

  • 2014

    MTS becomes a preferred outfitter for New York Times Journeys.

  • 2014

    Following the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would begin offering tourist visas, MTS becomes the first US tour operator to take groups to Saudi Arabia.

  • 2018

    MTS becomes a preferred outfitter for Smithsonian Active Journeys.

  • 2018

    MTS expands its 200+ trips to include more wellness, family, and women’s departures. We scout a new trip in Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • 2019

    MT Sobek turns 50! The next 50 years of adventure await.

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