Wanderlust Tours


By Patrick Johnson
For Oregon.com
When going on an adventure in Oregon, it’s easy to find a trailhead or kayak rental place and explore on your own.
But the other option, which makes a trip much more educational and rewarding, is to hire a tour company to help work out the logistics. Why spend time renting equipment and finding the perfect spot, when you can have someone else do it for you?
That’s where Wanderlust Tours comes in.
Since 1993, David and Aleta Nissen have operated the company that provides local Central Oregon professional naturalists guides to give tours that range from breweries to kayaking adventures.
While there are other tour companies for everything from hunting to ATV riding in the Bend area, very few have the depth of area of knowledge and variety of tours that Wanderlust offers. Throughout most of the year the company has some sort of tour, activity, sightseeing or special event underway.
“We really have diversified and try to have something offered no matter the season,” said James Jaggard, general manager.
One of the more popular tours the company puts on is the Bend Brew Bus. This tour is exactly how it sounds, a bus that picks you up where you are staying in the Bend area, and then drives you to different breweries so you can sample, eat and have fun. Basically it is an informational designated driver and is a perfect way to get yourself acquainted with the company while getting a safe ride home after enjoying delicious local beers.
“It’s a great cross-marketing thing for us,” Jaggard said. “The breweries like it because we bring people, and we like it because it’s more business.”
Jaggard said that the premier tours for the company, however, are the canoeing and caving excursions.
“We are able to get a lot of people of all ages out for those tours,” he said. “With canoeing you don’t need any special training or experience, we go at the pace people are comfortable with. It’s really about just sharing a sense of place for this beautiful landscape in which we live. Our guides are really what make us the number one tour company in Bend.”
The guides are knowledgeable about the local area and share so many interesting facts, point out landmarks and even give advice on good places to eat or to explore on your own.
“That is what keeps people coming back, each time you go out, you are going to get new information,” he said.
With nine different types of tours and adventures, there is plenty to keep anyone interested. The tours are usually half-day excursions, and the busy season for the company is from mid-June through September – basically when kids are out of school. Jaggard said they are also set up to do corporate events, for team building or just for fun.
He was quick to point out that there are many adventures to be had during the wintertime too. The company offers snowshoeing, the brew bus and lava cave tours during the winter time.
“There is a lot to do out here with snow in the mountains, but in town we don’t get that much,” he said. “It gets cold, but it’s a dry cold.”
The company provides all the equipment people will need, from renting boots and pants for snowshoeing or supplying life jackets for canoeing or kayaking. You still need to wear weather-appropriate clothing.
About the Wanderlust Tours (from www.wanderlusttours.com): Wanderlust Tours exists to vibrantly share the natural and cultural history of the Central Oregon region to small groups of interested guests while touring via canoeing, kayaking, caving, volcano tours, snowshoeing, hiking and nature-based sightseeing.
What to bring: Depending on the type of tour you go on, make sure to wear weather-appropriate clothing, camera gear and whatever else you think you would need.
Tip: The company is very good at explaining all of the different tours, and even has a great tip sheet and website www.wanderlusttours.com. Overall, it never hurts to bring water and snacks and a camera. No experience is necessary on any of the tours, so don’t feel bad if you have never been in a canoe before and want to give it a try. Of the different tours, there are night tours and also themed-tours such as “Brews and Views Canoe Tours” so don’t just call looking for a canoe or hiking tour, ask about specialty tours and different types of excursions.
Season: Tours are offered year round, however there are more options in the summer months. To put it in perspective, during the summer the company has about six full-time guides, and in the winter they have about three.
Getting there: Wanderlust Tours picks up in several locations in Central Oregon depending on where you stay, give them a call to get your plans rolling. 541-389-8359