Brad Horn, 49, is an Australian-born adventurer, cyclist, and climber who in 2002 founded Epic Private Journeys after six years of African safari work for Abercrombie & Kent. Each year he leads a small number of expeditions all over the world, from Everest to Zimbabwe, for clients who want their adventures eased with a comfortable bed, a chopper or two, and a great deal of reassurance when they venture beyond where the road ends.
At DEPARTURES, we have traveled with Epic three times and are suitably convinced by its far-flung itineraries, with much of their proven value in the expert guiding. This is especially true of Australia, where Epic’s roots run deep. For 2016, we recommend three of Epic’s Australian “safari” experiences.
One such trip goes deep into the Daintree Rainforest in Tropical North Queensland to a 20-acre private garden called the Botanical Ark. Since the 1970s, Alan and Suzie Carle, friends of Epic, have been gathering more than 3,000 species of ethnobotanical plants from 40 different countries. The point of a stay in the garden’s private four-bedroom villa is stealing time with the Carles, accompanied by the clamor of birdsong, on a journey through the world’s oldest surviving rain forest. It’s like Eden on steroids.
North of Goyder’s Line is the true Australian outback—with more animals than people, and more stars than one can imagine. Here, 375 miles northwest of Adelaide, Epic relies on a tented camp called Kangaluna for logistics: ideal for one family, with three tents and a “swagon”—an old restored wagon with a double bed, private bathroom, and retractable roof for stargazing. Pedro O’Connor, a partner at Epic, accompanies top-tier clients on safaris that take in massive salt lakes, huge kangaroos, and large mobs of emus.
In Australia’s remote Northern Territory, silver paperbark forests that rise out of wetlands are navigable only by boat, while bleached, bone-white desert is dotted with sacred Aboriginal sites. Epic works closely with an old friend here named Sab Lord, who was brought up with the indigenous people. He is one of the world’s great raconteurs, taking guests far into Arnhem Land to find rock art that other tourists don’t get to see, as well as offering hikes into the backcountry with creek-side beaches for swimming beyond the crocodiles’ reach.