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Transformative Travel with Epic Road

Luxurious, first-hand encounters with the remote, rare and ancient

by Evan Orensten in Travel on 28 June 2013

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"Travel has the ability to change perceptions, elevate awareness, evoke true empathy and galvanize leaders," according to Epic Road. Their inspirational and tailor-made trips provide access to the remote, the ancient and the rare. In what they refer to as "transformative travel," Marc Chafilian and Mark Lakin take their journeyers into worlds and experiences that expand thoughts and perception. Whether that is taking a helicopter ride over a rarely traveled delta, visiting a traditional community off the electricity grid, or participating in a Luci solar light drop. Housing their operation in a corner gallery store-front in Manhattan's West Village, Epic Road invites the curious to witness first-hand the moments they've captured along the way. Easy and accessible care bring the fantastical spirit of dream destinations to life.

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Epic Road links well-thought out luxury experiences with humanitarian and conservation initiatives.Their programming specializes in the Arctic and Africa, connecting travelers with highly customized journeys focusing on cultural immersion and the confrontation of global issues. Through partners and personal relationships, each itinerary grants special insider access. As Lakin describes, "our trips are totally custom. Nothing is pre-planned. We are capable of providing anything at all. If you're interested in a soccer ball drop, and then a game of soccer with the children, we can build that experience. A huge variety exists." When realizing travelers dream scenarios, Epic Road's extensive network allows for limitless customization. The through-line to every element seeks to create inspiration.

It was inspiration that lead to Epic Road's early development. Lakin, then a lawyer, underwent a personal transformation while on a trip to Africa. "I had my eyes opened," he said. "I went from believing happiness was defined by a specific path involving success and money to witnessing happiness in poverty." The perspective shift lead to his realization that "a full belly, a nice sunset, a laugh with a mother" were transformative. Epic Road seeks to expose others to exactly that. Lakin's passion, as much as his relationships, fuels Epic Road's offerings.

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Two of their recent adventures led guests to Namibia and Botswana. The former including a visit with the Himba people of Serra Cafema (a traditional nomadic tribe in the Namib desert). Travelers were able to explore the immense endless red sand dunes of Sossusvlei by foot, quad bike or a sunrise hot air balloon ride. In Botswana, guests toured the Okavango delta’s interlaced waterways in makoro or speedboats. The water-travel lead to encounters with hippos, buffalo, elephants and water birds. In 4x4s, across both water and land, the group sought and encountered some of the world’s last free-ranging and densest populations of predators, from wild dogs to prides of lion.

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Beyond the exposure to the unbelievable, it is the social justice element that brings many aboard. Recently, Epic Road hosted a Luci light drop. In an area where the night sky dictates what can be seen when the sun sets, portable, reusable light sources are in need. Epic road's delivery of the Luci lights can be seen in their captivating video, where they teach a Himba woman how to recharge and activate the lamp.

Whether it's a luxurious safari excursion or a full-on mission for self-reflection and inspiration, the first-hand experience Epic Road offers—coupled with their delivery of authenticity and internal transformation—make them a go-to source for travel to both Africa and the Arctic. See more destination images in the slideshow.

Photos by Mark Lakin

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