With lions, elephants, Airbnb goes all-in on adventure tours

San Francisco (AFP) –


A new category of adventure travel -- from tracking lions in Kenya to walking with elephants in Thailand -- is now on the menu at Airbnb as the home-sharing startup expands its offerings.

The new "Airbnb Adventures" unveiled Thursday will aim for unique experiences for users of its smartphone app travel service.

Some of those being offered allow customers to ride camels across the Moroccan desert, kayak and bike the Mekong River valley in Vietnam or explore cowboy life in the American West.

"Since we launched over 11 years ago, Airbnb has provided an alternative to uniform and mass produced travel, meeting a demand for more uniquely local travel experiences," Airbnb said in its announcement.

"Today we go one step further, with hosts providing unique and magical travel experiences as Airbnb Adventures which include for the first time lodging, meals and activities."

The move is a further step in the evolution of Airbnb, launched as a simple home-sharing service, but which now includes hotel stays, tours, restaurants and more for the California startup valued at an estimated $35 billion.

Some of the adventure tours listed include snow camping with an overnight stay in an igloo in Canada's Elfin Lakes, a farm stay in Indiana Amish country, a culinary kayak tour of Swedish Islands, a trek in the Amazon jungle or tracking lions on foot with Samburu warriors in Kenya.

"The breadth of Airbnb Adventures reaches far beyond the challenging to match every passion and skill level," Airbnb said.

"They are hosted by experienced locals that have fascinating stories to share, and because they always take place in intimate groups, guests can look to learn, make personal connections, seek challenges and grow."

Airbnb also said it would host an "Around the World in 80 Days" tour in September inspired by the Jules Verne novel, including a balloon ride.