Travelers have apps like Uber or Airbnb to find locals who can drive them around or put them up for the night. Wouldn’t it be cool to have an app that connects you to locals who can take you hiking, biking, paddling, skiing and camping at special places in their area?
Now there is. Lyfx (lyfx.co) is a new app created by adventurers for adventurers. Whether you like hard-core challenges or want an easy, peaceful outing, this digital platform recruits and screens expert-level outdoor enthusiasts who map the routes, bring the appropriate gear, pick you up at your lodging and lead you on outings to local favorites not detailed in guidebooks. They share recreation and destination tips along the way.
Lyfx offers approximately 500 adventure choices worldwide. Lyfx experiences include Baja California surfing, backcountry powder skiing in Telluride, snorkeling Colorado's crystal-clear alpine lakes, yoga in the California redwoods, hiking a ridge in the Swiss Alps, mountain biking through Utah's Wasatch Range and trekking the Himalayas.
The digital platform lets you search by region or activity and loads pages smoothly. Guides arrange for necessary gear, so you don’t have to buy and pack it. The guides typically bring provisions such as water, energy snacks, fruit and sometimes picnic lunches; some take their travelers for light meals at local restaurants.
“We carefully screen each local expert, reviewing their background, experience, and abilities," says Pedro McCardell, the avid adventurer who founded Lyfx. “Our locals are offered extra training in first aid, CPR and wilderness rescue through the American Red Cross. You’re exploring with an expert who is experienced, prepared and knows, loves and protects the area.”
The guides set prices, generally less than commercial tour businesses, based on duration, number of people and difficulty level. Most adventures cost $25-$250. An easy hike and yoga outing may cost $25; an eight-day Mardi Himal trek in the spectacular Annapurna region of Nepal costs $1,500.
While in Boulder, Colorado, this March, my friends and I opted for a snowshoeing excursion using this adventures-on-demand platform. A pair of Lyfx guides, Jonny Elsaesser and Brent Compton, got us fitted for gear at a locally owned outfitter, then made a quick stop in the quirky town of Nederland to pick up sandwiches at Mountain People’s Co-op. In Roosevelt National Forest, our guides led us on a snow-covered trail up to frozen Brainard Lake. While sipping homemade hot apple cider and munching our sandwiches at a shelter by the alpine lake, we enjoyed majestic views of the surrounding Indian Peaks and the distinctively slanted sandstone formations known as the Flatirons.
During our four-hour outing, our guides provided pro tips for handling various terrain conditions, including how to scale steep hills. They also suggested healthy places in Boulder to refuel and to overnight in Boulder.
The app is free and available for Android and iOS.
Here are three more apps to help you enjoy the great outdoors during your travels:
The AllTrails app (alltrails.com) gives you easy access to more than 60,000 detailed, hand-curated trail maps for hiking and biking. Search for trails using filters such as dog-friendly, kid-friendly, great views and fitness level; check reviews and photos crowdsourced from thousands of hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners; and record your own activities. Use the app to turn your phone into a GPS tracker and follow your trail so you don’t get lost. Record your pace, distance, elevation and max speed, and share your adventures with friends. Android and iOS; free. AllTrails Pro (ad-free, offline maps) $29.99 per year.
Roadtrippers (maps.roadtrippers.com) is a map built expressly for travelers with capabilities from finding little-known stops worth visiting — such as cool diners, fun roadside attractions, bargain hotels and scenic parks — to planning summer road trips with up to seven waypoints. Roadtrippers Plus gives you up to 150 waypoints per trip, the ability to plan trips with friends, custom map styles, money-saving deals and very handy offline maps. Android and iOS; free. Roadtrippers Plus $29.99 per year.
Travamigos (travamigos.com) is an award-winning group travel app that connects travelers for companionship, safety and sharing tips. Developed for backpackers, the mobile platform can work for any traveler seeking hidden corners of places from national parks to bustling Budapest to Italy’s romantic Veneto region. The app uses an algorithm to pair like-minded travelers using the users’ search criteria, displaying a match percentage for a given trip. Travamigos lets users manage trip details with a single app and to chat with prospective travel mates. Android and iOS; free.