Rogue Expeditions: A look from the inside of these magical vacations!

by Rick Nichols (originally posted by Austin Trail Running Company)

Hello Friends, It’s Rick from Austin Trail Running again. I am doing a series of blogs this month on different companies we have partnered with, and this is a really special one to me.

I will start off by saying this was a life changing experience for me, and I have never been the same since. I had always been an adventure junkie, and traveling was a huge part of my life. I was a flight attendant for 20 years, and have traveled the world many times. I retired in May of 2015, and thought I was done with traveling. Boy, I was so wrong! I actually got my love of travel back, and once again started to enjoy it. I guess not having to hand out peanuts, and cleaning up puke in the seats makes a big difference in your travel experience. Who knew?

I had met one of the founders of this company many years ago. We were on the same race team. Allison Macsas was considered on of the great elite runners in Austin, and still is today. I pretty much knew her best from behind since I was never fast enough to be able to say “Hello”. Let’s face it! If I had by some chance been able to catch her.I probably would been so close to having a heart attack that I doubt “Hello” would have been my first choice of words. I can be quick, but not that quick! Well, that’s not true. I do remember a time in college running for my life from an ex-girlfriend. I think I clocked close to four minute miles that day! Anyways, back to the story:)

I had just retired, and was looking for my new adventure in life. I just happened to stumble across Allison one day, and she told me about Rogue Expeditions. I was a bit skeptical at first. They wanted me to pay to run all over some foreign country, and enjoy it. I love to run! I have my whole life, but lets be honest! Running was not my first thought when vacation came to mind, and I had never thought of one centered around running. So being the well balanced, and totally logical person I am. I signed up that day:)

I arrived in Africa, and was met in baggage claim by Allison, and two other guides who I would soon call friends (George and Melly). I was taken aback right away at how kind the people were in Kenya, and how it was such a slower pace than anywhere I had ever been in the world. I was taken to my hotel, and greeted with fresh juice, and a cup of coffee. I could do a whole blog just on African coffee alone! Best in the world! My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. I was taken to my room, and warned several times not to leave my windows open. People don’t realize that monkeys are just little thieves in disguise as cute little furry things! They will steal everything you have, and come back later to steal the stuff you replaced it with.

So, that evening we were introduced to everyone else in the group with a huge African feast. The food is incredible! I didn’t know at the time, but I was meeting people I would adventure with many more times. They are my close friends, and the greatest travel companions! We wrapped up the night early to get some rest, and get rid of some jet lag. We had our first run in the morning with some elite athletes. I mean elite! If you run over a 2:10 marathon in Africa your considered back of the pack! Luckily, for me, they were on their third run of the day, and kept my pace. So they pretty much walked beside me as I ran!

I ran with giraffes, and zebras! I ate lunch within a 1000 feet of lions. I met the local tribe, and ran in parts of Africa few see. This was a true adventure trip! You have no idea what was gonna happen during the day. What you were gonna see? Who you were gonna meet? What adventure lay around the next corner? Have you ever seen a cheetah teach her young how to hunt, and kill their prey? I did, and it was amazing! Well, not for the water buffalo:(

I will never be able to describe Africa to you in just words. It’s so much more than beauty, and exotic animals. Africa is a way of life. They have a saying “pole pole”. It means slower slower. That’s how life is there. People enjoy the riches of life even if they don’t have any wealth. They take each moment, and live it to the fullest.

I could tell stories all day about my experiences in Kenya. I am not the kind of person who enjoys being in a resort for a week or two. I want adventure! I want my heart to race with excitement, and really become a part of what surrounds me! Rogue Expeditions delivers that, and much more! I ran the famous dirt track in Iten where the fastest runners in the world train. It took my breath away! I could tell you about my adventures on Kilimanjaro, and how I passed out at 17,000′. Yeah, I did that! I could write about my Patagonia trip where I swam nude in the “Sea of Magellan”. I can’t really recommend doing that! It was super cold!

This company is a diamond of a find! Take it from a professional traveler. I have been so many places, but never really experienced the culture. Yeah, I can book a resort or pick a local place to eat. Buy a few souvenirs at a store. These trips make you part of the culture! They do trips all over the globe, and some close to home. This fall they have one of their most popular trips which is to Morocco. It’s also guided by Anna Frost which is one of my heroes:) Check out Rogue Expeditions and maybe I’ll see you somewhere around the globe!

The Good Life

by Kate Ferguson

In the fall of 2015, I was lucky enough to join Rogue Expeditions on their Run Morocco: Mountains & Coast trip. Upon my return, I found it difficult to capture and relay the magnitude of my experiences. There was so much to report and process: breathtaking scenery, delicious food, wonderful people, adventure and oh yeah…running!

Oddly, it was in listening to a podcast that I was able to place my trip in a context that would translate to my audience and activities here at home. The podcast, entitled “How to live to be 100+” describes improving quality of life for longevity. As a nurse who specializes in wellness and prevention, I was intrigued. I smiled as I listened to the National Geographic reporter describe his research on regions throughout the world with the highest number of centenarians. The parallels between my experiences in Morocco and the characteristics that facilitate living past 100 were undeniable!

Here are the criteria Mr. Buettner outlined and my experience of them in Morocco:

Eat a Plant Heavy Diet

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words! But I’m not lying when I say that the food we had in Morocco was INCREDIBLE! How can you beat having a private chef setting up picnics for you with locally sourced, organic vegetables cooked to perfection in a tagine while you sip sweetened mint tea from a perfect Moroccan tea glass?

Drink Wine on a Regular Basis

While our wine consumption on the Morocco trip probably exceeded the limits of what is considered a “healthy” amount, cheers-ing each night as we watched the sunset and reflecting on the pure incredulity of our day was a beautiful moment of gratitude. And I’m sure we got a healthy dose of polyphenols as well!

Be Part of a Tight Knit Community

All runners know that surviving a tough track or hill workout together immediately bonds you…for life! There’s something about that shared suffering! Now imagine the bond created by running in the Atlas Mountains for the first time or down a Moroccan beach while the sun sets on the horizon. Or the conversations that are had in a Saharan camp while you look up at the Milky Way and more stars than you’ve ever seen.

The friends you make on a Rogue Expedition will always be the people that you shared all of these “firsts” with. If nothing else, community is what these trips are all about. Not only the community of people on the trip, but also the people that make the trip possible: the organizers, the cooks, the snake charmers in the markets, the jewelry, rug and pottery artisans, the shop keepers, and the random guy riding a burro that somehow finds Hamid on a dirt road in the Atlas Mountains to deliver a package (I’m still baffled by that one!) It’s these people that enrich the experience by sharing their excitement and culture. They will change you and your perspective on the world, forever!

Have a Spiritual Practice

Whether you find yourself in the mountains, on the coast or on the edges of the Sahara, the one Moroccan constant is the call to prayer. Personal religious belief aside, it would be difficult to dismiss the beautiful cultural practice of ritual prayer.

For me, these moments were a reminder to pause, be present and offer gratitude for the entire range of experiences on this adventure and a sense of connection to something larger than myself.

Move Naturally

Buettner describes elderly members of these centenarian communities moving with intention: climbing stairs to visit a friend for afternoon tea, walking to the local market, carrying groceries home and tending to a garden. On our trip, runs were scheduled with similar purpose. “It’s 8 miles to breakfast.” Or “This route will take you by a beautiful view of the ocean.” And “Lunch will be waiting for us at the tent that marks the end of the route.”


Know Your Purpose

Mr. Buettner also introduces the Japanese concept of ikigai as another centenarian community characteristic. Roughly translated ikigai means “a reason for being.”   He further explains how waking up with purpose and intention for the day is what keeps one healthy, moving and motivated. If the mind is engaged, so is the body. There’s nothing like a trip to another culture to give you a sense of purpose, ignite a fire in your creative and curious mind and change gears from the routine of daily life at home.

So, what’s the take away? Go on a Rogue Expedition! It will change your perspective and, who knows - it may even help you live to 100!


Kate is a runner, nurse and world traveler currently residing in Jackson Hole, WY. She discovered Rogue Expeditions back in 2013 when she joined our very first Run Tahoe trip and, luckily for us, brought her adventurous attitude and infectious smile back for Morocco last fall!

That's Epic!

Runners often describe our adventures as epic, and we are always working to do justice to that title both through trip design and through those we partner with. So, linking up with another local Austin company who essentially created an entirely new market segment based on sustainable, delicious, adventure-ready food was a no-brainer to say the least. EPIC Bar is doing big, creative things and will now be hooking up our trip participants with goodies and perks - get to know them via the interview below, and you'll understand why we're so excited!


RE: First things first. What’s an EPIC Bar? Do you make things other than bars?

EPIC: EPIC bars are animal based energy bars made from pastured whole muscle meat, dried fruits, and nuts. They are savory and consistent with our evolutionary diets and deeply coded genetic makeup. Our bars are naturally high in protein and low in sugar and carbohydrates! We also make jerky (EPIC Bites), a trail mix for an omnivore (Hunt & Harvest), traditional cooking oils, and salad boosters (Bacon Bits)!


RE: The word “epic” gets thrown around a lot – what makes you the real deal?

EPIC: We were the first company to sell a protein/energy bar made from grass fed animal muscle meat! EPIC pioneered an entire new category in the grocery store and has been the fastest growing company in our category. Our Bison Bacon Cranberry bar is the #2 selling bar in all of natural grocery… that’s pretty damn EPIC.

RE: When Rogue Expeditions first started, getting the word out was difficult because running vacations were a relatively new concept – no one knew that it was an option. How did EPIC get started, and did the idea of meat-based bars present similar challenges early on?

EPIC: We launched EPIC at the largest natural grocery trade show in the world. There were tons of skeptics and people who thought that a meat bar was “weird”. We focused on our own brand and mission early on. We avoided any distractions and stayed focused on making the best tasting and highest quality products in the market. Through hard work and “playing to win” our idea started catching on and going mainstream. One of the biggest keys to our success was having people sample our bars at in-store demos and at events; once we put them in new consumers hands, they were hooked.

RE: Our international travels expose us to many different ways of eating, but a commonality across many different cultures is to let nothing go to waste. That isn’t as typical here at home, but you are doing it through the Whole Animal Project, and we love it! What are some ways that you’re utilizing more and wasting less?

EPIC: We feel that using the entire animal is the only way to honor the amazing creatures that lived majestic lives and died to provide us with nourishment. It also turns out that the less utilized parts (bones, organs, fat) can be some of the most vitamin and nutrient packed cuts! Our human ancestors were well aware of this and would often consume these “alternative” cuts first. We now make a bone broth beverage by boiling the collagen and gelatin packed bones, a jerky product from liver (a superfood unlike any other), and traditional cooking oils derived from rendered fat.

RE: We just heard something about a ranch. What’s the story?

EPIC: We are in the process of starting a ranch right outside of Austin TX! This ranch will not only raise the animals we use in our products but also serve as an educational hub where people from the community can visit and learn about regenerative land management as well as livestock. We are going to emulate the Serengeti Plains of Africa and have multiple species all sharing the same pastures! Imagine bison mixed with cows, goats, sheep, turkeys, chickens, ducks, and pigs! Its going to be EPIC.

RE: Who comes up with the flavor combinations? What’s your absolute favorite?

EPIC: Our founder Taylor Collins still comes up with the flavor combinations. He is a mad scientist when it comes to food and ingredient combinations! Our most popular product is the first bar we ever created; the Bison Bacon Cranberry bar!


RE: Our trips are jam-packed with running and seeing and doing, and while local specialties are a highlight of any travel experience, we’ve got to keep people fueled all day long. What is your top EPIC choice for fueling during a big trail run? Or for when the munchies hit during a long safari drive? What about for overseas flights – what’s your top pick for supplementing the food court choices and airplane meals?

EPIC: My go to fuel during a long run is the Beef Habanero Cherry Bar! I also love the EPIC Liver Jerky… you can taste the vitamins and minerals in that product. For a long day of travel I will feast on the Bacon Lust trail mix! It’s the most amazing combination of everything I love!


RE: We can’t wait to bring your products to Patagonia with us next week! What’s the most epic place that EPIC has been spotted so far?

EPIC: The most EPIC place we have taken the products to is actually Patagonia!!! We ran to the famous Fitz Roy peak and slammed bars on top!

RE: We hope to get some of your crew along for a trip soon. Morocco, Patagonia, Kenya, Europe, Tahoe, Bend… where to first?

EPIC: Lets do Europe! Climb some monster mountains and eat some amazing food! That sounds like heaven to me.


All 2016 trip participants will get to try out EPIC bars for themselves, and will receive great discounts to stock up with. Everyone else can check out and try out what they've got here.