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World's Best Adventure Trips

World's Best Adventure Trips
On horseback in Yellowstone

Dennis Coello

We’re living in a golden age of adventure. Never have there been so many people who want to see and experience the farthest corners of the world, and never have there been so many adventure-tour companies, of such high caliber, offering such a wide range of destinations and activities.

Adventure isn’t just about escaping into the wild, of course. It’s about engaging and committing yourself no matter what you’re doing. “People today have the mind-set of wanting to master things,” says Keith Walden of Virtuoso, a network of luxury travel agencies. “They want to go and dive in and learn and be hands-on.”

While the ongoing financial meltdown may have temporarily taken the wind out of adventure travel’s sails, the state of uncertainty only makes the quest for adventure all the more relevant. As I write in my new book, Extreme Fear, times of crisis have a way of deepening our sense of connection and purpose. After all, as far as we may travel, the real destination lies inside.


Explore the Serengeti of the American West. Raft the Yellowstone River and ride horseback into the Absaroka Mountains.

Go with: Austin-Lehman Adventures, which specializes in multi-sport tours through the American West and beyond, with luxurious amenities and top-notch guides. Six days from $1,198.


Courtesy of Boundless Journeys


Trek through the Andes along the Futaleufú River, then switch to kayaks to reach the Pacific Ocean.

Go with: Boundless Journeys—90 percent of their trip leaders are natives of the destinations they guide in, providing real cultural immersion. Nine days from $2,895.

On the road in Thailand

Backroads / Markham Johnson


Pedal through the Golden Triangle, with difficulty levels ranging from moderate (no more than 25 miles per day) to arduous (up to 57 miles per day).

Go with: Backroads offers tours that combine cultural encounters with high-intensity cycling. Eight days from $3,598.

Ziplining in Costa Rica

Edward Piegza, Classic Journeys

Costa Rica

Zipline through a forest canopy, hike an active volcano, and learn from locals about their country.

Go with: Classic Journeys, whose philosophy is that you can get as much of an adrenaline rush from chatting with a shepherd on a remote hillside as from shooting Class Three rapids through the rain forest. Seven days from $2,995.

Dog-sledding in Finland

Courtesy of Gap Adventures


Go dog-sledding, then relax in a log cabin or an igloo.

Go with: Gap Adventures, a large, fast-growing outfitter that aims to provide intense experiences on a budget. Small groups use local transportation and guides to maximize authenticity and reduce expense. Six days from $2,999.

Whale-watching in Mexico

Courtesy of Journey Mexico


View gray whales and help weigh, tag, and release endangered sea turtles in conjunction with the Ocean Foundation.

Go with: Journey Mexico, which was founded seven years ago by a young American couple and focuses on Mexico’s cultural and natural heritage. Eight days from $2,495.

Cycling in France

Courtesy of Butterfield & Robinson


Pedal from the premier cru wineries of Bordeaux to the medieval castles of the Dordogne Valley.

Go with: Butterfield & Robinson, which will have you bicycling and hiking by day, and indulging in serious food and wine in the evenings. Seven days from $6,995.

Petra, Jordan

George Fischer


Visit Petra and the Dead Sea and stay at an eco-lodge supported by the king of Jordan.

Go with: Cox & Kings, the world’s oldest travel company. Founded in 1758 to provision British army regiments, it manages a global portfolio of tours with the savvy born of a far-flung empire. Thirteen days from $6,415.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon

Photo by James Kaiser/ Courtesy of O.A.R.S

Grand Canyon

Take a nonmotorized trip down the Colorado River’s most spectacular 225 miles.

Go with: OARS, a pioneer in commercial river guiding that brings rafters and kayakers onto otherwise inaccessible waters. Sixteen days from $4,953.


Courtesy of Nomadic Expeditions


Paddle across pristine Lake Hövsgöl, then travel to the Gobi for saddle time atop two-humped Bactrian camels.

Go with: Nomadic Expeditions, who will take you camel and horse trekking in remote, mountainous western Mongolia, with many nights spent in traditional felt tents with wood-burning stoves. Thirteen days from $3,735.

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