Adventure Tours

Adventure traveling has different meanings for different people, yet it usually features travel off the beaten path to include activities that require physical exertion or visit regions with extreme weather and rugged terrain. Some tours also include activities not found in conventional programs, such as safaris, skydiving over exotic sites and military adventures. Adventure travel can require physical stamina, but it also may just mean having a good pair of walking shoes.

Walking tours are perhaps the most common type of tourist activity in China, with an abundance of hiking and trekking packages with the Great Wall as the centerpiece attraction. Tour packages range from five to 21 days and include visits to small villages or treks to Tibet's Mt. Kailash or K2. Tour operators often stage the beginning of such tours at the Beijing Airport and a stay at an upscale hotel before visits to Tian'anmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and treks through Beijing's narrow streets and alleys by rickshaw. There are also visits to Chengdu to see the 2,500-year-old Terracotta Warriors, followed by cycling at Lashihai Lake and other venues. Two-week trips can cost up to $3,000, but prices drop with more people in the group.

African safaris are traditional adventures, but no less exciting to first-time travelers to the continent. In Kenya, 10-day tours often begin with a two-day stay in Nairobi and then a flight to Chyula Hills for three nights of camping. Another flight midway through the tour takes travelers to the Masai Mara and the big game drives, topped by a balloon ride over the plains. There are visits to local villages and two-day stays at local camps that provide enough time to photograph wildlife.

Military buffs will appreciate a day as an honorary member of the Russian Army, performing duties assign to enlisted Russian soldiers, such as military exercises and firearms and combat training. The package includes staying at a military camp and wearing a uniform. War games are also part of the program. If Russian military training only whets your appetite, you can ride in MiG-29 and MiG-31 jet fighter aircraft from the Sokol aviation plant outside Moscow.

Perhaps not everyone is ready to conquer Mt. Everest, but some people can come close. Sixteen-day Mt. Everest Base Camp packages allow travelers to trek the Himalayas beginning at Kathmandu and then to Phakding through the Dudh Kosi Valley and up to Namche. On the way is the two-hour hike to the Thyangboche Monastery. Hikers then climb Kala Pattar before reaching the Everest Base Camp at the Khumbu icefall. Such trips are moderate to challenging. Accommodations are at hotels or lodges along the route.

The Antarctic increasingly is becoming a common tourist destination for the adventurist. The Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands provide many wildlife sites. Departing from Ushuaia, Argentina, travelers cross the Drake Passage to explore the Antarctica with a stop at Deception and Half Moon islands and then on to South Shetland Islands and Weddell Sea, also known as Iceberg Alley.

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