Adventure Collection Ten Top Trips for Winter
As autumn deepens, many travelers’ thoughts turn to holiday and post-holiday getaways. The ten member companies of the Adventure Collection offer a globe-girdling assortment of winter trips that range from sunny beaches to snowy slopes and that encompass a spectrum of activities, from sailing and kayaking to biking and skiing, rail excursions and safari adventures to whale-watching voyages and Sufi music festivals. To whet travelers’ winter wanderlust, I asked each company to choose one trip they are especially excited about for this holiday season and beyond. Here are their choices.
Backroads: Costa Rica Family Multisport: Biking, Walking & Rafting the Pacific Coast & Nicoya Peninsula
Holy cow! Or rather, holy huge millipede! Was that a toucan? Get a closer look from the suspended bridges high in the rain forest canopy. Can you spot those howler monkeys you’ve been hearing? Swinging through the jungle, Tarzan style. Do some swinging of your own on a zip-line. Or will it be beach time? Or paddling through mangroves? Or TLC at the spa? It’s up to you. And you really can’t go wrong. With these activities. With private charter flights connecting it all. With a week of Backroads family fun in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Family Multisport: Biking, Walking & Rafting the Pacific Coast & Nicoya Peninsula: 6 days/5 nights; multiple departures from Dec. 19 through March 27; from $3398 (plus internal airfare of $530).
Bushtracks: South Africa Rail Safari
This 10-day trip showcases South Africa’s beautiful landscapes, rich history, and world-famous wildlife. At the core of the adventure is a three-day rail safari on a classic train, which comfortably transports travelers through the stunning Drakensburg Mountains. Guests begin with three days exploring Cape Town, Table Mountain, Robben Island, the Cape Dutch architecture and winelands of Stellenbosch, and the fynbos and proteas of Kirstenbosch Gardens. They’ll enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic coastline, or take an optional “shark safari” in search of Great White Sharks. Next, they fly to Durban and board a train outfitted with wood panels, large bedrooms with private bathrooms, and elegant dining and sitting cars. Stops along the way include the extraordinary Zulu art and ceramics of Ardmore, game drives in the private Nambiti Reserve, and a tour of a dramatic Boer War battlefield. The safari concludes in Greater Kruger National Park with day and night game drives at a luxury safari camp.
South Africa Rail Safari: Departures can be custom-arranged according to travelers’ schedules; from $9,890.
Canadian Mountain Holidays: Heli-Skiing in the Adamants
Travel 350 kilometers west of Banff and you’ll find Adamant Lodge situated at the confluence of four major alpine valleys. It’s named for the surrounding diamond-hard peaks, a sub-range of the Selkirks, where we do all our Adamants-based Heli-Skiing. The Selkirks are famed for long glaciers, deep valleys, and rugged vistas. Classic tree skiing and huge, open glacier terrain await Adamants skiers. The challenging access to these mountains ensures that our abundant terrain remains untouched by all but CMH guides and guests. Adamant packages include Family, Small Group, Powder Introduction, Powder Masters, Pay As You Play and Ski Fusion trips.
Heli-Skiing in the Adamants: Trips range from 4 to 7 days; multiple departures from Dec. 4 through March 26; adult prices from $2,175 to $10,770 CAD (see web site for children’s prices).
Geographic Expeditions: Nagaur’s Sufi Music Festival with William Dalrymple
This sparkling trip takes us to Rajasthan’s Nagaur Sufi Music Festival, quickly becoming the world’s most alluring celebration of Sufi music, a lodestone for the greatest Sufi performers from India, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Jordan. If you find the Festival on the internet, and watch and listen to its clips, you will almost certainly want to join us. The music is that intoxicatingly gorgeous and vitalizing. And you’ll be even more tempted when you learn that we’ll be hobnobbing during our visit with renowned writer on all things Indian, William Dalrymple, whom Brian Schofield calls “ridiculously erudite…remarkably warm and open-hearted. A towering talent." We begin our journey with a thorough exploration of Delhi, old and new, then fly southeast to India’s spiritual capital, Varanasi, quite probably the most revered and spiritually electric city in the world. From Varanasi, we fly west to the magnificent temples of Khajuraho, famed for their erotic carvings, then pay a delightful visit to the small town of Orchha, home to the beautiful Lakshmi Temple. After communing with the incomparable Taj Mahal (Lord Curzon called this monument to love “the most perfect structure in the world”), we continue to the Pink City of Jaipur for a day touring its Amber Fort, City Palace and Palace of Winds, as well as an open-air dinner and elephant safari at a private nature reserve. We’re off the next day for our three-day immersion in Sufi music and culture at Nagaur. We regretfully wrap-up this invigorating journey with a good look at the Blue City of Jodhpur, and its massive Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace, where we’ll have a festive farewell dinner.
Nagaur’s Sufi Music Festival with William Dalrymple: Feb. 7-21; from $12,650.
Lindblad Expeditions: Baja California: Among the Great Whales
Perhaps nowhere else on earth can you observe gray whales and dolphins as closely as in Baja California and the Sea of Cortez. But this expedition is far from your ordinary whale-watching experience. From a comfortable and intimate 62-guest expedition ship, you’ll explore further in Zodiacs and by snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking the azure waters. Each voyage is led by an expert 6-person Expedition Team including an Undersea Specialist. This leadership will ensure you have the best possible experience on an itinerary crafted to allow for more wildlife encounters. In 2011, learn from many notable guest experts and photographers: National Geographic expert Dr. William Gilly (Jan 22, 29); John Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw (Jan. 29); National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala (Feb. 5); National Geographic photographer Susan Seubert (Feb. 26, Mar. 5); and National Geographic photographer Flip Nicklin (Mar. 12, 19). (For more on this exhilarating trip, read my article: Baja: Touched by a Whale.)
Baja California: Among the Great Whales: 8 Days/7 Nights; multiple departures from Jan. 22 through March 19; from $4,990.
Micato: South African Family Holiday Safari
Micato’s South African Family Holiday Safari offers the promise of many priceless moments and memories, combining the thrill of game drives in the bush, special holiday feasts, fireworks overlooking Table Bay, and insider access to a Cape Town New Year’s Day tradition, the Cape Town Minstrels’ Carnival. Highlights of the 11-day journey include a 4-day visit to the Sabi Sand Game Reserve with accommodations at one of Singita’s exquisite and award-winning lodges, where game-viewing is among the best in Africa, offering excellent chances to spy the “Big Five” — elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard — as well as six species of cats, twenty species of antelope, and more. Other special features include a Christmas Eve visit from Father Christmas, followed by an elaborate and festive Christmas Day barbecue in the bush; five nights at the newly refashioned Cape Grace Hotel, proudly situated in the iconic center of Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, on its very own private quay; a tour of the Cape Winelands, with a gourmet luncheon and sampling of the many varietals and vintages for which the region is famous; a full-day tour of the Cape Peninsula, with a visit to Boulders Beach to view the African penguins; a picnic dinner and New Year’s Eve concert at Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, featuring renowned musical artists from around the globe; a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations of one of the minstrel troupes that will march in the annual Cape Town Minstrels’ Carnival New Year’s Day competition; and the opportunity to march with a minstrel troupe to Greenpoint Stadium to watch more than 13,000 minstrels, all in colorful costume, compete for the title of best minstrel troupe.
South African Family Holiday Safari: Dec. 22-Jan. 1; from $13,995.
Natural Habitat Adventures: Galapagos Islands by Land
In 1835, a young naturalist named Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands and was inspired to change our understanding of life on earth. Today, visitors continue to find inspiration here. Perhaps they’ve donned a mask and snorkel and found themselves staring into the eyes of a curious Galapagos sea lion, or watched in awe, at arm’s length away, while a pair of blue-footed boobies performed an ancient (and comical) mating dance. The Galapagos Islands provide endless opportunities to see the world anew – around each bend of the trail, in every colorful piece of coral, in each encounter with the fearless creatures that inspired Darwin so many years ago. On this lodge-based Galapagos Islands wildlife adventure, you’ll experience the renowned wildlife of the Galapagos while based in comfortable, intimate accommodations. Travelers will overnight at some of the newest and finest private lodges in the islands, offering the chance to snorkel and hike in wild areas that yacht-based Galapagos itineraries miss.
Galapagos Islands by Land: Dec. 18-27; $4,995 per person.
NOLS: Backcountry Skiing for 23 and Over
It is winter in the mountains. Cloaked in a blanket of glittering snow, the world is transformed into a quiet, magical place where untracked powder snow calls you to ski. Hard work and a positive attitude make winter one of the most rewarding times to travel in the backcountry. The first days of your winter ski course will be spent going over the equipment and skiing at Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Alta, Wyoming. You’ll have classes with Targhee’s Nordic staff and NOLS instructors to help prepare you for the backcountry. From there, you’ll head into the field to the western flanks of the Tetons. This is a magical place for exploring and an exhilarating area to learn the intricacies of backcountry skiing and winter travel. The first two nights in the mountains are spent in a yurt. You will dig snow study pits and discuss the mechanics of avalanches—knowledge and skills to prepare you to travel responsibly in the winter. After the second night, you will move away from the yurt and into snow shelters. Whether you build igloos, quinzhees or snow caves, you’ll find these shelters make remarkably warm and comfortable homes. Outside the wind can rage, snow can fall, and the temperature can drop; inside you’ll be reading by candlelight enjoying the muffled sounds of the blizzard beyond your insulating snow walls.
Backcountry Skiing for 23 and Over: Dec. 29-Jan. 11, Feb. 6-17, March 1-12; $2,150.
O.A.R.S.: Futaleufú River Multi-Sport
Flowing through Chile’s adventure Mecca of Patagonia, far beneath the spires and snow-packed crowns of the Andes, the Rio Futaleufú is one of the planet’s premier stretches of whitewater. Our Futaleufú River Multi-Sport trip takes you deep into a world of thriving Alerce forests, rich with vegetation, revealing views of the snow-capped Chilean Andes so picturesque you’ll be left speechless. Relax beneath a luminous star-filled sky in a granite hot tub at Cave Camp, hike to one-of-a-kind Tree House Camp, explore the Rio Azul confluence by horseback at Mapu Leufu Camp, and tackle the renowned half-mile-long Terminador Rapid before sinking your teeth into a traditional Chilean Asado.
Futaleufú River Multi-Sport: 10 days; departures Nov. 26; Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24, 26: Jan. 7, 14, 21 28; Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25; March 4, 11, 18, 25; $3300.
Off the Beaten Path: Winter Wonders — Yellowstone National Park Winter Adventure
On this journey, special over-the-snow coaches transport you into the heart of Yellowstone National Park, where wolves might be seen trotting near ice-rimmed rivers, and frosty-faced bison linger near the warmth of the geysers; winter also offers amazing opportunities to see elk, coyotes, and otters. As an off-season visitor, you’ll amble the uncrowded boardwalks among steaming and bubbling hot pools, reveling in the park’s quiet splendor. If you’d like, your guide will teach you the fundamentals of snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, so together you can explore the trails to other Upper Basin geysers, Or you can sit by the fireplace and chat, play games, or read. There’s something for everyone on this revealing and re-energizing trip.
Winter Wonders — Yellowstone National Park Winter Adventure: Dec. 22-27; Dec. 29-Jan. 3; Jan. 28-Feb. 2, Feb. 11-16; from $2,495 to $2,795
For information on more Adventure Collection winter wanderings, explore the Advanced Trip Search offerings.