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Search TripSpot or Google |   Great Must-See sites   |   Read Articles and Lists | Find answers | City Guides  

Adventure Vacations

For some, sitting poolside with a fruity beverage doesn't sound like vacation. In an attempt to escape the monotony of everyday life, many travelers seek heart-pumping, life-risking adventure.

In a 1997 report, the Travel Industry Association of America found that 98 million American adults took an adventure vacation within the last five years. Of that 98 million, 12% described themselves as fanatics who live for adventure.

If you're one of those travelers who thinks relaxing vacations are for wimps, you've come to the right place. We've rounded up some resources that will transport you to the roads less traveled. The jungles of Africa. The waterfalls of Croatia. Get ready to see the world.

Get Outside

Many adventures pit man against nature. The Great Outdoor Recreation Pages are an excellent place to find your outdoor destination. The site spotlights a variety of adventures, from heli-skiing Canada's Whistler to greeting the wildlife of Botswana. The site also hosts the Adventurous Traveler's Bookstore, a compendium of required reading for risk-takers.

GreatOutdoors is another adventurer's haven. The site is packed with information on climbing, cycling, diving, fly fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, surfing and more. You'll find destination ideas, tips for beginners and bulletin boards filled with questions and ideas from other travelers. Outside Online, the digital arm of the popular magazine, is another established source for the niche.

Find a Guide

Unless you're a true independent, you'll probably want to recruit an experienced guide for your next adventure. A variety of tour companies specialize in travel off the beaten path.

Mountain Travel - Sobek says it offers the kind of travel that "real travelers - not tourists - seek." The company promises to challenge preconceptions and stretch the boundaries of your world. Not sure if you're up to the task? Each trip is rated from 1 to 5, with 1 being the easiest and 5 being the most strenuous. Adventures range from a leisurely stroll through the Galapagos Islands to a 10-day, 100-mile backpacking circuit of the Paine massif in Southern Chile.

If you're an adventurous woman over 30, head to AdventureWomen. In 1998, this tour company made the first all-woman descent down the Rio Futaleufu in Patagonia, Chile. Many other opportunities await you, including a hike through the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and a trek through Nepal.

"'ll learn where NOT to go in Afghanistan, Chechnya and even the United States."

To locate additional adventure outfitters, try searching America Outdoors' database. You can narrow your search by destination (Idaho to the Ukraine), activity (Four Wheel Drive Tours to Llama Trecking), river (Colorado to Zambezi) or recreation area (Canadian Rockies to Mexican Volcanoes). You can also request a 70-page print reference guide from the site.

Play It Safe

It really goes without saying. Adventure vacations come with inherent risks. In March, two adventurers from Oregon were murdered in Uganda. In December 1998, six sailors died and 60% of the entered sailboats withdrew from the Sydney-to-Hobart race in Australia when a storm struck with 90 mph winds. For many, risk is what it's all about. Still, it makes sense to weigh travel risks and take necessary precautions. The United States State Department issues travel warnings when travel is discouraged to particular regions. Consular information sheets for every country of the world are also available from this site. The sheets outline the location of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the subject country, unusual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime information, security information and drug penalties.

Health emergencies are sometimes hard to predict. If you're struck with a heart attack mid-safari, you'll need to find reliable health care fast. Before you leave port, research what facilities will be available to you. You can locate doctors or clinics around the world from the International Society of Travel Medicine or Highway to Health sites. It's also a good idea to jot down the names and phone numbers of your local physicians, drug allergies and other relevant medical information on a card in your wallet.

--- L.Z.

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