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July 31, 2012 8:57 AM   Subscribe

What should we do with 4-5 weeks of vacation time?

My wife and I get an extended vacation every fall. We enjoy immersive experiences, more adventure/escapism than volunteering. In past years we have gone surfing and hiking in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, camping/sailing in Panama and Columbia, a Southwest US camping road trip, the usual in Thailand, and last year (for our honeymoon) we did Delhi to Shanghai overland via Nepal and Tibet. During our vacations we really enjoyed mini adventures like a 6-day hike in Columbia, a week long float down the Rio San Juan in Nicaragua, a float down the Mekong on rice barges, a week long hike in the Himalayas, etc.

The debate is half the fun, so any good recommendations, mefis?
posted by karst to Travel & Transportation around Vandalia, KY (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Mombasa and then kayaking around Lamu on the Kenya coast.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 9:13 AM on July 31, 2012

Hiking the Appalachian Trail might be up your alley. Pick an interesting span and hike and camp to your heart's content.

Perhaps biking through France's wine country?

Trans-Siberian Railroad?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:18 AM on July 31, 2012

depending on fitness, with 4-5 weeks, you could feasibly bike across the entire US.

My ex-girlfriend and I enjoyed doing adventuresome vacations (though with only two weeks) and if I could go back to some place with an extra couple of weeks in my pocket, I would go back to Argentinian\Chilean Patagonia in a heartbeat. Food and lodging were pretty inexpensive once you got away from the big gateway towns, the scenery was gorgeous and there was so much of it, that you really needed 4-5 weeks to take in the vastness of it all.
posted by bl1nk at 9:25 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Galapagos Islands?
posted by carmel at 9:45 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Compostela Pilgrimmage the walk from Pamplona is about 30 days
posted by supermedusa at 10:10 AM on July 31, 2012

When my husband and I get our monthlong vacation coinciding in a couple years, we're planning on renting a farmhouse in rural France or Italy for a month. Just hang out, cook, drink wine, swim, sleep.
posted by mckenney at 10:41 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great ideas. Argentina/Chile is the frontrunner (the wife's pre-AskMefi vote). I've always wanted to see Indonesia. Bali seems just seems so archetypal, even if a bit overdone.

I'd love to find a larger than life challenge/adventure. The trip down the Rio San Juan, from Lake Nicaragua/Isla Ometepe to the Caribbean was amazing. I'd love to do it on a SUP, camping along the way, except I've done it on banana boats. Can't put our foot in the same river twice, no pun intended. Our round trip from Panama, sailing to Columbia, traveling and hiking there, and returning to Panama via the coast of the Darien Gap was a great circuit, too. Delhi to Shanghai was a fun challenge, though a bit more train/bus centric than others we've done. We enjoy the challenge of off the beaten path travel.

Is there a specific adventure you'd recommend in Argentina/Chile? Maybe a Che Guevara style motorcycle trip? Or...
posted by karst at 10:45 AM on July 31, 2012

You might be interested in hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I have not hiked it myself (not enough time), but I really enjoyed some shorter hikes around Machu Picchu and other things in Peru.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:23 AM on July 31, 2012

A road trip along Ruta 40 and the Carretera Austral would certainly be pretty scenic and adventurous. I did not go into Chile, but what I've seen of Ruta 40 in Patagonia, it looked fairly well paved, though availability of services was a bit sparse. We spent a lot of time in El Chalten and the Fitz Roy area and really came to love the area. You could easily do a week's worth of circuit hiking in the area, and could go further afield to explore mountains, glaciers and the Southern Icefields if you're willing to engage a professional guide (but the circuit hikes can be done solo, and all you're paying for is trip food). Then further south, there's Torres Del Paine, the iconic Chilean Patagonian park.

The only hitch with a road trip + trekking is that Torres Del Paine is a bit further south than the end of the Carretera Austral, thus making it hard to do a real circuit without a day or so of backtracking. One suggested itinerary, I'd think would be to do a point-to-point drive starting at, say, El Calafate in Argentina, cross into Chile to visit Torres Del Paine, then cross back into Argentina to stop in Fitz Roy and El Chalten. From there, head north to Lago San Martin and cross back into Chile and drive north along the Carretera Austral and visit Isla Magdalena (penguins!) and Parque Pumalin (parkland conserved by Doug Tompkins of North Face) then cross back in to Argentina to Bariloche for the end.
posted by bl1nk at 12:35 PM on July 31, 2012

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