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April 20, 2008 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Vacation advice: Adventure touring someplace weird in early June or July

I'm looking to take my first long vacation in two years. I will be travelling alone, and I thought I might sign up for a guided eco-adventure tour. Only there are about a million to choose from. Any thoughts? Here are my criteria:

- 3 weeks long
- Early June (but that will be hard with work) or Early July (which is rainy season in South America I think)
- Reasonably strenuous agenda. I can handle a week of kayaking. I can't handle a week being cattle-carted around from in a tourist bus.
- That said, a night or two in a luxurious resort wouldn't kill me.
- Great sights. I'm planning to test out a new camera
- I prefer someplace really strange. Just about anywhere in the world is in play. I could go camping in Ontario (where I live), but i've done it. Two years ago I went to Vietnam (just bumming around by bus), and I LOVED being completely outside my social context.

- most importantly, people I trust should have had good experiences with the tour operator, which is where you all come in! Mefites are a well travelled bunch. Maybe one of you have a great experience you can relate?
posted by Popular Ethics to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed a jeep expedition out in the desert dunes South of Dubai. We continued out until the land got kind of rocky/hilly and went swimming in an awesome narrow rock canyon, with waterfalls and deep pools. At one point we left the jeeps and rode camels for a ways out into the desert. Such a stark, hostile place, the open desert, but beautiful. And I've never seen anything more resembling paradise than the swimming hole, with it's green grass and trees. Camping at night on the desert is surprisingly pleasant. I'm rambling, but it was the best trip ever.
posted by ctmf at 12:37 PM on April 20, 2008

I lived for 11 months in Iquitos, Peru, which is in the heart of the upper Amazon. Actually, the rainy season there is January - April, so you should be good to go in June or July. Well, it rains pretty often anyway, but there won't be any 4 day deluges. Email me for names of friends who can take you (inexpensively) to Pacaya Samiria Reserve and throughout other areas along the Amazon, Nanay, Momon, Napo, Itaya, and Maranon Rivers. Also, for three weeks you could fly into Pucallpa or Tarapoto (gorgeous waterfalls in Tarapoto, BTW) and then take a boat (3 days) to Iquitos. Once in Iquitos, you could explore the city for a while (fantastic sites, a great market, a floating city, zoo, beautiful lagoons to swim in and relax by) and then head to the hills, as it were, for some light or heavy camping, canoing, and nice lodges or more basic lodges. It's beautiful, low-key, and yet active and adventurous. And you'd definitely have fun with your camera.
posted by cachondeo45 at 12:51 PM on April 20, 2008

You don't mention budget, but I've been to some "weird" places...

Ethiopia: although you will be spending a lot of time traveling to get to places.

Nepal: spend a little while getting used to the altitude, do a trek, do some sightseeing

Madagascar: awesome National Parks, hiking if you want it

Egypt: Three weeks is a good amount of time and you could probably fit in some time at a Red Sea Resort at the end.

Tajikistan/Kyrgyzstan/Uzbekistan: Hiking, horseback riding, beautiful countryside. Uzbekistan has all the "sites" but it will also be the hottest in July.

Hike the Camino De Santiago in Spain although maybe it's too hot in July... (haven't done this, so I can't give you any advice there)

I don't usually take tours and if I hire a car or a guide I do it locally. Send me a mail if you want info on local guides. Eco tours aren't really eco if you're flying in an airplane to get there, so keep the grand scheme of thing sin mind.
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:15 PM on April 20, 2008

Response by poster: Bungiegirl: My budget is around $4k, but I'm expecting half of that to be used up in airfare. I'm not expecting to make a carbon neutral vacation. The "eco" tourism thing attracts me only because I prefer wilderness trips to urban ones. I only speak English and French so I worry about not making the most of a local guide. Just bumming it around Vietnam meant that I always ended up in the tourist spots, and I spent a lot of time worrying about transit. I was hoping a (small group) guided tour would be a little intimate.

Some fantastic suggestions so far. I'll send out emails to those that offered. Please keep them coming!
posted by Popular Ethics at 2:59 PM on April 20, 2008

Sulawesi, Indonedisia is a great three weeks. It's got beaches, jungles, mountains, volcanoes, strange cultures, a bit of extremism and dog eating. I loved it. Self link to a few pix mostly from there here.
posted by rhymer at 3:10 PM on April 20, 2008

I would nix Nepal b/c it will be the rainy season there, which is no fun for trekking.

But I would suggest Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas. Right where the Himalays, the Karakorams and the Tibetan Plateau all just up against each other. It's formerly the western Kingdom of Tibet, and so there are lots of beautiful temples, etc. The capital, Leh, is in a beautiful, green valley amid snow-capped peaks. Really great for trekking.
posted by lunasol at 5:58 PM on April 20, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, hey, I'm back from Costa Rica. The culture shock was non-existent, but boy what a landscape. I signed up for an "adventure tour" (GAP Tours), and was very happy with it. Our guide took us to the coolest spots - three days hiking in the rainforest (I'd never been) to a cabin with no electricity, white water rafting, sleeping on the river bank, horseback riding around lake Arenal - stuff I doubt I'd find on my own, and I didn't have to sweat schedules. It was actually a surprise when we started seeing other tourists later on in the trip. It was handy to have a friendly guide who knows the language and people too.

I will bookmark this thread for when I'm looking for next year's destination. Thanks again everyone.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:17 PM on August 20, 2008

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