Choosing an adventurous vacation

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of April 2-8, 1998
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Choosing an adventurous vacation
Question: My wife and I are looking for an active vacation involving an exotic culture and hiking. Travel period is mid-September to mid-October, and we've got roughly two weeks. Obvious choices are Peru (Inca Trail and Manu) and Nepal. We are in our late 20s and willing to be independent but would consider small groups. Where else should we consider?

John Paul Ashenfelter
Charlottesville, Virginia

There is a network of old trails
along the coast of Turkey

Adventure Adviser: Since you give no indication of budget or accommodation preferences, I'm including ideas that meet your hiking and exotic culture criteria. For starters, I would suggest flipping through the catalogs of various active travel companies to get ideas of do-able itineraries during the fall.

Although you can't go wrong with either Peru or Nepal, venturing to Turkey or Greece instead would save you airfare and travel time and be equally fascinating. September and October in both sun-splashed countries are balmy, calm, and relatively crowd-free. Turkey's Toros Mountains and the Turquoise Coast (near Kalkan and Antalya) are good places to set up a base for exploring the area's network of old trails. Inland, Cappadocia in central Anatolia is known for its almost Zion-like pinkish rock formations and honeycombed caves. Throughout the country are Roman, Greek, and Byzantine ruins, and the small towns offer ample opportunities to indulge in Turkish life. In the northeast, the very hikeable Kackar Dalgari range offers plenty of options for either organized or independent trekking outings from one to 10 days. Pick up a copy of Lonely Planet's Trekking in Turkey for specifics. If you do go to Turkey, don't miss spending a couple of days in Istanbul, where you can feast on baklava and take in the elegant splendor of the Hagia Sophia.

In Greece, either island-hop for a series of day hikes or settle into one area, such as Corfu. Spend a few days exploring the mountains surrounding Metsovo and nearby Vikos Gorge, a national park with plenty of hikes, then move on to Kerkyra. If you decide to go the group-travel route, Backroads offers a nine-day hiking trip through the rugged Pindhos Mountains and Corfu. In addition to dramatic climbs up rocky spires, you can immerse yourself in the local retsina, Byzantine monasteries, and strong folkloric traditions. There are two September departures, and the $2,698 per person price-tag includes eight nights in luxurious accommodations, shuttles and entrance fees, and all meals except for one dinner. Call 1-800-GO-ACTIVE for more details.

Three other ideas to leave you with: Morocco (the Atlas Mountains and Marrakech), Indonesia (Bali), and Mexico (Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende). All are ideal for fall travel and offer lots of great hiking and cultural exploring.

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