There's no excuse like the year 2000 for upping the adventure stakes and draining the old twentieth-century bank account. At least that's the message outfitters are sending, judging by the outlandish itineraries—and price tags—being offered up of late. And though you may have missed your chance to shell out $36,000 for Odyssey 2000 (a 20,000-mile, 45-country, 366-day bicycle trip taking off on January 1, 2000), there are still plenty of lavish ways to commemorate the end of an age.
- Ah, the Concorde. Fast, sleek, sexy in that seventies kind of way—and arguably worth every penny of the $55,000 Abercrombie and Kent is charging for its retro-chic "Supersonic Safari." For three weeks passengers will be whooshed at 1,000 miles per hour through the African skies, deplaning to take in the lions and ibex in the Serengeti and to bob under the spray of Victoria Falls. Cocktail hours and flowing champagne raise the glamour quotient, and fellow passengers will all be, according to Abercrombie and Kent, "discerning travelers." The tour departs February 11. Call 800-323-7308 for details.
- When the Russian economy shriveled, so did the rubles funding its national oceanography program. Undaunted, ingenious scientists hit on another means of subsidizing their subaquatic research: wealthy Western tourists. As the highlight of an $18,950 voyage through the Azores, outfitter Zegraham DeepSea Voyages (in association with the Russian Academy of Sciences) is taking undersea adventurers 7,875 feet below the surface of the Atlantic in a $25 million research submersible-cum-pleasure-pod. (Just like Mir, but underwater!) You'll marvel at spewing hydrothermal vents, eyeless shrimp, and lethargic albino fish. "You may be able to see a five-foot-long tube worm, but it's not a guarantee," says Zegraham's Chris Ostendorf of the nine-hour dive. Tube worms or no, everybody gets to keep a souvenir video—all in the name of science. Zegraham is running only two of these 13-day Azores tours, leaving September 16 and 23. Call 888-772-2366 for details.
- For the well-heeled goth, Creative Adventure Club is offering the "Land of the Walking Dead" tour. A relatively modest $5,000 includes travel to an undisclosed village in Indonesia's remote South Sulawesi (undisclosed to "protect the village from tourists," according to CAC owner Charlie Gibbs) to join an annual festival in which wrinkled, embalmed corpses of long-interred ancestors are dug up and carried back to the village for a cleaning, a blessing, and a fresh wrap. Activities include the bloody machete slaughter of water buffalo and pigs, followed by a race: The strongest and most agile village men sprint back to the burial grounds, carrying the dead. "In the end it's really about making friends," says Gibbs. The two-week tour, which also includes a little sunbathing in Bali, leaves in August. Call 714-545-5888 for details.