Tanzania: Ngorongoro Highlands Backpacking
This 14-day trip has you humping your pack deep into the heart of Tanzania's Ngorongoro Conservation Area, home of the largest intact crater in the world. But the crater is no black hole--excursions into acacia woodlands, over extinct volcanoes, and down prehistoric gorges (including the legendary Olduvai) are full of encounters with Hadza Bushmen, endangered black rhinos, and herds of wild-eyed wildebeests.
Outfitter: National Outdoor Leadership School, 307-332-5300, www.nols.edu
When to Go: July-August
Mozambique: Kayaking the Rio Rovuma
Military helicopters will fly you from the highlands of Mozambique to the confluence of the Rio Lucheringo and Rio Rovuma where you'll start your 350 mile whitewater descent. You'll kayak up to Class V rapids under the guidance of two South African Army veterans who will steer you past hippos, crocodiles, and former Renamo rebels on the way to the Indian Ocean. But this trip is about more than big water--along the way you'll take an unofficial survey of elephant poaching and illegal tree harvesting for the wildlife departments of Tanzania and Mozambique.
Outfitter: Explore, 888-LYONESS, www.exploreafrica.com
When to Go: To be determined
Zimbabwe: Backpacking Safari
There's a reason this trip's official title is The Hunters and the Hunted--when you're hoofing it through the bush sans Land Rover, there's not much stopping a confused lion from sampling your fat American liver. But that's the point of this old-style, hardcore safari. There's no more authentic way to experience two weeks in Matobo National Park and the Mana Pools Wilderness than cautiously backpacking across the lion-infested savanna by day with your 3-5 companions and sleeping with one eye open at night. (But relax--your guides are armed.)
The Outfitter: Geographic Expeditions, 800-777-8183, www.geoex.com
When to Go: Privately Scheduled
Ethiopia: Cycling on the Horn of Africa
This 15-day trip takes you across Ethiopia into some of the world's oldest cultures. You'll cycle through Addis Ababa and west across the Abyssinian highlands where the indigenous Amhara, Oromo, and Guage people make their homes. The 380-mile route travels over moderate elevations into lush forests and traditional agricultural lands. At night, you'll stay in small local hotels and dine on Ethiopian cuisine before pedaling back to Addis Ababa.
Outfitter: Bicycle Africa, 206-767-0848, www.ibike.org
When to Go: September
Egypt: Biking and Walking the Upper Nile
Chariots, Cannondales, what's the difference? Egypt was built for wheels, and this trip lets you take full advantage of the country's network of modern and ancient roads. Six days of cycling and 3 days of walking will take you over Aswan Dam, to the storied Valley of the Kings, and, eventually, to the feet of the Great Pyramids of Giza where you'll overnight in the palatial Mena House Oberoi hotel. Ramses II never had it so good.
Outfitter: Butterfield & Robinson, 800-678-1147, www.butterfield.com
Whento Go: January, February, March, October, November, December