Life's a Wild Trip

Grin and bear it: an Alaskan grizzly's smile, frozen on film     Photo: Corel

22. Jump Down the Food Chain
USA / Alaska / Grizzlies of Coastal Katmai

Your expedition leader, naturalist and photographer Matthias Breiter, will tell you to bring your good camera, and for good reason. The first day, you'll see puffins, sea lions, and bald eagles while kayaking Kodiak Island's jagged shore. On day two you'll meet your base camp: a research tugboat christened The Grizzly Ship. And for the next three days, you'll cruise the Katmai coast, where thousand-pound grizzlies dig for clams. The brave can venture ashore in a Zodiac. The foolish can snap close-ups. OUTFITTER: Natural Habitat Adventures, 800-543-8917, www.nathab.com WHEN TO GO: June PRICE: $4,695 DIFFICULTY: Easy

Uganda / Primate Safari
You hear a wild mountain gorilla—the largest primate on earth—long before you see it: The territorial scream of the 500-pound beast is bone-chilling. After five days in plush safari camps while exploring chimp-thick Kibale and Queen Elizabeth National Parks, machete your way into the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi National Park and spend two days tracking your huge, hairy distant cousins. OUTFITTER: Mountain Travel Sobek, 888-687-6235, www.mtsobek.com WHEN TO GO: January-September PRICE: $5,150 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

Brazil / Pantanal Jaguars
Ride horseback, boat, and hike into the steamy Pantanal floodplain in southwest Brazil, home to the highest concentration of wildlife in South America, to find the largest jaguars in the world. For nine days, you'll help count the stealthy cats with motion-triggered cameras and scat and paw-print surveys, and stay at a comfy research lodge. OUTFITTER: Earthwatch Institute, 800-776-0188, www.earthwatch.org WHEN TO GO: February, March, July, August PRICE: $2,195 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

23. Gallop Through the Surf
USA / California / Redwood Coast Ride

Survey the Mendocino Coast from the back of a regal Arabian or Russian Orlov cross. You'll gallop along windswept Ten Mile Beach, atop oceanside bluffs, and through dense redwood forests. Where else can you fill your canteen at a mineral spring by day and sip cabernet in hot tubs at an oceanfront hotel by night? Welcome to northern California. OUTFITTER: Equitours, 800-545-0019, www.ridingtours.com WHEN TO GO: May-October PRICE: $1,995 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

Greece / Aegean Sea Trail Ride
Trot from inn to inn and taverna to taverna for six days and 90 miles around the Pelion peninsula, 200 miles north of Athens. You'll stuff yourself silly with feta and phyllo and sip your share of ouzo at every stop, so be happy the sure-footed horses are accustomed to the rugged landscape. From Katigiorgis on the Pagasetic Gulf, cross 3,000-foot mountains on old mule trails, then descend to the Aegean Sea, where you'll canter on the beaches, and plunge—with your horse—into the warm surf. OUTFITTER: Cross Country International, 800-828-8768, www.equestrianvacations.com WHEN TO GO: April-May, October PRICE: $1,430 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

Venezuela / Galloping the Beaches of Macanao Peninsula
Ride, siesta, ride. Repeat. This will be your blissed-out routine for three days as you explore the pocket beaches, rocky points, and cactus forests of Isla Margarita, off the northern coast of Venezuela. On the island's undeveloped Macanao Peninsula, gallop into the waves, camp on the beach, and afterward part ways with your beloved steed. For the last four days, fly to famous 3,212-foot Angel Falls on the mainland, and then on to the island of Los Roques to snorkel among exotic corals and rainbow parrotfish in the national park. OUTFITTER: Boojum Expeditions, 800-287-0125, www.boojum.com WHEN TO GO: January, November, December PRICE: $2,175 DIFFICULTY: Easy

24. Cast Away in Paradise
USA / Idaho / The Middle Fork of the Salmon

Few fishing spots nourish the ego like the Middle Fork of the Salmon, where even beginners can catch (and release) 30 fish a day. Raft on Class III water for five days and 60 miles in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, fishing with guides from your boat and camping on sandbars—many near hot springs—at night. OUTFITTER: Middle Fork Wilderness OUTFITTERs, 800-726-0575, www.idahorapids.com WHEN TO GO: June-September PRICE: $1,790 DIFFICULTY: Easy

Canada / The Miramichi
While 80 percent of North America's Atlantic salmon spawn in the 55-degree waters of New Brunswick's Northwest Miramichi River, they're persnickety bastards when it comes to biting on flies. Spend five days outsmarting them on water near your farmhouse post—the Smoker Brook Lodge—using flies you tie each evening under the tutelage of master Jerome Molloy. OUTFITTER: Smoker Brook Lodge, 866-772-5666, www.smokerbrook.com WHEN TO GO: May-October PRICE: $1,500 DIFFICULTY: Easy

New Zealand / The Rangitikei
Fly-fishing indeed: Access the North Island's Class I-III Rangitikei River by helicoptering to its headwaters, then pile into a three-man raft and spend five days casting for gluttonous 16-pound rainbows. Camp on the river's grassy banks and hike to rich side veins where the "flies" trout prefer are plump field mice. OUTFITTER: Best of New Zealand Flyfishing, 800-528-6129, www.bestofnzflyfishing.com WHEN TO GO: October-May PRICE: $2,500 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

25. Break On Through to the Other Side
North Pole / Journey to the Bottom of the Sea

(New Trip) Your mission: to be the first team to reach the ocean floor at 0 degrees latitude, 0 degrees longitude, in two 18-ton submersibles. For seven days, your nuclear icebreaker slices through the Arctic Circle. Once at the pole, you'll spend eight hours descending 14,500 feet. OUTFITTER: Quark and Deep Ocean Expeditions, 800-356-5699, www.quarkexpeditions.com WHEN TO GO: September 2003 PRICE: $65,950 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

The World / Mysteries of the Earth by Private Jet
The Jules Verne experience! Only, swap the French sidekick for four world-renowned scientists, the balloon for a deluxe 757, and 80 days for 25. Taking off from Miami, touch down first in Manaus, Brazil, then fly westward for a dance with Upolu Islanders in Samoa, whisk across the International Date Line (crikey, we've lost a day!) to dive the Great Barrier Reef, go on safari in Nepal's Royal Chitwan National Park, hoof it in the Serengeti, the Seychelles, the Canary Islands, and...isn't it about time for cocktails? OUTFITTER: American Museum of Natural History Discovery Tours, 800-462-8687, www.amh.org/programs/discotours WHEN TO GO: March PRICE: $36,950 DIFFICULTY: Easy

Space / Suborbital Space Flight
(New Trip) Train at a custom-built, U.S.-based spaceport for four days, reviewing the details of your reusable launch vehicle (RLV) and perfecting simulated-zero-gravity back flips in the hull of a cargo plane that's nose-diving from 35,000 feet. Then it's off to suborbital space (that's 62 miles up) for ten minutes of weightlessness with a nice view of your native planet. OUTFITTER: Space Adventures, 888-857-7223, www.spaceadventures.com WHEN TO GO: 2005, pending development of the RLV PRICE: $98,000 (includes leather flight jacket and space suit) DIFFICULTY: Moderate

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