Life's a Wild Trip

F-stop and go: fishing nets in Vietnam     Photo: Comstock

13. Master the Art of the F-Stop
Cuba / Vision and Discover in Havana

Here's your shot at playing globetrotting photojournalist. You'll spend six mornings discussing theory, history, and technical concerns with your instructor, New York-based commercial and fine-art photographer Stacy Boge, at the Maine Photographic Workshops' Cuba headquarters, formerly a 19th-century convent. In the afternoons she'll set you loose to photograph historic forts, artisans at the craft market, and the wizened faces of Old Havana with a bilingual teaching assistant and guide. Lab crews develop your film nightly, so it's ready for next-day critiques and slide shows. OUTFITTER: The Maine Photographic Workshops, 877-577-7700, www.theworkshops.com WHEN TO GO: February, March PRICE: $1,495 DIFFICULTY: Easy

Vietnam and Laos / That Luang Festival
With photo opportunities that include sacred wats, limestone-spired islands, bustling markets, and numerous saffron-robed monks and nuns—plus acclaimed photographer Nevada Wier as your guide—you can't help but take a few incredible shots. In Vietnam, you'll sea kayak in Ha Long Bay and mingle with people of the Hmong and Dao hill tribes in the Tonkinese Alps; in Laos, you'll cruise the Mekong River in a junk and watch a candlelight procession in Vientiane, the capital city, as thousands of Buddhists celebrate the annual That Luang Full Moon festival. OUTFITTER: Mountain Travel Sobek, 888-687-6235, www.mtsobek.com WHEN TO GO: November PRICE: $4,400 DIFFICULTY: Easy
USA / Midway Atoll / Avian Images
The bird-to-human ratio on this U.S. naval base turned wildlife refuge—which lies 1,320 miles northwest of Honolulu—is an astonishing 8,000 to 1. Spend seven days with photography instructor Darrell Gulin and you'll shoot black-footed albatross in the island's lush interior one day and backward-flying red-tailed tropic birds on a beach the next. Your base: a comfy (really!) suite in the renovated naval officers' quarters—Midway's only accommodations. OUTFITTER: International Wildlife Adventures, 800-593-8881, www.wildlifeadventures.com WHEN TO GO: April-May PRICE: $3,295 DIFFICULTY: Easy

14. Ski Infinite Backcountry
USA / Wyoming / Teton Crest Traverse

It's America's Haute Route, cowboy style (no chalets). Hone your winter-camping skills after skinning 1,700 feet from Teton Pass to 9,100-foot Moose Creek Pass, with views into more than 400,000 acres of wilderness. Camp here for three nights, skiing the varied terrain of the Alaska Basin, before your 13-mile descent through Teton Canyon. OUTFITTER: Rendezvous Ski and Snowboard Tours, 877-754-4887, www.skithetetons.com WHEN TO GO: April PRICE: $825 DIFFICULTY: Strenuous

Europe / The Continent's Best Powder
Western Europe's off-piste wonderland has a dirty little secret: unreliable snow. But Gary Ashurst—of La Grave, France, by way of Idaho—won't tolerate it. Meet him and his Mercedes van in Geneva; he'll take you to the best powder around—wherever that is at the moment. Staying in B&Bs or chalets, you'll spend seven days carving the chutes of the Cerces, jump-turning down tight couloirs in the Dolomites, or reveling in another one of Gary's always-snowy stashes. OUTFITTER: Global Adventures, 800-754-1199, www.globaladventures.net WHEN TO GO: January-April PRICE: $1,600 DIFFICULTY: Strenuous

USA / Alaska / Peaks of the Chugach
(New Trip) Welcome to the middle of nowhere. After the plane lands, settle into your base-camp hut on Matanuska Glacier and take a lesson in glacier safety. Then spend ten days exploring every crevasse, serac, and untouched blanket of snow between you and your goal: the 10,000-foot summits of the Scandinavian Peaks. OUTFITTER: Colorado Mountain School, 888-267-7783, www.cmschool.com WHEN TO GO: April PRICE: $1,800 DIFFICULTY: Strenuous

TRIP ENHANCER
Leica Trinovid BCA Binoculars

Leica's nine-ounce glasses ($429; 800-877-0155) are compact enough to slip elegantly into a pocket, but they offer 10X magnification coupled with superior optics that sharpen contrast on objects 1,000 feet away, all in a package that doesn't scream "tourist."

15. Take an Epic Trek
Nepal / Jugal Himal Exploratory

Get off the teahouse circuit (and, let's hope, the path of Maoist insurgents) on this 23-day exploratory trek through the Jugal Mountains of Langtang National Park, about 75 miles west of Mount Everest. Starting in the Balephi Khola Valley, trek up to eight hours a day among rhododendrons and banana trees, following shepherd trails to two delphinium-fringed lakes at 17,000 feet. OUTFITTER: World Expeditions, 888-464-8735, www.weadventures.com WHEN TO GO: October-November PRICE: $3,120 DIFFICULTY: Strenuous

Bhutan / In the Shadow of the Goddess
Your ultimate destination is 23,997-foot Chomo Lhari, the "Mountain of the Goddess." But, like life, this trek's not about the destination, it's about the journey: You'll hike seven miles per day (average daily elevation gain: 2,000 feet) through western Bhutan's Paro Valley on an ancient trading path that winds through thousand-year-old villages, fields of blue poppies, and pastures filled with grazing yaks. Camp in meadows and share the trail with caravans bringing salt, tea, and Chinese silk to Paro on this 70-mile, out-and-back route. OUTFITTER: Asia Transpacific Journeys, 800-642-2742, www.southeastasia.com WHEN TO GO: March, September PRICE: $4,395 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

Russia / Hgih-Altitude Altai
Storybook adventure at its finest: Be on the lookout for wolves, lynx, eagles, and the rare snow leopard by day; by night camp at the base of 10,000-foot peaks named Beauty, Fairy Tale, and Dream. On this challenging 65-mile trek in the Altai Mountains, in one of the most remote regions of Siberia, you'll cover eight to 12 miles per day, hiking through cedar-forested valleys along the roaring Chuya River and ascending to glacier-fed lakes, before heading back to civilization—and we mean civilization. The Altai has been inhabited for hundreds of thousands of years.OUTFITTER: Mir Corporation, 800-424-7289, www.mircorp.com WHEN TO GO: July-August PRICE: $2,395 DIFFICULTY: Strenuous

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