Worldwide Wild

Domican Republic, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize

The ultra-reclusive felines of Belize     Photo: Tony Rath/Courtesy Belize Tourism

Dominican Republic
Coast-to-Coast Mountain Biking
[2004 Winner]
The Dominican Republic's mountainous interior and long stretches of unimproved roads make for perfect fat-tire odysseys. This 12-day, 284-mile supported ride on dirt lanes and singletrack takes you across four mountain passes, through sugarcane plantations and tobacco fields, and beneath 10,414-foot Pico Duarte, on the edge of Armando Bermœdez National Park. Cross from Cabarete, on the Atlantic coast, to Las Salinas, on the Caribbean Sea. Local guides will lead you down Hispaniola's back roads to lodges where you'll refuel on roasted pig, grilled snapper, and fresh papayas and mangoes. You'll also raft the Yaque del Norte, the longest river in the country. End your two-wheeled whirlwind with a plunge into the ocean at Las Salinas Beach.
High Point: The cool breezes—after a sweaty climb—of the Cordillera Central, the Caribbean's highest mountain range.
Low Point: If your rump isn't used to logging saddle time, six hours a day will take its toll.
Travel Advisory: The Dominican Republic has a rep for credit card fraud, so make sure to double-check your next statement.
Outfitter: Iguana Mama (800-849-4720, www.iguanamama.com)
When to Go: March
Price: $1,950
Difficulty: Strenuous

Costa Rica
Beach Riding
It's a shame that horses have such crummy color vision—your nag is missing out on the pink beaches, tropical forests, orange-fronted parrots, and blue skies on this six-day trip riding along the Guanacaste region's empty Pacific beaches. Trot beside breaking waves with your criollo steed at Playa Negra, one of Costa Rica's best surf breaks, and stay in beachfront bungalows.
Outfitter: Cross Country International (800-828-8768, www.equestrianvacations.com)
When to Go: November to August
Price: $1,830
Difficulty: Easy

Mexico
Jungle Kayaking
Set up base camp for a week in the Pacific-coast town of La Crucecita, in Oaxaca (with its Class V nightlife), and spend your days paddling and playing in seldom run rivers like the Class IV Rio Copalita and the Yuviaga, and the secluded Rio Zimatan. Bonus thrill: watching your guides launch off El Chorro (the Spout), an 18-foot waterfall.
Outfitter: Agua Azul (208-863-1100, www.aguaazul.com)
When to Go: October to November
Price: $1,349
Difficulty: Strenuous (Class III paddling skills recommended)

Belize
Coral and Jaguar Expedition
Spend six days sea-kayaking, snorkeling, and diving along Belize's barrier reef near the coastal town of Dangriga. Camp on tropical cays 15 miles offshore and paddle through mangrove estuaries, scouting for sea turtles. Then move inland for four days to visit the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve, where you'll paddle an inflatable kayak down the mellow Class I-II South Stann Creek, hiking around unexcavated Maya ruins, camping in the rainforest—and trying to spot ultra-reclusive jaguars.
Outfitter: Island Expeditions (800-667-1630, www.islandexpeditions.com)
When to Go: March
Price: $1,928
Difficulty: Moderate

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