The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Feb 2011

Because of Norway

The 148,726-square-mile country features 1,600 glaciers, more than 15,000 miles of rugged coastline, approximately 46 fjords per capita, and these two awesome, locally guided trips. Contrast Adventure guides four- and eight-day ski-mountaineering journeys in the peaks around the Fjord of Sunndal. Based out of a 200-year-old fishing lodge, small groups of advanced skiers skin up a peak of the guide's choosing, then ski down—some 3,000 vertical feet. From $780; February–June; contrastadventure.com. For watery fun, Your Way guides weeklong sailing trips along the rugged Helgeland Coast, stopping to sea-kayak between remote islands, trek the Svartisen Glacier, and eat fresh-caught seafood on empty beaches. From $3,750; June–August; yourway.no.

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Mexico Is Safer than You Think

In December, at the Cancún climate talks, Mexican president Felipe Calderón declared that "Mexico must become a champion of adventure travel," promising new investments in the industry. Does that mean we'd rush off to Mazatlán, Acapulco, Monterrey, or any border town? No. But adventure-rich regions such as Veracruz, Chiapas, and Oaxaca are safe—and extremely affordable. At the far southern end of Chiapas sits a network of sustainable coffee-growing fincas (estates) connected by mountain-bike-friendly dirt roads. On a four-to-ten-day trip based out of the plush Argovia Finca resort, take horseback rides through the jungle, keep your eyes peeled for hundreds of bird species, ride between fincas, and get your java fix. From $850; year-round; argovia.com.mx. In Veracruz, post up at Mexico Verde's resort, a safari-style tent camp, for a three-day multisport trip: float the Class III–IV Pescados River and the Class III Filobobus. In between, try the lodge's climbing wall. $550; the rapids are best between June and October; mexicoverde.com.

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Machu Picchu Re-ups

The Inca ruins are South America's most iconic and popular tourist site—for good reason. But that doesn't mean you have to experience them like everyone else. Gap Adventures leads a new expedition that tours Cuzco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas before transporting guests to Cachora. Hikers will then tackle high Andean passes and camp in remote river valleys on their way to Choquequirao and Machu Picchu. $1,300; year-round; gapadventures.com. Mountain Lodges of Peru offers accommodations for hikers along the Salkantay Route, an alternative trail to Machu Picchu. This year, it introduced a seven-day lodge-to-lodge horseback trip. Daytime is for riding through lush pastures, coffee plantations, and 14,000-plus-foot peaks; nighttime is for soaking in your lodge's hot tub. From $2,950; April–November; moun­tainlodgesofperu.com. On a new ten-day multisport trip with Adventure Life, travelers visit Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo, but also mountain-bike, camp, soak in hot springs, and raft the Class III–IV Apurímac River. From $2,315; year-round; adventure-life.com.

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The Go-and-Give

For many of us, the only thing better than a kick-ass trip is a kick-ass trip that lends a hand to someone—or someplace—in need. And due to the recent surge in so-called adventure philanthropy trips, it's never been easier to do so. Elevate Destinations brings volunteers to Alabama's Mobile Bay to help the Ocean Foundation restore oyster reefs damaged by the BP oil spill. After work, volunteers hike or kayak along the coast, then crash in a seaside bungalow in Weeks Bay, Alabama. $750–$1,250; April 24–30; elevatedestinations.com. Natural Habitat Adventures recently introduced three-day volunteer extensions to its itineraries. Options include helping scientists monitor green-sea-turtle populations off Baja, working at a sustainable farming community in Patagonia after hiking through Torres del Paine National Park, and maintaining a school in Amazonian Peru. Nathab.com. Biosphere Expeditions' new Maldives project enlists divers to live on a 115-foot boat for a week and help marine biologists monitor whale-shark populations and coral reefs. $2,570; September 3–9 and 10–16; bio­sphere­expeditions.org. Roadmonkey leads a weeklong trip to Peru that's split between rafting the Apurímac River and building a daycare center in a remote Andean town. $3,800; June 4–12; roadmonkey.net. And Planeterra's new two-week Sun, Surf and Volunteer in Peru trip sends you to the village of Lobitos to work with a local NGO and teach kids to surf, swim, speak English, and make art. From $2,069; year-round; planeterra.org

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Getting Ready Is Half the Fun

You know you need to step up your training before your next big trip, but you're not exactly sure how? You're not alone. Fortunately, a growing number of trainers have answers. Marcus Shapiro, an Atlanta trainer, founded Fit for Trips in 2009 and now works with outfitters like Abercrombie & Kent to design training plans specifically for adventures. Download the four-to-twelve-week programs—complete with video instruction—onto your iPhone. From $169; fitfortrips.com. Sol Fitness Adventures, run by California trainer Melanie Webb, offers in-person training packages ranging from one week to six months for trekking expeditions. On-site sessions in Santa Barbara, Mammoth Lakes, and Los Angeles come with nutrition consultations and weekend warm-up trips in the Sierra. From $3,000; soladventure.com. Nudge Training, based in Mississauga, Ontario, offers customized training programs, including healing treatments like Reiki, to prepare people for adventures such as heli-skiing and climbing Kilimanjaro. $80 per hour; nudgetraining.com.

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