"I love being shown around by the local pro when I go someplace new," says freeskiing legend Scot Schmidt. That's one reason he cofounded GowithaPro, a new travel company that matches clients with pioneers of extreme outdoor sports. Each trip features you, your pals, and a premier athletelike mountain-bike icon Gary Fisher or climber Greg Child (or Schmidt, of course)on his or her favorite stomping ground. An example: the five-day Costa Rica Endless Summer Tour (about $2,400 per person, including lodging, food, and instruction) with Robert "Wingnut" Weaver, producer of the same-named surfing flick. Stay in Tamarindo Bay at the posh Sunset House Villa, and surf the spots made legendary by Endless Summer II: Witches Rock and Ollie's Point. For a list of athletes and other trips call GowithaPro at 415-383-3907 or visit www.gowithapro.com.
Two new eco-experiences in South America's most stunning national parks invite guests to explore remote scenery and kick back in the lap of luxury while keeping a clear conscience. On Wildland AdventuresÕde;s new weeklong Torres del Paine Base Camp Trek in Chile ($1,945, weekly departures starting January 5), hikers stay in geodesic domes furnished with gas heaters, fine linens, and composting toilets. Taking the "pack it in, pack it out" ethic seriously, they remove the domes at season's end. Call 800-345-4453; www.wildland.com. Six hundred miles west in Ecuador's Galápagos Islands, the 18-room Royal Palm Resort on Santa Cruz Island, which just opened in December, is built from local stone and recycles waste and water. Fear not, the luxe factor hasn't been lost: The resort has a spa and in-room Jacuzzis. Open year-round; standard doubles cost $300Ð$450 per night. Call 800-666-8687; www.millennium-hotels.com.
Next time you're packing for Nepal, stash a few extra first-aid supplies in your dopp kit. Maps on the new Web site www.medicinesfornepalgb.org highlight medical centers and community-run clinics throughout this Himalayan kingdommany less than five minutes away from popular trekking routeswhere you can donate Band-Aids, antibacterial cream, aspirin, and other supplies. For more information, call Medicines for Nepal at 310-556-0809.
Three years ago while on vacation in Havana, Cuba, Exum mountain guide Armando Menocal came upon the remote 1,000-foot limestone bluffs of Valle de Vinales. The area now boasts more than 60 climbing routes and is the focus of Menocal's new online guide to Cuba, www.cubaclimbing.com. In addition to route maps, rock-solid advice about gear, and tips for locating climbing partners, the site offers pointers on tackling routes like 5.10b-rated Mucho Pumpitothat's "Very Pumpy" to you, gringo.
New Trip: AustraliaVictoria and Tasmania Multi-Sport
Travelers' overwhelming interest in the isolation, endemic species, and pristine wilds of Tasmania led REI Adventures to create a new 15-day tour that combines exploration of southeastern Australia with adventure on Tasmania's rugged east coast. Paddle the lakes and hike the rocky shorelines of Australia's Croajingolong National Park; then fly 150 miles south to Tasmania for hiking in the temperate forests of Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, mountain biking farm country and backroads to Great Oyster Bay on the island's east coast, and sea kayaking among dolphins in Freycinet National Park. Except for two nights of luxury camping, guests stay in unique inns (one is set high in the treetops of the rainforest). The cost is $2,195, and the first departure is set for March 8. Contact 800-622-2236; www.rei.com/travel.