Bordered by white-sand beaches to the east and the verdant Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains to the west, the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz has somehow been overlooked by adventure travelers. Mountain Travel-Sobek has stepped into the breach with a new nine-day tour that combines hiking, rafting, and sea kayaking with visits among the state's indigenous Totonac people.
You'll spend the first two days at uninhabited Isla en Medio, where you'll receive basic sea-kayaking instruction and snorkel the azure waters of Bahía de Campeche. After paddling to Mexico's mainland, you'll drive through the jungle to visit the colonial village of El Tajín. Here, climbers called the Papantla Fliers scale 140-foot poles and slowly descend on ropes in a dramatic sunset purification ritual honoring the Virgin Mary.
You're then ready for a whitewater trip down the waterfall-laden Class III Filo Bobos, a rainforest river that courses through mango, sugarcane, and coffee plantations. Along the way, you'll visit the ruins of a people who predate the Aztecs. These Totonacs were the first natives Cortez encountered in the early sixteenth century; you'll tour their sacred ball courts and pyramidal temples, eerie reminders of the human sacrifices they once offered.
The trip concludes with a three-day stay at secluded Picocanoa Adventure Lodge. Located on the Río Antigua near the 18,000-foot Orizaba volcano, this "eco-development" contains 24 one-room thatched-roof adobe cabins. In addition to its cushier offerings—massages and traditional steam baths—the lodge encourages the active arts: lush canyon hiking, country-road mountain biking, jungle river rafting, and "flying" via zipline through the tropical canopy, where you can view wildlife ranging from snowy egrets to armadillos.
Trips run November through January; the price is $1,790 per person (airfare not included). Call 888-687-6235; www.mt sobek.com. —Philip D. Armour
$60K and No Noisemaker?
On the edge of the twenty-first century, anything can be hadÑfor a price. Entrepreneurs have been eyeing those potential profits for decades, fashioning millennial trips that, based on price alone, should guarantee memories at least until the dawning of Y3K.
To wit: Saudi businessman Hussein Kashoggi is planning a modest millennial shindig in Tonga with international artists and performers giving, presumably, the performances of their lives and tossing 18-karat-gold guitar picks into the crowdÑall for just $60,000 per person, party hats not included. Those with checking accounts as heavily padded as their parkas can view the new eraÕs first sunrise over Dibble Glacier on the edge of Antarctica for just $92,000, ice bucket included. A comparative bargain is Quark ExpeditionsÕs 18-day Antarctica trip on the icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, which runs a mere $16,000 per person (airfare not included).
But for those who know that no amount of cash can buy immortality, the chance of a lifetime comes from millennium site www.every thing2000.com, which generously offers to name one of the last seconds of 1999 or one of the first seconds of 2000 after you. The site is doling out 172,800 of these seconds, including the coveted December 31, 1999, 11:59:59 p.m. Such immortality is free, but a declaration suitable for framing will cost you $9.95. —H. U.