Immersion Therapy

The next best thing to actually living there

Mar 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Buena Vista Cycling Club: pedal under the radar in Cuba    Photo: Corbis

Despite the boom in adventure tourism in Vietnam, few travelers venture into the far-northern hill country, some 200 miles north of Hanoi. You should. Following overgrown buffalo paths and ancient Chinese trading trails, you'll hike steep terrain for 120 miles over 11 days, traveling north from Cao Bang and staying with Nung villagers in huts on stilts. Save some film for Ban Gioc Falls, on the border with China, and Pac Bo Cave, Ho Chi Minh's legendary hideout. Outfitter: World Expeditions, 888-464-8735, When to go: October-March. Price: $1,490. Difficulty: moderate.

The M'goun Gorge is so narrow in places, you can't see the sky—let alone the craggy summits of the nearby 12,000-foot Atlas Mountains. But they're never out of sight for long on this ten-day trip through small Berber burgs in Morocco's most fabled range. Over four days of hiking, you'll climb Tizi n' AïImi, a 9,528-foot pass, and sleep in Berber farmhouses en route to the Valley of AïBou Guemez, a rare oasis where you're welcomed as family. OUTFITTER: Living Morocco, 212-877-1417, WHEN TO GO: May. PRICE: $2,950-$3,050. DIFFICULTY: easy.

Ride beneath the radar on this Canadian outfitter's weeklong, 300-mile bike tour of Cuba's northern coast, past black-sand beaches and nature reserves. The towns en route—Mayar', a village immortalized by Cuban crooner Compay Segundo, and lush Baracoa—see few tourists and fewer cyclists, so you'll have La Farola, a winding mountain pass known as "Cuba's roller coaster," all to yourself. Use caution when hydrating: Rum's cheaper than water. OUTFITTER: MacQueen's Island Tours, 800-969-2822, WHEN TO GO: April, December. PRICE: $2,595, including round-trip airfare from Toronto. DIFFICULTY: moderate to strenuous.

Haven't heard of the Rhodopes? No surprise. Obscurity has helped keep these 7,000-foot peaks in southern Bulgaria among the least visited in Europe. You'll spend four to seven hours a day snowshoeing along ancient footpaths, through deep drifts and pine forests, to the slopes of Mount Cherni Vruh. Medieval monasteries and village guesthouses provide shelter on this eight-day trip, and Bulgarian perks include homemade sirine (a local feta cheese) and chance sightings of the Asiatic jackal. Outfitter: Exodus, 866-732-5885, When to Go: February, December. Price: $775. Difficulty: moderate.