Norway

Skiing the Lyngen Peninsula

When the last ice age receded from the 48-mile-long Lyngen Peninsula, a string of peaks north of the Arctic Circle, it left behind perfectly shaped terrain—for skiers. On this luxuriously remote eight-day trip, you can carve from summit to fjord in the Lyngen Alps, where the sea never freezes and heavy snowfall and a temperate climate guarantee hero snow. Each morning, don your boots, then speedboat (yes, speedboat) across the fjord to the day's chosen 2,500-to-3,500-foot peak. Summit on skins or snowshoes, then take your pick of bragging rights from the numerous unclaimed first descents that lead to snow-covered beaches. Bunk down fjordside at Lyngen Lodge, a new timbered inn 50 miles north of Tromsø, with panoramic windows and geo-thermal heat; après-ski means a sauna, a beer, apple strudel, and the spectacle of the northern lights. OUTFITTER: Aspen Expeditions; aspenexpeditions.com PRICE: $3,900 DIFFICULTY: Moderate to challenging WHEN TO GO: April–May

France and Spain

Cycling Through Basque Country

Biking Basque Country
The view from Basque country blacktop (Photodisc/Doug Menuez)

Dozens of pros in the Euro peloton—and an obscene number of Michelin-starred chefs—call the Basque region home. On this eight-day trip, pedal along the snaking mountain roads of the western Pyrenees, past pine forests, remote villages, and cherry orchards, pumping up for Indurain-worthy climbs, like a five-mile ride up Monte Jaizkibel, the highest point on the Cantabrian coast, and a 13-mile haul up Col Bagargui—known locally as the "Col du Sinistre," or "Evil Mountain." Feed-zone snacks include nutty Ossau-Iraty cheese and gâteau Basque (sweet cake with cherries). At night, sip Armagnac in white-stucco villas and historic inns, including a tenth-century castle, and dine on regal fare like wood pigeon and txipirones (baby squid). For cross-training, there's the txikiteo (tapas crawl) in San Sebastian and surfing in Biarritz. OUTFITTER: Velo Classic Tours; veloclassic.com PRICE: $5,000 DIFFICULTY: Challenging WHEN TO GO: June

Tibet

Exploring thea Drime Range

In 1935, explorer Eric Shipton had to abort an attempt up Mount Everest because he'd dawdled too long in the rhododendron-thick lower valleys and sprawling glaciers of a little-known Tibetan range to the east. Today, few people visit the Ama Drime mountains, leaving vast swaths of the area untrampled by Western soles. Spend 16 days exploring passes above 16,000 feet and camping on hillsides covered with giant blue poppies to reach the woodsy enclave of the Kharta Valley, east of Mount Everest. Count on walking about five to nine miles a day, stopping to chat with locals in remote nomad camps. Go easy on the homemade beer they'll offer; instead wander into the many side valleys of Qomolungma National Park. With numerous opportunities to bag 19,000-foot virgin summits, and natural hot springs to ease the pain, chances are you'll dawdle, too. OUTFITTER: High Asia; highasia.com PRICE: From $4,000 DIFFICULTY: Moderate to challenging WHEN TO GO: April–June, August–November

Australia

Air Safari

Kakadu National Park, Australia
Kakadu National Park wetlands (Corbis)

There's nothing like having a private plane to make short work of thousands of lonely miles between Indian Ocean sunsets and lively outback barbecues. Watch Australia's cool mountains bleed into burnt desert as your Dash 8 cruises between Kakadu National Park's wetlands, Broome's beaches, and the red mass of Ayers Rock on a 14-day runaround that would take more than a month by car. When the landing gear deploys, go for a dinner cruise around the town of Darwin's Harbor and wander through the massive boulders of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, near Alice Springs. In between, you can rest in the best accommodations available, like the Cable Beach Club Resort, where chefs serve kangaroo fillets. Save room on day 12 for a bowl of crocodile stew served al fresco in the middle of nowhere. OUTFITTER: Geographic Expeditions; geoex.com PRICE: $12,775 DIFFICULTY: Easy WHEN TO GO: May–September

Argentina

Inn-to-Inn Mountain Biking

Thanks to its spectacular American-Southwest-meets-California-wine-country scenery, colorful Inca-rooted culture, improving infrastructure, and good value, northwest Argentina is on American tourists' radar. On this nine-day loop from Salta, the country's best-preserved colonial city, you'll pedal about 25 to 40 miles a day (hardcores can opt for rides as long as 63 miles) on dirt and paved roads through the terra-cotta-colored Andean foothills and adobe villages of the Quebrada de Humahuaca canyon, then south into the lush subtropical Las Yungas Biosphere Reserve and across the stark, giant-cactus-punctuated altiplano of Los Cardones National Park. You'll spend the last two days in the tranquil wine lands of the sunny Cafayate Valley, where acres of vines hang heavy with black malbec grapes. Among the highlights: a screaming descent from an 11,000-foot mountain pass, overnights in restored haciendas, and the chance to feast on empanadas, chorizo, and roast llama. OUTFITTER: Backroads; backroads.com PRICE: $4,500 DIFFICULTY: Challenging WHEN TO GO: May, September–October

Alaska

Trekking with Yaks

Trekking Alaska
Denali National Park (Photodisc)

When Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International started looking for a way to make the Alaska bush more accessible to hikers, they turned east—to the Himalayas, where Tibetan yaks have been shouldering trekkers' loads for decades. With the help of visiting Nepalese Sherpas, several yaks were trained on trails near Denali National Park, and this summer they're ready for prime time. This unique, weeklong trek begins with a flight from Talkeetna, about 75 miles north of Anchorage, to Moonshadow Lake, south of the park, where your guides and the shaggy bovines await. Each day, you'll be hiking—gloriously unencumbered—across open, untouched tundra and up 3,000-to-5,000-foot peaks; camping by clear lakes in alpine valleys; spotting moose, wolves, caribou, grizzlies, and black bears; and getting your fill of wild blueberries and salmon, always with the soaring Alaska Range as a backdrop. OUTFITTER: Alpine Ascents International; alpineascents.com PRICE: $2,500 DIFFICULTY: Moderate WHEN TO GO: July–August

Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh

Mountains and Monasteries

For an otherworldly experience in one of the planet's oldest civilizations, head to Armenia, where economic recovery and political stabilization have nudged open tourism doors. This 14-day cultural journey mixes sacred spots (stone-carved monasteries dating from a.d. 300) with spectacular mountain scenery. Begin in the ancient city of Yerevan, with its sidewalk cafés and open-air markets. From there you'll head to the pilgrimage site of Khor Virap, a fourth-century monastery facing snowy Mount Ararat; wine-taste in Areni; soak in the healing waters of Jermuk; and visit Karahunj (Armenia's Stonehenge). In neighboring Nagorno Karabakh (independent since 1991), where the eastern edge of the Armenian Plateau meets the high mountains, walk along the cliffs of Shushi, an ancient walled village, and bed down in mountain hamlets. OUTFITTER: Wilderness Travel; wildernesstravel.com PRICE: $4,500–$5,200 DIFFICULTY: Easy WHEN TO GO: May, September

El Salvador

Surfing, Mountain Biking, and Wakeboarding

El Salvador
Ripping it up off El Salvador's coast (courtesy, AccessTrips.com/Corsatur)

With civil war a thing of the past and a tourism board investing heavily in getting the word out about its world-class surf and unexplored rainforests, tiny El Salvador is poised to become a cooler, far less trampled alternative to Costa Rica. Access Trips, a six-year-old instruction-oriented outfitter co-founded by former investment banker/pro snowboarder Alain Chuard, has been introducing surfers to El Salvador since 2006. On this new seven-day multisport trip, you'll spend three days at a beachfront resort riding the glassy, consistent swells and wakeboarding the mangrove-sheltered lagoons of Costa del Sol, south of San Salvador; then head northwest to the village of Tacuba, on the edge of mountainous El Imposible National Park, where you'll stay in a family-owned inn on a coffee plantation and pedal steep singletrack through the butterfly- and bird-filled jungle. OUTFITTER: Access Trips; accesstrips.com PRICE: $1,450 DIFFICULTY: Moderate WHEN TO GO: February, June, October–December

Algeria

Camel Trekking in the Sahara

Algeria Sahara Desert
Sunrise over Algeria’s portion of the Sahara Desert (Frans Lemmens/Photographer's Choice)

Peter Grubb, founder of outfitter ROW Adventures, once wandered into a French travel agency to buy a ticket to Morocco and unknowingly ended up with one to Algeria instead. It was a fine mistake, given the weeks of warm Saharan hospitality he enjoyed, and he's been yearning to return ever since. Next fall he does, this time to lead a new adventure into the lonely canyons and quiet oases of a North African nation seldom seen by Americans. For 21 days, travelers will journey by 4x4 to ancient settlements in palm-ringed valleys and hike with Tuareg guides in Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, an area nearly twice the size of Switzerland, with life-size pictographs and gnarled chasms. Then they'll spend five days trekking with camels through the red-sandstone villages of western Algeria's Sahara, where they'll pitch tents under unfettered skies, mingle with nomads, and devour lamb stew with flatbread baked in the sand. OUTFITTER: ROW Adventures; rowinternational.com PRICE: $5,990 DIFFICULTY: Moderate WHEN TO GO: October, January

Trip of the Year: The Maldives

Surf Remote Atolls

Maldives
North Male Atoll in the Maldives (Robert Harding/Digital Vision)

Surfers have long known that polar storms churning their way into the southern Indian Ocean create some of the planet's most consistent swells by the time the waves bash into the Maldives, 300 miles southwest of India. With about 1,200 islands and 20 atolls, finding the best breaks means living on a boat—in this case, one helluva boat. Australia-based outfitter Tropicsurf raises the bar on live-aboard surf safaris this month with the launch of Tropic Breeze, a 113-foot, three-deck yacht that's stuffed with so many accoutrements even kooks who love Point Break will want to sign up. There are eight cabins (each with a private bathroom), plasma-screen televisions, a library, a tender for surfboards, a bar, two cushy lounges, and a captain who knows how to locate the tubes. After embarking, up to ten surfers can set out to find swells pounding remote, secret atolls. You'll likely have breaks like the Peak to yourself, where deep-water channels make for safer exits from glassy faces up to 18 feet high. (Beginners can take longboards out at Betties for 300-yard-long rides on head-high waves, and onboard guides are always out in the water to give pointers.) At the end of the day, crash on the couch with a cold Tiger beer and watch videos of yourself to perfect your cutback. Yellowfin and mahi-mahi are reeled in, then transformed into sushi and curry dishes. When your shoulders can take no more paddling, learn to tow-in surf behind a Jet Ski, go snorkeling, or get a massage from the onboard masseuse. OUTFITTER: Tropicsurf; tropicsurf.net PRICE: From $5,556, for seven- to ten-day trips DIFFICULTY: Moderate WHEN TO GO: April–October

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