Finding a trip for Christmas break

Week of October 9-15, 1997
Ski resort trips around California
Introducing Boy Scouts to rafting
Mountain-bike trails in Vermont
Finding a trip for Christmas break
Mountaineering and camping outings

Finding a trip for Christmas break
Question: We're an active, athletic middle-aged couple. What are the best places to look for adventure travel during the holidays?

Marty Lazar
Norwood, NJ

Mayan ruins in Copan, Honduras, add to the country's unparalleled beauty

Adventure Adviser: For a good overview of the wide scope of adventure travel available these days, I'd recommend looking at our January 1997 Tripfinder. An annual feature in Outside, the Tripfinder gives a good description of 50 trips worldwide, and the outfitters who offer them.

Our next Tripfinder will be available in January 1998, a little too later for this year's plans. If you don't have the 1997 issue handy, you can order one by sending a check for $6.95 to Outside, 400 Market Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501.

Tripfinder or not, as a general rule most of the major international outfitters offer at least a few trips over the holidays, and coincidentally, I've been keeping track of some of the more interesting itineraries:

KE Adventure Travel (800-497-9675), an Aspen, Colorado-based company that specializes in Himalayan travel, is offering a 16-day mountain biking trip to Nepal that starts December 22. You'll fly into Taplejung and spend the first week riding Kangchnjunga Massif and the second week pedaling the ridge above Kathmandu Valley. Then you'll ride into Kathmandu and spend New Year's Eve sipping hot tombas through a wooden straw. The land-only price is $2,475.

If that sounds a bit strenuous, you may want to opt for a 13-day exploration of ancient and modern Maya culture offered by Nature Expeditions International (800-869-0639). You'll visit the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala, Copan in Honduras, and Xuanantunich in Belize, as well as spelunk in the crystal caves of southern Belize. The program also includes a class, nature walks with Mayan healers, and locally prepared Mayan meals. The program costs $1,990 and runs December 18-30.

Finally, Backroads, a Berkeley, California-based bicycle and walking company offers a 10-day inn-to-inn hiking trip through Israel and Jordan. You'll start at the Dead Sea, with a luxurious spa treatment at the Hyatt Regency Dead Sea Resort and Spa, and then head to the Negev desert for a hike up to the mountaintop of Masada.

From there you'll travel to Eliat, a port town on the Red Sea once used by King Solomon as a gateway to the Far East. Finally, you'll head to Wadi Rum and Petra to sample Middle Eastern cuisine, and then you'll head back to Jerusalem for a final tour of the city.

Though this trip includes a lot of time on a shuttle, it obviously provides an extensive overview of the Holy Land. The trip price is $3,298. Call 800-462-2848 for details.

As you can see, there's any number of trips available. I'd recommend calling your travel agent to pick her brain, or browsing the travel magazine rack at your nearest mega-bookstore. The trips are out there. You just have to find one that sounds right for you.

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