Do the Darwin
Conveniently, 2009 marks both the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. This has fur-and-feather nerds everywhere aflutter. But the occasion should also be cause for celebration among adventure travelers. After all, before the British naturalist's obsession with Galápagos finches changed the way we look at life on earth, he was a scrappy, seasick wanderer exploring a wild place. And though Darwin's playground has seen some unfortunate changes in recent yearsa 135 percent jump in tourism since 2000 has turned the Galápagos archipelago into a haunt for cruise ships as well as sea lionsthere's a smarter way to pay homage. On a multi-day sea-kayak trip, travelers can see the islands and the blue-footed boobies much as Darwin did: from the water and the beach, instead of the buffet table. Explorer's Corner offers 11-day trips for small private groups (nights are spent on an eight-person catamaran; from $4,500; explorerscorner.com). Meanwhile, ROW Adventures is one of many outfitters offering largely symbolic discounts on 2009 trips to commemorate the anniversary. Visitors get a $150 break on select ten-day multisport trips, which involve kayaks, snorkels, ten-mile hikes, and nights spent camping on beaches alongside sea lions still unfazed by two-legged visitors. Think of it as a recession special ($3,340 with discount; rowadventures.com).