Ten amazing adventures under $1,000 (2008 edition)

Bald eagles (Photo: Bruce Leonard/iStockphoto.com)
by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on March 10, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, Alaska, arts and culture, Berkeley, camping, Croatia, family travel, hiking, Kings Canyon Natl Park, Laos, Molly Feltner, mountain, national park, New Zealand, Peru, Saguenay, Sedona, Tanzania, trekking, wildlife.

How much adventure can you get for $1,000? More than you might think. For less than the cost of a single night at the Plaza Hotel in New York, you can climb to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, trek to remote villages in the Peruvian Andes, or learn to sail a racing yacht. These and seven other trips that cost under a grand are detailed below.

Family adventure in Alaska

Provider: Alaska Outdoors
Length: Seven days
Price: $995

With the tallest mountains in North America, 33,000 miles of coastline, 16 national parks and preserves (some larger than entire states), geological features ranging from glaciers to volcanoes, and wild animals like bald eagles and grizzly bears, Alaska is arguably the top adventure destination in the United States. Great for active families, Alaska provides more unique experiences and learning opportunities than any parent could hope for.

However, due to its remoteness and short tourist season, it can be an expensive place to visit. A quick search for weeklong family adventure trips in Alaska reveals prices hovering around $3,000 per person, sometimes with a small discount for kids.

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Alaska Outdoors, a small locally based company, bucks that trend and runs tours for families and other groups with an emphasis on low-impact travel—both on the environment and on your wallet. Its seven-day Classic Alaska Family Tour, which visits five national parks and protected areas, including Kenai Fjords National Park and Denali National Park, comes in at $995 for adults or $950 for kids under 18.

While most Alaska family tours are lodge- or hotel-based, Alaska Outdoors' trip uses beautiful and conveniently located campgrounds.

"Camping is a much more affordable means for travel in Alaska and is also more interactive with the Alaskan environment—we don't check into hotel rooms which would insulate us from the Alaska we are here to experience," says company founder Mark Reiser. Each day of the trip features a diverse array of activities including hiking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing (included in the trip cost). Additional activities also available are wildlife glacier cruises, rafting, fishing, horseback riding, and biking. Many of the experiences are optional, so if want to splurge on something pricey—like a flight-seeing tour of Denali—you can, or you can choose something more affordable, or free, like hiking or canoeing. Meals consist of hardy and healthy camping cuisine (e.g., grilled salmon, pancakes with fresh blueberries and real maple syrup), with custom menus based on questionnaires you fill out in advance. Most guides are local, and all are trained to present information to kids in an engaging way.

Trip planning

This trip departs every Sunday between June 15 and August 17. Prices cover hotel and camping accommodations, all but two meals, a full-time Alaska Outdoors guide, ground transportation, park entrance fees, and select activities. Round-trip August fares from Seattle to Anchorage start at $450, including taxes, on Continental.

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