As the audience for adventure travel becomes more sophisticated, the call for trips that truly abandon the beaten path or explore popular destinations in new ways is growing louder. Each year, many adventure providers introduce new trips to help meet this demand. After checking in with hundreds of outfitters from around the world and getting a sneak peek at what's cooking in their trip laboratories, here are my picks for the best new adventure trips of 2008.
Bike Chile's new route to El Dorodo
Provider: Sacred Rides
Length: Ten days
Brcic discovered a singletrack route through the Atacama desert so impressive, he named it "El Dorado." Next March he's taking clients back with him to ride El Dorado and other routes he scouted along the country's Pacific coast and in the Andes mountains.
"No other company is offering a mountain bike trip of this sort," says Brcic. "For the first few days, we'll be riding in the Santiago area, exploring the spectacular Andes mountains, including a ride in the shadow of Mt. Aconcagua, the Americas' highest peak. Then we're off to Valparaiso, with a bit of urban riding mixed with surfing in beautiful beach towns and riding in the Chilean jungle. Then, we fly up to northern Chile to the spectacular Atacama desert, the driest desert in the world. The landscape looks like the surface of the moon, with massive sand dunes and volcanoes over 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) high."
To go on this trip, you should be an intermediate to advanced rider. You'll average about 22 miles a day, reaching elevations of up to 10,000 feet. Rides will be interspersed with more laid-back activities, like soaking in the hot springs of El Tatio, the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere, and free time for sightseeing in Valparaiso, one of the country's cultural capitals.
This trip runs March 8 to 17, 2008. The package price includes lodging, most meals, entrance fees, professional guides, airport transfers, a flight within Chile, and local transportation. You can either bring your own mountain bike or rent one for about $400. A percentage of the trip cost goes to local development and sustainability projects. The company also operates the "Bikes Without Borders" charity, which distributes bicycles to needy families in developing countries. Airfare to Santiago, Chile, and a flight from Calama to Santiago is not included. Sacred Rides recommends booking the internal flight on LAN, which should charge about $150. I found round-trip fares to Santiago from Miami starting at $680, including taxes, on Avianca.