I’ll be honest, finding an adventure trip that qualifies as “amazing” for under $1,000 isn’t easy. Right now I’m looking for an overseas small-group adventure tour for myself and my cash-strapped sister. It’s got to include most of our expenses, a good combination of physical challenges and authentic cultural interactions, eco-friendly, and to a place none of our friends have ever been. Oh yeah, and cost less than $1,000 for on-the-ground expenses.
Luckily my job involves hunting down such rare finds and I’m happy to report I’ve found a great crop of possibilities, both for international and domestic travel. Most are to destinations that are up-and-coming or newly opened, or they offer a new and better spin on an old classic. For each adventure, I tried to pick the outfitter that had the best value tours as well as strong recommendations from clients.
Explore the ancient wonders of Egypt the right way
Outfitter: G.A.P Adventures
When European visitors began exploring Egypt in the 18th century, travel was difficult and expensive, and the important sites still lay undiscovered by all but grave robbers. Boy, things have changed. Egypt is now so accessible the Pyramids, Luxor, and the Valley of Kings are often overwhelmed with tourists, and numerous preservation organizations have been created to keep the monuments from being “loved” to death.
While too many tourists might make living out Indiana Jones fantasies difficult, you can find Egypt trips designed to give more authentic travel experiences. G.A.P Adventures, a budget-friendly outfitter that runs trips worldwide, has put together a 15-day “Roam Egypt” itinerary that hits all the must-see attractions while making use of traditional forms of transportation and frequenting local eateries and small hotels.
“It’s as much about how we do things as what we do,” says Kira Zack of G.A.P Adventures. “We sail aboard a traditional felucca for two nights up the Nile and stop at highlights along the way. Instead of taking jeeps to the Valley of the Kings, we ride donkeys in over the same rough terrain as archaeologists might have near the turn of the century.”
Besides the Nile journey and the Valley of the Kings trek, you’ll also get to ride camels around the Great Pyramids, tour Luxor, explore the catacombs of Alexandria, and follow Moses’ footsteps to the summit of Mt. Sinai.
“I didn’t feel as though I was [part of] one of the large crowds being pushed along by a [guide] book,” says Toronto native Leigh Naturkach who went on tour in 2003. “We traveled in so many different ways and stayed at a variety of places, that we got a real feel for the different areas. I liked that the travel groups were not too big and the price was great for the experience.”
The base trip price is $585, plus a local payment of $250. Accommodations, transportation, guides, meals, and many excursions are included. Some meals and optional excursions are extra. Departures are scheduled throughout the year, but crowds are generally lighter from June through August. Tours start and end in Cairo, where the main international airport in located.