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24 Trips You'll Want to Plan Right Now

Christopher Sturman Three women prepare for a trip.

Photo: Christopher Sturman

Adventure

U.S. + Canada

13. Mount Rainier Ascend the 14,410-foot summit of Washington's highest peak in an all-women group guided by Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. The operator runs at least two female-led expeditions each climbing season (May to September); you'll learn basic climbing skills and reach higher camps each day. It's a challenge for the inexperienced, but RMI has outlined a training plan that will whip novice hikers into shape. 888/892-5462; www.rmiguides.com; $1,395 for six days, triple. 14. Captiva Island The cadets of the U.S. Naval Academy learn to sail on 26-foot Colgate sailboats, and so can you. At Offshore Sailing School's annual six-day women-only sailing program at Florida's South Seas Island Resort, sailors can get basic keelboat certification, and a final day of sailing sans instructor. 800/221-4326; www.offshoresailing.com; $1,799, double.

Abroad

15. Bhutan See the snowcapped mountains and sacred Buddhist temples on a hike designed specifically for women over 30 by AdventureWomen, Inc. Initial easy hikes acclimate trekkers to the 12,000-foot altitude. The program also includes a visit to Punakha Dzong, also known as "the Palace of Great Happiness," founded in the 17th century by the man who united Bhutan. 800/804-8686; www.adventurewomen.com; doubles from $5,095 for 15 days. 16. GREAT VALUE Costa Rica Master the longboard at Surf Diva's weeklong, women-only surfing clinic. Catch some waves, then stretch out your kinks with daily yoga sessions and massages in a two-story treehouse in the jungle. 858/454-8273; www.surfdiva.com; six days, from $1,975, double.

Culture

U.S. + Canada

17. New Orleans Take your book club on the road. Groups on an upcoming Classical Pursuits program will go on a guided walking tour through Le Monde Créole to set the literary stage, while studying works such as Kate Chopin's 1893 short story "Désirée's Baby," about a woman's identity struggle in Cajun Louisiana. 877/633-2555; www.classicalpursuits.com; $1,290, per person, double; November 3–7. 18. New York City tour guide Kitt Garrett will customize group trips through culturally and historically significant areas within the five boroughs. Choose your neighborhood (SoHo, Williamsburg), and she'll take it from there—even planning meet-and-greets with local artists. www.dnykg.com; from $1,390 per group of up to eight people.

Abroad

19. GREAT VALUE San Miguel de Allende Mother-daughter team Maria "YaYa" Marquez and Patricia Merrill Marquez run weeklong Mexican cooking sessions out of their B&B. Trip highlights include a visit to the local market to get fresh ingredients for dishes like mole poblano with chicken. 52-301/591-4129; www.mexicancookingvacation.com; $1,500 per person, double. 20. Australia Helen Read's experiences working as a nurse with the art-producing indigenous peoples in Western Australia and the country's Northern Territory gives her inside access to the remote communities, which she shares with participants on her five-day Didgeri Air Arts tours. 61-8/8948-5055; www.didgeri.com.au; five days, $6,015 per person, double; March through October.

Volunteer

U.S. + Canada

21. GREAT VALUE United States On a Women Build program with Habitat for Humanity, groups of women learn everything from hanging siding to using power tools, while constructing homes for other women and families in need in cities across the country. More than 150 Women Build events were scheduled this year, and more are planned for 2007. 800/422-4828; www.habitat.org; free. 22. Golden Gate National Recreation Area Create trails, build gates, and clean up debris in California's Marin Headlands. From March through November, the American Hiking Society runs guided weeklong trips for groups of up to 10 female friends looking to do some good together. 301/565-6704; www.americanhiking.org; from $130, double.

Abroad

23. Himalayas The price of a three-week trek with Tourcan Vacations includes a contribution to Child Haven International, which runs programs that provide educational services, occupational training, and family planning to Nepalese, Indian, Tibetan, and Bangladeshi women and children. If that doesn't provide a sense of accomplishment, the finish line—at Mount Everest's base camp, at 17,998 feet—should do it. 888/359-8685; www.tourcanvacations.com; trips from $4,442 per person, double. 24. The Women's Global Green Action Network runs programs with human rights organization Global Exchange that allow participants to work with female environmental leaders developing strategies for change. This year's trip—to Bolivia—takes place October 2006, and more are planned for 2007. 415/788-3666; www.wggan.org.

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