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Customized Vacations

A selection of 23 top travel agents and tour operators:

Abercrombie & Kent 800/323-7308; www.abercrombieandkent.com. Founded in Africa and still safari experts, A&K has 42 offices worldwide dealing in luxury adventures, from train rides on the Orient Express to Antarctic cruises. Of the 180,000 clients the company handles every year, half opt for a partly or fully customized trip.

Absolute Africa, Absolute Asia, & Absolute South Pacific 888/443-2378, www.absoluteafrica.net; 800/736-8187, www.absoluteasia.com; 888/285-6094, www.absolutesouthpacific.com. This trio of companies, formerly a duo (Absolute Asia and Absolute Australia), now plans specialized trips to Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and all points between Morocco and Indonesia. The well-traveled staff members pride themselves on their firsthand knowledge of all destinations they cover.

Asia Transpacific Journeys 800/642-2742; www.southeastasia.com. Independent travel to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, with a focus on unconventional attractions, such as native villages in Borneo or tribal theater in Papua New Guinea.

Big Five Tours & Expeditions 800/244-3483; www.bigfive.com. Renowned for ecologically sound camping safaris in Kenya and other African countries.

Bliss Tours 800/636-0810; www.blisstours.com. Bliss takes travelers to western Canada, arranging fishing trips and hiking and biking tours—even grizzly watching.

Butterfield & Robinson 800/678-1147, www.butterfieldandrobinson.com. Organizes high-quality journeys—particularly to Europe—for fresh-air fiends, including scheduled group or independent hiking, walking, rafting, and kayaking itineraries.

Churchill & Turen 800/445-7979; www.traveltruth.com. Specialists in cruises and "lifestyle touring," which exposes visitors to daily life, mainly in European destinations.

Egitalloyd 20-2/332-2058. This Cairo-based company has knowledgeable guides and a knack for finding space at the best hotels in Egypt.


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