Choosing that next great trip into the outdoors means knowing what kind of adventure travel you're after—and finding the right outfitter to match. T+L lends a helping hand.

http://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/backpacking-tripsTrekking, Walking, and Biking

Alpine Ascents

Adrenaline-inducing mountaineering trips that tackle the world’s tallest peaks, including less extreme itineraries such as a seven-day hike up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. 206/378-1927.
T+L Trip Pick: Volcanoes of Iceland Beginner and intermediate climbers conquer Hvannadalshnúkur, the country’s highest summit. July–Sept. departures; nine days from $5,000.

Austin-Lehman Adventures

Outstanding guides lead multisport excursions through the American West, Central and South America, and beyond.
T+L Trip Pick: California Wine Country Go sea kayaking in Tomales Bay to spot seals, cycle through Napa Valley, and hike area redwood forests. June–Oct. departures; six days from $2,898.

Butterfield & Robinson

Specializes in easy guided biking tours in culturally rich regions from Europe to Asia. New, more affordably priced Bistro trips in Europe adopt a can’t-miss formula: a laid-back pace, stays at family-run inns, and good food.
T+L Trip Pick: Tuscany Bistro Biking Pedal through the Tuscan hills, stopping to sample pecorino and taste wine in Chianti, Cortona, and Pienza. June–Oct. departures; six days from $3,995.

Country Walkers

Moderate and challenging walks (and a few small-ship cruises) in 80 destinations around the world with a roster of insider guides, such as Morocco native Saida Ezzahoui, an expert on native flora and fauna.
T+L Trip Pick: Turkey: Turquoise Coast Sail from Antalya’s Old Town to Istanbul, with visits to little-known Roman ruins and secluded coves. Year-round departures; eight days from $4,298.

Gray & Co.

Founder Cari Gray offers behind-the-scenes experiences—such as barrel tastings in Burgundy’s Bichot caves—on her finely tuned walking and biking itineraries in Europe, South America, and more. 416/998-4082.
T+L Trip Pick: For a T+L reader exclusive hiking trip in Italy, see “The Glam-Trotter.”

Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures

Serious treks through Western Europe (the Mont Blanc region; the Italian Dolomites), the Himalayas, and southeastern Utah. Accommodations vary by region, from luxury tents to intimate chalets. 888/586-8365.
T+L Trip Pick: Via Alpina Stage Three From Gstaad, Switzerland, ascend 3,900 feet into the Alps, passing glaciers, remote villages, and flowering meadows. Aug. 6 departure; seven days from $2,995.

VBT Bicycling & Walking Vacations

This 40-year-old Vermont-based operator leads relaxed bike tours in North America and Europe with an emphasis on food and history.
T+L Trip Pick: Maryland: Cycling the Chesapeake Bay Ride over gently sloping hills, feast on crab, and stay at historic inns. Aug.–Oct. departures; six days from $1,795.

Traveler Type: The Glam-Trotter

An avid traveler who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty (so long as there’s a sink and top-quality soap nearby). The only thing better than seeing Machu Picchu last month? The bazillion-thread-count linens at the Sanctuary Lodge

Role Model: Meryl Streep in Out of Africa (before she sold her good china).
Gear: The Handpresso portable espresso maker, since there’s no trek that can’t be improved by a great Italian dark roast ($95).
Accessory: Moncler Roxane jacket ($895).
T+L Exclusive Trip: Hiking the Amalfi Coast with Gray & Co. Trek in style on this Italian jaunt along ancient Roman coastal paths, which includes a private tour of the Blue Grotto, a cave on Capri, hilltop stargazing (with a cold glass of limoncello), and overnights at Le Sirenuse, in Positano. Year-round departures through 2012; seven days from $7,000.

 

Local Culture

 

Adventures by Disney

Family-focused, immersive trips range from spotting scarlet-throated frigate birds in the Galápagos to lessons in kite making in China. New trips for 2013 go to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
T+L Trip Pick: Jewels of Southeast Asia Explore Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, visit a working rice farm, and take a cruise down the Mekong River. Year-round departures; 12 days from $4,849.

Backroads

Active travel (cycling; walking; sea kayaking; rock climbing) paired with unexpected cultural experiences (storytelling in Ireland; a game of boules in Provence; visiting mask makers in Bali). Multiple route options appeal to all skill levels.
T+L Trip Pick: Holland and Belgium: From the Dutch Countryside to Beautiful Bruges Pedal past flower fields, canals, and pitched-roof farmhouses, with stops to learn how to make Gouda cheese and to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kinderdijk (known for its 19 preserved windmills). July–Aug. departures; six days from $4,198.

Boundless Journeys

Culturally immersive itineraries in Africa, Asia, and Europe, among other places, are infused with the expertise of local staff such as Sangay Wangchuk, who has written a memoir about growing up in rural Bhutan.
T+L Trip Pick: Bhutan: Across the Kingdom Explore temples, hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, and learn about shamanism on visits to traditional villages. Sept.–Nov. departures; 18 days from $6,795.

Brown & Hudson

This outfitter, founded by Philippe Brown, a 16-year luxury travel company veteran, creates bespoke private trips that explore the world—from Costa Rica to Cambodia—through the lenses of food, wellness, and wine, to name a few.
T+L Trip Pick: Burma Study enlightenment with an abbot at a monastery, charter a plane into the rain forest, snorkel in the Mergui archipelago, and recharge at a traditional teak house. Year-round departures; seven days from $20,000.

Classic Journeys

Unbeatable access to experiences around the globe—learning firsthand about a family-run organic coffee plantation in the Galápagos; dining in a private home in Delhi—are woven into every walking-based excursion, from Ireland to Bhutan.
T+L Trip Pick: For a T+L reader-exclusive trip in Turkey, see “The Culture Buff.”

G Adventures

Small groups, the use of local transportation and guides, and one-on-one connections are the cornerstones of the company formerly known as Gap Adventures. Hundreds of trips are on offer worldwide, but this year marks the company’s first foray into North America. 888/800-4100.
T+L Trip Pick: Guatemala Local Living Learn how to make tortillas and weave colorful textiles during a homestay in a village on Lake Atitlán, in the central highlands. Nov.–Dec. departures; eight days from $499.

Geographic Expeditions

This trailblazer explores the remote corners of every continent using guides with extensive on-the-ground networks, such as San Francisco–based Vassi Koutsaftis, who has been leading trips into Burma, Tibet, and Nepal for 25 years. Newly added: a small selection of family trips.
T+L Trip Pick: Shikoku and the Naoshima Islands of Japan Take a soba-making class, trace the old Shingon Buddhist pilgrimage route, and sleep at a ryokan. May–Oct. departures; seven days from $5,665.

Kensington Tours

A vast range of personalized itineraries, including working on archaeological digs in Israel and trekking to see gorillas in Rwanda, while staying in castles, ashrams, tropical tree houses, and tented safari camps.
T+L Trip Pick: Bali Orangutans and Dragons Explore Bali, fly to Indonesian Borneo to observe orangutans, and sail to Rinca and Komodo islands to get up close to Komodo dragons. Apr.–Nov. departures; 10 days from $3,950.

Red Savannah

All trips are tailor-made at this outfitter, opened last year by George Morgan-Grenville, a 24-year luxury travel veteran, and share an emphasis on meaningful interactions with locals in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Guides have at least 10 years of field experience. 44/1242-787-800.
T+L Trip Pick: Machu Picchu, Trek in Style Meet indigenous Quechua people before taking a guided tour of Machu Picchu. April–Oct. departures; eight days from $4,320.

Tauck

This Connecticut-based company offers close to 100 trips, including river cruises in Europe and volunteer conservation programs in Grand Teton National Park.
T+L Trip Pick: Culturious Costa Rica Visit small villages and coffee plantations before taking a horseback ride through a private hacienda and kayaking through mangrove forest. Year-round departures; eight days from $2,770.

Travcoa

Small-ship river cruises with immersive land excursions are Travcoa’s specialty.
T+L Trip Pick: Splendors of India with Sri Lanka and the Maldives Set sail from Mumbai on the 110-passenger Clipper Odyssey, stop for a cooking class in a Goan home, and snorkel among coral at Uligamu, a northern island of the Maldives. Nov. departures; 18 days from $11,480.

Traveler Type: The Culture Buff

Speaks four languages, two of which are extinct. Owns a collection of Etruscan pottery fragments that’s the envy of the anthropology club. Recently acquired a rare shrunken head from the Shuar tribe of Peru.

Role Model: Indiana Jones
Gear: Pantech Element, AT&T’s waterproof tablet, is ideal for research on the road—or at the excavation site ($299).
Accessory: SteamLine Stylist Series luggage (from $280).
T+L Exclusive Trip: Turquoise Coast & Cappadocia with Classic Journeys. Start in Istanbul, then board a 70-foot gulet (teak yacht) to explore the coast. Along the way, see Cappadocia from a hot-air balloon and snorkel to ancient underwater ruins. Sept.–Oct. departures; nine days from $4,795.

 

River and Ocean

 

Explorers’ Corner

Founder Olaf Malver often serves as a guide on his company’s legendary expeditions into the polar regions; less intrepid, warm-water kayaking trips are also available. 877/677-9623.
T+L Trip Pick: Antarctica: The Ultimate Polar Wildlife Adventure Sail aboard the 54-foot Northanger, disembarking to explore mountains and fjords and to camp atop the ice. Dec. 4 departure; 28 days from $16,900.

Frontiers International Travel

Founded more than four decades ago, this fishing outfitter has a huge global presence, with access to pristine spots from Canada to Mongolia. 800/245-1950.
T+L Trip Pick: Bahamas: Delphi Club on Abaco Island Excellent bonefish trolling for serious anglers; the intimate eight-room Delphi Club serves as a base, with access to a golf course and a white-sand beach. Oct.–June departures; four days from $3,532.

Mountain Travel Sobek

More than 40 years of experience arranging hiking, trekking, rafting, and kayaking excursions, with group or private itineraries.
T+L Trip Pick: Alaska: Rafting the Tatshenshini River Brave Class Two and Three rapids for more than 130 miles through the world’s largest contiguous wilderness area, passing icebergs and stopping to walk among mountain goats and spot bald eagles. June–Sept. departures; nine days from $3,195.

Rod & Gun Resources

Fishing trips to Alaska, the Amazon, Argentina, and beyond, with stays in comfortable jungle lodges, cabin barges, and tented camps.
T+L Trip Pick: Bolivian Adventure The company’s first venture in Bolivia goes to the remote Caño Negro River, home to the exotic peacock bass. July–Dec. departures; four days from $3,895.

Row Adventures

This outfitter now runs land-based trips, but its main focus remains white-water rafting in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Ecuador, and the Galápagos. Environmental scientist Peter Metcalf shares his in-depth knowledge on trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, in Idaho.
T+L Trip Pick: Middle Fork of the Salmon Rafting Descend 3,000 feet aboard a raft along the 110-mile-long river, pausing to view hot springs and to visit historic pioneer homesteads. June–Sept. departures; five days from $1,625.

Traveler Type: The Weekend Zoologist

Asked for a butterfly net for fifth birthday; at 10 it was a microscope. Spotted rare birds on four continents and is currently ranked No. 48 on the American Birding Association’s competitive international list. After that black-grouse sighting at Loch Lomond, hopes to make it to No. 47 by year’s end.

Role Model: Jack Hanna
Gear: Sony Cyber-shot Digital Camera (DSC-TX200V). It’s waterproof and dust-proof, and with its high-speed auto-focus, you’ll capture that hairy-nosed wombat every time ($499.99).
Accessory: DPC Outdoors cotton/canvas mesh safari hat ($55).
T+L Exclusive Trip: Rare Shoebill Safari with Journeys by Design. Channel your inner ornithologist on this Zambian safari, which has some of the best bird-viewing on the continent (rare shoebill storks; wattled cranes). Nov.–March and May departures; seven days from $3,955.

 

Off the Grid

 

EpicQuest

The brainchild of serious athletes, EpicQuest leads active trips from skiing untouched terrain in Alaska to fishing off the Kenyan coast.
T+L Trip Pick: South American Ski Adventure Head to the Chilean Andes to tackle some of the world’s longest heli-skiing runs. July–Sept. departures; eight days from $12,500.

Epic Tomato

This adventure-minded offshoot of tour operator Black Tomato creates extreme custom journeys such as 10-day treks in the Borneo jungle in search of the Penan tribe and horseback crossings of the Bolivian salt flats. Many guides have military and Special Forces backgrounds. 44-20/7426-9899.
T+L Trip Pick: For a readers-only jungle expedition in Malaysia, see “The Thrill Seeker.”

Lindblad Expeditions

Its small-group, nature-based trips aboard expedition ships equipped with kayaks and Zodiacs go to such far-flung destinations as Alaska, Antarctica, and the upper Amazon.
T+L Trip Pick: Norway's Fjords & Arctic Svalbard The 148-passenger National Geographic Explorer travels from travels from Oslo to the polar-bear-filled Arctic Svalbard and the fjords of central Norway. May 24, 2013, departure; 13 days from $13,820. [Editors' Note: The Impressions of Northern Norway itinerary is not available in 2013.]

Momentum Adventure

Created in 2008 by mountain climber Matthew Robertson, the U.K.-based group leads daring multisport forays (capped at six travelers each), including pioneering ski trips in Lebanon and Kashmir and canoe trips in the Yukon. 44/1892-784-646.
T+L Trip Pick: The Last Degree A combination of flights and serious trekking from Chile to the South Pole. Nov.–Jan. departures; 21 days from $80,000.

Quark Expeditions

Quark’s ice-class vessels—equipped with not only helicopters but also biologists, historians, and ornithologists—ply remote polar waters in comfort. This year, Quark launched hot-air balloons on select North Pole trips.
T+L Trip Pick: Antarctic Express Fly over the Drake Passage, on the southern tip of South America, then board the 61-cabin Clipper Adventurer to spot glaciers, penguins, and whales (polar camping is optional). Feb. 2013 departures; eight days from $7,995.

Wild Frontiers

British journalist Jonny Bealby founded the London-based Wild Frontiers, which has multisport trips (rafting; trekking; horseback riding) in 40 countries.
T+L Trip Pick: Trekking in the Hindu Kush Cross glaciers, rivers, and pastures as you journey from the Yarkhun River region to the glacier- and river-filled Ishkoman Valley in northern Pakistan. May 11, 2013, departure; 17 days from $3,713.

Traveler Type: The Thrill Seeker

Keeps his souvenirs where he can see them. That scar on his forehead? From a hang-gliding mishap in Rio. The mark on his knee? Cave diving in Borneo. Likes to start the day with a nice bowl of fear. That’s right: he eats fear for breakfast.

Role Model: Bear Grylls
Gear: North Face’s Powder Guide ABS vest: inflatable nitrogen airbag pouches protect the wearer in the event of an avalanche or rock and tree collisions. ($1,300).
Accessory: Revo’s Waterway Titanium sunglasses ($249).
T+L Exclusive Trip: T+L Borneo Trip with Epic Tomato. Fly a Twin Otter aircraft into Borneo’s interior, where you’ll drive an ATV along the Selungo River and visit Gunung Mulu National Park, which has the world’s largest cave chambers. March–Oct. departures; 15 days from $10,275.

 

Safari

 

Abercrombie & Kent

Trips in more than 100 countries with an emphasis on Africa, where well-appointed mobile tented camps ensure that travelers view wildlife in comfort, whether they’re tracking the Great Migration in East Africa or gliding through Botswana’s Okavango Delta in dugout canoes.
T+L Trip Pick: Wings Over the Migration Follow the Great Migration, view a private Masai dance performance, and camp near the Ngorongoro Crater. Sept.–Dec. departures; 15 days from $13,470.

Cox & Kings

Founded in 1758, Cox & Kings is one of the world’s longest-running travel companies and has a global portfolio with jungle excursions, culinarily focused tours, sea voyages—and extraordinary safaris.
T+L Trip Pick: Portrait of Kenya Spot Somali ostriches and reticulated giraffes in Samburu National Reserve, balloon over the Masai Mara savanna, and adopt an elephant at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. July–Oct. departures; 12 days from $9,835.

Journeys by Design

Founder and environmental scientist Will Jones designs trips to eastern and southern Africa, where he spent 25 years.
T+L Trip Pick: See “The Weekend Zoologist” for a reader-exclusive Zambia trip for bird lovers.

Ker & Downey

This community- and conservation-minded outfitter has led tours through Africa, India, and South America for more than 50 years.
T+L Trip Pick: Primates of Africa Come within 15 feet of habituated gorillas in the Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. May–Dec. departures; 17 days from $13,195.

Micato Safaris

Bespoke safaris in eastern and southern Africa and India with on-the-ground experts. Guide Alan Petersen has led David Beckham and Robert De Niro.
T+L Trip Pick: Discover Africa’s Heritage Visit UNESCO-protected areas such as Kenya’s Lake Nakuru and Zanzibar’s Stone Town. Year-round departures; 12 days from $11,525.

 

Voluntourism

 

Biosphere Expeditions

This nonprofit runs wildlife volunteer expeditions that connect travelers with conservation researchers in the field. 800/407-5761.
T+L Trip Pick: Namibia Help wildlife ranchers collar and monitor leopards and collect demographic data on African cat populations in central Namibia. July-Nov. departures; 12 days from $2,423.

Elevate Destinations

All of Elevate’s trips focus on community development; many are created to deal with current events. This year, guide Andrew Mersmann, author of Frommer’s 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference, is leading service trips to Haiti.
T+L Trip Pick: South Africa Fair-Trade Safari A rhino safari is followed by volunteer work at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, which protects endangered species, including the African penguin. Year-round departures; 10 days from $5,650.

 

Regional Specialists

 

Aracari

This Peruvian-owned company organizes low-altitude hikes and extreme treks in Peru, Bolivia, and the Galápagos. It has strong relationships with local communities.
T+L Trip Pick: Lodge to Lodge Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Follow the picturesque Salkantay Route to Machu Picchu and stay in luxury lodges. March–Dec. departures; 10 days from $3,130.

Asia Transpacific Journeys

With 25 years of experience in the region, Asia Transpacific Journeys operates both group and private trips through Asia and the Pacific.
T+L Trip Pick: Sacred Mountain Kingdoms—Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan Meet monks in remote monasteries, observe a riverside Hindu ceremony, and explore ancient temples. April 11, 2013, departure; 20 days from $10,495.

Matueté

This São Paulo, Brazil–based company offers customized yacht cruises on the Amazon, wildlife tours in the wetland regions of the Pantanal, and treks through the canyonlands of Chapada Diamantina National Park.
T+L Trip Pick: Lençóis Maranhenses Go by foot, land, and air from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, stopping to explore Lençóis Maranhenses National Park—a sandy landscape with thousands of freshwater lagoons. Year-round departures; 15 days from $7,500.

Off the Beaten Path

Cofounders Bill and Pam Bryan deliver the ultimate American West experience. Veteran guide Darrell Norman, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, arranges traditional dinners with tribe members in his Montana residence.
T+L Trip Pick: Alaska’s Winter Magic Spend time with a family of husky trainers, then strap on snowshoes and peer up at the northern lights. March–April 2013 departures; six days from $3,795.

 

Emerging Destinations

 

Western China

Why Now: The culturally rich region of Diqing provides a glimpse of Tibetan culture without the red tape, and now it’s easier to reach, thanks to a new road that connects the area to major cities.
Don’t Miss: The scenic and remote Tibetan village of Benzilan, located in northwestern Yunnan province.
How to Visit: Along the Tea and Horse Caravan Trail with Abercrombie & Kent. 15 days from $12,400.

Burma

Why Now: After decades of isolation, Burma is an untouched portrait of Buddhist traditions and culture.
Don’t Miss: The Shwedagon Pagoda—whose dome is covered with 60 tons of gold.
How to Visit: Dream Trip–Myanmar: Into the Heart of Burma with Cox & Kings. 11 days from $7,665.

Mozambique

Why Now: The country is rehabilitating the wildlife-rich Gorongosa National Park and Niassa National Reserve.
Don’t Miss: Dhow sailing and wild camping around the Quirimbas Archipelago.
How to Visit: Private Dhow Sailing Adventure with Journeys by Design. 12 days from $5,995.

Patagonia

Why Now: Luxe new lodgings, easier road access, and more flights are making this remote area more accessible.
Don’t Miss: Horseback riding with gauchos in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.
How to Visit: Bespoke Patagonia with Gray & Co. Eight days from $12,000.

Country Walkers

Moderate and challenging walks (and a few small-ship cruises) in 80 destinations around the world with a roster of insider guides, such as Morocco native Saida Ezzahoui, an expert on native flora and fauna. Specializes in a focus on interaction with locals (such as lessons with schoolchildren in India or lunch with villagers in Costa Rica). T+L Trip pick Turkey, Turquoise Coast: Sail from Antalya’s Old Town to Istanbul, with visits to little-known Roman ruins and secluded coves.

Mountain Travel Sobek

More than 40 years of experience arranging hiking, trekking, rafting, and kayaking excursions, with group or private itineraries. t+l trip pick Alaska: Rafting the Tatshenshini River. Brave Class Two and Three rapids for more than 130 miles through the world’s largest contiguous wilderness area, passing icebergs and stopping to walk among mountain goats and spot bald eagles.

Backroads

Active travel (cycling; walking; sea kayaking; rock climbing) paired with unexpected cultural experiences (storytelling in Ireland; a game of boules in Provence; visiting mask makers in Bali). All the family itineraries come with a dedicated Kid Coordinator who organizes activities such as scavenger hunts and art contests so that parents can get some time alone. T+L Trip pick Holland and Belgium: From the Dutch Countryside to Beautiful Bruges: Pedal past flower fields, canals, and pitched-roof farmhouses, with stops to learn how to make Gouda cheese and to visit the unesco World Heritage site of Kinderdijk (known for its 19 preserved windmills).

 

Off the Beaten Path

The Bozeman, Montana-based company specializes in itineraries to destinations throughout North and South America (as well as New Zealand, where it offers a two-week backcountry hiking trip on a half-dozen dates each year). Looking to go to Canada? Their adventurous itinerary stops in three of the country’s national parks—Banff, Jasper, and Yoho—where you’ll spot elk, moose, and golden eagles, as part of its Crown Jewels journey. Their Alaska itinerary features a visit to the Chilkat Eagle Preserve and Glacier Bay National Park. The outfitter now gives guests the chance to stay in a private camp near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, set within the world’s largest stand of ponderosa pines. By day, you’ll trek two miles down into the canyon, tour ancestral Puebloan ruins, and bike local trails, all in the hands of expert guides. Come evening, you’ll stay in your own deluxe walk-in tent, outfitted with a memory-foam mattress and mirrored washbasin.

Matuete

This Sao Paulo-based boutique travel agency specializes in custom luxury itineraries from Bahia to the Amazon. Robert Betenson is an invaluable local resource for everything from locating the perfect pousada in Fortaleza to gallery hopping in Caruaru and finding secret beaches in Natal.

Journeys by Design

Journeys by Design specializes in bespoke itineraries to the region, which often include a stay at Selous's Sand Rivers Camp and guided walking safaris along the hippo- and crocodile-inhabited Rufiji River. Will Jones spent 25 years in six African countries before returning to the U.K. to open a shop dealing exclusively with the continent he knows best. T+L Trip pick Origins of Man Safari. Tour the Great Rift Valley with legendary paleontologist Richard Leakey.

Micato Safaris

Since 1966, the Pinto family of Kenya and New York has been welcoming guests to Africa with an extraordinary level of service and in-country expertise. Guide Alan Petersen has led David Beckham and Robert De Niro. T+L Trip pick Discover Africa’s Heritage. Visit unesco-protected areas such as Kenya’s Lake Nakuru and Zanzibar’s Stone Town.

Row Adventures

No outfitter knows Idaho's waterways better than Row Adventures, which brings 29 years of luxury rafting experience to a new menu of fly fishing trips. Guests cast in hidden eddies, while guides carry the heavy gear: tents, cooking supplies, and enough portable plumbing for hot showers all around. Environmental scientist Peter Metcalf shares his in-depth knowledge on trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, in Idaho.  t+l trip pick Middle Fork of the Salmon Rafting. Descend 3,000 feet aboard a raft along the 110-mile-long river, pausing to view hot springs and to visit historic pioneer homesteads.

Travcoa

Small-ship river cruises with immersive land excursions are Travcoa’s specialty. California’s Travcoa tailors trips around a theme of your choosing—on a culinary weekend, you’ll sample olive oil at ancient mills and tour Seville’s tapas restaurants. t+l trip pick Splendors of India with Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Set sail from Mumbai on the 110-passenger Clipper Odyssey, stop for a cooking class in a Goan home, and snorkel among coral at Uligamu, a northern island of the Maldives.

Wild Frontiers

Founded in 2002 by acclaimed travel writer Jonny Bealby, Wild Frontiers is an award-winning adventure travel company offering small group tours and tailor-made holidays to destinations across the globe. Expert advisors create itineraries that enable travelers to explore the landscape, history, culture, and cuisine of locations like India, Egypt, the Argentine Patagonia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uzbekistan. Group tours are limited to 12 participants, and the company also arranges family trips and honeymoons. Spontaneous adventurers can book a recce (short for “reconnaissance”) tour in which travelers act as proverbial guinea pigs and help the guides tweak the itinerary along the way. t+l trip pick Trekking in the Hindu Kush. Cross glaciers, rivers, and pastures as you journey from the Yarkhun River region to the glacier- and river-filled Ishkoman Valley in northern Pakistan.

 

Adventures by Disney

Family-focused, immersive trips range from spotting scarlet-throated frigate birds in the Galápagos to lessons in kite making in China. New trips for 2013 go to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

Geographic Expeditions

This trailblazer explores the remote corners of every continent using guides with extensive on-the-ground networks, such as San Francisco–based Vassi Koutsaftis, who has been leading trips into Burma, Tibet, and Nepal for 25 years. Newly added: a small selection of family trips. In the pursuit of remarkable experiences, clients are willing to endure the very occasional bumpy road or night in a tent. T+L Trip pick Shikoku and the Naoshima Islands of Japan. Take a soba-making class, trace the old Shingon Buddhist pilgrimage route, and sleep at a ryokan.

The tour operator also arranges a 16-day Alaskan Inland Passage excursion with exclusive access into the 3.2 million–acre Glacier Bay National Park via yacht, followed by a stay at the Ultima Thule Lodge, with 12 well-equipped riverfront cabins.

Asia Transpacific Journeys

When Cyclone Nargis hit Burma in May 2008, killing an estimated 140,000 people and devastating the Irrawaddy Delta, the Asia Transpacific Foundation, the charitable arm of tour operator Asia Transpacific Journeys, was there to help survivors with access to purified drinking water via simple clay filters. The foundation’s nimble response, which saved countless lives, was an outgrowth of its campaign to teach locals in northern Thailand and Burma how to make these filters, providing them with both clean water and a source of income. The foundation now operates four water-filter factories and has brought better hygiene and sanitation to some 450,000 people in Burma alone. t+l trip pick Sacred Mountain Kingdoms—Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. Meet monks in remote monasteries, observe a riverside Hindu ceremony, and explore ancient temples.

 

Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad is a top adventure company, with an impressive affiliation with the National Geographic Society. Research scientists come on board, and passengers can observe NG field sites and equipment, including undersea cameras and hydrophones and video-microscopes. Meanwhile, excellent naturalist guides lead shore explorations, often involving wet Zodiac landings, getting you close to nature. The line’s five ships range in size from 62 to 148 passengers, though Lindblad also charters additional vessels. Cabins are snug, cuisine is not gourmet, but who cares when you have blue-footed boobies to view?

Aracari Travel Consulting

Peruvian-owned and -operated boutique firm offers trekking outings with access to Andean regions of Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. T+L Trip pick Lodge to Lodge Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Follow the picturesque Salkantay Route to Machu Picchu and stay in luxury lodges.

Butterfield & Robinson

Since leading its first tour in 1966, Butterfield has built a reputation for its active-luxury travel. With the belief that the best way to travel is by bike, foot, or boat, the company now offers more than 100 trips in about 40 countries across the world. Travelers can burn off the local cuisine and extra calories consumed during tutored wine tastings with daily cycling and walking tours that range from the medieval castles of the Dordogne Valley to a cave known for its Cro-Magnon wall paintings, and overnight stays include unique places like the circa-18th Century Chateau Cordeillan-Bages in Pauillac.

Boundless Journeys

Culturally immersive itineraries in Africa, Asia, and Europe, among other places, are infused with the expertise of local staff such as Sangay Wangchuk, who has written a memoir about growing up in rural Bhutan. Ninety percent of the trip leaders are natives of the destinations where they guide. T+L Trip pick Bhutan: Across the Kingdom. Explore temples, hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, and learn about shamanism on visits to traditional villages.

Classic Journeys

Unbeatable access to experiences around the globe—learning firsthand about a family-run organic coffee plantation in the Galápagos; dining in a private home in Delhi—are woven into every walking-based excursion, from Ireland to Bhutan. Philosophy: That you can get as much of an adrenaline rush from chatting with a shepherd on a remote hillside as from shooting Class Three rapids through the rain forest. T+L Trip pick Costa Rica. Zipline through a forest canopy, hike an active volcano, and learn from locals about their country.

Elevate Destinations

This small, five-year-old company promotes carbon-neutral activities and donates five percent of each trip’s revenues to local communities.  T+L Trip pick South Africa Fair-Trade Safari. A rhino safari is followed by volunteer work at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, which protects endangered species, including the African penguin.

Rod & Gun Resources

Fishing trips to Alaska, the Amazon, Argentina, and beyond, with stays in comfortable jungle lodges, cabin barges, and tented camps. T+L Trip pick Bolivian Adventure. The company’s first venture in Bolivia goes to the remote Caño Negro River, home to the exotic peacock bass.

EpicQuest

Guides who moonlight as serious athletes—including Olympic gold medalist skier Tommy Moe—serve up untracked powder and all-but-undiscovered surf breaks. T+L Trip pick South American Ski Adventure. Head to the Chilean Andes to tackle some of the world’s longest heli-skiing runs.

Quark Expeditions

With two polar-class icebreaker ships—one nuclear powered, and both equipped with helicopters and Zodiacs—Quark is the go-to outfit for getting to the remotest ice-bound spots. In 2012, Quark launched hot-air balloons on select North Pole trips.T+L Trip pick Antarctic Express. Fly over the Drake Passage, on the southern tip of South America, then board the 61-cabin Clipper Adventurer to spot glaciers, penguins, and whales (polar camping is optional).

Abercrombie & Kent

The Abercrombie & Kent travel agency began as an African safari company, founded by Geoffrey Kent and his parents in 1962. Today, the company organizes trips to more than 100 nations across all seven continents, with destinations ranging from Antarctica to the Galápagos Islands. Chosen by Travel + Leisure as one of the Best Adventure-Travel Outfitters of 2010, the agency caters to experienced travelers seeking “extreme adventure.” In addition to the signature African safaris, travel options include a Norwegian dog-sledding excursion, a river cruise along the Nile, and a turtle rescue expedition in Australia. T+L Trip Pick: Wings Over the Migration. Follow the Great Migration, view a private Masai dance performance, and camp near the Ngorongoro Crater.

Cox & Kings

Founded in 1758, Cox & Kings is the oldest travel company in the world, and it prides itself on using its 250 years of experience to provide clients with unforgettable travel experiences. Cox & Kings specializes in tours to some of the world’s most exciting destinations, including the Seychelles, Tibet, Madrid, and Argentina. The company offers a variety of travel experiences, and clients can choose from custom-designed journeys, private journeys, group journeys, and relax and explore journeys, which take full advantage of Cox & Kings’ knowledge of the best and most luxurious hotels, villas, and retreats around the globe. t+l trip pick Portrait of Kenya. Spot Somali ostriches and reticulated giraffes in Samburu National Reserve, balloon over the Masai Mara savanna, and adopt an elephant at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.


Ker & Downey

This outfitter aims to provide life-changing experiences through environmental conservation and social philanthropy. This community- and conservation-minded outfitter has led tours through Africa, India, and South America for more than 50 years. T+L Trip pick Primates of Africa. Come within 15 feet of habituated gorillas in the Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

Kensington Tours

A vast range of personalized itineraries, including working on archaeological digs in Israel and trekking to see gorillas in Rwanda, while staying in castles, ashrams, tropical tree houses, and tented safari camps. They also offer private custom tours with in-country offices, guides, vehicles, and 24/7 emergency support. The tour company also arranges intimate access to the Nasrid palaces of the Alhambra by night, when only 400 visitors are allowed in, and can also book a private balcony for watching Pamplona's Running of the Bulls. t+l trip pick Bali Orangutans and Dragons.Explore Bali, fly to Indonesian Borneo to observe orangutans, and sail to Rinca and Komodo islands to get up close to Komodo dragons.

 

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations

Inspired by Middlebury College professor John Freidin’s passion for cycling, VBT began as an open invitation to fellow bikers to join Freidin on his many rides throughout Vermont. More than four decades later, the company now runs bike tours in 26 countries, from Costa Rican rainforests to the Po River Valley in Italy. VBT excursions emphasize environmental and social responsibility, encouraging bikers to tread lightly and respect local cultures. Tours are rated according to difficulty and include accommodations, meals, equipment, guides, and support vehicles. Walking tours are available, as well. t+l trip pick Maryland, Cycling the Chesapeake Bay: Ride over gently sloping hills, feast on crab, and stay at historic inns.

 

Tauck

This Connecticut-based company offers close to 100 trips, including river cruises in Europe and volunteer conservation programs in Grand Teton National Park. t+l trip pick Culturious Costa Rica. Visit small villages and coffee plantations before taking a horseback ride through a private hacienda and kayaking through mangrove forest.

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