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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.