Our guide to the future of travel (#'s 57-63): Behind the veil in Iran; a trek through American deserts; kayaking in the Sea of Cortés; night-crawling around the Bay Area
Serge Sibert/Liason

57. IRAN
Geographic Expeditions offers a new 16-day tour of Iran, including sightseeing in the culturally rich capital of Tehran. On this trip, you'll be one of the first groups of Westerners to trek into the Elburz Mountains on an ancient route from Tehran to the Caspian Sea. Topped by the conical summit of 18,934-foot Mount Damavand, the Elburz range is thick with forests and far-reaching meadows of wildflowers.
800/777-8183; www.geoex.com.

Butterfield & Robinson had so much success with the introduction of rafting trips in 2000 that it's moving on to sea kayaking. For the new venture, B&R has chosen two of the world's premier kayaking playgrounds: Baja's Gulf of California, known for its warm water, sheltered coves, and abundant marine life; and Belize, where you'll paddle to deserted islands.
800/678-1147; www.butterfield.com.

Thanks to a Bay Area group called Desert Survivors (www.desert-survivors.org), you now have the opportunity to backpack 400 miles across California's driest terrain: the Mojave Desert and Death Valley, places that have been better seen by rattlers, scorpions, and Gila monsters than by hikers. The group's Desert Trail is the start of its planned 1,500-mile route from Southern California to eastern Oregon. The California course is split into 25-mile or three-day segments, each of which can be hiked on three gallons of water. You must join Desert Survivors to participate in the hikes ($20 annually, $10 optional fee).

60. MOUNTAIN TRAVEL—SOBEK has always been a pioneer—it was the first outfitter to guide people down Zimbabwe's Zambezi River. So it makes sense that the company has added seven trips in 2001 that re-create the routes of early explorers. You'll see the giant tortoises and iguanas in the Galápagos Islands that convinced Charles Darwin of evolution's existence; float through the Grand Canyon in a replica of John Wesley Powell's pine boat; and, following the path of David Livingstone, trek across Zambia on foot and by canoe.
888/687-6235; www.mtsobek.com.

Nighttime has become the right time for an increasing number of adventurers. The Midnight Rollers, an in-line skating group in San Francisco, draws as many as 650 people to the streets on Friday evenings. (Everyone meets at 8 p.m. on the corner of Market and the Embarcadero.) You can kayak on the Potomac under a full moon with Potomac Paddlesports (877/529-2542), bike the streets of Chicago in the wee hours with the Chicago Cycling Club (773/509-8093), even take a midnight run around Central Park with the New York Road Runners Club (212/423-2292).

File this under What will they think of next? In the fledgling sport of mountain bike polo, teams of four or five bikers line up on either side of a soccer field. The players, equipped with mallets, try to whack a shrunken soccer ball into a net. A three-hour game leaves broken wheels and derailleurs littering the playing field.

Cruising southeast Alaska is so last millennium. The latest way to explore the region is by land, staying in wilderness lodges. A new 10-day tour from Tauck World Discovery (800/788-7885; www.tauck.com) includes visits to Glacier Bay and Kenai Fjords, river-rafting outside Juneau, and a helicopter flight to the glaciers for a day of hiking. Natural Habitat Adventures (800/543-8917; www.nathab.com) has a 13-day trip that includes stays at their own private island in Kenai Fjords and a flight to Brooks Falls in Katmai, one of the best spots on the globe for viewing brown bears.