Hiking the iconic Inca Trail. Snowshoeing in Antarctica. Swimming with dolphins in Mozambique. These once-in-a-lifetime experiences entitle you to ultimate bragging rights. Here are five trophy trips to add to your life list.
Peru: Machu Picchu & The Sacred Valley
The 11-day guided walking itinerary from award-winning active-travel company VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, offers the opportunity to explore the Sacred Valley in the Andes and hike the iconic Inca Trail to the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu. Imagine the thrill of walking through the Sun Gate and arriving at the terraced 15th-century site just as the Inca did! Along the way, you’ll visit a mountain village and a colorful local market, sample traditional corn beer (chicha) and learn about the region’s culture and history. Accommodations include an 18th-century manor house in the captivating colonial city of Cusco, where you’ll arrive and depart, and the renowned pueblo-like Inkaterra luxury resort at Machu Picchu.
For more information and to book, go to http://www.vbt.com/tours/peru-machu-picchu-the-sacred-valley/ or call 800-245-3868.
Grand Prix Of Monaco Cruise
Combine luxury by land and by sea with a dream vacation from first-class Windstar Cruises. Board a large luxury yacht (no more than 212 privileged passengers) to call at some of the world’s more glamorous ports on the French and Italian Riviera, including Cannes, Portofino and Portovenere. The frosting on the cake: two days mingling with the A List at private events, Formula One time trials and the storied Grand Prix, with racers roaring through the streets of Monaco. You might spot a royal or two in this elegant principality with its palace and famed casinos. The seven-day cruise starts in Rome and ends in Nice.
For more information and to book, go to windstarcruises.com/cruise/Themed-Cruises/Grand-Prix-of-Monaco or call 800-258-7245.
Antarctica Peninsula Expedition
Board a comfortable small ship in Ushuaia, Argentina, and raise anchor to explore the world’s “frozen desert” continent by snowshoe and kayak and from the deck or panoramic observation lounge during this 11-day expedition. Abundant polar wildlife to spot on this excursion from leading active-vacation specialist Austin Adventures includes albatross, blue petrel, various types of seals—and, of course, penguins. While keeping an eye out for humpback whales, you’ll visit research stations and learn about the isolated continent that few are lucky enough to visit. Kayak peaceful waters, hike on a glacier or take the optional open-air camping excursion to sleep explorer-style in a cozy waterproof bivouac bag.
For more information and to book, go to austinadventures.com/search/antarctica or call 800-575-1540.
Bhutan: Kingdom In The Himalayas
Closed to outsiders for years, Bhutan has opened its borders to allow travelers to experience a time-warp land where farmers sow seeds by hand, Buddhist culture reigns and “gross national happiness” is a shared aim. Travel by vehicle and foot with highly rated local guides on this 10-day outing from Country Walkers, crowned a top tour operator by Travel+Leisure magazine. You’ll gaze at lush green terraced rice paddies, snow-capped Himalayan peaks and towering fortresses, visit ancient temples and be welcomed into the homes of local farm families.
For more information and to book, go to countrywalkers.com/trips/asia/bhutan/guided-walking/himalayas-kingdom-trek or call 800-234-6900.
Mozambique Ibo Island Dhow Safari
Named a “tour of a lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler magazine, this Private Classic Safari from Country Walkers’ sister company, CW Safaris, is a splashy departure from the usual big-game African jaunt. Travel by traditional dhow sailboat to secluded islands, swim with dolphins and multicolored fish and dive among Indian Ocean shipwrecks. On this eight-day outing, you’ll interact with villagers and stay toes-in-the-sand in eco-camps and in an upscale lodge.
For more information and to book, go to cwsafaris.com/destinations/mozambique/ or call 888-483-7696.
For more travel experiences available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit Xanterra.com/explore.