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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Biking and Sailing Egypt

While we’re on the subject of intriguing tours, Beyond Boundaries Travel out of Colorado Springs has teamed with Flash Tour of Cairo to create new biking and sailing trips in Egypt. So far, there are two 8-day itineraries, one along the Red Sea, heading into the undiscovered Eastern Desert. The second seems more exciting, heading to the pyramids along the Nile River between Aswan and Luxor. Since Egypt can get pretty hot in the spring and summer months, most of the biking is done in the early morning. You’ll visit Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings, and many small villages that will be stunned to see a group of bikers riding by. All of the trips are guided and van-supported if you get tired, and include all lodgings and food. Trips start at an affordable $1153 per person.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/26/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Camel Trekking Across the Moroccan Desert

In the 90s, active travel outfitters like Backroads gained popularity by offering inn-to-inn biking and hiking trips. Other sports like rafting and sea kayaking started to appear in itineraries in the first decade of the new millennium. The latest trend is family adventures, taking the whole clan down to say, Costa Rice for a week and trying as many sports as possible. Also growing in popularity are more historical adventures, like this trip I just received from Baobab Expeditions. From February 20-March 1, 2010, you can join the outfitter on a 50-mile camel trek across the Moroccan desert on an old caravanserai route. The trip begins and ends in Marrakech, before heading out with Berber Guides to the oases of Lawina and Saf’Sef. You’ll sleep under the palms while enjoying traditional Berber food and listening to the music, drums, tambourines and singing of the locals. Then it’s on to Erg Chebbi to see the sand dunes rising to over 500 feet. Pricing begins at $3533 and includes lodging, food, guides, and all the drinking water you can swallow.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/25/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Bonefishing in the Keys

Flyfishing for bones can be one of the most punishing sports known to man. You stalk the flats and see the large quarry, cast your long fly with precision, and then watch in utter frustration as the grazing pod scatters every which way. Averaging just four to seven pounds, the bone is so easily spooked that the best saltwater fishermen will often remain mute and in place for hours in order to hook one. The wily fish can sense the boat moving, can feel you wading in the water, can hear you speaking. One awkward movement on your part and off they flee. Yet, a little patience, a graceful cast just beyond the reach of the school, and a bonefish just might take that fly and run off some 75 yards of line in a couple of seconds. You’ll get the feverish feel of what it’s like to be connected to a remarkably fast and furious fish. The reason why inveterate anglers will often tell you that if you “hook a bone, you’ll be hooked on the sport.” Winter is a great time to try your luck on the flats of the Upper Keys. There are a slew of guides. One of the best is Tony Murphy in Key West.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/22/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Biking the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop

Co-founders of the non-profit Bike Florida, Linda Crider and Herb Hiller have spent the past 30 years leading the Florida biking movement. This past October, they launched their first long-distance bike tour, a 260-mile weeklong jaunt that starts and ends in Palatka on the St. John’s River. You’ll cruise on backroads to America’s oldest city, Saint Augustine, the Merritt Island and Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuges, state parks, and along the Atlantic Ocean, with numerous beaches to stop and rest. All tours are fully supported with luggage-carrying vehicles, on-road guides, maps, overnights in B&Bs, breakfasts, dinners, and naturalist-led programs. Hiller is a longtime travel writer who specializes in Florida, so few no this state better than him. Cost is $1250 per person and the tours are available fall, winter, and spring.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/21/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Sailing the Keys

With first rate charts and other navigational aids, the Florida Keys are an ideal cruising ground for all sailors, regardless of experience. The famously warm, clear waters of the Keys are a snorkeler’s paradise—shipwrecks and coral parks are plentiful—and secluded beaches number in the hundreds. If you crave terra firma, you can always stop at Key West for a nightcap at Sloppy Joe’s, a favorite hangout of writer Ernest Hemingway.  One full day’s sail west of Key West brings you to the Dry Tortugas, home to Fort Jefferson, which dates back to Civil War days. This is a popular sailing route. If you feel like you’re off the charts, anchor at any harbor and ask the nearest boater for directions. Thankfully, yachting is no longer a sport only for the affluent. Florida Keys Bareboat Charter Company in Marathon bareboat charters a 27-foot Catalina for a cost of $899 per week (7 days/6 nights). 
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/19/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Sea Kayaking the Great Calusa Blueway

This past month, temperatures in Florida have been unseasonably cold. Yet, mid-January is the time of year when the weather heats up and so does the outdoor activity. This week, I’m focusing on the Sunshine State, divulging my favorite adventures in the state. First up is sea kayaking the Great Calusa Blueway on Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast. Whether you’re an advanced paddler or a novice, you’ll savor the sheltered bays, remote islands, and hidden beaches on this 190-mile wet and wild corridor outside of Fort Myers. Choose to spend the day kayaking around Estero Bay or spend a night camping at the tip of Pine Island just north of Captiva Island. There are also inn-to-inn options. The highlight is the abundant sealife, including sightings of manatees, dolphins, and turtles. 
 

(Photo credit Cythia Gilbert from Kayak SW Florida)


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/18/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Dream Trips 2010, Mountain Biking Bend, Oregon

Working these past 20 years primarily as an outdoors writer, it’s hard for me to admit that I’ve never been to Bend, Oregon, one of the renowned outdoor hubs in America and a mecca for serious mountain bikers. North, Middle, and South Sister Mountains rise 10,000 feet above town, forming part of the Cascade Range. Due north is Black Butte, one of the region's many cinder cones that create a volcanic landscape unparalleled in the U.S. outside of Hawaii. I plan to bike on the Butte Loops Trail as it circles Black Butte on old logging roads that have been closed to motorized vehicles and are now part of the roads-to-trails program. Then I’m heading to the eastern part of the state to hike in the Oregon desert with my travel writing buddy, Eric Lucas.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/15/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dream Trips 2010, Safari in Botswana

With the World Cup heading to South Africa in 2010, that should be reason enough to head back to Mother Africa. Catch a game, then head to Kruger for a little safari action, surf in Plett, grab some wine in Stellenbosch, hike up Table Mountain in glorious Capetown, my vote for the most beautiful city in the world, then bike around Hout Bay. But I’ve already done that, so it’s time to check out some neighboring countries like Namibia, Mozambique, and Botswana. What’s attractive about the Okavango Delta in Botswana is that you can actually ride atop an elephant on safari. My brother, Jim, and I took the elephant trek through the Hill Tribes of Thailand and it was a blast. It certainly beats sitting in the back of a jeep all morning, smelling exhaust. I prefer to see the lions atop an elephant, though I’m not sure how close an elephant would get to the king of the jungle before being scared away.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/14/10 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dream Trips 2010, Biking Vietnam

Vietnam is that coveted destination that’s jaw-droppingly beautiful, yet still not overrun with tourism. Traveling this lush, mostly flat country by bike (the locals’ preferred transportation method) is an ideal way to see it. Many biking outfitters like VBT, Backroads, and Butterfield & Robinson now offer guided bike trips across the country. Pedaling 15 to 50 miles per day, you’ll roll past untrammeled coastline, terraced emerald rice paddies, ultra-green mountains, and rarely visited rural villages. Many of the trips starts in Ho Chi Minh City and ends in Hanoi, so you’ll have time to explore urban Vietnam, as well. All include post-trips to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Sign me up!

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/13/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dream Trips 2010, Rafting the Yampa River, Colorado

With a proposed water pipeline in the works, 2010 might be the last year folks will be able to cruise down the Yampa River in its natural state. Roaring 72 miles through northwestern Colorado, the Yampa River is the last major free-flowing tributary in the entire Colorado River system. This Class III river, ideal for families, is in its prime in early June when the snowmelt fills the channel of Dinosaur National Monument. Butch Cassidy found these slickrock walls and layers of cavernous rock to be the perfect hideaway. 2,000-foot deep sandstone gorges create a colorful canyon maze that effectively blocks out the world. In its place, you’ll find one of the largest concentrations of endangered peregrine falcons in the States, golden eagles, and bighorn sheep. Adrift Adventures features five-day runs on the Yampa.  Minimum age is 7.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/12/10 at 02:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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