Girl Getaways for the Adventurers
Speaking from experience, embarking on a challenging journey with close friends tests your boundaries as individuals and is a powerful bonding experience. And with a growing number of outfitters now merging comfort with adventure, you won‘t have to give up all of life’s luxuries to experience unforgettable thrills together. These 7 trips deliver that adrenaline rush you crave -- and girl-bonding moments you won‘t forget.
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Sail the South Pacific Seas on Orion III don‘t generally associate cruising with adventure, not with buffet lines and pool deck games as main attractions. But my attitude changed when I heard about the Orion II -- and its cool, off-the-charts itinerary. Starting this fall, the 5-star ship will transport sea-goers across the Pacific to the southern and western shores of Borneo to explore tropical islands and topographically diverse mainland regions. At Gunung Palung and Bako national parks, you’ll learn about the complex ecosystems that once covered the entire island and still provide refuge for 15,000 plant species, 222 mammal species and 420 birds. You’ll also get to explore Camp Leakey in Tanjung Puting National Park, where animal lovers interact with once-captive orangutans now being trained to live again in the wild.
Rope and Ride in ColoradoIf you've ever seen the movie City Slickers, you may have wondered if there really are places where friends can rope, ride and reunite over a roaring fire. There are, and my favorite is The Home Ranch, an all-inclusive 4,000-acre dude ranch near Steamboat Springs, CO. Thanks to a full-service equestrian center, you and your buds can connect with your inner cowgirls -- and leave your stresses behind in a thunder of hooves. After spotting deer, elk, fox and antelope along the Elk River, dismount and enjoy a gourmet dinner with wine. Craving more adventure? There's also fly fishing, cross-country skiing (in winter), and white-water rafting.
Soar and Slumber in Treetops in Northern LaosAfter a tour of Laos’s most charming cities, Amanda and I deemed the country one of our all-times faves. Not only did we promise Holly that we’d return together (she was getting her yoga teacher training in India when we visited), but we were itching to explore the remote Bokeo Nature Reserve, where animal lovers flock to The Gibbon Experience. This ecotourism project provides unlimited access to explore the reserve, treehouse accommodations, fire-cooked meals and guided zip-line tours to search the canopy for the black gibbon monkey, a rare species once thought to be extinct. All project fees are reinvested to help protect the forest and preserve indigenous cultures, so you can sleep soundly in your misty canopy knowing you made a difference.
Embark on a Spiritual River Rafting Retreat in the USHaving grown up hiking, camping and kayaking, I still consider the ideal getaway one that offers daring journeys into the wilderness. But as an adult battling the daily grind of hectic NYC life, I relish trips that also provide built-in time to unwind and reflect. For those seeking a similar balance, ROW Adventures offers multiday River Soul Journeys that combine heart-pumping, river-based sports with soul-soothing leisure activities. The itinerary packages white-water rafting trips with yoga classes and meditation along scenic rapids in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Guests stay in remote riverside campsites and can enjoy hiking, fly fishing and journaling. With female-only and co-ed trips, you can make it an all-girl getaway or go paddle-for-paddle with the guys.
Explore Caves and Ancient Ruins in BelizeOne of my most memorable trips was to Belize. Its mix of lush rainforests, labyrinthine underground caves and Mayan ruins makes it an ideal destination for adventure. Thrill-seekers will get their fix with the Belize Adventure package through Adventure Life. The tour company employs regional guides, uses family-run hotels and offers travelers the unique experience of homestays with locals. Excursions include zip-lining through jungle canopies, rappelling into the cavern of a collapsed cave and exploring an archaeological site where ancient kings and priests made blood sacrifices to appease the Mayan gods.
Trek a Missionary Trail in ChinaMy trip to China in 2009 coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s exile, so the government made it difficult to reach the Tibetan border. Though I’d always wanted to visit Shangri-La -- a county known as the gateway to Tibet -- I instead opted to take an overnight trek along Tiger Leaping Gorge in the southwest province of Yunnan. Today it’s easier to venture into the land of Tibetan Buddhism by signing up with WildChina, a company run by a Chinese native. They offer a 10-day trek that winds along the Salween and Mekong rivers and follows in the footsteps of Catholic missionaries. You’ll start in Yunnan near the Myanmar border, hiking and camping to the final destination: the mystical town of Shangri-La. Along the way, you’ll pass green rice paddies and glacier-capped mountains, old stone Catholic churches and copper-roofed monasteries. The trek can be challenging (you’ll reach nearly 14,000 feet above sea level and hike 6 to 7 hours a day), but you’ll feel like you walked into another era altogether.
Journey into Peru¿s Amazon Basin
After nominating Peru as the inaugural country of our yearlong journey, we agreed that an exotic expedition deep into the world’s most famous rainforest was a must-do. Thanks to Amazon Explorama Lodges -- a company that offers full-service Amazon packages -- our journey to the jungle was one of the most memorable of our trip. During your visit, dangle above the rainforest canopy on suspension bridges, learn healing remedies from a shaman, mingle with monkeys on a private island and shoot blowguns with Yagua Indians. Or opt to lounge on a poolside hammock with a tropical cocktail, followed by a leisurely sunset river cruise. This is one getaway guaranteed to satisfy entry-level adventurers and hardcore adrenaline junkies.