Web Links to Adventure
Put down that copy of Annapurna. Forget about the plane tickets to Kathmandu, the climbing permits, the bottles of supplemental oxygen. The Sherpas can go on holiday; let someone carry their stuff for a change. Because where we are headed, sahib, we travel by mouse. Our quest: to uncover the finest adventure-travel sites on the World Wide Web, the last uncharted wilderness on Earth.
The Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) offers selections from its guidebooks, travel news, message boards, and more. With the "Destinations" feature you can pull up all of the basics on a country (when to go, what to bring, what to do) as well as anecdotal reports from other travelers, before-you-go reading lists, and electronic slide shows. Sample findings include photos from Fiji, a medical-kit checklist, and a dispatch from India. (Bad news: "Rebels kill 35." Good news: "Airlines currently offering discounts.") Also try: Rough Guide (www.travel.roughguides.com).
Great Outdoor Recreation Pages (www.gorp.com) combines inspiring travelogues with nuts-and-bolts travel information. The emphasis is on hiking, biking, and river travel, but you'll find a little of everythingfrom adventure-type job listings to advice on traveling with pets. With "Recreation by Category" you can search for the best places nearby to go birding, hang gliding, and more, a great "What should I do this weekend" resource. Also try: Outside Online (www.outsidemag.com).
These are the online equivalent of the Yellow Pages. Adventure Sports Online (www.adventuresports.com) has hundreds of links for outfitters, trips, gear, women's sports, and more. If you don't already have an adventure planned, its event calendar will recommend one; the Weather Search tool predicts what it'll be like when you get out there. Sample findings: links to 32 mountain-bike tour operators and contact info for the Inca Trail 50K race in Peru. Also try: The Ecotravel Center (www.ecotour.org).
Trolling the Web for the best sites can be exhausting. For guidance, try Travel The Net (www.travelthe.net), which each week offers a smartly written column reviewing a dozen sites. More useful than a general collection of links, Travel The Net tells you not just where to visit but why or why not. The site includes a searchable archive of past topics such as cycle adventure, budget airfare, and online maps. Read a couple of these and before you know it you'll be bookmarking obscure gems like The Budget Traveler's Guide to Sleeping in Airports and Babelfish, which translates foreign-language Web sites to English. Also try: MiningCo.com (activetravel.miningco.com).
And don't miss the adventure travel thread in the message boards at NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER.