National Geographic Adventure announces the top destinations in six environments for 2007 and beyond. Discover why these countries garnered our highest praise and then find out how to experience them for yourself.
Back to Best of Adventure Home Page >>
The Top Destinations for 2007 and Beyond
Mountain: Morocco >>
Water: Puerto Rico >>
Forest: Brazil >>
Snow: Canada >>
Desert: South Africa >>
Road Trip: China >>
Where to Go Now
Not long ago, the High Atlas Mountains were the exclusive domain of French rock jocks and German backpackers—i.e., those willing to rough it like the mountain's original Berber inhabitants. But as the range's popularity has increased, so has the quality of nearby accommodations. Recent openings include the Kasbah du Toubkal, the first of a series of trekking lodges in the isolated Azzadene Valley.
YOUR PLAN: Begin with the busy souks of Marrakech and the newly renovated La Mamounia hotel ($570; www.mamounia.com), then travel 40 miles (63 kilometers) south to Kasbah du Toubkal lodge ($150; www.kasbahdutoubkal.com), at the foot of North Africa's highest peak, 13,665-foot (4,165-meter) Mount Toubkal.
Water: Puerto Rico
Beginning in January, new Homeland Security regulations will require passports for all travel to the Caribbean—except to U.S. territories. The new rules reinforce Puerto Rico's rep as a hassle-free escape. On a quick weekend jaunt, you can sample the hiking trails in El Yunque National Park's rain forest, the nighttime glow of Vieques's Bioluminescent Bay, or the empty beaches on Mona Island.
YOUR PLAN: Check for flights on JetBlue (www.jetblue.com), which has just extended its service to Puerto Rico. Fly into Aguadilla and connect with Mona Aquatics for chartered dive-boat excursions to uninhabited Mona Island ($200; www.monaaquatics.com).
This year, TAM Airlines launched daily service between Miami and Manaus, the capital of Brazil's Amazonas State. The new flight cuts six hours off the total travel time from North America, making it easier than ever to plunge deep into the world's largest rain forest basin. From Manaus—home to the Fitzcarraldo-inspiring Teatro Amazonas—riverboat and lodge-based trips venture into the great green unknown.
YOUR PLAN: Fly direct on TAM Airlines (www.tamairlines.com) and get your bearings at Tropical Manaus ($126; www.tropicalhotel.com.br). Contact Amazon Adventures for seven days of white-water paddling on the Urubu River, a tributary to the Amazon River ($1,245; www.amazonadventures.com).
Northward-bound Americans have long been drawn to the Maritimes' craggy coastlines and British Columbia's lofty resorts. But it's only lately that they've discovered the Canadian Arctic, where once inaccessible reaches are experiencing a boom of ambitious outfitted trips.
YOUR PLAN: Join Canoe Arctic for an 11-day fly-in canoe trip in the Barren Lands among grizzlies and caribou ($2,500; www.canoearctic.com). Or partner with Ontario-based Black Feather for an expedition to the granite monoliths of Baffin Island's Auyuittuq National Park ($2,500; www.blackfeather.com).
Desert: South Africa
Over the past several years, South Africa's semiarid Karoo Region has exploded with high-end lodges and expansive game reserves. Home to the San (or Bushmen), the 153,000-square-mile (396,268-square-kilometer) area shelters endangered black eagles and rhinos. Its landscape of red-rock buttes and Permian-era fossils looks a lot like Arizona—but with zebras.
YOUR PLAN: Samara Private Game Reserve ($240; www.samara.co.za) offers luxury suites and 70,000 acres (28,328 hectares) of big-game habitat in the heart of the Karoo. South African Airways (www.flysaa.com) has new flights between Washington, D.C., and Johannesburg.
Road Trip: China
In the spectacular southwest of China, where the Himalaya soar and Tibetan traditions still flourish, road and rail links are spreading like leaflets during the Cultural Revolution. The new developments make travel to Yunnan Province and Tibet easier than it's ever been. Best to get there now, before booming tourism begins to alter the area's unique cultures and ecosystems.
YOUR PLAN: Ogle Yunnan Province's Ringha Valley from the posh new Banyan Tree mountain lodge ($310; www.banyantree.com/ringha). Asian Pacific Adventures offers train trips between Beijing and Lhasa ($117; www.asianpacificadventures.com).
Best of Adventure 2007 Home Page >>
Adventurers of the Year >>
Lifetime Achievement: Biologist George Schaller >>
Gear Picks of the Year >>
Outdoor Sports Trends >>
Top Destinations >>