Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Machu Picchu and the first successful expedition to the South Pole. Why not resolve to make your own adventurous discoveries in 2012? There has rarely been a better time to do it. Around the globe, the word's top adventure travel outfitters are busy unveiling more new trips than you can shake a hiking stick at. And whether your particular brand of adventure involves walking, biking, kayaking, rafting, sailing, or just kicking back and discovering an emerging destination, these new trips will leave you feeling like a real explorer.
Machu Picchu Family Adventure (REI Adventures)
When Hiram Bingham III discovered the Lost City of the Incas a century ago, he could never have imagined that Machu Picchu would someday become the world's most popular adventure destination. He might have had an even harder time imagining it as a family vacation spot—but thanks to a new trip offered for the first time in 2012 by REI Adventures, that's exactly what it's become.
This eight-day adventure leaves the grueling Inca Trail trek to hardier folk, but it doesn't skimp where it counts: on the cultural immersion. You'll raft alongside pre-Inca cities on the Urubamba River, haggle for treasures at one of the largest traditional markets in Peru, and prepare local cuisine in a Peruvian cooking class—all as a prelude for your two-day exploration of Machu Picchu and the mysterious Temple of the Moon.
Cost: $3,699 per person ($200 discount for kids eight to 17 years old; $4,075 for nonmembers)
Dates: March 31; June 30; July 14, 21; August 4, 11, 18; December 22
Cycle Southern Iceland (Adventure Center)
Home to fiery eruptions and chilly glaciers, Iceland is often called the Land of Fire and Ice. It could just as easily be called the Land of Thundering Waterfalls or Home of the Northern Lights. If ever a country was blessed with natural scenery, it's Iceland. This year, you can discover that barren beauty in a new and unexpected way: on a bike.
"Most competitors offer a mountain-bike trip," says Andy Trache of Adventure Center, the U.S. retailer of this cycling trip from U.K. outfitter Exodus. "Ours is a road one. We cover a much greater distance and see more of the highlights. Our trip is also suitable for a far wider audience." The route follows mainly country roads in this lightly populated landscape. Expect a few climbs and very little traffic. Trip costs for this eight-day package include seven nights' accommodations (with one night in a farmhouse and another in a mountain hut) and most meals.
Cost: $2,800 per person
Dates: June 23; July 7; August 11
Active Alaska Escape (G Adventures)
Geared toward the really adventurous, G Adventures' Active Alaska Escape is for those who want to "work hard by day and enjoy a soft landing at night," says Jeff Duford, the company's Innovation Manager. Hard work never felt so good. The six-day trip is jammed with everything from kayaking and rafting to hiking excursions to glaciers and ice fields. And at the end of the day, a comfortable hotel awaits.
"This adventure is part of our larger North American program consisting of 54 trips, all new for 2012," notes Duford. "We've heard the call from our travelers to offer more trips in our own backyard—our home continent—and we've listened." Included in the cost of the trip are national- and state-park fees; many meals; and the hiking, kayaking, and rafting excursions.
Cost: $1,999 per person
Dates: June 24; July 8, 22; August 12, 19