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To me, the concept of an "adventure trip" is a tautology, as every trip I take, every time I choose to travel, it is by definition an adventure. There is always something new to see, learn and experience through traveling.

But for the purposes of this article, I will largely define adventure travel as a tourism experience that involves doing something out of the ordinary, possibly a little dangerous and/or exciting and different from your everyday life. From kayaking to mountain climbing, dogsledding to wildlife viewing, let your adventurous spirit guide you to a fulfilling vacation destination.

There are many travel companies that dedicate themselves to the pursuit of adventurous travel and there are trips available to satisfy most budgets, tastes and travel fantasies.

I took an unforgettable Gecko Adventures (www.geckosadventures.com) tour to Bolivia and Peru a few years ago and still dream of the colorful experiences I had. Their grassroots adventures at budget prices, make some of the most adventurous locations on the planet accessible to almost everybody. Many of the tours tend to be long (usually in excess of 21 days) however they also have some shorter expeditions. If you can spare the time, the rewards will last a lifetime.

From September 18 to October 22, 2005, their "Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia" tour is priced at $3,632. This price includes domestic flights from Lima to Cusco and Sucre to La Paz, all accommodation for 34-nights, most meals, transportation, a four-day Inca Trail trek to the magnificent Macchu Picchu, the Incan Sacred Valley, a Lake Titicaca homestay and visits to the Amazon jungle, Quito, Banos, Cuenca, the Chan Chan Ruins, Huanchaco, Lima, Cusco, Copacabana, La Paz, Sucre, Potosi and the Uyuni Salt Plains. The tour starts in Quito and ends in La Paz. International airfare is additional.

The "Reunification Express" tour from Hanoi to Saigon in Vietnam is priced at $595 and departs regularly from July to December each year. A few spaces are currently available for their July 17 to 26 and 28 August to 6 September tours this summer, with availability open for several other tours later this year. This magical ten-day tour aboard the Reunification Express train will take you from historical Hanoi to Vietnam's former imperial capital, Hue, through remarkable rural and coastal scenery to the ancient port town of Hoi An, on to the beach resort city of Nha Trang, a cruise to offshore islands and finally down to the steamy southern city of Saigon. The tour includes all transportation (train, bus and boat), nine-nights accommodation, five breakfasts and one lunch. International airfare is additional.

Adventures in Good Company (tel. 877/439-4042; www.adventuresingoodcompany.com) specializes in trips exclusively for women (sorry guys!) and aims to "reinvigorate your mind, rejuvenate your body and nurture your spirit". Destinations are throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa and Nepal. Some of their upcoming trips sound very appealing.

"Bicycling the Coast of Maine" is an eight-day tour that starts on July 28, 2005. Open to women of all ages and bicycling ability (about 25 to 35 miles of cycling a day), the tour takes you cycling along quiet, country roads amidst Maine's most picturesque coastal scenery and sea kayaking among the many coastal islands. You'll also hike through the "elf forest" and craggy bluffs of Monhegan Island, picnic and swim on secluded beaches and rock quarries, indulge in "just-caught" seafood while watching lobster boats unload their catch, take a sunset cruise on a Maine schooner and visit some of Maine's most famous coastal art galleries. The $1695 cost per person includes seven-nights accommodation at B&B's, local inns and motels, breakfast and lunch daily, five dinners, ferry trips, knowledgeable guides, baggage services and van support. The maximum group size is nine participants. Bike ($125) and kayak ($85) rental is additional, or you could bring your bike with you. Transportation to the tour starting point outside Rockland, Maine is also not included.

Mark September 14, 2005 in your calendar if you have ever dreamed of "Trekking in Nepal". This extreme hiking tour starts in Kathmandu and is only for avid female hikers who are willing to hike for four to eight hours per day, often in high altitudes (acclimatization prior to the start of the tour will be necessary). The $2395 price includes 20-nights lodging, guides, transportation during the trip including flights within Nepal, luggage transport, and all meals except for lunches in Kathmandu. The trip fee doesn't include the cost of your visa or transportation to Kathmandu, beverages or entrance tickets to temples or museums. The maximum group size (not including guides) is ten people.

For the animal lover in all of us, Adventures in Good Company presents the "Polar Bears, Beluga Whales and Arctic Birds" tour to Winisk River and Hudson Bay, in Ontario, Canada from August 14 to 21, 2005. Beginning in a place called Pickle Lake (accessible by bus from Thunder Bay or by plane on Bear Airlines), the tour is $2650 and includes seven-nights camping accommodation, guides and instruction, all meals, group camping and kayaking gear, pre- and post-trip camping at Pickle Lake, and float plane transport to and from the Hudson Bay. Although there are no guarantees on specific wildlife viewings, the Hudson Bay area will certainly provide an abundance of natural splendors.

Gap Adventures (tel. 800/465-5600; www.gapadventures.com) offers small group adventure vacations with a focus on culture, nature and active travel. Discover the legendary home of Cleopatra and the Ptolemies with their nine-day "Desert Journey" tour. The tour starts and ends in mystical Cairo, Egypt and departs regularly from September to December in 2005. Priced at $635 per person land only, it includes seven-nights hotel accommodation, one night camping, ground transportation, four meals (one breakfast, one lunch and two dinners) and visits to Coptic monasteries, Alexandria, Roman catacombs and the Siwa and Bawiti Oases. A local payment of $200 is additional to cover entry fees, tips and taxes.

The seven day "Destination Provence" tour starts and ends in historical Avignon, France. The $910 per person price land only includes six-nights accommodation, six-breakfasts, two lunches and transportation by bus, canoe, train and bicycle. Trip highlights are a canoe trip with picnic lunch on the Gardon River, a bicycle trip to Chateauneuf-du-Pape with picnic lunch, wine tastings at Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the Palais du Papes (Papal Palace) in Avignon and Pont St Benezet. International airfare to these destinations is additional.