Washington, D.C. — Track snow leopards in Russia. Ride horses in Botswana. Follow the Silk Road. Take the kids to Tunisia. Sail on a small expedition ship through the Beagle Channel. These are just some of the 50 guided tours selected by National Geographic Traveler in its third annual “Tours of a Lifetime” list featured in the magazine’s May/June 2010 issue.
The editorial team combed the world to find the most authentic, most innovative, most immersive, best-guided, and most sustainable tours. “The outfitters we selected have responded to travelers looking for more meaning and context,” notes senior editor Norie Quintos, who headed up the project. “And beyond guiding you to the destination, they’ve also found novel ways to give back.”
The 50 Tours of a Lifetime include:
*A food-lovers’ tour of Italy’s Piedmont region by La Dolce Vita Wine Tours, where travelers meet the artisans behind Barolo and Barbaresco wine, as well as local truffles, hazelnuts, and mountain cheeses.
*An adventurous trip into Ethiopia by Africa Adventure Consultants, including the stone-carved churches of Lalibela, the fairytale castles of Gondar, and a visit into the untouched Lower Omo, where travelers ecounter tribal groups that have maintained many of their ancient traditions.
*A two-wheeled tour of Thailand by Pedalers Pub & Grille, where biking is popular and the people welcoming. Cyclists dine on local fare and often end up giving impromptu English lessons or included in weddings and local celebrations.
*A tour through six southwestern U.S. national parks by Discovery Adventures, including the freestanding arches of Zion to the eerie hoodoos of Bryce Canyon.
*A volunteer trip to China by Planeterra Foundation combining sightseeing in Shanghai and a stint helping out at a giant panda reserve in the Sichuan province.
For a complete list of tours and outfitters, visit travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/tours