Trip planning:The lodge is open year-round. Prices cover Easter Island airport transfers, accommodations, all meals and alcoholic beverages, guides, and activities. Round-trip November fares from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile start at $982, including taxes, from Hotwire.com. From Santiago, flights to Easter Island cost $670 plus taxes on LAN.
Luxurious and guilt-free adventure in Costa Rica
Lodge:Pacuare Lodge Price:from $326 per person for a two-day package
It's hard not to be enthralled by a hotel you get to by rafting down a Class III and IV whitewater river, especially when that same hotel offers 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens and serves three-course candlelit dinners with filet mignon and wine. What's really heartening about Pacuare Lodge, however, is that this upscale jungle retreat was built to prevent deforestation and has helped employ and educate the local indigenous people.
Opened in 1995 on the banks of the Pacuare River in the Costa Rican rainforest, Pacuare Lodge has served as a model for eco-lodges around the world and was one of only 65 ecotourism businesses worldwide identified by the World Tourism Organization as models of sustainable development. "Because of its isolation and unspoiled terrain, Pacuare Lodge was devised to have a minimum impact on its surroundings," says Luz Caceres, the lodge's marketing director and wife of owner Roberto Fernandez. Caceres says 100% of its employees are local and 98% of the land owned by Pacuare is kept in its natural state, and most of the lodge's power is generated by water and the sun.
Guests stay in elevated thatched-roof bungalows and suites with canopy beds, private bathrooms and verandahs, and almost 360-degree views. Staff members serve meals on fine china in the open-air restaurant in Pacuare's new main lodge, where there's also a small bar and lounge area.
While at the lodge, you can choose to relax and get a massage or go on optional excursions: Explore the rainforest canopy on a system of transverse cables, hike to an Indian community and visit with a local shaman, or go on a naturalist-guided walk to observe the wildlife and tropical flowers. One of the best parts of a Pacuare trip, though, is getting there. After transferring from San Jose, Costa Rica's capital, to the Pacuare River, guides will lead you on an hour-and-a-half rafting trip, passing through canyons and skirting the edge of the rainforest. If you're not up for rafting, the lodge will transfer you to the property via 4×4.
Trip planning:You can visit year-round, although the dryer months of December to March are the most popular. Trips to the lodge are sold as two- to five-day packages which include accommodations, transfers to and from San Jose, rafting or 4×4 lodge transfers, guides and equipment, and all meals. Prices start at $326 per person. Optional activities, wine, and airfare are extra. Round-trip December fares from Miami to San Jose start at $284, including taxes, on US Airways and Mexicana.
Lodge:Hotel Hellnar Price:from $198 per night
With its lava-blackened coastline, glacier-topped volcano, and mossy green hills, Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula seems like the perfect setting for an epic adventure narrative. And it is. Nine of Iceland's 40 sagas—medieval accounts of Viking exploration, epic battles, and Norse family histories—are based in Snaefellsnes.