The 10 best adventure travel bargains of 2008

Trip planningYou can start this tour most days through October 31; the lowest prices apply to trips departing on or after September 15. Rates include accommodations, daily breakfasts and two dinners, an orientation at the beginning of the trip, detailed maps and route and attraction notes, daily luggage transfers, and emergency support. You may bring your own bike or rent one for about $165. Other meals, activities, and transportation to the trip's departure point are extra. Round-trip October fares from New York to Paris start at $759, including taxes and fees, on Iberia. From Paris, you can take the TGV train to Avignon for about $68 one-way and then take a taxi to the first hotel in Villeneuve-les-Avignon for about ?15 (about $22; for current conversion rates visit XE.com.)

Raft Oregon's Rogue River

Provider: O.A.R.S. Length: Four days Price: $847 to $1,247

Rafting wild whitewater rivers with rapids at every turn and spine-jolting drops can be exhilarating, but sometimes mellower rivers—those which allow you to relax a bit, take in the scenery, and practice new skills—can be best, especially if you're traveling with children or new to rafting. With moderate Class III rapids and sections of flat water, Southwestern Oregon's Rogue River promises just that: calm flowing waters interspersed with the occasional intermediate rapid—enough to satisfy kids and adults' thirst for adventure without being "hardcore."

A designated National Wild and Scenic River (damming and development are banned), the Rogue gives rafters a real wilderness experience. Paddling for 45 river miles through the forested canyons of the Siskiyou Mountains, you'll spend a few days in the realm of wildlife like elk, deer, bears, and bald eagles as well as river fish such as salmon and steelhead trout.

O.A.R.S., the largest and probably most respected rafting company in the country, runs four-day Rogue trips throughout the warmer months, including itineraries designed especially for families and gourmands. On all trips, you'll paddle a portion of the river each day and make stops to hike to waterfalls or side canyons, visit historic sites associated with early pioneers and settlers, and camp along the river's sandy beaches. While on the water, you'll have a choice of paddling in the raft with a guide or, for a more exciting ride, heading out on your own in an inflatable kayak. "When you ride the chutes, waves, and drops [in an inflatable kayak], you get a real sense of what it must be like to be a river otter," says Kristi Reif of O.A.R.S. "They are easy to handle in low-to-mid-intensity rapids, even for beginners."

Hearty wilderness cuisine is also an important part of O.A.R.S. trips, not just the special food and wine departures. On regular trips you can expect the likes of blueberry pancakes, cooked-to-order omelets, grilled steak and salmon, and Dutch-oven lasagna. On culinary trips, guest chefs make gourmet meals with wine on the river shore and invite trip-goers to join in with cooking lessons.

"This trip exceeded my expectations: The wilderness was wonderful—the river, birds, and mammals—the food and wine were exceptional, and the staff was amazing," says Princeton, New Jersey, resident Barbara Andrew, who went on a culinary-themed Rogue trip in June with her husband. "I have traveled with O.A.R.S. before and continue to be completely enthusiastic about their professionalism and good company."

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