A few U.S.-based adventure companies run Aconcagua treks, but INKA Expediciones, a local Aconcagua specialist with 15 years of experience, runs dozens of summit climbs each year and has a high rate of successful summit attempts. "The last climbing season, 92 of 102 guided expeditions reached the summit with our guides," says Head Guide Sebastian Tetilla. "The average success rate for the season was less than 35% of the general climbing population attempting Aconcagua. However, more than 68% of our clients reached the top during the same period." The company also owns and operates its entire ground operation and uses local guides and staff, so it charges several thousands less than most foreign-based companies.
Most trips climb via the Normal Route, a moderate trek that's mostly a walk-up not requiring much use of crampons or ice axes. While the actual climb takes about six days from the base camp to the summit and back, the trip requires about two weeks time because of the need for acclimatization and rest days and also in the case of bad weather delaying a summit attempt.
"INKA's physical support is tremendous," says full-time mountaineer and climber Kenneth Honig, who climbed Aconcagua twice with INKA this past winter. "By far the number one highlight was the personal relationships established with the guides. I do not think you could find a better organized, prepared, and client-oriented guide service."
Trip planningFourteen Normal Route expeditions are scheduled between late November 2008 and late February 2009. Rates cover guides, ground transportation, hotel stays and camping, all meals, and porters and mules. Personal equipment such as clothing and boots, ice axes and crampons, packs, and sleeping bags and pads is not included but can be rented from the outfitter. Airfare is also extra. Round-trip late-January flights from Miami to the trip's departure point in Mendoza, Argentina, start at $1,233 including taxes and fees on LAN.
Active and cultural adventure in Bali, Indonesia
Provider: G.A.P Adventures Length: 15 days Price: $875
A trip to Bali, Indonesia, and its neighboring islands might be the perfect introduction to Asia. Just a hair larger than Delaware, Bali encompasses an interior of mist-shrouded volcanoes and terraced hillsides glistening with a hundred shades of green, and wears a belt of black and white sand beaches, some wild and lonely, others buzzing with surfers and sun bathers. The Balinese people are welcoming and deeply devoted to Agama Tirta, a unique and colorful form of Hinduism. Dramatic daily ceremonies and rituals play out in the open, and flowers and food on palm leaves and other offerings to the gods can be seen at temples (there are about 20,000) all over the island.
For adventure travelers, the activity options on this small island are astounding as well: volcano treks, snorkeling and diving, surf lessons, sailing, and even whitewater rafting. On G.A.P Adventures' low-priced 15-day Best of Bali and Lombok tour, you'll get to sample many of Bali's adventure and cultural highlights, as well as visit it's quieter neighbor island, Lombok, which is starting to be recognized for its own adventure possibilities.