Later you'll venture into the "Coffee Zone," a land of verdant hills and valleys in the Central Andes. "Much of the country's lifestyles and traditions are centered around coffee, so this part of the journey helps our guests really connect with Colombians," says Deborah Kilcollins of Big Five Tours. Based out of the luxurious Sazagua boutique hotel in Pereira, you'll learn about coffee traditions through visiting coffee plantations, touring the towns that developed around coffee growing, and possibly even attending the national coffee pageant in the city of Armenia. You'll also have time for hiking in Corcora Valley, where 160-foot wax palm trees tower like skyscrapers over the coffee bushes.
Trip planning: This trip can be arranged at any time. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include accommodations, ground transportation, daily breakfast and one lunch, guides, and entrance fees. Dinners, most lunches, and airfare are extra. Round-trip May airfare from Los Angeles to Bogota, starts at $568, including taxes, through Delta.
Kayak in God's Pocket, British ColumbiaProvider: Sea Kayak Adventures Length: Six days Price: $1,895
Sea Kayak Adventures has a great itinerary for veteran sea kayakers seeking for a new destination to explore or beginners who want to try a multi-day excursion without having to rough it: A six-day trip in British Columbia's God's Pocket Marine Provincial Park based out of an island resort in the middle of the park. Not only will you get to experience a spectacular region seldom visited by other kayakers—at the end of a good paddle you can unwind with a yoga session and a hot shower followed by a made-from-scratch meal in the comfy God's Pocket Resort to which the company has exclusive access.
"The lodge is a jewel and it is the only structure allowed in God's Pocket Provincial Park," says Nancy Mertz, co-owner of Sea Kayak Adventures. "This virtually uninhabited island chain provides sheltered kayaking next to nutrient-laden currents where salmon gather in huge numbers. The salmon are eagerly sought after by the northern resident subspecies of orca, bald eagles, and seals. Not a trip goes by that we don't see humpback and minke whales, dall's porpoises, and sea otters. As we kayak along our emerald isles and rocky points, we can look across the Queen Charlotte Strait to the snow-capped peaks of the BC Coastal Range—just spectacular. So we have incredible scenery right in the heart of spectacular wildlife and yet are close to shelter from the elements if need be."
During the trip, you'll kayak for about four hours each day with a break for lunch in between. In the afternoon you'll have time for hiking on the island and a yoga class before a happy hour on the resort's sun deck and then dinner. If you want a break from paddling for a day you can hang out at the resort or, if you're scuba certified, go diving with the lodge's host, who is also a dive master. "Jacques Cousteau named this area the world's best cold water scuba dive site," says Mertz.