Best new adventure trips of 2009

Trip planning: This trip departs June 29. Other God's Pocket trips not including yoga begin every Monday between July 6 and August 3. Prices include transfers to God's Pocket Resort, lodging, meals, kayaking equipment and instruction, yoga, and guides. Transportation to the trip start location in Point Hardy, British Columbia, is extra. Round-trip June airfare from Los Angeles to Vancouver, starts at $451, including taxes, on US Airways. From Vancouver, it's an eight-hour drive to Port Hardy.

West Africa's Voodoo TrailProvider: G.A.P Adventures Length: 16 days Price: $2,399

In West Africa's Gulf of Guinea Coast, the spirits of the dead inhabit the living, true love can be made from ingredients purchased at the market, and battles are fought with riddles. Here, voodoo isn't a black art practiced in back alleys—it's a way of life for millions of people. On a unique cultural tour run by G.A.P Adventures in Benin, Togo, and Burkina Faso, you'll immerse yourself in the animistic beliefs and practices of Western Africa for a travel experience unlike any other.

On G.A.P's two-week "Voodoo Trail," you'll experience things few Westerners get the chance to, including divination ceremonies, visits with tribal royalty, and animal sacrifices. Starting in Togo's capital of Lome, tour a voodoo market and watch merchants selling ingredients to make love potions and other elixirs. In Ganvie, a Beninese village built on stilts in the middle of a lake, the local soothsayer demonstrates how he prophesizes the future. While in the Yoruba kingdom of Ketou, meet His Majesty the Oba (king) and his royal court, and witness the Dancing Masks of Egun, a ceremony in which cult members believe themselves to transform into their dead ancestors. At the fetish of Dankoli in the north of Benin, watch pilgrims pray and make sacrifices of goats and chickens to their god.

In the country of Burkina Faso, attend a storytelling competition in a Gurunsi village and watch elders test the young with riddles. Later, meet the shy Lobi people, whose men still carry bows and arrows and women wear lip disks. The trip ends in the rural capital of Ouagadougou, where locals perform a kind of street theater involving wooden masks and mythic themes.

Trip planning: In 2009, this trip departs September 26, November 14, and December 26. Prices include accommodations, some meals, activities, ground transportation, and guides. Some meals and airfare are extra. Late-September airfare from New York to Lome, Togo, and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, back to New York starts at $1,491, including taxes, through Orbitz.

Laos Multi Sport Provider: BikeHike Adventures Length: 13 days Price: $2,299

With only 10% the population of Thailand and Vietnam and far fewer visitors, the little-known Southeast Asian country of Laos remains both wilder and far less touristy than its more popular neighbors. The landlocked nation has no beaches or worldly metropolises—a downfall for a certain segment of travelers—but that means it's easier for those who do come to enjoy what Laos does offer: some of Asia's most authentic cultural and natural experiences.

"Laos is still relatively untouched compared to Thailand and Vietnam, which is more appealing to many adventure travelers," says Trish Sare, director of BikeHike Adventures, which launches its first itinerary in Laos next year. "The people are still innocent [to mass tourism], so travelers get authentic experiences with the ethnic communities."

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