The site of the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler, British Columbia, is not only one of North America's top snow sport destinations, it's also home to some of the best mountain biking on the planet. "If there's [another] place that combines legendary free riding, cross country trails, family routes, and the world's leading lift serviced downhill, we haven't seen it," says Chris Ford, co-owner of Whistler Bike Guide Adventures.
On Whistler Bike Guide's six-day "Full Pull" tour, bikers of all abilities can experience a wide range of Whistler's most scenic and challenging routes. After your guides—all long-time local bikers—determine your experience level and outfit you with a top-of-the-line Santa Cruz bike, you'll dig right in with two full days of riding. Beginners might start on gently rolling terrain while experts can venture in remote mountain areas with steep climbs and technical descents. The next two days you'll mix it up with a half day of riding followed by zip-lining and then a day of whitewater rafting on the Class II and III Green River. The trip ends with another half-day ride, but you can add more full days if you like.
Tours depart each Saturday May through mid-October. Prices cover lodging, ground transportation within Whistler, some meals and snacks, use of a mountain bike rental and other cycling gear, activities, and guides. Airfare to Whistler is extra.
Volunteering with elephants in India Provider: i-to-i Length: 14 days Price: $790
Because of the nature of voluntourism—extended stays in one location, hands-on involvement with local people and projects, and home stays or local accommodations—volunteer travelers often return home having had richer and more fulfilling travel experiences than those who went on more traditional package tours. You can try to set up overseas volunteering on your own, but you may find it easier (and ultimately more affordable) to work with an organization that can offer you training and support and place you with a project that has been thoroughly vetted.
U.K.-based i-to-i is one of the leading volunteer travel organizations around, sending thousands of volunteers each year to work on dozens of projects in 23 different countries. Projects can range from sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica to teaching English to Buddhist monks in Nepal.
On one popular program in India, you can help take care of the personable Asian elephants who work carrying tourists at the royal Amber Fort in Jaipur. Each morning, while the elephants are away working, you'll clean their quarters and prepare their food, and in the afternoon, you can help the elephants unwind from their day by giving them massages and affection. You'll also get to learn about elephant behavior by interacting with mahouts, the elephant owners who live and work with the elephants on a daily basis. During your assignment you'll live with a local Indian family.
This program has two to three start dates each month. The price covers accommodations, all meals, in-country training, and elephant activities. Ground transportation between your accommodations and the project and airfare to Jaipur are extra.
SmarterTravel.com features expert travel advice and unbiased coverage of travel deals.