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    Adventure Travel 2014: The Year’s Top Trips

    By By The Editors of The ActiveTimes
    January 15, 2014, 4:38:38 AM EST

    Savvy travelers know that there’s more to vacationing than lying on the beach and sipping fruity drinks. Although a complimentary Cruzan Rum does happen to be part of the package when you book a guided running tour with Active Island Tours & Events in St. Thomas. After all, what better way to unwind after a run than with a cocktail?

    Sure, vacations are centered around relaxation, but the best trips of 2014 are all about exotic and exciting adventures. They’re about that balance between leisure and liveliness. Why not try rock-climbing in Thailand or a tropical trek through the rainforest in Dominica?

    Up for even more of challenge? Maybe one of the world's most difficult adventure excursions through the Namib Desert in South Africa is more your style. Or if something like a trip back in time sparks your wanderlust in a big way, in 2014 you can visit Dracula’s castle while exploring the mystical history of the Dark Ages in Hungary or tour the escape route of Siberian gulag prisoners during World War II.

    These are the best new adventure travel destinations and tours of 2014. Whether you’re a serious cyclist in search of challenging climbs, a dedicated yogi on a quest to find the next best meditation location, or a just an avid adventurer ready to plan your next bucket list expedition our list is bound to feature a trip that will have you packing your bags and booking a flight faster than you can say, “Pour me a drink.”

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    Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Papua New GuineaStand-up paddle boarding is the newest adventure in Papua New Guinea, with only a few people having tasted the excitement of this expedition. The PNG Surf Association collaborates with natives of the Sepik River regions to allow travelers into the untouched corners of the country. These draw you in with museum-level carvings and a people who live subsistence lifestyles of fishing, gardening, and farming. 2014 will open additional areas of the country to paddle boarders hoping to stay in remote villages, wine and dine with the locals, and perhaps happen upon a sacred ceremony or celebration. Papua New Guinea also beckons adventure-seekers with hiking on remote jungle trails, surfing the waves of New Ireland, fishing, and SCUBA diving among reefs, wrecks, and caves.

    —Lesli Peterrson


    Escape From Siberia Tour in Russia

    The Best Quest offers a new concept: Travel encounters that reach beyond a typical “trip” to become a “journey.” Escape from Siberia follows the footsteps of the purported escape of Siberian gulag prisoners during World War II, documented in the movie The Way Back. Stay in gers with Mongolians and ride camels into the dunes of the Chinese Gobi desert, camping under the stars. Hike a portion of the Everest Base Camp, river raft through the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal, and stay in a Bhutanese monastery where Buddha is said to have found Nirvana. Take in this 45-day historic trek from Moscow to Kolkata at once, or in three parts.

    —Lesli Peterson


    The Untapped Alps in Slovenia

    When most people think of the Alps, they think Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France. But head a little further east, and you’ll find an unspoiled corner still mostly undiscovered by tourists and overflowing with the same stunning views, deep cultural history and unlimited outdoor opportunities. Slovenia, until 1991 a part of Yugoslavia, is a cheaper—but still well-developed—alternative to neighboring Austria and Italy, and is host to Adriatic beaches, the 9,000-foot Julian Alps, castles and alpine lakes, tons of skiing, and thousands of miles of trails and low-traffic roads perfect for mountain biking and bicycle touring.

    Pure Adventures offers 8-day self-guided cycling tours that begin and end in Slovenia’s hip capital, Ljubljana, and circles through the tiny country, passing through the Alps and along the coast.

    More expensive guided options are available through Austin Adventures, and for the singletrack enthusiasts out there, Sacred Rides offers 8-day mountain biking adventures.

    —Mark Lebetkin

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