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This post was edited by Cicci at 2012-3-21 10:28|
By Anthea Gerrie; source from: cnngp.com
Few things give a sense of excitement-veering-into-fear like the moment you realize you're lost, alone and in the middle of a vast area with no cell signal.
Thankfully, tours to these wild regions guarantee to get you out again safely.
Penguins and glaciers and bergs. And plenty of ice for happy hour.
The White Continent, as the world’s most southerly landmass is known, is not just a 14-million-square-kilometer landscape of glaciers and icebergs.
It's dotted with exotic wildlife, with highlights that include the Lemaire Channel, surrounded by towering cliffs, Paradise Bay, a haven for sea mammals and seabirds, and Deception Island, home to colonies of chinstrap penguins.
The best way to see the icy continent is not on a large liner, involving long days at sea with little variation in landscape or activity, but on an expedition cruiser loaded with Zodiacs to allow closer inspection.
Kayaking and other active pursuits may also be available if weather permits.
Access is via air to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Compagnie du Ponant runs two mega-yachts into the area from December through February with Zodiacs, polar expedition guides and wildlife experts on board. From US$6,144 for 11 days; www.ponant.com
2. Serengeti, East Africa
"Everybody stop! Gerald dropped a contact lens."
This 30,000-square-kilometer swathe of eastern Africa is the scene of the migration of mega-herds of wildebeest and zebra. They are pursued by the highest concentration of predators on the continent, including lion, cheetah and leopard.
While there’s no shortage of luxury camps and conventional safaris, the best way to witness the migrations is to follow them in a mobile tented camp which ups sticks every day and follows the animals as they eat, drink and outwit their pursuers.
Access is via air to Kilimanjaro. The most spectacular viewing period is The Great Migration, August through October, followed by the March calving season.
Africa Odyssey offers four nights at a mobile tented camp including four nights with full board, game drives, park fees and internal transfers from Kilimanjaro from US$2,800 per person; www.africaodyssey.com
3. Sahara, North Africa
It's not all dunes and dust.
The magnificent red dunes of the 9.4-million-square-kilometer Sahara, dotted with kasbahs, date plantations and camel trails, are most safely experienced from a tent under the stars in southern Morocco.
As well as camel treks and hikes over the dunes and ancient lake beds, kasbah and plantation tours and visits with nomad tribesmen are all available in the world's biggest hot desert and second-biggest desert after Antarctica.
Access is via air to Marrakech, then several hours by road. Spring and autumn are optimum times to visit.
Specialist Morocco provides tents in the picturesque Draa Valley region with private bush showers and meals prepared by Berber chefs. From US$75 per night per person including all meals, but not including transfers; www.saharasafaricamp.co.uk
4. Atacama Desert, Chile
If you're dying for a fried egg but forgot the pan, you're in the right place.
Northern Chile is home to the world's most arid desert, peppered with salt flats, hot springs and geysers.
It also boasts fertile ravines, volcanoes and indigenous villages high in the Andes.
Thanks to its incredibly clear air, it's also home to the world’s most advanced observatory.
Trekking through the colored desert and climbing volcanoes are among the more active options, but it’s also fun just to take a four-wheel drive vehicle to the base of the volcano and fry an egg on the hot ground.
Another great activity is a hike around the salt flats and volcanic lakes and into fertile oases filled with fruit orchards.
Access is via air to Calama by way of Santiago.
Five nights in a secluded cottage, including transfers from Santiago, full board and four-wheel drive with driver on 24-hour call from US$3,850; www.dehouche.com
5. Gobi Desert, Asia
Think deserts all look the same? Not this one.
Much of this region’s breathtaking natural landscape remains intact. Panoramic mountainscapes and vast plains are punctuated by ancient monasteries like Erdene Zuu, which dates from the 16th century.
But the star of the show is the vast Gobi Desert.
Highlights include the Flaming Cliffs, named for their magnificent color, and the site where dinosaur eggs were first discovered.
Visitors can also view petroglyphs, visit with local nomads and ride on camels through the Moltsog sand dunes.
Access is via air to Dalanzadgad by way of Ulaanbaatar. June and July are the best months to visit.
Lightfoot Travel offers four nights full board including domestic flights, tours and activities from US$2,955 per person; www.lightfoottravel.com