Image: Mont Blanc
Jean-pierre Clatot  /  AFP - Getty Images
Splurge on a trip to Chamonix, France and climb a mountain. Whether a novice or practically professional, Alpine Adventures tailors Mont Blanc tours exactly to your requirements.
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updated 8/1/2007 10:43:17 AM ET 2007-08-01T14:43:17

For a brief few months each year, warm weather, long days, and generous vacation time conspire to open up a world of travel possibilities. From climbing the top of remote mountains to exploring breathtaking river gorges to biking quiet back-country roads, Sherman’s Travel has selected 10 spectacular adventures. And to make sure there’s a trip to suit every taste, we’ve included a splurge option (for those who absolutely must have the most exotic and/or pampered voyage) as well as a great value (for those who don’t mind roughing it).

1. Hiking
Splurge: Sofia to Tryavna, Bulgaria
Walk into history – almost literally – with Country Walkers, a Vermont-based specialist with a most unusual 8-day itinerary. Little-known Bulgaria, a new EU member, boasts one-and-a-half millennia-worth of architecture and artifacts, as well as some of Europe’s most splendid scenery: mountain ranges, lush valleys, wildflower meadows, and sandstone pyramids carved by the elements. Hike from a still-active 13th-century Orthodox monastery to a ruined Roman amphitheater; discover the perfectly preserved medieval crafts town of Tryavna and the unique national revival architecture of the 19th century. CW has also unearthed fabulous family-run inns and hotels with home-cooked meals. $2,600 for 8 days, all-inclusive; www.countrywalkers.com

Value: Cinque Terre and Apennines, Italy
Don’t be scared by the name: Australian outfit Intrepid Travel runs the gamut from gritty, challenging adventures to gentle, accessible trips with English as the lingua franca. This 8-day trek combines hiking the mindblowingly picturesque Cinque Terre coastline paths and Apennine trails with some gentle Tuscan cycling and feasting around Lucca. Intrepid Travel's helpful “Culture Shock” grading system gives this a 2 – occasional basic hotels or overnight trains, but mostly easy stuff. A 5, by their own admission, “can be tough.” $1,200 for 8 days, breakfasts and lodging included; www.intrepidtravel.com

2. Climbing
Splurge: Chamonix, France
Alpine Adventures tailors Mont Blanc tours exactly to your requirements. Whether a novice or practically professional, you’ll be set up with instruction in ice, rock, or mixed climbs, and expertly guided over the cable car network and all the best routes. 6-day trips from $2,060, includes equipment, 3 nights accommodation, 3 dinners, 3 breakfasts; www.alpineadventures.co.uk

Value: San Jacinto, California
Come high summer, when the desert is roasting, Vertical Adventures Rock Climbing School moves its operations from Joshua Tree to the equally challenging and varied ascents of Suicide Rock in the San Jacinto mountains. Find sweet lodgings like the quiet Creek inn in nearby Idyllwild ($100–$170/night; quietcreekinn.com). $390 for 4-day beginner Rockcraft course; www.verticaladventures.com

3. Kayaking
Splurge: Greenland
It doesn’t get much more remote than the inner fjord systems around Kulusuk Island, East Greenland: this is terrain you can only explore for about one month a year. Mountain Travel Sobek has crafted its trip to make the area accessible to the mere average kayaker – the 8-day voyage includes 6 days of moderate paddling plus camping on pristine islets. From $3,290 for 8 days, all-inclusive, with airport transfers; www.mtsobek.com

Value: Lake Tahoe, California
Experience high-altitude paddling along North America’s largest alpine lake. Equal parts conservation organization and ace travel guides, Sierra Club uses all-volunteer trip leaders for an extra dose of enthusiasm. The late-August 6-day outing starts and ends at the Clair Tappaan lodge. $1,195 for 6 days, all-inclusive, with airport transfers; www.sierraclub.org

4. Surfing
Splurge
: Oahu, Hawaii
Slideshow: The heart of Hawaii Nancy Emerson is a former champion Women’s World Tour competitor, sometime Hollywood stuntwoman, and owner of the Nancy Emerson School of Surfing, probably the best known surf school on the island. She’s usually on the road, so her 5-day clinics are rare indeed. Top up the fantasy level with a stay at Waikiki’s legendary Halekulani resort (from $405/night, daily transfers included; halekulani.com). $1,800 to $2,900 for 5 days; www.surfclinics.com

Value: Victoria, Australia
Former professional surfer Jodie Smith is passionate about the mind-body benefits of her sport, combining surf lessons with yoga classes and fantastic food (she’s also a qualified nutritionist) at her Surf and Soul retreats. The new 5-day learn-to-surf courses take place on Great Ocean Road, the best surf coast in Australia, from late-August. $1,150 for 5 days, all-inclusive (though only 2 dinners); www.surfandsoul.com.au

ShermansTravel is a guide to top travel deals and destinations. Sign up for Sherman's Top 25 e-newsletter which features the best editor-screened deals from hundreds of travel providers and is delivered to over 4 million subscribers, free, each week. ShermansTravel also publishes trip ideas and travel features to inspire, guide, and go.

5. Fly Fishing
Splurge: Kola Peninsula, Russia
Over the past decade the Ponoi River on Russia’s Kola Peninsula has gone from total obscurity to the hottest destination for Atlantic salmon. Great fishing – floating line, catch and release – is practically guaranteed, thanks to aggressively biting fish twice the size of those in Scotland or the northeast U.S. The only operator to cover this territory, Frontiers Travel gives you a private guide for 8 hours a day, comfortable platform tents, and amazing food, for a once in a lifetime fishing week. From $5,665 for 7 days, all-inclusive, with flight from Murmansk; www.frontierstravel.com

Value: Big Sky, Montana
Fly fishers know the Gallatin River as the trout Grand Central of the lower 48, and Rainbow Ranch, a former fishing camp with wooden decks and river-rock fireplaces, is on the main tracks. In between casting-clinics, wading and walking trips, or all-day trips to wilderness lakes, you can literally cast off from your deck into the Gallatin – or into the ranch’s own trout pond. Non-fishers can raft, hike, and bike, and everyone can meet up over dinner at one of the best kitchens in the Rockies. From $275/night, guided trips extra; www.rainbowranch.com

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6. Sailing
Splurge: Rome to Venice
Star Clippers recently added the Royal Clipper, a majestic giantess modeled on the 1902 Preussen, to its fleet. The biggest fully rigged sailing ship afloat, her size benefits the reluctant high-seas adventurer (three pools, watersports platform, and a spa), while her anachronistic layout pleases the sailors. From $2,865 per person for 11 days; www.starclippers.com

Slideshow: City of Water

Value: Pacific Northwest
Local Escape’s century-old classic wooden tall ship, the schooner Martha, is the oldest working sailboat in Washington. Passengers learn to rig the sails and integrate with the professional crew while learning the history of the comely vessel and spotting sea lions. From $925 per person for 4 days, all-inclusive, with transfers from Seattle; www.localescapes.com

Biking

Loire Valley, France

Unlike most Loire Valley trips, this classic 7-day ride by Butterfield & Robinson lets you stay in the best châteaux, including the exclusive (it’s a private home) 13th-century Château du Rivau, an exquisitely restored castle that once hosted Joan of Arc. This level of access continues all week; you’re even initiated into the local wine brotherhood Bon Entonneurs Rablaisiens.

Napa and Sonoma, California

Fifteen years running bike tours in the top two wine-producing counties has given Getaway Adventures unparalleled expertise. The 6-day ride goes from the hot springs of Calistoga to the hot restaurants of Healdsburg, with plenty of sipping, picnicking, and photo ops en route, plus a different local inn each night.

8. Scuba
Splurge: Turtle Island, Fiji
The superdeluxe Turtle Island resort is located in what is known as the “soft coral capital of the world.” The clear, deep waters are fantastic, and local dive shop Westside Water Sports outfits certified guests free of charge. For committed divers, there’s added enticement to stay longer: the resort buys the international round-trip flights of anyone staying more than 9 days. From $800/night, all-inclusive; www.turtlefiji.com

Value: Curtain Bluff, Antigua
Summer is Caribbean bargain time, but at this toniest of resorts, diving deals are in season too – at Curtain Bluff, equipment and guides for certified divers are all covered. Pack those tennis whites, clubs, and yoga pants, and check out the brand new spa. From $495/night, all-inclusive; www.curtainbluff.com

9. Horseback riding
Splurge
: Granby, Colorado
A haven in the high Rockies for over 60 years, C Lazy U Lodge offers fine home-cooked feasts served family-style, comfy cowboyish lodges just shy of luxurious, and the hospitality of an extended family. Horses and instruction are exceptional, with classes at any level in indoor and outdoor arenas and all-day trail rides. At week’s end, show off your teamwork at the (slightly) competitive rodeo. From $2,350 for 7 days; www.clazyu.com

Value: Iceland
Discover Iceland’s cowboys – or sheep boys, which is close enough – at Sveinsstadir, where you’ll ride into the highlands to herd horses from summer pastures back to the family farm. You must be a proficient rider, capable of up to 7 hours in the saddle over the 5-day trip. Soak away soreness in the outdoor geothermal hot tub. From $2,075, including airfare from U.S.; www.icelandair.com (click Vacation Packages, then Adventure)

10. Rafting
Splurge: Alsek River, Alaska
Part of the estimable mountain travel Sobek stable, Alaska Discovery has been running trips to the last frontier longer than anyone. At this end of the earth, where glaciers are still calving and grizzlies and eagles are quite at home, you really need expert guidance – especially when running “God’s fastest scenic conveyor belt,” the Alsek River. One of many highlights on this 12-day adventure of awe-inspiring scenery and thrilling rapids is the helicopter portage across the deadly Class VI whitewater of the aptly named Turnback Canyon. The Class III and IV runs you’ll actually be doing are quite exciting enough. From $3,390 for 12 days, all-inclusive; www.mtsobek.com

Value: Arkansas River, Colorado
One of the most experienced river-rafting operators in Colorado, Wilderness Aware treads lightly on the land. This 5-day Arkansas River trip covers 90 miles with Class III and IV – plus an optional Class V – every day. This package takes you far, far into the wild, with secluded sleep-outs and fresh multi-course meals cooked on the campfire. $650 for 5 days, all-inclusive; www.inaraft.com

ShermansTravel is a guide to top travel deals and destinations. Sign up for Sherman's Top 25 e-newsletter which features the best editor-screened deals from hundreds of travel providers and is delivered to over 4 million subscribers, free, each week. ShermansTravel also publishes trip ideas and travel features to inspire, guide, and go.

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