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Best New Adventure Trips of 2009

Exploration of new and little-known places is one of the hallmarks of adventure, which is what makes these 10 new trips stand out from the rest. Read on to find out how you can visit emerging destinations with veteran explorers and experience some classic destinations in new ways.

The Wilds of Assynt, Scotland

Provider: Wilderness Scotland
Length: Seven days
Price: $1,091

Not very many places in Western Europe can still be accurately called “wild,” but Assynt in northwest Scotland, a region of finger-shaped lochs, table-top mountains, and empty beaches, promises a remoteness hard to find on the mainland of the Continent. Assynt is part of the North West Highlands UNESCO Geopark, which was designated to protect the area’s geological features, including three-billion-year-old rocks.

“Assynt is among the least populated regions in all of Europe,” says Stevie Christie, director of the award-winning Wilderness Scotland. “In Assynt, you will enjoy true wilderness and everything that comes with that including prolific wildlife such as golden eagles and red deer stags; all day hikes where you won’t see another person; and a freedom and freshness that you don’t find elsewhere.”

After scouting the region for more than 10 years, Christie has designed a hiking tour that takes visitors to some of Assynt’s most beautiful and untouched places. Hiking an average of seven hours a day at a moderate pace, you’ll climb hills like the small but visually impressive Stac Pollaidh, and Suliven, a pillar-shaped peak known as Scotland’s “Sugar Loaf.” Along the coast, you’ll walk past sea stacks (vertical rock columns) and along sandy beaches and have the option to go sea kayaking. One trip highlight comes early on: a boat tour of the Summer Isles, a mostly uninhabited archipelago where you can often spot dolphins and whales. “[This] is a fantastic addition to a regular hiking trip as you get to explore the islands, as well as enjoy unusual vantage points of the mountains you will hike up during the trip,” says Christie.

Trip Planning

Departures are scheduled for June 13, August 8, and September 26. Rates include accommodations, daily breakfast and lunch plus dinner on the first and last night of the trip, ground transportation, the boat trip, and a guide and driver. Most dinners, alcohol, and airfare are extra. Round-trip late September airfare from Newark to Edinburgh, starts at $846, including taxes, through Hotwire. From Edinburgh, you can take a Megabus coach to the trip start point in Inverness for as little as £1.

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