Germany's Treasure House
Cathedrals, palaces, and other time-rich treasures lodge more sweetly in the memory when engaging experts lead the way. Though the tour Raphael Kadushin extolled in the May/June 2009 issue of Traveler is no longer available, culture-savvy outfitter Martin Randall is concocting an equally compelling tour of baroque and rococo grandeur for 2010. Escapades highlighted in the article—charming Bamberg, stately Wurzburg—join pilgrimages to tiny baroque churches in the Alps and sumptuous rococo residences in Munich alike. Martin Randall: "Baroque and Rococo in Southern Germany," 9 days, estimated price: $2,900.
New customs procedures have eased interisland travel between the Greek Dodecanese and the western coast of Turkey, making it possible for gulets—two-masted wooden sailboats—to avoid major harbors. The focus is on offbeat sites such as the Turkish village of Turgut, where guests are invited to share sage tea and honey with locals. Wildland Adventures: "Voyaging Among the Dodecanese of Turkey and Greece," 12 days; from $4,195.
Secret Life of Bhutan
Under the guiding principle of achieving a high Gross National Happiness quotient, the kingdom of Bhutan has managed to balance creeping modernity with the preservation of its national heritage and environment. Find out its secret as you travel from village to village, staying in the homes of locals, hiking in the backcountry, and perhaps taking part in a festival. Village Tours and Treks: "Bhutan Villages Tour," 11 days; $1,670.
Alaska's Grizzly Country
Board a refurbished tugboat headed for Katmai, one of the world's most prolific grizzly bear habitats. Cruise along the shore, where brown bears, as they're known here, dot the beach, digging for clams and snagging salmon while keeping a sharp eye on their frolicking young. Previous expeditions here have seen up to 40 bears cluster together. The tour includes a jaunt to rarely visited Kodiak Island, where the coast is teeming with sea lions, otters, puffins, bald eagles, and whales. Natural Habitat Adventures: "Grizzlies: Kodiak to Katmai," 7 days; $6,595 (special photo tour option is 8 days, $6,995).
Brazil, Three Ways
Upon seeing Brazil's Iguazú Falls, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt allegedly remarked, "Poor Niagara." Led by the outfitter's founder Peter Grubb and local naturalists, you'll explore three different ecosystems: the savanna of the Chapada dos Guimarães, the Amazon rain forest, and the swampy Pantanal. Bunk at some of the country's top eco-lodges, such as Araras, which has preserved 7,500 acres in the Pantanal and has been instrumental in helping local cattle ranchers make their operations more Earth-friendly. ROW Adventures: "Brazilian Tapestry—Culture, Wildlife, and Adventure," 12 days; from $3,990.
Bangladesh Beyond Headlines
Begin your private odyssey in the capital Dhaka, with a visit to an artist workshop where the city's cycle rickshaws are painted with vibrant scenes from nature, history, and the movies. Then board a traditional wooden riverboat to explore the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, home of the Bengal tiger. You may meet nomadic sea gypsies who fish using trained sea otters. There's also the verdant hill country of Sylhet and 76-mile Cox's Bazar, the longest natural sand beach in the world. Remote Lands: "Bangladesh," 12 days; $6,000.
Europe by Riverboat
From Amsterdam to Budapest, ply the Rhine, Main, and Danube on the MS Swiss Emerald, stopping for day trips along the way: Explore the baroque city of Passau, get a massage in Budapest, marvel at the Transylvanian Alps, and lunch at a local's home in Arbanassi, Bulgaria. Back on the boat, watch life go by from a cozy perch in your quarters or at the bar, as you nurse a Trappist ale. Tauck World Discovery: "Grand European Cruise," 24 days; $8,990.