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Originally published Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 7:02 PM

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Seattle-based tour companies offer worldwide adventures

Looking for adventure? A small-group tour can be the way to go, especially to far-flung corners of the world where organizing your own trip...

Seattle Times NWTraveler editor

Some major U.S. companiesoffering adventure tours

It's always comforting to book a trip with a local company: If something goes wrong, you know where to find them. But many other U.S. companies (and international ones) focus on

adventure tours. Here are some of the well-established ones:

Backroads: A pioneer in active travel, with biking, hiking and multisport trips in Europe, Latin America, North America and beyond.

G Adventures: Worldwide adventure trips from this Canadian-headquartered company, including trips aimed at the age 18-to-30 crowd. (Formerly called Gap Adventures.)

Geographic Expeditions: Luxury expeditions, small-boat cruises, treks and overland tours from the Americas and Asia to the Pacific and beyond.

Intrepid Travel: Budget-friendly, active tours worldwide. Headquartered in Australia, it has a U.S. division.

Mountain Travel Sobek: Trekking, rafting, safaris, adventure cruising and more around the world.

National Geographic Expeditions: This travel program of the National Geographic Society offers cultural tours plus active trips worldwide — kayaking, hiking, horseback and more.

Overseas Adventure Travel: Worldwide adventure tours aimed at active travelers around 50 and older.

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Looking for adventure? A small-group tour can be the way to go, especially to far-flung corners of the world where organizing your own trip can be tough. And Seattle is a hotbed of adventure-travel companies — and travelers.

Local companies offer everything from cultural adventures in Central America to Himalaya treks and Africa safaris, and in styles (and price ranges) from backpacker to luxury. Group sizes usually range from a dozen to 18 travelers, although they can be a smaller. Many companies also will arrange private trips.

Here's a sampling of Seattle-area adventure-travel companies. (To find more, check with the Seattle-based Adventure Travel Trade Association,, or The International Ecotourism Society,

Adventure Associates: A small company with big-hearted tours, emphasizing connections with local communities in Mexico, Tanzania, Nepal and beyond.

Arctic Odysseys: A pioneer of High Arctic travel with small-group tours in the far north of Canada, Russia and beyond, from wildlife-watching to dog-sledding and ski treks.

Crooked Trails: Community-based trips that include homestays or service projects in indigenous communities in Bhutan, Peru, Kenya and more.

Erickson Cycle Tours: Family-run company with van-supported cycle tours in Europe, from Vienna to Venice, around France's Provence, and more.

Go South Adventures: Treks in Patagonia and Peru, including to Machu Picchu, plus Galapagos trips and more.

MIR Corporation: Tours to where Europe and Asia intersect, from hiking to more luxurious cultural explorations in Central Asia, Russia, Mongolia and beyond.

Mountain Madness: High-level climbing expeditions (Everest, anyone?); lower-elevation treks and climbs in the Himalayas and Alps; and walking safaris. www.mountainmadness.comMountaineers Global Adventures: A few international outings are offered each year through the Seattle outdoors club, with upcoming Nepal treks and New Zealand backpacking.

Red Lantern Journeys: Custom-designed adventure trips, for independent travelers and small groups, in Asia.

REI Adventures: An offshoot of outdoors retail-giant REI, it offers hundreds of trips worldwide each year, from physically arduous treks and kayaking to multisport trips that combine outdoors fun with sightseeing.

TCS & Starquest Expeditions: Money truly no object? TCS specializes in private-jet expeditions to faraway places, including an ultraluxury South Africa safari.

Wildland Adventures: Trips with an intercultural, environmentally conscious focus, from family trips to Peru and Central America to Kenya safaris and off-the-beaten track Ethiopia tours. www.wildland.comZegrahm Expeditions: Adventure tours to every continent, including African safaris, expedition cruises to Antarctica and circumnavigations of Sicily or Ireland.

Kristin Jackson:

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