||Far from the Modeming Crowd back to TTN home page
by Joe Harkins- Jul 1, 98
An amusing paradox of the Internet is that adventure travel, escaping from the familiar, such as that persistent little hour-glass on your monitors screen, is the subject of an astounding number of pages on the World Wide Web.
For example, a recent search on HotBot, the webs biggest, most powerful indexer, offered 3,182,194 sites containing the word "travel" but pages mentioning the word "sex", that supposedly universal and popular pastime, showed up "only" 1,976,976 times. Similar results, in differing quantities and varying percentages, come up on Lycos, AltaVista, DejaNews and Yahoo.
Theres probably a potential doctoral dissertation in the social implications of that lopsided ratio. Equally striking is how many travel web sites are devoted to rugged outdoor adventure, far from the modeming crowd. Unfortunately, the size and scope of some adventure-travel sites can make exploring them as daunting as an uphill struggle through a field of ice-covered boulders.
Take GORP, which is not only the name of the high-energy mixture of fruits, nuts and seeds popular with hikers and climbers, but also is the acronym and web site for the Great Outdoor Recreation Pages. Like trail-mix itself, the site is nutritious and tasty, but when dumped out on the table (or your browsers screen) its difficult to separate raisins from peanuts and pine-cone seeds. Hundreds of topics are presented as non-alphabetized lists of hyperlinks, largely without organization beyond a few broad categories. A search engine would help.(update*)
Despite that shortcoming, GORP has solid information, listings, articles, forums, interviews, tips and features that place it high on the must-visit list of the active traveler. Some are fun, even for a Himalayas-dreaming armchair-bound wannabe like me.
Each week, GORPs visitors are invited to contribute to an irreverent Top Ten List on a travel theme. The archive contains such lists as Top Ten Clues You Picked The Wrong Climbing Partner ("What at first appears to be her backpack turns out to be a parachute") and Top Ten Signs Your Vacation is Over ("You are out of food, money, and clean underwear.") Dont overlook the monthly contest drawing. The current prize is a Rocky Mountains white-water rafting trip for two.
Not all adventure travel web sites require a virtual piton and belay. Adventure Sports Online offers a more pleasing and negotiable face with well-organized navigation buttons, small, fast-downloading graphics and, like the outdoors itself, generous amounts of uncluttered space. As a result, the site might appear to have a narrower range of information, but thats not true. ASO is well seasoned with links to a large variety of relevant pages and affiliated sites.
The Wild Dog Adventure Travel Directory was created as a showcase for a London, England design companys creativity. The site owner explains the name, "Deep inside all of us is an explorer, a wild dog if you like, waiting to be released from its domestic lifestyle and duties." In addition to doing great credit to that goal, the site is jam-packed with systematized world-wide listings that exceed the opening screens enticing promise of "overlanding in Africa, heli-skiing in British Columbia, discovering remote Peruvian villages by mountain bike, crossing the Himalayas on an Enfield motorbike, a walking holiday in the Tuscan Hills, skiing in Antarctica or salmon fishing on the River Umba in Russia."
Wild Dogs rail-travel links, which may not seem very adventurous, reflect a delightfully English perception that adventure is not limited to high altitude trekking across Sikkim and Darjeeling or tenting along the back-roads of Mongolia (also detailed on the site.) After reading through Wild Dogs directory of dozens of trans-India rail-tour operators, Ive taken my travel bag out of the closet and started checking discount fares to that sub-continent. -30-
(note: The material that appears below may or may not have been published in your local newspaper depending on the available space in this week's edition.)
Other web sites born to be wild:
Specialty Travel Online
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