Spring Treks from Treasure Diving to Everest

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. ( MainStreet) -- There are some people that look to spring for its hedonistic spa getaways or early beach vacations. Then there are the thrill seekers who take advantage of better weather by diving to the depths of the ocean in search of treasure, climbing the highest mountain they can find or satiating their mind and body with an archeological journey that goes above and beyond the norm or the usual spring getaway.

Those looking for the most unique adventures without having to do all the legwork will most likely want to use an adventure travel specialist such as U.K.-based Wild Frontiers. The company promises "to help adventurous souls get to incredible places that would otherwise remain inaccessible," and a well curated website by company founder Jonny Bealby includes a wide array of fully tailored experiences to the far reaches of the globe that vary by the degree of wildness, preferred region and whether the idea is group travel or a private event.
The Archeological Institute of America offers an 11-day cruise called "Cultures and Archaeology of the Adriatic Sea" that has the usual Venice-Piran-Dubrovnik itinerary as well as journeys to places such as ancient Tunisian sites, the Roman city of Aquileia or the town of Egnathia, where adventurers explore ruins dating back to 4 B.C.

More adventurous travelers can partake in a 30-day Wakhan Corridor Trek through Afghanistan and Tajikistan. A bit shorter is the nine-day Wild Walk in the Caucasus, which traverses the great Georgian mountain range in a group hike that includes crossing the Abodelauri Pass and camping in pastures along the Russian border.

For those looking to embrace their inner Jonny Quest, there's the Archeological Institute of America, chartered by the U.S. Congress -- the largest organization in North American devoted exclusively to archaeology. Its AIA Tour Programs aim to bring a better understanding of archeology to the broader public and offers a diverse series of organized tours around the world led by AIA lecturers for groups never larger than 25.

Standout AIA adventures this year include an 11-day luxury cruise on the Corinthian II. "Cultures and Archaeology of the Adriatic Sea" has the usual Venice-Piran-Dubrovnik itinerary but supplements it with more in-depth journeys to places such as the Roman city of Aquileia or the town of Egnathia, where adventurers explore ruins dating back to 4 B.C. True swashbucklers can opt for an 11-day trek into Tunisia's most famous archeological sites and ancient holy cities, including the amphitheater at El Jem and ruins still being excavated.

Wannabe treasure hunters and subscribers to glossies such as Wreck Diving Magazine will surely have come across the name Mel Fisher. The illustrious treasure hunter and his family run dive expeditions in and around the wreckage site of the famous Nuestra Senora de Atocha, one in a series of Spanish galleons that sank off Key West during the 17th century. Finding the original shipwreck was only half the battle for the famed treasure hunter; the reported $450 million find led to a well-documented legal battle and eventual U.S. Supreme Court case in 1982 in favor of the family.

Today, Fisher offers treasure seekers the opportunity to become investors and share in annual dives and treasure hauls from shipwrecks; investors keep anything they find up to six times their original investment, with the minimum investment being $12,500. Those leery of taking investment advice from anyone in a leafy Tommy Bahama shirt and cut-offs can opt for a lesser $2,500 weeklong trip, which are run throughout the summer (June 1 to Sept. 1) and include all accommodation, a Key West boat party and four wreckage dives in which they're allowed to keep anything found up to the value of the trip.

In lieu of gold bars and silver coins, U.S. retailer REI swaps pirate booty for nature's bounty in a series of adventure trips and organized expeditions that fulfill the company's agenda of getting people outdoors. For more than 25 years REI Adventures has offered a unique array of global journeys that pair like-minded outdoor lovers with unique destinations that vary from bare-minimal camping treks to far more luxurious getaways across the globe.

REI Adventures leads a 19-day Everest Base Camp trek throughout the year, and there's last-minute spring 2012 availability. The trip goes via Kathmandu and includes some of the most iconic sights of the Everest Himalayas, from its vast glaciers to the Khumbu Ice Fall -- priced from an amazingly affordable $2,999 for REI members that includes almost all accommodations and most meals (airfare to Nepal not included).

For a bit more history and a little less mountain climbing, REI's well-curated seven-day journey to Machu Picchu goes along the Salkantay route to the famous Inca city, with each night along the way spent in a different area lodge. Closer to American shores, REI leads a series of spring and summer trips in the U.S. Southwest and Sierra Nevada that include a three-day hike with nightly stays at the company's private 160-acre REI Adventures Eagle Lakes campsite, one of the most accessible and affordable adventure getaways you can find.

Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.

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