Published: June/July 2009
Now Dig This
Step underground into Turkey's richly rocky past
Text by Costas Christ

Summer comes early to the eastern Mediterranean, a land so steeped in history (Phoenician, Babylonian, Persian—the list goes on) that nearly every rock-strewn trail reveals a story of trade, conquest, and religion. Slip into the past at Yunak Evleri in Turkey’s Cappadocia region, once a crossroads for more than a dozen civilizations. Dating back to the fifth century, the hotel’s 30 cave rooms were carved by villagers eager to avoid passing armies (in some places, they dug entire subterranean cities with markets, churches, and monasteries). But don’t expect the austere conditions of yore—the restored rock world of Yunak is softened with big brass beds, Swedish jet stream showers, and other modern comforts (doubles from $160; yunak.com). Tempting as it is to hole up in your plush digs, the greater attraction lies outside: a 50-square-mile swath of volcanic tuff that has eroded into a stark wilderness of spires, gorges, caves, and plateaus. Trek, bike, or horseback ride across the otherworldly landscape. You can’t go far without stumbling upon archaeological sites where, thankfully, no tourist crowds roam.

Intelligent Design: A Guilt-Free Solution For Galápagoers

To go or not to go to the Galápagos? It’s a question that nags at every wildlife enthusiast. In 2007 UNESCO declared the archipelago a World Heritage site in danger, thanks in no small part to overcrowded cruise ships. Which is why Ecoventura president Santiago Dunn wants to scale things back. His expedition ships carry up to 20 guests each and were among the region’s first vessels to be “Smart Voyager” certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Now comes the first Galápagos-bound hybrid ship, Ecoventura’s M/Y ERIC, which has 40 solar panels and two wind turbines. “We want to give people the incredible experience of visiting the islands without the fear that they are harming the wildlife and fragile ecology,” says Dunn. In other words, go now—just go green (seven days, from $2,925 per person, all-inclusive; ecoventura.com).

Safari Special: Minimal Impact, Major Savings

Forget the 4x4 game drives: From Botswana’s Oddballs’ Camp, all excursions are human powered. Unlike other retreats in the Okavango Delta, which can cost nearly a grand a night, this little-known enclave bucks the luxury safari trend with domed tents and no generators. Walk among the Big Five, camp on tiny islands, and paddle dugout canoes across remote waterways. It’s nature as it was meant to be ($325 per person, per night, including meals and guided trips; lodgesofbotswana.com/oddballs).