BY Advocate.com Editors
February 02 2009 12:00 AM ET
10. The Napa Valley of Northern California
The Eco-Adventure: Hundreds of wineries are nestled in the sunbaked, oak-filled, golden Napa Valley (a couple hours’ drive north of San Francisco), a region that includes bubbling mud hot spring spas and forested state parks. Gay life is centered on the nearby redwood-shaded village of Guerneville, in a resort area better known as the Russian River.
Do It Gaily: Gay Napa Getaways (GayNapaGetaways.com; 707-927-5115) is a local tour and concierge service that helps you live out your wine region fantasies with creative and exclusive excursions like lunch on a 300-acre horse ranch, an elegant dinner in a wine cave, and special tours of winery owners’ private estates. Added bonus: They can coordinate legal same-sex marriages in gorgeous outdoor settings. You can also check into gay-owned Napa lodges like the Chateau de Vie (CDVNapaValley.com; 877-558-2513) on two acres of vineyards with a 40-foot heated lap pool and hot tub, or the Meadowlark Country House (MeadowLarkInn.com; 800-942-5651), on 20 gently sloping acres with a mineral pool, covered bridge, red barn, and grassy fields for picnics.
Bonus trip (but hurry it's happening spring 2009)South African Bush Tracking
The Eco-Adventure: African lions are all about pride. The most social members of the biological cat family (which also includes the house kitty), they travel in prides—or tribes—of up to thirty lions, and usually hunt at night. They share Kruger National Park with 517 species of birds and more species of mammals (147) than any other African Game Reserve. The hot, dryness of the bush is a perfect complement for Victoria Falls; at nearly a mile wide, it’s the largest curtain of water in the world, plummeting more than 350 splendid feet into the Zambezi Gorge.
Do It Gaily: There are no set trails through Kruger, so you’ll definitely appreciate the guidance of Hermes Tours (HermesTours.com; 877-486-4335) in tracking—on foot—a pride of lions returning from their night hunt in the bush. You’ll also thrill to afternoon game drives, a full day of tasting among the 106 Stellenbosch region wineries, and a tour of the Cape Peninsula and Robben Island. Luxurious accommodations are four- and five-star, and your trip could culminate in the gay hub of Cape Town, but you wouldn’t want to miss the optional extension to Victoria Falls.
Tips to green up your trip
Both travelers and tour operators tend to get confused on what exactly is meant by “ecotourism,” so here are some questions to ask to find out how green your trip actually is.