The tour, Southwest Safari Camps at Chaco Canyon, is one of three adventure trips within the United States, and 50 within the world, included in the publication's May/June issue. The magazine calls its selections, which include tours in North Korea and Antarctica, the "most transformative, sustainable, and authentic experiences" in global guided tours.
"It was not easy finding places in North America that we felt lived up to the moniker Tours of a Lifetime,'" Quintos said. "We did feel like this one did do so, in part because people think of (Chaco Canyon) as an exotic place. There's a sense of the other-worldly."
The previous winners:
"Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona: Where the Water Cuts Through Rock"
"Lakota Moon: Journey to the Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation"
Go Native America
I'm glad to say I've been to two of the three Native locations--the two in the Southwest. I'd recommend them if you want somewhere to go.
To reiterate, National Geographic has chosen one Native tour out of 50 tours from around the world. That may not seem like much, but it's significant considering how small the Native American population still is.
Let's do the math. Say the present population of Native Americans (North and South America) is 50 million. So Natives make up about 0.7% of the world population, which just passed 6.67 billion. But they contribute 2% of the world's most worthy tours. Using tours as a measure, they have roughly three times the influence suggested by their raw numbers.
Of course, we should note that the idea of presenting 50 "lifetime" tours every year is bogus. If you went on the 50 lifetime tours of 2008, would you have seen everything worth seeing in a lifetime? No, because you missed 100 previous lifetime tours and there'll be another 50 next year.
In other words, as long as National Geographic Traveler keeps adding new tours, you'll never accomplish all the lifetime tours in one lifetime. So it's not exactly accurate to call them lifetime tours. They're the best tours of the year, not of a lifetime.
Below: Chaco Canyon.