Travel book reviews: A Rough Guide to Adventure Travel

ULTIMATE ADVENTURES: A Rough Guide to Adventure Travel

By Greg Witt. Rough Guides. $24.99.

If the words “great outdoor adventure” send unpleasant chills down your spine, this book definitely is not for you. On the other hand, if that phrase gets your heart pumping (in a good way), you have come to the right place. Witt has assembled descriptions of what he considers the best “and most achievable” adventures on Earth. He rates the adventures, organized geographically, on the following factors: physical demands, risk and emotional demands, technical skills required and the wow factor. Sample adventures range from paddling the Everglades and hiking the Grand Canyon to dog sledding in the Yukon and hiking Hadrian's Wall. There's also sea kayaking in Iceland, camel trekking in the Sahara and wildlife viewing in Borneo – and much more.

June Sawyers, Chicago Tribune

THE GREAT AMERICAN ATTRACTION: Two Brits Discover the Rollicking World of American Festivals

By Rick Smith. Three Rivers Press. $13.95.

Smith and his sidekick/companion Antony like unusual things. The more unusual the better. In this often humorous guide, the two Englishmen travel the country in search of quintessential American festivals and parades. Their favorites, though, tend to be the events that celebrate the ridiculous and absurd. Hence, they participate in a re-enactment of Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana and attend their first Fourth of July celebration in Boston, but they also travel to Heber Springs, Ark., for the Cardboard Boat Races and to Britt, Iowa, for the National Hobo Convention. My favorite, though, is the World's Largest Machine Gun Shoot in Louisville, Ky. During their two-month sojourn in America, they discover much about themselves, and we learn about their tastes and attitudes. They have a special aversion, for example, to Los Angeles, and they especially dislike the PT Cruiser (a favorite of some car-rental agencies). Much to their chagrin, they are often confused with Australians. Some parts of America utterly baffle them, such as the Southern Bible Belt, with its oppressive humidity and plethora of churches. “For someone from England, where churches are much more rare, it was strange seeing all these religious edifices.”

June Sawyers, Chicago Tribune