Great Escapes

High-adventure destinations.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

African Adventure
The dream of hunting Africa is a lot closer to reality than you might think. Van Noordwyk/Jack Rall Safaris offers a number of packages that take advantage of various ranches in South Africa for plains game as well as concessions in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana for big game. Accommodations range from tented camps to deluxe ranch-style settings with swimming pools.

I hunted plains game with Werner Van Noordwyk two years ago and had a great experience. He is an excellent hunter and is well organized; the accommodations on his ranch were superb. Because they have a number of concessions, bookings for larger groups are also possible.

Available species: All manner of plains game as well as lion, buffalo and elephant. Wing-shooting is also available.

Best months: May through October.

Access: Direct flights to Johannesburg are possible from several U.S. cities.

Cost: Five-day plains game packages start at $3,950 for 2-on-1 hunts.

Other amenities: Clay target shooting is available, as well as a number of activities for non-hunters, including fishing, hiking and photography.

Contact: Phone/fax: 27 15 534 1162; jackrallsafaris.co.za -Todd Smith

Gold-medal Trout
With 10 miles of private water on the Colorado River, Blue River and Troublesome Creek (much of it gold-medal class), plus 18 spring-fed ponds, Elk Trout Lodge offers some of the best dry-fly fishing anywhere. Choose your fishing from wide-open casting areas with easy wading or intimate and technically challenging smaller water. Guiding and exquisite meals are included. Breakfast and dinner are taken in a turn-of-the-century dining tent with crystal chandeliers; lunches are on the water. Elk Trout also offers limited elk and deer hunting.

Available species: Brown, rainbow, brook and cutthroat trout. (Fish to 33 inches have been taken.) Elk and deer.

[pagebreak] Best months: Fishing season is late May through September 30. Early season is best for ponds and good for less experienced anglers. Hunts are scheduled in the fishing off-season in October and November.

Access: An easy two-hour drive west from Denver.

Cost: Varies with package. 3 days/ 3 nights, double occupancy: $1,975. Two- and four-person cabins available. The hunting package is limited to 6 people per season at a price of $4,500 for 6 nights and 5 days of hunting.

Other amenities: The entire lodge may be reserved for private gatherings and corporate retreats. Riding, golf, shopping, spas and wildlife viewing.

Contact: 800-722-3343; elktrout.com -Jerry Gibbs

Texas Blast-and-Cast
Shoal Grass Lodge and Conference Center is a fabulous retreat that harkens back to days when statesmen and presidents took their sport at one of the Gulf Coast's finest sporting venues. The main game is stalking redfish or spotted sea trout on fly, casting or spinning tackle. Combine that with duck hunting in the fall and winter. The rich blue gulf is minutes away for offshore fishing. The once-private lodge is bordered by water on two sides.

Available species: Redfish upward of 15 pounds, trout topping 30 inches. Offshore: kingfish, snapper, cobia, dolphin, tarpon, and sometimes billfish.

Best months: May through October for inshore and offshore fishing; teal in mid-September; other ducks from November through January.

Access: Fly to Corpus Christi Inter-national Airport. From there, it's a half- hour drive to the lodge in Aransas Pass overlooking Redfish Bay.

Cost: Two days and nights for two guests: $1,850. Many packages are available for conference groups, hunting, inshore or offshore fishing.

Other amenities: Conference center fitted with AV equipment for presentations. Two nearby golf courses. Shopping, spas, historical interests, dog traack and casino cruises.

Contact: 866-758-5307; shoalgrass lodge.com. -Jerry Gibbs