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Intrepid Touring

Today's Travelers are Facing Rigor, Danger and Dread--and Loving It
Kevin F. McMurray
From the Print Edition:
J.P. Morgan, Mar/Apr 00

(continued from page 4)

CAMEL TREKKING IN THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK  

It is hard to imagine that an adventure as exotic as mounting a camel and plodding across the Australian Outback for five days is a vacation option. But believe it, because you can do it.   Just three miles southeast of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory is the Frontier Camel Farm, located in the midst of the picturesque Simpson Desert near the center of the continent. Camels were introduced to this area more than 100 years ago and today more than 200,000 roam wild in this no man's land of red sand dunes and the imposing Ayers Rock. These dromedaries are particularly suited to the hostile environment, where you can see such native species as kangaroo, desert oak, ghost gums and the garishly colored rock ridges that rise high above the open plains.  

Clients are provided with their own camel. Pack camels carry all camping gear and food for the Monday to Friday trek. Starting in Maryvale, the guided trek strikes out along the ancient Charlotte Range and the Hugh River to Chambers Pillar, a sentinel of stone that rises 150 feet from the desert floor. The experience of sleeping outdoors for four nights in a swag (sleeping bag) under the brilliantly bejeweled southern skies, will dazzle you.  

You will need to be in good shape to withstand the physically demanding regimen of five days on a camel's back. The $900-a-person tariff covers all transfers, camels, meals, camping equipment, skilled guides and accommodations at the Maryvale Cattle Station. The camel treks are offered during April, May, August and September. For more information contact Frontier Camel Tours at 011 (08) 8953-0444. Fax: 001 (08) 8955-5015. On the Web: www.ozemail.com.au/~camelfro or www.cameltours.com.au.    

RACING SCHOOL  

Stateside racing schools get a lot of ink these days and seem to be top choices for Michael Andretti and Jeff Gordon wannabes. But if you are really serious about learning the skills that will take you around a professional race course at top speeds, the place you should head for is the Circuit Paul Ricard located on the French Riviera. As they say, "location, location, location!"  

John Peterson, a former professional racer, handles all American bookings for the prestigious Winfield School. Peterson says the big difference between Winfield and its American counterparts is that the Winfield School does not overload you with information. It is a very European approach to instruction in which students are taught more about "how you do it" rather than "why you do it." That translates into more track time.  

Another difference is the cars. At Winfield the school is intent on training drivers for the Formula One Circuit. That means you will be behind the wheel of a modern racing car that was built after 1996. Cars have new two-liter, 135-horsepower engines, monocoque chassis and wings. By the end of the three-day course you will have your engines revving and find yourself screaming around this home of the French Grand Prix.  

Winfield is more a grueling school than a holiday camp, as well as being extremely competitive. The reason? The best-performing students are awarded certificates of merit by the instructors, who are also talent scouts for professional racing in Europe. With a certificate of merit you are invited to take the next step and enroll in an advanced driving course. If you show that you're a born talent for high-combustion, rubber-burning, balls-out racing, Winfield will point the way to joining the ranks of such former students as Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jean Alesi.  

The three-day course runs $3,295, and is offered once a month from February through October. The price includes all meals and accommodations for five days in the Mediterranean resort town of Nîmes, which puts it in the price range of most American schools. Contact Franam Racing at 612-541-9461. Fax: 612-541-1380.    


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