Tours That Make You Scratch Your Head
Do those Duck Tours drive you quackers? There's more to cities than you can spot from a sightseeing bus. From sewer tours to guided ghetto getaways, there is an expedition for any of our wildest curiosities. We sat down with our guidebooks and did some digging to unearth the strangest, the grimmest, and the downright dirtiest of the bunch. Since these off-the-beaten-path tours might not be enjoyable for the average tourist, we've included videos for those who prefer to ogle from their armchairs.
|Run for the Border|
Parque Eco Alberto, Mexico
This nighttime hike through the Mexican desert is no walk in the park: here, tourists play the role of illegal immigrants attempting to cross into the United States. Masked guides shout at tourists to "get moving" as men with flashlights -- the Border Patrol -- chase them through the brush and under barbed wire fences, firing blanks. The locals, Hñahñu Indians, act as fellow immigrants, guides, and angry guards on the mock escape.
The Sights: Over suspension bridges, through muddy riverbeds, to America we go!
The Price: $18 per person
In the Ghetto
|Tour de Sewer|
If your pipe dream is to live underground Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles style, there are several tour companies that allow you to explore the underground arteries of Paris. There is even a museum dedicated to the city's underbelly, the Museum of the Sewers of Paris, where a guide takes you on a tour of the trenches. The museum also features videos and displays detailing the evolution of sewer technology-just try not to make the exhibit too interactive by falling in. That's one "Secret of the Ooze" that should be left untouched.
The Sights: Drain pipes, underground tunnels
The Price: 4.2 Euros (less than $6) per person
|A Paranormal Activity|
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Are you afraid of the dark? High levels of paranormal activity were found in the cramped corridors below Edinburgh's South Street bridge, a space that once housed storage vaults for merchants in the 1700s. The spaces eventually became living quarters for the city's poor, and rumors have long been circulating that the underground lairs were used as dumping grounds for murder victims. On the tour, you don't have to rely on your psychic sense to find ghosts, either: hand held Electro Magnetic Field recorders are supplied.
The Sights: Vaults filled with ghostly presences
The Price: £8.50 (around $13.50) per adult
|Love for the Slums|
Many people travel to see how people live, and this tour of Dharavi -- one of the largest slums in Asia -- is part of an increasing trend of "poverty tourism." Over a million people live in this 550-acre area, which was featured in the eight time Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire. Whether the tour is exploitative or educational is up to you, but the good news is eighty percent of profits are donated to help Mumbai's poor. Similar tours are offered in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia as well as Kenya.
The Sights: Past shanties, through markets and into the red light district
The Price: $10-$20, depending on length of tour
Scott Michaels will probably take his love of celebrity culture to the grave, but for now he's guiding pop culture lovers on a sight-seeing tour of Los Angeles seediest celebrity spots. The "Dearly Departed Tour" explores nearly 100 scenes of celebrity scandal and death, including the club where River Phoenix overdosed and the bathroom where George Michaels engaged in a lewd act. The tabloid tour lasts over three hours and is typically offered Wednesday through Sunday.
The Sights: Last gasp locations of Frank Sinatra and Mae Fest, sites of the Manson and Menendez murders, and past some star-studded homes
The Price: $40
|Hunt or Be Hunted?|
Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada
For over ten years, Great Bear Nature Tours has been taking tourists into the wilderness in search of Grizzlies. For two to seven nights, you can go into the wild on foot with a biologist as a guide, searching for bears through the woods, high above from perches, and even from boats along the river. Binoculars and rain gear is provided, and there is an option to fly to the lodge aboard a seaplane. Also included in the tour is a private room at the Great Bear Lodge, along with gourmet meals and complimentary wine and beer.
The Sights: Remote wilderness, breathtaking scenery of the Great Bear Rainforest, other wildlife
The Price: Varies
|Three Wives for a Day|
Colorado City, Arizona
This four-hour guided tour of Colorado City, Arizona and neighboring Hildale, Utah explores the mystery behind the largest and most secluded polygamist colony. Former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who were born, raised, and eventually ostracized from the community tell stories of the region's religion and inhabitants. They also answer tourist's burning questions, such as "why prairie dresses and long braids?" The tour is offered three times a week, and part of the experience includes a picturesque picnic in the Vermillion Cliffs.
The Sights: The markets, parks and cemeteries of a polygamist community.
The Price: $69.95 per adult
Plenty of tours take you around our Capitol, but none do it with the wit and irreverence of comedy troupe "Gross National Product." On this scandalous expedition, you'll visit familiar sights such as the Jefferson Memorial and White House, but your guides will clue you in on the details other tour operators tend to leave out-such as at the Tidal Basin, where former Congressman Wilbur Mills stripper friend escaped after the pair got into a car accident. Have fun uncovering Washington's steamy side!
The Sights: Watergate, K Street, the Capitol Building
The Price: $30 per adult