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Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park offers guided excavation.

Is there a more ideal time to plot your escape from town than the frigid days of February? You could book a last-minute lazy beach getaway to anywhere, but you could also take your brood somewhere unique, somewhere no one else in your circle has gone before. From tracking lions to donkey polo to rejuvenating steam baths, these are trips to write home about.

Make like a Roman in Bath

The Romans left us a lot – paved roads, plumbing, toga parties – but perhaps most importantly, we retain their appreciation for hydrotherapy. Instead of settling into some thermal waters at your nearest spa, literally do as the Romans did in Bath, England, by booking a private session at Cross Bath, an 18th-century building that sits atop the remains of a Roman well in this tony town. Operated by Thermae Bath Spa, Cross Bath's naturally warm waters are available for group bookings of up to 12 people, complete with catering. Regal architecture, mineral-rich water and Champagne brought to you poolside – can you think of a better bathing experience? The only thing missing is someone fanning you with a palm leaf. Private booking: $311 (£170) for 90 minutes, catering, towels and robes extra.

Skip the museum, see the real thing in Alberta

Staring at the skeletal remains of a brontosaurus in a museum will pale in comparison once you brush the dirt off your hands and knees after taking part in a guided excavation in Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park. Led by a paleontological technician, digs run from one to three days and participants learn first-hand how to excavate dinosaurs. Teams hike and prospect for fossils in an operating quarry. Any finds will be contributed to research projects at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta. Guests can camp in the park in private, furnished rooms and meals are provided. It'll be hot and dirty, and the sort of thing you'll be bragging about for ages. Dig trips start at $165 a person, but can go up to $700 each depending on duration of the package.

Tracking camp in South Africa

Anyone can go on a safari, but not everyone learns how to track a lion. The EcoTraining's week-long tracking camp teaches participants how to identify paw and claw prints. Then using calls and trailing techniques, guests learn to follow those tracks until the animal is spotted. The week ends with an evaluation where guests can become certified as beginner, Level 1 trackers. It's one thing to be in the African bush, but to be able to read it allows for another level of appreciation for the land and the animals. Starting at $1,068 a person (10,550 rand), shared accommodation and meals included.

Build your own boat in Newfoundland

Guests at Fogo Island Inn can take a half-day course with local Aiden Penton, a fisherman, storyteller and, most importantly, champion boat builder. Learn how to find the right wood and punt-building techniques, then you can take one for a spin in the harbour, weather permitting. The only unfortunate bit is that it won't fit in your luggage for the flight home. Starting from $1,495 a night (includes accommodation, building session, row if booked June 1 to Sept. 30, and screening of a film about Fogo punts at the Inn's cinema).

Explore a live volcano in New Zealand

There's the wonder of nature, and then there's Whakaari, or White Island volcano, off the east coast of New Zealand's Bay of Plenty. One of the few accessible island volcanoes, and thought to be between 150,000 and 200,000 years old, the island was once mined for sulphur, but after miner deaths work was abandoned in the 1930s. Thanks to the ever-present gases, corroded machinery and buildings are what remain of that past; the future of White Island, though, is ever changing. Visit via float plane or helicopter, and enjoy aerial and on-land views of the belching and smoking vents of the open crater. Because eruptions can and do happen, tours aren't always available. Gas masks are provided. From $545 a person ($595 N.Z.).

Donkey polo in the Dominican Republic

Somewhere there's a happy medium between the easy-going nature of a horse ride along the beach and the adrenalin-pulsing competition of a polo match. That somewhere is atop an ass for a donkey polo match on the grounds of Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic. You need not know how to play polo nor how to ride – and, frankly, even if you did it likely wouldn't help – as these burros have minds of their own. Everyone from children to champion equestrians are on a level playing group when the tournament begins and staff are on hand to pull donkeys along when they become distracted. Free with room reservation, rooms start at $411 a night.

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