Author Archives: Andrew Boycott

Main Feature – Islands, Islands And More Islands!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Many of our tours have visited or have featured islands — Greece’s Cyclades, Sicily, New Zealand, Japan, Cuba and Iceland to name just a few — but we are particularly pleased with the popularity and success of new trips that feature multiple island nations or island groups in one regional itinerary. Most of these new trips are 100% unique, and often include remote difficult-to-reach locations and air / sea connections that would be extremely challenging to organize on one’s own. Owing to the experience and knowledge of our Tour Leaders and head office operations personnel, we are proud to offer some of the industry’s most creative and sought after programs including a vast diversity of places you’ve always wanted to visit, or places you maybe haven’t even heard of! Island nations and cultures worldwide have always faced unique challenges involving access to food and fresh water and other resources, the lack of economic and employment opportunities, and the stresses of sheer isolation and remoteness from the rest of the world, or even from neighbours relatively nearby. In many, if not most cases, island peoples have developed a pronounced resilience and a unique and creative approach to life and death. The mother of necessity has also led to an astonishing array of adaptations and solutions to everyday problems, as well as myriad mythologies and belief systems intended to provide comfort and a means to understanding their unique place in a vast and often hostile world. For 2016/17 we are pleased to offer the following special journeys: The South Pacific Tour MCSP | 24 DaysDetails  SECOND 2016 DATE ADDED Islands of the Indian Ocean Tour MCIO | 22 DaysDetails  THREE SPOTS LEFT (2016) The Channel Islands Tour IL3 | 15 DaysDetails Scotland’s Northern Isles & the Faroes Tour JHSF | 11 DaysDetails The Channel Islands, Scottish Isles & Faroes Tour JHCF | 25 Days | Details Caribbean Island Explorer 2016 Tour MCCB | 21 Days | Details  SOLD OUT – 2017 DATES TBA Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island & New Brunswick (featuring the Fundy Isles) Tour: AP1 | 14 Days | Departure date: 22 Aug 2016 | Details — Now Available! Newfoundland & Labrador 2017 Tour — Led by Jonathan Hodgson JHNL — Available Soon

What a site!

mosaic The Greek site of Pella was the ancient capital of King Archelaus of Macedonia at the end of the 5th century BC and birthplace of Alexander the Great. The site is located in northern Greece, about 39 km northwest of Thessaloníki. Excavations by the Greek Archaeological Service begun in 1957 revealed large, well-built houses with colonnaded courts and rooms with spectacular mosaic floors. These mosaics, dating from the late 4th century BC, belong to two categories: those with simply a geometric decoration covering the entire surface of the floor, and those with representative subjects, such as hunts, Amazonomachy (battle of Amazons), and others. The efforts to indicate volume by the use of shading is noteworthy. The colour scale is limited, with most figures being in pale shades against a neutral background. In some cases there is an attempt to suggest the natural space in which the figures move. One mosaic floor bears the artist’s signature: “Gnosis epoesen” (Gnosis made this). Although the city was pillaged by the Romans, it did not cease to exist until the 1st century BC, when it was destroyed, probably by an earthquake. In 30 AD the Roman colony of Pella (‘Colonia Pellensis’) was founded west of the city, at the site of present-day Nea Pella. Visit the site of Pella on Day 8 of our new Greece, Macedonia & Kosovo tour (GM1), next departure 23 May 2016. Greece, Macedonia & Kosovo Tour: GM1 | 15 Days | Departure date: 23 May 2016 | Details

Culinary Adventures: Loukoumades (Honey Puffs)

Many of our Amorgos-bound travellers and guests of the Aegialis Hotel have enjoyed a sweet island specialty that is as addictive as it is easy to make. We bet you can’t have just one :)
Loukoumades (Honey Puffs)

Loukoumades (Honey Puffs)

Ingredients

  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups vegetable oil, or as needed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a small bowl. The water should be no more than 100 degrees F (40 degrees C). Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam. In a large bowl, mix the warm milk, sugar, and salt, and mix to dissolve. Pour the yeast mixture into the milk mixture, and stir to combine.
  2. Beat in the butter, eggs, and flour until the mixture forms a smooth, soft dough. Cover the bowl, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Stir the dough well, cover, and let rise 30 more minutes.
  3. Mix honey and 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn off the heat and let the honey syrup cool.
  4. Heat oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Oil should be about 2 inches deep.
  5. Place a large table or soupspoon in a glass of water near the batter. Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of dough per puff with the wet spoon, drop it into the wet palm of your hand, and roll it back into the spoon to create a round shape. Do not over-handle the puffy, soft dough. Drop the dough balls into the hot oil in batches, wetting the spoon each time you make a dough ball. Fry in the hot oil until golden brown on the bottom, and roll them over to cook the other side, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Gently set the loukoumades aside to drain on paper towels.
  6. Place the loukoumades on a baking sheet, drizzle them with honey syrup, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm.
Source: www.allrecipes.com

Accommodation Update

Aegialis Perhaps more than any other hotel in the history of Adventure Abroad, the Aegialis Hotel, on the island of Amorogos in Greece’s Cycladic Islands, is our unofficial ‘home-away-from-home.’ This hotel, and the island itself, was “discovered” by one of our first Tour Leaders in 1988, when he found himself “stranded” on Amorgos by a weather-related ferry cancellation. The hotel was new and the island was known only to a few fishermen, the families who had lived there for generations, and just a few adventurous tourists. Today, the hotel is still lovingly run by the local family that built it, and the island still retains its peaceful, authentic, off-the-beaten-path atmosphere. Many of our travellers have returned on their own, and many of our Tour Leaders head there when they enjoy some rare time off. Join us on our hiking tour of Greece (XGI), and you’ll find out why! “Absolutely wonderful! Would have liked to stay longer! The manager is extremely friendly, helpful and personable and the hotel location is a delight.” Karen C., Edmonton, AB, XGI Sept 2015 Hiking the Isles of Hellas Tour: XGI | 14 Days  | Details Departure dates: 07 May 2016, 23 Jul 2016, 10 Sep 2016 www.amorgos-aegialis.com

Tour Leader Update

719 This list represents just a few of our tour leader assignments for trips set to depart in the next few months. The leaders below and others not listed will, of course, be leading other regularly-scheduled tours throughout 2016 and beyond. Chris Tripodi Colombia Tour CM1 | 11 Days | Departure date: 19 Jan 2016 | Details Victor Romagnoli India, Bangladesh, Bhutan Tour VRIN | 28 Days | Departure date: 09 Sept 2016 | Details India and Bangladesh Tour VRIB | 22 Days | Departure date: 09 Sept 2016 | Details Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay & Chile Tour VRAC | 21 Days | Departure date: 14 Feb 2016 | Details Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile Tour With Easter Island Tour VRAE | 27 Days | Departure date: 14 Feb 2016 | Details Papua New Guinea Tour VRPG | 12 Days | Departure date: 14 Sept 2017 | Details | WAITLIST ONLY Jonathan Hodgson The Philippines Tour JHPH | 13 Days | Departure date: 08 Apr 2016 | Details The Philippines, Indonesia & East Timor Tour JHPI | 21 Days | Departure date: 08 Apr 2016 | Details Indian Ocean Islands Tour MCIO | 22 Days | Departure date: 12 May 2016 | Details Kazakhstan & The Kyrgyz Republic Tour JHKK | 15 Days | Departure date: 02 Sept 2016 | Details Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic & Tajikistan Tour JHKT | 22 Days | Departure date: 02 Sept 2016 | Details The Five Stans Tour CA3 | 21 Days | Departure date: 24 Sept 2016 | Details Coming soon Channel & Faroe Islands 2016; Newfoundland & Labrador 2017 Martin Charlton Caribbean Island Explorer MCCB | 21 Days | Departure date: 26 Apr 2016 | Details|WAITLIST ONLY   Please note: above listed assignations are accurate as of publishing date. Factors such as unforeseen placement challenges, illness / injury, personal / family obligations, and other logistical considerations may necessitate adjustments without notice or compensation.

Upcoming Tours Still Available

MONGOLIA 2016

HOVSGOL We are very excited about our newly-revamped tour of Mongolia (MN1) for 2016. We’ve been touring this fascinating destination for years, and are delighted that hitherto inaccessible remote locations are now opening up, with the advent of new air routes and tourist class accommodations. New for 2016 is the Lake Hovsgol region in the far western corner of the country; here we enjoy spectacular lake and mountain scenery and interactions with the local nomadic herds people. Also new is an overnight at Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve, where the complex of high mountains, steppes, rivers, lakes and wetlands are kept in their original condition. As in the past, we also include the Gobi area and the Ikh Nart Chuluu Nature Reserve, as well as the Jalman Meadows and the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area. Throughout we make use of unique and comfortable “Ger” style accommodation, which enhances the authenticity of our journey. Mongolia Tour: MN1 | 14 Days | Departure date: 15 Jun 2016 | Details  

AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND – winter 2016

Our tour sets down in Australia’s second most populous city, stately Melbourne, to soak up the sights and sounds of an urban centre that has been voted world’s most ‘liveable’ city numerous times. We explore the Yarra Valley, world-famous for its wineries, and stop off in charming, symmetrical Canberra and dazzling Sydney en route to experience a once-in-a-lifetime cruise around the Great Barrier Reef. Via the vast desert of ‘the Red Centre’, we make route to Ayers Rock and King’s Canyon before ending this leg of the tour in Alice Springs. Across in New Zealand, we balance experiencing the country’s incomparable natural beauty with learning about its history and exploring its cultural attributes. We offer Oz as a 17-day trip (AU1), and NZ as a 15-day (NZ1), but most people combine the two (AU2). Feb/Mar 16 booking NOW! Australia Tour: AU1 | 17 Days | Departure date: 09 Feb 2016 | Details Australia & New Zealand Tour: AU2 | 31 Days | Departure date: 09 Feb 2016 | Details New Zealand Tour: NZ1 | 15 Days | Departure date: 25 Feb 2016 | Details  

CHILE & ARGENTINA

Few tour companies offer such a broad range of travel choices in this spectacular region. We cover the gamut, from Buenos Aires, one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, to Tierra del Fuego and the magnificent desolation of Patagonia. Argentina and Chile’s National Parks system offer a kaleidoscope of environments ranging from glaciers in the south, through central alpine peaks to the famous Pampas grasslands. Chile’s Easter Island is over 3200 km (2,000 miles) from the nearest population centre, making it one of the most isolated places on Earth. A triangle of volcanic rock in the South Pacific, it is best known for the giant stone monoliths, known as Moai, that dot the coastline. Book your sunny winter holiday today—the Austral summer is short and these trips book up well in advance! Your choices: Argentina & Chile Tour: AR1 | 14 Days | Details Argentina & Iguaza Falls Tour: AR3 | 16 Days | Details Argentina & Chile Tour: CL2 | 19 Days | Details Argentina & Chile with Iguaza Tour: CL3 | 21 Days | Details Chile with Atacama Tour: CL6 | 21 Days | Details Chile (Atacama) & Easter Island Tour: CL1 | 21 Days | Details

Check out combinations of Argentina / Chile with Brazil

 

THE GULF STATES – January guaranteed!

The Persian Gulf is the meeting point between Africa, Europe and Asia, a land of a thousand-and-one-nights and home to some of the most beautiful and mystical scenery in the world. Our tour provides a rare and fascinating glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of the Arab Sheikhs, as well as the natural and historical wonders of contemporary Arabia. This trip (Kuwait, Oman, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain) is unique in the touring world and extremely popular—Jan 2016 is filling fast. As with all our trips, these tours are expertly led by an Adventures Abroad Tour Leader and official local support to ensure a smooth and safe journey. The Arab Gulf States Tour: GS7 | 21 Days | Departure date: 25 Jan 2016 | Details  

COLOMBIA & PANAMA 2016

Our new enhanced Colombia itinerary (CM1) has become so popular, we’ve added more capacity for our trip that lands in Bogota on 19 January. New to the mix is the up-and-coming city of Medellin, which is shedding its old shady reputation and enjoying a touristic renaissance; here we will learn about the transformation of Medellin from the most dangerous city in the world into a fascinating melting pot of cultures with possibly the friendliest and warmest people in the world. Also new is the possibility of extending this trip to include our tour of Panama (CM5). Click here to see further combination possibilities with Costa Rica. Colombia Redefined Tour: CM1 | 11 Days | Departure date: 19 Jan 2016 | Details Colombia & Panama Tour: CM5 | 20 Days | Departure date: 19 Jan 2016 | Details  

PERU: NORTH & SOUTH – February 2016

Northern Peru boasts a unique and fascinating cultural history. The entire region is dotted with archeological sites; many of the gold and silver, artifacts, ceramics and weavings made by the Chimu, Moche and Sican people are housed in the Sican and the Royal Tomb of Sipan museums. Near the “White City” of Arequipa is a spectacular attraction: the Colca Canyon. This canyon cuts 3182 m (10,607 ft) into the earth—twice the depth of the Grand Canyon in Arizona! The Colca is shadowed by snow-topped mountains, many of them volcanoes, and sliced by the Colca River. Around Lake Titicaca, traces of a rich Indian past still stubbornly cling, resisting the Spanish conquistadors’ aggressive campaign to erase Inca and pre-Inca cultures and, in recent times, the lure of modernization. When Peruvians talk of turquoise blue Titacaca, they proudly note that it is so large it has waves! Join us on this very comprehensive and varied tour to uncover the secrets of the still little known pre-Inca cultures of Northern Peru and its myriad unique natural wonders, as well as the renowned attractions of the Incan capital of Cuzco and the wonders of Machu Picchu. PR1, PR2 Peruvian Explorer Tour: PR1 | 17 Days | Departure date: 06 Feb 2016 | Details Peru: North & South Tour: PR2 | 20 Days | Departure date: 03 Feb 2016 | Details  

VIETNAM & CAMBODIA

The northern winter is our strongest demand period for our flagship tour of Indochina – Vietnam & Cambodia (VN2), and our dates in January, February, and March are booking now. Not only is this the most comfortable time of year to visit this fascinating region, with its rich and varied history and cultural milieu, it is also currently one of the world’s best travel values. This is 19-day tour, which travels the entire length of Vietnam, from Halong Bay and Dien Bien Phu in the north, to Hoi An, Hué, and Saigon to the south. A highlight of any trip to the region is the temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and astonishing and vast site famous for its well-preserved temples and storied past as one of the world’s great civilizations. Vietnam & Cambodia Tour: VN2 | 20 Days | Details Departure dates: 12 Jan 2016, 02 Feb 2016, 08 Mar 2016  

MYANMAR – You said it!

“Every excursion was excellent. We would not change any of them. All local guides were caring, interesting, and knowledgeable. All hotels surpassed expectations. We had an outstanding leader. He always retained good leadership while getting to know each of us on a personal level. A rare gift! He was fun, had a good relationship with local guides and a huge enthusiasm for the unknown. The best guide the we have ever had with any company.”
Ann S. (Malibu, CA, USA). Our 14-day tour of Myanmar showcases all of the highlights, plus a few relatively unknown surprises, in a nicely-paced, comfortable and highly-varied and comprehensive experience. Next available departure 31 Jan 2016, code SE5. Myanmar (Burma) Tour: SE5 | 14 Days | Departure date: 31 Jan 2016 | Details  

SICILY & SOUTHERN ITALY – Spring 2016

In 2013 we responded to traveller feedback and the advice of our Tour Leaders and altered this itinerary to ease up the pace of this highlight-packed tour; reviews have been so positive, and the itinerary now reads so well that our ever-popular spring date is already almost sold out for 2016! Sicily is an island of great natural beauty—along the shorelines, spectacular rocky cliffs meet the deep blue, tranquil waters of the Mediterranean, while the rolling hills of the interior are awash in fragrant orange and lemon trees. Though only 4 km separate it from the mainland, this short distance has given the island enough unique history and personality for an entire continent. This distinction becomes apparent to us once our journey crosses the water to visit the highlights of the southern mainland—the Greek temples of Paestum, mysterious Pompeii, and sublime Sorrento, legendary abode of the Sirens. Spring is breathtaking, with rich green fields, plenty of wildflowers, and a soft light that enhances and highlights every corner of this magical land. We still have some last-minute space on our popular trip, code IT6; extensions to Tuscany and Venice are also available. Southern Italy Tour: IT6 | 14 Days | Departure date: 27 Apr 2016 | Details

New Things And Updates

iStock_000070546755_Double Japan – new spring date added! Due to popular demand, we have added another spring date for our rail tour of Japan, especially attractive during the festive April cherry period. Japan By Rail Tour JP1 | 27 Days | Departure date: 08 Apr 2016 | Details   Far East tour of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia & the Philippines now begins in Denpasar—this saves us some backtracking and allows for an optional pre-trip extension in beautiful Bali. The Far East Tour FE1 | 17 Days | Departure date: 16 Feb 2016 | Details   Mayan Discoverer,  will feature an improved itinerary that eliminates some wasteful backtracking and maximizes our time in smaller villages and in the countryside rather than major cities. Mayan Discoverer Tour MY1 | 16 Days | Departure date: 22 Jan 2016 | Details   Cuba – sold out till October! With the changes to US-Cuba relations, demand for Cuba is through the roof! Our next available is not until October 2016! Book now to avoid disappointment –2017 dates coming soon. Cuba Tour CU1 | 15 Days | Departure date: 08 Oct 2016 | Details   Iran – improved! Our next Iran tour (April 2016) will feature an improved itinerary with more time in Yazd and Shiraz, fewer long road journeys, and an atmospheric overnight in a restored caravanserai. Iran Tour IR1 | 14 Days | Departure date: 26 Apr 2016 | Details Iran & The Caucasus Tour IR5 | 27 Days | Departure date: 26 Apr 2016 | Details   Mongolia – We have totally re-vamped our itinerary for Mongolia, talking advantage of new road / air access to previously unreachable spots where new tourist-class accommodations now make it possible to experience far-flung Lake Hovsgol. Mongolia Tour MN1 | 14 Days | Departure date: 15 Jun 2016 | Details   The South Pacific – We have added a second June 2016 date for our 100% unique tour of Palau, the Philippines, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga & Samoa. South Pacific Explorer Tour MCSP | 24 Days | Departure date: 03 Jun 2016 | Details   Egypt is back! We’re delighted that Egypt is once again ringing the phones; Nov 2015 is departing imminently, and our 2016 are still deeply discounted—next trip Jan 2016. Classic Egypt Tour EG3 | 14 Days | Departure date: 31 Jan 2016 | Details   Microstates of Europe – This new tour has just wrapped up to rave reviews; indeed, it was such a hit we’ve decided to do it again in fall of 2016. San Marino, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra, Vatican City & Luxembourg all in one fascinating trip! Microstates of Europe MCMS | 20 Days | Departure date: 10 Sept 2016 | Details   Keep in touch! FB-f-Logo__blue_1024  See photos from our tours / read reports ‘from the field’ / learn about upcoming specials and NEW departures. Instagram_Icon_Large  See photos from your favourite Tour Leaders and fellow travellers in the field.

Focus On The Balkans

iStock_000040661538_Large_Panorama-of-Ljubljana,-Slovenia,-Europe The Balkan region of Eastern Europe has emerged as one of our most popular sources of new tour itineraries. It has also become the locus of some of our most popular, well-established European favourites. Gradual improvement of transportation links and tourist infrastructure over the last two decades has opened up this incredibly diverse region, making it perfectly-suited to our style of small-group ‘adventure-with-comfort’. The Balkans also still offer a relatively attractive value-for-money on a continent known for costly travel. The Balkans is a region that includes countries on the Balkan Peninsula in the southeast of Europe, including most of the former Yugoslavia. The Balkan Peninsula is, according to some definitions, what lies south of the rivers Sava and Danube from the city of Belgrade. This definition, however, then would rule out part of northern Serbia, known as Vojvodina, a good part of Croatia, Romania and, of course, Slovenia. Historically, all these countries/regions were usually considered to be part of the Balkan countries, as Slovenia, too, was once part of Yugoslavia. While lately the very word of Balkans may translate to ethnic strife and civil wars in people’s minds due to the headlines in the last decade of 20th century (and unfortunately, there is some truth in this perception), Balkans, with its rich, though often turbulent history and wonderful nature, offers much more than that. Charming multicultural towns, impressive monasteries and citadels dotting the hillsides, mighty mountains sprinkled with a liberal dose of beautiful forests and pleasant lakes, and last but not the least a great folk music tradition. The Balkan Peninsula is one of the last relatively unexplored corners of Europe. But with a wealth of history, cultural and culinary treasures, it won’t be long before the region becomes the next travel hotspot.

Our most popular Balkans trips: AD1, Slovenia & Croatia, 17 days – this is our flagship itinerary. We were one of the first small-group tour operators offering comprehensive touring of these two friendly neighbours as early as 1998. Slovenia & Croatia Tour: AD1 | 17 Days | Details   XAD, Croatia & Montenegro ‘Day Hiking in Adriatica’, 14 days –The current king of our ever-popular European series of walking tours, with stunning hikes along mountain paths and along rugged coastlines. Croatia & Montenegro Tour: XAD | 14 Days | Details   AL1, Albania & Macedonia, 14 days – 2015 marks our 20th year of operations in Albania; a lot has changed, but what remains is some of Europe’s prettiest mountain scenery, quaintest villages, most fascinating archaeological sites, and the region’s friendliest people. In 2007 we added Macedonia, one of Europe’s “newest” countries. Albania & Macedonia Tour: AL1 | 14 Days | Details   BK1, Balkan Explorer, 19 days – This is our most comprehensive Balkans itinerary, with no fewer than seven countries covered—the variety over these 19 days is staggering! Balkan Explorer Tour: BK1 | 19 Days | Details   NEW TOUR! GM1, Greece, Macedonia & Kosovo, 15 days – At time of writing, this brand new tour is currently in the field; we’ve been touring these places for years, but this new program ties all three into one tidy 2+ week package that features all the highlights of this culturally rich corner of southern Europe. Next departure already booking for May 2016. Greece, Macedonia & Kosovo Tour: GM1 | 15 Days | Details