Author Archives: Serra Hughes

Serra Hughes

About Serra Hughes

Serra Hughes has been working for Adventures Abroad since 2005 as both a tour leader and an in-house Destination Specialist.

Normandy – A stroll through history


Normandy: A stroll through history

Normandy is a region well-known for its importance in European history from the Norman invasion of England in 1066 all the way to the D-Day landings of 1944.  In addition to the important historical element, there are all kinds of charms that warrant a visit including gorgeous scenery and dramatic coastal landscapes, world-class museums, charming, pastoral villages, camembert, cider, oysters and the freshest and finest fish and seafood.  On our 14-day tour of France (FR7), we spend several days in the region of Normandy including visits to Rouen, Mont St-Michel, the D-Day beaches of 1944 including Omaha and Juno, Bayeux with its famous tapestry and the infinitely charming seaside town of Honfleur.


Situated on the River Seine in Upper Normandy, Rouen has had a turbulent and fascinating history from fire and plague to occupation by the English during the Hundred Years War to intensive Allied bombings in WW2. The spectacular Gothic cathedral never fails to impress visitors to this region and the modernist Église Jeanne d’Arc stands on the spot where 19-year old Joan of Arc was executed in 1431 for heresy.

Rouen - France

Gothic Cathedral, Rouen. Istock.

Mont St-Michel

One of the most famous and photographed sites in all of France, Mont St- Michel is a must on any itinerary to this enchanting part of the world.  The bay around Mont St-Michel has extremely high tidal variations, the time between low and high only six hours! The Mont becomes completely surrounded every month or two. Celtic mythology tells us that this place was one of the acqueous tombs to which the souls of the dead were sent. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.  


D-Day Landing Beaches

Standing on the golden sand of Omaha Beach, it is impossible to imagine the death and heroism that once played out here and on the surrounding beaches and bluffs of the Norman coast. A visit to this region must include these historical and sombre sights and the excellent museums and memorials that stand to respect the important sacrifices that were made and the unforgettable heroism. Throughout Normandy, particularly in towns like Bayeaux, you will be touched to still see signs in windows that read “Welcome to our Liberators” aimed at the thousands of tourists visiting from liberating nations every year.

Overlooking Omaha Beach ©Serra Hughes

Overlooking Omaha Beach ©Serra Hughes


Many end up in Bayeux simply as a jumping off point to visit the D-Day beaches and memorials but end up falling in love with the place. Bayeux was the first French town to be liberated on the morning of June 7th, 1944 and is one of the few places in the area to be have emerged virtually undamaged by the war. The small and charming city centre is full of old buildings from the 13th-18th century including a stunning Gothic cathedral. Find yourself a tiny, out-of-the-way cafe in the sunshine, sip some Norman cidre and contemplate all you have seen. Don’t miss the famous Bayeux Tapestry whatever you do which tells the dramatic story of the Norman invasion of England in 1066 in what some people have called the world’s first comic strip. This almost 1000 year old tapestry is beautifully displayed with an excellent audio-guide that walks you through the whole story leaving no detail undiscovered. End your visit with a leisurely stroll along the charming creekside promenade.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Bayeux ©Serra Hughes

Notre Dame Cathedral, Bayeux ©Serra Hughes

Visit Normandy and more on our full tour of France, FR7 – The Heart of France this upcoming fall or next spring!

 This is a classic journey though the ‘Heart of France’, highlighting the cultural treasures of Paris, the compelling story of Normandy’s infamous Landing Beaches, the spectacular beauty of rugged Brittany, and the salubrious and sophisticated Loire Valley, as French as France gets! We include all your breakfasts and dinners, avoiding hotel buffets and limited menus, in favour of local restaurants with a range of choices — a major benefit of our small group! Our hotels are well-located, modern-yet-charming, and a Tour Leader manages expertly with the assistance of local guides. Road journeys are relatively short, scenic, and punctuated with regular stops of interest. This is France at its best, a perfect trip for either the first-timer or repeat visitor. 

Tour code: FR7 | Duration: 11 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Sep 15  2016 - Apr 12, Jun 07 and Sep 13

 Contact our Sales Team for more information on this tour and others.


New Tours and More

Here are just a few of the tours coming up that are new, improved or have new dates available. There is always more to come so keep an eye on our website!

NEW! TZ7 – ULTIMATE TANZANIA - Featuring the Southern & Northern Safari Route

©Serra Hughes

This truly is the ultimate itinerary for Tanzania — in addition to the well-known safari parks and reserves in the north of the country, we are pleased to also offer the beautiful and remote safari destinations to the south of the country. These protected areas are some of the largest in the world, but also some of the least developed. Accommodation, however, is surprisingly luxurious, with permanent tented camps, comfortable spring beds, electricity, and world-class service. In the north our program features the well-travelled safari route, through the Serengeti and to the Ngorongoro Crater – spectacular must-sees with superb lodges and all the comforts. This itinerary is offered during the best time on the calendar for all locales.

Tour code: TZ7| Duration: 14 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 7  2016 - Jun 14 and Oct 5

IMPROVED! MY1 - MAYAN DISCOVERER - Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras & Guatemala (with optional Tikal extension – MY2)

MY1Discover the boundless hidden charms of this region relatively left alone by mass tourism. We start off with Nicaragua in Granada, long considered to be one of Latin America’s most beautiful colonial cities, and explore the surrounding area including mysterious Ometepe Island, historical Leon and Lake Nicaragua. In El Salvador drive the 36-kilometer Route of the Flowers, visit pre-Columbian mountain villages and coffee plantations before touring the UNESCO World Heritage site of Joya De Cerén, Pompeii of the Americas. Of course in Honduras you will visit the famous Mayan UNESCO site of Copan, “Athens of the New World.” A visit to this part of the world would not be complete without the addition of Antigua City, the most outstanding and best-preserved colonial city in Spanish America. For those who haven’t been, there is also the option of continuing on to visit Tikal or you can end your trip there!

Tour code: MY1| Duration: 16 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Nov 6  2016 - Jan 22, Jul 8 and Nov 4

Tour code: MY2| Duration: 19 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Nov 6  2016 - Jan 22, Jul 8 and Nov 4

IMPROVED! NI2 - EL SALVADOR & NICARAGUA – The ‘NEW’ Highlights of Central America

Just the highlights! We’ve made some exciting changes to this unique itinerary that takes in all the colonial charm, two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Mayan ruins, volcanoes, craters, lakes, indigenous villages, coffee plantations, bird-life, walking tours of tiny colonial towns, scenic drives, hot springs and more!

Tour code: NI2| Duration: 14 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Nov 1  2016 - Feb 07, Jul 10 and Nov 6


At just over two weeks in length, TH6 is a short yet highlight-packed cultural adventure through some of Southeast Asia’s most popular destinations gives a fantastic overview of the entire region and the lifestyles and cultures of its inhabitants. From Laos to Vietnam to Cambodia to Thailand, every day yields new delights, whether we’re learning about the countries’ fascinating histories at World Heritage Sites, royal palaces, fortresses, marketplaces and magnificent temples, or admiring their exquisite scenic beauty at multi-tiered waterfalls, in Imperial cities or on river cruises in Halong Bay and along the mighty Mekong River. End your tour on day 16 in Siem Reap or continue on with the rest of the group to Myanmar with the full TH7. When you step onto the soil of Myanmar, you are stepping into the origins of Buddhism; there are striking monuments to be seen and legends to be heard. The country’s natural beauty is not something that can be easily upstaged; the expanse of Mt Popa matches the grandeur of this nation’s history.

Tour code: TH6| Duration: 16 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 19  2016 - Jan 13 and Oct 17

Tour code: TH7| Duration: 22 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 19  2016 - Jan 13 and Oct 17

NEW SPRING DATE! Fall 2015 now guaranteed! – TA6 – Taiwan, South Korea and Japan -

TA3We are delighted to add Taiwan—‘La Isla Formosa’—to our Far East series that can include South Korea and Japan in various combinations of varying lengths. Nature has packed a lot into this small island nation; the Taroko Gorge and our drive to Sun Moon Lake showcases the amazing breadth of natural wonders over a small area. Taipei is also considered one of the world’s most “liveable” cities, with arguably one of the best selections of culinary experiences imaginable, as well as the world’s largest repositories of Chinese artifacts. Should you like to continue on with your adventure, Taiwan combines with our popular tours of South Korea and Japan. Make it Taiwan and South Korea for 16 days or continue on to Japan for the full 28 or 35-day circuit. The choice is yours!

Tour code: TA3 – Taiwan| Duration: 8 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 7  2016 - Mar 30 (new date!) and Oct 5

Tour code: TA4 – Taiwan and South Korea| Duration: 16 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 7  2016 - Mar 30 (new date!Oct 5

Tour code: TA5 – Taiwan, South Korea and Japan| Duration: 28 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 7  2016 - Mar 30 (new date!Oct 5

Tour code: TA6 – Taiwan, South KoreaJapan (extended)| Duration: 35 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 7  2016 - Mar 30 (new date!Oct 5


Contact us by email at or call 1-800-665-3998 for more information on these or any of our many other tours.

Tour Leader Updates

Find out where your favourite tour leader has been, where they are going or what they are up to in general! We are always looking for contributions to share with your fellow travellers so please send us any photos you would like to share that you’ve taken of or with your tour leader while on tour. If we use it, you get credit and $100 toward your next tour with us! Send them to info@adventures-abroad.comFotor0710145751



“Cringe as you may at the pun, if you ever make it to Belize, you’ll find yourself always stating how “unBELIZEably” beautiful the country is.
With a distinct and unique character in Central America, this small country packs a big punch with explorations in Mayan history, lush landscapes and the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world. 
I had the pleasure of leading a wonderful school aged group as a part of our Global Education Tours. Our adventures included exploring river systems and caves by tube, temples and ball courts by foot as well as coral beds and marine life by snorkel. 
For some members of our group, it was their first time ever seeing the sea and nearly everyone’s first encounter swimming with sharks and sting rays.  
We all survived. But some certainly suffered sore cheeks from the permanent grins on their faces ​all week long.”
- Rachel

©Rachel Kristensen

©Rachel Kristensen

Tour Leader Bio – Rachel Kristensen

Over 60 countries on six continents with trips ranging from active adventures in the Himalayas and Andes, cultural escapes in Europe and Asia to finding the best beach in the South Pacific.

Whether it is hearing the call to prayer in Istanbul, smelling the rain-forests of the Inca Trail, feeling the sun setting on the African plains, watching the kaleidoscope of colours on any street in India, or tasting a freshly baked scone smothered with Devonshire cream in England, I love the destinations that offer something unique to experience.

Raised in small town British Columbia, her travels also include living on two continents and aboard a cruise ship sailing the high seas.




“Getting a Taste of South East Asia…..
Gastronomy goes to a whole new level when you travel in SE Asia and remarkably, it’s the ground level! Of course we came across plenty of noodles and rice and all kinds of vine-ripened fruit but it was the protein options that thrilled or chilled many of our guests. What most North Americans would call “creepy crawlies”, many people call “dinner”!  We snacked on dried bamboo worms and barbequed scorpions in Thailand to kick off the tour. I’d have to admit that they both took a back seat to the roast crickets we had on our final dinner in Laos though. They were nicely seasoned and easily substituted for peanuts to snack on with a cold beer once you got your mind around it.  Vietnam was rather calm in retrospect but Cambodia took us back to the edge with stir-fried beef with tree red ants for spice and of course, deep fried tarantulas! I say “of course” because even though most of us wouldn’t even imagine them on a dinner plate – we saw the eight-legged delicacy in more than a few locales. The taste may not be for everyone but you’ll truly never know until you try.”
- Pam

Tour Leader Bio - Pam Schewe

English. Yo puedo hablar un poco de Espanol et je peux parler un peu de Francais aussi.

Closing in on a personal challenge to see 60 countries before she’s 60 with trips ranging from active adventures in the Himalayas and Andes, cultural escapes in India and Asia to finding the best beach in the South Pacific. With 40 or so under her belt, she’s on her way but loves the fact that there’s still work to do.

Pam spent many years working in radio broadcasting but decided that instead of working in order to travel, she would be much happier traveling for work. She brings along the ability to converse in spanish and french and is always looking to broaden her knowledge of other languages and cultures.



It’s funny how you can do a tour many times but depending on a number of circumstances (time of year, amount of rainfall recently, etc) you can visit a place that offers up new photo ops. Here is that place: Nissa, the former Parthian capital, outside of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Charming. The little highlight of the 7km Path of Health seen on the mountain is also of note.”

- Jonathan

Discovering the ancient fortress of Nissa (former Parthian capital) outside of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (April, 2015) ©Jonathan Hodgson - Owilybug Travel Photography

Discovering the ancient fortress of Nissa (former Parthian capital) outside of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (April, 2015) ©Jonathan Hodgson – Owilybug Travel Photography

 Tour Leader Bio – Jonathan Hodgson

BA in Psychology at McGill University; MBA at the University of British Columbia.

English; conversational French; improving Spanish, German, Russian, and Laotian. And a decent Scottish accent.

I have led tours in over 80 countries over the last 9 years of working for Adventures Abroad in all the continents except for Antarctica. Have to work on that one next!

Where to begin? Each place has something that makes it a special destination. A few that spring to mind: Kaieteur Falls in Guyana; the snow-covered mountains of Ladakh, India; camel trekking in the Moroccan Sahara; and sipping tea in a chaikhana of the old town of Bukhara, Uzbekistan.



I just returned from another amazing adventure across the land of the rising sun. Japan always delivers a great, unique experience. Combine the delicious cuisine with friendly people, add trains that run to the second and the complete absence of any need to tip in order to receive world class service, and you’ve got a recipe for success. Highlights for my group included the Kabuki performance, the Geiko (Geisha) tea ceremony and concert in Kyoto, the cable car at night over Nagasaki, and of course, the day where we rode a subway, a bullet train, a local train, a scenic train, a gondola, a cable-car, and a bus…all before sunset. My highlight was the refreshing full week on Western Japan’s Kyushu island where the only time we saw foreigners was when we walked by a mirror. Oh, and you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced Okonomiyaki prepared before your eyes in one of Hiroshima’s infamous food stalls.”

- Chris

©Chris Tripodi

©Chris Tripodi

©Chris Tripodi

©Chris Tripodi


Tour Leader Bio - Chris Tripodi

The 3 M’s; Mathematics. Music. Maps.

A little English, et un peu de Français, y un poquito de Español. Fluently Hilingual; I can say “hi” in countless languages.

Over 125 countries. From Jamaica to Japan, Ethiopia to Estonia, Moldova to Myanmar, Samoa to Suriname, and Uruguay to Uzbekistan.

In over 50 countries including Mongolia, Morocco, Jordan, Japan, Croatia, Montenegro, Scandinavia, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Baltic States, Peru, Greece, Turkey, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Ethiopia, Russia, India, Nepal, Tibet, West Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Central Asia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia

Home. But a very close second place goes to the road between any two departures. That is where the magic happens.

Shortest trip: 47 minutes in NYC. (Don’t ask.) Longest trip: 2 years through 6 continents across 108 international borders before returning home. 


What a site!

Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua


Ometepe, an island composed of two volcanoes, emerges from the Cocibolca, the great Lake of Nicaragua. Joined by a thin, flat isthmus the two volcanoes shape the island like an hourglass. Over the northern half of Ometepe looms the Concepción, a majestic and perfectly cone-shaped active volcano, while the southern half is dominated by the extinct volcano Maderas, which is swathed in a cloud forest with a mist-shrouded lagoon in its crater.

Past Indian inhabitants regarded it as their promised land and a sacred island. Chorotega, Nahuatl, and Mayans left a multitude of pre-Columbian artifacts spread all over the island. Due to the many petroglyphs and stone idols carved into basalt boulders, Ometepe is considered one of the great rock art areas of the world.

The most important villages on the island are Altagracia on the eastern side, and Moyogalpa, with its harbour on the northwestern side of the island. These two villages are the centers of the two municipalities and the island is divided between the two. Many traditions have been kept alive, thus inhabitants of Ometepe celebrate more religious and folk festivals than anywhere else in Nicaragua.

Today, Ometepe is developing tourism and ecotourism, with the archaeological past and the bounty of its nature sanctuary, the exotic vegetation, animal and bird life as drawing cards.

A full day excursion to Ometepe features on our MY1, MY2, and NI2 itineraries, next departures fall 2015.

Culinary Adventures – Normandy

Discovering local restaurants and sampling national and regional specialties are always an important part of getting to know any part of the world and Normandy is no exception. While it’s the only region in France without a wine industry, the cuisine is so unique and varied and the calvados (apple brandy) and cider so delicious, it more than makes up for the absence. Norman cuisine is cream, cream and more cream! Add to that camembert, apples and fresh shellfish and fish and you may think you have died and gone to heaven. 

One dish you are sure to encounter in Normandy is Dieppe Fish Stew – la marmite Dieppoise. According to local legend, this classic Norman dish was created by the owner of La Marmite, an authentic tavern for sailors and famous for its seafood dishes.

Dieppe Fish Stew

Dieppe Fish Stew

Dieppe Fish Stew


300 g monkfish fillets
6 sole fillets
6 Saint-Jacques shells
6 Dublin Bay prawns (langoustines)
50 cl of mussels

200 g shrimp
10 cl double cream
40 g butter
1 onion
3 shallots
2 carrots
1 leek
30 cl cider


Wash and peel the carrots and the leek. Chop them. Peel the onion and the shallots and then chop them. Pour 10 cl of cider in a pan. Add the mussels and half of the shallots. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat. Remove the shells from the mussels. Keep their juice.
Heat the butter in a pan and saute the vegetables, chopped onion and the rest of the shallots.
Pour in the juice from the mussels, the rest of the cider, double cream and simmer for 10 minutes over a gentle heat.  Add the pieces of monkfish, the sole and cook for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, the langoustine and the Saint-Jacques shells and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately!

Have a favourite recipe or dish from your travels? Email it to us and if we publish it, we’ll give you a $200 credit for a future trip!

Photo Contest

Photo Contest Winner

For our last contest, we asked you to give us your best photo from one of our tours that depicts an encounter between our travellers and local wildlife. This lucky traveller will get $200 off their next tour with Adventures Abroad! Scroll down for information on our next contest!

Alex Talyamsky, Daily City, California – RW2, Kenya & Tanzania with Rwanda Gorilla Trek extension

Tracking the gorillas in the Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda was a magical experience. Nothing can compare to the incredible feeling you get when you see these majestic animals in the wild a few steps away from you. I wanted to capture a close up shot of the silverback to somehow convey this feeling. When this gorilla made eye contact with me I knew I had the winner.”

- Alex Talyamsky

©Alexander Talyamsky

Tour code: RW2 | Duration: 20 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Sep 12  2016 - Jan 10 and Sep 10

Win $200 off your next tour with us!

For our next contest Adventures Abroad is looking for a photo taken on one of our tours depicting local cuisine. The winners will be posted in our next newsletter and on the website and will receive $200 off their next tour with us! Please send an email to with the subject line as follows: Photo contest, your name, tour code. Good luck to all entrants!


South Pacific Photo Journal – Jonathan Hodgson

Jonathan Hodgson is one of Adventures Abroad’s most popular and experienced tour leaders. Anyone who has travelled with him will know that he is as passionate about photography as he is about travel. The best ways to follow him are on Instagram (OWILYBUG) or like his Facebook page: He shared with us some of his favourite images from his recent South Pacific Odyssey, tour code MCSP.


South Pacific Photo Journal – Jonathan Hodgson

By Adventures Abroad


60 countries in 7 years of tour leading, Jonathan Hodgson is a beloved tour leader and an incredible photographer. View more photos  on Facebook or Instagram (OWILYBUG).

  • Rock Islands, Palau

    By Adventures Abroad

    Explored by boat or by air, the Rock Islands are limestone islets rich in marine and coral life rising stunningly from the Pacific.

  • Fish at Central Market in Honiara, Solomon Islands

    By Adventures Abroad

  • To Sua Ocean Trench, Solomon Islands

    By Adventures Abroad

    Must be seen to be believed! This all-natural swimming hole is located in the village of Lotofaga (population: 1,089) on the south coast of Upolu island in Samoa.

  • Idyllic beach on the island of Upolu, Samoa

    By Adventures Abroad

  • Centenary Church, Nuku’alofa, Tonga

    By Adventures Abroad

    A visit to this conservative Christian country isn’t complete without a visit to Centenary Church to hopefully catch a glimpse of the royal family including Tupou VI, the King of Tonga.

  • Guadalcanal Island, Solomon Islands

    By Adventures Abroad

    Just a snapshot of life in paradise, taken on the west side of Guadalcanal Island, Solomon Islands

  • Yasur Volcano, Tanna, Vanuatu

    By Adventures Abroad

    A once in a lifetime experience! After traveling to the summit by 4WDs, walk right up to the rim of the world’s most accessible active volcano located in one of the most unspoilt places on earth.

  • Local villager, Vanuatu

    By Adventures Abroad

    In Vanuatu, we have several chances to encounter local people and learn about ancient traditions of the islanders and their way of life.

  • Greeting by Vanuatu warriors

    By Adventures Abroad

  • Central Market, Honiara, Solomon Islands

    By Adventures Abroad

    Local man selling cords of wood in the central market.

  • Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila

    By Adventures Abroad

    With 17,206 graves, it has the most graves of ANY cemetery worldwide for U.S. personnel killed during WWII and the dramatic setting has views of Laguna de Bay and towards the distant mountains.

  • WWII plane, Guadalcanal Island, Solomon Islands

    By Adventures Abroad

  • Stone Monoliths, Babeldaob, Palau

    By Adventures Abroad

    Palau’s largest island is a mysterious place shielding enigmatic archaeological highlights such as mysterious terraced hillsides, Stone Monoliths, and the Stone Faces of Ngerchelong.

  • Belau National Museum, Palau

    By Adventures Abroad

    The oldest museum in Micronesia has indoor and outdoor exhibits from all eras of Palauan life, including artworks, photography, sculpture.

Hear from our travellers (July/August, 2014)

It’s always a pleasure to get photos and feedback from our clients. If we quote you or If you send us a photo taken on tour with us and it is used on our website or in our newsletter, then we will give you $50 off your next tour with us! (One submission per person, per month). Please send to and put your name and tour code in the subject line and a brief description of the photo in the body of the email. We look forward to seeing your photos! Here’s what we have received over the past month: 

We Love our Clients

By Adventures Abroad


In the last month, we have received so many wonderful photos and testimonials from our clients that it was very difficult to decide what to include. Here you go!

  • Sun Voyager Sculpture, Reykjavik

    By Adventures Abroad

    Longtime Adventures Abroad traveller Martin Dunn shot this incredible image in Reykjavik Harbour, Iceland. Taken just before sundown on a windy August night in 2013. Tour code IC3.

  • Feedback on Tour Code AD1, Elicia Tippens:

    By Adventures Abroad

    “It was probably one of the best trips that I have ever taken. It was perfect from beginning to end and our tour leader Erin Howell worked extremely hard to ensure that everything was perfect.”

  • Cirque Mafate, Réunion.

    By Adventures Abroad

    Adventures Abroad traveller Rudy Prater sent us this image from his recent adventure with Martin Charlton on the Indian Ocean Islands tour. Tour Code MCIO.

  • Feedback on Tour Code KT1, Renee Teresa-Shalhoub:

    By Adventures Abroad

    “James and all of his support staff were wonderful. You can tell that you have an amazing leader when he constantly strives to surround himself with the best and brightest talent.”

  • Chenonceau, Loire Valley.

    By Adventures Abroad

    Lillian Mathisen took this great shot during the Loire Valley portion of her Heart of France tour. Tour code FR7.