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.

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Temple offerings Udaipur

Women selling flower offerings at Jagdish Temple, Udaipur, India. ©Serra Hughes

IA2 – Classic Northern India Extended: Trip Report

Tour leader Serra Hughes just returned from leading our all-new and improved itinerary to Northern India and she’s shared with us some of her thoughts.

I’ve led our Northern India tour before but it was in a slightly different format. Now there have been changes and additions that have made an already great itinerary even better. Wow! Just a few of the things that make this itinerary unique are:

1) Small towns, infinite Charm

Mandawa Castle, India.

Mandawa Castle, India.

Mandawa - Mandawa is located in Shekhavati, a semi-arid region located in the northeast part of Rajasthan, famous for heritage havelis with colourful fresco art. The rich Marwari families of the area thrived on the caravan trade routes going through the region and had even more financial success moving to trade centers like Bombay and Calcutta. They returned to their home to build elaborate and ostentatious mansions covered in colourful and beautiful frescoes as outward demonstrations of their new wealth. Many of these havelis still stand and a walk through the streets of towns like Mandawa and nearby Fatehpur is like walking through an open-air museum and taking a trip back in time. The best part is that you rarely encounter another foreign visitor! Simply stunning.

desert house3

The local blacksmith family at work. Luni, Rajasthan.

Luni – As a jumping off point for exploring the countryside and visiting the Bishnoi villages, we stayed in the small town of Luni at Fort Chanwa, a gorgeous heritage hotel. A wonderful opportunity to wander outside the fort and interact with the local villagers. The jeep ride through the villages the next day had a bit of everything; wildlife viewing, including a flock of Siberian Cranes, home visits and visiting local craftspeople.

2) Thar Desert Experience

Manvar tent

Manvar Desert Camp. Thar Desert, Rajasthan.

A major highlight of the tour, there is nothing like sleeping in the desert at Manvar Desert Camp in luxury tents set up in the dunes. Arriving at reception mid-afternoon, we got into jeeps for wildlife viewing that included stunning desert birds like the Indian Roller and the chinkara, a local species of gazelle, dune-bashing (so fun!), a village visit and a walk in the dunes. After some time to freshen up in our luxury tents, we got on our camels for a sunset ride into the dunes. Pure magic! We returned to our camp for evening cocktails sitting on cushions on the sand being entertained by local musicians and dancers, all under the watchful eye of our regal camels who were not to be denied the evening entertainment as well. After a fabulous dinner, we wandered back to our tents under the clear and starry sky. What an experience. Other nice touches were the hot water bottles in our beds and the wake up call with hot, fresh coffee at the door. Bliss!

manvar

Manvar Desert Camp, Rajasthan

 

3) Sleeping in palaces and forts

Lalgarh Palace, Bikaner

Lalgarh Palace, Bikaner

When Indira Gandhi famously cut funding to the Maharajas of Rajasthan in the 1970′s, they were faced with the dilemma of what to do to maintain their properties and way of life. As a result, there are over 200 forts and hotels in Rajasthan that have been converted into heritage hotels in the past few decades and staying at some of them is part of the charm and appeal of this tour. Altogether we stayed at five different palaces/forts over the three week duration of the trip! First, we stayed at the atmospheric Castle Mandawa which lies at the heart of the haveli town of Mandawa. We also crashed an opulent wedding at our palace hotel in Bikaner, the Lalgarh Palace, one of the most spectacular remaining palaces of the Rajput principalities. Walking the halls of these properties with so much history and so many stories to tell adds depth to an already rich experience. I think my favorite was Fateh Bagh Palace Hotel in Ranakpur which is India’s first attempt at ‘relocating a fallen palace’ in order to retain the rich legacy of Rajput architecture. In 2002, around 65,000 pieces of the crumbling palace were transported from near Jodhpur to a scenic spot in Ranakpur, amidst the orchards and on the banks of a rain fed river, to create Fateh Bagh! A charming hotel with a fascinating history set in the most idyllic of locations.

Fateh Bagh Palace Hotel, Ranakpur, India

Fateh Bagh Palace Hotel, Ranakpur, India

Here’s a slideshow of just some of the photos I took on tour with some of my favourite moments. If you have any questions about this tour or any of our other India tours, please email me at shughes@adventures-abroad.com or call and speak to any of our Sales Team.


IA2 – Northern India Extended

By Adventures Abroad

Tour Leader Serra Hughes recently returned from leading our popular and revamped IA2 Northern India tour.

  • Getting to know the local people

    By Adventures Abroad

    We encountered this large group of women at a random bathroom stop in the middle of nowhere in Rajasthan. They appeared to be doing some kind of survey for school but were too shy to ask us anything!

  • Spice Market, Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi

    By Adventures Abroad

  • Local Hair Salon, Old Delhi

    By Adventures Abroad

    Part of our day tour of Delhi includes a rickshaw ride through the bazaars of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi. Just one of the many colourful street scenes one encounters.

  • Taj Mahal visit at dawn

    By Adventures Abroad

    No better time of day to be at the Taj Mahal and 100% worth the pain of getting up at 5am.

  • Udaipur, Rajasthan

    By Adventures Abroad

    Sunset cocktails at the roof bar of our hotel in Udaipur, Rajasthan.

  • Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

    By Adventures Abroad

    One can never forget the first time they see Mehrangarh Fort sitting dramatically on a cliff over the Blue City of Jodhpur.

  • Varanasi

    By Adventures Abroad

    There is no way to describe the mayhem, the noise, the colour, the music, the bizarre, the realness and spirituality of this city. It truly must be experienced at least once in life.

Discounted 2015 India tours
Click here to browse our India Tours list.
* Booking deadline: May 1st, 2015

New Tours and More

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

MAPO – Portugal with The University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology

MAPOWelcome to the latest installment in our special series of tours with with the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. MOA Journeys will give art lovers the opportunity to gain new insights and fresh perspectives on art and culture around the globe. Led by MOA or special guest curators, these trips offer unique cultural encounters that make each journey more than just a vacation.

“Tastes of Portugal: Art, Architecture & Popular Culture”

Join us this fall on a spectacular 13-night trip to Portugal, from 02 to 15 October 2015, and explore more deeply the themes of MOA’s exhibit ‘Heaven, Hell & Somewhere in Between’ with MOA Director and curator, Dr. Anthony Shelton. In Lisbon and beyond, enjoy expert guiding in museums and cultural centres, exclusive access to artists’ studios and marketplaces, and savour the traditions and flavours that exemplify Portuguese identity.

Tour code: MAPO| Duration: 14 Days |more details
Departure date (one date only!) : 2015 - Oct 2 

ML4 – Malta and Tunisia

ML4What a better way to experience the world of the Mediterranean than stepping into the centre of it all? Tour Malta highlights such as the Dingli Cliffs, which soar to heights exceeding 800 feet above the sea. Visit locations that are home to many of the worlds earliest legends. Pass through Blue Grotto where the Sirens songs were known to enchant sailors into straying from their course and to their doom, or explore the port of Djerba, Tunisia, where Ulysses and his men were detained on their return from Troy. See why Tunisia’s Carthage was one of Rome’s greatest rivals and realize the consequences of opposing such a powerful force. For years, this combination was one of our most popular tours and we are thrilled to be able to offer it again!

Tour code: ML4| Duration: 15 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 12  2016 - Oct 11

IL3 – The Channel Isles and the Isle of Wight

IL3They’re not English, they’re not French, they’re kind of European, but kind of not… they’re the Channel Islands! Guernsey, Herm, Sark, Jersey and the Isle of Wight (not technically a Channel Isle, but since we’re in the neighbourhood…), feature on this new itinerary (IL3) of those tiny semi-autonomous and cultural distinct islands the lie between England and France. Surprisingly varied in their geography, history, traditions and cuisines, this isolated little piece of Europe remains much as it has been for generations. Our June/July date is nearing guaranteed status.

Tour code: IL3| Duration: 15 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - May 5, Jun 23 and Sep 01 2016 - Jun 21 and Aug 30

XAD – Adriatic Hiking Tour — Improved/New Dates

XADThis popular entry (XAD) on our European roster of hiking tours has just been improved with the help of past travellers, tour leaders, and our local partners in the region. The call was for more activity and less independent time, and we’ve delivered with new hikes in Montenegro and Croatia, including Lovcen National Park, the Peljesac Peninsula and Paklenica National Park. Broken up with non-hiking sightseeing in coastal and inland towns and cities, this is a nicely-paced exploration of this diverse and visually stunning region. 07 May 15 – one spot left; NEW DATES 21 MAY – 03 JUN and 02 OCT – 15 OCT.

Tour code: XAD| Duration: 14 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - May 7, May 21, Sep 18 (full), Oct 2  2016 - May 5, Sep 16

PE10 – Classic Peru – With Peruvian Amazon Extension

Machu PicchuDon’t have a lot of time but want to take in the highlights of Peru in one shot? All of the highlights are here in this exciting new combination—Cuzco, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and now a new extension to the Peruvian Amazon! Three departures in 2015.

 

Tour code: PE10 | Duration: 10 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - May 4, Nov 9  2016 - Feb 1, May 2, Nov 7

CU1 – Cuba – New dates added

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetWith the recent announcement of impending changes to the USA’s relationship with Cuba, if you have ever dreamed of going to Cuba, now may be the time—do it before it loses its rustic charm; do it while the old classic cars still outnumber the new ones and before tourists overrun the historic centres. We spend 15 days exploring this surprisingly varied island, exploring the cobbled streets and colonial architecture of lively Havana, friendly Trinidad, vibrant Santiago, and laid-back Baracoa. The changes taking place in Cuba are inevitable and necessary; make time to experience Cuba now during this unique moment in its history. Additional dates added for 2015/16:

Tour code: CU1 | Duration: 15 Days |Full Itinerary
Departure dates: 2015 - May 2, May 16, Oct 10, Nov 7, Nov 21  2016 - Jan 30, Feb 27, Apr 30, Oct 8, Nov 5, Nov 19

IC3 – Iceland – New date added

IC3Traditionally, we have only offered our Iceland tour in August but recently have been getting a lot of requests to add a later date. Your wish is our command! With only slightly cooler temperatures, our new September departure in 2016 will surely sell out quickly so join us for a true Icelandic experience: icecaps, geysers, whale watching and much more! Iceland is a destination like no other, with glorious landscapes and extraordinary geographical phenomena at every turn. We will circumnavigate the entire country in order to experience the natural wonders of its incredible geology, all of which we explore thoroughly on our ‘full-circle’ route.

Tour code: IC3| Duration: 12 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Aug 1  2016 - Jul 30, Sep 3

NEW Family Tour! 02G GREECE: Mainland & Islands, 11 days
Impressive ruins · Quaint towns · Island walks

02GThis is an excellent addition to our European family tours, with a nice combination of mainland sightseeing and a relaxing taste of Greece’s prettiest island group. We strike the perfect balance between Greece’s educational, historical, and cultural attributes, and it’s fun laid-back island lifestyle. Highlights include the ruins of ancient Mycenae, the oracle of Delphi and the beautiful beaches and family-friendly atmosphere of Tinos and Mykonos.

Tour code: 02G| Duration: 11 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Jul 16  2016 - Jul 14

Taiwan, South Korea and Japan – Fall 2015 now guaranteed!

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. Your choices:

Tour code: TA3 – Taiwan| Duration: 8 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 7  2016 - Oct 5

Tour code: TA4 – Taiwan and South Korea| Duration: 16 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 7  2016 - Oct 5

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

Tour code: TA6 – Taiwan, South Korea, Japan (extended)| Duration: 35 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - Oct 7  2016 - Oct 5

CALL FOR WAITLIST – New, Revamped Colombia

Destination Specialist and Assistant Manager Martin Charlton just returned from an educational trip to Colombia and is currently working on a new itinerary. Details aren’t ready yet but call to be put on the waitlist to be notified when it is ready. Highlights include the addition of Medellin, more time in the coffee region of Armenia and tour ending in Cartegena.

Cartagena ©Martin Charlton

Cartagena ©Martin Charlton

 

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

What a site!

Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia

az1

Gergeti Trinity Church is a popular name for Holy Trinity Church near the village of Gergeti, Georgia. The church is situated at an elevation of 2170 meters (7,120 ft), under Mount Kazbegi. Built in the 14th century, it features a rare cross-cupola and a separate bell tower. Its isolated location on top of a steep mountain surrounded by the vastness of nature has made it a symbol for Georgia. During the Soviet era, all religious services were prohibited, but the church remained a popular tourist destination. Today the church is an active establishment of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church.

Visit this spectacular site and the gorgeous Kazbegi region on our tour of The Caucasus – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan (AZ1) – next departure Oct 2015.

 

Source: Wikipedia.com

Tour Leader Updates

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE ON VICTOR ROMAGNOLI

This upcoming May you will find Victor in Greece leading a unique and specially-designed itinerary that showcases all that is ancient and modern in this beautiful, venerable corner of Europe. This journey will take the traveller through a variety of different regions in order to showcase the ancient and modern diversity of Greece. We will travel to the Peloponnese, to Epirus and Macedonia, Thessaly, Attica, and Crete — the nation’s largest island — as well two contrasting Cycladic islands. 

Tour code: VRGR| Duration: 30 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - May 18  (availability subject to confirmation) and Sep 14

Victor Romagnoli

Victor Romagnoli

 

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE ON MARTIN CHARLTON

This Canadian Arctic safari is a one-time departure for Adventures Abroad. Departing in June, this adventure is being led by senior tour leader Martin! Using an Arctic Safari yurt-style camp as a base the group will observe tusked narwhal & polar bears; Journey by snowmobile to traditional Inuit hunting grounds; Enjoy tea made of melt-water from hundreds of year old icebergs along the route; Visit the Bylot Island bird cliffs with 200,000+ birds; Tour Iqaluit – Canada’s coolest arctic city. An Arctic experience like no other. Space still available!

Tour code: MCCA| Duration: 11 Days |more details
ONE DATE ONLY: 2015 - June 9

©Martin Charlton

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE ON SERRA HUGHES

This May you will find Serra leading a tour in one of her favourite destinations, Greece. From the highlights of Classical Greece like Meteora, Delphi and Olympia to the boundless beauty of the sun-drenched Greek Isles of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete. This full and well-paced itinerary also gets our travellers to the labyrinth of Knossos, Mycenae and the island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo.

 

Tour code: GI4 – The Greek Isles| Duration: 9 Days |more details
Dates: May 5 – May 13

Tour code: GI6 – The Greek Isles (with Crete)| Duration: 14 Days |more details
Dates: May 5 – May 18

Tour code: GC2 – Classical Greece| Duration: 9 Days |more details
Dates: Apr 29 – May 7

Tour code: GR7 – Classical Greece  and Isles| Duration: 15 Days |more details
Dates: Apr 29 – May 13

Tour code: GR8 – Classical Greece and Isles (with Crete)|Duration: 20 Days |more details
Dates: Apr 29 – May 18

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE ON CLAUDE MORENCY

This May, senior tour leader Claude Morency will be taking a lucky group of travellers on one of our longtime favourite tours – Morocco. Claude has been leading this tour for many years so he brings the kind of insight and local knowledge to the tour that can only be earned through experience. Highlights include the ancient city of Volubulis, the Hassan II Mosque of Casablanca, the dunes of the Merzouga and the famous Djemma el-Fna of Marrakech. Call now to join Claude on this unique adventure! Space still available

Tour code: MO5| Duration: 15 Days |more details
Departure date: 2015 - May 3  

 


 

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE ON CHRIS TRIPODI

The only tour this spring with space available that Chris is assigned to lead is our popular Northern Italy tour. Northern Italy is by far our most popular offering in Western Europe. This main two-week cultural program highlights all the special sights, sounds, scents, and tastes that have made this magical place a must for even the most seasoned traveller. This is a highlight-packed though well-paced journey from Rome to Siena, Pisa, the Cinque Terre, Florence and Venice via Ravenna. Our special brand of group travel allows for a thorough and varied experience, with the greater flexibility afforded by our small group size. Space still available! 

Tour code: IT1| Duration: 14 Days |more details
Departure dates: 2015 - May 9 

Chris

Photo Contest – March

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 travelers and the local people. This lucky traveller will get $200 off their next tour with Adventures Abroad!

José Henriquez, Folsom, California

“This photograph was taken on one of the artificial islands created by the Uros people on Lake Titicaca.  This leg of the tour included a presentation on how the islands are made, how they grow crops, the type of commerce they engage in with the locals at Puno and a demonstration of arts and crafts.  Near the end of our visit they allowed us to  don some traditional clothing.  I should have gotten myself one of those hats while I was there.  After this we visited a local school, which is also floating on the lake.”

- José Henriquez

Lake Titicaca ©José Henriquez

Lake Titicaca ©Jose Henriquez

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 wildlife. 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 info@adventures-abroad.com with the subject line as follows: Photo contest, your name, tour code. Good luck to all entrants!