Why Greece is the Perfect Family Getaway

greece_new You’ve wanted to go to Greece your whole life. The allure of those idyllic Greek islands surrounded by endless crystal-clear turquoise waters. The abundance of marble ruins scattered across the land, each with a tale of a mythical legend or a philosophical genius that would forever shape our civilization. Or maybe you simply want to over-indulge in a Mediterranean diet with fresh fruit, fish, vegetables and seasoned with virgin olive oil to nourish your appetite.   But you’re not just taking a holiday for you anymore.  You’ve got children, and maybe grandchildren, and nothing is better than exploring the world with those you love. Instead of doing another family vacation to a resort or a theme park, you want to take them somewhere exciting, vibrant in culture, rich in history and with jaw dropping scenery that will create memories to last for the rest of your lives. You already know the reasons why you want to go to Greece, but here is why it is also your next perfect getaway for the entire family. Fun for all ages Depending on your age, if you well into your golden years and planning a retirement vacation,  just starting a family, an adrenaline seeking teenager or an inquisitive pre-teen, your idea of ‘fun’ might be different than the next member of your family. Greece has a way of making everyone feel young again as each destination creates a sense of excitement. Whether it is standing in the shadow of the Acropolis, climbing a 17th century Venetian fortress, testing out your vocal abilities in a 2500 year old theatre or wandering the pirate-proof alleys of an idyllic Greek Isle before finding one of the many beaches that makes Greece so dreamy. We craft each journey to make sure our excursions are varied and interesting. When we explore a museum in the morning, we do gentle walking tour in the afternoon. The next day goes in a completely different direction and lets imaginations run wild while visiting an historic castle or set of ancient ruins. The point is to keep each day fresh, with a focus on the best of what there is to offer but never let the trip hit a dull moment. Guided tours aim to be equally informative and interactive, so that no eyes get glazed over in the process of learning. We enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, because we all know kids benefit with freedom that comes with fresh air. Easily accessible and comfortable For family tours, one key component of ensuring a comfortable journey is in simple details like spending at minimum 2 nights in the same hotel. No unpacking means more time to explore and less fuss. Less fuss is always good when travelling as a family. Hotels are always well appointed, close to the action but in a quieter part of the city. With a tour, someone else always takes care of the details, leaving you time to relax. We always use the highest of quality in transport, whether that is a large hydrofoil or ferry or an air-conditioned motor vehicle or a taxi. When it comes to the travelling between sites, none of the distances we travel in Greece are too great, all of the routes are incredibly scenic, so you won’t have worry about who’ll be first to ask ‘are we there yet?’ Memories that will last a lifetime The most important part of a family vacation is to have fun in a meaningful way. As you travel Greece in a smaller group sizes, you’ll find it to be a more rewarding experience that you’ll remember for years to come. In the Greek culture, family is the strongest bonds one will have and from the moment you touch down in Athens, locals will make you feel like you’re apart of their family. Greeks give a hearty and warm welcome to all ages, and our destinations are low in crime so that everyone feels safe to exploreWhether you are a first time explorer or a seasoned traveller, Greece has the ability to leave a mark on its visitors. Your memories of long days of laughter will be set with a backdrop of Mykonos’ sugar-cube houses. Your sense of awe will be awoken in marble ruins fit for the gods and you’ll be telling intriguing stories for years that could rival the legends of Hercules. You’ve known forever that you’ve wanted to go to Greece; why not share your sense of adventure with the whole family?


Experiencing Vietnam’s Culture to the Fullest

Vietnam is a country of contrasts. It is also a country that stimulates every single one of the senses. Fast-changing city skylines feel miles away from the breathtaking rural villages and timeless landscapes bursting with beauty.

The country’s pulse beats at a quick pace in the thriving metropolitan cities, complete with a never ending hum of moto­taxis and lingering scent of spicy street food stalls open from dawn until well after dusk. Just the opposite: the countryside encompasses an eternal pause that could define the word zen. Water­logged rice paddies stand still in the lines snaking through the valley floor between the karst mountains, as the sunset melts into a golden dream beyond the emerald green waters of Ha Long Bay.

Once a country so divided and overwhelming news stations with stories only of unimaginable horrors, the current Vietnam is a complete dream to travellers. Rich in both modern and ancient history, culinarily gifted, boasting surreal landscapes and a nation filled with determined people who are incredibly generous friendly and generous. For a first timer, a trip to Vietnam can be sensory overload, so how can one experience Vietnam’s culture to the fullest? Here are three easy steps that will ensure you experience it all: Seek out the new and the old With a human history dating back 25,000 years, to say Vietnam has a varied culture is an understatement. Throughout its years, Vietnam has been invaded or occupied by the Chinese, the Mongols, the Dutch, the French, the Americans, the Japanese, and the Chams, to name a view. While historically a nomadic people, the hill tribes of Vietnam vary greatly as well. Even in the smallest of villages one can find several different tribes, each with its own customs. While traditional stilt houses remain intact and in use for some tribes, most of the cultures of these people are beginning to transition into a modern era in which they are more interactive with outsiders. Perhaps the mix of historical influences is best discovered with architecture. Easily found are Japanese pagodas, Imperial “Forbidden City” characteristics fit for the Chinese emperors, Hindu temples, neo­classical lines of a French colonial opera houses or European style balconies and cafes to a distinctly Vietnamese mix of all. Less ancient history takes one to tunnels where the Vietnamese escaped during the brutal war bombings. Everything took place beneath the soil: living, dying, weddings, and births. For the visits good for the soul, one can seek an abundance of religions. Roman Catholic churches brought by the French, delicate temples dedicated to Hinduism created by the Chams and 20th-century icons of the eye used in humanistic religions popularized by the mass following of dispossessed peasants. With a small group tour, the sensory overload of new and old is easily broken down to understand and appreciate both the large and grand sites and the small unexpected ones. Eat everything Ask the most seasoned of Vietnam travellers what their favourite part of Vietnam is and the food experience will likely be at the top. From the fresh fruit and fish markets, the outdoor street vendors with plastic chairs and hot soup, to the upscale restaurants with million-dollar views to sip rice wine from or the small cafe serving French baguettes, ­ there are plenty of options to choose from. Try to indulge in the pho (soup) and taste the difference between the Chinese-influenced variety in the North, the spicier take in the South, and the more complex soups with more herbal infusions in the coastal areas. You’ll be hard pressed to escape without testing a seafood dish and the coffee lovers will relish a cup perfected after being brought over in the early 1800s during the French colonial era. With a tour, your taste buds will have a variety like never before and each meal planned to show you the best flavours to represent the country. Learn from a local It’s no secret that those who live in a place know it better than any outsider can. With a small-guided group tour of Vietnam, you’ll be taken on a journey to explore both the old and the new. Guided visits to museums, world heritage sites, cities, national parks, rural villages and more. This makes it one of our top destinations for seniors or those looking for a richer cultural experience. Meals will be in local establishments, not hotel buffets, and with a small group you’ll be able to move easily within the at times chaotic cities. You’ll always be able to hear the guide, the pace will always be mindful of rest time that allows you to have some independent time to explore and soak up all the first-hand knowledge you’ll learn along the way. Take a tour of all the highlights of Vietnam to best experience its culture. Every one of your senses will thank you.

Tour Leader News

DCIM100GOPRO During their Christmas / New Year hiatus, our Tour Leaders had some downtime to consider a series of prying questions about their personal proclivities. In this issue, we feature five of our leaders, simply the best in the business! Jonathan Hodgson 1. What can’t you travel without? camera, lenses & a good sense of humour 2. Favourite beach? anything quiet and isolated and preferably at night (my skin burns in 30 seconds) 3. Favourite secret getaway? that would be giving away the secret! 4. Favourite food item or cuisine? sashimi 5. When on the road, what home comfort do you miss the most? family and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream 6. Which country makes the best coffee or tea? an Ethiopian coffee ceremony is my favourite experience 7. Best sunset? Santorini, Greece 8. Favourite city or town? hmmmmm. tough call. how about a top 50? 9. Where do you want to get next? Antarctica 10. What’s the worst piece of travel advice you’ve received? “go on. the deep-fried tarantula is very tasty! try it!” 11. What’s the longest you’ve been away from home? 2 years 12. Fan or air conditioning? fan 13. Window or aisle seat? aisle 14. Swimming with dolphins or shark diving? um, dolphins, thanks 15. Last tour led? Australia & New Zealand AU1 | 17 Days | Details AU2 | 31 Days | Details NZ1 | 15 Days | Details 16. Next destination? Colombia! CM1 | 11 Days | Details CM5 | 20 Days | Details Chris Tripodi 1. What can’t you travel without? Passport, or coffee 2. Favourite beach? Maldives 3. Favourite secret getaway? Canada 4. Favourite food item or cuisine? Dinner. Sorry, I cannot be more specific 5. When on the road, what home comfort do you miss the most? I haven’t had a home in almost a decade 6. Which country makes the best coffee or tea? Ethiopia for coffee. India for tea. Both more for the experience than necessarily the taste. That being said, both are delicious. 7. Best sunset? Earth 8. Favourite city or town? Poughkeepsie. But only because I like saying Poughkeepsie 9. Where do you want to get next? Iran 10. What’s the worst piece of travel advice you’ve received? “Never talk to strangers” 11. What’s the longest you’ve been away from home? 2 years less a day 12. Fan or air conditioning? Either is fine 13. Window or aisle seat? Either is fine 14. Swimming with dolphins or shark diving? Either is fine 15. Last tour led? South Africa SA2 | 18 Days Details 16. Next destination? Colombia! CM1 | 11 Days | Details CM5 | 20 Days | Details Sama Mounib 1. What can’t you travel without? passport, everything else is replaceable 2. Favourite beach? Amorgos, Greece 3. Favourite secret getaway? to remain a secret it seems, even to me (yet to be discovered) 4. Favourite food item or cuisine? all foods, with the occasional burger or Italian dish 5. When on the road, what home comfort do you miss the most? Mom’s cooking 6. Which country makes the best coffee or tea? UK, best tea 7. Best sunset? Santa Fe, New Mexico 8. Favourite city or town? Reykjavik 9. Where do you want to get next? Iceland & Greenland 10. What’s the worst piece of travel advice you’ve received? don’t travel alone! 11. What’s the longest you’ve been away from home? 2 months 12. Fan or air conditioning? fan 13. Window or aisle seat? window for short flights, aisle for long 14. Swimming with dolphins or shark diving? Why not both?! 15. Last tour led? Malta ML1 | 6 Days | Details ML2 | 19 Days | Details 16. Next destination? unknown Rachel Kristensen 1. What can’t you travel without? My camera! All four of them… 2. favourite beach? when the tide is low in Ha Long Bay [Vietnam], each of those little islands create the perfect private beach to cast-a-way 3. Favourite secret getaway? Any mountain peak I climb to, best sunset views and no crowds 4. Favourite food item or cuisine? Mystery meat in China – with that special sauce. Doesn’t matter if I have no clue what is in it. 5. When on the road, what home comfort do you miss the most? Not having my home in my luggage. 6. Which country makes the best coffee or tea? England, only if served with a scone and Devonshire cream. Or a cheap chai served in a plastic cup while a train in India. 7. Best sunset? Anywhere I’m warm enough to watch the sun set and the moon rise. 8. Favourite city or town? So many great cities in the world, but I do love my home of Vancouver most. 9. Where do you want to get next? Maybe a quick vacay to South East Asia or Iceland in Spring – cycling Vancouver to Alaska and back this summer. 10. What’s the worst piece of travel advice you’ve received? “Don’t go there, it’s dangerous, people are mean, there is nothing to see” – from the person who has only watched the news. 11. What’s the longest you’ve been away from home? 15 months 12. Fan or air conditioning? fan 13. Window or aisle seat? window = sleepy time 14. Swimming with dolphins or shark diving? sharks please. but not in a cage. and not with teeth 15. Last tour led? Brazil, Argentina and Chile (aaaammaaazing tour) BR3 | 19 Days | Details BR4 | 27 Days | Details 16. Next destination? Back to Brazil, Argentina and Chile (yippppeee) Ondra Strejcek 1. What can’t you travel without? smart phone – Internet access, all my music, maps, dictionaries, books and info needed for the tour 2. Favourite beach?Palolem - Goa, India 3. Favourite secret getaway? music, mainly classical. listening with guilt that I should be studying 4. Favourite food item or cuisine? cuisine of Italy and Hungary – so much flavor, so multifarious, so GOOD! 5. When on the road, what home comfort do you miss the most? yeah I know, I should say my family but it is good long night sleep in my own bed 6. Which country makes the best coffee or tea? Italian coffee 7. Best sunset? Udaipur, India 8. Favourite city or town? Roma – so vivid, so much stuff to see, so much history 9. Where do you want to get next? wherever, I do not mind at all. Each tour is different, always provides something new, unexpected 10. What’s the worst piece of travel advice you’ve received? Itinerary – “no need to worry about it, all is set, there will be no problems at all, sit down and relax” 11. What’s the longest you’ve been away from home? 7 months – studying abroad, 6 weeks – leading an East European tour (42 days, 52 cities and towns visited, 22 hotel rooms, 2 overnight trains… ) 12. Fan or air conditioning? both are a blessing 13. Window or aisle seat? always aisle 14. Swimming with dolphins or shark diving? the nearest ocean is 2800 km away from my home and it is cold, very cold 15. Last tour led? Italy off-season - a great tour to lead IT20 | 12 Days | Details 16. Next destination? US high school group – Austria and Germany – I hope to get a chance to ski while in Innsbruck :)

Travel Insurance: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

iStock_000061564386_XXXLarge Travel insurance (or any kind of insurance for that matter), is one of those must-have items that always comes with a rub—who wants to even consider the possibility of having to cancel one’s tour? Or the possibility of getting sick or injured? Those of us in the business, however, have witnessed over and over the value of this necessity, as well as the potential for disaster if this detail is overlooked. From Icelandic volcanoes to camel bites and everything in between, we’ve seen it all! Indeed, even our staff at Adventures Abroad is not immune to the perils and vagaries of international travel. Our Product Manager, Rick Unrau, was recently delayed in his homeward journey by a Chilean volcano, which cancelled all northbound flights: “I’m SO glad I remembered to buy insurance for my trip. Hanging out in Buenos Aires for an extra two days was great, but also expensive. I kept all my receipts and an eye on my daily limits and within a week of returning home, I had a full reimbursement of the costs, including one of the best steaks I’ve ever had!” Travel insurance can minimize the considerable financial risks of traveling: accidents, illness, missed flights, lost baggage, theft, terrorism, emergency evacuation, and getting your body home if you die. These are some of the most common reasons for making a claim, but many insurance packages offer other, lesser-known, but no less valuable coverages:
  • You, your travel partner, or a family member cannot travel because of sickness, death, layoff, or a list of other acceptable reasons
  • A family member at home gets sick (check the fine print to see how a family member’s pre-existing condition might affect coverage) — some policies even include pets as “family”
  • You miss a flight or need an emergency flight for a reason outside your control (such as a car accident, inclement weather, or a strike)
  • Changes to your itinerary while the trip is in the field and unforeseen costs thereof can be covered (may depend on the reason for the changes)
  • Unforeseen costs of cancellation or delay of yourself and / or your baggage  — accommodation, food, transport, even entertainment costs qualify
    It is always best to purchase your insurance as soon as possible after placing your deposit so that you are covered for anything that could pop up — some policies reward early purchase by covering your “pre-existing” conditions — a major bonus!!
In Canada we offer Manulife Travel Insurance, and CSA coverage to our travellers from the USA. Visit our website for more information, for a quote, or to purchase

New Things and Updates

Ruins of ancient Persepolis, Iran. Apadana Palace. Departures through 2016 & 2017 now available for booking! Click here to download our complete 2016/17 price book New Tours – Canada! After a few years’ hiatus, we are bringing Atlantic Canada back into our roster! And the timing can’t be better with the weak Canadian dollar—Canadians looking to stay closer to home can finally experience their own country at a relatively good value, and US visitors can take advantage of the best exchange rate in over 10 years! 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 Pushkar Camel Fair Starting from Oct/Nov 2016 all of our Northern India itineraries that visit Pushkar in the fall will include the Pushkar Came Fair, when over 200,000 buyers, sellers and gawkers invade this peaceful, holy village. It is a caliber of mayhem that can only happen in India, an assault of colour, laughter and energy topped with a healthy dose of spirituality. India Tour | IA1 | 15 Days | Departure date: 02 Nov 2016 | Details India Tour | IA2 | 20 Days | Departure date: 02 Nov 2016 | Details India Tour | IA3 | 29 Days | Departure date: 02 Nov 2016 | Details India Tour | IA4 | 33 Days | Departure date: 02 Nov 2016 | Details India & Sri Lanka Tour | IA16 | 40 Days | Departure date: 02 Nov 2016 | Details Iran – Space Added! We have added some additional spring capacity for our recently-improved tour of Iran (IR1). The April combination if Iran and our ever-popular three-country exploration of the Caucasus (AZ1, IR5) has only a few space left! Iran Tour | IR1 | 14 Days | Departure date: 26 Apr 2016 | Details The Caucasus Tour | AZ1 | 14 Days | Departure date: 09 May 2016 | Details Iran & The Caucasus Tour | IR5 | 27 Days | Departure date: 26 Apr 2016 | Details Bhutan Festivals As always, our popular Himalaya programs that visit Bhutan in 2016/17 will include annual festivals—new for spring 2016, the colourful Rhododendron Festival near the Bhutanese capital, which celebrates the rhododendron flower, closely intertwined with several aspects of Bhutanese culture. Central America – NEW TOUR This stupendous tour (VRCA) has been designed by, and will be led by senior Tour Leader, Victor Romagnoli, and features no fewer than six different countries over 33 highlight-packed days. Central America Tour | VRCA | 33 Days | Departure date: 31 Jan 2017 | Details   Dates on Itineraries! This has been a long-time wish-list item – itineraries that include each day’s date and day-of-thee-week! Thanks to our IT department, this obvious yet surprisingly confounding technical improvement means that all itineraries appended to final documents will include this new feature. OUR CURRENT TOP 10 Looking for inspiration in choosing your next adventure? Click here for our top 10 best sellers – the list changes constantly, check back often!

Upcoming Tours

iStock_000051765494_Large_The glacial lagoon Jokulsaurloun, Iceland The ‘Five Stans’ – Spring Booking Now The next running of our ever-popular tour of the Central Asian states collectively known as the ‘Five Stans’—Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz Republic (formerly Kyrgyzstan)—is currently booking up and, as usual, will likely run at full capacity. Very few place names conjure images of the exotic quite like Samarkand, Almaty, Khiva, Ashgabat, Bishkek and Turkmenabat, and all are featured in this highlight-packed 21-day sojourn along the fabled Silk Road. The Five Stans Tour | CA3 | 21 Days | Departure date: 02 Apr 2016 & 24 Sept 2016 | Details Taiwan & South Korea — Spring 2016 Now Guaranteed! We’re always delighted when a new tour takes off, and we’re especially excited about this one, which features two fascinating, yet often overlooked, destinations. Travellers on this highlight-packed tour enjoy the stunning contrast between the ancient and the hyper-modern, as well as some stunning natural landscapes, ranging from plunging gorges to soaring peaks, rich forests, and rugged coastlines. Especially popular this spring are our combinations of Taiwan, Korea and our perennially-popular rail tour of Japan, timed to coincide with cherry blossom season. Taiwan Tour | TA3 | 8 Days | Departure date: 22 Mar 2016 | Details Taiwan & South Korea Tour | TA4 | 16 Days | Departure date: 22 Mar 2016 | Details Taiwan, South Korea & Japan Tour | TA5 | 28 Days | Departure date: 22 Mar 2016 | Details Taiwan, South Korea & Japan (extended) Tour | TA6 | 35 Days | Departure date: 22 Mar 2016 | Details Malaysia, Brunei & Indonesia — February / March Now Guaranteed! This has become one of most popular offerings in Asia. Our exciting Malaysia trip is a cultural immersion with a visit to a traditional Serawak longhouse, and a natural history odyssey that includes cave tours, jungle walks, and orangutan and sea turtle encounters, and a foray in to neighbouring Brunei. Indonesia’s constellation of islands straddles the divide between the Asian and Australian continental plates; as a result, the islands offer a stunning variety of topographies and ecologies, mist-shrouded volcanoes and mountains, unexplored rain forests, and thousands of miles of beaches. This is also one of the most culturally diverse nations on earth; both tours can be combined to create a comprehensive regional experience. Malaysia Tour | MA4 | 14 Days | Departure date: 29 Feb 2016  | Details Indonesia Tour | ID6 | 14 Days | Departure date: 13 Mar 2016  | Details Malaysia & Indonesia Tour | MA5 | 27 Days | Departure date: 29 Feb 2016  | Details SRI LANKA We are delighted with the upswing in interest in Sri Lanka, which is enjoying a touristic comeback after several years of peace and stability. It is also benefitting from the recent popularity of Southern India, a region still undiscovered by the mass tourism for which the north is known; this is a charming, laid-back and unique part of the country where relatively low prices make it one of the year’s best travel values. Sri Lanka is a natural and obvious add-on for visitors to the area—consider the “other end of India” and Sri Lanka for your next fall / winter escape! Your best choices: Sri Lanka Tour | LK8 | 8 Days | Departure date: 04 Dec 2016 | Details India & Sri Lanka Tour | IA13 | 14 Days | Departure date: 28 Nov 2016 | Details Southern India (extended) & Sri Lanka Tour | IA14 | 22 Days | Departure date: 20 Nov 2016 | Details China & Tibet Our classic Eastern China trip including a cruise on the Yangtze River is just two travellers shy of guaranteed status for spring 2016. China has always been one of the most attractive travel destinations in the world, partly because so much history exists alongside the new, partly because it is still so unknown to outsiders. Chinese cities have transformed into flashy icons of the market economy, though the people remain rooted in a rich cultural heritage. As it is diverse culturally, with 56 different nationalities, China is also huge geographically, spanning over 49 latitudes from north to south and 5000 km from west to east. We’re also excited about our new itinerary that includes exotic and stunningly beautiful Yunnan province and neighbouring Tibet—perfect for repeat visitors looking for something a little different. China Tour | CN2 | 12 Days | Departure date: 11 Apr 2016 | Details China with Hong Kong Tour | CN4 | 15 Days | Departure date: 08 Apr 2016 | Details Yunnan & Tibet Tour | CH7 | 15 Days | Departure date: 12 May 2016 | Details Iceland & Greenland — July 2016 Now Guaranteed Superimposed on Iceland’s rugged terrain is a resilient and independent culture, fashioned over the years by the descendants of farmers and warriors who fled the tyranny of medieval Scandinavia. In the midst of a landscape both terrifyingly harsh and sublimely beautiful one finds friendly, hospitable people with a very distinct culture and unique sense of humour. In Greenland, the midnight sun is a state of mind. Time makes no sense in this world; you can leave your watch in your suitcase. The ancient culture is still alive in a land blessed with a peaceable people that have never waged war with anyone, and who show great openness to visitors. We have two itineraries featuring these two wonderful lands — new for 2016, an additional Iceland date, slightly off-season and slightly reduced Iceland Tour | IC3 | 12 Days | Departure date: 30 July 2016 | Details — 6 SPOTS LEFT Iceland & Greenland Tour | IC4 | 17 Days | Departure date: 30 July 2016 | Details — 6 SPOTS LEFT Ladakh – Hemis Festival 2016 Often called `Little Tibet’, this wonderfully remote and culturally distinct region in Northern India features breathtakingly situated ancient capitals, temples, and monasteries, and some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the world. This June, our 14-day trip includes the many highlights of Leh and the colours and sounds of the annual Hemis Festival, where monks and laymen wearing spectacular costumes and masks perform elaborate traditional dances. A jeep excursion takes us to the dizzying heights of the Khardung La Pass, at 5470 m / 18,400 feet, the highest drivable pass in the world. The tour continues McLeod Ganj, the home of the Dalai Lama in exile, and the Golden Temple of Amritsar. Our June 2016 is now guaranteed with limited space available Ladakh: Gem Of The Indian Himalaya Tour | IL4 | 13 Days | Departure date: 19 Jun 2016 | Details Essential Tanzania — New Tour! We have seen a tremendous increase in interest in Tanzania of late and, with a vast improvement in tourist infrastructure, accommodations and service, as well as ongoing peace and stability, have given rise to a new itinerary that now allows us to cover this culturally and naturally immense country from top to bottom. We have been covering the northern “safari circuit” for years, but now we are pleased to offer the southern route, which is characterized by huge expanses of wilderness and provides a sense of truly being far away from it all. Our two yearly departures coincide with the best time to visit overall—visit our site for full details, including a route map and a listing of sample hotels and lodges. Ultimate Tanzania Tour | TZ7 | 14 Days | Departure date: 14 Jun 2016 & 05 Oct 2016 | Details

What a site!


Photo: J. Hodgson

Jarlshof is the best-known prehistoric archaeological site in Shetland, Scotland. It lies near the southern tip of the Shetland Mainland and has been described as “one of the most remarkable archaeological sites ever excavated in the British Isles”. It contains remains dating from 2500 BC up to the 17th century AD. The remains at Jarlshof represent thousands of years of human occupation, and can be seen as a microcosm of Shetland history. Other than the Old House of Sumburgh, the site remained largely hidden until a storm in the late 19th century washed away part of the shore and revealed evidence of these ancient buildings. Jarlshof provides an insight into the way of life of the inhabitants at particularly interesting periods – the late Bronze Age, Iron Age, Pictish era, Norse era and the Middle Ages. Remains include oval-shaped Bronze Age houses, Iron Age broch and wheelhouses, Viking long houses, a medieval farmstead and 16th century laird’s house. The fascinating interpretation centre houses a hands-on display of local materials traditionally used on site including wool, stone, slate and bone. Visitors can also learn all about prehistoric life and the history of the site. Source: wikipedia Visit Jarlshof on our summer 2016 tours that include the Scottish Isles of Shetland and Orkney. Orkney, Shetland & The Faroe Islands Tour: JHSF | 11 Days | Departure date: 28 Jun 2016 | Details The Channel Isles, Scottish Isles & Faroes Tour: JHCF | 25 Days | Departure date: 14 Jun 2016 | Details

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

How To Plan The Perfect Retirement Vacation

For many, it is one of the most difficult questions to answer:  where do I go for my vacation post-retirement? After years of making your mark in the business world, the time has finally come to find a new focus. The unique opportunity arrives where you can design your own schedule, engage in new cultures, taste different cuisines, admire world wonders and discover another lifestyle that was far removed from your daily routine. Retirement is the perfect time to see the world. Whether it is the first vacation you take after retiring or one you take decades after leaving a post, it is invariably a difficult decision to make. Prior to booking, the amount of questions and concerns that can arise can cause a great deal of stress, so much so that all enjoyment and anticipation in the planning process for your vacation can be ruined. While some travellers prefer to go it alone, booking their own hotels, transportation and activities after hours of destination research and guidebooks, others see the value in relying on travel experts. Do you try out a small group travel tour for seniors or even go with some friends and family? With a professional preparing an itinerary that matches your interests, pairing you up with like-minded individuals who are keen to discover new cultures and explore foreign lands can be highly beneficial in getting a personalized and cultural experience. With so many options, variables and questions that can arise along the way, we decided to compile a quick guide to outline how you can start planning and preparing for the perfect retirement vacation:  

1. Where to go?

The deciding factor on where to go is centred mainly on personal preferences relating to interests and comfort levels. Do you like warm climates and cultural tours with a focus on historic sites? Perhaps exploring the Peloponnese, an area of Southern Greece brimming with fascinating ancient sites, ruins and relics of a bygone age. Or, perhaps you are more inclined to bask in breathtaking vistas and get active while on vacation? In which case, a tour of Patagonia with short hikes along some of South America’s most iconic trails is more likely to pique your interest. patagonia Spectacular Patagonia is a popular destination for the active traveller To keep the planning as simple as possible, why not make a list of your passions/interests and think about how you can incorporate them into a vacation of a lifetime? To name a few points of consideration: historical vs modern, art vs nature, museum visits vs first-hand observations, cities vs nature, wildlife vs culture.  Next, be realistic about how much exercise you want to do and, indeed, how much you will be able to do in your new environment. Remember that many European cities have cobblestone alleys that can only be explored by foot and sometimes the most remote nature reserves in the world can be explored by bus. The terrain you’ll be contending with is a big factor when it comes to choosing a destination, as is the weather – be mindful that hotter climes will take their toll on stamina and endurance. Be sure to consider your destination’s environment when making the final decision on where to go and consider how that might impact your mobility level. cobblestones_kinda Some European countries have terrain that can prove difficult Lastly, decide on a time of year that works with your schedule and what type of climate you’d like to find yourself escaping to. You may consider traveling somewhere warm like Central America during the colder seasons of your country of residence, while getaways in Central and Eastern Europe offer some wonderful sightseeing opportunities while escaping the summer heat. caribbean Central America and the Caribbean offer a great getaway for winter If there’s a specific activity or experience you’d like to enjoy, options might include bird watching in Brazil, photography in Asia, or an in-depth cultural tour that incorporates visits to tribal villages in Africa. Make a list which will at least narrow down the options. If you are travelling independently, you can use the list you compile as keywords to finding a destination that suits you. If you opt for a group tour, you will benefit from your representative’s expert knowledge relating to destinations, their sights, their accessibility, and, ultimately, their suitability for you.  

2. Where to stay?

The multitude of options when it comes to accommodation can be daunting:
  • Do you like to be in the centre of it all or farther afield, more remote and quiet?
  • Do you want five-star luxury, or would well-appointed three- and four-star hotels suffice?
  • Is it just somewhere to rest your head or part of the experience?
  • Where you stay is based heavily on where you go.
If you are booking independently, finding a place to stay will require a lot of research based on all your requirements and the information you can find online or elsewhere. Elements such as optional breakfast inclusion, wifi,, location options, past traveller experience, and so on. If booking a tour, however, accommodation is handled by professionals who have been to the area, who choose accommodation best suited for the type of traveller, and who base their decisions on feedback and recommendations from past clients.  

3. Do I need travel insurance?

While purchasing travel insurance is entirely a matter of personal choice, we  recommend it 100% of the time.   Start by finding out what you are already insured for. Some credit cards, medical plans and homeowners insurance have coverage that extends to travel -  but it’s crucial to read the fine print to ensure you are covered. Having medical insurance abroad is always a good idea. Thinking of accidents, illnesses and more extreme situations is certainly not the fun part of planning  vacation, but invariably it is better to be insured and not need it than face extortionate medical bills if the unforeseen were to happen. Optional insurance coverage would include things like baggage, trip interruption, cancellation, identity theft and political evacuation. You can buy insurance that covers just the basics with a few options, or a comprehensive insurance for every situation imaginable. Do your homework on what you are already covered for, and what you’d like to be covered for just in case.  If in doubt, ask a professional who sells insurance and consult your country’s travel advisories.  

4. Will my medical conditions be an issue?

If you haven’t travelled before, it is difficult to know how your body will react abroad and we’d suggest a tip of 21 days or less as your first vacation. Every day people travel around the globe with medical issues ranging from osteoarthritis, neurological ailments like mild Parkinson’s, to high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, sleep apnea, and post-cancer treatments. If you have concerns, ask your doctor before you plan your trip whether it is safe for you to travel, and if you get the go-ahead, ensure you bring all your medications with you. Always pack your medications or medical equipment in your carry on, with a few extra doses as availability to prescriptions varies in foreign countries.  

5. What else do I need to know?

Be warned that the perfect retirement vacation often leads to further wanderlust! The more you discover, the longer your list of places to discover becomes. Small-group-travel tours often attract lifelong learners who have led successful careers and are keen to learn about the world around them. This is often true because the smaller groups offer a more personalized and richer cultural experience that you simply won’t find anywhere else. While planning your perfect vacation destination, don’t be surprised if you happen across several more spots that will undoubtedly number among your inevitable next journeys abroad.

Top 3 Travel Destinations For Seniors

It’s a big wide world out there and sometimes the hardest part of taking a trip is deciding where to go. As a lifelong learner, you know you want to travel somewhere with history and learn about a culture that is completely foreign to your own. As someone with a sense of adventure, you’ll want to be active and adventurous, with awe-inspiring nature and fascinating historical site within easy reach. And, most importantly, now enjoying your golden ears, you’ll want to do it comfortably.  Wake up in a clean, cozy room, sample sumptuous local delicacies and have  plenty of time to explore each destination in depth with ample time to recharge between excursions.   With the world at your feet and a near-limitless number of destinations from which to choose, we wanted to make one decision a little easier for you – where to go. We asked our well-travelled clients and senior industry travel professionals about the recommended top travel destinations for seniors. Here are the top three destinations that are consistently top rated: Classical Greece and the Greek Islands greece A civilization that changed the course of history to represent the way of life we know. While recently receiving more bad press than good for economic factors, Greece is nonetheless the founder of democracy, the inventor of the Olympics, home to some of the most idyllic islands in the world, and so much more. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere that inspired generations of artists, philosophers and pioneers with its mythology and be inspired by sites of antiquity dripping with historical significance. Taste the extraordinary flavours of the Mediterranean, brimming with fresh products and family recipes perfected over generations. Discover endless blue horizons as you and your group set sail to your very own Greek Island, away from the crowds.  Marvel at a tapestry of modern wonders weaved with mediaeval charms in each uniquely quaint city and village. Greece is a naturally diverse country with soaring mountains in the north and gorgeous white-sand beaches in the south. It is so much more than just a backdrop to some of the most romantic island getaways.   Greece is an easy destination to get to and a hard place to forget. Spring and fall are the perfect times to visit Greece as the weather is still warm, yet the country sees fewer crowds. Brazil, Chile and Argentina chile Mixing eco-tourism with dynamic and transforming cities, exploring Brazil, Argentina and Chile gives a wide look at life in South America. As the location of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Rio is once again in the spotlight as the city and country upgraded services making travel more comfortable. In Brazil, begin your tour in the Amazon, the world’s largest river and most diverse eco-system. Moving south, you’ll encounter a purpose-built capital more reminiscent of the 1960s than the modern day, before escaping to a far-flung ranch with more birds than people.  Stand in awe beneath Rio’s towering Christ the Redeemer statue that stands watch over the great city, before experiencing the gentle mist from the waterfall platforms that are so close that they almost touch the world-renowned Iguacu Falls. The hustle, bustle and colour of Buenos Aires, the so-called Paris of South America, is truly a sight to behold, and the Swiss-inspired  villages set deep in the lake- and mountain-regions of the Andes are sure to astound. Patagonia will pull at your heartstrings as you tour the pampas, glaciers and mountain ranges that make its beauty famous. Set route for the end of the world, where you’ll cruise the Beagle Channel with its teeming birdlife and breathtaking snow-capped peaks. To warm your fingers and whet your appetite, fly to one of the world’s premier wine regions, Mendoza, where you’ll fall in love with more than the Malbec before crossing the Andes on a series of hairpin switchbacks and finishing in the colonial city of Santiago. Vietnam and Cambodia cambodia Cruise the natural beauty of Halong Bay with emerald green waters, interspersed with over 1,600 scattered islands, each with limestone cliffs rising dramatically out of the waters. Get lost in the eight-and-a-half-century-old Angkor Wat. Criss-cross the maze of temples, overgrown with banyan trees, massive in size and sprawling an area that needs to be seen to be believed. Experience the dazzle of Hanoi, complete with elegant pagodas, interesting museums and local puppet shows. Imagine a culture influenced by the civilizations of China and India as well as the colonial rule of Britain and France; an area with dense jungles, exotic animals, peaceful rivers, and the Mekong Delta with its fertile plains providing a feast of fruits for filling up to your heart’s desire. Planning the perfect retirement vacation starts with selecting a compelling location, rich with cultural experiences and memories to cherish for years to come. Now the only question is, what are you waiting for?