CE1 CITIES OF WONDER TOUR

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Prague, Bratislava, Vienna & Budapest

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Prague: one of the world's most magical cites; Karlovy Vary-elegant spa town; Exquisite gothic and baroque Cesky Krumlov; Bratislava, including the historic Old Town; Vienna: showpiece of the all-conquering Habsburg dynasty; Budapest-Gem of the Danube

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sat 04 Jul 2015Sat 18 Jul 2015 $2990
Sat 05 Sep 2015Sat 19 Sep 2015 $2990 Last-minute Availability
Sat 16 Apr 2016Sat 30 Apr 2016 $2990
Sat 02 Jul 2016Sat 16 Jul 2016 $2990
Sat 03 Sep 2016Sat 17 Sep 2016 $2990

Optional Single Supplement: $720 (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


This remarkable 16-day tour of some of the most bewitching and memorable cities on the planet begins in the Czech Republic's capital city, Prague. Sometimes called 'The Golden City' or 'The City of a Hundred Spires', Prague combines a wide variety of architectural style-Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Nouveau, to name but a few-and is often compared to Florence and Rome for its beauty.

We visit cemeteries dating from the 15th century, the stately mediaeval castle, a plethora of intricately crafted churches and cathedrals and countless unforgettable sights in this great city that remains virtually untouched by war, before we head towards the elegant spa town of Karlovy Vary, stopping in at magnificent fortresses and chateaux en route.

After reinvigorating ourselves in the legendary healing waters of the area and taking a spectacular funicular ride over the beech and oak forests that blanket the area, we head to southern Bohemia and admire quaint towns with a distinctly Bavarian or Austrian feel.

Our next stop is undoubtedly one of the most exquisite towns in the Czech Republic-Cesky Krumlov-and we give it the time it deserves as we wander through the cobble-stoned centre square, past medieval arcades and etched Renaissance facades down narrow side-streets, and explore Krumlov castle and the UNESCO-protected historic old town. Spectacular countryside of carp ponds lines our route to Telc, founded in the 16th century, and from here we travel amid the rolling hills of southern Moravia to the Slovakian border where we head through the limestone hills of the Little Carpathians and on to the capital, Bratislava. Visits to two of the most unforgettable cities in the world, Vienna in Austria and Budapest in Hungary, bring our Cities of Wonder tour-of-a-lifetime to a close.

Regions visited: Central And Eastern Europe and Western Europe
Countries visited: Czech Republic; Slovakia; Austria and Hungary


Testimonials


This was my fourth trip with AA and they have all been excellent! Already planning the next!

All guides were good. Prague and Karlovy Vary were excellent. Bus was excellent. Food was great. Good choices and good service. Ondrej is a wonderful Tour leader. I cannot say enough how good he is. Hope to travel with him again. Extremely helpful and considerate. Everything went so well. 5 star Tour Leader. Great trip, great group and wonderful places to visit.

The buses were excellent and well driven. I can't imagine how a tour leader could be better than Ondrej. He was open and gregarious with the right balance of humor to keep the tour lively. You have a gem. One of the finest I've ever traveled with.

I really enjoyed visiting the castles/palaces in the cities. The local guides were very passionate about their cities and were very knowledgeable about the history,architecture and cultural aspects of the area. We certainly appreciated the various points of view regarding the political questions we had. The bus was very comfortable with lots of room for all. We had a great variety of the cuisine of the different areas we visited and Ondrej made sure we had salads with all our dinners and that everyone was satisfied with their dinner choices. The restaurants were really interesting venues. Our tour leader Ondrej was superb!! He was lots of fun and shared his personal experiences with us. He made every effort to answer questions and to elaborate on points made by local guides. He was kind and considerate to each member of the tour. We were very fortunate to have met and traveled with Ondrej. I would not hesitate to book a tour if he was the guide!! I am pleased with my Adventure Abroad travels to date. Booth tours have been excellent.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Prague
Today we arrive in Prague and transfer to our hotel.

Prague lies on the seven hills flanking the banks of the Vltava River with the most outstanding views being from Prague Castle. Sometimes it is called Prague the Golden, sometimes Prague the City of 100 Spires. It is compared with Florence and Rome in its beauty. Thomas Mann said it was one of the world's most magical cities; Goethe called it the prettiest gem in the stone crown of the world. Virtually untouched by war, its architecture is Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, Empire and Art Nouveau.

Overnight in Prague.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Prague: Prague Castle & Old Town
Our morning sightseeing tour of Prague travels through the city centre to Prague Castle. We begin our WALKING tour near Pohorelec Square before the Cernin Palace. As we head towards the castle we will pass the following: Strahov Monastery, the Loreta, the Cappucin Monastery, and the Archbishop's Palace. Before entering the castle, we will pause by the wall for a city panorama and orientation before our 2-hour visit of the castle.

We enter into first courtyard with its famous fountain and walk over to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. We continue to the St. Vitus Cathedral and visit the choir and crypt before heading to the third courtyard. Here we enter the Old Palace from St. George Square and then continue toward the Golden Lane (Kafka's House) where we pause for a break and refreshment, and then carry on the Old Castle Steps with photo stops along the way.

We will stop at Nikolas Church before crossing the ancient Charles Bridge (Karluv Most), an artistic masterpiece famous for its vendors and artists. For over four hundred years, this work of art, built by King Charles IV in 1357, was the only link between the two halves of Prague. We admire the many sculptures as we walk across. We finish the formal part of our tour in the Old Town, an excellent spot for lunch. The afternoon is free to further explore this amazing city.

Overnight in Prague.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Prague: Old Jewish Quarter & Wenceslas Square
Our WALKING tour today takes us to the Old Jewish Quarter and the old Town Square with its famous town bell and astronomical clock.

The Old Jewish Cemetery is an incredible sight. The second oldest in Europe, it was established in the 15th century. Burials took place from 1439 to 1787. Today there are 12,000 tombstones jammed together, leaning one on another, every one at a different angle and size, the whole creating a graphic and surreal image. We also visit the museum/memorial and the Klaus Synagogue with a permanent exhibition called "Jewish Customs and Traditions" highlighting the significance of the synagogue and Jewish festivals.

We continue to the Old Town Square. The 15th century designer of the astronomical clock located here was master clockmaker Hanus of Ruze. According to legend, he was blinded by Prague's town councilors for fear that he would make another like it for another town; so magnificent and applauded was his creation. One day toward the end of his life, he asked a friend to lead him to his great creation. As the figure of Death tolled the hour, Hanus thrust his hand into the clock's apparatus; the clock stopped, and it was centuries before a craftsman could be found who was skilled enough to make it work. In World War II, the clock is said to have stopped again after the Nazi murder of hundreds of citizens of Prague.

We finish our walking tour at Wenceslas Square in time for lunch (your own account). The balance of the day is at leisure. Prague is famous for its concert halls: The Municipal House, Rudolfinium, Mozart Theatre, National Theatre, The State Theatre -- all of them close to the center of the city with performances almost every night. Your Tour Leader can help organize optional evening activities.

Overnight in Prague.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Prague - Konopiste - Karlstejn - Karlovy Vary
After our morning departure from Prague we visit the Renaissance chateau of Konopiste and its priceless interiors. Set in a hilly wooded park, this castle was built as a stronghold at the end of the 13th century, the present appearance dates from alterations made at the turn of the 19th to 20th century by the last owner, Franz Ferdinand d'Este.

After a lunch break we enjoy a tour of the Karlstejn Castle, a Gothic fortress and home to the imperial crown jewels. After our visit we continue east toward the famous spa of Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad). This town is beautifully located in the valley of the Tepla River and is famous for being one of the oldest and largest health spas in Europe. The hot medicinal spring water is famous the world over.

Overnight in Karlovy Vary.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Karlovy Vary
This morning we have a half-day WALKING tour of Karlovy Vary, an elegant spa town, and favourite retreat of crowned heads and international celebrities. "When the disorder becomes a disease, doctors prescribe the hot waters of Carlsbad." Our walking tour will take in all the sights, including the many springs and the graceful Mill Colonnade. A ride up the nearby funicular provides us with great views of the surrounding landscape of beech and oak forests.

The afternoon is at your leisure in this charming town.

Overnight in Karlovy Vary.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Karlovy Vary - Marianske Lanze - Cesky Krumlov
This morning we depart for Marianske Lazne. The historic centre of the town stretches along the spa colonnade with its unique singing fountain and the main avenue lined with pastel coloured Art Deco facades. Most of the old state spa buildings date from the second half of the 19th century and are set amidst thickly forested hills. After our visit we depart for Southern Bohemia, where many towns have a Bavarian or Austrian flavour. In the late afternoon we arrive in the town of Cesky Krumlov.

Medieval arcades and etched Renaissance facades in apricot, beige, and pea-green shades; rust-red, pink, and golden Baroque buildings surround this cobble stoned square with a Plague Monument (Morovy sloup) in its centre. Here you can explore the square, the side streets, and the winding River Vltava that separates the Old Town from the towering castle. This is undoubtedly one of the most exquisite towns in the Czech Republic.

Overnight in Cesky Krumlov.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Cesky Krumlov: Castle Tour
Cesky Krumlov is undoubtedly one of the most exquisite towns in the Czech Republic, and always a favorite among travellers. Today we will visit the mighty Renaissance castle of Cesky Krumlov, once the seat of the powerful Lords of the Rozmberks and the Schwarzenbergs. The castle houses a rich collection of period furniture, tapestries and historical weapons. The present castle complex is one of the largest in Central Europe and was recorded on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1992

The great castle complex dominates the town of Cesky Krumlov. Under the Castle Complex lies the old town with its winding alleys and venerable Gothic and Renaissance houses. The historical centre of the town is on the UNESCO Heritage list, and after our castle tour the rest of your day will be free to stroll in this historical city centre. Explore the backstreets, visit the small shops and cafes, and wander the pathways along the river.

Overnight in Cesky Krumlov.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Cesky Krumlov - Telc, Czech Republic - Bratislava, Slovak Republic
This morning we travel through the spectacular countryside of carp ponds to the medieval town of Trebon. The houses lining the thin main square are as romantic as they come, and the three gateways of the town wall have survived from the 16th century. After our visit in Trebon, we continue on to the historic town of Telc. The town of Telc dates from the 16th century and the historic houses which surround the central square are all linked by continuous arcades. In 1992 UNESCO added the historic centre of Telc to the World Heritage List.

We continue to travel through the rolling hills of Southern Moravia, a region famous for its orchards and vineyards. Picturesque villages, towns and chateaux punctuate the landscape. After crossing the border into the Slovak Republic we will travel through the Small Carpathians, a thin strip of limestone hills altogether different from the soft, pine-clad hills of the Czech lands.

In the late afternoon we will arrive in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Bratislava is situated on both banks of the Danube and a promontory of the Little Carpathians. During the second half of the 20th century, Bratislava finally became a Slovakian city where an ambitious rebuilding and restoration program has transformed the city.

Overnight in Bratislava.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Bratislava: City Tour
The Romans were the first to have a watch post in Bratislava here above the Danube. In the eleventh century, a fortified castle was constructed on the site to protect the Hungarian kingdom. In the twelfth century Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa took control of the castle. In the fifteenth century, it achieved its real fame when King Sigismund ordered construction of a fortified Gothic castle here. When the Turks invaded Buda in 1541, this castle became the seat of the Hungarian government. In sixteenth-century Hapsburg days, it was rebuilt in Renaissance styles. In Napoleonic days, it is said that the Little Emperor watched the counterattack of the Russian and Polish armies after the Battle of Austerlitz from this site. But in Napoleonic times, a fire largely destroyed it. For 150 years it remained in a state of disrepair, until 1953, when the renovation that still continues got under way.

Our half-day morning city BUS / WALKING tour takes us to the main sights of Bratislava, including the historic Old Town, the Gothic Cathedral of St. Martin and the 14th century Tower of St. Michael in the ancient city walls. The afternoon is free.

Overnight in Bratislava.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Bratislava, Slovak Republic - Vienna, Austria
Today we travel to Vienna, the Austrian capital.

Vienna is a true cosmopolitan center, where different tribes and nationalities have, for centuries, fused their cultural identities to produce the intriguing and often cynical Viennese. Around 1900, Vienna was a city of vibrant, stimulating, intellectual life, a dynamic capital of elites that did pioneering work in many fields. Otto Wagner remarked in 1905 that "in spite of unfavourable conditions, Vienna is marching at the head of cultural nations". In a similar vein, international critics noted that Vienna was virtually unsurpassed in the sheer wealth of modern architecture that it had to offer at the time.

Overnight in Vienna.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Vienna: City Tour
Walking about downtown Vienna is an absolute pleasure. The Innere Stadt, in particular, is best explored on foot. Our morning WALK takes us through some of the most well-trodden tourist routes in Vienna. We will take local transport to the Staatsoper, the premiere opera and classical music venue in Vienna, and possibly the world. From here we walk, heading north on Kartner Strasse, a pedestrian-only walkway of shops, trees, cafes and buildings of historical and cultural interest. Instantly recognizable along this walk is the Gothic, glorious Stephansdom (St Stephen's Cathedral). This is the geographical and emotional heart of the city. Our stroll down Graben St. takes us past Neo-Classical architectural masterpieces; then we turn onto Kohlmarket and head to Michaelerplatz and its array of architectural sites. We visit the Hofburg chambers, thus getting a view of this enormous Imperial Palace from both inside and outside.

Today our provided meal is lunch, to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy their evening at leisure, perhaps to attend one of the many beautiful concert venues, or even take in an opera.

Afternoon at leisure.

Overnight in Vienna.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch

Day 12 Vienna: Hofburg Palace
The grandiose city was the showpiece of the all-conquering Habsburg dynasty, which controlled much of Europe for over 600 years. Despite the ravages of time, its cultural gems endure: monumental edifices line the city centre, world-class museums burst with historical and artistic treasures, and internationally established orchestras perform in lavish concert halls.

This morning we visit the Imperial Hofburg Palace (private coach). The Imperial Palace of the Hapsburgs was their home for six centuries, during which time changes and additions were made in every conceivable architectural style -- Gothic, Renaissance, baroque, rococo and classical.

The afternoon is free for you to explore this elegant Imperial capital. You may choose to stroll along the shopping district around Kaertner Street and the Graben and stop at the historic Demel Pastry Shop for a sweet break.

Overnight in Vienna.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Vienna, Austria - Budapest, Hungary: Walking Tour
Today we travel to Budapest.*

Hungary is a land of beautiful monuments and romantic music. Buda and Pest, two of the city's three regions, both face the mighty Danube, which forms the physical and spiritual centre of the Hungarian capital. It is its centrepiece, its heart, and its pulse. Its relationship with the city is even more intimate than that of the Seine with Paris or the Arno with Florence.

On arrival we will embark on a walking tour of city's urban heart. This area is full of stately old buildings, grand avenues, and innumerable tiny streets. We will take local transport to the huge neo-Gothic Parliament (Orszaghaz), the most visible building of Budapest's left bank. Built by 1000 workers between 1885 and 1902, this building has now become the symbol of the capital with its slender towers, spacious arcades, high windows and vast central dome. Nearby one can see the magnificent building housing the Museum of Ethnography. Walking southeast we come to the stately and sprawling Liberty Square (Szabadsag ter). In the square's center remains a gold hammer and sickle atop a white stone obelisk, one of the few monuments to the Russian 'liberation' of Budapest in 1945. Passing by Roosevelt Square we soon come to the famous Chain Bridge, the oldest and most beautiful of the seven road bridges that span the Danube in Budapest. Before it was built, the river could be crossed only by ferry or by a pontoon bridge that had to be moved when ice blocks began floating downstream in the winter.

We continue along the pedestrian 'Promenade' with great views of Gellert Hill and Castle Hill on the opposite bank. We will stroll past the Concert Hall (Vigado), which is a curious mix of Byzantine, Moorish, Romanesque and Hungarian motifs. From here we walk to one of the liveliest places in Budapest, Vorosmarty Ter, a large square that the north end of Budapest's best known shopping street--Vaci Utca. This is a fantastic pedestrian-only area of the city that has undergone a full transformation over the last 10 years.

Eventually we will arrive at the famous 19th century Central Market Hall. This cavernous three-story market teems with people browsing stalls packed with everything from salamis and red-paprika chains to folk embroideries and souvenirs. We finish our day back at our hotel with a break before dinner.

* Depending on scheduling and group size, we may cover this distance by train (+/- 3.5 hours).

Overnight in Budapest.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 14 Budapest: City Tour
This morning we depart our hotel by private bus for Heroes Square where we will disembark and learn of the history of Hungary as it pertains to the monument. We then WALK over to Vajdahunyad Castle before continuing to St. Stephen's Basilica for a quick look inside. We will pass by the Parliament buildings continuing toward Margaret Bridge over which we cross to Buda. We drive along the water and continue up to the castle area. Our next stop is the Citadel -- good for panoramic views. Our bus leaves us for the day, allowing us to continue on foot to the Fisherman's Bastion.

After a lunch break we reconvene in front of the Plague Monument from where we proceed to St Matthias Church. After visiting the church we will walk down Tarnok Utca to the Royal Palace. At the Royal Palace we visit the National Gallery, devoted exclusively to Hungarian Art.

At this point you are free to continue independent exploration, or return to the hotel. One of the highlights of our Eastern European tours is using the local transport in each city -- most travellers truly enjoy the experience. Your Tour Leader can help plan the rest of your day.

Overnight in Budapest.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 15 Departure
Departure from Budapest.

BON VOYAGE!!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Orea Hotel Pyramida

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Prague
Country: Czech Republic

Rooms: Hotel Pyramida offers 344 rooms, all of which are comfortably furnished and equipped with bathroom and toilet, direct phone
... SAT TV and safe. The rooms were refurbished and refurnished in the second half of the year 1999.


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Maltezsky Kriz Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Karlovy Vary
Country: Czech Republic

Welcome to the comfortable Maltezsky Kriz hotel **** (Maltese Cross) which is situated on the bank of the river Tepla
... in the heart of Karlovy Vary. The house was built in 1706 and is the oldest half-timbered house in the whole colonade Stara louka (Old Meadow). On the walls, even after a complete renovation in 2003 preserved the historic wall murals and half-timbered walls. The hotel offers very spacious and comfortable accommodation in almost a family atmosphere with plenty of additional services like a spa, Thai massage and much more ...
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Hotel Zlaty Andel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Cesky Krumlov
Country: Czech Republic

All rooms (28 luxury rooms, 8 suites) on an international standard are equipped with bathroom (bath/shower), WC, satellite TV, minibar,
... Services: Restaurant Petr Vok (with view of the castle), restaurant, terrace, coffeehouse, music, dance and cocktail bar, exchange-office, antique shop and gallery.



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Hotel Ibis Bratislava

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Bratislava
Country: Slovakia

The Ibis Bratislava hotel is ideally located in the city centre and easily accessible by public transport. For lovers of
... and history, the centre of the old city and Bratislava castle can be reached on foot in a few minutes. Built recently, the hotel has 120 queen beds, and a bar with snacks open 24/24.


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Parkhotel Schoenbrunn

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Vienna
Country: Austria

Schloss Schönbrunn palace is just around the corner from Parkhotel Schönbrunn, and the Vienna zoo is practically the hotel’s front
... This deluxe hotel is a unique combination of Viennese flair, influences from imperial times and modern comfort.

Guests of Emperor Franz Joseph used to reside and dine at Parkhotel Schönbrunn when they had to wait for an audience with the Emperor. After two years of renovation work, the hotel today offers a top-quality experience, beautifully “packaged” in a castle-like hotel.

Its excellent location next to Schloss Schönbrunn and vicinity to the underground station as well as its distinctive imperial atmosphere make this hotel unique in Vienna.

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Hotel Ibis Centrum Budapest

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Budapest
Country: Hungary

The Ibis Budapest Centrum hotel is located in the centre of the financial, cultural and commercial district of Budapest. Ideal
... business or tourist stays, it is within easy access by public transport. The hotel has 126 air-conditioned rooms. You will appreciate its garden with a terrace and its bar open 24/24 to serve light meals and snacks. Restaurants are immediately close by. Wifi Internet access for guests.


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Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air taxes (if applicable), excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in spring, summer and fall the most popular of which is are spring and fall when temperatures are relatively mild and crowds thinner. Showers quite possible in spring and fall, somewhat less so in summer though can occur any time. Summers can be humid though long daylight hours maximize exploration.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have a couple of full bus days there are plenty of stops of interest. Though we do not rate this tour "strenuous", it is a busy program with numerous city / town walking tours featuring uneven surfaces, inclines and / or stairs. You must be able to spend several hours on your feet per day, walking at a leisurely pace. There may not be porters available in all locations. We also make use of public transit in some cities in order to maximize sightseeing where vehicles are impractical (most people quite enjoy this insight into daily life).

Accommodation

Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range hotels (3-star) throughout. Many are smaller properties (3-4 story) that may not have elevators. All hotels have en suite toilet and bath, though most have shower only. Porter service is sometimes available; you MUST be independent with your luggage, especially at train stations. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, driver, local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)