Posted on September 22nd, 2009 No comments
I particularly liked our stop at Szentendre on the way to Eger. It’s a charming little village with a museum of a little-known sculptor called Margrit Kovac. Her collection is stunningly unique and touchingly beautiful, unlike anything I’ve seen. I thoroughly enjoyed this visit and I can say so for the rest of the group as well.
-Berta Pires Tour HU2: Hungary & Romania (Eastern European Adventurer)
Before the territory became known as Hungary, as it did in 1000AD, a number of Germanic tribes including the Huns, as well as the nomadic Eurasian Avars, the Franks, the Bulgars and the Magyars, all entered into the region and made efforts to sustain a prolonged possession over the territory. After its creation, the country of Hungary suffered various incursions from the Tatars, the Turks, the Romans, the Russians and the Hapsburgs over a millennium, often incorporating elements of each foreign culture into its own. Today the culture not only reflects its long history of influence from outsiders, but also exhibits a diversity that mirrors its blend of Magyar, German, Croatian, Serbian and Romanian peoples that constitute its population. To explore the culture of Hungary is to explore not one, but an amalgamation of many cultures, which makes for a fascinating and highly educational tour.
Boasting over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, Hungary is overshadowed by no other European territory when it comes to catering to the sun-worshipper and neither does it pale in significance when it comes to scenery. There is a bountiful landscape between the borders of Hungary, from the high peaks of the cave-riddled Bukk Hills region to the fertile lowlands of the Great Hungarian plain, where the indigenous horsemen- the Hungarian versions of cowboys-don their traditional dress and tend to their herds and perform for visitors.
By far, the most popular destination when touring the Central European country is the dynamic capital city of Budapest, and understandably so, but travellers who choose to venture beyond the city limits are rewarded in spades. The UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site of Holloko, or “Raven Rock,” is one destination not to be missed on a tour exploring the more rural face of the country and is considered by many to be Hungary’s most beautiful town.
Posted on September 9th, 2009 No comments
Madagascar an island of gold-sand beaches lined with swaying palm trees, diverse topographical wonders that house incredible arrays of endemic flora and fauna and friendly, traditional peoples with tribal cultures, Madagascar has all the right ingredients for an unforgettable tour destination. As we travel through sceneries of mist-enshrouded virgin rainforest, rice paddies fringing low hills, deep canyons carved into peculiar shapes by erosion and Eden-like waterfall oases, we see Mother Nature at her best and come to appreciate the uniqueness of this special place. We see brightly coloured houses stacked on hillsides, bustling markets and innumerable intriguing sites that detail the area’s pre- and post- colonial history–and of course, we’ll be sure to see plenty of lemurs, which can be found naturally only in Madagascar and on one or two surrounding islands.
Calling Madagascar an island almost seems unfair. This Eden-like garden of riches is filled with so much diversity in life and geography it is like no other island anywhere on Earth. Indeed, every expedition into its mountains, rain forests, river valleys, coastal plains, grasslands, caverns, and deserts leads to the discovery of some new plant or animal species. And with its many quiet coves and its proximity to the Indian Ocean trade routes, Madagascar was a haven for many of the fiercest pirates that ever sailed the seven seas. Tales of buried treasure and stories of the swashbuckling buccaneers’ deeds and misdeeds have become a colourful part of the national folklore. It is no exaggeration to claim that this micro-continent (as some have called it) offers limitless opportunities for exploration.
This morning we will depart for the lower slopes of Mt Kenya, rising to 5199m (16,728 feet), Africa’s second highest peak. Our drive will take us into the Central Highlands, the heartland of the Kikuyu people. This is a very fertile region, well-watered, intensively cultivated, and thickly forested. The land was coveted by the Europeans who began arriving in ever-increasing numbers once the railway through the area was completed. The settlers established coffee and tea plantations on the eastern slopes of Mt Kenya and cultivated wheat on the western slopes. The higher regions of the slopes are left to the leopard, buffalo, lion and elephant. Tonight we overnight at a “Tree-Style” lodge, uniquely designed and situated to provide one with an often extremely close-up view of a wide variety of wild animals as they come to drink and cavort. We highly recommend an optional guided nature walk (approx USD 15, payable locally) offered by the lodge. All rooms have a waterhole view and en suite facilities.
Tanzania & Madagascar
Day 5 of Tanzania & Madagascar Tour (Madagascar Tours) Ngorongoro – Serengeti National Park
Departing the Ngorongoro Conservation area this morning we descend onto the Serengeti Plain, stretching out endlessly before us. Indeed the name “Serengeti” derives from a Masai word meaning “Land-without-end.” This is a land of superlatives, both in the vast landscape that surrounds you and the incredible biodiversity it supports. It is here that you have a chance to witness one of the most compelling natural dramas on earth–the annual migration, a sight unparalleled anywhere in the natural world. Our afternoon game drive provides an excellent introduction to this fantastic landscape and the biodiversity it supports.
With the lapping waters of the Indian Ocean caressing the white-sand beaches on and iridescent reefs off its coastlines, the island of Madagascar is a haven for sun-worshippers and watersport enthusiasts alike. The myriad activities offshore complement its paradisiacal sceneries onshore and to venture farther inland is to discover why Madagascar is sometimes likened to a continent within itself. The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar is also home to a staggering five per cent of the world’s animal and plant species, the vast majority of which are unique to this “micro-continent.” Easily rivalling the Galapagos Islands in terms of abundance and diversity of flora and fauna, Madagascar seldom receives the acclaim it deserves for its natural attractions that must be seen to be believed.
Posted on September 8th, 2009 No comments
Despite its designation as semi-arid when it comes to climate, there is a great deal of variation across the land. On one end of the spectrum, there are the dry deserts near Namibia, and on the other, there are the fertile subtropical areas near Mozambique and South Africa has just about every degree in between. The vast majority of the South African landmass is constituted of grassland and with its abundance of plant species (about 20,000 or more), the country houses around 10% of all the known plant species on the planet. This, along with the close to 900 species of bird, means that touring nature enthusiasts will particularly enjoy the bounties of South Africa.
South Africa also has a lot to offer the sun-worshipper and the active holiday-maker.
The 2,500km of coastline that skirts the Indian and Atlantic Oceans is a prime location for travellers looking to take it easy on the glistening white-sand beaches and for the more active traveller will be delighted to discover that the country’s reputation for housing some of the best wildlife parks in the world is no exaggeration. Kruger Park in particular is a destination not to be missed on a tour to South Africa.
The most racially diverse country on the continent, South Africa is also a nation without a single, unified and defined culture. It is, rather, home to a broad variety of cultures and that is one reason that travellers find it so alluring. With 11 official languages, as well as a further eight recognized languages, and each group following traditions and customs unique to their ethnicity, South Africa has a cultural diversity that few destinations can match. Naturalists and botanists alike will be in their elements, what with South Africa housing about 10 per cent of all known plant species on the planet and sun-worshippers will be reluctant to leave the 2,500km white-sand coastline when it comes time to journey home.
Posted on September 2nd, 2009 No comments
If there’s one tour destination that piques the interest at the mere mention of its name, it’s Tibet. Only in very recent times has the veil shrouding the Central Asian country been partially lifted—something that was hitherto impossible due to both the country’s natural geographic obstacles and foreign policies of the governing bodies—and even with an increasing number of people now have access to more and more information about it, Tibet retains its alluring mystique.
Posted on September 1st, 2009 No comments
The quality of the Tour Leader, wonderful sites–especially Karnak Temple, the Valley of the Kings, Coptic Cairo and Abu Simbel–antiquities, art, architecture history, religion, fascinating cultures, beautiful land and flora and fauna made the trip. We learned, we grew, we loved it!
-Ron and Sandi Mielitz Tour EG3: Egypt (In Search of Pharaohs)
The splendours of the ancient Egyptian civilization have been a source of inspiration down through the ages. Since the Greek historian Herodotus first wrote about his travels through Egypt in the fifth century BC, people have speculated about how the Egyptians built their massive monuments, and marvelled at the beauty of their art and architecture. From time immemorial, humanity has searched for the meaning of life, trying to reconcile its mortality with a profound desire to attain immortality. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in ancient Egypt. The pharaohs’ journey to eternity has been preserved in Egyptian art, architecture and writings.
The fact that Egypt is home to the sole surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the World–the breathtaking Pyramids of Giza–seems appropriate; few other cultures have had so much influence on and bequeathed so much to the development and evolution of man, than has that of the Egyptians. From their hieroglyphic art as a basis for contemporary written language, to their remarkable feats in architectural and engineering spheres, and not to mention their impact on modern-day systems of governance, the ancient civilization’s deeds of yore yet permeate every aspect of modern life. Just as other civilizations have risen and fallen without managing to leave as indelible a mark on the world, their structures crumbling into decay and their influence coming to an end, Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza have remained standing tall through the test of time and can now be seen as a symbol of the enduring nature of a great and ancient nation and of its people. A tour to Egypt is to experience a mysterious and fascinating ancient society in an evolved and contemporary setting.
The second most populous country in Africa, second only to Nigeria, and bordered by Libya, Sudan, Israel and the Gaza Strip, Egypt is a country dominated by desert and its habituated regions are for the most part centred on the banks of the longest river on earth: the mighty Nile. Perhaps no other country lends itself to a more ideal tour destination in this respect, as travellers can follow the snaking route of the Nile through Egypt, making various stops to take in the splendorous landscape and sights along the way. Tours on Feluccas-wooden sail boats of ancient design-are available for just this purpose, either to cast off for a short trip under the red and setting sun, or for longer, more comprehensive cruises.
In response to the current popularity of all of our Egypt trips, we have just developed a new addition to our Family Fieldtrip Series-Egypt ‘In Search of Pharaohs’, featuring a four-night Nile cruise on a luxury vessel (code 02X). This tour complements our original family Egypt that travels the Nile via a traditional felucca sailing vessel. Both trips also feature fun and exciting excursions via camel, donkey, and horse-drawn carriage, and, of course, all the astounding ancient monuments that make each day more amazing than the last.
Aside from the Giza Pyramids, the most popular sites in Egypt include the two majestic temples at Abu Simbel-which were reconstructed close to the original site in the 1960s and were rebuilt brick-by-brick in exactly the same relation to each other and to the sun-the Valley of the Kings-the ancient Pharaoh burial ground which is home to, among others, the tomb of the famous King Tutankhamun– and the regal Great Sphinx of Giza, whose imposing 66 foot stature silently guards over the tombs of the exalted kings of old. A tour to explore the ancient face of Egypt would not be complete without a visit to the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo, where more than 120,000 artifacts are on display.
But a tour to Egypt is not solely for those curious about ancient civilizations. The country’s man-made magnificence and beauty is only equalled by the natural environment, with white, glittering sand cascading over the dunes, stunning purple mountain landscapes and the turquoise waters that are unique to the Red Sea. Adventurous travellers can participate in camel tours, scuba diving on the world-renowned reefs, trekking in the desert or even golfing or fishing.
Even if you’ve been to Egypt before, don’t think you’ve seen it all! The amazing landscape of the Western Deserts and the picturesque mountains and canyons of Sinai will be a completely different, breathtaking experience. With our modern air-conditioned Toyota Landcruisers (4WD) you have the opportunity to explore the unspoilt beauty of the Western Desert and the mountains of Sinai. We organize jeep safari (5-14days) or walking tours (4-7days), as well as camel caravans (4-10days) through the colourful canyons and high mountain ranges of Sinai or the oases of the Western Desert with their characteristic culture. Visit Siwa, Baharija, Farafra, Kharga and Dakhla, and cross the Great Sand Sea or the White Desert. Our programs are designed as independent modules that can be combined with each other or one or two days in Cairo to see the Pyramids and the treasures of the Egyptian Museum. There is also the possibility of attaching some days in Luxor to see Karnak temple and the Valley of the Kings, or have a relaxing time on the beach in Sinai or Hurghada. We will help you to find the program best suited to your clients’ needs and your flight schedule.
Posted on August 12th, 2009 No comments
I’d previously travelled with Adventures Abroad and was eager to see Kenya and its wildlife. The balloon trip was excellent; we were blessed with good flying conditions and visibility. Our trip to Samburu village was highly informative and the Serena Mountain Lodge walk was just amazing.
-Howard Povey Tour KE1: Kenya (’Out of Africa’)
In the minds of many, the east African country of Kenya is synonymous with spectacular safaris and vast and wild desert regions, which, although accurate, are preconceptions that don’t do justice to what Kenya has to offer. Kenya is safari, but it is also much more.
The reputation of Kenya as one of the prime locations on the globe to view exotic creatures of all varieties is well earned—from big cats, crocodiles and wildebeest, to elephants, rhinos and zebras; Kenya is home to the types of remarkable animal that fascinate children and adults alike when they read about them in books. True, it is possible to catch a glimpse of them through a mesh of metal at the local zoo, but to see them in their natural habitat in Kenya is to appreciate fully their magnificence and grace. Flights of the imagination could never do justice to a teeming, writhing mass of a herd of migrating wildebeest on the Kenyan plains and neither could it come close to encapsulating the heart-pounding and furious pursuit between a ravenous cheetah and its prey; these are things that have to be seen to be believed and Kenya is the perfect place to do it. But, however unforgettable these sights may be, they won’t be the only lasting memories after a tour here.
The Kenyan landscape provides the ideal backdrop for viewing the country’s awesome and diverse wildlife, as the glorious setting only enhances the traveller’s experiences. It is true that the majority of the country is dominated by arid desert regions, but Kenya is also home to massive snow-crowned mountains, and the second highest peak in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro, which stands at a whopping 5,199 metres: Mount Kenya. It is unexpected to many that the equatorial territory can sustain both uncompromising heat and this contrasting frigidness, but most agree that viewing these polar opposites in one locale adds to the wonder and beauty of the country. Everyone who has been there recommends embarking on a tour to Kenya to view the dozen or so glaciers that cascade between the crests. However, if a more hospitable climate is sought after, there are always the tropical paradises that lie on the coastline, where it is possible to recline near the lapping waters of the Indian Ocean off the Kenyan coast.
Kenya’s most notable city is Nairobi, which serves as the capital. One of the most remarkable features of Nairobi is its blending of cultures; the traveller is exposed to some of the ancient traditions and primitive lifestyle of the millennia-old nation, while at the same time having access to modern-day amenities. Indeed, unlike many of its African neighbours, Kenya, and Nairobi in particular, allows travellers to purchase much the same things as can be found in Europe or the Americas.
Posted on August 11th, 2009 No comments
Kilimanjaro National Park is, of course, home to the indescribable wonder that is the second largest mountain in the world: Mount Kilimanjaro. This truly is a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed and chances are, it will cause revision of the definitions of the words ‘beautiful,’ ‘awesome,’ and ‘immense’ in the minds of travellers.
As with all the country’s many national parks, Kilimanjaro National Park allows visitors to view some of the most remarkable and exotic animals on the planet. Elephants, hippos, wildebeest, rhinos, monkeys, crocodiles, big cats or birds: you name it, Tanzania has it.
Most closely associated with some of the most dramatic sceneries and best safari opportunities on the planet, Kenya and Tanzania are without doubt destinations for travellers who appreciate the natural world. Tanzania is home to Serengeti National Park, which has itself become synonymous with safaris and between these two thrilling destinations, travellers can come face-to-face with some of the most magnificent specimens of wildlife on the planet in their natural habitat.
Few words summon the same sense of mystique and awe as Kilimanjaro. For years after the first Europeans’ arrival in East Africa, the perennial glaciers that cap Africa’s highest mountain were thought to be smooth stone reflecting the rays of the sun. How could snow exist on the equator? Though we now know that snow and ice can occur anywhere at 19,340 feet, the mountain remains a source of myth and legend, cinema and literature, and the challenge embodied in Kilimanjaro is as compelling today as ever.
Tours in Tanzania — Kili Trek
Our Kili trek utilizes the Machame Route, a less-travelled path along which we trek high and camp low, spending an extra day to acclimatize to the altitude and greatly increase chances of success. This slow but steady walk from the mountain’s steamy lower slopes to the icy climes of Uhuru Peak will challenge your determination, but reward with spectacular views and a tremendous sense of accomplishment as you stand atop the Roof of Africa. With Kili under your belt, why not treat yourself to a luxury, lodge-based wildlife safari through some of Tanzania’s most famous wildlife reserves?
When the rainy season paints its greenery across the East African landscape, the grasses of the Serengeti are transformed into billowy waves of an emerald sea. A flash of red is easily discerned in the distance as a shuka-clad (a short red robe worn like a toga) morani (Maasai warrior) strides swiftly and purposefully across the unending plain. He comes from out of nowhere and no one knows where he is going. It is a scene, often repeated throughout Maasailand, that is symbolic of the Maasai as a people. No one is quite sure where they have come from or how they will preserve their culture in the future.
The famous safari destinations, Kenya and Tanzania, form the basis of some of our most exciting winter escape programs. KT1 is our classic 17-day combo of the best of both countries, while KE1 and TZ1 make it possible to break the trip into shorter components. Those looking for a longer regional series should consider adding the island of Zanzibar (TZ4), or our fascinating 14-day tour of Madagascar (MG1, KT2). These trips are part of our “cultural series” that include accommodation in comfortable hotels and lodges and no camping. When shopping for your perfect safari experience, remember that our price includes all park entry fees, most meals and gratuities.
Posted on July 21st, 2009 No comments
Papua New Guinea
The amount of time spent on each island on this magical tour of Papua and the area was just right. I especially enjoyed the free days for personal exploration. The festivities at the Bargam Cultural Show were fascinating and the contrasts of Mount Hagen were just captivating. I wish I had more time so I could continue and do a third week!
One of the most defining features about Papua New Guinea is its cultural diversity. Many countries across the globe pride themselves in being host to a multitude of cultures, but Papua New Guinea is in a league of its own.
This second largest island in the world—the first being Greenland—owes its assortment of cultures not to the influence of other nations, as is often the case with multicultural societies, but rather to its own geography. In the Highlands, where mountainous peaks and thick forests dominate the landscape, many local tribes of yore remained either unaware of or indifferent to each other’s presence, instead developing their own customs, language and traditions in isolation.
The Papua New Guinea of today is as diverse as that of centuries past, with a staggering 700 or more indigenous languages, an excess of 1,000 indigenous groups and several thousand distinct communities, all within the country’s meagre population of five and a half million. A tour to Papua New Guinea promises travellers the once-in-a-lifetime experience to mingle with not just one, but with many tribes, many of which retain the ancient practices, traditions and culture of their forefathers. However, since seashells have not been currency in Papua New Guinea since 1933, be sure to take your wallet with you on tour.
Read more about Papua New Guinea
Posted on June 30th, 2009 No comments
Honduras, as with its neighbours in the Mesoamerican region, is renowned for its biological diversity. Not only is it home to the lowland rainforest of Rio Plantano Biosphere Reserve, which is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is sometimes referred to as ‘The Last Lungs of Central America,’ Honduras also houses thousands of plant species, about 250 reptiles and amphibians, about 700 species of bird and about 110 species of mammal. Unquestionably the ideal tour destination for naturalists, Honduras and its considerable biodiversity does beg the question of how many more types of animal and plant remain undiscovered and hidden in the unexplored expanses?
Aside from its fascinating array of natural phenomena, Honduras also offers a range of wondrous man-made spectacles; the Mayan ruins in the jungle, the Colonial churches and monuments littered about the villages, the spectacular Spanish fortress of San Fernando de Omoa and the huge and majestic Basilica de Suyapa near Tegucigalpa.
Posted on June 25th, 2009 No comments
The Hapsburgs, once a major and long-ruling family in Europe, were based out of Austria and one of the most remarkable structures of the continent is the Hofburg castle, their former residence in Vienna. With its varied and intriguing architecture displaying a mixture of many different styles because the initial medieval castle was expanded upon time and again over the six centuries they retained power, the Hofburg is unequivocally a must-see attraction when touring the country. Also of important note are the Schonbrunn castle and the Belvedere castle, both of which can be found in Vienna. Indeed, Vienna itself seems more like a work of art than a city, as to saunter the streets is to experience a sensory delight and a tour not soon forgotten.