Posts tagged with "itinerary"

Vagabond Tours Accepts Two Top Awards

Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland is no stranger to accepting awards. In early February the company received not one but two 2019 Irish Tourism Industry Awards presented Feb. 2 at the Clayton Hotel in Dublin.

These awards recognize those people and companies that create enhanced experiences to draw people to Ireland. Awards are granted across 15 categories for general initiatives such as accommodation and marketing, and regional specific awards for the Atlantic Way, Hidden Heartlands and Ancient East. Fifteen winners were chosen from among 75 shortlisted nominees. For more on the awards see https://www.irishtourismindustryawards.ie/

Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland’s 6 Day Ancient Ireland Tour won in the category Best Ireland’s Ancient East Tourism Experience, under 25,000 visitors. “We introduced this tour in 2018 to help answer the question, “Who are the Irish?” explained Rob Rankin, co-owner with his wife, Amy Rankin. In their imaginations guests burrow into bogs, scale crenellated towers and shimmy up mountains for glimpses of Ireland beginning with Iron Age Celts sifted into Stone Age sands. See: https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/tour/6-day-eastern-ireland-tour/.

Best Environmental Tourism Innovative went to Vagabond Tours of Ireland for environmental initiatives that in some instances have led to significant cost savings for the company while other initiatives are viewed as company investments that “we hope will have a long-term benefit to the environment,” said Rankin. These include:

  • Offsetting the company’s total annual carbon emissions and restoring Ireland’s lost woodlands with a program of replanting indigenous Irish hardwood trees.
  • Offering free compostable cups to guests to use in local coffee shops instead of non-recyclable cups.
  • Giving each guest an aluminum water bottle to use instead of single use plastic bottles, helping to eliminate an estimated 30,000 fewer plastic bottles per year in Ireland.

Vagabond’s staff curate locally owned accommodations, pubs and restaurants that help serve their goal of authenticity. In the end the mission is to have guests “love Ireland as much as we do.” Transport is in custom mini buses, Mercedes ‘Vagatrons’ or 4×4 Sprinters Newtrons that allows access beyond where regular tour buses go.

For details on all of Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland itineraries, availability and for 2019 reservations, please visit https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/. Call toll free (from the US) 1.833-230-0288; in Ireland 00353 (0) 1 5634358; or email: info@vagabond.ie.

Thomson Safaris Announces New 2019 Itinerary

Thomson Safaris, the leading luxury safari operator in Tanzania, has announced a brand-new itinerary for 2019, which will highlight the best of the country’s wildlife, and explore its rich culture from a culinary perspective, including a visit to the “spice island” of Zanzibar. 

Guests will experience remarkable wildlife viewing on a safari through the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and dive into Tanzania’s rich culture with fun, culinary excursions in Arusha, including a colorful local market visit and an interactive Tanzanian cooking demonstration.

For three days, guests will explore the iconic Serengeti plains, and complement the wildlife viewing with an off-the-beaten path visit to the village of Robanda, where they will learn how to make banana beer.  In the afternoon, they will partake in a traditional goat roast with Maasai warriors. The journey continues through the Ngorongoro Crater — one of the only places on Earth where you can see all of the Big Five — and a stay at Gibb’s Farm, the award-winning property owned by Judi Wineland and Rick Thomson, the owners of Thomson Safaris. The itinerary will also include walks through the organic farm where coffee, fruits, nuts and vegetables thrive in the rich, volcanic soil, and over 200 species of bird can be found. Guests will learn about sustainable agriculture through farm-to-table culinary activities in the bakery, gardens and kitchen, and, of course, they will indulge in farm-fresh cuisine.

This itinerary wraps with an adventure to Zanzibar, exploring the spice farms for which the island is known, along with excursions to Stone Town and the bustling Forodhani Gardens night market. Guests will cap off their final night with a sunset dhow cruise, featuring classic Swahili Coast dishes, drinks and a vibrant equatorial sunset. 

Wild Women Expeditions: Morocco

Wild Women Expeditions, the leader in women-only adventures, takes immersive travel to another level with new-for-2019 itineraries of 10 and 15 days that delve into the Berber culture of the women of Morocco.

Some 30 percent of Moroccans speak Berber; the national language is Arabic. The Berber culture originated along the Nile, spreading into today’s North Africa that includes Morocco. Morocco is known for being one of the most progressive states in the Middle East and North because of its support for women’s rights. Despite these advancements, women’s education in Morocco still lags behind and over 80% of women are illiterate.

Berber women of Morocco will help to unravel their story and culture on women-only trips across Morocco, enroute sharing such secrets as how to maneuver the labyrinth of a medina (old city), find their way into the wilderness of the Rif mountain range and learn the art of making tagine.

By casting Moroccan women as, among others, drivers and guides for these trips, Jennifer Haddow hopes that both guests and locals will be empowered. She is the owner of Wild Women Expeditions that pioneered worldwide women-only travel.

“Wild Women Expeditions gives our guests the opportunity to empower themselves amongst other women, connect with the natural world and make a positive impact in the communities we explore,” says Haddow.

She notes that Berber women in Morocco, as are women in many other cultures, are too often cast as the memory keepers. “As travelers we love when they share their traditions in colorful ways. But this sharing can be a double-edged sword for women who may be left out of leadership opportunities in the tourism industry,” said Haddow. “On our Morocco tour we put the stories of women in the spotlight while empowering them with opportunities to benefit from tourism and play a leading role.”

Wild Women Expeditions tours in Morocco will help dull this sword and empower women by…

• Working with a female Berber entrepreneur who owns the transportation company for these tours and who hires female drivers;

• Engaging Berber Moroccan women as tour leaders are hiring female guides;

• Supporting trek guide training for Moroccan women;

• Visiting women’s cooperatives where locally made items are sold;

• Basing in a riad in Marrakech that employs women trained by the Amal Centre for disadvantaged women (http://amalnonprofit.org/);

• Conversing over a women-hosted dinner in Casablanca through Al Hidn, an association that empowers illiterate widow women in rebuilding their lives through a series of educational programs as well as providing them with financial and educational support to keep their kids in school;

• Supporting the Henna Café, a social enterprise project for women in Marrakech;

• Using accommodations that reflect the company’s commitment to women’s empowerment, such as the Kasbah Toubkhal that co-founded the Education for All program for girls’ education (an additional 5% of the revenue from a group stay here is donated to this local project);

• Being mindful of the environment – through women – with an overnight at an eco lodge owned by a local woman and part of an ecotourism initiative focused on empowering local women in the Riff.

The 10-day itinerary, Medina to Mountains of Northern Morocco, begins with a welcome dinner at Rick’s Café (from the movie Casablanca). The days that follow blend mosques, medinas, handicraft workshops, horseback riding and hiking in the Rif Mountains, a hammam (spa) and a world-famous botanical garden. The $3,495 rate includes accommodation for nine nights, all meals, private vehicle, driver, English-speaking guide and local guides, airport transfers.

The 15-day program, Mosaic of Wild Morocco, focuses on Morocco’s wild beauty from the dunes of the Sahara to the Atlas Mountains and on to the beaches of the Atlantic. Trekking by camel, dining with nomads, sleeping under a canopy of stars in Sahara luxury dune camp, draping the body with flowers of henna, chattering with Barbary macaque and indulging in a hammam are just a few of the many experiences in store. The nearly all-inclusive rate of $3,995 includes guided horseback riding, cycling and trekking, plus in-home meals with Berber families and cooking demonstrations.

European Cycle Routes for Newbies

Knowing where to go in Europe for a leisurely cycling vacation can be tricky. It helps to have good advice from the experts. Freewheel Holidays, the international specialist in self-guided bicycle vacations in Europe, suggests three routes for those new to multi-day bicycle touring who may prefer routes without steep climbs or descents.

UK-based Freewheel Holidays arranges bicycle vacations along mainly traffic- and challenge-free routes. Because guests cycle across mostly flat terrain, the fatigue and frustration factors of challenging inclines are kept out of the equation.

Following are Freewheel Holidays’ suggested itineraries for newbies in Spain’s Catalonia, along the Danube in Austria and in the Loire Valley of France. As with all of its self-guided vacation programs, rates (per person, double) include lodging with breakfast, detailed route notes, point-to-point luggage transfers, 24-hour emergency support, complimentary bike rentals and suggested attractions along each route. E-bike options are available on all of these itineraries. For additional vacation-by-bicycle suggestions see: http://www.freewheelholidays.co.uk/.

The 7-day Catalonia Greenways itinerary begins with an exploration of a preponderance of extinct volcanoes in Garrotxa Natural Park in the Girona Pyrenees. After wandering the streets of the 13th century market town, Olot, and sampling the local goat cheese, Garrotxa, it’s on to a disused rail line, the traffic-free Carrilet Olot cycle path, downhill through the wood countryside in the mountains, destination the medieval town of Girona. The beach on the Costa Brava awaits, with perhaps a dip in the sea on the northeastern tip of Spain. The per person double rate is from £789 with departures beginning in early January and continuing through end October 2019. See: https://www.freewheelholidays.co.uk/cycling-holidays/all-cycling-holidays/family-cycling-holidays/catalonia-greenways

The 8-day Danube Cycle Path – Passau to Vienna itinerary explores an ancient military and trading route on paths along the Danube River once traversed by Romans, the legendary Nibelungs (think Wagner) and even Europe’s powerful kings and emperors. The adventure begins in the baroque town of Schärding or in Passau, the town of three rivers, before moving on through Upper and Lower Austria and finally to Vienna. The per person double rate is from £549 with departures beginning in early April and continuing through mid October 2019. See: https://www.freewheelholidays.co.uk/cycling-holidays-austria/passau-vienna-danube

A 7-day Loire Valley Castles itinerary guides guests through the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage region, that is also known as “garden of France.” Here is a display of one-time wealth and imminence as reflected in the more than 200 castles. Among these is the Clos-Luce manor in Amboise where Leonardo lived for three years (and died) and where some of his remarkable inventions are on display. Cycling through this luxuriant countryside rife with fields of wheat and barley, poppies and centennial oaks is joy in and of itself, with opportunities aplenty to sample the wines of this renowned food and wine region. Concluding the tour is one of the most famous and majestic of all Loire castles, Château de Chambord, that lends its name to a liqueur and that after 288 years in construction, served as a royal hunting lodge. The per person double rate is from £609 with departures beginning late April and continuing into mid September 2019. See https://www.freewheelholidays.co.uk/cycling-holidays-france/loire-valley-castles

To check trip availability, make reservations, or to find out more about Freewheel Holidays’ leisure cycling tours call +44 (0) 161 703 5823, email info@freewheelholidays.com or visit www.freewheelholidays.co.uk.

New Trips × Austin Adventures

Dan Austin has been a busy man. Coming off what has been Austin Adventures’ best year ever, the company is poised to achieve new heights in 2018 while launching something totally fresh, innovative and important. But more on that later. First, let’s look at what else is new for 2018. 

  • New Trips and Destinations! They’ve added a lineup of 11 new domestic and international itineraries that represent one of the most impressive expansions in the company’s nearly four-decade history. New multisport trips will be offered in the US & Canada, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. Check out the exciting lineup at https://www.austinadventures.com/new-2018-departures/.
  • New Women-Only Adventures. Led by acclaimed guide and outdoors woman Kasey Austin, the company has announced three brand-new, action-packed itineraries created just for women for the 2018 season. Destinations include Costa Rica, Utah’s Bryce & Zion National Parks and Montana’s Yellowstone Country. “Women are taking on the world of adventure travel by storm!” – Austin.
  • Travel Agent Bookings Have Doubled! A dedicated focus on the travel trade has paid off and 2018 stands to be another record-breaking year for agent bookings. Being an active member of Virtuoso Network as a Preferred Tour Operator and Partner has been a major factor in this growth.
  • New Consumer-Friendly Reservation Policies. Guests can now change their minds 14 days from booking and more than 90 days out and still get a full refund. Plus, there are softer policies on cancelling or transferring to another trip 45+ days out. Their industry-best money-back satisfaction guarantee is still in place. 

Ready for some BIG news for 2018? Now remember, this is just a teaser and more details will be announced in January along with a more formal launch. Austin Adventures is teaming up with the leading lifestyle brand Life is Good™ to offer a series of ‘Life is Good Vacations’ which will create transformative travel experiences connected to nature and rooted in the practice of joy and optimism. See: http://info.austinadventures.com/life-is-good-partnership/.

“Life is truly good. Let’s enjoy it and expand our possibilities by exploring and experiencing compelling destinations in a manner both positive, rewarding and empowering,” explains Dan Austin. Four tour locations have been scheduled for 2018: Montana, Utah, Canadian Rockies and Costa Rica.