BAO Travel Adventures
BAO activities include group travel around the world with our partner, Collette. We chose Collette as our travel partner because of their long history of high-quality service and reliability. Most importantly, we trust Collette will take the utmost care of our travelers. Collette's CSOT number is 2006766-20. Bay Area Older Adults' CSOT number is 2120658-40.
Special for BAO travelers – Everyone who travels with BAO is invited to a
- Pre-trip meeting to get you ready and meet your fellow travelers (typically lunch is included)
- Post-trip gathering with your group to share photos
- End of year travel party where you can meet other BAO travelers and share photos and experiences.
North American TripsAlaska Discovery by Land and Sea
Islands of New England
America's Music Cities
European TripsGreece and its Islands
Trips to Central and South AmericaNatural Habitats and Culture of Costa Rica
Peru - Ancient Land of Mysteries
Trips to AfricaAfrican National Parks
Trips to Middle EastThe Holy Land of Israel
Discover Alaska by Land and Sea
May to June 2017
On this 12-day adventure, you will take a river cruise and stop to experience Alaska's diverse culture and history, and tour Denali National Park for an unparalleled opportunity to see Alaska's magnificent wildlife. Ride from Denali to Anchorage in a glass-ceiling railcar with open air observation platforms for panoramic views of incredible landscapes. Next, board a Princess Cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver taking in rugged natural wonders such as Hubbard Glacier, glacier calving in Glacier Bay National Park and the fjords of Inside Passage. Along the way, stop at historic Skagway and relive Alaska's Gold Rush days, visit Alaska's gorgeous capital, Juneau as well as Ketchikan, known as the Salmon Capital of the World. As you cruise, delight in traditional Alaska cuisine and nightly entertainment.
Day 1: Arrive in Fairbanks to start your land and sea adventure. You will stay at Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge conveniently located on the banks of the Chena River with a large outdoor deck extending to the water’s edge. It is near downtown shopping and attractions. It has a fitness center and free Wi-Fi in public areas. Chena River runs through Fairbanks, Alaska
Day 2: Step aboard an amazing three-hour paddlewheel riverboat cruise on the popular Sternwheeler Discovery. This is an unforgettable journey with stops along the way showcasing Alaska's diverse culture and rich history including a visit with an Alaskan family who has made the rivers of Alaska their way of life for five generations. Visit the home and kennels of the late four-time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher and see her champion sled dogs in action. Be immersed into the ancient Athabascan Indian culture when Alaskan Native Guides take you on a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village. Riverboat, sled puppy and Chena Indian Village
Later in the day, take a two- to three-hour scenic drive to Denali National Park. Tonight, enjoy an entertaining evening at the Music of Denali Dinner Theater which tells the story of the first ascent of Denali. Stay two nights at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge only one mile from Denali National Park, home to Denali, where North America's highest peak towers an unbelievable 20,320 feet in the sky. The lodge has an expansive deck overlooking the Nenana River with views into the park. Amenities include free Wi-Fi and free daily shuttle to Denali Visitor's Center where you can access trails or access them from the park entrance. Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge views of river and Denali
Day 3: This morning take an all-day adventure traveling deep into Denali National Park on the Tundra Wilderness Tour which affords the best opportunities to view the region's wildlife such as Dall sheep, moose, caribou, wolves and grizzly bears. Your expert guide will teach you about the history of the park while you view incredible scenery. Weather permitting, you will see Denali, the highest peak in North America. The park is six million acres of which glaciers cover one million acres. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Views of Denali on a clear day
Family of grizzly bears
Dall sheep and caribou
Day 4: Today, begin an unforgettable journey to Anchorage. View the incredible landscape from glass-ceiling, domed railcars and open-air observation platforms with 360 degree viewing as rail guides provide expert commentary. After departing Denali you will pass though Broad Pass, the highest point on the Alaska Railroad at 2,363 feet. North of Talkeetna, you will cross the startling 918-foot Hurricane Gulch trestle, towering 296 feet above the creek below. South of Talkeetna, about 3 hours before you reach Anchorage, marks one of the most spectacular views of Denali. If the weather is good, the train will slow to allow passengers to capture the stunning landscapes on camera. Keep an eye out for bears, moose, eagles, beavers, wolves and swans along the way. Glass domed Alaska railcar
You will stay one night at Hotel Captain Cook, located in Downtown Anchorage with stunning views of the neighboring Cook Inlet or the Chugach Mountains and by the bay with waterfront walking and bicycling trails. Cook Inlet
Day 5: Begin the day with a 90 minute scenic drive on Seward Highway that runs through the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Kenai Mountains and Turnagain Arm, a deep glacial fjord. Chugach National Forest
Turnagain Arm and Seward highway views
Arrive in the port of Whittier that is nestled at the base of the Chugach Mountains and on the Passage Canal that connects to Prince William Sound. Established as a World War II port for cargo and troops of the Alaska Command, Whittier remained active until 1960. Today, its economy and 290 residents rely largely on the fishing industry, the port and tourism. Port of Whittier
In the late afternoon, board your ship to begin your seven-night Princess cruise aboard a fabulous floating resort designed to make your stay on board truly memorable. While on board, breakfast, lunch, dinner and nightly entertainment are included. During your trip, you will pass by many glaciers that creak, rumble and calve explosively with a stupendous roar often referred to as “white thunder.” The sound and fury, the icy colors and the massive icebergs they shed make Alaska's glaciers one of the greatest shows on earth and you can see it all up close on the cruise ship. On board during your cruise, there is a chance to meet a former Iditarod dog mushing champion, Libby Riddles, an Alaskan storyteller and National Park Rangers in Glacier Bay. Learn from onboard naturalists and an Alaska culinary demonstration. Sample traditional Alaska Cuisine including everything from freshly caught Alaska salmon to reindeer chili. More entertainment includes Movies Under the Stars, casino gaming, top-headliner comedians and Broadway-style production shows. Cruise route
Day 6: Today, from the afternoon until evening, your ship cruises past the mammoth Hubbard Glacier, one of Alaska's advancing glaciers. The ice at the foot of the glacier is about 400 years old. The glacier routinely calves off icebergs the size of a ten-story building. Where the glacier meets the bay, most of the ice is below the waterline, and newly calved icebergs can shoot up quite dramatically, so that ships must keep their distance from the edge of the glacier in Disenchantment Bay. Hubbard Glacier
Day 7: Today, cruise through Glacier Bay National Park, a spectacular national park and preserve that is a treasure trove of tidewater glaciers and 1000 scenic coastal islands. Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site—one of the world's largest international protected areas. Blue ice and calving glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park
Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park
There are fifteen tidewater glaciers in the park, descending from high snow-capped mountains into the bay creating spectacular displays of ice and iceberg formation. In the last century the most dramatic was probably the Muir Glacier, whose calving face was nearly 2 miles wide and about 265 feet high.
Views of Glacier Bay from ship
Day 8: Today we make a stop at Skagway docking at 7 AM and the boat leaves the port again at 7:30 PM. Skagway was the gateway to the gold fields for the thousands who flocked to Alaska and the Yukon with the hope of striking it rich. The gold rush was a boon and by 1898, Skagway was Alaska's largest town with a population of about 20,000. Hotels, saloons, dance halls and gambling houses prospered. But when the gold yield dwindled in 1900, so did the population as miners. Today, Skagway has less than 1,000 residents. It still retains the flavor of the gold rush era. You will find a large variety of things to do in Skagway from hiking trails to museums and historic sites to live music to learning about dog sledding and glass blowing demonstrations. Skagway port and downtown
Day 9: Our port of call today is Juneau where we dock at 6:30 AM and the boat leaves the port at 4 PM. From massive scenic mountains to gold mining history, there is plenty to explore in Alaska's capital city of Juneau. Juneau sits at the base of 3,819 ft. Mt. Roberts and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. On top of these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow; two of these, the Mendenhall Glacier and the Lemon Creek Glacier, are visible from the local road system. Things to do and visit in Juneau are Mendenhall glacier hiking and helicopter views, humpback whale watching, Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, Raptor Center, dog sledding and riding the Mount Roberts Tramway to the top of Mt. Roberts for a panoramic vantage point 1,800 feet above the city. View of Mendenhall Glacier from visitor center, Juneau
Salmon jumping at the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, Juneau
Day 10: Our port of call today is Ketchikan where we will dock at 10 AM and need to be back on board before they launch at 6 PM. It is known as the Salmon Capital of the World and the City of Totems. Located on tranquil Revillagigedo Island, Ketchikan is home to the world's largest collection of totem poles. Downtown Ketchikan
Originally an Indian fishing camp, the name Ketchikan comes from a Tlingit phrase that means eagle with spread-out wings, a reference to a waterfall near town. Popular activities in downtown Ketchikan include visiting Misty Fjords National Monument and historic Creek Street, going out crabbing and then enjoying all you can eat Alaska crab at the George Inlet Lodge or taking in an Alaskan lumberjack show. A few miles out of town you can visit Totem Bight State Park, Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary or go out on a gray whale watching tour. Ketchikan wildlife and Creek Street
Clan house and Totem Bright State Park, Ketchikan
Day 11: Enjoy a day of sightseeing as your ship sails along the Inside Passage, an extensive stretch of land known for its natural beauty and abundant wildlife. You will be awestruck with this natural wonder of glacier-carved fjords, pristine forested shores, towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, majestic snowcapped mountains and thousands of untouched islands and wildlife such as whales, dolphins and other marine life, bald eagles and tufted puffins. Inside Passage forested shores and snowcapped mountains
Tracy Arm Glacier, Inside Passage
Day 12: Your cruise ends in the vibrant city of Vancouver. Choose an optional city tour featuring Stanley Park, Chinatown and Gastown, home to the world-famous steam-powered clock. Or, explore this lovely city on your own. Next, board your coach for the drive to the Seattle airport area for an overnight stay. Granville Island and Vancouver skyline
Day 13: Your tour comes to a close today as you depart for home.
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Experience nine days traversing the Colorado Rockies, exploring four National Parks and riding on two historic trains that celebrate the can-do spirit of the Old West in Colorado and Utah. Marvel at the diversity and majesty of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Ascend Pikes Peak on the world’s highest cog railway. Climb aboard an 1881 steam train for a journey through the San Juan Mountains. Discover the ancient culture of the Ancestral Puebloans at Mesa Verde National Park. Relish cowboy culture with an evening of authentic dining and entertainment.
Day 1: Arrive in the “Mile High City” of Denver, home to the famous 16th Street Mall. Gather tonight to meet your fellow travelers at a welcome dinner. Your accommodation tonight is the 4-star Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel conveniently located by the famous 16th Street Mall and a 12-block pedestrian walkway that houses the best in shopping, dining, and entertainment, with complimentary shuttles for added convenience. The Sheraton Denver Downtown is also one block from Colorado's State Capitol, one mile from the art district on Santa Fe Drive, 0.4 miles from the Denver Art Museum, two miles from the Denver Aquarium and less than 3 miles from the Botanic Gardens. Amenities include complimentary wireless in the lobby, outdoor pool and fitness center. Denver with Rocky Mountain Skyline, Colorado
Day 2: Travel to Rocky Mountain National Park to discover the true meaning of “panoramic.” This celebrated “Roof of the Rockies” offers views of massive peaks and rugged canyons as you experience one of the largest national parks in the United States. The park features majestic mountain views, lakes, a variety of wildlife, and varied climates and environments — from wooded forests to mountain tundra. Its land includes the Continental Divide and the headwaters of the Colorado River. On your way to your destination, Grand Junction, enjoy a glorious ride past Vail, Breckenridge and other famous ski areas in Colorado. You will spend the next three nights at Doubletree Hotel in Grand Junction where you are in between and with views of three different mountain ranges. Amenities include on site tennis courts, outdoor pool and hot tub, beach volleyball court and golf course. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Downtown Breckenridge, Colorado
Day 3: Today, visit Arches National Park, the world’s largest concentration of more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches of contrasting colors and textures as well as an astounding variety of geological formations such as soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. Arches National Park, Colorado
Next, travel to Canyonlands National Park, a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure. Visit the Island in the Sky mesa which rests on sheer sandstone cliffs over 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain. Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Day 4: Today, visit one of the grand landscapes of the American West – Colorado National Monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. Experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles. Colorado National Monument, Colorado
Later, journey to Colorado’s wine country to learn about one of the region's up-and-coming vineyards and sample the fruits of its labor. At a lovely family-owned vineyard, meet a family member who will take you on a private tour to see the process up-close. Then sit down to a winemaker’s dinner to hear stories of the vineyard, the wine they produce and the life of a winemaker.
Day 5: The next day, travel south to the former silver mining town of Silverton, a National Historic Landmark. Mining started in the town in 1860 and the Sunnyside Mine was shut down after the 1929 stock market crash. This small town is currently home to only 630 residents. It is hidden high in the San Juan Mountains. The town blends spectacular scenery, Victorian charm and historic architecture. Silverton National Historic Landmark
Then it's “all aboard” the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This 1881 coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive was built to haul silver and gold ore from the San Juan Mountain, but you will soon realize it is the view that is truly precious. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
This evening, enjoy an Old West adventure filled with traditional cowboy food and entertainment. Stay the next two nights at the Historic Strater Hotel in Durango. This hotel hosts live music, gunfights and vaudeville shows at their saloon almost every night. It is only a five-minute walk to Hesparus Park and Animas River and three miles to Perins Peak State Wildlife Area.
Day 6: Spend the day at Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from AD 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Dwelling
Your accommodations these next two nights is Doubletree Hotel in Colorado Springs that has views of views of Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain. Step out the hotel for a variety of restaurants. It is located less than one mile from Quail Lake Park and hiking trails, three miles from Seven Falls and a five-minute drive to Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Amenities include a 24-hour fitness center, pool and hot tub.
Day 7: Today, travel to Colorado Springs. Marvel at the scenery as you depart the San Juan National Forest, cross the elevation 10,857 foot Wolf Creek Pass over the Continental Divide. Wolf Creek Pass
Next, pass through the beautiful Rio Grande National Forest, at nearly two million acres it remains one of the true undiscovered jewels of Colorado. The Rio Grande begins its 1800 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico high up in the San Juan Mountains in the western most part of the Forest. The Continental Divide runs for 236 miles along most of the western border of the Forest and the jagged tops of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains form the eastern border. The Forest is composed of a myriad of ecosystems ranging from high elevation desert at 7600 feet above sea level to rocky crags at over 14,300 feet in the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Rio Grande National Forest
Day 8: Depart for Manitou Springs, home of Pikes Peak – the legendary symbol of the 1859 Gold Rush. Embark on a journey aboard the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the world's highest railroad, for an 8.9 mile trip to the top of Pikes Peak (approx. 14,110 ft.). During the journey you will see magnificent views and wildlife in their native habitat. Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Standing on Pikes Peak
Later, travel to the Garden of the Gods, on the National Register for Historic Places, to see the towering sandstone formations and enjoy a wonderful view of Pikes Peak. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner to celebrate a trip filled with majestic peaks and railway adventures. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
Day 9: Depart for your return home.
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Islands of New England
This 8-day New England tour takes you to miles of sandy beaches and dunes, rolling surf and majestic coasts. The tour explores New England's charms, from the cobblestone streets of Nantucket to a dry harvest cranberry bog. Step back in time at Plimoth Plantation to sample traditional recipes from that period, learn some Pilgrim etiquette and enjoy a Thanksgiving feast where you'll learn to 'eat like a Pilgrim.' In Provincetown, the choice is yours – set out on a whale watch cruise or embark on a scenic adventure through the iconic sand dunes of the Cape. Visit Boston and Providence, the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, the lively artist colony of Provincetown, and the beautiful islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Complete your New England experience as you indulge in a traditional seafood and lobster feast.
Day 1: Arrive in Providence, the capital of Rhode Island in late afternoon/evening. You will stay three nights at the Hilton Providence, located in the heart of downtown Providence, Rhode Island. The hotel is a five minute walk to the city center, capital building and Federal Hill with Atwells Ave parks and restaurants. The Federal Hill neighborhood is now best known for its Italian American community and abundance of restaurants and markets. Federal Hill was named after a 1788 Fourth of July roast celebration on the plain adjacent to the hill where General William West led 1,000 armed farmers to Providence to stop the celebration. Only four miles from the hotel, is the oldest zoo in the country, Roger Williams Park Zoo. Amenities include an on-site fitness center and indoor pool. Federal Hill marketplace and restaurants, Providence, Rhode Island
Day 2: This morning, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Providence, America's Renaissance City. Then depart for Newport, the "Yachting Capital of the East." Return to America's Gilded Age as you make your way along breathtaking Ocean Drive en route to Bellevue Avenue which is lined with 11 extraordinary mansions. Built in the 1800s as summer "cottages," 7 of the 11 mansions have been designated National Historic Landmarks. Newport and Ocean Drive, Rhode Island
Next, tour the Marble House, the gorgeous summer home of Mr. and Mrs. William Vanderbilt whose family established the family's fortune in steamships and the New York Central Railroad. As you explore this architectural marvel you will gain an understanding of why Newport became such a grand destination. Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 and was a social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport's subsequent transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone palaces. Marble House entrance
Inside the Marble House
Day 3: Today, travel north to the historic city of Boston. Get to know Boston’s Yankee charm during a tour that highlights the historic neighborhood of Beacon Hill with Federal-style rowhouses, narrow gas-lit streets and brick sidewalks; the Old South Meeting House where the Boston Tea Party began in 1773; and Boston Public Garden established in 1837 as the first public botanical garden. Beacon Hill and Boston Public Garden, Boston
Also visit the historic North End city's oldest residential community, where people have continuously inhabited since it was settled in the 1630s and the location of the Paul Revere house; Old North Church, the oldest standing church building in Boston and a National Historic Landmark; the U.S.S. Constitution and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, built in 1742 as an indoor-outdoor marketplace with a large variety of food including fresh fish and unique eateries. U.S.S. Constitution and North End Neighborhood, Boston
Enjoy some leisure time to stroll along part of the famed Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile walking path through the streets of Boston that showcases the city's historical sites or further explore the lively marketplace at Faneuil Hall. Quincy market desserts and famous lobster roll
Day 4: Today, immerse yourself into a traditional way of life as you tour a New England cranberry bog and learn about dry harvesting from a local grower. Cape Cod is the home of over 14,000 acres of working cranberry bogs and the cranberry is Massachusetts' number one agricultural commodity crop. Harvesting cranberries
Then, step back in time with a stop in the celebrated town of Plymouth, where the Pilgrims landed in 1620. See legendary Plymouth Rock, an important symbol in American history because it is the site of disembarkation of the Mayflower Pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. Climb onboard a reproduction of the Mayflower, the 102-passenger ship used by the Pilgrims for the 65 day journey from England. Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower
Experience the Pilgrim way of life with a visit to Plimoth Plantation, a re-creation of a 17th century village. This village lets you feel like you are actually back in settlement time with actors cooking, feeding the animals, working the grist mill, making tools and more. At lunch learn how to eat like a Pilgrim and sample recipes from that time, learn some Pilgrim etiquette and enjoy a Thanksgiving feast with your fellow travelers. Plimoth plantation grist mill and homes
Later, arrive at your beachfront Sea Crest Beach Hotel in Falmouth for a relaxing four night stay. The hotel is located a few hundred feet from the beach and fresh water swimming ponds and less than a mile from miles of walking trails. Amenities include indoor and outdoor saline lap swimming pool, private beach with volleyball court, fitness center, free yoga classes and Wi-Fi and mini refrigerator. Seacrest Beach Hotel
Day 5: Today begins with a panoramic tour of Hyannis. Catch a glimpse of the Camelot era as you travel through Hyannis Port, home of the Kennedy compound and other Kennedy family residences and as such is included in the National Register of Historic Places. Visit the poignant Kennedy Memorial. Hyannis port marina and Kennedy compound
Next, board the high speed ferry to Nantucket, an island of less than 50 square miles, which is known as the finest surviving architectural and environmental example of a late 18th- and early 19th-century New England seaport town. When you arrive, set out on a tour exploring this idyllic island with cobblestone Main Street, beaches and lighthouses. During time at leisure, explore the island's waterfront where sailboats and yachts sway in the harbor or shop for a famous Nantucket basket. Nantucket seaport, beaches and light houses
Tonight, enjoy a wonderful dinner featuring a cooking demonstration that highlights a local specialty.
Day 6: This morning, a ferry ride transports you to the beautiful 87 square mile island of Martha's Vineyard. Known for visits by presidents and royalty, this summer home of many artists, writers and celebrities is full of surprises. A local guide will show you all the highlights of "the Vineyard," as the locals call it, including quaint gingerbread-styled cottages and a once-famous whaling port resplendent with sea captain’s homes and widow's walks. During the early 1700s, Martha's Vineyard colonists and the Native American Wampanoags both profited from the abundance of whales offshore. All that was necessary to harvest them was a small boat, a harpoon, and several strong-armed men. Martha's Vineyard gingerbread cottages, captain homes
Martha's Vineyard seaport and by the beach
Later, depart the island and cruise back to Cape Cod. Tonight, explore downtown Falmouth, an interesting and eclectic all-American Main Street that is a wonderful place to visit shop and dine. Downtown Falmouth
Day 7: This morning, travel to Provincetown, located on the tip of the Cape. This lively artist colony remains famous for its crafts and bright seagoing flair. Views of Provincetown, Cape Cod Massachusetts
For the next adventure, the choice is yours – set out on a whale watch cruise that takes you out to Cape Cod Bay in search of these magnificent creatures (may be too late in the season to see them) or embark on a scenic adventure through the iconic sand dunes of the Cape. Whale watching
Sand dune adventure
Tonight, complete your New England experience as you indulge in a traditional seafood and lobster feast. Famous Cape Cod seafood feast
Day 8: Return home.
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America's Music Cities
Take an 8-day tour of the rich musical heritage of the United States. Visit New Orleans, the Jazz Capital of the World, and revel in soulful music, savor its rich cuisine, discover its French and Colonial past and experience the fascinating ecosystem of the Louisiana bayous. Visit Memphis, the birthplace of the Blues, Rock n Roll and Soul and home to the best ever BBQ. Absorb the city’s musical heritage including a visit to Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Explore the history and lore of Nashville with a show and backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry, an up-close look at the oldest remaining record studio where Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Charlie Pride recorded their classic songs and visit the largest museum of popular music in the world.
Days 1, 2: Arrive in New Orleans, Louisiana and spend three nights at the 4-star Sheraton New Orleans located less than one mile from the Mississippi River, the French Quarter, the Audubon Aquarium of Americas, the National WWII Museum and the Streetcar line. New Orleans is the Jazz Capital of the World. This soulful city abounds with rich history, mouthwatering Cajun and Creole cuisine, and lots of home town music. The streets of New Orleans and jazz music of the French Quarter
Choose a French Quarter Walking Tour or Motorcoach Tour of New Orleans. The walking tour of the famous French Quarter takes you to the majestic St. Louis Cathedral, one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, then to the bustling French Marketplace where you will explore Pirates Alley, the Cabildo, the Presbytere and the Pontalba. Stop to taste a true New Orleans favorite – beignets at Cafe Du Monde.
The other option is a panoramic motorcoach tour of New Orleans with a local guide. Begin along historic Esplanade Avenue to see St. Louis Cemetery #3 which opened in 1854 and holds some of the most elaborate crypts found in the city’s cemeteries. Then, relax during a drive along the shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain. This romantic road eventually leads to St. Charles Avenue, whisking you past gorgeous mansions as well as Tulane and Loyola, two world-famous universities.
In the evening, roll up your sleeves and prepare to discover how to cook New Orleans-style with a unique cooking demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Live street jazz, St. Charles Avenue mansions and Cajun cooking demonstration
Day 3: Journey through Louisiana’s swamp on a boat cruise. Learn about the history and ecology of this fascinating ecosystem while keeping an eye out for wildlife including bald eagles, herons, turtles and alligators. See houses (accessible only by boat) of the local Cajuns who have made their homes here in the bayous. Spend the remainder of the afternoon at leisure and discover more of New Orleans on your own. Louisiana Swamp Cruise
Days 4, 5: Travel north to Memphis, the birthplace of the Blues, Rock n Roll and Soul. Your two night stay is at the 4-star Sheraton Memphis, where you can easily explore more culture on your free time. The hotel is located within walking distance to famous museums such as the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum and the National Civil Rights Museum, Sun Recording Studio, Riverboat Cruises on the Mississippi River, famous Beale Street that is home to blues clubs and Mud Island River Park where you can stroll by the river. Upon arrival, savor true Memphis cuisine with dinner at the award-winning Central BBQ restaurant, ranked the #1 BBQ in Memphis since 2005. Beale Street - Home to the Blues, Memphis
In the morning, embark on a one-of-a-kind tour of Memphis. Local musicians board the coach and tell the story of Memphis’ musical heritage and history as you view the city’s many highlights. Next, visit Graceland, the palatial home of Elvis Presley. Tour his home, including unique family rooms, the original business office, trophy building and the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and members of his family have been laid to rest. The remainder of your day is free to enjoy the city’s vast musical offerings on your own. Graceland – home of Elvis Presley
Days 6, 7: Journey to the Nashville, the Music Capital of the World. Your three-night stay is at 4-star Gaylord Opryland Hotel within an atrium surrounded by the Cumberland River and with a river running through it. The atrium hosts 17 restaurants and is nearby local parks.
Start off with a tour of the sprawling Belle Meade Plantation and indulge in a lunch of southern delicacies and wine tasting. After lunch, tour an historic distillery and sample famous Tennessee whiskey. This evening, take in a show at the renowned Grand Ole Opry, an entertainment complex that attracts music fans from all over the world. Belle Meade Plantation and Grand Ole Opry
Begin the next day with a tour of WSM Radio Station where you will meet a local radio show personality. Next, a local guide will share the history and lore of Music City during a sightseeing tour where you will view the State Capitol, Music Row and the Parthenon - a full replica of the Athenian original. Later, explore the Country Music Hall of Fame, the largest museum of popular music in the world. The museum’s vast collections of memorabilia, costumes, recordings and instruments are artfully presented in cutting-edge exhibits relaying the colorful histories of country music and its artists. Learn about the Hatch Show Print, the original printer of the concert flyer for famous country musicians, and have the opportunity to see how they are still printed today. Music Row and Country Music Hall of Fame
Next, visit the old Ryman Auditorium with a newly renovated stage. This venue has hosted a variety of musical concerts since it opened in 1892, and has been called the Carnegie Hall of the South. This is followed by a visit to the historic RCA Studio B for an up-close look at Nashville’s oldest remaining record studio where Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Charlie Pride once recorded some of their classic hits. Learn the secrets of how each artist recorded their chart-topping music in this famous studio. Ryman Auditorium and RCA Studio B
Day 8: Return home with a wealth of memories that will have you humming a new tune.
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Greece and its Islands
This 15-day journey takes you to the magnificent ruins of ancient Greece against a peaceful Mediterranean backdrop including stunning beaches and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. Explore the history of the Classic Age with visits to Acropolis, Byzantine monasteries, Delphi’s Sanctuary of Apollo, Olympia and the site of the first Olympics, and the Beehive Tombs, Lion Gate and Akrotiri excavations. Immerse yourself in local Greek culture with tastes of Mediterranean cuisine, local wines, olive oil and homemade jams as well as Greek music and folk dances.
Days 1, 2, 3: Arrive in the capital city of Athens and explore on your own. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner in Athens' historic Plaka district. In a traditional taverna, indulge in local cuisine and wine while enjoying Greek entertainment. Athens
The next day, enjoy a comprehensive tour of Athens showcasing the city's ancient and glorious monuments. Tour the incredible Acropolis, an ancient citadel located on an extremely rocky outcrop above the city of Athens. Acropolis contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. See the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, the Royal Palace, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Olympic Stadium. Acropolis
Day 4: Travel north through central Greece to Thermopylae. Stop to see a monument dedicated to Leonidas, a Greek warrior king of the Greek city-state of Sparta. Leonidas led the Spartan forces during the Second Persian War, and is remembered for his death at the Battle of Thermopylae. In the afternoon, visit a local studio to see painters at work creating spectacular Byzantine icons, sacred images representing the saints, Christ, and the Virgin. End your day in Kalambaka, a Greek town at the foot of the 7,500 foot high Pindos Mountains, home to two National Parks. Leonidas Monument and Byzantine Icon Paintings in Thermopylae
Day 5: While in Kalambaka, visit two remote, mystical Meteora monasteries that are an architectural feat perched on 900 foot limestone rock surrounded by vertical cliffs. Over 600 years ago, Byzantine monks chose to build their monastic community perched atop these virtually inaccessible rocks. Continue on to charming Arachova, a mountainous village nestled at the foot of Mt. Parnassos in Southern Greece with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Meteora Monastery
Day 6: Next, travel to the ancient city of Delphi, one of Greece’s most important religious centers during Classical times. A local expert guides you on a visit to the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Doric Temple, Theatre and the Delphi Museum with its priceless collection of ancient artifacts. It was here that the famous Oracle was consulted to foretell the destiny of Man. Later in the day, travel along the Gulf of Corinth and cross into the Peloponnese, a region known for its great archeological sites including the historic city of Olympia. Delphi Archaeological Site
Day 7: Today, we have a guided tour of ancient Olympia that includes the sanctuary of Zeus, the Olympic Stadium – where the first Olympic Games were held in 776 B.C. – and the Museum. Later, partake in a Mediterranean cooking experience followed by a traditional Greek lunch. Olympic Stadium and Temple of Zeus
Next, visit the countryside for a tour and tasting of local wines, olive oil, homemade jams and marmalades. This evening, broaden your knowledge of traditional Greek music and folk dances with a Greek dance class. Greek Culture
Day 8: Enjoy spectacular scenery as you cross the Arkadian Mountains en route to the late Bronze Age city of Mycenae that dates from between the 14th and 13th century BCE. It is an archaeological site famous for its excavations such as the Beehive Tombs and the Lion Gate. Your day ends in the picturesque seaside village of Tolo, first written about by Homer. The Bay of Tolo gave refuge to battle ships during the Byzantine period. The Archaeological Site of Mycenae
Days 9, 10: This morning, travel to the port of Athens for the high-speed ferry ride to Mykonos, the whitewashed jewel of the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea. Enjoy magnificent views as you sail across the brilliant Aegean Sea to this island paradise. According to mythology, Mykonos was formed from the petrified bodies of giants killed by Hercules. Mykonos Town
The next day, enjoy a relaxing day to independently explore the charms of Mykonos, only 33 square miles in size. Walk around Mykonos Town, and explore mazes of narrow cobblestone streets lined with domed churches and whitewashed houses and have a drink in the little harbor. Visit the Archaeological, Folklore and Maritime Museums to take in a little history. The picturesque inland village of Ano Mera boasts a charming square, a lively outdoor market and a 16th century monastery. Mykonos is also famous for its long stretches of pristine sandy beaches. Don't miss the opportunity to treat yourself to some local Aegean specialties like pepper flavored kopanistí, a soft cheese seasoned with pepper, savory louzes (cooked pork filet with spices) and scrumptious local pastries such as amigdalota (small round cakes with ground almond, rosewater and caster sugar) and honey pie. Mykonos
Days 11, 12, 13: Today, we sail to the volcanic Greek island of Santorini. Spend some leisure time on your own. Santorini
Begin the next day with a visit to the excavation site of ancient Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement. The settlement was destroyed in the Theran eruption about 1627 BC and buried in volcanic ash, which preserved the remains of fine Frescoes and many objects and artworks. The settlement has been suggested as a possible inspiration for Plato's story of Atlantis. Next, travel through a fascinating landscape of vineyards, whitewashed chapels and volcanic cliffs to the spectacular village of Oia. This village is situated on top of an impressive cliff and offers a spectacular view over the volcano of Palia and Nea Kameni and the island of Thirassia. End your day with a visit to a local winery that produces the unique and famous wines of Santorini. Arkotiri Frescoe and Excavation Site
Today you may relax or independently explore Santorini. There are hiking trails, boat tours, scuba and snorkeling and many places to visit such as seaports, cultural villages, wine and archaeological museums, beaches, cathedrals and lighthouses. Santorini Hiking Trail from Fira to Oia
Days 14, 15:
Bid farewell to the Greek Islands and fly back to Athens for your overnight stay. Celebrate the end of a memorable trip to Greece with a delicious farewell dinner. The next day, depart for home.
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Natural Habitats and Culture of Costa Rica
Embark on an 11-day exclusive exploration of Costa Rica’s natural beauty, wildlife, exotic culture, food and crafts with a special small group adventure (12-24 people). Discover the spectacular tropical ecosystems of Tortuguero National Park, Tenorio Volcano National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park. Journey through tropical rainforests on foot, hanging bridges, by boat and raft. Experience the sheer diversity of wildlife that inhabits this Caribbean paradise, and learn about the region’s important species such as the green turtle. Tour spice, cacao and coffee plantations and taste local cuisine.
Days 1, 2: Arrive in San Jose. Begin the next day surrounded by dormant volcanos and crater lakes as you journey through Braulio Carrillo National Park en route to the Caribbean coast. Along the way, take in the exceptional biodiversity of the high-altitude cloud forests and lowland tropical rainforest. Tortuguero National Park Waterways
Later, take a boat to the eco-lodge surrounded by the natural beauty of the rainforest of Tortuguero (turtle catcher) National Park, in a network of lush volcanic islands. Spend the afternoon on a guided cruise of the rivers and canals. Visit the world’s first Green Turtle Research Station and learn how to protect the turtle’s nesting habitat and eggs. For the past 50 years, this station has been the site of endangered sea turtle nest monitoring studies and has provided important information on the reproductive ecology and migratory habits of sea turtles. Tortuguero National Park Wildlife (three-toed sloth, green turtle, howler monkey
Day 3: Set out on an early morning bird watching cruise and surround yourself by wildlife such as howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, toucans, caimans and exotic flora. Encounter some of the more than 375 species of birds, 57 species of amphibians, 111 species of reptiles and 60 mammal species, including 13 of Costa Rica’s endangered animals including jaguars, tapirs, ocelots, cougars, river otters and manatees that inhabit the park. Tortuguero National Park Exotic Birds
Tortuguero Park Frog
Days 4, 5: Embark on a leisurely boat ride back to the mainland and travel to the Sarapiqui region. Next, visit a cacao plantation to learn the history and significance of cacao to Central America’s economy. Observe the process of producing chocolate starting from the cacao pod, and sample the delicious finished product. Continue to your hotel at the foot of the Tenorio Volcano and only 2 km from the Tenorio National Park with its blue lagoons, waterfalls and its hanging bridges hiking trails. Tenorio Volcano is more than 6,200 feet high and consists of four volcanic peaks and two craters. Cacao Pod with Beans and Pulp Inside
Tenorio Volcano National Park
The next morning, take an exhilarating river-rafting adventure on the deep blue Tenorio and Corobici rivers and experience breathtaking views of the lush vegetation as well as wildlife including several species of monkey, sloths, iguanas, otters and over 300 types of birds. The Corobici river gets its water from hydroelectric and irrigation releases from Lake Arenal, making this river one of the cleanest and freshest in the country. Later, meet some Tico artisans as you discover the world of the craft-brewing culture in Costa Rica on the shores of Lake Arenal. Tenorio and Corobici River Rafting
Day 6: Begin the day on a cultural adventure with a visit to a Maleku indigenous village nestled inside a narrow moat of rainforest between the famous Arenal volcano and the Nicaraguan border. This reserve has the three small neighborhoods inhabited by six hundred Maleku who spend their days farming the land, painting colorful wooden masks and jícara (gourd bowls) or planting trees in an ongoing reforestation effort. Sit down for lunch with this tribe and learn about how they live. In the afternoon, enjoy some leisure time - hike out to the spectacular light blue waters of the Rio Celeste waterfalls, tour the on-site gardens, take a dip in the pool or enjoy your own private Jacuzzi. Maleku People and Their Wooden Masks
Days 7, 8: Travel the checkered landscape of Costa Rica to the Pacific Coast, arriving at the spectacular Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its pristine beaches and primeval forest. After soaking up sweeping views and a stop at a seaside village, experience the spice of life at the Villa Vanilla organic spice farm. Learn about biodynamic vanilla production and other spices and indulge in some of the freshest sweets you can imagine. Later, take in the sunset from your hotel that overlooks Manuel Antonio National Park and with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Villa Vanilla Organic Spice Farm Spices and Sweets
The next day, explore Manuel Antonio National Park. Spend the morning strolling the forest trails in search of native wildlife like the three-toed sloth, agoutis, squirrel monkeys and iguanas. Take a swim in the inviting blue waters of its beaches. Relax the rest of the day by the pool, take a leisurely walk in the private wildlife refuge and/or visit the butterfly atrium. Manuel Antonio National Park
Day 9: Travel north to the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest, originally owned by the former president of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Carazo Odio. Make a stop at the El Toledo Organic Coffee Plantation and learn about the natural growing methods used to make some of the best coffee in the world. El Toledo Organic Coffee Plantation Tour
Continue to San Ramon, the City of Presidents and Poets, for a tour of the city. In the late afternoon, arrive at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Private Nature Reserve and enjoy their on-site self-guided nature trails to view medicinal plants, hundreds of bird species, insects and amazing fauna. Your individual casitas (cottage) has amazing views of the cloud forest. Villa Blanca Cloud Forest
Day 10: Wake up to a cool breeze and spectacular views. This morning try your hand at organic farming. Local guides will take you on an immersive nature reserve tour where you will explore sustainable agriculture, farming techniques, and greenhouse cultivation. Get a taste of farm fresh produce at lunch. Organic Farming in Costa Rica
Spend the rest of the afternoon with time to relax and soak in the natural beauty of the cloud forest and nature reserve. In the evening, participate in a traditional tree adoption ceremony followed by a savory farewell dinner.
Day 11: Depart for your return home.
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Peru - Ancient Land of Mysteries
Join us on a 10-day tour that takes you to the majestic Andes; the famous archaeological sites of Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo (15th century) as well as the ruins at Lake Titicaca, the birth place of the Incan civilization; and the Uros floating islands (13th century). Learn about the folklore, history and culture of the Incas, the people who came before them and experience the unique Peruvian cuisine.
Days 1, 2: Discover Lima, the capital and largest city of Peru, during a tour through the historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Lima boasts historic monuments, a diversity of museums and Baroque cathedrals, examples of colonial architecture and pre-Columbian art, many 17th century parks and gardens, and a lively arts and culture scene. Lima's many markets overflow with hand-crafted jewelry of silver and gold, Peruvian textiles and ceramics, flowers and fresh produce. Historic Lima City Center
You will visit the San Francisco Monastery to see its artwork and enter the catacombs, the Government Center, the elegant Cathedral at Plaza de Armas, an abundance of colonial architecture, and the fashionable suburbs of San Isidro and Miraflores. In the evening, you will get to know your fellow travelers at a dinner showcasing Peru’s delicious cuisine and festive entertainment. San Francisco Monastery, Lima
Next is your exclusive visit to the Archbishop's Palace to witness the changing of the guard. In the evening, get to know your fellow travelers during a welcome dinner with a tasting menu of artfully crafted Peruvian dishes and drinks. You will quickly discover why Peru has been named the world's top food travel destination four years in a row. Archbishop's Palace, Lima
Day 3: Fly to Cuzco, a city in the Peruvian Andes that was once the capital of the Inca Empire, and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. Set at an altitude of 11,100 feet, it is the gateway to the Inca Trail, a trek that ends at the mountain citadel of Machu Picchu, and further Inca sites in the Urubamba (Sacred) Valley. Peruvian Andes
The Sacred Valley of the Incas was the agricultural center of their grand empire. Here, you learn the centuries-old methods of spinning, dyeing and weaving traditional textiles during a visit to Awana Kancha, a living museum of the Peruvian Andes. After a short lesson on the local language, stop at the Andean village called Pisac, founded on the valley floor in the 1570s. Pisac sits at the foot of the original Inca settlement and is situated next to the Urubamba River. Here you can browse the world famous, colorful Pisac handicraft market. Do as the locals do and enjoy a tasting of chicha, a unique regional drink made from purple maize. World Famous Pisac Village Market
Chicha, Purple Corn Drink
Next, we visit Pablo Seminario Ceramic Studio to learn about this internationally-renowned artist's techniques and designs, inspired by ancient Peruvian cultures. Settle in this evening at your hotel nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley. The rest of the evening is yours ... take the opportunity to visit your hotel's planetarium to gaze at the stars. Pablo Seminario Ceramics
Day 4: Experience the lifestyle of the modern Andean people and delve into their culture when you travel to a nearby community and interact with the locals. You will get a true taste of their daily life when you participate in a few small group workshops that teach you traditional methods of growing, harvesting and weaving. Celebrate their culture and learn their dances and listen to their music. This afternoon, visit the spectacular Ollantaytambo ruins, the only Inca settlement that has been continually inhabited since its inception. These ruins are a unique terraced complex topped with carved stone panels and reflect ancient Incan architecture and heritage. Ollantayambo Ruins
Make a stop at the Sacred Valley Brewing Company, a nonprofit brewery created to support a local orphanage. Taste the Andean-inspired beers and learn about how they support the community. Tonight, savor an authentic Pachamanca dinner, a unique process where food is placed on hot stones and buried in the ground to cook. Sacred Valley Brewing Company, Pachar
Day 5: Climb aboard the Machu Picchu train for breathtaking views through domed windows as you ride through the Andes to the “Lost City of the Incas.” Hidden by mountains and semi-tropical jungle, at almost 8,000 feet Machu Picchu is considered the most spectacular sight in South America. Spend the afternoon with your guide uncovering the mysteries of these majestic ruins of a large 15th century Incan City. The ruins are renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, intriguing buildings that play on astronomical alignments, and panoramic views. Tonight, stay at the base of Machu Picchu for a chance to further soak up its atmosphere. Enjoy an exclusive culinary demonstration before dinner. Machu Picchu
Days 6, 7: With leisure time this morning you may return to Machu Picchu on your own or explore the local markets. Return by train to the Sacred Valley. On the way back to Cuzco, we stop to meet Peruvian children at an orphanage supported by the Collette Foundation.
The next day, take time to acclimate to the altitude. In the afternoon, you have a choice to explore Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire during a walking or bus tour. Either way, you will journey through this colonial city tour and experience the architectural legacy visible in the Cathedral, Santo Domingo and the Plaza de Armas as well as a visit to the central market. Later, meet the group to travel above the city to discover the important sacred Incan ruins of Sacsahuaman Fortress. Enjoy a toast at sunset while overlooking the city before returning to the city for an authentic Peruvian dinner. Convento de Santo Domingo and Cyclopean Fortress of Sacsahuaman
Plaza de Armas with the Cathedral (L) and Compania Church (R)
Days 8, 9: This morning, fly to Puno in southern Peru, a city at 12,500 feet on Lake Titicaca, one of South America's largest lakes and the world's highest navigable body of water. It is a regional trading hub and also considered Peru's "folkloric capital" owing to its traditional festivals featuring vibrant music and dancing. Landmarks include the Andean baroque-style Puno Cathedral and the Yavari, a 19th-century steamship. The ancestors of the Incas were likely a nomadic herding people. Enjoy an evening at leisure at your lakeside hotel or exploring the village center. Puno is the first settlement and birthplace of the Incan civilization. Puno is known for its handicrafts - textiles and other products created from alpaca, llama, or sheep wool; musical instruments like the siku and the charango and impressive ceramic pieces likeThe Toritos de Pucara. Puno
The next day, visit the Lake Titicaca area, which is steeped in tradition and folklore, and is at the center of many Incan legends. Enjoy a morning cruise to the floating islands of the Uros people of Lake Titicaca. The Uros are a pre-Incan people who live on 42 man-made floating islands on the lake. Walk on the islands’ spongy surface made from compacted beds of Tortora reeds and meet the Uros to learn about their history and lifestyle. Later, mingle with some local residents during an authentic home-hosted lunch where you will taste regional specialties and engage in lively conversation. In the afternoon, visit mystical Chullpas de Sillustani, a 13th-century burial ground and archeological site on the shores of Lake Umayo. Visit a local family and learn about their daily life Uros Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca
Chullpas de Sillustani Archeological Site on Lake Umayo
Day 10: Spend the morning relaxing on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Later, fly to Lima. Once you arrive, we visit the Larco Museum, a former mansion built on the site of a pre-Columbian temple. The museum has a collection of more than 3,000 years of ceramic, textile and precious metal artifacts. After this incredible trip through history, enjoy a scrumptious farewell dinner on the grounds of the museum. Later, depart for the airport and your flight home.
Larco Museum Pieces, Lima
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African National Parks and Eleven Safaris
June 29 through July 12, 2017
With a group of just 12 to 24 travelers, take a 14-day intimate journey to six of Kenya's National Parks and Reserves with 11 wildlife safaris to see endangered species and large game up-close and personal. Soak in the stunning landscapes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the dry grasslands and riverside forests. Along the way, learn about and meet the nomadic Samburu and Masai people.
Days 1, 2: Your tour begins with a 10,000 mile flight from California to Nairobi, Kenya. Founded in 1899, Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. It is famous for Nairobi National Park, the world’s only game reserve located in a major city. The name Nairobi translates to "cool water". During your visit to Kenya, you will explore the country's wildlife, culture and stunning landscapes. You will have chances to see the Big 5 - lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinos – on your many safari adventures. Nairobi National Park
Spend one night at the 5-star, historic Sarova Stanley Hotel that was built in 1902 as Nairobi's first luxury hotel. The hotel has hosted prominent world leaders, renowned authors, and international celebrities. It has a swimming pool and a health club with a fitness room, aerobics studio, spacious sauna, steam and relaxation rooms so you can get a rest after your long flight. It is located less than one mile from the National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi Railway Museum, Nairobi Arboretum, Kolobot Gardens and three parks.
Day 3: Today, travel to the mountainous region of Aberdare National Park that is characterized by picturesque, steep forested ravines and open moorland. The park is a habitat for elephants, black rhinos, leopards, spotted hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, buffalos, warthogs and bushbucks among others. This ecologically diverse area boasts lush valleys and peaks reaching 14,000 feet. Arrive at your hotel, Aberdare Country Club, situated on the slope of Mweiga Hill in between Aberdare National Park and Mount Kenya National Park. Keep an eye out for all the wildlife on the lodge grounds – giraffes, elephants, wild boards, gazelles and more. Spend the rest of your afternoon enjoying the club's 1300 acre game sanctuary with a nature walk, guided bird watching, hike to the top of 12,000 foot Satima peak, horseback riding or take a swim in their outdoor pool, play a game of tennis or a round of golf. Aberdare County Club sightings
Day 4: Travel to Shaba and Samburu reserves, home to some of Africa's most exotic wildlife including the reticulated giraffe and Grevy's zebra, two species only found north of the equator. Grevy's zebra and reticulated giraffe
Arrive at the Sarova Shaba Lodge in Shaba National Reserve, your home for the next two nights. The lodge is located on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River that attracts a variety of game – large herds of elephants, the elusive leopard, as well as species particular to the north like the gerenuk (a kind of deer), Beisa oryx and the reticulated giraffe. It is also home to many crocodiles, and guests have the thrill of watching them crawl out onto the banks to feed on the food thrown to them by the lodge staff. The lodge has riverside dining and happy hour, nature walks and an outdoor pool. After lunch, it's on to Buffalo Springs for a game drive to begin your search for the Big 5. Buffalo Springs Reserve wildlife
Tonight, learn about the culture and traditions of the Samburu, an ethnic group related to the Masai. The Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists who mainly herd cattle but also keep sheep, goats and camels. Samburu women
Day 5: A morning game drive takes you through the Samburu National Reserve, a rugged and semi-desert park that is home to cheetahs, lions, leopards, impalas, buffalo, hippos, and dik-diks, as well as the native gerenuk, Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe and Beisa Oryx in addition to more than 350 species of birds. The striking contrast of sand, sky and bush will leave you breathless. Samburu National Reserve by the river
After lunch at the lodge, enjoy an afternoon game drive in Shaba National Reserve. The Shaba reserve has dramatic scenery including riverside forests, scattered woodlands and dry grasslands dominated by the Shaba Hill volcano. The plentiful wildlife relies on waterholes and marshes scattered throughout the reserve. Shaba is home to the endangered Grevy's zebra and the rare Williams's lark. Shaba was the setting for the book and film Born Free and for the film Out of Africa. It has spectacular showcase of more than 350 species of birds. Watch for the desert rose plant, splashing color against its natural surroundings. As the day comes to a close, sit back and relax on the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro River as the sun sets on the horizon with a happy hour drink in hand. Shaba's dry grasslands
Shaba National Reserve birding
Day 6: Return to Aberdare for an unforgettable experience in a treetop lodge. This national park received its name from Lord Aberdare, one of the founding members of the Royal Geographical Society. Your lodge overlooks a floodlit waterhole and salt lick which attracts a host of wildlife such as elephants, buffalo, hyenas, antelopes and water hogs all night long. Get an up-close look at the wildlife from any of the four viewing decks that provide an unmatched opportunity for game viewing from the comfort of the lodge. Sit back and let the animals come to you! Wildlife viewing at Ark Lodge in Aberdare National Park
Day 7: This morning, drive past the mountains and the spectacular 243 foot Nyahururu waterfalls, then make a photo stop at the Equator. Next, visit Lake Nakuru National Park, a birdwatcher’s paradise with 450 species of birds, located on the floor of the Great Rift Valley and surrounded by wooded and bushy grassland. Your stay for the next two nights is at Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, nestled along the Lion Hill overlooking the spectacular flamingo pink rimmed Lake Nakuru. Its location affords panoramic views of the lake and the picturesque Lake Nakuru National Park. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool and lawn dining. Nyahururu waterfalls
Lake Nakuru pink flamingos
Day 8: After your morning game drive, savor a traditional breakfast in the bush. Then, enjoy some time to relax and enjoy the amenities at the lodge. Your exciting afternoon game drive returns to the lodge before sunset. Lake Nakuru lion and white rhino
Lake Nakuru water buffalo
Day 9: This morning, travel to the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The Masai Mara is an extension of the great Serengeti Plain and is considered the most stunning game viewing spot in all of Kenya. Lions, giraffes, zebras, elephants and other wildlife reside here. Visit a Masai village prior to your game drive. Masai Mara lions
Tonight, enjoy a traditional bush dinner featuring a traditional Masai jumping dance performance. Masai jumping dance
Stay two nights at the luxury Sarova Mara Tented Game Camp in Masai Mara. The rolling plains around the camp are teeming with wildebeest, gazelles and zebras during the migration months, and the camp is situated right in the center of their migration path. Your tent provides all the deluxe amenities of a lodge, complete with the adventure of the wild. Luxury Sarova Mara Tents
Day 10: Today, enjoy morning and afternoon Masai Mara game drives. Pause along the way to rest and enjoy a picnic lunch. Masai Mara game drive
Return to your hotel for a beautiful sunset. Elephants at sunset
Day 11: After breakfast, travel to Karen, on the outskirts of Nairobi, and visit the farmhouse of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, which is now a museum. The author ran a large coffee plantation on the grounds back in the early 1920's. Experience the local wildlife firsthand as you have the opportunity to feed the endangered Rothschild giraffes from a raised platform at the Giraffe Sanctuary. Feeding the endangered Rothschild giraffes
Day 12: This morning, depart Nairobi for Amboseli National Park. The name Amboseli comes from a Masai word meaning "salty dust", and it is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here ranging from the dried up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulphur springs, the savannah and woodlands. The breathtaking snowcapped Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, dominates the landscape. Enjoy an afternoon game drive. Amboseli elephants with view of Mt. Kilimanjaro
Spend the next two nights at Ol Tukai Lodge within Amboseli Game Reserve. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, collection of African art and views of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Ol Tukai Lodge
Day 13: Further explore Amboseli with two game drives for another chance to see the Big 5.
Day 14: Travel back to Nairobi for your return flight home.
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The Holy Land of Israel
Take a 10-day historical journey to the ancient and holy sites of Israel such as Bethlehem, Caesarea, Cana, Jericho, Jerusalem, Masada, Nazareth and Tiberias. Ascend the walls of Masada by cable car, travel on the Sea of Galilee by boat, float in the Dead Sea and experience local flavor on a kibbutz.
Days 1, 2: Arrive in Tel Aviv after an overnight flight. Tel Aviv is a city on Israel’s Mediterranean coast where you can find almost everything - beautiful beaches, lively entertainment venues almost at every corner, cultural life and many art galleries and museums - that are open any time of the day and night. Museums include Beit Hatfutsot, whose multimedia exhibits illustrate the history of Jewish communities worldwide, the Eretz Israel Museum that covers the country’s archaeology, folklore and crafts, and features an on-site excavation of 12th-century-B.C. ruins. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner at a popular local restaurant in the ancient port city of Jaffa. Your overnight stay is at the 4-star Isrotel Tower Hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It is a short walk to the beach and city center, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Eretz Israel Museum, Charles Clore Garden, St. Archangel Michael Monastery, llana Goor Museum, Archaeological Museum of Jaffa, Abrasha Park and other sites. It has a rooftop pool and fitness center.
Day 3: The next day, travel along the Mediterranean coast to the ruins of Caesarea, the ancient Roman capital of Judea at the time of Jesus. It was rebuilt and enlarged over 12 years starting in 22 BCE by Herod the Great and named after his patron, Augustus Caesar. While you are there, visit the Roman theatre, aqueduct and fortress. Caesarea Aqueduct and Theater
Next, pass through the Valley of Armageddon to Tel Megiddo, strategically located along a major trade route and the site of three major battles in military history. Visit the excavation site where 26 layers of ruins from ancient cities were found. Next, go to Haifa, one of the Middle East's most picturesque cities and soak in panoramic views from the top of majestic Mt Carmel, especially from the Baha'i Gardens and Shrine (an UNESCO World Heritage site). Haifa Gardens and Shrine
Then, visit the city of Acre (UNESCO), a historic walled port-city with continuous settlement from the Phoenician period (1500-322 BCE). The town’s remains give an exceptional picture of the layout and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. Port-city of Acre
Your day comes to a close in Tiberias. The next two nights is your stay at 4-star Leonardo Plaza Hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee with a promenade for walking. It is a short walk to two gardens, the Tomb of Maimonides, Herod Center and Hamat Tiberias National Park. Amenities include a fitness center, sauna, Jacuzzi, heated outdoor swimming pool and free Wi-Fi. All rooms have balconies.
Day 4: Start the day visiting important biblical sites. Begin with a visit to Cana, considered to be the site of the First Miracle, where Jesus turned water into wine. Next, travel to Nazareth, the capital and the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Visit the Church of the Annunciation, a Byzantine church built where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would give birth to Jesus. Nazareth Church of the Annunciation and Mary's Well
Afterward, visit the Mt. of Beatitudes, which is the site of the Sermon on the Mount, and Tabgha, the site of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. Mt. of Beatitudes
Next, stop at the Galilee Boat Museum to see the display of the boat that sailed the Sea of Galilee approximately 2,000 years ago during the time of Jesus. Later, enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Get a taste of the local flavor during lunch at a communal settlement, known as a kibbutz. Sea of Galilee Boat Ride
Day 5: Begin the day with a visit to Beit Shean to see the well-preserved ancient theatre. Continue along the Jordan River Valley to 2,000 year-old Jericho, the oldest city on Earth. Ruins at Jericho
Next, journey to Qumran, an archaeological site in the West Bank managed by Israel's Qumran National Park. It is close to the Qumran Caves where one of the most important archaeological finds of all time, the Dead Sea Scrolls, were hidden. These scrolls are the earliest surviving written fragments of the Hebrew Bible and date back to fourth century B.C. In February 2017, a new cave excavation found even more scrolls. Dead Sea Scrolls
Afterward, drive to the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea, where you can float in the tranquil, healing waters. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Your overnight stay is at the 4-star Isrotel Ganim Dead Sea Hotel, a two minutes walk from the public shores of The Dead Sea. It has free wine and beer with dinner, two indoor heated Dead Sea water pools, an outdoor pool and free shuttle to the beach and free Wi-Fi. Dead Sea
Day 6: Today visit Masada (UNESCO), an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau overlooking the Dead Sea. Between 37 and 31 BCE, Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada. According to Josephus, the siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire at the end of the First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 AD) ended in the mass suicide of 960 people, the Sicarii rebels and their families hiding there. You will ascend the ancient walls of Masada by cable car to visit Herod's Palaces, the Roman Camp and the Synagogue. Masada
Next, stop in the biblical city of Bethlehem, a Palestinian town south of Jerusalem in the West Bank. It is the biblical birthplace of Jesus and a major Christian pilgrimage destination. The birth is marked by an inlaid silver star in a grotto under the 6th-century Church of the Nativity. Tonight arrive in Jerusalem, one of the holiest cities in the world. Your next three night stay is at the 4-star Prima Royale Hotel, a 15 minute walk to the old city, restaurants and other attractions as well as the Israel Museum, Mount Herzl National Cemetery, Gazelle Valley Park, Western Wall and Temple Mount. Church of the Nativity
Day 7: This morning, soak in panoramic view of Jerusalem at the Mount of Olives. Here, see the garden and grotto of Gethsemane, an ancient olive grove identified as the place where Jesus went to pray the night before he was crucified, and the cave where his disciples are believed to have slept. This is also the location of the Dome of the Ascension, a small shrine marking the place where Jesus is believed to have ascended to heaven. View of Jerusalem from Mount of Olives
Next discover the tombs of Kidron Valley. Since the Jews did not bury their dead inside the city walls, Jerusalem is surrounded by tombs. The tombs to the east in the Kidron Valley is where the Messiah will appear to raise the dead, judge mankind and enter his Temple on Mount Moriah. Tombs of Kidron Valley
Continue on to St. Peter in Galicantu and Mt. Zion where you will see the room of The Last Supper and the tomb of King David. See the Shrine a rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem which was unearthed in 1867 and carved by Byzantine Christians to use as rock sarcophagi. Mount Zion
Day 8: Begin the day with a comprehensive tour of the Holy City of Jerusalem. Drive to the old walled city (UNESCO), and walk through the four quarters, visit the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Temple area, the Dome of the Rock (outside view only), the Pool of Bethesda and the Church of St. Anne. Next, walk the path of the Stations of the Cross as you traverse Via Dolorosa, beginning at Pilate's Judgment Hall and ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the afternoon, continue exploring the city independently or explore the sights, sounds and aromas of the world-renowned Mahane Yehuda Market, known to everyone as the shuk (open-air market). Old City, Jerusalem
Day 9: Today explore Jerusalem on your own or simply relax. This evening, join your fellow travelers for dinner at one of Jerusalem’s most popular restaurants.
Day 10: Depart for home or choose the five days - four nights post tour extension to Jordan (see below).
Day 10: This morning, travel to the Jordan Valley to cross the border into Jordan. Take the Desert Highway to the city of Madaba, the “City of Mosaics.” Visit the church of St. George to see the famous 6th-century Byzantine mosaic map of the region, one of the oldest in existence, and the museum where many other spectacular mosaics are on display. Visit a local school to learn the history of this ancient art and how to create your very own mosaic piece. Sixth Century Byzantine Mosaic Map
Later, visit Mt. Nebo, where Moses saw the Promised Land and is believed to be laid to rest. Continue to the ancient city of Petra for a two night stay. Mt Nebo
Day 11: Enjoy a full day tour led by an expert guide of the remarkable stone-carved city of Petra (UNESCO), one of the new Wonders of the World. Petra is a famous archaeological site in Jordan's southwestern desert. Dating to around 300 B.C., it was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. Accessed via a narrow canyon called Al Siq, it contains tombs and temples carved into pink sandstone cliffs, earning its nickname, the "Rose City." Perhaps its most famous structure is Al Khazneh, a temple with an ornate, Greek-style facade. Learn about the importance of Petra to the ancient trade routes, the history of its prominence and decline, its rediscovery, and preservation efforts. In the evening, experience the flavors of the region with a scrumptious dinner at a popular local restaurant. Petra
Inside of Petra Tombs
Day 12: In the morning, depart for the immense desert of Wadi Rum, a protected desert wilderness in southern Jordan, that has dramatic sandstone mountains like the many-domed Jebel Um Ishrin, and natural arches such as Burdah Rock Bridge. Many prehistoric inscriptions and carvings line rocky caverns and steep chasms, such as Khazali Canyon. The natural watering hole of Lawrence’s Spring is named after British soldier Lawrence of Arabia, who allegedly washed there. Experience desert life and learn about the fascinating history of the Bedouin people who have lived there for generations. Wadi Rum
Later, arrive in Amman, known as the “White City” because of the white limestone used to construct many of its buildings. Amman
Day 13: Today, travel to the city of Jerash, the “Pompeii of the East” and tour the ruins with an expert local guide. Walk through columned streets, hilltop temples, public squares and plazas. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence inside the city walls indicating Amman was occupied as far back as the Neolithic age over 6,500 years ago. Continue to Tel Aviv for your overnight stay. City of Jerash
Jerash Temple and Plaza
Day 14: Depart for home.
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