Monday, November 11, 2002

South America Tour


South America is pleasantly removed from the worries emanating from other parts of the world at this time and is every bit as exciting many of world’s most sought after locations. Vast Amazon jungles teaming with wildlife; incredible mountain ranges with some of the world’s most significant archaeological sites including ten UNESCO sites in Peru alone; vibrant, cosmopolitan cities like Rio de Janeiro and the vast glacial wilderness of Patagonia, South America has it all.

By far the most popular of all our South American packages is the 22-day Rhumba tour. Designed with the first time visitor in mind, it is a distillation of our vast knowledge of the world’s fourth largest continent and all it has to offer. Almost infinitely variable, Rhumba can be modified to individual tastes and preferences. For example, enriching extensions are offered to Santiago and the scenic lakes district of Chile as well as Ecuador and the Galapagos. Think about stopovers in tropical Tahiti or mystic Easter Island.

Beginning in Buenos Aires, you’ll move on to the magnificent Iguazu Falls, the world’s largest before spending four days in incomparable Rio de Janeiro. The superlatives continue when you fly to the world’s highest city, La Paz in Bolivia, one of the central points of the ancient Inca civilisation. Travel on to Huatajata, Puno, Cozco and the crowning jewel, Machu Pichu, the fabled “Lost City of the Incas” via train and even a hydrofoil across Lake Titicaca. Rhumba then moves on to Lima, the rich former Spanish colonial capital of Peru.

From dizzying mountain-tops to the near-silent serenity of the Amazon jungles, the tour then heads by boat to Ceiba Tops, a new luxury resort located directly on the Amazon and just 40 kms from Iquitos. You’ll spend three days exploring the primary Amazonian jungle and visiting the local Yagua Indians as well as the famous former Franciscan mission town of Indiana.

The tour winds down in Buenos Aires, leaving you enough time for some leisure and a scintillating Tango Show at the spectacular “La Ventana” nightclub.

Polar Bear Quest

Few of the earth’s creatures evoke such wonder as the world’s largest bear, the massive arctic polar bear. Surprisingly agile and an accomplished swimmer, the powerful polar bear inhabits virtually all areas of the arctic and is particularly prevalent in the remote northern archipelago of Spitsbergen, 350 miles north of Norway.

Spitsbergen, a scenic wonder in itself with its rugged snow-dusted mountains, vast sweeping tundras and profusion of vivid arctic wildflowers, is home to a ‘core’ population of polar bear. In fact around 20% of the world’s polar bear population of just 30,000 animals is concentrated around this northerly archipelago. The World Wildlife Fund is currently conducting a sophisticated tracking program for two adult females in the area.

Following on from the growing popularity of this very affordable arctic expedition, again offers our nine day “Polar Bear Quest”. Departing from the administrative centre of Svalbard, Longyearbyen, you’ll spend eight nights aboard the classic, ice-strengthened MS Origo.

Limited to just 22 passengers, your cruise will be a very personalised, intimate and flexible one, ably guided by our experienced Swedish captain and expedition leader. The small numbers ensure unprecedented access to zodiac time and the flexibility to make on-the-spot decisions to explore opportune wildlife sightings and scenic diversions.

Apart from the relatively abundant polar bear, voyagers will also see walrus, seal, reindeer, numerous species of seabird and a high probability of whale sightings as humpback and blue whales return to the northern waters. Scenery and landscape lovers will enjoy the almost constant vistas of ice flows, glaciers, fjords and tundra.

Friday, November 8, 2002

Fear of Travel

Not that long ago, a voyage to the other side of the world took months and was fraught with all manner of dangers from disease, shipwreck and even piracy. Driven by the passion for discovery, or the desperation for a new life elsewhere, people still undertook these journeys aware of the many tribulations likely to befall them. Even the great Marco Polo was quoted as saying, “An adventure is misery and discomfort relived in the safety of reminiscence.” How things have changed!

In truth, travel is still not without its hazards, but risk is still an unavoidable part of life, even if you never travel. Statistically you are much more likely to hurt yourself at home or in the immediate neighbourhood, than while undertaking any sort of journey. Aircraft travel is the safest form of travel bar none – even considerably safer than walking! The most dangerous thing you do is to get in a car or cross the road.

Recent events have sent shockwaves through the travel industry and many tour operators, destinations and transport companies have been severely affected. But often a tragic event can create unnecessary panic and alarm. In 1933, the great Franklin D Roosevelt addressed his economically challenged nation with the words “… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself …”. I contend that phrase also applies to adventure travel, and has always done.

Sure, one should never disregard warnings or advice about particular destinations or activity but, on the flip-side, one can’t become so paralysed by fear as to destroy our enjoyment of life completely.

In our thirty years of adventure travel experience, including time at the very forefront of destination touring to Antarctica, many different events and experiences have shaped the way we do business. Locations go in and out of vogue for various reasons, but there is always somewhere isolated from the prevailing conditions that make it all the more attractive.

Arctic and Antarctic destinations revel in their remoteness, and now South America returns to the spotlight as a desirable adventure travel location. Pleasantly removed from the Asian disturbances, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil are enjoying a pleasing rebound in tourist numbers. With recent economic developments in places like Argentina, travel to South America is now more affordable than ever before – and the variety and diversity is, as it always has been, vast and supremely enriching.

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