Group travel was a new thing for us and South America was a destination that we approached with trepidation but the lure of remote Patagonia provided the inspiration to overcome our fears. We met our fellow travellers in the city of Buenos Aires, the vibrant home of the tango with a history that enveloped us with both intrigue and admiration. It’s a city with a European heart and a modern skin whose soul comes from its inhabitants who love life, eat late and gather in the cafés to chat away the night. Our group of 18 were all of similar age with a spirit for adventure and a knack for loving life – a perfect fit. We spent the next 17 days in one of the most fascinating destinations on the planet and thanks to Global Journeys and Explore it ran like a finely tuned Swiss watch, never missing a beat. Our tour guide was a delight and made sure our every need was met and with an impeccable plan for every stop, soon gained our confidence that every recommendation would provide the best possible outcome.
The itinerary was amazing encompassing the most breathtaking scenery; Tierra del Fuego and the city of Ushuaia was the conduit to the Beagle Channel and the infamous Cape Horn. Across the border into Chile and Torres del Paine National Park with its snow covered peaks, soaring Condors and abundant wildlife was the perfect backdrop for many a trek. Further north and back into Argentina, the Perito Moreno Glacier was mesmerising as it creaked and groaned and shed its ice into the waters of Lago Agentino. El Chalten was a remote mecca for hikers and climbers and the track to Mt Fitz Roy provided a challenge for those who were brave or a more gentle surprise for those who were not. The Iguazu extension was a complete contrast to the south and we were plunged into tropical jungle and the river itself on one of the many boat tours that ferry you to the base of the falls. It was an unforgettable journey that will inspire us to explore more of this remarkable continent.
The Real Greece is not in Athens. It's here in Islands such as Tinos and Naxos. Clearest waters ever. Crooked alleyways and perfect coffee shops. There is no crime. Hike the Greek landscape and look back over towards the dazzling coastline.
It was an amazing trip. The experience of the wild life and the rain forest was magical and the work going on to stop deforestation and educate young people was good to see.
We saw and became a part of life in Madagascar as it really is. The visit to the missionary centre was challenging but was a really thought provoking experience - as was the visit to the school. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
Japan was not as expensive as I thought it would be. Great rail service and I'd recommend this to trip to others considering travelling to Japan for a couple of weeks. Highly recommend Explore! (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
Overall we very much enjoyed the trip - we had a good group, and the country is amazing. The only thing that let it down was the standards of maintenance in the accommodation - which were basic issues that should have been easy and inexpensive to fix - and a bit of a lack of leadership from the guide. Better information of availability of card payments in the hotels would also have been useful. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
One of my personal highlights of the tour was being taken into a spice shop in Madaba by one of the other tour members. Given that this tour is specifically called the Spice Trails of Petra an organised option around spices or cooking would have been a wonderful addition. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
I don't remember the trip notes being separate to the final confirmation details on previous trips, so nearly missed that. The trip notes are very useful for budgeting and knowing what kit to bring. (Due to accommodation quality at Wadi Rum though, didn't actually need some if recommended kit!) (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
The Phnom Penh - Siem Reap trip could be replaced with a flight. Loved the food but would have appreciated a couple of more upmarket recommended options to try out modern local cuisine too. Binh, our guide in Vietnam and Cambodia, was exceptionally good. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
It was an amazing trip with a great leader, and fully lived up to expectations. It was expensive, but we knew that in advance and it was worth it. I would disagree with a couple of points that others might criticise: 1. The number of early starts: Mohammed was very clear on these from the start, and fully explained the reason for them (to beat the crowds and the heat of the day). They were worth it. 2. The number of excursions not included. I do think that Abu Simbel should be added to the itinerary, as everyone seems to want to do it and there's otherwise nothing included in Aswan. However in terms of the overall number of options not included the itinerary was very clear, as were the optional excursion costs, so everyone should have gone on the tour realising this.
Three things we would pick up on 1. Veggie food: on the train the veggie option was 'leave the meat' (which was in a separate pack, but this isn't the point: it meant not getting the protein and having less to eat); whilst the cruise food was great but the one area it lacked was veggie options. I am veggie and went pescatarian (ate fish) for the cruise. If I hadn't it would have limited me. 2. Access: my travelling companion sometimes uses a stick (if it's rough ground / long walking) and sections of the trip were a challenge: without me to assist she'd have really struggled. The trip notes only really cover the need to carry your own bag, which she can easily do as she has a wheeled case and short-medium distances are no issue.I would like Explore to add 'access notes' to trips and excursions which summarise points like the evenness of ground, whether there tend to be handrails, whether there are lots of steep curbs/steps, the sort of distances to be walked etc. Access to boats should also be covered (as there's a big difference between walking a railed gangplank, and stepping across/down a biggish gap or a plank without a rail). This would be very helpful to people planning a trip who are mobile but with some access challenges. 3: Paying for excursions. It should have been made 100% clear before the trip that excursions had to be paid for in cash, not with cards. This made for a lot of ATM visits (and associated charges). We could have brought more foreign currency had this been clearer. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
You can tell this trip has many years of experience behind it as it all works to plan to see as much as possible in the time available with all the usual contrasts: different styles of accommodation, transport, types of sights etc etc. The addition of Kamphaengphet to replace the rice barge is good, but I suspect it's virtues are a little lost amidst so many historical temples/ruins over the surrounding days. I'm glad it was on the itinerary, though, as getting to the hotel earlier would not have been so appealing. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
The group size was just right, not too big or too small. The places we went to for dinner as a group were very nice. I especially enjoyed the food at the garage in Selcuk, the fish restaurant by the beach near Olympios, the Tat restaurant in Selcuk and our last meal in Istanbul overlooking the river! It was nice getting some evenings free to arrange our own food when we weren't feeling too hungry. The arrival flight on the first day (about 3am on the day the tour started) was too late. Though I know that had changed because of the new airport, so there wasn't much else could have been done about that! Also the tourist attractions at Pergamum and Patara should have had toilets. Patara had no toilets at all (they were all closed). We waited 25 mins in Pergamum for the toilet queue & still didn't get to use the toilets- 2 toilets there was not enough! (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
The trip was an enormous success on every level and was hugely enjoyable, the memories of which will always stay with me. I loved every second of the journey, and Explore were very efficient in organising a replacement flight home for me after the problems with Jet airways, including booking me into a lounge at Doha airport for an 8 hour layover. Many thanks for that courtesy. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
We felt this was an excellent itinerary with a brilliant guide. The wildlife, the culture and history were wonderful with the added bonus of arriving in Antigua at Easter time, in time for the religious ceremonies. The catholic processions were amazing. It would be good to flag these up on the tours that go at Easter. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
Our tour leader was very resourceful and was excellent with the details, such as assisting with connections at the end of our tour. Highly recommend this small group jounrey along the coastal trails of Portugal! (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
Awad was excellent at giving us enough local information without overload. I learnt such a lot but a good balance of travel and rest. Would have liked the opportunity to spend two days in Petra since it was such a long walk in, a morning was not enough time to return to the things I missed. Maybe too, less food and more visits to the supermarkets for snacks. Overall, a lovely trip. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
Judith looked after us very well - lots of care and attention and always available. Well done and thank you! Accommodation worked well for us - we changed rooms and this transformed the experience. Perhaps ask for the ?better' rooms when Explore book them as others had a different experience on this holiday we understand. We were in room 1003 and the rooms in this side are MUCH better than than those on the road side (even numbers). Worth knowing. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
I can only restate what a truly professional guide Thomas Siebert proved to be; for example, as a teacher myself, I was impressed by the way he always gathered our group when we were using public transport and counted us at every opportunity. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
I have done many trips with Explore and other companies as well as independent travelling. I felt that the cost of this trip was excessive particularly given prices within the country of food, transport, accommodation etc. Also I know viewing wildlife isn't guaranteed but Explore imply that sightings of cats, otters and other mammals are good where as this is not the reality. This is essentially a bird watching trip. Those interested in birds really enjoyed it. However I am not in this category. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)
Mule trek in Lalibela was great, but I would strongly recommend to take the bus downhill because the trek was to dangerous for the mules and for hiking downhill. And the first stop in Lalibela should be the famous St. George rock church. We had it at the very end when the weather turned already bad. Luckily we had time again before our flight from Lalibela to Addis. Optional boat trip on Lake Tana should be included in the tour; this was certainly one of the highlight on the trip. Hotel at Simien Mountains was very basic; think about staying at the National Park Hotel inside the Park and charge a little bit more money for the whole trip. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)