If you are going to see foreign areas of our world, I have always believed the best way is by an organized tour. Why? The tour company does all the planning, reserves the hotels, organizes the land transportation and often selects the restaurants to dine in. They know what is safe and not so safe in the various countries.
The downside for some is usually getting early starts in the morning, having to pack and unpack often, frequently stopping at market places and gift shops and sometimes long coach rides. But, the alternative is to rent your own car and brave traffic in a country you aren’t familiar with, have trouble reading road signs in, dealing with foreign languages and customs and sometimes driving on the opposite side of the roads.
Traveling independently is great if you enjoy striking out on your own and don’t get upset if you take the wrong roads, and have trouble communicating with the local people.
For me, I like someone else doing the work, driving the coaches, trains and boats, and scheduling the itinerary, which allows me to get the most out of the time, I have for foreign travel. I’ll take the photos, listen to the guides and sit back and enjoy the countryside, museums, churches, and then bed down at night in the good hotels the tour company has reserved for me and eat in the restaurants deemed safe.
There is a tour today to almost any part of the inhabited world. Some of the more exotic destinations would include the continent of Africa. One main tour company is SITA World Tours and this year it is offering a Kenya and Tanzania Highlight Tour which gives you some of the more outstanding locations in East Africa for viewing animal life and the native peoples.
Personally, it has been my good fortune to have traveled all over Africa in the past and SITA has included those areas, which should be included in your travel to this area. I recommend their 11-day adventure which begins in Nairobi and from there takes off to the Masai Mara Game Reserve, which is a highlight of any East African safari. You’ll enjoy your first game drive here.
From there it’s on to Amboseli and the Amboseli Serena Lodge with Mount Kilimanjaro as the background for the hotel. Here you will see herds of elephant as they roam the reserve surrounded by lions, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, baboons, gazelles, hippos and wildebeest. You’ll be taking photos every second as you pass by these wonderful animals in their natural settings.
Next, on to Lake Manyara across the Tanzanian border and you’ll stay at the Lake Manyara Safari Lodge located on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. Here, there are herds of buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, giraffes and many other species of game.
This tour also includes viewing in Ngorongoro Crater with big cats, wild dogs, and many other animals you’ve only seen in zoos before coming to East Africa. You fly in and out of Nairobi, Kenya for this never-to-be-forgotten travel experience.
SITA also offers a tour that combines the best of both East Africa and Egypt. For 14 days you’ll visit the best of East Africa as well as the highlights of Egypt. Included are Cairo, the Pyramids, Luxor, a Nile River cruise, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo Aswan and Abu Simbel. In my view, this is the best of Egypt in a short time. You can visit SITA’s Web site at www.sitatours.com.
India is not my favorite destination, but many travelers speak highly of the very large and beautiful nation. If you go there, I would suggest including Delhi, Patan, Bhadgoan, Varanasi-Sarnath, Agra for the Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ranakpur and ending with a visit to Mumbai, which was formerly called Bombay. As long as you are in this part of the world take a side trip to Katmandu in Nepal.
Asia has become a very popular area for touring. China looms large in many ways for tourism. Being part of an organized tour is a must here or you will be lost almost every minute of your traveling days. China now offers very fine hotel accommodations in the large cities and the dining experience is very good.
Shanghai is my favorite city in this country and many tours begin either here or Beijing. Be sure to include a Yangtze River cruise, which will visit the Three Gorges Dam project, Xian for the Terra Cotta Warriors, which have been standing guard over the Imperial Tomb for 2,000 years and you will also visit a compound to view the panda bears in another location.
In and around Beijing is most fascinating and you will be able to take in the Forbidden City Palace as well as tour the Great Wall nearby. A good tour of China will take 12 to 18 days and should be all-inclusive.
This part of the planet is not cheap anymore, but you will thoroughly enjoy the culture, past history, vast countryside, the farms, factories and performances of great entertainment. The Chinese are friendly in their own way and you’ll enjoy the many shopping opportunities. Chinese food in China is quite different from that which we experience in America. If you are brave, try cooked rat, snake, cat, dogs and other foods we do not eat at home.
I strongly suggest seeing Japan once in your life. Here is a country that runs by the clock, is clean, has good water and foods that are interesting and tasty. I lived here for over a year and have visited several times after leaving. Americans enjoy the many sights, sounds, and culture of Tokyo. It’s crowded, but you can get around rather easily on a guided tour. You’ll see famous Mt. Fuji, and perhaps stay a night in Hakone located in the mountains and stay in a resort that will have hot baths from bubbly volcanic water. You might even take in an Inland Sea cruise, perhaps visit a pearl farm and visit Nara and Kyoto. Kyoto is a must if you see nothing else in Japan. Here are great shrines and castles of a past important era and is spectacular and scenic. Japanese roads and high speed trains comfortably convey you in style. Japan is also expensive, but worth the visit.
Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are popular now. Several tour companies offer vacations to these countries. In most cases, hotels are adequate to luxurious and the food is interesting and different. If you want to visit Hong Kong, that can be included with stops in Japan and Singapore.
South America can be interesting if you choose the more fascinating countries. Peru is a must if you are into ancient civilizations. From Lima, the capital, you can fly to Cuzco, high in the Andes Mountains for an overnight stay then travel by vistadome train to Machu Picchu, built in the late 14th century by the Incas. The day I was there it rained, but the ruins of this past civilization are extremely interesting and worth the long trek to get there. Little is known about why the Incas built this city so high in the Andes and what happened to cause the population to leave and/or die off.
While in Peru you might also include Ecuador and visit the Galapagos Islands located 1,000 miles into the Pacific Ocean. Here, Darwin explored and caused the world to change its views regarding natural selection and evolution. The best way to see the islands is by exploration boats which will allow you to go ashore and photograph the many species of birds and animals that are located here.
Brazil, Chile and Argentina can be included in one tour. To me, these are probably the most interesting on this continent. Rio de Janeiro is certainly special with its fine, modern buildings lining the seashore, the colorful bays, and a backdrop of rugged mountains. While here, you should visit Sugar Loaf Mountain, take in spectacular views of the city from Corcovado, drive along the seashore of Ipanema beaches, take a cable car to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, stroll the downtown area and laze on the beach outside your hotel. Also while in Brazil, try to visit spectacular Iguassu Falls before moving on to Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Buenos Aires is my favorite city in South America and reminds you of those in Europe. It is large, busy, cultural and fascinating. A night in the La Boca section for dancing, steaks and fun is a must while you are here. There are excellent restaurants so forget the diet. The steaks are so large, they fall over the edge of your plate.
If you can, select a tour that takes you south to San Carlos de Bariloche, located in the country’s great mountainous area. This is primarily a skiing town, but it also a gateway to the famous lake areas of Argentina and Chile. I once took a boat and bus trip between Bariloche and Santiago, Chile and it remains one of the most scenic adventures of my many travels. I’ll never forget the beautiful lakes, the rugged mountains of the Andes and colorful countryside of Chile.
There is much more to discuss when we talk about world tours. Later, we’ll get into the South Pacific, Europe and British Isles. I recommend you always visit a travel professional for consultation, brochures and reservations.