Xanterra, Austin Adventures Join on Photo-Sharing Contest, Travel Discounts to Benefit Veterans

Xanterra Parks & Resorts and Austin Adventures are teaming up on travel promotions to honor America’s veterans and active military members by way of a photo-sharing contest in which the public is invited to enter the #FreeBecause from Nov. 1-12 as well as discounts on 2016 Austin Adventures tours booked between Nov. 9-13.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts and Austin Adventures are teaming up on travel promotions to honor America’s veterans and active military members by way of a photo-sharing contest as well as discounts on 2016 Austin Adventures tours.

DENVER, CO – Xanterra Parks & Resorts and Austin Adventures are teaming up on travel promotions to honor America’s veterans and active military members by way of a photo-sharing contest in which the public is invited to enter the #FreeBecause from Nov. 1-12 as well as discounts on 2016 Austin Adventures tours booked between Nov. 9-13.

The #FreeBeacause photo-sharing contest grand prize is a trip to the Grand Canyon that will be awarded to a veteran or active military member and his/her family. There are also daily giveaways.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, The Broadmoor and The Inn at Sea Island, are sponsoring the contest and offering exclusive vacation deals in honor of Veterans Day. The prize includes two nights at The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, one night at the Maswik Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park, round-trip airfare up to $1,500, up to four first-class tickets on the Grand Canyon Railway and two meals per day for up to four people.

To enter the #FreeBecause photo-sharing contest, participants should Instagram or Tweet a photo of their military hero between Nov. 1 and 11 and tag it with #FreeBecause. Their military friend or family member will automatically be entered into the contest. Winners will be selected to receive the grand prize as well as daily prizes of gifts from the National Parks and Xanterra’s resorts, tour brands and affiliated properties. (For more information and to see a special album of the photo entries, visit www.xanterra.com/freebecause.)

In addition, the collection of Xanterra resorts and tour companies, as well as The Broadmoor and The Inn at Sea Island, are offering active military members and their families – and in some cases, the general public – exclusive vacation deals in honor of Veterans Day. The National Parks are also offering a fee-free entry for the general public on Veterans Day. (For more information on these offers, visit www.xanterra.com/freebecause.)

As part of this commemorative program, Austin Adventures, a member of the Xanterra Parks & Resorts® portfolio of experiential leisure offerings, will offer 25 percent off a 2016 Austin Adventures tour for the veteran/active military and their spouse and 10 percent off for their traveling companion(s) on any Austin Adventures trip to be enjoyed by Dec. 31, 2016, that is booked between Nov. 9 and 13, 2015. (See: www.austinadventures.com/honoring-our-military-and-veteran-heroes)

Based in Billings, MT, Austin Adventures (formerly Austin-Lehman Adventures) has spent more than 40 years building an international reputation as a provider of scheduled small group tours and customized trips to all seven continents. In 2013, Austin Adventures joined the Xanterra Parks & Resorts® portfolio of experiential leisure offerings that includes operations in Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Crater Lake, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park; and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also owns and operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel in Williams, Ariz., the Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz., Windstar Cruises, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, Country Walkers and Austin Adventures.

For more information on all of the destinations, trips and itineraries offered by Austin Adventures visit www.austinadventures.com, call (800) 575-1540 or email info@austinadventures.com.
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Passage to Africa Invites Solo Travelers on 2 Safaris at Zakouma National Park this Spring

Passage to Africa is inviting solo travelers to join two departures of its safari to Chad’s Zakouma National Park.
Passage to Africa is inviting solo travelers to join two departures of its safari to Chad’s Zakouma National Park.

Cape Town, South Africa – Passage to Africa is inviting solo travelers to join two departures of its safari to Chad’s Zakouma National Park.

The expedition, limited to a maximum of eight guests on only 16 safaris a year, starts with a night at the 5-star Kempinski Hotel in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital and largest city. Then travelers will charter to Zakouma for a seven-night all-inclusive stay at Camp Nomade.

Solo travelers are invited to join two departures, March 27 – April 4 and April 3 – April 11.

Camp Nomade is an upmarket mobile camp that allows guests to explore numerous paths and rivers across the 3,000 square kilometers of Zakouma Park. The wildlife experience rivals anything else in better-known safari Africa and perhaps more crucially, the park retains the ineffable sense of being truly wild.

Zakouma National Park, one of Africa’s most exotic, vibrant and unexplored areas of Africa is home to 66 mammal species and 374 bird species, highlights include:

Walking with the iconic elephant herd

Viewing flocks of more than 10 million red-billed quelea

The constant presence of northern carmine bee-eaters, like splashes of fire across the sky; a photographer’s dream

Encounters with predators both large and small

Spotting endangered species including the Kordofan Giraffe, Lelwel hartebeest and West African lion.

“A journey to Zakouma is like going back to an Africa that was 30 years ago; to have one’s senses ignited and to be inspired…and at the same time, to make a real contribution to conservation,” said Michael Lorentz, co-founder and CEO of Passage to Africa. “It is the personalization of the experience and its uniqueness, experientially, culturally and spiritually, that transports us. The rewards are infinite – beneath the rough exterior lies a wealth of warmth and undiscovered natural wonders.”

“News about Boko Haram’s involvement near Chad may be alarming, but issues have only occurred in areas at the far west of the country, more than 500 hundred miles away from Zakouma National Park in the east. Passage to Africa guides monitor these issues very closely and if there is any threat to the safety of the guests, the trip will be cancelled and all money will be refunded,” the company stated.

Passage to Africa is a premier safari company comprised of some of the most respected African safari specialists including Michael Lorentz, who started the bush career in South Africa’s Timbavati Game Reserve in 1985. He gained fame for creating Elephant Back Safaris in Botswana in 1991 before starting Passage to Africa in 2000, where he and his fellow guides are legends for family and solo adventure, conservation and historical safaris to Africa and beyond.

For more information and reservations, contact Passage to Africa, at +1 855 451 1689 or +27 15 793 0811; or visit the website at www.passagetoafrica.com.

 

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Natural Habitat Adventures Debuts New African Riverboat Safari in Botswana

Natural Habitat Adventures is introducing an exclusive new safari adventure aboard a privately chartered deluxe riverboat cruising the Chobe and Zambezi rivers beginning in June 2016.
Natural Habitat Adventures is introducing an exclusive new safari adventure aboard a privately chartered deluxe riverboat cruising the Chobe and Zambezi rivers beginning in June 2016.

BOULDER, CO – Natural Habitat Adventures is introducing an exclusive new safari adventure aboard a privately chartered deluxe riverboat cruising the Chobe and Zambezi rivers beginning in June 2016.

The Great African River Safari features an intimate cruise aboard the Chobe Princess followed by an overland safari through private reserves, a combination that offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Botswana while also touching into Zambia and Namibia. Guests spend three nights aboard the Chobe Princess, plying the broad channels and backwaters of the Chobe River and its confluence with the Zambezi River, and five nights at small luxury camps exclusively for Nat Hab guests and deep within Botswana’s premier private game reserves.

The 10-day itinerary begins in Livingstone, Zambia, near Victoria Falls. Days 2, 3 and 4 are aboard Chobe Princess. Guests then transfer by air from Namibia into Botswana to commence the land portion of the trip, which includes immersive safaris in the Selinda and Moremi game reserves. The adventure ends in Maun, Botswana. Departures begin in June 2016 and are scheduled through October 2017. Rates start at $10,995 per person, double, and vary by travel date. See: www.nathab.com/africa/namibia-botswana-africa-cruise/.

“Animals absolutely abound here, and our guests will encounter them in exceptional seclusion on this private adventure,” said Nat Hab founder and president, Ben Bressler. Hundreds of hippos, enormous elephant herds (70,000 live in Chobe National Park on the Botswana side of the river alone), great numbers of buffalo and antelope, rafts of crocodiles, a multitude of water birds and more are on display from the boat’s outdoor decks, and in air-conditioned comfort through the panoramic windows. Excursions by small skiffs up narrow channels provide even closer eye-level sightings.

Each departure is limited to just seven guests to ensure the most personalized safari experience possible in the quiet, remote areas visited. On wildlife drives, each traveler gets a window seat for optimal viewing and photography.

The adventure also includes Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Nat Hab guests will have a guided tour of the national park on the rim, exploring different viewpoints over the falls via a network of walkways before heading upriver to secluded Toka Leya camp, located on the banks of the Zambezi. A sunset cruise is included, where guests are sure to see plentiful hippos.

Travelers lodge at remote tented camps booked exclusively for Nat Hab guests. These include Selinda Explorers Camp and Little Tubu, an isolated enclave on Hunda Island. Rather than frequenting the more heavily visited national parks in Botswana, guests explore private concessions where visitor numbers are strictly limited but wildlife is prolific. The 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve is vast big-game country home to huge herds of elephant and buffalo, as well as lion, wild dog, sable and roan antelope that are spotted on a regular basis. Hunda Island within the private Jao Concession borders Botswana’s famed Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. Huge numbers of various hoofed game abound here, with accompanying predators, especially lion and leopard. Guests fly on charter flights between locations, to reduce rough road travel and maximize time on safari.

Guests enjoy the personalized service of some of the top naturalist safari guides in all of Africa — a Nat Hab hallmark. A Nat Hab Expedition Leader accompanies the trip from start to finish. This staff also has additional training and resources provided exclusively to Nat Hab guides by World Wildlife Fund’s top researchers.

The Chobe Princess riverboat offers five suites with a choice of king and twin bed configurations. Bathrooms are en suite. Crisply decorated with contemporary flair in a palette of white, dove gray and chartreuse, the boat’s interior including the dining area and lounge make the most of its river setting with large picture windows and sliding glass doors in the cabins that provide private views of an ever-changing landscape.

For more information see www.nathab.com/africa/namibia-botswana-africa-cruise/

For information on all of Nat Hab’s trips, descriptive itineraries, date availability and reservations, call 800.543.8917 or visit www.nathab.com.

Natural Habitat Adventures is a world leader in responsible adventure travel and nature-based ecotourism. Since its founding in 1985, the company has offered eco-conscious expeditions and wildlife-focused small-group tours to the planet’s most remarkable nature destinations. Inspired and created from years of scouring the planet for the singular and extraordinary, Nat Hab’s itineraries are artfully crafted experiences that are far from “typical.” Trips are guided by professional naturalist Expedition Leaders, and Nat Hab enjoys a longstanding reputation for hiring some of the world’s best guides. Conservation is at the forefront of everything NHA does, and its philosophy is simple: tourism must work with and benefit local communities, which will in turn find value in protecting natural resources and wildlife. NHA is proud to be the travel partner of World Wildlife Fund, sharing a mutual commitment to travel as a means of helping to protect the world’s wondrous natural places.

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Lion World Travel Offers Special Rate for Last Minute Victoria Falls & Botswana Safari

Lion World Travel is offering a last-minute 10-day "Wonder of Victoria Falls and Chobe" safari.
Lion World Travel is offering a last-minute 10-day “Wonder of Victoria Falls and Chobe” safari.

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.– Lion World Travel is offering an incredible last minute 10-day vacation package to Victoria Falls and Chobe, Botswana from U.S. $3,699 per person including international economy airfare, based on two people sharing a room. This affordable and carefully curated safari vacation takes you to Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and the Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana, famous for its enormous elephant population and magnificent scenery. This “The Wonder of Victoria Falls and Chobe” vacation package is valid for travel from Oct. 21 through Dec. 20, 2015.

The itinerary also includes:

Economy class flights from New York (JFK) to Johannesburg on South African Airways

Regional flights to Victoria Falls and back from Kasane

Road transfers as per the itinerary

Seven breakfasts / three lunches / five dinners

Four nights at the newly refurbished four-star Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, featuring an onsite waterhole and a non-stop parade of wildlife visitors

Three nights in luxury at the four-star Mowana Safari Lodge, offering superb and comfortable accommodation on the banks of the Chobe River

Guided walking tour through the magnificent rain forest of Victoria Falls

Tranquil sunset cruise on the Zambezi River

Boma Restaurant dinner for an African experience

Six game activities at Mowana Safari Lodge including game drives, bush walks, fishing and bird watching

Mowana river boat cruise at either sunrise or sunset to witness the breathtaking beauty of the colorful African skyline

This package is valid for travel from Oct. 21 through Dec. 20, 2015 and is priced from U.S. $3,699 per person sharing.

Lion World Travel, in its 51st year, is a leading North American tour operator specializing in group and individual tours to Southern and East Africa, and is a member of Travel Corporation , which also includes: Trafalgar Tours, Contiki, Brendan Vacations, Insight Vacations, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

For details and reservations, contact Lion World Travel at 800-387-2706 or visit www.lionworldtravel.com.

 

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New Jersey’s Iconic Lighthouses Open for Fall Tours During Annual Lighthouse Challenge

Cape May Lighthouse © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Cape May Lighthouse © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Trenton, NJ – Eleven historic lighthouses and three museums along the New Jersey shore open to the public on October 17-18. As part of the annual Lighthouse Challenge, locals and visitors can experience the state’s remarkable maritime history by climbing to the top of working lighthouses, soaking in the spectacular ocean views, and enjoy a host of inviting coastal communities without the summer crowds.

Participants in the Lighthouse Challenge will earn souvenirs at each site as they compete to visit every one. Proceeds from the Challenge will support the preservation of these treasured landmarks.

During Challenge weekend, most of the museums and lighthouses are open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.  There also are unique nighttime climbs of the lighthouses at Absecon, Cape May, Tinicum, and Tuckerton on Saturday from 6-8 p.m.

A complete list of hours of operation and fees is available at www.visitnj.org.

For additional information or to order a New Jersey travel guide, access http://www.visitnj.org/form/request-or-download-free-travel-guides

Twin Lights of Navesink, 2 Lighthouse Rd.; Highlands, 732.872.1814

There are many firsts associated with the Twin Lights, which tower 250 feet above Sandy Hook Bay on one of the highest points along the coast: the first Fresnel lens in the U.S.; site of Guglielmo Marconi’s first practical use of the wireless telegraph in 1899; and the first lamps fueled by kerosene in 1883.In 1898, Twin Lights became one of the first electrically lit seacoast lighthouses in the country. On exhibit are lighthouse and lifesaving station artifacts, plus films and slide shows.

Barnegat Lighthouse, State Park 208 Broadway & Long Beach Blvd.; Barnegat Light, 609.494.2016

Features panoramic views of Long Beach Island, Barnegat Inlet, and Island Beach State Park, trails through one of the state’s last maritime forests, a birding site for water fowl, fishing and scheduled nature walks and talks, and the nearby Barnegat Light Museum.

Absecon Lighthouse, 31 S. Rhode Island Ave.; Atlantic City, 609.449.1360, 609.449.1919

Built in 1857, the 171-foot Absecon Lighthouse—New Jersey’s tallest—hosts educational programs, weddings, guided tours, events, and more.  A recent multi-million-dollar restoration includes a replica of the lightkeeper’s dwelling, museum, gift shop, and a Fresnel Lens exhibit.

Tuckerton Seaport, 120 W. Main St., Rte. 9; Tuckerton, 609.296.8868

The 40-acre working Maritime Village has 16 restored and replicated buildings, including the Tucker’s Island Lighthouse, a re-creation of the structure that fell into the sea in 1927. Exhibits tell the history of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, Barnegat Bay pirates, and the bay.

East Point Lighthouse, 10 Lighthouse Rd. & E. Point Rd.; Heislerville,       856.546.7810

Standing along picturesque Delaware Bay, East Point Lighthouse has guided commercial fishermen and pleasure boaters since 1849.

Finns Point Rear Range Light, 197 Lighthouse Rd.; Pennsville, 856.935.1487

This wrought-iron lighthouse with its unusual open-frame design, was built in 1876 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Nearby Fort Mott State Park is a 104-acre waterfront park with buildings and gun emplacements from the Spanish-American War.

Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse, 2nd St. & Mantua Ave.; Paulsboro, 856.423.2545

First lit on New Year’s Eve in 1880, this light is a key guide for ships heading north along the Delaware River.

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, 111 N. Central Ave.; North Wildwood, 609.522.4520

Known as the “Victorian Lighthouse”, this unique “stick style” building was designed by Paul J. Pelz, who designed the Library of Congress. A working Lighthouse, it also features a museum showcasing the life of a Lighthouse keeper in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, plus a gift shop  and award-winning English gardens.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Park Entrance off Rt. 36, Sandy Hook Unit Gateway National Recreation Area; Highlands, 732.872.5970

This National Historic Landmark, the oldest standing lighthouse and the oldest operating lighthouse in the United States, is the only surviving tower of the 11 lighthouses built in the 13 colonies  between 1716 and 1771. It dates back to 1764, and has thick walls for protection from cannonballs.  The Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters is now a museum.

Sea Girt Lighthouse, 9 Ocean Ave. & Beacon Blvd.; Sea Girt, 732.974.0514

This is the last live-in lighthouse built on the Atlantic Coast, opened in 1896. Built to bridge the 40-mile gap between Barnegat Light and the Twin Lights of Navesink, it was decommissioned in 1945. The interior has been restored.

Cape May Lighthouse, Cape May Point State Park, 299 Lighthouse Ave. (Rt. 626) at Yale Ave.; Cape May Point, 609.884.5404

Built in 1859, the Cape May Lighthouse is still an aid to navigation. At the top of its 199 steps are spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. There’s an orientation center and shop. On nearby Sunset Boulevard is the recently opened World War II Lookout Tower, part of the Delaware Bay harbor defense system known as Fort Miles.

 

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New Context Walking Tour of Amsterdam Celebrates Van Gogh’s Legendary Life and Work

On the year of the 125th anniversary of the artist’s death, Context Travel launches a scholar-led walking tour through Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum  © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
In the year of the 125th anniversary of the artist’s death, Context Travel has launched a scholar-led walking tour through Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

Amsterdam -Context, organizer of critically acclaimed walking tours, expands its Amsterdam program with their Van Gogh Museum Seminar, an exploration of the life and works of one of the world’s most iconic artistic figures.

After extensive renovations, the Van Gogh Museum recently reopened its doors to the throngs of art lovers who are clamouring for an encounter with the artist’s vivid paintings. In 2015, 125 years after his death, the mythology of this enigmatic man and his turbulent life continues to grow, captivating art historians and the public alike. The Van Gogh Museum is home to the world’s largest collection devoted to a single artist, and sees its popularity grow year on year.

This two-hour tour weaves through the exhibits of the Van Gogh Museum, examining the development of Van Gogh’s hallmark style and revealing the secrets of some of his most famous and well-loved paintings.

“For me, Vincent Van Gogh is the quintessential Dutch artist; stubborn, committed and fighting against greater powers to reach his goal,” says Context docent Sabry Amroussi, an art historian who leads the walk. “He is more than the distorted genius that most people take him for; he is a learned intellectual, who demonstrated true resilience, perseverance and strength. I’m excited to be able to share this deeper story with Context clients.”

Van Gogh Museum Seminar lasts 2 hours, and is available daily. Group walks cost €70 per person, private tours cost €285 per party. As with all Context walking seminars, groups are led by a credentialed expert and limited to six (6) people maximum.

Founded by National Geographic writer Paul Bennett and designer Lani Bevacqua, Context Travel is a network of English-speaking scholars and professionals, including art historians, writers, architects and gastronomes, who organize and lead walking seminars in  thirty-four (34) world cities, including: Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, Milan, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Cartagena, Istanbul, Athens, Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Milan, Dublin, Tokyo, Kyoto, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Montreal, Melbourne, and Sydney. A certified B Corporation, Context Travel was named one of the fastest growing American companies in 2011 by Inc Magazine. Travel + Leisure has called Context one of the top European tour companies for its innovative approach to travel and the depth of its programs. To learn more about Context, visit the website at:www.contexttravel.com

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Lindblad Expeditions Searching for Memorabilia to Celebrate 50th Anniversary

In 1966 Lars-Eric Lindblad led the first ever citizen-explorer expedition to Antarctica – at the time it was almost as extraordinary as a lunar launch would be today. It also marked the creation of the category of expedition travel.  He opened up the remote regions of the world and countless opportunities for so many, helping them to experience and think of the world differently.

Lars-Eric Lindblad pioneered travel to the Galapagos Islands, as well as measures to protect the fragile ecosystem from being overrun by tourists.
Lars-Eric Lindblad pioneered travel to the Galapagos Islands, as well as measures to protect the fragile ecosystem from being overrun by tourists.

In 2016 Lindblad Expeditions will honor Lars-Eric’s vision and his courage in myriad ways as they mark the 50th Anniversary of these two major milestones. Their efforts begin with a search for memorabilia from Lindblad voyages in the 60s or 70s – from the legendary first expedition to Antarctica in 1966 to other remote parts of the world.  The search is on for:

  •  Expedition photos – ideally with Lars-Eric Lindblad and/or his expedition team – but all are welcome;
  •  Vintage ship photos or photos aboard the ship;
  •  Original voyage documents including vintage luggage tags, patches, pins or other collectibles: parka, tee, etc. plus any short Lars-Eric stories/anecdotes;
  •  Postcards or letters from someone on a voyage.

The collection of memorabilia will be used in a multitude of ways, including being featured (with credits) in the updated version of Lars-Eris Lindblad’s autobiography, Passage to Anywhere that will chart the history of expedition travel from 1966 to now.

To share your materials, send negatives and/or collectibles via tracked mail (please insure any items of value to you) to: Lindblad Expeditions, c/o Elissa Marton, 96 Morton Street, 9th Floor, NY, NY 10014.  Small digital files should be emailed to 50years@expeditions.com; and large digital files can be uploaded to http://anniversary.expeditions.com. ; Items will be photographed and returned via tracked mail.

For more information about Lindblad Expeditions visit http://www.expeditions.com/ or call 1-800-EXPEDITION.

 

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Austin Adventures Suggests 7 Trips on 7 Continents for Fall Travel

Since inception, Austin Adventures founder, president and trip visionary, Dan Austin, had the goal of spanning the globe with world-class adventure itineraries for the intrepid traveler. This was finally accomplished in 2015 with the addition of Asia and small ship river cruising in Vietnam and Cambodia (departures offered December through April).
Since inception, Austin Adventures founder, president and trip visionary, Dan Austin, had the goal of spanning the globe with world-class adventure itineraries for the intrepid traveler. This was finally accomplished in 2015 with the addition of Asia and small ship river cruising in Vietnam and Cambodia (departures offered December through April).

Austin Adventures ( www.austinadventures.com/) has a legacy spanning more than four decades of engaging travelers on small group trips to some of the world’s best destinations for active travel. Austin is offering these seven best-in-class adventures on seven continents for the upcoming fall and winter season.

“My favorite time to travel is in the fall when the crowds thin out and you get the feeling you have a special place all to yourself,” said Dan Austin, Austin Adventures founder, president and trip visionary. “We put our collective heads together and have come up with a list of trips to either be taken in the fall when conditions are ideal or booked now before space disappears for prime-time winter travel.”

North America
Fall is prime time in Southern Utah, and Austin Adventures’ Bryce/Zion National Park Adventure (multisport or all-hiking versions) covers the best of two national parks. From $2,398 per person for 6 days/5 nights, departures are scheduled Aug. 23 (hike) and 30, Sept. 6, 13, 20 (hike) and 27 (hike). This intimate tour brings guests past multi-colored hoodoos and spires, slot canyons and hanging gardens. Hiking Zion’s Virgin River Narrows, ranked one of America’s best adventures by National Geographic, is a must-do fall activity. The miracles of geology and ultra-clear nighttime skies play stellar roles enroute. See: http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/utah-brycezion/

South America
No better time to head to the tip of South America than during fall and winter (their spring and summer). Chile – Northern Patagonia is the trip choice, priced from $5,898 per person for 10 days/9 nights, with weekly departures September through April on a custom basis with a minimum of two people. Hiking, biking, rafting and horseback riding reveal the jaw-dropping scenery in the Northern Lake district between Chile and Argentina. Artisan villages, deserts, a choice of 20 different treks and an end-of-day local Malbec to sip with exemplary local cuisine makes this journey to the end of the world worth it.
See: http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/chile-northern-patagonia/

Europe
It’s the favorite time of year for locals! Austin Adventures’ France/Provence Multisport (from $3,698 per person for 7 day/6 night departures Sept. 6 and 27 and Oct. 11) is the escape of choice. The tapestry of fertile vineyards becomes more vibrant in the fall, as ancient Roman ruins mingle with the oh-so-present fragrances of lavender, honey and thyme, and markets rife with summer’s bounty tempt between-meal snacking. But wait! A bouillabaisse and baguette with fromage de chèvre paired perfectly with a glass of crisp local rosé await. See:http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/france-provence/

Asia
Now is the time to reserve a December 2015 through April 2016 vacation in Bali (recommended travel months for this region). Bali – Indonesia Luxury Adventure, bookable with just a minimum of two people (from $5,398 per person for 13 days/12 nights), offers the seduction of this exotic Indonesian island laced with terraced rice paddies and ancient temples. Standup paddle boarding, hiking through clove plantations, chasing a pod of dolphins from the nose of an outrigger, snorkeling in a reef and biking back-country roads bring paradise up close and personal. See:http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/bali-indonesia/

Africa
After a brief hiatus as the world’s leading wildlife destination, Africa is back and prime season bookings are now being taken. Austin Adventures’ Iconic Botswana departs weekly from April through November 2016 on 11 day/10 night adventures from $8,798 per person. Wildlife on the delta viewed from your own safari tent deck, flora and fauna teeming in the wetlands of the legendary Okavango Delta and the spray of Victoria Falls mingle with the magic of the Big Five scouted on guided walks and game drives. See:
http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/botswana-iconic-botswana/

Polar
One of the last great wildernesses to be explored, Antarctica is always in high demand and anyone wanting to reserve a space on a cruise must act now. Antarctic Peninsula Small Ship Cruise starts at $9,300 per person for 11 days/10 nights exploring the southern-most continent, a frozen desert revealed by snowshoe, kayak, zodiac and from the deck of the 114-passenger M/V Plancius. Think sliding penguins, slumbering seals, 3,000-foot ice walls, and surreal sunsets.  See:http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/antarctica-peninsula-expedition-cruise/

Australia
Another superb destination for small ship cruising, Australia: Kimberly Wilderness Cruise offers weekly eight day/seven night departures in 2016 from April through August with rates from $11,095.  Champagne sunrises, helicopter flight-seeing, rainforest explorations, aboriginal drawings, hiking, mud crabbing and billabongs come with passage on the 36-passenger M/V True North that plies in luxurious fashion the waterways of northern Australia’s Kimberley Region.  See:
http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/australia-kimberley-wilderness-cruise/

All these trips include accommodations, most meals, transfers, required equipment, knowledgeable guides and more. Prices are quoted per person based on two people sharing an accommodation. More details are available by calling (800) 575-1540, visiting online at http://www.austinadventures.com/ or by contacting the company via email at info@austinadventures.com.

Based in Billings, MT, Austin Adventures (formerly Austin-Lehman Adventures) has spent more than 40 years building an international reputation as a provider of scheduled small group tours and customized trips to all seven continents. In 2014, Kasey Austin, Vice President of Operations, was named the World’s Top Family Guide by Outside Magazine. In 2013, Austin Adventures joined the Xanterra Parks & Resorts® portfolio of experiential leisure offerings. Xanterra Parks & Resorts has operations in the Grand Canyon, including Grand Canyon Railway and The Grand Hotel; Yellowstone; Zion; Crater Lake;Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., Windstar Cruises, and VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations.

 

Follow Austin Adventures: 
Website:                    http://www.austinadventures.com
Twitter Page:             https://twitter.com/austnadventures
Facebook Page:        https://www.facebook.com/AustinLehmanAdventures
Blog:                          http://www.austinadventures.com/blog

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Brilliant Displays of Northern Lights Anticipated this Winter

Northern Lights (photo by Ian Ange)
Northern Lights (photo by Ian Ange)

(Björkliden, SWEDEN)  Aurora travel experts agree that the 2015 winter season is set to be the most active start for geomagnetic storms — which cause spectacular Northern Lights displays — this solar cycle. Seen very early this fall, strong solar storms have brought the Aurora Borealis as far south as the United Kingdom. This suggests that the upcoming solar season will bring significant viewing opportunities.

Data collected in August 2015 that measures activity from the Sun, has seen a 60%*1 increase in geomagnetic storms (K index 5 or more) compared to the same time in 2014, with very powerful storms (K index 7 or more) trebling*1 over the same period.

The difficulty has been that many of the solar storms that have caused these recent displays of the Northern Lights have been difficult to predict, with many of the bigger events taking Aurora hunters by surprise.

Northern Lights travel expert Jonny Cooper, Director of Off the Map Travel, explains; “All of the data we’ve seen suggests that this could be the most active start to any Northern Lights season we have had this solar cycle. This is great news for Aurora hunters.”  He continued, “The ability to forecast solar activity, and therefore displays of the Northern Lights, is however not an exact science, with many of the recent events taking experts the world over by surprise, making it impossible to estimate how this will develop for the rest of the Aurora season.”

For those looking to get the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, experts recommend northern destinations under the Aurora Oval such as northern Sweden, Norway and Finland.

A ten-night small group guided Original Grand Aurora tour visiting some of the best Aurora viewing destinations across Norway, Sweden and Finland with Off the Map Travel costs £5999 ($9220 USD at the time of this writing) per person based on double occupancy. Flights are not included. The Grand Aurora includes an expert guide, accommodations with some meals, reindeer sledding, a Tromso guided city walk in Norway, Northern Lights dinner cruise, dogsledding tour, Aurora photography evening, Aurora Sky Station exclusive dinner trip, a visit to the ICEHOTEL in Sweden, a three-border point snowmobile trip in Finland, Northern Lights tour in a snowmobile-pulled sled, and a reindeer and culture tour. Other extras include meals in distinctive restaurants and traditional Scandinavian coffee stops on travel days.

For more information on Northern Lights holidays visit www.offthemaptravel.co.ukwww.ILoveNorthernLights.com, call +44 0800-566-8901 or email info@offthemaptravel.co.uk.

 

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Group IST Adds Sailing Dates to Havana to Cienfuegos Cruise in Cuba

Group travel provider Group IST is adding more sailing dates to its Havana to Cienfuegos people-to-people program, an eight day cruise of western Cuba, beginning in December 2015. With under 100 passengers per sailing, Group IST is offering Americans the only small ship cruise of Cuba, affording passengers an intimate experience of the island nation via the hospitable and welcoming setting of a mega-yacht. The program is an opportunity to step back in time to a country that has been closed to Americans for nearly half a century.

With two small ships–the Panorama and the Panorama II–sailing in opposite directions from Havana and Cienfuegos each week through April 2016, travelers explore the western part of a country renowned for its culture, music, warm people, art and, of course, cigars. The cruise offers passengers both a rich and meaningful cultural exchange program and an opportunity to relax in the beautiful natural scenery of Cuba, with chances to go swimming and snorkeling. Group IST is also adding new excursions to the popular program, including visits to Ernest Hemingway’s former home, Finca Vigia, and to one of Cuba’s largest cigar factories.

Joining the program will be an on-board Cuba specialist and an interpreter to facilitate in making people-to-people connections and meaningful exchanges between the American travelers and Cuban citizens. Emphasizing and promoting cultural exchange, the program includes excursions to venues such as museums, private art galleries, community centers, concerts, religious centers, schools and ecological centers. Program participants will have a chance to meet and get to know Cuban historians, artists, preservationists, religious leaders, educators, musicians and many typical Cuban citizens throughout eight days.

Group IST has been issued a license by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to conduct people-to-people programs in Cuba.

Havana to Cienfuegos is available from between $4899 – $5999, depending on cabin class. Price includes seven nights on either the Panorama or Panorama II, all meals from arrival in Cuba to breakfast on day of departure, mandatory Cuban medical insurance and transportation as per itinerary. For a complete itinerary, please visit: http://www.groupist.com/cuba/

Group IST (International Specialty Travel) produces content-rich, original, thematic, educational and interactive travel programs that are tailor-made for organizations and groups. The company features one-of-a-kind land and waterborne venues around the world. With a staff of tourism professionals who are recognized travel experts and scholars, Group IST is passionate about its areas of specialization.

 

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