AdventureSmith Explorations to Sail New 100-Passenger National Geographic Quest in Alaska for 2017

The National Geographic Quest will be outfitted with a fleet of 24 sea kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling equipment and Zodiacs, all geared to get guests out and into the wild, remote places being explored.
The National Geographic Quest will be outfitted with a fleet of 24 sea kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling equipment and Zodiacs, all geared to get guests out and into the wild, remote places being explored.

TAHOE CITY, CA– Alaska continues to be one of the world’s hottest destinations for small ship cruising. Small ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations has seen the growth firsthand and now recommends that plans need to be secured by early December 2016 to get the best choice of ships, cabins and itineraries for summer 2017.

“Last year the most popular high-season trips were sold out earlier than we had ever experienced. By January more than half of the summer departures were fully booked or had very limited availability,” said Todd Smith, founder and director of AdventureSmith Explorations (http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/).

This booking strategy should give early birds certain advantages while securing a cabin on a brand-new, 100-passenger expedition ship being introduced to Alaska next summer. This is Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Quest, set to launch June 26, 2017, on a Seattle-to-Sitka itinerary exploring the coast of British Columbia and into Alaska’s Inside Passage. The nature-intensive 15-day cruise starts at $9,390 per person double.

National Geographic Quest will then spend the summer exploring the coves and fjords between Sitka, Glacier Bay National Park, Juneau and Petersburg on Lindblad’s classic Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness route, an eight-day adventure also sailed by the 62-guest National Geographic Sea Lion, with rates starting at $5,890 per person double.

National Geographic Quest will be the most modern and spacious expedition vessel cruising Alaskan waters. The ship features roomy (135 to 185-square feet), outside-facing cabins, 22 with small balconies with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors. Eight cabins can be configured into four adjoining cabins for families. Some cabins can accommodate a third guest. The ship will be outfitted with a fleet of 24 sea kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling equipment and Zodiacs, all of which are geared to get guests out and into the wild, remote places being explored. Also aboard is state-of-the-art expedition technology, including a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), video microscope, and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed for immediate deployment to hear and film, for instance, humpback whale vocalizations and to view bow-riding dolphins.

Following the Alaska season, the ship will remain in the Pacific Northwest for a series of new voyages between Seattle and Vancouver, with stops in the San Juan Islands, Victoria, Alert Bay and more far-reaching stops in British Columbia’s channels and fjords. Beginning in December 2017, National Geographic Quest will reposition and operate voyages in Costa Rica and Panama before kicking off a series of new voyages in Belize and Guatemala starting in February 2018.

With the introduction of National Geographic Quest, National Geographic Sea Bird will fly away to two new itineraries. Wild Alaska Escape is a six-day cruise designed to pair with a land trip that includes river rafting and biking options unique to a cruise program. The action takes place in wild, pristine Alaska for those with limited time but with an unlimited sense of adventure. Included are iconic wildlife, epic landscapes and the ancient Chilkat Tlingit village of Klukwan. In Haines, “Adventure Capital of Alaska,” guests have a three-hour bicycling trip around a stunning glacial lake, half-day hikes up a few of the region’s most dramatic mountains or, for the most fit, a trek up Mt. Riley. Others may choose to float down the Chilkat River through an area rich with native tradition and sporting the largest congregation of bald eagles in the world. In more remote stretches of the voyage come guided, point-to-point kayak trips with the ship as moving basecamp. Or, in expedition landing craft, guests may zip around sculpted icebergs or land on remote beaches for hikes in dense and dramatic Tongass National Forest. Rates begin at $4,290 per person, double. See: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/wild-alaska-escape-cruise-national-geographic-sea-bird.

Big Picture Alaska, an 11-day program crafted by National Geographic photographers, targets camera buffs. The trip spans the full north-south expanse of Alaska’s Inside Passage. The immersive, wide-ranging photo expedition takes Lindblad’s wildly popular week-long expedition and expands it, adding in the striking Misty Fiords at the lowest reaches of Alaska’s Inside Passage and Haines, in the northernmost corner. It’s the perfect mix of small-town life and the grand expanse of the wild landscape that surrounds it. Guests raft though the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, explore Glacier Bay National Park, search for humpback whales with time in a popular feeding area called Clarence Strait, kayak amid glacial ice, hike the Tongass National Forest and learn about the region’s rich Tlingit heritage while shooting with the expertise of an industry-leading expedition photography team of Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructors and National Geographic photographers. Rates begin at $8,990 per person, double. See: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/big-picture-alaska-cruise-photography-national-geographic.

AdventureSmith Explorations also notes new offerings in Prince William Sound thanks to the 12-guest Dream Catcher. The seven-day Prince William Sound Dream Catcher cruise is from $5,775 per person double. Getting up close and personal with icebergs and sea otters is just the beginning of the fun. There are set departures in addition to possibilities to charter this small ship. See: https://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/prince-william-sound-dream-catcher.

For information on all of AdventureSmith’s small ship cruises worldwide, itineraries, availability and reservations, Phone: 800-728-2875 toll-free or visit http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/.
 

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Frontiers International Travel Introduces Heli-Fishing Adventure in Patagonia

Based at Lakutaia Lodge, anglers will fish the southernmost rivers of Chilean Patagonia in the UNESCO Cape Horn biosphere reserve on remote Navarino Island on Frontiers International Travel’s heli-fishing trip (courtesy Frontiers International).
Based at Lakutaia Lodge, anglers will fish the southernmost rivers of Chilean Patagonia in the UNESCO Cape Horn biosphere reserve on remote Navarino Island on Frontiers International Travel’s heli-fishing trip (courtesy Frontiers International).

Gibsonia, PA — Frontiers International Travel has introduced a luxury heli-fishing adventure to the only helicopter trout fly-out fishery in South America. Based at Lakutaia Lodge, anglers will fish the southernmost rivers of Chilean Patagonia in the UNESCO Cape Horn biosphere reserve on remote Navarino Island. Untouched trout waters abound with roads and paths of scarcity preserving the pristine nature of the region. The trip includes a night at the historic Hotel Jose Nogueira in Punta Arenas, round-trip lodge charter, and all fly-out fishing in one of the world’s most unique locales. Available January 15-April 15, an eight-day program starts at $7,600 per person. Custom group quotes are available, with only nine fly-out anglers allowed per week. For more information, visit http://www.frontierstravel.com/lakutaia-lodge or call Hank Ingram at 800-245-1950.

“The intimate landscape insures a chance to catch big Brown, Rainbow, Brook and Sea Run trout, accessible only by helicopter fly-in,” said Frontiers President Mike Fitzgerald. “This program is a mixture of Navarino Island’s rivers, creeks and lakes in one of the world’s most beautiful and wild regions.”

The Lakutaia Lodge features 22 comfortable rooms nestled among the indigenous flora and fauna of this southern most wilderness region. The cuisine embraces local seafood and coveted Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Founded in 1969, Frontiers specializes in the finest worldwide fly fishing and shooting destinations, photographic safaris, as well as customized Elegant Journeys.

 

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From Silk Road to Antarctica, 5 ‘In the Footsteps of Explorers’ Routes You Can Follow

Join Big Chill Adventures on a trip designed to highlight Greenland and follow in the footsteps of Hans Poulsen Egede, a Dano-Norwegian Lutheran missionary (photo by M Cambiar).
Join Big Chill Adventures on a trip designed to highlight Greenland and follow in the footsteps of Hans Poulsen Egede, a Dano-Norwegian Lutheran missionary (photo by M Cambiar).

There are not as many undiscovered places as there used to be, but following in the footsteps of some of the great explorers is a fantastic way to discover a new adventure. From the Silk Road to the seas of the Antarctica, here are five historical routes that you can follow today.

  1. Shackleton’s Footsteps– Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. With shipping restricted by impenetrable pack ice to just two brief months each austral summer, few people have ever visited the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. Join Adventure Life on a 30-day voyage, helmed by skillful sailors and knowledgeable guides, to experience nature on a scale so grand there are no words to describe it. http://www.adventure-life.com/new-zealand/cruises/2961/in-the-wake-of-scott-shackleton
  1. Greenland Explorer– Hans Poulsen Egede was a Dano-Norwegian Lutheran missionary is credited with revitalizing Dano-Norwegian interest in Greenland after contact had been broken for hundreds of years. Join Big Chill Adventures on a trip designed to highlight all that Greenland has to offer, including calving glaciers, palatial icebergs, dogsledding, hut camping with Inuit people, wildlife viewing, a speed boat tour of the fjords surrounding Nuuk, kayaking amongst icebergs, mountain biking primitive trails, and helicoptering to a supra glacial lake. http://bigchilladventure.com/trips/greenland-june-2017/
  1. Follow the Silk Road– Marco Polo is probably the most famous Westerner who traveled the Silk Road. Silk, spices, teas, precious metals and jewels, carefully lashed to pack camels, once made their way from one world to another along this route. Visit Kashgar, one of the most exotic cities in the world, skirt the infamous Taklamakan Desert on camelback, and admire the breathtaking views across 12,000-foot Torugart Pass on MIR Corporation’s most comprehensive Silk Road offering. http://www.mircorp.com/trip/chinese-turkestan-central-asia/
  1. Visit Amazon Tribe– Despite the fact that indigenous people had been living in the Amazon for at least 10,000 years; the Amazon River was “discovered” by a Spanish explorer and conquistador, Don Francisco de Orellana. Gondwana EcoTours offers a 10-day tour of Ecuador that visits the Achuar, a tribe of 6,000 indigenous people still living traditionally in small Amazon communities along the Ecuadorian and Peruvian border. http://gondwanaecotours.com/tour/amazon-rainforest-ecotour/
  1. Hannibal Expedition– Hannibal led the military forces of Carthage that fought against Rome in the Second Punic War. Join Ride & Seek on a ride of historical proportions cycling in the footsteps of Hannibal from Barcelona to Rome. Biking some of Europe’s most iconic and picturesque touring routes through Spain, France and Italy, this epic journey has it all. Traverse some of the iconic climbs of the Grand Tours, roll through the vineyards of the Languedoc, Provence, Piedmont and Tuscany, and sample the delights of the diverse gastronomy to be found along the route. http://www.rideandseek.com/epic/hannibal 

 

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Spend a Day in an Igloo on New Arctic Ice Adventure for Families

sweden-igloo

(BJORKLIDEN, Sweden)  –  Off the Map Travel  invites families to experience their own winter wonderland with an exploration of Sweden’s spectacular ice formations and a hunt for the Northern Lights, all from inside a cozy igloo. Led by Sweden’s top Arctic adventures guides, the new Arctic Ice Adventure transports guests by snowmobile sled deep into the Arctic wilderness. Here they will spend some the day in a pre-built igloo and also learn how to build their own, contributing to an ongoing igloo building project.

Add to this the chance to explore and learn about magical ice caves and ice formations; catching dinner by ice fishing; listening to ancient stories about the Arctic; enjoying refreshments served in ice glasses and Aurora hunting from your remote Arctic igloo, and no matter your age, you’ll experience a frosty, fun and educational experience befitting Elsa or Anna in Frozen.

“Ice, snow, igloos and Northern Lights are iconic to the Arctic region, with films and TV series regularly bringing them to us from afar,” said Jonny Cooper, Northern Lights and Arctic travel expert from Off the Map Travel. “The Arctic Ice Adventure brings it all to life in a way that parents and children can experience it together.”

Available February 11-26, 2017, this new experience is included in a five-day family friendly Aurora adventure to Swedish Lapland priced from £1299 per person based on 2 adults and 2 children staying on a half board basis, excluding flights. Travelling with Off the Map Travel (www.offthemaptravel.co.uk ) the itinerary includes all transfers and activities including an Aurora hunt; a lesson in igloo building; a “Lights over Lapland” photography tour with marshmallows to toast over the fire in the tepee; Swedish fika; a dogsledding adventure into the Arctic wilderness; an Aurora spotting evening at Låktatjåkko Mountain Lodge in the giant snowcat with waffles and hot chocolate; and Arctic Ice Adventure at a local igloo on the frozen lake exploring ice formations and caves; and Sami storytelling.

The Arctic Ice Adventure can be added to any tailor-made Off the Map tour to Scandinavia such as a five-day Narvik Mountain Experience in Norway featuring a Northern Lights hunt at the Njalasouka Lavvu, a boat trip on the famous fjords, a “Lights at the Lodge” experience, a trip to Polar Park to meet the native animals of Scandinavia and experience a ‘wolf kiss’ and a night in the exclusive Wolf Lodge, and a Northern Lights dogsled trip.   

Off the Map Travel

Off the Map Travel is a team of travel experts who work with experiences and destinations that allow people to explore hidden wonders of the world. Specializing in soft adventure and viewing of the Northern Lights, Off the Map Travel creates tailor-made itineraries that offer a distinctive vacation based on first-hand experience. Off the Map Travel vacations anticipate all travelers’ needs with pre-planning and customization. Each bespoke itinerary is tailored to the ages of participants, creating experiences for families, groups, couples and singles that are comfortable and luxurious, with activity levels appropriate for all participants.

This project is supported by Interreg Nord and the Visit Arctic Europe project, developing travel to the Arctic Europe region.

For more information about the Arctic Ice Adventure, Northern Lights adventures or luxury adventure travel visit www.offthemaptravel.co.uk orwww.ilovenorthernlights.com; call +44 (0) 800 566 8901; email info@offthemaptravel.co.uk or join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter,InstagramYouTube or Pinterest

 

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Rare Chance To Help Care for Giant Pandas on Natural Habitat Adventures’ Wild China Trips

nat-hab-china-panda

BOULDER, CO – Natural Habitat Adventures has introduced a new opportunity to get behind the scenes and assist with panda care on its China nature adventures. Guests can enjoy a one-day volunteer experience at a Chinese research base that has helped pull giant pandas back from the brink.

The optional caregiver opportunity takes place at Dujiangyan Panda Valley, China’s newest facility for panda research, education and conservation located outside Chengdu. It is included on both Nat Hab’s Wild Side of China Nature Odyssey and Wild Side of China Photo Adventure.

On both panda-focused itineraries, travelers have the rare chance to spend a day with panda keepers, enjoying pandas at close range while assisting with tasks that are part of the daily care routine, such as feeding pandas and cleaning enclosures.

This intimate contact comes in the context of a celebratory victory for conservation, as China’s giant panda population was recently downgraded from endangered to vulnerable. While giant pandas are still at risk, their numbers continue to rebound. More than 1,800 were counted in the wild in China’s 2014 survey, a jump of 17 percent since the 2003 national census.

Top naturalist Expedition Leaders provide insight into this success story on Nat Hab’s two 12-day itineraries, which offer the most panda-intensive and nature-centered exploration of China provided by any travel company. In addition to visiting three different panda research bases, guests are immersed in the giant panda’s wild native habitat, including two days in a remote mountain nature reserve in Sichuan Province that few tourists ever see.

On this rare expedition into the Minshan Mountains, walks and wildlife drives in this virtually unvisited preserve provides reveal the panda’s native environment, including lush bamboo forests, river gorges and waterfalls.

Because wild pandas are highly elusive, guests are not likely to see them, but approximately 60 live within this densely forested 100,000-acre sanctuary. The reserve is rated as a Grade I global biodiversity hotspot by World Wildlife Fund and is home 430 different mammal species including golden monkeys, Tibetan and rhesus macaques, musk deer, muntjac, serow, wild boar, blue sheep, and endangered moon bears and red pandas. More than 2,400 different plant species and 150 bird species are also found in the park, including the golden pheasant.

Both itineraries also include Jiuzhaigou National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and UN Biosphere Reserve, containing some of China’s most dramatic wild landscapes. Guided walks showcase steep peaks, ravines, forest, meadows, marshes and a multitude of lakes and waterfalls. The park’s most distinctive feature is its terraced limestone pools filled with turquoise water that flows in crystalline cascades from ledge to ledge.

Each departure is led by a Nat Hab Expedition Leader who has trained with WWF scientists and researchers, along with a top Chinese naturalist guide. Travelers benefit from a breadth of expert scientific knowledge, authentic cultural insight and attentive personal service. Photo tour departures feature personalized guidance from an expert professional photographer.

This unique itinerary also offers an unusual chance for Western visitors to witness rural Chinese life. In the Gansu Muslim village of Qing Xi, guests stroll among 300-year-old wooden buildings from the Qing dynasty. On an overland journey onto the Tibetan Plateau, they traverse a landscape dotted with fluttering prayer flags and chortens and share lunch with a Tibetan family. And on a visit to a small farm, they learn about a WWF-supported bio-waste project that uses agricultural by-products to create cleaner cooking fuels, reducing local wood consumption and preserving habitat for pandas and other wildlife.

The per-person rate, based on double occupancy, starts at $10,495, for both regular and photo departures. 2017 season departures are: April 2, April 6 (Photo Tour), April 16, April 20 (Photo Tour), May 1, May 4 (Photo Tour), Sept. 3, Sept. 17, and Oct. 7 (Photo Tour). Dates also available for 2018.

For information on all of Nat Hab’s trips, descriptive itineraries, date availability and reservations, call 800.543.8917 or visit http://www.nathab.com/. Click HERE to order a copy of the 2017 catalog.

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.  Nat Hab has donated more than $2 million to WWF and will continue to donate 1 percent of gross sales plus $100,000 annual through 2018 in support of WWF’s mission.

 

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American Museum of Natural History Hosts ¡Cuba! Exhibit

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is opening ¡Cuba! that will explore the extraordinary biodiversity across the Caribbean island’s remote forests, deep caves, expansive wetlands, and dazzling reefs through immersive exhibits that have been developed with colleagues at the Cuban National Museum of Natural History (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Cuba, MNHN) as part of a formal Memorandum of Understanding signed in Havana this summer. The bilingual exhibition will also highlight Cuba’s culture, its people, and its history.

¡Cuba! will include live animals and specimens as well as artifacts and lifelike models representing the island nation’s distinctive wildlife—many species of which are found only on the island—from a venomous mammal to the world’s smallest bird. Highlights include a re-creation of Zapata wetlands—home to the endangered Cuban crocodile—and live lizards, boas, and frogs. In addition to focusing on biodiversity, the exhibition will showcase Cuban culture and life—including art, music, spiritual traditions, celebrations, food, and farming.A long, open boulevard evoking the street life one might find in a Cuban city will invite visitors to stroll, sit, and discover Cuban culture through music, dance performances, and a variety of interactive experiences. Other highlights include a re-creation of a throne used for orisha worship, an Afro-Cuban spiritual tradition known as Santeria; a gallery showcasing contemporary Cuban art; and a room revealing the craft of cultivating one of Cuba’s most famous crops, tobacco.

As a leader in science and conservation, the American Museum of Natural History has long-standing research and capacity development collaborations with Cuban scientists at a number of institutions, including the MNHN, the University of Havana, the Cuban Botanical Society, and the National Enterprise for the Protection of Flora and Fauna.Museum scientists have led nearly 30 expeditions and field projects to Cuba over the last 120 years.

¡Cuba!is co-curated by Dr. Ana Luz Porzecanski, director of AMNH’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, and Dr. Chris Raxworthy, curator-in-charge in the AMNH Department of Herpetology.

¡Cuba!will be open to the public from Monday, November 21, 2016, to August 13, 2017. Museum Members will be able to preview the exhibition on Friday, November 18, Saturday, November 19, and Sunday, November 20.

Major funding for ¡Cuba! has been provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund. Generous support for ¡Cuba! has been provided by the Dalio Ocean Initiative. The exhibit is sponsored by JetBlue and has received support from The Ford Foundation.

For more information, visit amnh.org.

 

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Tour Celebrates Jewish Culture in Cuba

Ruth Behar, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan is leading a tour, March 1-5, 2017, focused on the first public Celebration of Jewish Culture in Cuba, a landmark event bringing together art, theater, music, dance, and literature. The trip will highlight all the ways that Jewish Cuban heritage is alive and vibrant and open to the world.

“The story of the Jews in Cuba is like no other Jewish story. Jews arrived on the island at the beginning of the 20th century, mostly from Turkey and Poland, and brought with them the strong Sephardic and Yiddish cultural traditions,” she says. “These Jewish immigrants couldn’t help but succumb to the stunning vitality of Cuban culture and so they created a unique fusion of Jewish and Cuban culture. In recent years, a Jewish cultural rebirth has taken place in Cuba that has received a boost thanks to the many bridges being extended between Cuba and the United States. With the outpouring of enthusiasm for Jewish Cuban culture, this is an ideal moment to go and celebrate how Cuba became a refuge and a home for the Jewish people.

“Learn about the culture of Cuba, meet the Cuban people, interact with members of the Jewish community, and get to know the Jewish Cuban heritage and the vibrant ways in which that heritage is being interpreted by a new generation. You will experience the eclectic architecture of Havana and learn about the Jewish presence in the city, dine at the most charming home restaurants, and enjoy musical concerts of Klezmer, Sephardic, jazz and Jewish-Cuban fusion music.”

Highlights include:

Greeting from Adela Dworin, president of the Jewish Community of Cuba and David Prinstein, vice-president of the Jewish Community of Cuba, Patronato Synagogue. Known as the Patronato, Cuba’s major Jewish community center was designed by famed architect Aquiles Capablanca and founded in 1953. It maintains its beautiful facade with the symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel and a modernist arch rising to the heavens. In recent years, the Patronato has become a crossroads for Jews from all over the world.

The group will meet with Adela Dworin, president of the Jewish community of Cuba, and David Prinstein, vice president of the Jewish community of Cuba, who will provide a welcome for the first public Celebration of Jewish Culture in Cuba, followed by a performance of Jewish and Cuban dancing as well as a musical concert of Sephardic music and dance at the Patronato Synagogue, and a dessert buffet from Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions in Cuba.

Havana in a Grand Manner at the Cafe Jazz Miramar: A Jewish-Cuban Jazz concert with Ernan Lopez Nussa and invited friends who will play an exciting mix of Jewish and Cuban jazz standards at a new club with a superb sound system and a relaxed atmosphere that has become a hot spot of Havana’s jazz scene.

Walking Tour of La Habana Vieja and its four plazas with a special focus on the old Jewish neighborhood, featuring visits to the Adath Israel Synogogue and at the kosher butcher shop, ending at the Callejon de los Peluqueros and meet Papito, a hair stylist and cultural activist who has spurred the revitalization of the area.

Presentation by Ayleen Robaina, a specialist in architectural preservation who works with the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana, Palacio del Segundo Cabo, who will speak about the intersection of Jewish history and architecture in La Habana Vieja. This event will take place at the recently restored Palacio del Segundo Cabo, originally the Royal Post Office of the Spanish Crown dating from 1772.

Poetry and Handmade Books at Espacio Altamira: Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco will perform a special poem written in honor of the Celebration of Jewish Culture, to be followed by a presentation of handmade books also specially prepared for the occasion by book artist Rolando Estévez and his independent imprint El Fortín. This event will take place at the Espacio Altamira, a gallery conceived by artists Yamilé Pardo Menéndez and Edel Bordón Mirabal.

Concert of Jewish-Cuban Musical Fusion at Fabrica de Arte Cubano: Sephardic music with Harmonic Motion’s Myriam Eli and Joe Zeytoonian, and Klezmer music with Frank London and other musicians.

These events will take place at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC), a thriving arts space housed in a defunct cooking oil factory that includes art galleries, a dance space, a cinema, and several independent bars and small eateries. Founded by X Alfonso, a respected musician from a musical family, this is one of the most exciting large-scale art collectives in Cuba.

Poems, Testimonies, and Stories of Jewish Heritage, with Cuban writers and members of the Jewish Cuban community & La Camerata Romeu: This literary presentation and performance will be followed by a chamber music concert by the world renowned Camerata Romeu of classical Jewish and Cuban music. The events will take place in La Habana Vieja at the Convento de San Francisco, a former basilica and monastery built at the end of the sixteenth century, now an art space and concert hall.

A performance of Hatuey, a theatrical opera based on the work of Yiddish-Cuban writer, Usher Penn, produced by Michael Posnick (theater scholar) with Frank London (composer) and Elise Thoron (libretist) with the collaboration of Cuban actors, musicians, singers, and dancers from La Opera de La Calle. The group will attend the gala opening of the production and then stay afterwards for an after-party with the creators, cast, and musicians.

On Saturday morning, guests have the option to attend Shabbat Services with the Jewish community at any of the three Havana synagogues (Patronato Synagogue or Centro Hebreo Sefaradi or Adath Israel) or take a guided city tour of Modern Havana.

Afternoon visit to the workshop on Sephardic music and dance with Myriam Eli and Joe Zeytoonian and on Klezmer music with Frank London and Klezmatics, Centro Hebreo Sefaradi, Calle 17, corner of Calle E.

Farewell dinner and special concert with Amadito Valdes, one of the remaining original musicians from the Buena Vista Social Club, and his band at Club Habana.

The five day/four night long tour program, taking place March 1 -5, 2017, includes transfers, Cuba visa, local transportation, guides, four nights accommodations, two lunches, four dinners, three museum visits, all concerts and events in the itinerary ($3795 with accommodations at Hotel Melia Cohiba; $3670 with accommodations at Hotel Capri; single supplement $750).

Ruth Behar, the event organizer, is a Cuban-born cultural anthropologist and writer who brings an intimate knowledge of the Jewish community and the world of Cuban arts and letters through more than twenty-five years of return visits and engagement with her compatriots. Ruth is the editor of the pioneering anthology, Bridges to Cuba, author of An Island Called Home and Traveling Heavy, and director of the film, Adio Kerida, about the Sephardic presence in Cuba. Her novel, Lucky Broken Girl, about her Cuban-Jewish immigrant childhood in New York, is forthcoming with Penguin Random House. Ruth has formed close ties with the Jewish community of Cuba and is proud to be working with the community to create the first international Celebration of Jewish Culture in Cuba.

For further information contact Ruth Behar at: vulnerable.observer@gmail.com; link to the event  http://cubatoursandtravel.com/events/celebrate-jewish-culture-in-cuba/

Cuba Tours and Travel is a full-service Miami-based travel agency with 15 years of experience offering expert-driven cultural travel to Cuba. The tour company is licensed by the US and Cuba and are fully insured. “Most importantly, we have an abiding love for Cuban art and culture and have strong connections to the cultural institutions on the island.

For more information contact customerservice@cubatoursandtravel.com or call 888 225-6439 Ext. 804.

 

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Top Adventure Travel Destinations for 2017

Gullfoss Falls, Iceland © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gullfoss Falls, Iceland © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

What are the top adventure travel destinations for 2017? According to data from adventure tour search and review website Stride Travel, they include up-and-coming Cuba and classics such as Thailand. Here are seven tours highlighting Stride’s top destinations for the next year.

  1. Cuba: With Cuba now more accessible to Americans, the Caribbean country is seeing an influx of travelers. One of the easiest ways to get there remains on an Adventure Life cruise. This unique land-and-sea exploration visit the country’s cultural centers and wild coastal sites – walk and socialize in the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Old Havana and Trinidad, and snorkel the diverse marine and reef ecosystems of Cayo Largo and Jardines de la Reina. http://www.adventure-life.com/caribbean/cuba/cruises/11462/cuba-by-land-and-sea-cultural-heritage-and-natural-wonders
  2. Romania: After touring Bulgaria, cross into Romania to explore the painted monasteries and medieval towns of Transylvania – including Sighisoara, the birthplace of Vlad Dracul – with Mir Corporation. This trip visits the Palace of the Parliament and Curtea de Arges Monastery in Bucharest. http://www.mircorp.com/trip/bulgaria-romania-frescoes-fortresses
  3. Belize: Fly fish and spin fish for tarpon, snook, permit and bonefish on the rivers, channels and flats of Belize on trips with Frontiers. If you want to take a day off from fishing, these jungle lodges also offer mountain biking, birding, zip lining, cave tubing and snorkeling. http://www.frontierstravel.com/belize/hosted-trips
  4. Machu Picchu, Peru: Hike the last section of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, then higher to Huayna Picchu, and the capture colorful culture of Peru on this Travel Vision Journeys photography tour. Also included are Cusco, the Imperial City of the Incas, and the fertile Sacred Valley. http://travelvisionjourneys.com/tour/peru
  5. Iceland: With more than 100 salmon rivers, countless trout and char fishing opportunities, plus glaciers, geysers, hiking, biking, whales and birds, Iceland is full of adventure – and Frontiers knows where to find it in this largely uninhabited country. http://www.frontiersiceland.com
  6. Thailand: Explore the Grand Palace and floating markets of Bangkok, visit the oldest temple in Chiang Mai and help feed and bathe elephants at a nearby sanctuary, then swim and snorkel hidden lagoons and relax on the beaches of Phuket – this Adventure Life tour includes the best that Thailand has to offer. http://www.adventure-life.com/thailand/tours/4966/best-of-thailand
  7. Greece: An Adventure Life cruise of Greece includes swimming in crystal blue waters off Kythira, as well as exploration of unique archaeological site of Delos and the volcanic caldera of Santorini. Enjoy Mykonos’ cosmopolitan life on an afternoon and evening off. http://www.adventure-life.com/mediterranean/cruises/11168/classical-greece

 

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USTOA Members Offer Travelers Access to UNESCO World Heritage Sites Around the Globe

UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rapa Nui National Park (photo credit: Zegrahm Expeditions)
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rapa Nui National Park
(photo credit: Zegrahm Expeditions)

NEW YORK—Members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) offer travelers ease of access to UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the globe. From well-known sites such as Stonehenge and Victoria Falls, to unparalleled access to places like Iran’s historic cities of Pasargadae and Persepolis, USTOA members continue to recognize the importance of these sites and include them in packaged travel options for travelers across the world. UNESCO showcases and protects the world’s most cherished cultural and natural wonders while adding new World Heritage Sites to the prestigious list each year. This year’s World Heritage Committee decision to add 24 culturally significant sites brings the list total to 1,031 sites throughout 163 countries.

“By including UNESCO World Heritage Sites in their itineraries, USTOA members offer travelers a exceptional way to experience some of the world’s most fascinating and bucket list worthy sites,” said USTOA President and CEO Terry Dale. “Each year our members are excited to learn about new inductions and look for ways to include them in future expeditions.”

Following is a sample of USTOA member tour operators offering a chance to explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the globe.

  • Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island, is home to an impressive cultural landscape and intriguing Polynesian history. Zegrahm Expeditions offers explorers a 20-day journey from Tahiti to Easter Island to experience Rapa Nui National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, during its “Tahiti to Easter Island: Marquesas, Tuamotus & Pitcairns” trip. Travelers discover the shrines and ancient figures, known as moai, built by the Polynesian society who settled on Rapa Nui around 300 AD. This tropical vacation also offers stunning views of volcanoes and the chance to snorkel amid vibrant reefs. Available November 5, 2017 from $19,980 per person.
  • Alexander + Roberts is bringing travelers to Iran for unparalleled access to 11 of Iran’s 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites during the “Persian Moments Private” itinerary. During this 13-day private tour, guests will visit the only bazaar in the world recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as discover Pasargadae and Persepolis, cities of the Achaemenid Empire. Available in 2017 and 2018.
  • Guests on African Travel Inc.’s 10-day “Southern Explorer” tour will hike alongside the mighty Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Other highlights include dining in the home of a local Capetonian family, discovering breathtaking scenery at the Cape of Good Hope and searching for the “Big Five.” Available throughout 2016, prices start at $3,895 per person.
  • Adventures by Disney’s “Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Family Vacation” visits three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Angkor Archeological Park, the world’s largest religious monument; Luang Prabang, a town with rich architectural and artistic heritage; and Hoi An, an ancient trading port. Starting at $5,599 per person and available June through August 2016 with more departures in December, the adventure is rounded out by a Tuk-Tuk Temple Treasure Hunt, cooking class and an interactive experience with a Tai-Chi Master.
  • During Globus’ “The Best of Southern England” seven-day tour, guests get the chance to visit some of the most recognizable UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Stonehenge, the City of Bath, Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret’s Church. Historical and beautiful, this trip starts at $1,549 per person land only.

For further inspirations or to search for dream travel itineraries and destinations, visit www.ustoa.com/dream.

For questions and more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com. 

Representing more than $13.5 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow nearly 8 million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe.   Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

 

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Wildland Adventures’ New Nicaragua Itinerary Features Granada and Off-the-Radar Caribbean Islands

Wildland’s Central America immersion for the active and curious traveler includes the Corn Islands (70 km off Nicaragua’s eastern Caribbean coast), a sun-swept destination well known in the past to pirates and buccaneers but off today’s tourist map
Wildland’s Central America immersion for the active and curious traveler includes the Corn Islands (70 km off Nicaragua’s eastern Caribbean coast), a sun-swept destination well known in the past to pirates and buccaneers but off today’s tourist map.

SEATTLE, WA– Adventure travel pioneer Wildland Adventures showcases up and coming Nicaragua along with a slice of the Caribbean little known to most travelers in its new 9-day/8-night Colonial Granada, Highlands and Island Adventure.

Wildland’s Central America immersion for the active and curious traveler includes the Corn Islands (70 km off Nicaragua’s eastern Caribbean coast), a sun-swept destination well known in the past to pirates and buccaneers but off today’s tourist map. A secluded white-sand beach adventure is the trip finale after…

  • Bicycling through the oldest city in the Western hemisphere, Granada,
  • Zip lining in the cloud forest highlands of the Mombacho Volcano,
  • Hiking in Masaya Volcano National Park and
  • Kayaking among the 365 islets on Lake Nicaragua

In addition to securing off-the-beaten-track experiences, a defining element of all Wildland Adventures is flexibility. For example, when guests arrive on Big Corn Island, they can choose to be hosted at Arenas Beach Hotel or move on to Yemaya, considered one of the most beautiful island luxury lodges in the world on the more secluded Little Corn Island, a perfect romantic hideaway. Throughout the trip guests stay active, but here they can choose just to lie in a hammock – or snorkel or swim.

The itinerary rates are also flexible depending on the number of people in a party. Departures may be arranged for a minimum of just two people starting at $1,995 per person double occupancy for a group of six or more. Children ages 6-11 receive a 20 percent discount. See: http://www.wildland.com/trips/central-america/nicaragua/colonial-nicaragua-highland-and-island-adventure/overview.aspx

History that reverberates down cobblestone streets and in colorful markets resonates with the mysteries of pre-Columbian embellishments in Granada.
History that reverberates down cobblestone streets and in colorful markets resonates with the mysteries of pre-Columbian embellishments in Granada.

After arriving at Managua International Airport the adventure begins in the colonial city of Granada (Est. 1524). History that reverberates down cobblestone streets and in colorful markets resonates with the mysteries of pre-Columbian embellishments. One day focuses on rural Nicaragua, with opportunities to visit artisan workshops in Masaya, the country’s most popular handcraft market. This day also introduces ceramic artists in San Juan de Oriente and Nicaragua’s geologically eruptive nature with a visit to Masaya Volcano National Park and the stunning and active Santiago crater. Views of Mombacho Volcano, a sleeping giant rising to 4,626 feet, are omnipresent in Granada, which only adds to the excitement of a zip line tour along the flanks of the volcano, soaring through a verdant cloud forest rich in hanging moss and epiphytic plants. A cooking lesson in a local kitchen is followed by a visit to a Choco Museum that exhibits the country’s pride, chocolate. The importance of chocolate moves to front and center in a chocolate workshop where guests learn how to roast, winnow, grind, mix, conch, refine and mold their own morsel of chocolate.

In the mountain zone of Matagalpa resides an eco lodge icon in Nicaragua, Aguas del Arenal Lodge. Here guests stay for two nights while exploring the birdlife (Nicaragua has over 700 bird species) and La Bonanza, a coffee plantation harvesting this export in a sustainable manner. Then it’s time to return to Granada for an overnight before a short flight to Big Corn Island for a deep breath on the Caribbean beach – sans tourist attractions.

Wildland Adventures (http://www.wildland.com/) also offers two other unique itineraries in Nicaragua that focus on the mainland’s culture and beach activities along the Pacific coast. Nicaragua Adventure Tour is a 9-day program for families and active travelers that includes hiking, biking and kayaking, touring rural villages and understanding the volatile life of volcanoes. The per person rate is from $3,795. Nicaragua Family Vacation is an active 9-day exploration that brings young and old alike into contact with the friendliness of locals and the fun of zip lining, kayaking and hiking. The per person rate is from $3,495.

For Central American travelers with a passion for snorkeling, Wildland Adventures suggests any of its four holidays, including one for families, exploring Belize. Here the focus is on the barrier reef, Mayan ruins, sailing excursions, rainforest hikes and even treehouse accommodations. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System offers snorkeling and scuba diving amongst the magic world of corals; its expanse is second only to Australia’s famed Great Barrier Reef.

Three of Wildland Adventures’ opportunities for adventure travel in Costa Rica are designed with families in mind. Other itineraries feature river rafting and immersion into the country’s complex and diverse eco systems where birds, monkeys and other wildlife thrive.

For more information on these and all of Wildland Adventures’ worldwide offerings, availability and reservations call 1-800-345-4453 or email info@wildland.com. Visit http://www.wildland.com/.

Wildland Adventures

Kurt Kutay, Founding CEO/President, and Anne Kutay, Vice-President, established Wildland Adventures in 1986. As active managing directors they are continuously refining and evolving their Wild Style of travel. The ‘Wild Style’ is based on an ethic of sincerity, compassion and understanding that breaks down barriers of separation to build lasting intercultural, interpersonal, and environmental bonds designed to enhance rather than exploit the people and places where they travel. Rated by National Geographic Adventure as the #1 Best ‘Do-it-all’ Outfitter on Earth and Fodor’s as one of the World’s Best Tour Specialists, Wildland Adventures offers more than 150 itineraries on seven continents in 45 countries.

 

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