Category Archives: Asia/Pacific travel

Grasshopper Adventures Introduces 9-Day Taiwan-By-Bike Trip

A new Grasshopper Adventures biking tour of Taiwan goes through the UNESCO Heritage-listed Taroko Gorge © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

(Bangkok, Thailand) — On this new cycling tour of Taiwan, Grasshopper Adventures guests will bike the length of the country, from the northern capital, Taipei, to the southern tip.  Bikers will ride past emerald-colored rice paddies and Taoist temples dedicated to the sea-god Matsu. Along the way, they’ll take in the sheer beauty of Eastern Taiwan’s rugged Pacific Coast, with pristine beaches, exotic hot springs, and gorgeous valleys, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Taroko Gorge. The 9 Day/8 Night tour starts at $3,150 and covers 355-435 km. The terrain varies from gently undulating to steep ascents and descents over the coastal mountain range. Pedal assist E-bikes are available for $495 surcharge. For more information, visit https://www.grasshopperadventures.com/multi-day-cycling-tours/bike-taiwan-tour/.

“This classic cycling route takes us from Taroko Gorge down along the coast and into the lush East Rift Valley before we re-emerge on the rugged Pacific East Coast,” said Adam Platt-Hepworth, CEO of Grasshopper Adventures.  “Along the way, we’ll hike to the beautiful Shakadang Stream, cycle narrow paths through banana palms to the coast for a beach-side rest stop, and pedal into the little-visited East Rift Valley full of vibrant rice paddies and small communities.”

Offering unparalleled scenery and challenging terrain, Taiwan draws more and more visitors from across the globe each year. Riders will visit the striking Saoba Monuments and hike along the Walami Trail to spot wildlife. They’ll take a rest day to enjoy the beach of Dulan before the final leg of the ride along the dramatic coastal cliffs and then inland across the mountains to Kenting in the tropical south.

“Whether marveling at the sheer power of the Pacific Ocean, soaking away the stresses of life in one of the island’s numerous hot springs, or slurping down a hearty bowl of delicious noodles, Taiwan assaults the senses and leaves guests hungry for more,” said Platt-Hepworth.

Tour Highlights:

Cycling through the dramatic Taroko Gorge on part of the famous King of the Mountain route

Viewing monkeys, deer, eagles and Formosan black bears on a hike into the Central Mountain Range on the Walami Trail

Pedaling through the lush East Rift Valley into the jungle then past gorgeous beaches to Dulan

Soaking up the sun and swimming in the bright blue waters of the Pacific Ocean

Grasshopper Adventures is a cycling and active travel specialist, headquartered in Bangkok, Thailand. They host more than 25,000 travelers of all ages and abilities, on tours ranging from one day to two weeks in Japan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Uzbekistan, Taiwan, Bhutan & Myanmar. https://www.grasshopperadventures.com

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Pandaw Builds New Ship for Burma Soft-Adventure River Expeditions

Bagan, the city of temples, in Myanmar © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Pandaw, a small-ship cruising company, has announced the construction of a new 14-cabin K-class ship for Burma. The ultra-shallow twin decked K-class vessel can go where other ships cannot and is perfect for Pandaw’s style of soft adventure river expeditions.

Despite the political situation in Burma and a decline in mainstream routings the demand for small ship expeditions in Burma has actually increased.

“With the recent departure of three K-class vessels to India it has proved necessary to order one more to meet this demand, principally on the Upper Irrawaddy, Chindwin and Delta expeditions into remoter untouristed parts of the country. Many of these are now fully booked for the coming season and a support vessel urgently needed,” the company said.

In the tradition of naming all K-class ships after original Irrawaddy Flotilla vessels, the new build is to be named the KANEE PANDAW, and is being built in Pandaw’s own yard in Mandalay.

These much-loved, safari-style vessels offer outdoor or indoor dining, run-round promenades and ample indoor and outdoor living space. The cabins are slightly smaller than on Pandaw’s larger ships but cleverly designed and very comfortable with roomy bathrooms.

Like all Pandaw’s expedition ships the KANEE will carry mountain bikes and is being aimed at a younger demographic and family travel into these remote reaches.

“We began in Burma 25 years ago and remain attached to the country and its people,” said Pandaw Founder, Paul Strachan.“Since we started the Pandaw Charity in 2008 the company has funded the Pandaw Clinics program providing essential health care to a whole region of the country; to me it is a personal mission to ensure that our business in Burma, despite recent political setbacks, continues to prosper so that we can maintain these funding commitments”

Pandaw enjoys one of the highest repeat rates in the industry and much of the growth in remote river cruising is coming from within the Pandaw community. Two years ago, the company launched its Pandaw Member’s Club and now has over 10,000 members seeking new adventures on the rivers of Asia.

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World Spree Travel Markets $1599 Air-Inclusive Tour of Vietnam, Country in Spotlight with Trump-Kim Summit

World Spree’s 13-day air-inclusive “Amazing Vietnam” package that starts with two days in Hanoi, the capital city © Dave E Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bellevue, WA—The eyes of the world are on Vietnam this week with President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un meeting in Hanoi. For travelers whose interest has been sparked, World Spree offers a very affordable and appealing tour that covers all the highlights of this increasingly popular destination. (Travel expert Pauline Frommer led a recent group.)

The 13-day Amazing Vietnam tour, which starts at $1,599 from Los Angeles and San Francisco ($100 more from New York), includes round-trip international airfare, ground transportation in Vietnam, accommodation in  deluxe hotels (like the Hanoi Nikko and Grand Hotel Saigon), daily buffet breakfast, five other meals, an overnight cruise on Halong Bay, sightseeing tours with entrance fees, professional English speaking guides, baggage handling and audio earphones.

The tour starts in Hanoi, Vietnam’s lovely capital, full of parks and French-colonial mansions and a fascinating Old Quarter of tiny shops and street vendors. Sightseeing here includes monuments associated with Ho Chi Minh and there’s an optional tour of the Old Quarter and the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison.  Next comes a tour highlight: an overnight cruise on a traditional-style junk through the beautiful waters of Halong Bay, which is celebrated for its spectacular seascape of towering limestone pillars and some 1,600 islets.

A flight south to Da Nang and a short ride past China Beach brings the tour to Hoi An, a charming market town that retains much of its traditional architecture, with well-preserved temples and pagodas, not to mention shops that can produce a bargain-priced dress in 24 hours. On to Hue, the old imperial capital and its wealth of royal palaces, temples and gardens.  Sightseeing here includes the impressive Citadel and its Forbidden City and there’s an optional cyclo excursion through the old town, ending with a very special banquet.

And finally, the bustling metropolis called “Saigon” (officially Ho Chi Minh City), where skyscrapers are rising beside ancient temples and French-colonial landmarks.  Here there are two not-to-be-missed optional excursions: the Mekong Delta, known as Vietnam’s “rice basket,” and the truly unbelievable Cu Chi Tunnels.

Prices are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability. For more information, log onto www.worldspree.com, click Vietnam and then Amazing Vietnam, or call toll-free 1-866-652-5656.

World Spree Travel, which started 15 years ago as China Spree, with tours of China, is a tour operator renowned for  5-star trips at 3-star prices.  Based in Bellevue, Washington, World Spree has expanded all over Asia and now operates tours to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bali, Myanmar and, yes, Peru and Ecuador.  Foodie tours are on the horizon.  Some 70% of World Spree’s tour participants are repeat clients who value well-planned trips at a reasonable price.

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Explore Laos by Bicycle with Grasshopper Adventures

On Grasshopper Adventures’ 8-day cycling tour, guests pedal past karst mountains, alongside rivers, and through remote hill tribe villages.

(Bangkok, Thailand) — With its dense forests, limestone caves and seemingly endless waterways, Laos is a dream destination for intrepid travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-track corner of Asia. On Grasshopper Adventures’ 8-day cycling tour, guests pedal past karst mountains, alongside rivers, and through remote hill tribe villages. They boat down the Mekong River, hang out with Buddhist  monks, take cooking lessons, learn about rice wine making, and visit both bear and elephant conservation sanctuaries.

“This tour gets people away from the large infrastructure works that are being undertaken throughout much of the country and closer to what Laos is all about, the villages, the tribes and the natural environment,” said Grasshopper Adventures founder Adam Platt-Hepworth.

The cycling offers nice variety, including back roads and quiet highways. There are some short, manageable climbs, but the stunning views and Hmong village scenery are ample rewards for the effort.  Most days include undulating terrain, with a fair share of flat pedaling along winding river roads.

“When not exploring by bike, we make use of boats for some added variety,” said Platt-Hepworth. “There is a good mix of on and off-bike activities with a number of free afternoons to spend at your leisure, be it enjoying some R&R or delving deeper into the environment.”

Tour highlights:

  • Exploring Mekong Elephant Park
  • Taking Laotian cooking lessons
  • Boating down the Mekong River to see river/village life
  • Touring sacred Pak Ou caves filled with thousands of Buddha relics
  • Experiencing the traditional Monks Alms ceremony in Luang Prabang
  • Cycling to Wat Xieng Thong, one of Laos’ most important monasteries
  • Seeing how silk is made at Ock Pop Tock
  • Learning about rice wine making
  • Visiting the Free the Bears enclosure
  • Partaking in massage and yoga a luxurious resorts

The trips starts at $2,600 per person double and include 195 km of moderate cycling from Muang Xa to Luang Prabang. For more information, visit https://www.grasshopperadventures.com/en/scheduled-tours/lao-lao.html.

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Architect Leads Immersive Art, Architecture & Design Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan

The 2019 Art, Architecture & Design Cherry Blossom Japan Tour by Robert Day Travel, a small-group tour taking place March 27 to 6 April 6, 2019, offers a “less known” experience to discriminating travelers that will tap into the Japanese design psyche as the tour visits famous galleries, museums and architectural landmarks in and around Tokyo and Kyoto.

Japan is a global design epicenter making it a must-see travel destination for anyone interested in Art, Architecture and Design and there is no better time to visit Japan than during Cherry Blossom season.

The 2019 Art, Architecture & Design Cherry Blossom Japan Tour by Robert Day Travel, a small-group tour taking place March 27 to 6 April 6, 2019, offers a “less known” experience to discriminating travelers that will tap into the Japanese design psyche as the tour visits famous galleries, museums and architectural landmarks in and around Tokyo and Kyoto. There is also the opportunity to join the optional extension to visit Kanazawa, Shirakawago and Takayama.

This is not just the typical sight-seeing tour, but a definitive display of Japanese artistic and cultural expression visiting fascinating traditional and contemporary buildings, ancient temples, famous pottery artisans, wonderful Japanese gardens and sampling delicious Japanese food. This 10-day Japan Tour is conducted by Architect, former Japan resident and Japan expert Robert Day.

Tour highlights include:

TOKYO (6 nights): Walking tours of famous districts of Ginza and Omotesando, famous art galleries and museums including National Art Center Tokyo, 21_21 Design Sight, Sumida Hokusai Museum, Jiyu Gakeun School by Frank Lloyd Wright, 350m high view from Tokyo Sky Tree, Tsukiji Outer Markets, Tokyo Midtown, Meiji Shrine, Nezu Museum and Gardens, Shitamachi “old town” district, Yoyogi Park, Roppongi Hills, Mori Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art by Le Corbusier, Bullet train to Kyoto.

KYOTO (4 nights): Famous Japanese temples and gardens including Ryoanji, Kinkakuji, Nijo castle and Kodaiji, Gion geisha district, Nishiki traditional local food market, Kawai Kanjiro Museum, delicious local cuisine, Pontocho restaurant alley, Kamogawa River, Japanese antique shops, 400-year old Hikone Samurai Castle, Miho Museum, Meiji-mura.

OPTIONAL TOUR EXTENSION (3 nights): KANAZAWA, SHIRAKAWAGO & TAKAYAMA Kanazawa – Kenrokuen Japanese Garden (one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Nomura Samurai House, 21 Century Contemporary Art Museum. Shirakawago – UNESCO World Heritage Village with Gassho Zukuri “Praying Hands thatched roof houses. Takayama – Edo period “Old Town” district, local sake tasting. (Optional Tour Extension is an additional cost).

The tour, priced at $4400 pp/double ($4900/single), includes accommodationa, ground transport costs during the tour hours, venue entry costs and expert daily personal tour escort by Japan expert, Robert Day.

Robert Day Travel, phone +61 407 611 972, email robert@rdayarch.com.au, visit http://www.japanarchitecturetours.com.

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Anantara Quy Nhon Villas Opens in Vietnam with Exclusive Offers for Virtuoso Travelers

The newly opened Anantara Quy Nhon Villas in Vietnam will provide advantages solely for travelers who reserve through an advisor affiliated with leading global luxury travel network Virtuoso®.

The newly opened Anantara Quy Nhon Villas offers a host of distinctive luxury experiences, including villas with exceptional features, rare dining and wellness activities, all in stunning surroundings. The Vietnamese resort will provide advantages solely for travelers who reserve through an advisor affiliated with leading global luxury travel network Virtuoso®. Virtuoso guests who stay for at least three nights before February 28, 2019 will receive the following at no charge as part of a generous opening offer:

  • Unlimited spa treatments subject to availability at time of booking
  • One BBQ in villa with chef
  • Daily minibar refill
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner from the Sea.Fire.Salt a la carte menu
  • One-way airport transfer

The above perks are in addition to these ongoing complimentary advantages:

  • Upgrade on arrival if available
  • Daily buffet breakfast for two guests
  • $100 USD food and beverage credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out if available
  • Wi-Fi

Nestled on a secluded bay with an exclusive beach, Anantara Quy Nhon is an all-villa hideaway set amidst 18 acres of tropical gardens. The 26 one- and two-bedroom villas feature infinity pools, cellars with premium wines, floor-to-ceiling windows, open-air bathrooms and spacious sundecks. Some villas offer amazing ocean views, while others are mere steps from the beach. Emphasizing personalized service, each villa comes with its own butler and customizable amenities such as room scents ranging from lemongrass to green tea. The contemporary resort blends into its environment, incorporating local materials, craftsmanship and influences.

“We continue to see Vietnam on the rise with upscale and experiential travelers, with it ranking as an emerging destination on Virtuoso’s 2018 Luxe Report and as a destination seeing significant year-over-year growth,” says Albert Herrera, Virtuoso’s senior vice president of Global Product Partnerships. “With Anantara Quy Nhon, true luxury has arrived in this alluring part of the world. The Anantara brand is synonymous with stunning retreats in exotic destinations, coupled with exceptional experiences and intuitive service. Anantara Quy Nhon brings these qualities to life through unique offerings that will delight discerning travelers looking for an escape from daily life in an authentic setting.”

Dining outlets celebrate local seafood and flavors. At Sea.Fire.Salt, the all-day restaurant, guests can perfect each dish with rare salts from around the world housed in the resort’s salt library. The swim-up bar serves premium cocktails, Vietnamese craft beers, light bites and Cuban cigars in an ocean-facing setting. In-villa dining offers everything from gourmet breakfast in bed to poolside barbecues to luxury Vietnamese street food. Anantara’s unique Dining by Design program allows guests to select experiences including “Castaway” island picnics and fishing trawler expeditions followed by five-star dining. As part of the Spice Spoons offering, guests can walk along the beach to a fishing village and select fresh seafood, vegetables and herbs before returning to the Sea.Fire.Salt show kitchen for an immersive cooking class.

Anantara Quy Nhon offers Anantara’s pioneering Balance Wellness concept, unique in the region. It provides a flexible approach to wellbeing through experiences, treatments and seminars, as well as private sessions with visiting healers. Perched on a cliff overlooking the water and shrouded by jungle, Anantara Spa features treatments such as Thai massage, reiki and mindfulness in indoor and outdoor pavilions. Suites offer double massage beds and oversized bathtubs for coconut milk soaks.

Just six miles away in historic Quy Nhon, a variety of cultural experiences beckons. From hikes to temple visits, travelers can immerse themselves in the heritage of this fascinating country. Binh Dinh province, of which Quy Nhon is the capital, appeals to families, couples and friends, with sights including the relics of Champa civilization and centuries-old Buddhist pagodas.

Anantara Quy Nhon is the newest luxury property to launch in conjunction with the esteemed Virtuoso Preview program, which provides benefits only to clients of network travel advisors. Preview is part of Virtuoso’s renowned Hotels & Resorts Program, which includes more than 1,300 of the world’s finest properties in over 100 countries.

These exclusive perks at Anantara Quy Nhon are only available through Virtuoso. Travelers will have two ways to take advantage of them: either reserving their stay through Virtuoso.com or by booking with a Virtuoso-affiliated travel advisor. To find an advisor, visit https://www.virtuoso.com/advisors#.

 

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Save over 67% on Victoria Cruises’ Acclaimed 3 Gorges Yangtze River Cruise in China by Combining Promotions

Victoria Cruises is offering reduced winter rates on February departures of its popular three- and four-night Three Gorges Highlights itinerary. The discount can be combined with Victoria Cruises 2-for-1 offer on bookings received by Feb. 28, 2019 for a total savings of more than 67% of the cruise fare.

NEW YORK, NY  – Victoria Cruises, the only American-managed luxury cruise line operating on China’s mist-shrouded Yangtze, is offering reduced winter rates on February departures of its popular three- and four-night Three Gorges Highlights itinerary. The discount can be combined with Victoria Cruises 2-for-1 offer on bookings received by Feb. 28, 2019 for a total savings of more than 67% of the cruise fare.

“The Three Gorges region of the Yangtze is geographically closer to Vietnam than Beijing. As a result, our cruises typically feature more temperate weather during the wintertime,” said Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for Victoria Cruises. “February is therefore a great time to experience river cruising in China at a significant cost savings.”

In order to qualify for the 2-for-1 discount, bookings must include a $90 per person mandatory shore excursion package (billed at $45 per person after 2-for-1 savings is applied). The package features three excursions including an educational tour of the Three Gorges Dam, a tranquil sampan excursion along one of the Yangtze’s scenic tributaries and a visit to a famous Chinese monument such as a 100-foot-tall statue depicting the Jade Emperor, the supreme deity of Chinese Taoism, or Shibaozhai’s famous red pagoda. Excursions are subject to change.

With all discounts included, passengers can sail for as low as $285 per person, based on double occupancy – representing a total savings of $1,170 per couple.

Optional add-on excursions such as the Tribe of the Three Gorges cultural experience or an opportunity to experience the world’s largest ship elevator (capable of elevating a volume of water roughly equivalent to four Olympic-sized swimming pools), are available for onboard purchase starting at $45 per person, per excursion.

Onboard passengers will enjoy a world-class dining program designed for the Western palate, while Tai Chilessons and traditional dance and musical performances emphasize local culture.

Passengers can upgrade their onboard experience for an additional $200 per person with Victoria Cruises’ Luxury Amenities program, which offers VIP perks including upper deck stateroom placement, access to exclusive ship areas, “white glove” service, enhanced culinary privileges featuring a la carte options as well as wine and beer with dinner, exclusive happy hour and complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access. The nominal $200 per person upgrade becomes $100 per person when the Luxury Amenities program is booked in conjunction with Victoria Cruises’ 2-for-1 offer.

New York-based Victoria Cruises established new standards of excellence for sailing China’s Yangtze River when its first ship edged out of port in 1994. Victoria Cruises remains a service leader on the Yangtze River with each ship earning the coveted five-star rating from the China National Tourism Administration. Victoria Cruises has earned numerous awards and recognitions over the years including the 2011 TravelAge West WAVE Award Editor’s Pick for Best River Cruise Line as well as Best New River Cruise Ship in 2010 with the launch of the luxurious Victoria Jenna. In that same year, Travel Weekly also selected the Victoria Jenna as a Silver Award Winner for the Magellan Awards’ River Cruise Ship category. The cruise line operates a variety of itineraries on the Yangtze ranging from four to eight days. 

For more information and a free color brochure or promotional DVD, contact Victoria Cruises at 136-18 39th Avenue, 12th Floor, Flushing, NY 11354; phone (800) 348-8084, (212) 818-1680; fax (212) 818-9889. E-mail contact@victoriacruises.com or visit www.victoriacruises.com.

 

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Backyard Travel Introduces Family Tour through Vietnam, Cambodia

Backyard Travel has introduced a new family tour through Vietnam and Cambodia.

Bangkok, Thailand – Backyard Travel, the online boutique tour operator specializing in insider tours throughout Asia, today announced a fun family adventure through Vietnam and Cambodia. Heading from the ruins of ancient Angkor to the idyllic beaches of Phu Quoc, this all-ages journey is jam-packed with activities for all ages.

Launching from Siem Reap, Cambodia, the 10-day Ruins, Waterways and Beaches Tour begins with explorations through the Angkor Temple Complex, zipping around the ancient city in a remork and refueling with delicious local cuisine along the way. After an exciting homestay experience in the countryside of Banteay Srei, it’s off to Ho Chi Minh City for a thrilling Vespa tour of the city. From there, it’s on to the fascinating Mekong Delta to explore the waterways and glimpse life along the river, before heading to the tropical paradise of Phu Quoc island for two full days of blissful downtime.

“Traveling with children can be challenging, but our family tours are specially designed to make sure everyone has fun,” says General Manager of Backyard Travel Trystan Trestchenkoff. “Our Travel Specialists have years of experience tailoring family trips, and selecting only the best local experiences in every destination.”

For more information about the Ruins, Waterways and Beaches: A Vietnam and Cambodia Family Tour, contact Pete  marketing@backyardtravel.com

 

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Pauline Frommer to Host World Spree’s Feb. 17 Vietnam Tour

Pauline Frommer, with her father, the legendary travel writer Arthur Frommer, speaking at the New York Times Travel Show. Pauline will host World Spree’s Feb. 17 “Amazing Vietnam” tour. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bellevue, WA —The February 17 departure of World Spree’s Amazing Vietnam tour has an extra added attraction: it will be hosted by travel expert Pauline Frommer, a familiar face from her many television appearances.

An experienced traveler and engaging personality, Pauline is co-president of Frommer Media with her father, the legendary Arthur Frommer.  Together they publish the Frommer guidebooks and Frommers.com.  She is also host of two radio shows on travel and is the author of seven books, countless articles and a weekly King Features syndicated column.

The tour takes in the highlights of Vietnam, an exotic country lapped by the warm waters of the South China Sea, with the world’s friendliest people, a beautiful landscape and a rich history dating back 5,000 years.  It starts in the charming capital, Hanoi, with its French-colonial mansions and mementos of Ho Chi Minh, and continues with an overnight cruise on Halong Bay, famous for its spectacular seascape of limestone peaks and islands.

There’s a glimpse of Danang and China Beach on the way to Hoi An, an old port town that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then to Hue, the former imperial capital with its impressive Citadel and, finally, a flight to the bustling city of Saigon, officially known as Ho Chi Minh City.  There are also several optional excursions, including one to the fascinating Cu Chi Tunnels and a cruise/land tour to the scenic Mekong Delta.

The 13-day tour costs $1,899 from Los Angeles and San Francisco, $1,999 from New York, and that price includes round-trip international airfare, conveniently-located deluxe hotel accommodations, 13 bountiful meals, an overnight cruise on Halong Bay, sightseeing tours with entrance fees, professional English-speaking guides, baggage handling and audio earphones.

All prices are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability. For additional information, visit www.worldspree.com and click Vietnam, or call toll-free 1-866-652-5656.

Based in Bellevue, Washington, and known for value-packed trips, World Spree Travel began 14 years ago as China Spree, now operates tours to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bali and, yes, Peru and Ecuador.

 

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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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