Archive for July, 2015

Iceland’s Bill Chill Adventure

Iceland's Miraculous Northern Lights

Iceland’s Miraculous Northern Lights

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times before, but we are just a little bit obsessed with Iceland and seeing the Northern Lights.

So, when we heard that Dr. Sarah Aciego, the glaciochemist (yes, glaciochemist!) who pioneered isotope dating of ice cores at the University of Michigan and co-founder of Big Chill Adventures, was unveiling the company’s inaugural “Diamond Circle Tour” tour of Iceland, we had to let our readers know. Northern Lights sightings; exploring lava tubes, volcanic pillars, black sand dunes, stone forests, turf farmhouses, geothermal fields and active volcanoes; and stories of trolls and elves all highlight this unique Iceland adventure.
“High magnetic activity, long nights, and clear skies provide the highest chance of Northern Lights sightings all year long,” said Aciego. “The remnants of past volcanic eruptions provide caves and unique geologic formations, while the heat of the active volcanic fields combined with the meltwater from the glaciers create geothermal phenomenon unrivaled throughout the world.”

Day 1, September 21
Tour the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field and Fljótstunga Farm. Explore the largest lava tube cave in Iceland, Viðgelmir. Meet some Icelandic Horses, take the Lava Circle Walk and possibly see some migrating whooper swans.

Day 2, September 22
Spend the morning visiting trolls — first a drive to 3,300 foot tall Tröllakirkja “Church of the Trolls” and then onto the largest saltwater lagoon in Iceland where guests will investigate black sand dunes.

Day 3, September 23
Travel to Glaumbær Farm to tour traditional turf farmhouses built in 900 A.D. Dine in Akureyri, the largest “city” in northern Iceland, before traveling to the Goðafoss waterfall.

Day 4, September 24
Tour the geologically diverse and spectacular Northeast of Iceland. Continue on to Vesturdalur walking trails and the strange basalt rock formations of Hljóðaklettar, which means “echoing rocks”.

Day 5, September 25
Explore the geothermal field of Hverir, with steaming vents, hissing chimneys and bubbling hot pots of mud. Trek around Lake Myvátn toward the Sigurgeir Bird Museum. Climb Vindbelgjarfjall with spectacular views of the lake from the top.

Day 6, September 26
Visit the “Black Castles” of Dimmuborgir, a huge 2,300 year-old field of twisted volcanic pillars, tunnels and arches made of coagulated rock. Drive to Akureyri, with time to enjoy some lunch before departing for Reykjavik.

The 6-day/7-night tour departs September 20, 2015 and starts at $3,850 per person.

For more information on this Iceland holiday or other tours to Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and the Canadian Rockies:

5 Star Vietnam… on a 2 Star Budget

Vietnam Sightseeing with World Spree Tours

Vietnam Sightseeing with World Spree Tours

A 5-star experience… for a 2-star price?

We can’t complain about that.

This Worldspree Tour 9-night Amazing Vietnam tour, which starts at only $1,899 from Los Angeles and San Francisco ($200 more from New York), includes round-trip air on China Airlines, all intra-Vietnam transportation, 5-star hotel accommodations, private sightseeing tours with entrance fees, an overnight cruise on Halong Bay, nine American buffet breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, English-speaking tour guides in each city, taxes and fuel surcharge, and discounted optional tours.

The tour starts in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, with its parks, French colonial mansions and a fascinating Old Quarter of tiny shops and street vendors that dates back to the 13th century. Sightseeing here includes monuments associated with Ho Chi Minh and there’s an optional half-day tour of the Old Quarter, the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison and a water puppet show. Overnights are in the resort-like Sheraton Hanoi, set in lush gardens with views of West Lake.

Vietnam's Halong Bay

Vietnam’s Halong Bay

Next comes a tour highlight: an overnight cruise on a luxe little cruise ship through the beautiful waters of Halong Bay, which is celebrated for its spectacular seascape of limestone outcrops and islets. The cruise includes a cooking lesson, a visit to a traditional floating village and a chance to explore enormous caves, take a swim or relax on a white sand beach.

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. There’s plenty of time for relaxation in the beautiful beachfront Golden Sand Resort and Spa.

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 sumptuous dinner in a delightful garden restaurant. Accommodations are in the luxurious Imperial Hotel, which offers views of the Perfume River.

And finally, the bustling metropolis called Saigon (officially Ho Chi Minh City), where skyscrapers are rising beside ancient temples and French colonial buildings. Here there are two not-to-be-missed optional excursions: the Mekong Delta, known as Vietnam’s “rice basket,” and the truly amazing Cu Chi Tunnels. The Saigon hotel is the splendid Renaissance Riverside with pool, gym and spa.

So what are you waiting for?

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