Archive for the ‘customized travel’ Category

Full Moon Hikes, Red Rock Jeep Tours, Wine, and Qi Gong… Sign me up!

Mountains of Sedona

Mountains of Sedona

If you’re planning a girls’ getaway, think outside the box this time and head to the raw red rocks of Sedona, AZ for a truly unforgettable experience. The “Wild West” is no longer the perilous destination that tested the mettle of pioneer women.  No, sir. The sweet city of Sedona offers the best of food, wine, spa treatments, galleries, shops (zen crystals and palm readings, anyone?), outdoor adventures, all within one of the most beautiful and inspirational natural settings to “girls” of all ages. Whether it’s a Girlfriends’ Getaway, Mother-Daughter retreat, Female Family Reunion – Sedona is idyllic.
El Portal - Sedona Exterior

El Portal – Sedona Exterior

One fantastic home base for a girls’ getaway in Sedona is El Portal Sedona Hotel.  This 12 room luxury boutique hotel offers truly personalized concierge services for Sedona and area, spectacular gourmet breakfasts and spacious Sedona accommodations. Guests appreciate the attention to detail in the stunning turn of the century Southwestern design, as well as the fact suites feature all modern amenities. Each guest suite includes a private entrance, patio or balcony, fireplace, whirlpool bath, entertainment center with DVD player, free wireless and more. (It is a pet friendly Sedona hotel with never a fee for pets, and offers free pet sitting).
El Portal Lobby

El Portal Lobby

After settling in at El Portal, a quick trip into town will introduce girls to an array of shops and galleries, including Sedona Wineworks and The Art of Wine.  This wine shop and tasting room features Arizona wines and wine-inspired original artwork, and is open for tasting seven days a week.  After sampling some unique wines, head to Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village to browse in the shops and galleries, then relax over dinner at Rene’s or El Rincon, both just steps away from El Portal. After reconnecting over a great meal, make yourself at home back at El Portal with a glass of wine (and complimentary chocolate-chip cookies) around the campfire or on your a private patio or balcony. Taking a look back at women’s history in Arizona is a great way to celebrate the bonds of friendship while in Sedona. Through Labor Day, the Sedona Heritage Museum will be featuring the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail traveling exhibit, which is a celebration of women who have made significant contributions and left a lasting mark on Arizona.
El Portal Courtyard

El Portal Courtyard

Sun Country Adventures jeep tours of Sedona also allow girlfriends to connect with the rich landscape in a unique way, exploring seldom seen parts of the area on exhilarating jeep rides. Sun Country tour guides work with visitors to incorporate yoga or Qi Gong, meditation and ceremony if desired on customized hikes. Guests at El Portal Sedona Hotel can arrange full moon hikes, sunset hikes, hikes to high places, exhilarating and challenging hikes, as well as gentle hikes suitable for beginners. El Portal will even pack picnic lunches or arrange cowgirl cookouts.
Sun Country Adventures - Sedona Jeep Tour

Sun Country Adventures – Sedona Jeep Tour

One of the most popular hiking destinations in the area is Sedona’s majestic Red Rock State Park.  The park is a 286-acre preserve and environmental education center with breathtaking scenery of red rock and flowing water.  Unusual local rock formations such as Devil’s Bridge, which is considered the largest natural arch in the Sedona area, are great hiking destinations. Devil’s Bridge features dramatic views of the canyons, mountains and red rock cliffs from atop the cracked and fractured sandstone arch. The trail utilizes natural rocks as stairs to the top of the arch, making the trail suitable for hikers of most abilities and a great spot for memorable photos.
Of course, no girls’ trip is complete without spa treatments.  Guests of El Portal Sedona Hotel can walk over to Sedona Spa to indulge in everything from facials to massages and full-body treatments. These are just a few of the activities you can include in a unique and memorable girls’ getaway. Sedona offers biking, golf, musical performances, wine tours, hot air balloon rides and much more.  Contact El Portal Sedona for assistance in “rocking” the ideal girls’ trip.

About the Author: Wendy Rubicam is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Las Vegas, NV.  Wendy specializes in all things written for a wide variety of business clients, as well as freelance feature stories for magazines. Find out more about Wendy at www.rubicamwriting.com

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An Exotic Escape to Sri Lanka

Dambulla Cave Temple - Sri Lanka

Did you know that this year has officially been declared ‘Visit Sri Lanka Year’ by His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa?

So we thought, what better time to vacation in Sri Lanka than the present? One tour operator we’ve become familiar with throughout the years, Banyan Tours & Travels, is also offering tailor made safe, bespoke itineraries throughout India and Sri Lanka.

Here’s a bit about Sri Lanka. Known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has one of the longest documented histories in the world – over three thousand years. And, as one of the few remaining Buddhist societies in South Asia, Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for gaining an understanding of Buddhism’s way of life. For those interested in studying Buddhism, a visit to KandyTemple of the Tooth Kandy, and Dalada Maligawam are great options. This is where the founder of Buddhism’s relic is located and locals make puja (prayers and offerings) daily. Also known for its natural beauty, Sri Lanka is home to diverse landscapes, from verdant tropical forests to palm-lined beaches, and a stay at Tea Trails presents travel lovers with the chance to tour a tea estate and taste fresh local tea. How cool is that?

Sri Lankan Woman Picking Tea

Sri Lanka is also home to elephants, leopards, monkeys, rare birds, and many other exotic animals, so, for animal lovers looking for an ecotour that will let them get their hands dirty, the Millennium Elephant Foundation allows guests the chance to ride and bathe these gentle giants. Travelers won’t want to miss the Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Galle, or the markets located nearby, where a taste of hoppersdosas, and dodol will surely make Sri Lankan food a new favorite.

Cliff Diving near Galle Fort

Price: A ten-day, nine-night itinerary begins at a very reasonable $2,779/per person basis and includes accommodations, meals as per the program, and ground transportation in Sri Lanka. Add  an optional three-night stay at Tea Trails and scale the formidable Adam’s Peak, a wonderful sunrise excursion. Prices for the stay with the additional night begin at $3,125 per person and include accommodation and meals as per the program.

How to get there: Etihad and Emirates offer flights to Colombo with one stop in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai, from select major cities in North America (Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Toronto).

Consumer Inquiries: 1-866-401-3705

Sweet: Lesbian Travel with a Twist

What if going to a beautiful resort, giving back to a community in need, and partying your butt off were all possible in the same week – and what if the whole trip was carbon neutral? This is exactly the kind of trip customers of Sweet embark upon – an adventure filled with do-goodery… and debauchery.

Sweet is the latest in lesbian travel… with a twist. Merging the best of lesbian travel with social and environmental awareness, Sweet aims to make the world a better place while having a blast in it. All of Sweet’s vacations are carbon neutral, meaning they offset the pollution created by their air, land and sea travel. They traveling to amazing places (Belize, Mexico, Italy) with the very best lesbian entertainers and extravagant parties, while also supporting their guests’ personal enrichment, raising money for worthwhile causes and doing meaningful projects all over the world. How sweet is that?

Sweet's Founder, Shannon Wentworth

This niche travel company has set out to change the world – one bite-sized chunk at a time. The founder of Sweet, Shannon Wentworth, believes that if we break down this huge social issues (poverty, pollution, human rights, education in developing nations) that we can make a difference. We agree, Shannon, and we commend you!

Sweet has given back in many ways – from filling over 200 giant bags of garbage from Uvero Beach in Mexico and painting bright cartoon characters on the walls of a children’s hospital ward to donating two new computers to a children’s e-learning center in Honduras – Sweet is dedicated to enriching the lives of not only their guests but also enriching the communities that they visit. PBS also just did a feature on Sweet’s  ‘In the Life’ program, calling Sweet customers ‘voluntouristas’. Pretty fun so check it out here:  Sweet Lesbian Eco-Travel or, better yet, discover sweet for yourself!

www.discoversweet.com

Escape to Colorado

Biking Mount Evans

Air conditioners are being set on high and residents are locking themselves indoors as the U.S. experiences one of the hottest summers on record. So, we think August is the perfect time for an escape to Colorado where virtually no humidity, mild temperatures and Rocky Mountain breezes offer a way to beat the heat. Below is a sampling of the many ways to cool off naturally in the great outdoors. You can thank us later for this Colorado Cheat Sheet highlighting all the best eco-adventure activities for those who love green vacations and the perfect family or active couple retreats.

Cool Off With Activities

  • Zippity Breeze. Create your own breeze as you sail through the Aspen groves and over the Animas River on the largest zipline in North America. Soaring Tree Top Adventures offers over 34 eco-friendly platforms, with 27 spans ranging from 56-1400 feet and several unique elements to get into and out of the trees. www.SoaringColorado.com

Soaring at Tall Timber Resort

  • Riding Mountains. Experience a refreshing drop in temperature while the wind rushes past you biking down 14,115-foot Pikes Peak. The Summit is 40 degrees cooler than the city of Colorado Springs on a given day. Riders will pass through five different life zones, each zone having a different climate, different vegetation and wildlife.www.BikitHikit.com
  • Sail Away. Sail Western Colorado offers sunset sails, sailing adventures, instruction and certification on Blue Mesa Lake, Colorado’s largest body of water located in Curecanti National Recreation Area. Consistent southwesterly winds that begin building in the morning provide ideal sailing conditions on this picturesque mountain lake. www.SailWesternColorado.com, 970.901.5360
  • Alpine Adventure. Hike to “The Peak” at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR). The Summit Trail is part lift ride, part one-mile hike. The rewards are breathtaking and the cool mountain air may warrant the need to pull on a fleece. www.SkiCB.com
  • Cave Dwellers. Tour Glenwood Caverns & Historic Fairy Caves, where it’s always 52 degrees. Choose the 70-minute walking tour or the three-hour Wild Tour; either way you’ll enjoy some of Mother Nature’s finest handiwork and escape the summer heat (check out the beautiful photo below if you need some convincing) www.GlenwoodCaverns.com, 800.530.1635
  • Rocky Mountain High. At an elevation of 10,152-feet, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in North America. Average temperatures in July and August range from lows in the 40s to highs in the 70s. Surrounded by more than 35,000 acres of Wilderness Area, the state’s two highest Fourteeners and hiking and biking trails galore. www.VisitLeadvilleColorado.com, 888.532.3845
  • Float-On. Tubing and floating are popular pastimes when the water levels drop below 400 cubic feet per second (CFS) in the late summer on the San Juan River.  It’s a scenic, fun and affordable way to spend the day in Pagosa Springs. Rent tubes, boogie boards and more to float down the river. www.VisitPagosa.com

Rafters and Train Riders meet in the Royal Gorge

  • “Gorge”ous. Just downstream from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, lies the Gunnison Gorge. This 64,000-acre recreation area offering Gold Medal trout fishing, hiking, and a 14-mile whitewater rafting adventure, with rapids ranging from class II to IV. www.VisitMontrose.com, 970.240.5300
  • Heat quenching. Grand Lake, the largest natural body of water in Colorado offers summer boating, swimming, sailing and shoreline camping with 360-degree views of majestic mountains. The lake is framed by the quaint town of Grand Lake, and sits at the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. www.Grand-County.com

Chilled Packages

  • Paddle, Saddle & Bridge in the Royal Gorge combines a Bighorn Sheep Canyon half-day rafting trip with a riverside lunch, a one-hour mule ride on the rim of the Royal Gorge and tickets to the Royal Gorge Bridge. www.RaftEcho.com, 800.755.ECHO
  • Keep Your Cool in Breckenridge. Feel the breeze as you coast along Breck’s paved recreation path; let the snowmelt rivers cool your skin on a whitewater rafting trip; head inside the cool tunnels at a real gold mine; and saddle up for a sunset horseback ride. Groups of four can stay in a two-bedroom condo and each get four activities included for just $74 per person, per night. www.BreckCenRes.com, 800.462.7325

The Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs

  • Hit the Road Package at The Westin Riverfront. Escape the heat in Colorado’s Vail Valley with accommodations in a spacious Studio Suite, two 2-hour bike rentals, one 4-hour off-road Jeep Tour for two, a $50 dining credit to Restaurant Avondale, a $100 Spa Anjali gift card and complimentary valet parking. Rates start at $249 per night. www.WestinRiverfrontBeaverCreek.com, 866.716.8137
  • Stand-Up Paddle in Aspen. The Little Nell in Aspen offers Little Nell Adventures to its guests including stand-up paddle boarding. This fast-growing sport is an amazing thrill and an incredible workout. Private lessons and group classes are available in the morning and afternoon, as well as full-day trips. A gourmet picnic will accompany you on your journey. www.TheLittleNell.com

Check out Colorado’s Facebook page, as well:

www.facebook.com/visitcolorado and www.colorado.com

Exotic Asian Escapes

Pink Beach - Indonesia

Recently, Asia Transpacific Journeys sent me some information about their new custom journeys and small group trips to the Asia/Pacific region so I had to share the details; primarily because I’ve never seen such interesting itineraries to places like Komodo Island or Myanmar before. Founded in 1987, they claim that no other company offers such expertise in the region and I’m of the mind to believe them. With long-standing connections in Asia, outstanding personalized service, and deeply insightful cultural interpretations, this has made them the travel company of choice for organizations such as the American Museum of Natural History, the World Wildlife Fund, and Ivy League alumni associations so see below for some trips that are sure to tickle your fancy.

Indonesia: Pink Beach in the Komodo Archipelago

Indonesia’s 17,000 islands are home to stunning beaches, none more famous than Pink Sand Beach in the Komodo Archipelago. Komodo Island is also home to incredible wildlife such as the Komodo dragon, and offers unsurpassed snorkeling. Travelers can stay on a wonderful private yacht (hello, Captain!) or opt for gorgeous island resorts.

Best time to travel in Indonesia: Now through October.

Vietnam in Style: Six Senses Con Dao

Vietnam: Con Dao Archipelago

White-powder sand rings the 16 pristine islands that comprise the stunning Con Dao Archipelago, where impressive rock formations jut from crystal-clear Windex-blue waters. Deserted, perfect beaches, a ring of colorful coral reefs and a towering mountain backdrop make this magnificent national park Vietnam’s top insider tip and one of Asia Transpacific Journeys’ favorite seaside destinations.

Best time to travel Vietnam: November to April, so travelers should start planning their winter getaway now.

Now is a great time to plan a trip to Myanmar (Burma) with the best season to visit coming this fall.

Myanmar: Ngapali Beach

The country is up-and-coming and offers plenty of hidden treasures, including the snow-white sands of Ngapali, the second largest beach inSoutheast Asia and a great place for strolls along the vast, sandy beach. Stunning Ngapali Beach is as unspoiled as it gets and makes a great place to relax and enjoy the views, and engage in other activities such as swimming, snorkeling and fishing.

Best time to visit Myanmar: November to March.

Cambodia's Swanky Digs: Song Saa Island Resort

Cambodia: Koh Rong Archipelago

Cambodia’s islands, situated in the sapphire waters of the Gulf of Thailand, are a true treasure trove for those travelers looking for a quiet and tropical escape to get away from the crowds. Most of the islands in the Koh Rong Archipelago remain remote oases of virgin rainforests, tropical reefs and glistening white beaches, and opportunities for offshore adventures and water activities are plentiful.

Best time to travel to Cambodia: October through April.

www.asiatranspacific.com

Eat, Pray, India

India's Nubra Valley Camels

There are few things in life worth living for and those things just may ride on the back of the Nubra Valley camel. While the wind whispers Buddhist chants, India – and the rich culture she has to offer – is beckoning you to rise to your highest self  – seek beauty and truth from the inside out.

This is why we’re sharing the latest and greatest among customized India tours and buddhist retreats. Geringer Global Travel, is offering a great summer special to India: “Beauty and Buddhism,” 13-day customized journey through northern India combining cultural immersions in local villages, visits to ancient Buddhist monasteries and palaces, rafting and optional camel riding excursions.

This 13-day trip, starting at $1,939 per person (valid through September 30, 2011), visits the thrilling cities of Delhi, Leh, Alchi, Nubra, and Agra and includes everything except international flights, some meals, and personal expenses.

Highlights include:

  • Hosted dinner with local family in Leh, the capital city of Ladakh, surrounded by the towering Himalayas
  • Invigorating rafting trip down the Indus River from Phey village to Nimu
  • Nubra Valleyknown for its unparalleled trekking and houses several Buddhist monasteries
  • Meeting with the supernatural Oracle of Sabu in the village of Ayu
  • Imperial ‘ghost city’ of Fatehpur Sikri built of sandstone by Emperor Akbar

This is a great deal for people looking to travel to India this summer so check out the website below and, if you’re seriously considering your own Eat, Pray, Love buddhist trip to India, reach out to us and perhaps you can write about it for Eco-Adventurer.com!

www.geringerglobaltravel.com

Personalized Eco-Biking Tours

Personalized Bicycling Tours EuropeImagine the open roads… lush vineyards and verdant mountain ranges just up ahead…

You there? Good. Us too. So get this… combining the love of bicycle touring with social networking, we came across Dream Tours, a personalized cycling experience that allows users to create profiles and design their very own Dream Tour – ie. the cycling route they’ve always wanted to do! Okay, we like this idea because not only is it eco-friendly and personalized (as you know, Eco-Adventurers just love to take the reins), but it’s also great for biking newbies or cycling pros. In the process, you can name the tour, upload photographs of where you’ll be going, describe the focus and highlights of the trip, plot the route on a map and set the cost parameters of the tour by choosing variables such as accommodation, number of riders, food, crew and vehicle support, etc.

Love, love, love it!

If the tour is feasible, the Tour d’Afrique team approves it and the user can start spreading the word via their friends, social network, blog, local media, etc.  Their contacts can visit the site, view the tour, and make comments or suggestions on how to improve upon it, and ultimately click “Count Me In!” to register their intent to join the tour. The process is completely interactive and collaborative – the route can be changed and modified along the way and the Tour d’Afrique staff is there for support. As soon as there are enough people who have expressed interest, Tour d’Afrique office swings into action with the logistics needed to make it happen and here’s the best part… the original organizer gets to go for free!

Eco Bicycling Trips Europe

An example of a Dream Tour that is ready to go is The Amber Route, created by Tour d’Afrique founder Henry Gold.  This particular cycling trip was used as the beta/test example in developing the Dream Tours concept but was so popular with fellow riders that it is now a reality. This  six-week tour through 8 countries follows the Ancient Amber Trade Route used by the Romans. This tour will begin in St. Petersburg winding its way through the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, then onwards through Poland and Slovakia, continuing on to Hungary cutting through Slovenia and ending in Venice, Italy. To take a look at the process of how this tour was constructed, along with the comments and feedback visit:  http://www.tourdafrique.com/dreamtours/show/5.

Other Dream Tours in the works include a North American Epic (Key West to Anchorage), An Indian Adventure (Kerala to Agra), and the Mediterranean Circuit (loops around the entire Mediterranean Sea).

We think this is just about the coolest thing we’ve heard all week. So let’s get riding. The route won’t come to you, suckers!

www.tourdafrique.com/dreamtours

info@tourdafrique.com

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