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Recommended worldwide escorted touring holidays

If you’ve never considered an escorted tour, just envision a holiday where every detail is taken care of for you – you don’t have to worry about inadvertently booking a dilapidated, noisy hotel, searching for the best restaurants and trying to figure out which activities to squeeze into your itinerary. You won’t have to worry about getting lost out on the road when GPS fails, and you’ll feel safer and more secure.

An escorted tour, whether with an intimate group or larger group of travellers, can be a practically stress-free way to travel, bringing the chance to meet new like-minded people all while being led by experts with insider knowledge, bringing to life all that you’re seeing through entertaining, guided tours.

Vietnam and Cambodia Mekong River Discovery

Vietnam and Cambodia are two of the most enchanting countries in Asia, and this 17-day escorted tour will take you to some of the best they have to offer, from vibrant cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to ancient temples surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, and the renowned Mekong River. It includes seven nights cruising the river, and the rare chance to view the Irrawaddy dolphin. Unlike most dolphins which can only live in saltwater, these dolphins can survive in either freshwater or saltwater, and here in the Mekong, there are believed to be less than 90 of these creatures that remain. Despite the small number, sightings are frequent. Witness authentic Mekong life, visit monasteries, capture postcard-perfect shots of lush rice fields and even take a guided tour in a tuk tuk. A cruise on Ha Long Bay in northeast Vietnam will take you gliding past thousands of lush, uniquely-shaped isles and limestone karsts, as well as bring you to a floating village.

As the morning light washes over the ruins and temples of Angkor Wat, you may think you’re watching a painting come to life. These ancient structures sit within one of the largest religious complexes on Earth. By waking early, arriving with camera in hand, you can capture the colours as they dance above the temple spires.

Highlights: While cruising the Mekong is unforgettable, it’s the chance to experience authentic culture, perhaps participating in a Buddhist blessing or taking a Khmer cooking class, that many remember the most.

More information and to book: Vietnam and Cambodia Mekong River Discovery

Scenic Parks Explorer

This 15-day journey will bring you through some of western America’s finest national parks, kicking off in the glittering city of Las Vegas where you can test your luck in the themed casinos, take in incredible live shows and a world-class dining scene to fuel the adventures ahead.  Discover a land of fascinating rock formations, sandstone canyons, cascading falls and unique geologic features in Zion National Park and hike among the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. In between wilderness explorations, you’ll have city attractions to delight in, like Salt Lake City’s famous Temple Square and its magnificent temple, an awe-inspiring granite structure and the symbol of this religious centre for Mormons.

It just keeps getting better as you cross into the wildlife-filled parks of Yellowstone and Grand Teton. The peaks of Grand Teton rise over 6,500 feet from the valley floor while the Snake River is ideal for a rafting trip to search for animals like moose, elk and pronghorn. Yellowstone is known as one of the most active areas of hydrothermal activity on Earth, with hot springs like the brilliant rainbow-hued Grand Prismatic Spring, mudpots, fumaroles, travertine terraces and geysers, including one of the world’s most famous, Old Faithful, which skyrockets boiling water over 120 feet into the sky. Marvel at creatures you may never be able to see back home, from grizzly and black bears to elk, bison and gray wolves. You’re only at the midway point now, with the lush Black Hills of South Dakota, home to Mount Rushmore National Monument, the Mile High City of Denver and the Colorado Rockies up next. Afterwards, travel through the fiery red rock formations of Arches National Park and the grandest canyon of them all, Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Highlights: While peering down into the vast, multi-coloured Grand Canyon is an experience you won’t soon forget, it’s the other-worldly features and exotic wildlife in Yellowstone that are likely to get your heart-pounding the most when you recall this incredible tour.

More information and to book: Scenic Parks Explorer

Highlights of Australia and New Zealand

This bucket-list trip that offers the rare chance to experience both Australia and New Zealand in one escorted tour over 22 days begins in the cultural capital of Melbourne, a mecca for fine food and shopping, with galleries, theatres, restaurants and shops that have a distinctly European feel. You’ll travel one of the world’s greatest drives, the Great Ocean Road, hugging the southeastern coast with its jaw-dropping cliffs, massive limestone formations and Pacific Ocean views.

Next journey to the Outback to places like Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, deep in the heart of red rock country and the home of iconic Uluru Rock. One of the most photographed natural wonders in the entire nation, it towers over the landscape at 1,141 feet, bearing multiple inscriptions made by ancestral indigenous peoples. The Great Barrier Reef is on the agenda too, internationally renowned for diving and snorkeling, with over 1,600 species of tropical fish, sea turtles, dolphins, rays, sharks and giant clams. Before flying to New Zealand, explore Australia’s capital of Sydney, including a cruise on famous Sydney Harbour. After landing in Auckland you’ll head to Rotorua, a thermal wonderland complete with geysers and hot springs. Get to know the Maori culture through a Maori guide and a true Maori feast. The adventure continues to the South Island, with a world-famous rail journey through the Southern Alps and a scenic flight over Franz Joseph Glacier. You’ll experience the nation’s adventure capital too: Queenstown. Set along the edge of Lake Wakatipu, it offers all sorts of thrills and magnificent scenery. Wine tours, cruises, golf and a gondola ride for a bird’s-eye view from Bob’s peak are all on the agenda too.

Highlights: With the Great Barrier Reef one of the top experiences on any travellers’ bucket list, the chance to swim in a place that looks as if you’ve hopped right into a marine life-filled aquarium is hard to beat.

More information and to book: Highlights of Australia and New Zealand

Trans-Canadian Grandeur

This adventure is for outdoor enthusiasts’ who prefer luxuries with their wilderness experiences, showcasing some of Canada’s most impressive landscape. It all begins in Vancouver, British Columbia, first travelling west to the province’s picturesque British-esque city of Victoria with its tearooms, colourful gardens and double-decker busses before heading east. Travel through the towering peaks of the Rockies and into some of the country’s most spectacular national parks, culminating with a grand rail journey across northern Ontario to Toronto. Along the way, take in the view of Whistler and the surrounding mountains with a ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, and sample the wines of Okanagan Valley. Explore Mount Revelstoke, Glacier and Yoho national parks, including the jewel-like waters of Lake Louise and embark on a drive of a lifetime on Icefields Parkway in Jasper, where you’ll be able to hop board the Ice Explorer and onto a glacier. You’ll explore the cosmopolitan city of Toronto before the grand finale, a close encounter with one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: Niagara Falls.

Highlights: To get from Vancouver to Victoria, you’ll cruise via ferry through the island-dotted Strait of Georgia, watching for the orca whales that are frequently spotted along the way. Seeing these animals put on “performances” in the wild is nothing like watching them at an amusement park or aquarium.

More information and to book: Trans-Canadian Grandeur

Galapagos Family Holiday

The Galapagos Islands, located some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is an archipelago in the Pacific that’s considered one of the world’s best wildlife destinations. This eight-day family-friendly tour will bring you to these islands that were never linked to the mainland, which means to get there, species had to have flown, floated or swam in. Animals who were larger and at the top of the food chain were unable to make the journey, resulting in a lack of predators that allow wildlife to thrive. Many of the creatures here have never learned to fear humans, so visitors can often walk quietly among sea lions and Galapagos giant tortoises, and even snorkel alongside marine iguanas. There are blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants and even penguins to admire too.

On this journey, you’ll visit the Charles Darwin Research Center to learn more about the islands’ diverse and unique ecosystems as well as Darwin’s work, take a boat excursion to a sea lion colony and view baby turtles along with giant tortoises on Isla Santa Cruz. It all begins in the magnificent city of Quito, renowned for its colonial 16th- and 17th-century architecture, including the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas, Basilica del Voto Nacional.

Highlights: There is almost nothing else as surreal as walking and swimming among rare and unique creatures in one of the world’s few true unspoiled wilderness regions.

More information and to book: Galapagos Family Holiday

Tastes and Sounds of the South 

This 10-day tour is all about hospitality and the charms of the South, tasting mouthwatering southern cuisine and listening to the sounds of the south, all the way from Nashville to New Orleans. Kick things off with a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and a legendary country music and variety radio show at the Grand Ole Opry. The city that birthed Elvis is on the itinerary too. In Memphis explore Presley’s famous home, Graceland, as well as iconic Sun Studio, where practically endless rock 'n' roll, blues and rockabilly recordings have been made, including the first recordings made by Johnny Cash and Elvis.

Further south in Natchez, you’ll be able to wander through what was the very first established settlement on the Mississippi River. Its historic streets are lined with over 50 grand antebellum homes, and this city includes a visit to a private 1804 estate to hear tales of its historic past and present as well as enjoy a four-course meal for a ‘true taste of the Deep South.’ Your grand finale is the city of New Orleans, renowned around the world for its jazz, tasty Cajun cuisine and cobbled streets. Tour the French Quarter and Jackson Square with an expert local guide, check out the historic cemeteries and listen to live music in venues where greats like Wynton Marsalis got their start.

Highlights: The chance for fans of music, and particularly, “The King,” to step into the footsteps of such greats like Elvis in what was his very own home, imagining the tales its walls could tell is a true bucket list experience.

More information and to book: Tastes and Sounds of the South

Best of Mexico & Cuba

Mexico is a vast, diverse country with a wealth of exciting cities and historic, colourful towns as well as boasting ancient Mayan ruins, a rich history and mouthwatering cuisine. Cuba is fast becoming one of the world’s hottest travel destinations, with visitors coming to see those classic cars that are still rolling through the streets, before places like McDonalds or Starbucks move in. This 22-day escorted tour will bring you through many of these countries’ highlights, from Mexico City to Havana. Take a guided tour of Mexico City, visiting places like the National Palace and Metropolitan Cathedral before exploring the Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan and wandering the “Avenue of the Dead.” Stroll through charming colonial towns tasting the local flavors like banana-leaf-wrapped tamales and handcrafted chocolates, watching artisans at work, and shopping for hand-woven shawls or blankets to bring back home. Countless fascinating museums, archaeological sites, exotic animal and bird life, the chance to take a dip in a hidden cenote on the Yucatan Peninsula and more, all await in this beautiful nation.

It’s just a short flight to Cuba from Cancun, and stepping onto the streets of Old Havana, you’ll see American cars from the 1930s, ’40s and ‘50s in mint condition everywhere. It’s like walking into another era, where you’ll be surrounded by the slightly faded beauty of elegant colonial facades that have barely changed over the decades. Marvel at the beautiful orchid gardens in Soroa, take a salsa lesson and even swim in the Bay of Pigs.

Highlights: Gazing up at the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacan is considered by some to be a life-transforming experience with the realization that we’re all on this Earth for what’s rather a short blip of time.

More information and to book: Best of Mexico & Cuba

Whales & Bears of British Columbia

An ideal choice for wildlife and nature lovers, this excursion through British Columbia begins with a guided tour through one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, Vancouver, with its world-class cultural attractions, shopping, dining and entertainment surrounded by mountains and water. From here, take the scenic ferry ride to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island where you’ll be immersed in unspoiled landscapes that include everything from wild coastlines and rainforest to soaring mountains and abundant wildlife. This is home to everything from black and grizzly bears to bald eagles and whales, all of which can be witnessed in their natural habitats. Hike trails framed by towering giant Douglas firs and visit Pacific Rim National Park, where you’ll head out in a Zodiac boat to watch for gray, orca and humpback whales, and into the protected bays, searching for the black bears that feed along the shoreline. Learn about the rich culture and traditions of the First Nations groups in Campbell River, as well as more about the history of the land.

Highlights: A cruise along the glacial waters of Orford River will take you into the world’s largest concentration of Grizzly bears where you can watch them feast on the spawning salmon, and sometimes spot young cubs as they learn how to catch their meals.

More information and to book: Whales & Bears of British Columbia

Peruvian Pathways

This 14-day escorted adventure incudes the chance to discover the “lost city” of the Incas, located high up in the Andes, re-discovered by explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911. These spectacular, haunting ruins are perched high upon a ridge in one of the world’s most dramatic settings. You’ll take the four-day trek along the original Inca trail to reach it while viewing rare wildlife like the colourful toucan and the toothy caiman along the way. The journey also includes hikes and boat trips through the Amazon jungle, searching for unique animals like giant otters, as well as the many monkeys and macaws that sit perched in the trees. The holiday includes visits to exciting cities like Lima and Cusco to view historic sites and taste local chocolate at the Chocolate Museum. A visit to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake and floating island tours are included too.

Highlights: The hike to Macchu Pichu is on or near the top of just about every travellers’ bucket list a place that must be experienced to truly understand – a journey CNN noted as something that will ‘change your life.’

More information and to book: Peruvian Pathways

Rockies Trail & Alaska Cruise 

If the wilds of the Canadian Rockies and a cruise along the waterways of unspoiled Alaska sound like your idea of fun, the Rockies Trail & Alaska Cruise offers a breathtaking experience through dramatic mountain wilderness, some of Canada’s top national parks and beautiful cities, as well as a 7-night cruise to Alaska. Visit Banff with its towering jagged mountains and turquoise lakes, waterfalls and hot springs, and travel across the famous Icefields Parkway to witness glaciers before they melt, even riding atop the surface of ancient Athabasca Glacier. Take the Sea-to-Sky Highway from Whistler to beautiful Vancouver before sailing the Georgia Strait to B.C.’s capital city of Victoria, home to world-famous Butchart Gardens and some of the world’s best whale watching. Returning to Vancouver, your cruise begins by boarding the Holland American ship, sailing through the Inside Passage and its most renowned ports of call, from Juneau and Skagway to Glacier Bay and Ketchikan.

Highlights: The Canadian Rockies look as if they were sculpted as a work of art, a vision that’s surely one of the most beautiful on Earth, but perhaps the most unforgettable of this adventure is listening to the sounds of massive ice crashing into Glacier Bay as a humpback breaches in the distance from the comfort of your ship.

More information and to book: Rockies Trail & Alaska Cruise


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