In-Depth Tours

This item appears on page 39 of the June 2015 issue.

Carol Horner of Lacey, Washington, wrote (Nov. ’14, pg. 67), “I have traveled many places, gone on many tours and lived in Paris, Istanbul and Tokyo. I no longer want to tour castles, cathedrals, mosques, museums, parks and ‘wonders of the world.’ What I’m looking for are tours that take travelers to nations for immersion in their politics and economics, including information about, say, their major exports and imports and their agricultural and natural resources. “I would enjoy an in-depth study of a country’s education systems, class structures and current issues and problems as well as of their foreign politics and what they really think of the United States. And what about their newest artists and writers? Perhaps particular tours have field trips that illustrate some of this. I would like to see ITN readers’ recommendations of such in-depth tours.” Letters received from subscribers appear below. Email your recommendations to or write to In-Depth Tours, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818.


I, too, can become bored wandering around looking at “stuff” on a tour. Several organizations have provided me with a more in-depth international experience. The Earthwatch Institute (Boston, MA; 800/776-0188, provides opportunities to volunteer on scientific research projects.   I volunteered with Earthwatch on a project to build solar ovens in East Java, Indonesia, in 1999. Working with community development leaders, we learned how to build ovens so the leaders could take this skill back to their villages.  In 2006 and 2007 I volunteered with Earthwatch and Kenyatta University in Kenya’s Samburu district on a medicinal plant project, a water resource project and a wild animal and pastoral animal census. Not only did I become well acquainted with professional staff from Nairobi, I also had opportunities to become acquainted with Samburu pastoralists in their environment. Aimed at folks over 50, Road Scholar (Boston, MA; 800/454-5768, provides terrific opportunities for in-depth study of a subject or a foreign city.  I went on the “Dubai & Oman: Modern Riches, Ancient Treasures” tour with Road Scholar in 2013. Activities included a lecture and field trip by an architect, a visit to a falcon hospital while learning about falconry, and a day in Old Dubai with community leaders learning about history and culture.  Behind the Scenes Adventures (El Sobrante, CA; 510/275-3662, offers “hands on” tours specializing in textiles and folk festivals.  On a tour in 2014 in Ghana, we made our own glass beads from recycled bottles in a small bead factory. In a batik workshop, we dyed and stamped our own cloth. I have now turned my batik cloth into a quilt.  Participating at the workshop gave us an opportunity to become acquainted with the shop owner, the workers, working conditions and the economy in the community. Sally Campbell Chicago, IL


I highly recommend Road Scholar ( for in-depth tours of countries. My husband and I have taken 10 tours with this company and always learn so much from their knowledgeable and interesting speakers.  I remember a talk in Israel given by a member of the Knesset in 2009. On the “Spain & Morocco: Shared Histories” tour in 2010, we got a history lesson given by a person who lived in Spain during their civil war, and a woman in Morocco gave us a talk on women’s issues in a Muslim country. We also studied art history in Paris in 2002. On a Road Scholar tour, there’s usually a chance to meet and socialize with people who live in the country too.  Amelia Stovall Manteca, CA


In my opinion, the perfect antidote for too many castles, cathedrals, palaces and museums is service as a volunteer English teacher abroad.  With Global Volunteers (St. Paul, MN; 800/487/1074,, I have done this in a dozen countries, including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Italy, Ukraine, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico. Students ranged from primary school to university level, and I have taught professionals and even military officers. My last assignment, in December 2009, was in Kunming, China, where all my students were local English teachers.  I believe it is the best way to “experience” a country. Ted Mullett Vero Beach, FL