Far Horizons

Alluring Skógafoss on the Skógá River in southern Iceland. Photos by Randy Keck

Iceland (Second of three parts)

My exciting Icelandic adventure continued from the whale-watching mecca of Húsavík, in the north, with a day exploring some of the many attractions of the highly popular Lake Mývatn region. I was traveling (partially hosted) with a group of 11 explorers on a tour with Toronto-based ElderTreks in June 2016.

Mývatn is regarded as a birding paradise, even playing host to the largest breeding duck colony in Europe. On this day, we saw few ducks and...

Hot springs pool at Hveravellir — a true oasis in Iceland’s spartan lava interior. Photos by Randy Keck

Iceland (First of three parts)

To be certain, I had expected to encounter appealing landscapes on my June 2016 journey in a European island nation where, in a banishing of darkness at the height of summer, the sun never really sets. 

I was traveling, partially hosted by ElderTreks (Toronto, Canada; 800/741-7956, www.eldertreks.com), in amazing Iceland, where the adventure-tour operator (and advertiser in ITN) annually offers an 11-day tour. ElderTreks runs small-group...


The facts and opinions expressed in this column are based on firsthand observation. On 10 occasions since 2010, I have traveled to Cuba as a travel writer or in some other tourism-related capacity, visiting 15 of the island’s 16 provinces and all of the major cities. I have another two visits scheduled before November 2016.

An enthusiastic welcome

Earlier this year, I had occasion to visit Cuba’s most popular and most developed resort destination, Varadero, located...


Almost every January, I have the opportunity to attend the annual Symposium of the International Tour Management Institute, or ITMI (625 Market St., Ste. 810, San Francisco, CA 94105; 800/442-4864, www.itmitourtraining.com). ITMI has been conducting its training courses since 1976 and is the largest and most highly regarded training institute for tour directors and guides in the US.

Attending Symposium provides me with the opportunity to get up to date with tour operators...


(Third of three parts)

On the final part of the 12-day tour of Scandinavia that I took with smarTours (partially hosted) in August 2015, our group enjoyed an overnight DFDS Seaways cruise from Oslo, Norway, to Copenhagen, exploring the Danish capital for two days before flying to Helsinki, Finland. Boarding the ship in Oslo in late afternoon, we enjoyed two sunny hours of revelry on the 11th-level open deck with a view of the city skyline and harbor. The cruise was off to a great...


 (Second of three parts)

The second stage of my August 2015 Scandinavian adventure began with a drive from coastal Bergen into the heart of Norway’s enthralling fjord region. I was journeying, partially hosted, with a group of 38 intrepid travelers on the 12-day “Scandinavian Explorer” tour offered by smarTours (New York, NY; 800/337-7773 or 212/297-0955, www.smartours.com). 

Upon our arrival at the hamlet of Voss, we boarded an express train for...


(First of three parts)

Scandinavia finally edged its way to the top of my travel bucket list in August 2015 when the Fates presented an opportunity to travel to Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. 

With an energetic group of 38 savvy explorers, I participated in a 12-day “Scandinavian Explorer” highlights tour, partially hosted by both Finnair and New York-based smarTours (800/337-7773 or 212/297-0955, www.smartours.com). 

Tour prices, including...


(Second of two parts)

En route to the Atlantic coast on our June 2015 driving adventure in southwestern France, my wife, Gail, and I drove 400 kilometers from Collioure to Lourdes, where we found a hotel row stretched along the banks of the Gave de Pau.

After negotiating a good rate of $78 at the 4-star Hôtel Le Méditerranée (23, av du Paradis, Lourdes; www.lourdeshotelmed.com), we joined the stream of visitors, mostly foreigners and many in wheelchairs, making their way to...