Tours in Review

I spent Christmas-New Year’s 2004-2005 on the 15-day “VIETNAM Overland” tour, with a 2-day pre-tour to the Mekong Delta, offered by Peregrine Adventures, an Australian company. I booked through Adventure Center (1311 63rd St., Ste. 200, Emeryville, CA 94608; phone 800/227-8747 or visit www.peregrine

There were seven of us, and it turned out we were quite compatible, despite an age range from 27 to 75. I was the only American; the rest were from Australia.

The pre-tour into Mekong was great. The countryside was beautiful and we had the opportunity to see how...


“France’s Most Beautiful Villages,” the tour my husband and I took of the Dordogne region in September-October ’04, visited places where large tour buses cannot go. Our 12-day tour was with Intimate France (Box 92, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956; phone 800/676-1247or visit

We traveled in a van with eight people, with Intimate France owner George Nevin as our chauffeur and guide. In such a small group, our trip was more personalized and flexible. Sometimes George changed the itinerary to accommodate the group’s interests.

The land-only price of our tour...


When the original agent with whom we worked at Orient Odyssey (1385 Gulf Rd., Ste. 203, Point Roberts, WA 98281; phone 800/637-5778 or visit was poorly handling arrangements for post-tour accommodations, our file was taken over by the very competent owner, Thomas Cheng, who also saw us off in Los Angeles. (We did have to push him a bit to get a reasonable connection on the transfer to San Francisco.)

Our 21-day tour, “Tibet and Grand CHINA Odyssey,” took place in October ’04. The tour was well priced at $3,180 per person, including air.

Because this was...


A Natural Focus, LLC (56 Montague Rd., Westhampton, MA 01027; 413/527-5903 or, conducts personalized natural history tours in northwest Costa Rica. I had a great experience on a 10-day tour in January ’06. The cost was $1,670 per person, double occupancy, not including airfare from the USA, which was $606 from Atlanta.

What made it special were our guides, the husband-and-wife team of Fred Morrison and Laurie Sanders, who have been leading tours and working on biological projects in Costa Rica for 20 years. They have a home adjoining the Monteverde Cloud...


On my first trip to Europe in 1958, my mother and I sailed on the Italian liner MN Augustus from New York to Naples, with a one-day stop in Lisbon. The ship’s route took us through the Azores, approximately 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal. We sailed through them around 8:30 in the morning, and I can still remember how beautiful and sparkling they looked in the bright morning sunlight, just like jewels in the water. I promised myself that one day I would return to explore those peaceful islands.

Never able to locate a tour to the islands, I had almost given up hope when, thanks...


Our trip to Ho Chi Minh City, VIET-NAM, and Bangkok, THAILAND, in March ’04 was grand. Darryll at Asian Affair Holidays (360 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 3008, El Segundo, CA 90245; phone 800/742-3133 or visit made all the arrangements and planned each detail. Nothing went wrong. As independent travelers, we need to know all legs of our trip will work out. This was our second trip planned by Asian Affair Holidays and we highly recommend this company.

Flying Singapore Airlines from Newark, New Jersey, to Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City was a pleasure. Such...


I took an 18-day tour with smarTours (501 Fifth Ave., Ste. 1402, New York, NY 10017; 800/337-7773 or visit, May 14-30, ’05, in which we spent 10 days in Malaysian Borneo, two days in Kuala Lumpur and three days on the island of Penang. The other days were spent flying. Our group consisted of 28 people, ranging in age from 22 to 86, with the average being the late 50s.

All of our flights were on Malaysia Airlines, which did an excellent job in cabin service and food. Our hotels ranged from good to outstanding and, with two exceptions, were well located. One hotel...


I had some concerns about crime in Guatemala after reading reports in ITN and other publications about bandits and attacks on tourists. I hope these reports do not discourage people from visiting this country. My friend Roni and I never felt unsafe or threatened on the 14-day “Route of the Maya” tour that we took with Overseas Adventure Travel (Box 3167, Boston, MA 00241; 800/221-0814 or, May 8-21, ’05.

Tourist sites, banks and stores all had armed guards, which also made us feel secure. The guide did suggest to some people who wanted to hike in the countryside on...