Tours in Review

I do not recommend the “Italy-Austria: Cultures and Landscapes” biking tour to anyone who is a strong biker or who wants to experience some adventure. The 14-day tour, offered by Elderhostel (11 Ave. de Lafayette, Boston, MA 02111; phone 877/426-8056, e-mail, placed great emphasis on biking safety. However, in my opinion, this emphasis was quite extreme and created a very rigid, boring biking experience.

In Italy, clunky 3-speed bikes were used; for the Austrian portion of the trip, 5-speeds were used. The average distance we covered in an hour (with...


My husband and I went on a magnificent 16-day trip to Quito, Ecuador, and the Galápagos Islands, Jan. 6-21, ’03, with Galapagos Travel (783 Rio del Mar Blvd., Ste. 49, Aptos, CA 95003; phone 800/969-9014, e-mail

I chose Galapagos Travel because it is one of the few tour companies that offers more than seven nights in the Galápagos. Many companies offer a 10-day trip, which means seven nights in the Galápagos and three nights in Quito. I wanted to see more of the Galápagos on this once-in-a-lifetime trip. I am only sorry that I did not take one of their 14-...


On June 6, ’03, we left on the 13-day “Real Affordable Costa Rica” trip with Overseas Adventure Travel (One Broadway, Ste. 600, Cambridge, MA 02142; phone 800/955-1925). We paid $4,235 for two persons, including air from Las Vegas. The price also included $368 in trip insurance.

The trip was advertised as an adventure trip, and adventure we got aplenty. We had never taken this kind of trip before. We really did not know what we were getting into but have to admit that we enjoyed it tremendously.

We were a group of 15 people (they never book more than 16 per trip) and we...


We went on a wonderful trip to Australia, Dec. 19, ’02-Jan. 13, ’03, with Overseas Adventure Travel (Cambridge, MA), adding on their New Zealand extension.

Our tour leader, Colin Jones, was articulate and extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of life in both countries. We learned so much about the Aboriginal and Maori cultures as well as the general history, ecology, etc.

Our flights on Qantas were excellent, and we did quite a bit of flying in Australia as well as between countries. We took the 19-hour train trip from Adelaide to Alice Springs on the Ghan as well. Other...


A friend, Joan, and I, both seniors, took the 17-day “New Zealand Encounter” in February ’08, going from the South Island to the North Island, with visits to the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Milford Sound and Mt. Cook. We traveled with AAT Kings Tours (Anaheim, CA; 866/240-1659, The cost was $3,975, and round-trip air from San Francisco added $1,848.

It was a very well run coach tour (with an interesting and fair seat rotation), especially because of our unbelievably excellent tour guide, Ruben.

While the tour was fast-paced, rarely...


Having traveled to China five times since 1973, I had never traveled the famed Silk Road from Xi’an to Kashgar or in the vast area east of Chengdu. I selected a trip in April ’08 offered by Asia Connect Tours (Wayne, NJ; 800/803-3656, www.asiaconnect, which is the agent for China International Travel Service (CITS) out of Beijing, PRC.

The total cost of the 15-day trip was $2,774, which excluded international airfare but included six domestic flights; transfers to/from airports; 3-star or better hotels; all meals; English-speaking guides at each location; all entrance...


When my granddaughter Melody, just 16, begged us to take her to England, I wanted her to experience the England I loved most. My husband, John, and I and our son Huntley traveled with Melody from June 29 to July 14, 2008.

We were lucky enough to find Tristan Marshall, owner of British Tours by Tristan (Denver, CO; 303/507-3844, www.britishtoursby, on the Internet. I simply told him what I wanted: to see small, charming villages in Cornwall, the Cotswolds and York plus, of course, Stonehenge and Bath. Pubs, thatch-roofed cottages, castles — Tristan can do anything; you...


In contrast to the rather organized (for a third-world country) north, with its hotels, Christian churches and towns, southern Ethiopia is rural and tribal and has few amenities for Westerners. In the south, the majority of the people are Muslims or animists. Distinctly different from the north, it is a very African place.

This was my destination on a trip with Exodus Travel (in the US, contact Adventure Center, Emeryville, CA; 800/843-4272, or, Aug. 10-23, 2008. Including all meals, the land cost of the tour was $2,420, twin share. (I paid...