Tours in Review

I returned from an 18-day trip to China on April 13, 2007. It was my first visit there since 1984. The purpose of this trip was to see for myself the changes brought on by 15 years of 10% annual growth.

We started at Shanghai, where I expected to see many new buildings, but my shock was unbelievable when we arrived at Pudong International, a magnificent modern airport, and drove on modern expressways to a fine hotel in town. Shanghai now resembles a New York City but with more skyscrapers, all modern and all built in the last 15 years.

The streets were crowded with new...


For any traveler who has wondered if the additional cost of a tour with National Geographic Expeditions (1145 17th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036; 888/966-8687, over other tour operators is worth the expenditure, rest assured that it is.

On Dec. 31, 2007, my husband and I left the States and arrived in San José to begin an 8-day tour called “Costa Rica Adventure.” The ground operator was Global Adrenaline.

Our group of 25 was divided each day into two buses, each accompanied by either of the outstanding Costa Rican naturalist guides,...


We’d wandered much of the world since retirement but never within Central Asia. Samarkand beckoned.

We searched the Internet and contacted Rustam Muslimov of (6-57, Abdulla Kahhar str., Tashkent 700015, Uzbekistan; mobile phone +99890 1082679,, who made all arrangements for the two of us to enjoy five days in Uzbekistan, April 5-10, 2008. E-mail communications with Rustam were prompt and clear.

We felt the price was reasonable: $625 each, excluding meals (other than breakfasts) and tips but including the flight between Bukhara...


We were pleased with every aspect of our 18-day “Russia and the Baltic States” tour from Grand European Tours (6000 Meadows Rd., Ste. 520, Lake Oswego, OR 97035; phone 800/552-5545 or visit

Our tour, May 20-June 6, 2006, visited FINLAND, RUSSIA, BELARUS, LITHUANIA, LATVIA and ESTONIA. The basic tour cost about $8,000 for the two of us, starting in Kansas City. This tour had a number of optional events. When booking the tour, you should be aware that these options will cost about $1,000 per couple if you choose all of them, but we were glad we did.

The hotels...


Jeff Garrett, owner of JMG Tibet Tours (6001 Falls Cir. Dr., Ste. 301, Lauderhill, FL 33319; 866/548-4238,, does an amazing job of coordinating all travel plans and keeping expenses down. I can’t say enough about the wonderful job that he did making my April 5-23, 2007, trip such a success. The cost of the tour, not including international airfare, was $2,895.

The tour was very well organized. Group members came and went, with up to 16 at times.

In Beijing we stayed at the Howard Johnson Paragon Hotel, across the street from a Starbucks coffee shop....


Here are some highlights of an 11-day tour to Algeria I took Oct. 27-Nov. 6, 2007, with Adventures Abroad (1124 Fir Ave., Ste. 101, Blaine, WA 98230; 800/665-3998). The land price of $2,290 included dinners and breakfasts. The single supplement was $400; insurance cost $334, and round-trip air from Miami to Algiers was $1,525.

Our group of 13, a few Canadians and the rest Americans, began our tour staying at Hôtel el Djazair in Algiers, which was truly deluxe. On the first day, we had a city tour and visits to the 17th-century Casbah, the Bardo Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art and...


Kenya Deborah Urquhart at Wild Africa Ventures, Inc. (10505 Wheatland Ave., Shadow Hills, CA 91040; 800/358-8530,, made all the arrangements for my family’s 11-night trip to Kenya, and everything went exactly as planned.

Our September ’07 trip cost $3,880 per person. One single supplement was $1,224.

The food at Ol Tukai Lodge in Amboseli National Park was especially good, but there were so many people at dinner that it was extremely noisy. It is a much larger lodge than we prefer.

Our next stop was Samburu Lodge for three nights. This is a...


To characterize our trip to Cambodia and Vietnam from Journeys Within Tour Company and Bed & Breakfast (Box 93155, GPO Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia; call toll-free 877/454-3672, fax 855 63 964748 or visit as a “tour” would be a major understatement. Our experience would be better described as a personal invitation from a Western couple living in Cambodia to share their home, staff of 15 and their experiences in Southeast Asia over the past three years.

From the overnight response to our initial e-mail inquiry to Andrea Ross (