Over the past two years a number of my travelers as well as some readers of this newsletter asked whether I would consider organizing small group tours to the countries that top their personal bucket lists. To date I demurred as I focused on my existing destinations of Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam, Namibia and Ethiopia. However, I’ve decided it’s time to offer some new trips and your input will be helpful.

 

New Destinations Under Consideration

Last fall I visited Rwanda, a small, mountainous African country whose citizens have taken to heart the tragic lessons of their past and moved forward to support a stable democracy with a unified commitment to peaceful relations among all ethnic groups. Hutu and Tutsi live peacefully side by side. I enjoyed walking about the immaculately clean capital city of Kigali –evidence of the government’s focus on conservation and recycling; visiting the impressive Genocide Museum and Memorial, and driving up into the lush mountainside.

The highlight was, unquestionably, hiking in the Volcanoes National Park to visit one of the ten habituated Mountain Gorilla groups.  These rare and endangered animals are fiercely protected by locals and conservationists alike and rules governing a visit are strictly enforced.  That said, you can be very close to them and it is an experience like no other – not just heart throbbing – other-worldly and emotionally moving.

In early April I’m headed to Ivory Coast in West Africa.  A country known for its traditional art and crafts, its jewelers, wood-carvers, potters and weavers are world renown.  Many Ivorians continue to live traditional lives in their tribal communities and I intend to visit a number of them.  My ultimate goal is to create a comprehensive itinerary that includes highlights of not just Ivory Coast but also its neighboring countries of Ghana, Togo and Benin. Each one of these nations has a unique appeal and bundled together they offer a fascinating opportunity to observe diverse tribal cultures while providing opportunities for a greater understanding of the enormous impact of the slave trade and colonization.

Visiting the countries in central Asia e.g. The Stans has always been on my travel list, but I didn’t plan on going this year.  However, the President’s travel ban induced Iran to stop issuing visas to Americans – changing my plans to travel there this spring. Serendipitously, I had the good fortune to meet the impressive President and Founder of an Uzbekistan tour company, Silk Road Treasure Tours which leads tours in all of the Stans.  She quickly put together a customized itinerary and now two former clients (now friends) and I are scheduled to depart for Uzbekistan on April 25 for an 18 day tour through that fascinating land as well as Turkmenistan and a short hop into Tajikistan.  If any of you are interested, do get in touch with me ASAP and I’ll provide specifics.

Another destination that I plan to have ready to promote for 2018 is Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. The wildlife of the islands is clearly the attraction for most tourists, but the mainland also has a lot to offer.  The capital city of Quito is a beautifully preserved colonial city with easy access to the nearby jungle and remote villages.

I would really like to hear your thoughts…

…Are any of these destinations of interest to you?  What is your top priority for future travel? Do let me know…I’m in planning mode. Please send your top 3 destination choices to me at scolony@gmail.com. Hope to hear from you.