As a result of the tremendous support we’ve received recently, we are very pleased to announce that more of our 2019 tours (including those listed below) are now guaranteed. Each tour offers the opportunity to travel with a small group of like-minded people and to experience amazing destinations with the expert guidance, care and insights of outstanding local guides and our much-loved, well-traveled and experienced program leaders.

 

 
Sicily and Sardinia with Hugh Morgan
 

Commences Rome 29 September and ends Rome 18 October 2019

 


Enjoying Cefalu, Sicily

Sicily is the Mediterranean's largest island and has suffered from its strategic position as an island in the Mediterranean - 'the middle of the world'. Its history recounts stories of constant invasion and colonisation and its cultural heritage has been shaped by the many different peoples who have occupied it over the centuries. Its natural features range from the lofty, smouldering Mount Etna to the fertile central plains where we discover many examples of former civilisations.

Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean but remains surprisingly unexplored. It has rugged mountainous interiors with stunning coastal scenery as well as quaint hilltop towns and pretty fishing ports. It has a rich Neolithic history and the island still boasts over 7,000 nuraghi, fortified tower houses from a prehistoric civilisation. Later the island was settled by the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines and Saracens. In the Middle Ages, the island was fought over by the Pisans and Genoese before falling to the Spanish in 1295. Part of the Kingdom of Sardinia under Vittorio Amedeo of Savoy, Sardinia finally became part of the unified Italy in 1861. Many say that the island offers an almost primeval landscape of rocks sculpted by the wind and sea. D H Lawrence noted that Sardinia was “left outside time and history”.

 
Adriatic Discovery with Louise Shave

Commences Zurich 27 August and ends Zagreb 19 September 2019
 

We experience the diverse culture and the mountain, coastal and island scenery of the Adriatic’s Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

The Adriatic countries have been torn between eastern and western cultural influences including the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Turks before being incorporated into Tito’s Slavic Communist regime. These emerging independent countries reflect this historic dichotomy. We experience Slovenia with its Julian Alps containing such scenic gems as Lakes Bled and Bohinj and immortalised by Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms; the Adriatic Coast, once part of the Venetian Republic, with red-roofed towns and ports with Italianate piazzas, churches and campaniles; and the nearby karst region with its extraordinary cave formations and Lipizzaner horses, before exploring Croatia, which enjoys some of Europe's most dramatic coastal scenery and which has been ferociously contested since ancient times. Here we experience a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Palace of Diocletian in Split, Plitvice and the fortified port of Dubrovnik - one of Europe’s best-preserved mediaeval cities. We also take in the attractive islands of Hvar and Korcula, as well as the natural beauty and historical highlights of Montenegro and the vibrant Croatian capital, Zagreb.

 
Trans-Caucasus Journey: From Caspian to the Black Sea with Mark Goodwin

Commences Baku 07 September and ends Tbilisi 26 September 2019
 

The mountainous land wedged between the Caspian and the Black Seas is home to the countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Lying in the shadow of the Caucasus Mountains, this region has formed a crossroad between East and West. Invaders and merchants from past great empires including Greek, Persian, Roman, Venetian, Ottoman and Russian have conquered and interacted to create a wonderful mix of cultures. Each shares a border with the other two, yet each could hardly be more different. Three unrelated languages are spoken here, and two different religions hold sway. All have robust pagan roots, a love of life and a strong culture of hospitality, family and home.

Wine producing Kakheti Region, Georgia

We begin in Baku, Azerbaijan on the shore of the Caspian Sea. The old town centre is now a World Heritage site dating back to the 12th century, while the modern city boats some of the world's most cutting-edge architecture. We also learn about the bold and bright designs of Azerbaijan’s carpets. In Georgia, we savour red wines, enjoy its unique cuisine and experience the country's diverse landscape, from the lush shores of the Black Sea to some of Europe's most dramatic peaks. In Armenia, the world’s first Christian state, we admire the sculpted stone khachkar crosses which dot the green hillsides and, in both Georgia and Armenia, we visit stunning mountain monasteries.

 
Highlights of Bulgaria and Romania with Mark Goodwin

Commences Sofia 26 September and ends Bucharest 13 October 2019
 

This exciting 17-night program explores a fascinating and largely unexplored corner of Europe. In recent times, Bulgaria and Romania have been largely hidden from our view behind that great Iron Curtain that cut Europe into two. However, each of these countries has a rich and diverse culture with some of Europe’s most outstanding scenery and unspoiled towns and villages. They are countries all undergoing great changes but, for a short while, still offering us a unique insight into the time capsule of their past.

Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

We start our program in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, before discovering the great diversity of former Thrace, Wallachia and Transylvania in modern day Bulgaria and Romania. We study the Ottoman threat to both countries and the rise of nationalism in the 19th century together with the events leading up to the Great War and the complex and tragic history of this region in the 20th century.

We explore the fascinating and very different cities of the region from Sofia to Bucharest via ancient Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo, Brasov, Cluj Napoca and Sighisoara. Our program also allows us to discover some the rugged and unspoiled Romanian and Bulgarian countryside, as we visit UNESCO preserved mediaeval towns and monasteries, fascinating painted churches, fortified castles and quintessential villages.

 
Japan Autumn Colours with Robyn Laing

Commences Tokyo 04 November and concludes in Kyoto 16 November 2019
 

The autumn season in Japan is visually stunning and this tour is carefully arranged to experience an authentic Japan with an insightful look at the culture, both old and new.

Shrine in Kyoto, Japan

A variety of autumnal gardens, the artisans, architecture and the delicious food are but a few of the highlights. First travelling north to Nikko National Park, where ancient monuments and buildings, such as those in the Toshogu complex, are explored, you then experience an onsen (Japanese Spa) stay, nestled on a spectacular coloured hillside overlooking a river, before travelling back to Tokyo for a contrasting experience in a modern culture. These days are full of discovery as our Program Leader helps us uncover some 'hidden gems' in this much loved city.

A visit to the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Mt Fuji National Park is always a highlight, where a series of dyed kimonos representing scenes of Mt Fuji are displayed. Matsumoto Castle, and Tsumago & Magome protected heritage villages are also visited en route to Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan, where you visit many stunning World Heritage sites.