Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’

The wonders of South Africa for under $2,800

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This week, the Friendly Planet Travel office is abuzz over one word: AFRICA. And considering the deals we just ironed out, there’s no wonder why.

Africa is perhaps the last great vacation frontier for travelers. It isn’t that people haven’t been traveling to Africa, but for several reasons – mainly political unrest and cost – many who would want to enjoy the beauty and diversity of Africa choose other destinations first.

However, trends are changing, and more people are discovering that Africa, as a continent, offers a vast array of treasures for the traveler who likes to mix nature and adventure with relaxation.

Stay tuned this week, as I feature some of our most incredible Africa adventures, starting with South Africa!

For the adventure seeker, South Africa is one of the world’s most magnificent natural settings to explore. But as with many of our destinations, it has always been incredibly expensive to get there.

With our new 12-day South African Explorer tour for $2,799, travelers get the chance to visit modern, vibrant Cape Town – one of the world’s hot new destinations for style, night life, and unforgettable scenery – as well as cosmopolitan Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest metropolis.

Then, it’s into the wild for a visit to several of the country’s lush game reserves in search of the “Big Five” —  lions, African elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, and black rhinos. Vacationers will even spend a night at a traditional rural village, where you’ll be treated to warm, welcoming South African hospitality.

And while you’re in South Africa, why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare to visit Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders. Passengers taking the pre-tour extension will depart the U.S. four days before the scheduled departure date.

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On this optional extension, travelers experience the power and majesty of the largest curtain of falling water in the world. The tour also crosses over to the Zimbabwe side of the falls, and ends in Johannesburg, where you’ll meet up with the remaining group members as you depart for the full South African Adventure.

Join us in South Africa, and see why this destination is fast becoming one of the most popular in the world. It’s a vacation of a lifetime, at a price you won’t believe. But don’t wait too long to reserve your spot, because space is limited and will go very quickly.

Have a look at the Friendly Planet Travel Web site for the full South African Adventure itinerary, as well as the Victoria Falls optional extension itinerary.

Incredible 11-day Argentina tour for $1,599

Spanning more than 1 million square miles, Argentina is home to an immensely diverse topography of natural wonders. From the tropical rainforests in the north, to the snow-capped Andean mountains in the south, to all the wonders that any travel lover and adventure seeker could dream of in between, Argentina has it all.

And now, travelers can experience the unique beauty of Argentina for less than ever on our Incredible Argentina tour. The trip includes visits to the impressive Iguazú Falls, the stunningly beautiful ski resort of Bariloche, and the chic cosmopolitan capital city of Buenos Aires.

Everything vacationers need to explore Argentina — from roundtrip flights, transfers, touring, and some daily meals – is included in this fabulous vacation package. All of this is yours at prices that are — much like Argentina’s landscape — truly amazing!

Head on over to the Friendly Planet Travel Web site for more information or to book, or read on below for the full Incredible Argentina itinerary.

Day 1: Depart USA. Your fascinating journey begins as you depart in the evening for your overnight flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Day 2: Arrive Iguazú. After arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the national airport for your flight to the Argentinean side of Iguazú Falls. Check in at the Panoramic Hotel Iguazú, and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure to rest and take in your beautiful new surroundings.

Day 3: Iguazú Falls. Upon seeing Iguazú, Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed "Poor Niagara!" You’ll soon discover why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. Straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, the Falls consist of 275 inlets and cataracts cascading down 250 feet, framed by multiple rainbows and mist that rises up to 500 feet in the air. Iguazú boasts the greatest average annual flow of any waterfall in the world.

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Travelers will be treated to a fantastic close-up view of the falls and their dazzling display of power. Then, travel through the rain forest to the most spectacular sight at Iguazú: Devil’s Throat, a massive U-shaped cataract that measures 270 feet high, 490 feet wide, and 2300 feet long.

Spend the afternoon at leisure to explore further on your own. Or, take advantage of an optional nautical adventure along the Lower Iguazú River, sailing under the Falls. Later this afternoon, be sure to take time to stroll through the laid-back town of Puerto Iguazú.

Day 4: Bariloche. Enjoy a morning taking advantage of the lovely leisure facilities at the hotel. Later, transfer to the airport for your flight to the stunning lakeside ski resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche. Surrounded by dense forests, alpine lakes, romantic chalets, and snow-capped Andean mountains, Bariloche’s idyllic scenery is reminiscent of the Swiss Alps. Check in at the Cacique Inacayal Hotel, and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to relax or shop for hand-knit woolen sweaters and delicious locally made chocolate.

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Day 5: Bariloche. Experience the unbelievably beautiful natural splendor of the Andean region on today’s excursion along the popular Circuito Chico. Set out westward on Avenida Bustillo to the Península Llao Llao, home to one of Argentina’s most famous and picturesque landmarks, the Llao Llao Hotel. Llao Llao’s Puerto Pañuelo is the point of departure for your boat-bus excursion across the Andes to Chile. Stop at the charming village of Colonia Suiza, where you’ll have an opportunity to sample some of the town’s renowned pastries at a local café.

Spend the afternoon at leisure or take advantage of one of two exciting optional tours. The first takes you to Victoria Island, where you’ll ascend Mount Bella Vista by a chairlift that takes you up a narrow path of ancient coihue and cypress trees. As you descend, take in some of the most spectacular views in the region. Continue to the Bosque de Arrayanes National Park, home to the rare and ancient myrtle trees.

A second optional tour takes you to Cerro Catedral, rising to nearly 8,000 feet and named after its resemblance to a Gothic cathedral. Here you’ll find Argentina’s world-renowned Mount Cathedral Ski Resort, which boasts 62 miles of ski runs and magnificent views over Bariloche and Nahuel Huapi Lake.

Day 6: Buenos Aires. Your discovery of Argentina continues today as you transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital city. Upon arrival, transfer to check-in at the centrally located Dazzler Tower San Martin.

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Day 7: Buenos Aires. After breakfast, set out on a tour of the city and discover why Buenos Aires is so often referred to as "the Paris of the South." Exploration begins at the Plaza del Mayo, the historic and political center of the city. You’ll see the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace from which Juan and Eva Perón spoke to throngs of adoring Argentineans. Continue to the Obelisk landmark on the Avenue 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world.

Then to the crowded Florida Street, a true shopper’s paradise. Pass through the colorful neighborhood of La Boca and the charming San Telmo area. Buenos Aires is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive flavor, but everywhere you go, the people are warm and welcoming.

Admire the French architecture in the exquisite Recoleta neighborhood, including the beautiful Cemetery of La Recoleta, where Evita Perón is buried. It is one of many ironies of this comple
x city that Evita, heroine of the poor, is buried in the city’s most elegant (and expensive) section.

Day 8: Buenos Aires and Optional Tigre Excursion. Today is yours at leisure to explore on your own. We recommend an optional tour to Tigre and San Isidro. Enjoy a catamaran ride through the labyrinth of islands and islets along the Paraná Delta. Disembark and board the Tren de la Costa, a light rail train that connects the elegant riverfront areas. Descend in the main station of San Isidro for a tour of the town’s cathedral and other attractions.

In the evening, take advantage of an optional dinner, complete with an exciting performance of the tango, Argentina’s passionate national dance.

Day 9: Buenos Aires and Optional Estancia visit. After breakfast, travel outside the city for a full day optional excursion to the Argentine Pampas. Visit a traditional estancia (ranch), where you’ll discover the life of the Argentine cowboys known as "gauchos." After a sumptuous barbecue lunch including delicious local wine, you’ll enjoy a folkloric show with typical Argentine dance, song, and dress.

Day 10: Depart Buenos Aires. Enjoy your final day in Argentina at leisure for last-minute sightseeing and souvenirs. We recommend a stroll the colorful streets and shops around your hotel to scout the amazing bargains that will make shopping for souvenirs (and that gorgeous leather bag) a pleasure. Later, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA.

Day 11: Arrive USA. Your Argentinean adventure ends today as you touch down in the U.S.

All aboard the Emeraude: a Vietnam trip to remember forever

This summer, I told you all about my own experiences traveling throughout Vietnam. Well, one of my favorite parts of the trip was our stay aboard the Emeraude, in the beautiful waters of Halong Bay.

Anyone who visits Vietnam will no doubt want to visit Halong Bay. This amazing bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site is dotted with thousands of limestone karsts and isles. Local legend has it that long ago, when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the gods sent dragons to help defend the land. The dragons spit out jewels and jade, which turned into the islands and islets of Halong, forming a great wall against the invaders.

Most tourists take a short cruise, half a day usually, to admire the beautiful waterway, but for those with a little more time and a flair for a romantic journey back in time, we recommend a night aboard the Emeraude, a replica, one-of-a-kind steamer from the French Indochina days.

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During the day, you cruise around one of the most gorgeous waterways in Asia. While you cruise, you can enjoy a terrific massage aboard or relax on the deck and admire the views. High tea is served in the late afternoon, and dinner aboard the cruise is excellent continental and Vietnamese cuisine.

Each of the Emeraude’s cabins exudes warmth and character with high standards of workmanship, distinguished style, and impeccable service. With its polished wooden floors and brass fixtures and fittings, the Emeraude’s charming rooms offer timeless elegance. All cabins have a picture window. Balconies and sitting areas are located outside each cabin on the walkway. Each cabin has a private bathroom stocked with toiletries. Hair dryers are available at the reception

The Emeraude’s restaurant offers delicious, freshly caught local seafood and other specialties. While taking in breathtaking views of the bay, passengers can enjoy the delicious flavors of the local cuisine.

From the sun deck, passengers can treat themselves to a soothing massage while sipping a refreshing cocktail and gazing at the rock formations reflected in the crystal clear water of the bay.

The Emeraude’s swimming deck offers passengers the opportunity to swim in the cool waters of the bay surrounded by the majestic scenery. At dawn as the sun rises, passengers can participate in T’ai Chi class while taking in the calming silence of the bay. Cooking classes are also available on board, which I can tell you from experience is a wonderful and educational time!

The decks invite sitting and enjoying the magnificent sunsets, and then, when it’s dark after dinner, guests can watch the film "Indochine" under the stars. The entire experience is very romantic and a true step back to another time. And (perhaps best of all) the cost for this wonderful experience is about $120 per person, including meals and accommodations.

Get a nine-day “Taste of Thailand” for just $899

It’s hard to determine what’s most alluring about Thailand. The splendid white sand beaches, exotic architecture, fascinating culture, and ancient ruins all leave travelers breathless. The country’s diversity attracts world travelers of every kind — from the frugal backpacker to the sophisticated beachcomber.
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But the almost 9,000-mile distance from the U.S. to Thailand, coupled with the high cost of long distance international travel, has made this golden land of Asia accessible to only a fortunate few of the many who would love to take the trip.
Not anymore. We just unveiled a breakthrough low price on a group tour to Thailand. Taste of Thailand starts at an astounding $899, and takes travelers to three of Thailand’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring cities: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, and Kanchanaburi.
We’re very excited about this new tour. Taste of Thailand offers the chance to experience some of the country’s best places. And it’s at a price we haven’t seen in years, without sacrificing quality and comfort.
Thailand has emerged as one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan destinations in the world. At the same time, it remains deeply traditional in many ways. It’s this juxtaposition of old and new that gives the country its remarkable appeal.
The Taste of Thailand tour, conducted by English-speaking and licensed guides, immerses vacationers in the country’s intense beauty and rich culture, starting with Bangkok, Thailand’s sprawling capital city, also known as “Venice of the East.” In Bangkok, even the most frugal shopper can find treasures at unbeatable prices.
But to truly understand the country, travelers must experience the fabric that binds together the national identity that is Thailand: its temples. Vacationers will visit some of the country’s most important temple sites in Bangkok itself, including Wat Trimitr, where they’ll find the 700-year-old, five-ton Golden Buddha, the largest in the world.
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After touring in Bangkok, travelers continue to Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site best known for its archaeological ruins from the King U-Thong kingdom in 1350, when the Ayutthaya was declared the capital of the country. It is this place that is referred to when the ancient name for Thailand, Siam, is used.
Then it’s on to Kanchanaburi, where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai Rivers converge into the Mae Klong River. It’s also where, in 1942 under Japanese control, the famous Bridge on the River Kwai was built by prisoners of war (POWs). Remember the movie? Travelers will view the bridge and also have an optional opportunity to ride an elephant through the lush jungle and enjoy a bamboo raft ride down the gently flowing River Kwai.
Travelers can take advantage of their already-included international airfare with a three-night visit to Phuket Island, known as “the Pearl of the Andaman Sea.” This optional extension includes a relaxing stay at the beautiful Novotel Resort, situated on eight acres of breathtaking tropical gardens overlooking the pristine waters of Kalim Bay.
There’s also an optional tour to Angkor Wat in Cambodia for travelers looking to explore one of the most magnificent archaeological sites in the world. For those who can’t decide between the two options, it’s possible to have them both.
And for travelers with more time, there’s also a 12-day Treasures of Thailand trip for the low price of $1,499, with optional extensions to Angkor Wat in Cambodia or Phuket Island. The 12-day, fully escorted tour takes tourists from north to south — with stops in Chiang Mai, Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, and Bangkok. The trip includes a savings of up to $600 per couple if reserved by Aug. 14.
For more information on either of our Thailand tours, have a look at our Web site, or feel free to contact us.

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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