Written by Celece Seegmiller for The Spectrum, February 7, 2012
It seems like just yesterday I was in my high school English class trying to memorize The Road Not Taken, a poem written by Robert Frost. At the time, I was a typical seventeen year old and I never really thought about what the poem meant to me. I just wanted to finish my assignment and receive my grade. Ironically, over twenty years later, I found myself reciting the poem as I glanced through the 2012 General Tours World Traveler Catalog. You may be wondering what Robert Frost has to do with a travel catalog: it’s the words, “the road not taken” that stood out in my mind as I glanced through the pages of unique travel experiences offered by General Tours. Destinations range from Europe’s most popular countries like Italy and Ireland to exotic places like Burma, India, Vietnam, China, South Africa, Morocco, Antarctica, Peru, and the Galapagos – just to name a few.
General Tours World Traveler offers more than 70 innovative small group journeys and surprisingly affordable privately guided tours worldwide. With never more than 16 guests, these small group vacations feature some of the world’s finest 5 –star hotels, including intimate and historic properties that can’t accommodate traditional tour groups. Guests enjoy convivial dining, unhurried touring, and attentive service from experienced trip leaders. Exclusive small group discoveries provide authentic encounters and cultural experiences that are simply not available to larger tour groups.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing itineraries that caught my eye was the Luxury Tenting in the Serengeti. It is no secret to those who know me well that a tent is definitely not my favorite type of accommodation. In fact, camping to me means an RV with electricity and running water. However, this is luxury tenting and it brings an entirely new meaning to the word tent. In addition to offering unmatched game viewing in isolated, uncrowded settings of extraordinary natural beauty, the esteemed luxury camps capture the romance and simple elegance of classic Grand Safaris of a bygone era. The luxury camps of Lemala have wooden floors and rugs, cozy beds, and spacious private baths with a dressing area and a large safari shower. The classic “mess tent” offers dining and living areas with a central bar and is handsomely appointed with leather sofas and chandeliers. In the evenings, guests gather around a campfire for Sundowner cocktails before sitting down to congenial dinners hosted by the camp manager. Chances are, you won’t find any smores or dutch ovens around this fire.
The luxury camps offer exclusive, unobstructed viewing for what is perhaps the Greatest Show on Earth. Because they are uniquely mobile, the tents are seasonally positioned for unmatched viewing of the Great Migration at any time of the year. Depending on your travel dates, you could see some of the 1.5 million wildebeest and zebra that arrive in December and stay through February and March as the calving season begins. General Tours does not want to you to miss the animals morning routine, so they include a hot air balloon safari in the light of dawn followed by a champagne breakfast. This is just one of many amazing experiences offered on the nine day itinerary featuring two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
As I continued reading the brochure, I stopped at the Machu Picchu and Galapagos itinerary. Now, that is a great way to cross two items off my bucket list in one tour! This two week tour includes five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The tour begins in Lima where you will stay for 2 nights and have the chance to see the city’s Colonial architecture and museums. From Lima, you will fly high into the Andes where Cuzco awaits. You will be at ease knowing the 5 star hotel includes specially oxygenated rooms and vehicles are equipped with oxygen tanks to ensure your comfort at Cuzco’s high-mountain altitude. Travelers will ride the Vistadome train to Machu Picchu and explore the ancient ruins for a day then the opportunity to return the next morning for sunrise without the crowds. The tour commences with two nights in Quito, Ecuador before continuing on a flight to the Galapagos Islands. Board the MV Galapagos Explorer II, the only all-suite vessel in the Galapagos, that offers the most balcony staterooms of any ship, fine international cuisine and inviting public lounges. You’ll have the opportunity to step ashore with naturalist guides for up-close wildlife encounters at eight unique landing sites on five islands. See everything from the Red-Footed Booby to the Galapagos Tortoise in its natural habitat. Snorkelers will have a chance to explore the undersea realm of the Archipelago, rich with species like sea turtles and hammerhead sharks. This tour and cruise is a wonderful way to discover the best of both worlds!
There are so many amazing itineraries and unique experiences offered in the General Tours World Traveler catalog, it was difficult to choose just two to write about. I often hear our customers mention that they are looking for something different for their next vacation. They want to try something new, other than traditional cruises or run of the mill tours. I think General Tours is the company that creates “the trip of a lifetime” with the wide variety of vacations that are off the beaten path. Perhaps Robert Frost said it best at the end of his poem: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”