You don’t have to quit your job to see the world, but you also don’t have to spend your vacation days in a blur of frantic border-hopping. Discerning travelers are taking it slow and diving deeper into destinations for more memorable journeys.
Travel is the perfect time to remind yourself of how enormous the world is and how small we are, while walking through the treetops of a Costa Rican cloud forest or from the top tier of a seven-tier waterfall in Thailand. It’s the perfect time to witness devotion in the temples and shrines of Southeast Asia, in the legacies of Moorish conquerors in Spain or in the eyes and feet of passionate tango dancers in Buenos Aires, who have spent years perfecting their craft. It’s time to swallow your pride and practice your rusty Spanish or speak your first few, tentative words in Thai.
If you can find the time, National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures can find the place. Tour offerings with an immersive, regional focus are meeting the demands of the time-pressed traveler who wants to travel deeply, rather than racing across countries. Slow, focused travel rewards travelers with a more intimate knowledge of a region, more opportunities to observe and participate in the local culture and more time to venture to the unsung heroes of the region, leaving more room for surprise and novelty.
National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures are designed to seamlessly blend the best of both worlds, allowing travelers to dive deeper into a destination. You can still enjoy the freedom to roam and stray from the group, but with a focus on genuine insider access and National Geographic’s trademark passion for exploration, you probably won’t want to. These journeys are all less than two weeks in length, so you can satisfy your wanderlust while reassuring your boss that you’ll be back before too long.
Natural Highlights of Costa Rica – 9 days
Nine days is all you need to find Costa Rica’s famed pura vida. From coffee cooperatives to heart-stopping adventure activities, to making homemade tortillas and meeting researchers at the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, this journey blends wildlife experiences with adventure, culture and relaxation. Meet the sloth of your wildest meme dreams in Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, one of the world’s most important wetlands. Adrenaline junkies can literally take the plunge by rappelling down the face of rushing waterfalls. Canyoneering, as the extreme sport is known, is an addictive combination of fun and fear as you launch into nature – and the spray of a Costa Rican waterfall.
Make like a monkey and hit the treetops. Hike along two miles of hanging bridges through the rainforest and spot birds, frogs, howler monkeys and more. Hike through the misty Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve to the Monteverde Institute, the base for numerous National Geographic- funded explorers and researchers. Meet with researchers to dig a little deeper into the institute’s work. Bravery is rewarded on the zip line. As you glide above the cloud forest canopy, keep an eye out for toucans and other exotic native animals. If you prefer a slower pace, take in the pristine wilderness by horseback and spot monkeys, sloths, parrots and macaws.
Explore Bali & Java – 12 days
Leave the modern world behind in Bali & Java, Indonesia’s most enticing regions. Dive into Yogyarkarta’s long tradition of the arts by visiting a batik workshop, Wayang puppet show or traditional dance performance expressing the Ramayana story, and the chance to shop for artisan silverwork at the Kota Gede silver market. Explore the city by cycle-rickshaw to find the Javanese Sultan’s temple and take a horse-and-cart tour of the World Heritage-listed Borobudur Buddhist temple complex, which was only excavated in 1815 after years of being buried under volcanic ash.
After three days exploring Yogyakarta, head to Prambaran to see the largest Hindu temple complex in Java, followed by the Mangkunegaran Palace, an active royal residence. Drive up the slopes of the volcano Mt. Lawu and visit two temples on the mountain while enjoying the magnificent view. After a couple of days of visiting temples, return to city life with a few days in the colonial city of Malang before heading to Ubud, Bali’s artistic and cultural heart. In Ubud, take a Balinese cooking class, stroll through rice fields and spend the evening around the buzzing Gianyar Night Market while settling into town.
Experience spiritual Bali by venturing into the jungle to visit the Trita Empul Temple, with an onsite bubbling spring said to hold curative powers. Spend the rest of the day visiting the Gunung Kawi temple complex and Kintamini, a charming village perched on the edge of a crater overlooking Lake Batur.
Thailand Journey – 8 days
Rather than running yourself ragged by hostel-hopping along the “banana pancake trail” with thousands of other boozy backpackers, recharge in northern Thailand and discover the region’s vibrant culture and overwhelming natural beauty. Many popular elements of Thai culture originated in Northern Thailand, which makes it the perfect place to engage with Thailand’s culture through food, history and spirituality. In Chiang Mai, trail a local chef through a market and collect fresh produce for an afternoon of Thai cooking. At the golden Doi Suthep Temple, stop to listen to the mesmerizing chanting of local Buddhist monks. Afterwards, chat with the monks as they discuss their beliefs and answer any questions you have about Buddhism. They’re happy to practice their English and share their wisdom!
Spend an evening in the countryside with a local family and share an authentic khantok meal. Visit the ancient capital of Siam at the UNESCO World Heritage site Ayutthaya Historical Park. Despite losing its political status as capital in the 18th Century, its elegant prayer towers and enormous monasteries have been preserved to give visitors a sense of how magnificent this city was in its heyday. Climb the seven tiers of the Erawan Waterfalls. The unique view from each tier of the falls is reward enough, but taking a relaxing dip in the turquoise pools below is the perfect way to celebrate the end of your hike.
See a new side of bustling Bangkok from a long-tail boat as you glide up the Chao Phraya River. Against a backdrop of skyscrapers and temples, you’ll get a closeup of the waterfront settlements along the canals. At Wat Po, the famous temple of the Reclining Buddha, check out the mother-of-pearl engravings before treating yourself to a traditional Thai massage, which originates from this region.
Discover Moorish Spain – 8 days
For much of Spain’s tumultuous history, the country was divided into Christian and Islamic, or Moorish, kingdoms. Andalucía was a Moorish stronghold, and despite the departure of Moorish rulers in the 15th Century, the southern region is fiercely protective of its legacy. After a few days exploring the Spanish capital and nearby Toledo, venture south into Andalucía. The local cuisine in Cordoba reflects the city’s Roman, Moorish, Christian and Jewish influences, with plenty of regional specialties to try.
The mesmerizing rows of stone pillars and bright archways fill the Mezquita de Córdoba, a mosque built within a cathedral–an architectural feat rivaled only by the Alhambra in Granada. Head to Granada next to see that 14th-Century fortress and castle, considered one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture and the poster child of Moorish Spain. The Andalusian escape ends in the energetic city of Seville, founded 3,000 years ago, by Hercules, according to local legend. As the birthplace of flamenco, Seville is the perfect place to release your inhibitions and notions that you “can’t dance” as you learn from the masters.
Explore Chile & Argentina – 8 days
Travel to the ends of the earth to witness the wild beauty of Patagonia. Get your heart racing for more reasons than one in a steamy tango session in Buenos Aires, and discover the Chilean wine regions shaking up the old guard in the wine world. After arriving in Santiago, meet a local wine expert on the outskirts of the city. Tour the winery from vineyard to cellar, and after a blind tasting, make your own blends.
A few days later, head south to Puerto Varas, a scenic town in the Chilean Lake District. This region is a breath of fresh air after busy Santiago, with deep blue lakes, snow-capped mountains, smoking volcanoes, pristine forests and glaciers. Visit the fish market for a taste of local life and learn how to make regional dishes with a local family, before sharing the meal with them in their home. From Puerto Varas, the enchanting Chiloe Island is only a short ferry ride away. Arrive to find a small brightly colored fishing village perched on stilts over emerald-green water and a nearby penguin colony, home to more than 5,000 Humboldt and Magellanic penguins.
Crossing into Argentina, check out the gorgeous green Petrohue Waterfalls, which cascade over black basalt. Spend the day on the water and take one of the world’s most scenic journeys, which includes sailing across the magnificent Lake Todos to Peulla, taking a ferry from Puerto Frias to Puerto Alegre and sailing across Lake Nahuel Huapi. The trip ends with a few days in the sizzling Argentinean capital, Buenos Aires. Known as the “Paris of the South,” the vibrant city is alive with sidewalk cafes, bars and passionate tango demonstrations around town.
To learn more about National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures and to discover all of the itineraries available, visit gadventures.com/journeys.