An Organised Tour for your next vacation?

(Patagonia, Chile)

Organised tours, by the very idea, are not my kind of thing. Remember the ads from Indian tour operators promising a ‘maharaj’ who will cook all your meals while you traipse along with your group of culturally challenged countrymen, through Rome, the Pyrenees, the Adriatic or whatever. Thanks, but no thanks.

And then I recently came upon a selection of tours that National Geographic calls “50 tours of a lifetime”. Cool stuff, actually. After spending an agonizing hour over all the 50 options, here is my ‘Dream 3’ list which are the three tours that I would certainly want to go on before I get too old to.. you know what.

ONE. Wandering across the Chilean Patagonia. ‘Off the beaten Path’, the operator of this trip has been at this sort of thing for some time now. For about 8000 US Dollars, you can wander for 11 days around the famed Patagonia, taking in mountains, fjords and open spaces all the while being in close contact with local gaucho families, sharing their hearth & food.

TWO. New Zealand with the kids. Butterfield & Robinson, the organisers promise that you will Bike past sheep farms and lakes, fruit plains and vineyards, Cruise through icebergs to the foot of a glacier, Join a local guide in a Continue reading



(Ethiopia : The historic route, a John Douglas Art video on Youtube)

My friend Mohit often talks of his childhood in Addis. He tells me that great weather, ditto food and a benevolent despot made for a good time in the sixties Addis. So, we have decided to do a trip back there; ‘a return to roots’ for a beef-eating, hard-drinking, wise-cracking, displaced baniya from UP.

Co-incidentally, the last issue of the National Geographic magazine featured an Ethiopia tour among the 50 Tours of a Lifetime. So, the gods seem to be telling me to go. And in the face of such clear signs, I cannot hesitate. So sometime in 2008, I shall go to Ethiopia.

My knowledge of Ethiopia is heavily coloured by the many Time magazine cover photos of starving children and I cannot escape a certain squeamishness. But, I also happen to know some little bit of the ancient culture of the Amharic people, their Christian roots, their Islamic heritage and their food. So, it does look like a place real travellers go to.

Plus, in my stamp-collecting days, long gone now, I had a vivid blue stamp of Haile Selassie. Talk of signs.