Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thailand Hilltribes trek

Not many people are lucky (or adventurous) enough to trek right into the heart of Northern Thailand and visit remote hilltribe villages where the lifestyle has changed little in hundreds of years. A number of our Thailand tours operated by The Imaginative Traveller and GAP Adevtnures include visits and homestays to the Karen, Lahu and Lisu semi-nomadic people. These tribes began arriving in Thailand at the end of the 19th century after being pushed out of their native Tibet, Myanmar and China by civil war and political pressures. The hilltribes are truly unique, differing linguistically, ethnically, culturally and religiously from each other as much as they do from the Thais. It is often mistakenly believed that the hilltribes lead simple yet idyllic lives, unaffected by modern advances and global or even national concerns. In fact, they suffer from a lack of education and healthcare while competing pressure on land is drawing them into the Thai market economy. Visits to these villages on tours such as Wilderness Adventure, Northern Adventure, Thailand Enompased, Highlights and Hilltribes and Northern Explorer, provide some measure of support to the hilltribes, both financially and practically, whilst affording us the opportunity to witness and learn about a fascinating culture first hand.

In recent years, the area around the Mae Taeng valley has been terraced and irrigated to improve agricultural production, creating an attractive contrast of landscapes. Towering mountains slope down to green valleys where rivers and paths lace through the rice fields and water buffalo peacefully graze. The telltale ‘thwack’ of the women pounding rice and chickens scratching in the dirt lets you know a village is near. Imagine sitting outside a hut, weary after a good trek, the river burbling away beneath you, local children playing on bikes made of bamboo, old women smoking pipes, pigs squealing in the mud and everywhere the beautiful aroma of wood smoke and vegetation. As night falls the village grows quiet and a dazzling canopy of stars unfolds overhead.

Trekking to these hilltribes consists of a combination of walking and moderate hiking and can be enjoyed by anyone who leads a reasonably active life as everyone can walk at his/her own pace. For the most part, we walk along established tracks used by local people as trade routes and the trek is led throughout by a qualified guide. You will only require a small amount of luggage which you carry in a day pack during the trek, and you can leave the vast majority of your belongings in storage at your guesthouse in Chiang Mai. Our porters will also take care of other necessary tasks, such as preparation of simple meals. Most food is fresh and we try to limit tinned or dehydrated food.

Accommodation will be a combination of village houses and camping. Basic bedding will be provided (a sleeping mat and sheet to cover it), but we recommend you bring your own sleep-sheet and/or sleeping bag. In most cases rooms will be multi-share. As we are trekking through some of Thailand’s most remote regions, please be prepared for very basic washing facilities.

Visit our Travel Light to find more trips to Thailand

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Imaginative Traveller Egyptology Guide - Saleh

Imaginative Traveller are proud to say that Saleh Shaalan Mahmoud has been one of their Egyptology guides since the company opened it’s doors in 1991. During this time Saleh has graciously welcomed thousands of guests to his kingdom - the fabulous temples of Karnak and the historic West Bank of Luxor, Egypt.

Born in a small village inside the precincts of Karnak Temple, the young Saleh played hide and seek with his friends, around the monumental columns of the Hypostyle Hall. His passion for Ancient Egypt developed in these early years through involvement with the archaeologists who were working on the temple. Saleh joined them as a 'basket boy' clearing the mounds of rubble from the excavations. Through this work he learnt English and also gained a small income to contribute to his schooling. In 1954 his family moved out of the temple but Saleh's association with this magnificent complex has never ended. His father had worked on British Naval ships until 1947, and when he returned to Egypt he started working within the temple. Saleh's brother was an excellent artist who also worked alongside the archaeologists on the renovation of such beautiful monuments as the White Chapel of Thutmosis Ill. So as Saleh says a love of ancient Egypt is in his blood.

Kashka Lantis had the chance to catch up with this captivating character recently, in a small garden restaurant in Karnak, right on the banks of his beloved Nile. He met her dressed, as usual, in a traditional Egyptian galabeya, turban and carrying his trademark accessory - one of his many smart canes.

Saleh can you tell me how you ended up working as a guide?
When I was a young boy living in the temple I saw a lot of guides and really admired their knowledge and their passion for the subject of ancient Egypt. I loved studying my country's history and also could see that being a guide was a wonderful chance to meet people from all over the world. So after I finished High school I started working in the Public Relations department of Luxor Council and I went to night school for 3 years studying to be a guide. I worked for a number of companies and then joined Imaginative Traveller in 1991.

What do you enjoy most about being a guide?
Well first I love the subject, it is so vast, so fascinating. Then I love meeting people from all around the world who are interested to hear the wonderful stories of the Pharaohs and their times. I love it so much when people ask me their questions. Really I am at my happiest when I am guiding a group, it's a big part of who I am.

What period in Egypt's history do you find most interesting?
I think the New Kingdom or the period of the tomb builders is a most important time as Luxor became the capital of Egypt and famous Pharaohs such as Thutmosis I, Hatshepsut and Ramses all reigned. The one Pharaoh that I feel was most impressive is Thutmosis Ill. He was a great man and brilliant military leader and this is why we call him the Napoleon Bonaparte of Egypt, he is one of my favourite characters.

You have guided literally thousands of people through the amazing sites of Luxor. Are there are some experiences that stand out in your memory?
Well I enjoy meeting everyone but I have had the privilege of guiding some distinguished people. I was guide for Prince Charles in 1976 and then Lord Mountbatten. I also guided for the Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam and his wife. One of my most wonderful experiences was my involvement with the movie 'Death on the Nile' which was shot here in the 1970's. I guided some of the cast through the temple and was an extra in the movie. I enjoyed talking to the actors Peter Ustinov and David Niven, they were such gentlemen. But really I don't mind who I have with me on my tours because for me everyone is an important guest and I want them all to have a wonderful experience of my country and its treasures.

I believe you have had some experiences of sharing your passion for the ancient world outside of Egypt?
I visited the UK and France in the 1980's where I was a personal guide for a group when they visited the amazing Egypt collection at the British Museum and at the Louvre in Paris. Then I was very proud to be chosen as the Egyptian delegate to attend the 1989 conference of the World Federation of Tourist Guides Association. That was a wonderful experience and an hcnour.

When you are not guiding do you have any other commitments?
Yes, I have been a member of Luxor City Council for many years and am the chairperson of the Subcommittee of Culture. This committee considers aspects of management of the antiquities but also considers the preservation of local culture. I attend a range of monthly meetings and day to day I often have people coming to me for advice and information about a range of things that impact on their lives. I love being able to help people and to contribute to my community.

When you are not working in these various capacities what are you doing?
Well I have a large wonderful family who I see a lot. I had 7 children and now they have given me 13 grandsons and 4 granddaughters and there are 4 more babies on the way! As you can guess the house is often full of noise and laughter. I have always loved to read and now I have a laptop I have a great time reading about the world but mostly my favourite subject ancient Egypt.

What does the future hold for you?
More grandchildren no doubt! Seriously though, I would say I will be happiest if I am fit enough to keep guiding with Imaginative Traveller for a long, long time to come.

Saleh is just one of a great team of guides that welcome our guests to the fabulous sites of Egypt, should you have the luck to visit Egypt be sure to keep an eye out for the striking figure of Saleh walking proudly through the temples and tombs of his ancestors.

Here are a few of our tours that visit Luxor, who knows you could have Saleh as your guide!

Jewels of the Nile - 14 nights/15 days from GBP640 per person sharing (excl Local Payment)
Nile Valley and Red Sea - 14 nights/15 days from GBP599 per person sharing (excl Local Payment)
Nile Safari - 7 nights/8 days from GBP425 per person sharing (excl Local Payment)
Nile Rover - 7 nights/8 days from GBP299 per person sharing (excl Local Payment)
Magical Egypt Family Tour - 7 nights/8 days from GBP440 per person sharing (excl Local Payment)
Treasures of the Pharoahs Family Tour - 11 nights/12 days from GBP640 per person sharing (excl Local Payment)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tour Leader Talk

Almost all Travel Light small group adventure tours are fully escorted by a Tour Leader. These intrepid leaders are available to the group 24 / 7 and not only facilitate a great trip but are there to advise on free time activities, prices the locals pay, what to eat and equally important what not to eat, local customs, getting you away from the crowds, choosing good restaurants, know where the nearest internet cafe is at any point in your trip, teaching you a few choice words in the local language plus so much more. Below is an interview from Bridging the Gap with one of GAP Adventure's tour leaders Juliana Loaiza:

Tour Leader Talk: Juliana Loaiza

A number of years ago, a G.A.P Adventures tour leader was born in Colombia and her name is Juliana! A former Engineer, find out what 'The Plops' are and how she followed her dreams to do what she loves - travel!

bridging the gap: What interested you about becoming a tour leader?

JL: When I got my degree as a Mechatronics Engineer, I realized I didn't like Engineering. I tried and I got a job as an Engineer, but I didn't accept it and lucky me, because at that moment I knew about G.A.P Adventures. I decided to become a tour leader because what I like the most is to travel, but at the same time it's great when you can travel in your own continent showing people from all around the world how amazing it is here in South America.

bridging the gap: From an Engineer to a Tour Leader is a big change, what tips do you have for anyone else changing jobs?

JL: I have this advice: You should do what you really like. If you don't 'love' your job then you should try and find something different that you can really enjoy, something that makes you happy and feel good with yourself.

bridging the gap: What do you love most about being a tour leader?

JL: What I love about leading is to share with people from everywhere and the good feelings and good energy that it brings back to you. It's great when you help your passengers and in the end they smile and say: "thank you, you made my trip awesome". I love the contrast of South America, one day you are in a very cold place but next day you are travelling to a very hot one. I love the irregularity of the landscape, you see high mountains but then you have flat deserts. And of course the people because they are always friendly, they always help you.

bridging the gap: Tell us about your experience in the Ccaccaccollo community.

JL: I did a volunteer trip in Peru. I lived for 3 days in the community of Ccaccaccollo, one of the Planeterra projects. I stayed with the family of one of the leaders of the community, he has two little girls that literally touched my heart. That family, and the community in general, made me realize how simple life could be and how lucky I am to have all that I've got. That is an experience I will never forget and that family is always in my heart because they treated me like one of them and showed me how important it is to have a family and to look after them no matter how far away you are.

bridging the gap: Any favourite or strange food and drink experience to share?

JL: I have 2 favorite drinks, one is Gin and Tonic and the other one is San Mateo. But so far the only country where I can find San Mateo is Bolivia. The strangest food I've had was on the way to Uyuni from Potosi (Bolivia again). It's a challenging trip, as the road is terrible and you stop in small towns in the middle of nowhere. In one of those towns I had a choclo (corn) soup but, It was horrible! It was very greasy and it had a very strange taste but, I was sooo hungry that I didn't have any more options and besides it was super cheap, like 3 bolivianos.

bridging the gap: What was the first trip you guided as a Tour Leader?

JL: My first G.A.P Adventures trip was PLT (Peru Uncovered). I started and finished in Lima. It was a 10 days trip with 15 people of different ages. It was a great trip, I had to deal with a strike in Puno, but in the end everything worked out very well.

bridging the gap: Ok. Your emails say 'Future coach of the rugby team The Plops!' Who are 'the Plops?

JL: Well, when I was in Colombia I wanted to have a rock band called "Ju and The Plops" (Ju is my nickname). I couldn't find any musician interested in my band so I gave up. Then I saw the light and I decided study to become a rugby coach in New Zealand and have my own rugby team: The Plops! I hope this is going to happen in my future. I have had this goal since 2000.

Vitals on Juliana Loaiza:
Nationality - Colombian
Hometown - Bogota
Languages spoken - Spanish, English and a little bit of Italian
Hobbies - Astronomy, Kung-fu, Dance irish music...
Favourite TV show -The X files
Book You're Currently Reading - El Tesoro Secreto de los Templarios
#1 Travel / Packing Tip - Don't forget sunblock
Countries Visited - USA, Dominican Republic, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Colombia of course.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pleased to meet you?

Wear a tie featuring cartoon pigs to a business meeting in New York, and they’ll think you a bit of a joker; do the same in Saudi Arabia, where the pig is unclean, and you may well have lost the contract. A nod of the head may indicate ‘yes’ here, but in Albania it mean ‘no’ (while a shake of the head means ‘yes’). In Spain, ‘Adios’ means goodbye; in Cuba the same word means ‘hello’. In Japan, the cheery ‘Cin cin’ may not be your best drinking toast, as ‘cin’ is slang for the male organ.

Reassuringly, there are many similarities, too. In almost all countries it’s polite to wait for the host to be seated before you start eating, whether you then say ‘Bon Appetit!’, ‘Sahtain!’, ‘Youyi!’ or ‘Itadakimasu!!’ The meal that follows may be eaten with hands, chopsticks or knives and forks – and include raw reindeer (Siberia), goat’s penis soup (China) or palm weevil larvae (Nigeria) – but when you’ve finished a hearty expression of thanks is universally expected and appreciated.

Inevitably, globalisation is changing everything. Visitors to Japan no longer need worry about niceties of bowing, while business-minded Indians have learned to put aside the elegant namaste gesture and shake hands like a Westerner

We can only pray that this process is not terminal, and that in 100 years we won’t be all be identical clones, shaking hands with universal gusto as we mouth the chirpy platitudes of an international cold english. Until then let’s cherish the people of Guinea-Bissau, who point with their lips, not their fingers and respect and appreciate that each of us is slightly different and that’s what still makes the travelling to each of these destinations a unique experience.

Part excerpt from Conde Nast Traveller by Mark McCrum - Nov 07 edition

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Your next holiday - Afghanistan?

Believe it or not Afghanistan was a popular destination for the adventure traveller. In fact Top Deck - one of the original overland companies - cut a route through Afghanistan on their London to Kathmandu trip using converted double decker buses in the 70's. A very turbulent and often violent period since then halted all but the most intrepid traveller crossing the Khyber Pass but can it make a come back? Personally I think so. Ok, not in the very near future but I'm confident that in my life time countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan will be safe to travel to. This desire of mine isn't anything so pretentious as a want to "tick off" dangerous countries there are some real travel gems in this corner of the planet - ancient cities, powerful history and incredible scenery. After travelling through Pakistan and reading engrossing books such as "The Great Game" my interest in Central Asia is burgeoning on obsession. I'm not the only one who believes that these wondrous places will once again welcome the traveller, the Lonely Planet has just released a guide book to Afghanistan. You may shake your head in disbelief but travel fashions change with time, just think when the Top deck double decker was passing through a safe Afghanistan Vietnam was the last place you would want to holiday.

From Travel Mole
Welcome to Afghanistan, warts and all

LONDON – It may be one of the world's most volatile nations, but that has not deterred Lonely Planet from releasing its first ever standalone guidebook to Afghanistan.

Researched and written by Afghanistan specialist Paul Clammer, the book also contains a special chapter on safety written by a Kandahar resident and former military officer.

Lonely Planet says the guide is a necessity for anyone thinking of going to the country, "and is therefore primarily designed for businesspeople and representatives of non-profits or NGOs who are travelling to Afghanistan for work or aid".

"The guidebook aims to help travellers stay safe and get the most out of their time in the country, but also provides interesting reading for independent travellers and armchair travellers who are curious about the state of the nation."

The author spent seven weeks on the ground conducting research, travelling from Kabul to Herat and Mazar, all by road, stopping in many remote towns along the way.

"It's hard to think of a more demanding country to write a guidebook about than Afghanistan," says Clammer. "It's a nation with a broken infrastructure and serious security concerns. But the rewards are incredible.

"Despite the recent history, the Afghans are the most amazing and welcoming people on the planet, and the scenery from the mountains to the deserts is sublime.

Earlier this year, Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler visited Afghanistan for his book, Bad Lands: A Tourist on the Axis of Evil.

Afterwards Wheeler wrote, "Perhaps surprisingly, I had a great time in all my 'Bad Lands' and – apart from a little uneasiness in Afghanistan and Iraq – I was never particularly concerned for my safety. North Korea was easily the weirdest: a place alternating between horror and comedy, a Stalinist theme park, a gulag run by Monty Python."

If it's travel it's Travel Light -

Travel Light Reading
Lonely Planet's first stand-alone guide to Afghanistan includes a chapter on security by U.N. Senior Security Advisor Rodney Cocks. Click here or on book to buy

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Peru - Lares Trek

Trekking to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail has to be one of the best treks in the world. Full of history, scenery and fulfillment it is no wonder that it has become very popular amongst travellers in recent years. So popular in fact that the Peruvian authorities who control the Inca Trail have restricted the numbers of permits issued to travellers to 500 per day - this includes porters and guides. This sounds plenty but the Inca Trail is so popular at the moment that permits are sold out months in advance. So you have your heart set on trekking to Machu Picchu but you cannot get a permit for the Inca Trail? is there an alternative? Travel Light are pleased to say YES... The Lares Vally.

Lares Valley Trek

Here's how Tucan Travel describe the Lares Valley trek "The Lares Trek is an exceptional alternative to the Inca Trail and it is so far off the beaten track that it has changed little over the past 500 years. Encompassing original Inca routes, spectacular scenery, thatched stone and adobe houses with herds of llamas, alpacas and their shepards roaming free. The Lares Valley is an authentic journey into ancient Inca civilisation, it is amazing that is has escaped the attention of mainstream tourism to date.

A great alternative to the Inca Trail then? Yes, except for one thing - The Lares Valley trek does not finish at the Sun Gate over looking Machu Picchu like the Inca Trail trek. It finishes close by but you will take a bus to Machu Picchu for a guided visit. Maybe not perfect but the Lares Vally trek has been getting some great reports from travellers liking it's "off the beaten track" feel and lack of crowds. It's not as commercialized as the Inca Trail and could easily become a major Peru highlight once word spreads on the bush telegraph.

So what do you need to know about the Lares Valley Trek?

Here's a list of FAQ's from GAP Adventures

How long is the Lares Trek and how many hours do we hike per a day?
The Lares Trek is 33 kms ( 20.5miles) long and depending on which campsites are used the approximate hours hiked per day are: Day 1: 5 hours Day 2: 8 hours Day 3: 4 hours

How difficult is the Lares Trek?
The Lares Trek is considered a moderate hike. It's not a technical hike but the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend purchasing a wooden walking stick while in Peru as it will help with your balance and reduce the load on your knees. We ask that you not use a metal tipped walking stick as it can harm the fragile environment along the trail.

Is altitude sickness common? And how high is the Lares Trek?
It's impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude. Your ability to adapt to high altitude is determined by your genetic makeup and has little to do with fitness or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimatize properly. A full day spent in Cuzco (3249m), taking it easy and drinking plenty of water, is usually enough for most people. The highest point you will reach while hiking the Lares Trek is 4550 meters.

Is it possible to skip the Lares Trek even if the tour includes it?
Yes! If you do not wish to hike the Lares Trek please advise us at the time of booking (it is very difficult to make these arrangements once you have already confirmed). If you choose not to hike the trail you will spend two nights in Cuzco and then take the train to the town of Aguas Calientes for the third night. You will rejoin your group at Machu Picchu the next morning.

When do we reach Machu Picchu and how much time do we spend there?
You will reach Machu Picchu early in the morning on Day 4. You will be met by a local guide who will take you on an informative 2-hour tour of the ruins. After the tour you will have a few hours of free time to explore the area on your own before the group travels by bus to Aguas Calientes where we catch the train back to Cuzco.

Do porters carry our luggage while on the Lares Trek?
No, llamas, pack mules and/or horses will be provided to carry your personal items. You will still need to bring a day backpack to carry any essentials you might want or need, such as water, snacks, camera, sweater, rain jacket, etc.

How cold does it get on the Lares Trek (will I need to bring hats and mitts)?
The high altitude means it can get quite chilly, especially during the Andean winter (May - September) when the temperature can drop to below zero degrees (Celsius) at night. It can still be cool at other times of the year and so we recommend bringing thermal underwear and a warm sleeping bag. You can purchase warm, inexpensive and locally made hand-woven hats and gloves in Cuzco.

What type of accommodation is used on the Lares Trek?
Three-person tents are used to accommodate two same-sex travellers for the first two nights. The third night will be spent in a simple hotel in Aguas Calientes. There are a few places where permanent but very basic toilet facilities exist and when they are not available our team will set up portable toilet tents. Trekkers are provided with a bowl of hot water (and a hot drink) every morning in their tent.

Is a sleeping bag and mat included?
Sleeping bags are not included and so we recommend bringing a compact three-season sleeping bag. A popular alternative is to rent a sleeping bag in Cuzco, which is done locally. They are clean, warm and cost approximately USD$10 (for all three nights). Some renters may choose to bring a sleeping bag liner or sheet. Foam mats are provided however some travelers also bring their own self-inflating mat (ie. a Thermarest).

Is purified water available on the trek?
Bottled water can be purchased on day 1 of the Lares Trek and you will be provided with clean boiled water every day of the trek.

What type of food will we get on the Lares Trek?
Our cooks prepare excellent high-energy meals appropriate for a trek of this nature. The menu usually includes pasta, rice, chicken, fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of oatmeal, eggs and other breakfast foods.

SAVE R500 per person* on the Peru Panorama 15 day tour

*subject to availability and dates of promotion

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Expedition Cruising - Explorer

One of the most important aspects of your expedition to Antarctica is the ship that will take you there. Again for Travel Light small means beautiful. A smaller ship can get to places the larger vessels can't and with enough space on the zodiacs for all passengers you won't find yourself waiting in line to get your experience. Travel Light recommends GAP Adventure's ship Explorer, here's why

Few experiences match the adventure of shipboard travel - and none equal the exhilaration of sailing to the world's most remote and wild shores aboard our superb expedition ship, the legendary Explorer.

Expedition - the word conjures up images of the great explorers of old like Shackleton, Amundsen and Magellan who mapped the earth, and the modern scientific pioneers of today, who delve into its deepest scientific mysteries.

A voyage aboard G.A.P Adventures' M/S Explorer is an expedition in the truest sense of the word. Explorer goes where other ships cannot, where only a ship of her caliber could. At only 75 meters in length and equipped with an ice hardened double hull and a fleet of robust zodiacs, she is a go-anywhere ship for the go-anywhere traveller. With a veteran crew of polar mariners and an experienced expedition team of marine and avian biologists, geologists, historians and naturalists, these adventures are voyages of discovery to the far reaches of the globe with a quest for knowledge and authentic cultural and natural experiences as the driving forces.

Since 1990, G.A.P Adventures has specialized in a unique brand of small group adventure travel experiences. We strive to show you the real world, by taking you off the beaten track to the heart of the destination and to meet the locals who call it home. If you have a sense of adventure, a lust for life and a curiosity for culture, you will quickly find yourself addicted to the G.A.P Adventures Expedition style of travel. Explorer and her staff share this passion for new experiences and a history of off the beaten track exploration. We look forward to adding to that history in your company.

Cabin Re-Classification
We are pleased to announce exciting changes to our Expedition program aboard the M/S Explorer. Beginning with our April, 2008 departures, we will be modifying the way in which we classify our cabins, effectively reducing the number of categories from 8 to 5. We have made this decision in response to valuable feedback from our past travellers and agent partners who have encouraged G.A.P Adventures to align more closely with the classification system employed by the mainstream Cruise segment. Cabins images and descriptions are below.

Cabin Categories (effective April 2008)

Category 1
1 upper berth; 2 lower berths. Ensuite shower facilities. Porthole*.

Category 2
1 upper berth; 1 lower berth. En suite shower facilities. Porthole*.

Category 3
2 Twin lower berths. En suite shower facilities. Porthole*.

Category 4 (shown in photo)

2 Twin Lower berths; En suite facilities with shower; small window

Category 5

Lounge area; Queen bed; En suite facilities with showers; 2 picture windows; updated décor, TV/VCR; Amenities Program.

*Porthole will be covered during rough weather

IAATO Approved:
In April of 2006 G.A.P Adventures became a full member in IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators). IAATO was founded in 1991 to advocate, promote and practice safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic and now represents about 95% of all annual tourists to Antarctica. In 1996 IAATO developed an independent Onboard Observer program to ensure that companies applying to become members meet their detailed and extensive regulations for visiting Antarctica. This past Antarctic season G.A.P Adventures carried one such observer onboard their M/S Explorer and met IAATO standards. Subsequent to this, G.A.P Adventures was voted in as full member to IAATO at their 17th annual meeting. IAATO developed a set of Guidelines for tourists to Antarctic, which were subsequently adopted by the Antarctic Treaty parties as part of their Environmental Protocol. It is both GAP's and IAATO's hope that our passengers will return home with a basic understanding of the continent and will be ambassadors for the Great White Continent.

Become Part of History...
The travel market is awash with shipboard travel options, but none compare to the experience of a journey aboard what polar adventurer, Sir Wally Herbert, called "the explorer's Explorer". Explorer was the first passenger ship to travel to Antarctica and the first to voyage south of the Antarctic Circle. Explorer was also the first passenger ship to make the journey through the Northwest Passage, the infamous, ice-covered Arctic waters connecting the Pacific and Atlantic. She has blazed a marine trail around the globe, earning accolades from passengers, ship enthusiasts and professionals alike - most recently from National Geographic Adventure magazine, which ranked our Antarctica adventures among their Top 25 Adventures of the Year.
"The most travelled vessel with the most varied record of natural wonders anywhere on the high seas."
- Keith Shackleton -

The Expedition Style of Travel...
Explorer travels in a yearly cycle from the icy realm of the great white continent, Antarctica, then across the oceans, making stops along the way to remote locations, before heading to the islands of the North Atlantic and Arctic. These destinations have inspired the bold explorers of old for centuries, and today inspire the modern wanderlusted traveller seeking a unique and authentic adventure experience. The imagination wanders at the very sound of their names, calling curious travellers to come experience unique ecosystems, stunning landscapes and fascinating cultures and histories.

A day onboard an Explorer expedition could have you tracking a pod of minke whales by zodiac in Antarctica, viewing polar bear on the ice off the bow in Spitsbergen, or exploring the deep fjords and remote Inuit villages of Greenland's rugged coastline. The focus of our time aboard Explorer will be on wildlife, culture, history and scenery, and on learning about our surroundings under the tutelage of seasoned experts such as marine biologists, naturalists, historians, anthropologists, geologists and photographers.

The Original Expedition Ship...
Dubbed "The Little Red Ship", Explorer was specifically designed for the rigours of expedition travel as well as the safety, comfort and convenience of her passengers. She was the first (and we still feel the best!) expedition ship ever constructed, not a converted freighter or research vessel. Her compact size, shallow draft and ice strengthened double hull were specifically designed for challenging marine environments and exploratory travel while her cabins and common areas were conceived for passenger comfort and enjoyment. All of Explorer's public areas were designed to hold everyone on the ship in one sitting; so there is no need for multiple meal and lecture shifts. Small, agile and stalwart, she is a go-anywhere ship for the go-anywhere traveller! And because Explorer is our ship, we are literally at the helm so we can ensure you'll experience a high caliber journey while benefiting from the affordable pricing you have come to expect from G.A.P Adventures.

Explorer Quick Facts
* lounge and onboard library
* fully outfitted lecture hall
* small gym, sauna and pool
* all cabins with private bath and outside view
* dining room serving international cuisine
* medical clinic and onboard doctor
* gift shop
* topside observation deck with 360-degree unobstructed view
* double, ice-hardened hull ice rating 1A1 ice A
* large fleet of Zodiacs with clean 4-stroke engines

Book all your unique adventures and travel experiences with the experts Travel Light