Toto Tours hosted a small group of veteran travelers in September 2017 as we explored regions of Italy and France which are totally separate from the mainland—the gorgeous islands of Sardinia (Italy) and Corsica (France). This was no hurried exploration, as we spent almost two weeks journeying from the bottom of Sardinia, across a ferry, and on to the very top of Corsica. Sardinia is known for its ancient settlements of the Nuragic peoples, its Roman ruins, and countless beautiful beaches. Corsica is much greener and mountainous in the interior. It even has a wonderful train through the mountains, which we used to get from one destination to another. Perhaps its most famous resident was Napoleon Bonaparte, who was born on the island. This diverse and exciting tour, offering us a savory taste of two countries, concluded in style at a luxury hotel on the ramparts of Bastia.
This expansive tour wound through four Balkan countries formed after the break-up of Yugoslavia: Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It attracted a large group (26 of us), and many international adventurers, including four Mexicans, two Australians, one Brit and one Italian! We whooped it up through an unexpected snowstorm crossing the mountains between Serbia and Montenegro, and shivered through unseasonably chilly and rainy weather during some of our outings. But nothing could dampen our spirits! The sun shone brightly as we toured fabulous Kotor and Dubrovnik, and we thrilled to see the capital cities Belgrade and Sarajevo.
Our tour of Nepal and Tibet in May 2017 was “breathtaking” in so many ways! We were a little worried visiting Nepal just two years after their devastating earthquake that the historic sites would still be in a state of great disrepair. However, a tremendous amount of work has been done to restore ancient temples, and those that sustained damage are shored up to protect them until restoration can be completed. A highlight was our visit to Pokhara, and the views of the high Himalayas at sunrise! There are not enough superlatives to describe Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world! Our tour to the countryside took us as high as 16,000 feet, and it was encouraging to witness ancient traditions being carried on in the remote monasteries and temples. We will be coming back to this gorgeous region in the future!
This was a true adventure in every sense of the word, timed to witness the massing of wildebeest in the Southern Serengeti just after the calving season. We achieved that goal, but what we didn’t expect was an early deluge that turned the Serengeti into a bog. Can 4-wheel drive Toyotas power through anything? Not this! It took all the fortitude and ingenuity our guides and drivers could muster to get us out of a sticky situation one day! We enjoyed incredible sightings of the “Big Five” and the World Wonder of the Ngorongoro Crater. Following the safari, many of us continued on to visit the Spice Island: Zanzibar, for a luxurious and colorful conclusion to a spectacular expedition.
Mexico is a magical place where old traditions and modernity live together with all their contradictions. In the bustling capital city, we plunged into the chaotically alive environment of one of the world’s largest metropolis, home to nearly 25 million people. We began and ended our tour in Mexico City, enjoying the incredible Ballet Folklorico in the National Theatre. Our tour also featured visits to the pyramids of Teotihuacan, Frida Kahlo’s House in Coyoacan, Tepoztlan, the historic town of Puebla, Cuernavaca, the Ruins of Xochicalco, Taxco, and the Caves of Cacahuamilpa. This adventure was truly a celebration of the spirit of Mexico, and we’ll be offering many more excursions to this region in the future!
This tour was a classic journey to experience all the wonders of Indochina, including the best of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. We decamped to luxury hotels each evening, and even spent one night on a deluxe “junk” enjoying the tranquility and otherworldly beauty of Halong Bay. We started with the hustle and bustle of Saigon, with a trip up the Mekong River. Next, we soaked in the mystical quietude of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and then continued on to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang in Laos, bringing it all to a rousing conclusion in Hanoi. Those who just couldn’t get enough of Indochina proceeded with our optional extension to Bangkok in Thailand to visit the highlights of this magical Kingdom.
Our adventure in Bolivia during August 2017 featured the tropical lowlands of Santa Cruz, and from there things only went up. We flew to Sucre and saw an excavation of the largest set of dinosaur footprints in the world. From there we ascended to over 13,000 feet in Potosi to go spelunking in the famous silver mines nearby. Then it was on to the incredible salt flats for a truly other-worldly experience. Next was Lake Titicaca and the gorgeous drive along the Bolivian Andes range from La Paz. After some fun and indigenous experiences on Sun Island, we concluded our tour in La Paz with a gondola adventure and a visit to the local witches’ market. This tour was a unique experience far from the typical South American tourist hotspots. Our local gay guide was a delight, and we will return to see more of his country in the future.