Far Horizons

On a headland in Biarritz, France, in June 2015, Randy Keck (right) chatted with the Dutchman Gysbert Haaksman, who was on a 2,500-kilometer pilgrimage from the Netherlands to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, pulling a 30-pound backpack apparatus that had a single wheel.

Europe travel bucket-list considerations and mentoring

In my January 2017 column, in which I wrote about developing a bucket list for travel, I excluded Europe from the discussion, choosing to treat that region separately. This month, I am covering Europe. 

This article is also intended to be used as a primer by any of ITN’s well-traveled readers who are in a position to influence and advise newer travelers. Please digest the following information with that idea in...

On Reykjavik’s waterfront, the steel “Sólfar” (“Sun Voyager”) sculpture  is not a depiction of a Viking ship but, according to the sculptor, Jón Gunnar Árnason (1931-1989), a “sun ship [that] symbolizes the promise of new, undiscovered territory.” Photos by Randy Keck

Iceland (Third of three parts)

Puffins are among the most colorful seabirds to be found in the North Atlantic.  On my June 2016, 11-day adventure in Iceland, the standing joke within our group was that Day 9 would be puffin day, based on the near-guarantee of sightings that we had been given by our most amazing guide, Gugga Eiriksdóttir.

I was traveling (partially hosted) with ElderTreks on their annual circuit tour of that remote, European island nation.


Alluring Skógafoss on the Skógá River in southern Iceland. Photos by Randy Keck

Iceland (Second of three parts)

My exciting Icelandic adventure continued from the whale-watching mecca of Húsavík, in the north, with a day exploring some of the many attractions of the highly popular Lake Mývatn region. I was traveling (partially hosted) with a group of 11 explorers on a tour with Toronto-based ElderTreks in June 2016.

Mývatn is regarded as a birding paradise, even playing host to the largest breeding duck colony in Europe. On this day, we saw few ducks and...

Hot springs pool at Hveravellir — a true oasis in Iceland’s spartan lava interior. Photos by Randy Keck

Iceland (First of three parts)

To be certain, I had expected to encounter appealing landscapes on my June 2016 journey in a European island nation where, in a banishing of darkness at the height of summer, the sun never really sets. 

I was traveling, partially hosted by ElderTreks (Toronto, Canada; 800/741-7956, www.eldertreks.com), in amazing Iceland, where the adventure-tour operator (and advertiser in ITN) annually offers an 11-day tour. ElderTreks runs small-group...


The facts and opinions expressed in this column are based on firsthand observation. On 10 occasions since 2010, I have traveled to Cuba as a travel writer or in some other tourism-related capacity, visiting 15 of the island’s 16 provinces and all of the major cities. I have another two visits scheduled before November 2016.

An enthusiastic welcome

Earlier this year, I had occasion to visit Cuba’s most popular and most developed resort destination, Varadero, located...


Almost every January, I have the opportunity to attend the annual Symposium of the International Tour Management Institute, or ITMI (625 Market St., Ste. 810, San Francisco, CA 94105; 800/442-4864, www.itmitourtraining.com). ITMI has been conducting its training courses since 1976 and is the largest and most highly regarded training institute for tour directors and guides in the US.

Attending Symposium provides me with the opportunity to get up to date with tour operators...


(Third of three parts)

On the final part of the 12-day tour of Scandinavia that I took with smarTours (partially hosted) in August 2015, our group enjoyed an overnight DFDS Seaways cruise from Oslo, Norway, to Copenhagen, exploring the Danish capital for two days before flying to Helsinki, Finland. Boarding the ship in Oslo in late afternoon, we enjoyed two sunny hours of revelry on the 11th-level open deck with a view of the city skyline and harbor. The cruise was off to a great...


 (Second of three parts)

The second stage of my August 2015 Scandinavian adventure began with a drive from coastal Bergen into the heart of Norway’s enthralling fjord region. I was journeying, partially hosted, with a group of 38 intrepid travelers on the 12-day “Scandinavian Explorer” tour offered by smarTours (New York, NY; 800/337-7773 or 212/297-0955, www.smartours.com). 

Upon our arrival at the hamlet of Voss, we boarded an express train for...