Cabin with its roof overgrown with vegetation — Selva Negra Ecolodge in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Photos by Dave Wiltzius

In several previous issues (including last month’s), we printed letters from subscribers who responded to the information request of Yvonne Richter, who wrote, “My husband and I like to take customized private tours, and we prefer to use tour companies and guides that are local to the destinations. I would like travelers to write in about foreign tour companies and guides they’ve used for private tours, including as many of the following details as possible:


Lubljana’s Mestni trg with the Robba Fountain.

The white stone of the Triple Bridge shimmered in the evening lights. In the background, the pink façade of the Franciscan church off Prešernov trg provided a beautiful color contrast. What an impressive sight on the first evening of my May 2016 adventure in “Titoland”! 

An adventure begins

The UK-based adventure-tour provider Explore! (US phone, 510/227-8224; www.exploreworldwide. com) was offering a brand-new tour titled “Former Yugoslavia Rail...

The causeway approaching St. Michael’s Mount at low tide.  Photos by R.C. Pyle

With three trips to the UK under our belts, Devon and Cornwall were still on the “bucket list” for my husband, R.C., and me. We decided to remedy that in the spring of 2016 (April 22-May 13). 

We chose spring because it was a convenient time for us to travel, and it would have been the perfect time to visit southwestern England if it hadn’t been one of the coldest Aprils on record! 

This was to be a self-planned, self-drive trip, the planning done...

Black rhino mother and her still-nursing baby in Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve, Zimbabwe. Photo by Mary Small

As half of a group of four friends, we traveled with Odysseys Unlimited in October 2015 on their “Africa’s Wildlife” tour. 

We began with a 14½-hour Emirates flight from Seattle to Dubai, where we had a 3-hour layover before continuing on for another 8½ hours to Johannesburg. The flights were very comfortable and offered good service; time “flew by.” 

In Johannesburg, we stayed in a deluxe hotel, 54 on Bath, where, on the afternoon of our...

Colorful buildings line a street in Bergen, Norway.

In the Wake of the Vikings” read the title of a cruise across the North Atlantic by Viking Ocean Cruises (Woodland Hills, CA; 866/984-5464, www.vikingcruises.com). Viking is known primarily for offering river cruises in Europe and other parts of the world, but this was the first time they would be taking one of their oceangoing ships, the Viking Star, across the Atlantic. It was a 15-day ship relocation cruise from Bergen, Norway, to Montréal, Canada, in September 2016, before the...

Only a small number of the thousands of crosses at the National War Cemetery in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire.

My husband, Cesar, and I took a 7-day canal cruise in May 2016 with European Waterways along the Canal du Nord, traveling from Bruges, Belgium, down to Amiens, France. 

The theme of the cruise was the history of the Commonwealth soldiers who fought in northern France during World War I. While I can’t say that I’m a particular fan of military history, I found this tour fascinating. The variety of places and things scheduled on our itinerary was a good mix and offered...

Scene on the Ganges in Varanasi as we waited to see the sunrise.

They walked, thousands of people, each with a look of hope and salvation. They carried small cloth bags over their shoulders, some, a small metal pot, and, every now and then, there was someone grasping a yellow flag. From my vantage point in our 10-passenger van, they seemed to walk in silence through the din of the surrounding city. 

The crowd was headed to the Ganges to cleanse their souls, while the people on the other side of the street streamed out of the city with a look...

View of Bockfjord from the Sea Adventurer.

Anticipating days with crystal-clear blue skies and the opportunity to trek in the footsteps of early North Pole explorers, to view soaring mountain peaks, icebergs, polar bears, seals, walruses and birdlife and to visit early hunting settlements, we heard the call of Svalbard, the land of 1,000 Arctic glaciers, as it beckoned us in the summer of 2016. 

Reviewing available Arctic trips, my wife, Betty, and I soon focused on the “Spitsbergen Explorer,” a Svalbard...