Update on Argentina visa fees of U.S. citizens

For our clients who are planning on going to Argentina:

As of March 24, 2016, Argentina has decided to waive visa fees for U.S. citizens. You will not have to pay for a visa regardless of whether you are visiting for work or as a tourist. As long as your visit is less than 90 days, which should give you plenty of time to explore this amazing destination!

For more information about visas, please visit the Argentina Embassy’s website.

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NEW TRIP! 8 Day Costa Rica Girlfriend Getaway

8-Day Luxury Costa Rica Girlfriend Getaway

AWR announces a new trip to Costa Rica designed for women looking for luxury, pampering, and adventure — 8-Day Luxury Costa Rica Girlfriend Getaway!

Just $1465/person!

8-Day Luxury Costa Rica Girlfriend GetawayOne amazing country, two premium hotels, and eight days to relax, laugh, explore, and have fun with your best friends. It’s your turn to be pampered!

The 2 special properties in this luxury girlfriend getaway are

  • Hotel Punta Islita
  • El Silencio Lodge & Spa

At Hotel Punta Islita, Costa Rica’s best experiences are enjoyed in feel-good equilibrium. Surrounded by lush tropical forest and colorful local communities, this destination resort gazes upon a secluded beach cove along Guanacaste’s wide-open Pacific coastline.

Silencio (“silence” in Spanish) befits a destination where daily stress is silenced by nature’s crisp melodies. El Silencio Lodge & Spa features a 500 acre private cloud forest reserve, hidden trails and waterfalls, an upscale organic restaurant, a spa, and an organic mini-farm.

ITINERARY

  • 8-Day Luxury Costa Rica Girlfriend GetawayDAY 1: Arrive Costa Rica and Transfer
  • DAY 2: Guided Cloud Forest Hike / Community Tour
  • DAY 3: Free day at El Silencio / Complimentary Wine Tasting and Massage
  • DAY 4: Transfer to Pacific Coast / Arrival Cocktail and Sunset
  • DAY 5: Guided Tour to the Local Fishing Village / Beach R&R
  • DAY 6: Beach R&R / Wellness Massage at Casa Spa
  • DAY 7: Beach R&R / Private Beach Garden Dinner
  • DAY 8: Depart Costa Rica

PRICING

  • $1465/person

Price valid through December 19, 2016.

8-Day Luxury Costa Rica Girlfriend Getaway >>

Posted in Costa Rica, Luxury | Leave a comment

NEW TRIP — 3 Day Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Express

3-Day Bwindi Gorilla Express

AWR announces a new short gorilla trek in Uganda — 3-Day Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Express!  This trip starts and ends in Kigali, Rwanda, but you drive to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Forest in Uganda for the gorilla trekking.

Starting at $895/person + Gorilla Permit

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has a unique rich and varied ecosystem and has lowland rainforest and afromontane forest. It is considered as one of the most unique and important forests of Africa. UNESCO declared it as a Natural World Heritage site for Humanity for his many values and because it is vital to the survival of many endangered species.

ITINERARY

  • DAY 1: Morning arrival at Kigali and Transfer to Kisoro region in Uganda
  • DAY 2: Gorilla Trekking in southern region of Bwindi National Park
  • DAY 3: Transfer Kigali for departure

HOTEL OPTIONS

  • 2-STAR BUDGET: Travellers Rest
  • 3-STAR MODERATE: Bwindi Jungle Lodge
  • 4-STAR LUXURY: Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge

PRICING

  • 2-STAR BUDGET: $895/person
  • 3-STAR MODERATE: $995/person
  • 4-STAR LUXURY: $1995/person

NOTE: Uganda gorilla permits are $600/person/day. Low season permits are $465/person/day for March, April, November.

3-Day Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Express >>

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Kilimanjaro Marathon 2017 — Dates Announced!

16-Day Kilimanjaro Marathon with Safari

They have announced the date for the next Kilimanjaro Marathon to be held on February 26, 2017.  This event offers a

  • Full marathon
  • Half marathon
  • 5k fun run

16-Day Kilimanjaro Marathon with Safari and Kilimanjaro
February 12-27, 2017

This itinerary combines a 5-day group safari, which includes the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater plus a 7-day group Kilimanjaro trek on the Machame Route with a big finish with the Kilimanjaro Marathon.

IITINERARY

DAY 1: FEB 12: Arrive Moshi
DAY 2: FEB 13: Rest Day
DAY 3: FEB 14: 5 DAY GROUP SAFARI / Moshi to Lake Manyara Game Drive
DAY 4: FEB 15: Serengeti/Ndutu Game Drive
DAY 5: FEB 16: Serengeti/Ndutu Game Drive
DAY 6: FEB 17: Game Drive and Optional Cultural Visits
DAY 7: FEB 18: Ngorongoro Crater game drive, drive to Moshi
DAY 8: FEB 19: 7 DAY GROUP MACHAME TREK / Hike Machame Gate to Machame Camp
DAY 9: FEB 20: Hike Machame Camp to Shira Camp
DAY 10: FEB 21: Shira Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
DAY 11: FEB 22: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
DAY 12: FEB 23: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
DAY 13: FEB 24: Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Hut
DAY 14: FEB 25: Mweka Camp to Moshi
DAY 15: FEB 26: KILIMANJARO MARATHON
DAY 16: FEB 27: Departure

PRICING

The price for this itinerary based on 2 people is $4295/person.

You can arrange any trek, safari, or Zanzibar visit around this date, but we have a group safari and group Kilimanjaro trek that fit perfectly with the Kilimanjaro Marathon.

See Full Itinerary >>

Posted in Kilimanjaro, Safari, Tanzania | Leave a comment

NEW TRIP — 9 Day Costa Rica Family Caribbean Adventure

9-Day Costa Rica Family Caribbean Adventure

AWR announces a new trip to the eastern side of Costa Rica —  9 Day Costa Rica Family Caribbean Adventure!  This trip combines

  • Wildlife in Tortuguero National Park
  • River rafting in Sarapiqui
  • Beach time in Puerto Viejo

There is a special price for children, but this trip is great for adults without children too!

Starting at $995/adult and $545/child!

Costa Rica is one of the happiest, friendliest, and warmest destinations in the world. Costa Rica is home to beautiful beaches and idyllic national parks. On this special trip, see the fabulous flora and fauna in the jungles of Tortuguero, hike in the lower Caribbean rainforest, enjoy a fun whitewater rafting trip, and relax on the beach.

ITINERARY

  • DAY 1: Arrive San Jose, transfer, and overnight
  • DAY 2: Travel San Jose to Tortuguero National Park
  • DAY 3: Explore Tortuguero National Park
  • DAY 4: Travel Tortuguero to Sarapiqui
  • DAY 5: Sarapiqui rafting / Travel to Puerto Viejo
  • DAY 6: Free day on the beach
  • DAY 7: Free day at the beach
  • DAY 8: Free morning / Travel back to San Jose
  • DAY 9: Depart

PRICING

2-3 People:

  • $1095/adult
  • $545/child

4+ People:

  • $995/adult
  • $545/child

*** Child rates apply for kids ages 2 to 9 years old sharing in 1 double room with two adults.

9-Day Costa Rica Family Caribbean Adventure >>

Posted in Costa Rica, Family Travel | Leave a comment

Galapagos Deals & Holiday Availability

AWR SPECIAL

Save $100/Person on ANY Galapagos Cruise*

Must Book by June 15, 2016

galapagos-crab-1

See below for discounted vessels and availability over the Christmas/New Years holiday season!

Coral I/II & Legend

Sun Deck on the Legend Galapagos cruise

Sun Deck on the Legend

Three of our favorite boats are the Legend (100 passengers), the Coral I (36 passengers), and the Coral II (20 passengers).  These boats have a jacuzzi or small pool, offer sea kayaks, have a good kids program, and are a good value for the money.

Selected departures in July-November 2016 are on sale. 4, 5, and 8 day itineraries are available.

4-DAY PRICES:

  • Standard Cabin: $1645/person
  • Standard Plus: $2045/person
  • Junior Suite: $2295/person
  • Legend Suite: $2645/person
  • Balcony Suite: $2945/person
  • $90/person Fuel Surcharge
  • $495/person Galapagos Flights
  • *** Contact us for 5-day and 8-day prices.

Eric/Letty/Origin

Stand-up Paddleboards and Kayaks Galapagos

Stand-up Paddleboards and Kayaks

Eric and Letty are identical 20-passenger first-class yachts.  The Origin is a brand new premium luxury 20-passenger yacht.  They all offer 2 naturalist-guides, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards.  Only 8-day itineraries are offered.

10% fall discount on selected departures in September and October 2016. They also have a 5% winter discount on selected departures in January and February 2017.

PRICES:

  • Eric/Letty: $5145 Dolphin deck, $4745 Booby deck, $4295 Iguana deck, $4095 Triple
  • Origin: $6495 Double, $6295 Triple

Cormorant

Cormorant Double/Twin Cabin Galapagos

Cormorant Double/Twin Cabin

The Cormorant is a first-class 16-passenger motorized catamaran.

They are offering special prices on selected dates:

  • Aug 17-20 (4D/3N Wed – Sat): US$2940
  • Aug 27-31 (5D/4N Sat – Wed): US$3965
  • Sep 03-10 (8D/7N Sat – Sat): US$6235
  • Dec 03-07 (5D/4N Sat – Wed): US$3965
  • Dec 07-10 (4D/3N Wed – Sat): US$2940
  • Dec 10-17 (8D/7N Sat – Sat): US$6235

Ocean Spray

The Ocean Spray is a first-class 16-passenger motorized catamaran.  They are offering special prices on selected dates:

Aug 20-27 (8D/7N Sat – Sat): US$6235
Dec 03-06 (4D/3N Wed – Sat): US$2940
Dec 10-17 (8D/7N Sat – Sat): US$6235



Christmas/New Years Holidays:

Tip Top IV
First class yacht
Capacity for 16 passengers

Tip Top IV in the Galapagos

Tip Top IV in the Galapagos

Relax onboard the Tip Top IV with lavish amenities like the roomy sundeck, inviting dining room, well-stocked bar, full library, TV/VCR/DVD with sound system, desktop PC with e-mail access, air conditioning, and carpeting throughout. Each of the craft’s ten cabins comes with a private bathroom (equipped with both hot and cold water), a personal safe, and a wardrobe.

  • 5 Day cruise: December 26-30, 2016
  • Price per person $ 3295 USD Lower deck cabins
  • Price per person $ 3645 USD Upper deck cabins
  • *** Price includes flights to the Galapagos!

5 DAY ITINERARY

MON: Baltra, Black turtle cove
TUE: Chinese Hat, Rabida
WED: Santiago: Sullivan Bay, Bartolome
THU: Santa Fe, Plazas
FRI: Bachas, Baltra airport


Catamaran Nemo III

Capacity for 14 passengers
First class yacht

Nemo III Catamaran Galapagos

Nemo III Catamaran

The Nemo III is a large trans-oceanic, allumarine, 72-foot, multihull yacht; a wonderfully stable cruising vessel.  It  was specially designed by Lagenvin to take up to 12 passengers, accommodated in seven double cabins, each with a private bathroom. The ingeniously designed salon, vast cockpit and unique exterior surface make this beautiful catamaran an exceptional choice for your Galapagos cruise.    Yacht has a Jacuzzi.

  • 8 days cruise: January 1-8, 2017
  • Price per person : $ 4595  USD

8 DAYS – ITINERARY South

SUN: Baltra, North Seymour
MON: San Cristobal: Isla Lobos , Leon Dormido, Cerro Brujo
TUE: Española: Bahia Gardner, Pta. Suarez
WED: Floreana: Pta. Comorant , Post Office Bay
THU: Santa Cruz: Highlands, Charles Darwin Station
FRI: Plaza Sur, Santa Fe
SAT: Bartolome, Sombrero Chino
SUN: Mosquera, Baltra


Archipel I

First class  catamaran

The Archipel I offers six twin cabins and two matrimonial cabins, spacious lodgings, and each one consists of a private bathroom with hot-and-cold water, toilets, spacious closets and drawers, wide windows, air-conditioning, bottled water and fresh towels. The social area consists of a dining room, a well-supplied bar and a conference area with television, DVD player and projector, table games, library with books and DVDs. Enjoy the sea breezes or a sky full with stars from the observation platform.

  • 8 Day cruise: January 2-9, 2017
  • Price per person $ 3995 USD

8 DAYS – ITINERARY B

MON: Baltra, North Seymour
TUE: Bartolome, Santiago: Sullivan Bay
WED: Isabela: wall of tears, tortoise breeding centre
THU: Santa Cruz: Charles Darwin centre, Twin craters
FRI: Floreana: Punta Cormorant, Champion, Post office bay, Baronesa lookout
SAT: Española: Gardner Bay, Punta Suarez
SUN: San Cristobal: Punta Pitt, Cerro Brujo
MON: San Cristobal: Isla Lobos, Airport


*Conditions:

  • Valid on any Galapagos cruise of $2000/person or more
  • Must book by June 15, 2016
  • New bookings only, not valid on existing bookings

Contact us for more information >>

Posted in Ecuador, Galapagos, Specials | Leave a comment

Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat: Comfortable Acclimatization before Climbing Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro, as seen from Halisi Machare

Kilimanjaro, as seen from Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat

It is not uncommon for Kilimanjaro trekkers to be concerned about altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro.  While there is no single way to avoid altitude sickness without medicinal help, one highly-regarded preventative approach is through acclimatization.  Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat at Machare Farm is a new up-market boutique lodge near Moshi (the gateway to Kilimanjaro) that is situated at an attractive 4,500 feet elevation on the broad flanks of Kilimanjaro, meaning clients traveling from sea-level climes have a comfortable property to spend a few nights before a trek to rest and prepare for their trek plus help them acclimatize. Our travelers often choose to arrive in Tanzania about 2 nights before a trek to have a rest day. With Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat, you would not only have a rest day but also valuable time at a higher altitude.

Kili_Machare_RoomThe lodge is itself is situated in a quiet oasis far removed from the hustle and bustle of Moshi town. Outside your door is an enchanting 350 acre organic coffee estate, with lush manicured  grounds all around the 7 up-tempo luxury rooms, each with en-suite bath and decorated in a bright mix of African and Euro-chic style.

The food at Machare Farm is carefully prepared by a resident chef, using the finest local produce. The coffee is sensational, and as fresh as can be, grown and roasted right fromDSCN0089 the estate. Wine, beer, soft drink, juices and bottled waters are available for purchase.

Energy and hot water is supplied through a mix of solar power and electricity.  Travelers can enjoy guided or unguided walks throughout the estate, exploring the tranquil coffee fields or venturing into the serene 100 acre nature reserve. Here you you can walk to a waterfall, swim in the river and look out for mountain wildlife including many species of lustrous birds. Guided coffee and tea tours can be arranged as well as visits to the local village.

DSCN0078Rooms are spacious and can be reserved as single rooms, double rooms, or twin rooms with separate beds. There is a 2 bedroom farmhouse suite and a finely decorated room inside the main lodge proper. Other units are cottages spread out over the grounds, with the stunning white massif of Kilimanjaro looming close by.  Outside of the main lodge is an interesting al fresco lounge, immersing you in the estate’s natural surroundings when it’s time for evening sundowners or a morning cup of coffee.

2016 prices at Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat are US$100/person/night in double or twin room (breakfast and taxes included) with the single supplement just $40.

The lodge is located about 25 minutes drive from Moshi and a little over an hour from Kilimanjaro Airport. We’re very excited to add this exciting new property to our travelers climbing Kilimanjaro. We hope you can enjoy the full Kilimanjaro experience with AWR!

Posted in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania | Leave a comment

Update on Kenya Visa Fees for Minors

giraffeWe like to keep our clients up-to-date on all the latest visa news. And here’s some good news from Kenya if you’re thinking about taking your children. Effective February 1, 2016, Kenya is waiving visa fees for all children traveling with their parents, although visas are still required. This waiver of fees is good for children of any nationality as long they are younger than 16 years old. The visa waiver allows parents to save the $50 they would otherwise pay for a single entry tourist visa or $100 for a multiple entry visa.

Posted in Travel Advice | Leave a comment

Everest Base Camp Charity Trek with Make A Difference

ebc-1Nepal: Everest Base Camp Charity Trek
October 4-20, 2016

Make A Difference in the Lives of Children

Join MAD on a 17-Day grand adventure. The trek begins with a beautiful flight to Lukla. The trek passes through the picturesque Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar culminating in the “ascent” of Kala Patthar from where classic views of Everest and the surrounding peaks are available. There will be plenty of time to enjoy the culture of the Sherpas, visit ancient monasteries and learn how Lamaistic Buddhism influences Sherpa life. We shall stop at any of the numerous teahouses, sip a glass of sweetened tea or Chang (millet beer) and get a taste of hospitality unique to the Sherpas. Beautiful, multi-hued prayer flags, prayer wheels and intricately carved mani stones line every hilltop, rock wall, and trail-side, singing prayers to the gods with every breeze and every passing traveler.

Itinerary in Brief:

DAY 1 / OCT 4: Arrive Kathmandu Airport, transfer, overnight Hotel Tibet
DAY 2 / OCT 5: Morning Kathmandu City Tour, afternoon meet with guide and prepare for trek, overnight Hotel Tibet
DAY 3-15 / OCT 6-18: 13-Day Everest Base Camp Trek
DAY 16 / OCT 19: Free Day, overnight Hotel Tibet
DAY 17 / OCT 20: Depart Kathmandu

Pricing:

  • Cost of Climb and Tour: $1845/person
  • Fundraising Goal: Minimum of $1000/person

Book EBC with MAD >>

Posted in Nepal, Sustainable Tourism, Trekking | Leave a comment

9 Surprises on the Rongai Route

Just being on Kilimanjaro was a glorious victory

Just being on Kilimanjaro was a glorious victory

We have a lot of “how-to” and general advice posts for climbing Kilimanjaro on our Blog. But reading an excellent recent post on CNN about Kilimanjaro, I was inspired to write a more humble ode of what surprised me the most on my Rongai trek to the top of Kilimanjaro. Here are my 9  biggest surprises on the Rongai route:

1)  The elfin beauty of Kilimanjaro’s rainforest

DSCN1778While the Lemosho and Machame routes are the best known trails for rainforest, I was amazed by the vibrant, lush green beauty I found along the Rongai trail. Despite the Rongai being theoretically in the mountain’s “rain shadow,”  I hiked through a fairy tale landscape in the lower reaches. While enjoying all the fresh air, I passed thick patches of beautiful towering ferns and so many massive, moss-laden trees – too many to count – with limbs twisting and turning into the sky every which way.

2) The abundance of water

DSCN1779

Anyone who’s visited Tanzania on safari can attest that much of northern Tanzania is a rugged dry landscape. Not the Rongai in November!

We passed so many photogenic waterfalls and cascades, both big and small. We crossed little creeks by hopping on rocks and larger creeks via sturdy bridges. It was a marvelous twist to enjoy a water wilderness as I ascended and descended the lower and middle reaches of the route.

3) The wildlife

Seeing fresh buffalo tracks while traversing the barren upper stretches of the mountain was a surprise!

DSCN1672What the animal was doing up there only the buffalo knows. But lower down, we had eye-to-eye encounters with blue monkeys as black and white colobus monkeys watched us carefully from the treetops. Beautiful turacos alighted branches in the rainforest while cute little “tennis ball” birds delighted the eyes in higher altitudes. Kilimanjaro might never be a “go-to” wildlife destination but what you do see are casual reminders that yes, you are most definitely in Africa…

4) Rain

Despite the Rongai being the relatively dry route (compared to other Kilimanjaro trails), it was truly rainy in November, with some days seeing up to 4-5 hours of rain and/or drizzle. November is the “short” rainy season but this last November saw a healthy helping of rainfall. The mists were magic though, as parts of the forest and mountain would suddenly pop into view, then just as quickly, mists would swirl and descend, visibility could be reduced to what you saw just in front of you, only to open up again in a few short minutes.

5) The cold at night

Maybe it was because the days were relatively mild temperature-wise, or maybe it was because we were on the equator (and it should be warm there, right?). Whatever it was, the nights on the mountain felt very cold; you noticed it starting at dusk, how the climate was remarkably different on Kilimanjaro than it was in the nearby Serengeti. My guide brought me a second jacket to wear over my own down jacket for the cold. I originally thought that was overkill but I ended up using it on about 3 nights of the trek.

6) How easy it was to trek solo

I’m someone who’s very comfortable being on myDSCN1657 own in the wilderness, but on a trip like Kilimanjaro, I wrongly assumed I’d get lonely.  There are some climbers who make it a point to collect summits; they rack them up like trophies, almost like they are “taking” mountains. But on Kilimanjaro, I found the mountain took me. I felt a mysterious sense of belonging despite technically going solo on the trek. Maybe I never felt lonely since I was too busy being exhilarated? Maybe it was the unbelievable insight I gained into Tanzanian people by spending so much quality time talking with my guide instead of a friend? Maybe it was the constant smiles and laughter from the porters and rest of the crew while in camp? Or maybe it was the chance to finally sit down for long stretches and read a great paperback without distraction . . .  Whatever it was, this was one of the best trips of my life.

7) The difference it made having my guide carry my daypack on the summit attempt

It really doesn’t sound like much at all, but our guides swear it helps summit success when they carry your daypack on the all-important summit morning. My guide explained how young ex-soldiers, proud and strong, would initially refuse the guide’s help, but somewhere around 18,000 feet, suddenly the lights would go on and the stubborn soldiers would finally give in and then continue on to summit successfully. People can and do over-estimate their own strength sometimes with high altitude, so take the guide’s advice, let them carry your day pack from the beginning of the hike on summit morning. It that sounds like “cheating,” remember that you still have to “carry” your own body up the slopes, and that’s what counts. There’s no glory in not summiting, so I learned to trust my guide and let him help.

8) How “vacationy” the trek really felt

While preparing and anticipating howDSCN1756 difficult the trek was, I didn’t think even once that the trek could possibly be a “vacation.” My eyes were all on the goal of getting in shape, taking care of my body, preparing for the worst – all for summiting. But a funny thing happened on the way to the summit . . . I began to relax, enjoy the scenery, enjoy the steady support of my guide and the rest of the mountain crew, and appreciate the mountain and the solitude more and more each passing day.  I found it a wonderful experience to get away from computers, cars, cell phones, and bills for a week. I felt all my day-to-day worries go somewhere very far away.

9) Just how beautiful being on the summit was

Nothing really can prepare for the mixture of triumph, jaw-dropping natural beauty, and all-round happiness you feel when you are on the summit. I’ve done many awesome things in life and been to many DSCN1727amazing places, but the combination of doing and being on that summit was electrifying. I was honestly surprised at how I felt, maybe because I had held out on hope, in case I didn’t make it to the summit. Or maybe I had expected to be absolutely exhausted, which I was not. Whatever the reason, nothing can match the deep thrill you’ll feel standing on the roof of Africa – it’s something everyone should experience for themselves!

Posted in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania | Leave a comment