How to Plan the Perfect Family Tanzania Safari

9-Day Family Tanzania SafariTanzania is a great safari destination for families!  Except for the rainy months of April and May, the weather is pretty good all year long.  It is easy to see the animals in the national parks, yet it is a very authentic experience.  There are cultural opportunities such as visiting a Maasai tribe and a local school.  Families can finish their trip with some relaxing time on the soft, white, sandy beaches of Zanzibar Island.

Here are some tips to planning the perfect family safari in Tanzania.

  • Visit a Maasai village on safari in TanzaniaPick the right guides — We use great guides who are amazing with kids.
  • Spend more time in fewer places — Better to enjoy a few high-quality locations to reduce travel time.
  • Swimming pools — These offer a nice diversion between game drives, and they sure feel good after being hot and dusty.
  • Mix of activities — There is more to do on safari than game drives.  Options include meeting local people, trying out a bow and arrow, hiking, hot air balloon safaris, and much more.
  • Money can buy happiness — If you have the budget for it, luxury accommodations have programs designed for kids.  They are also more exclusive and can cater to your family’s needs.  Flying between the parks will also cut down on long drives.

There are many lodges and tented camps that offer swimming pools, hiking, evening entertainment, and other activities.  These accommodations are great examples:

Kudu LodgeKudu Lodge:

A budget lodge with a fun swimming pool complete with elephant sculpture.  They have family rooms, BBQ dinner outside some nights, and a pool table.

 

Tanzania safari at the Ngorongoro Sopa LodgeSopa Lodges

Have swimming pools, evening entertainment, pool tables, and other diversions.

 

Gibb's FarmGibb’s Farm:

Offers lots of activities like feeding the bushbabies, milking cows, hiking to the elephant caves, and has huge rooms in just a beautiful location.

 

Lemala CampsLemala Camps

A great permanent tented camp option with programs designed just for kids.

 

Klein's CampKlein’s Camp

Located just outside the park, so families can visit an authentic Maasai village, go hiking, and other great activities.

 

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NEW TRIP: 4-Day Hike and Kayak Bariloche

Beautiful Bariloche is located in the heart of Argentina’s Lake District and is the ideal base for exploring the nearby lakes, hiking trails and exploring Patagonia. Take in the stunning mountain views as you tour the famous circuit in Bariloche,walk through the Llao Llao Forest and then kayak in the most pristine lakes of Nahuel Huapi National Park.

Bariloche

Bariloche

 

Day 1 : Bariloche

Visiting: Bariloche

Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel (shared service) and have the afternoon at leisure. You can explore the Swiss-like town plaza, try some of the delicious, locally made chocolates or walk along the lake and take in the beautiful views of the national park. Please, check our Optional Tours in case you would like to add an activity.

  • Meals: B
  • Budget Lodging: Posada Los Juncos (Junior Suite) or similar
Bariloche

Hiking in Bariloche’s pristine forests

Day 2 : Bariloche History and Nature with Trekking

Visiting: Bariloche

This excursion goes along the most classic circuit of San Carlos de Bariloche combined with a trekking of 3,30hs at Llao-Llao Nature Park. During the tour, the guide will explain the story of Bariloche and its surrounding natural environment. We also do the classic stops at Punto Panoramico and San Eduardo Church to enjoy views of Llao-Llao Hotel and Mount Tronador. The hiking ascend to Mount Llao-Llao and goes through the impressive Patagonian forest with fantastic views of Lake Escondido, Lake Moreno, Blest and Tristeza branches of Lake Nahuel Huapi and Mounts Lopez and Capilla. Includes: Box lunch. Walking time: 3hrs 30mn (aprox.) Level of difficulty: Moderate

  • Meals: BL
  • Budget Lodging: Posada Los Juncos (Junior Suite) or similar
Bariloche

Kayaking in Bariloche

Day 3 : Kayaking and Trekking in Lake Mascardi – Full day

Visiting: Bariloche

Today you will kayak some of the most pristine and scenic lakes in the region. This is a very complete excursion that combines coastal kayaking with a nature trek in the forest. 45min. transfer to Camping Wiritray owned by Native Mapuche Community. We start paddling towards Playa Leones, one of the most beautiful beaches of the National Park. Then we do a nature-oriented trek through the forest until Lagoon Yum. Back in Playa Leones we have lunch and time to relax before kayaking back to the starting point. Afternoon tea and return to the hotel. *Depending on weather conditions, we will kayak on Lake Moreno, Lake Gutierrez or Lake Nahuel Huapi.

  • Meals: BL
  • Budget Lodging: Posada Los Juncos (Junior Suite) or similar

Day 4 : Departure

Visiting: Bariloche

Breakfast. At appropriate time, you will be transferred to the airport or bus terminal. Today, you can choose to extend your travels purchasing any of our available offers in the rest of Patagonia,Buenos Aires or the Mendoza area.

  • Meals: B

STARTING PRICE: $1045 per person

This adventure can easily be paired with the following itineraries:

IN ARGENTINA:

IN CHILE:

Want to book your next Bariloche adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Argentina expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Argentina, Chile, Family Travel, Patagonia, South America, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Incredible New Adventures Off The Beaten Path in Chile

Aysen

Patagonia Park, Aysen

Come explore the remote and rugged corners of Chilean Patagonia on our newest itineraries crafted specifically for those looking to escape the crowds and have a truly transformative adventure! Arrive in Santiago and enjoy the lively cosmopolitan center and colorful historic coastal city of Valparaiso. Jet down to the Lakes District and stay in a cabin on your own private island while trekking and horseback riding from Chile to Argentina through the region’s lush forests. Explore the dramatic and virgin landscapes of the Aysen region filled with epic rivers for rafting, marble caves and the recently-opened Patagonia Park. Finally, trek the southern-most circuit in the world in the Dientes Mountains on Tierra del Fuego!

Santiago

Santiago

1) 4-Day Ultimate Santiago Layover: From City and Coast

Chosen by the New York Times as 2011’s #1 destination to visit, Santiago is a dynamic and contemporary metropolis located in the heart of Chile’s fertile central valley. Chile’s capital is a vibrant city full of character, with a thriving arts culture, trendy restaurant scene, and lively nightlife. Embraced on all sides by mountains – the mighty Andes to the east and the smaller coastal range to the west – on a clear day Santiago boasts one of the most incredible city scenes in the world.

Later, head to Valparaíso, one of the first Chilean cities founded by the Spanish. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003 for its architectural and cultural significance, the city is also one of Chile’s most interesting. You will start in the downtown sector, learning about the history of “Valpo” and its importance in South American trade and commerce. Century-old hillside ascensores (elevators) will transport you up into the city’s steep hills, where a labyrinthine maze of streets reveals brightly colored buildings, bohemian cafes and elegant restaurants, and spectacular views of the harbor below.

Starting at: $560 per person

Lakes Crossing

Cabin on Private Island: Isla Bandurrias, Lakes District

2) 4-Day Lakes District: Andean Crossing from Puerto Varas to Bariloche

This staggering voyage takes you through the virgin region of the Patagonian Andes, crossing different landscapes, immersed in two countries along the mountain chain. Discover the Río Puelo valley. You will come across the enchanted Island of Las Bandurrias – a dream location During these four days; you will feel the sensation of remoteness, the warmth of the local traditions with exquisite meals. Come to explore the secret and pristine crossing between Argentina and Chile.

Starting at: $1995 per person

Aysen

Cerro Castillo, Aysen

3) 8-Day Remote Trails Aysen and Patagonia Park

Chile’s beloved Nobel Prize winning-poet Pablo Neruda once said, “He who does not know the Chilean forests does not know the planet.” In addition to the vast old-growth forests, Northern Patagonia boasts glaciers, fjords, wild rivers, clear lakes, and waterfalls. The gateway to Chile’s far south, with the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) winding its way through the region, Aisén is an area of incredible beauty and remoteness that people expect from Patagonia, but won’t find further south. With such wonders as the Futaleufú River – considered by rafters and kayakers to be South America’s absolute best – and areas of quiet wilderness, Northern Patagonia attracts both adventurous travelers and those in search of solitude.

Starting at: $3075 per person

Dientes Trek

Dientes Trek

4) 6-Day The Dientes Trek

Experience what has been called the best trek in Patagonia on this nature-lover’s paradise trek! Walk through the Dientes de Navarino massif at the far end of South America, trekking along rural roads through and alongside forests, peat bogs, valleys, ponds, lakes, and rivers. At the hike’s summit, take in stunning views of the Beagle Channel, the cities of Puerto Williams in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina, Nassau Bay, the Wollaston archipelago, and the mythical archipelago of Cape Horn.

Starting at: $1725 per person

Want to book your next off-the-beaten path Chile adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Chile expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Argentina, Chile, Family Travel, Kayak, Luxury, Patagonia, South America, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the Best Route to Climb Kilimanjaro

Sometimes it is difficult to decide which route to take on Kilimanjaro.  Keep in mind that all the routes on Kilimanjaro are scenic.  There is little wildlife on the mountain except for baboons on the first day trying to steal your lunch.

Consider adding the Luxury Kilimanjaro Trek Upgrade for added conveniences and safety equipment.

Machame

Summit Mt. Kilimanjaro on the 7-day Machame RouteAlso known as the “whiskey route”, this is the most popular route on Kilimanjaro and for good reason.  You hike up the southwest side of the mountain and traverse across to the eastern side for the final ascent.  It can be done in 6 or 7 days.

The 7-day Machame Route is arguably the best option on the mountain.  It offers good acclimatization and is more relaxed.

If you want to climb Kilimanjaro in a group trek, we offer both the 6 and 7 day options as group departures.

Rongai

Climb Mt. Kili 6-day Rongai RouteThis is our second most popular route as it is less crowded.  This is a great option during the busiest times of July, August, and over Christmas/New Years.  This is also a great option when have a large group.

This is offered in a short 6-day Rongai trek, a longer 6-day trek, and a 7-day trek.

You start the hike on the northeast side of the mountain near the Kenya border.  You will most likely be the only group at camp, or maybe one other group. For the last two nights, you join up with the Marangu Route, so you will have some time alone and then 2 days/nights with other trekking groups.  It is fun meeting up with people from around the world pursuing the same goal!

Lemosho

Climb Kilimanjaro on the 8-day Lemosho routeThis is a great option if you are looking for a longer trek.  It is typically done as the 8-day Lemosho Route, but it can also be done in 9 days or 7 days.

It starts on the far west edge of the mountain, and goes around the south side.  It meets up with the Machame Route on Day 3.  This route can also be accessed from Arusha.

Marangu

Summit Mount Kilimanjaro via the 6-day Marangu RouteAlso known as the “Coca Cola Route,” this is the only route where you sleep in huts.  It can be done in as few as 5 days; therefore, it is the shortest and cheapest option.  However, we highly recommend doing the 6-day Marangu Route for better acclimatization.

Northern Circuit

This route starts on the west side at the same trail head as the Lemosho Route, but then you traverse across the northern part of the mountain instead of the southern part.  It can be done in 8 or 9 days.  It is far less traveled, which is a plus, but there is very little water.

Umbwe

This is a fast route up the south side of the mountain.  It is not very common now that the Western Breach ascent is closed.  The 6-day Umbwe trek is the most popular, but it can also be done in 7 days.

Shira

Another option on the west side that parallels the Lemosho Route.  It is also not very popular, but we do offer it.  The 6-day Shira Route is most common.

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NEW TRIP: 8-Day Colombia Medellin Multi-Sport with Cartagena

Our new 8-Day Medellín Multisport with Cartagena tour explores the very best of Medellín and the surrounding natural areas. Experience the best of the Antioquia department while biking along varied ecosystems, rafting on isolated rivers, hiking through nature reserves, and exploring world heritage neighborhoods. Your comfort and safety are guaranteed with high-end dual suspension mountain bikes and rafting equipment. Certified adventure guides lead the way, so relax and enjoy the very best of Antioquia! We finish the trip with 2 nights in Cartagena, a leading city of Latin America and a colonial masterpiece!

Day 1: Arrive Medellín, transfer, and overnight

Arrive Medellín international airport – anytime is OK – where you are met and transferred to your hotel for your first overnight in Medellín.

Day 2: Discover Medellín on a guided tour, plus Arvi Nature Reserve

Medellín

Medellín

Known for its wonderful year round weather, Medellín is one of the most prosperous, scenic, and upbeat metropolitan cities in South America. It is no wonder they call it “The City of Eternal Spring.” The civic architecture connects the main city attractions, with walking pathways and a great metro system.We will start with a tour of the Fernando Botero Plaza, where we learn about Colombia’s most renowned artist.

We will explore the Antioquia Museum and the Botanical Garden, which is a worthwhile wildlife refuge and nature research center. From the Gardens, we will ride the metro and cable car all the way up to the ARVI Park. ARVI is the city’s most important park, home to hundreds of hectares of native forest. The cable car ride offers impressive views of the city and the forest canopy below. In the park, you can hike along incredible scenic trails, visit a lake, and search for local birdlife. We will take the aerial car back to Medellín in the afternoon.

Day 3: Bike to Guatape, hike up Peñol Rock

We will drive to the lush valleys, towering mountains, and serene lakes west of Medellín. We will set up our bikes and begin the ride with a four-kilometer warm-up ascent. You will pass beautiful farmland and enjoy views of the colonial town of Granada.

El Peñol

El Peñol

At the ridge, we will begin a 14-kilometer downhill ride through sections of the endemic cloud forest. As we approach Guatape, you will enjoy the scenic reservoir with fiord-like inlets that create hundreds of recreational areas along the shore. Look out for your first views of the famous Peñol Rock, standing tall at 200 meters.

Upon arrival in Guatape, we will explore the quaint town center and enjoy its colorful buildings and street decorations. After a typical Antioquia lunch, we will climb the 642 stairs to the top of Peñol Rock, with sweeping views of the reservoir. We will return to Medellín in the afternoon.

Day 4: Rafting the Rio Buey

Río Buey

Río Buey

The Rio Buey is the best single day rafting trip in the Medellín region. The river is very scenic and mostly isolated, surrounded by cloud forest and remote farmland. We will drive along the Cauca River Valley, a fertile area dotted with small traditional towns, to reach the shores of the Buey River where we will set up our boats. After a safety talk, you will hit the waters of the Buey for a thrilling 5-hour voyage. Expert guides will interpret the surrounding ecosystem along the way. Your run concludes at a magnificent canyon and forest area where local birds and wildlife are abundant. This scenic class III-IV river takes us for 27 kilometers of exhilarating river time. We will return to Medellín in the late afternoon.

Day 5: Downhill biking through cloud forest to a colonial town (Sante Fe)

We will drive north from Medellín through a scenic region lined with green pastures and dotted by beautiful haciendas. We will reach a ridge at 2,700 meters (8,500 ft.) and personalize your dual suspension bike to fit your riding style and experience.

Santa Fé de Antioquia

Santa Fé de Antioquia

Begin your descent along a highland paramo ecosystem with endemic flora and fauna, including bright purple flowers and unique birds. The narrow single lane road feels ethereal, twisting and turning with seemingly no end. You will peddle through a lush cloud forest with open views to the Cauca River valley and test yourself on brief, exhilarating ascents. The Cauca is Colombia’s second most important river, flowing from the mountains all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The environment changes into tropical lowlands at the end of the ride, and the landscapes overflow with bananas, mangos, coffee, cacao, and yucca plantations. Advanced riders can opt for more technical single trails, meeting up with the group at a crossroads. Your ride will end in the small village of Cordova, where we will load up our bikes and continue to nearby Santa Fe de Antioquia.  Santa Fe is a world heritage site, packed with historic intrigue, plazas, churches, and beautiful colonial architecture. After a short village tour, we will return to Medellín.

Day 6: Transfer, depart for Cartagena

After breakfast, we will transfer you to the airport, where you will catch your flight to Cartagena (flights not included). On arrival in Cartagena, you will enter the easy multi-lingual taxi kiosk and take a cheap taxi to your hotel tonight. Be sure to enjoy a wander in the evening as musicians and dancers emerge for dazzling performances in the plazas.

Cartagena at Night

Cartagena at Night

Day 7: Free day in beautiful Cartagena

Cartagena

Cartagena

You will have a free day in beautiful colonial Cartagena.

Day 8: Depart Cartagena

After breakfast, you will depart Cartagena.

 

 

 

8-Day Colombia Medellin Multi-Sport with Cartagena >>

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NEWS Brazil Visa Process Simplified For US Citizens

Great news for travelers wishing to visit Brazil! The Brazilian visa process will now be easier. North American tourists wishing to visit Brazil will no longer have to spend time and money to travel to Visa Centers and Brazilian consulates to apply for entry visas for Brazil. Beginning on January 15,2018, American tourists who wish to visit Brazil will be able to apply for their visa through an electronic document issuance system. The visa will be issued within 72 hours of the request.

For more information on this new change read more HERE. For more information on travel to Brazil, feel free to contact us!

Your friendly Brazil expert,
Gretchen

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Reasons to see Africa’s Great Migration

Safari migration

One of the top reasons for traveling to Tanzania and Kenya is the biggest wildlife spectacle on earth: The Great Migration.

Although other companies offer “migration safaris,” we can plan the best route to be in the best place at the best time.  You can do a private safari or a group safari with first-hand, close-up wildlife encounters away from crowded lodges.

8 reasons why you should experience the Great Migration:

1) The world’s largest land migration

Millions of wildebeests participate in the migration following the rains through Tanzania and Kenya. Hundreds of thousands of zebra join them.  They spend January-May in the southern Serengeti plains where they babies are born.  They head north in June on the western corridor of the Serengeti, reaching Kenya for September-October.  In November, they head south again on the eastern side of the Serengeti.

2) Amazing photography

Tanzania safariProfessional photographers swarm to Africa just for a chance at experiencing the migration. From any angle, the large herds offer an amazing subject for your photographs.

3) Predator Activity

Although lions and other carnivores do not migrate with the grazing animals, they feast on them when their paths cross.  The most famous predator interaction — crocodiles at the Mara River — is not easy to predict, but this is near the Tanzania/Kenya border, so typically in September-October.  Predators also gather during calving season.

4) Cute wildebeest babies

Safari migrationTypically, all the wildebeest babies are born February-March every year in the Southern Serengeti (Ndutu) area. The young babies jump to their feet and are ready to run almost immediately.  The mothers move to the short grassy areas so that they can watch for predators more easily.

5) Swarm intelligence

From the outside, the crossings seem to be frenzied and uncalculated, but the animals are, in fact, systematically exploring and overcoming the obstacle as one single unit – or swarm.

6) Best lodging to observe the migration

Serengeti Migration CampThe best place to stay for your safari depends on when you go, and what level of accommodations you prefer.

On the budget to mid-range level, we like the Serengeti Halisi Camp, which is a mobile tented camp that moves to be close to the migration.  For December-March, it is in the Southern Serengeti (Ndutu) area.  June-October, the camp is located in the Central Serengeti area (Seronera).  A luxury option is the Serengeti Migration Camp, pictured here.

For September-October, you will either want to be in Masai Mara in Kenya, or in the Kogatenda/Mara area in the northern Serengeti.

7) Different months offer different migration experiences

Sometimes, the migration is crossing the river.  Sometimes, the wildebeest are all in a single-file line.  Sometimes, they are running as fast as they can.  Sometimes, they are just standing around all in a big group.  Sometimes, they are giving birth to their babies.

The migration timing depends on the water resources, and the animals move daily. Therefore, it is impossible to predict exactly, but your safari guide will know where the animals are. You will will have the opportunity to see incredible wildlife at any time of year!

Tanzania hot air balloon safari8) Hot air balloon safari

Your hot air balloon safari starts at sunrise for a 1-hour flight to view the animals and migration from up high and down low as you float across the savannah.

Upon landing, you are met with champagne and gourmet breakfast in the bush.

Wildebeest Migration Safari >>

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Galapagos with the Luxury Natural Paradise

Natural Paradise

The Natural Paradise is a luxury-class 16-passenger yacht with five suites and four cabins. Four of the suites are located on the upper deck and one on the main deck. Two of the cabins are located on the main deck and two on the lower deck.

For 2017, the Natural Paradise offers cruises starting at

  • 4-Day: $2645/person
  • 5-Day: $3445/person
  • 8-Day: $5545/person

Highlights:

  • One of the newest boats in the Galapagos
  • Spacious sundeck with jacuzzi
  • Private balconies
  • Large suites
  • Sea kayaks, snorkel gear and wet suits included

One of our AWR staff did a 5-day cruise on the Natural Paradise in October 2016. Her cabin was on the lower deck, and she was happy as the motion of the waves was less noticeable on the lower deck than the upper deck.

The Natural Paradise is proving popular, as it has a 97% occupancy rate and is already booking its 2019 cruises.

One feature that may be of interest is its one triple cabin, for families or good friends! And for single travelers, the Royal Galapagos boats limit their single supplement to 40%, which is quite low for Galapagos cruises.

More on the luxury Natural Paradise yacht in the Galapagos >>

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Luxury Kilimanjaro Trek Upgrade — Worth It!

Climb Kilimanjaro with luxury upgrade

For the ultimate Kilimanjaro climb, add the luxury Kilimanjaro climb upgrade.  Enjoy extra comforts and extra safety equipment.  This can be added to any of our Kilimanjaro treks.

Our luxury Kili trekking package upgrade includes:

  • Special Kilimanjaro guide with Wilderness First Responder certification
  • Personal porter for carrying day pack
  • Hyperbaric pressure bag
  • Oxygen
  • Portable toilet
  • Camp shower for groups of 4 or more
  • Large comfortable dining tent
  • Dining chairs with backs
  • Hot lunches on the mountain
  • Solar lighting in dining tent and personal tent
  • Camp pillow
  • Extra sleeping pad
  • Hot water bottle for sleeping bag at night
  • Solar panel for charging batteries
  • Filtered water with Katadyn filter
  • Kilimanjaro map for the group
  • Celebration dinner at hotel after returning from trek

All of our Kilimanjaro treks include:

  • Morning tea in tent
  • Wash basin with soap in morning and upon arrival at camp
  • Wash water with soap and towel before meals
  • Daily health monitoring (twice daily with oximeter, or more if needed)
  • Dining tent with table and stools
  • Boiled water at camp in morning and in evening
Posted in Kilimanjaro, Luxury, Tanzania, Trekking | Leave a comment

Trip Report: Wine Tasting in Napa and Sonoma

Staff Members: Robin Paschall & Dean Paschall
Travel Dates: June 2017
Destinations Visited:  Napa & Sonoma Valley, California

Two of our staff explored this great region in the U.S.  There are many adventure opportunities here, including hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, and so much more.

DAY 1 — Sonoma Town

We stayed the first night at the Sonoma Hotel, which is right on the square in downtown Sonoma.  It has a quaint “historic” feel to it.  It is in the same building as the Girl and Fig restaurant, which is rather famous.  Right next door is Roche Wine Tasting, which had a lovely outside patio and was very fun (the knitting club was there). The central square has many fun shops and restaurants.  The old historic fort is like going back in time and offers a great history of the area.


DAY 2 — Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

Napa Wineries Visited:

  1. Frank Family
  2. Saddleback (lunch)
  3. Silver Oak
  4. Alpha Omega

Frank Family

Beautiful grounds and great wines!


Saddleback

Cute, small, rustic winery.  Lovely picnic tables for lunch.


Silver Oak

We had our best wine tasting experience of the day here.  There are private rooms for big groups.


Alpha Omega

Exquisite, if expensive, wines.  The outdoor patio is just a lovely spot to spend the afternoon.


DAY 3 — Wine Tasting in Sonoma Valley

Sonoma Wineries Visited:

  1. Ravenswood $20pp
  2. Buena Vista $20pp (lunch)
  3. Deerfield Ranch

Ravenswood

This winery had a lot of Zinfandel and a nice outside area.


Buena Vista

This is one of the very original wineries in the area.  It had decent wine, there was a great picnic area, and they have a very detailed tour.


Deerfield Ranch

This was, by far, the best experience of all of them.  But this was because we got to sit down with the wine maker for our tasting.  He was amazing – Robert Rex.  The wine tasting is in their caves, which was a great atmosphere.


This is the house we stayed at for most of the trip.  It has a great kitchen, swimming pool, hot tub, bocce ball, and can sleep up to 15+ comfortably.

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