Posts Tagged ‘family adventure’

June 22, 2011

Haiku and Kilimanjaro

A view of Mt Kilimanjaro

A View of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Last week we invited our friends to submit a haiku in return for a $200 credit toward climbing the great mountain this summer. With 5 syllables, Kilimanjaro simply *invites* haiku, (you know, 5/7/5) and we had gotten a bit silly around the office thinking about it ourselves (more on that later).

We started with my colleague Bryan’s version: Going back to school? // Need one more adventure first? // Kilimanjaro!

Frankly I was downright astounded at the fabulous response we received – even from those with apparently no interest in the summit! Allow me to share…

These 3 are from Jessica in CA, who traveled on Thomson adventure to China with her family a few years ago when she was but a child.

Stark, soaring majesty
above vast, wild savannah
Kilimanjaro
***
Imposing mount
rising above the wildlife
alone, together
***
The trail winds higher
breathlessly ascending
to vistas of Eden

Then, from April Dunn:

Kilimanjaro
Now my Haiku is complete
That is a long word!

And an awesome submission from Michael Katz:

Geez, it’s so damn high
But still, I’d like to see it
Time to pack my bags

Feel inspired? Send us your own Haiku, and thanks for playing!



June 20, 2011

What a Ten Year Old Remembers Forever

Grandmother and grandson on a Tanzanian safari

Robert and his grandmother Gayle in Tanzania

Dear Moo, I wanted to write and tell you what I liked most about my trip to Africa with my grandmother and Thomson Family Adventures. The guides were really nice and they knew a lot. We saw so many animals. I really liked seeing the chases – they were really exciting. I really wanted to see the Big Five and was so excited that we did! My favorite animal to see was the leopard, but the baby monkeys were really cute. It is really hard to tell you about my favorite things because there were so many awesome things to see. I thought it was interesting to meet my pen pal and tour his village. I had so much fun and learned so much. It was a great trip. I hope I get a chance to go again.

Robert



June 9, 2011

Lost and Found in Egypt

oh the mystery of a pyramid

So the obvious comment is, how can you lose a pyramid? But time and landscape changes have done it. And now, with new age infra-red technology, from space no less, these lost pyramids have been found.

From the sky, 17 pyramids have been discovered along with 1000 tombs and 3000 settlements. Egyptian authorities were skeptical at first, but early excavations have proven the existence of two of the pyramids – leading them to now believe this is an accurate technology.

Who spearheaded this project? US Egyptologist Dr Sarah Parcak from the University of Alabama who, along with a team of colleagues, dedicated herself to a year of space archaeology. The whole story is told in a BBC documentary, slated to be aired in the USA the end of June 2011.

Don’t you wonder, what inspired Dr. Parcak as she was growing up, to pursue this career?? Something in her childhood brought her here. While we as parents might remember the first walk on the moon, now our children can witness the new discoveries space exploration along with the latest technology delivers. What a gift we give our children, exposing them to new ideas and far away worlds.

Please be sure to share this fascinating discovery with your kids!



June 5, 2011

Why you DON’T want to join a Tour Group

Terra Cotta WarriorsEvery day we field calls from families who say: ” We’ve never traveled on a group tour before, that’s not who we are”. To which we say: You’ve come to the right place! All of our loyal clients are families who are not inspired by large, generic tour groups. So, why us?

Thomson Family Adventures is not a traditional tour company. Do we arrange for group travel? Yes, but with some important differences…

Our groups are small and personal. We leave room for our adventures to be flexible and creative from the moment you sign up, to the moment you travel, to the time you return home.

Even a terra cotta warrior is unique from all the rest; your family is too. We know who you are. In our USA office, as we help you find your trip and then prepare you for travel, you communicate with someone who knows who you are and knows what you are looking for. We don’t have phone banks or voice mail. Just friendly, welcoming staff whose goal is to to help you have the trip of a lifetime.

When you arrive in-country you’ll meet up with our local Thomson colleagues, professionals we’ve worked with for years developing our itineraries and programs designed to ensure all ages have a fabulous time. Their enthusiasm and generosity of spirit shines through as they guide you through their country. There is no question, the right guide makes the right trip.

Safety? It’s our number one priority. We know nothing is more important than the welfare of your family. So your adventure is planned with every security in mind. You’ll have tons of fun with all precautions in place, and we include trip cancellation insurance in all of our packages.

We don’t have fixed schedules, huge busses, or red flags. You’ll travel in a small group of a few like minded families who will likely end up as lifelong friends looking to travel together again. We’ve seen this over and over again.

OR – if you prefer – we are always happy to arrange for a private and personal adventure for just your family. No matter if there are 2 or 20 or 30 family members, we can make the same awesome arrangements for just you so you have nothing to worry about. Please, just show up and have a wonderful time!

You don’t need to travel with 40 strangers, or merge your precious family reunion with a larger, unknown group of tourists. You deserve something thought out and unique! This is what Thomson Family Adventures does.

What does a group offer you can’t find on your own? Well, our guides for one, and the benefit of our expertise. You get a real vacation. No logistics, no struggling to find your way, or wondering what to do next. Like minded companions. No meal planning! Just blissful enjoyment. With your family. Together!

Remember, a small company can have even more experience in family travel than the larger, better advertised tour companies. And we offer it in a more personal format. Just because we don’t have a big marketing budget doesn’t mean we don’t know what we’re doing!

Give us a call and see what a real trip of a lifetime looks like. Dial 800-262-6255; we’re ready to take the pressure off of your family plans.



May 26, 2011

Top Five: Things about Travel in December

Escape the Snow!

How can you make the most of a December school vacation? Now is the time to think about it!

1) Enjoy the True Pleasure of Getting Away. At a time when you think you might just crack from the stress of every day life; give up trying to organize everyone’s entertainment. Become one of the guests, and really enjoy the pleasure of being taken care of. Yes, you too!

2) Is Your Weather Dicey in December? How nice to escape to someplace not just interesting, but warm and inviting too. How nice to be snorkeling when those at home are shoveling or hiking a mountain when your neighbors are commuting to work. Don’t forget your bathing suit!

3) Perfect Family Reunion Time. Every family has time off and wants to be with family, but we’re spread across the country – and who has a home big enough for everyone to congregate? Let someone else plan your reunion! You can all travel to the same destination to be together and have no hassles or worries once you get there.

4) Step Away from the Rush and propaganda of the holidays. Tired of the crush and craziness? Decide to do it differently. Invest in your memories and shared experiences rather than more obsessive accumulation of things you don’t need. Show your children the value of learning new things and meeting new people. Have some fun too!

5) Plan Ahead. December is a month of celebrations: Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve or just an escape from the dreary beginning of winter. Everyone with kids in school has a break in December. There is possibly no better time to want to travel! Be first in line to make your plans, and you’ll have first choice of options for a perfect family adventure.

Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos, Thailand, Tanzania… so many wonderful, dreamy options await you in December. Call us now at 800-262-6255




May 10, 2011

Top Ten Panama

land crab in Panama

Want something comfortable but different? Avoid the tourists – even if you are one – and come to Panama. Why? Because:

1) Panama is still unspoiled and undiscovered. Fancy hotels? Nope, but what a delight to explore a land not many know.

2) Climate: perfect all year round. A warm getaway in chilly December or frigid February. An exotic escape in the summer, when you can see the humpback whales migrating through. There’s a good reason to go in any month.

3) Our guides? Priceless. Make the most of your time; discover secrets and learn more fascinating things than you ever would on your own.

4) Wildlife – not just hundreds of species of mammal, reptile and amphibians and almost 1000 species of bird, but 125 animal species found nowhere else in the world.

5) The Panama Canal! Such amazing history and engineering brilliance. You don’t have to be a mathematician or scientist to appreciate this marvel. Come watch the ships glide through the locks.

6) Comfortable transportation: The roads are sophisticated like the canal, thanks to the construction years. Well paved, making for a smooth ride.

7) Casco Antiguo (AKA Casco Viejo) and the streets of historic Panama. Built as a walled city to protect the early settlers from marauding pirates (yes, pirates!!), today it is a World Heritage site representing the diverse cultures and architecture of Panama City.

8) Beaches, and with great snorkeling too. On pristine Isla Iguana you’ll find sugar white sand, dry tropical forest, and coral reef; red throated frigate birds and five kinds of turtle, brilliant colored crabs, lizards and – of course – iguanas too.

9) Wowie Zipline: Here someone else controls the speed so you can actually enjoy the moment. Pause mid-zip in front of a waterfall for a good look – and a great photo opportunity.

10) The Embera Tribe. Still living a traditional life, just up river from the modern canal, you can visit this indigenous tribe and learn about how they live off the land. Your kids can write ahead to pen pals who live here too. Want to get a tribal tattoo, albeit a temporary one? You can do so here.

11) One more! Fresh and delicious Food: Though Panama is not known for its gastronomy, it does offer excellent fresh fish and fruits. Enjoy ceviche, empanadas, tamales, fried yuca and plantains. Plenty of hot sauce available too!

Beach and Water



May 5, 2011

Top 10 – Why Costa Rica?

In the Forest

Some people say Costa rica is just not exotic enough. After all, it’s been on the tourist scene for awhile now and with its all inclusive beach resorts on the north Pacific coast it became accessible to lots of people at a reasonable price. Problem is, those resorts are self contained beach vacations and could be anywhere. We promise, those people who think it is ordinary are wrong – Costa Rica is so much more than that.

1) Luscious Forest. Have you discovered the wonders of a walk through rain or cloud forest, maybe even in a warm rain? Troops of Leaf Cutter Ants marching along the forest floor. Sloths hidden in the trees (but your guide will spot them!). Birds, often brightly colored or full of song. Vines and trees and plants and bugs, all living symbiotically. Epiphytes! Orchids and butterflies the size of your first. Worlds you may never have known existed.

2) Action: Zip lines, rafting and kayaking. Canyoning and tubing. Stand up paddle boarding and surfing. Some of the world’s best activities, all rolled into one destination. With forest, coastline, and mountains so many options are available to you.

3) Monkeys: Capuchin. Howler. Spider. Squirrel. SO MANY monkeys! All out in their natural habitat, and sometimes trying to snatch your lunch, or hurling nuts onto the roof of your jungle cabin to wake you in the morning…

4) The people. So warm, so welcoming, so generous. From our local guides to drivers, the innkeepers to the surfing instructors, to the children and teachers on the schools. I’m pretty sure you’ve never met nicer people.

5) Nonstop Flights from New York, Atlanta, Houston, Miami … so easy to get there

6) Pico de Gallo. Now, Costa Rica is not known for its gastronomy, but please give yourself the opportunity to discover the delicious joy of pico de gallo! Like Costa Rica – fresh, simple, but complex in its flavors, it might just become a regular at your table at home.

7) Pura Vida! Believe me, you want this phrase in your life. An expression of the entire culture of Costa Rica, it means literally ‘pure life‘. Once you experience its context in the country that lives it, you will find an infinite number of ways to use it. As a greeting, an exclamation, a state of mind. Pura Vida!

8) Coffee. Did you know the fresh beans, seeds really, are red? Even if you don’t drink it, you know how big this crop is in the world. Seeing how it is grown and harvested – fascinating.

9) Everything you always wanted to know about volcanoes. Costa Rica is part of the Pacific Ring Fire Circle and has a ton of volcanoes, about 100 or so, with 5 currently active. Come peer into the caldera of a dormant volcano or listen to the not so distant rumble of an active volcano. Learn about how volcanoes form the landscape of Costa Rica. Pretty, pretty amazing.

10) A lovely climate all year long. Warm in December and February when the Northeast is frigid. Warm in March and April when we’re not quite thawed out. Is it hotter and wetter in the summer? Sure, but who doesn’t like a warm rain in the rain forest? Or green sea turtles nesting on the beach? Winter is great to escape the cold, and summer is great to escape the crowds.

11) OK one more – all the things I didn’t get to mention. Hanging Bridges. Kayaking through canals. Surfing lessons at the beach. White water rafting. Canyoning. Hiking. Swimming. Snorkeling. Pen pals. And even more….



April 28, 2011

What Will Your Teenager Love about Turkey?

Christian at the Hagia Sophia

We are always wondering how to keep our teens active and engaged, with plenty of physical action to tire them out. But let’s not forget open and curious minds, waiting to be filled with fascinating tales and images. Turkey is perfect for teenagers because of its history, art, and culture… but then it has ocean, mountains, and rivers too that offer so much outdoor excitement. Turkey is ideal for teens.

What does 14 year old Christian Kackley have to report on his visit to the magnificent Hagia Sofia? Read on…

“10,000 workers, working from sunset to sundown, 6 days a week, and it still took 6 years to finish. Well, that’s what happens when you’re building a church with the largest dome in the world at the time. Actually it was the second largest dome but even now, 1500 years later, it is still the third largest in the world. The dome is pushing so much pressure down that buttresses were built to keep the church standing, otherwise it would have collapsed. Even so, the church is still moving, you can see it by the leaning pillars.

Mosaics cover every surface, beautiful, colorful, mosaics, with golden backgrounds. The Turks recognized their beauty when they captured the city and didn’t destroy the mosaics…they painted over them with colorful yet dull designs. The Turks also recognized the beauty of the massive dome…they decided that all mosques were to be built with a dome.

The massive pillars holding up the enormous dome are decorated with intricate carvings at the top. The largest pillars in the church are from the temple of Artemis. At the top of each pillar, in the middle of the intricate carving is the sign of the craftsman that carved that pillar. What is extraordinary about Hagia Sofia and all the intricate things is that they were made by normal people, carpenters, farmers, bakers, they weren’t skilled carvers.

There are no stairs in Hagia Sofia, this is because the empress wanted to be wheeled up to her balcony. SO in the 6th century the first handicap accessible building was built.The empress was of course very important so she had bodyguards. At one time her guards were Vikings, they didn’t have very good manners and drew on her stuff. So now on one of the balconies you can see Viking graffiti from the 1;th century carved into the handrails.

The Ottoman presence can be seen all over the church. One example is the 5 enourmous medallions with Arabic writings hanging around the church, completely out of place. Also more Arabic writing in the form of mosaics cover the face of Jesus on the top of the dome. A small building made by the Ottomans shows the direction of Mecca. The church almost faces Mecca but not quite so the building is at an angle inside of Hagia Sofia, looking odd inside of this amazing church.”



April 26, 2011

Top Ten Reasons: Turkey

The lunar landscape of Cappadocia

1) Maybe you’ve been to all the usual places… but Turkey is NOT a usual place. It’s full of more surprises than we can even tell you about.

2) History. World history was practically invented in Turkey. From the Roman emperor Constantine to the ruins of Ephesus, the Hagia Sophia to the Silk Road – so much of the world has happened in Turkey. And for so many years before you can even imagine…

3) Art. Such beautiful mosaics, tiles, carpets and pottery. The designs might make you swoon, and the chance to throw your own pot or weave some carpet? Really fun.

4) Hiking. Some of the world’s most compelling landscape is here in Turkey. The lunar feel of Cappadocia is a magical exploration, from cave dwellings to underground cities. Yes, underground cities. Like 8 stories deep.

5) Landscape. Not into hiking, but like breathtaking views? Come to Turkey. From the nightly glow of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul to the Valley of the Roses in Cappadocia to the lush Taurus Mountains, you’ll have plenty to appreciate.

6) Caravanserai. Ever wonder where those camel caravans traveling the Silk Road stopped to take a rest? Wait ’til you see.

7) Rumi. Whirling Dervishes, poetry and a shrine. Even the kids will be fascinated – and maybe you’ll share a poem or two on the way out

8) The Taurus Mountains. A beautiful drive through changing landscape, up to remote villages and the proud people who live there. Soccer anyone?

9) The Mediterranean. My kids will tell you about this slice of heaven…nights stretched out on deck with the lapping water soothing you to sleep under a star lit sky. Days exploring coastline and meadows, ruins and ghost towns. Wow.

10) Ephesus. Springing from the Dark Ages, Ephesus was the second largest city in the world in the first century BC. Can you even imagine how long ago that was?? Now the largest collection of Roman ruins in the Eastern Mediterranean, still only 15% of the site has been excavated.

Add to all of this, new friends. Any extraordinary experience will bond you with the people you share it with. Turkey is no exception. Come have some fun, in a deep and meaningful way, while Thomson Family Adventures takes care of all of the logistics and details and offers you a special guide to show you the way. Limited space still available for summer – call now!



April 18, 2011

Thailand for Families Happening Now

The Colors of Thailand

We are running our first group to Thailand July 9, 2011. I am going too, and we’re looking for of a couple of families with kids 7 – 12 to come along with our group. Space is limited! This 2 week event is being offered at cost, $3500 per person (no discounts apply); in addition we ask you to bring your sense of adventure and good spirit. There is no question we will have a great time! There are temples, elephants, rafting, biking, beaches and snorkeling. And lots of an interesting culture, and spicy spicy food (if you dare!)

What do you want to know about visiting Thailand?

Approximately 95% of Thai people are Buddhist. Their value system affects their dress and social behavior, and tends to be much more conservative than the average Westerner. So let’s be prepared to respect their culture.

Shorts are considered improper and low-class attire, only acceptable for schoolchildren. Except at beach resorts you should never wear skimpy shorts, halter tops, or low-cut blouses. In the temples long trousers or skirts must be worn. Think before you pack!

Thais believe the head is the most acred part of the body. Never pat a Thai on the head, not even a child. And the foot is the lowest part, considered dirty. Don’t point your foot at someone, it is a terrible insult. So… keep your hands and your feet to yourself.

Thailand has a non-confrontational society. No matter how frustrated you may feel, do not lose your temper or raise your voice. What a good thing to practice…

Come bring your jai yen (cool heart) to Thailand, bow your head in the wai(traditional greeting), and join a wonderful adventure with Thomson.