Traveling with a professional photographer to Panama

Lori head shotBeing a travel supplier at Condor Tours & Travel is a wonderful job as I get to explore the world and learn all about a destination so I can have a vast travel bank of knowledge and better serve my clients when they are selecting a destination. Most of the time my travel is with other agents acquiring the same working knowledge. This trip was different, I went to a destination, Panama, with a professional photographer. We experienced Panama in a completely different way.

This destination happens to be one I have vast knowledge of, as I grew up in Panama and got my start in tourism specifically selling Panama before we expanded worldwide as a full service travel company.  On this trip, my goal was to see a destination through a travelers eyes.  This particular travel is a professional photographer that has particular interest when she travels and that is to key in on the culture, history and wildlife.  We focused our time mostly around Panama City and surrounding areas and she found a treasure trove of photo spots.  Here is the link to her blog.

Lori with EmberaDuring our trip we visited a local Indigenous village and spent the day immersed in their culture, from cooking to crafting and learning about their way of life.   We even went for a hike and water fall swim.  Our ride to and from was in a dug out canoe called a Piragua.  The tribe we visited was called “Tusipono” tribe.  the photo opportunities were endless as they loved to having us there and posed endlessly.  Check out Mary’s blog

On another day we did a jungle boat trip into capuchin monkeyGatun Lake and had the opportunity to spot and photograph monkeys, sloths , birds and other wildlife.  I think Mary shot 1000 pictures.  This is also fun day to hike again to a water fall and swim, swim from the house boat located on one of Gatun Lake fingers and eat local cuisine.

We also visited the Panama Canal Locks at Miraflores where they have a wonderful historic museum detailing the original locks and the project and completion of the new locks that opened in 2016.  From the rooftop we got to watch several ships and small sailing vessels transit Southbound through the locks.   Although I have done it many times, this time I watched how she took advantage of lighting and shadows to get some amazing shots.

Our evenings were a mix of activities from night hikes and rides to a dinner show at Tinajas where we enjoyed typical dances and costumes all part of Panama culture.  If you have an interest in visiting this country – let me know. I can be reached at info@condortoursandtravel.com, 770-339-9961   or visit my web page.

 

Chile Solar Eclipse Tour

Eclipse

Words will often fail when trying to describe the totality of a solar eclipse. Over a century ago, author Mabel Loomis Todd was able to capture the experience in her book titled: “Total Eclipse of the sun, 1894”. Ms. Todd was a writer and editor from America who often traveled with her astronomer husband, David Peck, during the late 1800s.

Solar Eclipse totality lasts no longer than seven to seven and a half minutes. Solar eclipses with a seven-minute totality is a rare occurrence you should not expect to happen again until 2186. What is more common to view would be the two to three minutes of totality during a solar eclipse. Most writers will describe day turning into the night when in actuality, day turns into evening twilight. Gazers of the eclipse will need protective eyewear to view the event. Permanent eye blindness and damage may result when attempting to look directly at the solar eclipse, and we do not recommend it. Stars will appear as you feel a slight chill in the air during the event. The brightest planets, such as Jupiter and Venus, can be seen. People of science may state the facts that occur during a solar eclipse; however, it would surely take a real poet to deliver the proper impression.

If you are more than fascinated by the possibility of viewing a solar eclipse while on vacation in Chile, than consider booking our Chile eclipse tour from December 9-15, 2020.
Chile is a long, narrow country stretching along South America’s western edge, with more than 6,000km of Pacific Ocean coastline. Santiago, its capital, sits in a valley surrounded by the Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains. The city’s palm-lined Plaza de Armas contains the neoclassical cathedral and the National History Museum. The massive Parque Metropolitano offers swimming pools, a botanical garden and zoo.

On day one, plan to arrive in the capital city of Santiago and explore the city with a tour. This entertaining half-day tour consists in visiting the main attractions of Santiago, the country’s most important cultural, cosmopolitan and artistic hub. We start out with a visit to the highpoints of the city’s civic center, such as Cerro San Cristobal (a centrally located historic urban park), the La Moneda Palace (presidential offices) and the traditional Plaza de Armas square, a meeting place for Santiago’s diverse and multicultural expressions. Buildings of historical value can be found in the neighborhood, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, National Museum of History and Central Post Office. We later walk through the Parque Forestal, a park running parallel to the Mapocho river with a variety of tree species offering a refreshing break from the urban agitation of the city’s center, and continue on to Barrio Bellavista, Santiago’s bohemian neighborhood, with some of the best bars and restaurants in the city.

Day two visit to Viña del Mar & Valparaiso where you will enjoy a delightful visit to two cities located on the Pacific coast that is just one hour and half by car from Santiago. Our drive will take you through Casablanca; known for its fine vineyards where we can take a break for a wine-tasting experience (the latter is only available for private tours). Once we arrive to the coast, we’ll first visit Viña del Mar, also known as the “Garden City” because of its beautiful beaches, lovely parks and flower garden landscapes (such as the famous flower clock). It has become one of the central region’s most important tourism attractions. The peaceful seascape is an attractive complement for the city’s modern streets and infrastructure, turning it into an entertaining hub in constant movement. Our second destination is the picturesque city-port of Valparaiso, founded in the 16th century. You’ll marvel at the contrast between both cities, as the stylishness and beach culture of Viña is replaced here by a much more popular and artistic style. The port was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site in 2003 and offers a unique and fascinating architectural adventure. Built on several steep hills above the port, the homes and buildings on the hillsides can be reached by walking along its streets, climbing the long stairs or take the cable cars built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Colorful homes dot the hills forming an irresistible landscape for photo enthusiasts and lovers of traditional sites. Lunch included followed by Aromas Tour at Casas del Bosque Vineyards

Day three, you will take a flight from Santiago to Temuco (lakes region of Chile) where you will spend the next 4 nights exploring the lakes and culminating with the Eclipse on December 14. We have included a Temuco Tour which is the Capital of the Araucania Region, a tour to the Villa Rica Volcano and experience in Pucón and a wonderful experience at a Mapuche Community. In this community you will be received by the local guide of the Pewenche Community of Quinquen to learn about its agricultural way of life and their cosmovision. You will also get to experience a small course in weaving.

Eclipse map

On December 14 you will be taken to a special site to experience the eclipse with a lunch in the field. Our ground team and team of experts will be on hand to make sure your eclipse experience is a once in a lifetime – had to be there moment! After the eclipse, return to your hotel for your final night.

Day 7 of your trip is a travel day back to Santiago and onto the USA or you can opt for an extension to Argentina. You will do a lake crossing to Bariloche where you will explore Bariloche and a full day Tronador Tour. Then on December 19 fly to Buenos Aires where you will explore the city on a half day tour and a Tango by night. On our last full day in BA you will enjoy a Gaucho Party at Santa Susana Ranch. Your experience ends on December 21 with a Tigre and Delta Tour and transfer to airport for your international flight home.

The travel experts at Condor Tours & Travel stand ready to assist you. Visit our website at www.condortoursandtravel.com to learn more about us or contact us at info@condortoursandtravel.com or call us at 800-783-8847.

(pictures provided by Pace Setting Media/Adobe and personal library of Condor Tours & Travel, Inc. )

Adventure await roaming the TIkal National Park in Guatemala

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Walking the limestone path, recalling the morning meal of plantain, eggs, black beans, and fresh cheese, without hesitation, you look up to hear the sounds of what could only be a howler monkey. Though not spotted immediately, the loud and proud yelling and the trees rustling around you signal the monkeys are near. The smells of the rainforest and sounds of a wild kingdom invoke a breath-catching moment as you experience a sensory overload. Aware of the self-talk going on inside your brain, the stunning scenery is convincing your entire being you have never seen such a magical place. Quickening your steps, as you move through the trees, you experience an eye-widening parting of the majestic timber that reveals the hidden beauty before you.

Tikal National Park
Once inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. and located in the Northern Guatemalan Peten Province, the Tikal National Park is accessible within the Maya forest. The forest and park contain the ruins of temples and palaces once considered the heart of Mayan civilization.

Whether you choose a tour guide or prefer to hike the National Park along the self-guided paths, spectacular views, wildlife running past with sounds of nature await. Tikal boasts over 300 species of birds, including toucans and parrots. Flocks of vibrant colored birds possessing aerial grace circle overhead. Expect to view the Coatimundis Raccoon with long swishy tails, for they are indigenous to this Guatemalan region.

The Plaza of the Seven Temples is a focal area to meet up with fellow travelers. Surrounded by lush green grass and trees during the dry season, it can be a pleasant area to stop for a quick snack of tamales brought along for the days’ adventure. The limestone ruins have an overlay of vegetation brought on by time and mother nature, and decay is evident. Steep stairs that had been carved into the stone for incline and decline throughout the park and can seem a bit scary; however, walkways built for tourists are in place for safety and accessibility.

You might find yourself reaching the top of the ruins looking over into the vast rain forest, imagining what it must have been like to have lived and thrived in a community of over 55,000 Mayans. Your experience on this adventure grows, learning that with no real source of running water, the Mayans became excellent managers of rainwater by using large systems of cisterns called chultuns to collect and store the runoff during the wet season.

The journey to Tikal National Park can take about ½ days ride by bus or car, from the Guatemalan city of Antigua. Known for the volcanic landscape and Mayan culture lies the colorful colonial town of Antigua. The Guatemalan city of Antigua is on the UNESCO World Heritage site list. This bustling metropolis is probably one of the safest places in Guatemala due to the treaty signed. Antigua pulses with activity and awe-inspiring architecture, absorbing the culture and impressive views. Local music of Merengue, Marimba, and Punta will surely have even the shyest tourist, along with the local town folk, dancing in the streets.

Shopping in Antigua can become a days’ adventure within itself. You’ll find many candy shops filled with specialty chocolates of confectionary perfection made from recipes handed down from generation to generation. Locally grown coffee is famous the world over and is a must-have beverage first thing in the morning to start your day off with gusto. Handwoven scarves, table cloths, jade jewelry, and pottery are likely available for sale in the local markets of Antigua.
Don’t waste another moment! Contact Condor Tours & Travel &https://www.condortoursandtravel.com/Guatemala.php Travel today and let us help you get started on your adventure in the country of Guatemala. Visit their web site at www.condortoursandtravel.com or email info@condortoursandtravel.com.

Experience Celestial Magic: Chilean Eclipse Tour

Eclipse

Those of us who have had the opportunity to experience an eclipse first hand will know what an awe-inspiring experience it is. As you gather with friends and family to watch this spectacular event you will at first notice nothing out of the ordinary but as things progress the light of the sun will begin to grow dim. If you have special protective eyewear you can look at the sun and see a slowly growing bite being taken out of it as the shadow of the moon crosses over the sun. (Please keep in mind that you should never look at the sun without protection as this can result in permanent eye damage and even blindness). Eventually the eclipse will reach the point of totality where the magnificent glow of the corona can be seen surrounding a disk of darkness. Once the eclipse is in this phase, the sky will grow dark, the stars will come out and animals may be confused thinking night has fallen. A total solar eclipse is one of the most amazing events you can experience. Now imagine coupling this occasion with a trip to South America to see the wonders and natural beauty of Chile!
Are you intrigued by the possibility of experiencing an eclipse while on vacation in Chile? If so, you should consider booking our Chilean Eclipse Tour that takes place from December 9-15 of 2020. The tour begins with your arrival in the capital city of Santiago where you can visit such historical sites as the Plaza de Armas Square, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Museum of History. On the second day of the tour you will enjoy a visit to the cities of Viña deal Mar and Valparaiso on the Pacific Coast. You’ll be able to see the contrast between these two cities as we go from the stylish beach culture of Vina to the artistic culture of Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Colorful homes dot the hills providing a beautiful backdrop for photos.
During day three of the tour, you will visit the city of Temuco. Temuco means “temu water” as the Temu tree is a medicinal plant that has been used for centuries by the indigenous people to make herbal infusions that treat a variety of ailments. Stops include the municipal market, which is known for a wide variety of local artisan ware and handicrafts. We will also visit Nielol hill an ancient site where ceramics and other objects associated with the Mapuche culture have been discovered. The hill is also the site of the “Patagua Peace Tree”, planted there in remembrance of a number of historical events in the region. Later, we will visit the Araucania Museum, which preserves the historical and cultural heritage of the region. At the museum you will be able to travel back and time and see events that have transpired from the days of hunter gatherer tribes up to the beginning of European colonization.

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Day four of your Chilean adventure includes a visit to the Villarrica and its nearby volcano. From there we travel on to the city of Pucon where you can walk along the beach and enjoy lunch before heading to the Villarrica National Park. The volcano is the centerpiece of the park and includes native forest, lava valleys, lakes and lagoons as well as a diversity of plant and animal life. There are numerous opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, or simply enjoy the icy beauty of these volcanic peaks.
Days five and six will culminate in the actual viewing of the eclipse. In the morning, we depart from Temuco towards Lake Galletue. We will be met by a local guide who is a member of the Pewenche community and will spend time getting to know the area, its local agriculture, way of life, and its people. Following lunch, we will be introduced to the Mapuche loom and have a small course in this type of weaving. Day six is the tour highlight as we travel to a special eclipse observation site and witness this spectacular event in the shadow of the Andes mountains. Once the eclipse has occurred you will have the option to head back to Santiago and fly home or you can extend your trip with an optional excursion to the scenic Alpine region of Patagonia, near the bottom of the world or do a lake crossing to Baricoche, Argentina and ending in Buenos Aires.
Do you like adventure? Do you enjoy natural beauty and scenic wonders? Are you someone who is awed by majesty of a solar eclipse and other astronomical phenomena? If your answer to these questions is an enthusiastic yes then we encourage you to book our Chilean Eclipse Tour as soon as possible, spaces are going fast. The travel experts at Condor Tours & Travel stand ready to assist you. Contact us at info@condortoursandtravel.com or call us at 800-783-8847.  You can also visit our website details on this package at https://www.condortoursandtravel.com/package_details.php?package_id=416 for more details.

Colombia, an Emerging Travel Destination

For years, Colombia was considered unsafe, and travelers were told to stay away.  But that is no longer the case.   Amazing transformation has occurred in this country.  I don’t want to get into how this was accomplished, as I will leave that to the historians, but what I do want to share is that you can now go to Colombia and experience all the different regions without any fear or concern.  The options in this country range from cultural experiences, to nature, to the well known coffee coming from the coffee region.  I recently visited three different regions of Colombia – Bogota, the Coffee Triangle, and Cartagena.  Let’s journey through Colombia.

Bogota, the capital city of Colombia, has experienced remarkable tourism growth from its popular attractions. You can’t beat the weather, as it is comfortable year round. Bogota Market 10Located centrally in the country of Colombia, it is the hub to all the spokes of the country. Due to the geography, it is best to travel via air service, which is quite good with the airline Avianca, along with other domestic carriers. You have plenty of airline options to go to Medellin, Cartagena, Cali and many other secondary cities throughout the country of Colombia, as well as neighboring countries. While in Bogota you can tour the city with a fabulous Gold Museum or the Botero Museum located in the Candelaria section of the city. I do suggest walking this area to really get to see and enjoy the local sites and experience all the unique urban art. Bogota has taken street art to a new level I have not seen in any other city – no matter what area of the city you are in, you will find both unplanned graffiti as well as organized urban art. Bogota Grafitti Indigenous Another highlight in Bogota and surrounding areas is Monserrate. I do recommend a visit to the top to get spectacular views of the city of Bogota and get a true feel for this magnificent city. This mountain top location is accessible by a tough hike, or a Funicular or sky tram. Just under one hour from Bogota is the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral which is visited by just about all that come to Bogota. The one kilometer trek into this salt mine has been transformed into a pilgrimage of the stations of the cross, ending at a beautiful cathedral. From a distance, the cross looks cylindrical but as you get closer you will see it is quite different. Zipaquirra 2This day trip to Zipaquira can be combined with a hike to the Gutavita lake if you have the ability to hike. I get asked about the altitude issues while in Bogota. It is over 9000 feet , so drink lots of water and avoid alcoholic beverages for the first 24 hours, and you should be fine, but always consult your doctor prior to travel if you are concerned.

If you are a coffee lover, you should include a trip to the “coffee triangle” region which is just a short 30 minute flight over the Andes from Bogota to Pereira . The altitude is lower than Bogota and perfect to grow coffee. There are many coffee plantations throughout the region, but there is also a little known experience here – the national park “los Nevados” outside of Salento. If you want to see the condor, this national park is about your best chance. You will also find the tallest type of palm tree in the world here, which is the national tree, the “Palma de Cera”. But the hike can be a bit tricky, so you can do it via horseback if hiking is not your cup of tea. No vehicles are allowed on the trail. After the hike, head to the town of Salento. Here you will see the famed “WILLIE” jeeps.IMG_9258 You can hire a driver to take you around the town or just take a picture. Visit this little coffee shop called “Café Jesus Martin” to experience one of the best coffee shops worldwide (or so they say). Whether you do or don’t love coffee, make sure to partake in a “cupping” and you will get such a clear picture of what coffee is all about. IMG_9251The unique flavors vary depending on the different soils and plant types, harvesting and roasting techniques which remind me of wine vineyards. You really learn to appreciate coffee when you watch the pickers standing on the side of hills picking the beans from the plants for 8-10 hours a day, then bringing them in to be weighed to earn their pay. This gave me a whole new appreciation for hard labor. There are really no big name hotels in this region, but why would you want to stay at one when you can stay at some of the different lodges located throughout this region. The folks here are so friendly and accommodating. Coffee tasting 2Even though this area butts up against the famed drug regions, those days are long gone and you will not have any feeling of the past.

I ended my Colombia adventure in Cartagena. I have been here three other times, two of them just for the day from a cruise ship, and one for a trade event. This time, I took the time to explore Cartagena and found the hidden gem of Getsemani. This was once known as the undesirable area of Cartagena but has been transformed into cutely painted small homes, great urban art and clever boutique eateries and shops. IMG_9319Do this as walking tour. One particular street was covered by colorful umbrellas, others with colorful flags draping across the tight cobbled streets. Take in a cooking class to learn how to make ceviche or empanadas or even a full on local cuisine dinner cooking experience. IMG_9342Also take the time to walk the walled city with a good guide as there is so much history about the old city and the buildings. This UNESCO site and the restoration take you on a historical journey of how they were able to preserve this area. If you love rum, take in a rum and chocolate tasting at the beautiful Sofitel hotel that was once a convent. The options for accommodations are endless in both the modern city and old city. If you like boutique hotels, then stay in the old walled city or some new boutique options in Getsemani. Since Cartagena is on the ocean, but the beaches are not so good, we recommend a day trip out to an island. Another great option for day trip is to visit one of the many Rosario Islands. Daily there are public boats that can take you to one of the many islands. If you want a more personal beach experience, then you can buy a day pass to Las Islas – a 5* day trip. But if budget is more of a concern, then do the public launches to the other Rosario islands.

These three destinations are just a sample of the experiences you can have in Colombia. I recommend at least one week, and if you can do 10 days you will be able to do and see so much more. As a travel supplier specializing in Latin America, I am happy to help you arrange a stress free trip to Colombia. Contact info@condortoursandtravel.com or call us at 770-339-9961. You can also visit our web site at www.condortoursandtravel.com.

Disability Accessible Travel

Travels are often challenging for the average person, and more so for someone with a disability. Whether visible or invisible, the physical limitations of a person’s ability to keep up with the typical day to day activities of a travel itinerary would sometimes make the trip less enjoyable. The mainstream travel and tour industry has disregarded the Disabled traveler in the past but have been making amazing strides to make travel more disability friendly in the USA. However, overseas is a totally different world for disability travel.
The American Disabilities Act was passed by Congress in 1990 and has dramatically impacted the support and equality needed for people with disabilities for travel and employment. Nearly a quarter of US citizens are disabled, according to a recent study. Additionally, that number escalates to almost half of residents over the age of 65, making the ADA essential in establishing safe and enjoyable travels.
Here at Condor Tours & Travel, we have recently met the requirements for being a licensed travel agent for the disabled. What does this mean? It means we have the skill and know-how to create trips that are accessible for all. We are certified “Accessible Travel Advocates”.

Before we plan your next big adventure, we suggest you take a moment to review these tips:
• Discuss Your Travel with Your Doctor. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your travel plans. Your doctor will help you prepare with additional medications, mobility recommendations, and recommend possible physicians in your travel areas if needed. Be prepared if they suggest avoiding travel at this time due to the level of challenges you may be facing.
• Discuss Your Disability Needs During Scheduling. Always plan your travel with the airlines, hotels, buses, travel guides, & other transportation or housing in advance with an open discussion about your disability needs. Some of the adjustments needed for a person with a disability can take a little extra time, so definitely include that in your planning. Make sure that your description of your needs is clear and well explained, as many people do not know all of the “lingoes.” Also, call 24 to 48 hours before the trip to verify the requested arrangements.
• Consider Coordinating with a Travel Agent. Receiving assistance from a focused travel agent can help you find the accommodations required for your disability needs and plan your best travel experience.
• Travel with Extra Medications and Tools. It is recommended you travel with double the necessary medications in case of an emergency so that your essentials meds are always on hand. Also, do not pack your medicine in the suitcases. Always keep them on hand in your carry-on bags. Tools and spare parts will help you keep going if your mobility equipment has a minor break-down during your vacation.
• Travel with Medical Alert & Doctor Contact Information. Traveling with easy to find medical alerts will assist any physician in treating you properly during an emergency. Also, bring your physician’s description of your disability and medical needs with you. Make sure it is on professional letterhead with their contact info to help you receive quick, proper care if needed.
• Know Your Disability Rights. By knowing what the rules are for TSA and how the process works to get through security for people with a disability allows you to have a smoother trip.
When you coordinate a stunning tour with Condor Tours & Travel, we will schedule your adventure with your needs and limitations in mind. Contact us today to set up your future vacation with a tour of your choice and explore the world! We can be reached via phone at 77-339-9961 or email at info@condortoursandtravel.com

Why a Spring Break Cruise May be the Answer to Your Kids Problems

Spring Break Cruise to the Caribbean

Admit it. Your student spends most of her time with a phone in her hands or a laptop at her fingertips. If you’re lucky, you may catch her flipping through an actual old-school text book. Her day is filled with screens, papers and projects. Friendships have been reduced to social media feeds filled with emojis and movie clips. Actual face-to-face conversations have become more and more rare. Shouldn’t school be about exploring and learning? Wasn’t the college experience meant to be so much more?

Classes and schedules can be overwhelming leaving your student so busy they don’t have time for anything else, even real friendships. They have no extra time or energy, and if they do, it’s probably spent scrolling through social media on their phone. It makes quality friendships nearly impossible. Beyond the degree, college as well as high school is the time when you are supposed to make friends for life, create lasting memories, and learn how to actually socialize so you are better prepared for the work environment.

Millennials and Gen Z’s want real connection. They just don’t know how to go about creating it. Grades are important and may get your student through college, but almost every job in the world requires that you be able to communicate and socialize well. Employers have noticed that millennials who are entering the workforce are already having trouble communicating. Later generations are likely to face this problem to an even greater degree.

A Truly Social Connection

A spring break cruise may just be what your student needs. Spring break offers the opportunity to disconnect from their busy schedules and do some real socializing. How about a seven-day Caribbean cruise on the Symphony of the Seas? It’s the perfect balance between adventure, relaxation, and quality socialization. A cruise gives your student the time and atmosphere to unplug and create memories they’re never going to forget. It’s not only a gift for them but also a gift for you. Wouldn’t you like your student to learn how to socialize instead of being trapped in his or her phone?

In addition to their desire for true connection, Millennials and Gen Z’s are on the search for new experiences. The more activities for them to partake in the more likely they are to set their phone aside and make some real memories. On the Symphony of the Seas, there is a little something for everyone no matter what their interest. It may even stretch your son or daughter beyond his or her normal limits, making them a more well-rounded person.

From Ziplines to Sushi to Broadway

On the cruise, they have the opportunity to experience fine art in new ways. They can discover a live orchestra, Broadway plays, ice skating shows, aqua theater, live bands, and more. They may also come back with an expanded food palate. It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen Z’s are foodies. They love to experience new cuisines. There are no limits with pizza, seafood, and imaginative cuisine prepared by master chefs, many ways to experience new foods. There is plenty of opportunities for your student to unwind and have some fun with laser tag, giant water slides, sports courts, karaoke, a zipline, an arcade, mini-golf, and ice skating just to name a few. Those who are a little more adventurous may want to participate in the Latin dance classes, cupcake making, jewelry making, fitness classes, or sushi-making experiences.

A Spring Break Cure

Buying a cruise for you son or daughter not only makes them feel loved, but it also shows you acknowledge the hard work they’re putting into school. No breaks create burn out. A cruise is just the thing your student needs to come back refreshed and ready to work. Talk about winning the best parent of the year award! Not only will your kid love the vacation, but it will benefit their overall character, college experience, and social skills. Set your student up for her best future with a seven night Caribbean cruise.

If you would like more info about the Spring Break Cruise on the Smyphony of the Seas or any other spring breaktrip contact Condor Tours & Travel at info@condortoursandtravel.com or call us 770-339-9961.

Why you should use a travel agent

We’ve probably all known someone who considered themselves “handy” and able to take care of things on their own. You see this commonly with people who own houses and take it upon themselves to “fix” problems without really knowing what they are doing. The end result is often pipes that leak, electrical problems, tiles that buckle and crack and so forth. There are some situations in which it is just better to hire a professional and let them do their job. This is true of home repairs but it is also true when it comes time to plan that dream vacation. Many times, we think we can save money by planning our trip ourselves, only to find out that we have wasted time and money and unfortunately had a less than stellar vacation experience. So, what are the benefits of having a travel agent in your corner?

Travel agents are experts in all things vacation and travel related. They know what the travel market is like and will listen to your needs and concerns. A good travel agent can match you up with a superior product, better than anything you can find with a cursory search of the internet. Even the best planned trip doesn’t always turn out as expected. When this happens, a travel agent can act as an intermediary for you, even if it is something that was your fault. They know how to work with the hotel chains, resorts, airlines, and cruise companies to help get your vacation back on track. Travel agents are your friends and allies, so don’t leave home without one in your corner.

Ecuador Oct 2007 009Travel professionals also have access to a variety of tools that the average customer either doesn’t have or is not aware of. They can sometimes get you a better seat on the airplane, extra amenities, tickets for events, or a cruise package upgrade. If you want, they can even plan out your whole itinerary for you. Travel agents can save you time and make things more convenient for you by matching you with the vacation package you really want. Some slickly packaged destinations may look good on TV but they may not really meet your needs as a traveler. By using the same travel agent repeatedly, you will develop a personal rapport as they become your trusted friend and advisor. Eventually you may get to the point where a simple phone call or email is all that is needed to plan your next vacation getaway.
Everyone likes to save money, right? By leveraging their supplier relationships, a travel professional can, at the very least, match the lowest price you might find online while saving you time and effort. They can also book transfers for you and include them in the final price, making the overall experience cheaper. Travel agents also add value in other ways that the general consumer may not be aware of. They may get you free upgrades such as champagne on arrival or a room with a view. Travel experts have inside information on the best times to visit crowded destinations and they have the inside track on new up-and-coming spots; they can get you in before everyone else discovers the same locale.

Maybe you are a person that has a taste for adventure? canopy-tour-arenal-paraiso-3-cablesOr likes to go off the beaten path? Many exotic tours and experiences are only available through a travel agent. Many exotic travel companies want to make sure their customers are the right fit for the experience. Jungle treks, hidden waterfalls, and private jets are often only available through an agent. Denali Whitewater Rafting 1Finally, travel agents are just all-around great people. They are friendly, personable, and eager to work with you. They come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and bring a wealth of knowledge to help you plan the perfect vacation. They are passionate about sharing their knowledge with discerning customers like you. Call our caring and experienced team at Condor Tours and Travel today and let us make your vacation dream a reality!

Why You Should Have Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance Destination Tourism Vacation Concept

Even the best-laid travel plans can sometimes go awry. Unexpected events or accidents can derail what was otherwise a dream vacation. However, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself, such as purchasing travel insurance to protect you and your loved ones in the event of illness or accident. There are several things that travel insurance can do for you. One is to provide peace of mind so that you can enjoy the trip of a lifetime without fear or worry. Travel insurance can also provide a financial backstop if you need to cancel your trip due to illness or family emergency; this is known as trip cancellation coverage and will allow you to recover your out-of-pocket expenses if the cancellation is for a covered reason.

Let’s suppose that you are on your trip and get to the airport only to face delays due to weather or mechanical issues with the plane. I encountered this very situation in Toronto once and had to pay the cost of a hotel out of my own pocket. I certainly wished I had missed connection coverage to take care of this added expense! This type of coverage will also take care of any fees or charges that result from your needing to change flights. Traveling during the summer months also exposes you to risks from weather such as severe thunderstorms and hurricanes. Maybe an approaching storm has cancelled all flights into New Orleans. Trip interruption coverage will refund any prepaid expenses or allow you to stay in a comfortable hotel until it is safe to continue your journey.

A couple of years ago Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and caused widespread devastation. Many hotels and resorts were severely damaged or destroyed. Some of them were out of commission for a year or more. Travel protection for weather damage would have come in handy in this instance. It would have allowed you to recover your costs and even help you arrange a vacation in a new destination once the storm had passed.

One of the most common forms of travel insurance is for medical reasons. An individual with health issues or those traveling to regions where the quality of care is poor will definitely want to carry this type of coverage. Imagine being in some distant land and becoming violently ill, and you don’t speak the language or know where to turn for help. Medical travel coverage can assist you in your own language and keep you from being stuck with a huge bill. In many countries, payment in advance is required even for medical emergencies; you don’t want this to happen to you. Medical travel insurance can also provide for an emergency evacuation. Suppose you fall seriously ill while on a South Pacific cruise, for example. With the proper insurance, you can be medically evacuated to an appropriate care facility. Transport of this sort will often cost tens of thousands of dollars if you end up paying for it out of pocket. Medical travel coverage will keep your loved ones and your wallet safe in instances such as this.

There are other reasons for having travel insurance that are not as commonly known. For example, you may lose your passport; travel insurance will help pay for the costs of getting it replaced and will help expedite the process. In addition to weather-related disasters, there is also insurance that will protect you and reimburse your expenses in the event of man-made disasters such as war or acts of terrorism. There is also the more everyday sort of inconvenience such as lost or delayed baggage. You can get money to help replace the items that were lost or stolen, and you can even be reimbursed for the cost of a new suitcase. Another lesser-known reason for travel insurance is to protect against default or bankruptcy in the event the touring company or cruise line you booked with declares bankruptcy and goes out of business.

As you can see, there are many different reasons to have travel coverage. The experienced travel experts at Condor Tours and Travel are happy to work with you to help identify the right level of coverage for the trip you have planned. Give us a call or contact us through our website today!

Wine Tourism Argentina

 

Mendoza Enemigo 7 vineyard LR

The 20th century was a tumultuous time for Argentina. In the early 1900’s Argentina was one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but this soon came to an end as a result of political and economic instability. Periods of dictatorship alternated with democracy, and economically, the country was prone to hyperinflation and currency devaluations. However, as the 21st century dawned Argentina seemed to find its footing with a more stable government and greater economic vitality. As we approach, the start of the third decade of the 21st century Argentina is open for business and for tourists who bring much needed hard currency. One of the many reasons tourists come to Argentina is for the wine as the wine industry has deep roots here.Wine field LR
Viticulture was introduced to Argentina during the period of Spanish colonization. In 1556, Father Juan Cedron established the first vineyard in Argentina using cuttings that came from the central valley of Chile. Other vineyards soon sprang up in the provinces of San Juan and Mendoza, which became the birthplace of the wine industry in Argentina. During the 1800s a provincial governor named Domingo Faustino Sarmiento had the first Malbec grape cuttings brought to the country, and even today Argentina is known mostly for its Malbec wines. The best wine growing regions in Argentina are in the western foothills of the Andes Mountains. However, the largest population centers were located in the east, near the capital of Buenos Aires. The distances involved made transporting wine difficult, and this helped to spur the construction of the first railways in the 1880s.
For most of the 20th century, Argentine wines were mainly consumed domestically and were considered not fit for export. A bout of hyperinflation in the 1980s led to a favorable currency exchange rate; as a result, Argentina began to focus on developing a wine export industry. By the end of the 20th century, Argentina was exporting more than three million gallons of wine a year to the United States and was well on its way to becoming a powerhouse in the global wine industry. Today there are over 1500 wineries in Argentina. The wine industry has expanded from Mendoza to now wines are produced about 1.5 hours from Mendoza in the Uco Valley as well as a bit more North East near Salta.
Most wineries in Argentina are located at varying altitudes in the foothills of the Andes and depend on either snowmelt from the high mountains or underground aquifers to keep their vineyards well-watered. Because of these locations, many vineyards are in high mountain valleys with spectacular snowcapped peaks providing a beautiful view in the background. Local villages offer opportunities to purchase traditional handicrafts and to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture that is modern Argentina. Many of the wineries have built accommodations on site and offer complete packages to explore their vineyards as well other vineyards throughout this region.
Under Argentine wine laws, if a grape name appears on the wine label, 100% of the wine must be composed of that variety. The early Argentine wine industry was dominated by pink skin grape varieties such as Cereza, Criolla Chica, and Criolla Grande, which still account for about a third of grapes planted today. These grapes have very high yields and produce inexpensive sweet red wines that are sold in bulk quantities domestically or exported. Nevertheless, the most famous wines today are produced from the Malbec grape. Malbec wine is characterized by deep color and intense fruity flavors with a velvety texture. The quality of the Malbec wines of Argentina has overshadowed their source regions in France and Argentina has become the leading producer of these varietals in the world. Roughly, 60% of wine production is in the form of red wines; the high temperatures of most regions contribute to soft, ripe tannins, and high alcohol content.Mendoza wine grapes LR
The Pedro Gimenez grape is the most widely planted white grape varietal in Argentina and is known for producing full-bodied wines with high alcohol levels. Other white grape varieties include Chenin blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Semillion, Ugni Blanc, and Vognier. The Torrontes variety produces some of the most distinctive white wines in Argentina, characterized by a floral Muscat-like aroma and spicy notes.
You can travel this region year around to experience the wines. Keep in mind their season is the opposite of the US season so traveling in our Winter is their peak growing season and our Spring is their Fall when the vineyard harvest is going on. The best way to get the is via Buenos Aires so stay a couple of days then head to Mendoza.

Are you a connoisseur of fine wines? Do you have a sense of adventure? Then an Argentine wine tour might be just the ticket! Contact Condor Tours & Travel today, we can help you plan every step of your dream vacation as you explore the exotic scenery and wonderful wines of beautiful Argentina! Our web site offers 6 different wine tour packages to fit just about any budget or we can customize a trip for you as well. Check out all your options at www.condortoursandtravel.com or send an email to info@condortoursandtravel.com so we can help you plan your wine experience.