Islands of the Mediterranean

Gay Tours Sicily

Sicily & Malta

April 28 – May 10, 2019  |  May 14-26, 2019

Gay Group Tour of Sicily & Malta — HIGHLIGHTS

  • Palermo — The feisty Sicilian capital, with its quasi-grittiness on the surface overlaying remarkable historical beauty, its treasures including opulent Arab-Norman mosaics, Baroque palaces, and vibrant street markets
  • Monreale Cathedral — The finest example of Norman architecture in Sicily along with its dazzling interior of  Byzantine-influenced mosaics
  • Segesta — Standing in proud isolation amid rugged hills, an unforgettable 5th-century-BC Greek temple
  • Valley of the Temples — A collection of incomparable ancient Greek ruins, with its Temple of Concordia the model for UNESCO’s logo and one the best-preserved Greek temples anywhere
  • Villa del Casale — A 3rd-century-AD Roman aristocrat’s villa with sumptuous mosaics decorating each room that had been buried under mud for centuries
  • Taormina — A chi-chi resort town spectacularly perched on the side of a mountain with stunning views of smoking Mt. Etna
  • Siracusa — On the sparkling blue sea, perhaps the greatest city of Magna Graecia but also a Baroque delight and a casually chic city center today
  • Malta — Just a two-hour ferry ride from Sicily and another culture entirely with its legendary history, glittering sea, and 21st-century sophistication

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“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.” — J.W. von Goethe, 1817

INTRODUCTION

Gay Tours SicilyLess than two miles away across a wisp of sea from mainland Italy, Sicily remains somewhat of a world apart. This sun-drenched island of dramatic volcanoes and fabulous coastlines boasts an awesome historical legacy (including some of the world’s finest sites of antiquity) and a vibrant traditional culture. Home to some of Italy’s friendliest small villages, Sicily in many ways offers intrepid explorers an unmatched experience of “old Italy.” Add to this the alluring island of Malta — the European Capital of Culture in 2018. Long a crossroads between Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, Malta is diminutive in size yet at the core of many of history’s major events and home to a beguiling mix of cultures that have stewed together over centuries.

Gay Vacations SicilyWe start out in Sicily’s buzzing capital of Palermo in the northwest where we take in some of the highlights of the city center and the impressive cathedral in Monreale nearby with its outstanding mosaics as well as a day-trip out to the sublime site of the ancient isolated Greek temple of Segesta.

Moving to the south coast we come to Agrigento, home of the Valley of the Temples — an extraordinary group of structures that some would argue are the best ancient Greek ruins anywhere, including Greece. We’ll stay a couple of nights at an upscale country inn not far from Agrigento.

Moving inland we stop to see the UNESCO-listed Villa Romana del Casale in the center of the island. Discovered in the late 1800s this was the 3rd-century estate thought to have been a country retreat for Marcus Aurelius and contains the finest Roman floor mosaics in existence.

Gay Travel SicilyNext it’s on to the northeast corner of Sicily where we enjoy two nights in the utterly beautiful and chic hilltown of Taormina, its premier site being the Greek Theater, suspended between sea and sky and offering a fantastic view of Mt. Etna in the distance. There are great restaurants and shopping here, and it’s fun just to get off the main drag and explore the little alley-stairways.

Our last stop in Sicily is the captivating city of Siracusa (Syracuse), specifically its island city-center known as Ortigia. This was the greatest city of Magna Graecia and in its heyday was the largest city in the ancient world. Layers of history unravel themselves here. It’s a delight to wander around Ortigia, and its main piazza is a masterpiece, one of the most impressive in Italy, in our opinion.

Gay Tours MaltaTo close out the tour a ferry whisks us down to Malta, which holds the European Capital of Culture title for 2018. Our 3-night base is Valletta, the charming capital city. During our time on the island we’ll explore the highlights of the capital along with excursions further afield, such as Mdina — a golden-stone Arabic walled hilltown with excellent views over the hills and out to sea.

And of course all along the way we get to enjoy lovely accommodation and excellent meals!

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Japan — Then and Now

Gay group tours of Japan

October 13-22, 2019

Gay Group Tour of Japan — HIGHLIGHTS

  • Gleaming, glittering Tokyo along with some of its more tranquil attractions
  • Old streets, traditional houses and merchants’ shops, and atmospheric walks in the town of Takayama and Hida Folk Village
  • Shrines and temples of Kamakura – a lovely town by the sea
  • Kyoto – the cultural, historical, and religious soul of Japan with its myriad temples and shrines, including a side trip to Nara
  • Two-night stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan with hot spring baths
  • A bustling food market in Kyoto
  • Tour of the impressive Matsumoto Castle used by Shoguns since the early 1600s
  • Delicious meals and lovely accommodations — of course!

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INTRODUCTION

Escorted Gay Group Vacations in JapanFrom the bright lights and pulsating streets of high-tech, ultra-modern Tokyo, to the beautiful landscapes and charms of the Japan Alps, and finally to an in-depth tour of historic imperial Kyoto with its must-see temples, shrines and gardens, this 10-day very special journey through Japan will provide you with a wonderful feel for the country’s various highlights and reveal the intriguing nature of today’s Japan — so modern and yet heavily steeped in its traditions.

We’ll marvel at several UNESCO World Heritage sites in this program: the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto (which are many!) as well as those in ancient Nara.

• 10-day trip begins in Tokyo and ends in Kyoto

• Deluxe hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto; 2 nights in an upscale Japanese ryokan (inn) with hot spring baths

• All breakfasts, 7 lunches, 5 dinners

• Venture Out escort throughout plus local guides along the way

Gay Tours JapanTokyo is Japan’s absolutely buzzing capital city and the most densely populated area on the planet. It certainly is a phenomenon unto itself, and we’ll experience a diversity of sights in the city — from the historical Asakusa district to important religious sights such as the most important Shinto shrine with Japan’s two largest torii (the traditional entry gate of a shrine). More contemporary attractions will also be explored.

Kamakura makes for a lovely day trip outside of Tokyo. It’s a seaside city surrounded on three sides by mountains, and its most iconic sight is the 37-foot-high bronze statue of the compassionate Amida Buddha. Completed in the mid 13th century it’s said to have been commissioned by Japan’s first shogun. Also in Kamakura is the largest carved-wood statue in Japan: the 11-faced, 30-foot-high Kannon in a temple that faces the sea. In downtown Kamakura we’ll have an opportunity to check out shops selling local crafts, especially carved and lacquered woodwork.

 

Gay Group Tours of JapanA gorgeous ride brings us up into the “Japan Alps” to Takayama. This small city’s rustic charms are the result of hundreds of years of peaceful isolation in the Hida Mountains. Shops and restaurants mingle with museums, inns, sake breweries, and markets along rows of traditional wood-lattice buildings and tiny canals of running water, all immersed amidst the fresh mountain air and gorgeous scenery of 10,000-foot mountain peaks.

img_0265There is simply nowhere more special in Japan than Kyoto. It is the epicenter of Japanese culture and history, and it’s home to everything that you might associate with traditional Japan: vermillion temples, mysterious geisha, the sacred tea ceremony, Zen rock gardens, imperial palaces, sumptuous cuisine, glittering kimonos, bamboo groves, street-corner shrines, ancient festivals and much more.

Kyoto culture — a unique tapestry of influences from imperial nobility, samurai warriors, silk traders and Zen Buddhists — is still fiercely defended by Kyotoites. The city is now home to more than 2,000 temples and shrines and in their entirety comprise a massive UNESCO World Heritage site. Then there are the places that are less museum-like and more real, working Kyoto such as markets where old ladies in kimonos barter for mysterious ingredients and the tiny lantern-lit temples set right among the shops in the arcades.

We’ve included a mix of high-end, well-located hotels with two nights in a deluxe Japanese ryokan (an inn with hot springs and the traditional sleeping arrangement of futons on tatami mats). Most meals are included in the program.

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Italy: The Places In Between

Gay Tours Italy

The Less Trodden Route!

September 3-9, 2018

Gay Group Tour of Italy — HIGHLIGHTS

  • The understated handsomeness of Bologna and its 25 miles of elegant porticos
  • Ravenna’s astounding Byzantine-period mosaics
  • Urbane, sophisticated Parma and its wealth of sights
  • Tasting traditional Balsamic vinegar of Modena at its source
  • The Roman-era Arena in Verona and the city’s numerous other attractions
  • Winery tour and tasting at a historic villa in the Valpolicella zone
  • Several UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Delicious meals and lovely accommodations, of course!
  • Download Detailed Itinerary

INTRODUCTION

Inspired by the travel guide book of the same title, our tour Italy: The Places In Between focuses on cities in the Emilia-Romagna and Veneto regions — cities that are almost always passed over as tourists head from Florence to Venice. There’s a plethora of worthy sights around here, and we’re very glad to bring you this unique program — our eighth unique itinerary and 22nd tour overall in this enticing country!

Gay Travel ItalyOne of the best-kept secrets in northern Italy, our first of two bases is Bologna — a very handsome city (and a pity that its name conjures up the less-than-appealing American food product). Indeed, some would argue that, after Venice, Bologna is among the most attractive cities in Italy. Home to the world’s oldest university, Bologna lives on its red-brick towers and stately colonnades and is almost universally considered to be Italy’s gourmet capital. The sidewalks in the city center are covered in intricately decorated porticos — some 25 miles of them all together. The feeling of a university city permeates the air, and Bologna feels full of Italians in a way that many other places, thronged with tourists, do not.

Gay Travel ItalyModena vies as Italy’s wealthiest city and can boast the UNESCO World Heritage sites of its 12th-century cathedral, tower, and adjacent main piazza evoking a glorious past. It’s famous for local products: Maserati, Ferrari, opera star Luciano Pavarotti — and not least of all it’s also home to the true traditional Balsamic vinegar, which is little understood and often badly misused! We’ll learn what makes this product so special — some of it aged up to 40 years — and taste various types at one of the area’s artisinal producers.

One of the greatest cities of the Mediterranean from the fifth to the eighth centuries, Ravenna has brick palaces, cobbled streets, magnificent monuments, and spectacular Byzantine-period mosaics. Churches and tombs with the most unassuming exteriors contain within them walls covered with these sumptuous mosaics. These beautifully preserved works of art place great emphasis on nature, which you can see in the delicate rendering of sky, earth, and animals. The mosaics have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, and they quite handily rival what you’ll find in Istanbul.

LGBT travel ItalyThe stately historic center of Parma shows its prosperity, along with its well-dressed residents and immaculate piazzas. The residents of Parma are generally considered to be the most elegant people of Italy. Bursting with gustatory delights, Parma draws visitors for its sublime cured ham, prosciutto crudo di Parma. The pale-yellow Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese produced here is the original — and best — of a class known around the world as “Parmesan.” The city has also been a mecca for opera lovers. Giuseppe Verdi was from here, and his operas echoed through the Teatro Regio, the opera house that we’ll visit and which is today jam-packed during the season. We’ll also see some of the greatest Romanesque buildings in northern Italy: the 11th-century cathedral and 12th-century Baptistery with its superb sculpture work.

LGBT tours ItalyFounded by the Romans in the 1st century A.D., the enchanting city of Verona is dotted with very attractive palazzi, elegant squares, and medieval gems. Architectural remnants of the Roman era are also a real draw, most notably the famous Arena, which is home to a world-renowned summertime opera festival. It is perhaps the best-preserved Roman amphitheater in the world — and the most famous after the Colosseum in Rome. Dubbed the “City of Love,” romance is most definitely in the air in fair Verona. The city’s most famous residents, Romeo and Juliet, seemed to think so anyway. The Basilica San Zeno Maggiore is another wonderful highlight — a very impressive Romanesque-era building with extraordinary artistic creations. Verona sits on the Adige River which comes tumbling down from the Italian Alps, and indeed just outside the city is hilly terrain and the location of some excellent vineyards, one of which we’ll have the pleasure of visiting to taste their wines.

ACCOMMODATIONS

The following are the hotels that we plan to use for the tour at the time of publishing this itinerary. We reserve the right to make changes to the accommodations.

LGBT Vacations ItalyBologna – 4 nights

The 4-star hotel we’ve selected enjoys a very central location in the heart of the city on a pedestrian-only street, easily walkable to Bologna’s impressive historical attractions, great restaurants, and good shopping. Set in a magnificently restored 15th century palazzo, elegantly designed construction conserves architectural elements of various periods. The beautiful lobby has a real wow factor thanks to a large skylight that floods the pretty space with light. A number of different architectural styles are on display in the hotel yet it all combines to create a whole that’s elegant in an old-fashioned, genteel way. Fresco work and paintings date back to the building’s aristocratic origins.

The 40 rooms come with nice little touches such as fresh fruit, robes, and slippers along with kettles and minibars, beautifully hand-embroidered bedside rugs, and marble bathrooms.

In the lounge the evening starts out with an aperitivo service which provides a small buffet of several pre-dinner appetizers with the purchase of one drink. A top-notch buffet breakfast includes an array of homemade cakes, plus prosecco, freshly squeezed juices, and egg dishes made to order.

veronahotelVerona – 2 nights

This is another very central hotel, in a perfect location for our Verona sightseeing as well as for any shopping you might like to do! A jumble of three ancient palaces have been stitched together and thoroughly modernized inside to create a 4-star hotel while respecting and highlighting the Roman ruins that were discovered beneath in the process. Original frescos and paintings join historically inspired design to create an almost magical atmosphere in the hotel’s interiors. A chic lobby bar lets guests soak up the atmosphere from white leather seats. While the lobby, lounges, and restaurant have a very contemporary, enchanting, and rather hip feel to them, the 75 guest rooms are more classically decorated with stylish furniture, high-class fabrics, patterned wood floors, and red Veronese marble bathrooms. On top of all that there is an equally elegant restaurant with the casual style of a brasserie. Here guests can enjoy refined, novel variations of classic Italian dishes by a Michelin-starred chef.

 

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Southern Africa Trifecta

Gay Safari Tours South Africa

Cape Town + Wildlife Safari + Victoria Falls

August 30 – September 10, 2019

Trip Highlights

  • Excellent wildlife viewing in some of Africa’s best safari destinations — South Africa and Botswana
  • Stunning Victoria Falls — the largest show of its kind on earth
  • The beautiful city of Cape Town and the gorgeous scenery around the Cape of Good Hope
  • The delightful Winelands region outside of Cape Town, including a winery visit
  • Superb — and superbly comfortable — accommodations
  • Delicious meals and South African wines along the way

 

INTRODUCTION

Gay Tours Cape TownHere’s the kind of adventure about which many people dream but few experience. Venture Out is pleased once again to offer this very popular tour for the sixth time. It blends a splendid sampling of African culture, incredible wildlife, other outdoor activities, great food and wine, and gorgeous scenery — beginning in Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. We will cover a vast, majestic land, and this is sure to be the trip of a lifetime! Cape Town is certainly one of the world’s most scenic cities. We will visit the environs of the city: the lovely Winelands area that produces most of South Africa’s excellent vintages and home to some acclaimed restaurants, as well as the fantastically scenic Cape Peninsula down to the Cape of Good Hope at the “bottom of Africa.”

Gay Safari Tours Botswana South AfricaOur first wildlife safari experience will take place in and near the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. A vast area of plains, interrupted by rocky outcrops, the 300-square-mile reserve hosts packs of the endangered wild dog. In addition there are healthy predator populations — lion, cheetah, and leopard. Black and white rhino and a wide range of antelope are numerous. Birdlife is outstanding as well, with numerous species of the nearby Kalahari Desert. Our intimate-in-size luxury safari lodge, with welcoming service and exceptional cuisine, is situated on private ground and hidden in lush riverside forest.

Gay Safari Groups Southern AfricaThe country of Botswana, our next stop, is exceedingly rich in wildlife, and its vast expanses of nature are filled with a wide variety of fauna and flora to see and experience. In fact, some safari aficionados consider Botswana to be Africa’s best country for this type of experience owing to its policy of keeping the number of visitors on the low side. We experience one of the world’s great natural phenomena, the tranquil Okavango Delta, a 6,000-square-mile inland flood plain (larger than Connecticut) that fans out in the northwestern corner of the country, creating a paradise of palms, papyrus, crystal-clear channels, and backwaters. Set in a massive sea of Kalahari Desert sand, this fragile wonderland of waterways, islands, and forests is an oasis for wildlife, drawn to its life-giving waters from the surrounding thirsty lands. The evening air is filled with the sounds of birdcall, frogs, and antelope rustling in the reeds. Wildebeest, buffalo, and zebra roam the islands; elephants wade across channels under the watch of hippopotamus and crocodiles; and predators like lion and leopard rule the night. You will never forget our small-scale luxury safari “camp” here with its beautiful accommodation, very warm staff, and delicious cuisine.

Gay Tours Victoria FallsStraddling the border between the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is justifiably called one of the Wonders of the Natural World, and spans a little more than a mile, making it the widest show of its kind on earth. The sight of more than 2 million gallons of water per second from the Zambezi River crashing 350 feet down (twice the height of Niagara) is one not easily forgotten. On a clear day, the veil of the roaring spray can be seen from up to 20 miles away, and the rain forest that clings to the cliffs opposite the falls in the Victoria Falls National Park is nourished by this constant spray. It is this phenomenon that gave the falls its local name: Mosi-Oa-Tunya — literally, “the smoke that thunders. Our new luxury lodge on the Zambezi River is located just a short distance upstream from the falls.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

Following is a description of the excellent lodgings we intend to use as we plan this tour. Please note however that we reserve the right to make changes to these accommodations.

Cape Town, South Africa — 3 nights

An exceptional space . . . An atmosphere of sophistication . . . A unique design . . . The upscale accommodation that we’ve selected in Cape Town has just a dozen rooms, minimalist yet soothing in their decor – some facing to the sea, others to the mountains. It’s positioned in the Green Point district of the city, within walking distance of many of the great attractions of Cape Town, such as the fashionable V&A Waterfront, the colorful Cape Malay neighborhood of Bo-Kaap, the chic Cape Quarter commercial area, and the Central Business District. Nestled among lush trees the hotel enjoys a semi-secluded feel while being in the middle of the city. And with no mainstream design here local creativity is clearly on display. Some of the room features include king-size beds, free wifi, and coffee/tea makers. There’s also a small pool, and you can take advantage of a massage in their treatment room to help shake off jet lag!

Click on images below to enlarge.

Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa — 3 nights

Luxurious accommodation, exceptional cuisine, welcoming service, and thrilling game viewing combine to create an unforgettable luxury safari experience. Situated on private ground within the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa’s North West Province, the lodge caters for a small number of guests, ensuring personal attention and exclusivity in its luxurious and air-conditioned suites. The reserve is home to the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) plus cheetah, giraffe, hyena, and a host of other game and bird species. Expert guides are at the ready to reveal all of this to you. Additionally, our lodge is located on 4,000 acres of privately owned ground which is reserved exclusively for the guests.

Designed to have minimal environmental impact — constructed from local stone, wood, and thatch and blending effortlessly with the bush — the lodge allows guests to continuously experience the natural beauty of the surroundings. Hidden in riverside forest, the suites, each with glass-walled bedrooms, overlook the Limpopo River, offering uninterrupted views of the surrounding bush. The suites also have private sundecks and spacious bathrooms (with roll-top bathtubs as well as indoor and outdoor showers) that can be opened to the forest. On the property are an infinity-edge swimming pool, gym, health and beauty treatment center, and lookout point with magnificent views. Further, our lodge prides itself on the exceptional quality of its food and wines, adding another memorable dimension to your stay.

Click on images below to enlarge.

Okavango Delta, Botswana — 3 nights

Our camp in the renowned Okavango Delta is a classic African tented camp with just a handful of luxury canvas tents, all remodeled in 2018 as we publish this itinerary and crafted with five-star fixtures as well as sustainability in mind.  The traditional camp is built on a 260,000-acre private concession and has a large lounge area and dining area with lovely views over the floodplains. The main area features a new outdoor bar with the best possible views of the floodplains, a small library area, and curio shop. From the swimming pool — a real treat after a hot day of game viewing — guests can watch giraffe and other plains game march across the savannah and sometimes catch a glimpse of rare wild dogs. Each tent has a deck with views over the floodplains, allowing prime game viewing from your tent with a freshly made cup of tea or coffee to hand.

The camp is also home to a unique elephant interaction project where you can walk with rescued orphaned elephants — an uplifting experience that will remain with you long after you’ve left.

The Okavango Delta is flooded for part of the year and when it is, guests can experience serene silence at the gentle pace of a poled mokoro excursion along the narrow channels. These are 2-person canoes with a poler on the back who steers you through the channels. This activity is water-level dependent.

Sightings of four of the “Big Five” (no rhino in this area) are common here on the Okavango Delta where the wildlife and game viewing is staggeringly special. Shared only with its (even smaller) sister camp this vast patch of the delta in northern Botswana is so private that only the camps’ vehicles tour these precious, pristine grassy plains. This ensures a more exclusive safari experience and allows a deeper connection with the wild.

Click on images below to enlarge.

 

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe — 2 nights

Our last accommodation is a private luxury lodge within the Zambezi National Park right on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River that is scheduled to open in the first half of 2018. From the lodge the massive spray of Victoria Falls is visible in the distance about four miles downstream. Each spacious canvas suite has been tastefully decorated with stylish furnishings and fittings and comes with a king size bed, comfortable lounge, complimentary minibar, air conditioning, ceiling fan, mosquito nets, indoor/outdoor showers, twin basins, outdoor bath tub with a view, robes and slippers, private plunge pool, wifi, and a private viewing deck where you can sit and take in the river scenery and whatever might be happening at the moment. The only thing that really resembles a tent is the canvas on the outside. The main lodge has an open-plan lounge and dining area and is positioned just back from the river in view of wildlife that often passes in front (possibly elephant and hippo, for example). There’s also a watering hole on the other side of the lodge where animals congregate when they’re thirsty. The cuisine here is top-notch with a choice wine list. Taking advantage of its position on the Zambezi River the lodge includes a cruise on their own small boats as part of the available activities.

Click on images below to enlarge.

     
       

Myanmar Revealed

Gay Group Tours of MyanmarLegendary Burma! — including a luxury 4-night Irrawaddy River cruise

February 28 to March 10, 2018

Gay Group Tour of Myanmar — HIGHLIGHTS

  • Myanmar’s greatest temple and one of the world’s most majestic Buddhist monuments — Shwedagon Pagoda, its gilded stupa rising high above Yangon
  • Exploring colonial Yangon (Rangoon), one of Asia’s finest showpieces of British colonial urban planning — now in its various states of atmospheric decay
  • The last royal capital of Burma — Mandalay, Myanmar’s cultural capital and a fine center for crafts
  • The “world’s biggest book,” a series of 729 inscribed marble slabs surrounding Kuthodaw Pagoda
  • Visit to a marble carving workshop
  • A 4-night luxury river cruise on the mighty Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Bagan
  • Dreamily pretty Inle Lake, a postcard picture come to life, surrounded by a variety of ethnic groups’ villages (some on stilts), colorful markets, and floating gardens
  • Sagaing, another former royal capital famous for its stupa-studded hill
  • Bagan — truly one of the great wonders of Asia with thousands of majestic temples rising from the Irrawaddy plains
  • Visit to a monastic school and orphanage
  • Gay Tours Burma MyanmarThe world’s longest teak footbridge, U Bein, one of the country’s most famous sights and enjoyed at sunset
  • Tour of a local food market and a cooking class on board our luxury river cruiser
  • Mount Popa, like a Burmese Mount Olympus, with its colorful cluster of shrines perched dramatically atop an ancient volcanic outcrop
  • A candlelit sandbank dinner with the backdrop of Bagan’s twinkling lights
  • Top-end accommodations

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map_of_myanmar

From the glittering pagodas and downtown bustle of Yangon to the idyllic waters of Inle Lake; from the temple-strewn plains of Bagan to storied Mandalay . . . we show you the best of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) on this 11-day tour including a tranquil four-night luxury cruise on the famed Irrawaddy River tossed in for good measure.

Gay Travel Burma MyanmarOne of the least known and least developed countries in Southeast Asia, and perhaps the region’s most enigmatic, Myanmar has taken some steps towards change in the past decade, but the old Burma described by Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell is still very much on display. Winston Churchill referred to Burma as a riddle wrapped in a mystery. It’s a tantalizingly exotic culture with a quirky old-world atmosphere where traditions of the past linger.

Gay Vacations Burma MyanmarMany say that the country is locked in a kind of time warp, and indeed that is part of its appeal. Horse-carts outnumber cars. Steer plow the paddies. Saffron-robed, shaved-headed monks queue for alms in the street. Young women wear a fragrant paste on their faces. All manner of exotic headgear is worn. A beautifully patterned sarong-type garment is worn by nearly all women and most men. There’s a wealth of vibrant arts and crafts traditions. Life for most Burmese centers around the temple and the teahouse. And the warm and gentle nature of the Burmese people impresses visitors every time.

A special highlight of our journey is the luxurious all-suite ship on which we’ll cruise in style down the Irrawaddy River for four nights between Mandalay and Bagan. Launched at the end of 2014 and with just 21 suites this is an intimate affair, custom-built by local craftsmen using traditional materials and melding Burmese design with contemporary chic. It’s the only all-balcony ship on the Irrawaddy, offering excellent cuisine (both local and international options), a high staff-to-guest ratio, and included cultural excursions from the boat (such as a craft workshop, villages, a monastery, pagodas, and a food market).

gay group cruise Burma Myanmar

Gay Group Tours of MyanmarOnboard activities will include a performance by local dancers, lectures, and a cooking lesson. Relax in the lounge with its panoramic windows, enjoy the plunge pool on deck, indulge in a spa treatment, observe life along the river from the comfort of your room . . . It’s a delightful way to appreciate this corner of the country. You may also wish to enjoy a unique vantage point over the stunning temples of the Bagan plains by taking a magical hot air balloon ride!

Please Note: During this four-night cruise our group will be sharing the boat with other travelers as this is not a private charter.

 

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Panama & Costa Rica Cruise

Gay Cruise Panama Costa Rica

A Luxury Small-Ship Cruise Exploring Costa Rica and Panama — with the Panama Canal

January 26 to February 3, 2018

Gay Group Cruise
of Panama & Costa Rica — HIGHLIGHTS

  • One-night pre-cruise hotel stay in Panama City
  • Search for untamed wildlife — sloths, howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, white-faced capuchins
  • Stroll a butterfly- and flower-rich tropical botanical reserve
  • Hike, snorkel, kayak, paddle board, and explore by skiff — or just kick back
  • Off-the-beaten path exploration
  • Transit the Panama Canal
  • Granito de Oro, Coiba National Park (Panama)
  • Golfo Dulce (Costa Rica)
  • Osa Conservation Area (Costa Rica)
  • Manuel Antonio National Park (Costa Rica)
  • Curu National Wildlife Refuge (Costa Rica)

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Bonus Feature: Our departure will have a renowned birding expert onboard so that we may enjoy a more in-depth discovery of the unique habits and characteristics of the winged creatures we encounter along the way.

Optional Post-Cruise Add-on: 5 nights exploring Costa Rica’s interior at the Arenal Volcano and Monteverde Cloudforest.

Gay Cruise Panama Costa Rica

 

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

gay travel panama costa ricaThe 62-passenger Safari Voyager will take us where the big cruise ships simply can’t go — and it’s a deluxe, all-inclusive experience throughout. Completely refurbished in 2016 the ship is ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings.

Please Note: Unlike our other tours this is not exclusively a Venture Out group. There will be other guests onboard — with no cap on the number of travelers in our own group.

Monkeys, sloths, iguanas, hummingbirds, toucans, and whales! By kayak, skiff, on foot, and small ship — uncover the wonders of jungles, mangroves, national parks, preserves, and the Panama Canal.

Be as active — or not — as you like!

 

gay tours panama costa ricaOne of the 20 most biologically diverse countries in the world, Costa Rica alone is home to around 4% of the earth’s total species. Add in the thousands of species of plants, mammals, and birds found in Panamá, and it’s easy to see just how vital these countries’ habitats are.

Both Costa Rica and Panamá are relatively small in size—just under 20,000 square miles and just over 29,000 square miles, respectively. And narrow Panamá is only 110 miles at its widest point. Despite their small geographic footprint, both countries have dramatically changing landscapes, reaching from the shores of the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, to volcanic peaks that tower above 10,000 feet.

Not far from the equator, the warm tropical climate nurtures the rich tapestry of life… making for an inviting and adventurous exploration.

SAFARI VOYAGER

gay vacations panama costa rica

Undergoing refurbishment in 2016, the 62-guest Safari Voyager offers personal comforts, full uncompromising amenities, and upscale accommodations. Sights are revealed from the window-lined lounge with sweeping 270-degree views. Enjoy the vessel’s cozy library and elegant dining room, all outfitted with nautical décor. Ideally designed to spotlight the magnificent natural surroundings, the Safari Voyager features four public decks including a spacious upper sun deck.

An aft EZ Dock launch platform provides convenient access into and from the water for adventure activities. The vessel is outfitted with kayaks, paddle boards, inflatable skiffs, snorkel gear, and hiking poles. For rejuvenation and relaxation, guests can take advantage of our wellness program with fitness equipment, yoga mats, and a complimentary massage.

More information regarding the Safari Voyager can be found in the Detailed Itinerary.

SLIDESHOW: Safari Voyager Cruise — Onboard & Off

 

Click here to get a travel writer’s first-hand impressions about this cruise in an article recently published in an Australian cruise magazine.

POST-CRUISE LAND EXTENSION

gay tours costa ricaExplore Costa Rica’s exotic interior by hiking, canopy tour, zip line, boat trip, and river rafting on a 5-night, post-cruise land extension. Destinations include Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Selvatura Park, and the Sarapiquí River. Visits to a coffee plantation, a sugar mill, a local school, and hot springs are also included. Information can be found in the Detailed Itinerary.

 

 

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Panama & Costa Rica Cruise Slideshow

 

A Luxury Small-Ship Cruise Exploring Costa Rica and Panama — with the Panama Canal

January 26 to February 3, 2018

Gay Group Cruise
of Panama & Costa Rica — HIGHLIGHTS

          • One-night pre-cruise hotel stay in Panama City
          • Search for untamed wildlife — sloths, howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, white-faced capuchins
          • Stroll a butterfly- and flower-rich tropical botanical reserve
          • Hike, snorkel, kayak, paddle board, and explore by skiff — or just kick back
          • Off-the-beaten path exploration
          • Transit the Panama Canal
          • Granito de Oro, Coiba National Park (Panama)
          • Golfo Dulce (Costa Rica)
          • Osa Conservation Area (Costa Rica)
          • Manuel Antonio National Park (Costa Rica)
          • Curu National Wildlife Refuge (Costa Rica)

SLIDESHOW: Safari Voyager Cruise — Onboard & Off

 

 

Gay Cruise Panama Costa Rica

 

Japan — Then and Now

Gay group tours of Japan

Special Fall Foliage Departure

November 10-19, 2017

Gay Group Tour of Japan — HIGHLIGHTS

  • The famously stunning fall foliage in Japan
  • Gleaming, glittering Tokyo along with some of its more tranquil attractions
  • Old streets, traditional houses and merchants’ shops, and atmospheric walks in the town of Takayama and Hida Folk Village
  • Shrines and temples of Kamakura – a lovely town by the sea
  • Kyoto – the cultural, historical, and religious soul of Japan with its myriad temples and shrines, including a side trip to Nara
  • Two-night stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan with hot spring baths
  • A bustling food market in Kyoto
  • Tour of the impressive Matsumoto Castle used by Shoguns since the early 1600s
  • Delicious meals and lovely accommodations — of course!

Download Detailed Itinerary

INTRODUCTION

Escorted Gay Group Vacations in JapanFrom the bright lights and pulsating streets of high-tech, ultra-modern Tokyo, to the beautiful landscapes and charms of the Japan Alps, and finally to an in-depth tour of historic imperial Kyoto with its must-see temples, shrines and gardens, this 10-day very special journey through Japan during peak foliage season will provide you with a wonderful feel for the country’s various highlights and reveal the intriguing nature of today’s Japan — so modern and yet heavily steeped in its traditions.

We’ll marvel at several UNESCO World Heritage sites in this program: the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto (which are many!) as well as those in ancient Nara.

• 10-day trip begins in Tokyo and ends in Kyoto

• Deluxe hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto; 2 nights in an upscale Japanese ryokan (inn) with hot spring baths

• All breakfasts, 7 lunches, 5 dinners

• Venture Out escort throughout plus local guides along the way

Gay Tours JapanTokyo is Japan’s absolutely buzzing capital city and the most densely populated area on the planet. It certainly is a phenomenon unto itself, and we’ll experience a diversity of sights in the city — from the historical Asakusa district to important religious sights such as the most important Shinto shrine with Japan’s two largest torii (the traditional entry gate of a shrine). More contemporary attractions will also be explored.

Gay Travel JapanKamakura makes for a lovely day trip outside of Tokyo. It’s a seaside city surrounded on three sides by mountains, and its most iconic sight is the 37-foot-high bronze statue of the compassionate Amida Buddha. Completed in the mid 13th century it’s said to have been commissioned by Japan’s first shogun. Also in Kamakura is the largest carved-wood statue in Japan: the 11-faced, 30-foot-high Kannon in a temple that faces the sea. In downtown Kamakura we’ll have an opportunity to check out shops selling local crafts, especially carved and lacquered woodwork.

Gay Group Tours of JapanA gorgeous ride brings us up into the “Japan Alps” to Takayama. This small city’s rustic charms are the result of hundreds of years of peaceful isolation in the Hida Mountains. Shops and restaurants mingle with museums, inns, sake breweries, and markets along rows of traditional wood-lattice buildings and tiny canals of running water, all immersed amidst the fresh mountain air and gorgeous scenery of 10,000-foot mountain peaks.

img_0265There is simply nowhere more special in Japan than Kyoto. It is the epicenter of Japanese culture and history, and it’s home to everything that you might associate with traditional Japan: vermillion temples, mysterious geisha, the sacred tea ceremony, Zen rock gardens, imperial palaces, sumptuous cuisine, glittering kimonos, bamboo groves, street-corner shrines, ancient festivals and much more.

Kyoto culture — a unique tapestry of influences from imperial nobility, samurai warriors, silk traders and Zen Buddhists — is still fiercely defended by Kyotoites. The city is now home to more than 2,000 temples and shrines and in their entirety comprise a massive UNESCO World Heritage site. Then there are the places that are less museum-like and more real, working Kyoto such as markets where old ladies in kimonos barter for mysterious ingredients and the tiny lantern-lit temples set right among the shops in the arcades.

We’ve included a mix of high-end, well-located hotels with two nights in a deluxe Japanese ryokan (an inn with hot springs and the traditional sleeping arrangement of futons on tatami mats). Most meals are included in the program, and this cultural tour of Japan is set against the backdrop of the absolutely stunning fall foliage.

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Along the Amalfi Coast

Positano

Sorrento, Capri & the Amalfi Coast

October 5-10, 2017

Gay Group Tour of Italy — HIGHLIGHTS

  • The handsome and venerable resort town of Sorrento — the historic gateway to this area, perched on cliffs above the Bay of Naples and looking out towards Mount Vesuvius
  • Fabled and romantic Capri island with its magnificent views, glamorous shops, bucolic footpaths, and pretty lanes
  • Diminutive but historically-rich Amalfi town, once a significant maritime superpower, with its exceptional Cathedral, lemon groves, and steep alleyways
  • Heavenly views from lofty and refined Ravello, a sky-high retreat that’s hosted writers, musicians, and actors the likes of Garbo, Vidal, Capote, Woolf, Wagner, and Lawrence
  • Stunning, steep Positano — one the Mediterranean’s jewel towns — with its chic boutiques, swaths of bougainvillea, and pastel-colored buildings cascading down to the sea
  • Visit to an excellent winery in the hills overlooking the sea
  • Fun pizza-making session at a working farm with beautiful views of the coast
  • Delicious meals and lovely accommodations, of course!

Download Detailed Itinerary

 

INTRODUCTION

The Amalfi Coast is often thought of as the most beautiful coastline in Italy – and one of the most beautiful in the world. Having done nearly 30 tours in various parts of the country we know Italy very well – and we have to concur with that assessment of this region’s beauty. The scenery is just stunning; the fragrances intoxicating; the engineering feat of the coast road simply amazing to witness; and the colorful towns so attractive and inviting as they cling to the mountains with vistas over the azure waters. The entire area is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

CapriOur tour will begin in lovely Sorrento, looking out on the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius. This was historically the terminus of the “Grand Tour” of Italy popular with northern Europeans in the 19th century, and it still maintains its very charming draw. A ferry whisks us over to famous Capri so we can capture the best of this utterly captivating island on a day-trip. Then it’s time to explore the Amalfi Coast itself using the town of Amalfi as a base while we explore nearby towns like famously jaw-dropping Positano and lofty, serene Ravello.

boatThis tour will also bring us to a winery high up in the hills — perhaps the best in the region — where we enjoy a tasting of their various wines accompanied by an excellent lunch. And how about a fun pizza-making session at a real working farm in the hills with glorious views out to sea? And we’ll toss in world-renowned gardens as well as a visit to a traditional paper maker, a prominent industry in Amalfi for centuries.

antipastoThis 6-day / 5-night tour combines easily with other destinations in Italy (which has so very much to offer) or in Europe. We can add extra nights for you in Sorrento at the beginning, in Amalfi at the end, or in Naples at either end. Should you be in Naples prior to the tour we can also set up private transfers from Naples (city or airport) to Sorrento, the starting point of our tour.

ACCOMMODATIONS

The following are the hotels that we plan to use for the tour at the time of publishing this itinerary. We reserve the right to make changes to the accommodations.

Sorrento hotelSorrento – 2 nights

With a nice mix of old-school splendor and boutique chic the vibe at our selected 5-star hotel could be described as elegantly casual. The 80 or so spacious guest rooms are well-equipped and have painted-tile floors and carved walnut beds. The hotel’s garden is a delight with lemon trees, fountains, and Roman busts. Service is professionally attentive and cordial. From the rooftop pool and bar/restaurant area you can enjoy a magnificent outlook with the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius forming the panoramic backdrop. Live music is featured a few nights a week. The hotel is in the heart of Sorrento, making it easy to stroll the appealing city center in your free time and choose from the many good restaurants for dinner the second evening. (Please note: the pool might not be open at the time of our tour.)

 Amalfi hotelAmalfi town – 3 nights

Founded as a convent in 1222, allegedly by St. Francis of Assisi himself, our iconic 4-star property (43 rooms) was the first hotel to open on the Amalfi Coast in the early part of the 19th century. It has coved ceilings, graceful arches, and marble columns along with Flemish religious artwork, church and convent artifacts, antique furnishings, and mosaic flooring, all of which blend nearly seamlessly with modern comforts. It’s an intimate atmosphere brimming with historic character. Guest rooms overlook the sea, which is right across the street. Past guests include Otto van Bismarck, Benito Mussolini (:-/), Ingrid Bergman, and Tennessee Williams, among other noted figures. One of the restaurants and its bar are in the 15th-century Saracen tower, perched on a rock over the sea. The famed southern Romanesque cloisters and the beautiful baroque chapel form the heart of the hotel. Below the tower is a seawater pool (which may not be open at the time of our tour). Just a 5-minute walk and you’re in the center of town with its numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Download Detailed Itinerary

Chile – Top to Bottom

Gay Group Tours of Chile

A Luxury Adventure for Nature Enthusiasts

April 3 to 13, 2017

Gay Group Tour of Chile — HIGHLIGHTS

  • The stupendous landscape of the majestic Patagonia wildlands, where the “end of the world” descriptor makes total sense
  • The vast northern reaches of the surreal Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, with its bizarre (and beautiful), high-altitude “moonscapes”
  • The famed and lush Lake District with its deep indigo lakes and ancient virgin forests at the foot of soaring snow-capped volcanoes
  • The Mediterranean-like heartland surrounding the capital with its excellent vineyards in fertile lands trapped between the Pacific and the Andes
  • Luxury accommodations, delicious meals, and excellent wines

Download Detailed Itinerary

 

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Gay Travel in Atacama, ChileIf you were a geography buff in school you were probably intrigued by the very odd shape of Chile – the spindly “shoestring” country that lies between the Pacific Ocean and the mighty Andes Mountains. Top to bottom Chile extends some 2,500 miles, and that very wide range of latitudes means an extremely diverse landscape as we journey through this beautiful land. The equivalent North American latitudes would be from Hudson’s Bay, Canada down to Cancún, Mexico!

Gay Travel Patagonia ChileFor lovers of the outdoors (and wine enthusiasts, too) Chile, with its spectacular scenery, is a must-see destination in South America. It comes with an excellent tourism infrastructure, and we have sought out beautiful, luxury accommodations along the way.

Add to that a strong economy, a stable political environment, warm and inviting people, and you’ll see why Chile is making its mark as the new hotspot in South America.

 

This trip will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts who love being in nature yet who also enjoy luxury lodgings and very nice meals along the way.

Gay Group Tours of Chile

In the Atacama Desert and Patagonia we’ve selected all-inclusive, top-notch lodges that offer a variety of daily activities to choose from — from the tame to the high-octane! So wherever you fall on the physical-activity scale you should find something that suits you as long as you’re a nature lover.

Gay Tours in Atacama Desert, Chile

Such geographic variety provides not only breathtaking scenery but also the ingredients for a distinctive, varied national cuisine. Ocean delicacies are vitally important here, but European immigrants brought with them a love of robust country cooking. International cuisine has caught on here as well. And if you’re a wine lover then you know you’re in for a treat here where you can enjoy some of Chile’s excellent labels!

 

 

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