Tag Archives: general tours

On the Ground in China!

Considering a guided trip to China but can’t visualize your day to day? Step into our On the Ground with WIT Agent Barb Baumer. Barb traveled to China in March 2013 with one of our favorite small group tour organizers, General Tours.

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We stayed at the Sofitel in Beijing, a very nice hotel in a good location, not too far from Tiananmen Square. In the morning we had a walking tour of the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven. In the afternoon we visited we visited the Great Wall. There are now two locations most frequented by visitors, General Tours goes to this newer location called Ju Yong Guan, as it is less crowded with visitors.

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After one day in Beijing, we flew to Xian for an experience unique to General Tours—GT partners up with the Antiquity museum and allowed us to examine and handle ancient artifacts thousands of years old, all of which have been recently excavated from archaeological sites all across China.

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We also visited the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian. It’s an amazing place, much larger than I expected. IT’s hard to comprehend the enormity of the area and the amount of artifacts that have been uncovered. They are still working to rebuild many broken statues!DSC01028

We then flew to Chongqing to start our Yangtze River Cruise on the Yangtze Explorer. This ship has large rooms, all with balconies and lots of storage space, very substantial buffets for breakfast and lunch, with multiple a la carte choices for dinner. We stopped at the village Fengdu and sailed through the Three Gorges.

In Shanghai we spent time walking along the Bund and Pudong. General Tours took us to a small silk factory where we were educated on the production of silk fabric. We also spent time at the Shanghai Museum, which has great collections of Chinese artifacts, sculptures, paintings and ceramics from many different eras.

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We also were set up for a private guided trip to Suzhou, Portland’s Sister City—the city has so many gardens—it was early spring and things were just starting to bloom. We took a high speed train and met a guide in Hangzhou, a beautiful city on a lake surrounded by green hills. We visited a Buddhist temple in the hills and a tea farm—a nice respite from the bustling Shanghai.

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WIT Agent Barb would love to share with you more of her firsthand tips from China! Call Barb at 503-224-0180 for more information on China and/or General Tours.

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Filed under Asia, China, General Tours, Vendors

WIT Agent Barb heads over to China!

This week WIT Agent Barbara is heading out to the land of Dragons and Emperors! She is traveling with General Tours in China!

General Tours is renowned for its small group tours, with a maximum of 16 passengers that can book. Founded in 1947, GT is one of America’s oldest tour companies and has been lauded by Frommer’s, Travle + Leisure, and the New York Times. The tours are fully escorted, and each includes private transportation, insightful tour guides, entrance fees, most meals, internal flights and taxes. Remember agent Linda’s terrific trip to Colombia last summer? It was organized by General Tours!

Escorted by GT’s sales manager Judy Ruffini, Barb will be venturing through some major highlights of China—Beijing, Xian, the Three Gorges, and Shanghai. Here’s a sneak peek to her itinerary:

March 18-19 – Beijing. With her guide and compatriots, Barb will check out the age-old city of Beijing. She’ll explore the historic Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, and the inner courtyards of the Forbidden City. Her accommodations are pre-arranged at the Sofitel Wanda—a 5-star hotel with Sino-French influences. Centrally located with easy access to the city square, the hotel also features 4 restaurants, ballroom, and spa.

March 20-21 – Xi’an. Next, Barb will head to China’s elusive ancient capital, Xi’an. She will come face to face with the terra cotta army and learn about dance and music of the T’ang Dynasty via a live performance. She and her group will overnight at the Hilton Hotel Xian, a contemporary hotel located downtown with décor inspired by T’ang Dynasty artwork.

March 22 – Fengdu. Barb will explore the “Ghost City” of Fengdu and its lovely, historic temples.

March 23-24 – The Mighty Three Gorges and Shennong Stream. Barb and the rest of the GT gang will hop on a river boat up the Yangtze and take in the scenery of the coastline and mountain peaks. She’ll visit the mighty Three Gorges Dam and learn about its ecological and economic impacts.

March 25 – Shanghai. Finally, Barb will land in Shanghai, where she has the day to explore this cosmopolitan city and its fascinating Bazaar, tranquil Yu Yuan Garden, and hip Tianzifang district. Her accommodations are located in the center of Shanghai, opposite the People’s Square. The 5-star Le Meridien Hotel has luxurious rooms that are equipped with wall to wall windows, 42” plasma TVs, 10 restaurants, and views of the Bund, river, or Shanghai’s skyline.

Call Wittravel to discuss whether GT is right for you. We can advise you of your travel options, make reservations and shape the perfect itinerary for your preferences! We put our clients first and work hard to ensure you have a terrific trip.

Extend your trip with an add-on in Japan or South Korea! Want to splurge for a night or two? Think about the new Club Med’s resort in Guilin! For reservations or general information, give us a call.

And that’s not all! General Tours always seems to have sales and offers going on:

–         Pay in Full 2013: Save $600 or more per couple on any of our 2013 Small Group, Private Tours or Small Ship journeys when you pay-in-full at time of booking by August 30, 2013.

–         Family and Friends: Pay in Full and refer a friend or family member and save even more on your booking. Save $50 per person when 3 guests go, save $100 more per person with 4, $150 more per person with 5, $200 more per person with 6+!

WIT Agents Linda, Christina, Pam and Wailana have all been to China. Linda recently traveled to Colombia on a small group itinerary with General Tours. Call us for more details! 800.821.0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Asia, China, General Tours, Our Travel Agents, SALES, Vendors, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

NEW: Cuba!

Our preferred vendor General Tours has partnered up with Insight Cuba for some incredible (and legal) itineraries to Cuba. Dates on offer run through April 2014. If you are interested, please contact us at 503-224-0180 or 800-821-0401, or email us at info@wittravel.com. We can talk both wishlists or logistics!

General Tours

Explore, Engage and Discover the True Spirit of Cuba

Introducing 4 People-to-People Journeys in partnership with Insight Cuba

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From the colorful streets of Havana and the Colonial-era charms of Trinidad to the tranquility of the western provinces and the artistic vibrancy of Santiago de Cuba, these unique programs are filled with authentic and engaging contacts with island residents!

Scenic Cuba
8 days featuring Havana and the Tobacco Country of Pinar del Río

Discover bustling Havana and the beautiful countryside on this memorable trip enriched by authentic encounters with island residents from all backgrounds. Visit art displays, musical performances, local schools and nature reserves. Learn about Cuban farmers at Vivero Organoponico and about education at La Escuela Taller Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos. Chat with students and chefs of the Culinary School over fresh lunches and learn about the history of Cuban Judaism.

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Classic Cuba
8 days including the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Trinidad

Encounter the island’s warm spirit as the residents of Havana, Cienfuegos and Colonial Trinidad open their hearts and shed light on their fascinating lives. Meet with local experts on conservation, literacy, ballet, architecture, and medicine.

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Cuban Music & Art
9 days showcasing the island’s pulsating sounds and vibrant colors

Cuba comes alive on this unique journey planned for music and art enthusiasts. Meet island residents who live and breathe artistic expression. Chat with professional photographers at a famous gallery, get to know local artists in their home studios, and hear musicians jam at La Zorra y El Cuervo.

cuba4NEW! Undiscovered Cuba
12 days featuring charming lesser-visited towns all across Cuba

This exclusive cross-island odyssey gets you behind the scenes and into the art and culture of smaller towns across Cuba usually missed by American travelers. Explore the incredible architecture of Old Havana and connect with residents, writers, artists, musicians, farmers, and dancers in the community. Immerse yourself in the island lifestyle and its thriving cultural scene.

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Cruise to Antarctica

Antarctica is a land like no other. Covering almost one-tenth of the Earth’s surface, it’s one bucket-list destination never to be missed. Nowhere else on Earth has what Antarctica can offer—the largest concentration of marine wildlife in the world, dramatic scenery, massive icebergs and glaciers. Since you are venturing where few ever do (30,000 tourists per year), you will want to make sure your experience is well-planned and well-suited to your travel preferences. Our agents are careful in ensuring that we match client with company, taking close looks at crew expertise, ship features, expedition activity, and overall quality of experience.

photo by John Lester, Creative Commons

It’s important to be familiar with the ships and routes. Antarctica ships tend to fall in three main categories: small expedition ships with ice-hardened hulls, medium-sized ships and large cruise ships. Smaller ships carry inflatable landing craft (zodiacs) so passengers can venture off the ship and onto land. Itineraries typically sail from Ushuaia across the Drake Passage, and a sailing often includes the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia, around Cape Horn, and the Falklands (though recently some cruise lines have pulled from the Falklands due to territorial disputes). Here are some companies who offer expedition travel to Antarctica, used and approved by our agents:

LINDBLAD

Lars-Eric Lindblad founded Lindblad Expeditions in the late 1950’s, combining his passion for uncharted travel and eco-tourism. The company is dedicated to finding creative ways to explore areas already mapped. Trained naturalists onboard strive to connect their guests with amazing and incredible places through adventure and education. Their partnership with like-minded National Geographic experts on the top of their field allows them to lead the most experienced Ice Team on the National Geographic Explorer. Your ship will be escorted by a team of veteran Naturalists, who will take you on hikes through the icy wild, kayaking in coves and around ice floes, and zodiac cruising among icebergs. Travelers choose Lindblad because of the on-ship innovative technology, all-inclusive rates, up close and personal experiences, informal atmosphere, hand-crafted itineraries and ecologically minded experts. Their partnership with like-minded National Geographic experts in the peak of their field certainly doesn’t hurt!

photo by 23am.com, Creative Commons

HURTIGRUTEN

Hurtigruten offers a step up in exploration travel, combining luxury and expedition. Sail in the wake of historical explorers in the technologically advanced ship MS Fram, and spot the millions of penguins, thousands of seals, and pods of whales that inhabit the waters and shores during the austral summer. The ship’s expedition team will give a series of lectures as you cross the Drake Passage. Each voyage is unique, and the final choice of landings will be made in the course of the sailing. Included with each booking are the cabin, full board meals, flights between Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, and the excursion to Ushuaia National Park.

photo by tonyforster2, Creative Commons

G ADVENTURES

G Adventures has a number of itineraries that delve into the heart of Antarctica’s wilderness and history. They have expeditions from 11-days to intensive 23-days, all of which include: meals, zodiac excursions with expert expedition teams, educational programs, transfers, expert guides and accommodation on board the MS Expedition. Venture out to Shackleton’s final resting place, and sail through the penguin rookeries and seal colonies of Antarctica. Some itineraries even include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands in the sailing, and you can even add on Buenos Aires or Iguassu Falls bookends to your itinerary. G Adventures also supplies waterproof boots for all passengers, and a special Canada Goose expedition jacket for each guest in a Category 5 suite!

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GENERAL TOURS

General Tours offers a 15-day itinerary for small, intimate groups venturing deep through Antarctica. The ship’s unique open bridge policy allows passengers to join the ship’s officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, whale watching, enjoying a front-row-seat view of icebergs and snow-capped mountains. Trace the 1901-1903 route of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition, visit Hope Bay and Snow Hill Island, and sail across the peninsula’s remote eastern coast into the remote Weddell Sea. Enrich your sail with insightful lectures on the on board Ship Naturalist. This itinerary includes nights in Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego.

photo by Liam Quinn, Creative Commons

SILVERSEA

The medium-sized Silver Explorer was especially designed by Silversea Cruises to navigate the waters of remote destinations. A strengthened hull with an ice-class notation for passenger vessels allows the ship to push through ice floes with ease. An expert Expedition Team will accompany passengers via zodiac ships on to the dramatic continent of Antarctica. Itineraries run from 10 to 22 days, and explore Antarctica as well as the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Shetlands, and Tristan da Cunha.

QUARK

Quark Expeditions is based in Seattle. Since 1991 Quark has specialized in polar expeditions, and their ships are specially designed ice-strengthened vessels made for high latitude cruising. They are unique in that they have the largest and most diverse fleet of passenger ships, and deliver more departures and itineraries than any other company. They have itineraries that run from 8 days to as long as a month! Explore the Antarctic Peninsula, visit research stations on Adelaide Island, hike up glaciers and visit penguin rookeries; or see the incredible wildlife of South Georgia, often referred to as “the Galapagos of the South.” Learn about the continent’s unique geology, history and wildlife from an expert team.

It’s never too early to book a sail to Antarctica. Ships and space are limited. Call us now to find out more about a particular sailing or vendor that has one on offer. WIT Agent Christina has traveled to Antarctica and can give you a firsthand account. Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Antarctica, Cruises, G Adventures, General Tours, Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Quark, Silversea, Travel by Ship