Earlier this month G-Adventures announced it would be expanding it's hugely successful programme of National Geographic Journeys. These journeys are a collection of unique tours designed to take you deeper into the cultures and habitats of the places we explore. They offer more inclusions, greater hands-on exploration, interactions with local experts, and the freedom to roam, all within the structure and security of travelling in a small group.
G-Adventures now offers a total of 88 National Geographic Journeys. Here is a selection of the best (and worst) new tours for 2017.
In France, Quintessential Burgundy is a unique journey by river barge coasting the Saône River, cycling through beautiful forests, exploring forgotten villages, indulging in the food and wine, admiring the stunning landscapes and to top it all of spend time in Paris. Add a sojourn to Normandy and you will encounter the France of your dreams - live it!
In Peru National Geographic offers a combination of Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and the Amazon. Explore the famous ruins, enjoy some truly unique community experiences and discover the ecosystems of the Amazon rain forest by river boat under the guidance of wildlife experts.
Belize & Guatemala
Swim in the warm waters of the Caribbean and indulge in some of the best snorkelling on our planet. Discover amazingly preserved Mayan ruins, take in a Garifuna drumming lesson, visit remote jungle hamlets - this is Belize! And it gets better yet when you add on Guatemala with its lakeside villages, authentic markets, spectacular volcanoes and colonial towns. Learn to cook and let history come alive as you explore Guatemala and Belize.
Japan is a study in contrasts between traditional and modern. Large bustling cities like Tokyo are only a short journey from traditional villages. Pop culture exists next to the grace of a geisha. There is temple-rich Kyoto, beautified by cherry blossoms and fall colours; there are stays at ryokans (traditional inns); and there is the food, made of the freshest of ingredients. This is Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun.
Cruise up the Sacred Ganges by river boat and watch life unchanged for millennia unfold before your eyes. Discover villages with fantastic local atmosphere only India can offer. Visit 6th century rock carvings, Mughal forts and ancient Buddhist monasteries, watch river dolphins and villagers at work. End your journey in Varanasi, a city that will change you forever.
In Southern Africa, National Geographic dishes up a veritable smorgasbord of journeys. Discover Namibia and learn about survival strategies of the Bushmen, visit stunning red sand dunes, and love the wildlife you encounter in Etosha.
Or travel to South Africa and take in Cape Town, the Mother City and enjoy game activities at a private game reserve near Kruger. Add Victoria Falls and Botswana and you have an African journey that is hard to beat!
East Africa - a critique
In East Africa, National Geographic offers an in-depth exploration of the Virungas, home to mountain gorillas, combined with parks in Uganda and Kenya. Truth be told, this is a weak trip - it sacrifices time in the stunning Masai Mara for days in Uganda where wildlife is only just now making a come back. My advice is to do Peregrine's Serengeti and Silverbacks instead.