Thanks in part to more borders being open versus last year (when many countries, especially in Asia, were still largely still closed off due to the pandemic), 2023 is poised to be a big year for travel. Consequently, myriad companies are offering many new and exciting itineraries throughout the world.
While many travelers may prefer the idea of going it alone when exploring the world, there are countless benefits to traveling with an organized tour group, not least of which is being able to travel with a group of like-minded individuals without having to worry about all the nitty-gritty details. Tour operators typically book and plan all accommodations and excursions and often even include a portion of your meals while traveling. They also offer unique access to places and experiences you might not otherwise be able to easily obtain on your own.
We’ve chosen 10 land-based journeys, all of which will run for the first time in 2023, to consider for your travels this year. Whether you love the idea of experiencing some of the world’s most scenic outdoor landscapes, getting your heart rate up, or taking a deeper dive into local cultures and customs, here are a range of global tours worth flagging. And not only are these tours great for participants, but all those we’ve chosen also are either working to lessen their environmental impact or are developing deeper connections with local and Indigenous communities.
Adventure Life’s Explore Aysen and Patagonia National Park
The Aysen region of Chile is one of the most remote areas of South America; on this seven-day expedition, travelers can get a deep dive into Patagonia National Park’s stunning natural scenery. Itinerary highlights include kayaking to the Marble Caves of Lake General Carrera, trekking on the ice of the imposing Exploradores Glacier, rafting the rapids of the Baker River, and hiking deep into protected land to spot wildlife and take in expansive views.
Throughout the trip, travelers will stay at the Mallin Colorado Ecolodge, which features superlative views of Lake General Carrera and rustic cabin accommodations. Prices for the trip start at $4,140 per person and include everything except gratuities and flights. There are multiple departures still available through April and again in October through December.
Country Walkers’ Norway: Bergen & the Fjords
On this weeklong trip, travelers will hike along Norway’s sublime fjords, over mountaintops, and through idyllic valleys (trekking no more than six miles daily), while visiting castles, gardens, and historic villages.
This tour was designed by a founding member of the company’s Sustainable Travel Committee, so it makes sense that sustainability is a priority. When not hiking, the itinerary takes advantage of public transportation (local trains and ferries) to avoid having nonstop van support and uses some excellent locally owned hotels (like Hotel Ullensvang and Fretheim Hotel) that emphasize ecofriendly practices. Most meals are at local restaurants and farms with an emphasis on hyper-local cuisine. Itineraries start at $5,848 per person, and there are options to add on pre- and post-tour trips to Oslo and Bergen. There are departures available in June, July, August, and September.
Contiki’s Garden Route and Addo Tour
This year, Contiki (which specializes in trips for younger travelers ages 18 to 35) has launched an eight-day Garden Route and Addo Tour in South Africa, allowing travelers to participate in one of Africa’s most renowned road trips while spotting diverse wildlife, exploring beaches, and learning what city life in South Africa offers. The itinerary includes a trip to the natural limestone landmark of Cango Caves, a private dinner in the world’s ostrich capital in Oudtshoorn, a safari game drive in Addo Elephant National Park, a township tour in Knysna, and a hike through Tsitsikamma National Park.
Travelers will also get the chance to learn about the dynamic Xhosa culture (the second largest ethnic group in South Africa, after the Zulus) and attend the South African Shark Conservancy, followed by a night on the town in the agriculturally rich Stellenbosch with winetasting and food markets. The tour (which starts at $1,356 per person) includes all accommodations, in-country transportation, plus many activities and some meals. There are May, June, July, September, October, November, and December departures.
All of Contiki’s trips are carbon neutral (meaning they offset the carbon emissions for transfers during trips, for accommodations, and for meals), and the brand aims to achieve net zero status by 2050.
Trafalgar’s National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas
Trafalgar just launched a North Dakota and South Dakota tour for 2023 that intends to provide travelers with a better understanding of Native American history and culture.
The itinerary kicks off in Rapid City with a presentation from a Lakota tribe member who will provide insight into Native American culture through a traditional dance and song performance; next is an excursion through the Badlands National Park with a traditional lunch while learning about the history of the Oglala Lakota Village. Travelers will also spend a day at Mount Rushmore and have lunch at the Rosebud Indian Reservation, home to the Sicangu Lakota Oyate Nation. During a hands-on Be My Guest experience (a program embedded into every Trafalgar tour where guests have the opportunity to connect with locals), visitors will travel to see the Lakota Youth Development center to learn about their mission to reclaim their language, culture, and spirituality during a guided Indigenous plant walk. Tours start at $2,594 per person, with dates between May and September.
REI’s New River Gorge National Park Hiking and Camping
For those who want to experience hiking in West Virginia in the 63rd and newest national park but would prefer someone else do the planning and campfire cooking (and guide their outdoor activities), REI Adventures is offering a four-day tour of New River Gorge National Park. It includes trekking to jaw-dropping vistas like Grandview Overlook and the Endless Wall, kayaking and rafting trips in the serpentine New River, and roasting marshmallows for s’mores back at the campsite. (Guests sleep in tents on elevated platforms and have access to hot indoor and outdoor showers.) Trips start at $2,299 per person, with departures between May and September.
Abercrombie & Kent’s Kenya Safari in Style
Abercrombie & Kent’s newest luxury safari adventure begins at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a private reserve in Kenya encompassing 90,000 acres of African grasslands where the Big Five (lions, leopards, buffalo, rhinos, and elephants) can be spotted. Guests can take guided bush walks, interact with the dogs of an anti-poacher unit, and go on nighttime game drives. In this wildly biodiverse region, travelers can also see the world’s last northern white rhinos in their heavily protected enclosure. From here, guests will fly to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, where they may see hippos submerged in shallow waterways near crocodiles sunning themselves on the shore. There are also opportunities to visit a local Maasai village for lunch and take a bead-making workshop from tribal members. Departures occur throughout the year, with prices starting at $7,495 per person.
Wilderness Scotland’s Low Carbon Adventure—Scottish Highlands
On this unique five-day private tour designed by Wilderness founder Paul Easto, guests enjoy a combination of a traditional walking trip with low-carbon travel. The itinerary incorporates everything from sustainable culinary experiences to rewilding efforts and wildlife conservation experiences. Guests on this adventure travel by foot, e-bike, train, and electric vehicles, sleeping in accommodations that include a rustic mountain bunkhouse inaccessible by any roads and sustainable high-end hotels. Trips happen throughout the year, with prices starting at $2,400 per person.
Exodus Travels’ Vietnam Adventure
Exodus Travels recently launched a special collection of Citizen Science departures as part of its work with NatureMetrics, a company that measures biodiversity to help with climate advocacy.
One of those is a 14-day trip that explores much of Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and natural wonders like the Mekong Delta. Highlights of the trip include sailing through the limestone rock formations of Ha Long Bay, walking through the historic city of Hoi An (a UNESCO World Heritage site), experiencing the Cu Chi war tunnels, and touring the Old Quarter of Hanoi. The two citizen science departure dates, where guests will help with water sampling tests for biodiversity, are May 7 and September 24, 2023. The itineraries start at $1,999 per person.
Black Tomato’s Sea of Cortez
For 2023, upscale tour operator Black Tomato has created an 11-day itinerary geared toward families to the Sea of Cortez, in Mexico, with a focus on educating kids on conservation efforts. (It’s part of the brand’s Field Trip programming, aimed at creating educational experiences for children 12 and up.)
A new trip includes a hands-on experience with the nonprofit Coral Reef Restoration Project, building and cleaning the racks for corals and snorkeling to observe the coral gardens and witness the impact of this work firsthand.
Other highlights: taking a private boat ride to meet up with a local whale shark researcher and a private naturalist guide for a La Paz Private Whale Shark Snorkeling and Espiritu Santo Island (a UNESCO site) experience. There participants will also learn about the sharks’ role in the ecosystem and mating and migratory habits while swimming with the animals in the turquoise waters. After a picnic lunch on a secluded beach, guests will then head to the local sea lion colony, where they can jump in the water to snorkel with the playful creatures. This adventure will also include three nights exploring the Sea of Cortez aboard your own private Turkish-style sailboat, called a gulet (a two-masted wooden sailing vessel). Itineraries are available year-round, with prices starting at $7,320 per person.
Explore Worldwide’s Highlights of Lebanon
With its well-preserved Roman ruins and castles, historic churches and mosques, nonstop nightlife, and mountain ranges ripe for hiking and skiing, Lebanon is an endlessly fascinating place to visit.
Some of the highlights of Explore Worldwide’s trip to this Middle East country include visiting the Cedars of God (a 1,000-year-old forest overlooking the Qadisha Valley), visiting coastal cities like Byblos and Batroun, exploring Roman ruins in Beirut, and learning about Lebanon’s wine industry at local vineyards. Departures run from April to December, with prices starting at $1,870 per person.
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