Monday, 18 January 2010

FRANK FAVORITES: Save on Alaska, Dollar Driving Us Overseas


A truly rare 19-night fly, coach, cruise, rail and stay package to South America and the Galapagos Islands in April of next year has an almost regal touch to it – the just-40 Australians who'll participate in this tour will have the personal services during a private 5-star yacht visit to Galapagos of the guide chosen to escort a British royal there several years ago.

Created by founder and chairman of, Brett Dudley and his wife Philippa who will jointly lead the tour, it features 12-nights fully-escorted private-coach touring in Chile, Peru and Ecuador with an English-speaking guide, 7-nights private-charter on the yacht La Pinta to Galapagos with all onboard meals, drinks with dinner, daily lectures and briefings, plus sea kay-aking, Zodiacs, glass bottom boats, snorkelling, a stargazing program – and  that British royal's one-time personal guide, Francisco "Pancho" Dousdebes.

And the visit to Galapagos will coincide with the annual frenetic breeding season of one of the world's greatest single gatherings of bird- and sea-life.

The package also includes a full-day's wine-tasting tour on Chile's Cachapoal Wine Route, and a 2-day visit to Machu Picchu aboard the luxury Hiram Bingham Deluxe Train with private English-speaking guides; there is also a day trip to Valparaiso and luxury hotels are used throughout.

The whole 19-nights is priced from $13,399pp twin-share from Sydney on March 31 next year*; for a fully-detailed 11-page itinerary and inclusions phone 1300 369 848 or visit  *An optional 4-nights to Easter Island is available at extra cost on the way home.


A cruise-tour of Egypt in May in which the emphasis during planning was on style rather than on cutting budgetary corners, will see guests cruising the Nile, staying at the historic Mena House Hotel in the shadow of the pyramids, having another night at the cliff-top Seti I Hotel on the shores of Lake Nasser, and taking 'High Tea' at the fabled Old Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor on the corniche of the Nile.

This fully-escorted 15-day package begins with 3-nights in Cairo with visits to the Cairo Museum and its treasures of King Tutankhamen, the pyramids, mosques, a circa-1382 bazaar and 'Old Cairo' (once known as Babylon.)

Two nights in Luxor includes the Old Winter Palace Hotel 'High Tea' and the rarely-visited by travellers funerary temple of Ramses II with its great pylon, halls and courtyards, and the Tombs of the Nobles.

A 4-night Nile cruise aboard the deluxe Nile Goddess includes the West Bank and the Necropolis of Thebes, the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut in the Valley of the Queens, an excursion by horse and carriage to the 2000-years old Temple of Horus, Aswan's High Dam, and a traditional 'felucca' sail around Kitchener's Island.

The group then flies to Abu Simbel to visit the Temple of Ramses II and that of his favourite wife, Nefertari, a Sound and Light Show, and then on to Cairo to visit the Giza Plateau and stay at the former hunting lodge Mena House… with visits to the pyramid of Khufu, his 'solar' funerary boat, and the Sphinx.

Prices start from $6895pp twin-share ex-Sydney including return economy air, 8-nights in deluxe hotels, the 4-night Nile cruise with all meals, select other meals while touring, and sightseeing as detailed in a brochure available from International Destinations on 1800 044 519 or 


Living the life of a Buddhist monk against the backdrop of centuries old monasteries in Japan's world heritage listed 'temple city' of Koyasan is the latest experiential tour on offer from Travel Japan by H.I.S.

The two-day programs are based on an overnight stay in traditional lodging houses, including the 900-year-old Youchin temple lodging and a slightly more modern Rengejoin temple lodging built around 1600.

The program includes Buddhist training imparted by an English-speaking monk.

This is based on Ajikan, a form of 'Zen' or seated meditation and includes 'Sha-kyo' (drawing and painting images of Buddha), learning how to write 'sutras' (Buddhist text) and meditation methods.

The experience also includes vegetarian meals taken with the resident monks and morning prayers.

Prices start from AUD315* per adult which also includes return transportation from Osaka to Koya-san.

A secondary option combining the monastery stay with a ride on Japan's famous bullet train, is priced from AUD749* per adult.

Located in a valley surrounded by eight mountain peaks, Koyasan is built around 100 temples. The town is a major pilgrimage site for Shingon (Japanese) Buddhism devotees.

*Conditions apply. Please note the price does not include international airfares.

For more information phone (02) 9267 3333, toll free 1800 802 552 or visit


CruiseMart has an exceptionally rare opportunity in April and May of this year that embraces a 3-night stay in Beijing and a 23-night 5-star cruise from there to China, South Korea, Russia, Japan, Alaska and Vancouver where there's a 1-night hotel stay.

And with flights and air taxes from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane the total-27-nights is priced from just $5399pp twin-share for a departure from Australia on April 27 this year.

Two full days of sightseeing in Beijing include the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs, before joining the 5-star Diamond Princess for 9-nights to Dalian and Qingdao in China, Pusan in South Korea, Russia's Vladivostok and Sapporo (Japan.)

The 116,000 tonne Diamond Princess then cruises to Whittier for a day's visit to Anchorage, a day's scenic cruising of the Hubbard Glacier and another of Glacier Bay National Park, and day-visits to Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, and finally Vancouver where there's a day and a night before flying back to Australia.

Breakfast is included each day both in Beijing and Vancouver, lunch during the two full days of sightseeing in Beijing, and all meals are included throughout the 23-night cruise sector; for full details phone toll-free 1300 305 920 or visit


Cox and Kings (India) Ltd., one of the oldest travel brands in the travel and tourism industry, has issued its first brochure for Australian and New Zealand travellers.

At 68-pages it features 33 of Cox & Kings' escorted small group journeys in Africa, Europe, the Far East, Indian subcontinent, Latin America and the Middle East.

While many cover more-popular destinations, the range includes one-country tours such as Romania, Syria, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Albania, Bhutan, Iran and Madagascar; departure dates listed range through from this month to April 2011.

Cox & Kings tours generally use first class four- or five-star hotels, lodges and camps or other "best available." Where a holiday significantly differs from that standard because it is more luxurious or adventurous in its emphasis, it carries the term "Luxury" or "Discovery".

Cox & Kings last year purchased the 20 year-old Australian travel company Tempo Holidays which has chosen tours from the Cox & Kings range best suited to the Australian and New Zealand market.

The small group (10-25 passengers) escorted tours in the brochure are the same as those operating out of the UK and the US, with Australian and New Zealander travellers joining and exiting the tours at gateway cities.

Prices include Cox & Kings-trained English-speaking tour escorts, accommodation, breakfasts (some include lunches and/or dinners), coach, local flights and entrance fees.

Tour examples: eight-day Classic Russia Luxury (from AUD$3825 per person twin share); 15-day Untouched Wilderness Patagonia (from $5866); 14-day Grand Tour of South Africa, (from $6645);  12-day Untouched Wilderness Namibia (from $5150); 14-day Land of Blue Sky Mongolia Discovery Tour (from $4286), 14-day Dragon Kingdom Bhutan Discovery Tour (from $4956); nine-day Japan's Cultural Treasures (from $4803); eight-day Wonders of Egypt (from $1888); 10-day China Experience (from $2316); and 14-day Grand Tour of Northern India (from $3860).

For details phone Cox & Kings Australia on 1300 836 764 or visit