In a land where the Catholic conquistadors conquered and subjugated the native Incas, a small band of Peruvian neo-Nazis have found a way to blame all their troubles on the Jews.
The weirdness started when I ordered the wrong soup in Nazca, Peru. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, except that every two or three years I fly all the way from Toronto to Lima and then rent a 4×4 at the airport to drive to Nazca for a bowl of parihuela at La Encantada. I always tell people that I’m going to Peru for other reasons, for example, this time, the reason was to mountain bike down a 19,872-foot ultra volcano… Click this link to read the full story in Perceptive Travel Magazine.
(Scroll down for prices, itinerary, and host bios. Group-size is just 6-10 participants – if you have more questions after reading the itinerary, please contact Kirsten at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Day 1, Sat., March 3, 2018
You will be greeted at the airport in Guatemala City and then driven (about 50 minutes) to our hotel in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua. After we’ve all checked-in and enjoyed a welcome beverage, we’ll stroll the Spanish-Baroque streets, of what was once the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Guatemala.
We’ll dine on the Q’eqchi people’s traditional dish, Kak’ik, its red broth symbolizing the ritual blood in Mayan sacrificial ceremonies.
After dinner, we’ll take a ghostly adventure to the canal where people say they can hear La Llorona (the Weeping Woman) crying at night as she looks for her drowning children.
(welcome drink, Dinner, overnight at Hotel Meson de Maria – behind the exterior walls is a hidden oasis with Colonial-style rooms and picturesque courtyards and gardens)
Day 2, Sun., March 4
After breakfast we’ll walk the cobbled streets to the colourful fruit and vegetable market. Sunday is the biggest market day in Antigua. Produce from the entire country (from the coast to the highlands, from the warmest regions to the coldest – the bounty from the rich soils of the volcanoes) is sold here.
At the Museo de Santiago we’ll hear how La Tatuana, a beautiful slave, condemned to death, made her escape from prison.
We’ll lunch local, and then it’s time for some liquid inspiration – we’ll sample Zacapa rum, the finest in Guatemala, before we take a short hike up to Cerro de la Cruz for the views of Antigua.
In the evening we’ll dine at the oldest monastery in Antigua, at upscale restaurant Casa Santo Domingo. We haven’t included this meal in the price so you have the freedom to explore their exquisite menu. Then we’ll return to the hotel by a reputedly haunted street where people have recorded the sounds of a horse-drawn carriage that only manifests to announce death. If we happen to hear the horses and carriage, probably the best thing to do would be to go and have more rum.
(Breakfast, Lunch, rum, and overnight at Meson de Maria)
Day 3, Mon., March 5
Breakfast – and then we transfer from our inn in Antigua to luxurious La Reunion, an exclusive five-star resort at the foot of Volcan Fuego (Volcano of Fire), a constantly active (at a low level), 3763-metre-high volcano. Then it’s free time to enjoy whatever activity or non-activity you’d prefer: hike, bike, ride horses, golf on one of the most beautiful courses in the world, have a photo workshop with our photography host, or relax at the pool or spa.
Activities permitting, we’d like to meet at the pool for lunch (optional) before you continue enjoying your day.
In the evening we’ll witness the red lava flows on Fuego from the resort’s renowned gourmet restaurant. Fuego is called Chi’gag (where the fire is) in the Mayan language of Cakchiquel. It is said that the volcano erupts every time someone mispronounces its name. A peaceful night awaits us in this glorious place, unless…
(B, overnight at La Reunion)
Day 4, Tues., March 6
You’ll want to eat big this morning (and it’s a fun breakfast menu for you to order from) as today we head to Pacaya Volcano National Park to hike up the active volcano (horses are available for hire, if you’d prefer). We’ll photograph the lava fields and flows from the most recent eruption in 2010. We’ll have a Guatemalan picnic on the volcano (chuchitos, tamalitos de chipilin, black beans, guacamole, and tortillas) and will stay for sunset photos and hot chocolate before we hike back down the mountain.
Free time for dinner and the remainder of the night back in Antigua.
(B, L, overnight at El Meson de Maria)
Day 5, Wed., March 7
With your boxed breakfast in hand, we’ll catch an early flight to Flores for our expedition to some of the most important ancient cities of Mayan times, Tikal and Yaxhá.
A boat will take us to explore Topoxte Island, an infamous Mayan ceremonial site where many sacrifices occurred. Among the Mayans’ favourites were decapitations and heart extractions.
Once again, by boat, we will head to the lakefront private reserve where we will stay in unique Mayan inspired rooms. Nitun Private Reserve is a small ecolodge, and tonight’s dinner might be the meal that has your eyes rolling back in your head while you emit indecent sounds of pleasure. Just remember, what happens in Guatemala stays in Guatemala.
Tonight we’ll have a bonfire by the lakeshore.
(B, flight, L, D, overnight at Nitun Private Reserve)
Day 6, Thurs., March 8
Coffee lovers will enjoy this morning’s brew in the Maya Biosphere with breakfast. Then it is free time to kayak, or swim, or swing in a hammock.
We’ll have lunch and then will head to the airport to return to Antigua.
Free time tonight to dine and wander where you wish.
(B, L, flight, overnight at El Meson de Maria)
Day 7, Fri., March 9
Breakfast – and then a Guatemalan campesino will take us to his coffee field in the foothills of Agua Volcano. We’ll taste coffee grown and harvested by his family and will lunch with them at their house, where they will also show us how they dry, roast and prepare coffee.
This afternoon you are free to wander and shop for chocolate, coffee, crafts, booze, weavings, art and more.
Farewell dinner with live music.
(B,L, overnight at El Meson de Maria)
Day 8, Sat., March 10
After breakfast, we’ll head to the airport (depending on the time of your departure).
If you’re not leaving today, feel free to linger with our photography host who will be happy to help you work on perfecting your photographs from the trip.
Host Bios (continue scrolling down for Prices and Inclusions)
Christopher Campbell is your photography host and will be guiding you to take fantastic images throughout the trip (if you’d like to learn), no matter the devices you bring. He will also provide you with digital images he takes of your adventures. Chris hosted our photography and eating expedition across Jordan in 2014, he hosts our annual Dracula Expeditions in Romania, and last year’s Eat Your Way Across Vietnam. Chris is a renowned food photographer. His work can be seen on TV’s Food Network cooking shows and in publications as varied as Chatelaine, Spa Magazine or Harper Collins cookbooks–and most definitely in ads–he’s the one you can blame for making you crave Absolut Vodka, Kahlua, Gordon’s gin, Florida oranges, or even test driving a Mercedes.
Kirsten Koza is the leader and organizer of Writers’ Expeditions. She designs the adventures with her expert hosts, international tour operators, and local guides and ruthlessly test drives each expedition. She is an author, humorist, journalist, editor, and adventurer. Her articles and photos have been published in newspapers and magazines around the world. She’s a contributor to the “travel publishing giant” Travelers’ Tales (USA): The Best Women’s Travel Writing and humor anthologies, and she is the editor of their recent travel humor book Wake Up and Smell the Shit. Kirsten is a journalist and writes on topics as varied as cannibalism, tornadoes, volcanoes, disease, politics, bullfighting, dildos, Putin, and gluten, and covered Syrian refugees, when she went to Zaatari, in a three-part series. CBC Radio Canada International declares Kirsten’s book, Lost in Moscow, “the ultimate what-I-did-last-summer essay ever.”
Luisa Zea is an award winning guide who was voted one of the ten best local guides in the world (Guardian newspaper, UK). She’s a passionate, Guatemalan adventure sports woman, with a brilliant sense of humour. Luisa is a college graduate in sustainable tourism and has worked for 15 years promoting sustainable tourism in the whole country as a viable way to increase the economic, social and environmental benefits for local communities and to raise awareness of the importance of responsible use and conservation of natural resources. She is currently teaching two courses at Universidad del Valle; both of them aim to empower local communities to take a leading role in their economic development through sharing with visitors their natural environment and their culture.
Prices, Inclusions and Exclusions
Price per person based upon a double room: $2682 USD. If you’d like a single room for the trip, the supplement is $438. To reserve your spot, there is a deposit of $400 US (which of course is subtracted from your remaining total). Canadians can make payments in Canadian dollars – dollar conversion rate based upon the day of the payment. (Please contact Kirsten with any questions you may have email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also message us from the Writers’ Expeditions Facebook Page.)
INCLUDED in trip price:
- Airport pick up and drop off
- All the beautiful lodgings
- Internal flights while in Guatemala (two)
- Photography tips and images
- Transportation while on tours
- Tour guide fees
- Museum and park entrance fees
- Meals as stated in the itinerary (see brackets below each day for included meals)
- For any writers or aspiring writers – Kirsten will be available this entire tour to share knowledge and give feedback
NOT included in trip price:
- International airfare from home country
- Drinks and meals not stated in itinerary
FINISHED – see 2017 – The Dracula Expedition: Transylvania, Romania – Oct. 28 to Nov. 2, 2016. We have Dracula’s birth chamber reserved for our dinner party for 2017. Stay tuned for prices, dates, and itinerary for 2017 – we’re just waiting for Bran Castle to set their date for the party so we can set ours.
This tour is the most fantastic Halloween invitation I’ve sent out yet, and I hope you can join us. Our six-day (small group) Romanian adventure includes dining on Halloween night in the house where the real-life Dracula, Vlad Drăculea (known as Vlad the Impaler), was born in 1431. And we’ll also be guests at a party inside Dracula’s castle (built circa 1377) which was owned by Vlad’s grandfather (Mircea the Old) and was attacked by Vlad in 1460.
Our Transylvanian guide and expert (with whom I explored Romania with extensively), has designed a journey that will take us to his favourite local haunts: medieval castles with gruesome history, torture chambers, moody cemeteries, all contrasted with one of the most beautiful times of year to visit Romania which will be glowing in autumn colours. And Christopher Campbell, professional photographer (Chatelaine, Food Network, Harper Collins), will be guiding you during our escapades to capture photos of a lifetime, whether you’re using a mobile device, point & shoot, or a DSLR with multiple lenses. Plus he’ll be providing you (throughout the expedition and when you get back home) with digital images of your adventures.
Oh, and BYOC (“C” stands for costume) – the rest is included: all meals (you can go on a diet when you get home), accommodation, and transportation while on this phenomenal tour.
Adventure Travel Writer
Writers’ Expeditions Host: email@example.com
(2016 itinerary, prices and early bird specials below. Save $400 US for a single or $800 US on a double when you sign-up now. Our expedition of eight participants sold out last year. We respond quickly to emails, and you should hear back within 24 hours – you can also contact us on Facebook at the Writers’ Expeditions page or message Kirsten at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
DRACULA EXPEDITION 2016 ITINERARY AND PRICES:
Day 1, Friday, October 28th:
- Pickup at Bucharest airport. – Next door to our hotel are the ruins of the Princely Palace, the castle that Dracula built in celebration of his own greatness or evilness. In the evening we’ll explore the historic pedways of the old town of Bucharest which was first settled in 70 BC and by the 1400’s was the wealthiest city in Eastern Europe. Then we’ll dine at The Beer Chariot, a spectacular 19th century restaurant which is always packed with locals and boasts an extensive menu of tasty Romanian dishes. – Overnight at Europa Royale Bucharest Hotel.
Day 2, Saturday, October 29th (drinks are on Dracula tonight):
After a hot buffet breakfast at the hotel, we’ll visit the Palace of Parliament, the second largest building in the world (after the Pentagon), and a legacy of a more recent “Dracula,” the communist dictator Ceausescu (executed in 1989). Then we’ll leave Bucharest for Snagov Monastery. In 1476 Prince Vlad Dracula was assassinated, and the monks of Snagov recovered his headless body and buried it on an island inside their church. Our driver will then take us across the Carpathian mountains to our lodge at Horia’s family farm where we can change into our costumes for the party at Dracula’s castle. You’ll soon see why Bram Stoker was inspired to create Dracula. This special event is the only time the castle doors open at night.
Day 3, Sunday, October 30th: After a hearty breakfast at the farm we’ll drive to Brasov where we’ll conquer the medieval ramparts, watchtowers, and Saxon churches (if they don’t conquer us). But best of all, this walled city boasts one of the narrowest streets in Europe. From Brasov it’s to Rasnov: where we’ll explore the 13th century, mountaintop fortress built by Teutonic Knights, and then we’ll return to Moeciu for another Romanian feast, a bonfire, hot wine and ghost stories, before heading to the cemetery for a ghoulish nighttime photography session.
Day 4, Monday, October 31st, Halloween (tonight we dine in the house where Prince Dracula was born):
Today we drive a couple of scenic hours to Sighisoara which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We’ll be spending the night inside this preserved walled town, in a medieval hotel, across the street from the house where Vlad Dracula was born in 1431, which is where we’ll be dining this Hallows’ Eve.
Day 5, Tuesday, November 1st:
The ruins of Poenari Castle are perched high on a rugged crag above the Arges river gorge. There are 1,480 stairs to Dracula’s “vulture nest.” One of last year’s participants worked it out to being 100 storeys. Now, if you really think you can’t make the climb–there’s a lovely lodge and restaurant down the road from the first step.
In 1462 Prince Vlad Dracula was sieged at Poenari by the Turks. He sent a message to the village of Arefu for help but his wife, terrified of capture, threw herself into the river far below before the rescuers arrived. The villagers came at night and smuggled the Prince across the mountains to safety and in return he gave them 16 mountains of pastureland, a reward the inhabitants of Arefu still celebrate more than 500 years later.
Our next stop is Targoviste which was the capital city of Wallachia until 1459. The townsfolk of Targoviste were blamed by Vlad for their involvement in the assassination of his brother by the Turks. Vlad moved the capital to Bucharest, killed nobles, and enslaved the town to build Poenari.
- Drive back to Bucharest.
The tour ends in Bucharest at about 6 PM.
PRICES AND INCLUSIONS AND HOST BIOS:
If you book now the price is $1490 USD per person for a double (the single room supplement is just $165 USD for the entire trip). Regular tour price is $1890 USD. We can get some good deals if we book your trip now and are passing the savings directlly to you. Rates go up closer to peak season. Normally I encourage solo travelers to have their own snore and burp space, but on this tour, if you think your imagination might play games at night, you may want a roommate. – A $250.00 deposit reserves your spot. Please contact us first at: email@example.com
- All accommodation (the delightful inns are small and unique – three star)
- All meals (don’t blame us if you gain weight – the food in Romania is fabulous, and you’re the one ordering what you want from the menus)
- Some alcohol (see itinerary)
- Photography sessions for those who wish
- Professional photographs of your journey
- Writing tips for any who wish
- All transfers and transportation on tours
- English speaking guide
- Our own driver and private vehicle
- All entrance fees to castles and museums
- Alcohol (unless listed on the itinerary)
- Visa (not something for North Americans or Europeans to worry about)
Christopher Campbell: once again I’ve invited one of my favourite photographers (and one of the best travel companions you’ll ever meet) to lead our photographic adventures and share a lifetime of tips, tricks & technique. You have probably seen his images displayed on TV’s Food Network cooking shows or in publications as varied as Chatelaine, Spa Magazine, or Harper Collins cookbooks–and most definitely in ads–he’s the one you can blame for making you crave Absolut Vodka, Kahlua, that dew dripping glass of Gordon’s gin, Florida oranges, late night fast food at Wendy’s or McDonald’s (blame him for that), or test driving a Mercedes—that’s Christopher Campbell’s fault too.
Kirsten Koza: I’m your host and expedition designer and am a professional adventure travel writer, author, humourist and journalist. I’m currently on the book tour for the Travelers’ Tales (USA) anthology I edited: Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters, Monstrous Toilets, and a Demon Dildo. I ruthlessly pretest Writers’ Expeditions trips and find the best local guides, tour operators, and unique adventures, so you can have a great experience.
I write on topics as varied as going inside the largest Syrian refugee camp, bullfighting, cannibalism, tornado chasing, mountain biking, dildos, dictators, Putin, gluten, and politics. My stories and photographs have been published in books, newspapers and magazines around the world, and I’ve even made the front page of Kyrgyzstan’s national newspaper. I’m the author of Lost in Moscow: A Brat in the USSR.
Click to read Adventure Aboard Dawn on the Amazon in TheBlot magazine.