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2014 Trips

 

 

 

April 2014: SOUTH AMERICA

April 9th – April 22nd

 

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When I went to South America for Antarctica, I absolutely fell in love with what I was missing out on. It’s time to go back and do it right this April.

From April 9th to April 22nd:

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Iguazu Falls; Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Santiago, Chile

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Valparaiso, Chile

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La Paz, Bolivia

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Interested? Email me: calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com or sign up for our emails.

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Late April 2014: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

April 25th – May 2nd

 

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Join us on an adventure in the Caribbean like you never could have anticipated:

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Cancún, Mexico

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Underwater Sculpture Park, Cancún, Mexico

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Chichen Itza, Mexico

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The Bahamas

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Cuba

After leading successful trips together to North Korea, Iran, Chernobyl, and Antarctica for the past 2 years, The Monsoon Diaries and Young Pioneer Tours is once again joining forces and inviting YOU to take on the Caribbean in a way nobody else has! 

More than that, YPT is specifically inviting everyone to join them in the Cuban celebration of May International Workers Day! This is by far the biggest celebration in Cuba, and you can imagine it as a combination of a Soviet era parade and a classic Latin-American carnival.

The Monsoon Diaries will first lead a few easy days in Cancún and Chichen Itza in Mexico before Young Pioneer Tours takes over on April 25th in Old Havana. We then head to the Bay of Pigs and the mausoleum of Ché, where we not only see his final resting place but also the legendary train that he derailed. We then travel to explore Trinidad, after which we return to Havana for the highlight of the trip: MAY DAY.

For May Day, all of Havana (and Cuba) take the day off to dance through the streets with their work parties as they listen to Latin themed revolutionary music extolling the greatness of Fidel, Ché, and Chavez whilst the ruling communist party elite look down at us from the balcony (last year YPT got some great pictures of Raul Castro).

 

Therefore, this is the time to be in Cuba, and it will be a truly amazing once in a lifetime experience.

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Our journey will be accompanied by local representatives, our Cuban guide Roger, a western guide, and our very own bus, which means lots of flexibility and chances to get very off the beaten Cuba track.

The trip is budgeted to be $1040 USD. We will offer an immediate $50 USD discount to anyone who is both following The Monsoon Diaries’ Facebook Page as well as subscribed to its mailing list (which is only used a few times per month). And as with all our trips, we will offer excellent ADDITIONAL discounts for old customers and group bookings.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé in Cuba

Nothing stays the same forever, and Cuba is changing rapidly day by day, so see it with us now!

And if that is not enough for you, The Monsoon Diaries is offering an optional 2-3 days long to a weeklong beach/cultural relaxation extension in The Bahamas which can be done as a standalone tour or as an extension to the May Day Tour.

Young Pioneer Tours will split off and lead a tour in Haiti and The Dominical Republic (a trip which The Monsoon Diaries led last year) and is offereing a 150 Euro discount to anyone who joins along their Cuba AND Haiti + Dominican Republic trip altogether (an additional 50 Euros off the Cuba trip, and 100 Euros off the Haiti trip): Haiti Exploration Tour.

Therefore, the opportunities for travel this Spring are endless!

*Note: Cannot accept payment by either Paypal, or MoneyBookers/Skrill*

Overview of the itinerary in Cuba:

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Havana

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Cienfuegos, Cuba

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Santa Clara, Cuba

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Trinidad, Cuba

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Playa Ancón

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Havana

 

The itinerary in detail:

 

Friday 25th April

  • Guests arrive/transfer to their homestay accommodation
  • Free afternoon in Havana
  • Meet up with the rest of the group
  • Walk through the old city of Havana, one of the best preserved colonial cites of the Americas
  • La Catedral San Christobal de la Habana
  • Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras
  • Dinner and drinks in the Old town
  • Overnight in Havana
 

26th (Sat)

  • In the early morning, we depart for Cienfuegos (a 5 hour drive via the Bay of Pigs)
  • On the way to Cienfuegos we travel along the flat central plain of Cuba where there are lots of citrus plantations. We then will turn off the main highway where the scenery changes to a densely vegetated swamp where the natural fauna includes boa snakes and crocodiles
  • We have the opportunity to visit a crocodile farm here at Guama
  • Once reaching the Caribbean coast we travel along the picturesque Bay of Pigs past the site where the landing of counter-revolutionary exile militia occurred in 1961
  • Option of visiting a museum that recounts the events of this conflict that resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed takeover in Latin America
  • There are some beautiful places to stop for a swim along the way including a sinkhole which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank, so make sure to pack your swimwear and snorkeling gear if you have any!
  • Cubans are known to be very proud people, and the citizens of Cienfuegos call their town La Perla del Sur (the pearl of the south). Founded by the French, Cienfuegos appeal lies partly in the European flavour of its colonial hub, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades, and there is an ambience to inspire Cuba’s most celebrated Son singer to write the words “Cienfuegos is the city I like best”
  • After checking-in with your host family, you will have a short time in the afternoon to walk around the city and take in the atmosphere
  • Go with the guide or explore on your own
  • Dinner in a local paladar private home restaurant
  • Night out drinking in the bars of Cienfuegos
  • Overnight
 

27th (Sun)

  • Breakfast
  • Depart Cienfuegos for Santa Clara
  • Depending on road conditions we can take a number of different routes around or through the Sierra del Escambray perhaps making a few spontaneous stops along the way!
  • We visit the city of Santa Clara, a key city in the triumph of the Revolution
  • Upon entering Santa Clara there is a huge statue of Ernesto Ché Guevara, to commemorate his death and that of the revolutionaries that died with him in Bolivia
  • We visit the museum here that is dedicated to Ché’s life.
  • We take a walking tour of Santa Clara where we come across significant sites such as the armoured train derailed by Ché and his troops
  • Dinner and optional evening of local music
  • Overnight in Santa Clara
  

28th (Mon)

  • We leave Santa Clara for the scenic drive through the Escambray mountains
  • We stop at a very beautiful waterfall on the way
  • We stop at a farmers house for an extremely local styled lunch
  • The beautiful colonial city of Trinidad is home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings
  • Visit the lovely nearby Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar mills)
  • Visit Playa Ancón, where you can enjoy long stretches of unspoiled, white sand beaches.
  • Scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming in waterfalls, and horse-riding are other optional activities here!
  • Group dinner with unlimited rum in a local Cuban home
  • The nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances everyday of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and cobblestone streets
  • Overnight in homestay
 

29th (Tues)

  • Breakfast
  • We head off on our exploration of Trinidad
  • La Villa de la Santisima Trinidad was founded by Velazsquez in 1514. The defender of indigenous rights in the Americas, Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, attended over this settlement’s first mass. The future conqueror of Mexico, Hernan Cortes, recruited sailors here for his future expedition into that land.
  • Trinidad is also a charming, small town with the green mountains in the background.
  • The turquoise waters and pure white, sand beaches of the Caribbean Sea is just a short distance away
  • Option of visiting The Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad that chronicles the struggles of this period in the town’s history
  • Lunch in city
  • Return to homestay for some rest and free time
  • Free afternoon to explore the city or the nearby Caribbean beaches
  • Group dinner and night out in Trinidad: We will be visiting the extremely famous Cave Club for a great night out!
  • Overnight in homestay
 

30th (Wed)

  • Breakfast
  • Scenic drive back to Havana
  • City tour of Havana, which encompasses the Plaza de Armas and a statue of Manuel de Cespedes: one of the leaders of the independence movement
  • There are plenty of good museums we will pass (and can visit later if you would like to)
  • We visit the famous Museo de la Revolución today to learn more about the revolution and its history
  • Lunch in city
  • Visit to the Havana Club Museum of Rum: Free samples optional
  • Afternoon free time for some rest and relaxation or to wander some more
  • Meet up for dinner and evening out at the iconic Hemingway Bar amongst other places
  • Overnight in homestay
 

Thursday May 1st – May Day!

  • ***Trip Highlight*** Group meets up early to join the walk to the May Day March & celebration in Havana. Hopefully seeing Fidel!
  • This is by far the biggest celebration of the year, and by far the biggest May Day celebration in the world…And we will be very much part of this! Last year we were lucky enough to see Raul Castro waving down at us from the balcony.
  • Lunch in the city
  • We spend the rest of the day exploring the city and very much taking part in the biggest celebration of the year in Cuba
  • Dinner at our favourite secret private restaurant
  • Goodbye drinks around the malecon
  • Overnight in homestay

Price inclusive of:

  • Accommodation: Every night of the tour.
  • Transport: To complete the itinerary.
  • Breakfasts: for each day of the tour, except the arrival day.
  • Dinner: 1 group dinner in a local homestay.
  • Local guide: throughout.
  • All entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Unlimited Rum in Homestay

Price exclusive of:

  • International Flights
  • Visa (we will advise you depending on your passport and country of residence)
  • Insurance
  • All meals (except for 7 breakfasts, and homestay group meal)
  • Drinks
  • Tips
  • Optional activities/day-tours/excursions
  • Departure taxes (25CUC/person) and excess baggage fees

Note: People who went last year reported they spent no more than 130 euros for the whole week they were there, which included drinks, tips, meals, etc. That said, it’s definitely an affordable place for travel!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Due to Paypal regulations, we cannot under any circumstances accept Paypal payment for our Cuba tours. Please contact us for other payment options.

DISCLAIMER:  YPT Cuba LTD is a separately run company independent of YPT Group LTD. Payment for all tours booked with YPT Cuba LTD follow their own set of terms and payment conditions. YPT Cuba LTD cannot under any circumstances accept payment by Paypal, Moneybookers, US backed credit cards, or US based bank transfers.

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Havana

Interested? Email me: calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com or sign up for our emails.

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December 2014: Extreme Southeast Asia

The Philippines, Palawan Island Hopping

Singapore, Bali, East Timor

12-14 days

 


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This December, travel in style from one of the oldest civilizations to one of the newest countries on the planet.

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My journeys may have originated in Egypt, but The Monsoon Diaries began with The Philippines. Then we wandered and never looked back, until now: 70+ countries later we’re returning to where it all started, taking our trips to the next level: this one has it all for a price starting as low as $400 all-inclusive. If you refer enough friends to sign up, you might even be able to travel for free!

For our last trip of the year, we’re backpacking our way through the Philippines onto island hopping in Palawan, before hitting up Bali, Singapore, and finally the new kid on the block that is the Democratic Republic of Timor.

 

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The trip begins in Manila, where we celebrate the night away with new friends before hitting up Palawan and El Nido in our private bus and some intense island hopping inclusive of a semi-legal overnight camping trip on one of the islands, again finishing up with an epic night out in Manila.

The second part of the trip takes us for a night out in Bali via Singapore before we check out one of the planet’s newest countries, East-Timor, for a whirlwind couple of days before a final blowout in Bali.

Trip can be done as is, or as one of 5 options.

 

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We’ll be once again joining forces with Young Pioneer Tours (the same company that we partnered with on our recent trips to North Korea, Iran, Antarctica, Chernobyl, and Cuba) and their new offshoot company GN Tours on their newest and one of their most exciting itineraries (details below the following photos) to date.

Finally like any good backpacker, we promote flexibility on our trips by offering at least 4 price options to whatever part of the trip you can join on, mixing and matching as you like. Return travelers, previous pioneers, loyal customers, and former monsooners get a huge discount!

A visual summary:

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Manila, The Philippines

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Makati District, Manila, The Philippines

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Puerto Princesa, The Philippines

 

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El Nido, The Philippines

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Bacuit Archipelago, The Philippines

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Bacuit Archipelago, The Philippines

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Bacuit Archipelago, The Philippines

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…are you getting the point?

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Big and Small Lagoons, The Philippines

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Commando Beach, The Philippines

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…another island. You get to choose.

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Secret Lagoon Beach, The Philippines


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Snake Island, The Philippines

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Cathedral Caves, The Philippines

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Codugnon Caves, The Philippines

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Overnight camping on somewhere that looks like this

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El Nido, The Philippines

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Puerto Princesa, The Philippines

Manila, The Philippines

Singapore

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Bali, Indonesia

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Dili, East Timor

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Dili, East Timor

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Baucau, East Timor

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Baucau, East Timor

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Dili, East Timor

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Sunset in Dili, East Timor

 

 Palawan Island Hopping

Dec. 2 – Dec. 7th

December 2nd

  • Arrive at your leisure and meet at Southern Cross Hotel in downtown Makati
  • Makati is the party town of Manila — we go out hot and hard here; karaoke, bars, clubs, the lot!

December 3rd

  • Despite the night out we get up nice and early for the short flight to Puerta Princesa in the island group of the Palawan.
  • On arrival we will be met by our private bus to start the 6 hour journey to El Nido. On the way we stop for lunch. This is a stunning drive with us heading through pristine Philippines countryside.
  • We check into our private accommodation before taking the short walk to the bars, restaurants and clubs that litter the beaches.

December 4th

  • First day of our private island hopping in the Bacuit Archipelago with visits to Big and Small Lagoons, Commando beach, and Secret Lagoon.
  • Fresh BBQ lunch by our boat crew.
  • Evening out eating, drinking and optional clubbing in El Nido

December 5th

  • Island hopping to Snake Island, Cathedral cave, and Codugnon Caves.
  • Fresh BBQ lunch by our boat crew.
  • Evening out Karaoke’ing. You have not been to Asia unless there is Karaoke.

December 6th

  • A little free morning time in El Nido (lunch on your own this day).
  • Afternoon departure for overnight camping on one of the close by islands for our own little October full moon party.
  • Dinner at night with island BBQ and breakfast on the beach the next morning.

December 7th

  • On our return to El Nido we check out of our accommodation and grab our bus again for the ride back to Puerto Princesa.
  • We stop for lunch on the way back and then for a quick dinner in Puerto Princesa before flying back to Manila
  • Another night in the Southern Cross and one last thriller in Manila.

 

Singapore, Bali and Timor

Dec. 8th – Dec. 13th

December 8th

  • Transfer to the airport for the 10:40am flight to Bali via a 4 hour layover in Singapore
  • While in Singapore, we will have a chance to clear customs for a quick city tour.
  • Fly on to Bali.
  • Bali is THE party town of Indonesia, so we check our bags at the airport and hit the town for an optional all nighter!

December 9th

  • After the all night bender that is Bali we board 9:55am flight to Dili, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
  • Transfer to our hostel before taking a city tour of this formerly war torn republic, and one of the newest countries on the planet.
  • Take a city tour of the capital which includes the statue of Jesus, resistance museum, and war memorial.
  • Dili is a beach town, so we can party the night away in one of the many beach bars of the city.

December 10th

  • We take a bus out to Baucau, the second largest city in the country and major player during the war of independence.
  • Stop for picture opportunities in the countryside.
  • Visit the convent mission and take an afternoon volunteering with the orphans of the country, helping with some of the great work they are doing.
  • Later in the afternoon we take a swim in the famous spring-fed pool.
  • Hang out on the beach.
  • Check into a beach hut and overnighting in Baucau.

December 11th

  • We take a very slow leisurely drive back to Dili, stopping off in the countryside for lunch and drinks.
  • Early evening we return to Dili and check back into our hotel.
  • Head back to the beach bars for our last night out in East Timor.

December 12th

  • Free morning in Dili before we board the 1:30pm flight to Bali, Indonesia.
  • 2:15pm arrival in Bali where we head to the city and check into our hostel.
  • Afternoon and evening dinner on the famous beaches of Bali.
  • One final night in Bali!

December 13th

  • Board the 10:45am flight back to Manila again via Singapore
  • Arriving in Manila at 8:10 pm.
  • Last night at the Southern Cross, and the end of our trip!

 

 

Prices (*We will give an immediate $100 discount from the following prices if you sign up on our mailing list and “like” us on our Facebook page!):

   Group A $795 (Manila – Manila, December 2nd – 7th)

   Group B $2040(Manila – Bali – Dili – Bali – Manila, including flights, December 2nd – 13th)

   Group C $1790 (Manila – Bali – Dili, including flights, December 2nd – 12th)

   Group D $495 (Dili only, December 9th – 12th)

   Group E $1190 (Manila – Bali – Dili, not including flights, December 2nd – 12th)

 

 

Price inclusive of:

  • All transport
  • All accommodation
  • Internal flights (International flights between The Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, East Timor, and back to The Philippines from December 2nd to December 12th, if Group B or C)
  • Unlimited rum on the bus
  • Selected meals

 

Price exclusive of:

  • International Flights to/from wherever you are to begin the trip
  • Visa (we will advise you depending on your passport and country of residence)
  • Insurance
  • All meals (except for 7 breakfasts, and homestay group meal)
  • Drinks
  • Tips
  • Optional activities/day-tours/excursions
  • Departure taxes and excess baggage fees

 

Interested? All you gotta do is email me: calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com or sign up for our emails. 

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