Svalbard

June 19-27, 2022

Burkina Faso

Feb 2-8, 2023

In May of 2010, Calvin started The Monsoon Diaries as his personal travel blog where he would post daily updates to let the world (and his mother) know he was okay. As his readership expanded, a large humble following of good people asked if they could join on his adventures.

So what began with a trip for a few friends now has blossomed 5 years later into the popularly recognized travel style known as monsooning, and has featured on TEDx, The Huffington Post, USA Today, National Geographic, Business Insider, and Rachel Maddow. Every few months Calvin himself, and some of his most dedicated repeat monsooners, will lead scores of international young-at-heart travelers on their premier expeditions around the world.

Take a look at any of the offered trips below and sign up even if you’re just curious about travel; we will take care of the rest!



Wales

May 28 – June 3, 2022

Wales

May 28 – June 3, 2022

Manchester

Conwy

Caernafon

Portmeiron

Rhossili

Swansea

Cardiff

Penarth

Cosemeston Medieval Village

Caerau Fort

Llandaff Cathedral

Castell Coch

Tintern Abbey

Stonehenge

London

Wales

May 28 – June 3, 2022

In a follow up to 2019’s incredibly successful road trip around the Isle of Man and Belfast in Northern Ireland, many of the same monsooners are returning to the area for another epic road trip around lesser visited but equally beautiful Wales, including an optional pitstop to legendary Stonehenge and London!

We are waiting for the hammer to drop; after our 3 week domestic road trip across the USA and a recent group monsoon to Cyprus, we are more than prepared to take the next step towards travel again in the era of and after COVID-19. With the country still reopening after what seemed an eternity combating the pandemic of COVID-19, the dropping infection rates in NYC, and our successful 3 week trip across the USA (twice!) overland without causing any infections, casualties, or hot spots, we now take the next responsible step in returning to a life of travel while minimizing our exposure and negative impact on public health.

During the virtual world premiere of Raubern’s film, our public audience had encouraged us to travel sooner than later with a domestic road trip this August. What seemed like an errant statement of hope soon materialized within our community: we determined if we keep a trip in small, contained cohorts of COVID-negative travelers, we could both travel on an epic adventure without negatively impacting the world around us. And given our previous experience leading a southwestern national road trip on the famed Route 66 from NYC to California 5 summers ago, it had seemed perfectly appropriate to take the northwestern route this summer from NYC. We always follow the signs. And then that trip happened.

Confident that if we plan correctly and responsibly, as well as going with the right people, we are more than ready to take YOU on the next trip abroad once things open up again.

And that time is now.

  • May 25-27: Optional extra time in London; arrive no later than the evening of May 27
  • May 28: Leave from London for Stonehenge and Tintern Abbey
  • May 28 night: Arrive in Cardiff for overnight
  • May 29: Penarth, Cosemeston, Caeru, Llandaff Cathedral, Castell Coch, Cardiff Bay
  • May 29 night: Cardiff for overnight
  • May 30: Brecon National Park
  • May 31: Rhossil, Swansea, overnight in Broad Haven
  • June 1: Wales Coast, Portmeiron, Caenarfon
  • June 2: Conwy, end in Manchester by the afternoon
  • June 3: optional stay into Manchester
  • June 3 or 4: Depart home

WHY SHOULD I GO?

“Momentum comes from pushing, not from planning. Confidence comes from scars and risk, not from indecision.” – Life Doesn’t Start Tomorrow.

It starts with *you*. None of the following will ever matter unless you commit to your decision. Yes, dropping everything for something totally new and unknown can be scary! But nobody ever learned how to ride a bike by reading about it; you have to get on the damn thing! So get on and go!

You might respond with “Yeah, but…” “’Yeah, but…’ is pernicious. Because it makes it sound like we have the best of intentions when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards, while sounding noble.” – 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young.

Let’s entertain the possibility that you’ll skip out. Then watch us as we come back safe and sound, share our stories, show you our photos, and talk about how our lives have changed. Whether or not you will realize it then, when you have your first child, when in your midlife crisis, or on your deathbed, you’re inevitably going to regret that you missed out on an epic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This could set the tone for the rest of your life. Don’t let this happen. Starting slowly never ever works in travel and habits become harder to break once you’ve accustomed yourself to a way of approaching new experiences.

Do you think that to skydive you first have to look it up on Wikipedia, or learn to fall off a table? No. You simply jump. So those of you who want to travel, travel. And imagine how easy traveling will seem to you afterwards. Imagine how much confidence you’ll gain in yourself. Imagine the bragging rights and stories you’ll have when you come home. Not many people realize that the opportunity for a tremendously positive life change is right in front of their faces: This could be the very moment where you turn your life around and finally do something *epic*. The world won’t wait for you.

Do I need to show proof of vaccination from COVID-19?

Yes. I don’t think you’ll be allowed into the destination without one.

OK, I'M INTERESTED: How do I pay?

A 40% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), PayPal, Zelle, Revolut, Square, Cash App, or Venmo.

What days should I book my flights to arrive?

Depends on what part of the trip you sign up for; please confirm with us directly before purchasing tickets!

Do you provide flight advice/support to get the cheapest flights?

Yep! We have expertise in this area and would be happy to assist you in booking the cheapest flights, finding hack fares, or work with loyalty mile programs to getting you free economy, business class, or first class flights.

I’d love to come, but I’m limited on budget.

Contact us anyway and we can come up with a deal or financial aid packages.

Can I come alone?

Yes, many of our monsooners have joined our trip by themselves and end up meeting a whole new group of friends. We usually attract people who come from a range of backgrounds and have different levels of experience with travel.

What if I don’t usually like traveling with people?

Our trips are designed by independent travelers with independent travel in mind — we want to provide everyone with the opportunity and experience of traveling alone should they choose to. Therefore, there’s zero pressure to stick with the group anytime. So if you want to venture off to a museum or try a different restaurant, by all means: Do it! The group will only be expected to stay together for transportation between cities.

Will you accommodate food restrictions?

Of course. Just tell us ahead of time when you sign up and we can make accommodations easily.

Do I need visas?

Depends on your nationality and type of passport. People with USA and EU nationalities do not need visas. Otherwise, we can help you with this if you need any visas. Please ask!

Will someone provide me with a list of tasks I need to complete for visas or pre-entry credentials

Yes, of course!

Do you recommend travel insurance?

Yes! These days you can never be sure. After years of trying everything we recommend going with G1G insurance (with options for medical coverage included!).

Terms and Conditions between The Monsoon Diaries LLC, henceforth called “MD,” and the customer, henceforth called the “customer.” Booking a tour with MD acknowledges customer understanding and agreement to the following terms and conditions. BOOKING POLICY

  • A 40% deposit is due upon booking confirmation and is non-refundable. The balance of payment is due 1 week before the tour commences. Following receipt of deposit customer is required to send relevant details for issuing of relevant permits.
  • Failure to send true and correct information may result in refusal of visa, or permit, and thus results in forfeit of deposit.
  • Should visa, or permit be refused through no fault of the customer, the customer shall receive a full refund minus associated banking costs.
  • In the event of personal injury, or bereavement that prevents the customer taking part on the tour, MD reserve the right to increase the deposit minus associated fees.

CANCELLATION POLICY All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of receipt by MD. Tour refunds will be given according to the table below.

  • 12 weeks (90 days) prior to the tour customers receive a 100% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 60 – 89 days prior to the tour customers receive a 50% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 8-59 days prior to the tour customers to receive a 10% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • Cancellations received on the day of or within 1 week of departure are non-refundable

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

  • MD may change these Terms & and Conditions at any time. MD will notify customers if changes to the booking terms and conditions are made.
  • It is the responsibility of all customers, regardless of nationality and destination, to check with the consulate of the country they are visiting for current entry requirements. As visa and health requirements are subject to change with-out notice, we recommend that you verify health and visa requirements with the appropriate consulate prior to departure.
  • Price quotations are subject to change without notice, until a booking has been confirmed.
  • MD fully reserves the right to change or amend all itineraries on a case by case basis depending on the situation on the ground. MD will always provide a suitable replacement for anything cancelled on an itinerary.
  • Train, and flight tickets are subject to availability. MD reserve the right to change the mode of transport depending on availability.
  • If for any reason, a client does not complete any portion of their tour or abandons their scheduled tour after departure, MD will not grant a partial refund, nor shall there be any credit given towards future travel.

VISAS As with all travel there is always a minor chance that a visa will be refused. MD has an excellent track record for visas with a relatively insignificant amount having ever been turned down and all were with good reason. If the customer has provided accurate information to us and their visa is refused and refunded, MD will in turn grant a full refund of any payments made to MD minus associated transfer fees and costs but will not be held responsible for any costs incurred by the customer in traveling to Beijing, Kuala Lumpur or any other location from which their tour was scheduled to depart. In the event you have intentionally misled us in an attempt to enter a country, we will retain your deposit.

FORCE MAJEURE In the event of an uncontrollable event, such as war, revolution, and or natural disaster, the customer shall be entitled to a full refund. What constitutes force majeure is decided solely by the company. Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

TRAVEL INSURANCE Medical treatment in many destinations is not free, and it is strongly recommended that the customer take out their own travel insurance, AND check with the issuer whether it is valid in the country of the tour. MD does not provide, nor imply provision of health/travel insurance.

LOCAL LAWS

  • Customers are required to follow local laws and regulations at all times. In the result of a breach of local law, MD will not be held in any way responsible and the customer will take responsibility for any consequences, financial or otherwise, that arise from their actions.
  • Customers are required to follow the guidance and company rules of MD at all times. MD reserves the right to expel customers from the tour who do not follow company rules, without refund.

TOUR ITINERARY Due to the nature of travel/tourism of certain countries, itineraries do not provide or imply a guarantee of the tour’s contents. Though we will make every effort to keep itineraries as described and to find suitable replacements, the company reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary in response to unforeseeable events.

TRAVEL EXCEPTIONS MD reserves the right in extreme cases to refuse service to anyone we deem unsuitable for one of our tours, in the event that MD deems you unsuitable prior to a tour any payment made to MD will be refunded minus associated transfer costs.

TRANSIT VISA In the event the customer intends to travel to and from a country using a transit visa they bear full responsibility for ensuring the transit visa is organized correctly. MD will of course offer assistance in the event of issues arising with customer’s transit, but will in no case be held liable for any costs incurred in arranging customer exits.

Price inclusive of:

  • All Accommodation & Lodging
  • All transportation/road-tripping
  • Local Guides
  • Intracity taxis during city & walking tours
  • Rental car fees + gas
  • Airport transfers

Price exclusive of:

  • International Flights to begin and end the trip
  • Visa if required
  • Meals, drinks and personal spending
  • Optional excursions
  • Nightlife
  • Tips for the local guides

Interested in joining us for Wales?

9 + 11 =

Svalbard

June 18/19 – 27, 2022

Longyearbyen

Barentsburg

Nordenskiöld

Raudfjorden

Hinlopen Strait

Seven Islands

Spitsbergen

Forlandsundet

Svalbard: Soviet Frontier Arctic Cruise

June 19-27, 2022

Third time’s the charm! Join The Monsoon Diaries, Young Pioneer Tours, and Oceanwide Expeditions on a bespoke tour in the northern reaches of the world on a cruise around Svalbard visiting Russian settlements and abandoned coal mining outposts turned ghost towns! It’s not that usual we are this excited about something more than 18 months from now, but this tour has got our tastebuds tingling.

Not only will we be on an arctic cruise on the m/v Ortelius – which boasts the highest ice-class notation (UL1, equivalent to 1A), but you’ll be in one of the most inspiring natural environments on the planet, as well as ticking off most MD/YPT boxes on this trip.

We begin your adventure in the main town of Longyearbyen where you’ll get a feel for the kind of people who live amongst reindeer and polar bears, before setting sail to the Monaco Glacier, a 5 kilometre long (3.1 miles) wall of ice that you can hear groaning and cracking as it slowly slides into the sea. Named after the first Prince Albert of Monaco, the base of the ice is a common hunting ground for polar bears.

You’ll then reach the northernmost point of your voyage with us within the Seven Islands. Here you will reach 80° north, just 870 km (540 miles) from the North Pole. Along the journey you’ll have the chance to spot mink whales, bowhead whales, blue whales, bearded seals, ringed seals, arctic foxes, and various seabirds.

On our return we’ll stop and disembark at Barentsburg, an old Russian mining settlement still populated by about 500 people. Here even though we’re still officially in Norway we’ll see the northernmost statue of Lenin in the world and grab a drink at the northernmost brewery! We’ll then finish the voyage back in Longyearbyen with farewell drinks onboard.

Pyramiden Tour Extension – $420

Saturday 18 June – Longyearbyen

  • Arrival into Longyearbyen which has flights from Oslo or Tromso
  • Longyearbyen is the main town in Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago, and the northernmost settlement in the world.
  • Meet at 6:00pm at our hotel for dinner and pre-tour meeting where you can get to know your fellow travellers and TMD/YPT guide
  • Relax at Barentz Pub, the world’s northernmost bar. Fortunately being tax-free, a pint in Svalbard is way cheaper than the Norwegian mainland!
  • Overnight in Longyearbyen Coal Miners’ Cabins

Sunday 19 June – Longyearbyen

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Depart at 8:15am on a Hybrid Electric Catamaran and pass the glacier of Nordenskiöld
  • Trip highlight – Arrive in Pyramiden – a former coal mining Soviet settlement which is now completely deserted but hauntingly complete – this former Swedish settlement was sold to the USSR in 1927 and abandoned in 1998
  • We explore the abandoned settlement showing how the resident coal miners lived – it is predicted that because of the climate the buildings will remain largely as they are for another 500 years!
  • See the world’s northernmost monument to Lenin!
  • Check out the Pyramiden Monument, the old coal-fired power plant and Siberian style wooden barracks
  • Board the board for lunch and return to Longyearbyen
  • Refresh and rest at the hotel, and meet back at the Barentz Pub to meet the new arrivals for the Svalbard tour.
  • Dinner and overnight and continue tour on the m/v Ortelius

 

Svalbard: Soviet Frontier Arctic Cruise Tour

Sunday 19 June – Longyearbyen

  • Arrival into Longyearbyen which has flights from Oslo or Tromso
  • Longyearbyen is the main town in Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago, and the northernmost settlement in the world.
  • Meet at 6:00pm at our hotel for dinner and pre-tour meeting where you can get to know your fellow travellers and TMD/YPT guide
  • Relax at Barentz Pub, the world’s northernmost bar. Fortunately being tax-free, a pint in Svalbard is way cheaper than the Norwegian mainland!
  • Overnight in Longyearbyen Coal Miners’ Cabins

Monday 20 June – Longyearbyen and the Beginning of the Voyage

  • After breakfast, we begin exploring Svalbard. We may bump into reindeer but it’s not advisable to leave the town centre without a rifle because of polar bears!
  • Head first to the Svalbard Museum which delves deep into the human history and rich natural history of the archipelago
  • Lunch in Longyearbyen
  • Visit the northernmost church in the world, Svalbard Church
  • In the late afternoon we make sure we have all our provisions for the voyage
  • Early evening departure on the m/v Ortelius from Isfjorden
  • Look out for whales or just take in the scenery as dusk approaches
  • Dinner and overnight on the ship

Tuesday 21 June – Krossfjorden and Blomstrandhalvøya

  • Breakfast on the ship
  • We’ll continue our course to Blomstrandhalvøya, taking in the expansive fjord spilling with glaciers where we’ll be scanning the waters for ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline of this fjord also support thriving seabird colonies, rich vegetation, and the possibility of polar bears.
  • Visit Ny Ålesund, one of the northernmost settlements in the world, in the afternoon. Once a mining village, it is now a research center.
  • Those who are interested in the history of Arctic exploration have the opportunity to visit the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile during their exploration journeys in 1926 and 1928, respectively.
  • Lunch, dinner and overnight on the ship as we continue north along Krossfjorden, the west coast of Spitsbergen.

Wednesday 22 June – The Northwest

  • Breakfast on the ship as we approach Amsterdamoya, where we can go hiking and check out what’s left of a 17th century whaling station.
  • Take in the beautiful scenery of Smeerenburgsleta. Photographers rejoice!
  • Head out to the islands around Fair Haven in the afternoon.
  • Lunch, dinner and overnight on the ship

Thursday 23 June – Raudfjorden

  • Breakfast on the ship
  • Arrive at Raudfjorden, located on the northern coast of Spitsbergen. Here you can enjoy the glacier-filled view of an expansive fjord and maybe even encounter some ringed and bearded seals.
  • Raudfjorden is known for its thriving wildlife – we will do some wildlife watching from a safe distance.
  • Dinner and overnight on ship

Friday 24 June – Liefdefjorden

  • Breakfast on ship
  • Weather-permitting, we will sail into Liefdefjorden and get see the face of Monaco Glacier. Otherwise, we will take an alternate route along the west coast of Spitsbergen near some great hiking areas.
  • Lunch, dinner and overnight on ship

Saturday 25 June – North Spitsbergen

  • Breakfast on ship
  • We will spend the day doing outdoor activities around North Spitsbergen to be determined by the weather and wildlife situation.
  • Lunch, dinner and overnight on ship

Sunday 26 June – Barentsburg

  • Breakfast on the ship
  • Our last stop before our vorage comes to an end is at Forlandsundet where walruses are well known to be.
  • If the waters are in our favour we’ll visit Colesbukta, a former Russian coal mining settlement long since abandoned
  • Trip highlight – we arrive in Barentsburg, the only Russian settlement in Spitsbergen still inhabited with a population of about 500 people, almost all of Russian or Ukrainian descent
  • Explore this old mining town and meet its very friendly Russian locals, we’ll even head to the Russian consulate – the northernmost diplomatic mission of any kind in the world
  • Visit the Barentsburg Pomor Museum, a Soviet era museum from the 1960s. The museum mainly deals with the Pomors – Russian settlers from the Novgorod region – but has great sections on the Second World War and Soviet Era as well as local history. Barentsuburg is named after the Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, who discovered Svalbarg in 1596, though the Russians claim it was Pomors who got there first.
  • Get your kit off and swim in the heated seawater swimming pool
  • Spot the Communist Star and Slogan “Peace to the World” on the hillside above Barentsburg
  • This may be officially Norway still, but we’re still TMD/YPT and so we pay our respects to the statue of Lenin! Never will you see a statue of Lenin looking out over a fjord with the colourful Scandinavian style houses in the background.
  • Grab a couple of drinks at the northernmost brewery in the world, the Red Bear
  • Back aboard our ship for dinner and overnight

Monday 27 June – Longyearbyen

  • We’ll arrive back into Longyearbyen at 9:00am
  • End of tour with YPT and TMD with transfer to the airport according to your flight schedule. We are able to arrange extra activities like hiking or snow mobile expeditions for those who want more of a taste of Svalbard or airport transfer and onward transport.
WHY SHOULD I GO?

“Momentum comes from pushing, not from planning. Confidence comes from scars and risk, not from indecision.” – Life Doesn’t Start Tomorrow.

It starts with *you*. None of the following will ever matter unless you commit to your decision. Yes, dropping everything for something totally new and unknown can be scary! But nobody ever learned how to ride a bike by reading about it; you have to get on the damn thing! So get on and go!

You might respond with “Yeah, but…” “’Yeah, but…’ is pernicious. Because it makes it sound like we have the best of intentions when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards, while sounding noble.” – 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young.

Let’s entertain the possibility that you’ll skip out. Then watch us as we come back safe and sound, share our stories, show you our photos, and talk about how our lives have changed. Whether or not you will realize it then, when you have your first child, when in your midlife crisis, or on your deathbed, you’re inevitably going to regret that you missed out on an epic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This could set the tone for the rest of your life. Don’t let this happen. Starting slowly never ever works in travel and habits become harder to break once you’ve accustomed yourself to a way of approaching new experiences.

Do you think that to skydive you first have to look it up on Wikipedia, or learn to fall off a table? No. You simply jump. So those of you who want to travel, travel. And imagine how easy traveling will seem to you afterwards. Imagine how much confidence you’ll gain in yourself. Imagine the bragging rights and stories you’ll have when you come home. Not many people realize that the opportunity for a tremendously positive life change is right in front of their faces: This could be the very moment where you turn your life around and finally do something *epic*. The world won’t wait for you.

DO YOU HAVE PHOTOS FROM YOUR PREVIOUS, SIMILAR TRIPS?

Start here and work your way forward: First Landing In Antarctica.

WHAT ARE WE SAILING ON?

We will sail on the Oceanwide Expedition’s newest ship the m/v Janssonius. Sample pictures & layout of our cabins: Cabins aboard m/v Hondius.

Do I need to show proof of vaccination from COVID-19?

Yes. I don’t think you’ll be allowed into the destination without one.

OK, I'M INTERESTED: How do I pay?

A 40% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), PayPal, Zelle, Revolut, Square, Cash App, or Venmo.

What days should I book my flights to arrive?

Depends on what part of the trip you sign up for; please confirm with us directly before purchasing tickets!

Do you provide flight advice/support to get the cheapest flights?

Yep! We have expertise in this area and would be happy to assist you in booking the cheapest flights, finding hack fares, or work with loyalty mile programs to getting you free economy, business class, or first class flights.

I’d love to come, but I’m limited on budget.

Contact us anyway and we can come up with a deal or financial aid packages.

Can I come alone?

Yes, many of our monsooners have joined our trip by themselves and end up meeting a whole new group of friends. We usually attract people who come from a range of backgrounds and have different levels of experience with travel.

What if I don’t usually like traveling with people?

Our trips are designed by independent travelers with independent travel in mind — we want to provide everyone with the opportunity and experience of traveling alone should they choose to. Therefore, there’s zero pressure to stick with the group anytime. So if you want to venture off to a museum or try a different restaurant, by all means: Do it! The group will only be expected to stay together for transportation between cities.

Will you accommodate food restrictions?

Of course. Just tell us ahead of time when you sign up and we can make accommodations easily.

Do I need visas?

Depends on your nationality and type of passport. People with USA and EU nationalities do not need visas. Otherwise, we can help you with this if you need any visas. Please ask!

Will someone provide me with a list of tasks I need to complete for visas or pre-entry credentials

Yes, of course!

Do you recommend travel insurance?

Yes! These days you can never be sure. After years of trying everything we recommend going with G1G insurance (with options for medical coverage included!).

Terms and Conditions between The Monsoon Diaries LLC, henceforth called “MD,” and the customer, henceforth called the “customer.” Booking a tour with MD acknowledges customer understanding and agreement to the following terms and conditions. BOOKING POLICY

  • A 40% deposit is due upon booking confirmation and is non-refundable. The balance of payment is due 1 week before the tour commences. Following receipt of deposit customer is required to send relevant details for issuing of relevant permits.
  • Failure to send true and correct information may result in refusal of visa, or permit, and thus results in forfeit of deposit.
  • Should visa, or permit be refused through no fault of the customer, the customer shall receive a full refund minus associated banking costs.
  • In the event of personal injury, or bereavement that prevents the customer taking part on the tour, MD reserve the right to increase the deposit minus associated fees.

CANCELLATION POLICY All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of receipt by MD. Tour refunds will be given according to the table below.

  • 12 weeks (90 days) prior to the tour customers receive a 100% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 60 – 89 days prior to the tour customers receive a 50% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 8-59 days prior to the tour customers to receive a 10% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • Cancellations received on the day of or within 1 week of departure are non-refundable

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

  • MD may change these Terms & and Conditions at any time. MD will notify customers if changes to the booking terms and conditions are made.
  • It is the responsibility of all customers, regardless of nationality and destination, to check with the consulate of the country they are visiting for current entry requirements. As visa and health requirements are subject to change with-out notice, we recommend that you verify health and visa requirements with the appropriate consulate prior to departure.
  • Price quotations are subject to change without notice, until a booking has been confirmed.
  • MD fully reserves the right to change or amend all itineraries on a case by case basis depending on the situation on the ground. MD will always provide a suitable replacement for anything cancelled on an itinerary.
  • Train, and flight tickets are subject to availability. MD reserve the right to change the mode of transport depending on availability.
  • If for any reason, a client does not complete any portion of their tour or abandons their scheduled tour after departure, MD will not grant a partial refund, nor shall there be any credit given towards future travel.

VISAS As with all travel there is always a minor chance that a visa will be refused. MD has an excellent track record for visas with a relatively insignificant amount having ever been turned down and all were with good reason. If the customer has provided accurate information to us and their visa is refused and refunded, MD will in turn grant a full refund of any payments made to MD minus associated transfer fees and costs but will not be held responsible for any costs incurred by the customer in traveling to Beijing, Kuala Lumpur or any other location from which their tour was scheduled to depart. In the event you have intentionally misled us in an attempt to enter a country, we will retain your deposit.

FORCE MAJEURE In the event of an uncontrollable event, such as war, revolution, and or natural disaster, the customer shall be entitled to a full refund. What constitutes force majeure is decided solely by the company. Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

TRAVEL INSURANCE Medical treatment in many destinations is not free, and it is strongly recommended that the customer take out their own travel insurance, AND check with the issuer whether it is valid in the country of the tour. MD does not provide, nor imply provision of health/travel insurance.

LOCAL LAWS

  • Customers are required to follow local laws and regulations at all times. In the result of a breach of local law, MD will not be held in any way responsible and the customer will take responsibility for any consequences, financial or otherwise, that arise from their actions.
  • Customers are required to follow the guidance and company rules of MD at all times. MD reserves the right to expel customers from the tour who do not follow company rules, without refund.

TOUR ITINERARY Due to the nature of travel/tourism of certain countries, itineraries do not provide or imply a guarantee of the tour’s contents. Though we will make every effort to keep itineraries as described and to find suitable replacements, the company reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary in response to unforeseeable events.  

TRAVEL EXCEPTIONS MD reserves the right in extreme cases to refuse service to anyone we deem unsuitable for one of our tours, in the event that MD deems you unsuitable prior to a tour any payment made to MD will be refunded minus associated transfer costs.  

TRANSIT VISA In the event the customer intends to travel to and from a country using a transit visa they bear full responsibility for ensuring the transit visa is organized correctly. MD will of course offer assistance in the event of issues arising with customer’s transit, but will in no case be held liable for any costs incurred in arranging customer exits.

Price inclusive of:

  • Accommodation in twin share in Longyearbyen and on board our ship in twin porthole
  • All transport and zodiac excursions to complete the tour
  • Breakfast in Longyearbyen and all meals on the ship
  • All meals throughout the voyage onboard the ship including unlimited snacks, coffee and tea
  • Pyramiden Extension is an addition $420 which includes cost to go there and back from Longyearbyen
  • All shore excursions and activities

Price exclusive of:

  • Transport to and from Longyearbyen
  • Visa fees if applicable (Svalbard is generally visa free though)
  • Lunches and dinners in Longyearbyen on shore prior to cruise
  • Single Supplement in Longyearbyen prior to cruise, not available on ship (€100)
  • Alcoholic drinks and personal spending

Interested in joining us for Svalbard?

6 + 10 =

West Africa

Part 1: Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau

Dec. 12-26

Dakar, Senegal

Port Louis, Senegal

Lake Retba, Senegal

Banjul, The Gambia

Kunta Kinteh Island

Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

West Africa

Part 1: Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau

Dec. 12-26, 2022

 

  • Day 1: Dakar, Senegal
  • Day 2: Lake Retba, Senegal
  • Day 3: St. Louis, Senegal
  • Day 4: St. Louis, Senegal
  • Day 5: Dakar, Senegal
  • Day 6: Banjul, The Gambia
  • Day 7: Kunta Kinteh Island, The Gambia
  • Day 8: Banjul, The Gambia
  • Day 9: Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
  • Day 10: Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

WHY SHOULD I GO?

“Momentum comes from pushing, not from planning. Confidence comes from scars and risk, not from indecision.” – Life Doesn’t Start Tomorrow.

It starts with *you*. None of the following will ever matter unless you commit to your decision. Yes, dropping everything for something totally new and unknown can be scary! But nobody ever learned how to ride a bike by reading about it; you have to get on the damn thing! So get on and go!

You might respond with “Yeah, but…” “’Yeah, but…’ is pernicious. Because it makes it sound like we have the best of intentions when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards, while sounding noble.” – 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young.

Let’s entertain the possibility that you’ll skip out. Then watch us as we come back safe and sound, share our stories, show you our photos, and talk about how our lives have changed. Whether or not you will realize it then, when you have your first child, when in your midlife crisis, or on your deathbed, you’re inevitably going to regret that you missed out on an epic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This could set the tone for the rest of your life. Don’t let this happen. Starting slowly never ever works in travel and habits become harder to break once you’ve accustomed yourself to a way of approaching new experiences.

Do you think that to skydive you first have to look it up on Wikipedia, or learn to fall off a table? No. You simply jump. So those of you who want to travel, travel. And imagine how easy traveling will seem to you afterwards. Imagine how much confidence you’ll gain in yourself. Imagine the bragging rights and stories you’ll have when you come home. Not many people realize that the opportunity for a tremendously positive life change is right in front of their faces: This could be the very moment where you turn your life around and finally do something *epic*. The world won’t wait for you.

Do I need to show proof of vaccination from COVID-19?

Yes. I don’t think you’ll be allowed into the destination without one.

OK, I'M INTERESTED: How do I pay?

A 40% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), PayPal, Zelle, Revolut, Square, Cash App, or Venmo.

What days should I book my flights to arrive?

Depends on what part of the trip you sign up for; please confirm with us directly before purchasing tickets!

Do you provide flight advice/support to get the cheapest flights?

Yep! We have expertise in this area and would be happy to assist you in booking the cheapest flights, finding hack fares, or work with loyalty mile programs to getting you free economy, business class, or first class flights.

I’d love to come, but I’m limited on budget.

Contact us anyway and we can come up with a deal or financial aid packages.

Can I come alone?

Yes, many of our monsooners have joined our trip by themselves and end up meeting a whole new group of friends. We usually attract people who come from a range of backgrounds and have different levels of experience with travel.

What if I don’t usually like traveling with people?

Our trips are designed by independent travelers with independent travel in mind — we want to provide everyone with the opportunity and experience of traveling alone should they choose to. Therefore, there’s zero pressure to stick with the group anytime. So if you want to venture off to a museum or try a different restaurant, by all means: Do it! The group will only be expected to stay together for transportation between cities.

Will you accommodate food restrictions?

Of course. Just tell us ahead of time when you sign up and we can make accommodations easily.

Do I need visas?

Depends on your nationality and type of passport. People with USA and EU nationalities do not need visas. Otherwise, we can help you with this if you need any visas. Please ask!

Will someone provide me with a list of tasks I need to complete for visas or pre-entry credentials

Yes, of course!

Do you recommend travel insurance?

Yes! These days you can never be sure. After years of trying everything we recommend going with G1G insurance.

Terms and Conditions between The Monsoon Diaries LLC, henceforth called “MD,” and the customer, henceforth called the “customer.” Booking a tour with MD acknowledges customer understanding and agreement to the following terms and conditions.

BOOKING POLICY

  • A 40% deposit is due upon booking confirmation and is non-refundable. The balance of payment is due 1 week before the tour commences. Following receipt of deposit customer is required to send relevant details for issuing of relevant permits.
  • Failure to send true and correct information may result in refusal of visa, or permit, and thus results in forfeit of deposit.
  • Should visa, or permit be refused through no fault of the customer, the customer shall receive a full refund minus associated banking costs.
  • In the event of personal injury, or bereavement that prevents the customer taking part on the tour, MD reserve the right to increase the deposit minus associated fees.

CANCELLATION POLICY All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of receipt by MD. Tour refunds will be given according to the table below.

  • 12 weeks (90 days) prior to the tour customers receive a 100% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 60 – 89 days prior to the tour customers receive a 50% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 8-59 days prior to the tour customers to receive a 10% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • Cancellations received on the day of or within 1 week of departure are non-refundable

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

  • MD may change these Terms & and Conditions at any time. MD will notify customers if changes to the booking terms and conditions are made.
  • It is the responsibility of all customers, regardless of nationality and destination, to check with the consulate of the country they are visiting for current entry requirements. As visa and health requirements are subject to change with-out notice, we recommend that you verify health and visa requirements with the appropriate consulate prior to departure.
  • Price quotations are subject to change without notice, until a booking has been confirmed.
  • MD fully reserves the right to change or amend all itineraries on a case by case basis depending on the situation on the ground. MD will always provide a suitable replacement for anything cancelled on an itinerary.
  • Train, and flight tickets are subject to availability. MD reserve the right to change the mode of transport depending on availability.
  • If for any reason, a client does not complete any portion of their tour or abandons their scheduled tour after departure, MD will not grant a partial refund, nor shall there be any credit given towards future travel.

VISAS As with all travel there is always a minor chance that a visa will be refused. MD has an excellent track record for visas with a relatively insignificant amount having ever been turned down and all were with good reason. If the customer has provided accurate information to us and their visa is refused and refunded, MD will in turn grant a full refund of any payments made to MD minus associated transfer fees and costs but will not be held responsible for any costs incurred by the customer in traveling to Beijing, Kuala Lumpur or any other location from which their tour was scheduled to depart. In the event you have intentionally misled us in an attempt to enter a country, we will retain your deposit.

FORCE MAJEURE In the event of an uncontrollable event, such as war, revolution, and or natural disaster, the customer shall be entitled to a full refund. What constitutes force majeure is decided solely by the company.

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

TRAVEL INSURANCE Medical treatment in many destinations is not free, and it is strongly recommended that the customer take out their own travel insurance, AND check with the issuer whether it is valid in the country of the tour. MD does not provide, nor imply provision of health/travel insurance.

LOCAL LAWS

  • Customers are required to follow local laws and regulations at all times. In the result of a breach of local law, MD will not be held in any way responsible and the customer will take responsibility for any consequences, financial or otherwise, that arise from their actions.
  • Customers are required to follow the guidance and company rules of MD at all times. MD reserves the right to expel customers from the tour who do not follow company rules, without refund.

TOUR ITINERARY Due to the nature of travel/tourism of certain countries, itineraries do not provide or imply a guarantee of the tour’s contents. Though we will make every effort to keep itineraries as described and to find suitable replacements, the company reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary in response to unforeseeable events.  

TRAVEL EXCEPTIONS MD reserves the right in extreme cases to refuse service to anyone we deem unsuitable for one of our tours, in the event that MD deems you unsuitable prior to a tour any payment made to MD will be refunded minus associated transfer costs.  

TRANSIT VISA In the event the customer intends to travel to and from a country using a transit visa they bear full responsibility for ensuring the transit visa is organized correctly. MD will of course offer assistance in the event of issues arising with customer’s transit, but will in no case be held liable for any costs incurred in arranging customer exits.

Price inclusive of:

  • All accommodations
  • All transport to complete the tour
  • Admission fees

Price exclusive of:

  • Transport/International flights to begin and end the trip
  • Visa fees
  • All meals
  • Drinks and personal spending

Interested in joining us for Senegal, The Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau 2022 or 2023?

12 + 13 =

West Africa

Part 3: The Gulf Of Guinea

Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria

TBD

Abidjan

Grand Bassam

Cape Coast

Kumasi

Accra

Lomé

Ouidah (Porte du Non Retour)

Porto-Novo

Badagry

Lagos

West Africa

Part 3: The Gulf of Guinea

Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria

TBD

  • Day 1: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
  • Day 2: Grand Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire
  • Day 3: Cape Coast, Ghana
  • Day 4: Kumasi, Ghana
  • Day 5: Kumasi & Lake Bosomtwe, Ghana
  • Day 6: Accra, Ghana
  • Day 7: Lomé, Togo
  • Day 8: Ouidah, Benin & Porto-Novo, Benin
  • Day 9: Badagry, Nigeria & Lagos, Nigeria
  • Day 10: Lagos, Nigeria

WHY SHOULD I GO?

“Momentum comes from pushing, not from planning. Confidence comes from scars and risk, not from indecision.” – Life Doesn’t Start Tomorrow.

It starts with *you*. None of the following will ever matter unless you commit to your decision. Yes, dropping everything for something totally new and unknown can be scary! But nobody ever learned how to ride a bike by reading about it; you have to get on the damn thing! So get on and go!

You might respond with “Yeah, but…” “’Yeah, but…’ is pernicious. Because it makes it sound like we have the best of intentions when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards, while sounding noble.” – 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young.

Let’s entertain the possibility that you’ll skip out. Then watch us as we come back safe and sound, share our stories, show you our photos, and talk about how our lives have changed. Whether or not you will realize it then, when you have your first child, when in your midlife crisis, or on your deathbed, you’re inevitably going to regret that you missed out on an epic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This could set the tone for the rest of your life. Don’t let this happen. Starting slowly never ever works in travel and habits become harder to break once you’ve accustomed yourself to a way of approaching new experiences.

Do you think that to skydive you first have to look it up on Wikipedia, or learn to fall off a table? No. You simply jump. So those of you who want to travel, travel. And imagine how easy traveling will seem to you afterwards. Imagine how much confidence you’ll gain in yourself. Imagine the bragging rights and stories you’ll have when you come home. Not many people realize that the opportunity for a tremendously positive life change is right in front of their faces: This could be the very moment where you turn your life around and finally do something *epic*. The world won’t wait for you.

Do I need to show proof of vaccination from COVID-19?

Yes. I don’t think you’ll be allowed into the destination without one.

OK, I'M INTERESTED: How do I pay?

A 40% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), PayPal, Zelle, Revolut, Square, Cash App, or Venmo.

What days should I book my flights to arrive?

Depends on what part of the trip you sign up for; please confirm with us directly before purchasing tickets!

Do you provide flight advice/support to get the cheapest flights?

Yep! We have expertise in this area and would be happy to assist you in booking the cheapest flights, finding hack fares, or work with loyalty mile programs to getting you free economy, business class, or first class flights.

I’d love to come, but I’m limited on budget.

Contact us anyway and we can come up with a deal or financial aid packages.

Can I come alone?

Yes, many of our monsooners have joined our trip by themselves and end up meeting a whole new group of friends. We usually attract people who come from a range of backgrounds and have different levels of experience with travel.

What if I don’t usually like traveling with people?

Our trips are designed by independent travelers with independent travel in mind — we want to provide everyone with the opportunity and experience of traveling alone should they choose to. Therefore, there’s zero pressure to stick with the group anytime. So if you want to venture off to a museum or try a different restaurant, by all means: Do it! The group will only be expected to stay together for transportation between cities.

Will you accommodate food restrictions?

Of course. Just tell us ahead of time when you sign up and we can make accommodations easily.

Do I need visas?

Depends on your nationality and type of passport. People with USA and EU nationalities do not need visas. Otherwise, we can help you with this if you need any visas. Please ask!

Will someone provide me with a list of tasks I need to complete for visas or pre-entry credentials

Yes, of course!

Do you recommend travel insurance?

Yes! These days you can never be sure. After years of trying everything we recommend going with G1G insurance.

Terms and Conditions between The Monsoon Diaries LLC, henceforth called “MD,” and the customer, henceforth called the “customer.” Booking a tour with MD acknowledges customer understanding and agreement to the following terms and conditions.

BOOKING POLICY

  • A 40% deposit is due upon booking confirmation and is non-refundable. The balance of payment is due 1 week before the tour commences. Following receipt of deposit customer is required to send relevant details for issuing of relevant permits.
  • Failure to send true and correct information may result in refusal of visa, or permit, and thus results in forfeit of deposit.
  • Should visa, or permit be refused through no fault of the customer, the customer shall receive a full refund minus associated banking costs.
  • In the event of personal injury, or bereavement that prevents the customer taking part on the tour, MD reserve the right to increase the deposit minus associated fees.

CANCELLATION POLICY All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of receipt by MD. Tour refunds will be given according to the table below.

  • 12 weeks (90 days) prior to the tour customers receive a 100% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 60 – 89 days prior to the tour customers receive a 50% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 8-59 days prior to the tour customers to receive a 10% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • Cancellations received on the day of or within 1 week of departure are non-refundable

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

  • MD may change these Terms & and Conditions at any time. MD will notify customers if changes to the booking terms and conditions are made.
  • It is the responsibility of all customers, regardless of nationality and destination, to check with the consulate of the country they are visiting for current entry requirements. As visa and health requirements are subject to change with-out notice, we recommend that you verify health and visa requirements with the appropriate consulate prior to departure.
  • Price quotations are subject to change without notice, until a booking has been confirmed.
  • MD fully reserves the right to change or amend all itineraries on a case by case basis depending on the situation on the ground. MD will always provide a suitable replacement for anything cancelled on an itinerary.
  • Train, and flight tickets are subject to availability. MD reserve the right to change the mode of transport depending on availability.
  • If for any reason, a client does not complete any portion of their tour or abandons their scheduled tour after departure, MD will not grant a partial refund, nor shall there be any credit given towards future travel.

VISAS As with all travel there is always a minor chance that a visa will be refused. MD has an excellent track record for visas with a relatively insignificant amount having ever been turned down and all were with good reason. If the customer has provided accurate information to us and their visa is refused and refunded, MD will in turn grant a full refund of any payments made to MD minus associated transfer fees and costs but will not be held responsible for any costs incurred by the customer in traveling to Beijing, Kuala Lumpur or any other location from which their tour was scheduled to depart. In the event you have intentionally misled us in an attempt to enter a country, we will retain your deposit.

FORCE MAJEURE In the event of an uncontrollable event, such as war, revolution, and or natural disaster, the customer shall be entitled to a full refund. What constitutes force majeure is decided solely by the company.

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

TRAVEL INSURANCE Medical treatment in many destinations is not free, and it is strongly recommended that the customer take out their own travel insurance, AND check with the issuer whether it is valid in the country of the tour. MD does not provide, nor imply provision of health/travel insurance.

LOCAL LAWS

  • Customers are required to follow local laws and regulations at all times. In the result of a breach of local law, MD will not be held in any way responsible and the customer will take responsibility for any consequences, financial or otherwise, that arise from their actions.
  • Customers are required to follow the guidance and company rules of MD at all times. MD reserves the right to expel customers from the tour who do not follow company rules, without refund.

TOUR ITINERARY Due to the nature of travel/tourism of certain countries, itineraries do not provide or imply a guarantee of the tour’s contents. Though we will make every effort to keep itineraries as described and to find suitable replacements, the company reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary in response to unforeseeable events.  

TRAVEL EXCEPTIONS MD reserves the right in extreme cases to refuse service to anyone we deem unsuitable for one of our tours, in the event that MD deems you unsuitable prior to a tour any payment made to MD will be refunded minus associated transfer costs.  

TRANSIT VISA In the event the customer intends to travel to and from a country using a transit visa they bear full responsibility for ensuring the transit visa is organized correctly. MD will of course offer assistance in the event of issues arising with customer’s transit, but will in no case be held liable for any costs incurred in arranging customer exits.



Price inclusive of:

  • All accommodations
  • All transport to complete the tour
  • Admission fees

Price exclusive of:

  • Transport/International flights to begin and end the trip
  • Visa fees
  • All meals
  • Drinks and personal spending



Interested in joining us for West Africa 2022 or 2023?

9 + 8 =

Burkina Faso

February 2-7, 2023

Ouagadougou

Banfora

Sindou

Bobo Dioulasso

Tiébélé

Burkina Faso

Feb 2-7, 2023

For our partners at YPT, Burkina Faso has to be one of their favorite countries to visit in Africa. Home of Thomas Sankara, pan-African revolutionary, home of stunning scenery and striking incredible culture, not to mention home to a whole lot of wonderful people!

We begin with an arrival into Ougadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso where we’ll meet our local guide and driver, then kick off a road-trip to Koudougou, a vibrant Burkinabe city with museums, workshops and a bustling marketplace.

We then head to the capital city, Ouagadougou, where we’ll explore the surrounding beautiful natural scenery, spending some time in one of the most artistically stunning villages in Africa and finally see out the tour with a magnificent farewell party in the marquis and open-air bars beloved by local Burkinabe.

Thursday 2nd February – Ouagadougou – Koudougou (Burkina Faso)

  • Arrival into Ouagadougou at your own convenience. Those joining from our earlier Mali tour arrive from Bamako. (Expected at 11:20
  • Pre-tour meeting and get-together with YPT guide and fellow travellers in the lobby of the Auberge du Grand Calao hotel to go over our itinerary and any plans for the coming days.
  • Head out for lunch at a local restaurant to explore a little of Ouagadougou and get to know each-other before starting off proper.
  • Kick things off with a short road trip to Koudougou, Burkina Faso’s third most populous city.
  • Check out the Rayimi Museum, home to many old artefacts and photos, including an old national flag that went on the moon!
  • Visit a brass workshop to see how local Burkinabe people work and what kind of crafts they produce.
  • As the sun sets, it’s time to head out and explore the local nightlife and find a nice place for dinner.
  • Overnight in Koudougou at the Hotel Dima.

Friday 3rd February – Banfora

  • Breakfast in town
  • Morning departure to Banfora via Dedougou and Bobo Dioulasso, complete with some stops at local roadside villages. We’ll be checking out granaries, a village potter, the pottery market of Tcheriba and their beautiful adobe (mud-brick) mosque.
  • Visit the Fabedougou Domes to watch the sunset. These stunning rock formations are over 2 billion years old, yet they’ve hardly weathered at all in millennia. Looking closely, one can see the signs of ancient ocean erosion, from eons ago when the land was covered in water. This area was historically used by locals to hide from neighbouring tribes.
  • Dinner in town with plenty of options from local maquis to nice and cosy French restaurants.
  • Overnight in Banfora at the Hotel Calypso

Saturday 4th February – Sindou – Bobo Dioulasso

  • Early sunrise boat trip on the Tengrela Lake where we can watch hippos up close and personal! (But not too close and personal… Though according to local legend, the hippos are sacred and would never attack humans.)
  • Lakeside breakfast
  • Travel onwards to the village of Sindou.
  • Hike 1.5km to the Karfiguela Falls, a series of waterfalls that marks one of Burkina Faso’s most popular tourist sites.
  • Picnic lunch by the falls and a dip in the refreshing water to cool off from the hot Burkinabe sun.
  • Explore the village and the impressive rock formations for which it is renowned for, the ‘Peaks of Sindou’. Reaching a grand 415 meters above sea level, it’s the highest point in Burkina Faso. Historically, the peaks were a popular place for many to live as it offered excellent natural defence against invaders. Each rock formation has a story and our local guides can tell us all about them while we enjoy the stunning views of Burkina Faso.
  • Drive out of Sindou and visit Kawara – a village of potters known for performing a traditional pottery dance.
  • Continue onwards to Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city in the country and home to beautiful neo-Sudanic architecture for dinner.
  • Visit the maquis, typical Burkinabe open-air bars which turn into nightclubs. A good opportunity to mingle with the locals and have a fun time!
  • Overnight in Bobo Dioulasso at the Hotel Villa Rose annex

Sunday 5th February – Bobo Dioulasso – Ouagadougou

  • Breakfast in town
  • Explore the old neighbourhood and grasp the feeling of what life was like in old Burkina Faso, or as it was known during the colonial times – the Upper Volta. Burkina Faso, the name given by Thomas Sankara, can be translated as “The land of the upright men.”
  • Visit the Grand Mosque, built in traditional Sudanic architecture from the late 1900s, when this area was part of the ‘Kingdom of Sia’.
  • Time allowing, followed by a short drive and a 1km hike to Dafra – known for the famous pilgrimage site in Burkina Faso where people come from far to sacrifice animals to the local catfish. Things get very real as we get up close to those animist rituals. Please note that it is taboo to wear red clothes and take photos on this site.
  • Road-trip to Ouagadougou. We’ll make scenic stops and have a lunch break along the way to stretch our legs including a last stop in Bazoule – a sacred crocodile pond. Much like with the hippos earlier, the locals respect and co-exist with the crocodiles. The crocodiles are never hunted, harmed or killed. In exchange, the crocs do not eat the locals. Believe it or not, it’s even possible to play with the crocodiles, some of which are believed to be over a hundred years old, with the oldest dubbed the ‘old man of the lake’.
  • Arrival in Ouagadougou, where we’ll find a restaurant to eat at and then go enjoy some night-life!
  • Overnight in Ouagadougou at the Auberge du Grand Calao hotel.

Monday 6th February  – Ouagadougou – Tiébélé – Ouagadougou

  • Early breakfast and 7am pickup for another long road-trip to Tiébélé via the city of Pô. It’s in this city where the military first rebelled in 1983 to overthrow the president and bring pan-African revolutionary Captain Thomas Sankara to power.
  • Arrival in Tiébélé, where every house is a work of art! The traditional Gourounsi architecture is met with elaborate decorations to the walls of home, turning what could have been simple brown mud-brick to vibrant, intricate exhibitions of the local artistry of the Kassena people. Sometimes the paintings are purely decorative, other times they are an expression of local religion or commentary on life, much like western graffiti art.
  • After a long look around, including visiting the local Royal compound, we’ll have lunch in a local encampment or in Pô.
  • If possible, we may get to attend a traditional Kassena dancing ceremony!
  • At around 3pm, we’ll make our way back to Ouagadougou for dinner and more nightlife exploration.
  • Overnight in Ouagadougou at the hotel.

Tuesday 7th February – Ouagadougou

  • Morning breakfast and an early trip to Laongo granite park. Here, over 2000 sculptures carved into stone greet visitors, expressing the history, culture, spiritual practices or even just the basic raw creativity of local Burkinabe artists.
  • Return to Ouagadougou in the early afternoon to take in its sights properly.
  • Explore Ouaga 2000 – the futuristic city project where you’ll visit two monuments of great importance: the Monument to National Heroes and the Monument to the Martyrs. If you’ve visited North Korea, you’d feel that these monuments would fit right into Pyongyang.
  • Visit the roundabout of the Second of October – commemorating the day Sankara announced the Burkinabe revolution.
  • See the local railway station, a pride of Sankara’s revolution where the Burkinabe people built the rail with their own hands, without foreign aid.
  • Visit the statue of Thomas Sankara, where we’ll learn about Sankara’s role as ‘Africa’s Che Guevara’, a socialist revolutionary who continues to enjoy immense popularity among the Burkinabe population.
  • Check out local bronze workshops to see some of the artisanal crafts the capital has to offer, following up by buying some crafts ourselves at the village markets!
  • One last ‘Farewell’ dinner at a lovely restaurant in Ouagadougou, serving some of the best meals Burkina Faso has to offer.
  • Tour concludes with airport drop-off arranged according to your flight details – YPT is also able to arrange post-tour accommodation or advice for flights. For those departing later, YPT can arrange visits to the National Museum, Music Museum and handicraft market of Ouagadougou.

Mali is a country where tourism hasn’t only collapsed, it has died for now. It is a country that has been left hanging by international aid but is still the country that before 2011, that was renowned for its unique culture and incredible scenery. During our research trips there, we have bonded with incredible people, learned more about their rough but inspiring lives and totally fell in love with the country while always feeling safe. But there are some things, however, that you need to know before you go.

CERTAIN ZONES AREN’T SAFE

Some country collectors will fly to Bamako and then leave the country, scratching it off the list under the pretext that the rest of the country is too dangerous. That would be missing out, big time as Bamako is your average African capital and doesn’t show the whole reality of Mali. In fact, there are many places which will give you a good idea of Mali where you can go.

For the time being, there is a security line jointly manned by the UN and the FAMA, the Malian Armed Forces. This line is around Mopti — more specifically, by the town of Sévaré. If you make it up there, you will see a plethora of tanks, armored vans, and planes warding off the terrorist groups in the north of the country. By our own assessment, places south of this zone are relatively safe and include many mesmerizing places such as Segou, Djenne, Mopti itself and the Dogon Country which you don’t want to miss. This also means, however, that places north of this line, such as, very sadly, Timbuktu and Gao shouldn’t be visited, as they are still extremely volatile, especially for non-locals. While Timbuktu is probably Mali`s most famous tourism site along with the Dogon country, know that there is plenty of things to do, see and people to meet in the south of Mali. For a taste of the things you would find in Timbuktu, visit Djenne, where you will find the same representations of Islamic culture, scriptures and also the Grand Mosque of Djenne: the biggest mud building in the world.

 

DON’T GO THERE ALONE AS AN OUTSIDER

When visiting Mali, knowledge and connections are the key to a pleasant and successful trip. There are many things that outsiders just don’t hear about in Malian society, which is still pretty reliant on old tribal traditions and it is important to have someone who understand these codes to show you around.

Furthermore, by being with someone who is part of the community you are falling under the protection of that person. It is thus important to know and travel with influential people in the community. This will dissuade anyone to attempt anything with you as they will fear the retribution that would fall on them from everyone who is connected to your local contact, be it by tribe, family or friendship.

it is important to be with someone who knows the right person for every situation, not only for your safety but for the ease of your travels. Mali is a country where people aren’t relying on the state and government to solve their problem like we might be used to. So for any problem, there is always someone that you need to know to fix it. You’ll find that while there isn’t a one-stop shop to fix all problems, problems are often fixed faster than in the way due to the multitude of contacts people have to fix their problem.

YPT & TMD teams up in Mali exclusively with expert local guides who are respected pillars of their community and will give you the feeling that they know everyone.

 

HAVE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION

It’s a golden rule of travelling to the kind of places YPT/TMD visits: ‘’There aren’t dangerous countries so much as dangerous places and times within said countries.” A place that was dangerous last week might be safe next week and, likewise, a safe place might turn dangerous.

In Mali, as in many other African countries, you can’t really rely on the media and internet to get information. In the media, information is often simplified since it is directed towards people looking for a general point of view and who haven’t been to Mali. On the internet, things tend to be out of date as most local people do not have access to the internet yet and things are mostly written by outsiders.

So this point is kind of linked with the previous one; it is important to know people on the ground that you can trust to give you the word on the street. Usually, there are signs that things are brewing and our local guides are trained to spot these signs. At YPT/TMD, we will not hesitate to change our itineraries based on the latest local news for our group’s safety. Generally, however, the places we visit are the ones which have not known trouble for a long time and are kept orderly by their community.

 

REGISTER AT YOUR GOVERNMENT TRAVEL SERVICE

Every government has a kind of travel service where citizens of the country can register. Usually there is a website where you can do that in a few minutes. It is important to do that when visiting Mali as this gives your government knowledge of the fact that you are in Mali and important information to reach you and your relative in the unlikely event where any trouble should happen.

Usually, embassies and consular missions will be much more helpful if you have registered to them in advance and this can save some precious time.

 

GET GOOD HEALTH, TRAVEL AND CANCELLATION INSURANCE\

Insurance: one of the only things, along with nuclear weapons, which we pay for praying that we never have to use it. While it might seem like a waste of money when you don’t use it, you’ll be glad to have spent a few euros or dollars on insurance should you need it.

Hospitals in Mali can be quite simple and should you get sick or hurt, you’ll want to either go to one of those expensive international hospitals or be carried to another country. This can be very costly but your insurance should cover it.

As Mali is considered a danger zone, however, you should know that regular insurance companies won’t cover it and you’ll have to sign up with an insurance company specialized in risky areas. For a couple of dollars, you can get sufficient insurance for the duration of your trip with companies such as G1G or First Allied, who specialize in conflict zones.

 

With these tips in hand, we are sure you will have a memorable experience in Mali and will not fee unsafe wherever you go.

To have a great experience without the hassle and worries, come with us on our next Mali & Burkina Faso tour with YPT!

-Pier Doyon

WHY SHOULD I GO?

“Momentum comes from pushing, not from planning. Confidence comes from scars and risk, not from indecision.” – Life Doesn’t Start Tomorrow.

It starts with *you*. None of the following will ever matter unless you commit to your decision. Yes, dropping everything for something totally new and unknown can be scary! But nobody ever learned how to ride a bike by reading about it; you have to get on the damn thing! So get on and go!

You might respond with “Yeah, but…” “’Yeah, but…’ is pernicious. Because it makes it sound like we have the best of intentions when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards, while sounding noble.” – 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young.

Let’s entertain the possibility that you’ll skip out. Then watch us as we come back safe and sound, share our stories, show you our photos, and talk about how our lives have changed. Whether or not you will realize it then, when you have your first child, when in your midlife crisis, or on your deathbed, you’re inevitably going to regret that you missed out on an epic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This could set the tone for the rest of your life. Don’t let this happen. Starting slowly never ever works in travel and habits become harder to break once you’ve accustomed yourself to a way of approaching new experiences.

Do you think that to skydive you first have to look it up on Wikipedia, or learn to fall off a table? No. You simply jump. So those of you who want to travel, travel. And imagine how easy traveling will seem to you afterwards. Imagine how much confidence you’ll gain in yourself. Imagine the bragging rights and stories you’ll have when you come home. Not many people realize that the opportunity for a tremendously positive life change is right in front of their faces: This could be the very moment where you turn your life around and finally do something *epic*. The world won’t wait for you.

Do I need to show proof of vaccination from COVID-19?

Yes. I don’t think you’ll be allowed into the destination without one.

OK, I'M INTERESTED: How do I pay?

A 40% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), PayPal, Zelle, Revolut, Square, Cash App, or Venmo.

What days should I book my flights to arrive?

Depends on what part of the trip you sign up for; please confirm with us directly before purchasing tickets!

Do you provide flight advice/support to get the cheapest flights?

Yep! We have expertise in this area and would be happy to assist you in booking the cheapest flights, finding hack fares, or work with loyalty mile programs to getting you free economy, business class, or first class flights.

I’d love to come, but I’m limited on budget.

Contact us anyway and we can come up with a deal or financial aid packages.

Can I come alone?

Yes, many of our monsooners have joined our trip by themselves and end up meeting a whole new group of friends. We usually attract people who come from a range of backgrounds and have different levels of experience with travel.

What if I don’t usually like traveling with people?

Our trips are designed by independent travelers with independent travel in mind — we want to provide everyone with the opportunity and experience of traveling alone should they choose to. Therefore, there’s zero pressure to stick with the group anytime. So if you want to venture off to a museum or try a different restaurant, by all means: Do it! The group will only be expected to stay together for transportation between cities.

Will you accommodate food restrictions?

Of course. Just tell us ahead of time when you sign up and we can make accommodations easily.

Do I need visas?

Depends on your nationality and type of passport. People with USA and EU nationalities do not need visas. Otherwise, we can help you with this if you need any visas. Please ask!

Will someone provide me with a list of tasks I need to complete for visas or pre-entry credentials

Yes, of course!

Do I need travel insurance?

Up to you! Some credit cards already include some sort of travel insurance (check with them). We tend to find the cheapest ones with our partners (with options for medical coverage included!) at G1G Travel Insurance

Terms and Conditions between The Monsoon Diaries LLC, henceforth called “MD,” and the customer, henceforth called the “customer.” Booking a tour with MD acknowledges customer understanding and agreement to the following terms and conditions. BOOKING POLICY

  • A 40% deposit is due upon booking confirmation and is non-refundable. The balance of payment is due 1 week before the tour commences. Following receipt of deposit customer is required to send relevant details for issuing of relevant permits.
  • Failure to send true and correct information may result in refusal of visa, or permit, and thus results in forfeit of deposit.
  • Should visa, or permit be refused through no fault of the customer, the customer shall receive a full refund minus associated banking costs.
  • In the event of personal injury, or bereavement that prevents the customer taking part on the tour, MD reserve the right to increase the deposit minus associated fees.

CANCELLATION POLICY All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of receipt by MD. Tour refunds will be given according to the table below.

  • 12 weeks (90 days) prior to the tour customers receive a 100% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 60 – 89 days prior to the tour customers receive a 50% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 8-59 days prior to the tour customers to receive a 10% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • Cancellations received on the day of or within 1 week of departure are non-refundable

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

  • MD may change these Terms & and Conditions at any time. MD will notify customers if changes to the booking terms and conditions are made.
  • It is the responsibility of all customers, regardless of nationality and destination, to check with the consulate of the country they are visiting for current entry requirements. As visa and health requirements are subject to change with-out notice, we recommend that you verify health and visa requirements with the appropriate consulate prior to departure.
  • Price quotations are subject to change without notice, until a booking has been confirmed.
  • MD fully reserves the right to change or amend all itineraries on a case by case basis depending on the situation on the ground. MD will always provide a suitable replacement for anything cancelled on an itinerary.
  • Train, and flight tickets are subject to availability. MD reserve the right to change the mode of transport depending on availability.
  • If for any reason, a client does not complete any portion of their tour or abandons their scheduled tour after departure, MD will not grant a partial refund, nor shall there be any credit given towards future travel.

VISAS As with all travel there is always a minor chance that a visa will be refused. MD has an excellent track record for visas with a relatively insignificant amount having ever been turned down and all were with good reason. If the customer has provided accurate information to us and their visa is refused and refunded, MD will in turn grant a full refund of any payments made to MD minus associated transfer fees and costs but will not be held responsible for any costs incurred by the customer in traveling to Beijing, Kuala Lumpur or any other location from which their tour was scheduled to depart. In the event you have intentionally misled us in an attempt to enter a country, we will retain your deposit.

FORCE MAJEURE In the event of an uncontrollable event, such as war, revolution, and or natural disaster, the customer shall be entitled to a full refund. What constitutes force majeure is decided solely by the company. Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

TRAVEL INSURANCE Medical treatment in many destinations is not free, and it is strongly recommended that the customer take out their own travel insurance, AND check with the issuer whether it is valid in the country of the tour. MD does not provide, nor imply provision of health/travel insurance.

LOCAL LAWS

  • Customers are required to follow local laws and regulations at all times. In the result of a breach of local law, MD will not be held in any way responsible and the customer will take responsibility for any consequences, financial or otherwise, that arise from their actions.
  • Customers are required to follow the guidance and company rules of MD at all times. MD reserves the right to expel customers from the tour who do not follow company rules, without refund.

TOUR ITINERARY Due to the nature of travel/tourism of certain countries, itineraries do not provide or imply a guarantee of the tour’s contents. Though we will make every effort to keep itineraries as described and to find suitable replacements, the company reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary in response to unforeseeable events.  

TRAVEL EXCEPTIONS MD reserves the right in extreme cases to refuse service to anyone we deem unsuitable for one of our tours, in the event that MD deems you unsuitable prior to a tour any payment made to MD will be refunded minus associated transfer costs.  

TRANSIT VISA In the event the customer intends to travel to and from a country using a transit visa they bear full responsibility for ensuring the transit visa is organized correctly. MD will of course offer assistance in the event of issues arising with customer’s transit, but will in no case be held liable for any costs incurred in arranging customer exits.

Price inclusive of:

  • Accommodation in twin share basis rooms or camping single tents
  • Letter of Invitation and full visa support
  • Air conditioned 4WD transport
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Dinners when camping
  • Entrance fees and tributes/gifts to communities
  • English speaking local guide and YPT/TMD tour guide

Price exclusive of:

  • All flights
  • Dinners in cities
  • Visa fees
  • Single supplement (€220)
  • Extra drinks and personal spending
  • Any COVID-19 test if applicable

Interested in joining us for Burkina Faso?

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