Socotra Island

November 19-27, 2019

Egypt

November 27 – Dec 7, 2019

The Saharan Odyssey

Jan 4 – Feb 11, 2020

Syria

March 30 – April 6

Sign up deadline: January 9, 2020!

Svalbard

October 14-19, 2020



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!



Socotra Island (Yemen)

November 19-27

Socotra Island

Socotra Island (Yemen)

November 19-27, 2019

Tuesday 19th November – Cairo

  • Arrival at your convenience in Cairo
  • Around 8:00 pm we will meet somewhere central and there will be a place to leave your bag before we head out for dinner and getting to know each other and meet those who have just finished our tour of Alternative Egypt or maybe even South Sudan!
  • Around 10:00pm we will head to the airport to catch our Yemenia Airways flight to Socotra.

Wednesday 20th November – Habido – Ayhaft Canyon National Park – Delisha Beach

  • We will catch our 2:00am flight from Cairo, stopping for a quick layover in Seiyun, mainland Yemen and heading to the island!
  • Arrival in Habido, Socotra at 8:45am . Upon arrival we’ll be greeted by our local Socotri guide who will accompany us for the trip.
  • Short drive to Ayhaft Canyon National Park.
  • Time to wash off the tiredness from that redeye flight by swimming at Delisha Beach. It is a beautiful white beach next to the sea and a lagoon.
  • Enjoy the magnificent sunset over the sea from the sand dunes, where you’ll see different ships passing by.
  • Dinner at the Delish Tourist Complex.
  • Overnight in our centrally located hotel in Hadibo.

Thursday 21st November – Homhil National Park – Arher

  • After breakfast we’ll head for Homhil National Park. Homhil National Park is famous for its Dragon’s blood trees, which cannot be found anywhere else. But that’s not all: many other impressive forms of flora like the bottle tree and the cucumber plant can be found here. After an hour’s walk we’ll reach an amazing crystal-clear pool with a view over the whole southern part of Socotra.
  • Lunch.
  • The most hardcore amongst us can descend from the mountain on foot. Others can walk back to the car and be driven down towards the beach.
  • Drive to Arher.
  • Arher is the meeting point of freshwater and saltwater, creating an impressive natural phenomenon. Over here you’ll find some giant sand dunes.
  • You will be free to walk around the area on your own. Those up to the challenge can climb the 300m-high sand dune found here.
  • Dinner and overnight in Arher.

Friday 22nd November – Arher – Hoq’s Cave/Raw Ersil – Dihamri Marine Protected Area

  • After waking up next to the beach people can choose between 2 morning activities:
  • A steep hike to Hoq’s Cave (4 hours). This is one of the most important spots on the island. OR:
  • Be driven to Raw Erisel, the meeting point of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean and walk from there back to the camp.
  • Once everybody has returned from their chosen activity, we’ll drive to Dihamri Marine Protected Area. While the beach may not be so spectacular here, in the sea you’ll find a great diversity of flora and fauna.
  • Here, diving and snorkelling are available (rental available, extra cost) or you can also decide to join the local fishermen for sea expedition!
  • We’ll bring back freshly caught fish from the sea for dinner in Dihamri. .
  • Overnight in Hadibo.

 Saturday 23rd November – Dixsam

  • We’ll drive to the Dixsam Plateau. This is the most famous spot for the Dragon’s Blood trees, where you can also spot many rare birds.
  • Along the way we’ll stop for photos at Shehahon’s viewpoint
  • We will have lunch in the village of Dixsam. Here we’ll meet the head of the village who will happily tell more about his functions here and the situation of the people living on Socotra Island.
  • Stop at Wadi Derhur where we can take a walk. This used to be a famous camping spot, but sadly, after a major storm everything was damaged.
  • Hike through the beginning of Fermahin – a forest of Dragon’s Blood trees.
  • Tonight we’ll mingle with the people of a typical Socotri village!
  • Dinner and overnight at a homestay in Dixsam.

Sunday 24th November –Zahek & Hayf – Dagub – Amak 

  • Today, we`ll head out for walk through the village accompanied by our new local friends, including a visit to the local garden, where they try to plant new Dragon’s Blood trees.
  • Drive towards the Southern coast at Nogud.
  • Stop at the big sand dunes of Sahek and Hayf at Amak Beach, where you can swim in the sea.
  • Cave of Dagub.
  • Lunch at the cave or at Amak Beach, depending on the sun.
  • Dinner and overnight in Dixsam, surrounded by Dragon’s Blood trees.

Monday 25th November – Qalansiya – Shuaab    

  • Early morning drive to Qalansiya, the second biggest city on the island.
  • We’ll take an half an hour long boat trip to Shuaab, passing by huge rock formations and flocks of birds. If we are lucky we might spot a few dolphins!
  • Relax at the most beautiful beach of Socotra and meet the local goat herder, guarding his flock against the lupine hordes. Lunch on the beach.
  • Upon returning to Qalansiya we’ll drive to Detwah Lagoon.
  • Here we’ll make our camp and you can walk around the big lagoon and see the amazing landscape.
  • Overnight camping at Detwah Eco-campsite.

 Tuesday 26th November – Hadibo

  • Return to Hadibo.
  • We’ll spend the day on a city tour of Hadibo  and learn more about life in Yemen.
  • Our first stop will be the women market (including its spice market) where you will get to see the kind of goods people barter on the islands.
  • We will then head to the fish market. Here the fishermen bring a cornucopia of sea creatures and try to sell them to make ends meet. This place can get very lively and we might catch some auctions!
  • We’ll then head to the khat market; it is here that the stimulating narcotic — all the rage in Eastern Africa — is sold.
  • We will stop by the streets of the manufacturers of doors; these artists make ornate doors like those that can be found around many middle-eastern countries. They really make an art of it as each door is unique and is supposed to represent the family that lives inside the house it protects.
  • We finish our day trip popping by a local school where we meet students, as well as the teachers, and interact with them. An impromptu English lesson, maybe?
  • Tonight is our last night in the faraway paradise, so we will celebrate the great times we had!
  • Overnight in our hotel in Hadibo

Wednesday 27th November – Habido – Cairo (Egypt)

  • We wake up early to catch our 9:45 flight back to Cairo.
  • We shall arrive, provided there are no delays, around 14:45 in Cairo
  • End of tour.
  • MD/YPT is able to organise your trip to your next destination!

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.

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

A 30% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), mailed check, PayPal, Chase Quickpay, Square Cash, 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 boast 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 at: https://www.travelinsurance.com/

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 30% 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:

  • Entry fees to protected areas
  • Accommodation in Socotra: hotels & camping in protected areas
  • Camping & cooking equipment
  • Transportation to complete itinerary in Socotra
  • Local tour guide and YPT/MD tour guide
  • All meals in Socotra
  • Activities (unless specified otherwise)

Price exclusive of:

  • Roundtrip Flight between Cairo and Socotra (€1150 )
  • Visa Fee (€100)
  • Optional Single Supplement (3 nights €120)
  • Travel Insurance
  • International flights to and from Cairo
  • Tips for the local guide and drivers
  • Personal spendings

Interested in joining us for Socotra Island?

8 + 4 =

Egypt

The 10 Year Anniversary

November 27 – December 7

Cairo

Alexandria

Aswan

Abu Simbel

Luxor

Egypt

November 27 – December 7, 2019

  • November 27: Cairo
  • November 28: The Great Pyramids, Giza
  • November 29: Cairo
  • November 30: Aswan
  • December 1: Abu Simbel
  • December 2-4: Luxor
  • December 5-6: Alexandra
  • December 6-7: Cairo

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.

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

A 50% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), mailed check, PayPal, Chase Quickpay, Square Cash, 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 boast 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 at: https://www.travelinsurance.com/

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 30% 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:

  • Entry fees
  • All Accommodations
  • Transportation & Overnight Trains to complete itinerary in Egypt
  • Local tour guide and MD tour guide
  • Day trips to The Pyramids, Luxor East/West Bank, and Abu Simbel

Price exclusive of:

  • Visa Fee
  • Travel Insurance
  • International flights to and from Cairo
  • Tips for the local guide and drivers
  • Personal spendings
  • Food/Drinks

Interested in joining us for Egypt?

5 + 13 =

The Saharan Odyssey

Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso

January 4 – February 11, 2020

Algiers, Algeria

Djemilla, Algeria

Constantine, Algeria

Bechar, Algeria

Taghit, Algeria

Timimoun, Algeria

Tindouf, Algeria

Oran, Algeria

Casablanca, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Agadir, Morocco

Laayoune

Dakhla

Nouadhibou, Mauritania

Chinguitty, Mauritania

Ouadane, Mauritania

Atar, Mauritania

Nouakchott, Mauritania

Bamako, Mali

Segou, Mali

Djenne, Mali

Mopti, Mali

Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso

Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

Sindou, Burkina Faso

Banfora, Burkina Faso

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

The Saharan Odyssey

January 4- February 11, 2020

Join Young Pioneer Tours and The Monsoon Diaries as we explore for the first time one of the biggest countries of Africa – Algeria. Often compared to the rest of French speaking North Africa, Algeria is a jewel for travelers. Contrary to Morocco and Tunisia, most of Algeria hasn’t been exposed to mass tourism yet, making it a very authentic and mysterious experience of the Maghreb.

Algeria blends in history from many important periods of the world. From the Roman empire to very contemporary muslim movements going by French imperialism. We will spend our stay there hunting the traces of these eras. This tour provide a real in-depth experience of this enormous country. We will be visiting the roman ruins of Djemilla, staying in the visiting the majestic city of bridges of Constantine and hanging out by the oasis of Terghit; with everyday bringing completely different experiences.

It wouldn’t be a YPT/MD trip without going completely off the beaten track and this is why we will go visit the refugee camps of the Polisario, or the people of Western Sahara who have left their country hoping to muster their forces to take it back.

Then in Casablanca, Morocco and ending in Nouakchott, Mauritania the second part of our tour will take us into unrecognised Western Sahara overland. Also known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic republic (SADR) the country was declared independent in 1976 but has only been recognized by 28 states and has control only over a largely uninhabited eastern slice of territory.

The trip will finish in Mauritania, a lesser-known country which rapidly became one of our favourites around the world. There we will take the famed Mauritania Iron ore train in open carriages into the Saharan sunset. The train is 3km in length and is one of the heaviest in the world. We’ll make one of those carriage our temporary home as we ride through the starry night of the desert on this high-adrenaline ride. This unique trip highlight is not to be missed!

We’ll also ride through the desert to see UNESCO world heritage Chinguetti, a holy city of islam. We’ll tour its libraries and other historical monuments and buildings, then visit the incredible sceneries of the Adrar region and the ancient city of Ouadane before finishing up in the Atlantic fish-markets of the Mauritanian capital – Nouakchott.

Thus begins Part 3 of our tour — The moment YPT did their research trip to Mali, they profoundly fell in love with the country. It is filled with opportunities for proper YPT/MD moments. Mali has been abandoned all together by mainstream tourism, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t filled with encounters with lovely people, a fascinating history and cultural context.

Mali and Burkina Faso do not have much touristic infrastructures anymore. As such, a group tour there truly make sense, as we our expert local partners will organize our own 4WD cars and camping sites where accommodation isn’t readily available. It is, without a doubt, one of the most sensible way to see these countries and make the most of it!

During this trip, we will visit Segou, the sleepy river town where we will mingle with the locals and learn more about the everyday Malian life. We then head to Djenne. While Timbuktu isn’t safe enough at the moment for us to confidently offer tours there, Djenne offers a great alternative, with the same kind of architectural wonders made of mud. This town, a UNESCO site, will be completely ours to visit and has a plethora of sites of interest.

Leaving Djenne behind, we will then move to Mopti, which is right by the line of control by the UN forces, giving us an idea of the conflict that happens in the north but also giving us access to a very busy city of Mali. The boat ride we will be on in this city is one of YPT/MD’s definite favourite.

A trip to Mali wouldn’t be complete without a visit of the Dogon Tribe. Using our great relation with one of the tribes, we will stay and visit one of the isolated village of the rocky plains. The scenery alone would be enough to justify a visit, but we will also get the chance to see an authentic mask ceremony, where, in the ancestral animist beliefs, the elders of the village chase bad spirits and bring the good ones.

Those who follow us on part B will make their entrance in the second country of this trip: Burkina Faso. For the first time, YPT/MD will visit the country which was the scene of some of the most interesting development in the history of the idea of panafricanism and anti-colonial struggle. The birthplace of Africa`s Che Guevara: Thomas Sankara.

On our first day in Burkina Faso, we will visit Yako, the town where Sankara was born. There, we will get to meet some of his relatives and learn more about his history.

In Bobo Dioulasso, we live the proper Burkina village life, going around mosques, fetish and sorcery sites on horseback.

We will get to witness life there up close, visiting many villages and spectating the different ethnic traditions of each of them. We can also expect breathtaking sceneries and abundant fauna with unique rock formations surrounding them. If this didn’t get wild enough, we’ll visit a village were people coexist peacefully with hippopotamuses!

Our trip will end in Ouagadougou, where will we do a full city tour accompanied by friends and relatives of Sankara and a party to be remembered in the maquis, the open-air bars the Burkinabe swear by!

This trip involves a fair bit of camping and might not be as comfortable as our other trips, but it is sure to offer an off the beaten path experience. We will be staying in accommodation we vouch for, with extraordinary people.

Due to the logistical and infrastructural limitations that come with a trip to Mali and Burkina Faso, this trip is capped at 12 participants, with priority being given to people booking both parts. Make sure not to be left out! Join early!  

And if you do not have enough time to complete the whole itinerary, it is possible to also start from other cities along the way. Contact us for a special quote!

Saturday 4th January – Algiers

  • Arrival into Algiers at your convenience. Algiers has flights from many countries of Africa and Europe
  • Meet at 6pm at our hotel, hotel Samir, for dinner and pre-tour meeting where you can get to know your fellow travelers and YPT/MD guide
  • After dinner we will explore the nightlife of Algiers.
  • Overnight in Hotel Samir

Sunday 5th January – Algiers

  • After a sustaining breakfast, we head out for a full day tour of the best of Algiers!
  • Our first stop is the Kasbah of Algiers. One of the oldest part of the town, the Kasbah is a citadel filled with winding streets.
  • We then head to the Martyr Square. One of the most iconic monument of Algiers, this massive sculpture was erected to commemorate the sacrifice of those who have fought the independence of Algeria. Our next stop is Bastion 23, also known as the Palais des Rais, one of the last standing example of what the Kasbah used to be like and a masterpiece of Moorish architecture. After the independence of Algeria, the palace was occupied by beggars and only reopened as a museum in 1994.
  • We continue our exploration of the Kasbah with Dar Khedaoudj el Amia. Now a museum to art and tradition, this palace was built in 1570 and is a wonderful testament of the past.
  • Our last stop in the Kasbah is the basilica Our Lady of Africa. This church is an important piece of history as it will help us understand the French presence in the times of the colony.
  • We head downtown to walk around, stopping by the Grande Poste or the General Post, an important building during the French period.
  • We have lunch at restaurant Lalla Mina, in a beautifully restored Andalucian-style building, specialized in seafood and traditional Algerian dishes.
  • In the late afternoon, we visit the museum of Antiquities which has artefacts from all over Algeria on display.
  • Dinner at restaurant Le Gourbi
  • Overnight in Algiers

Monday 6th January – Djemilla, Constantine

  • After our breakfast, we leave Algiers to head towards the ruin of Djemilla on our own minibus.
  • We should arrive by the ruins by noon. The ruins of the city of Djemila, also known as Cuicul, are a must stop on any trip to Algeria. The well preserved ruins are what is left of an ancient Roman colony dating from a hundred year before Jesus Christ. It is known as one of the world’s most beautiful roman ruins and its state of preservation truly allows us to picture what was life like at that time.
  • To understand more about the city, we pay a visit to its museum.
  • Lunch near the ruins
  • We take the long road to the city of Constantine, stopping along the way for many photo opportunities, arriving in the early evening.
  • Dinner in Igherssan Restaurant, from which we will have a great view of Constantine’s famous cliffs and bridges at night.
  • We head out to take the pulse of Constantine’s nightlife.
  • Overnight in Constantine.

Tuesday 7th January  – Constantine

  • Our day is dedicated to the exploration of Constantine. Referred to as the City of Bridges, it is truly a sight to behold. Here, houses built on cliffs are interconnected with stone bridges, something that seems like taken right out of the Lord of the Rings!
  • We first visit the Palace of Ahmed Bey, where the Algerian military moved in after independence.
  • We visit the ruins of the Antonian roman aqueduct.
  • We then head to Abd Al Hamid Ben Badis. Ben Badis was an important figure of Algeria and was very present during the struggle for Independence. Our guide will be able to give us more information about the man.
  • TRIP HIGHLIGHT – A tour of Constantine has to stop by the sidi M’cid Bridge or it isn’t complete. This enormous bridge, a feat of engineering, was the highest bridge in the world until 1925 hanging 125m high above the Rhummel River.
  • We then head to the second most important bridge of Constantine, Sidi Rached, an impressive viaduct bridge built in 1912.
  • We stop for lunch at the traditional restaurant El Khaima.
  • Our afternoon will be dedicated to the museum of Circa, containing collections of findings from the excavations nearby Constantine.
  • Dinner at a local restaurant with a traditional Algerian performance.
  • We continue our night exploration of Constantine as it is our last night here!
  • Overnight in Constantine

Wednesday 8th January – Bechar/Taghit

  • Up early in the morning for the drive to Algiers airport
  • We catch a domestic flight to Bechar, very close to the Moroccan border.
  • We leave the airport to head toward Taghit.
  • On the way there, we spot by the site of the rock painting of Taghit, here are found some well-preserved prehistorical paintings dating from 5000 years ago.
  • Taghit is the most well known oasis of Algeria and is renowned for its impressive citadel, which we will explore in-depth!
  • We’re having lunch by the oasis.
  • In the afternoon, we’ll have free time by the oasis market, sipping coffee with the very curious locals, who don’t see foreigners that often!
  • Then, it’s up the biggest sand dune of Algeria in time to witness a sunset which is guaranteed to be one of the prettiest you’ve ever seen!
  • Dinner in Taghit city
  • Overnight in Taghit

Thursday 9th January – Timimoun

  • After breakfast, we hop on the bus heading to Timimoun
  • Timimoun is known for the ochre coloured building made in the same style of architecture as the buildings of Djenne or Timbucktu in Mali.
  • We’ll spend the whole day visiting this city very few people have had the chance to visit.
  • Lunch in a local restaurant of Timimoun
  • We visit a local school in Timimoun and interact with the kids there.
  • Dinner in Timimoun
  • Overnight in Timimoun

Friday 10th January – Tindouf

  • Up early for our bus drive to Tindouf, the capital of the Sahrawi Government in exile and home to the camps of the Sahrawi refugees. We can expect many checkpoints as we are entering a sensitive zone.
  • TRIP HIGHLIGHT – We spend the day around Tindouf meeting refugees who will tell us their views about the future of Western Sahara and their impressive life stories. This is a place where very few foreigners get to go and as close as one can go to actual Polisario-controlled Western Sahara. We can expect many surprises!
  • Western Sahara was taken by Morocco during the Green March, a movement where the people of Morocco chased Spain from the zone. Originally, the territory of Western Sahara was to be split between Morocco, Mauritania and the Sahrawi people. To this day, Western Sahara is recognized as a country by 34 African countries but not recognized by the rest of the world.
  • Lunch in a Sahrawi restaurant
  • Our afternoon will also be dedicated to going around the camps, meeting the people and their reality at the doorstep of the world’s biggest unrecognized country.
  • Dinner and overnight in Tindouf.

Saturday 11th January  – Oran

  • Breakfast at our hotel in Tindouf
  • We head to the airport to catch our flight to Oran, the second biggest city of Algeria
  • We should arrive in Oran after lunch.
  • Our first stop in Oran will be Murdjajo, a mount from which we can have an incredible panoramic view of the city by the sea.
  • We then head to the fort of Santa Cruz, it is Oran most iconic sights, with its whitewashed walls overseeing the whole of the town. The fort has changed hands as often as Algeria as changed rulership. Built by the Ottoman, taken by the Spaniards, then the French and finally reclaimed by the Algerians, it is a real testament to the history of Algeria.
  • Inside the fort is a chapel which was built after the town barely survived an epidemic, so we’ll make sure to visit it.
  • We head back down to the city for our dinner.
  • Overnight in Oran

Sunday 12th January – Oran

  • After breakfast, our morning is spent exploring French Oran and the remains of the colony.
  • We’ll head to the Place d’Armes which is ideal for people-watching.
  • We check the masterpiece of architecture that was the Theater of Oran
  • The most impressive religious building of Oran is the church of Sacre-Coeur and it is our next stop!
  • If there is one thing the French were good at building around their colonies, it’s Post Offices, and we’ll have plenty of time to check the majestic Grande Poste of Oran.
  • This leaves us with a walk by the beachfront of Oran, where we’ll stop for tea of coffee and relax
  • Afterwards, we make our way to the palace of bay Mohamed. It is one of the most exquisite building of Oran, built to honour Mohamed El-Khebir, who wrestled Oran away from the Spaniards. By doing so, Mohamed became an important figure of the resistance against Spain in Algeria.
  • We then head out for lunch at one of Oran’s best restaurants.
  • Free afternoon in the city to do some last minute souvenir shopping and such
  • Overnight in Oran with drinks to celebrate the completion of our tour!

Monday 13th January – End of Part 1

  • For those who carry on to Casablanca and Part 2, we catch our flight on Air Algerie to Casablanca right after lunch
  • End of tour, with YPT/MD able to arrange connections to your next destination! Oran has cheap flights to Paris, London, Madrid and Istanbul, amongst others.
  • Arrive in Casablanca at own time and make your way downtown to our centrally located hotel, the Hotel Diwan, to meet your group members coming from Algeria in the afternoon
  • Dinner in a traditional Moroccan restaurant for an absolute feast followed by belly-dancing.
  • Hit the old town and Medina to experience some of Casablanca’s dark and dingy nightlife!
  • Overnight in Casablanca

Tuesday 14th January – Casablanca, Marrakech

  • Breakfast in the hotel and check out
  • We spend the morning sightseeing around the Moroccan economic capital. While not aesthetically beautiful the city is Morocco’s most progressive and liberal as well as being culturally very diverse. It’s big on its gritty nightlife too so we’ll be sure to sample some of this!
  • We’ll visit the United Nations Square and the Habous district,
  • Hassan II Mosque. Biggest mosque outside of the Middle East and tallest minaret in the world!
  • Visit the Corniche Boulevard. A once thriving resort area that used to bustle with several nightclubs. The area has lost its once glorious image but is still a fascinating part of town filled with plastic surgery clinics and nightclubs .
  • Hit the road for Marrakech!
  • Morocco’s third largest city is teeming with sights and sounds that emanate from its historical medina.
  • Check into the hotel and hit the famous streets for a tour that starts with the Koutoubia Mosque. Some say its minaret is to Marrakech as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris!
  • After traditional Moroccan fare for lunch we continue on with visits to the Djema El Fna Square and world famous souks.
  • Free time here before regrouping for dinner and checking out the live outdoor entertainment in the square. Musicians, dancers, snake charmers and story tellers pack the square creating the unique atmosphere late into the evening
  • Dinner of streetfood on the square.
  • Overnight in Marrakech in hotel Blue Sea Le Printemps

Wednesday 15th January – Marrakech

  • After breakfast we take a drive to the 12th century Agdal gardens
  • Visit the tombs of the Saadian Dynasty. Only discovered in the 20th century, they were left untouched and blocked off for centuries
  • Visit the Bahia Palace. This 19th century masterpiece is said to capture the essence of Islamic and Morroccan style
  • Visit the freshly renovated Madrassa Ben Youssef. This Islamic School is the biggest of all Morocco!
  • Just south of here we’ll check out the Royan Palace and historic Medina. Along the drive we’ll take in the stunning green oasis pools and the infinite olive, orange and pomegranate orchards.
  • Next stop Is the 16th century Menara gardens and its famed pavilion which was used as a summer residence by Sultan Abderrarhmane. The pavilion was renovated in 1869
  • Take in the Marrakech city walls and its most famous gate at Bab Khemis
  • Visit the exquisite Majorelle Gardens which was laid out by the French expat Louis Maforelle and later restored by Yves Saint Laurent. It’s famed for its distinct cobalt blue buildings.
  • Free time to explore more of Marrakech’s medina and souks
  • Dinner followed by shisha and tea!
  • Overnight in Marrakech in Hotel Blue Sea Le Printemps

Thursday 16th January – Agadir

  • Check out and drive to Agadir with a few scenic stops along the way!
  • This beachside city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1960. It was rebuilt with wide avenues lined with low rise futuristic 1960’s design. This makes it a truly unique Moroccan city
  • Lunch at the streetfood alley of Agadir where they serve delicious grilled seafood and fish.
  • Take in the breathtaking panorama views from the Kasbah fortress.
  • Get lost in the local souk for some last supplies for hitting the trail for Western Sahara
  • Dinner at a traditional restaurant
  • Sample some Moroccan whisky in Agadir’s seedy nightclub – Papagayo.
  • Overnight in Agadir in Hotel Al Mogar

Friday 17th January – Laayoune

  • Early start for the long drive to Western sahara and Laayoun city
  • It will take us about 8 hours total including the photo stops .
  • On the way, we make a pit-stop by Tizmit , a town quite off the tourist track,  with a vibrant and colourful fruit market where berbers shop in their traditional outfits.
  • Lunch along the way at a local restaurant
  • Continue the drive to Laayoune to the town of Tah,  where we stop to see the monument to the Green March, or the moment where thousands of Moroccans came to what was then the border between Spanish Sahara and Morocco to cross and then claim the land . To this date , this serves as the contested border between Western Sahara and Morocco .
  • We drive for an hour more, arrive in the evening and check into our central hotel.
  • Once the capital of Spanish Sahara, the city is now claimed by the SADR but administered  by Morocco. Laâyoune or El Aaiún are respectively the French and Spanish transliterations of the Maghrebi Arabic name Layoun which means “the water springs“
  • Dinner at Goût de Fes, your friendly local pizzeria.
  • Overnight in the Hotel Rimel Sahara,  Laayoune or similar.

Saturday 18th January – Laayoune

  • Up nice and early to visit the busiest souk in Western Sahara
  • Next we’ll visit the great mosque – apparently designed under the guidance of Franco, the mosque is a simple yet very peaceful symbol of the city situated in the central square and surrounded by palm trees
  • Laayoun craft center – an Interesting little bazaar. It’s the best place for some authentic traditional souvenirs
  • Lunch in a local restaurant
  • Visit the Spanish Cathedral. In 1940 Spain designated Laayoun as the capital of the Spanish Sahara and this is the best relic leftover from colonial times. If we are lucky, we might get to meet one of the three catholic priest in charge of all of Morocco and Western Sahara. They are quite eager to talk about their experience here, in a country where near everyone is muslim.
  • We head to the dunes for late afternoon mint tea and games in the sand.
  • Dinner on the way back at a local truck stop offering surprisingly good fare and enormous portions.
  • Overnight at the Hotel Rimel Sahara,  Laayoune or similar with the possibility of a nightcap at hotel Al Massira

Sunday 19th January – Dakhla

  • After breakfast we hit the road for Dakhla city
  • On the way we stop at Boujdour and its famous lighthouse. Built by the Portuguese in the 18thcentury, the lighthouse is visible from miles around.
  • Visit of Boujdour Port, where we will see the hundreds of fishing boats and fishermen going on with their busy day.
  • Lunch of fresh fried fish
  • Many photo stops on the way
  • Hit the beach and swim in the Atlantic ocean!
  • Continue to Dakhla city, arriving just in time for dinner
  • Overnight at the Hotel Imperial Playa in Dakhla or similar

Monday 20th January – Dakhla

  • After breakfast we take a city tour of Dakhla
  • Depart the city and head for the dune blanche – a place that must be seen to be believed. This enormous sand dune perched in the middle of a lagoon is a hotspot for flamingos.
  • Visit of a natural hot underground spring where you can take a jet shower from a high pressure hose. The experience could be described as half massage, half waterboarding. The 38 degree Celsius sulfur water is said to contain many health benefits!
  • Lunch in a local traditional seafood restaurant by the beach where they serve a delicious mixed seafood tajine as well as enormous fish (good for six people). You can also order fresh oysters (extra 0.5 EUR per oyster)
  • Stop at the Ostrich Farm where you can prove your bravery by letting an ostrich pinch your hand!
  • Drive back to the hotel
  • Free relaxation time before meeting up again for dinner and our last easy-to-find drinks at one of the restaurants on the main strip.
  • Overnight in the Hotel Imperial Playa, Dakhla

Tuesday 21st January – Nouadhibou

  • Today we drive to the border of Morocco.
  • We will first exit Morocco and end up in a five kilometres no man’s land. While the rest of Western Sahara is claimed by Morocco, this sliver of land is indisputably Sahrawi. Here, you will see stolen cars sellers, guns smugglers and refugees from the conflict, an intense 10 minute drive!
  • We will cross into Mauritania, right from the border you’re entering a whole new world. Visa on arrival (may take some time, please bring small denominations of Euros to pay for the visa in exact cash, which should be 55 EUR)
  • Transfer to Nouadhibou city, the country’s second largest city and economic capital
  • We take a trip to the Atlantic ocean again at Cape Blanc. A peninsula that is shared between Mauritania and Western Sahara.  It was here that the Spanish expanded their fishing presence from the Canary islands onto the African coast. This is where the biggest ship graveyard used to be located until it was broken down into pieces and the steel sold by chinese companies in recent years.
  • If we are lucky, we might spot the Mediterranean monk seal colony there.
  • Visit the new ship graveyard of Nouadhibou
  • Dinner at Ice NBC or similar, a family restaurant with a wide menu of delicious food .
  • If you fancy a cold one we will visit the Chinese restaurant for the only place that openly serves beers..
  • Overnight in the Hotel Al Jezira, Nouadhibou or similar

Wednesday 22nd January – Nouadhibou

  • Visit the Port of Nouadhibou and its fish market
  • Lunch at NBC restaurant, with an impressive and varied menu
  • Pick up some supplies for the epic train journey ahead. We will have plenty of water, fruits and sandwiches provided for us.
  • *Trip highlight* Ride the famous Mauritania mineral train! The train is up to 3km in length with 200 cars weighing up to 84 tons making it one of the longest and heaviest trains in the world. We’ll be sitting in open top cars so make sure you bring a blanket and you’re wrapped up warm with a good scarf to protect your face from dust! The way we do it, there is no ore on the car, this allow us to get the best views when climbing up the ladder while still having room to move and use the walls of the car to protect us from the wind.
  • This iron ore express to Choum in the Mauritanian interior will depart around 4-6 pm and arrive at 3am the following morning

Thursday 23rd January – Chinguitty

  • Arrive in Choum at 3am and spend the rest of the night/morning in igloo tents!
  • Sleep in to late morning and enjoy a local brunch
  • We start exploring the Adrar region of Mauritania
  • Visit Azoughi oasis, village  and its popular markets
  • Drive to UNESCO world heritage Chinguitti, a holy city of islam. We’ll tour its libraries and other historical monuments and buildings including the much loved Friday Mosque of Chinguitti, the national symbol of Mauritania
  • The city was for centuries the gathering point for pilgrims of the Maghreb to gather on their way to Mecca. Africans claim it as the 7th most holy city of Islam. Much of the old centre dates from the 12th century.
  • Evening sunset watched from the huge sand dunes of Chinguitty
  • Overnight in Hotel Eden, a traditional stone guesthouse, Chinguitty

Friday 24th January – Ouadane

  • Early morning 80km journey through pure desert and dune
  • On the way stop at isolated and lost cities of the Sahara where empires where founded.
  • Lunchtime at hotel Mer et Desert. Here, we will probably meet the owner, a french woman who has left everything behind to become member of the community. She knows a lot about the social issues of local tribes and is a wonderful source of information.
  • Once upon a time it was an important stop of the trans-caravan routes of the Sahara. In YPT/MD, we nicknamed Ouadane the Pompei of Mauritania for its sprawling city in ruins which is sure to amaze you.
  • It was here that products of sub-Saharan Africa were traded with those of the Maghreb
  • The Portuguese arrived in 1487 and transformed the city into a local center of cultural, economic and scientific advancement
  • We’ll walk the streets and see the buildings that once glorifies the country as a whole and then move on to the new part of town where we’ll be sure to mingle with the locals.
  • Traditional dinner and overnight in the Hotel Vasque, Ouadane.

Saturday 25th January – Atar

  • After an early breakfast we depart for Tergit Oasis. This is Mauritania’s most picturesque place.
  • On the way, we will stop at Agrour to see some pre-historic paintings left there 5000 years ago as well as interesting lava formation.
  • We then continue forward to the White Valley. Here, desert is trapped within dramatic cliffs – a breathtaking scenery.
  • Journey towards Mheirith oasis and stop on the way for a local lunch
  • Drive through the stunning Tivoujar pass and arrive early evening in Atar
  • Overnight and dinner in the Hotel Des Caravanes, Atar

Sunday 26th January – Nouakchott

  • Early rise for the long drive to the Mauritanian capital city of Nouakchott
  • Lunch at San Francisco Cafe for a good meal and access to wifi after a few days of deprivation.
  • Arrive in time to catch the lively Atlantic fish market. Every evening hundreds of fishermen bring in the day’s catch on their distinct sea canoes recognized by their colourful hand-painted hulls. The catch is then brought by donkey cart to the cities markets
  • Visit the local craft market and pick up a camel wool rug for yourself!
  • Head to the beach for some great people watching. This is where local Nouakchottois come to escape the city and cool off.
  • Atlantic sunset and group dinner on our final evening in Mauritania
  • Late night dinner before trying our luck at geting in one of the Chinese owned restaurants and bars for a night cap!
  • Overnight in Hotel Wissal, complete with a swimming pool, Nouakchott

Monday 27th January – End of Part 2

  • End of Part 2 for those who do not carry on to Mali! YPT/MD can help you arrange your connection to your next destination.
  • For those carrying on to Mali, we will pay a visit to the Malian embassy to get our visas the quickest and cheapest way!

Tuesday 28th January – Bamako

  • Arrival into Bamako at your convenience
  • For those who arrive early, we will arrange a city tour of Bamako
  • We will visit the Rose Market of Bamako which will give you an idea of the hustle and bustle of the Malian capital, where many come to reach their dreams, very rarely successfully.
  • We visit the tower of Africa, the highest tower in Mali.
  • We ascend the Point G hill to get a view of the whole of Bamako
  • By this time, everyone should have arrive and so we meet for our greeting dinner as well as a short orientation about the do’s and don’ts of Mali.
  • Bamako and Segou being the only two towns of Mali with somewhat of a nightlife, we will indulge!
  • Overnight in Bamako at Hotel Les Colibris

Wednesday 29th January – Segou

  • Up nice and early to hit the road to Segou.
  • We will stop on the way to grab breakfast near a plantation and then stop again at the entrance of the city, to the monument to the kings that have ruled Segou where our guide will introduce us to the history of Segou.
  • For those who will go to Burkina Faso, we stop by the consulate in the city so that our visas are processed during the day. We will leave our passport there and they will be prepared while we are touring.
  • Lunch at our favourite local restaurant in Segou. Options aren’t plentiful but everything here is absolutely delicious!
  • We head to the market of Segou for people watching but also to buy ingredients. Today we will be cooking. Helped by local ladies, of course!
  • We share our dinner with the host family
  • We have the chance to have our own crib in Segou, so we`ll make sure to make the best of it by organizing our own little house party, with an optional visit of the town’s best bars.
  • Overnight in our own crib, Residence Djiguigombo with some of us camping and some of us having rooms.

Thursday 30th January  – Segou

  • After our breakfast, we head to the Somono neighbourhood, which has some of the oldest adobe buildings around, the traditional architectural style of Segou, meant to keep the house cool in the intense summer
  • There, we participate in a traditional Malian tea ceremony.
  • Lunch back in Segou
  • This afternoon, we head on a pinasse, the Malian boat of predilection to go on a cruise along the Niger river, the third biggest river of Africa. We can expect to see the lifestyle of the people of the banks, most of them being from tribes of nomadic fishermen.
  • On the way, we stop in one of those fishermen village to interact with them and then stop again in a village of potters.
  • In the late afternoon, we will drop the anchor and find a place to camp for the night!
  • Our local team organizes the tent and a cook prepare a meal for us.
  • Tonight, we’re partying under the stars, along the wild banks of the Niger river
  • Overnight in our camp

Friday 31st January – Segou’s surroundings, Djenne

  • After breakfast, we continue our boat trip to Segoukoro. In the old days, Segoukoro was the capital of the Bambara kingdom.
  • There, we have an appointment with non-other than the village chief, who is a direct descendant of the kings of the old day. We have tea with him, with him available to answer all of our questions about the history of Segou and the royalty.
  • The King’s descendant show us the rebuilt vestibule, where the king used to receive his guests.
  • We tour the village, home to four mosques, the most famous being the waterfront one which the very famous king Biton Coulibaly built for his mother.
  • We stop on the way for lunch
  • In the late afternoon, we will reach Djenne. Djenne, or the capital of mud, is a one of a kind city made of narrow streets and buildings made of mud. While it used to be one of the jewel of tourism in Africa, it has been completely left alone in the recent years due to fears of most tourism company. We will thus get the whole town for ourselves to explore.
  • We climb a nearby building to get a view of Djenne’s Great Mosque, the world’s biggest mud building. Truly a sight to behold. The inside of the Mosque can only be visited by Muslims.
  • While we head out for dinner in a restaurant specially opened for us as the local economy has collapsed and restaurants aren’t opened daily, our team installs our tents in a local family’s compound.
  • Overnight camping in our host family’s compound.

Saturday 1st February – Djenne

  • Up in the morning for our city tour of world-heritage Djenne with our local guide who can answer all of your questions about the city and its history.
  • We visit koranic schools as well as the museum of Djenne’s manuscripts, where a single man is trying to protect documents of the old days.
  • We stop by the sacred well, where it is said the ancestors of the town were consulting the spirits to plan their next moves.
  • We visit the shrine of Tapama, a young virgin who was sacrificed to appease the bad spirits
  • For lunch, we try the local speciality of Djenne, the Tion Tion, a delicious fish fried rice.
  • In the afternoon, we head out of the walled city and into the different surrounding villages. Each village is profoundly different from the others, as they were built by different tribes, such as Bozo, Fulani, Bambara and Sonrhai, with their own cultures and way of life.
  • We head back for dinner with our host family
  • Overnight in Djenne camping in our host family’s compound.

Sunday 2nd February – Mopti

  • Today we head north, to Mopti
  • Mopti is right under the security corridor established by the UN Forces and an interesting city full of life.
  • We grab lunch on the way to Mopti.
  • Our afternoon will be dedicated to exploring Mopti and its bustling streetlife. It has a magnificent mud mosque similar to the one we saw in Djenne as well as a women’s market.
  • In the late afternoon, we head for a boat ride around the busy port of Mopti. Here, the Bani River and Niger river meet. It is a important hub of transportation in Mali, with people here embarking on the dodgiest 3-day trip, aboard shabby penasse, to Timbuktu of all places! This boat ride is one of YPT’s favourite, around the world!
  • Dinner at our hotel
  • Overnight in hotel Y’a Pas de Probleme.

Monday 3rd February – Mopti & Dogon Country

  • After breakfast, we do one last thing in Mopti: the Monday market! It is a wonderful place to stop and people watch as people from the surrounding region all gather to sell and trade their wares.
  • We make our way to the Dogon Country, probably Mali’s wildest and most interesting part.
  • Our first stop within Dogon Country is the town of Songo. From here, we’ll get to see a traditional Dogon village. The people here used to live up the rocks to keep their animistic beliefs and flee persecution from the muslims. Now, they have come down.
  • We get to the place where this village organize the circumcision ceremony for the whole of the surrounding villages. Here, we find a big rock painting retelling the stories of the villages as well as the circumcision ceremony. It is here that boy become men by having their foreskin cut on a rock! Our guide will explain us all about the ceremony, which lasts more than a week.
  • From there, we’ll climb up the mountain for an impressive view of the town.
  • We stop for lunch in Bandiagara, the biggest town in the area.
  • Our 4WD drops us in Aindelou, from here, we’re heading to an isolated Dogon village which we can only reach by a short 4 km trek through a rocky scenery like nowhere else. Don’t worry, we have porters to carry luggage for those of us who have too much luggage.
  • On our way, we’ll stop through typical Dogon villages, our guide, from here, will be there to explain all of our questions about the local culture.
  • We arrive in Begnimatu, YPT’s favourite Dogon village, where we introduce you to the most kind people and pillars of the society.
  • Begnimatu is three villages into one, with a muslim, a catholic and a Christian neighbourhood. The village is perched on the mountains, in a canyon. Sunsets here are really a sight to behold.
  • The locals prepare a feast for us.
  • Since we’re in the Christian neighbourhood, we can have a party with the locals. It is also our last night with those doing only the Mali part of this trip so a farewell party is in order!
  • We sleep in Begnimatu, camping on the houses’ rooftop under a very starry sky.

Tuesday 4th February  – Dogon Country & Ouahigouya

  • TRIP HIGHLIGHT – After breakfast, we are invited to a traditional Dogon mask ceremony. Here, the elders of the village chant in order to chase bad spirits while the very sacred Dogon masks are taken out of their hiding place to be worn for a dance. All members of the community, muslims, catholics and animists alike, unite to reenact ancestral dances.
  • After the ceremony, it is time for us to trek down the rocks, stopping by the villages of Doundiourou and Bagourou, where we can see traditional Dogon Justice Halls. Those justice halls, with ceilings too low for people to stand, are where family elders meet to discuss and solve issues peacefully.
  • We arrive in Ende and eat lunch there, meeting our drivers
  • It is here that we part way with those heading back to Bamako.
  • GROUP A starts a 4 hour road trip to the town of San
  • Dinner and overnight in San
  • GROUP B starts making its way toward Burkina Faso. We cross the border and go through the necessary car and immigration formalities.
  • Arrival in Ouahigouya, where we have dinner and overnight at Pension La Colombe.

Wednesday 5th February

  • Group A wakes up in San, where after breakfast, they visit the outside of adobe mosque as well as the rest of the village
  • Drive back to Bamako, stopping in Segou for lunch
  • Arrival in Bamako, where we stop to at a hotel to refresh and have dinner
  • Airport drop-off according to your flights
  • End of tour
  • Group B wakes up in Ouahigouya.
  • After a good breakfast we head down toward Bobo Dioulasso but it wouldn’t be a YPT trip if we didn’t stop in Yako.
  • Yako is the birthplace of Thomas Sankara, the Che Guevara of Africa. While his time in power was very short and abruptly ended by the treason of his best friend and subsequent murder, Thomas Sankara is a very important figure of Africa. While he was ruthless, Sankara did a lot concerning education and empowerment of women and, as he didn’t last long enough to terrorize most people, is mostly remembered fondly.
  • Our guide explains the history of Sankara.
  • We arrive in Bobo Dioulasso in the late afternoon.
  • We head out for dinner and then visit the maquis, typical Burkinabe open-air bars which turn into nightclub when the time is right!
  • Overnight at hotel Teriya in Bobo Dioulasso

Thursday 6th February – Bobo Dioulasso

  • Today, we spend the morning visiting the second largest city in the country.
  • We visit the old neighbourhood to get a feeling of what life used to be like in old Burkina Faso, or, as it was called in colonial times, the Upper Volta.
  • We stop by the Sudanese style mosque Bobo Dioulasso is known for.
  • In the afternoon, we head out for nothing less than horseback riding to Dafra. If you don’t feel comfortable riding a horse, you can also get there in our 4WD.
  • Dafra is known as a famous pilgrimage site in Burkina Faso and people come from very far to make offerings to the local fetishes, which are greatly renowned, in order to get good fortune. There are also sacred fish people pray to, which we will get the chance to see.
  • Tonight, we will be bush camping! Our dinner is arranged here in the wild.
  • Overnight camping in the wild.

Friday 7th February – Niansogoni

  • After our bush breakfast, we ride the horses back into town where we leave them and jump back in our 4WD to head to Niansogoni.
  • Back in the days, Niansogoni, often referred to as little Dogon, was hidden on the mountainside. Due to its location, the buildings of days far gone are still well preserved. We can have a good look at what life used to be like and some parts of the village are still used for animist ceremonies.
  • We have dinner in Niansogoni, mingling with the locals.
  • Overnight in huts in Niansogoni

Saturday 8th February – Sindou

  • After a good breakfast, we leave Niansogoni to head to our next destination.
  • On our way, we stop in Kawara – a village of potters. It will take a bit of convincing but with luck and using the great contacts we have, we’ll try and convince the locals of organizing their traditional pottery dance for us.
  • We continue to Sindou, one of the most well-known village of the Senoufo region.
  • In the afternoon, we visit the village as well as check out the impressive rock formations for which it is renowned. It is the highest point of Burkina Faso.
  • Each rock formation has a story, and our local guide is sure to tell us some of them!
  • Dinner in Sindou, arranged by the locals.
  • Overnight in huts in the village of Sindou

Sunday 9th February – Banfora

  • Early wake-up call this morning! We wouldn’t want to miss an epic sunrise boat trip. On the way, we are sure to spot some hippos. Here, hippos are seen as sacred animals and the beasts live in harmony with the locals. You can often see kids swimming right next to those animals which, elsewhere in the world, often have the reputation to be the deadliest!
  • After breakfast on the lakeside, we continue to the Fabedougou Domes, natural rock formations which have to be seen to be believed!
  • From there, we take a short hike of a kilometer and a half to the Karfiguela falls.
  • Picnic and a dip in the refreshing basins next to the falls
  • We’ll reach Banfora in the afternoon just in time for the weekly market there. It is quite different from the one we’ve seen in Mopti but again reunites the people of the whole region who come here for some essential bartering.
  • Dinner in Banfora
  • Overnight in Hotel Calypso, Banfora

Monday 10th February – Ouagadougou

  • Today is our last bit of road and quite a bit of road (480 KMs) so we have to wake up early.
  • We make a few scenic stops on the way to stretch our legs
  • Arrival in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.
  • TRIP HIGHLIGHT – While its successors have tried to erase any trace of him, the memory of Thomas Sankara is still very much alive in the people of the city, this is why we’ll spend the day touring the city along with friends and relatives of Thomas Sankara, who will be there to explain us how the man was during his life.
  • We visit the roundabout of the second of October, commemorating the day Sankara announced the revolution.
  • Dinner in Ouagadougou.
  • It wouldn’t be right to leave Burkina Faso without a proper sendoff in the cities busiest maquis!

Tuesday 11th February – Ouagadougou

  • Airport dropoff are organized depending on your time of departure, after lunch.
  • For those leaving later, visits of the National Museum, Music Museum and handcraft market of Ouagadougou are on the menu!
  • End of tour with YPT able to organize your connection to your next destination or organize other individual trips in West Africa such as in Togo, Benin or Senegal

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.

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

A 30% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), mailed check, PayPal, Chase Quickpay, Square Cash, 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 boast 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 at: https://www.travelinsurance.com/

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 30% 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.

Algeria

Jan 4-13, 2020
$1700/pax
  • All of Algeria!
  • Prices may increase even further the longer you wait; you can secure the lower price by submitting a 30% down payment before then and pay the rest when the trip begins!
  • Financial Aid options available!

Morocco, Western Sahara, & Mauritania

Jan 13-27, 2020
$3050/pax
  • All of Morocco, Western Sahara, & Mauritania!
  • Prices may increase even further the longer you wait; you can secure the lower price by submitting a 30% down payment before then and pay the rest when the trip begins!
  • Financial Aid options available!

Mali

Jan 28 - Feb 3, 2020
$2100/pax
  • Part 3 of the trip covering Mali ONLY
  • Prices may increase even further the longer you wait; you can secure the lower price by submitting a 30% down payment before then and pay the rest when the trip begins!
  • Financial Aid options available!



Price inclusive of:

  • Accommodation in twin share basis
  • Letter of Invitation and visa support for Algeria, Mali, and Burkina Faso
  • All transport by minibus and domestic flights, 4WD, Minibus, and trains to complete the tour
  • All meals in Mauritania
  • Breakfast and dinner (Algeria)
  • Breakfast and lunch (Morocco, Western Sahara, Mali & Burkina Faso)
  • Dinners when camping (Mali & Burkina Faso)
  • Moroccan Feast on day one
  • Entrance Fees and tributes/gifts to communities
  • English Speaking local guide and YPT/MD Western Guide

Price exclusive of:

  • Visa fees
  • Flights/Transport prior to your trip and to end the trip
  • Optional Single Supplement for lodging (aka no roommates: Algeria – Mauritania €300, Mali €140, Mali + Burkina Faso €200)
  • Drinks and personal spending
  • Dinners in Morocco and Western Sahara
  • Non-camping dinners in Mali, and Burkina Faso
  • Mauritania Visa – €55 on arrival
  • Some entrance fees not included in itinerary
  • Tips for local guides

Interested in joining us for the Saharan Odyssey?

4 + 10 =

Angola

March 1-7, 2020

Luanda

Malanje

Kalandula Falls

Kissama National Park

Lubango

Chibia

Namibe

Tundavala Gap

Cabinda



Angola Post-Marxist Carnival Tour

March 1-7, 2020

Monday 24 February – Luanda

  • Arrival in Luanda Airport, airport pick-up and money exchange
  • Meet the others at the hotel and get to know them!
  • Fortaleza de Sao Miguel (military museum), including its famous propaganda which almost looks North Korean!
  • Visit to the Mausoleum of Augostinho Neto. A Sovjet-style concrete tower for the first president of Angola
  • The Iron Palace, with the local art scene, wild stories surround the origin of the building. It was supposedly designed by Gustav Eiffel and supposedly was found on the beach.
  • Old colonial church of Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré, build on the famous 4 de Fevereiro avenue.
  • Angolan dinner in the city with a nice cold beer (or juice!)
  • Overnight in Luanda

Tuesday 25 February – Luanda – CARNAVAL

  • Shipwreck Beach, here you’ll find long lost forgotten ships from all over the world
  • Monument to the Kifangondo Battle, our military guide will help us understand the importance of this spot in the struggle for the independence of Angola.
  • We might be in Africa, but Luanda is just as famous in Africa for its carnival as Rio is in South America! We’ll try to get a good spot so we can clearly see the amazing colorful carnival parade.
  • At night we’ll hit the town for some good Angolan live music and dinner
  • Overnight in Luanda

Wednesday 26 February – Luanda – Malanje

  • Early wake-up (breakfast along the way) as we embark for the train station
  • Today we’ll be mostly on the train (7 hours) in order to reach Malanje. Along the way you’ll truly get to experience rural Angola with several stops along the way.
  • Depending on our arrival time we’ll take a walk around town or head straight to our lodge
  • Dinner and overnight at our lodge

Thursday 27 February – Malanje

  • Today we’ll head for the Kalandula Falls, one of the most famous landmarks in Angola! We’ll have a local guide who will go below the falls with us to see the falls from down.
  • See the local neighborhood of Kalandula
  • Kwanza Rapids, here you can see the women wash their clothes and see the well-known gaps which drag the water down at phenomenal speed
  • Picnic
  • Relaxing at the lodge, where we’ll have a campfire with the locals who surely have some storytelling prepared for us.
  • Overnight at our lodge

Friday 28 February – Malanje/Luanda

  • We’ll visit the Pedras Negras do Pungo Andongo. The black stones were a place of resistance surrounded by mystery and magic against the Portuguese colonizers.
  • Drive to Cacuso, where we’ll visit a regional training initiative. Hear more about how the locals live in this remote area of Angola.
  • Time to head back to Luanda by car
  • Late dinner and overnight in Luanda

Saturday 29 February – Luanda/Kissama National Park

  • Morning visit to Kilamba, this used to be known as a Chinese built ghost town, but today’s a lively area of Luanda
  • Short visit to see some amazing street art. It’s a big thing in Luanda and often there’s a political touch to it.
  • Drive to Kissama National Park
  • Of course we’ll start with a safari, to see if we can spot some wildlife (like zebras, elephants and giraffes).
  • Boat trip
  • We’ll make our wait to the famous Moon Viewpoint for a great sunset.
  • Traditional Angolan goodbye dinner
  • Overnight in Luanda

Sunday 1 March – Luanda

  • Visit Ilha do Cabo, a small landstrip in Luanda
  • Forget about break dance or your EDM moves, in Angola it’s all about the Kizomba. We’ll show you how to move that body!
  • Drive to Cacuaco for a stroll around a local fishing village
  • Late lunch / early farewell dinner before we head to the airport.
  • Group A: Airport drop off based on your flight details – end of the tour
  • Group B: continues, 19:30 flight to Lubango (arrival 20:30)
  • Overnight in our lodge in Lubango

Monday 2 March – Lubango – Chibia – Namibe

  • Early morning drive to Tundavala Gap, an amazing viewpoint on the edge of the Serra da Leba cliff.
  • Drive to Chibia
  • Visit to the local market, here you can meet a lot regional tribes. Including one of the most famous ones: Mumhila. We’ll take our time here so you can take photos of all the different tribes. Of course, we’ll organize this in a respectful way with the locals.
  • We continue our tour to Namibe, along the way we stop at the famous Christo Rei statue. Yes, the same one as in Rio.
  • Serra da Leba pass
  • Overnight in Namibe

Tuesday 3 March – Namibe – Luanda

  • We drive to Tchitundo Hulo, a spot with special cave paintings.
  • Visit to the market in Namibe, another good spot for meeting beautiful dressed local tribes, like Mucubal.
  • 21:30 Flight to Luanda (arrival 22:50).
  • Overnight in Luanda.

Wednesday 4 March – Luanda – Cabinda

  • 6:00 flight to the exclave of Cabina (arrival: 7:00). Here things are starting to get rough in Angola. Cabinda is well-known as the area that tries to be independent from the rest of Angola. The area is rich in oil and is one of the wealthiest parts of the country. During our stay in Cabinda you’ll see more police and military presence then in the rest of the country. However, the last few years it has been relatively calm here.
  • City tour of Cabinda, including;
  • 1 May Park
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception
  • Central market
  • Monument to the Treaty of Simulambuco
  • Overnight in Cabinda

Thursday 5 March – Cabinda

  • Early morning drive to Maiombe Forest Reserve. The biggest rainforest in Angola. You’ll see what local life is here in this tiny strip of Angola. A very interesting and unique experience, as not many tourists have ventured here!
  • Along the way we pass through Cacongo and Malongo.
  • Short stop at Buco Zau
  • Visit the Maiombe Forest Reserve
  • Drive to Cabinda Airport
  • Optional: flight to Luanda (20:50), or we can support you with transport to the border crossing to DR Congo / Congo.
  • End of the tour

 

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.

 
 
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), mailed check, PayPal, Chase Quickpay, Square Cash, 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 boast 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 at: https://www.travelinsurance.com/

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:

  • Transportation as per itinerary
  • Twin-Share Accommodation
  • Entrance fees
  • Local and MD/YPT Guide
  • Breakfast, some lunch and dinners

Price exclusive of:

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Most meals and drinks
  • International flights
  • Tips for the local guides and drivers



Interested in joining us for Angola?

14 + 11 =

Syria

March 30 – April 6

Sign up deadline: January 9, 2020!

Beirut, Lebanon

Damascus, Syria

Palmyra, Syria

Homs, Syria

Aleppo, Syria

Sednaya, Syria

Maaloula, Syria

Crac des Chevaliers, Syria

Bosra, Syria

Deir Mar Musa, Syria

Syria

March 30 – April 6

Sign up deadline: January 9, 2020!

 

We’ve debated the ethics of this opportunity for a while, but after multiple private off-the-books research trips there the past year, we feel that the benefits now outweigh the risks. We also welcome any thoughts and opinions via private message to help us process this further…

We can confidently report from the ground how most parts of Syria (especially Damascus, Palmyra, and Aleppo) are now completely safe, actively rebuilding, and that the Syrians want to get back on their feet more than ever. Tourism is also officially open at the moment, and especially to all Americans after December 2019. That said, we will NOT be visiting active war zones as we condemn visiting Syria for the purposes of “dark tourism”, where people come just to gawk at the horrendous. This is not what we will travel for — we don’t seek turmoil, but rather to humbly witness the rebuilding of a proud and rich society in the face of global inequity.

Before the war, Syria was once regarded as a beautiful country for tourism with the most hospitable people. Now Syria has become internationally notorious all for the worst reasons: Dictatorships, rebellions, Daesh, rebels, crushing sanctions, war, and destruction. However, it does not have to be this way. With the war essentially over, Syria is now at a unique point in its history. Although a trip here may be not as hunky dory as a postcard from France, the next few years will be remembered as an integral part of their story and shouldn’t be ignored.

Although I still have contemplated the mental hurdles of returning to Syria, I’ve been consistently reassured by folks currently there that our presence will show that the world is not against them, that there are people outside their borders that don’t regard Syria as an evil place of war and death, and that our patronage for their local-run restaurants and hotels will help them rebuild. Most of all, recent (responsible) tourism in the region already have helped some feel like normal people again and accepted back in the world.

Without question the local Syrian people are eager to step back onto the world stage in a positive light and show off their rich culture, to demonstrate their once-famous hospitality, and to stop being stereotyped as the place you’ve only read in the news about Daesh. So what better way to help than do that than by develop your own opinion, travel there, and experience the country for yourself?

Let us know what you think, and if you are interested in joining us, send us a message.

Damascus

  • Meet at your hotel in Beirut
  • Drive to Syria across the Lebanon/Syrian border
  • Azem Palace, with the vestige of Damascus costumes and life
  • The Saladine Mausoleum
  • Omayyad Mosque
  • Straight Street
  • Chapel of Saint Ananias
  • The Saint Paul Window
  • Afternoon stroll down the famous covered souk
  • Return to Damascus at end of 8-day trip (rest of itinerary below), ending with farewell dinner, overnight, and morning transportation back to hotel in Beirut

 

Bosra

  • Full day excursion to visit the ancient city of Bosra
  • The great Theater
  • The Nabatean ruins, a city which built with the black stone

 

Sednaya

  • Visit the convent of the blessed virgin

 

Ma’aloula

  • One of the most scenic villages in Syria and is of particular interest as the only place in the world where Aramaic; the language spoken by Christ is still used as a living language
  • The word Maaloula means entrance in Aramaic. It’s situated at an altitude of more than 1500 meters; with its little houses cling to the face of an enormous rock; making it look suspended in mid-air
  • Saint Serge Monastery
  • Saint Tecla Convent

 

Crac de Chevaliers

  • One of the best known sites in Syria, situated in the mountains towards the coast
  • It is part of the Crusaders’ past in this region and has been beautifully restored

 

Homs & Palmyra

  • Full day visit of the destroyed city of Palmyra
  • Temple of Bel reuins
  • Arch of Triumph
  • The Great Colonnade
  • The Theatre
  • The Agora
  • The Tombs

 

Aleppo

  • The ancient city Aleppo (itinerary withheld due to safety reasons)

 

Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi

  • Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian, is a monastic community of the Syriac Catholic Church located near the town of Nabk

 

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.

 

 
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), mailed check, PayPal, Chase Quickpay, Square Cash, or Venmo.

 

When is the last day to sign up?

Due to a lengthy visa process: January 9th, 2020

 

What days and WHERE should I book my flights to arrive?

Arrival into Beirut (airport code: BEY), Lebanon anytime on or before March 29th.

 

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

Yep! We boast 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 at: https://www.travelinsurance.com/

 

 

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 50% 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:

  • Transfer Beirut to Damascus back to Beirut
  • Accommodation at the mentioned hotels or similar on B.B basis
  • English speaking guide during tours
  • Transportation as mentioned
  • Entrance fees to all sites as mentioned
  • Donation at churches and mosque
  • Tips for porters at the hotel
  • Visa permission if we get your passport scan copy before 50 Days for USA citizen
  • Permission for Palmyra

 

Price exclusive of:

  • Visa fees / to be paid directly at the border (~$160 USD for Americans)
  • Lunches and dinners.
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance (20 USD per Person) not obligatory
  • Departure tax 2500 SYP per person ($5 USD)
  • Optional Single supplement (i.e. ~$300 USD extra to have a single room, no roommates)
  • Optional Farewell dinner (if we have a group larger than 12 – $35 USD per person)

Interested in joining us for Syria?

13 + 2 =

Svalbard

October 14-19, 2020

Svalbard

October 14-19, 2020

Longyearbyen

Barentsburg

Nordenskiöld

Pyramiden



Svalbard: Soviet Frontier Arctic Cruise

October 14-19, 2020

Wed 14th October – Arrival

  • 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 6pm at our hotel for dinner and pre-tour meeting where you can get to know your fellow travelers and 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

Thurs 15th October – Longyearbyen and the Beginning of the Voyage

  • After breakfast head out to explore 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 s/v Noorderlicht from Isfjorden
  • Look out for whales or just take in the scenery as dusk approaches
  • Dinner and overnight on the ship

Fri 16th October – Barentsburg

  • Breakfast on the ship
  • We’ll be scanning the waters for whales and other creatures but also taking in the atmosphere in this remote part of the world
  • Lunch on the ship
  • If there’s time then 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 YPT/MD 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

Sat 17th October – Nordenskiöld and Pyramiden

  • Breakfast on the ship
  • Visit the glacier of Nordenskiöld, you most probably have never seen as much Arctic ice in one place, and the way the world is going, you may never do so again
  • Lunch on the ship
  • TRIP HIGHLIGHT – In the afternoon we 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
  • Get back on board the ship for dinner and overnight

Sun 18th October – Longyearbyen

  • Breakfast on the ship
  • Arrival back into Longyearbyen and transfer to our accommodation
  • After lunch we head out to the North Pole Expedition Museum
  • Visit the Svalbard Gallery and artists workshops
  • Dinner at Mary Anne’s Polarrigg where you can sample Arctic-Thai fusion including a whale stir-fry
  • Finish our tour with a Svalbard pub crawl, no wandering off into polar bear territory though!
  • Overnight in Longyearbyen

Mon 19th October – End of tour

  • End of tour; we’re 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 legendary s/v Noorderlicht. Sample pictures & layout of our cabins: Cabins aboard m/v Hondius.

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), mailed check, PayPal, Chase Quickpay, Square Cash, 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 boast 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 at: https://www.travelinsurance.com/

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 cabins
  • All transport to complete the tour
  • Breakfast in Longyearbyen and all meals on the ship
  • Full ship crew and YPT/MD guide

Price exclusive of:

  • * Transport to and from Longyearbyen
  • Visa fees if applicable (Svalbard is generally visa free though)
  • Lunches and dinners in Longyearbyen
  • All entrance fees
  • Single Supplement in Longyearbyen, not available on ship (€200)
  • Drinks and personal spending



Interested in joining us for Svalbard?

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