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Senior Travel Newsletter: nature, cruise, barging, volunteer vacations.
Senior travel newsletter: nature travel, educational, cultural, volunteer, cruise and barging vacations worldwide.
New stories, February 1, 2016 
TravelWatch: Senior Travel Newsletter.

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1. An archaeological center in the Mesa Verde region of America’s southwestern Colorado offers a perfect mix of cultural history, hands-on education, and volunteer excavation time in its one-week programs.
2. Multi-generational family travel has experienced a steep popularity rise in recent years causing a leading river cruise operator to dedicate nine European sailings to family-friendly itineraries in 2016.
3. Is horseback riding and comfortable camping in Canada’s Rocky Mountains on your bucket list? See why it should be by checking out this adventurous option where consistently 60% of participants are over 50.
4. Botswana in southern Africa has recently banned all trophy hunting from its vast fabulous national parks. You may volunteer for participation in a new long-term Okavango Elephant & Predator Study to see how the ban on hunting will change the dynamics of wildlife in the region.
5. Florence, Italy gave birth to the Renaissance eight centuries ago. Today it remains a destination rich in art, architecture, cultural history and distinctive cuisine. A new Florence cultural homestay program, specifically for travelers over 50, is a perfect way to “taste” it all!

Before planning your next adventure, you may compare accommodation alternatives with sites such as www.trivago.com or use their data base for further information about your destination and read traveler hotel reviews.

Check Travel Golf Guide. Play golf in Algarve.

A Perfect Mix of Cultural History, Education and Volunteering
People have lived in the Mesa Verde region of the American Southwest for thousands of years. Ancestral Pueblo people—hunter-gatherers and farmers—thrived in the canyons, mesas, and sage plains of what is now southwestern Colorado, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. This is also known as the Four Corners region. The ancient ruins that remain tell a fascinating story of the people whose descendants are the Pueblo Indians of today.
Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado demonstrates the architectural prowess of the ancestral Pueblo people, who built an entire city in a canyon alcove, by way of protection from nighttime predators and human enemies. Today, the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings
Crow Canyon Cultural Explorations program.Participants in a Crow Canyon Cultural Explorations program at Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Each year, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, www.crowcanyon.org, offers a signature travel seminar, Archaeology of Chaco and Mesa Verde Country, that introduces participants to the canyons and cliff dwellings of this spectacular region. The all-inclusive itinerary includes visits to the iconic sites of Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Aztec Ruins. Archaeologists and American Indian scholars will be your guides as you explore sites off the beaten path, and tour Crow Canyon’s current archaeological excavation site. The 2016 seminar runs from September 19 to 24, US$1,995 pp for Center members and $2,120 for non-members.
Crow Canyon Archaeology Programs in southwestern Colorado offer week long educational and volunteer programs in June, September and October.
To dive even deeper into the field of archaeology and take part in a dig near Crow Canyon’s idyllic campus in southwestern Colorado’s Mesa Verde region, sign up for a week of stimulating fun and learning with one of the Center’s Archaeology Research Programs. As a “citizen scientist,” you'll excavate alongside working archaeologists and help further understanding of a defining time in Pueblo Indian culture. Designed for lifelong learners 18 and up (most of whom are education-loving seniors), these programs will take place in June, September and October of 2016. You'll excavate under the supervision of archaeologists at sites that date from the Basketmaker III through Pueblo III periods (A.D. 500–1280).
Above right: An Archaeology Research participant excavates with professional archaeologists at Crow Canyon’s current research site.
Right: Research program participants pose with a pot they helped to reconstruct in Crow Canyon’s state-of-the-art laboratory.
Crow Canyon Archaeology Programs in southwestern Colorado offer week long educational and volunteer programs in June, September and October.
Here is a chance to really marvel at the “great houses” of Chaco Canyon, and to learn about the regional influence of Chaco culture in the A.D. 1100s. You will go where few visitors go to the cliff dwellings of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park, on the remote side of Mesa Verde and find out what archaeologists are learning about Pueblo communities in the Mesa Verde region. You will learn excavation techniques, work in Crow Canyon’s impressive archaeology lab helping to wash, identify and analyze ancient artifacts, and enjoy evening talks on current topics in Southwestern archaeology. This all-inclusive learning vacation is US$1,595 for Center members and $1,720. Full disclosure … the editor of Travel with a Challenge has done this program, and recommends it highly to every lifelong learner she meets!
Program tuition includes shared accommodations in comfortable, Navajo-style circular log cabins (“hogans”) on the campus grounds. Each hogan houses up to four people in a single room. Shared, modern shower and toilet facilities are located in a separate building adjacent to the hogans. You will need to provide your own bedding and towels. Individual lockers are provided to protect private property.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served each day. On-campus meals are served cafeteria-style in the lodge; dinner and lunches include a salad bar and a vegetarian entree. Fresh fruit, lemonade, iced tea, and coffee are available on campus all day. If you are working at the site, snacks, water, and a picnic lunch (sandwiches, fresh fruit, chips, and cookies) are provided. Crow Canyon dining consistently receives rave reviews!
Images courtesy of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.
Seniors can stay on the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center campus  in southwestern Colorado while participating in educational and volunteer programs.The Lodge porch, with its comfortable rocking chairs, is a popular place to relax after a day excavating in the field.
European Family-Friendly River Cruises for 2016
River cruise specialist, Uniworld, www.uniworld.com, has launched a dedicated cruise brochure online after tripling its family-friendly cruise options. The 2016 online brochure illustrates nine family-friendly, mind-expanding adventures to be experienced while cruising the Rhine, the Danube, the Seine and the Po River in northern Italy.

This respected river cruise operator has seen more parents and grandparents wanting a family cruise holiday which includes culture and fun educational opportunities. It has responded with some very creative multigenerational cruises that range from eight to fifteen days. They are mainly in June and July, but it is worth noting a Uniworld family cruise of eight days in mid-December 2016, highlighting Germany’s Classic Christmas Markets.
Family bicycling Uniworld river cruises is offering nine family-friendly cruises in Europe in 2016.
Scenic biking and hiking are on
the menu of active possibilities.
On board the designated sailings, children can try their hand at preparing strudel with the ship's pastry chef and making mini-pizzas, take a VIP behind-the-scenes tour with the Captain, taste local soft drinks with the resident Soda Sommelier or take part in craft workshops and fun local language classes. Every family-friendly cruise itinerary also features on board visits from local children or teens who introduce guests to the daily life of their culture. Also onboard, the Young Travelers Lounge is complete with a PlayStation, a great selection of games, movies and jars of sweets.
Touring the bridge: Uniworld river cruises is offering nine family-friendly cruises in Europe in 2016.
A warm welcome is offered on a tour of the ship’s bridge.
Two dedicated Family Hosts for Junior Cruisers (ages 4-11 years) and Young Cruisers (ages 12-18 years) will supervise and coordinate engaging onboard activities, giving adults opportunities to enjoy romantic evenings or go to the Serenity River Spa™ for a relaxing treatment while the children and teens are having fun and making new friends. Parents and grandparents may also treat themselves to an evening ashore leaving children in the capable hands of onboard Family Hosts.
Family Hosts program: Uniworld river cruises is offering nine family-friendly cruises in Europe in 2016.
Staff enjoy having visitors of all ages on the family cruise sailings.
Children must be between the ages of 4 and 18, and be accompanied by an adult to qualify for 50%-off savings on select family itineraries and departure dates. The 50% savings offer is for the cruise-only price and is valid for new bookings. This offer is only combinable with "past guest" savings and is applicable for category 1-5 staterooms, not for suites.

Uniworld is a leader in luxury river cruising. Here is a sampling of the company’s prestigious awards and accolades including being voted #1 by Travel + Leisure readers in the “World’s Best River Cruising for Families” category. In 2015 alone, Uniworld’s cruises have captured 11 distinguished awards, click here to check them out.
Images courtesy of Uniworld.
Uniworld's European river cruises for families.
Family time aboard ship with grandma creates rich memories for children and adults alike.
Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies Explores Waterton Lakes Park
An even bigger price bargain for US participants in 2016!
For many adventure-minded travelers, riding into an unspoiled back-country wilderness on a sure-footed horse is a wish list item that brings a broad smile, but little expectation that it will ever happen. Not so fast, maybe it can happen … this summer!

Comfortable camping featuring teepees and cot beds, fresh-cooked meals served around a camp fire, a gazillion stars twinkling in a black velvet sky and a sound sleep in a 100% natural environment … virtually a surround-sound of silence that most of us never experience in our lifetime, never mind on a daily basis. But wait a minute … is this realistic for people of any age with little or no horse riding experience or for seniors who count the possibility of riding the range as long past?
Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies horseback camping trips for 2016.
Rocky Mountain wilderness is vast, making it possible to choose fresh camp sites and previously untrod trails for the rides each year.
Bison grazing in Waterton Lakes National Park.
A short drive outside the Waterton townsite lies a protected area where Bison (incorrectly called Buffalo) wander the open prairie. Robert Berdan©
“You bet!” says Stuart Watkins, President of Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, http://trailridevacations.com, who has spent virtually his entire life witnessing the inspiring answer to that question. “Sixty percent of riders are over age 50,” he offers reassuringly, “and many participants of all ages have little or no familiarity with horses. What we do isn’t about fine horsemanship … it’s about trail riding at a slow and steady pace, taking in the fabulous backcountry scenery and wildlife around Waterton Lakes National Park, and experiencing a relaxing, fun-filled camping experience.
“While we’re not here to teach our guests to ride, the main expectation is that they will be able to control their own horse which is not a big challenge with well-trained animals that move at a walk. We do encourage complete novices to take a few horse riding lessons before joining us, just so they feel at ease, and with children, we have found it a good idea for them to have some camping experience.”
As a volunteer-run nonprofit society, Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, brings a rich legacy of experience to organizing its annual rides … 93 years, in fact. Most rides are booked out, with 60% being taken up by repeat riders. Some people have gone on 40 rides, often bringing their children and grandchildren as the years move on. No doubt, this is a memorable option to share with family members and friends, a maximum of 27 people on each ride.
Bighorn sheep in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Moose, elk, mule and white-tailed deer, bison, big horn sheep and mountain goats offer park visitors abundant wildlife viewing. Robert Berdan©
Join them in 2016 for an exploration of UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, Waterton Lakes National Park. Presently scheduled there are three six-day/five-night trail rides in August, with the possibility of more added in July if demand is there. Minimum age is eight years old; a parent or guardian must accompany anyone under 18 years. All guides, horses, western riding tack, meals and accommodation in cozy teepees and tents (with cot and mattress) are part of the fee while guests bring their own sleeping gear and personal necessities. Together with backcountry park fees, bus ride from Calgary to Waterton and back, government tax and mandatory TRCR membership, the cost for a ride in 2016 is CAD$2,775. (approx. USD$1,907) per person. There are generous discounts for returning riders and for non-riding 'companion' participants.
Indian teepee camping accommodation for Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies weeklong camping rides.
In walled tents or native Indian style canvas teepees, accommodation is very comfortable with cots and mattresses supplied. Guests bring their own sleeping gear.
Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies horseback camping trips for 2016.
A reliable horse, breathtaking scenery and a taste of cowboy culture away from the bustle of the city … no wonder 60% of guests return, some every year!
The ‘companion option’ is new for 2016 in which a registered rider may bring a friend, spouse or other family member. Utilizing the daily shuttle bus the companion guest can ride to the Town of Waterton, go on small day hikes, take a boat cruise to Glacier National Park across the US border, take a much shorter ride or perhaps just stay in camp and relax. You will have all the privileges of a regular guest (except for the riding) and of course at a reduced cost.
Images courtesy of Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies.

Did you know? The distress call May Day comes from the French m’aidez, which means ‘help me’.

Calling Wildlife Volunteers … Conservation Travelers Are Needed for an Okavango Elephant & Predator Study
Lion in the Okavango Delta.
The trophy hunting ban for all national parks issued by the Botswana government in 2014 has been widely applauded by wildlife conservation fans. With a third of all concessions in the greater Okavango Delta previously being dedicated to hunting, the ban on hunting will have a significant impact on the area, both environmentally and economically. Here’s where you can help!

African Conservation Experience (ACE), https://www.conservationafrica.net/, has teamed up with Wildside Africa, Botswana to create a conservation travel experience that combines income generation for local people through ecotourism with crucial wildlife research. Wildside Africa has secured a long term lease for a former 360,000 hectare hunting concession. Together with ACE, they are establishing a field research station to gather much-needed data on changes to wildlife populations as a result of the hunting ban. This is where international volunteers come in!
Lions will be among the animals tracked in the predator study.
Okavango Elephant & Predator Study volunteer travel experience.
“We can assist the communities in creating jobs here but supporting sustainable ecotourism in the long term will take a lot of research,” says Marinus Smith, Director of Wildside Africa International. “‘What is happening with the current animals? What are their movements? Because there isn’t hunting anymore, it will change movements and patterns and maybe even population dynamics of some of the animals. This will be important to research and document, and we do that work on behalf of the government.”
All project participants will spend some days at a remote island camp in the heart of the remarkable Okavango Delta.
Participants will experience two different sites: Most of the research work is carried out from a basic camp in the drier pans in the East of the greater delta area, while the experience will also include a stay at an island camp inside Moremi Game Reserve, accessible only by boat. The location is remote so entertainment is campfire and conversation.
Conservation travelers will be fully engaged in research tasks such as establishing counts and herd profiles for Africa’s largest elephant population, assessing the impact of elephants on vegetation, tracking and monitoring predators to establish population estimates and map territories to mitigate conflict with local communities.
Elephant in camp during Okavango Elephant & Predator Study volunteer travel experience.
Left: The camp is unfenced, so wildlife can - and will - approach at any time!
Below: “Rustic” stops short of roughing it with tents that have stretcher beds and a bucket shower to refresh volunteers at day’s end.
Tents and bucket showers in campsite for African Conservation Experience volunteers.
Throughout the year, travelers may join the projects for 2-12 weeks with costs starting at US$4,380 for two weeks including round trip flights from London Heathrow Airport to Botswana. Or without the flight inclusion, a participant pays US$2590 for two weeks. Ground transport in Botswana, all meals, accommodation in remote and rustic bush camp and island camp and 24/7 support are also included. The fees also help finance the operating costs for the research project. Check out the new video to get a sense of this worthy project.
Images courtesy of Wildside Africa.
Something New! Cultural Homestays for Seniors in Florence, Italy
What could be a more creative way than this to gain a better knowledge of Italian art, culture, classical music and cooking? Four former teachers of literature and history in and around the exquisite Italian city of Florence are offering cultural homestays for individual seniors and couples, while international guests try living with an Italian host family in comfortable Florentine homes.
Panorama of Florence, Italy from the hills.
Florence in Italy’s Tuscany region is the birthplace of the Renaissance.
With their website name of www.florenceforover50s.it, Marisa, Carla, Desi and Maura are clearly reaching out to an over 50-aged clientele, to share their passion for Florence’s art, history, language and cuisine … as they say, “beyond the ordinary tourist standards.” In addition to Italian, these hosts can speak either English, French, or Spanish.
Modern house for senior travel homestays in Florence, Italy.Marisa lives in a modern house with a quiet garden setting between Florence and Fiesole.
Historic villa for senior travel homestays in Florence, Italy.
Carla's house showcases classical Florentine antique furniture. It is in a hillside setting just outside Florence.
As presented on the website, each host offers a different style of accommodation from an 18th century country villa or historic manor house to a modern home or a room for a single person in the host’s apartment. In common they each offer breakfast and evening meals included in a minimum stay of three nights. (See prices per night for singles and couples, with shared or private bath.)
Florence (population 381,000) is indeed one of the great historic cities of the western world. During the day, guests may explore the city on their own or host-led expert guided walks and excursions may be planned together, each walk in the morning or afternoon for a price of 55 Euros for one guest or 80 Euros for two guests traveling together. Guided five to six hour excursions by car to Siena, Lucca or Pisa are also available. Prices do not include personal bus or train tickets, entrance fees to museums, churches, cinema, theater, lunches and food or wine tastings.
Eighteenth century villa for senior travel homestays in Florence, Italy.
Desi offers guests a stay in her country residence, an 18th century patrician villa about 25 km south of Florence.
Host families for senior travel homestays in Florence, Italy.Meet your “over 50s” homestay hosts in Florence:
(l to r) Marisa, Carla, Desi and Maura.

In addition to art and history in Florence and other Tuscan cities, the guest can have individually planned lessons of Italian cooking, Italian language, or Italian based on opera librettos. These homestays will best suit individual travelers, friends traveling together, ladies wishing to visit Florence on their own who prefer not to spend lonely evenings in a restaurant or in a hotel and couples who wish to live in the company of an Italian family.
Images courtesy of Florence for Over 50s.

This senior travel newsletter is part of the path-breaking Travel with a Challenge website, a travel magazine hosting timely articles and advice about educational adventure travel, and unique destinations for planning stimulating journeys worldwide. Explore the website via the navigation menu below. See our Privacy Policy.
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Page updated: 8 February 2016
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