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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, October 1, 2016 
TravelWatch: Senior Travel Newsletter.
Cartoon of Trumpeter.A time to toot our own horn!
In a world of so many “here and gone” consumer websites, we are pleased to report that Travel with a Challenge web magazine thrives into its 17th year! It’s all thanks to the many intrepid senior travelers who use the site to research, plan and book their adventurous, challenging, meaningful vacations. Thank you to our 1.74 million annual readers from around the world for inspiring our team with your encouragement and great ideas! Feedback is always welcome.

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1. Take a stroll with us through the 80 colorful acres of Keukenhof, the most beautiful Spring garden in the world. This floral crown jewel of The Netherlands is only open two months of the year.
2. Lovers of train travel have some new itineraries to consider for 2017, exploring the total width of Russia in-depth, visiting Tibet and China, or venturing into the Arctic, Land of the Midnight Sun.
3. In its perpetual quest to make travel more encouraging for adventurous explorers, Lonely Planet has unveiled two guides that will make terrific presents. One ensures creative communication with people whose languages you don’t understand; the other focuses on free or cheap ways to discover 60 cities worldwide.
4. From time to time, we like to feature travel companies that are creatively dedicated to making the communities and environments in which they operate survive and thrive. You will be inspired by the TreadRight Foundation!
5. Scotland and Ireland are familiar to many vacationers as delightful destinations, but here we introduce new ways for active senior explorers to authentically experience the wilderness mainland and extraordinary islands of these two destinations with biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking and wildlife viewing.

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.

The Most Beautiful Spring Garden in the World …
What does this mean? Such extravagant claims are usually discounted as relative, if not preposterous, but The Netherlands’ Keukenhof Gardens, www.keukenhof.nl, is the exception. In just two months each year, 800,000 visitors from over 100 countries come to marvel at the sea of colors and the creative designs that define this experience. The 80-acre park located one hour’s drive from Amsterdam is renowned for its display of millions of tulips, narcissi, hyacinths and other bulb flowers. Just announced dates for next year are March 23 to May 21, 2017.
Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands, tulip arrangements.
Gardeners plant seven million bulbs
in new designs every year.
The other ten months of the year are intended for maintenance activities at the park, and for planting bulbs to present the ultimate color and fresh flowering designs the following spring. With seven million bulbs to be removed and destroyed, and seven million new bulbs to be planted that reflect the theme chosen for a particular year, there is not much time for the expert team of gardeners to relaxing around the water cooler!
Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands, trees and stream.
Left: The 80-acre Keukenhof parkland blends natural landscapes, mature trees and flower bulbs into a spring extravaganza.
Flower bulbs are a product of Nature which determines when the spring bulbs will bloom. Temperature is the deciding factor: with a cold spring it takes longer for the bulbs to bloom than with a warmer spring, but regardless of when you visit The Netherlands during the Spring window, you will not be disappointed. There are busses to Keukenhof for the independent traveler or local tour operators who round trips from Amsterdam. Many international tour and river cruise operators also plan itineraries that dovetail with this event. On the grounds, there are a variety of eateries and an excellent gift shop plus 15 kilometers of pathways to make Keukenhof a full day pilgrimage.
Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands, tulips.
Fifteen km of pathways allow visitors to get close to every display.
Dutch cultivation and trade in flower bulbs started more than 400 years ago, and today it remains one of the country’s trademark industries as well as a huge tourism attraction. Keukenhof is its showcase: full of history as well as natural beauty. The estate was originally the herb garden (“keuken” means kitchen in Dutch) of the Countess of Holland, Jacoba van Beyeren (1401-1436). In 1840, the horticultural architects Zocher, a father and son, designed the park that forms the basis of the current Keukenhof. The year 2017 marks the 68th exhibition open to the public.
Tulips were originally a wild flower growing in Central Asia, then adopted as a precious object to cultivate among the elite in the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey). A few bulbs were secreted into Europe in the 16th century, and the rest is history. During four centuries of Dutch tulip cultivation, the development of many hybrid varieties has diversified both their colors and designs, so admired today.
Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands, tulips.
Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands, tulips.
During the two-month public season, the gardens are open from 8:00am to 7:30pm (ticket office open until 6:00 pm). Unless you are in a group tour, it is best to book individual tickets online to avoid the lineups. For everything you need to know about Amsterdam Tourism, visit www.iamsterdam.com. In our own Travel Article Library, we recommend a 2016 feature article about the Lloyd Hotel, a quirky, deeply historic and thoroughly artistic hotel where you may stay in Amsterdam.
All Keukenhof images by Alison Gardner.
The Ultimate 2017 Collection for Lovers of Train Travel
Launched in 2007, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains is the world's leading operator of exclusive, long-distance luxury rail tours. It offers a host of exotic trips discovering some of the world’s most intriguing destinations – from Siberia’s grand wilderness to the diverse South Caucasus, and the remote former Soviet Republics to the ancient lands of Persia. Passengers can enjoy these mysterious regions from the comfort of their Golden Eagle train, a private hotel-on-wheels. Expect en-suite cabins, fine dining menus, fully guided sightseeing, onboard activities such as vodka tastings and Russian language lessons, and even the services of a traveling doctor if required. Check out this video for a taste of the style and journey. Below are two examples of the 2017 Golden Eagle menu.
Train tracks in plateau of Tibet.
The newest itinerary in the 2017 collection is the Tibet and China Rail Discovery. Sophie Orr, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains
Combining a river cruise on the MS Volga Dream (below) and a passage along the famed Trans-Siberian railway aboard the Golden Eagle, the Grand Tour of Russia is an ultimate bucket list 26-day journey across the world's largest country.
The Grand Tour of Russia begins in St. Petersburg with a walking tour, museum visits and a trip to Peterhof – the Versailles of Russia. Then it’s time to embark on a six-night cruise, sailing the Russian waterways on the MS Volga Dream, passing riverside hamlets, forested countryside and limitless wilderness. Dock in the ancient trading town of Uglich to enjoy a choral concert; visit Yaroslavl, one of Russia’s oldest cities, for a costumed reception at the Governor’s house; and step ashore from Lake Ladoga to explore the quaint wooden village of Mandrogi. Onboard, special experiences include a Russian cooking class and a piano concert. Disembark in Moscow to spend the next few days sightseeing, ahead of the next leg of the journey on the Golden Eagle train.
MS Volga Dream cruises between St Petersburg and Moscow.
MS Volga Dream. Golden Eagle Luxury Trains
Price for the Grand Tour: from US$20,590, including 7 nights’ B&B hotel accommodation with lunches (3 in St Petersburg, 3 in Moscow and 1 in Vladivostok), 6 nights’ full board on the Volga Dream (Standard Cabin), and 12 nights’ full board on the Golden Eagle (Silver Class).
The 12-night Trans-Siberian Express portion of the Grand Tour of Russia crosses from Moscow to Vladivostok, traversing a massive 11,000kms. One of the world's greatest railway journeys weaves through Russia’s vast interior, over the Ural MOuntains and across the steppe, glimpsing cinematic landscapes, visiting remarkable cities, and enjoying privileged access. Among the numerous highlights are: the picturesque city of Kazan; sipping champagne with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia at Yekaterinburg; Irkutsk - the ‘Paris of Siberia’; being hauled by a steam locomotive alongside picture-perfect Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world. You will also dip into Mongolia to visit its capital city, Ulaan Baatar, and see a traditional Ger in the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park.
Golden Eagle Luxury Trains lounge car.
Golden Eagle Luxury train lounge for lectures and relaxing.
Golden Eagle Luxury Trains
Also launching in the summer of 2017 onboard the Golden Eagle is a spectacular journey deep into the Arctic Circle to experience the Land of the Midnight Sun. This incredible rail adventure, during the celebratory White Nights season, crosses deep into the Arctic Circle to uncover incomparable cities, remote communities, dramatic fjords, still forests and a turbulent history.
After sightseeing in the Golden Ring city of Vladimir and the perfectly-preserved wall city of Suzdal, step aboard the Golden Eagle in Moscow. The first port of call is Petrozavodsk, stretched along the western shores of Lake Onega, where a hydrofoil is waiting to whisk passengers across to the tiny island of Kizhi.

Back on the train, cross into the Arctic Circle to visit Murmansk. From here, leave the train at the border station of Nikel to transfer across the Russian/Norwegian border to Kirkenes for a two-night stay. After a traditional meal, take a boat cruise onto the Bøkfjord and Barents Sea in search of the Midnight Sun. Other highlights here include a King Crab Fishing quest and a Summer Solstice Cocktail Party.

It’s then time to re-join the Golden Eagle to loop southwards to St Petersburg, the journey’s end, to spend two nights enjoying the mid-summer White Night festivities and concerts.
Northern lights display in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
A Northern Lights display in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Courtesy of Dr Robin Catchpole
Price for Land of the Midnight Sun: from US$11,995, including 2 nights in Moscow, 5 nights on the Golden Eagle, 2 nights in Kirkenes, 2 nights in St Petersburg and all meals. Departs June 15, 2017.
The Arctic Explorer Quest for the Northern Lights
in December and February is also worth reviewing.

In our Travel Article Library, we recommend a feature article about traveling on the Golden Eagle Danube Express through five countries from Iran to Hungary.

New Gift Ideas from Lonely Planet for your Favorite Traveler
You will never again be lost for words as Just Point! overcomes any language barrier, wherever you travel. You'll be able to communicate all essential messages and quite a few non-essential ones too! This handy-sized deck of 40+ cards with more than 500 entertaining icons on food and drink, accommodation, transport, fashion and sightseeing, is a guaranteed conversation starter whether you are visiting a remote village in Transylvania, meeting tribal elders in the Amazon jungle or maybe looking for an outdoor tai chi class in Shanghai!

These icons will make communicating with locals a pleasure not a frustration – and won't fail to raise a smile with their depictions of amusing situations often encountered when exploring places far from home.
Lonely Planet card dictionary, Just Point!
Just POINT! published by Lonely Planet,
July 2016, 40 card deck pages, All color, held together with a metal screw, stored in small slipcase
ISBN 9781760340636, US$10.79,
Also available in local bookshops.
Lonely Planet book, The Best Things in Life are Free. Lonely Planet's The Best Things in Life are Free is packed full of money-saving tips, tricks and recommendations for the best-value sights and experiences around the world. From parks, museums and free exercise classes to insider ideas on food and experiences offered at great value, this many-contributor book features over 60 major cities, promising to help any traveler on a budget to make the most of their trip.

For many, free and cheap things are not only appealing but essential for stretching the funds to last as long as possible for an extended journey. Yet, even on a short trip, many unforgettable blasts of freedom and discovery can happen on a thin budget. You quickly realise that cheap can mean much, much better.
The Best Things in Life are Free, published by Lonely Planet, August 2016, 304 pages, ISBN 9781760340629, US$20.69.
Also available in local bookshops.

Did you know? Statistically, air travel is the second safest form of transporting people from A to B. The safest method is the elevator/escalator, although you wouldn’t get very far!

The TreadRight Foundation Supports Rhino Conservation
How Travel Companies can make a BIG Difference
Celine Cousteau, TreadRight Foundation ambassador.
Céline Cousteau.
Quite rightly, much attention is being paid to the serious plight of both African and Asian elephants and what must be done to protect these species in the wild and domestically, but did you know that 95% of the world’s rhinos have been wiped off the face of the Earth in the last four decades? With a just-released video, TreadRight Ambassador, Céline Cousteau visits South Africa to help tell the story of the Wilderness Foundation Africa and their dedicated fight to save the remaining rhinos from imminent extinction. Cousteau has spent her life exploring the planet and helping to amplify the voices of the amazing individuals working to protect ecosystems, wildlife, and people. She follows in the inspiring footsteps of her grandfather Jacques Cousteau and her father Jean-Michel Cousteau, both passionate environmental advocates over many decades.
African rhinoceros and baby.
African rhinoceros close up.
Through the TreadRight Wildlife Initiative, the foundation has provided support to the Wilderness Foundation Africa by funding the purchase of a bat hawk aircraft used for rhino anti-poaching operations, as well as supporting general wildlife crime countermeasures. “The bat hawk is one of the fantastic arrows in our quiver, not only in the monitoring of the species, but also as a deterrent and active apprehension tool,” Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Angus Tanner explains in the video. “Without TreadRight’s support so far, we wouldn’t have taken the steps we have.”
African Rhino.
There are two species of rhinoceros living in Africa and three living in Southern Asia. The direct ancestors of rhinos date back more than a million years. Today the remaining rhino species are all highly endangered.

Rhinos are killed by humans for their horns which are bought and sold on the black market. East Asia, specifically Vietnam, is the largest market for rhino horns. People grind up the horns and then consume them believing the dust has therapeutic properties.
Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of travel brands, the TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit that works to help ensure the environment and communities in which they operate remain strong and healthy for generations to come. To date, TreadRight has supported more than 35 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. Click here to learn more about the range of TreadRight’s work worldwide.

The Travel Corporation, https://ttc.com/, operates in over 60 countries with 35 offices around the world and more than 10,000 staff, serving over 1.5 million customers annually. You may not have heard of The Travel Corporation, but virtually all dedicated globe trotters will be acquainted with some of the most familiar brands under TTC’s umbrella, such as Trafalgar Tours, Contiki, Uniworld River Cruise Collection, Insight Vacations, AAT Kings and Lion World Travel. The odds are high that you have even sampled some of these travel operators yourself!

If you would like to learn more about rhinos and see these remarkable animals in the wild, here are two tours where that is possible: Lion World Travel offers a nine-night South African “Tented Safari in Style”. African Travel is also a part of the The Travel Corporation family, offering a seven-night “Namibia Desert Escape” that includes time observing rhinos.
Images provided by the TreadRight Foundation.
Wilderness Scotland and Wilderness Ireland – Active Holidays for 2017
Rated Europe’s No.1 Adventure Travel Company by National Geographic, Wilderness Scotland and its outpost Wilderness Ireland merge the best locations around Scotland and Ireland with authentic local experiences, charming accommodations (like exclusive-use castles, traditional Highland lodges, and more), active pursuits, and the region’s fresh and creative cuisine.
Wilderness Scotland canoe trip.
Wilderness Scotland wildlife adventures tour of the Scottish Highlands.
Left: Wilderness Scotland’s four-day Great Glen Canoe trip, a mid-rating of 4, includes wild camping, superb wilderness cooking, and canoeing with experienced wilderness guides who teach canoeing skills if requested.  Wilderness Scotland
Right: With an "easy" rating of 2 on this Wildlife Adventures, The Scottish Highlands, you will enjoy dolphin watching, spotting Scotland’s largest birds of prey in action, and some spectacular sea kayaking.  Wilderness Scotland
Travelers may choose from a range of adventure experiences including hiking, road cycling, sailing, sea kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, wildlife and photography tours. Customized, family and self-guided trips are also available. Small groups ensure personal attention and support, while the “difficulty” grading system allows clients to choose a trip to match every fitness level and travel ambition.

With the best guides in the industry, unrivaled destination expertise and a dedicated commitment to sustainable travel, travelers can expect that every Wilderness Scotland and Wilderness Ireland experience, accommodation and cuisine experience have been carefully researched and personally vetted for originality, style and quality.
Wilderness Ireland hiking tour.
Left: With an "easy" rating of 2, the six-night Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry showcases the spectacular Southwest Ireland coastline.  Wilderness Ireland
Right: A six-night Connemara and the Aran Islands bike tour, with a mid-difficulty rating of 4, includes two national parks and two nights on one of the Aran Islands.  Wilderness Ireland
Established in 2001, Wilderness Scotland is Scotland’s only five-star accredited adventure tour operator dedicated to active, nature-based travel to the remote corners of their region. For more information, visit: www.wildernessscotland.com.

In 2012, Wilderness Ireland was launched, offering a wide range of small-group departures, self-guided trips and custom vacations. For more information, visit: www.wildernessireland.com.

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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