Wed. Dec 7th, 2022

During this still-pandemic-aware summer, vacation planning — especially for momentous, bucket-list escapes — can be tricky. If you’re seeking the best of the best guidance to navigate, illuminate and smooth your way, consider stellar tour operator Abercrombie & Kent. Looking ahead to 2023, it has just released a deftly curated, fresh lineup of Luxury Small Group Journeys and Limited Edition Marco Polo Journeys, adding 15 new itineraries to Africa, Argentina and Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Namibia, Nepal and Tibet, the Peruvian Amazon and Southeast Asia. These far-flung flings — A&K’s most diverse portfolio yet — are more enticing than ever. Travel with a select group, limited to 18 people (yet typically averages fewer), led by an A&K resident tour director, who handles all on-the-go logistics as well as unlocks doors to insider-access experiences. Included are private arrival-and-departure transfers, ace accommodations, luggage transport among hotels, gourmet meals, breakfast-in-bed (on some leisurely mornings), complimentary mid-journey laundry service, personalized design-your-day activities and unique niceties matched to each locale to make these getaways a winning choice. Key: Every A&K Small Group Journey is guaranteed to run if it has a minimum of two guests. A group of family members or friends can also create their own private itinerary. Here, highlights of my three favorite horizons for 2023.

Luxury Small Group Journeys

Germany: Berlin to Bavaria, 10 Days. This fascinating deep dive into Germany’s history and culture is powerfully enlightening. Hear riveting stories about World War 2 — as you traverse Berlin’s notable Reichstag Building, Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie (the infamous border-crossing between East and West Berlin), the Boros Bunker and the Stasi Museum (revealing details about East Germany’s secret police). Gaze, too, at this city’s now dynamic arts scene. Appreciate its youthful edgy vibe. Berlin bustles with creative buzz. A local artist shares insight about the Berlin Wall. Sample classic food specialties, such as currywurst (popular sausage dish).

Then switch gears into the countryside to be delighted by the storybook-style city of Meissen, where world-renowned porcelain is produced; attend a private concert. Visit Proschwitz Castle and its vineyards for an exclusive wine-tasting. It is Saxony’s largest private winery. Back to an energetic metropolis, Munich promises lively Bavarian culture. In its Old Town, on the Marienplatz, watch the huge Rathhaus-Glockenspiel clock turn, with its 32 life-size figures and 43 bells, as it reenacts scenarios about 16th-century Bavaria; each show lasts 15 minutes. Partake in Munich’s culinary revelry on a foodie quest, brewery toast and traditional beer hall dinner. Eat a schmalznudel (Bavarian-style doughnut). Next, wonder aplenty on your guide-led wanderings in eye-opening Dresden, where its post-war reconstructed buildings and treasure-filled museums again dazzle. Enjoy the mighty music of Leipzig, where legendary composer Johann Sebastian Bach lived for decades. Picturesque landscape of southern Bavaria — dotted with fairytale-like castles, Alpine lakes, Baroque-flourished buildings — astonishes. As is often said in Germany, Gute reise! (Good trip!)

Peru: Machu Picchu & the Amazon, 11 Days. In Lima, savor the spices and big flavors of Peruvian cuisine: ceviche (raw sea bass marinated in lime juice, served cold), pollo a la brasa (succulent roast chicken with refreshingly tangy green huacatay sauce, featuring black mint and cilantro in an oftentimes creamy base) and Pisco sour (a cocktail shaken with Pisco brandy, egg white, lime and simple syrup). A fun bike tour weaves through the city. Fly to Cusco, then ride a memorable train to view jaw-dropping Andean vistas, as you approach iconic Machu Picchu and its perched-on-high stone walls. Hike the final stretch of the Inca trail. Trek the Sacred Valley, accompanied by llamas. Meander with guide through this “Lost City,” constructed at the pinnacle of the Incan Empire, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Picnic, with gourmand fare, overlooking spectacular scenery.

Fly to Iquitos, then head overland into the verdant region of the village of Nauta, set near the Marañón River, one of the Amazon’s three main tributaries. Meet with villagers. Attend a shamanic ceremony. The wildlife-rich remoteness of the Amazon River is compelling. There are opportunities to canoe, kayak and swim in these pristine waters, while keenly spying pink dolphins. Cruise for three nights aboard the elegant Aria Amazon, amid rainforest, pausing each day to stroll the Pacaya-Samira National Reserve (an incredibly biodiverse area). The ship’s high-tech telescope allows exceptional stargazing beneath ink-black night sky, twinkling with planets and constellations. Board a skiff on the Samiria River to catch paiche, a large carp-like fish. Marvel at flora and fauna. Walk in the jungle of a rainforest for an unforgettable connect-with-nature adventure. This sojourn surprises and soothes.

Limited Edition Marco Polo Journeys

French Gardens: Paris & the Loire, 9 Days. Get set to ooh-la-la! Francophiles and floral enthusiasts will swoon over this vibrant vacay, lavished with an extravagance of gardens and châteaux, extraordinary meals and wines. Its noteworthy hotels particularly impress.

Touch down in the City of Light, staying at five-star Le Bristol Paris, a masterpiece property of the Oetker Collection, which harbors a gorgeous courtyard garden and masterful restaurants. Begin a heady rendezvous with Paris, steering to Jardin des Plantes, founded in 1635, now deemed France’s national botanical garden. Then embark the high-speed TGV train to the city of Tours, gateway to the Loire Valley’s heart. Privately indulge in the gardens of Château de Villandry. Check into Chateau d’Artigny & Spa, the Belle Époque castle built by celebrated perfumer François Coty. Engage with the owner of grandly ornamental Château du Rivau, where a private lunch is unveiled in its “secret garden.” In nearby Chinon, site of a former castle that housed both English and French royalty, join a workshop about plants’ medicinal uses.

Transit along the Loire River and follow its Cher tributary to inimitable Château de Chenonceau, once the home of Catherine de Medici. Participate in a master class taught by the castle’s chief florist, winner of the esteemed Meilleur Ouvrier de France.

Check into the comfy, 18th-century Les Sources de Cheverny. In nearby Chaumont, rejoice at the International Garden Festival, in which leading garden designers from around the globe gather to arrange themed installations at Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire; while there, visit the château and its historic stables, then float on a river flatboat. Later, luxuriate in a private dinner at Château de Troussay, an intimate jewel. Next, at the sumptuous Palace of Versailles, a passion project of King Louis XIV, explore opulent rooms, as well as some of the 2,000 acres of gardens and parks. A Champagne picnic here is a pinch-yourself, life-is-good affair. Slumber at Tiara Château Hôtel Mont Royal, within the lush Chantilly Forest. Then be wowed by enormous Château de Chantilly, surrounded by a moat; historically significant, this dreamy castle contains one of France’s incredibly important art collections. Attend its Chef ’s Table workshop, which elaborates on famous Chantilly cream, invented there. Sweets for the sweet. Bienvenue!

To download A&K’s wanderlust-inspiring PDF brochure, go here.

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