Surely, a picture is worth a lot and a good travel photo can tell a story of our travels. Gadling’s Photo of the Day alone takes us around the world often. Now, a new photo contest promises winners what could be an amazing adventure, just for sharing their shots.
“Facebook is a natural platform for inspiring travel,” says Scott Wiseman, president of Abercrombie & Kent USA. “Our followers love sharing pictures from their recent travels, so we wanted to encourage them and reward them for making the effort.”
On the 14-day adventure cruise, the winner and a guest will explore shorelines teeming with penguin and seal alongside leading naturalists and go behind the scenes at an environmental research station and chat with on-board experts nightly about the day’s discoveries.
Described as “the one to beat for high-quality, hands-on exploration” by Conde Nast Traveler, this would be a huge win for anyone. Sailing with veteran photographer Richard Harker makes it a dream-come-true for photo fans as Harker will be providing hands-on guidance to help make every shot count on the adventure.
This Antarctic journey includes twin-share accommodation on MV ‘Le Boreal,’ the only all-balcony expedition ship in the region, meals, all transfers, ground transport, internal air, fully-guided sightseeing, including shore excursions, and has a total value of $26,600. The trip takes place December 7 – 20, 2012.
For complete details, to enter the contest or just browse the photos submitted Abercrombie and Kent’s Facebook page.
Have you always wanted to go on safari in Kenya, tour the colorful markets and Mughal palaces of India‘s Golden Triangle, or explore the mysterious Incan settlements of Peru and do so in style? Beginning on Cyber Monday, Abercrombie & Kent will begin its Six Days of Holiday Savings sale, during which 10 luxury trips of a lifetime will be on sale.
Starting at 9am CST on November 28 and running through 1pm CST on December 3, Abercrombie & Kent is offering substantial mark-downs on trips from Amsterdam to Tanzania. Some A&K luxury travel packages will be on sale at a 50 percent discount. The best deals are an 11-day tour of India priced from $2,455 per person (originally $5,595); a six-day journey to Peru and Machu Picchu from $2,395 (usually $5,095); and an eight-day Thailand temple trip priced from $1,660 (was $4,295). You can also choose from Paris in the spring (from $2,495 for six days), a five-day jaunt to Florence and Chianti (from $1,395), and five other “guided independent journeys” starting from $1,795.
All of the packages included in A&K’s six-day sale must be booked by December 3 and take place in spring 2012. So, your chance to become a luxury traveler – or to surprise a loved one with a truly one-of-a-kind gift – is just a click away this Cyber Monday. Visit abercrombiekent.com for details.
One of our favorite parts about the “internetization” of travel (yes, we made that word up) is the feeling that you can travel the world without ever leaving your desktop. We reported earlier this year on flash sale darling Jetsetter’s iPad app. Now luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent has joined the fray with a free application for iPad that allows users to plan exotic adventures, family travel, cultural explorations and nature/wildlife trips. With each tap of an image, users can explore a particular experience in depth.
One of our favorite parts of the app? “Virtual Visits,” 60 to 90-second videos with a day-in-the-life approach that capture the sights and sounds of a destination. Visits range from views of Cappadocia via hot air balloon, Pushkar Fair, a camel and cattle sale in a holy city and natural ice sculptures off the coast of Antarctica.
Users can also create a personalized travel map of countries they’ve visited and wish to visit. These destinations can be exported to Google Earth, which provides a satellite tour of each destination. There’s also easy integration with Twitter, Facebook and Abercrombie & Kent destination specialists.
Troubling events around the world can often bring official alerts and warnings against travel to protect us from harm. Savvy travelers know to pay attention to those words of caution, but not let them define their adventures. Connecting with experienced travelers can bring a fuzzy picture of what is actually happening on the ground into focus. A clear picture of the real situation from a trusted source can give the green light to plans that might otherwise have been put on hold.
Egypt has been in the news a lot lately with graphic images of demonstrators clashing with the Egyptian military in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. This week the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a travel warning to avoid public places in Egypt.
Abercrombie and Kent (A&K) is an experienced travel company that has visited the world’s greatest destinations since 1962. They are well-known in the Middle East, including Egypt. When Egypt’s revolution caused travelers already there to scramble for a way out, A&K was prepared.
“A&K has six offices in Egypt so the company’s on-ground presence and expert destination knowledge really sets them apart from other operators” a spokesperson told Gadling, adding “When the crisis broke out, A&K was able to safely get all clients out of Egypt via charter planes. Other companies had to go through the Embassy’s so A&K was better able to do this task.”
That is just what we would want to have happen and surely a point in favor of aligning travel plans with an experienced source. Better yet, hearing details from sources that make a living on the ground in trouble-prone places can give more detailed, accurate information to fuel our travel decisions.
We asked a number of sources the big question: “Is it safe to travel in Egypt now?” Abercrombie and Kent think it is and provide us with reasons for their qualified opinion.
“The situation has improved dramatically in recent weeks. The U.S. State Department has softened its Travel Warning and both the French and the British have updated their cautions. Airports and financial institutions are functioning normally and popular tourist sites are open – and remarkably free of visitors. Beyond that, Egyptians are relishing their new-found freedom and a sense of optimism is palpable wherever you go; there is a sense of promise and exhilaration in the air that may never come again. Egyptians are finally exercising their right to political organization, demonstrations, and free speech just as people do all over the world. The vast majority of this has been very positive and has not disrupted daily life in any way. Throughout, neither tourists nor tourist facilities have ever been targeted in any way. With a stable political situation, crowd-free sites and a newly energized people, this is the moment to experience Egypt.”
Right about here I should probably admit that Egypt is my “…and then I can die” place to visit some day. I have been studying Egypt since an 8th grade Social Studies teacher required the class to copy intricate diagrams of Egyptian structures as a learning tool. Fascinated with the culture and architecture, it would be really easy for me to throw all caution to the wind and go there regardless of the situation on the ground. Luckily, sources like A&K are not blinded by life-long dreams and have a clear view of what is being done to protect visitors.
“Comprehensive security measures are in place at hotels and tourist sites, including bag screenings, metal detectors, and the visible presence of Tourist Police. Vehicles are not permitted to enter any hotel or tourist site without being thoroughly checked at the gate by security personnel and dogs trained to detect explosives. Each key tourist zone has its own security team comprised of tourist, district and state police. Regular patrols take place in the immediate vicinity of the sites and deep into the desert in the open places. We work with local authorities, tourist police, security officials, and our own team on the ground who are well aware of security and take the utmost precaution in all cases to protect our guests and to ensure that they have a flawless experience here. All these factors that play into our operations decisions-decisions that we take keeping in mind that guest comfort and safety is our top priority.”
In a world where political unrest, rising crime and natural disasters seem almost commonplace, waiting for everything to be happy, safe and secure might take a long time. Aligning ourselves with trusted sources like Abercrombie and Kent can make a huge difference.
Take Gadling TV’s TravelTalk for example. After the recently-posted final episode of the Webby-nominated 12-part series on Thailand, I’m pretty sure our Stephen Greenwood would make a fabulous tour guide. Following his adventures in Thailand, I have him as a trusted source for Thailand information. He may not know the gross national product of Thailand (or maybe he does, I have no clue) but it is apparent that he knows the lay of the land and how to make some truly amazing travel experiences.
There is a lot to be said about experience when it comes to traveling, whether that of an individual or a travel company. If we have been some place a number of times, that previous experience can add a valuable filter to what we see in video and in print when events occur around the globe.
Safety in travel is important.
Caution in troubled places is too.
Equally important is for us to attain our travel goals.
Aligning ourselves with trusted sources can make that happen.
Find out how other travel sources responded to “Is it safe to travel?” as we continue to explore what to do when travel caution is urged but experiences await.
Nakatindi is a small village in Zambia which was founded by a white landowner. He wanted locals to raise cattle on his property, and so the village was created for them. Unfortunately, over time, the land became unsuitable for the cattle, who eventually had to be sent to graze on the other side of the Zambezi River. Now, this village is struggling to make ends meet — a sociological recipe all too common in Africa.
I visited this village on my Abercrombie & Kent tour of Zambia, as A&K is currently providing funding for the local community school. Also present in the village are volunteers from African Impact and Princeton in Africa fellow Mary Reid Munford, who is working as a project manager for the volunteers. The volunteers stay nearby in Livingstone.
Abercrombie & Kent used to support another local village, but unfortunately, their donations kept mysteriously disappearing, pocketed by some party along the way. Even donations of food would fail to reach the villagers. After too many second chances, the unfortunate situation led to their selecting another village to support. This is just one of the reasons the cycle of poverty here is so difficult to break.
In Nakatindi, there is no virtually work available. Every so often, someone will come by and ask for workers — but there are far too many men who would love the job. The result of this is that they knock their price down and down to beat out their neighbors. They end up working for as little as a dollar for a full day, and due to this, the standard of living stays painfully low.
Education is of course one of the few antidotes to poverty, and the local community school for grades 1-7 (above) is doing their best to give Nakatindi’s kids a fighting chance. The children are learning English and volunteers from African Impact conduct physical education classes, giving them extra exposure to a language that could change their lives. It’s actually somewhat difficult to get children to come to school in a village like this, so the school has constructed a kitchen (see gallery). The addition of a kitchen means that kids who show up get a meal. That gets the job done as far as promoting education.
However, after 7th grade, the children need to get to the local high school, which is a good walk away. With the help of A&K’s donations, the school is saving for a bus. They are also planning to purchase a maize grinder. They would save money by grinding the maize for the children’s meals on site, and could even earn money by selling ground maize. They could pay someone to do the grinding with that money, as well, so the donation creates a job — it’s sustainable donations like these that can truly improve this village’s standard of living.
Though they are not working directly with Abercrombie & Kent, Mary Reid Munford says African Impact’s goals are similar in terms of sustainable help. “We are pretty strict with our volunteers not just handing things out as it creates a sense of dependency. Our whole philosophy is about empowerment and sustainability.” African Impact is currently building a health and education center in Nakatindi (below), with the help of volunteers both from abroad and from within the community. The community Club, which is somewhat like a city council, will be able to use the building as an office, and there will be a large space they can rent out for events like weddings and other parties.
Our tour of the town was pretty short, and though our guide spoke English, he was a little hard to understand sometimes. The tour was notably uncomfortable. My companions remarked on the unease we all felt, trekking through their village in our nice outfits and shoes, and with our fancy cameras. Though most of the villagers understand that tourists coming through is part of what generates money for the community, some were a little less than welcoming. From what I could pick up from body language, one woman shouted at our guide and said something to the effect of “if they want to take pictures of my house, they have to pay me.” I kept my camera pretty quiet after that.
It would have been stranger to be welcomed with open arms.
And yet, “welcomed with open arms” is exactly how we felt whenever we encountered kids in the town. They mobbed us, wanting us to take pictures of them and then show them their digital image. They wanted to play with my companion’s blonde hair, and for some reason, they all wanted to take turns holding my hand. I was a little concerned about one thing: although I understand these kids are learning English, I didn’t hear one word from them. In other parts of Zambia, when we encountered kids, they all wanted to say “HELLO HOW ARE YOU” and other phrases they knew to us. Furthermore, I heard one of the African Impact volunteers say that she was pretty sure the kids were just repeating her English phrases back to her in physical education class, and not necessarily picking up the meanings. I hope the quality of their teachers — not just in English, but in all their classes — isn’t lacking, or if it is, that it can be improved.
One thing is pretty clear: the kids are a lot of fun. They’re energetic and funny and love the camera. Check out this video of them hamming it up for me by the well:
So, would I recommend a visit to a local village when on safari in Africa? Definitely. The visit was more than a reality check (after staying in luxury camps with nothing to do but take pictures of zebras and eat), it was emotional and felt respectful. Maybe some of them didn’t want us there, but wouldn’t it be worse if tourists came through the country all the time and never even so much as poked their head into a real village to see how the people live? It’s an uncomfortable question, but for me, the answer is that making an effort to learn about people, if the intentions are good, is always okay.
My trip to Zambia was sponsored by Abercrombie & Kent and Sanctuary Retreats, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.