You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

These Immersive Tours Make for More Mindful Vacations

AFAR logo AFAR 6/30/2022 The United States Tour Operator Association

© Provided by AFAR

Imagine sitting down for a Moroccan feast under the stars with new friends, taking a sensory stroll through a bustling market with a Peruvian chef, or going on a scenic bike ride through Italian wine country. These are the types of restorative experiences that make trips more enriching—especially when shared with others. As more and more pursue mindful exploration, guided tours help travelers forge deeper connections with people, nature, and our surroundings. And with a variety of options—from small group tours to escorted expeditions—that cater to every travel style, they can captivate both first-timers and seasoned globetrotters.

Fortunately, the United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) makes finding your dream vacation with a tour operator even easier. Offering a curated network of specialized and trusted tour providers in epic locations, all you need to do is decide where you want to go. For a journey with awareness and intention, dreamy destinations like Italy, Peru, and Morocco paired with exclusive experiences can help you feel even more culturally immersed (think an after-hours museum visit or a private cooking class inside a local’s home), resulting in incredibly rewarding travel. These five itineraries allow you to go beneath the surface and feel the heartbeat of these awe-inspiring places.

Bike through Tuscany by the sea

© Photo ©iStock

The breathtaking southern coast of Tuscany is a cycling paradise brimming with sweeping seascapes, sprawling vineyards, and hidden medieval villages. All of this and more awaits on the Italy: Southern Tuscany & Giglio Island tour with VBT Bicycling Vacations, where a small group of active adventurers (no more than 20) will spend a glorious week cycling the Maremma coast, one of Italy’s last best-kept secrets.

Pause to visit crystalline sea beaches, stroll through quaint fishing villages, and hop off your bike to visit Giglio Island, famed for its fortressed village and panoramic hiking trails. Guided tours and tastings will bring you to family-run olive oil producers, vineyards, and Tuscan baking classes. With fattorie (farm-stay) accommodations and farm-to-table dinners along the way, all you have to do is bring your appetite and enjoy the ride.

Explore the Amazon Rainforest and Machu Picchu

© Photo ©Aqua Expeditions

The protected Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, one of the most biodiverse regions of the Amazon basin, boasts more than 1,000 animal species including elusive pink river dolphins, sloths, and caimans. Now, one of the richest ways to experience it is on Abercrombie & Kent’s new Peru: Machu Picchu & the Amazon tour.


Video: Tips to save on summer travel (ABC News)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

This once-in-a-lifetime voyage starts on a delicious note with a biking foodie tour of Lima. Then, experience arriving at Peru’s crown jewel, Machu Picchu, the same way the Incas did, as you hike the last portion of the Inca Trail. While in the region, you’ll immerse yourself in the artisanal traditions of the Sacred Valley by visiting a village where Quechua highlanders still live.

Then, shift into relaxation mode with a three-night cruise aboard the Aria Amazon, where you’ll disembark for daily excursions that will root you in one of the world’s most impressive ecosystems. Along with spotting diverse wildlife, you’ll step into a traditional village to experience authentic expressions of Amazonian culture, such as shamanic ceremonies, as you cap off your tour in the world’s largest rainforest.

Journey through Italy’s countryside and kitchens

© Photo ©iStock
 

Curated for culinary and culture enthusiasts who want to tour Italy with more flexibility, Globus’ Veni, Vidi, Vici: Umbria & Tuscany By Design tour offers the best of la dolce vita. The sweetest part is the option to personalize your trip with the tour operator’s complimentary YourChoice Excursions. Soak away your cares in ancient thermal springs or embrace your inner Michelangelo while painting. Follow your nose while truffle hunting or practice your golf swings in Tuscany.

Any way you slice it, this eight-day tour weaves through hilltop towns while stopping in the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Florence, Siena, and the historic Centre of Rome including the Vatican City—allowing you to say “ciao” to the heart of Italy, your way.

Uncover the essence of Morocco

Photo by Club Adventures © AFAR Photo by Club Adventures

Morocco’s diverse cultures, labyrinth-like medinas, and mysterious deserts are best explored with a knowledgeable guide. To tell these rich stories, the Morocco Uncovered tour by Club Adventures offers a two-week journey through ancient cities, bustling bazaars, and high mountain villages. Marvel at Roman ruins, awaken the senses in the souks of Marrakech and Fes, ride camels into the sunset in the Sahara Desert, and go behind the scenes of a filmmakers heaven in Ait Benhaddou.

A range of accommodations—from a traditional Berber homestay to an overnight camp amid the orange-colored Erg Chebbi sand dunes—make this tour even more memorable. As you spend your evening stargazing, sampling local cuisine, and listening to live music around an open fire, you’ll feel the warmth of Morocco deep within your soul.

Experience the best of Italy

© Photo by Robert Streeter/Courtesy of Trafalgar

Planning an epic trip to Italy can be a stressful endeavor. Fortunately, Trafalgar’s Best of Italy itinerary allows you to take in the iconic sights (and some unique experiences like staying overnight in a renovated Franciscan monastery in Assisi) without a worry. The 13-day tour covers everything from the ancient treasures of Rome and the chic shores of Capri to the artisanal glass-blowing studios of Venice.

Savor fascinating stories as you enjoy a private guided visit to Pompeii, explore secret corners of the Vatican that aren’t open to the public, and join a local Cinque family for a “Be My Guest” dinner. As you tap into the freedom of a guided tour, you can simply focus on reveling in Italy’s big treasures—and all the unforgettable little moments in between.

For these tours and many others that mean expertly planned trips, access to VIP and off-the-beaten-path experiences, local and knowledgeable guides, around-the-clock service, and more, head to USTOA.

AdChoices
AdChoices

MORE FROM AFAR

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon