One of our Tucan Travel tour leaders, Virginia, will be on our hugely popular Tango and Samba tour over the festive season, travelling from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro. She has planned a big group dinner with a Secret Santa draw on Christmas day, when the tour will be in Sao Paolo. As one of the biggest cities in South America that is well-known for its cosmopolitan gastronomic and night-life scenes, we couldn’t think of a better place to spend Christmas Day!
In Africa, our tour leader Leah has decorated one of our overland trucks called Peeky with Christmas decorations. She is also planning to make a Hannukah candelabra with tinsel! For Christmas day she has arranged Secret Santa for when the group will be at Fish River Canyon in Namibia, but they will be having their Christmas dinner on boxing day in the Felix Unite camp-site, a popular destination for many tour companies that overland through Africa. They will be enjoying some pool-side cocktails and the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside after their Christmas dinner!
Another of our tour leaders in Africa, Sean, will be lucky enough to be on safari in the Serengeti National Park with his group on Christmas Day. In order not to disrupt the schedules of the local suppliers who operate the safaris into the national park and to not disturb the wildlife, they have decided to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, when they will be visiting the Meserani Snake Park in Arusha. They have planned a Secret Santa and for the overland truck to be decorated, and will have a meal together and then head to the campsite bar to join the other overlanding groups before heading into the Serengeti on a 4WD vehicle early on Christmas Day.
Anto, who is a tour leader on the Circuito Overland Tour which travels around the whole of South America, has planned for Santa to visit his group when they are in Salta, Argentina. Instead of the typical turkey on Christmas Day, they’re going to be able to try some of the finest grilled steaks that northern Argentina has to offer. On Christmas Day, activities on offer include some of the best horse riding and white-water rafting excursions in the world, followed by the aforementioned grilled steaks during a big Christmas dinner. Tour leader Laura and driver Ritchie, who will also be with a group in Argentina on Christmas Day, have planned a Secret Santa, decorations for the overland truck and a BBQ fancy dress party at their hostel in Mendoza. It’s a tough life for some!
Jo will be travelling through the heart of Patagonia over the Christmas period with her group. Their exciting Christmas Day will start in the stunning Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. As they say adios to the beautiful towers and azure lakes, they will say hola to the Seno Otway penguin colony. This is one of the few places in the world to see the very cute Magellanic Penguins at their breeding ground. The group will watch them coming home from fishing, drying off on the beach, and waddling back to their burrows and their partners. When they arrive into Punta Arenas, the overland group will join forces with one of Tucan Travel’s Adventure Tour groups to enjoy a beautiful Chilean meal together and, of course, a Secret Santa too.
Jess and Jono, tour leader and driver for one of our Budget Expeditions tours in South America, will be in Lima with their group on Christmas Day. They will surprise the group by hanging Christmas lights inside their overland truck called Jack, and will get their tour involved in a Secret Santa draw on Christmas Day. Finally, Lisa, one of our tour leaders in Central America, will be in the Boquete mountains in Panama. She is arranging a traditional Christmas dinner for her group, and instead of a Secret Santa, her group will be making a donation to their local guide in Tikal, Miguel Marin. His daughter is suffering from juvenile arthritis, and the medication is costing the family a lot of money, especially as she is soon to have a treatment of 3 expensive injections, so the donation will really be appreciated and will help to make one family’s Christmas a memorable one.
Here’s what our tour leaders in Asia have planned:
This Christmas my group will be in one of my favourite places in all of Asia, Vang Vieng. This rustic little town has become a popular hangout among backpackers due to its breath taking setting along the Nam Song River and it’s chilled out vibe. For Christmas dinner we’ll be going to Gary’s Irish Bar, which will be serving up a traditional holiday dinner. I have to say the food in South East Asia is some of the best in the world, but a little taste of home will be a nice treat on Christmas Day. The holidays are not only a time for eating but also a time for giving, so my group will be getting into the holiday spirit by donating to a local charity.
Like last year, this Christmas I will be in Kyoto on Christmas day. This year the tour starts on Christmas Day so we will probably keep the celebrations for the next evening in Nagasaki.It is estimated that only about 1% of the Japanese population are Christian, so Christmas Day is not a public holiday (unless it falls on a weekend). So kids have to go to school, and parents to work! The big department stores and a lot of shops get in the festive spirit though, so there are Christmas songs playing and plenty of decorations.
On Boxing Day we are up early to catch a “bullet” train to Himeji, location of one of the three most beautiful castles in Japan. Then it is back on trains for quite a long trip down to Nagasaki. If the group are up for it, I will take them to a little music cafe (Crazy Horse – named after Neil Young’s band), where you can jam with professional musicians, karaoke, or just listen to the music. Always a great night.
We plan to celebrate Christmas Eve in style as we choo choo our way down to Ho Chi Min City from Nha Trang on an overnight train. Hopefully the Vietnamese train conductors don’t get too “bah humbug” when we decorate our train’s cabins with a miniature Christmas tree brought all the way from the UK along with some other random decorations that we will collect over the next week. I am sure some adult beverages will be flowing to help loosen up the vocal chords as we practice our Christmas carolling. If we are lucky we will be able to convince Sarah’s group to join us for a white elephant gift exchange so that we can all wake up at our destination with a slight hangover and a gift from a stranger.
On Christmas Eve, we’ll be on an overnight train from Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City. Along with doing a Secret Santa/White Elephant on the train so group members have a gift to wake up Christmas Day, I’m holding a little Nha Trang Train Station fete, with each group member bringing a drink or appetizer item to a pre-departure train station party — continuing onto the train, of course! On Christmas Day in HCMC, we’ll head down to the French Colonial District to see the lights and decorations surrounding the Notre Dame Cathedral.
About the Author: Marcus Hunt is Marketing Assistant at Tucan Travel. He has travelled independently throughout Europe and the Americas, and has studied or worked in France, Italy and Brazil. You can find him on Google+ or read his other contributions here.