As part of our 30th Birthday celebrations we are collating stories from Tucan Travellers. Vicki has been on a huge amount of adventures with us, and you can read all about them here.
“We first travelled with Tucan in 2010 as part of a longer trip to western China and central Asia. To fill out the independent bits of our proposed three month trip I googled trips to Mongolia and up popped Tucan Travel. We had never travelled with Tucan before but we’re so glad we did. We spent 15 days travelling the Mongolian countryside in a Russian van with just one other guest over what was essentially dirt tracks (no asphalted roads here) and what an amazing adventure we had! We stayed in traditional gers with local nomadic families with long drop toilets and no water to bathe. Rough, yes, but what an experience. Sadly, Tucan no longer offers trips through Mongolia except for the Trans Siberian journey (such a shame), but what an introduction to the world of small group trips with Tucan. On the same trip we were also looking for travel in Japan. With the inducement of a 5% discount on a second trip we also booked a 15 day trip to Japan. We were fortunate enough to get a Japanese speaking British born tour leader who made the trip very seamless. Five minutes to transfer between trains with 20kg backpacks, no problem. We travelled from Tokyo to Takayama, Kyoto, Nagasaki, Yufuin, Hiroshima and Mt Fuji area before heading back to Tokyo on the shinkansens. We achieved in two weeks what would have taken us four weeks (on our own) because we did not suffer with the lack of local language. Such a stunning destination and one we would like to return to.
In 2012, we decided to do a trip to Eastern Europe and with some trepidation decided on what was called the Eastern European Adventure. We were a bit unsure about spending 56 days in a small group starting in Moscow, travelling through the Baltics, Central Europe and a month doing the Balkan loop to Budapest before heading to Romania and eventually finishing in Istanbul. Much to our delight the group kept changing every 14 days or so and the trip was so enjoyable. We started on 1 March and the snow was still thick on the ground in Moscow and the Baltics but it was so spectacular. The upside to the cool start was also that there were fewer tourists around. The public bus trips and train travel between cities was a definite highlight. It was wonderful watching the countryside roll by even on the particularly long stretches of travel between Bucharest and Istanbul. The countryside was ever-changing. We loved the Balkans particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Sebia (in no particular order).
In 2014, we embarked on a Central American odyssey (on the back of a month touring the west coast USA national parks with a hire car) again with Tucan. We had an amazing guide, Linda, an ex-pat (fluent in Spanish) Australian living in Ecuador. Travelling from Antigua, Guatemala, we looped into Belize, the Yucatan in Mexico, through Merida and Palenque before finally heading back to Antigua for the Easter parades. What amazing experiences we had there. Swimming in cenotes in the Yucatan, exploring Mayan ruins, and in Belize, two experiences there in particular: the Actun Tunichil Muknal ( locally referred to as the “ATM”) Cave near San Ignacio and swimming and snorkelling with turtles, stingrays and sharks on a full day sailing experience off Caye Caulker. Loved the Caribbean experience! We then headed through Honduras to the ruins of Copan (amazing) and snorkelling off the beach in Roatan Island, Nicaragua (Leon and Granada are beautiful cities) with its dry volcanic landscape and beautiful Lake Ometepe, a Costa Rican national park and wildlife odyssey complete with very cute but alien looking sloths, before heading off to Panama. The highlights were many and varied: Mayan temples and ceremonial sites, thick jungles, lots of wildlife, snorkelling in crystal clear waters, volcanoes, chicken buses, border crossings across bridges that should have been demolished decades ago and even being awoken by an earthquake at midnight!
Last year we did a four week trip to South America and again we chose Tucan. So many highlights but not limited to beautiful Bolivia, Uyuni salt flats, magical Machu Picchu and other Inca ruins, Cuzco, the Pantanal Wetlands, Rio, Iguazú Falls and beautiful Buenos Aires.
We have travelled with other small group operators but Tucan seems to offer better experiences with tour leaders, accommodation and more authenticity. It also consistently offers good value. This year we are planning a trip to Africa, with, you guessed it, Tucan! Mara to the Falls. Can’t wait for September.”