Dear Fellow Adventurers,
What an exciting start to the year so far! Our group tours and bespoke trips have really taken off, and we can’t wait to welcome you on some of our exciting adventures.
It’s trade show season and I did a solo recce to the New York Travel & Adventure Show in NYC which took place in the last weekend of January. I hadn’t been back to Manhattan for a decade and had forgotten what an exciting city it is – the air was electric and I really enjoyed sharing our brand with the discerning travellers there - and even bumped into YellowWood client Madhur who travelled with us to Kyrgyzstan last year!
This was followed swiftly by the Destinations Holiday & Travel Show in London Olympia for four days with the team. We met so many new people and would like to thank all of you who took the time to speak with us at both shows, to learn more about the way we operate in some of the world’s more far-flung regions. I was also delighted to have the opportunity to give a talk on Mongolia to a packed auditorium at The Sunday Times 'Meet The Experts Theatre' which was great fun.
The UK Government's FCDO department gave the 'green light' to travel to Lebanon and our April departure immediately sold out! We have opened a new departure in June and also in October - both of which are already filling up. Our Bhutan departure in October is also now confirmed with minimum numbers, as is our hiking trip to the Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries in Northern India's Ladakh in August, and we are delighted to report that we have again started running tours in Ethiopia, with clients on the ground again this month.
We have launched several new hand-crafted itineraries in the past months alongside our trusted local partners, which we are very excited to share with you, including in: Georgia & Armenia, Pakistan & Uzbekistan. Travel has become more expensive across the board regardless of destination, and most of our prices have gone up to reflect these costs.
We of course only want to run fantastic itineraries but can only do so at a price-point that is realistic to the environments in which we are operating. We also do not want to start using inferior accommodations or services, so will hold fast to what we know to be truly worthwhile experiences - as with everything, you get what you pay for.
Bespoke tailor-made itineraries now constitute over 50% of our business, so please do reach out if you would like us to craft a trip for you from any of the inspiring tours on our website.
We still plant 15 trees for every client that travels with us via our partner charity WeForest's projects in Ethiopia, Zambia & Brazil, and are doing more to further our partnerships with local community and environmental charities in the countries in which we operate – giving you a deeper insight into the lands through which you are journeying – and helping to make a positive difference by being there.
I have been reading a pretty ‘out there’ travel book at the moment: The Sign and The Seal by Graham Hancock (1992). I’m only half way through so can't give you the full scoop, but it is about a man searching for the truth behind the fabled Ark of the Covenant being held in Ethiopia in a northern church in Axum. Arguments already include the possibility that the 12thCentury carved rock-hewn churches at Lalibela could have been orchestrated by the Knights Templar who journeyed down from Jerusalem in search of The Holy Grail/The Ark. I'm really not sure where it is going, but he has invented a new genre: an intellectual whodunit by a do-it-yourself sleuth.
Not technically related to travel but I have also been reading The Art of War by Sun Tsu (5th Century BC) – which had a renaissance in popularity of readership by investment bankers in the 80’s - which afforded this excellent and completely relevant quotation:
"Those who do not use local guides are unable to obtain the advantages of the ground."
Until next time,
Sam McManus, MD