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Do Something Exotic with TAP

Wikipedia, social media and virtually endless blogs make it easier than ever to seek out exotic destinations and read about all they have to offer. Some may say the availability of information makes those places less mysterious, but for many, it only makes distant and distinct countries more intriguing.

More than ever, travelers are looking for hard-to-reach or out-of-the-way destinations in search of the undiscovered and the unknown, and Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) circles the globe to deliver.


Egypt attracts travelers who want adventure, who value history and who seek to understand some of religion’s oldest roots.

“When you go to Egypt, you’re looking at 5,000 years of history,” said Paul Larsen, president of TAP partner company Ed-Ventures, which offers departures to Egypt in February 2016 and February 2017.

Ed-Ventures’ itineraries go well beyond the pyramids to immerse travelers in a world that is both modern and ancient and steeped in centuries of culture.

“You’re going to actually observe the noon prayers at a mosque, and you’ll talk to the imam, and he’ll explain what those are all about,” Larsen said. “You also get a chance to visit with some Christians that are located there, and they’ll tell you what it’s like to live in Muslim country.”

Guests can swim, snorkel or dive in the Red Sea, or take a hot-air balloon ride over Luxor and the surrounding desert. The group will take the overnight train from Cairo to Luxor, which “itself is an experience; these aren’t the trains you find in Europe,” Larsen said.

“It’s amazing to be riding that train along the Nile and watch this country wake up, and see a farmer go out to his sugar cane field,” he said.

The trip also includes visiting St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai. Travelers get up about 3 a.m. to hike or ride a camel to the top of Mount Sinai and watch the sunrise. Before then, the dark trail is dotted with the lights of those winding their way to the monastery.

Egypt is a destination that does cause some concern for American travelers, but “I would get on the plane and go there tomorrow,” Larsen said.


Jo Ann Carr and her husband first started traveling to Nicaragua nearly 20 years ago, and for several years, their company offered a nine-day Notable Natural Nicaragua trip. But Interlude Tours is changing it up in 2016 and is instead offering a four-day Nicaragua extension to its TAP partners’ Costa Rica itineraries.

“Anyone who wants to know what Costa Rica was like 15, 20 years ago — well, look at Nicaragua,” said Carr, president of Interlude Tours. “Nicaragua is much more authentic.”

Travelers who opt for the extension will fly from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Managua, Nicaragua, and spend four days exploring Granada and the surrounding area. Granada is a colonial city that is also very cosmopolitan, Carr said. In addition to its many language schools, making English fairly common, the city is rife with colonial architecture, brightly painted buildings and stone-paved streets. People “love walking around the square and just taking in the city,” she said.

The food is also fabulous, and what is the farm-to-table movement in the United States is just a way of life in Nicaragua. The cattle are grass fed, the chickens are free range, and “your fish was probably swimming that morning,” Carr said.

Travelers will take a boat ride through the waters around the volcanic islands dotting Lake Nicaragua and can visit the active volcano, including a stop at the interpretive center, where they can peer into the crater. Another option is to visit the artisan villages to meet a potter who still makes pottery “the old way” or craftsmen who hand-make hammocks.

The group will also stay in an original hacienda or mansion that has been converted into a small hotel overflowing with Old World charm, complete with tiled floors and gated courtyards.

Rachel Carter

Rachel Carter worked as a newspaper reporter for eight years and spent two years as an online news editor before launching her freelance career. She now writes for national meetings magazines and travel trade publications.