x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Travel deals: enjoy an Arctic voyage or Japan's cherry blossoms

The warmer climate brings festivals celebrating the beginning of the end of winter, exploring Japan, Bhutan or Central America.

Enjoy Kyoto's temples and sakura blooms on a 16-day tour of Japan organised by Bales Worldwide.
Enjoy Kyoto's temples and sakura blooms on a 16-day tour of Japan organised by Bales Worldwide.

Arctic voyage

Aqua-Firma is offering eight-to-16 day cruises on a 100-year-old schooner to the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, located just 900km from the North Pole. Its eight-day trip to south Spitsbergen starts in Longyearbyen, the largest settlement on the island. The ship will make short stops in Tyrgghama, home to a 17th-century whaling station; Bellsund and the glacier front of Fridtjohamna for some wildlife spotting (polar bears, Arctic foxes and walruses); Hornsund, the southernmost fjord in Svalbard, which has eight glaciers with calving fronts; and Brepollen, a large bay with spectacular and colourful geological formations featuring sedimentary rock patterns from the Triassic and Jurassic eras.

Prices start at £1,750 (Dh10,264) for an eight-day, full-board cruise based on two people sharing a cabin. The cost includes airport transfers to and from the vessel, all meals, shore excursions and activities, a programme of lectures by naturalists and all taxes and port charges. Visit www.aqua-firma.com or www.responsibletravel.com for more information and to book.

Japan

From Mount Fuji to the Takayama festival, Bales Worldwide's 15-day trip to Japan is a comprehensive way to see the country. The tour starts with a trip to Nikko by train to visit Toshugo Shrine and Rinoji Temple before going on to Mount Fuji, travelling via Lake Kawaguchi; a cable-car ride to the sulphurous hot springs at Owakudani in Hakone; a walking tour of Takayama to enjoy the festival procession and parade of traditional floats through the streets; Miyajima and visits to the Itsukushima Shrine and Momijidani Park; Kyoto's Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion, Ryoanji Rock Garden and Kiyomizu Temple; and the Deer Park, Todajij Temple and Kasuga Shrine in Nara. The 15-day tour costs £3,500 (Dh20,528) per person and includes a guide, all transport, sightseeing and meals as stated in the itinerary and all taxes. The tour departs on April 9. For more information, visit www.balesworldwide.com or call 00 44 845 057 1819.

Bhutan-India

Visit India and Bhutan on a 16-day tour organised by Wild Frontiers. The journey starts in Kolkata, India's cultural centre, and continues into the Himalayas to visit the hill station of Darjeeling, then onwards for an eight-day tour of Bhutan, exploring monasteries, hiking in the mountains and joining in Paro's colourful spring festival. The land-only trip costs from £3,159 (Dh18,528) per person with government passes and permits, entrance fees and all transport outlined in the itinerary. Departure is scheduled for March 12. Visit www.wildfrontiers.co.uk for more information.

Central America

See Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama on a 16-day moderately difficult cycling holiday with Exodus. The route, mainly coastal and mapped out from Granada all the way to the Panama Canal, is a great way to see Central America, with stops to take in Costa Rica's rainforests and active volcanoes, and the island paradise of Bocas del Toro; Lake Nicaragua and the island of Ometepe; a cruise down Tenorio River and an afternoon snorkelling on Panama's reefs. The trip ends with a ride down the Panama Canal. Prices start at £1,599 (Dh9,380) per person and include accommodation, breakfast and transport as outlined in the itinerary. The trip departs on April 16. Visit www.exodus.co.uk for more information.

ciyer@thenational.ae