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Travel Tours for 2017

         Looking ahead: 2017  ESCORTED SMALL GROUPS TOURS ( ROTATED every few years)

 

Entrance to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico city

Entrance to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico city

 NEW!!!Mexico City and Puebla and Cholula—Anthropology, Archeology and Arts :  Jan. 26-FE 2, 2017

 The Museum of Anthropolgoy in Mexico City is one of the best in the world.  It  displays Lord Pakal’s tomb treasures from Palenque.   Visit Frida Kahlo’s home and some of her paintings.  Teotihuacan, “the place where men become gods,”  is one of the most important ruins of the world.  Visit the hidden pyramid in Cholula. $2195 p/p per double room.  Add $450 for a single room.

 Gray Whale Watching in Baja California, Mexico:                       March 2-10, 2017

Two days of watching these gentle giants in Magdalena Bay will be a thrill of a lifetime.  Other water activities will be in the tour, even swimming with sea lions if you choose to do so.  An estuary and bird sanctuary visit is included.   Begins and ends in Cabo San Jose.  $2495 p/p per double room.

 Peru and Machu Picchu:  April 18-28, 2017

We  usually offer Peru about every three years.  But, due to popular request, we are offering it again this year.  Machu Picchu is one of the new wonders of the world.  One of my clients commented he had been to 45 other destinations and this was the very most outstanding.  If you have ever considered going to Machu Picchu, this would be the time.  $3995 p/p per double room. ***Same price as last year!  Add $690 for a single room.

Costa Rica Natural History Tour:   May 31-June 9, 2017

Experience the most diverse eden in the hemisphere.  The premier sites of Poas and Arenal Volcano National Parks, Cano Negro Biological Preserve, Monteverde and Santa  Elena Cloud Forests and Carara National Park on the Pacific Coast are all highlights.  $3395 p/p per double room.  **Same price as last year! Add $535 for a single room.

 TERRORISM FACTS VS. TERRORISM FEARS  from our State Dept. conservative warnings:

  1. In 2011 17 U.S. citizens killed as a result of terrorism, including civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  2. You are 6 times more likely to die from hot weather than from terrorism.
  3. You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer in America than terrorism abroad.
  4. You are 404 times more likely to die from a fall than from a terrorist attack.
  5. You are 1048 times more likely to die in a car accident than from a terrorist attack.
  6. You are 12, 571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack.
  7. Obesity is 23,528 times more likely to kill you than a terrorist attack.

According to the Washington Post, the chance of dying when traveling abroad in a terrorism-related attack is l in 9.3 million.  It is ironic that the French government actually has warnings to their travelers about New York City, Houston, ST. Louis and Richmond, among others.

According to statistics from a university “think tank,” traveling abroad can increase our health and life span and well-being overall.

 

S & S Tours, LLC, 4250 S. Hohokam Dr., Sierra Vista, AZ 85650    Phones: 866-780-2813 or 520-803-1352;

Fax: 520-803-1355 Emails: ss@ss-tours.com; info@coppercanyon.com

Websites: www.ss-tours.com; www.coppercanyon.com

Mexico City Travel Tour

We are excited to announce our new scheduled destination, Mexico City, Puebla and Cholula,
January 26-February 2, 2017

Entrance to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico city

Entrance to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico city

The tour emphasis will be Archeology, Anthropology and Arts. Mexico City’s historical city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with important structures from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Walk through the past and present of the Zocalo square (Main Plaza), the second largest in the world, built above the ruins of the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan by the Spanish after the conquest. Off the plaza you will find the Templo Mayor of the ancient Aztec capital, the Cathedral and National Palace with the mural painted by Diego Rivera. View more of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo paintings at Dolores Olmeda Patino Museum located in the colonial neighborhood of Coyoacan in Frida Kahlo’s home.

Stroll through 3, 500 years of Mexican history in the world-famous Museum of Anthropology located inside the Chapultepec Park where Lord Pakal’s tomb treasures from Palenque lay.

One of the most important Aztec ruins of the world is found in Teotihuacan, “the place where men become gods”. The pyramid of the sun and the moon are among the best-recognized structures in these ruins.

We can’t exclude a showing of the world-famous choreographed art of the Ballet Folkloric, founded by Amalia Hernandez. This mesmerizing dance features arts and dance from regions throughout Mexico.

This group tour also features Puebla and Cholula. Under the striking view of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl Volcanoes in the center of Mexico is Puebla. The “heroic” city where the French army in 1862 was defeated in the infamous Battle of Puebla or known to many as the Cinco de Mayo celebration. Colonial architecture in Puebla reveals exuberant European style palaces built by the Spanish conquistadores who also brought with them the sturdy and colorful Talavera ceramic. Cholula does not fall behind in its Talavera wares. The city of Cholula is mostly known for its 365 churches and the hidden pyramid of Cholula.

Join us on our first scheduled group tour. If you have been hesitant about visiting on your own, this is the perfect opportunity to see Mexico City and Puebla. Our knowledgeable and personable guides will provide an enjoyable and enlightening learning adventure tour

10 days in the Copper Canyon

Copper CanyonI just returned from 10 days in Copper Canyon with travel agents. I marvel again at the Adventure Park at the Divisadero Area in Copper Canyon. Rock climbing, repelling, cable cars and zip lines are among its offerings. The Park offers a 7-jump zip line which is the longest in Mexico and the Zip Rider which is the longest single zip line in the world.

I have ridden the 7-jump zip line about 6 times and I am always ready to go again. It is such a trill to be flying through the air over canyon views that one cannot see any other way. At one point you are 2275 feet above the canyon floor. Three miles of course with two hanging bridges added in gives you plenty of time to revel in the scenery. Looking around you see dramatic scenes with steep rocky cliffs, stream beds and Tarahumara Indian ranches. One of the lines is 1.2 km long and on one of the lines you double up so you will make it across the chasm to the other side

The Zip Rider seems too tame for me, but, for those who want soft adventure riding in comfortable chairs at 65 miles per hour, it can be an adrenaline rush. The vertical drop is 450 feet and is over 8000 ft. long with a 17% grade. It takes about 2.5 minutes whereas the 7 zip line can take up to 3 hours, depending on how many people are riding it that day. You can boast you have ridden the fastest, highest and longest single zip line in the world.

Even if you do not ride a zip line, you should at least ride the cable car across the canyon. It is 3.6 miles long and offers a good view of Tarahumara Indian ranches and the canyon floor and flora. On the 7-jump zip line, you return on the cable car so you get both adventures in the same adventure.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites Tours

UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

S & S Tour Offerings to Some of These Sites

Seville palace garden2In 1978, when UNESCO published its first list of protected places, there were just 12 World Heritage Sites.  These included one of S & S Tours offerings this year in May:  The Galapagos Islands.

Today there are 1031 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The top ten nations for the World Heritage Sites listed according to ranking in the number of sites are Italy, China, Spain, France, and Germany, Mexico, India, UK, Russia and  USA. Italy, China, Spain and  France possess 51, 48, 44 and 41 respectively,  France is the most popular country in the world, with Spain not far behind.  Spain is one of my favorite countries and we tour there every few years with clients.

As you can see  Mexico rates #6 in the top ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  We offer various tours to these Sites all over Mexico—archeological sites, architectural sites, natural history sites, designated cities, etc.

One of the new wonders of the world is one of the best known and most visited tourist destinations in South America, Machu Picchu, does not fail to disappoint visitors and even though I have been there 10 times, I am ready to go again next year. S & S Tours has a popular 12-day tour here in April this year and plans to offer another one next April.

We are so fortunate the Spaniards did not discover the 550-year old citadel, built by the Inca civilization in the 15th century. It perches high in the Peruvian Andes at 7,973ft above sea level.

Machu Picchu (which means “old mountain” in the Quechua language) can be reached by a hike on mountain trails or by a scenic train trip through the “Sacred Valley.” We take the Vista Dome Train and  follow the Urubamba River up to the  foot of Machu Picchu.  We stay two nights at Aguas Calientes so we have plenty of time to wander around the ruins and even climb Wayna Picchu if we desire (“new mountain.”  )  This is the widely photographed peak at the back of Machu Picchu.

Sue Stilwell

Copper Canyon Mexico Travel Tour

Discounted Bus/Train Tour from Phoenix to Copper Canyon , Mexico

 Copper Canyon Travel TourWe designed this trip to be the easiest, most economical, most convenient way to visit this world-famous Canyon system as you cross the border with a guide and have no need to fly into Mexico on your own.  There is so much to offer here– spectacular views, primitive Indians, memorable train ride, 5 climate zones, zip lining and cable car rides in the Adventure Park. Going from sea level to 8000 feet elevation, the train ride into the Canyon is “the most dramatic in the western hemisphere.”(according to Reader’s Digest.)  As you pass through many of the 87 tunnels and “fly” over the 39 bridges, do a 180 degree loop inside the mountain and loop over yourselves on the train, you have to applaud the persistent visionaries who saw this railroad as the best direct shipping route to the Orient.  It was international from its inception.  It is noted to be 1000 feet deeper, and wider and greener  than Arizona’s Grand Canyon.  Our clients give us valuable feedback:  “S & S Tours staff live up to their giving personal attention in planning a wonderful adventure.  We give them a 5 star rating—the best.”  “Copper Canyon, Mexico was indeed everything and more than we anticipated.—all the result of the professionalism, the experience, the efficiency, the friendship and the reputation of S & S Tours.”  “You have not seen or experienced Mexico if you have not seen it with S & S Tours.  They are exceptional in experiencing the culture, food and fun to be had there.”  (from a client who traveled 15 times with us.)

Begins and ends in Phoenix.  April 3-12, 2016.  $200 discount for a $1195 price p/p per double room.  A minimum of 20 required.

Sue (Susy) Stilwell        Owner, S & S Tours
Web:  www.ss-tours.com;  www.coppercanyon.com

$1195 per person per double room.

Ph: (520) 803-1352; (866)780 2813; Fax:  520 803 1355

4250 S. Hohokam Dr.; Sierra Vista, AZ 85650

Learning Adventures with S & S Tours, LLC

In Mexico, Costa Rica, South America and Spain

Machu Picchu Travel Tour

Machu Picchu

 View from Guardhouse 2Since I was a young girl, I had wanted to visit Machu Picchu in Peru,  the cradle of the Inca civilization.   I have now been there at least 10 times.  We are going again this spring. It is truly a privilege to stand on this site that was once the refuge for Incan rulers to get away from it all. One client who had traveled to 45 destinations in the world commented “this is the ultimate.”   One just wants to sit on the grassy areas on the different levels of the ruins, watch the animal “lawn mowers”, the Llamas, and contemplate what the city was like when it was occupied.  We are so fortunate the Spaniards never discovered it or, it would not be available to us.  The best experience is to watch the sun rise on the site and see it chase away the shadows on the magnificent structures as it moves across the ruins.  It is also a wonderful experience to travel on the narrow gauge railroad to Machu Picchu through the gorgeous,  scenic Sacred Valley with the towering Andean Peaks on both side.  A personal highlight of this tour was to climb Wayna Picchu (the old mountain) twice with chains and rings to pull me up.  It is the pointed peak always seen at the back of the Machu Picchu (young mountain) photos.   As one stands at the top, the full sweep of Machu Picchu is below and it is a breathtaking moment.    Those of us who want to do so, walk 4 miles on the Inca Trail to the Sun Gate, so we can boast we walked part of the Inca Trail.  The Inca Suspended Bridge is another optional destination while there.  It was one of the varied entrances into the site.   We also actually visit  the Floating Islands in Lake Titicaca in reed boats.  I had studied them in grade school.  The pigs, the school and the church each have their own floating islands!

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Begin and end in the capital of the Spanish civilization– Lima, Peru.

April 19-30, 2016.  $3995 p/p per dble rm. A discount available.

Galapagos Islands Travel Tour

Cruise the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador in a double catamaran.

 Galapagos delivers nature with a capital N.  You will get closer to the wildlife than in a zoo!

Millennium Yacht -Galapagos 2012It was one of the thrills of my lifetime to snorkel with Blue Footed Boobies, miniature penguins sea lions and more. The Blue-Footed Boobies have gorgeous sky blue feet and are in abundance everywhere, looking like sentries posted on the rocks as we cruised by .  The animals on the Islands have no fear as they are protected so you can almost pet them, but, probably not advised.  We had to be careful where we stepped to avoid  many colorful Sally Lightfoot Crabs and lizards on every rock by the water.  The Crabs are actually afraid of the water and stay near the edge.  Our catamaran was so comfortable with a picture window and a deck in each cabin.  I enjoyed sunning on the top deck of the boat when not being active.  I will never forget waking up one morning and a sea lion had hitchhiked a ride with us and was on the deck snoozing.  Visiting the Darwin Research Center was so informative and I spent  a lot of time observing the Giant Galapagos Turtles there, the superstars of the reptile world.  I was especially taken by Lonesome George, who was over a hundred years old.  My granddaughters had studied about him in school. He was the last of one of the species of Galapagos.  They have not located any mate for him.  They attempted to mate him with some similar species, but, it did not take. He died just after my last trip there. A sad loss.  It was a treat to travel with some tourists from other countries too—Israel, Asia, Australia.

You begin and end in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and then fly out to your catamaran in the Islands.  April 30-May 7, 2016      Tour price is $3795.  On sale now.

A Trio of Exotic Spots

S&S Tours, based in Arizona, specializes in small group tours to Latin American Destinations, providing in-depth interpretations of each area’s culture and natural history. Owner Sue Stilwell spotlights three of them: Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, and Peru. 

Costa Rica

One third of Costa Rica is in reserves or national parks, and Stilwell says any visit should include an expert naturalist guide. “This Central American country is the most ecologically diverse Eden in the hemisphere – full of volcanoes, tropical forests, coffee farms, butterfly gardens, waterfall gardens, hanging bridges and beach parks- all with wonderful wildlife everywhere you go.” One of Stilwell’s favorite places is the Arenal Volcano area. “The volcano eruptions, seen from your hotel at night, are dramatic, ” she says. “And the next day you can enjoy zip lining through a forest, a boat ride on the Rio Frio River or touring a small organic coffee farm.”

Galapagos Islands

“The animal kingdom does not get any closer or better than in the Galapagos Islands,” Stilwell says. When visitors arrive on a double catamaran, they’ll see colonies of marine iguanas and sea lions that will mostly go about their business. “There is no fear of humans in this protected archipelago of volcanic islands,” she says. “You’ll point your camera to blue-footed boobies, sea turtles, giant tortoises and penguins. No zoom is required, though – the animals are only inches away.” The Galapagos archipelago lies in the equatorial waters some 600 miles off the coast of South America nad is reached via a short flight from Quito, Ecuador. S&S Tours rotates in a Galapagos program every two or three years. The next one is April 30 – May 6, 2018.

Peru

S & S’s Peru tour begins and ends in Lima, once the coastal capital city of the Spanish empire in South America. Intriguing museums and a visit to the catacombs are on the itinerary. Rail fans and ancient history lovers will be thrilled with this country, according to Stilwell. “three days in Cuzco, the oldest inhabited city of the Western Hempisphere, will reveal the secrets of the enduring Incan architecture through a guided tour to the primary sites in and around the city, ” she says. “To culimate your exploration of the ancient Inca civilization, you’ll ascend by narrow gauge railroad to Machu Picchu, the sacred mountaintop fortress of the Incas.”

For more information, contact us, or read our tour details.

See the original article on the Courier Site

Travelling to Mexico–How Safe Is It…

Travelling To Mexico – How Safe Is It To Be A Foreign Tourist In Mexico?  3-19-15

bus carrilThere are many, many reasons to visit Mexico. From an incredible culture, to stunning historical sites, to a cuisine that’s admired worldwide, Mexico quite simply ticks all the travel boxes. However, Mexico does also have something of a reputation for lawlessness which may put off some travellers. In actual fact, this reputation is highly exaggerated, and no traveller should have anything to fear. However, in order to put minds at rest, here is a rundown of the dangers one may face in Mexico, and what can be done to avoid them.

Human Danger

Mexico has gained herself a reputation as a mafia stronghold, rife with cartels and racked by violent drug wars. This foreign perception of Mexican affairs is largely influenced by movie and televisual portrayals of Mexican gangsters. The truth is that, while (just like any other nation) Mexico is not without its problems, the overwhelming majority of tourists could spend months in Mexico and see no evidence of this whatsoever. Even the US Department of Passports and International Travel freely admits that “there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality” and that tourists in Mexico “generally do not see” the kind of drug-related crime and violence of which Hollywood is so enamored. It is true that Mexico is home to some drug trafficking routes, but cartel activity along these rarely if ever bothers itself with tourists. As in any big city, one would be advised to keep an eye on one’s belongings in case of pickpockets while in crowded urban areas – but tourists can expect absolutely nothing that they would not expect in any European nation when it comes to crime and violence.  www.ismexicosafe.org

Healthcare

While nations with nationalized medical facilities will often provide you with a high standard of healthcare without asking for payment, this does not apply in Mexico. However, this does not mean that the country’s healthcare system is a shambles. There are some very good hospitals around, particularly in Mexico City, and many American citizens have expressed a preference for Mexican doctors over their own. Mexican healthcare is generally cheaper than that available in the US, yet provides a very good standard of care for the money spent. One thing is for certain – in the unlikely event that you do fall sick or get injured in Mexico, you won’t be in any danger of not receiving adequate treatment. Mexican doctors and nurses are extremely professional, and Mexico is home to some of the best hospitals in the world.

Natural Dangers

Mexico is home to certain diseases which the wary traveller would be wise to take precautions against. However, if you prepare correctly, they are all very easy to avoid. People coming to Mexico should get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, and rabies – particularly if they’re going to be coming into contact with wild animals. You should also get vaccinated against typhoid. Mosquitos which carry malaria are a problem in certain parts of Mexico, particularly the more rural areas. Mosquito bites can be avoided by covering any exposed skin as much as possible, and taking anti-malarial pills like Chloroquine. You can also reduce your chances of being bitten by mosquitos by sleeping with screens, doors, and windows closed and through the use of repellents. In fact, the greatest natural dangers prevalent in Mexico are probably the sun and the water. Travellers should stick to drinking purified, bottled water, and try to avoid sunstroke. While it may seem an innocuous delight at first, the sun beating down on one’s head all day long can quickly cause heat-stroke and sun-sickness. While not usually particularly dangerous, these conditions are unpleasant to experience, so try to avoid staying out in the sun too long, and wear a shady hat if you’re planning on an extended stay outdoors. Also do try and avoid sunburn, as it can be severe and may lead to skin cancer in later life. So, in summary – forget the cartels, the sun is your main enemy in Mexico! Stock up on sun cream, pack some malaria tablets, and have a great, safe time!

Submitted by Sally Bowie

Flight of the Monarchs

Flight of the Monarchs: High in the Sierra Madres, the butterflies are literally everywhere
Butterfly sanctuary trek in Mexican mountains an eye-opening time

Monarch Butterfly ToursThe butterflies are everywhere – swirling about our faces, alighting on bushes, quivering in the sunshine on nectar-laden lupines.

Thousands upon thousands of delicate orange-and-black Monarchs fill our view. When clouds scuttle overhead, we even hear the susurration of their wings, like soft rain falling, as they flutter to the trees to huddle in clumps. It’s quite magical – almost otherworldly. Read More