Every year more than 250 inspiring itineraries, to all seven continents, are led by eminent study leaders. George Munro, a Fulbright scholar, will be taking a group to Yaroslavl, Suzdal and Vladimir, former capitals of culture, religion and politics at a time when great Russian cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg were merely isolated rural outposts. The “Russian Winter Express” is one of seven departures to Russia next year; it touches on the imperial legacy of the tsars, the arts of Russia and railroading on the famed Trans-Siberian Express.
Two upcoming journeys have a Darwin theme and are set up to accommodate families. “Chilean Patagonia” is for wildlife lovers who'd like to see Andean condors, flamingoes, Magellanic penguins, rheas and other fauna found in the region while “Galapagos Family” explores the islands aboard the cruise ship Santa Cruz . Another cruise ship, the Clipper Odyssey explores fjords, sounds and peninsulas as well as deserted beaches on the “New Zealand by Land and Sea” tour led by Kiwi naturalist Neville Peat.
Those looking to brush up on their European history would surely enjoy “Slovenia Legends and Landscapes” as it uncovers the baroque treasure of the capital city Ljubljana and then the impenetrable Predjama Castle filled with secret passages and hidden rooms. The Italian programs vary from the classic cultural excursion in Venice, Florence and Tuscany to the zippier “Italian Automobile Design and History” that tours the Ferrari factory, Pininfarina Studios and the Mille Miglia Rally that features a parade of vintage autos.
Navina Jafa, a cultural historian and classical dancer will lead the “Rail Journey through Southern India” visiting temples and such diverse places as World Heritage sites and spice markets. Other Asian edu-tours include a jaunt along the ancient Silk Road through Kashgar, Dunhuang and Xi'an for “Marco Polo in China” and “Indochina Insights” featuring stops in Laos, Vietnam and at the famed Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia.
Other world-exploring tours range the spectrum of remote locales at the far reaches of the earth as Smithsonian Journeys goes to the Arctic, Easter Island, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Mexico and the Greek Islands. A little closer to home the ship The Spirit of Nantucket will be exploring the Great Lakes region and French Canada as it cruises Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron and Michigan.
Some tours, like the “Alpine Summer Sojourn” to Austria's Tyrol region must be booked by Jan. 15th . For more information about these learning vacations and available discounts visit www.smithsonianjourneys.org or call toll free at 1-877 EDU TOUR (877) 338-8687.