A group named The Travel Writers’ Life has posted an article on “Strange Tours,” which you may find amusing/interesting and worthwhile to delve into.
Many of their selections are unusual simply because of the location, i.e. riding a Harley through Australia. We see Harley tours all over the U.S., so, again, location is the key to many of these ideas. Tours through vineyards, growing grounds, plantations, factories, etc. are also held around the world so if your budget keeps you close to home, we’re sure you will be able to find an interesting site within some miles of your home.
If none of the following “speak” to you, pick up Patricia Schultz’s 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (second edition: Completely Revised and Updated with Over 200 New Entries)
Following is a selection of listings from The Travel Writer’s Life, along with our comments and some tours we have taken around the world. (Prices vary, of course, depending on length of the tour, transportation needs, season):
Join a harvest tour during prime picking season and learn about agriculture and botany from knowledgable guides on spice plantations, wine growing, tea making, coffee, etc., just about anywhere in the world.
Harley Davidson Motorcycle Winery Tour
This does not seem strange to us; we live in California and frequently see Harley riders cruises between vineyards. However this one is in Australia and that would be stunning.
Illegal Vodka Tours
Tour by foot, car, and wagon cart through the farms and fields outside Krakow, Poland where you’ll find both legal and illegal vodka-makers.
C’est Cheese Tours
From Paris, France through Burgundy and the Cote d’Or to Beaune. Learn all about the history of cheese-making, experience local markets, taste regional wines. Locations: Paris and Burgundy, France
Ethiopia Coffee Harvest Tour
Enjoy indigenous ceremonies and coffee tasting as you tour coffee farmers’ coops through Ethiopia. You’ll also tour the walled city of Oromia and see and partake in harvesting, washing, drying, and coffee pulping processes.
Chilean Wine Harvest Tour
Over seven days, you’ll participate in harvesting, wine-making, and lots of “taste testing” in seven of Chile’s top wineries. Horseback through orchards, historical sites, visit wine shops of Santiago
Location: From Santiago de Chile through the wine country
Whisky Tour to Scotland
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society runs tours to Scotch distilleries throughout Scotland, where you can learn all about whisky, watch how it’s made, taste it, and partake in a little “malt retail therapy.”
Celtic Mystical Journeys
See crop circles, druid stones, mysterious structures, and more over 12 days through England, Scotland, and Northern France.
Crop Circle Tour in England
Take a four-day tour through the crop circles of England.
Dark Deeds, Monks, and Great Castles Tour
In one day, you’ll explore castles, medieval cities, cathedrals, battlefields, Benedictine chants, and tales of the “real” Macbeth in Scotland.
The Dracula and Transylvania Tour
Visit the true “Dracula’s” birth place, see picturesque, well-preserved castles, and explore the region relating to the vampire myth. Stay the night in the ghoulishly decorated Hotel Castle Dracula.
Night-time Ghost Tours take you through haunted houses, hotels, and other buildings around the world. Find out who’s haunting them, and see where the haunters were buried. Such tours include creepy stories about abductions, conspiracies, mysteries, etc. Samples:
New Orleans Cemetery and Voodoo Tour
Follow the ghosts of the numerous characters of New Orleans’ mysterious past! Tour one of the city’s most haunted cemeteries, St Louis Cemetery No. 1 and visit the tomb of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau. Your guide will explain the unique above-ground burial custom and will give you an in-depth overview of the fascinating evolution of voodoo.
Friday the 13th Haunted House Flashlight Tour
Winchester Mystery House Tour
In 1884, the Winchester rifle heiress Sarah Winchester began work on the 160-room Victorian house. For 38 years, until the day she died, Sarah kept carpenters working 24 hours a day, building non-stop. The house has a fascinating higgledy-piggledy design, and features an endlessly confusing floor plan, with doors and staircases leading nowhere. It included rare comforts such as modern heating, gas lamps, three elevators, two ballrooms, 40 bedrooms, and 41 fireplaces.
Sedona Vortex Tours
As you visit two of the main vortices during the Sedona Vortex Tour, you will experience the forces of nature and unravel the mysteries surrounding them. Join this tour wiith an open mind.
Sedona is recognized worldwide for the presence of powerful energy spots known as ‘vortices’. The desire to explore the mystery and significance of these areas led to the birth of this tour – the original Vortex Tour.
Bermuda Triangle Shipwreck & Glassbottom Snorkel
Snorkel through the Bermuda Triangle… or cruise through it in glass-bottom boat… and see for yourself the remains of ships in the treacherous “wreck capitol of the Atlantic.” You’ll visit a reef site and a shipwreck, and sip a “Bermuda Rum Swizzle” or a free soft drink on the way home.
Egyptian Meditation Tour
Select a destination, almost any destination anywhere in the world for Horseback Riding . . . on beaches, through mountain passes, eco-reserves, rainforests, working ranches, countryside, farmlands, the Australian Outback, America’s Wild West . . . for any level and a vast range of times. 1 hour. 7 hours, a week, two weeks.
Dog Sled Ride and Tour
Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey raises money for racing through summer and winter tours. In the summer, you can meet the dogs, pet their fuzzy puppies, see them train, and take a summer-style “dog sled” ride. Winter tours show you how the whole team prepares for the Iditarod race, and lets you take a winter sled ride with the dogs. Seaward, Alaska.
Genghis Khan Tour
Go to Mongolia for five days of horse trekking à la Genghis Khan, and learn all about the history of Mongolia. Visit nomadic families, taste traditional foods, and pitch your own Ger (like a yurt) where you’ll spend one night. Also visit a Buddhist monastery, and watch cultural demonstrations. This tour lasts eight days, and there’s a lot of camping involved, so be prepared for outdoor living.
Cattle Drive Tour
Ever see the movie City Slickers? This eight-day tour takes you through six days of horseback riding and cattle round-up. Learn first-hand how professional cattle drivers work in the mountains and fields of Wyoming. Dubois, Wyoming.
Bering Sea Commercial Crab Fishing Tour
Board a commercial fishing vessel and watch real crab fishermen at work on the Bering Sea from the comfort of a heated viewing platform. See and touch the 17 American Writers & Artists Inc. catch of the day, as it’s held in tanks on the boat, then watch as it’s released back out into the ocean.
Flora, Fauna, and Natural Phenomena Tours
Glow Worm Tour
Australian Aboriginal tour guides will show you through glow-worm colonies in the rainforests of Australia. See the fascinating glow-in-the-dark worms, have a picnic dinner in the woods, and learn about other species in the area.
Location: Springbrook National Park, Australia
Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest, and Painted Desert Tour
From Flagstaff, you’ll go to the 2.4-mile perimeter of Meteor Crater, where you’ll learn about the crater and marvel at its incredible size. Then, it’s on to the petrified forest and scenic painted desert parks, where you can see petroglyphs and prehistoric Indian dwellings..
Night Vision Penguin Tour
Phillip Island, Australia, is home to the world’s smallest penguin species, the Little Penguin, or Fairy Penguin. And if you opt for the “Ultimate Penguin Experience” tour, you’ll be able to view the penguins at sunset, and then by night with night vision goggles. Phillip Island, Australia.
Active Volcano Tours
Volcano Tours: Hawaii, Arenal (Costa Rica), Pacaya Volcano (Guatemala)
With tour difficulty levels ranging from easy to “expedition” level, amateur volcanologists, geologists, and nature-lovers alike will enjoy exploring an erupting volcano. You can find daily volcano tours of varying difficulty around the world.
Hummingbird Photography Tour of Ecuador
Explore the diverse natural landscapes of Ecuador on a private tour of the Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve. Your guide picks you up from your hotel in Quito for a 90-minute drive to Mindo, home to almost 50,000 acres of Ecuadorian cloud forest. The Bosque Protector Mindo-Nambillo is an outstanding reserve for 350 species of birds, including the toucan-barbet and the golden-headed quetzal.
Bat Watching Riverboat Cruise
Float through Austin, Texas, on the Lonestar Riverboat. At sunset, 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats flap out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge, blackening the sky. Location: Austin, Texas. Similar tours are also available in New Mexico, Central and South America.
Rainforest Canopy Zip Line Tour
Costa Rica features dozens of active adventure tours. Clip into your harness, and glide through the trees of the Costa Rican rainforest by zip-line. There, you’ll see and hear birds and other exotic wildlife of the rainforest while you zip from tree to tree.
Cultural, Arts, Crafts Tours
Backstrap Weaving Tour
Strap on a loom and learn from a Guatemalan family their traditional weaving techniques. You can even stay with the family and enjoy deep cultural immersion and traditional foods.
“Beadventures” Bead Tours
This company runs bead- and craft-centric tours to exotic destinations. From the “Sumptuous Surfaces Beadventure Trip” in Ireland to the “Beads and Tea” tour in Darjeeling, to gem, mineral, and bead shows in Tucson, you have a lot to choose from here.
Bohemian Crystal Sightseeing Tour
From Prague, travel 45 minutes through the Czech countryside to the Bohemian Crystal Factory. Tour the workshops, watch the glass blowers and cutters, and learn about the history and tradition of Czech crystal. You’ll also get the chance to shop for crystal at the factory, where the prices are rumored to be lower than they are in Prague. Location: Outside of Prague, Czech Republic.
Try international beekeeping and sightseeing in South Africa. Johannesburg, Kruger Park, Swaziland, Cape Town, South Africa.
Major cities around the world have a wonderful, colorful Chinatown portion of their city. We have been to San Francisco’s Chinatown hundreds of times, but we still enjoy visting Chinatown in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Vancouver . . . Chinatown is fabulous for picking up small attractive gifts for everyone in the family and not breaking your budget.
Irish Folklore Tour
Irish musician and folklore professor Mick Moloney takes you on a tour through the back roads of Ireland. You’ll meet artists, artisans, musicians, dancers, storytellers, and more. Choose from different itineraries that’ll take you through days of music and folklore across Ireland and Scotland.
The tour takes you to the area that’s synonymous with Amsterdam, the Wallen (Red Light District), passing monuments and entering narrow old streets such as the well-known Zeedijk street. In the past it was one of the most dangerous streets in Amsterdam, where sailors could be found searching for local amusement. Nowadays, instead of the shady bars of yester year you’ll find lively and welcoming Dutch pubs and restaurants. The walk includes a visit to the Prostitute Information Center, where you will be offered a free drink and can chat with a former prostitute who will explain the system and answer any questions you might have.
The Catacombs of Paris
Paris is known for the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre, but in the City of Lights a darker reality lurks in the infamous Catacombs of Paris.
Buy your tickets at a little booth and then descend into the dark, dripping tunnels of the Paris Sewer. Walk on grates as raw sewage runs through the tunnel below your feet. See displays of sewer maintenance equipment, and read about the history of waste control in the French capital city.
Sumo Wrestler Tour
Spend the day touring Tokyo, Edo-Tokyo Museum, and learning about Sumo Cultures. See daily rituals of sumo wrestlers… from what they eat to how they stretch and practice to techniques they use in the ring. In Ryogoku, you’ll also see where the traditional sport of sumo wrestling is presented at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena, and learn more about this traditional sport at the Sumo Museum. See where sumo wrestlers live and train, and visit the sumo shop for Japanese souvenirs with a difference.
Lord of the Rings
During the Lord of the Rings Tour, you will be able to get photos of yourself recreating scenes from the film on location in New Zealand. You’ll also get to use costumes and weapons from the film, and spend time reading scripts and discussing the film.
Battlefield Tours have been established for battlefields around the world, some in large groups, others more intimate with personal guides. Normandy, Hong Kong, France, Istanbul, Gallipoli, Germany.
Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour
Follow in the footsteps of Buddha through India and Nepal, and attend lectures and classes with the Dalai Lama. India, Nepal.
Take a pirate tour of Nassau, Portugal, or the French Quarter in New Orleans and hear stories about buried treasure and famous pirates. The New Orleans walking tour includes pirate history and stories about the real pirates of the Caribbean. As you follow your knowledgeable guide through the French Quarter, learn about the famous Lafitte Brothers, French pirates who came to New Orleans in the early 19th century. Visit their blacksmith shop – one of the city’s oldest surviving buildings – as well as other interesting landmarks such as Pirate’s Alley and the site of the Spanish colonial prison where both brothers were jailed.
Join a Communism Tour in an East German Trabant car through Nowa Huta, one of the only two Soviet “ideal cities” ever built. Visit Nowa Huta, the district that still bears testament to the power of the Soviets. Most notably, your guide will lead you on a in-depth tour of the place that was originally given as a gift to Krakow by Stalin himself! These labyrinths of the tenements were done in imitation of the renaissance and meant to be a model communist city. It later became one of the centers of the revolution and resistance within Poland, leading to the eventual overthrow of the Communist government.
San Francisco Fire Engine Tour
Tour the streets of San Francisco in the back of a big old Mack fire truck, wearing authentic fire-fighting gear.
Lunar Mission Tour
If you have an extra hundred million dollars laying around, why not spend it on a lunar mission? Using Russian lunar mission technology, you’ll board a vessel and rocket into orbit around the earth, where your vessel will be joined with an unmanned rocket booster, providing you with enough “boost” to get to the moon. This is supposed to be for real . . . we have not checked this out.
Dive to view ship wrecks in locations around the world: Florida, Cayman Islands, Australia, Aruba, South Africa . . .
You’ll have to wear traditional miners’ clothes, i.e. hard hat, lamp, and jacket, before entering a Touring Mine with a miner guide. Deep underground, you’ll get a feeling for what life was like in various mines around the world, i.e. salt mines, copper mines, gold mines . . .
Water, Water Everywhere . . .
Journey under the sea and get a whole panorama of underwater life, often without getting wet in your guided Underwater Tour. Options include glass-encased semi-submersible vessel, snorkel gear, full dive gear . . . you’ll see salmon, starfish, sea cucumbers, moon jellyfish, and, in most tropical waters, exotically colored fish darting between coral reefs. Of course, if you’re near water, you’ll also see bird life around the shore. Locations are just about anywhere in the world. One of our favorites was Roratonga, where we went swimming with bat rays and pink reef sharks.
Check out Family Cruises for a host of “on-the-water” activities for you and your kids. You can find cruises for scrabble players, video gamers, adventurers, Who-Done-It-Cruises, competitions for dancing or costumes, fully-clothed travellers and barely clothed travellers on oceans and seas anywhere in the world. You can bring along your scrapbooking projects or start a new one. Learn to dance from experts and notable performers. Choose from cruises in Alaska, the Bahamas, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other, destinations.
Carpet Weaving Tour
Visit a nomadic Turkish village with a population of 100 and learn traditional carpet weaving techniques. Mediterranean cruises to Turkey include optional visits to small villages or local reputable carpet merchants. These are exceptional experiences. If you have the funds, consider buying a hand-woven Turkish carpet during your visit.
Craft and Folk Art Tours
Generally small group tours organized to buy and practice arts, Craft World and Folk Art Tours are featured in cities around the world from Oaxaca, Mexico, to South Africa to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Cruise ship day tours are also organized around these crafts.
Doll Tours through Europe
Explore doll museums, shops, and factories across Western Europe, learning about the history of toys, dolls, teddy bears, and other crafts. Organize a tour group, and you can go for free. Choose from different itineraries for different countries and tour lengths, which vary from 12 to 18 days filled with dolls, dolls, dolls.