Feb 8-15, 2022   “Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh”

Small Group!

  BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full – WAITLIST Login / create account required


Seeking an exotic adventure?  This Desert Kingdom is the Holy Grail of fun!  There aren’t enough superlatives to describe Oman, a place of exquisite natural wonders, timeless villages, countless topaz waterholes, turquoise beaches, vast sands and rugged mountains. So pure, so exotic, so much to explore! We’ve timed this perfectly as an add-on to our AFS Turkey for a small group of adventurers.

 Our last AFSers gushed over Oman, saying it exceeded all expectations.  It was like visiting a whole other world! Often bypassed for its ritzier UAE neighbors, glorious Oman is the best of 7 Emirates, not overrun by tourists. Here is the biblical land of the Three Wise Men.  The serene Sultanate of Oman is the epicenter of ancient treasures, all so authentic, it will cast its spell on you.  

We start in mystical Muscat, where we explore magnificent palaces, historic forts and the Grand Mosque before heading to ancient AL Haman and its thousand-year-old ruins. You’ll have to fight the temptation of buying your own camel while attending the centuries-old Friday cattle market in incredible Nizwa where we will likely be the only outsiders. It’s sensory overload at the Nizwa Souq, a maze of alleys where you can barter to buy crafts like rugs, lamps, or leatherwork directly from the artisans who have created them.

You’ll love our cool Desert Camp.  Sunrises and sunsets await us on the famous Wahiba Sands where we go Dune Bashing, Sand Surfing, and Camel Riding. Experience a true oasis as we swim in deep blue pools of palm-fringed waters of the warm wadis. I couldn’t get my last group out. There are enumerable canyons to explore with hidden treasures around every turn. Prepare to have your mind blown by the sheer color of the deep blue Bimmah Sinkhole – created by a falling star – where you can dive into its dazzling waters.

After our tents, we head to the exclusive 5-star Shangri La Resort on the Arabian Peninsula where mountains drop into spectacular Gulf waters.  It’s total luxury to revel in the spas, dine like a sultan and enjoy the water sports.  Oman is an expensive destination, but we worked to make it affordable for our special group of only 16 who are curious about unique lands and who long to be nomads in the Arabian desert winds. It’s all so surreal, like a Nat Geo moment.  I believe Oman will be your best solo vacation ever!   

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full – WAITLIST


oman

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full – WAITLIST

 

 

Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full – WAITLIST

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Feb 8 – Depart USA to Muscat if you’re not doing AFS Turkey trip.)  It’s easy to arrange your own air roundtrip USA to Muscat or we may present group air layer in our Trip Tips.

Those extending after our Turkey trip, we depart Istanbul at 7PM to arrive Muscat at 1AM next day.  Luxury rooms at the Grand Hyatt are booked for our late arrival.

Feb 9 – Welcome to Oman!

After sleeping from late flight arrival, enjoy an afternoon orientation tour.  You’ll love the glittering capital of Muscat on the Arabian Sea juxtaposed against rugged mountain peaks. It’s a modern city with an enchanting history for us to explore in the port district of Mutrah and Muscat’s Old Quarter. Here we will see centuries-old Portuguese forts, colorful mosques and priceless yachts lining the harbor. So many photo-ops!

Overnight in the Grand Hyatt Muscat (1 night)

Feb 10 – AL Hamra             B

After breakfast, we check out and enjoy a city tour.  We head to the stunning Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. (Bear in mind that we’ll be required to dress respectfully with head covering.)  Among the highlights is the mosque’s beautiful prayer carpet. Hand-crafted in Iran over a four-year period, this vast rug fills the entire prayer hall and is the second-largest carpet in the world.

Muscat and Sohar are dotted with six royal residences of the ruling monarch, Sultan Qaboos (a well-loved king), but none is more beautiful than the magnificent Al Alam Palace where we will stop for photos. Then it’s on to the premier venue for performances in Oman, the Royal Opera House that’s beyond opulent!

After exploring Muscat we head north to Al Hamra village, a picturesque 400-year-old town in the region Ad Dakhiliyah. The town is thriving and lively considering that it was originally built around an abandoned village – estimated to be 1,000 years old.

Our hotel is appropriately named “The View.” Nestled into the rocky slopes of the Jebel Sham Mountains, each of these eco-luxe rooms overlooks the stunning valley below.

Overnight: Hotel View  (1 night)

Feb 11  – Nizwa – Wahiba Sands                B/L/D

We start early and head deep into the heart of Oman to get to know the true people of the country, traveling to Nizwa. This is the most authentic place where feel you’ve stepped back in time.  Our first stop is the colorful Cattle Market. A centuries-old tradition, the locals come here to trade all types of livestock, particularly camels,  goats and cows which are sold by auction.  Join the locals in haggling.  Business is still conducted in an old fashion manner. Pure theater to watch with great fun and photos.

Next, we will visit Nizwa Fort, established in the 1850s by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya’rubi. This engineering marvel took 12 years to build because it spans an underground stream. It is one of the most visited national attractions in Oman for its historical significance and because it was the main administrative seat of authority for Nizwa’s Wallis and Imams (rulers) during peace and war times. The Nizwa Souq within the walls of the fort is a maze of alleys and divisions. In operation for hundreds of years, the Souq is the place to come for every ware you could dream of including daggers, copper, antiques, livestock sale, fish, vegetables and unique handicrafts.

From here, we head across the desert in our 4-wheel drive Land Cruisers to our amazing camp in Wahiba.   Located in Oman’s Empty Quarter surrounded by mountains, the amazing camp offers views and experiences that will last a lifetime. You’ll feel like a Bedouin in your lux tent with a/c, full bath and delicious meals.  Tonight, we will celebrate beneath the stars with a traditional barbeque dinner.

Overnight Arabian Oryx desert camp, Wahiba (2 Nights)

Feb 12 – Wadi Bani Khalid + Wahiba Sand Dunes Experience                B/L/D

Let the fun begin!  Today is all about the desert experience!! We head out to a true desert oasis and the incomparable Wadi Bani Khalid with its deep blue pools of water fringed by the date palms which is an ideal spot to relax or enjoy a refreshing swim. You won’t believe the clear waters.

After we luxuriate, we enjoy lunch among the desert sands, followed by thrilling Dune Bashing over the mind-blowing Wahiba Sands – the best sand dunning on the planet! These vast mountains of sand give us a real taste of the Arabian Desert.  Massive dunes climb almost 500 feet, all scattered with encampments of the Bedouin tribes who still manage to eke out a living here, wandering from waterhole to waterhole with their animals.

Later we explore the dunes on camelback if we want and interact with one of the Bedouin families. Feeling adventurous? Grab a sandboard and try surfing down the dunes.  AFSers loved it all!

Overnight Arabian Oryx desert camp, Wahiba (2 Nights)

Feb 13 – Muscat Sightseeing and shopping           B/L

After breakfast, we check out from the camp to head back to Muscat with some great stops along the way. Our roads wind through mountain terrain offering breathtaking glimpses of the blue waters of the ocean en route. We’ll take a photo op at Wadi Tiwi, a canyon with imposing rocky walls that encloses lush plantations of dates and banana trees as well as a traditional village.  (You’ll have your fill of the freshest dates.  Bring some home.)

Pictures won’t even begin to truly reflect the incredible  Bimmah Sinkhole, an iridescent sinkhole in the heart of a desert area. Legend has it was created in the limestone by a falling star. The freshwater mixes with seawater giving it a turquoise color. You may get a fish pedicure from the little fish that are known to nibble people’s toes as you swim.  We swam with locals and got great photos, but water is chilly.

One of Oman’s most amazing wadis is Wadi Al Arbaeen which provides the ultimate soundtrack of nature, with sounds of running water, birds and the wind, flowing through the narrow channels of the ravine. Our Jeeps navigate the wadi in rare form by crawling over rocks and channels as we traverse it.

Lunch with is a traditional outdoor tented Arabic buffet lunch on carpets with the canyon as our backdrop.

We will also stop at one of the oldest market places in the Arabic world – Muttrah Souq. Housed under modern timber roofing, it is also one of the few markets in the world where it is possible to buy gold, frankincense and myrrh all under one roof.  Also, the best spices, pottery, gold jewelry  and Omani sliver to bargain.  We all bought stunning hanging lanterns.  So many things to buy here!!

Oman is famous for its fragrances.  We end at the decades-old luxury perfume factory, Amouage.  Some bottles run $5000, but also great affordable options.  For over 30 years the name ‘Amouage’ has been known as a luxury brand famous for its decadence and sophistication. While it is an amazing globally known brand of the product, pay attention to the beauty and workmanship that went into designing the building itself to reflect the luxury brand.

Finally, we arrive in paradise that is set in a stunning cove at the Gulf of Oman – the Shangri La.   Google our resort to view the beauty and all the amenities.

Overnight at Hotel Shangrila Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa (2 nights)

Feb 14 – Free to Play Day            B

This is a day to truly relax and take advantage of activities that are offered at the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa.  You have so many options from which to choose: Go dolphin watching by speed boat, yoga class or take part in enumerable watersports including kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, (what’s hot now are) paddle boards or even jet packs!

Overnight at Hotel Shangrila Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

Feb 15 – Explore Muscat        B

Our last day is yours to enjoy fabulous Muskat.  See www.omanexperience.com for countless things to enjoy.

Feb 16 – Depart Muscat for home   B

After breakfast, we make our way to the airport for our flights back homeBOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full – WAITLIST  

Land Price $2495 pp twin share

Deposit $250

 Not included:  Gratuities

Group Air:  We will present a group air option 10 months prior in the tab labeled Trip Tips if demand.

      • Land prices per person twin share. Trip price based on a minimum number of participants.
      • Single rooms limited with $ supplement.  Cost varies.  Email us for availability.  AFS will find you a roommate.
      • The earliest we present group air is 10 months prior. We’ll send email to ask who wants it.  A minimum number of 12 is needed.
      • Please review AFS Terms and Conditions, Heading Abroad with AFS, Covid Policy.  Travel insurance is important nowadays.  It’s rare, but we reserve the right to modify schedules, tour and hotels.
      • Read Trip Tips on its own tab next itinerary for latest details. 
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Group Air TBA

View Hotel

Camp

Hotel Shangrila Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

  •  All prices are per person twin share.  Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies.  Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably.  AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”  
  • Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.  
  • Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
  • We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary. 
  • Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!
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AFS Oman Trip Tips

These tips are designed to answer all trip questions. Please be sure to bookmark this page to find your way back because updates and addendums will be posted here. They will also be emailed as the updates occur.

  Prepare to be thrilled on an expedition deep into a desert kingdom rich in history and adventure. This is the real Arabia with lively souks, star filled nights, nomads with camels, sugar sand beaches and the endless smiles of the local Omani people. Our last group are still raving today about this unique and spectacular vacation unlike any other!  We have a wonderful group of 14 travelers so far with space for four more so please tell your friends now to ensure this trip is a go. Oman’s borders are open and ready to receive you.   

First, we thank you for your trust in booking this AFS trip. Together we will adapt to new travel norms for the Privilege of Travel.  We are constantly adapting to ever-changing developments to ensure you’ll have a safe journey.  Carefully read the “AFS Confidence Pledge” below. Our vetted local teams in each city are fully trained in the latest health and safety protocols according to WHO and are happy to greet you.  Things are constantly monitored. Do not Google your destination on State/gov/CDC sites as they are often outdated to the updates our expert suppliers have.

It is your responsibility to read our important emails and updated notes to these Trip Tips.  Let us sweat the small stuff as we strive to make your trip worry-free. This may well be the best time to go and fully enjoy your vacation!

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  Updates and addendums will be posted here.  Check back from time to time.

IMPORTANT PAYMENT DATES

  • 2ND DEPOSIT – None
  • FINAL PAYMENT DUE JULY 5.  We prefer checks for Final Payment. Credit card fees are costly for a small company to absorb. While we build costs into smaller deposits, we incorporate a $60 credit card convenience fee as a line item on each invoice in order to defray processing costs. When paying by check, deduct this $60 amount

Make your payment to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080

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Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)

GTL CarolCarol Huntington has been on 20+ AFS trips over the years and has led many of our solo travel tours. She has been a ray of sunlight to each of those groups. She has a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. Having traveled to over 92+ countries and all 7 continents, she continues to pursue her dream, while working for the past 25 years in the banking industry. Her goal is to build relationships, problem solve and keep clients happy. She genuinely cares for people and is cool under pressure. These are great qualities for the business and the travel world.  During a recent sabbatical, Carol coordinated and lead a once in a lifetime journey around the world, visiting 13 countries! Carol’s excitement to discover new things is complimented by her unique ability to get along with and relate to people of all backgrounds. She has a deep understanding of new and seasoned travelers with a knack to inspire all. Carol is all about the experience: from skydiving to trekking with the gorillas in Rwanda, leading a group to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and always making many new friends along the way.

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Trip Prep:

  • Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
  • Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages.  We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy.
  • To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport.  Look in your App Store for details.
  • Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  • Visa: Visa rules can always change. At present, you need one and now it’s so easy for only $52. Wait until we tell you a month out. Then go to omanonlinevisa.com.
  • Vaccines are rolling out faster than ever now. Be patient. I just got mine feeling it will eventually be necessary for travel. Many countries now are eliminating Covid test and quarantine for vaccinated visitors.  Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it.  You can take photo of both sides and store on phone or copy both sides and laminate the copy.
  • All airline Covid rules differ.  It is imperative to read your airline rules to ensure a smooth departure!  Click here for the latest info on PCR tests required to travel abroad.  Failure to get the correct test may cause the airline to turn you away

Fitness level – 2   (No trouble walking.)

Air-  No rush to get your air now however prices are very good on Qatar and Emirates. Due to small group, we cannot present group air as a minimum of 12 are required. Also, we don’t know who are extending this from our Turkey trip or doing Oman only. It’s easy to arrange your own air using search engines like google flights or I love momondo.com. This also gives you the opportunity to add on stopovers like fabulous Doha or Dubai, etc.  Best airlines for schedules and prices from USA to mascot are; Turkish, Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, British Airways and KLM.

  1. Oman only -Land officially begins morning of October 14. Book air from USA to arrive Muskat evening by 13th to overnight or meet our group at Hyatt hotel 9 AM on 14th. Depart October 21 back to USA.

Sample – OCT 12 – 21

  1. Those adding pre-Turkey trip – our supplier can book you for all air USA – IST-MUS or can book only the internal flight on Oct 13 – TK#774 at 7:35 PM to arrive MUS 1:30 AM, then transfer to hotel. If you need help, email her directly and tell her what you need.  Smita  admin@diversedestination.com

Air update (June 2021). Everyone, check your flights! Airlines are canceling routes left and right now, Many won’t even inform you by email that there’s been a change. If your flight has been canceled, they MUST rebook you book on any other carrier to accommodate your schedule. Stand firm. If you’re not getting anyplace ask for their supervisor.   (Good news, conversely many airlines are adding other new routes which be a better fit for you.)  

Transfers-  Will address this nearer departure.

Baggage – Always think light to ease your burden.  You’ll be surprised at just how little you truly need. You change hotel properties several times.  1 carry-on & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lbs, weigh on bath scale. The new hard cases are hard to fit in coach storage.  Be sure to attach ID to both bags.  Leave space for great souvenirs because we’ll be exploring some wonderful markets.

 

Packing – This is a region that is warm year round. Temperatures should be in the mid to upper 80s with lows in the mid-70s. Google weather in Oman a week prior departure to get a clearer idea. as to what to expect

Oman is a conservative country, please no tank tops or shorts.  In the city areas women should wear clothes that cover their knees. A good rule is cover elbows to knees.  Bring a scarf you can use to cover your head if visiting a mosque. Men, long pants, please. Pack summer clothing with a light jacket for nights and long flights.  Umbrella, daypack, wide brim hat, sunscreen, comfy sneakers, and swim gear.

 

Oman Plug

Electric –Don’t forget chargers, cords, gadgets, batteries etc.  Cell phones, computers and tablets do not need a converter, you onlyneed an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, be sure to double check before check out.  All properties have hairdryers.

Oman has a squared three pronged plug. Most converters these days offer numerous options on the same device which allow them to be used in many countries. (Check Amazon).

See https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com

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Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping the bazaars! $300 in cash should suffice. (Venmo may be convenient at home, but useless overseas, ATM may eat your card.  Always bring some cash!  Wise to have new crisp bills.)   Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.

Currency  Exchange Rate  1 Omani Rial = $2.60

Be sure you bring New Bills (dates after 2016) as countries may not accept older bills when changing money.
Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.

Gratuities – (Prepaid)  It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $10 to $15 per day should cover all for the trip.  A $ 85 total will be added to your invoice. Please understand this is only the suggested minimum.  For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.

Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I personally carry a personal stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Bell staff/porters – AFSers roll bags to their room.  If you use a porter, please tip $2. Restaurants – 10%. For group lunches or dinners, please leave a dollar or two for waitstaff!

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Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI.  That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate.

Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation.  Thieves not only want your money but also your data.    Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.

  • In hotel rooms, hide iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.
  • It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own.  To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.

Photography – The desert offers constantly changing light that changes the landscape for spectacular photos.  Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask.  Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!

Retail Therapy – last group went bananas in the bazaars with the coolest treasures that are so affordable –  endless spices, dates, honeys, rugs, lanterns, jewelry, art, the finest fragrances, gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Websites of Interest 

www.visitoman.be

www.omantourism.gov.om/wps/portal/mot/tourism/oman/home

www.Experienceoman.com

 

Chewing-  I just love this food! So many dishes are a meal in and of themselves.  Machbus is the national dish – rice, meat and vegetables all combined in one delicious meal. Dishes featuring honey, dates and nuts. Kousa Mahshi is scrumptious zucchini stuffed with lamb and garlic.  Sweet and savory balaleet. And for dessert – mahalabiya and its countless topping possibilities.

Accommodations – Please see the itinerary Hotel tab for details.  Hotels can change, but it’s rare. You can Google these or see web.

Roomies – Single supplements have significantly increased – if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   Note, kindness begets kindness.

Leisure Time –  For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We have an amazing team of guides!   We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip or arranging private tours during free time.  We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips.

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  Where can I find the FB link? Ask us for an invite.

(We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors and misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted here in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – AFS Phone 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/  and more contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle all home for true Emergency.  Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.  3 weeks prior to departure more details on this will be emailed.

Cancellation Penalty:  At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Open the following link to review our terms again: https://www.afstravelers.com/terms-and-conditions/

Travel Insurance– If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.) or want to be covered for Covid caused delays, you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.

Travel Psychology 101  – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.  Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.  Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy

“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable.  It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.

Covid News 

Book AFS with Confidence 2021– The health of our Travelers comes first. As the world slowly opens, we are dedicated to creating responsible adventures!  All our trips are different, so specific plans in each region may be circumstantial. We work closely with our local suppliers to know the best practice in each country. That being said, we present a blanket procedure below to be followed on ALL AFS trips. Our local guides will brief you on arrival with the support of our Trip Leaders to ensure we follow local safety protocols. They are fully committed to aiding your well-being.

We will re-discover the world through more slow, easy and mindful travel. Our groups will be smaller.  All clients must take the AFS pledge that they are Covid free and will follow all safety protocols.  Booking travel now is complex because rules always change. Tour companies can’t become “health and safety experts” when policies are inconsistent. Even experts are in the dark at times with the changing patchwork of government laws, but we’ll do our best.  This is a learning process for all of us and as we go, we will strive to make each step as safe and seamless as possible for you.  Read all below on AFS detailed Terms & Conditions.

Thank you for booking! We are blown away by the support from all of you throughout this pandemic. It validates the trust and values AFS was built on over 30 years. As countries reopen, so will we. Travel is a shared experience. Together we press on and travel boldly. Below are new guidelines. We all must adapt and embrace any challenges with confidence for the freedom and privilege to travel.

As in life itself, travel comes with some inherent risk the minute we step out our door.   Travel isn’t dangerous. Being irresponsible is. For your protection we want you to be proactive in following new health and safety protocols. They involve teamwork and personal responsibility, but they do not preclude you from having fun and enjoying your trip! Things constantly change and it’s a huge challenge for airlines, airports, hotels, cruises and tour companies.  We will do our best to keep you up to date with any adjustments.

    • Please understand we reserve the right to amend any tour activities, if needed. To present responsible travel, we at AFS do our part: Our vetted suppliers uphold the highest standards under CDC guidelines.  At present, some international airlines may require a negative Covid test within 96 to 72 hours of departure. Details later as they come.  This may change as rules are always being revised.At present, you need RT-PCR test 72 to 94 hours prior to airline departure. By then, this rule may be eliminated. Don’t stress, just refer to this if you need it. I’ve done 4 free PCR test runs with no problems.  Millions of passengers have gotten their PCR test to fly. You can too!
      • RT – PCR Test – This is PCR test with Rapid Test Results within 24 hours.  Most urgent care places offer these.  Read Covid news below.

      Call your healthcare provider or Urgent Care near you. Or Google “free no cost Covid testing near me”. Most state and federal programs provide this. Or Google airport to see if Test is available there (JFK $75). Rural areas are more challenging. You may need to drive to an appointment in a nearby city.  At present it’s free at Walgreens and CVS. They will bill your insurance company of $119. (Best trick – if you say you may have been “exposed to a Covid person” or if you feel “symptoms” like fatigue or say CDC recommended, it must be free.

      Call or email to get appointment. Most are drive up. Schedule test within your 72 hours departure window, usually 3 days prior for email result needed in 24 hours. This way you still have a backup day in case you get a false positive. Bringf printed copy.

      New mail in-home kits – CDC announced today you can bring to do there for return into USA. (We will have tests at our resort if you want.) Note, however, outbound airlines won’t accept this for departure.

      Don’t forget to bring your vaccine card if you have one.

  • If you are in a high-risk group, it is suggested you do not travel.
  • It is your responsibility to check the resources below as well as your airline requirements for travel. You may need to show proof of wellness note. Click to see CDC , WHO
  • You may not travel if you have any symptoms such as sore throat, shortness of breath, fever and verify you have not been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid in the last 14 days.
  • Safety measures on a trip; frequent handwashing, (bring personal sanitizer), exercise social distancing and wear a mask when applicable.

Helpful CV Resources–  Below are helpful links to facts and stats for you to reference as you gear up for all your travel domestically and abroad.

  • Facts about coronavirus-symptoms/transmission/precaution/treatment
  • https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
  • CDC entire situation summary
  • https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html\
  • US State Department Travel Advisories (Often old news)
  • https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html
  • We at AFS assure you we will continue to offer you quality trips to countries where you will feel protected – countries that are going to extraordinary lengths now to provide a safe visit. Each destination is far less crowded than ever before and that means better personal attention.  Planes are half full and we can trust our astute global suppliers when each country is clear to visit. We’re taking great precautions and encourage you to remain positive.

Our Pledge to You – Our global, vetted suppliers uphold the highest standards under new CDC guidelines.

We ensure that heightened sanitation methods have been adopted in every place we visit and that all hotel properties and vehicles have passed cleanliness protocols.

  • Our guides and drivers must test negative and pass stringent safety measures.
  • Most of our groups will be limited to half the size of normal in the past.
  • We are choosing destinations with wide-open spaces for physical distancing.
  • Some private tours for groups of friends only can be arranged.
  • We’ll monitor your trip closely and provide a 24/7 emergency number if your trip is disrupted.
  • All clients must take the AFS pledge that they are COVID-free and will follow all the safety protocols.

We relaxed booking conditions with most trip deposits at only $250 and final payment deadlines from 4 months out to 70 days before departure.  This is a learning process for all of us as we go. We will strive to make each step as safe and seamless as possible for you!

Your Pledge to AFS  – We ask you to assume personal responsibility to protect your health and the well-being of your fellow travelers, guides and locals.

  • Read and print all updated Trip Tips on AFS website
  • Get travel insurance with trip interruption
  • Stay healthy with vitamin D and zinc
  • Confirm within 14 days of departure but you have no symptoms of Covid nor being in close contact with anyone diagnosed with it.
  • You agree to assume any risk of participating in trip activities, comply with applicable government, airline and health authorities.
  • Exercise social distancing and local guides directions whenever possible.
  • Sanitize your hands and phone throughout.
  • Read more here –  https://www.afstravelers.com/terms-and-conditions/

Rapid COVID-19 PCR Tests

Rules are changing daily! At this time, we must rely on each airlines policy. Read Covid rules at the top of airline website up to a week before departure. Every airline and country differs. 2 weeks prior, will send you final AFS departure letter with instructions specific to your trip. Please wait!

As of January 26, 2021, a rapid PCR test is needed to enter most countries and needed to return to USA. We hope this will be eliminated by the time your trip goes. RT-PCR (by nose swab) is only test excepted. No mailing kits. All tests are free or covered by insurance, but these may have a line to wait. Now appointments are taken. To get fast with no wait, make appointment at private lab. They are now thousands of labs around US. Also, more testing sites opening daily with easy drive through. Just google “Covid PCR test near me”.

Outbound – Most airlines require negative PCR test within 96 to 72 hours prior to departure. This new rule makes travel more challenging, but we must follow to protect ourselves and those on the flight. Read specific airline rules on website, also any rules on connections in transit. Those vaccinated still need to show a test.

Get RT-PCR test with guaranteed results within 24 to 48 hours. They email result to you. Print out to bring at check in. Also screenshot copy on cell phone. Test must read “PCR”. (We’ve had nobody test positive yet, if so, call us 770-432-8225. Many tests are inaccurate and a re-test shows negative.)

Homebound – Airline may require negative PCR test to board departure flight. Each carrier differs. We hope this is eliminate by your trip date. If test is necessary within 72 hours of departure, we can help arrange test for group in each country. Details later by email.

Added Insight

I love camels and deserts and I love the sights, sounds and scents of the markets. . Here are a few insights as to what awaits.  https://www.travelwithpedro.com/taking-dip-in-bimah-sinkhole-oman/

 

Taking A Dip in the Bimah Sinkhole

There was I, staring down at the emerald waters in this massive hollow on the limestone. The water was as green as I had seen on pictures the week before, and the surprise stop at this small park by the road, just made that moment more remarkable.  We had stopped at Bimah Sinkhole, located at the small Hawiyat Najm Park, by the dual carriageway from Muscat to Sur, and only 600m from the beach. Locally it is also known as Bait al-Afreet, and is a 40m wide and 20m from the surface.

A week earlier, when I saw pictures of it in a magazine at my Muscat hotel, I regretted the fact I wouldn’t have the chance to visit this natural wonder. When my Omani friends made this unexpected stop, I was not only happy, but also amazed by this beauty. I looked down and saw some young locals halfway up the walls, ready to jump, their voices echoing loudly. If only I could join them!

Soon we started climbing down the staircase to the natural pool. At roughly 9am, and only a few minutes out of the air-conditioned car, the summer heat was making me sweat and burned my skin. The water was so inviting that, even though I’m not a good swimmer, I was determined to go for a dip. When we arrived at the bottom of the stairs, my friend explained to me that “a piece of the moon fell, creating such a hole, and the water from the sea came from underneath”.

My friends refused to go swimming, so I stripped to my shorts, tested the water temperature with the tip of my toes, then jumped went into the cool emerald water. After a few seconds, I noticed some tiny fish were biting my feet. It was quite ticklish, and I realised they were the same “pedicure” fish used in some Oriental spas. Great, not only was I having a refreshing swim at an idyllic sinkhole pool created by a piece of the moon, but I was also having fish eat the dead skin off my feet. Sweet!

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