See two countries in one trip, with a tour guide to take care of the logistics, writes Katie McGonagle.
So many countries, so little time – so why not see two in one trip? Whether they’re neighbouring lands that complement each other, or opposites that offer contrasting experiences in a single holiday, a twin-country trip gives you twice as many reasons to sell.
If alarm bells are ringing at the thought of complex border crossings or hours spent travelling from one place to the next, that’s where an escorted tour comes in, with a group leader and pre-arranged practicalities to keep hassle to a minimum. Here are a handful of our top touring twins.
Peru and Ecuador
Big-name sites don’t get much bigger than Machu Picchu in Peru or the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, so it’s no surprise pretty much every South America specialist offers some version of this classic combo – with many now tagging on a decent amount of time in mainland Ecuador too.
It’s one of Collette’s new small‑group, immersive Explorations range, offering more individual accommodation, and group sizes averaging 15.
“Big-name sites don’t get much bigger than Machu Picchu in Peru or the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.”
Diana Ditto, director of product design, says: “Experiencing the natural wonders of Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands is an opportunity to see where the past comes alive and mankind’s collective history is unveiled. These are the crown jewels of South America, which offer cultural delights and authentic cuisine throughout.”
Book it: Explorations by Collette’s Machu Picchu & the Galapagos Islands tour costs from £6,299 for 15 days, including flights, accommodation and 29 meals.
Vietnam and Cambodia
This is a classic pairing if ever there was one, with many an operator twinning a cruise along the Mekong and Tonle Sap with time on land to explore Indochina’s most iconic cities. However you choose to get around, there are big-ticket sights along the way, from the 800-year-old temples of Angkor Wat and exquisite Royal Palace at Phnom Penh, to the Cu Chi Tunnels of Ho Chi Minh City and lantern-filled Old Quarter of Hoi An.
“There are big-ticket sights along the way, including the 800-year-old temples of Angkor Wat and exquisite Royal Palace at Phnom Penh.”
Julian Appleyard, commercial director at Great Rail Journeys, says: “Cambodia and Vietnam complement each other perfectly on a tour. Both have rich histories and cultures, plus breathtaking scenery. A customer favourite on this trip is Halong Bay. Guests love the cruise, where they visit some of the caves and islands, but many tell us watching the sunset over the bay is the best experience of the trip.”
Book it: Rail Discoveries, sister brand to Great Rail Journeys, has a 14-day Highlights of Vietnam & Cambodia tour starting from £1,995, with departures on October 16 and in 2019. The price includes international flights, rail and coach travel, guided tours and accommodation.
Italy and Croatia
Rewind to the Roman Empire, and Italy was at the centre of the world, extending its influence across the Mediterranean and beyond – not least to neighbouring Croatia, which still bears some of the most magnificent Roman ruins in the world, from Diocletian’s Palace in Split to the remarkably well-preserved amphitheatre in Pula.
Then there were the Venetians, who likewise left their mark, with the signature lion still seen carved into buildings in Hvar, and an Italian-inspired cuisine.
A two-country tour helps uncover these historic ties, while still showing off all the food, wine, cities and scenery you’d expect of this region.
“Neighbouring Croatia still bears some of the most magnificent Roman ruins in the world, like Diocletian’s Palace in Split.”
Shearings’ Venetian & Istrian Coast trip contrasts the canals of Venice with the ancient city of Pula, allows time to wander through Istrian coastal resort Rovinj or go out for an impromptu dinner in colourful Lido di Jesolo, and admire the beautiful architecture along both coastlines.
Book it: Shearings’ 12-day Venetian & Istrian Coast by coach starts at £1,131 including 11 nights’ half-board accommodation and four excursions, departing June 2 and September 8, 2019.
Costa Rica and Panama
“Costa Rica offers a wildlife adventure with a variety of ecosystems, including volcanoes, rainforest and cloud forests,” says Cox & Kings Latin America product manager Vessela Baleva. “In neighbouring Panama City, you can cruise along the Panama Canal, one of the world’s most impressive engineering feats.”
“Head to Costa Rica for incredible biodiversity – looking out for nesting turtles, the colourful quetzal and slow-moving sloths along the way.”
Despite being neighbours, these small nations offer quite different experiences. Head to Costa Rica for incredible biodiversity – looking out for nesting turtles, the colourful quetzal and slow-moving sloths along the way – plus spectacular views of Arenal volcano, Monteverde cloud forest and the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. Then cross into Panama for fascinating cultural history and colonial architecture.
Book it: Cox & Kings’ 14-day Panama & Costa Rica Experience starts at £3,195 including flights, accommodation and some meals.
Kenya and Tanzania
If ever there was a duo linked by geography, it’s Kenya and Tanzania, tied together by the magnificent plains of the Masai Mara and Serengeti, where animals roam freely between the two, especially during the famous annual migration of the wildebeest.
Travelsphere managing director Alastair Campbell says: “Each half of the trip offers a different experience. In Kenya, it’s all about the wildlife. You’ll start in the Samburu National Reserve, where residents include lions, elephants, cheetahs and giraffes. Next, head off on a two-day safari in the Masai Mara Game Reserve to spot the ‘big five’.
“Animals roam freely between the two, especially during the famous annual migration of the wildebeest.”
“In Tanzania, there are plenty of chances to catch sight of wildlife, but here you’ll also delve into the culture of the country. Visit the Ngorongoro Crater, take a guided walk around a 500-acre coffee plantation, and visit a local community to learn about a Travelsphere Cares initiative, the Masai Clean Cookstoves.”
Book it: Travelsphere’s Kenya and Tanzania Grand Tour costs from £5,699, departing October 8, 2019, including flights, transfers, accommodation, meals and excursions.
Alaska and The Yukon
Alaska might be part of the US, but it could be argued it has more in common with neighbouring Canadian territory the Yukon than with the Lower 48, sharing the same snowy tundras, mountain-backed landscapes and extraordinary species, which roam across territories regardless of borders.
Aaron Candler, sales manager at Trafalgar, says: “Inextricably linked both by history and geography, Alaska and the Yukon go hand in hand. Guests not only visit important sites of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, but actually travel in the footsteps of those early pioneers from Valdez to Dawson City, a once‑treacherous route that evaded Canadian customs.”
“Alaska might be part of the US, but it could be argued it has more in common with neighbouring Canadian territory the Yukon.”
Travellers can weigh up the glaciers of Prince William Sound against the rugged peaks of Tombstone Territorial Park, compare the Yukon’s Dempster Highway with the Denali Highway and its glimpses of North America’s highest peak, and decide which is the better big city, Anchorage or Whitehorse.
Book it: Trafalgar’s 14-day Alaska and The Yukon tour starts at £3,645 departing on June 10, 2019, including accommodation, some meals, sightseeing and local charges but excluding flights.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
The ‘Stans’ are the very definition of a good multi-centre adventure, combining lakes and mountains, ancient architecture and modern culture, so it’s little wonder these central Asian countries have seen a surge in recent years.
G Adventures central Asia product manager Sofia Montezo says: “Our Best of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan trip offers the perfect blend of off-the-beaten-track adventure, untouched nature and rich nomadic history. Kyrgyzstan brings mountainous landscapes and nomadic culture with overnight stays in yurts, while Tajikistan showcases lakes, including the iconic Iskanderkul lake, and has amazing trekking opportunities.”
“The ‘Stans’ are the very definition of a good multi-centre adventure, combining lakes and mountains, ancient architecture and modern culture.”
Book it: G Adventures’ Best of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan trip starts at £1,499 for 14 days, travelling from Bishkek to Tashkent, not including flights.