Railway Ramble – Sabor, Monção and Fafe Lines

Tour Date: 8 Days | 28 May – 4 June

Location: Portugal

We are once again offering you the chance to relive the experience of travelling on now closed railway lines in northern Portugal, albeit at a much slower pace than was possible by train! But the scenery is the same, and now we have much more time in which to enjoy it.

This year we will take in three lines in the north of Portugal, the line between Guimarães and Fafe, the line from Valença to Monção and of course the main focus of the trip, the Sabor Line in north eastern Portugal.

The Sabor Line is in a very rural part of Portugal, and the idea behind it was to try and help development of a very remote part of Portugal – the region is known as “Tras as Montes” (literally Beyond the Mountains), and road travel there before the days of motorways was difficult at best. The idea for the line was first mooted in the 1890s, but the first section, from Pocinho across the bi-level bridge over the River Douro to Carviçais opened in 1911. It opened in sections, but progress was slow and the section to the terminus at Duas Igrejas only opened in 1938. The line had a total length of 106 km, but almost all of it went through remote countryside, so passenger usage was never high. Passenger services survived until 1981, with occasional freight trains running until 1988.

Our walk will take in the sections of the line that have been converted to cycle paths or are still safely walkable, just under half of the total length. Though the rest of the line is overgrown and very isolated, we will try to see some of the more accessible stations.

We are also including optional pre- and post-tour walks on two other lines, the Guimarães to Fafe line and the Valença – Monção Line. We will walk the full length of both of these.

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

The main objective of this trip is to enjoy the scenery we pass through and the company of the group, so the pace will be leisurely, and a balance will be struck depending on the abilities and desires of the participants in the group. Normally we limit our walk to a maximum of 20 km in one day.

From: Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • Well off the usual tourist trail
  • Beautiful scenery and time to enjoy it
  • Experience local restaurants
  • Seeing parts of Portugal you wouldn’t otherwise visit
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Linha de Guimarães

Day 1 Thursday 28 May

Fly to Porto from several UK airports, and transfer by metro to our hotel in Porto. The flight from Manchester is on evening of Wednesday 27 May so you have a pre-tour night at a airport hotel in Porto.

Day 2 Friday 29 May (B,D)

This morning we catch a suburban train to the town of Guimarães, considered to be the birthplace of Portugal. Nowadays it is the terminus of the broad-gauge suburban line, but until the early 2000s, it was still a metre-gauge line. Until 1986 it was possible to travel by train beyond Guimarães to Fafe and it is this line that we are going to walk today. On arrival at Guimarães station we find the beginning of the 20 km long cycle path that we will follow. At the end of the walk we return to Guimarães on a local bus and catch a train back to Porto in time for our welcome dinner. You can also join the tour today by flying into Porto.

Linha do Sabor

Day 3 Saturday 30 May (B)

We head up the Douro Valley today, to our home for the next three nights, the small town of Torre de Moncorvo. The railway journey is one of the best in the world, and we alight at the last station, Pocinho. Until 1988, Pocinho was a hive of activity, with the main line continuing to Barca d’Alva and onwards to Salamanca in Spain, and it was also the southern terminus of the Sabor Line. On arrival at Pocinho, our luggage will be taken directly to the hotel by road, but we will walk! The Sabor Line crossed the River Douro on the upper deck of a bi-level bridge, with the road underneath. Nowadays road traffic crosses the river by the nearby Pocinho Dam, one of a series of dams built in the 1970s. Our walk today is about 12 km, and as we climb above the road, we have spectacular views of the River Douro below us. On arrival in Torre de Moncorvo, we will check in to our hotel, and find a local restaurant for dinner.

Day 4 Sunday 31 May (B)

Two sections of the Sabor Line have been converted to cycle paths, and today we will walk the first of these, from Torre de Moncorvo to Carviçais, a distance of around 20 km. This is a very twisty section of line. Our transport will meet us at Carviçais at the end of the afternoon to take us back to our hotel.

Day 5 Monday 1 June (B)

We have a long day out today, with our transport taking us all the way to Miranda do Douro, the town that was the intended destination of the Sabor Line. Though the line didn’t actually reach this town it is worth visiting, as it is in a scenic location next to the River Douro and we can look across the river to Spain. There is also a dam here. After having lunch, our transport will take us to the former station at Duas Igrejas (literally Two Churches), the furthest the line got. There is now a cycle path from here to Sendim, a distance of around 11 km. At Sendim our transport will be waiting to take us back to Torre de Moncorvo. Many of the former stations are very isolated, but we will try to visit some of them on our journey today.

Day 6 Tuesday 2 June (B,L)

A walking-free day to day, as we return to Porto by train. However, we will stop at Tua, for lunch at the famous Calça Curta restaurant, overlooking the River Douro. This restaurant has been a big favourite with PTG clients over the years! After lunch, we join another train for the journey back to Porto.

Ramel de Monção

Day 7 Wednesday 3 June (B)

One of the first closed railway lines to be converted to a cycle path was the Monção Line. It branched off from the main Porto – Vigo line just north of Valença station. We will catch the Celta international train from Porto as far as Valença, and from here we will begin our walk towards Monção. This line is much less rural than the other lines we will walk and is often not far from the banks of the River Minho. The station at Monção is remarkably complete with several buildings and the water tower remaining. In fact, all that is missing is the track. We’ll make our way back to Valença on service bus, ready to catch the train down to Porto.

Day 8 Thursday 4 June (B)

Transfer to Porto airport for your flights home.

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • Full 8 day holiday from Gatwick: £999
  • Full 8 day holiday from Luton: £999
  • Full 8 day holiday from Stansted: £999
  • Full 8 day holiday from Bristol: £999
  • Full 9 day holiday from Manchester: £1,065
  • Full 8 day holiday from Edinburgh: £1,025
  • Full 8 day holiday from Porto: £799

Options

  • Single room Supplement: £200

Deposit

  • £300

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • En-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted.

Online Booking


Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Click here to see our Booking Conditions
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We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Hotels

Hotel Mercure Roma Piazza Bologna – Rome (3 nights)
Hotel Mercure Firenze Centro – Florence (3 nights)
Hotel Pisa Tower – Pisa (1 night*)

* 3 nights if staying on for our Pisa and Corsica trip

Flights

BA2540 12.00 London Gatwick to Rome (arr 15.30)
BA0605 15.15 Pisa to London Gatwick (arr 16.40)

FR3072 13.20 London Stansted to Rome Ciampino (arr 16.45)
FR0589 18.00 Pisa Ciampino to London Stansted (arr 19.25)

FR3204 06.30 Manchester to Rome (arr 10.10)
EZ1848 11.50 Pisa to Manchester (arr 13.20)


The Railways of Israel (Enthusiast)

Tour Date: 24 to 31 October

Location: Israel

Please note that this tour has been postponed to 24 to 31 October 2020 in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Join us on PTGs first visit to Israel, and a railtour which will visit most of the freight lines in the country over three days, appropriately using a selection of freight locomotives to supplement one of the few freight locomotives still fitted with door opening controls which must be part of our special train.

Israel has a modern and efficient railway network which is still expanding with new lines being built and electrification works in progress. Most trains are diesel hauled and the intensive service on most lines mean it is difficult to accommodate special trains. As a result we will concentrate on the freight lines as it is quite straightforward to buy passes for parts of the network and travel the passenger lines independently. The reason for the tour being Monday – Wednesday is that no trains run from Friday afternoons until Saturday evenings which is the Jewish Sabbath.

Be aware that Israel is an expensive country with high hotel prices. A meal in an inexpensive restaurant will cost around £13.16 compared to £12 in the UK and a beer around £6. Some things are cheaper – for example a taxi costs about £1.20 a mile compared to around £2.50 in the UK.

Tour Manager: Phil  contact phil@ptg.co.uk 

From: Heathrow, Luton, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • Private charter train
  • freight only lines
  • Ancient wonders
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

This is the itinerary for railway enthusiasts – a rail and culture itinerary is also available.

Day 1 Saturday 24 October

Direct flights to Tel Aviv from London Heathrow (08:05 or 21:10), Luton (14:00) and Stansted (13:55). Indirect flights from Birmingham (11:00 via Bucharest), Manchester (11:00 via Istanbul) and Edinburgh (08:00 via Paphos). Transport to hotel by road. Saturday is the Sabbath so no trains running. Night in Tel Aviv.

Day 2 Sunday 25 October (B)

Escorted travel around the network on passenger trains not covered by the freight tour, this will be continued on Thursday to do the remaining lines. Night in Tel Aviv.

Day 3 Monday 26 October (B)

This morning we transfer by coach or train to Rosh Ha’Ayin North (which is east of Tel Aviv), because this is operationally more convenient for Israel Railways than busy Tel Aviv. South of the station is a triangle giving access to the freight only line to Lod, occasionally used for diversions. South of Lod we join passenger metals and proceed south towards Ashkelon, diverging west at a triangle onto the freight line to Ashdod Miyun yard. We expect to continue from here into Ashdod docks. When we return we take the west to south side of the triangle and head south towards Ashkelon. For those looking at a map and wondering why we are not going to Rutenberg power station the answer is simple. The line is out of use and disconnected. Instead we take the Kheletz line, which is a west to east freight connection to Kiryat Gat. It is likely we will have a couple of photo-stops on this lightly used line. From Kiryat Gat we are on the line to the southern city of Be’er Sheva our stop for the night, but we continue through and take the freight line to Ramat Hovev, home to a vast array of chemical industries, where we may visit the freight terminal before returning to Be’er Sheva. Night in Be’er Sheva.

Day 4 Tuesday 27 October (B)

Today we venture into the northern part of the Negev desert on freight lines built to transport minerals and phosphate. First we take the line to Dimona, the end of the passenger service, and with a locomotive depot which we hope to visit. On to freight lines now, eastwards to a triangle where we continue line east to Zefa and the Rotem Industrial area where there chemical industries as well as mining for phosphates and oil shale. When we return we take the east to south side of the triangle to access the long branch to the Zin phosphate mine, where we may visit the freight terminal. Now we retrace our route, doing the third side of the triangle, to Dimona and Be’er Sheva North. We hope to have a fast run to Tel Aviv BS back to Lod then north to Rosh Haayin and then to Bnei Brak. The station is the first on the line to Rosh Ha’Ayin – an important consideration for tomorrow! Transfer to Tel Aviv hotel.

Wednesday 28 October (B)

(Assuming we start from Bnei Brak) Our final day starts from Bnei Brak station and we head west towards Tel Aviv, this time taking the east to north freight only curve towards Haifa where we will visit several freight spurs, but en-route we pause to take the freight branch to Hadera East. Haifa is a delightful city on the Mediteranean with a colourful temple of the Baha’i faith. We hope to visit the loco depot before tackling the freight line which runs south east to a major oil refinery. Once we return a visit to the Qishon Workshops is planned before we visit the short branch to Qishon Port, and finally the branch to Haifa Port, all subject to final approval. Available freight line finished we end the tour with a visit to the National Railway Museum. Night at Haifa hotel.

Thursday 29 October (B)

Continue travelling on the regular lines as necessary or maybe Night at Haifa hotel.

Friday 30 October (B)

We recommend you make a full week of it and today you might want to take the cable car to the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery and Elijah’s Cave or head for fabled Jerusalem. Possibly a chance to travel on the extensive tram system in Jerusalem. Or join our culture tour for two nights in Nazareth. Option to return to UK today.

Saturday 31 October (B)

Return flights to the UK.

For those continuing onto our Jordan tour we will transfer by road from Nazareth to Amman. Journey time is around 3 hours but allow an extra hour for border crossing checks.

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person) – TBC

  • From London Heathrow: £2,180
  • From Luton: £1,945
  • From Stansted: £1,945
  • From Birmingham: £2,150 (via Bucharest)
  • From Manchester: £2,150 (via Istanbul)
  • From Edinburgh: £2,090 (via Paphos)
  • Joining in Tel Aviv: £1,750
  • Train Only: £1,250
    (includes special train and rover ticket for service trains)

Prices based on minimum of 30 passengers. For 40 passengers the price reduces by £150 per person and for 50 passengers by £250. Based on 1.28 GBP to USD.

Options

  • Single room supplement: £420
  • Half board at hotels: TBC

Deposit

  • £300 with own flights
  • £1,000 with flights included

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Online Booking


Click here to see our Booking Conditions

Click here to see our Privacy Policy

We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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Central Wales – Trains, Ales and Gardens

Tour Date: 11 to 15 June 2021

Location: United Kingdom

Please note that this tour has been postponed to 11 to 15 June 2021 in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Many of you have visited the railways and mountains of North Wales with us over the years. Now we would like to introduce you to the Central Wales, Trains, Real Ales and Gardens Tour.

Many of you have visited the railways and mountains of North Wales with us over the years. Now I would like to introduce you to the Central Wales, Trains, Real Ales and Gardens Tour. Here we travel the picturesque Heart of Wales line from Shrewsbury through beautiful countryside. Along the Knucklas viaduct to the summit at Sugar Loaf. Through the Sugar Loaf tunnel and along the Cynghordy viaduct. The train travels onto Swansea. We will stop at Llandeilo, one of Carmarthenshire’s little market towns. From here we travel out to the Teifi Valley railway and the Gwili Valley railway. Visit the gardens of Aberglasney and the National Botanical Gardens of Wales. What more could you ask for? Maybe a cool glass of real ale? Evan Evans Brewery is here in Llandeilo, where better to sample this, than the local pub.

So why not join our tour manager, Marion, in her own backyard, for a relaxing long weekend.

From: Shrewsbury or any UK rail station

Tour Manager: Marion . Feel free to email Marion at marion@ptg.co.uk

  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Friday 11 June (D)

Meeting in Shrewsbury at the Victoria Wharf for our tour on the Sabrina boat. Our journey will take approximately 1 hour as we travel on the Severn River around the lovely town of Shrewsbury. We will pass the beautiful park and gardens and see how they have evolved since the days of Percy Thrower, whose final career move was to Shrewsbury in 1946, as the Parks Superintendent, where he became the youngest parks superintendent. He had a staff of about 35. After our journey we will have time for lunch before meeting again in the railway station for our journey on the Heart of Wales line to the market town of Llandeilo.  We will have a transfer to the 4-star Cawdor Hotel where we stay for the next four nights. Time to relax before meeting up for dinner in a local real ale pub. There is an option to stay for your evening dinner in the hotel which is situated in the centre of town (supplement). There can be fewer towns in Wales more attractive than Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, sitting proudly on a hill above the river Tywi. And there are fewer valleys lovelier than the Tywi, the longest river which flows entirely through Wales.

Day 2 Saturday 12 June (B,L)

This morning we will meet up after breakfast for our transfer to the Teifi Valley narrow gauge railway. The Teifi Valley Railway was created from a branch line of the Great Western Railway which served the West Wales rural area. Situated near the market town of Newcastle Emlyn between Carmarthen and Cardigan. We will spend some time here before moving onto Cenarth for lunch and a visit to the coracle museum. On our way back to Llandeilo we will stop at the National Botanical Garden of Wales, set in the beautiful Carmarthenshire countryside, the Garden is a fascinating blend of the modern and historic. Here you’ll find an inspiring range of themed gardens, the world’s largest single-span glasshouse, the British Bird of Prey Centre, a tropical Butterfly House, play areas and a national nature reserve, all set in a Regency landscape.

Day 3 Sunday 13 June (B,L)

Again we will meet up after breakfast for our transfer to the Gwili Valley Railway in Carmarthen (thought to be the oldest Town in Wales). The Gwili Steam Railway operates a standard gauge preserved railway from Bronwydd (near Carmarthen) in South Wales along a short section of the former Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway that closed for passenger traffic in 1965, the track being lifted in 1975. The Gwili Railway was formed in 1975 and, by 1978, had purchased and rescued about eight miles of trackbed. After our visit here we will travel back to Llandeilo and stop at Aberglasney. A medieval house and gardens set in the Towy Valley. This beautiful property set in 10 acres of gardens was opened to the public in 1999. Here we will have our stop for lunch before moving on to Newton House (a National Trust property) in Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo. Those of you who still have some energy left there will be an optional walk to Dinefwr Castle overlooking the Towy Valley.

Day 4 Monday 14 June (B,L)

Today we transfer to Brecon via the town of Llandovery. Situated on the western border of the National Park, Llandovery was described by the early travel writer George Borrow as ‘the pleasantest little town in which I have halted’. On arrival in Brecon we will board a canal boat for our journey on the the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal with a light lunch. The canal hugs the mountainside above the valley of the River Usk. Through the four seasons there are fine views and an abundance of wildlife to be seen. This will be followed by our trip to the Brecon Mountain Railway narrow gauge line. The line runs from Pant, 3 miles North of Merthyr Tydfil, to Torpantau following part of the route of the original Brecon & Merthyr Railway which closed in 1964. We travel from the main station at Pant in one of our all-weather Observation Carriages, behind a vintage Steam Locomotive. The journey takes you into the Brecon Beacons National Park, through Pontsticill and along the full length of the Taf Fechan Reservior before climbing to Torpantau high in the Brecon Beacons and the summit of the original line. Return to Llandeilo.

Day 5 Tuesday 15 June (B)

This morning we will visit Tretower Court, a castle and medieval manor house with a re-created medieval garden. Tretower Court garden has a cobbled yard, a berber, an orchard and a meadow. before finishing our tour at Abergavenny in time for lunch before our trains home from Abergavenny railway station with trains back to Shrewsbury or south to Swansea.

Place(s) available

Prices (per person)

  • From Shrewsbury: £735 in a twin/double, £915 in a single room
  • From any UK rail station: POA

Price Includes

  • 4 nights at the Cawdor hotel in Llandeilo with breakfast
  • all excursions listed in the itinerary
  • services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted from Shrewsbury

Hotel

The Cawdor, Llandeilo (4-star)


Panorama of Bayonne with bridge Pont du Genie across the Nive river on the front view

Vintage Southern France and the Pyrenees

Tour Date: 10 to 21 September
Location: France

The PTG slogan is “rail and culture” and that is exactly what this tour sets out to achieve, with a combination of modern and historic trains and fascinating towns and scenery, making this one of our most popular tours.

Whether you are in search of culture and antiquity, with fine architecture and interesting places to visit; or you enjoy travelling on scenic railways that climb mountains; or you want to potter around at your leisure – there is something for everyone on this tour which covers the length of France, hops across into Italy and dives under Monaco!

Using a combination of standard premier travel on Eurostar and first-class travel on TGV, overland travellers stay overnight in Avignon, before being whisked along the beautiful Cote D’Azur arriving in Nice late afternoon.

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

From: London St Pancras, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Manchester, Edinburgh

The tour includes many scenic highlights: the mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees, the Mediterranean coast of France, the hills of Provence and the Cevennes; as well as many places of historical interest including the Roman amphitheatre in the beautiful city of Nimes.

The railway highlights include a number of routes listed as some finest in Europe (by the European Rail Timetable) such as the Mediterranean coast east of Marseille to the Italian border and the lines heading inland from Nice to Digne-les-Bains and Tende. The tour also includes four steam rides on some lovely heritage railways, but the highlight is the famous Little Yellow Train that takes us high up into the Pyrenees.

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • No fly option
  • Steam trains
  • Rack Railway
  • Our own coach to take our luggage
  • First class train travel
  • Historic towns
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Thursday 10 September (B)

Leaving London St Pancras after lunch, we travel by Eurostar to Paris, where we change to a TGV to take us to Avignon for our overnight stay. Alternatively, fly out tomorrow from various UK airports directly to Nice.

Day 2 Friday 11 September (B)

After lunch we join the TGV service that will take us through to the very elegant coastal resort of Nice, capital of the famous Côte d’Azur. We arrive late afternoon and check in for three nights at a very centrally located hotel. Or fly out from the UK today to Nice from Gatwick (13:25), Stansted (12:00), Luton (18:30), Manchester (14:35) and Edinburgh (17:55).

Day 3 Saturday 12 September (B,D)

Today we will ride a slow train on the line SNCF calls the “Train des Merveilles”, Nice – Tende – Cuneo following the Roya Valley and crossing the Alps into Italy. There are many viaducts and even more tunnels with wild mountain-and-valley scenery. This is an exceptional route and of interest to any railway enthusiast; it includes three spirals and a summit higher than Ben Nevis. We suggest alighting in the fascinating mountain town of Tende for some sightseeing and lunch. Alternatively catch the Italian train through to Cuneo. Return on the train down to the coast on the Italian operated line to Ventimiglia, where we change back to a French train for the trip along the coast, passing under Monaco. Alternatively, choose a relaxing day in Nice, walking through the narrow streets and alleyways of the Old City – described as a “Baroque Experience” – then strolling along the Promenade des Anglais seafront to take lunch at the Casino. Note that for the transport enthusiasts there are modern trams in Nice, and a tram stop not far from our hotel. Tonight, we have our Welcome Dinner in a restaurant near the hotel.

Day 4 Sunday 13 September (B)

Today we ride the long non-electrified metre gauge CF Provence line from Nice to Digne, a distance of 151 km in a new 2-car DMU with large windows on a very scenic line, on the “Train des Pignes”. You will have the option of alighting at Puget-Theniers to join the steam train hauled by an ex CP (Portugal) 2-4-6-0T mallet, or alternatively visit the historic village of Entrevaux or remain on the diesel train to the end of the line at Digne-les-Bains high in Alpes Maritimes. We return to Nice in time for dinner.

Day 5 Monday 14 September (B)

This morning we travel by train from Nice to Nimes. In the afternoon, we will be joined by a local guide for a guided walk through the historic centre of Nimes. Included in the guided walk are some Roman buildings still standing such as the Amphitheatre “the best preserved in the whole of the Roman Empire” and the Maison Carrée, a remarkably well-preserved square temple. We will visit the amphitheatre, which is still in use and regularly hosts concerts.

Day 6 Tuesday 15 September (B)

We have a very scenic train trip through the Cévennes from Nimes to La Bastide-St. Laurent. We return to Alés where our coach will be waiting to transfer us to Saint Jean-du-Gard, and the “Train a Vapeur des Cévennes” whose ex SNCF 2-8-0 steam locomotive was only recommissioned in 2011. This is a lovely 13 km train journey along the Gardons valley and we do a return trip with a visit to the workshops. There are some fantastic views of the river valley and the Cévennes scenery. After our visit, we return to Nimes by coach.

Day 7 Wednesday 16 September (B)

Today we will travel to Avignon – a walled city next the River Rhone and Pont du Gard, an impressive Roman aqueduct built in the 1st century AD. The Pont du Gard is the highest of all Roman aqueducts and is the best preserved along with the aqueduct of Segovia. Because of its historic importance it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. Today it is one of France’s five top tourist attractions with around 1.4 million visitors each year. We head to Avignon in time for lunch. Attractions here include the Papal Palace (the biggest Gothic palace ever built, anywhere). Today the Palace is a place of culture and primarily a tourist attraction. With around 650,000 visitors each year it is regularly among the top ten attractions in France. With its size, architecture and historical significance the Palace regularly serves as an exhibition centre. During your free time, we suggest you visit the famous medieval bridge, the Pont d’Avignon on which one dances as the 15th century song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon” says.

Day 8 Thursday 17 September (B,L)

We take the morning service train to Rivesaltes, the start of the preserved “Le Train Rouge”. We begin by riding on a former SNCF railcar as far as Maury where we stop for lunch at a local restaurant. After returning to the train, we travel as far as St Paul de Fenouillet where, weather permitting, we changed to a diesel loco-hauled train with open wagons so that we can enjoy the marvellous views as we climb into the mountains. We reach the end of the line through a series of tunnels and alight at Axat, where our coach will be waiting to take us to our hotel in Perpignan.

Day 9 Friday 18 September (B)

We will travel from Perpignan to Villefranche-Vernet where we pick up our Little Yellow Train, one of the great railway journeys of the world – a historic metre-gauge electric railway in the French Pyrenees, opened in 1909, and still going h4. The line rises through dramatic scenery from an altitude of 427 metres at its lower terminus at Villefranche de Conflent, to a summit at Bolquère Eyne, France’s highest railway station, lying at an altitude of 1592 metres (5226 ft) above sea level. It then drops down to a high Pyrenean valley, to its terminus at Latour de Carol. On arriving at Latour de Carol, we immediately join our standard gauge train direct to Toulouse, arriving late afternoon.

Day 10 Saturday 19 September (B)

In the morning we travel on the 500-mm narrow gauge Chemin de Fer Touristique du Tarn where we have a steam-hauled charter over the whole line, including a visit to their workshops and the museum. The line is very pretty and steeply graded against outward-bound trains. At the far end of the line there are some beautiful gardens and non-rail fans may wish to pay a quick visit to them.  We return to Toulouse for a free afternoon to explore this city, known as the “pink city” due to the unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks. Note to transport enthusiasts: as well as the new tram line, there is also a driverless metro system in Toulouse.

Day 11 Sunday 20 September (B)

This morning we take the SNCF Lunéa service train westwards to Bayonne from where our coach brings us to the nearby CF Rhune rack railway. This line still uses the original varnished wood-bodied electric locos and carriages supplied for the opening of the line. The most recently added stock was built in 1924! At the top, at a height of almost 3,000 feet, you look out over France in one direction and Spain in the other. After returning to the bottom, our coach takes us directly to our hotel in Bayonne.

Day 12 Monday 21 September (B)

Return home overland to Paris and London, or alight at Bordeaux for flights to Luton (17:10), Gatwick (18:45), Manchester (14:50) or Edinburgh (18:30 via Paris).

A generally relatively easy tour as we have our own coach following us to carry our bags and for transfers between the hotel and the station when it is more than a few minutes’ walk. There are two optional walking tours, one of which has a 15-minute walk from the station to the historic centre. Some railway stations do not have lifts or escalators.

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • From London St Pancras: £2,325
  • From Gatwick: £2,195
  • From Stansted: £2,175
  • From Luton: £2,155
  • From Manchester: £2,195
  • From Edinburgh: £2,250
  • From Nice to Biarritz: £1,995

Options

  • Single room supplement: £395

Deposit

  • £500

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Our own coach which will carry our luggage from hotel to hotel from Lyon to St Jean de Luz.
  • En-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted from Nice to Bayonne.

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Online Booking


Click here to see our Booking Conditions

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We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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Vintage Port 42

Tour Date: 24 September to 1/4 October

Location: Portugal

You are invited to join us on a unique holiday to the stunning Douro Valley Port wine area of northern Portugal, the world’s first demarcated wine region (for the production of Port), and to the historic city of Porto itself. Following the Douro upstream, we discover a world of steeply terraced vineyards producing fine wines and ports.

You are invited to join us on a unique holiday to the stunning Douro Valley Port wine area of northern Portugal, the world’s first demarcated wine region (for the production of Port), and to the historic city of Porto itself. Following the Douro upstream, we discover a world of steeply terraced vineyards producing fine wines and ports.

The only way to see this beautiful region is by rail and river (there are few roads in the valley itself). The first half of our tour is based on the river right in the centre of this stunning region and includes several scenic rail trips as well as two half-day river cruises.

We honestly believe that you will not better this holiday for enjoyment and scenery. It is also our longest running tour now in its 21st year.

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

From Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Bristol, Birmingham (via Barcelona), Manchester, Edinburgh, London St Pancras

Tour Manager; David Gourlay  david@ptg.co.uk 

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • No fly
  • Stunning scenery
  • World’s first demarcated wine region
  • British port wine estates
  • Two river trips
  • Two vintage train rides
  • Meal included most days
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Thursday 24 September (D)

Direct UK flights from Gatwick (12:00), Luton (12:20), Stansted (09:25), Bristol (18:10), Edinburgh (20:35), and overland travel from St Pancras via the Eurostar. From Manchester (10:25) you fly into Lisbon for an Intercity train up to Porto. From Birmingham you fly out on Wednesday 23 September at 07:45 for a pre-tour night in Porto.

You will be met at Porto airport by David, your tour manager, who will accompany you on our coach to Regua. There will be an option to travel to Regua by rail – please let David know in advance.  We stay in the 4-star Hotel Regua Douro, our base for the next 5 nights on the banks of the Douro. Dinner tonight is at the hotel.

Day 2 Friday 25 September (B,L)

Following a short welcome meeting, we have another chance to see the Douro from the train as we head back west to Penafiel. Our coach will be waiting to take us the short distance to the vineyards at Quinta da Aveleda, one of the region’s top Vinho Verde estates with its fine gardens. After a guided walk through their gardens, we enjoy our Welcome Lunch in the Quinta. From here we transfer by road to the pretty riverside town of Amarante, one of the gems of northern Portugal. Here rows of 17th-century mansions with their brightly painted balconies line the narrow streets. There will be time to visit the Monastery and other sites during our walk through the town. We return to Regua by train from Livração station, arriving early evening.

Day 3 Saturday 26 September (B,D)

Morning is free to explore Regua. Alternatively join us on an optional visit to Lamego, an attractive town with Renaissance and baroque mansions overlooked by two hills. On one of the hills are the ruins of a 12th century castle, on the other is the monumental baroque Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. A marvellous granite staircase decorated with tiles, allegorical fountains, small chapels, and statues leads to a baroque church with views over the town. In the afternoon, we join a restored vintage train, formed of five wooden bodied carriages dating from the 1920s – this train is normally hauled by a vintage steam locomotive.  We travel up the river through breath-taking scenery of terrace vineyards and olive trees, to the riverside station at Tua (about a 90-minute run). En-route we stop for water at the picturesque riverside town of Pinhão. Use the time here to see the famous tiled pictures, dating from 1938, that decorate the station. Many of the most famous names in port production have quintas (port lodges) close to the railway station which is decorated with dazzling tile panels depicting scenes from bygone days of port production. On board, we are treated to traditional singing and served local delicacies and port wine. After a break, we return on the steam hauled special to Regua. (14.30 – 18.00).  In the evening, we visit the wonderful Quinta da Pacheca vineyard for a guided tour, port tasting and dinner.

Day 4 Sunday 27 September (B,L)

In the morning we catch the regional train east along the river to the railway’s terminus at Pocinho. This is a superb scenic journey with stunning views and we might catch sight of the rare Black Kite which still manages to survive in this remote area of Europe. At Pocinho we join our river cruise and sailing down river we pass through three of the dams built in the 1970s and 1980s to tame this once wild river. One of the locks we pass through is 32 metres deep and is an unforgettable experience.  This is a stunning valley of steep terraced vineyards and dramatic rock cliffs. A full three course lunch with wine is served on board and included in your tour price.

Day 5 Monday 28 September (B,L)

Today we have an opportunity to travel on part of the Tua Line between Mirandela and Brunheda, followed by a cruise including lunch, on the lake created by the new dam at the mouth of the River Tua. Sadly the line from Brunheda to Tua is now under water, so this is the only way to see this beautiful valley.

Day 6 Tuesday 29 September (B,L)

Late morning we join our river cruise down the river through the picturesque port wine area of steep terraced vineyards which stretch right down to the water’s edge. A full 3-course lunch with drinks is served on board before we pass through the famous Carrapatelo dam. At 35 metres deep, this is one of the deepest navigable dams in the world; an experience not to be missed. We continue down river and pass through the smaller Crestuma Dam. We are now in an area of woodlands, small vineyards and river beaches. Late afternoon we arrive in the fine city of Porto and enter this ancient city in the best way possible – on the river, sailing under its famous bridges, including the Maria Pia railway bridge (now closed) and the iconic 2 level Dom Luis I bridge.

Day 7 Wednesday 30 September (B,D)

This morning we join a vintage tram for a trip through the old city to the tramway museum. After time to visit the museum we join another vintage tram along the waterfront finally arriving at Infante. From there we walk through the Ribeira district and over the iconic Dom Luis I bridge to visit one of the riverside port lodges complete with port tasting. Free afternoon. Dinner in the excellent Abadia restaurant.

Day 8 Thursday 1 October (B)

Return to the airport by tram at the most convenient time for flights to the UK. To Gatwick (17:25), Stansted (18:05), Luton (10:25), Birmingham (06:35 via Barcelona), Edinburgh (17:35). To Manchester you again take the train to Lisbon for the direct flight back to Manchester (at 17:40).

Optional Minho and Vouga add-on

We head north by rail into the green Minho region. Our first stop is the railway museum at Lousado, dedicated to the metre gauge lines that existed throughout northern Portugal. From there we continue north to the important city of Viana do Castelo. We will explore the historic centre, lined with Manueline, Renaissance and Baroque mansions, and on to the fort, guarding the mouth of the River Lima. A free afternoon to enjoy lunch in one of the many excellent restaurants here. There is also a funicular to whisk you up to the Santa Luzia church with splendid views of the city and coast. Return to Porto at the end of the afternoon.

Day 9 Friday 2 October (B)

We catch a suburban train to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Guimarães where we have time explore the quaint historic centre. This afternoon we travel to Braga where we ride on the Bom Jesus water-powered funicular. Return to Porto by train at the end of the day.

Day 10 Saturday 3 October (B)

Today we head south to the Vouga narrow gauge rail line. After being stored in Regua for many years, the metre-gauge Vintage Train has been brought back into service on the Vouga Line, and today we will take a step back in time to travel on the original rolling stock along this scenic, but often forgotten, line. For so long threatened with closure, it managed to hang on, and is now having a renaissance due to the presence of this train. A visit to Macinhata museum is included. If for any reason the historic train doesn’t run today, we will still do the Vouga Line and Macinhata museum, but on normal service trains.

Day 11 Sunday 4 October (B)

We return to the airport for return flights to the UK. To Gatwick (15:45), Stansted (18:05), Luton (16:00), Birmingham (17:20), Manchester (13:55), Edinburgh (17:20 via Birmingham).

This trip does have a bit of walking, including some hills and steps and a guided walking tour. To enjoy it to the full, you should be comfortable walking 800 – 1,000 metres at a leisurely pace.

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • From Gatwick: £1,475
  • From Luton: £1,475
  • From Stansted: £1,475
  • From Birmingham (8 nights): £1,530
  • From Manchester (8 nights): £1,575
  • From Edinburgh: £1,595
  • From London St Pancras: £1,725
  • From Porto/Oporto: £1,275

Options

  • Porto & Vouga Historic Train add-on: £350 (£300*)
  • Single Room Supplement: £220 (8 day tour), £350 (11 day tour)
  • From St Pancras price is a twin berth sleeper cabin on the Sud-Express
  • Flight inclusive bookings made less that 3-months before departure might mean an increase in price.
  • * £300 price applies for those flying to Birmingham or Manchester.

Deposit

  • £500 with flights or £300 if joining in Porto

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Online Booking


Click here to see our Booking Conditions

Click here to see our Privacy Policy

We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Hotels

  • Hotel Regua Douro, Regua (5 nights)
  • Legendary Hotel, Batalha, Porto (2 nights plus another 3 on the Minho add-on)


The Magical Minho

Tour Date: 8 to 15 October

Location: Portugal

Join us for a seven-night holiday based in the attractive Portuguese city of Viana do Castelo. This part of Portugal, the Minho Region, is most well-known for its Vinho Verde (green wine), but it also has a lot of history.

It was one of the ports from where the Portuguese explorers set out, and the evidence of the wealth they brought back is clear. We will stay in the same hotel for all seven nights, the Casa Melo Alvim. This former 16th century manor house is one of the oldest buildings in the city and a few years ago was tastefully converted to a hotel. And located next to the railway station, it is the perfect PTG hotel!

The tour includes rail travel on the lines from Porto to Viana do Castelo and onwards as far as Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We also include the branch lines to Guimarães and Braga, on a day when we visit the lovely metre-gauge railway museum at Lousado. We also hope to be able to visit the normally closed museums in Nine and Valença.

For culture fans, we take in the fortified town of Valença, right on the border with Spain, and the UNESCO listed historic centre in Guimarães. Wine tasting is also included, of course, and some lunches/dinners are included, but on the days they aren’t, you may want to try some of Viana’s excellent sea-food restaurants.

This itinerary has something for everyone, but the hotel is not a big hotel, so places are limited!

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David, who lives in Lisbon. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

From Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham (via Barcelona), Edinburgh, London St Pancras

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • All seven nights at the same hotel
  • Great food
  • Scenic rail journeys
  • Wine tasting
  • Railway museums
  • Off the normal tourist routes
  • No fly option
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Thursday 8 October

Your flight leaves Gatwick at 12:20. Direct flights also available from Luton, Stansted or from Birmingham (via Barcelona) and Manchester* and overland travel from St Pancras via the Eurostar and Sud-Express sleeper. You will be met at Porto airport by David, your tour manager, and we will transfer to the Viana do Castelo by road and rail. * from Manchester you fly out on the evening of Wednesday 1 July (at 19:35) for a pre-tour night at Porto Airport hotel.

Day 2 Friday 9 October (B,D)

Today we will have a relaxing day to explore our home for the next seven days, Viana do Castelo. In the morning David will show you around this fascinating town which lies on the estuary of the River Lima. The many lavish mansions, in Manueline, Renaissance and Baroque styles, were built from the wealth brought by trade with Europe and Brazil. High above the town, reached by a funicular railway, is Monte de Santa Luzia, offering a marvellous view of the surrounding area, and in your free time in the afternoon, a trip up to the top is a must. You will also find a basilica modelled on the Sacré Coeur in Paris which has a tower you can climb (lift available) for an even more stunning view over the town and the sea. Also worth visiting is the Gil Eannes Naval Museum, a floating naval hospital constructed in 1952 and which operated until 1973. It is now open to the public as a museum, housing the original equipment. The ship has operation theatres, communications equipment, refrigeration chambers and a reinforced hull. It was restored by a group of locals and then adapted to become a youth hostel and is one of the city’s biggest attractions.

Tonight we will have our Welcome Dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.

Day 3 Saturday 10 October(B,D)

We explore Portugal’s second city, Porto. Joining the international train from Vigo, we arrive in Porto in in just over an hour. From the main Campanhã railway station, the modern metro will take us across the top of the iconic Dom Luis I two-level bridge. After time to enjoy the view over the Ribeira district of Porto on the north bank of the River Douro and the historic port wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank, we travel down to river level on the cable car. A short walk brings us to a wine cellar where we will find out more about the history and production of port wine, with a tasting at the end. After free time for lunch and your own exploration, we meet up and catch a historic tram to São Bento station from where our rail journey back to Viana begins. Dinner tonight will be at an excellent local restaurant.

Day 4 Sunday 11 October (B,L)

A train free day today, but we still manage to take in some railway history! A line from Viana do Castelo to Ponte de Lima was planned and some of the bridges were built. However, the idea was abandoned and the track bed turned into a road (Rua da Linha do Vale de Lima – The Lima Valley Line Road) and we shall drive along part of it. One of the oldest towns in Portugal (founded on 4 March 1125), it was historically significant as a Roman settlement on the road from Braga to Santiago de Compostela and Lugo, and the first place in Portugal to receive a municipal charter. It is named after the part Roman, part Medieval bridge that spans the river. The Minho in general is famous for its vinho verde (green wine), but Ponte de Lima is especially known for its red vinho verde. An acquired taste, but definitely worth trying! This is a bustling town on a Sunday and in the morning you will have time to look around before we meet up for lunch and wine tasting at a local winery. Return to Viana later in the afternoon.

Day 5 Monday 12 October (B)

Santiago de Compostela is our destination today, as we head north by rail through the Minho region and into Galicia in Spain along some scenic railway lines and crossing the bi-level international bridge (rail on top, road underneath) between Valença and Tui. Santiago de Compostela is the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region. It’s known as the culmination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, and the alleged burial site of the Biblical apostle St. James. His remains reputedly lie within Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, consecrated in 1211, whose elaborately carved stone facades open onto grand plazas within the medieval walls of the old town. Return to Viana by rail with an early evening arrival.

Day 6 Tuesday 13 October (B)

Staying in the Minho region today, we first catch a train south to Lousado where we visit the railway museum dedicated to the metre gauge lines that once served northern Portugal. As well as steam locomotives, including the oldest surviving metre gauge loco, the collection includes carriages, railcars and other railway equipment. We then continue by train to the UNESCO listed historic centre in Guimarães. After time for lunch and to explore the centre, we travel to the Bom Jesus funicular in Braga. We ride up the hill on this water-powered funicular and enjoy the views from the top of the hill. At the end of the afternoon our coach takes us to Braga station for our journey back to Viana. We hope to be able arrange a visit to the museum collection at Nine station, normally closed to the public.

Day 7 Wednesday 14 October (B,D)

Our last day in the Minho region takes us to the fortified border town of Valença. Valença’s fortress is a piece of gothic and baroque military architecture. The first walls were built in the 13th century. It was upgraded during the 17th and 18th century forming the present bulwarked system. It is located on the tops of two small hills and is formed of two polygons. It is one of the biggest and best-preserved military structures in Europe, a piece of gothic and baroque military architecture. The first walls were built in the 13th century and it was upgraded during the 17th and 18th centuries, forming the present bulwarked system. Valença itself dates back to Roman times, and indeed there is a Roman milestone inside the walled village, on the former road from Braga to Tui. On arrival in Valença, we hope to arrange a visit to Valença railway museum, another museum that is not normally open to the public. This evening we have our farewell dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 8 Thursday 15 October (B)

This morning we return to Porto Airport for our flights home.

This tour does have a lot of walking, including hills and steps. Some Portuguese railway stations still have low platforms.

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • From Gatwick: £1,169
  • From Luton: £1,169
  • From Stansted: £1,169
  • From Birmingham: £1,169
  • From Manchester (9 nights): £1,275
  • From Edinburgh: £1,225
  • From London St Pancras: £1,525
  • From Porto/Oporto: £969

Options

  • Single Room Supplement: £230
  • From St Pancras price is a twin berth sleeper cabin on the Sud-Express
  • Flight inclusive bookings made less that 3-months before departure might mean an increase in price.

Deposit

  • £500 with flights or £300 if joining in Porto

Price Includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary: B = breakfast, L = Lunch D = Dinner
  • Services of our Tour Manager. Holiday is fully escorted

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Online Booking


Hotel

Hotel Casa Melo Alvim, Viana do Castelo (all 7 nights)


By Train to the Midnight Sun

Tour Date: 8 - 22 July

Location: Denmark, Sweden, Norway

A long train journey can be a wondrous and romantic experience, like a fairy-tale. The train takes you away from your grey little world, cold and probably wet, and whisks you off through magic landscapes to mythical places you’ve only ever heard of, converting the dreamlands of your imagination into almost unbelievable realities.

A long train journey can be a wondrous and romantic experience, like a fairy-tale. The train takes you away from your grey little world, cold and probably wet, and whisks you off through a series of magic landscapes to mythical places you’ve only ever heard of, converting the dreamlands of your imagination into almost unbelievable realities. We are proposing to take you by train to Lapland, the Land of the Midnight Sun, where reindeer stroll the streets and Father Christmas is said to live, and where you can ski round the clock in the summer. Along the way, we will occasionally break our journey in order to visit some fabled northern Baroque cities, built on islands and shimmering in the summer sea.

From: London St.Pancras, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Copenhagen (København)

Tour Manager: Stephen Walker    swt@ptg.co.uk

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • No fly
  • Arctic circle
  • Stunning scenery
  • Five countries – Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Norway
  • First class rail travel (where available)
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Wednesday 8 July

We leave St Pancras (Escorted) at 10:29 for our Eurostar journey direct to Amsterdam and then onwards on ICE train to Cologne/Koln (arr 19:15). Koln is a popular tourist destination with its magnificent Cathedral next door to the Hauptbahnhof in the centre of the city. Overnight stay in Koln.

Day 2 Thursday 9 July (B)

Half-way across Europe before supper! Leaving Koln this morning we travel via Hamburg and are due to arrive in København early evening. You can also join the tour today via direct flights from Birmingham (10:00 with SAS), Manchester (18:55 with Easyjet), Edinburgh (15:10 with Norwegian)

Day 3 Friday 10 July (B,D)

A day sightseeing in København, the capital of Denmark. Today the cultural option will be a tour of København with an English-speaking, professional Guide. This will end on the waterfront where the group will embark for a boat trip round the harbour. There will also be time to see the famous statue of the Little Mermaid who sits on a rock out in the middle (best seen from the land). After lunch (own expense), there is the option to travel to Helsinger by rail to visit the imposing Elsinore Castle where most of the action in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” is set. Meanwhile, the Rail Enthusiasts will visit the National Railway Museum, at Odense, where it is hoped there will be a train giving rides on the former harbour branch; and then to the Danish Tramways Museum which is at least as good as the UK’s Crich museum, where some trams should be in operation on a long running line laid on the trackbed of an old industrial railway. Welcome dinner.

Day 4 Saturday 11 July (B,D)

The things one lives to see! Nowadays one can get from Denmark to Sweden without having to take a boat, and we will go by train from København to Malmö across the extraordinary 16 km Öresund fixed link. It’s often called a bridge but, on an island in the middle, the enormous bridge ends and the train dives down into a tunnel. We carry on past Malmö and up the West coast of Sweden, through Göteborg, seat of a venerable university, where we will pause for a tour of the city’s extensive tram network in historic vehicles specially chartered from the local tramways preservation society. After a couple of hours, the tram will take us back to the station and we will continue our train journey, crossing into southern Norway, where we will spend two nights in Oslo.

Day 5 Sunday 12 July (B)

A free day for your own sightseeing in Oslo, the capital of Norway.  We recommend a ride on the Ljabru tram, a modern vehicle with large windows and a scenic route overlooking the Bay and the Port. The railfan group will take a train out into the country and go for a ride on the standard-gauge Krøderbanen preserved railway, whose beautiful varnished teak end- balcony carriages are normally steam-hauled by a handsome tender engine of a very Scandinavian appearance. Oslo has many quality restaurants and this evening is free for you to choose the type and location for your own Dinner.

Day 6 Monday 13 July (B,D)

Today we continue our train journey northwards, an eight-hour journey from Oslo to Trondheim, but which we will break in Hamar in order to visit the Norwegian National Rail Museum.Here a 750mm gauge tank engine will be in steam and giving rides. Sleep Trondheim, two nights.

Day 7 Tuesday 14 July (B,D)

Sightseeing day in Trondheim, home of the world’s most northerly Gothic Cathedral. The city is also the home of the Norwegian Crown Jewels and has some splendid historical sights. There are also ferry links to some of the outer islands – if you fancy a short cruise! During the day, a trip will be organised on what is often called the most northerly operating tram route which climbs across the face of the escarpment which hangs over the city, giving some fine views.

Day 8 Wednesday 15 July (B)

Today the romance of our journey really begins! We take the daytime Trondheim-Bodø service, north, during which we will cross the Arctic Circle; it won’t get dark tonight! The line is not electrified and we will be hauled by a big diesel, one of the few which Norway possesses. There is a cafe on the train, and proper carriages where the seats are lined up with the windows and you can watch in comfort as some end-of-the-world type scenery glides past. Overnight in Bodø.

Day 9 Thursday 16 July (B)

Bodø is the northern railhead of the Norwegian system (the Railway never got to Narvik). Narvik, which is in Norway, is an important port which played a vital rôle in the Second World War, but it is only connected to the Swedish rail network. We will leave Narvik by train, but today we will arrive there by bus (bit of an anti-climax, really, but what can one do?). Afternoon of free time in Narvik. There are interesting museums to visit, with exhibits related to the iron ore mining industry and the construction of the railway, or the part played by Narvik in the Second World War, while the railway enthusiasts will want to be at the station to see the huge double twin-unit locomotives working the heavy iron-ore trains. Dedicated skiers in the group might think of going up to Riksgransen, the ski resort on the Swedish border: as the sun doesn’t set, in the summer, the facilities stay open 24 hours a day and you can ski all through what we would call the night. Overnight in Narvik.

Day 10 Friday 17 July (B)

Free morning and then the return journey starts, all the way from Lapland to London by train! We will leave Narvik on Train 93, the overnight to Stockholm which departs around noon. Refreshments available on the train. To get the best views we do the first part of the journey in an open seating carriage before moving into our twin berth sleeper cabins around 8pm.

Day 11 Saturday 18 July (B)

The overnight train arrives in Stockholm early morning. On the train, Breakfast packs are available to us before we arrive. The hotel is situated across the road from the station and luggage can be left there until check-in. For those who are interested, the Swedish National Railway Museum is at Gavle and so we retrace our steps by train for a visit. Transfer to and from the Museum when we arrive at Gavle is by historic railcar. Those staying in Stockholm have free time for their own exploration (guidebook provided). Sleep in Stockholm for two nights.

Day 12 Sunday 19 July (B,L)

The steamship “Mariefred” (yes, it really is steam powered!) will take us for an island-studied voyage down the coast (lunch included) to, appropriately enough, Mariefred, for a ride on the 600mm narrow gauge Östra Södermanlands Järnväg. The ÖSlJ sends a steam train down the Harbour Branch to meet the ship. Here you can get a shot which includes them both-steamship and steam train- making it one of the must-get photos of the trip. Track Bashers will want the ride along the branch, which is not otherwise used. From the other end of the ÖSlJ, there are regular trains back to Stockholm and people can return at their leisure, when they’ve had enough.

Day 13 Monday 20 July (B)

Today we will have a Free morning in Stockholm; there is so much to do and see. But here are some suggestions: you could go for a 2-hour city tour by boat, along the canals and round some of the islands, though you won’t see them all as there are said to be 24,000 of them; or go to the Wasa Museum and see the sixteenth century warship they famously dug out of the mud of the harbour, a Scandinavian Mary Rose. The Swedes, being very nostalgic, a tram route has been allowed to survive which is worked with historic vehicles, each one a museum piece. Meanwhile, train enthusiasts might want to ride the 891mm narrow gauge suburban railways. Leaving Stockholm at 3.20pm we travel south to the delightful city of Malmö for our overnight stay.

Day 14 Tuesday 21 July (B)

Today is free for your own exploration of Malmö. Alternatively, trains leave every 30 minutes to the beautiful town of Ystad – famous because of the TV detective “Kurt Wallander”, played by Kenneth Branagh. Leaving Malmö early afternoon, we head south via Kobenhavn to Hamburg for our overnight stay. Refreshments are available on the train before we arrive in Hamburg at 8pm. Farewell dinner at the hotel.

Day 15 Wednesday 22 July (B)

We travel back to the UK on the route Hamburg – Köln – Brussels – London St.Pancras (arriving early evening). Option to stay extra nights in Hamburg. Direct flights back to Manchester (16:50) with Easyjet, Birmingham (16:00) via Dusseldorf with Eurowings, and Edinburgh (17:10) with Easyjet.

Place(s) available

Holiday prices (per person)

  • From London St Pancras: £3,495
  • From Birmingham: £3,395
  • From Manchester: £3,395
  • From Edinburgh: £3,395
  • From Copenhagen to Hamburg: £3,195

Options

  • Single room Supplement: £450 (main hotels) or £250 (3-star hotels)

Deposit

  • £400

Your holiday price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted.

Online Booking


Click here to see our Booking Conditions

Click here to see our Privacy Policy

We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

N/A


Darjeeling and the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan

Tour Date: 14 to 29 November

Location: India, Bhutan

India is a fascinating country whose people, culture and cuisine are diverse.

The bustling town of Kolkata, Capital of West Bengal State, was founded as an East India Company trading post and remained India’s capital under the British Raj from 1773 to 1911. Colonial architecture, art galleries and festivals give Kolkata its special character.

Darjeeling, in the foothills of the Himalaya, was once a summer retreat for the elite of the British Raj. The black tea plantations and steam railway, for which Darjeeling is famous, are set against the backdrop of Mt Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain.

The Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is characterised by monasteries, fortresses (dzongs) and dramatic landscapes.

From: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow

Tour Manager: Jenny   jenny@ptg.co.uk

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • Kolkata
  • Darjeeling
  • The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan
  • Railway Museums
  • Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Zoological Park
  • The regular service of India Railways
  • The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
  • Great, often historic, hotels
  • Half board – all breakfasts and dinner included
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Saturday 14 November 2020

Flight departures with Emirates via Dubai from Heathrow (13:40), Gatwick (13:35), Stansted (13:50), Birmingham (13:30), Manchester (13:10) and Glasgow (13:00) to Dubai, where the group meet up for the same onward flight to Kolkata. Flights by other airlines are available.

Day 2 Sunday 15 November (D)

We arrive into Kolkata airport and transfer to our hotel. Rest of the day is free for your own relaxation. In the evening we all meet up for our welcome dinner. We are staying at the 5* Grand Oberoi Hotel. Referred to as the ‘Grande Dame of Chowringhee’ this heritage hotel’s neo-classical facade and grand pillared entrance mark a successful fusion of classical Victorian and traditional Indian style and reflect the city’s colonial history.

Day 3 Monday 16 November (B,D)

Our morning sightseeing tour includes a visit to the flower market where entire streets are transformed into a profusion of colour and scent.   At the Mother House, dedicated to Mother Teresa at the time of her death, we will see her humble room in stark contrast with her elaborate tomb, and learn something of her life and work.  In the afternoon we visit the Railway Museum adjacent to Howrah Station.  As well as highlighting the history and heritage of the railways in the eastern part of the country, displays include old drawings, documents and a collection of stamps.  150-Year old steam locomotives, carriages and saloon cars can be seen here.  We continue by Circular Railway to Prinsep Ghat, home of the Heritage Railway Museum of Kolkata.

Day 4 Tuesday 17 November (B,D)

We have the morning at leisure before catching the train to New Jalpaiguri where we transfer by road to Siliguri, in the Indian state of West Bengal, for the night. Known as the gateway of Northeast India, Siliguri is popular for three T’s i.e. tea, timber and tourism. We will be staying at Sinclairs Hotel, situated in Pradhan Nagar, at the heart of the city, Sinclairs Siliguri is a luxury hotel equipped with modern amenities. One of the most renowned hotels in the region.

Day 5 Wednesday 18 November (B,L,D)

After breakfast we drive to Kurseong and the Makaibari Tea Garden and Factory.   Proceeding to the Eagle’s Crag we enjoy panoramic views over the surrounding plains and hills, including, on a clear day, views of Kanchenjunga.  We will visit poet and artist Rabindranath Tagore’s Museum for an introduction to his life and work before moving on to the Darjeeling Railway Museum.  This afternoon we board the world famous The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway to Darjeeling. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the DHR or the Toy Train, is a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal. Built between 1879 and 1881, it is about 88 km (55 mi) long. It climbs from about 100 m (328 ft) above sea level at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 m (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling, using six zig zags and five loops to gain altitude. On 2 December 1999, UNESCO declared the DHR a World Heritage Site.

In Darjeeling we stay at the (British) Hotel New Elgin. The Elgin is the oldest hotel in Darjeeling. Built in 1887, it is now a luxury heritage hotel completely restored to its former grandeur. Originally owned by the the royal family of Cooch Behar, the property was leased and run by a succession of British families, the last being Madame Nancy Oakley.

Day 6 Thursday 19 November (B,L,D)

An early morning drive to Tiger Hill to watch the sun rise over Kanchenjunga before returning to our hotel for breakfast.  If we are lucky, we may also glimpse Mount Everest. After breakfast we board the DHR train again for the journey to Ghoom, and the famous Batasia Loop, followed by a visit to the ‘Ghoom Monastery’.  The Yogi Choling Monastery was established in 1850 by the famous Mongolian astrologer and monk Sokpo Sherab Gyatso.   The 15-foot-high image of the great Maitreya Buddha stands just inside the main monastery building.  We return to Darjeeling by road for lunch after which we visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, established in 1954 to encourage mountaineering as an organized sport in India.  The Institute is the final resting place of Sherpa Norgay Tenzing, who, together with Sir Edmund Hillary, made the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.  A leisurely walk through the Zoological park introduces us to some of the indigenous species of the Himalaya.

Day 7 Friday 20 November (B,L,D)

After breakfast we visit the Takvar Tea Garden and the Tibetan Refugee Self-help Centre where we will see craft articles in the process of being made and have an opportunity to purchase items. We will then take the old British hiking trail below Birch Hill offering views of the Singalila range, West and South Sikkim, the mountains of Nepal, the entire Kanchenjunga range, as well as neighbouring peaks. The afternoon is at leisure to stroll around Darjeeling and absorb the atmosphere of this special place with its history of the Raj. Or just sit and watch the DHR trains.

Day 8 Saturday 21 November (B,L,D)

An early morning departure for the 5-hour drive to the Jaldapara Tourist Lodge where we spend the night.  In the afternoon we’ll take a jeep safari deep into the Jaldapara National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the largest population of the endangered Indian one-horned rhinoceros, as well as to herds of elephant.

Day 9 Sunday 22 November (B,L,D)

After an early breakfast we drive to Phuntsholing, the border town between India and Bhutan and said to be the place Bhuddism was established in Bhutan.  After completing immigration formalities, we visit the Kharbandi Monastery, founded in 1967 by the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron.  We continue by road to Bhutan’s capital city Thimpu where we spend the night at the Hotel Druk – a luxury four-star hotel where each floor, differently inspired, explores a subtle palette drawn from water, air, earth, fire and sky.

Day 10 Monday 23 November (B,L,D)

Our sightseeing tour of Thimpu today will include the Memorial Chorten, the Art Museum, Tashi Tschhodzong, seat of the government since 1952 which presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, and the statue of Buddha . In the afternoon Takin zoo, a wildlife reserve gives us an opportunity to observe the takin, national animal of Bhutan.

Day 11 Tuesday 24 November (B,L,D)

This morning we drive over the Dochula Pass (3,100 m).  The 108 temples, scattered across the hillside, honour those Bhutanese soldiers who gave their lives in the December 2003 battle against Assamese insurgents from India. We stay at the fine RKPO Green Resort (for two nights) in the heart of the verdant and lush Punakha Valley. Flanked by thick pine forests, it overlooks the Punakha valley and hundreds of paddy fields that stair-step down to the valley floor.

Day 12 Wednesday 25 November (B,L,D)

This morning we visit Chimi Lhakhang, a temple and monastery dedicated to the fertility rites of the tantric tradition.  Before continuing our drive to Paro, we have time to visit the Punakha Dzong, the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. We stay for 2 nights at the PARO Drukchen Resort.

Day 13 Thursday 26 November (B,L,D)

We have the option this morning to hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest).  After lunch we visit Ta Dzong, former watch tower which has now been converted into the National Museum of Bhutan with its wealth of information about the history of, and life within, Bhutan.

Day 14 Friday 27 November (B,D)

Transfer to the airport for our flight to Kolkata.  Upon arrival, a sight-seeing tour will include Dalhousie Square with its iconic, colonial era architectural landmarks, the Park Street Cemetery, Jain Temple and Rabindranath Tagore’s House. We again stay at the Grand Oberoi.

Day 15 Saturday 28 November (B)

Depart for the airport for our flights back to the UK. Arriving back in UK on Sunday 29 November.

Place(s) available

Prices (per person)

  • From London Heathrow: £3,650
  • From Gatwick: £3,650
  • From Stansted: £3,650
  • From Birmingham: £3,650
  • From Manchester: £3,650
  • From Glasgow: £3,650
  • From Kolkata: £2,995

Options

  • Single room supplement: £750

Deposit

  • £1,250 with flights or £600 from Kolkata

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted.

Online Booking


Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Click here to see our Booking Conditions

Click here to see our Privacy Policy

We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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Steam in the Andes

Tour Date: 14 to 27 August 2021

Location: Ecuador

Please note that this tour has been postponed to 14 to 27 August 2021 in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus.

We are pleased to offer this tour in conjunction with Trains and Travel in the USA. This is their 20th tour to Ecuador since 1990.

Ecuador is the last stronghold of rugged mountain railroading using steam in the Andes of South America and the gem of the Equatorial Andes, is a small but spectacular country that encompasses an amazing variety of landscapes, with great biodiversity, not to mention a fascinating cultural and historical legacy once associated with the great Empire of the Inca.

Ecuador is also home to the famous Guayaquil & Quito Railroad, one of the world’s most famous railway engineering endeavors built on 42-inch gauge. The G&Q has been called by some as the “Most Difficult Train in the World” and has seven Baldwin steam locomotives in operating condition for the enjoyment of railfans. Two 2-6-0’s and five 2-8-0’s including the last Baldwin steam locomotive built in the USA. These locomotives are stored serviceable for charter work.

Over the past 30 years we have seen many changes to the railroad including a complete rebuilding of the line between Duran and Quito. But railroad management does not have the funds to keep the 288 mile line in good repair. The entire route is no longer open as the rainy season in Ecuador has taken its toll on the railroad. Out of 288 miles 30 miles is closed pending repairs. The railroad has told us that they plan to get back in operation then entire mainline but over the past 30 years we have experienced just how long repair work can take so our itinerary below is based on railroad that is open now. As repair work is completed, we will add those miles to our tour. We will also have a charter railcar on the San Lorenzo Railroad out of Ibarra for 40 miles.

Tour Manager: Chris Skow
From: Heathrow, Bristol, Norwich, Birmingham, Manchester, Humberside, Edinburgh

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • Incredible scenery
  • Steam hauled charters with six different locos
  • Workshop visits
  • Great photo opportunities
  • Many meals included
  • Devil’s Nose Switchbacks
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Saturday 14 August (D)

Early morning flights with KLM, via Amsterdam, from most of the UK’s larger airports, to Guayaquil. All tour members will be met and transferred to our hotel. Welcome to Ecuador dinner in the evening.

Day 2 Sunday 15 August (B,L)

Visit the Duran railroad workshops which is just across the Guayas River. If you look carefully you will see the boiler and tender from one of the railroads long-gone Garratt articulated locomotives. We then board our charter train at the workshops pulled by Baldwin No. 14 a 2-6-0 built in 1901 for the run to Yaguachi and return, a total of 28 miles. Yaguachi was the original starting point of the planned railroad to Quito, with the first tracks laid in 1871. This section of the railroad is in the flatlands running through the farms and rice paddies. There is a triangle (wye) to turn our steam locomotive at Yaguachi. Photo run-by both directions.

Day 3 Monday 16 August (B,L,D)

After breakfast oard our charter train at Duran for the run to Barraganetal, a distance of 43 miles. We will have plenty of time to make a number of photo run-passes. Past this point the railroad is being repaired. Depending upon repairs we will run as far as possible past Barraganetal. Today our train will be pulled by “Andes Class” Baldwin No. 53, a 2-8-0 built in 1953 by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton. We then transfer to our waiting motorcoach for the short trip to a local working cattle ranch which has also been made into a hotel. On our way to this ranch we will stop at Bucay to explore the old steam workshops. Several steam locomotives and boilders are still here and have been used for parts to keep the other engines running. Bucay is located at the base of the Andes and was once a very important terminal where the Andes Class 2-8-0’s would take over for the steep 5% climb into the mountains.

Day 4 Tuesday 17 August (B,L,D)

Today we travel on our charter bus for the steep climb into the Andes on the Pan American Highway to Riobamba which is at 9035 feet. The rail line out of Bucay is closed for 17 miles to Huigra and needing repairs. As we make our way northbound towards Riobamba we will stop at an overlook with spectacular views of the famous Devils Nose Switchbacks far below. Then at Alausi we will make a stop at the railroad station to check-out which diesels and railcars are in town. Upon arrival in Riobamba, known as the “Sultan of the Andes”, we will visit the workshops before going to our hotel for check-in.

Day 5 Wednesday 18 August (B,L,D)

Charter train southbound Riobamba to Alausi , a distance of 53 miles with steam locomotive No. 58, a 2-8-0 built by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton in 1953. No. 58 was the last steam locomotive built in the USA by Baldwin. Photo run-bys all day. Upon arrival in Alausi, at 8,663 feet and hotel check-in.

Day 6 Thursday 19 August (B,L,D)

We board our train at Alausi and run it down the Devil’s Nose Switchbacks to Sibambe which is at 5,925 feet. We then continue into the Chan Chan River Canyon to Huigra which is at 4,800 feet. Here we will turn our engine on the triangle (wye) for the return trip up the steep 5.6% grades to the Devil’s Nose Switchbacks and then on back to Alausi. 2nd night at Alausi. Today we will cover a total of 32 miles packed with photo run-passes.

Day 7 Friday 20 August (B,L,D)

We again board our charter train pulled by steam locomotives No. 58 for the steep climb out of town. We will first run several photo run-passes running down the  middle of the Alausi  cobblestone streets and over the  spectacular Alausi Bridge. Departing northbound from we run over the steepest part of the railroad as our hard-working locomotive tackles the 5.7% grade to the top of the Chan chan River Canyon. At Palmira we reach the first summit which is at 10, 623  feet. By time we reach Riobamba we will have traveled 53 miles.

Day 8 Saturday 21 August (B,L,D)

We board our charter train with steam locomotive No. 45 a 2-8-0 Baldiwn built in 1944. We head northbound up the spectacular “Avenue of the Volcanoes”   to the highest point on  the entire G&Q Railroad at Urbina  which is at 11,841 feet  and is on the slope of the massive  20,689 foot Chimborazo Volcano which is the highest point in Ecuador.   Riobamba to Urbina is 27 miles and is all uphill. We will run many photo run-bys on this stretch of railroad. From Urbina Summit to Ambato is 26 miles and almost all downhill. At Ambato which is at 8,435 feet we transfer to our hotel. Ambato is known as the “Garden of Ecuador” and the “City of Flowers”.

Day 9 Sunday 22 August (B,L)

We reboard our train pulled by steam locomotive No. 45 at Ambato and continue northbound towards Quito. Today we will run to the station of Salcedo, a distance of 21 miles. A few miles north of here there is a wash-out but railroad management said this has high priority in getting repaired so there is a very good chance we will be able to continue northbound past Salcedo. Until we received the information from the railroad we will assume that at Salcedo we will transfer to our charter motorcoach and run around the wash-out to the next station at Latacunga, a distance of 13 miles. Here we will board one or two of the autoferro railcars that are based in Quito for the 71 mile run on into the city. Today we will crest the Cotopaxi Summit at 11,638 feet which is at the base of the Cotopaxi Volcano and the popular Cotopaxi National Park.

We then drop down into the valley and once again start climbing the final hill into Quito. Before we arrive in downtown Quito we stop to explore the workshops which is a few miles outside of the city. Then steam locomotive No. 17 a 2-8-0 Baldwin will take us the final few miles into Quito. Upon arrival at the Quito station we reach our final summit at 9,110 feet.

Day 10 Monday 23 August (B,L)

Today you can sleep in a bit before we take you on a Quito City Tour which will also include the “Center of the World Monument” which is 16 miles north of downtown Quito.

Day 11 Tuesday 24 August (B,L,D)

We depart from our hotel in Quito by charter bus for the 71 mile trip north to Ibarra, at 7218 feet where we visit the workshops of the FC San Lorenzo (Railroad) Steam locomotive No. 18 a inside frame 2-8-0 will be operating in and around the yard for photos. We then board our charter train pulled by a diesel for the 20-mile run to Salinas where we turn our train on the triangle (wye) and come back to Ibarra. We then transfer to our hotel.

Day 12 Wednesday 25 August

A few miles from our hotel is the famous Otavalo Indian Market at 8,307 feet of which is considered one of the best local indian markets in all of South America. The local vendors sell just about everything you could think of, including textiles, handmade blankets, tablecloths, jewelry, musical instruments and a lot more. We then return to Quito and hotel check in. This evening we will have our “Farewell Dinner”.

Day 13 Thursday 26 August (D)

Free day in Quito to relax and explore the city on your own. This evening we will have our “Farewell Dinner”.

Day 14 Friday 27 August

Transfer to the airport for your flights home (arriving UK on Saturday 28 August). It is also possible to stay on for an Amazon safari or a Galapagos Cruise.

Place(s) available

Prices (per person)

  • From London Heathrow: £5,725
  • From Norwich: £5,725
  • From Birmingham: £5,725
  • From Manchester: £5,725
  • From Humberside: £5,725
  • From Edinburgh: £5,725
  • From Guayaquil to Quito: £4,725

With flight prices confirmed at time of booking

Options

  • Single room supplement: £690

Deposit

  • £750 plus any flight costs

Online Booking


Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Click here to see our Booking Conditions

Click here to see our Privacy Policy

We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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Rail and Natural Wonders of Ecuador

Tour Date: 19 to 28 February 2021

Location: Ecuador

Escape the British winter.

If you have ever thought of visiting this wonderful South American country, then now is the time to act. The last two years have seen many improvements to the infrastructure of the country with the new airport, motorways and most importantly, from our perspective, the complete restoration of the major railways. In one journey you are able to travel from the Pacific coast through the jungle up into the Andes Mountains and on to Quito, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage city. In the past it was possible only to do small parts of the railway piecemeal, including the famous Devil’s Nose. The government took back ownership of the railway a few years ago and has now fully and wonderfully restored almost the whole line. Two short sections were unavailable at the time of writing but one of these should be restored in time for our visit. Each station has been refurbished and luxury trains purchased from Spain on which you embark on a three day adventure. Overnight accommodation is provided mainly in quality Haciendas, each with their own colonial history.

Steam is used on short parts of the journey. The food on board and in the accommodation on route is to a high standard, reflecting the aim of the operators to deliver a really quality experience. At many of the station’s artisan markets have been established which enable passengers to purchase authentic local crafts.

As well as this delightful railway experience our tour will spend time in the capital city, Quito, exploring both the historic city centre and the Andes region to the north of the city. We will spend a further day on another historic railway line, the restoration of which was only completed in recent years.

If you are travelling this far then you might want to include one of our add-ons. Choose from the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle, either staying in a safari lodge or on a riverboat, or, what for many will prove to be an absolute highlight of visiting Ecuador, going to the unique and famous Galapagos Islands for a seven night cruise.

From: Heathrow, Bristol, Norwich, Birmingham, Manchester, Humberside, Edinburgh

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • See the Andean Mountains
  • Visit the Devil’s nose
  • Unique steam train travel
  • Experience local culture and history
  • 3 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Florence, 1 night in Pisa
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Thursday 19 February (L)

Our scheduled flight options are either via Madrid or Amsterdam with the advantage of arriving the same day in the coastal city of Guayaquil. Accommodation in a four-star city centre hotel.

Day 2 Friday 20 February (B, L)

A full day to explore the historic city of Guayaquil, the largest in Ecuador and its commercial hub. In the morning there will be city tour taking in the key historic buildings and the promenade fronting the sea where there will be an opportunity to view the only restored surviving historic coach from the railway. Lunch will be taken in a typical local restaurant before an afternoon visit to an authentic Panama hat factory – these famous hats are indeed Ecuadorian not Panamanian. Accommodation in four-star hotel city centre.

Day 3 Saturday 21 February (B, L, D)

An early morning departure from our hotel to the railway station located a few kilometres from the city. We have the opportunity of viewing the locomotive as it prepares for our journey before a steam departure from the terminal. Today is spent traversing the coastal plain with its intense agricultural activity, where many different crops will be seen. There will be a visit from the train to a typical large historic farming operation where we will have the opportunity to see many agricultural activities and dine outside Our day’s journey concludes at the foothills of the Andean mountains with an opportunity for a nature walk before an included evening meal. Accommodation in a local tourist standard hotel – best available.

Day 4 Sunday 22 February (B, L, D)

The train ascends through the jungle climbing up into the Andean foothills. Accommodation in historic Hacienda hotel. Our journey takes us through the spectacular high Andes, including the sensational climb up the famous Devil’s Nose. We will make stops at several historic Andean towns with opportunities for guided tours and shopping for local arts and crafts. Accommodation in a historic Hacienda hotel.

Day 5 Monday 23 February (B, L, D)

Today In the morning we head towards Jatari railway station, where the inhabitants of the community of La Moya will show us the life in the Andes, we will be able to interact with them and see one of the best examples of community organization for work, such as the millenary knowledge taught from past generations. The tour continues towards the Urbina station. Located just over 3,600 meters above sea level, we will get to know the “paramo” ecosystems of the slopes of Chimborazo. Baltazar Ushca, the last ice merchant of Chimborazo, will tell us his story and explain the reasons behind his dedication, despite the opposition and arrival of machines to the country. The train will get to Cotopaxi province but on the way, a group of devils will take the train by surprise when  the  Diablada de  Píllaro  (devil´s  parade from Píllaro) is celebrated on board, a parade full of colors, music and joy that reminds us of the spirit of the Andean communities and their understanding of the world, this parade was declared national heritage. The final stop of the day will be Latacunga station. Transfer by bus to the best accommodations in the area, at night we will enjoy dinner at the same hotel.

Day 6 Tuesday 24 February (B, L, D)

Today is spent in the high Andes passing by some of the world’s most famous volcanoes including Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano, before a descent into Quito, the capital of Ecuador. We dine in a historic lodge high in the Andes. The train stops at the highest station on the line where we will have a presentation on the tradition of taking ice from high up on the mountainsides down into the villages.

It is hoped that our arrival into Quito will be steam hauled which is not currently the normal practice. We will transfer by coach to our city centre accommodation.

Day 7 Wednesday 25 February (B, L, D)

Today  we drive by bus to Otavalo to enjoy north of Quito. Our first stop will be at a 19thcentury cotton mill still containing all of the manufacturing equipment brought in from the UK. It is now a wonderful museum with a fascinating history. We explore the Imbabura province and visit the Otavalo Market and the Peguche indigenous community.  Accommodation in a historic country estate.

Day 8 Thursday 26 February (B, L, D)

Today we have an excursion on the other main restored line in Ecuador.  Our journey continues higher up into the Andes to an area famous for its salt mines. African slaves were brought in to labour in these mines and it is their villages and culture that we will be exposed to during our lunchtime stop, with a cultural show before enjoying a lunch of traditional cuisine. We will return on the train, travelling the complete length of the line during which it is planned to have some steam running. Return to overnight accommodation in central Quito.

Day 9 Friday 27 February (B, L)

This morning we will head north of the capital to visit the historic location of the line of the equator. As well as containing a monument this site has a number of interesting museums, but has now been found not to lie exactly on the equator, which is the location we next visit, where some very interesting science will be demonstrated to us. We journey further north visiting one of the famous artisan markets before arriving at our overnight accommodation set in a colonial garden. Accommodation in an historic country estate.

Day 10 Saturday 28 February (B, L)

Time to explore this, the first UNESCO World Heritage City accompanied by an expert local guide. Our visit will take in the Grand Plaza, the colonial and government office buildings, cathedrals and churches as well as archaeological museums. Our meals today will be taken in exclusive restaurants located within the city centre. During the mid-afternoon we transfer to Quito international airport for our flights back to the UK via Amsterdam.

OR

As part of the booking process for the holiday you can choose one of several extensions to the tour to take full advantage of travelling to Ecuador. The unescorted tour will mean an early morning flight from Quito over to the Galapagos Isles – approximately 90 minutes – and a transfer on to our luxury cruise boat. Taking a seven-night itinerary enables you to visit the more remote islands with their more interesting geology and ecosystems. The exciting itinerary is packed with opportunities to see much of the varied wildlife and geology of this unique island chain. At the completion of our cruise our return flights to Europe depart from Guayaquil, avoiding the need to travel back to Quito.

A reasonable degree of fitness is required for this tour, although fortunately, whilst we do climb high in the Andes, all the accommodation is at lower levels although still high above sea level. If you have any doubts it is worth checking with your doctor prior to booking.

Place(s) available

Prices (per person)

  • From London Heathrow: £3,850
  • From Norwich: £3,850
  • From Birmingham: £3,850
  • From Manchester: £3,850
  • From Humberside: £3,940
  • From Edinburgh: £3,775
  • From Guayaquil to Quito: £2,975

Options

  • Single room supplement: £690

Deposit

  • £750 plus any flight costs

Online Booking


Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Click here to see our Booking Conditions

Click here to see our Privacy Policy

We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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