In honour of World Book Day, G Adventures’ very own Mark Bonington shares five of the most fantastical tours never.
When travellers talk of “fantasy trips”, they’re dreaming of faraway places and island paradises. For some book lovers, however, “fantasy” conjures up something else entirely. Indeed, writers like JRR Tolkien and L Frank Baum have restored to us entire mythologies we didn’t even know we were missing, and even with the last of their books having been written, generations are compelled to keep exploring them.
There are hundreds of bookshops all over the world who are taking part in World Book Day 2015.
And why not? The stories are fantastical, the characters indelible and the settings, well, absolutely magical. Most of us have watched Hollywood’s fantasy classics, from Victor Flemings’ whimsical Wizard of Oz to the outrageous spectacle of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy—but how many of us have truly explored the foundations on which many of these movies are built—the original novels?
So, in honour of ‘World Book Day’, I’m happy to present to you five fantastical itineraries for fan-favourite fantasy destinations, recast into G Adventures tours. Yes, folks, these are our best tours never — and they are ripe for exploration!
Tour #1: Local Living in the Land of Oz
Skip your way down the Yellow Brick Road arm-in-arm with your fellow adventurers.
Guide Book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
Skip your way down the Yellow Brick Road arm-in-arm with your fellow adventurers, from Munchkinland to Winkie Country, on this truly wonderful ten-day tour. Defy gravity when you take to the air on a broomstick, shop till you drop in the Emerald City and explore what lies just over the rainbow in this adventure of a lifetime.
- Arrival with traditional Munchkin welcome
- Guided Yellow Brick Rd trek (ruby slippers or silver shoes recommended)
- Overnight stay in Shiz University dormitory
- Kiamo Ko Castle homestay hosted by the Wicked Witch of the West
- Hot air balloon ride with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Getting There. According to academics, Baum’s Oz was much like the US, with the Emerald City taking the place of Chicago. To the East, mixed forest and farmland, to the West, treeless plains and fields of wheat and to the South, warmth, lush growth, and red earth. See what inspired Baum on one of these tours.
Tour #2: Middle Earth on a Shoestring
Matamata, New Zealand—the “real” Middle-Earth.
Guide Book: The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
From the shady Shire to leafy Lorien, form your fellowship and stride your way through Middle Earth. While the current success rate for summiting Mordor’s Orodruin Volcano is fairly low, local experts like Gandalf will be on hand to help you on your journey there and back. Whether it’s the mystic kingdoms of the Elves, a horseback ride through Rohan or the quiet comforts of Hobbiton which appeal to you, you’ll see it all on incredible adventure. Finally, one can simply walk into Mordor.
- Traditional Hobbit dinner in Hobbiton’s Bag End
- Guided tour of The Shire, included mead at the Prancing Pony
- Overnight stay in Rivendell, with optional Elvish lessons
- Day trip to Isengard, with guided forest trek through Fangorn
- Walk into Mordor
Getting There. According to academics, Irish myth and the landscape of Ireland’s West were deeply embedded in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings’ concept of Middle Earth. See what inspired Tolkien on one of these tours.
Tour #3: Hogwarts by Rail
Platform 9 and 3/4 on the departure concourse of King’s Cross Station. Board from this hidden platform.
Guide Book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
The latest in G Adventures’ series of Rail tours, you’ll leave London and the Muggle realm far behind as you board the Hogwarts Express and steam your way north. In a 3-night stay at Hogwarts Castle, you’ll have the chance to find your House, prove your prowess on the Quidditch pitch and, of course, try your hand at a little magic.
- Ride the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9¾ in London King’s Cross
- Sorting Ceremony, with student and faculty meet n’ greet
- Guided tour of the grounds with groundskeeper Rubeus Hagrid
- Overnight stay in the Astronomy tower, with included tutorial
- Quidditch lesson, with friendly match following
Getting There. Rowling wrote the first of the Harry Potter series while in Edinburgh, and its clear that the city and surrounding landscape served as a source of inspiration. See what inspired Rowling on one of these tours.
Tour #4: Wonderland Explorer
Folly Bridge near Oxford, where Lewis Carroll first told Alice of his ‘Wonderland’.
Guide Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Follow G Adventures down the rabbit hole into the wild world of Wonderland. Although surprises lurk around every turn, our local expert—the White Rabbit—will make sure you’re not late for a single stop on this tour. From grinning cats to painting cards, will you be treated to a serenade by a choir of flowers or have you head cut off by the Queen of Hearts?
- Welcome meeting with The Caterpillar
- Evening of poetry with Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee
- Riddle solving afternoon with the Cheshire Cat
- Croquet with the Queen of Hearts (flamingos available for rent)
- Transfer to the Looking Glass for a late departure
Getting there. Written by Lewis Carroll for his young friend Alice Liddell, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was inspired by a boat trip the author took during which he spun outlandish tales for Alice and her sisters to pass the time. Recreate the conditions for another fantasy aboard the G Expedition.
Tour #5: Best of Westeros
An avenue of Beech trees that has become known as the Dark Hedges. The 300 trees have grown to form this majestic archway over the road.
Guide Book: A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
From the glories of King’s Landing to the frozen majesty of The Wall, from the beauty of Dorne to the hard Iron Islands, you’ll explore Westeros from one side to the other on this two-week tour. From political intrigue to justice dealt at the end of a sword, local expert Lord Varys and his extensive network of field agents will teach you to play the game of thrones: where you win, or you die.
- Guided tour of King’s Landing, with free time in the markets
- Overnight stay in the Red Keep. Optional wine-tasting with Cersei Lannister
- Lecture on The History of the Seven Kingdoms by Grand Maester Pycelle
- Trek to the ruins of Winterfell
- Beyond the Wall excursion with Night’s Watch rangers, led by Jon Snow
Please note: This tour currently boasts a very low survival rate. G Adventures is not responsible for death by beheading, poison, stabbing, throat-cutting, bludgeoning, falling, dragon fire, Wildling ambush, drowning, or dire wolf attack.
Getting there. Martin’s Westeros is divided into Seven Kingdoms, echoing the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. Many believe that most of the action takes place in Western Scotland—so explore Martin’s inspiration on one of these tours.
Have we missed a classic?
With libraries full of classics, its hard to whittle down so many great books to just five fantastical itineraries, but these are the otherworldly destinations that I’ve stuck with. So, you’ll probably have quibbles. After all, five novels over fifty years doesn’t even begin to cover it. Air your suggestions in the comments and you’ll add to all of our “fantasy” bucket lists.
Travelling with G Adventures is the very best way to get up close and personal with your planet in a way you’d never manage on your own. We run a number of departures encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.