Multi-Day Tour | Independent, Locally Hosted, Private

Essential Romania - Maramures Region (7 days)

Exeter International

Bucharest, Romania To Bucharest, Romania

Valid for Departures Now Through: 31 Dec 2018


Day 1
Baia Mare, Romania
Bucharest, Romania
None None

Arrival in Bucharest, where you will be greeted by your personal English speaking driver-guide who will be waiting for you after you collect your luggage and pass through Customs.

Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, was first mentioned in the 15th Century and later became the residence of the Wallachian prince Vlad III Tepes. In the following centuries, Bucharest gradually became the most important trade center of Wallachia and the seat of the Wallachian princely court. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, Bucharest was occupied on several occasions by forces of the Ottoman, the Habsburg, and the Russian Empires. When Wallachia and Moldavia were united to form the Principality of Romania in 1861, Bucharest became the new nation's capital. In 1881, it became the political center of the newly-proclaimed Kingdom of Romania.

After a brief sightseeing tour of Bucharest and some time at your leisure, you will transfer to the airport for the evening flight to Baia Mare, the capital of the Maramures region, famous for the wooden churches and the preserved medieval rural life traditions. The cost of the flight is not included in your itinerary. The flight details are TBA.

Upon your arrival in Baia Mare, you will transfer to your convenient and centrally located hotel and have the rest of the evening at your leisure.

Day 2
Borsa, Romania
Baia Mare, Romania
None None

This morning, after an early start, you will continue your trip east and through the Maramures Region.  

Maramures is known for its pastoral and agricultural traditions, largely unscathed by the industrialization campaign that was carried on during Romania's communist period. Even today, plowing, planting, harvesting, and hay making and handling are mostly done through manual labor. The region is also known for its beautiful rural scenery, local small woodwork and craftwork centers, as well as for its wooden churches and original rural architecture.  

Your guide will take you close to the border with the Ukraine and to the famous Merry Cemetery in the village of Sapanta, which is known for its colorful tombstones with native paintings describing, in an original and poetic manner, the people who are buried there as well as scenes from their lives. The cemetery's origins are linked with the name of Ioan Patras, a local artist who in the 1940s sculpted the first tombstone crosses and carved the first witty epitaphs. Today, there are more than 800 such oak wood crosses and the Merry Cemetery has become an open-air museum and a local tourist attraction.

If you are interested, you may visit the town of Sighet (actually officially called Sighetu Marmatiei), which is known as the northernmost city in Romania, only a few kilometers from the Ukrainian border.  Sighet is best known as the birthplace of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, novelist, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, whose autobiography ‘The Night’ was the first account ever published of the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War, and whose home is now a small museum.  

You will also have the chance to see some of the famous wooden churches of Maramures, built in the 18th and 19th Centuries, such as the ones in Barsana, Ieud, and Desesti. The churches were made of thick logs, with quite small and dark interiors painted with rather simplified biblical scenes. The most characteristic feature of these churches is the tall tower above the entrance and the massive roof that seems to dwarf the main body of the church. The wooded churches of Maramures have been collectively listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their religious architecture and timber construction traditions.

Your guide will have some special experiences prepared for you in this part of the country, which is best explored through the interaction with the local people and by learning about their unique culture and traditions.  

This evening, you will arrive in the popular skiing and hiking resort of Borsa and will check in at your simple but comfortable hotel. The rest of the day will be at your leisure.

Day 3
Gura Humorului, Romania
Borsa, Romania
None None

This morning, you will continue your drive east through Maramures and will cross into Southern Bucovina – a rural paradise which painted churches are among the greatest artistic monuments of Europe, collectively designed UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Time permitting, your guide will take you to the most spectacular of these so you can experience firsthand their astonishing frescoes.  

You may visit the monastery at Voronet. This beautiful painted monastery is one of the gems of Bucovina. The completely painted exterior is stunning with scenes from the bible. The Last Judgement fresco fills the entire western wall of the monastery, whereas on the northern wall there is a depiction of Genesis. The southern wall features the genealogy of biblical personalities.  

The Humor Monastery has the most impressive interior frescoes of all the Bucovina monasteries. Built in the 15th Century and unlike the other monasteries, Humor does not have a tower and is surrounded by wooden fortifications. Its exterior frescoes are devoted to the Holy Virgin, St. George, and the Last Judgment.

You will arrive in the town of Gura Humorului, where you will check-in at your hotel, the Best Western Mountain Club. This large and centrally located four-star hotel has a charming façade and is one of the most comfortable hotels in the region.  

Day 4
Gura Humorului, Romania
None None

This morning, you will continue your trip south through Southern Bucovina and into Transylvania. En route, you will pass through some of the country’s most dramatic mountain passes, famed for their beauty and majestic landscapes, to arrive in the town of Gheorgheni. This whole region is traditionally the home of the Szekely – a people closely related to the Magiars and speaking a unique Hungarian dialect and treasuring their cultural identity. Believed to be descendants of Attila’s Huns who invaded the region in the 5th century, the Szekely still strive to preserve their traditional way of life, architecture, and costumes.

This afternoon, you will pass through the majestic Bicaz Gorge along a winding road cutting through natural formations of limestone rock and offering some of Romania’s most spectacular views. The gorge was cut by the waters of the Bicaz River and nowadays serves as a passageway between the Romanian provinces of Moldova and Transylvania.  

Just a few miles west along the road you will reach the Lacu Rosu (Red Lake) – another site of breathtaking natural beauty and a popular mountain resort.  The lake was only formed in 1838 by a landslide, which dammed the Bicaz River, thus eventually flooding the valley. According to a legend, two of the surrounding mountain peaks collapsed, burying in the lake a local shepherd and his herd. A more recent and rational explanation of the phenomenon is that a high concentration of algae and minerals from the surrounding soil cause the waters of the lake to occasionally turn crimson.  

You will check in at the Eurotourism Hotel, located just next to the Red Lake and offering the best accommodations in the area. If you are interested, you may take a hike around the lake and admire the scenery, the birdlife, and the crystal-clear air.  

Day 5
Sighisoara, Romania
Gura Humorului, Romania
None None

This morning, you will continue your journey to the heart of Transylvania and the area with the highest concentration of fortified churches – testimony to the Saxon colonization in the Middle Ages. Saxon merchants arrived here in the 12th – 13th Century to help fortify and defend the eastern borders of this region, which at that time was controlled by the Hungarian Kingdom.  The Saxons founded several settlements, among which are the present-day cities of Sighisoara, Brasov, Sibiu, and Cluj-Napoka.  

Later today, you will arrive in Sighisoara – considered to be the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, and one of the most charming towns in all of Transylvania. At present, the entire township is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument. This ancient town is still very much a functioning hub of the Transylvanian region. Your guide will take you on a walking tour of Sighisoara’s Old Town to include the medieval Citadel with 14 towers; the  over 200 feet-tall Clock Tower – once the main entrance to the fortified city;  and the Covered Stairway. We also recommend a visit to the History Museum, especially for its small but fascinating exhibit of Medieval Weaponry.

You will continue south-east and arrive at the medieval town of Brasov - one of the most historic towns in the Transylvanian region. Founded in the 13th Century as a German merchant colony, the town soon became a major medieval trading center. The Saxons built ornate houses and churches, protected by a massive defensive wall. You should definitely see the Council House in the middle of the Old Town’s square. The building’s tower, called the Trumpeter’s Tower, was once a watchtower from which alarm was sounded in times of danger. After the great fire of 1689, set by the invading Austro – Hungarian army, the building was restored and completed as a Renaissance-style loggia dominated by a Baroque facade bearing the coat of arms of the town. The Council House was at that time the business and political decision-making center of the city. Nowadays it houses the Brasov Historical Museum, which focuses on the history of the Saxon guilds.  

You will also see the famous Black Church, the largest Gothic Church in Romania and indeed, in the entire Balkan region. The current structure was probably erected on top of an older church which was destroyed during the Mongol invasion in the 13th Century. Following the damage from the fire in 1689, which also blackened the building giving it its current name, the Black Church was rebuilt with the help of masons from Danzig (today Gdansk in Poland), in the Baroque style. The church’s massive structure is 290 feet long and 125 feet high, and has a six-ton bell - the largest in Romania, and an impressive 4,000-pipe organ, which is still played during weekly concerts, as well as a rich collection of Anatolian carpets donated in the Middle Ages by Saxon merchants.  

The only original fortress gate to have survived from medieval times is the fairy-tale-looking Ekaterina’s Gate, which also bears Brasov’s coat of arms. Interestingly, during the Saxon rule in the 13th – 17th Century, Romanians were not allowed to own property inside the fortress walls and had to settle in the surrounding areas. Romanians could only enter the town at certain times and had to pay a toll at the gate for the privilege of selling their produce inside the citadel. The citadel was abandoned later, when the advances of military technology made it an ineffective protection against modern cannons.

Day 6
Bucharest, Romania
Sighisoara, Romania
None None

This morning, your driver-guide will take you further south to Sinaia. Known as the “pearl of the Carpathians”, it is a popular ski-resort, located in the picturesque surroundings of the Prahova Valley at the foot of the fir-covered Bucegi Mountains. The resort allegedly got its name from a Romanian nobleman, who, after visiting the Mount Sinai in Israel in the 17th Century, came back and founded the Sinaia Monastery, which still exists today and is a popular tourist attraction.  

Later today, you will visit what is considered by many one of the most beautiful castles in the whole of Europe. Peles Castle is a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture. The former summer palace of King Carol, its architecture is resplendent with turrets, curlicues and painted frescoes on the walls. Completed in 1883, Peles' interiors are a magnificent display of elegant design and historical artifacts. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows, walls covered with Cordoba leather, Meissen and Sevres porcelains, ebony and ivory sculptures.  

Late afternoon arrival in Bucharest and check in at the luxurious five-star Athenee Palace Hilton hotel in the centre of the city. The rest of the evening is at your leisure. The Athenee Palace hotel boasts of a number of bars, cafes and restaurants catering to a variety of gastronomic requirements. Weather permitting, we suggest that you try the international menu of the open-air La Strada Terrace bar and restaurant for a relaxing dinner. The cost of dinner is not included in your trip.


Day 7
Bucharest, Romania
None None

Check out of your hotel and meet your driver for the transfer to the airport for your flight onward.

Tour Features


Experiences have not been selected at this time


A sample itinerary for FIT touring of Romania and the Maramures Region.

About Us

For 25 years, Exeter International has established itself as the leading deluxe specialist operator to Central and Eastern Europe, Russia & Central Asia. We use our intimate regional knowledge and expertise to create unique, often limited access travel experiences. Our multi-national, multi-lingual specialists craft authentic insider experiences, created with imagination. When you book with Exeter International you can expect the top guides in each city pre-reserved weeks in advance, matched to your preferences. Our specialists have also been recognized by the Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure top agent list since their inception.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Advisor for more information.

Terms & Conditions

Visas & Passports  –

Russia requires visas of United States citizens and Exeter International will arrange for the invitation required for a visa upon

booking. Each traveler will be responsible for one passport photo, a completed visa form, one photo copy of the information pages of his/her passport, the invitation, and the visa processing fee. If the traveler would like, Exeter International will obtain all visas at additional cost. Each traveler is responsible for his/her own passport, which must be valid for six (6) months after the completion of the participant’s tour. Exeter International is not responsible for the refusal of a visa to any traveler by any consulate. In the event of visa refusal, any and all expenses/cancellation fees shall be borne by the traveler.

Payment Policies - Deposit Requirements

Small Group Tours - Deposits ($500) per person, for group tours are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis and are non-refundable and nontransferable. We will hold your reservation for one week after you book your tour without a deposit. Some special programs (cruises and trains) may have different deposit policies.

Independent Programs -

 A 10% or $250 per person (whichever is greater) non-refundable deposit is required to confirm an independent travel program. No Services are confirmed prior to deposit being received.

Payment Policies – Final Payment

Final payment is due 60 days prior to the commencement of travel. If final payment is not received 60 days prior to departure, your reservation will automatically be canceled. Some special programs (cruises and trains) may have different final payment policies.

Prices and Services – All taxes are included in program prices.

Payments –

Payments must be made in Tampa, FL to Exeter International at least eight weeks prior to departure and are accepted by check, cash or credit card. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover Card for credit card payment. Please note that payment for any services a traveler wishes to add once travel commences must be made in United States Dollars to the Exeter International local representative. We cannot accept personal checks or travelers checks overseas.

Hotels –

The tour cost assumes double occupancy in all hotels. Single supplements will be calculated based on exact dates of travel. We reserve the right to substitute hotels of equal or superior quality.

Transfers & Vehicles –

Exeter International will supply its travelers with personal transportation to and from all train stations, airports and ports, as described in the tour description. Baggage assistance is included for one piece of luggage per person, but tour participants should be prepared to handle their own bags at certain times during the tour. Please read carefully the Exeter International Travel Tips publication. We cannot guarantee air-conditioned vehicles in some cities. Touring and transfers will be by regular 4 passenger cars unless you have specifically ordered a

luxury car for your tour.

Scheduling –

Please note that due to circumstances beyond the control of Exeter International, the tour may not be deliverable exactly as described (i.e. theater scheduling, hotel occupancy, etc.), BUT Exeter International will substitute scheduled or advertised events, hotels, and restaurants with alternatives of equal or greater value and quality. All hotels, restaurant and airline space is subject to their management’s approval. Exeter International will make every effort to guarantee this package as is, but conditions will sometimes mandate minor changes to the program. Reservations are nontransferable.

Expedited Services

Expedited Bookings –

All bookings confirmed less than six weeks before departure will require expedited procedures. The cost for expedited

bookings is $250 per booking.

Expedited Documents –

If final travel documents are required more  than four (4) weeks in advance of the departure date, a $50 expedited documents fee applies to the booking. If overnight delivery of documents is required at any time, a fee of $35 will be applied to the booking.

Itinerary Changes –

Once a group or individual travel itinerary has been confirmed, an amendment fee of $100 per revision will be charged. The traveler will also be responsible for any additional expenses that may be incurred due to a voluntary itinerary change.

Cancellation Policies –

Up to 8 weeks prior to departure: Deposit is nonrefundable 8 weeks to 14 days prior to departure: 50% cancellation fee 13 days or less prior to departure: 100% cancellation fee Reservations made at Russian and non-Western hotels are nonrefundable within 30 days of departure. Travelers are liable for airline and hotel cancellation fees as stated in their agreements. For all cruise and train bookings, please refer to the cancellation policies outlined in the specific Terms & Conditions for that program. All cancellations must be received in writing. If Exeter International must cancel your trip, you will be fully refunded.

Guaranteed Departures and Small Groups -

All Exeter International tours are guaranteed departures unless specifically noted with a minimum group size in the tour description. In small groups (less than 8 guests), the guides will act as the tour mangers in each of the cities. For all groups larger than 8 guests a tour manger will meet the group upon arrival in the first city of the tour and travel with this group throughout the duration of the tour. Certain events and meals may be changed slightly for small groups, as described in the brochure.

No Smoking –

 For the enjoyment of all passengers, smoking is not allowed on Exeter International buses and cars or while the group is together on tour or at meals.

Insurance –

Exeter International highly recommends that you purchase travel insurance for your trip. This may be purchased directly through Exeter International or through your travel agent.

What is included –

Your tour includes everything that is specifically stated in the tour description. Breakfast (usually buffet) is usually provided daily; lunch and dinner will be provided only as stated in the tour description. Meals always include tea and coffee. Alcoholic beverages and mineral water are not included in meals, unless specifically noted. Visa fees are not included in tour prices.

Exeter International’s Responsibility –

Exeter International reserves the right, but is not obligated, to not accept or retain as a tour passenger any member whose

condition or physical needs or conduct impede the operation of the tour or affect the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of the tour’s other participants. A refund of the unused portion of the tours is the limit of Exeter International’s liability if such a person is asked to leave the tour.

Exeter International acts only on behalf of hotels, restaurants, train lines, boat lines, its owners, operators or contractors (all herein called contractors) providing services in connection with Exeter International’s tours. In the absence of negligence on Exeter International’s part, Exeter International is not responsible for personal injury or property damage or loss arising out of the act or negligence of any direct air carrier, hotel or other person rendering any of the services or accommodations offered herein. The traveler agrees to the foregoing, and also agrees that Exeter International will not be or become liable or responsible for any loss, default, or injury of any person, company, or other legal entity engaged to supply the same. Exeter International accepts no responsibility for losses or expenses due to delays or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strikes, hotel overbooking, social and labor unrest, terrorist activities, war, quarantine, or any other causes, actions or omissions, or conditions over which it has no control.

Additional Terms – Venue for all claims or disputes shall be exclusively in Hillsborough County, Florida, whose Courts, using Florida Law, shall have exclusive jurisdiction. Damage claims against Exeter International shall be limited to the value of the particular item in dispute and not for any incidental, consequential, or special damages. Exeter International assumes responsibility for representations it makes, but not for those made by others and including, but not limited to, any employee of Exeter International or independent travel agent. Payment for reservations on any Exeter International tour shall constitute consent to all the provisions in the General Information and Conditions published herein and is binding on all tour and travel participants.

All tour prices include the cost of planning and operations and are based on the tariffs, fuel costs and exchange rates in effect November 1, 2009 and are subject to change without notice at any time prior to payment in full of tour services.

Exeter International, Inc. is a Florida corporation, licensed, registered and bonded in the State of Florida for the sale of travel products and services.

The trademarks VIRTUOSO, the Globe Swirl Logo and SPECIALISTS IN THE ART OF TRAVEL are registered trademarks of Virtuoso, Ltd. Virtuoso, Ltd. has a U.S. copyright registration for the Globe Swirl Logo, ©2000. All rights reserved. Virtuoso CST#2069091-50. California CST# 2069091; TA# 808 - Registered Iowa Travel Agency; Washington UBI # 601 554 183. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.

Reviews and Recommendations for Exeter International


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Highly recomended

By: KandeeB

Reviewed on: 06 Jun 2013

Exeter International was staffed with first class personnel from the drivers to the EXTRAORDINARY guides through out the trip. The vehicles used to transport us were luxurious. The hotels were commensurate with the level of quality expected by the cost and located in the most advantageous sites. Totally organized and stress free experience.
Travel Advisor:  Brigitte Feinberg
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Great high-end travel company

By: Not provided

Reviewed on: 23 Aug 2013

Does superb job for demanding high-end travel Customized travel with excellent guides and programs. You pay but you get what you pay for.
Travel Advisor:  Leah Bergner
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Highly recommend

By: Jean

Reviewed on: 01 Oct 2013

Exeter was very well organised with very good guides and drivers. Our requests were responded to with professional speed. Some of our hotels could have been better. But we understand that they were the best available. We would have no hesitation using this agency again and recommending them to others.
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Yale
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Pampered Travel

By: KandeeB

Reviewed on: 07 Nov 2013

Exeter provides luxury travel with all the hassles and worries removed. The quality of their drivers and guides is first rate. From the minute you arrive until your final departure you are in excellent hands. The itinerary is well thought out and provides many special visitations not offered to other tourists. I have heartily recommended Exeter to several people without any reservation.
Travel Advisor:  Brigitte Feinberg


By: Jean

Reviewed on: 13 Jun 2014

We have used Exeter on a prior trip and were equally happy with them this time. We did have a Russian Visa situation which could have been serious, but was resolved quickly.The guide spoke very good English and was knowledgable in history and art along with the local architecture. The driver was also very safe in a chaotic traffic system.
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Yale

highly recommend

By: BB

Reviewed on: 22 Jun 2014

Travel Advisor:  Rochelle Lieberman

Highly recommended

By: Mkt123

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2014

We were connected with local English speaking guides and drivers that gave us an inside view of each country we traveled to. The experience was priceless.
Travel Advisor:  Martha Rhodes

Oustanding Guides

By: J & W

Reviewed on: 15 Oct 2014

All of the services provided by Exeter were truly outstanding. The hotel accommodations were excellent. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and well organized. The drivers were prompt and courteous. The suggestions for restaurants and additional things to do and see were very good. The printed booklet of helpful hints and language support was a nice bit of support for travelers who are visiting countries for the first time.
Travel Advisor:  Sara Krutsinger

Across the Russian Far East

By: Judee 544

Reviewed on: 30 Aug 2015

Everything was perfectly planned and resulted in a wonderfully exciting trip with all of our interests and needs taken into account. going on such an adventurous and challenging trip, so far away when one is no longer young could have been quite difficult, but instead was nothing but a fabulous experience. Wonderful guides and wonderful experiences on the Trans-Siberian Express and the cities of the Russian Far East, and a lovely hotel at the end in Moscow.
Travel Advisor:  Vivian Rubenstein

Excellent Russian Trip

By: Roger

Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2016

Exeter provided all of our guides and support for a 9 day family trip to Russia - very well informed, personable guides and smooth transportation. We were a bit hesitant to go to Russia but highly recommend - the trip of a lifetime !
Travel Advisor:  Tony Huffman
Not Recommended


By: TheGrapevine

Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2017

Take out trip insurance - not going to bash - but you get the idea.....
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1st Class

By: Carlos Gavidia

Reviewed on: 08 Mar 2017

From the beginning to the end this organization really surprised me! From getting our travel visas for Moscow to every detail of the tour pick up transfers and tours through the city were perfectly executed
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Yale



Reviewed on: 14 May 2017

Exeter was excellent with tour logistics and great guide. Seamless trip.
Travel Advisor:  Britt Gerber

Great planning and service

By: WWII And Cold War History

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2017

Exeter planned an excellent two week trip for me and my three teenagers. We went to Poland, Germany and Amsterdam. We focused on WWII and Cold War history. The plan was thoughtful and well paced. When I had questions Exeter staff responded promptly. A very good experience.
Travel Advisor:  Josh Friedman

St. Petersburg Tour

By: B Snead

Reviewed on: 18 Jul 2017

Our driver and guide could not have been better. Polite and accommodating for the three days we were in St. Petersburg. We saw a lot of attractions, got some behind the scenes tours and were able to access some sights prior to the general public. I would use Exeter again without hesitation!
Travel Advisor:  Deborah Barth


By: Hodges

Reviewed on: 17 Jul 2017

Exceeded all expectation. Super cost effective to compared to Oceania.
Travel Advisor:  Deborah Barth

Germany & Russia

By: Oz

Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2017

I strongley reccomend Exeter for shore excursions. Their staff and vehicles were first class, and the value was tremendous. We never felt uncomfortable or worried about being back to the ship on time. True professionals.
Travel Advisor:  Deborah Barth

Great tour

By: mt

Reviewed on: 25 Aug 2017

Knowledgable, efficient and friendly tour operators!

Baltic Cruise

By: Roger

Reviewed on: 17 Sep 2017

Fantastic tour service. Their guides and drivers were outstanding. Guides all had an excellent knowledge of the city and the history. We are very pleased that Ralph recommended Exeter. When comparing notes with others that had used the tours supplied by the ship, we learned that we had seen and accomplished much more than they had. Our guides were able to make special arrangements that others could not. Will always use Exeter when it is available
Travel Advisor:  Ralph Iantosca

Great tour

By: Ann

Reviewed on: 26 Sep 2017

Everything was wonderful. Very nice guide and well informed about the places we visited.

Exeter International

By: Goodwitch

Reviewed on: 02 Oct 2017

All guides were great and expedited airport service was fantastic
Travel Advisor:  Joanne Smith

St Petersburg

By: Swan

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2017

Absolutely fabulous
Travel Advisor:  Sherrie Coffey

Custom Guided Tour

By: JJ

Reviewed on: 18 Dec 2017

The tour guides and drivers were outstanding plus. They were very personable, always early, and their local knowledge was excellent. All of them were eager to please and all adapted to the changing crowd situation caused by weather, national holiday, or political meeting.
Travel Advisor:  Eleanor Hardy