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Overseas Adventure Travel Reviews The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
Overseas Adventure Travel Reviews
Overseas Adventure Travel Reviews
Learn about our trips from the best source—our Traveler Reviews!
There’s no better way to learn what a trip is like than from the firsthand experiences of fellow travelers—which is why we created Overseas Adventure Travel Reviews. Here, you can read unedited travel reviews, giving you an honest appraisal of the discoveries that await you on our unique small-group adventures. Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1978 by a 28-year old high school teacher named Judi Wineland, who was inspired by a trip to Africa. From the beginning, OAT offered custom small-group tours to destinations around the world. In 1993 OAT was purchased by the Grand Circle Corporation, becoming the first U.S. travel company to create, operate, and sell adventure trips to Americans aged 50 and over.

Overseas Adventure Travel Reviews

Average Rating
4.8   4.8 | 992 reviews
937 out of 992 (94%) reviewers would recommend Overseas Adventure Travel
Rating Breakdown
5 ★   842
4 ★   104
3 ★   19
2 ★   12
1 ★   15
Rating Summary
Accomodations   5
Food   4
Itinery   5
Trip Leader   5
Value   5
Recent Reviews

Turkey's Magical Hideaways

Wonderful trip, still needs tweaking

4   2 years ago
This was a great trip, which I did back to back with Crossroads of the Adriatic. I kept a running blog on the OAT forum which can found at https://www.oattravel.com/legacy/community/travel-forum.aspx?g=posts&t=9337 . My enthusiasm for this trip was pretty much the same as everyone else. I just would have liked to to see more of the ruins, especially when we were in Antalya and the optional was offered by OAT, but not as much by the TL who really had errands to run art home that day. We were also near many other great ruins, but had to do a home visit and carpet shopping instead.
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
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Review   1


Travel Companions
Solo Traveler by Myself

Inside Vietnam

Educational, adventurous and fun!

5   2 years ago
This was our 5th OAT trip, with the four previous being Namibia, Tanzania, Mongolia, and Iceland. Although we have traveled all over the world, by ourselves and with other tour companies, this trip cemented the fact that OAT provides the most activity, diversity, and interaction. This trip was exceptional, in that there were surprises every day, and we had a fabulous tour leader in Ethan. Talking about tour leaders is like talking about grandchildren. Everyone thinks theirs is the best. The trip itself is very well designed for maximum exposure to all types of activities. The cities visited each have a distinct personality and a variety of things to see and do. From north (HaNoi) to south (Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon) and everywhere in between, we saw different aspects of Vietnamese life and history. But Ethan added all the extras that made this trip so special. On National Women's day, he bought roses for each of the women on the tour. He bought candies from several cities to distribute in order to show the specialties of the area. He stopped at a street vendor who was selling small ceramic flutes in the shape of the animals representing the year people were born. He bought one for everyone based on their birth year. Whenever we showed a particular interest in something or someone, he tried to get more information about it. On our way to one of many different river trips, he stopped at a local's house to ask about using their "squatty potty" (be prepared for an occasional necessity like this). He saw that the woman was weaving palm leaves into roof thatch. We spent at least 20 minutes with the woman, while she showed us how to sew the fronds together and gave anyone interested a chance to try their hand at it. There was also a man taking his enormous water buffalo for a walk near the river. Ethan talked to him, and we all had the opportunity to have our pictures taken atop the water buffalo! (Been on horses, elephants, and camels, but this one was new.) On the river trip that day, we saw a fisherman throwing huge nets with a grace and skill that was very impressive. Ethan called him over, and he came onto our boat, where he demonstrated the net tossing to our group, then offered people the chance to try it themselves. My husband gave it a shot and immediately found out it was harder than it looks. By the way, hubby doesn't eat red meat, and Ethan made sure that even the eggrolls he was served were meatless. He often got dishes different that everyone else. We stopped at the home of an old woman (94 or so), who had chewed beetle nuts all her life. She had made some samples for us and offered us a try. Only one man on our tour took her up on it, and he said there was a slight buzz. Ethan tried to provide us with different food in each region to reflect local cuisine, so we had a lot of variety. Thank goodness we had a few meals on our own, as the meals provided were very generous. Each hotel had a buffet, some better than others, but always lots of food. And lunch or dinner provided by OAT was always multi-course. I don't mean to imply that other tour leaders do not provide the same kind of spontaneous effort, because we have been on other tours with OAT where similar things (but not as many) have happened. And I only mentioned some of our treats. Must include the fact that he offered to take any of us who were interested to exercise in the park at 6 a.m. in Hanoi. Only three of us took him up on it, and it was drizzly, so we ended up doing a form of Vietnamese Zumba under the archway of an office building with 15 Vietnamese women in sweatsuits. There are many surprises throughout Vietnam. We had never imagined the town of Dalat, high up in the mountains, overflowing with greenhouses, growing flowers and produce. Or the charm and beauty of historical Hoi An and Hue. Hoi An at night is not to be missed. The huge variety in the street markets. The friendliness of the people. The traffic (mostly scooters) in HaNoi is unbelievable (and I live in Los Angeles and have been to Beijing). Flows like a river, with no brake screeching, no swearing, no honking. As a pedestrian, you just have to start walking, and they will go around you. Really. And there are flower vendors everywhere. Learning about the war from the Vietnamese perspective was fascinating, including our lunch with three fomer VietCong. We are of the generation that either protested or participated, and that made it especially impressive to see first-hand what has changed and what has not. Ethan, who was from Saigon (his reference), was very open in discussing politics, history, the economy, the current Communist/Socialist ruling party, etc. We could ask him anything, including whether or not he was concerned about expressing his opinions. Not to us, he said. But he couldn't do it overtly to a group of Vietnamese. We took scooter rides in Hanoi and Saigon; cyclo rickshaws in Hanoi and Hoi An; a train out of Dalat, and boat rides on the Mekong and many of its tributaries. Spent half a day at a beach club on turquoise water near Nha Trang, a city reminiscent of Miami 30 years ago, but with a huge Russian tourist presence. Obviously, I could go on and on (and have). Hotels ranged from OK to very good. We had 7 different massages in 18 days. Even my husband, who never indulges at home, accompanied me. They are very reasonable, although there can be difficulty when tipping (see individual hotel reviews on TripAdvisor under Travelfan). (Speaking of tips, it is fabulous that OAT now includes all tips, except for your trip leader, in the price of the tour.There were so many activities involving service (riding on the motorcyle, bellmen, bus drivers, etc.), that tipping would have been a nightmare - and has been in the past. This is great move on their part.) We did not have clothes made in Hoi An, but I had an extra pair of prescription glasses made in 24 hours. Not cheap, but less expensive than at home, and very quick (with designer frames...). A little more about all the hands-on experiences. Before the trip, I had made myself a note that the visit to the ceramic village Bat Trang, outside of Hanoi, looked uninteresting. Wrong! We were each given a wheel, a lump of clay, and lesson in creating a vase. If you have never done this before, it is quite a challenge. We also went to a village where they make bamboo baskets and got a chance to try weaving the bamboo. My husband attempted to make chopsticks from bamboo at the chopstick village. We got to paddle in round basket boats near Nha Trang. We tried our hand at sifting "popped rice" at the building where they make the Vietnamese version of Rice Krispie treats (got to sample the outcome, too). Oh, the cooking lesson in Hoi An. Everyone got to try their hand with the chef, who taught us how to make three dishes. Some other thoughts: in the cities where the hotels are in main areas, there are usually local laundries on the same block or around the corner. Cheaper than the hotels, although the hotels are not expensive. We took two out of the three optional tours, skipping the one in Dalat because we were meeting a friend of a friend, but heard very good reports about it. So I would recommend all three optional tours. We went in early March, and the weather was generally overcast in the north (with a little drizzle occasionally) and got warmer as we went South. Not terrible. No problem with insects where we went, and I am a prime target. Visit to the Grand Circle sponsored orphanage was wonderful, where 18 nuns care for 130+ youngsters, including adults (up to age 30 when we were there) with disabilities. We also had a vegetarian lunch at a local nunnery. Cannot describe all the interesting things we did, because they were too numerous. Really enjoyed this trip.( Wanted to add one comment about the recommendation of a previous traveler who suggested that people get permanent make-up done in Vietnam. I cannot comment on the quality or cleanliness of the salons there, but in the U.S., permanent make-up requires two visits, two weeks apart, to finish the process. Not possible on this trip. If you have one step done, you will need another when you get home. My personal experience.) So, if you haven't taken this trip because it looked "tame", you are missing out. If you think it will be difficult visiting Vietnam because of a relationship with its history, I can only say that we had one member of our tour group who lost her brother during the war, and although it was emotional for her, she had a wonderful time. I know there have been plenty of vets who have taken the trip. When you see the country, and especially when you visit the Cu Chi tunnels, you will understand why everything there was so difficult for the Americans. But this is just part of the great learning experience you will have.
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
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Spouse/Partner

NEW! Back Roads of Iberia: Spanish Paradores & Portuguese Pousadas

Marvelous visit of culture and history.

5   2 years ago
Our leader, Marta, was simply outstanding. Her knowledge, spirit and demeanor enhanced each step of the journey. Coming from the US, to see on a daily basis history from the Romans to the 21st century created a deeper appreciation for history.
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
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Review   1


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Spouse/Partner

Crossroads of the Adriatic: Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Slovenia

Trip of a Lifetime!

5   2 years ago
This was my 3rd OAT trip. It was fabulous- so many interesting places to see, a ton of history to absorb, learning about the people and their cultures and what they have experienced in their past. Ivona, our guide, was the best, 5 stars for certain. She is young, energetic, enthusiastic, full of history and information, caring and personable. She provided maps when we were traveling and of the cities we spent time in. Our group of 14 was also very congenial and helped each other. The pre-trip to Tirana, Albania, was a great start to understanding the area, the people and the struggles they have endured. In Dubrovnik, we met our full group and began to learn the complicated history of the Balkans. Thru all the cities, the bus rides, the "Day in the Life" and new Dicoveries, too much to elaborate on, but all worthwhile experiences. There was a fair amount of walking and climbing of hills and steps, many optional. (Bring your trekking poles but learn how to use them before coming.) The scenery is spectacular, especially in Slovenia. It was quite cool for the trip and heavy rain about 1/3 of the days so come prepared if you travel in October. All the hotels were good and the food very good. We ate as a group for many of the "on your own" meals, often joined by Ivona, which we all enjoyed. The buses were very new and our drivers amazing.
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
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Friends

Israel: The Holy Land & Timeless Cultures

Holy Land Tour

5   2 years ago
While our guides were both Muslims they had incredible knowledge of the Bible and Christian beliefs. Our guide in Israel, Khalil, was the best guide we have ever had. He filled the trip with many surprises and made the trip come alive.
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
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Review   1


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Groups

Morocco Sahara Odyssey

This odyssey was an excellent adventure

5   2 years ago
I did the pre- and post-trips along with the main Moroccan tour and enjoyed them all. This is my eighth OAT adventure and it was great. We had Noury - a guide new to OAT (but well-experienced) - and you?d never have guessed he was new. He made every possible attempt to make our trip a unique experience. He is very caring and upbeat and responsive and funny?a credit to OAT. As one of our trip-mates already expressed in feedback on this site, luggage can become a major issue. Air Moroc is basically incompetent. They know where missing luggage is way-laid but make no attempt to get it to the travelers, even though they promise to do so day after day. One man got his luggage after 7 days; another woman never got hers for the entire trip. Advice: pack changes of clothes in your carry-on. Also, if you are traveling with another person, don?t just pack one of your outfits in their suitcase, but consider going half and half with your things and theirs. The odds are that both of your bags won?t be misplaced. If you truly can pack light and carry everything on to the plane, that?s the best yet. Even though we all flew in on Air France, once luggage goes astray in Casablanca, Air Moroc becomes involved, and they do nothing at all for you. OAT needs a back-up plan to counteract these known issues. Now to the good stuff. Loved our home-hosted lunches and dinners. I?ve never been treated so well or made to feel part of the family as I did in Morocco. The Learning-and-Discovery stops were highlights. Noury had told us about Berber hospitality, but it was beyond my imagining. We stopped our bus along the roadside to learn about the vegetables and other things being sold at the stands. The veggie vendor said he just lived a short distance away and asked if we wanted to visit his home and meet his mother. Well, this beautiful elderly lady was thrilled to have 16 strangers just drop in on her unexpectedly. She invited us into her small kitchen?dirt floor but neat as a pin?and she immediately began brewing up a fresh pot of mint tea (the national welcome drink). She also offered us some of her freshly made crusty bread with homemade honey. It was a fantastic experience. Be aware that there is a lot of time spent commuting on the bus between cities. Prepare yourself for it. We spent a lot of time chatting with our travel mates, reading, sleeping, or (in my case) writing poetry to capture everything we did. If you struggle at all with climbing or descending steep, uneven steps in the ancient locales, bring your walking stick. I needed mine. Our time in the desert was very comfortable. It was April and the weather was lovely. Even the early morning exploration to catch the sunrise in the dunes was comfy. Here?s a hint: I got up before sunrise and walked beyond the confines of the immediate camp. I have the strong impression that people of the area are not allowed to step inside our camp. But when you step outside, you?re fair game. My hint is to put a few dollars in your pocket even on a dune walk. When I took that early morning stroll, a very nice nomad approached me and we had a very enjoyable conversation. Although he had no education, he spoke some of four different languages and we had no problem communicating. When the sun was breaking over the dunes, he asked for my camera and posed me with my palm upright to _hold? the sun in my hand. Great photo! It was only after we made small talk and he helped me with photos that he knelt in the sand to show me some fossils he has brought in his backpack for sale. He was not a beggar or pushy or looking to be paid for his time, but he did offer some very nice fossils. I happily bought one of them as a souvenir. As far as accommodations, I was totally enamored of the two riads we stayed in?old, authentic, and staffed by the very best people. They treated us like beloved family and made every meal a treat. I enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with the lovely ladies as they created wonderful things for us to enjoy. I am totally spoiled by homemade yogurt and fresh-squeezed orange juice every morning and tasty tagine. (At a home lunch we even had goat tagine?yummy!) The Berbere Palace was an amazing resort. It?s a shame we only got to spend one night here. Our three-day stay in Essaouira on the post-trip was a nice change of pace. The facility was just so-so, but its location was perfect. We could easily explore the medina or promenade or port area right from the hotel. We even lucked out that a wonderfully talented musical troupe was playing classical music just inside the medina - no charge! - and I spent perhaps 90 minutes here just soaking in their incredible music. The ladies did the hammam experience in Tineghir after the desert. There I was steamed, scrubbed, oiled, massaged, shampooed, and every trace of sand was removed. We sang Kumbaya and other songs and laughed and bonded over the experience. Be prepared: bring a towel from your hotel, a change of dry underwear, and nothing of value except the amount to pay the hammam (which was $10 when I was there). No camera or anything like that, as you leave your belongings and clothing behind in an unlocked area. You can go in completely naked or wearing panties; anything else would just get in the way. The entire group also got henna tattoos?even our men. It?s not just a girly thing; so, ladies?bring the guys for that. I took all of the optional tours offered and enjoyed all but one. I didn?t like the Argon Oil Tour. _It was a waste of time and money. _It was a long drive to see overpriced products sold by pushy sales staff. _Even if it were an included feature, knowing what I do now, I might have skipped it and done something else more worthwhile with my trip time. _But as an add-on at that extra cost, forget it. I wish I had learned a bit more French before the trip, as this was a frequently spoken language throughout Morocco. I got by with my Arabic and English. Yet, some of the most fun experiences I had was with travel mates as we attempted to communicate our wants and needs in the marketplaces and shops. We had such fun with the nice ladies in a pharmacy as they laughed with us and patiently worked with us until we got what we needed. Alcohol/wine/beer is not always available in restaurants. So, Noury twice made stops at stores where we could take care of our needs. That allowed us to have our own happy hour in the hotels and to have provisions in the desert camp. Wouldn?t want to die of thirst, you know. Another word of advice regarding shopping: if you see something you really like at a price you?re willing to pay (after bargaining), then don?t wait?buy it. Some of our people bypassed some lovely things (example: rugs) because we were told there would be more variety and better quality later (as in Marrakesh). However, the bypassed items were usually less expensive and quite charming, even if not perfect, and a better buy. And if it?s heavy, you can always ship it. This was my first OAT trip where most tips were included in the price. I am all in favor of that. I have wanted for a long time to have all of the smaller tips covered in the trip price so that I wouldn?t have to constantly carry the right amounts for drivers, city guides, porters, etc. Yet we sometimes received mixed messages, and I found that confusing._At times we were told that if we wanted to give something extra in the way of tipping, that was good, but not required. _My personal philosophy is that if I ask for something extra or receive something extra, then I would be happy to give something extra. _However, when I receive the high quality service I have come to expect from OAT and have already paid for, then I don?t think we should be getting that mixed message. Bottom line is that I highly recommend this trip, including the pre- and post-trip if you can manage those time-wise and financially. And?I had the very best of travel mates?fun, well-traveled, smart, funny, caring, a joy to be with. Who could ask for more? Marie
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
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Solo Traveler by Myself

Jewels of Bohemia: Czech Republic, Slovakia & Hungary

Outstanding Guide for Jewels of Bohemia

5   1 year ago
While it is hard not to love this part of the world, it is Vladan that made it a 5-star experience. His thoughtfulness and planning made each day a joy. My dietary limitations were always met -- and I was only one of three that needed special meals! His communication previous to leaving alerted me that I had not booked pickup at the airport so that I could schedule it with the OAT office. But most important is his enthusiastic love of what he is doing. I believe each one of us has a special story of his kindness and thoughtfulness. While I was familiar with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, there were many new experiences for me. Becoming familiar with Budapest was a special highlight for me. Our hotel was centrally located, as were almost all of our stops. The beauty of that city both in the day and especially the after dark river cruise was outstanding. However, it was the guide that made a great trip a par excellence experience.
✘ No, I do not recommend this trip.
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Friends

Imperial China, Tibet & the Yangtze River

China, Tibet, the Yangtze and Cambodia

5   2 years ago
In a word, Incredible. I was fortunate enough to do this trip, which included Vietnam instead of Cambodia, in 2003. I can tell you that a lot has changed in the 12 years, most of it for the better. Shanghai is a beautiful clean modern city. I was stunned by the number of young beautiful girls in short skirts and high heals. It could have been Paris except for the signs that I couldn't read. Our trip leader, Jenny, was a mother hen. Making sure our every need or want was provided if she could. Beijing was raining the day we arrived and a bit chilly. The following day, the sun came out and it was a beautiful city. I am still saddened when we visited the Tiananmen Square knowing that so many students died without recognition of the central government. It had been declared and "incident" where some students had minor injuries but all left without further problems. The great wall is still a fascination to me. It is hare for me to imagine the number of people that built it and try to escape back to those days and visualize how it was used. The Terracotta soldiers are fascinating. Not just the original construction but the puzzle it presented trying to put them back together. Tibet was a disappointment for me. It is sad to see what progress has done to Lhasa. When I was there before, there was one road in and it was a 2 lane barely improved road. Today there are 15 story high rise apartments everywhere. The city has grown from 250,000 to over 450,000 in just 12 years. The city is tightly controlled. By that I mean with SWAT squads and jail buses standing on the streets waiting for something to happen. I did experience altitude sickness with headaches. Something new for me since it didn't bother me before. The Panda Reserve was fortuitous for us. It was cloudy overcast day and the Pandas were very active. I think we saw 10 or 15 of them playing and just being Pandas. Great pictures and spent a lot of time there.The Yangtze cruise was okay. Something you have to do but not as memorable as I remembered. The dam is now almost full, eliminating a lot of e shoreline. I felt a sadness about the people who were relocated. Hong Kong is New York on steroids. If you like humongous cities I guess it is for you. We did take a Sam Pam ride and took the ferry, along with Jenny, across the bay to see the Laser show. And now to Cambodia. I don't know what I expected but it was hot!! and humid!!!. So be prepared. The Killing Fields were very sad. To know that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge killed 2 million people just to take them back to an agrarian society is appalling. Because of him and the subsequent civil war, the population median age is under 20 years old. The people are happy. I asked one young waiter why they smiled so much and he simply said it was their culture. We visited a floating fishing village and learned they have a 20% child mortality rate due to drowning and water borne illness. Very sad.
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
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Discover Thailand

Great guide; friendly people.

5   1 year ago
I did the pre-trip to Myanmar. It gives you a taste of this interesting country, but I do wish I had opted for the two week trip. There is no love lost between the Thais and the Burmese. It was interesting to hear both sides of the story. In Yangoon, there is a great salon next to the hotel for a pedicure for a whopping $6 including tip. The hotel in Bagan had entertainment every night....traditional dances....some of the same dances that were part of the optional dinner/show. However, the show included puppet shows and a great elephant dance. The optional village tours were very worthwhile. The hotel in Mandalay had incredible customer service. Trip Advisor recommends going to the Mustached Brothers show, but it was disappointing. The primary brother used a microphone that was too loud and you could not understand him, although, he spoke English. We felt sorry for the non-native English speakers in the crowd. In Thailand, our guide, Pong, was amazing and worked hard to ensure a variety of experiences. One tip she gave us was to go across the street from the Tawana Hotel to get a foot massage. They were amazing. Not only do they do your feet and legs, but they touch on your shoulders, back, and neck. I highly recommend this experience. By the way, the folks at the Tawana really look after you as I had a full day in Thailand at the end of the trip by myself. It helps to practice your few words of Thai. Pong also arranged for me to join a tour to Ayutthaya....the second capital of Thailand....which included a lunch cruise down the river. This was a very pleasant way to finish my trip. A good hotel was in Chiang Rai. Our rooms looked over a rice paddy and had really nice bathrooms. Hotel had free entertainment....we all got up and danced. A major surprise was the river camp....beautiful. I do regret not taking a dip in the natural spring. We had wifi everywhere. It was free except at hotel in Chiang Mai where there was a nominal fee. There is an optional show and dinner in Bangkok which very few in our group attended. I describe this show as Cirque de Sollei meets traditional Thailand. It was an amazing show with rainstorms, explosions, boats on a canal, and an elephant. The show is performed on one of the largest stages in the world which really does have a canal. The buffet dinner is mediocre, but we had a private room which was nice. Some of the experiences included learning how to make sticky rice, visiting a rice mill, making indigo, feeding monks, releasing birds, and tasting fried rat.
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
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Solo Traveler by Myself

Heart of India

My problem was remedied by Quality Management Team

5   2 years ago
We have traveled with Oat/Grand Circle for many years (22 trips).They have all been wonderful. On our last trip (India) we purchased a beautiful Marble Plate from the Marble Art Palace in Agra, India. Unfortunately something happened to it and it broke. Marble should not have broken so easily. We called OAT and told them what happened. They said they would immediately contact the Marble Art Palace and explain what happened. In no time the Marble Art Palace contacted me and asked how they can remedy the situation. I told them we would love a new plate. They E-mailed pictures of another plate for my approval. I agreed and within 3 days we had our beautiful new plate. This goes to prove that buying from an OAT recommended store or factory really pays off. They stand by their recommendations and will help with any problems that arise. Thank you Quality Management Team Oat/Grand Circle and Marble Art Palace, Agra India. You were exceptional.
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.
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