Oxford Journeys reviews
Read what our alumni have to say about their experiences on our Oxford Journeys programme.
'Iceland has been described as ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’ but it is also a wildlife paradise.'
My name is Peter Mawby and I have had the good fortune to journey to Iceland and the northern islands many times over the years.
The seeds for this lifetime interest were sown in Cambridge where, as well as pursuing a Natural Sciences Degree, I enjoyed my role as Tours & Events Officer for Cambridge Bird Club. Subsequently I organised and led expeditions to Foula (Shetland), Mykines (Faroes) and Iceland studying, counting and ringing birds. I have lectured on cruise ships all over the world, but Iceland remains my favourite destination which is why I am so excited to be Trip Scholar on this year’s cruise to Iceland in August, on the lovely Aegean Odyssey-a perfect small and homely ship. We can hope to see most of the Icelandic seabirds at close quarters as well as several species of marine mammals, perhaps including the humpback whale. Iceland is also one of the few places in the world where you can expect to see Palaearctic and Nearctic bird species side by side.
Join David on a 16-day Iceland Faroes & Shetlands departing London Tilbury on 05 August 2018 to Lerwick (Shetland islands), Heimaey (Iceland), Reykjavik (Iceland), Isafjordur (Iceland), Akureyri (Iceland), Husavik (Iceland), Torshavn (Faroe Islands), Kirkwall (Orkney Islands) and Newhaven (Scotland). Prices from £2,995pp including guided excursions, onboard gratuities, wine & beer with dinner onboard and an expert guest lecture programme.
‘I’ve travelled with Oxford Journeys five times, and every tour has been wonderful’
Janet Langdon is an intrepid traveller, and she is also a big fan of Oxford Journeys. From Bhutan to Turkmenistan, she has explored some far-flung places with other Oxonians during the last decade. Her perspective is valuable, especially as she has visited 89 countries during a lifetime characterised by wanderlust.
Oxford Journeys have enabled Janet, 77, from London, to visit places that she could not have dreamed of visiting on her own.
Janet, who studied Chemistry at St Hilda’s, said: ‘These are not run-of-the-mill places. Very few organised tours go to Turkmenistan. I would not have gone to Iran on my own. Oxford Journeys gives you the opportunity to be adventurous.’
Highlights have included a boat trip through the Irrawaddy Delta in Burma, sight-seeing in Iran, a visit to the British Embassy in Hanoi, and re-tracing the Silk Road in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
The Chemistry graduate, who worked in industry and for the UK Government, enjoys learning about new cultures. She added: ‘The Oxford lecturers share their fascinating expertise and research, and the local guides are really excellent at helping you understand the local culture. The food is always interesting. The trips are very personalised, and you always get a helpful reading list in advance.’
Janet has also forged strong friendships with other alumni travellers and they have even arranged their own reunions in London after returning home. She said: ‘That shared experience of having studied at Oxford means that you all have something in common. The trips are very collegiate. They could not be better on that score. The best thing is that you are travelling with kindred spirits.‘
Since 2008, Janet has been on a range of educational trips with Oxford Journeys (Nepal, Bhutan and India; Burma; Vietnam and Cambodia; Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; and Iran) – all of them were with the tour operator Distant Horizons. She added: ‘I’ve travelled with Oxford Journeys five times, and every tour has been wonderful.’
Wildlife of Costa Rica: Central America’s Garden of Eden, March 2017
How was the holiday overall? Excellent. Costa Rica was not what I expected, having lived for some years in Sub-Saharan Africa. A tourist destination more than a developing country, with the infrastructure, food etc. designed for the tourist rather than for the travellers that our group took itself for. So a slight mismatch here, but nothing to detract from my epithet 'excellent'.
The trip scholar, Prof. Davies. Again excellent. Non-assertive because the tour operator's staff were well able to cope. Excellent, relevant evening lectures. And deeply knowledgeable about the bird-life which was the main interest of most of us.
Alumnus (Wadham, 1964)
The mysteries of Persia: Gardens and palaces of Iran, April 2017
Overall the trip was excellent, quite outstanding in fact. Distant Horizons provided first class service throughout. Daniel Moore was really helpful and approachable, answering our questions beforehand and steering us through the visa application process. The programme they had devised was excellent and the hotel accommodation the very best. The tour guide, Ali Sadrnia, was exceptional. His knowledge was encyclopaedic, he had a great sense of humour and endless patience. In fact he is due to start filming with the BBC in the next few weeks for a series about Persian Gardens.
Our trip scholar, Christine Van Ruymbeke, was a delightful lady with infectious enthusiasm. Her specialist knowledge about Persian Literature added an extra dimension which contributed to a fuller understanding of the art we saw and of the culture and history of Persia itself.
Alumnae (University, 1980)
Tribal and Sacred China, October 2016
Just a line to say how much we enjoyed the trip. The itinerary was brilliant, and very well put together, particularly so as to cope with the altitude issue, and must be virtually unique in the travel industry. We experienced such a variety of scenery, much of it really spectacular, towns, villages, cultural sites, people, activities, food etc that it is hard to take in how much we saw and how far we travelled. All the arrangements seemed to work very smoothly, without any hitches, except where a few things took a bit longer than had been expected, and all the local guides, and the drivers, did an excellent job. I don’t think we had a moment’s disquiet during all the time spent on the roads.
Alumnus (St John's, 1964)
Geological Trek in Nepal, May 2016
The holiday overall was a magnificent experience enabling us to enjoy a unique opportunity to walk in Nepal and learn about the geology of the Himalayas; the landscapes and people are magnificent. A truly enriching experience. Professor Mike Searle is an outstanding leader and could not have been more generous both in his handbook sent to us prior to our departure, in his lectures and, especially in stopping whenever asked to give us explanations of the landscapes and rocks. We always recommend the Oxford alumni journeys, having much enjoyed several. We certainly intend to travel with you again.
Mr and Mrs Milner (University, 1964)
Britain's Secret War, May 2016
This was my first experience of ACE, and although my expectations were high - they were exceeded. It is impossible to imagine a more knowledgeable, friendly and efficient leader than Mark Baldwin. I knew something of Bletchley before, but visiting the other sites added enormously by showing the overall impressive infrastructure that was set up to serve and exploit it. As an engineer (electronics and instrumentation) the learning of the detail of the enigma machine was the high point. The VIP treatment we had at Bletchley due to having a veteran in our party was a bonus!
Alumnus (Exeter, 1957)
Chile: Astronomy Capital of the World, April 2016
The trip was an astonishing experience providing memories that will last a lifetime. Professor Davies was fantastic. His lectures were fascinating and the access he secured to the observatories was something you simply could not get as an ordinary traveller.
Mr Mark & Dr Rosaland Atkins (Hertford, 1975)
Hellespont: Gateway of Legends, September 2015
Prof. Horrocks was outstandingly good and well-nigh worth the whole cost of the tour on his own. As one would expect, his lectures were a model of how to communicate with an intelligent but lay audience.
In Livingstone's Footsteps, March 2014
I have always wanted to visit Africa and spend time in the bush; this trip was my first opportunity ... it more than lived up to our expectations. The bush, the animals, the people, Victoria Falls - all produced unforgettable memories. The night we could not return to our tent because there was a lion resting on the path will give us plenty to talk about for some time to come. We give the trip the highest possible accolade - we cannot wait to go back.
Professor Steven Schwartz (Wolfson)
Polar Nights and Mystical Northern Lights, January 2014
We found the fellow members of the Oxford and Cambridge group to be congenial, and also greatly enjoyed the company of our lecturer, Professor Roger Davies. We enjoyed his lectures, even if some concepts were hard for arts graduates to grasp! We were fortunate to see the Northern Lights every evening, crowning a thoroughly successful trip, which we would have no hesitation on recommending others to take.
Nick Parsons (Corpus Christi, 1965)