In The Press
We're very proud of the recognition that we receive from AFAR, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, National Geographic, Outside magazine, and others. Below are some of our most recent accolades.
For press inquiries, please email [email protected].
Our travelers' safety is our top priority, making crisis and communication management a key part of our services. Long-time master of crafting out-of-the-ordinary journeys, GeoEx's Kate Doty offers practical advice to make sure you can get updates to / from traveling family members.
In recent years, adventure travel has shifted to include travel that combines nature, culture and activities. GeoEx's Story Kirshman comments how we're seeing our travelers interested and curious about the world, wanting to interact with various cultures, and choosing edgier destinations.
Travel Specialists of 2019 – Condé Nast Traveler, 2019
Once again Condé Nast Traveler has included a couple of our destination experts in their yearly curation of Top Travel Specialists: Kate Doty (for Private Jet Trips) and Brent Olson (for Bhutan). They both excel in their expertise; we're honored and proud to have them as part of the GeoEx Team!
Travel Will Change for the Better this Year—Here’s How – National Geographic, 2019
National Geographic polled more than a dozen leading industry professionals, including GeoEx's Kate Doty, to ask them what travel will look like in 2019.
Where to Go in 2019 – Bloomberg, 2019
Among this list of 21 "hot-right-now" destinations is Bhutan, now with more luxury options and a newly expanded airport. GeoEx's Brent Olson is listed as the one to call for more details, but any of GeoEx's Bhutan experts are happy to share more about the country and travel options to explore its Himalayan wonders.
GeoEx's Jennine Cohen Featured as a Changemaker – Forbes, 2018
Congratulations to our destination expert Jennine Cohen for being featured as a Forbes' Changemaker. This Forbes series highlights extraordinary people in the travel, wellness, and food industries who pursue and redefine new ways to combine passion and purpose. Jennine is noted for her dedication to developing transformative travel experiences.
The 10 Coolest Places to Go in 2019 – Forbes, 2018
Of Forbes' most exciting destinations for the new year, 9 out of 10 are places GeoEx knows well and loves sending travelers to, and 3 are tied to specific GeoEx adventures: our new Eastern Bhutan journey, our private Mongolia custom trip, and our group trip to Pakistan's Hunza Valley.
2018 Top Travel Specialists We Trust – Condé Nast Traveler, 2018
The 50 Best Places to Work in 2018 – Outside, 2018
For the eighth year in a row, GeoEx's anonymous staff surveys have landed the company on Outside magazine's Best Places to Work list.
"Overall, tourist arrivals across the world are up 7 percent in 2017—the highest amount since last decade's economic crisis—but the countries at the top of this list tell a particularly interesting story," writes Lyndsey Matthews. She goes on to mention a number of GeoEx destinations (including Egypt and Israel) and two specific GeoEx journeys, Invitation to Nepal and Mystical West Africa.
7 Truly Epic Trips for Deeply Adventurous Travelers – AFAR, 2018
"When was the last time you met someone who just got back from a vacation in Pakistan? Claim bragging rights by taking a 20-day Geographic Expeditions adventure that opens the door to corners of Pakistan and China that are difficult for most travelers to reach," suggests this AFAR article about epic adventures.
Egypt's Exquisite Temples That Had to be Moved – BBC Travel, 2018
Recently back from Egypt, GeoEx travel expert, Kim Keating, gives great insight to the vast, wondrous world of the Great Temple at Abu Simbel and how in the 1960s, a team of international engineers relocated the site – piece by piece!
When an area is affected by a disaster, there's often an inclination to stay away. However, visiting will do more good than harm by supporting the destination through local spending. Our travel expert, Starla Estrada, who handles our programming in South Africa, along with the rest of her team, called each client individually to discuss the issue in detail: “Tourism dollars will be needed now more than ever to support water conservation initiatives and the local communities, especially the townships.”
The 10 Coolest Cities Around the World to Visit in 2018 – Forbes, 2018
Proud to have three GeoEx travel experts quoted for their insider knowledge on cities that were recently mere jumping-off points for safaris or beach vacations—or best ignored altogether—coming into their own. Tina Liadis praises Yogyakarta (Indonesia), Don George boasts about Nagasaki (Japan), and Jennine Cohen recognizes Medellin (Colombia).
The World's Most Romantic Adventures – National Geographic Adventure, 2018
Let the charm of its cobbled streets and red-tiled roofs allure you to Barichara, Colombia. This romantic adventure continues nearby with rafting the rapids of the Chicamocha River and hiking to the bottom the Chicamocha Canyon, one of the deepest gorges in the world.
9 Secluded Destinations You Can Have All to Yourself – SmarterTravel, 2018
After the chaos of the holidays, many travelers look for destinations that offer peace and quiet through seclusion. GeoEx recommended Bhutan is the perfect place as few tourists ever make it to the Land of the Thunder Dragon: "France gets more visitors every 90 minutes than Bhutan does in a year!"
Travel That Changes You – Forbes, 2018
Looking back on the year, journalist Ann Abel writes about her top peak experiences of 2017. Traveling to Bhutan with GeoEx was especially memorable, with the meditative hikes through the countryside and mountains, seeing the colorful prayer flags flapping in the wind, and hiking up to the legendary Tiger's nest Monastery.
The 15 Coolest Places to Go in 2018 – Forbes, 2017
We're thrilled to have two exciting trips featured: Central Tibet with beloved trek leader, Vassi Koutsaftis, where you will see Yangpachen Valley and experience the Cham festival at Tsurphu Monastery, and Chad with legendary safari guide Brad Hansen and Royal Geographic Society member Kingsley Holgate, a globally respected expert on remote African tribes!
An Artistic Tour of South Africa – AFAR, 2017
As a member of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council, Kate Doty, along with help from colleague and art buff, Starla Estrada, put together an art-lovers dream trip: curator-led gallery visits, insightful walking tours, and viewings of private collections inside featured luxurious hotels. The newly opened, cutting-edge Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, is also a highlight on this itinerary featuring South Africa’s dynamic art scene.
2017 Top Travel Specialists We Trust – Condé Nast Traveler, 2017
The 100 Best Places to Work in 2017 – Outside, 2017
We're proud that our anonymous staff surveys have landed us on Outside magazine's Best Places to Work list for the past seven years. “Our [research and development] consists of sending our people out into the field,” says CEO Jean-Paul Tennant. “It’s probably not shocking at all that they love that.”
When a destination is hit hard by a disaster, tourism can the most impactful way to help the community. AFAR asked its Travel Advisory Council for the best places to book for this year's holiday season. Kate Doty, GeoEx's Managing Director of Premier Access, recommends Mexico City: “Mexico City is rebuilding after the 7.1 earthquake on September 19, and locals are eager to show visitors around. The tourism dollars will also help them with efforts to restore the city."
15 Incredible Places to Visit Before They Disappear – Town & Country, 2017
Our destination experts contributed a few gems to this list of incredible places that are on the verge of change, like Indonesia and Antarctica. Go now to see and experience these areas before they change, or even worse, disappear.
9 Ultimate Hiking Trips Around the World – Forbes, 2017
We're thrilled to have our Trek into Central Bhutan trip featured in this encouraging list of hikes. "GeoEx—one of the first US tour operators to offer trips to the kingdom and still a specialist in the destination—takes clients deeper into the untouched wilderness and culture of the country’s central mountains."
12 of South America's Most Epic Hikes – Travel + Leisure, 2017
We're honored to be a part of this fantastic round-up of epic South American hikes. "On a trek with GeoEx, discover Argentina’s most breathtaking Inca Trail that weaves through small mountain outposts and local communities, delivering you past rivers and jungles from Tilarca to Salta, an area where the elusive puma and jaguar roam free."
Starla Estrada, GeoEx’s Managing Director for Africa, Turkey, and the Middle East, shares her best tips for bartering like a pro at the open-air market in Marrakech. Her eight recommendations will enable you to maneuver the biggest markets with ease.
Don George Talks About The Land And The Work He Loves – ontravel.com, 2017
Acclaimed travel writer and beloved GeoEx Japan trip leader, Don George, enthusiastically talks about the most recent trip he lead for us to the island of Shikoku. If you're feeling inspired, you can join Don George on our Japan: Tip-to-Toe epic journey this fall.
Trump's Cuba Travel Policy Leaves Heads Scratching – Forbes, 2017
As the specifics of the new Cuba policy regulations are worked out, we continue to look ahead over the long term. GeoEx Cuba specialist Jennine Cohen says, "As we have successfully operated trips on and off since 2000, we have adhered to [the US government's] changing policies and enforcement over time and will continue to do so."
GeoEx Cuba expert Jennine Cohen weighs-in on what the latest administration's policy changes mean for the future of travel to Cuba.
GeoEx: Visit the World’s Most Astonishing Places – Reward Expert, 2017
An enlightening article about the GeoEx history and inspiration behind why we do what we do, what our current offerings are, and the top five destination suggestions for this year’s summer vacation.
11 Unique Safari Experiences Around The World – AFAR, 2017
When Africa is hard to reach, unique safari experiences can be found in other destinations, like finding orangutans in the jungles of Borneo, tracking the ever-alluring Bengal tiger in India, and spotting grizzlies, moose, and caribou in the wilds of Alaska. This great roundup of non-Africa safaris features three of GeoEx's wildlife adventures.
Traveling Off The Beaten Path With Jennine Cohen – The Janis Best Show, 2017
Listen to GeoEx's Jennine Cohen talk about all things travel: including how she got into the industry, what she does to stay healthy while traveling in remote places, and more.
Safaris for the Soft-Hearted: In Search of Namibia’s Endangered Lions – Wall Street Journal, 2017
Unsuspecting luxury is found at camps in Namibia where Adam Graham goes in search of the elusive desert-adapted lion. With intentionally vague directions by Dr. Flip Stander, director of Desert Lion Conservation, given to his guide, Adam eventually finds himself "practically within petting distance" of three mystical beasts. Survival in the harsh desert becomes all too real.
Meet Kate Doty of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council – AFAR, 2017
GeoEx's "logistical magician" Kate Doty is part of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council. Her connections, expertise, and passion for transformative travel have led her to arranging incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences. A few highlights of the experiences she has organized over the years: a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a personal meeting with Ai Wei Wei, a private New Year's Eve dinner under the stars at the Giza pyramids, and sleeping on top of Mount Nyiragongo (the largest active lava lake in the world) in Virunga National Park in the DRC.
Adrenaline and Zen: Five Trips of a Lifetime – Forbes, 2017
A great roundup by journalist Ann Abel on finding luxury in unexpected places. While edgier than most, our Tribal Crossroads of India & Myanmar trip is featured for its welcomed surprise of luxury.
Sharing our deep connection to and love for Bhutan is a privilege we have had for the past three decades. Last month, reporter Ann Abel joined us as we once again delved into the rich history and beauty of The Land of the Thunder Dragon—quite possibly the happiest place on earth.
This Is How Anderson Cooper Traveled Through Myanmar – Jetset Times, 2017
Anderson Cooper co-hosted "Live With Kelly" and raved about his travels in Myanmar. As a self-proclaimed “worst vacationer,” he took a trip to Southeast Asia and loved every bit of what we deftly curated for him.
Live With Kelly – ABC, 2017
As co-host on "Live with Kelly," Anderson Cooper fondly remembers his travels to Myanmar with GeoEx, possibly the longest vacation he's ever taken, where he fed and washed elephants at a sanctuary and enjoyed his sassy guide.
Double Sighting – Druk Air’s Tashi Delek, 2017
Longtime GeoEx traveler, Karen Greenspan, writes about her auspicious day of sacred dances and festivals in Bhutan: “We humans are biologically wired to be moved to empathy by watching dance. How did the ancient Buddhist masters know?”
The Top 21 Trips to Take in 2017 – Robb Report, 2017
Irene Rawlings recommends venturing into the wilds and hidden corners of Japan on GeoEx's Japan: Tip-to-Toe journey, "which explores the Kamikochi Valley, the Japanese Alps, and the 436-foot-tall Nachi Falls."
Michaela Trimble looks at the trend toward transformational travel: "travel motivated and defined by a shift in perspective, self-reflection and development, and a deeper communion with nature and culture." GeoEx's Jennine Cohen, one of the industry leaders she interviewed, explains that she sees this shift already happening at GeoEx.
Among the destinations "that look especially fetching right now," travel writer Christopher Reynolds includes Cambodia, Peru, South Korea, Tanzania, and the stunning, little-explored caves Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam—all places to which GeoEx is adept at taking travelers.
The Wild Philanthropists – Robb Report, 2017
Sophy Roberts explores a new trend in conservation-oriented philanthropy and "a new breed of specialists who help broker deals and, equally important, create the travel experiences to expose potential donors to off-the-radar opportunities." She notes GeoEx (and Kate Doty) as an example.
From Snow Leopards in India to Greenland’s Glaciers: 9 Endangered Sites to Visit in 2017 – Vogue, 2016
Noting that "some of the world’s most impressive natural wonders are disappearing with every passing day," Michaela Trimble lists nine ways for travelers to get involved with travel companies and destinations where conservation is a central focus. She includes GeoEx and highlights two of our journeys: one to meet gorillas of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and another to visit Chile's future Patagonia National Park, an enormous conservation effort undertaken by Conservación Patagónica.
The 10 Coolest Places to Go in 2017 – Forbes, 2016
Anne Abel asks high-end travel companies which destinations are on their expertise radar for 2017: “Antarctica is freshly compelling, says Urs Hoffman, GeoEx’s managing director for the polar regions, thanks to a new protected area in the Ross Sea, which will be the world’s largest protected marine area when it comes into force in late 2017.”
Travel that Changes You: 10 Best Adventures of 2016 – Forbes, 2016
Recalling a trip earlier this year, Anne Abel includes Cuba in her top ten indelible travel experiences of 2016. She writes "...GeoEx is savvy enough to build in 'white space'—time for guests to enjoy their own cultural interests, be they art, Afro-Cuban jazz or baseball." She also highlights a two-day cave trek in Vietnam, which imparted a feeling of "dumbstruck awe at this strangely majestic underworld and full-on wonder about what else might be hidden within this planet of ours. That, and feeling like a badass." GeoEx recently announced a new Vietnam trip that includes such a two-day spelunking experience.
A Who's Who of the Best Tour Operators Specializing in Japan – Departures, 2016
Our Japan secret weapon, acclaimed travel writer and GeoEx leader, Don George, takes travelers to the oft less frequented areas for the most authentic trip.
Insider: Finding the heart of Japan in Kyoto – San Francisco Chronicle, 2016
See what makes award-winning travel writer and GeoEx trip leader, Don George, fall in love with Kyoto again and again.
Three GeoEx Travel Specialists Chosen – Condé Nast Traveler, 2016
Condé Nast Traveler has selected three Top Travel Specialists from GeoEx: Brent Olson, Kate Doty, and Vassi Koutsaftis. GeoEx is one of only two companies to have three experts chosen. "We are proud and honored that three of our people are included in Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious and highly competitive list. Our value at GeoEx stems from our employees' deep knowledge, in-country connections, and orientation towards providing the highest levels of service to our guests. Kate, Vassi, and Brent are excellent examples!"
Navigating Patagonia – Departures, 2016
With the assistance of GeoEx destination experts Kate Doty, Jennine Cohen, and Becca Glatz, journalist Jessica Flint explored the wild region of Patagonia for 17 days for Departures magazine. She writes: “Figuring out Patagonia’s complex logistics requires the help of an outfitter...The company is an ideal choice for an out-there destination because of its risk-management program, with security and emergency assistance built into every trip.”
Tips on Selling Asia Travel From Top Tour Operators – Travel Age West, 2016
Kristina Tuohey, GeoEx Managing Director for Asia, gives tips on our top selling destinations in the region.
These Private Adventure Tours Offer The Ultimate Luxury By Combining Exercise and Exclusivity – Forbes, 2016
Bill Springer includes "Trekking in the Shadow of Everest" to this round-up of once-in-a-lifetime adventures. We pride ourselves in designing custom treks where you can take in the Himalaya on a trek crafted according to your interests, time frame, and experience.
You Know You Want To Go To Cuba—Here's How To Do It Right – Forbes, 2016
Back from Cuba, Ann Abel captures the essence of this intriguing and evolving nation—and the insider experience you get while traveling with GeoEx. She writes: "Given the staggering growth in people-to-people trips, it’s safe to stay those locals are in high demand. GeoEx snapped up the cream of the crop."
Jennine Cohen, a GeoEx Cuba expert, says, "Right now there is very limited availability on flights to Cuba. Once commercial airlines routes are opened up, our travelers will have many more options along with more convenient flight times and better connections from key cities."
Skip the Sweater: Give the Gift of an Experience They’ll Never Forget – Men’s Journal, 2015
A guided small-group trip to Cuba with GeoEx is the perfect “experience over objects” gift for anyone this holiday.
The 14 Coolest Places to Visit in 2016 – Forbes, 2015
What You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Iran – AFAR, 2015
African Adventures – Porter, 2015
Led by GeoEx, Sophy Roberts meets tenacious women across Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are making a major difference in the continent and their passion to share it with the rest of the world.
Top Travel Specialists – Condé Nast Traveler, 2015
Condé Nast Traveler has once again included three of our destination gurus in their collection of Top Travel Specialists: Kate Doty (Private Jet Trips), Vassi Koutsaftis (Tibet), and Brent Olson (Bhutan).
Do Millennials Use Travel Agents and Tour Guides? – Condé Nast Traveler, 2015
Jennine Cohen, GeoEx Managing Director, has observed that most millennial clients only have one week to go on vacation and they’re interested in the insider access that a trip planner or tour guide can provide.
The 100 Best Places to Work in 2015 – Outside, 2015
We're proud that our anonymous staff surveys have landed us on the Best Places to Work list for the past five years.
The Best Adventure & Travel Jobs – Outside, 2015
“Our [research and development] consists of sending our people out into the field,” CEO JP Tennant says. “It’s probably not shocking at all that they love that.”
Pakistan – Marin Magazine, 2015
Go Big in Brazil – AFAR, 2015
Forces of Nature – Travel + Leisure, 2015
Sophy Roberts reports on pioneers in the Democratic Republic of Congo who, by inviting the world in, are helping to save one of the planet’s most extraordinary ecosystems.
Want More From Your Next Vacation? 15 Extreme Getaways for Global Adventurers – Los Angeles Times, 2015
How to Be a 21st-Century Explorer – How To Spend It, 2015
Four Safaris in a Post-Ebola World – Departures, 2015
A New Day Is Dawning in Cuba – Travel + Leisure, 2015
Gary Shteyngart and photographer Frederic Lagrange head to Cuba on a GeoEx Group Trip and experience a culture that is hanging in the balance.
Things To Know Before Traveling To Cuba – ABC 7 News, 2015
Jennine Cohen, GeoEx Managing Director for the Americas, and a GeoEx guest share the latest about Cuba travel.
US Eases Restrictions On Travel To Cuba – CBS 5 News, 2015
Jennine Cohen is interviewed at our offices in San Francisco about things to keep in mind when traveling in Cuba.
Travel to Cuba: What You Need to Know – Travel + Leisure, 2015
GeoEx Cuba expert Jennine Cohen offers insight into Cuba's upcoming changes and challenges.
The tourist influx to Cuba is about to begin – Fortune, 2015
GeoEx Cuba specialist Jennine Cohen says as more and more tourists arrive “it’s rooms rather than demand that’s limiting growth, a challenge that she expects will worsen in coming years as Cuba’s weighty regulations hold up private development.”
Myanmar's Moment – Andrew Solomon, 2014
With arrangements deftly curated by GeoEx, Andrew Solomon explores of a country on the brink of change.
The Editor's Itinerary – Condé Nast Traveler, 2014
Our Arts & Isles of Indonesia journey has been selected by Condé Nast Traveler as an Editor's Itinerary. Follow in the steps of this editor—a discerning traveler—to explore the cultural and natural beauty of Bali, the Raja Ampat Islands, and Central Java.
Best Cultural Guide, Vassi Koutsaftis – Outside, 2014
Outside magazine named Vassi Koutsaftis best cultural guide, listing his turf as Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Outside writes: "He's been guiding GeoEx clients to remote and dangerous areas, like Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, for the past 29 years...As one client said: 'I'll never travel with any other leader.'"
Tour of a Lifetime – National Geographic Traveler, 2014
We’re thrilled that our Mystical West Africa trip was selected as one of National Geographic Traveler's Tours of a Lifetime. According to executive editor Norie Quintos, these trips “go beyond destination to add meaning and context…They open the mind to new possibilities, new connections, new ways of thinking—all critically important given the world’s complex issues.”
Best Places to Work – Outside, 2014
We're proud that our anonymous staff surveys have landed us on the Best Places to Work list consecutively for the past four years. "When you’re planning a trip to a remote, challenging destination, whom do you call? GeoEx...These travel pioneers are smitten with adventure—a lifestyle they encourage back home in the company’s California-based offices," reports Outside magazine.
2014 Travel Awards: Best Splurge – Outside, 2014
Outside magazine named Indonesia: Secrets of the Archipelago as the Best Splurge for 2014. On this trip you'll sail in tremendous comfort and style aboard a sublime yacht, get a rare look at some of the most beautiful and remote of the archipelago’s thousands of islands, and get a chance to meet their cheery and welcoming people.
With President Obama's recent announcement of easing sanctions in Cuba, the excitement is growing about the possibilities of travel to this once-forbidden Island Nation. While the future is still uncertain, GeoEx has–and will continue to–operate tours with our People-to-People license.
The 2014 Travel Vanguard: 22 Ways Travel is Changing – AFAR, 2014
Edward Norton has spent over 10 years working with the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, an organization that works to protect the land and culture of the Maasai in Kenya, and he designed a trip around it just for GeoEx supporting this cause. Camp Ya Kanzi, an eco-lodge in the area, is a highlight for their dedication to the preservation of the Maasai.
Best Adventure Travel Destinations 2014 – Travel + Leisure, 2014
Patagonia was chosen as the Rising Star destination and for good reason. See for yourself as you walk beside the stunningly blue lakes of Torres del Paine and the Fitz Roys, hike the little-visited Aysen Glacier, and sail around Cape Horn to remote Tierra del Fuego. All-the-while staying at luxury estancias serving fabulous food and wine.
11 Ways to Haggle Like a Pro – Metro, 2014
Vassi Koutsaftis gives his experienced, expert advice on being able to haggle like a pro in Morocco, Egypt, and beyond. His tips will inspire you to try it out the next you're at a market or bazaar. You might find you actually enjoy it.
Sudan – Marin Magazine, 2014
Vassi Koutsaftis recounts his (mis)adventures in Sudan while on a GeoEx scouting trip to this oft-overlooked destination full of surprises.
The Most Travel Experts – Condé Nast Traveler, 2013
Condé Nast Traveler has selected more Top Travel Specialists from GeoEx than from any other adventure travel company: Brent Olson, Kate Doty, and Vassi Koutsaftis. “This acknowledgement underscores the depth and breadth of our travel-planning experts,” says our CEO, Jean-Paul Tennant. “We are honored and thrilled that Condé Nast has recognized our regional expertise as well as our extraordinary program of custom-designed travel planning. This affirms the success of our model: cultivating passionate and knowledgeable regional experts who work closely with travelers to craft journeys that fulfill their dreams.”
Best Travel Company – Outside, 2012
To choose the Best Travel Company, Outside asked a global network of correspondents to evaluate adventure travel companies based on “the quality of a company’s guides, the authenticity and diversity of its trips, its level of service, philanthropic credibility, safety record, and, most important, clients’ reviews and experiences.” The result? “Geographic Expeditions stood above the rest.”
Trip of a Lifetime – National Geographic Traveler, 2012
For Iran: Since GeoEx first dipped its toe in Iran 19 years ago, its tour business here has remained brisk despite the news stories coming out of Tehran. This has been the most popular Middle Eastern trip last year; it’s a carefully curated survey of the capital, Tehran; ancient Hamadan; the blue mosque and bazaar of Tabriz; the green gardens of Shiraz; and the elegant and ornate architecture of Esfahan.
Definitive Guide to Adventure Travel – Travel + Leisure, 2012
This trailblazer explores the remote corners of every continent using guides with extensive on-the-ground networks, such as San Francisco–based Vassi Koutsaftis, who has been leading trips into Burma, Tibet, and Nepal for 25 years. Newly added: a small selection of family trips. T+L Trip Pick: Shikoku and the Naoshima Islands of Japan. Take a soba-making class, trace the old Shingon Buddhist pilgrimage route, and sleep at a ryokan.