2021 Wild Wales Tour
Untamed natural beauty, the highest mountains in Britain outside of Scotland, 641 castles, and a sometimes raging coastline. Yes, in these modest ways, Wales can sometimes be wild.
We travel the length and breadth of Wales, going through areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks, small towns and villages, around the coast, and ending in the capital city of Cardiff.
With pre and post tour options to extend your experience further, this tour gives you a depth of immersion, and time in “real” Wales that few other travelers have a chance to enjoy.
This page tells you what you need to know about the tour in general, and we also have a detailed day by day itinerary so you can understand everything that you’ll get to see and do during your lovely Wild Wales tour.
Start Date & Options
The tour starts on Friday 20 August in Chester.
If you prefer, you can join the tour part-way through, on the date of your choice, at the time of your choice.
We will meet at the Chester Railway Station at 9.30am. You can take an overnight or early morning train from elsewhere in the country to get there by that time, or perhaps you might arrive a day or two earlier, maybe taking advantage of our optional Pre-tour experience.
Optional Pre-tour Extension
Firstly, we always recommend you should arrive at least a day early when joining tours internationally. This gives you a day to unwind after the flights, and also gives you an “emergency” day in case of problems with flights en route.
Secondly, if you’re coming over early, why not use your extra days to good purpose, and consider joining our pre-tour optional extension in Chester, with a chance to enjoy this lovely medieval town with its city walls and shopping “rows”, and some of the attractions nearby. These options are detailed on the day-by-day itinerary page.
End Date & Options
The tour finishes on Thursday 26 August, in Cardiff.
If you prefer, you can leave the tour part-way through, on the date of your choice, at the time of your choice.
Our tour ends on Thursday morning after breakfast in Cardiff.
You can take a train or plane onwards from there, or consider adding our Scotland’s Four Corners tour that follows (and the Overlooked England tour too).
Optional Post-tour Extension
We will be offering a post-tour extension that starts off with a magical train journey, on the “Heart of Wales” line that runs through the center of the country, stopping at tiny stations along the way.
This takes us to Shrewsbury. You could leave then, or continue with us as we travel on up to Scotland, stopping at Gretna Green in case of any “tour romances” and sudden marriages (!), and then continuing to New Lanark or Glasgow.
On Friday you could stay at New Lanark or Glasgow, or enjoy a tour around Stirling/Falkirk and go to New Lanark to be collected the next morning on the start of the Scotland’s Four Corners tour.
This optional extension is detailed on the day-by-day itinerary page.
Look at Everything We Include
We’ve balanced the opposing concepts of including lots of activities and also allowing you free flexible time on this tour.
We’re also reasonably flexible about adding to or varying the tour ‘real time’ as we are traveling. As long as the group as a whole agrees and the schedule allows, we’re happy to make changes to enhance the experience for all group members.
Accordingly, while including accommodation every night, breakfasts and two dinners, touring and sightseeing, we’ve left plenty of time open for you to choose exactly the experiences, meals, and other activities you personally wish.
Everything is optional, so if you want to spend a lazy day strolling around one of the lovely towns we stay in rather than an active day out and about sightseeing, that is of course totally possible. It is all up to you.
Some of what the tour includes comprises
On the Coach
Large luxury coach so there’s always an average of at least 1.5 seats per person, giving you best views and comfort while touring
Personal travel-sized bottles of hand-sanitizer (refills available)
Bottled water, soda, and beer available for purchase at modest price
On-board rest-room, reclinable seats, plenty of space for carry-ons and purchases
David Rowell (the ‘Travel Insider’ himself) as tour leader
Where we visit (in order including pre and post tours – see the itinerary page)
Chester – .
Chirk Aqueduct – The only distillery that is simultaneously in both the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. We’ll explain how that is, and enjoy their peat-free whisky.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – A tiny charming Scottish village and home of 700 yr old Culcreuch Castle where we’ll spend one night.
Langollen – High on a craggy hillside, Stirling has seen some of Scotland’s most important battles waged nearby.
Llandudno– the Falkirk Wheel connecting two canals is an engineering marvel, and the Kelpies statue is an extraordinary creation.
Caernarfon – A World Heritage site, originally a cotton mill and now beautifully restored with a lovely hotel on site.
Llanfair PG – Or, if you prefer its full name, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, a tiny town famous for nothing much more than its name – the longest in Europe and second longest in the world (New Zealand has the longest).
Isle of Anglesey – While on (in?) Anglesey, we continue on to Holy Island and the town of Holyhead, and will see some of their standing stones and other prehistoric items.
Llechwedd Slate Mine – We go by train and ferry from Glasgow to the Victorian seaside town of Rothesay on the Island of Bute.
Ffestiniog Railway – A lovely town and busy ferry port with a strange creation on the hill above the town.
Snowdonia National Park – One of our favorite island villages (on Mull). As pretty as a postcard, full of character, where we’ll enjoy two nights.
Portmeirion – The Holy Isle of Iona, where many Scottish and Viking kings are buried, is Scotland’s holiest place.
Aberystwyth – The second largest town in the Highlands, a popular spot for tourists, located at the base of the UK’s tallest mountain (Ben Nevis).
Culloden – The battlefield that ended the Jacobite rebellions and Scotland’s hope for independence for 250 years (ie until now).
Clava Cairns – A mysterious ancient burial site and stone circle set in a beautiful woodland clearing.
Loch Ness – A beautiful long narrow loch, the reputed home of the Loch Ness monster, and adorned by the evocative ruins of Urquhart Castle.
Inverness – The “capital of the highlands”, a nice city with lots to see and do around it.
Beauly – A beautiful place (ie “Beau Lieu” – which it got its name from) and home of the ruins of a lovely priory, a nice sleepy Scottish country town.
Glen Ord Distillery – Little known in the US, here’s a chance to visit and sample a whisky you’ve probably not come across before.
John O’Groats – The notional northern-most point of Scotland and a traditional place to get your photo taken. We also go to the true northern-most point (of course) and to the north-western point as well.
Dunrobin Castle – A splendid castle, continuously inhabited since the 1300s, home of the Duke of Sutherland, and with a wonderful falconry demonstration.
Aberdeen – Scotland’s third largest city, with a history dating back 8,000 years, and known for its grand granite buildings, the cost of which bankrupted the city in Victorian days.
Balmoral – One of the few Royal Residences that the Queen personally owns and a great chance to see somewhere she lives for pleasure, rather than officially for state duties.
Dundee – Scotland’s fourth largest city, a UNESCO city of design, 5th on the WSJ’s 2018 list of worldwide hot destinations, and named “the coolest little city in Britain” by GQ in 2015.
Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital city, a World Heritage site, and including priority admissions to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood House (the Queen’s Edinburgh palace) and the Royal Yacht Britannia
And of course – Scotland’s Four Corners
Food and Drink inclusions
Cooked breakfasts every morning are included
Welcome drinks the first night
A group welcome dinner on the second night in Glasgow to accelerate the getting to know each other process, with a drink or two also included
Group farewell dinner – a sad experience for sure, but we try to make it as convivial as possible, and, yes, of course there’ll again be a drink or two on offer
An occasional additional libation
Two Distillery Tours
A Whisky Tasting Workshop with at least four different whisky styles explained and for you to sample and sip
Of perhaps equal importance in understanding the distinctive and special nature of this tour is not just what the tour includes, but also what it omits.
What the tour proudly does NOT include!
NO Early starts
NO Crowded coaches (maximum group size 24 people)
NO Characterless hotels on the outskirts of cities
NO Checking in and out of multiple hotels
NO Series of long days of endless travel on a bus
NO Huge groups being rushed through tourist trap after tourist trap
NO ‘Shopping opportunities’ at over-priced trashy souvenir shops
NO Group meals, at fixed times, with limited fixed menus, in generic cafeterias
NO Regimented inflexible schedules and mandatory events
NO Obnoxious inexperienced ‘out of their depth’ first time travelers
NO Crowded schedules leaving no flexible free time
Responding to Covid-19
At present (we will update this section any time there are significant changes) we can not yet confirm and guarantee this tour will operate, because we don’t know what will happen with the virus and how Britain will continue to respond and open-up or lock-down.
We will make a go/no-go decision as soon as we can, but this depends on Britain (and the virus). We hope to be in a position to confirm with a high degree of confidence (or cancel) by about the July 4 weekend.
We discuss these complexities in detail in this article, but for now, the key things are there are two essential elements needed before we will operate the tour.
1. The UK must allow vaccinated visitors from the US to enter without needing to be quarantined upon arrival.
2. The UK must allow reasonable opening hours and operating conditions and internal travel for hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and tourist attractions such that we can enjoy a relatively normal vacation experience.
For our part, we have adopted four strategies :
1. We will not ask for your deposit until we are reasonably certain the tour can proceed, at which stage we need deposits as a show of participation by people who have registered interest.
2. You must be able to show that you have had the two vaccinations (or one in the case of Johnson & Johnson) at least two weeks prior to departure.
3. If you display symptoms of Covid while on the tour, you agree to leave the tour and not rejoin until obtaining a negative “no Covid infection” test result.
4. Our hired coaches will have at least 50% more seats than people in our group, and group size will be restricted to a maximum of 24 participants.
Please ask if you have additional questions or concerns.
As we generally do with our tours, we’ve created variable pricing depending on how many people come on the tour. With the small-sized groups we offer, but with full-sized coaches, the cost per person is quite sensitive depending on the people traveling, so rather than set a price that is unfairly high or unrealistically low, we set it fairly based on how many people are traveling.
The prices for the main tour and the optional pre and post tours are shown immediately below. Note that if you choose all three elements – the main tour and both the pre and post tours too, we add a “quantity discount” to the total sum. We will not operate the tour with fewer than ten people, and will not accept more than 24 in total.
So encourage your friends to come, and not only get the special savings (mentioned next) but the growth in numbers also brings the tour price down for you, for them, and for everyone else, too.
To give you an indication for possible total tour numbers and therefore cost, our last few British tours each had in the high teens or low twenties of people participating. Hopefully we’ll get somewhere in that range again for this tour.
We offer this tour to you with a choice of three accommodation levels. In addition to the regular prices above, you can :
Add $199 for one level of upgrade
Add a further $199 for a second level of upgrade
Rates are per person, share twin. Upgrades are not always available, and we only charge you for the actual upgrades we can secure on your behalf.
We will help to match together singles if you’d like to share with a compatible fellow single traveler.
No Hidden Extras
There are no extra charges.
While you are free to tip our coach driver as you might wish, there are no envelopes passed around at the end of the tour nor ‘recommended’ tips that you are asked/expected to pay.
Other Price Comments
All these prices reflect a 3% discount for cash/check.
A $500 per person non-refundable deposit will be required to confirm your place on this tour once the tour is guaranteed to proceed.
Tour does not include the costs of travel to and from the tour start and end points, or anything not specified as included.
Why not bring a friend or two with you, for more shared fun and fellowship.
To encourage you to do this, and your friends to travel with you, we’ll offer a 1% discount for each extra person you bring with you (other than anyone you are sharing your room with to start with).
Bring another couple, and they get a 2% discount – and you get the same 2% discount too! Bring two couples and all of you get a 4% discount, and so on (up to a maximum of 10%).
Singles Save Too!
Travel Insider tours always have a large number of singles – our groups are friendly, inclusive, and welcoming, making them ideal for singles as well as couples and larger groups.
We do our best to make our tours not only as friendly as possible, but also affordable and fair for singles, too.
We have managed to talk down the single supplement to $745, only about one-quarter of the per person price.
More Helpful Information
You will save money and gain flexible convenience if you arrange your own air travel. These days airlines seldom give discounts to groups, and sometimes even charge more, while also adding extra restrictions to the tickets.
You can choose whichever carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and you can also choose your preferred carrier that you wish to earn miles with. You can even cash in miles and fly on frequent flier awards.
We’ll be pleased to answer any questions you might have about arranging your air transportation, of course.
Join and Leave at Any Time
We always design our tours around you, not vice versa. If you have other commitments so that you need to arrive after the tour has started, or leave before its official end, that’s fine. We’ll work with you to meet you somewhere on the way.
Similarly, if you wish to only have one or two of the multi-day options before/after the main tour, that’s possible too. (Or if you want more days, that’s not a problem either.)
Tell us when you’d like to arrive and leave and we’ll work out an adjusted price to reflect this. Typically expect about a $200/day credit for days you miss.
See the itinerary page for details of where we are each day.
Register Your Interest Now
As soon as your application is received, we will advise you of your position on the list of potential participants, and keep you regularly updated between then and the tour’s go/no-go decision.
Tour Terms and Conditions
Our standard terms and conditions apply to this tour.
In addition, please note these extra terms :
1. Deposit will be required within seven days once the tour is officially confirmed. Full payment is due on or before Friday, 16 July, 2021.
2. US, Canadian, and many other citizens require a current passport that will not expire until after the date of their planned return from Britain in order to be admitted to the UK, but do not require a visa. Citizens of other countries should check with the airline that will transport them to the UK to determine what passport and visa requirements may apply. Note that if you’re including Europe, the EU requires a passport to be valid for at least three months after your planned departure from the EU.
3. Tour price is based on a wholesale Pound/Dollar exchange rate in the range of 1.35 – 1.41 (as shown, eg, in Yahoo Finance/Money – on 31 March 2021 it is showing a rate of 1.38). If the exchange rate moves outside this range, and prior to full payment having been received by you, we will adjust the price up or down to reflect the change in underlying tour costs. We will advise you if the exchange rate is materially changing and you can always lock in the price by sending in early full payment.