Orinoco Travel is the only company anywhere offering fully escorted tours (in partnership with Young Pioneer Tours), beginning and ending at JFK Airport – or, if you are a group from outside the northeast, at any other major airport in the U.S. or Canada – to North Korea.
Orinoco is also the only company anywhere offering fully escorted tours that combine an epic journey to North Korea with some exciting travel in China. This is a great opportunity to visit the Great Wall, one of the world’s most iconic sights, as well as highlights in the Chinese capital of Beijing.
There is no independent travel in North Korea, as there is in China; it has to be on an organized tour. Once I made up my mind to go, I did many hours of research in trying to decide which, among the handful of companies that operate in North Korea, to book with. In the end I chose Young Pioneer Tours. I couldn’t have made a better choice. I was so enthralled with the country, and so impressed with the quality of the tour, that before it was over I felt that I wanted to be part of the YPT team. So I ran the idea of organizing groups on my own – either on a customized basis or in conjunction with scheduled tours on their website youngpioneertours.com – with Chris White, a young American who led my own group, and Troy Collings, a New Zealand expatriate and company partner who was with another group. “Sure,” they said. “Get a group to China on your own and we’ll do the rest.” That began my relationship with YPT and added to my great feelings about them – a dynamic outfit not bound by any stuffy corporate rules that believes in what they’re doing and do it so well. Everyone feels that way. Just read all the ringing endorsements on the world’s most popular travel website, Trip Advisor, by typing in “Young Pioneer Tours Trip Advisor.”
Let me be straight with you about one thing. If you are a seasoned, independent traveler who is accustomed to making all your own arrangements, you can book a tour with YPT then meet up with them in Beijing before flying to North Korea. But if you research all the costs involved – and I invite you to do so – you’ll discover that my tour cost is very reasonable, in fact not a whole lot more than than what you would pay were you to handle everything yourself.
But I do know that most people – even those with a flair for adventure that has taken them all over the world – are daunted by the idea of going it alone. They prefer the peace of mind and sense of security that comes with having all the logistics taken care of and a tour leader supervising everything from beginning to end – a job that comes naturally to me. And I do know how they feel because, even though most of my traveling has been solo, “flying by the seat of my pants,” I’ve occasionally booked organized tours to countries where, I felt, the hassles just weren’t worth it.
Keep in mind that, even though I’ll be with you the whole time in North Korea, Young Pioneer Tours takes care of everything there. They do not arrange tours or hotels in China – that’s my job, and it would be yours were you to do this on your own. Prior to visiting North Korea, I traveled around China alone for two weeks, having come up from Vietnam by public bus, and I can tell you from experience that China is not the easiest country to deal with. Chinese officials, in particular, can be pretty ornery. But as is true in many countries, tour groups are treated much more kindly than individuals. So if you decide to take this tour with me, you can sit back and relax: I’ll sort out the red tape, answer all your questions, and do everything else that needs to be done.