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Ok: first of all, I want to say, this trip is NOT for everyone.

If you've not done any research about the outback, the climate, and how big and remote the Northern territory is, you really need to do that first and ask yourself:

1. Am I going to be comfortable with travelling 4000km by coach (sometimes 6 hours a day)?
2. Am I going to be able to deal with 40+ degree heat if I go in summer? (bearing in mind that even indoors, the air conditioning may not be the most efficient in the world?) You WILL sweat profusely and it won't be the least bit glamourous.
3. Am I going to expect a fantastic range of food options/special dietary provisions in the middle of the desert? (hint: you aren't gonna get them. It's just logistics, soz)
4. Do I expect 5 star accommodation? (again, you're in the middle of the desert - not gonna get it!)
5. Am I terrified of spiders and other insects/snakes/crocodiles/frogs (you're going to see a lot of them, including possibly in your bathrooms. Also bring a fly net - the flies are a massive pain in the butt.)
6. Can I deal with being off the radar in terms of phone signal and wifi (really can't stress enough how much you're in a big old remote desert here!)

If you can deal with all of the above, you have a great attitude and a sense of humour, you don't mind (and in fact appreciate) a few 'colourful characters', and you want to see something truly spectacular - GO! You won't regret it. It is the true Australia, it is unique and like nothing else on earth.

The trip can roughly be divided into two aspects: the arid red centre and the more lush region towards the north. Geographically both stunning, this trip is also great if you're interested in aboriginal art and culture.

In the red centre, the colours are incredibly vibrant, the rock formations breathtaking. It is pretty much impossible to take a bad photo here, everything looks like the colours have been saturated! The horizon stretches on, seemingly forever. There are many early starts due to needing to get things done before the heat gets too intense (sometimes 4am - again, consider if this is something you'll be able to deal with) and the desert sunrise is beautiful.

The champagne sunset at Uluru was most definitely a highlight for me - amazingly beautiful, and a childhood dream fulfilled.

The second half of the tour up by Katherine/Kakadu/Darwin is much greener, lusher and more humid but also beautiful. If you like crocodiles you're especially in for a treat! My personal favourite was the waterfalls.

In terms of optionals, I went on the outback balloon flight, the Kakadu fixed wing scenic flight and the Katherine Gorge river cruise. Of these my favourite was probably the Kakadu flight - despite the weather being a bit rubbish when we went, the views were still absolutely stunning.

There was a good mix of people on this tour so don't worry if you're expecting it to all be one type of person - it definitely isn't! We had people from the UK, Germany and other parts of Europe, North Americans and some resident Aussies, as well as a range of ages from 18-34 years old. Go in with an open mind and a friendly attitude and you're sure to find great friends to bunk up with.

You will travel 4000km by coach on this tour, but never for more than about 2.5 hours at a time. Our coach driver, Will, was amazing, a great driver and he did everything he could to make the journey as comfortable as possible - it was nowhere near as bad as I was dreading, in fact the journeys were pretty fun!

In terms of accommodation, it is basic but it is clean and it is fine (again - not a lot of options in the desert). You really need to be understanding and reasonable about what you expect on the accommodation and catering front - consider exactly how remote you are and the distances everything has to travel to get there. You won't get what you're used to at home, and surely that's why you travel in the first place - for the experience! Most people understand this, but a few didn't, and their whinging was most unwelcome.

Unless you select otherwise, you'll be in multi-sleep accommodation of 4 people. If you feel you can't manage this or you know you're a bit of a diva, perhaps a single supplement would be a better option for you.

Make sure you pack a fly net, a sun hat, sunglasses, comfortable closed-toe shoes (some good trainers at least) and a rain coat (yes, really - it can get pretty rainy up north), a travel pilliow and a torch as well as your other stuff - do a bit of reading up about what the climates in the various places you'll be visiting at the time of year you're going, as it does vary a lot. Also bring a nice set of clothes/shoes for when you go out in the evening to restaurants/bars/clubs - flip flops aren't always ok.

All in all, this tour was absolutely life-changing for me and I loved it. I took over 1000 photos and if you go you'll see why! The place is rugged, beautiful and sometimes a little crazy - and I wouldn't want it any other way.

My Contiki was: Vibrant, Stunning, Hot

  • Pippa Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 1 Country

Trip was awesome!! The Grand Southern was a blast. It exceeded my expectations by so much. I had a great guide and bus driver (Sexy Chocolate). Our guide James was so knowledgeable about the history of the places we visited. He knew all the best place to eat and drink and made recommendations that were spot on, so we didn't waste our time trying to figure things out. Also he managed to score us a dinner reservation at the famous Mrs Wilkes Dinning Room in Savannah. Obama has eaten there. By far the best southern food I've ever had. If your tour guide can't get you in there, go and line up as soon as you get into Savannah, it'll be worth it.

All the places we hit were fantastic. There wasn't a spot where I thought "Meh could have skipped this". If anything I'd wish we'd had longer in some places, especially the places we hit up for just one night.

Great people on the tour. I was worried it'll just be a bunch of people looking to get drunk but it wasn't like that at all. I think when you spend that much money, people actually want to experience the trip and not just drink through it. At least that's what I found with my group.

If you're on the fence about doing this trip...jump! Don't hesitate, you won't ever regret it.

My Contiki was: Over&Over, SexyChocolate, Hashtag!

New Year in Paris

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Amazing Trip!
  • Sam Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 4 Countries

New year in Paris was amazing! My friends and I met some amazing people who we will stay in touch with and Paris was a beautiful city!
Our tour guide Jake was hilarious and our driver Artur was brilliant.
Already booked my next trip to Amsterdam for my Birthday!

My Contiki was: Hilarious, Amazing, Photogenic

New Year in Paris

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Amazing Trip!
  • Sam Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 4 Countries

New year in Paris was amazing! My friends and I met some amazing people who we will stay in touch with and Paris was a beautiful city!
Our tour guide Jake was hilarious and our driver Artur was brilliant.
Already booked my next trip to Amsterdam for my Birthday!

My Contiki was: Hilarious, Amazing, Photogenic

  • Kimberly Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 2 Countries

This trip is a must! Saw so many things, met so many great people, learned so much about New Zealand. I'll be doing the south island next!

  • Toya Level 4 Traveler
  • 4 Contikis
  • 15 Countries

This was a full on, jam packed tour of the European highlights! What a sensational package of the top places. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to see most of the capital cities in Europe with a few random stops thrown in along the way. This was exciting and adventurous but you could also have some down time if you wanted. This tour saw 3 lots of people come and go while I stayed for the whole trip. It's hard to loose people mid tour but it's always nice to get fresh faces. If doing a long tour like this, I would recommend being part of the entire tour as it was hard for the "newbies" to integrate once we had passed the 2 weeks mark.

My Contiki was: Incredible, Sensational, Jam Packed

  • Toya Level 4 Traveler
  • 4 Contikis
  • 15 Countries

This was a full on, jam packed tour of the European highlights! What a sensational package of the top places. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to see most of the capital cities in Europe with a few random stops thrown in along the way. This was exciting and adventurous but you could also have some down time if you wanted. This tour saw 3 lots of people come and go while I stayed for the whole trip. It's hard to loose people mid tour but it's always nice to get fresh faces. If doing a long tour like this, I would recommend being part of the entire tour as it was hard for the "newbies" to integrate once we had passed the 2 weeks mark.

My Contiki was: Incredible, Sensational, Jam Packed

  • Esmarie Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 8 Countries

This tour was nice in the sense that it covers numerous destinations in a very short time and is ideal for someone who wants to follow a quantity rather than quality approach when seeing Europe. The tour manager was a friendly person and contributed towards a great atmosphere on the tour. Most cities are seen at night as most of the day light is spent in the bus (6-8 hours) at a time. The hotels are not great at all and I picked up bed bugs on my first or second night (difficult to pin point). I had no means to take my clothes to the Laundromat as the hotels did not have this facility and we were not at one place/city long enough to give in the "affected" laundry given the general turnaround time of the laundry services (24 or more hours). The tour manager was not very sympathetic to my situation and did not do anything to go out of his way to help me get the bed bugs out of my clothes - I had to make a decision to not wear any of my clothes for the rest of the tour and I was forced to spent quite a bit of money to get new clothes for the remainder of the tour, as I did not want to take the risk of getting more bites as it burns and itches and is generally gross. I am not sure I would recommend Contiki to friends as the hotels are just not good enough due to it being unhygienic. However if you are not too concerned about hygiene and cleanliness and are lucky enough not to get bed bugs, I would suggest you try this tour as it is a very affordable way of travelling through Europe and a chance to meet new friends. It is a shame that my experience was ruined by something so small as a bed bug and that Contiki did not do much to help me. On the other hand, if you read the reviews of most of the hotels on either TripAdvisor or Booking.com you will notice that there are many complaints about bed bugs at the various hotels Contiki uses and the cleanliness is normally rather 5 or 6 out of 10 - so it should have been expected that someone would get bitten - unfortunately that was me.

  • Esmarie Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 8 Countries

This tour was nice in the sense that it covers numerous destinations in a very short time and is ideal for someone who wants to follow a quantity rather than quality approach when seeing Europe. The tour manager was a friendly person and contributed towards a great atmosphere on the tour. Most cities are seen at night as most of the day light is spent in the bus (6-8 hours) at a time. The hotels are not great at all and I picked up bed bugs on my first or second night (difficult to pin point). I had no means to take my clothes to the Laundromat as the hotels did not have this facility and we were not at one place/city long enough to give in the "affected" laundry given the general turnaround time of the laundry services (24 or more hours). The tour manager was not very sympathetic to my situation and did not do anything to go out of his way to help me get the bed bugs out of my clothes - I had to make a decision to not wear any of my clothes for the rest of the tour and I was forced to spent quite a bit of money to get new clothes for the remainder of the tour, as I did not want to take the risk of getting more bites as it burns and itches and is generally gross. I am not sure I would recommend Contiki to friends as the hotels are just not good enough due to it being unhygienic. However if you are not too concerned about hygiene and cleanliness and are lucky enough not to get bed bugs, I would suggest you try this tour as it is a very affordable way of travelling through Europe and a chance to meet new friends. It is a shame that my experience was ruined by something so small as a bed bug and that Contiki did not do much to help me. On the other hand, if you read the reviews of most of the hotels on either TripAdvisor or Booking.com you will notice that there are many complaints about bed bugs at the various hotels Contiki uses and the cleanliness is normally rather 5 or 6 out of 10 - so it should have been expected that someone would get bitten - unfortunately that was me.

I signed up for this trip having never travelled on my own before. I thought about it for a long time, researched the options, and I picked Contiki Grand Southern - best decision I've made in a hell of a long time!

The itinerary for this trip is mind blowing, we experienced such a variety of cultures, food, nightlife & landscape, I'd never have believed you could fit all of that into 26 days. From lively New York to laid back Savannah; historical DC to snowy Durango; scenic Monument Valley to grownup Disneyland Las Vegas - this trip has it all.

At no point during the 4 weeks was I bored (which is pretty impressive considering the amount of miles covered on this adventure!) There's always someone to chat to, play cards with, watch movies or listen to music with, or just generally get to know. And that's what makes the trip over and above all the other great things that happened - the ContikiFam! Within a few days we were a family (cheesy I know, but I stand by it), and we did everything together - Sightseeing, eating, drinking, sharing rooms, exploring, partying, chilling, shopping and trying new stuff.

The Contiki staff on our trip contributed hugely too. Daz (our driver) got us everywhere safe and on time, and was a good guy for a chat too. Bushy (our Tour Manager) took the trip to another level. She was always full of energy & recommendations for where to eat, drink or explore; she helped us set up extra activities on top of the Contiki Optionals, and she partied and hung out with us most of the time. Honestly the coolest person I've met in a long time.

As far as activities go, for the first time on this trip I: Drove a snowmobile, fired a machine gun, toured Miami by speedboat, flew in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon & a hot air balloon over Albuquerque, got kicked out of a Vegas nightclub for being super wasted, visited Universal Studios, drank a Hand Grenade in New Orleans, watched 2 NBA games, an NHL game & an NFL game, and experienced the best Creole food New Orleans had to offer. And more, much, much more!

The "helpful hints" for writing this review is asking if I would recommend this trip - HELL YES! If you're on the fence or undecided, take the chance. You'll have #NoRegrets, trust me.

My Contiki was: Exciting, Adventure, #NoRegrets

  • Vanessa Level 5 Traveler
  • 5 Contikis
  • 12 Countries

Trying to choose a Croatia sail in the middle of summer is difficult with a large amount of providers on offer. My friends and I chose the island hopper south simply because it was the itinerary we wanted with a sailing date that suited our schedule.

The boat was pretty cool and the crew were all extremely friendly and helpful. The meals on board were always delicious too!

My friend and I shared a room above deck and by room I mean literally, it was just enough space for bunk beds. We had our own bathroom but this was simply a shower nozzle over the toilet - again a tight squeeze but when you're spending literally all of your time in the sun, in the ocean or exploring the islands you're really not spending much time in your 'room.' I only mention this as I feel other companies perhaps offer a little more in the way of this for a similar/better price.

The island choices on this itinerary were great though with Hvar and Korcula being top picks. Spending extra time in Dubrovnik is a good idea too since this is a wonderful city and the kayaking optional is challenging, but a lot of fun.

I've done a few Contiki tours and have never had much to complain about on any of them but the main problem I had with this tour is the amount of tipping required at the end. Having this included in the price to begin with would simply be so much easier. Our tour leader really didn't do much compared to that required of a tour leader on a regular tour and I felt having to tip her the same was a bit pointless. The final dinner she took us to was also ridiculously expensive with the only other patrons being another Contiki sail - a clear indication that this restaurant was a sad choice and disappointing way to end the week.

Overall, my friends and I had a great time despite the weather unfortunately being less than ideal for June with many days being overcast. The tour is still an easy way to sail the coast of Croatia and the itinerary was the real highlight of this trip for me.

My Contiki was: amazing coastline, partying, relaxing

  • Vanessa Level 5 Traveler
  • 5 Contikis
  • 12 Countries

Trying to choose a Croatia sail in the middle of summer is difficult with a large amount of providers on offer. My friends and I chose the island hopper south simply because it was the itinerary we wanted with a sailing date that suited our schedule.

The boat was pretty cool and the crew were all extremely friendly and helpful. The meals on board were always delicious too!

My friend and I shared a room above deck and by room I mean literally, it was just enough space for bunk beds. We had our own bathroom but this was simply a shower nozzle over the toilet - again a tight squeeze but when you're spending literally all of your time in the sun, in the ocean or exploring the islands you're really not spending much time in your 'room.' I only mention this as I feel other companies perhaps offer a little more in the way of this for a similar/better price.

The island choices on this itinerary were great though with Hvar and Korcula being top picks. Spending extra time in Dubrovnik is a good idea too since this is a wonderful city and the kayaking optional is challenging, but a lot of fun.

I've done a few Contiki tours and have never had much to complain about on any of them but the main problem I had with this tour is the amount of tipping required at the end. Having this included in the price to begin with would simply be so much easier. Our tour leader really didn't do much compared to that required of a tour leader on a regular tour and I felt having to tip her the same was a bit pointless. The final dinner she took us to was also ridiculously expensive with the only other patrons being another Contiki sail - a clear indication that this restaurant was a sad choice and disappointing way to end the week.

Overall, my friends and I had a great time despite the weather unfortunately being less than ideal for June with many days being overcast. The tour is still an easy way to sail the coast of Croatia and the itinerary was the real highlight of this trip for me.

My Contiki was: amazing coastline, partying, relaxing

  • Vanessa Level 5 Traveler
  • 5 Contikis
  • 12 Countries

It's safe to say that as my first Contiki tour this definitely didn't fit into the stereotypical mould often associated with the company. While there was certainly partying, the variety of ages and personalities meant choosing when you wanted to participate and most nights were more of a chilling out with a beer variety rather than clubbing.

I really enjoyed this itinerary and felt like in 12 days we covered a great variety of the country's landscape from the impossible to cross streets of Ho Chi Minh to the breathtaking overnight cruise in Halong Bay (really wish this was two nights!)

I was pleasantly surprised by Nha Trang and its beautiful beaches and the Sailing Club dinner here was fantastic. The optional day trip out on a boat was enjoyed by everyone and the mud baths nearby were great fun also!

Hanoi is also a cool city, as is Hue (especially the drive here which had wonderful greenery to be seen on the way in). Taking a trip down and spending the night in a home stay on the Mekong Delta was a definite highlight too.

The local guides provided great insight into the many hardships faced by the Vietnamese only decades ago. The cu chi tunnels provide a real face to the war especially.

Internal flights all ran to time, bus was always clean and the accommodation and food were good too. Phoebe, our tour leader, was helpful and organised and overall this tour provided an easy and enjoyable way to discover the highlights of Vietnam!

My Contiki was: cultural, beautiful, hectic yet enjoyable!

  • Vanessa Level 5 Traveler
  • 5 Contikis
  • 12 Countries

I chose this tour for its itinerary and concentration on Norway, which was definitely the highlight for me. The natural beauty of the country is phenomenal and having a hostel right on the edge of a fjord was amazing! Copenhagen was a fantastic stop and the overnight cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki is good fun too.

The guides in Russia are real characters and super informative. Having them to navigate the bustling cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow was great and the metro tour is extremely cool.

I've never done a Contiki this long in duration before and the amount of people who jump on and off at different points means that the number of passengers hovers around 50 at any time. As I took this tour with a friend that didn't bother me really, but I feel because of this the tour size makes it harder to get to know everyone compared to others I've experienced in the past.

I had no complaints about the accommodation and the food was decent too (although expect the choices in Russia to be unsurprisingly limited, especially due to language barriers).

Our tour leader Mike had to be the most organised and helpful tour guides I've had on any Contiki thus far, he even had hand out suggestions for each city!

This tour was a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short time at an understandably fast pace. I would definitely return to some areas on my own (especially Stockholm, since a day in not nearly enough) in future.

The scenery and many cultural experiences you'll get to see on this tour will certainly not disappoint!

My Contiki was: cultural, adventurous , memorable

  • Vanessa Level 5 Traveler
  • 5 Contikis
  • 12 Countries

I chose this tour for its itinerary and concentration on Norway, which was definitely the highlight for me. The natural beauty of the country is phenomenal and having a hostel right on the edge of a fjord was amazing! Copenhagen was a fantastic stop and the overnight cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki is good fun too.

The guides in Russia are real characters and super informative. Having them to navigate the bustling cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow was great and the metro tour is extremely cool.

I've never done a Contiki this long in duration before and the amount of people who jump on and off at different points means that the number of passengers hovers around 50 at any time. As I took this tour with a friend that didn't bother me really, but I feel because of this the tour size makes it harder to get to know everyone compared to others I've experienced in the past.

I had no complaints about the accommodation and the food was decent too (although expect the choices in Russia to be unsurprisingly limited, especially due to language barriers).

Our tour leader Mike had to be the most organised and helpful tour guides I've had on any Contiki thus far, he even had hand out suggestions for each city!

This tour was a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short time at an understandably fast pace. I would definitely return to some areas on my own (especially Stockholm, since a day in not nearly enough) in future.

The scenery and many cultural experiences you'll get to see on this tour will certainly not disappoint!

My Contiki was: cultural, adventurous , memorable

  • Vanessa Level 5 Traveler
  • 5 Contikis
  • 12 Countries

This was a great introduction to the islands of Greece from the beauty in Santorini to the partying and beaches of Mykonos and Ios.

I went during May on one of the first tours of the season and while it wasn't super hot yet the weather was pleasant the entire time. This month of the year meant a quieter time for Mykonos' Paradise Beach and on Ios we didn't have to battle any crowds either.

I was lucky enough to have a fantastic bunch of people and there was only about 25 of us with everyone getting along so well from day one we really didn't mind the lack of other tourists at all!

The Scandinavian Club opened for the summer while we were in Mykonos and was already crowded on its first night so I can't imagine how busy it must be during Jun-Jul! Another bonus of going in shoulder season though was getting hotel upgrades - my room mate and I even got sea views and a patio. All the accommodation on this tour was in fact, really good.

Ed was a great tour leader who is both informative and entertaining. Starting with the country's historic past in Athens, this tour is a wonderful way to enjoy the laid back lifestyle, food and culture of the Greeks.

My Contiki was: relaxing, entertaining

  • Vanessa Level 5 Traveler
  • 5 Contikis
  • 12 Countries

This was a great introduction to the islands of Greece from the beauty in Santorini to the partying and beaches of Mykonos and Ios.

I went during May on one of the first tours of the season and while it wasn't super hot yet the weather was pleasant the entire time. This month of the year meant a quieter time for Mykonos' Paradise Beach and on Ios we didn't have to battle any crowds either.

I was lucky enough to have a fantastic bunch of people and there was only about 25 of us with everyone getting along so well from day one we really didn't mind the lack of other tourists at all!

The Scandinavian Club opened for the summer while we were in Mykonos and was already crowded on its first night so I can't imagine how busy it must be during Jun-Jul! Another bonus of going in shoulder season though was getting hotel upgrades - my room mate and I even got sea views and a patio. All the accommodation on this tour was in fact, really good.

Ed was a great tour leader who is both informative and entertaining. Starting with the country's historic past in Athens, this tour is a wonderful way to enjoy the laid back lifestyle, food and culture of the Greeks.

My Contiki was: relaxing, entertaining

  • Jordann23 Level 6 Traveler
  • 6 Contikis
  • 14 Countries

This was my first Contiki and it absolutely changed my life. My tour mates were some of the coolest people around. I didn't know if I just got lucky, but every tour since I've had great travel friends. Our tour guide was nice, but complained a little bit about the behind scenes at Contiki at one point - a little put off by that, but all in all she was cool. Sooooo much awesomeness at every turn. Highly highly recco. Note: This tour has a super fast past, but well worth it. Always do the add-ons. Note: You do have quite a bit of bus time on this one... I highly recco starting in Madrid and finishing in Rome.

  • Jordann23 Level 6 Traveler
  • 6 Contikis
  • 14 Countries

This was my first Contiki and it absolutely changed my life. My tour mates were some of the coolest people around. I didn't know if I just got lucky, but every tour since I've had great travel friends. Our tour guide was nice, but complained a little bit about the behind scenes at Contiki at one point - a little put off by that, but all in all she was cool. Sooooo much awesomeness at every turn. Highly highly recco. Note: This tour has a super fast past, but well worth it. Always do the add-ons. Note: You do have quite a bit of bus time on this one... I highly recco starting in Madrid and finishing in Rome.

  • Jordann23 Level 6 Traveler
  • 6 Contikis
  • 14 Countries

This was the first tour I've been on with less than 10 people. Normally my tours have 40 people... so when I got my BFF to join me on a Contiki it was quite a sad scene to show up and only 6 people were there. I didn't realize how little time we'd have in Santorini and Mykonos. The time we did have was amazing... but I wish I had picked a different tour. Basically, I wish I had picked a tour that actually spent less time on a cruise boat and more time docked in Greece. My bad for not reading the itinerary closer I supposed, but I expected more than 3 hours in Santorini. :( It didn't help that our tour guide was a jerk too - my BFF and I didn't want to do dinner with our 4 travel companions after awhile and he gave us major attitude about it. Our "cruise ship" was full of old people and the food on the boat was pretty terrible. Cruise staff was great, but overall I wasn't a huge fan of the experience. Nonetheless, what we did see was cool.

My Contiki was: skip

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