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Scintillating Small Group Tours 2024 + 2025 with Marieke's Art of Living
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Scintillating Luxury Small Group Tours 2024
Dear MCB

I have just returned from Jaipur, excited to go back for the 17th edition of the Literary Festival, awash with winners of the Booker, the Pulitzer, the Samuel Johnson now the Baillie Gifford and National Book Award prizes. Five exhilarating mind-expanding days with over 250 presenters from eighteen Indian languages, eight international languages and seventeen countries who covered a vast scope of subjects from fiction, history, politics, current affairs, gender, science, medicine, environment, climate justice, geopolitics, to food, memory and cinema.
Not shy about embracing controversial subjects, JLF stands out for me for the palpable youth of much of the audience, perspectives and prisms of perception you’re unlikely to find at home, a wonderful variety of music and also its imperative of ‘free thinking’ and “truth seeking”.

Autumn has just arrived and the year seems to be racing away- a perception I think not just because we are all getting older, but also due to the hectic nature of technology and information exchange, needing us to be more mindful to embrace each day as a gift and to quieten the ever present bombardment.

This puts me in mind of the opening stanza of Pablo Neruda’s poem (the Chilean poet who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971)
You start dying slowly ;
if you do not travel,
if you do not read,
If you do not listen to the sounds of life,
If you do not appreciate yourself.

Exemplary hospitality, immersive travel and personal growth have been intrinsic to my DNA for as long as I remember. This takes me to the third stanza of Neruda’s poem, a reminder of why I value going outside of self, familiarity, country – to refresh my understanding and deep value of humanity whose lives face the same challenges as I, and we all do, but whose cultural anchor, belief systems, history and circumstance throw new light on the meaning and pleasure of life from a wholly different perspective, expansively.

You start dying slowly ;
If you become a slave of your habits,
Walking everyday on the same paths…
If you do not change your routine,
If you do not wear different colours
Or you do not speak to those you don’t know.

Travel and tourism have rebounded and that landscape has significantly shifted from pre pandemic days. I’ve been “in the game” for over 30 years and contending with new challenges – increased airfares, many hotels now demanding non refundable deposits and slow to publish their forward tariffs and people planning their calendars two years ahead.

That said, we still have three wonderful programs later this year for your travel pleasure. It’s been some time since I’ve included Europe in my portfolio. This September, I invite you to join me in Portugal or the South of France. In October, we return to Morocco. All my programs are designed for small groups who appreciate style, attention to details, excellent local guides where needed, and my years of experience personally researching every aspect of a program to ensure it is memorable.
With my warmest wishes, and looking forward to your patronage.

Cultural Immersions | Awe Inspiring Adventures | Lifelong Memories | Blissful Escapes
Only a couple of places left.
Only a couple of spaces remain in the Portugal Discovered Tour that begins and ends in Lisbon. A deeply alluring and charming destination, you’ll travel at a pace that enables real immersion in the culture; dine at tasca tables that serve authentic daily specials, rustic regional restaurants, taste the amazing mountain cheese with the shepherds who make it, feast at the tables of some young contemporary chefs and meet pioneers of regenerative farming. Other highlights include:
· 4 nights in dynamic Lisbon, now Europe’s hippest city
  • The less visited sunny Alentejo region renowned for its wine and food
  • Guided walks in historic UNESCO towns such as Evora, Marvao and Tomar
  • 2 nights in the Douro Valley one of the world’s most ravishing wine regions
  • Luxury boutique accommodation
  • a day with renowned Australian oenophile and winemaker in Estremoz
  • A maximum of ten guests

SOUTH FRANCE Arles + Lagrasse
18 – 27 September
Meet me in Arles where we are based for 5 nights; three nights is a restored Provencal style Mas with all ensuite rooms, with a massive kitchen and lovely lounging spaces that is close to town that is rich with history, museums and shaded courtyards, and 2 nights in the very heart of the stunning Camargue landscape surrounded by water bodies, flamingos, white horses and black bulls. There will be a day’s cooking based on the fabulous produce at the market, an excursion to the thrilling sculpture collection at Chateau la Coste, a seafood feast by the sea, a farm to table Michelin dinner and visits to notable art collections and the historic towns of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Les Baux.

Travelling south, stop at the vast Thau basin lagoon for freshly shucked oysters and sparkling local seafood with crisp regional wine before settling into your glamorous apartments at La Bouquerie, your home the last four nights. The pace of the picturesque Lagrasse village embodies SLOW, the Abbaye thrives with a young priesthood, the environs are ideal for gentle walks and picnics. We have curated visits to special wineries for private tastings, will meet with artisanal producers, dine on sunny cuisines and take inspiration from the most impressive undercover Narbonne market’s seasonal offerings for a collective cooking session.

Travelling at a leisurely pace, staying in private accommodation, coming together to cook a couple of special meals, soaking up some beautiful art and architecture, meeting some of Marieke’s local friends has all been designed to allow you to feel like a local, to experience a beautiful immersion in the warmth and sunny moods of the Mediterranean climate.
Bookings Close late May
An aesthete’s delight, there is much to admire and fall in love with in this Kingdom that bridges Europe and Africa: a haven of outstanding Islamic architecture, contemporary design, enticing perfumed cuisines and remarkable craftsmanship of all manner of decorative objects from carpets to jewellery, textiles and ceramics. A tolerant melange of Berber, African, Arabic and French influences, my small group tour allows a deep immersion into this fascinating culture that has drawn creative souls to its shores for centuries.
You’ll stay in beautifully restored riads – those divine ancestral palaces built around courtyards cooled with pools, fountains and citrus trees and a stunning desert camp far away from the madding crowd. Wander ancient medinas, imperial cities, Berber villages and UNESCO historic sites, stunning gardens, meet artisans and dine in a private home and under the stars.



Hold the Date + Register Your Interest
Jaipur Literary Festival 27 January – 5 February 2025

The tour begins and ends in Delhi.

Spaces are limited,
though we can make bespoke arrangements for your book reading group.
Deluxe accommodation is in a wonderful, very peaceful heritage palace in the city situated in vast gardens where peacocks roam – a mere fifteen minutes from the venue.
A day in Delhi to appreciate India’s astounding arts and crafts; a day in Jaipur to visit her most significant monuments; another day in Jaipur at the end, to be introduced to the artists behind some of her most exceptional ateliers and get a retail fix in this designer’s paradise.
The option to then take a mini extension to Rajasthan’s magical rural artistic heartland, or join our Rajasthan Reimagined Tour.

RAJASTHAN REIMAGINED 6 – 22 February 2025
This wonderful small group luxury program is perfect for first time and repeat travellers to India to fall in love with its romantic splendour, scintillating cocktail of philosophies, cultures, ethnicities, cuisines, historical gems, architectural marvels, chivalry, and vast desert sands. I’m including much less visited sites such as Bikaner with its astounding fort and havelis; a night in one of the region’s most exquisitely restored palace forts and of course must-see destinations like Udaipur and Jaipur.
You’ll have privileged access to wonderful hosts, stay in sublime heritage properties, jewelled palaces, regal estates, princely homes, and the shopping is truly divine –
pashminas, jewels, antiques; and the cuisine, a daily party on the palate. We’ll even teach you how to tie a turban, drape a saree, the correct head nod protocol and how to drink tea from a saucer.

Maha Kumbh Mela, Allahabad
23-27 January 2025
a Once in a Lifetime, Offered Once Only, Extraordinary India Experience.

Certainly not for first time visitors to India, the most significant Kumbh comes around every 12 years at the confluence of the Holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and mystical, hidden Saraswathi. I last attended in 2013 to witness the most extraordinary gathering of pilgrims from all over the world – where a temporary city is created in a miraculous feat of engineering, sanitation and safety to showcase India’s spiritual and cultural tapestry, welcoming approximately 200 million attendees (over a period of six weeks) from all over the world to share in dynamic and mystical rituals and celebrations.
Art of Living is securing a number of luxurious tents in an exclusive camp setting that allows you to experience this ethereal, hypnotic, otherworldly and unforgettable event in immense comfort.

Magh Kumbh is believed by the Hindus to be the origin of the Universe and is, therefore, an auspicious occasion. In 2025, Magh Kumbh Mela has been organized at Prayagraj | Allahabad.Perhaps the world’s most spiritual and uniquely mesmerizing pilgrimage with devotees, sadhus from Himalayan monasteries, ascetics, Akharas that feed hundreds each day, craft stalls, shops, music, chanting, the Kumbh Mela is the meeting of holy men every from different walks of life coming to the vast fair grounds at Allahabad to discuss traditions, faith, spirituality and much more. It is the best place to witness the raw spiritual culture that is still alive in India and witness the centuries old rituals being performed by saints and priests in the most magnetic and hysterical energy that throngs through the place during this time.

The fair is one of a kind, recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity: the most peaceful and abundant religious gathering on the planet, where people of different classes, faiths and walks of life join to participate in a spiritual experience without any discrimination.
BESPOKE Journeys for private groups: Accolades
If you have never been to India and have always longed to go look no further, book with Marieke.
Her depth of knowledge is profound. Built from 30 years of on the ground experience, her personal relationships with her guides, drivers and on ground Agency take you beneath the surface connecting with artisans, their families, Imans and weavers. Treated like family from start to finish you are instantly transported into her India. Trip planning is done with meticulous detail.
I researched for months for the perfect first time guided tour of India and serendipitously feel into the hands of Marieke.
You know you’ve had a great trip when your’e unpacking your bag already dreaming of the next trip. Caroline C. Sydney March 2024

I have wanted to go to India for many years & was so excited to finally get there! I enjoyed Rajasthan thoroughly and am already planning a return with my husband! So that certainly says something about how much I enjoyed the trip. Thank you for curating it. All in all Marieke I am so thankful to you for organising such a wonderful, interesting and very thoughtful experience for me. I had an incredible time. I always knew I’d love India. It has exceeded my expectations. The colours, sounds, chaos & beautiful, welcoming Rajasthani people were magical to me and I would love to return. Your trip had just the right amount of curated events and downtime given the time restraints.
Thank you so much Marieke! I have already passed on your details to two of my friends and will continue to recommend you. I’m so grateful to you for such a positive, magical experience.

Kelly C x Sydney Feb 2024

More Reviews

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We look forward to welcoming you on a trip soon, whether it be imminently real, vicarious or armchair fanciful.

Warm wishes,
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