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Exclusive Partnerships,
Personal Stories

Posted by Mary-Frances Walsh on 4/2/2015
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Patagonia, Argentina, Wyoming, Yellowstone, National Parks, Camargue, Britain, history, London, Europe, British, Buenos Aires, France, Great Britain


“Oh, the places you’ll go!” – Dr. Seuss 

When I travel, the reason I remember a place long after being there is that it represents far more than a place in my memories. It’s a place that brings to mind an experience. Perhaps I gained an understanding of the history that shaped its people, or truly connected with someone I met there, or identified with the story underneath.

Tauck’s exclusive partnerships and travel tours help us to create travel that matters. We build relationships with partners who genuinely welcome our guests. These are partners who want to share their story and to personally connect. Here are a few Tauck partners that we’d love to introduce you to, in “places” you’ll remember long after being there.

The Draghi Family
Argentinian Silversmiths
Featured on: 2016 Patagonia

silversmithsHere in las pampas, the fertile plains north of Buenos Aires, gauchos are folk heroes. The legends and ballads of these once nomadic cowboys are an important part of Argentinian culture. So is the excellent beef raised on the grand estancias (estates) created by the end of the 19th century when incoming European farmers began fencing off the plains, in turn altering the gaucho lifestyle from nomad to farmhand. And silver; Argentina, after all, means “land of silver” which remains a plentiful natural resource.

The influences of gauchos, beef and silver converge in the small town of San Antonio de Areco, a still-working “beef town” with a chic feel. Founded in 1730, “Areco” was the birthplace of Richardo Güiraldes, one of Argentina’s literary stars. His novel Don Segundo Sombra, an interpretation of the gaucho’s free spirit, is considered a classic of Latin America literature.

Areco is also home to the museum-workshop of the Draghi Family, where Tauck guests are welcomed by the artisan-descendants of Juan José Draghi. He is credited with reviving the art of Argentinian silverwork in the 1970s. (In the late 19th century, the invention of silverplate had made the production of identical copies of silver pieces more affordable, leading to a worldwide decline in the art of hand-crafted silver pieces.) Juan José studied his country’s traditional silver techniques and designs, which largely focused on pieces related to the life of the gauchos and on the estancias where they used their skills in animal handling: belt buckles, spurs, lassos, saddlery, mate paraphernalia and jewelry.

Today, members of the Draghi family are casting, forging, engraving and polishing pieces of exquisite silver using techniques said to go back some 400 years. Their work is renowned, including clients like Placido Domingo and George W. Bush. The Draghis invite Tauck guests in to view an exceptional collection of works, to explain the intricacies of their craft, and to hear their story – a matter of gauchos, fine beef and silver.

Bob Landis
Acclaimed Wildlife Cinematographer
Featured on 2016 Wonderland: Yellowstone in Winter

yellowstone in winter
As a small-town Wisconsin boy, Bob Landis grew up accompanying his father, a physician and amateur wildlife photographer, on hunting trips in northern British Columbia. Later, his adult life took him off to Alaska and Montana, where he taught math professionally, met more people with a keen interest in animal behaviors and nurtured his own passion for capturing wildlife on film on weekends and holidays.

Landis likens the skills required in hunting to those required in filming wild animals. Both require patience and the ability to be out for long periods when nothing much is happening. Unlike studio filming, however, Landis notes that in the wild, so much is out of the photographer’s control. It requires being able to respond on the fly, yet still manage the technical aspects needed to film high quality shots.

bob landisKevin Rhoades, Landis’ biographer, said that he is known “to rise at 3:30 AM, drive for 70 miles in 30-degree-below weather… to film animals that may or may not appear.” This takes dedication, resilience and perseverance. This is Landis… “wearing an Eskimo-style parka and wool pants, carrying sound recording equipment to listen… for the howl of a wolf,” which he calls the most charismatic of animals.

Landis records animal behaviors on film, from wolves to coyotes, elk, bison, bear, otters and more. He especially loves capturing animals having a good time and is fascinated by the unexpected: an eagle drowning a duck, a coyote chasing a wolf, a grizzly taking down a caribou. It’s not the violence of these acts that attracts him but rather the daily life of wild animals who work “so hard to make a living.”

Today, Landis is one of America’s most esteemed wildlife cinematographers, having been a part of more than 20 natural history films – many award-winning. His work has been aired on the PBS Nature series and National Geographic Television. He speaks to both national and international audiences, and will soon head to Scotland, where introducing the wolf to help manage an overpopulation of red deer is under consideration.

What began as a “hobby that just got out of control” is Landis’ fascinating story. He shares this story with Tauck guests along with his photography and a deeply respectful, personal understanding of life in the wild – an integral part of Yellowstone’s magic.

The Laurent Family
Camargue Ranchers
Featured on: 2016 French Escapade: Paris to Monte-Carlo

camargueIn the Camargue, scenes of Provençal villages and wine estates are replaced by marshy fields, free-roaming black bulls, white horses and organic crops. On most river cruises, guests are offered the option of a walking tour here, venturing only a short distance from the Rhône’s riverbanks. By contrast, Tauck river cruise guests head out on an included drive into the Camargue wilds for an exclusive experience of life on a manade (ranch).

Three generations-owned and operated, Les Marquises manade is the lifeblood of the Laurent family whose members personally greet our guests on horseback. Sporting traditional velvet jackets, wide-brimmed hats, and round-toed leather boots, they are delighted by the opportunity to share the story of the Camargue bull, their traditions, and the cowboy-way-of-life in this unique region of France.

bull ringBulls are king in the Camargue, where they’re considered intelligent, valued animals raised for their meat and to compete in the course camarguaise. At Les Marquises, our guests get a taste of this heart-quickening game, involving a bull, an arena, and a raseteur. The latter is typically a young man dressed in white, whose running and timing are essential to his efforts to remove a string draped between the bull’s horns. Leaping over the arena’s barricade is a raseteur’s standard escape route; sometimes the
bull follows! But importantly, it’s a game in which the bull is not hurt. The Laurents have raised multiple prize-winning bulls, taking the grand Biou d’Or a dozen times.

The Laurents also share their fields of handsome Camargue horses that approach family members as intimately as a pet dog. And they share a meal of luscious organically grown specialties and Provençal wines, accompanied by the lively music and soulful lyrics of gypsy guitarists. Think the music of the Gypsy Kings, who got their start to musical fame right here in the Camargue.

Celia Sandys
Winston Churchill’s Granddaughter, Author & Journalist
Featured on: 2016 A Week In… London & Paris and
Cruising the Seine Plus Versailles, Paris & London


celia sandysAs a child, Celia Sandys grew up thinking of Winston Churchill as simply the “grandpapa” who loved her company. In her late teens she spent many holidays at the prime minister’s residence and accompanied him on trips, including a cruise on Aristotle Onassis’ yacht where she met Maria Callas. As an adult, she has authored five books covering his life, his travels, and his leadership.

Sandys meets with Tauck guests over the course of dinner at London’s The Savoy hotel, where she shares personal stories and insights into Churchill as one of the most revered leaders in British history. She describes her grandfather as a master of words.

During the Blitz, his words brought hope to a country in despair. On D-Day, his words gave courage to the Allied forces facing daunting dangers in their fight to end Hitler’s tyranny. After 9/11, his words inspired leaders like Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who led New York City through a period of devastating grief. “If you’re going through hell, keep going,” advised Churchill.

With animation and heartfelt affection, Sandys shares humorous anecdotes that convey a sense of Churchill as a person and family member. She also speaks about the qualities that made him a great leader: integrity, perseverance and the readiness to stand up for what he believed.

Sandys’ visits with Tauck guests are very personal. She follows her remarks by spending time chatting with guests and answering questions. For her, Churchill remains a brilliant and beloved individual. For our guests, she provides an experience they would never have if travelling on their own and a memory they’re sure to savor.
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