SOMEWHERE between the last sequins being swept from Oxford St and the final hangover receding it dawns on many a Mardi Gras-goer that gay Christmas is finally at an end.

It’s time to think about more relaxing pursuits. A post-Mardi Gras holiday perhaps? 

But while popular destinations like San Francisco and Sitges spring easily to mind, travel experts are reporting an increasing trend for gay people to forsake the usual hotspots in favour of all-inclusive guided journeys — where the emphasis is more on adventure and culture than clubbing.

One of the big drawcards is that, flights aside, everything is organised — from what restaurant (or indeed gay bar) to visit to side trips to national parks or local villages.

Founder of Sydney travel specialist Orange Journeys, Floris Fluitsma, said his friends gave him the idea of exclusive trips for gay men and lesbians: “I’m gay myself and a lot of my gay friends told me they loved the idea of an organised trip but they wanted to do it with a group of like-minded people.”

Embarking on an all-gay tour means travellers don’t have to worry about being themselves, said Fluitsma: “One of the reasons people like to travel in gay groups is that everyone on the tour, from fellow passengers to staff and suppliers are gay or gay friendly.”

Meeting gay people from around the world — tours commonly comprise travellers from a number of countries — is another plus point.

Fluitsma said the company now offers trips to destinations including Myanmar, Peru and Iceland which appeal to people looking for “a more relaxed but experiential trip with a focus on authenticity”.

One of the most popular breaks are all-gay cruises to destinations such as Turkey, Indonesia and Croatia.

But these cruises are a world away from the impersonal mega liners plying the globe’s oceans.

“The Turkish cruise is on a traditional gulet, a local fisherman’s yacht, which has been reconfigured and can sleep around 20 people in beautiful surroundings,” he said.

“The cruise is higher quality and more intimate than you might get on a larger ship.

“Because it’s smaller we can duck into hidden coves, visit beautiful harbour villages or just jump off the side and go for a snorkel or a kayak in the Aegean Sea.”

With its vast array of ancient ruins, Turkey is an ideal choice for the culture lover.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is a more for sun seekers and nature lovers keen on an encounter with a rare Komodo dragon.

“The real difference I see with a tour,” said Fluitsma, “is you are guided by local people and they know these destinations better than anyone.”

To find out more about Orange Journey’s range of all-gay tours visit http://www.orangejourneys.com.au/starobserver.html

Gay tours with Orange Journeys

One of the reasons people like to travel in gay groups is that everyone on the tour, from fellow passengers to staff and suppliers are gay or gay friendly.

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