Upcoming Trips

Bearcat Explorers experience destinations near and far! Alumni, parents, and friends are invited to join us on the upcoming trips. At any point, feel free to contact the office at 503-375-5304, or email the trip contacts listed below.

2015 Trips

Highlights of Japan

October 16-25, 2015

japan trip

Join us for a special journey through the history, mystery and charm of Japan in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the sister university exchange relationship between Willamette and Tokyo International University. Discover an amazing variety of places from modern Tokyo, Kawagoe (known as "Little Edo," it is the sister city to Salem, Oregon and home of TIU), the peaceful countryside of Takayama and the timeless ancient capital of Kyoto with its thousands of shrines and temples.

Destinations include Tokyo, Kawagoe, Hakone, Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa and Kyoto. Included highlights will feature sightseeing tours, an English speaking guide, economy reserved train seats, 15 meals and much more. Our tour operator, Imperial Asia Tours, specializes in deluxe Asian tours. This is a once in a lifetime trip and we expect it to sell out. Book directly through Vick Travel, our Salem-based agent -- contact Cori Duda at coriduda@aol.com or (503) 365-2883.

  • Deadline for booking: July 15, 2015
  • Cost per person is $3,955 in twin-share/double ($945 single supplement)
  • Deposit: $500 per person (pay by check directly to Vick Travel)
  • Final payment due: August 3, 2015
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Group size: 25
  • Trip host: James Lippincott, Assistant Vice President for Alumni and Parent Relations

Kayak the San Juans

July 31 - August 2, 2015

San Juan Islands Kayak

Join fellow alumni and Professor Luke Ettinger as we enjoy a three-day, two-night expedition in the beautiful San Juan Islands. We're returning for our third outing with Discovery Sea Kayaks, named a "Best Travel Company on Earth" two years in a row by National Geographic Adventure Magazine. Our excursion will begin and end in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and our kayaking route will offer a variety of island scenery and include killer whale habitat and island hopping. 

Reserve your spot today! Book online here (note: you'll need to scroll the calendar to July and select the 31st).

  • No sea kayaking experience is required
  • Cost per person is $549.00; special WUAA price!
  • Kayaking and camping gear, drybags, food and drink, and guide services are included (packing list will be provided)
  • Quality Fiberglass Seaward G3 Passat Kayaks
  • Transportation to and from Friday Harbor on your own (transportation options will be provided) 
  • Check-in Friday at 7:45 am; return Sunday around 2:30 pm
  • Activity level: the pace will be set depending on what's most comfortable for the group
  • Group size: 25 max.
  • Trip hosts: Professor Luke Ettinger, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science, and James Lippincott, Assistant Vice President for Alumni and Parent Relations

Ashland, Oregon - Shakespeare on a Budget

October 17, 2015 (details TBA)

We will return to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland following last year's popular outing connecting alumni with theatre faculty and current students! Our group will enjoy two shows together – a matinee of Guys and Dolls followed by an evening performance of Much Ado About Nothing – as well group meals and pre and post-show talks with the professors. Attendees arrange their own transportation and lodging. 

Contact Colleen Sump, Director for Alumni & Parent Engagement, for more information.


2016 Trips

Sand, Sea and Stars - An Oceania Cruise from L.A. to Miami via the Panama Canal

January 4-20, 2016

Panama Canal

We invite you to start the 2016 travel year by heading south for a warm and wonderful Oceania cruise from Los Angeles to Miami. Along with a first-class cruising experience, you will enjoy stops in San Diego, Mexico (2), Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia and the Cayman Islands. Unpack once, then enjoy your home for 16 nights, the newly transformed flagship of the Oceania Cruises fleet, the Regatta. This will be a great trip for glimpsing Central America and the new Panama Canal, dining, relaxing, and socializing with other members of our group aboard the ship.

We are pleased to be working with Go Next as our travel agent. They are a primary agent for Oceania Cruise lines, and have helped us block 15 rooms aboard the Regatta. This cruise is among their most popular. Our pricing is based on 2-for-1 with airfare included, so this trip is an excellent value. It has been more than six years since our last ocean cruise, but the itinerary and value make this trip a great way to start the 2016 travel year!

Contact Jim Booth (503-910-3192 or jbooth@willamette.edu) or Tami Page at Go Next (800-842-9023 or tpage@gonext.com) for additional information or to reserve your space now. We can only guarantee space until June 30, so please make your plans to join us now.

  • Cost: Begins at $3,799 per person double occupancy for inside cabin. Includes airfare from most major U.S. cities.
  • Final payment due: July 17, 2015.
  • Activity Level: light
  • Group size: 30 max.
  • Trip host: Jim Booth '64, Director, Travel Program

Italy's Magnificent Lake District

May 31-June 8, 2016

Italy Lake Distrcit

Having done three previous trips to Tuscany, we are now stepping out to offer a fantastic opportunity to see the Lakes area of Northern Italy. We will also visit parts of Southern Switzerland. This is arguably one of the most beautiful areas on the planet! Our base for this enchanting exploration of villages, villas and vistas will be the Hotel La Palma in Stresa, a beautiful town that offers the best of the Lake District’s legendary culture, cuisine and beauty. The hotel is situated in a quiet, centrally-located neighborhood on the banks of Lake Maggiore, so comfort will not be a concern.

AHI Travel will be our tour operator. They do Italy like few other companies, and have escorted all three of our Tuscany trips in the past. Their philosophy includes tour managers from the local area, so we will get the advantage of an in-depth view of the culture and history of the places we will see. In addition, AHI is flexible, in case you want to go earlier or stay later.  

Contact Jim Booth ’64 (503-910-3192 or jbooth@willamette.edu) or Renee Okrzesik at AHI (800-680-4244 or rokrzesik@ahitravel.com) for additional information or to reserve your space now.

  • Cost: $3,195 plus airport. Contact Renee Okzesik at AHI Travel for airfare information from your nearest airport. No single supplement surcharge.
  • Deposit: $600
  • Final payment due: March 17, 2016
  • Activity level: Moderate
  • Group size: 30 max.
  • Trip host: Jim Booth '64, Director, Travel Program

Tanzania - Kilimanjaro Climb & Red Sweater Project

July, 2016 (details TBA)

Kilimanjaro trip

We are exploring plans for a special 12-day trip to Tanzania including a Mount Kilimanjaro expedition and the opportunity to explore some unique Willamette connections! Our two featured alumni connections are through Carrie O'Callaghan '00 and Ashley Holmer '02.

Carrie and her husband, Donovan, have lived on Mt. Kilimanjaro and now operate Embark Adventures, which offers once-in-a-lifetime adventures for those who want to explore the most remote corners of the planet. Carrie will join us in Tanzania and provide us with a more insider glimpse into life and culture than the average traveler to Tanzania encounters. We'll skip the tourist market and dive into the local market; climb the winding red dirt road 6000 feet up the side of Kilimanjaro to experience the local village where Carrie and Donovan lived and follow it up by a sunset picnic with a view of Kilimanjaro not often glimpsed by the rest of the world

Our group will also have the opportunity to visit The Mungere School founded by Ashley's nonprofit organization, Red Sweater Project. Located at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment, The Mungere School provides children in rural Tanzania the opportunity to access an advanced secondary education. This is an extraordinary opportunity to experience a locally-supported education project focusing on sustainable development and the utilization of renewable energies.

Kilimanjaro beckons, and our group of Bearcat adventurers will climb the "Everyman's Everest" via the Lemosho Route. This is the road less traveled with fewer than 10 percent of Kili climbers, but is one of the more exciting routes on the mountain, and is still manageable for the average adventurer. At 72 km (almost 45 miles), this route is longer and allows for more thorough acclimatization, a higher success rate to the summit, and affords greater potential to see a variety of wildlife through dense jungle. The trail passes through five ecosystems, from dense forest and heather up through alpine desert and the glorious summit. Our group will enjoy a high ratio of guides to climbers with expert climbing expedition gear.

Travelers will have the option of adding additional days for a Serengeti safari and visit to Ngorongoro Crater.

If you're interested in participating and would like more information, please contact James Lippincott, Willamette Assistant Vice President for Alumni and Parent Relations.


Grand Norwegian Coastal Voyage

October 5-19, 2016

Norway Cruise

Fall is a spectacular time of year to visit the Norwegian fjords. The combination of colors and scenery make for an amazing trip. The tour begins and ends in Bergen with an 11-night cruise in between. The Northbound journey along the pristine Norwegian coastline will take us to unspoiled fishing villages, historic towns and a crossing of the Arctic Circle to the Northernmost point of Europe. The Southbound cruise will visit places that were not seen on the Northward route. You can also enhance your journey with a four-day post trip to Amsterdam! 

Vantage Travel will be our tour operator for this spectacular trip. They have been consistently among the best in terms of itinerary, price and value. Highlights of this trip include five shore excursions, seven walking tours, seven onboard discussions, the World Heritage site Bryggen Wharf in Bergen and an experienced, Scandinavian Cruise Director. In addition, there are a limited number of free single-supplements available in Category J. Pre-payment before October 6, 2015 will earn a 10% discount!

Contact Jim Booth (503-910-3192 or jbooth@willamette.edu) or Cheryl Sheehan (617-878-6119 or csheehan@vantagetravel.com) for additional information or to reserve your space now.

  • Cost: Begins at $3,749 per person double occupancy for inside cabin, not including air or port changes of $260. Air from Portland is $1,649 (includes all taxes and transfers). There is a 10% discount (not including air) for pre-payment before Oct. 5, 2015; and a lower % discount thereafter. Some cabins are available with NO single supplement.
  • Deposit: $500
  • Final payment due: July 5, 2016.
  • Activity level: Light
  • Group size: 30 max.
  • Trip host: Jim Booth '64, Director, Travel Program

Additional trips are currently being planned. Stay Tuned!