The tour visits Pyongyang, North Korea. // © 2012 Yeowatzup
In September of 2012, Mountain Travel Sobek (MTS) will offer guests one of the company’s newest and most unique opportunities — an adventure to North Korea. Not only will this be the tour operator’s first tour of North Korea in its 43-year history, but it will also be led by company co-founder and explorer Richard Bangs. The tour has been made possible by a special permit and will be conducted in cooperation with C. J. Wheeler, a longtime friend of Bangs, who is one of only a few to have led trips to North Korea before.
The tour is scheduled to depart on Sept. 21, when participants will fly from Beijing to Pyongyang, North Korea. From there, guests will travel by private charter to Mount Baekdu, a volcano near the Chinese border that few westerners have had the chance to see. Other sites featured on the tour include the remote and scenic area of Mount Chilbo, the ancient Kaesim Buddhist Temple and Samjiyon Grand Monument, which overlooks Lake Samji and features a giant bronze statue of Kim Il Sung as its centerpiece. In addition, guests will have the chance to visit North Korea’s second largest city, Chongjin, to visit museums, stores and a special school where guests will be treated to a unique performance by the children. In Kaesong, the ancient capital of the Koryo Dynasty from which Korea takes its name, guests will see many historic temples and monuments, including the Tomb of King Kongmin and his wife Queen Noguk.
The itinerary will also include the country’s famous De-militarized Zone, the buffer zone between North and South Korea that is known as the world’s most heavily fortified border. Additional noteworthy elements of the tour include the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung, Moranbong Park, Pyongyang Metro, Monument to the Party Foundation, Mangyongdae Native House, the Grand People’s Study House, the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, War Victory Monuments and the Paradise Department Store.
Finally, at the end of the tour, guests will witness the Arirang Mass Games at May Day Stadium, during which 100,000 colorful performers move in perfectly choreographed union. The gymnastics and dance show is performed to venerate the North Korean regime, including the late Kim Il Sung, and is said to be a spectacular display. Upon the tour’s conclusion on Sept. 29, guests will fly back to Beijing where they can connect with flights back home.
Prices the tour are $8,995 per person, and a $1,000 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a space.