New ASA Tours 2018-19

This section highlights some of the new programs on offer during 2018-19

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, USA
Alai Mountains from Jiptik Valley, South-West Kyrgyzstan. Photo by-Nihongarden (Wikimedia Commons).

Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan: Through the High Pamirs, led by Iain Shearer 

4 Jun – 21 Jun 2019
Limited to 16 participants

This year’s tour is fully subscribed. We are currently accepting reservations for the 2019 departure.

Cradled by the Pamir Mountains, source of the life-giving Oxus (Amu Darya) and Jaxartes (Syr Darya) rivers, Tajikistan is the garden of Central Asia. This is an untouched corner of the natural world that nevertheless was also a critical commercial crossroads for countless, diverse peoples for millennia. Between verdant bamboo-forests of the Oxus valley and the stark granite peaks of the Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan is especially rich in flora and fauna. Snow leopards hunt Marco Polo sheep over mountain crags whilst eagles soar above glacial lakes. Spring unrolls endless carpets of wildflowers and autumn tips a cornucopia of fruit, nuts, and sweet berries from ancient trees shading traditional courtyard gardens. Stalin took the great emporia of Samarkand and Bukhara from the Tajiks, but they are still rightly proud of their long and glorious culture, seen in fine archaeological sites of Penjikent and Dushanbe. Modern Tajikistan is a political backwater between China, Pakistan and the chaos of Afghanistan, but not long ago this land bustled with traders from Europe and Asia all drawn by the treasures of the Silk Road; you’ll encounter reminders of past wealth in colourful bazaars like that of Istaravshan, which like many towns we visit has a ruined Arg (fortress), fine Central Asian mosque and madrasa, and a holy shrine, the Sar-i Mazor Complex. Lapis lazuli and Badakhshan rubies were dug from the remote Pamir valleys we visit; it decorated the death-masks of pharaohs and the diadems of long-dead kings. Silk sold in local bazaars became the gorgeous robes of Byzantine queens and European bishops. We follow ancient trade routes that crisscross Tajikistan and hear descendants of the great traders of  the ancient Sogdian traders still speaking their ancient language in remote valleys of the Fan Mountains. Islam dominates modern Tajikistan, but a cosmopolitan history of Buddhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Judaism are all marked by ancient Kushan fortresses, reclining Buddhas, abandoned fire temples, and mountain shrines in the High Pamirs combining these different traditions into something unique to the mountain people. Nomad chieftains and merchant-princes, wandering Chinese monks, Russian spies and hearty Victorian women explorers shadow us, following in the footsteps of Marco Polo and Genghis Khan across Tajikistan and into Kyrgyzstan, where we encounter transhumant herdsmen their flocks and distinctive yurts.  more……


Pompeii – image: Wikimedia

Southern Italy: Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast & the Treasures of Apulia

12 Oct – 27 Oct 2018

Explore the rich and varied history of Southern Italy, discovering its wealth of archaeological treasures, magnificent medieval mosaics, charming villages & the grandeur of the Baroque. On this 16 day tour travel across beautiful, historic Southern Italy from the Bay of Naples to Apulia with Dr Joan Barclay Lloyd, a world authority on the art and architecture of Italy from Antiquity to the Early Modern era. more……


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MOMA) is now the largest modern and contemporary museum in the US.

Art and Architecture in California: Palm Springs, Los Angeles, The Big Sur & San Francisco

15 APR – 1 MAY 2019

This year’s tour is fully subscribed however we are currently accepting reservations for the 2019 departure.

Discover the newest art museums in the USA, spectacular landscapes & remarkable California Style gardens, modernist masterpieces & iconic Hollywood homes like the Stahl House in Los Angeles. Led by Prof. Chris McAuliffe who has taught art history at the University of Melbourne and Harvard University, and was Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne for thirteen years. Join Chris to explore some of the world’s finest museums, most iconic urban and desert architecture, remarkable gardens and magnificent coastal landscape. more…..


Througham Court, Gloucestershire, England – Courtesy of Dr Christine Facer Hoffman.

 A Designer’s Guide to the Gardens of England incl. the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

20 Jun – 4 Jul 2019

Award-winning Australian landscape architect Jim Fogarty leads this contemporary garden tour of Southern England. The tour visits magnificent gardens near Oxford, Bath, Winchester, Brighton and Windsor, and concludes with a visit to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show on the celebrated preview evening. We shall discover exemplary gardens that showcase the modern romantics style of contemporary colour schemes and perennial herbaceous borders by some of the world’s greatest garden designers. We’ll be treated to a selection of England’s private gardens designed by Tom Stuart-Smith, including Broughton Grange, Brockhampton Cottage, Grendon Court, Moor Hatches Garden, and his very own gardens at Serge Hill and The Barn. We’ll learn how some of the most iconic English gardens continue to inspire modern designers when we visit the likes of Hidcote Manor, Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst and the Manor House Garden by Gertrude Jekyll. At Alasdair Forbes’ incredible Plaz Metaxu we experience a concept garden of poetic symbolism. We’ll wander through the gardens of Dutch Wave movement pioneer Piet Oudolf at the world famous Hauser and Wirth, whose art gallery and sculptures are set amongst swathes of new perennials by the Dutch master. At Bury Court we compare his planting style with the minimalism of Christopher Bradley-Hole. On a special visit to Crockmore House Gardens, we meet the owner, The Honourable Julia Kirkham. We’ll also learn about growing plants for the RHS flower shows from Mark Straver, owner of Hortus Loci nursery, and spend a morning with Andy Sturgeon, one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary garden designers. Througham Court Garden, Dr Christine Facer’s ‘laboratory’ is a modern garden inspired by science, while Anne Wareham’s modern and unique Veddw Gardens are filled with patterns of hedging. We’ll be inspired by the exemplary plantings at Pettifers, Bramdean House, the work of Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe at Shute House, and Marylyn Abbott’s West Green House & Gardens. Wandering through herbaceous perennials is a delight at Sussex Prairie Garden; we’ll also admire Henrik Gerritsen’s Dutch-influenced plantings, sourced from Piet Oudolf’s own nursery in the Netherlands, at Waltham Place. There’ll even be time to learn about the botanicals used in the process of distilling gin at the Bombay Sapphire Distillery and to explore the eclectic laneways of Brighton. more….


Facade, Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Berlin. Courtesy: Dietmar Rabich, Wikimedia Commons

 Berlin & Hamburg: Architecture and Design

17 Sep – 29 Sep 2019

With architecture and design writer Stephen Crafti, explore the very best of Germany’s contemporary art, architecture, furniture and fashion in Berlin, Dessau and Hamburg. more….