Food lovers, outdoor enthusiasts and culture buffs have a new way to connect with worldwide cultures and food traditions: Whole Journeys, a new travel venture from Whole Foods Market. Whole Journeys offers deeply experiential trips with hands-on foodie encounters and hike-or-bike itineraries in such destinations as Tuscany (Italy), Istanbul/Izmir/Cappadocia (Turkey), Ticino (Switzerland), Provence (France), Shangri-La (China), The Dolomites (Italy), Basque Country (Spain) and more.

“We’re all about authentic experiences and rich cultural connections,” said Kathy Dragon, executive director of Whole Journeys. “Why we travel, where we travel, what we do and who we meet while we are there, and how we share the experiences when we return home, can affect positive change in the world. Guests come away from their trips with a wider worldview and, hopefully, a deeper appreciation for global diversity.”

So, what can guests expect from Whole Journeys? Led by local guides or regional experts, guests are immersed in each destination’s culinary and cultural traditions. Each itinerary incorporates distinctive accommodations and visits to native farms, local cooking classes, traditional restaurants, artisan wineries and/or cheese makers, with some itineraries including regional food festivals or historic trading routes. Levels of exertion, accommodations and food experiences vary. All itineraries are designed to support local communities; respect the environment, traditions and culture of the region; and encourage travelers to interact with one another and the locals who co-create the experience. Itineraries are posted online at

Itineraries run from five days to two weeks. Most trips accommodate a maximum of 16 guests. Pricing is competitive, usually between $3,000 and $4,500 for trips offering close encounters with the lands and peoples in each destination. Travelers book their own airfare; guides, visits, hotels and most meals are included. Programs can also be customized for private groups with a focus on a specific interest or region based on the company’s network of trusted guides and producers.

Whole Journeys makes its first departures in April 2013 with trips including a trip to a Turkish food festival, an epicurean biking tour in Italy, and a hike following the historic tea & horse caravan road in China. In the future guests can expect more trips in the U.S. and South America. 2013 itineraries* currently available for booking include:

As a 20-year veteran of the adventure/experiential travel industry, Dragon has guided more than 3,000 active adults on small group tours worldwide, from Bhutan to Patagonia, Slovenia to Sicily and many destinations between. Prior to leading Whole Journeys, she owned The Dragon’s Path, a travel company focused on cultural walking adventures, and consulted for numerous travel companies

*dates subject to change. Please check to confirm dates before booking.