A Encouraging Note from Explore Up Close

Hello friends,

[Above the din and smoke enveloping the plains of Waterloo, rose the steady clear lilt of a solitary bag-piper, dressed in his Gordon Highlanders tartan . . . and the melody of "Johnnie Cope, Are Ye Wakin'?" flooded into the valley and into the hearts of the troops.]

This is Chumley, founder of Explore Up Close, writing with some words of encouragement. (As for the above passage . . . sometimes, only the music of the Scottish Highlands can capture a particular feeling.)

We're obviously experiencing a lock-down on all travel and routine activities, which will stretch on for several weeks. There will be updates from officials and experts about the specifics of the lock-down, and the duration -- so we, like you, will monitor and reassess our world of travel possibilities as those updates roll through.

Here are a few notes that I hope are comforting to us all.

First of all, on the personal side: If any of you who live in our immediate area (i.e. the Greenville / Spartanburg areas) need anything -- a grocery store run, help getting to an appointment, toilet paper from my wife's stash -- please contact us. Call me, leave a message, and I'll respond.

Related to our scheduled travel during the next month or so: 
We are taking the approach of wanting to reschedule trips that fall between mid-March and mid-April. As I said above, we'll keep monitoring developments about the virus and safety restrictions, and make smart decisions about later trips -- and whether we can take them as scheduled or need to reschedule. So, if you're signed up for a spring trip, we'll be in touch with details about our plans.

We will also take this unexpected free time to share some wonderful travel photos, and snippets of great stories from our archives, which we hope will help lift your spirits and normalize your lives.

Among the true joys that we've found during our years of Exploring Up Close are the friendships we've experienced along the way with our fellow travelers. So, in our present dislocation, we'll continue to keep in touch . . . and we'll look forward to some great backroads exploration in our future!


Chumley Cope
Explore Up Close Founder


Posted on March 16th in Small Group Travel

Hello, 2020! A decade of Explore Up Close, in review

As this year comes to a close, we're reflecting on our favorite memories from 2019 . . . and from the past decade.  It's been a big year for our small family company, and we couldn't be more excited as we look ahead to 2020!

Here's 2019, by the numbers . . .

10 countries visited:
Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Spain
11 states explored:
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
25 small group trips
183 curious travelers 

Over the past decade . . .

In 2009, Explore Up Close was celebrating 5 years in business. Our small team was even smaller - founder Chumley Cope ran every aspect of the company - and led each and every trip - by himself!  Over the past 10 years, we are proud to have grown to a team of three full-time employees. And, we've been very fortunate to work with a host of incredible guides and great minds along the way.
We've also widened our travel repertoire since 2009.  Today, in addition to our small group tours, we proudly organize and guide trips for family and friend groups, churches, special interest groups, and more. For the friends who dream of hiking through the Scottish Borders, for a family's summer adventure to the Pacific Northwest, or for a church choir group discovering the Reformation and music history in Germany . . . organizing custom group travel has become one of our favorite ventures yet.
Most of all, we're grateful to have the opportunity to do what we love! To each person who has opened our emails, shared our name with a friend, or joined us for a small group adventure over these past 10 years: thank you for sharing this journey with us. Here's to the special places and stories waiting in 2020!

Posted on December 31st in Small Group Travel

Christmas Tour of Homes 2018

This Southeastern Trip of Discovery took us through the scenic backroads of South Carolina's Old 96 District, with a stop in Edgefield, South Carolina, before crossing the Savannah River into the Georgia Piedmont. We then visited the beautifully decorated private homes and historic buildings of Washington, Georgia, as part of the town's annual Christmas Tour. Holiday fun at its finest!

The Thomson, Georgia home of Thomas Watson - prominent Southern Populist politician and lawyer.

Our group enjoyed a private tour of the impressive Edgefield County Archives, which contains some of South Carolina's rarest historical documents and best preserved records.

The stately Chantilly at Brookhill, a former cotton plantation and dairy farm.


Keeping warm with some hot cider. 

Does anyone else love vintage Christmas decorations like we do? 

Posted on December 15th in Small Group Travel

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