News: New tours for 2013
Posted: 26 November 2012
After months of waiting, our selection of new tours for 2013 has now arrived. And what a selection.....! We're proud to announce new trips in some of our most undiscovered destinations yet, including some that are offered by no other UK tour operator. Feast your eyes on the details below..
Nigeria is one of the last gaps on the traveller’s map of Africa, a vast country which is exciting to some, daunting to many. With a shaky international reputation, this diverse land is often ignored by visitors to West Africa, but one cannot say that one truly knows the region without knowing Nigeria. This tour encompasses some of the highlights of Nigeria, from the Yoruba culture of the south to the north, the land of the Hausa, of ancient emirates that were powerful before Europeans had even set eyes on the continent. We learn about local religions at the shrines of Oshogbo and spend an exciting couple of days in the lands of the Kamberi people, one of Nigeria’s most traditional groups with animist customs still prevalent. We visit the old city of Zaria, with its mosques, palaces and museums, exuding the atmosphere of the Islamic kingdoms of days gone by. We travel to the stunning Idanre Hills and discover the remnants of old civilisations, then return to the coast at Badagry to learn of Nigeria’s slave trade and the consequences it had on the region. This is a truly pioneering trip and not for everyone, but for those keen to explore this intriguing land it is a great introduction to its complex charms. See full details of this trip here.
Somaliland is not Somalia. A self declared independent state unrecognised by the rest of the world, Somaliland has its own government and currency and has escaped the chaos that has engulfed its notorious cousin. Perched on the Horn of Africa and bordered by the Red Sea, Somaliland is a country of proud traditions born out of its largely nomadic heritage, keen to welcome visitors. This short trip gives the intrepid traveller a unique insight into a country that does not officially exist. Starting in the capital Hargeisa we wander the markets and soak up the atmosphere before heading to Baligubadle where we meet local nomadic communities and learn about the challenges they face in this parched corner of the continent. After visiting the eastern towns of Arabsiyo and Gabiley, we then travel to the spectacular rock art site of Las Geel – one of the most impressive examples of prehistoric art in Africa. From here we journey to the coastal city of Berbera with its colonial architecture, travel through the stunning scenery around Sheikh and Burao, and discover the ruins of a 16th century city. But Somaliland is above all characterised by its people – facing some of the harshest conditions on our planet, hindered in their efforts at international recognition by an underserved association, yet some of the friendliest and most exuberant people you will ever meet. See the details of this trip here.
South Sudan Safari
Africa’s newest country, South Sudan, has effectively been off limits for decades – but no longer. This trip allows you an insight into a land that few have ever visited, a country brimming with superb opportunities for both wildlife watching and for fascinating encounters with local people. Starting in the capital Juba we fly to Boma National Park – one of the largest national parks in Africa and only recently discovered to harbor an incredible amount of wildlife, which had been mistakenly thought to have disappeared during the long civil war. With a migration that surpasses that of the mighty Serengeti, we can look forward to encountering elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard and vast herds of antelopes on daily game drives from our tented camp within the park. Forget the crowds of better known places like the Masai Mara – you are almost guaranteed to be the only group here. We also spend time visiting local villages to learn more about the customs of people barely touched by the modern world. This is a chance to experience a part of Africa that has changed little for centuries, the Africa encountered by the Victorian explorers – it doesn’t get much more exciting than this. Trip details available here.
On the edge of the Silk Road and with a rich history stretching back millennia, Turkmenistan is a land that few know much about. Dominated by forbidding desert and once the abode of fierce tribesmen renowned for their slave trading, the country today is characterised by sharp contrasts, from the futuristic building projects of the capital to remote communities living in tents among the sands. This two week trip is a comprehensive journey through one of the most mysterious places in Asia. Starting in Ashgabat we combine both ancient and modern, visiting the monuments built by the previous ruler Turkmenbashi as well as the Parthian fortress of Nisa, before leaving the city behind and embarking on our journey to the mountains. We stay as guests of a local community in Nohur, reputed to be descended from the armies of Alexander, then travel through the remarkable canyon landscapes of Yangikala to the pilgrimage site of Gozli Ata, where we spend the night in the company of local pilgrims. From here we head to the Caspian Sea before flying to Dashoguz and visiting the UNESCO listed site of Konye-Urgench, evidence of former glories of this fascinating region. Perhaps the most exciting part of our trip is a three day excursion into the Karakum desert, camping at a flaming gas crater and stopping in isolated settlements to meet people who rarely see tourists. After a brief stop in Turkmenabat we then drive to the Kugitang Mountains, with dinosaur footprints, caves and rare species to discover. On our way back to Ashgabat we visit Merv, a vast site made up of the remains of five different cities, testament to the wide array of cultures that have made their mark here. Turkmenistan is one of the most exciting countries in Central Asia and this pioneering trip takes you to all corners of the country, doing more than just scratching the surface but allowing you a detailed insight into its culture and history. We think this is one of our most exciting trips – join us and we’re sure you will agree. Full details here.
Myanmar In Depth
This two week tour delves further into the mysteries of this hitherto hidden country, going beyond the key highlights to show you parts of Myanmar that are still off the tourist trail. From Yangon we head south, stopping first at the Golden Rock at Kyaikhtiyo to join the pilgrims, then continuing to the coastal town of Mawlamyine with its pagodas and colonial buildings for an insight into a different side of the country. From here we head to isolated Chin State, home to some of Myanmar’s most remote communities, where we look flora and fauna on the slopes of Mt Victoria and visit tribal villages that the modern world has barely touched, meeting tattooed villagers and learning about their traditional societies. We then fly to Sittwe and take a river journey to Mrauk U, home to a collection of temples and stupas that rival Bagan, but with far fewer visitors. This trip is about getting beyond Myanmar’s newly arrived crowds and seeking out some of its hidden treasures, with excellent opportunities to meet local people along the way. Ideal for the second time visitor to Myanmar, or for those looking for something a little different. Read the details of the tour here.
Our new brochure featuring these trips and many more will be available shortly, and we'll be at the Adventure Travel Show at Olympia on 26 and 27 January as well as the Destinations Travel Show at Earls Court from 31 January to 1 February to give you more details.
We're very excited about our new trips, and we hope you will be too - still keeping our ethos of redefining the notion of 'off the beaten track'.