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In a different world to Turkey’s bustling seaside resorts, the exciting lands of eastern Turkey offer adventure, rich cultural experiences and breathtaking scenery. Beginning in the lush mountains of the Black Sea region, travel across arid plains, past crumbled villages and deep blue lakes. The tangle of ancient and current cultures will intrigue you as you visit evocative, historical sites such as the ancient Armenian capital of Ani, the Byzantine masterpiece that is Sumela Monastery, the Ishak Pasa Palace, the architecture of Mardin and many seldom visited spots such as Lake Çildir and the remote Georgian churches and fortresses in the northeast. Mount Ararat at 5137m dominates the Iranian border and Lake Van, vast and mountain encircled, feeds the plains near the Iraqi frontier. With its broad vistas and dramatic scenery, its ubiquitous borders, and a fascinating history and culture, this trip gives a truly varied insight into a part of Turkey rarely seen by foreign visitors.
With a cultural and historical legacy dating back millennia, the lands occupied by modern day Iran have witnessed the rise and fall of many notable empires. This short but insightful trip takes us on a journey through the heartland of these empires and ‘behind the veil’ of this much misunderstood country. From the beautiful gardens and shrines of Shiraz, we’ll travel via the atmospheric and timeless remains of the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis to the town of Yazd, with its well-preserved traditional houses and Zoroastrian burial towers. From here we will continue to one of the Middle East’s most spectacular destinations – the C17th and C18th capital of Isfahan. Home not only to some of the region’s finest Islamic architecture and the world’s second largest square, the Mayden-e Imam, this is also a great place to wander through the narrow corridors of the extensive souks with their handicrafts and carpets. But perhaps more memorable than any of this is the warm hospitality of the people we’ll meet along the way. Most Iranians are incredibly well-educated and widely read and will enjoy nothing more than putting the world to rights with passers-by, and for many visitors such interactions will remain their most enduring memories of the country. This is a varied and rewarding trip which will very much appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to see the treasures of ancient Persia or has ever wondered what life in Iran is really like.
To say Iran is misunderstood would not be an understatement. However, for many centuries Iran and its people have welcome travellers as honoured guests, and today is no different. The chance to meet and engage in interesting conversations with the well educated and world knowledgable local people is often a highlight for any traveller to Iran. Absorb the history of the ancient ruins of Persepolis, the magnificent tile-work of Esfahan’s mosques and the medieval wind-towers of Yazd. Shop in the bustling Grand Bazaar of Tehran or retreat to it may be the quiet vehicle-free village streets of Abyaneh and the rural tranquillity of Faraghe. Iran is a fascinating country and this great introductory trip will leave you wanting to return.
Oman is one of Arabia’s true gems – a land of rugged coastlines and vast deserts where tradition and progress go hand in hand. This wonderful adventure takes us from the heart of its picturesque capital, deep into mountains and deserts of the Bedu and the old Omani Imamate. We will take in the breathless landscapes of the Hajar Mountains and the shifting sands of Wahiba, explore the old forts of Jabrin and Nizwa and journey into the vast emptiness of the Rub Al Khali, the Empty Quarter. It is a journey of incredible contrasts, following in the footsteps of the pioneering explorers of old and taking in some of the richest natural and cultural highlights that Arabia has to offer.
One of the most inaccessible places on the planet for western travellers, Saudi Arabia is more than anything a land of mystery and a world very different from anything you may have experienced before. On this trip we aim to uncover some of the hidden secrets of one of travel’s last frontiers, lifting the veil on a land that has been out of bounds for so long. We start in the cosmopolitan city of Jeddah, a juxtaposition of bright new developments and old Ottoman heritage, before heading to the striking Asir Mountains, a contrast from the city and one of the country’s most traditional areas. We visit ancient oasis settlements, a village hanging frion the cliffs and discover prehistoric rock art, before driving via the ghost town of Al Ula to Madain Saleh. The jewel of Saudi Arabia’s historic sites, Madain Saleh was built by the same civilisation as built Jordan’s Petra, and we have time to marvel at the exquisite rock carved tombs and learn about the ancient history of a people long gone from this land. En route to Riyadh we stop at old desert forts and ancient ruins, visit a lively camel market and spend more time exploring the unique Saudi culture. Beyond the often negative reports of the country you’ll find a graceful, welcoming people, keen to meet visitors and demonstrate their overwhelming traditions of hospitality. Unlike any other trip, this is a real journey of surprises that will challenge what you think you know about this enigmatic corner of Arabia.
With a cultural and historical legacy dating back millennia, the lands occupied by modern day Iran have witnessed the rise and fall of many notable empires. This short but insightful trip takes us on a journey through the heartland of Iran and ‘behind the veil’ of the much this misunderstood country. This is a varied and rewarding trip which will very much appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to see the treasures of ancient Persia or has ever wondered what life in Iran is really like.