Native Eye

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia – The Edge of Europe

The Caucasus region occupies an unusual position both geographically and culturally, intertwining elements of Russia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Central Asia. This comprehensive tour visits Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, formerly tucked away within the Soviet Union but now easily accessible to the curious traveller. The highlights here are diverse; we start in Azerbaijan and visit its unique geological phenomena – flaming mountains and bubbling mud volcanoes – which has given rise to the nickname ‘land of fire’. In the mountains we visit unique communities and historic towns packed full of ancient mosques and mausoleums where the past never seems too far away and villagers welcome us into their homes with traditional Azeri hospitality. Moving into Georgia we head into the High Caucasus Mountains, visiting the mythical Mount Kazbek, reputedly the site of the Greek fable to Prometheus, then move on to Mtskhehta, the spiritual heart of the country with some
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Ancient Armenia

Uncover the secrets of a truly enchanting corner of Europe on a short trip that shows you a side of the continent you never knew existed. We start in Yerevan, a vibrant and rather charming city with some splendid architecture, and explore some of its key sites before heading into the surrounding countryside. At Khor Virap and Noravank we visit ancient monasteries that date back to the emergence of Christendom, and in Dilijan wander around the old centre and meet the Molokan people, one of Europe’s smallest, but most traditional ethnic groups. We discover the stunning churches of Echmiadzin and visit Kurdish and Yazidi villages where lifestyles have changed little for centuries, uncovering the rich cultural heritage of this complex but fascinating part of the world. At the dramatically located monastery of Geghard we see ancient religious treasures, and in the area around Garni we spend time in a local village
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Azerbaijan – Between East and West

Perched on the very edge of Europe, Azerbaijan occupies an unusual position both geographically and culturally, intertwining elements of Russia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Central Asia. This short trip takes you on a journey through a land that has remained shrouded in mystery for centuries. We start in Baku, the oil rich capital which blends the ultra-modern with the staunchly traditional, visiting its historic quarter and marvelling at the unique architecture here. Outside of the city are strange geological phenomena – flaming mountains and bubbling mud volcanoes – which has given Azerbaijan the name ‘land of fire’. In the mountains we visit unique communities and historic towns packed full of ancient mosques and mausoleums where the past never seems too far away and villagers welcome us into their homes with traditional Azeri hospitality. For the truly adventurous, the enclave of Nakhchivan is just a short flight away, nestled against the
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Bulgaria – Monasteries and Mountains

Europe’s newest country is a fascinating mixture of east and west, with some of the continent’s best scenery and fascinating towns that remind you that the Orient is not far away. This short trip covers both the highlights and allows you to get beneath the skin of a rather intriguing land. We start in Pristina, with its melange of Christianity and Islam, exploring the old town as well as the ancient Roman remains of Ulpiana, then head to Peja with its Albanian and Ottoman architecture. We explore the pristine mountainous countryside, criss crossed with rivers and harbouring villages where the traditions of yesteryear are as relevant as they ever have been. Explore the impressive 14th century monastery at Decani and head to Junik for an insight into the complex and feudal customs of this land, then explore the spiritual heritage of the dervishes in Gjakova. In Rahovec we sample some of
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Saudi Arabia – The Forbidden Kingdom

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
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Liberia Revealed

Liberia has an unusual history. It is the only country on the continent, apart from Ethiopia, not to have been colonized by Europeans in the ‘Scramble for Africa’. Once a home for freed Afro-American slaves, it has a very different feel from its neighbors. It was off limits for some time, but is now accessible to the adventurous Africa enthusiast.
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Island Africa – Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tomé combine beautiful island scenery with colonial heritage. This tour gives you the chance explore both rarely visited countries with their dramatic volcanic landscapes and remnants of Latin and Portuguese colonial pasts. Explore primary tropical forests with waterfalls, search for turtle nests on secluded black and white sand beaches and wander through old colonial streets to discover a very different side of Africa.
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Gabon Explorer

Gabon is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, Africa’s last Eden, with a huge proportion of its land designated as national parks and home to some of the continent’s most impressive wildlife. This short tour of Gabon tour gives you the chance to see Africa at its wildest, taking you to the heart of its rainforests and the mighty Loango National Park, a land of primeval jungles, beautiful beaches, wetlands and savannah, made famous by the explorer Mike Fay in his epic trek through Central Africa.
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Festivals of Ghana

An incredible unique journey concentrating on two of Ghana’s most colourful festivals. In the Ashanti capital of Kumasi, we are privileged to witness the Akwasidae festival. Centred around the traditional concept of the chief, Akwasidae is an opportunity to call upon the protective spirits of the Ashanti and ask for blessings for the forthcoming year, and gives us a superb opportunity to see West Africa’s ‘kingdom of gold’in all its splendour, with dancers and drummers adding to the intoxicating atmosphere. Each year the Krobo hold the amazing Dipo ceremony, a process of initiation for young girls on their journey to womanhood, accompanied by elaborate rituals and distinctive traditional jewellery; we spend three days observing these fascinating customs and learning about the culture of the Krobo. Discover the colours, festivals and traditions of one of the region’s friendliest countries.
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Djibouti, the Danakil and Somaliland

The horn of Africa is a fascinating mélange of cultures, from nomadic herders to Arabian traders and influences from across the Indian Ocean. It is also home to some of the continent’s most remote and breathtaking landscapes, a land where the taste of the wild is in the air, simply begging the intrepid traveller to explore. There are few places in the world that can compete with this region for real adventure.
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Gold and Magic: Ghana, Togo and Benin

Ghana, Togo and Benin are home to an amazing diversity of traditional cultures. Experience voodoo ceremony deep within the swamps, explore stilt villages and ancient kingdoms, and visit the fiercely traditional Tamberma people, with extraordinary fortress style houses designed to protect them from invaders. Search for sacred monkeys in the forest and travel through the lands of the Krobo, as well as visiting the fishing village of Elmina, home to an imposing slave castle dating back more than five hundred years. Depending on the departure date, you will have the opportunity to witness the astonishing Egun mask dances of Benin, or the Akwasidae festival of the Ashanti, a glittering showcase of traditional culture honouring the Ashanti king.
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Tribal Lands of Cameroon

Straddling both West and Central Africa, Cameroon is alive with the traditions and customs of more than two hundred and fifty different ethnic groups, an enchanting and magical cultural mix. This tour takes you to the heart of a country much neglected by tourism, exploring lands that have seldom been visited by outsiders. A pioneering Cameroon tour that encapsulates the very best of this magical region.
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Expedition to Angola

Angola is a wild part of Africa that is slowly just starting to open again to tourism. This fascinating region is a lost treasure chest of African anthropology. Focussing on the remote south, a land of unspoiled wilderness, we travel to remote communities and settlements in an effort to understand the customs and ancient practices of the region’s most traditional peoples, staunchly holding on to their way of life and for whom the outside world is barely relevant. Join us on a unique journey through the fascinating country of Angola.
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Chad – The Gerewol Festival

The Gewewol festival in Chad is a spectacularly colourful celebration in which young Mbororo men decorate themselves, donning make up and jewellery and ‘displaying’ to young women in search of a partner. Travelling to a remote part of the Sahel, we get the rare opportunity to join them as they congregate for feasting, racing, dancing and finding lovers and immerse ourselves in a culture that lives with traditions that stretch back centuries. – this is a unique opportunity to meet the Mbororo for a celebration of their culture that will simply take your breath away. Africa is known for its festivals, but none can rival the Gerewol.
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