Discover Six Off-the-beaten Paths with TraveLocal
This year, why not break away from the crowds hopping the Greek islands, queuing for the Vatican and sweating it out in tents at music festivals, and discover some lesser-known alternatives?
Pioneering a new way to explore the world, TravelLocal – the ‘buy local’ expert in tailor-made holidays – not only enables travellers to directly access on-the-ground expertise from regional experts and ensures a much fairer deal for local suppliers, but also makes undiscovered gems more accessible to its UK customer-base via local know-how. Here are TravelLocal’s six top unusual trips, taking travellers away from well-trodden paths. These trips are just a taster of TravelLocal’s offering, and can be tailored in any way to suit different interests and budgets.
Mountains: Instead of the Alps, try Armenia
Armenia’s landscapes are rich and astounding – ethereal, even, in places. On a two-week hike you’ll breathe in fresh mountain air, pass crystal-clear mountain lakes, visit tranquil monasteries and sleep beneath the stars. You can immerse yourself in healing mineral waters, ride the world’s longest ‘reverse air tram’, marvel at Mount Ararat (5165 m), try authentic dishes, and drink Armenian cognac and vodka flavoured with apricots, pears or mulberries. Cost: From £1,790 pp* (two sharing) for a 13-day trip, including B&B accommodation, transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide.
Islands: Go further afield than Greece, hop around Indonesia
The Cyclades and the Sporades are wonderful, but if you want to wow with where you’ve been, and for people to wonder where on earth you’re talking about, Indonesia is an island-hopper’s paradise. You can eat your hat if anyone’s heard of – let alone been to – the beaches of the Molluca Archipelago or the Bandas Islands. And they’re beautiful. White sand shorelines, azure waters and swaying palm trees. All are places where you can also enjoy cooking lessons with locals and scuba diving sessions. Cost: From £1,570 pp* (two sharing) for a 13-day trip, including B&B accommodation, transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide.
Animals: If the Maasai Mara feels mainstream, go ape for Rwanda
Instead of heading to Kenya, why not go gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s magnificent Volcanoes National Park and observe these rare mountain creatures going about their daily life, feeding, playing and raising their young ones? Meet the remarkable young gorilla conservationist Edwin Sabuhuro who saves the lives of gorillas by teaching poachers useful, non-violent skills, such as farming, through his Goats for Gorillas initiative. Cost: From £2,830 pp* (two sharing) for a five-day trip, including B&B accommodation, transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide.
Beaches: Fancy a change from the Med? Make for Madagascar
Stay in a lagoon-side ecolodge on a pristine white beach, from where you can snorkel, water ski and go whale watching; visit the world’s only cemetery dedicated to pirates, including the notorious Captain Kidd; head to Nosy Be, Madagascar’s number one but relatively unknown beach destination; and, for a culture shot, spend time in the thriving capital city – Antananarivo. Cost: From £2,960 pp* (two sharing) for a 14-day trip, including B&B accommodation, three dinners, transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide.
Food and wine: Over-familiar with French cuisine? Uncover Georgia’s foodie culture
Georgian cuisine is a delicious blend of European and Middle Eastern influences. Be sure to try Khachapuri – bread and melted cheese, and Khinkali – tasty dumplings. Wine plays a key role in Georgian culture and comes with an 8,000-year history: don’t miss the chance to sample a glass or two from the oldest wine-producing area in Europe. This tour takes you right to the country’s culinary heart, combining cooking lessons with the chance to explore rural villages and meet local families. Cost: From £760 pp* (two sharing) for a seven-day trip, including B&B accommodation, three dinners, transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide.
Festivals: Unlike any other, the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
Held on the shores of Kyrgyzstan’s Lake Issy-Kul (the world’s second largest alpine lake), the biennial World Nomad Games will next take place from September 3-9. An extraordinary spectacle in an unearthly location, this chaotic event displays traditional nomad sports including wrestling, bone-throwing and kok-boru (‘headless goat polo’). Cost: From £1,920 pp* (two sharing) for a 12-day trip, including B&B accommodation, three dinners, transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide.
For more destination ideas off-the-beaten path, read about taking a road trip on the Pamir Highway, sampling the great outdoors in Kyrgyzstan on the back of a horse, or spending a weekend in a mountain sanatorium in Tajikistan.
* Prices are based on two sharing. TravelLocal trips include transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide. Travel to the destination is not included, giving more flexibility and allowing customers to book their flights via points schemes if preferred.
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