Two weeks before their trip, Jason McLaughlin and his wife Charlotte knew they were going away, they just didn’t know where.
You see, the couple were the winners of an Intrepid mystery trip competition, so imagine their delight when Jason and Charlotte turned up at the airport and discovered they were going to explore Peru and its astounding Amazon Jungle…
“The driver kills the engine and for several moments the boat sits in darkness in what equates to silence in the jungle – the polyphonic hum of the cicadas, the occasional whoop of a nighttime bird and the excited wails of unseen monkeys, somewhere, maybe far away, maybe watching us from the shadowy trees which overhang the river banks. We gaze at stars I can’t remember seeing before. The constellations I recognise, The Plough, Orion, Pegasus are there of course, but between them are sparkling clusters of light which, I swear, just don’t exist in the city.
Think of places where it’s easy for vegetarians to travel and Mongolia probably won’t be high on the list.
Growing vegetables is tough in the harsh climate and tending to the garden is not really part of the traditional nomadic lifestyle. People joke that in Mongolia you eat meat, more meat, with a side order of meat on top of that. But believe it or not, at least in Ulaanbaatar it’s possible to dine meat-free without too much trouble.
In the city there are at least three purely vegetarian restaurants:
One day a guy walked in to Intrepid’s London store, while simultaneously a girl in Sydney booked her tour of Peru. What comes next is a romantic tale that Holly Howard will be able to tell the grand kids…
“I was at a stage in my life where I wanted to shake things up a bit. I was in a job I didn’t particularly enjoy, at the end of a relationship and living in a flat that I no longer liked. I also just turned 30, so thought it was the perfect milestone to ‘up-stumps’ and see more of the world. South America seemed like an exotic destination, full of history and not yet overrun by tourists – a place where I might even have an ‘epiphany on a mountain top’ about what I should do with my life.
Why have fountains flowing with water when they could be splashing about in the country’s national drink?
Yes, Peruvians are so passionate about their beloved Pisco that on the first Saturday in February they honour their famous cocktail with Pisco Sour Day. On this day each year the fountain at Plaza Mayor in Lima even pours with thousands of litres of the local brew!
If you can’t make it to this huge Pisco party, there is another chance to celebrate the iconic liqueur on National Pisco Day in July. And if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, you can join Intrepid’s special Pisco Making Urban Adventure in Cusco to discover why this national drink has a way of bringing locals and travellers together.
Sure, it’s the number one sport in the country, but Raul Rodruiguez didn’t rate fútbol as a must-do on his first visit to Spain.
His plans for Madrid included viewing the artistic masterpieces of the Museo del Prado, wandering through the Real Jardin Botanico and enjoying a coffee break at a Plaza Mayor cafe, but it turns out that football fever is infectious and guess who is now Real Madrid’s biggest fan…
We always know that our travels are going to leave us with lasting memories, but as journalist Brenda McCormick discovered, our adventures can also leave us with lifelong new friends…
“I was heading to Australia and wanted to travel a little on the way there. My brother had been to Kathmandu and always spoke highly of the experience, so my friend Leanne and I decided to join Intrepid’s Kathmandu to Delhi tour as it also offered us the opportunity to see the Taj Mahal, which remains one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
Hands up if this year you just want to have a quiet one, do nothing much and spend most of your time on the couch? Not likely, right!
This isn’t the time to plan a mundane existence. Now is when you want to work out how to make this year even better than your last, so we’ve come up with a list of 8 travel challenges to help make 2014 your best year yet…
Challenge your mind:
Discover the history of Petra in Jordan
An ancient city carved into rose coloured rock with cooling caves, impressive tombs, an amphitheatre and monastery, Petra is laden with a rich history that will boggle the mind. Learn why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and be blown away by its beauty.
Algeria has been off the map for mainstream tourists for around 20 years, after a fairly destructive civil war during the 1990′s rendered it off-limits. Though peace was restored by 2003, it took some time for the scars in Algerian society to heal and now most of the country is safe for travellers to return.
Algeria has not experienced the major tourist development and commercialisation that neighbouring countries have undergone in recent decades – it’s like Morocco was before hoards of visitors wanted to follow in the footsteps of Hendrix and the Rolling Stones – and the way Algerians remain unaffected by the presence of tourists is particularly refreshing.
It seems many travellers either love or hate their hammam experience, but either way a tour of Turkey wouldn’t be complete without getting your kit off to try this local bathing tradition, as Margaret Morse explains…
“I asked Gaye about Turkish baths. She smiled and said that would be a great way to unwind from the air flight over. She phoned friends who knew where there was one open on a Sunday and made arrangements for us to go. I had been keen to go to one of these, but not game to go with a stranger, so I was very pleased she could take me.
Why celebrate the start of a new year only once? If you time your trip right, like Intrepid’s Maya Markowitz you could enjoy another chance to start afresh and feel cleansed, plus have a whole lot of fun in the process…
“My friend Catie and I went on an epic 9-week adventure through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The trip was one of the best I have taken and included everything from snorkeling off Phu Quoc Island in South Vietnam, to staying with a local family in the country side of Cambodia and timing our trip to coincide with a fantastic local festival in Laos.