In the northwest of China you will find a wild part of the world surrounded by Tibet, Qinghai and Gansu provinces and no less than eight bordering countries – Russia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India and Mongolia. Intrepid’s Tina Gerets loves her Silk Road adventures through this extraordinary region…
“When I think about ‘wild frontiers’ the first place that comes to mind is the barren landscape of China’s remote Xinjiang province. The name literally means ‘new frontier’. Home to one sixth of China’s total landmass and a third of the country’s natural resources, Xinjiang is like nothing you expect China to be.
If you get your kicks from road trips, then Route 66 has to be the granddaddy of highway adventures! Intrepid’s Greg Mazzola is based in our Boulder office and there’s nothing he loves more than trippin’ across the country and enjoying a real-life taste of America…
“Cruising the historic Route 66 into Seligman, a small town on the north high plateau of Arizona, a classic American drive-in restaurant comes into view. Decorated with ice cream cones a meter tall, a sign that promises, “Dead Chicken,” and a 1936 Chevy convertible parked in front decked out with flags, rainbow pinwheels and a Christmas tree – it’s no mirage, this is for real.
Welcome to The Snow Cap, where you can get your fill of classic Americana served with a generous helping of Delgadillo humour.
Impressions of Africa, that vast amazing continent and some holiday incidents, by Cheryall McCullough…
Amazing – The wildebeest migration into the Serengeti national park; we were extremely lucky and privileged to witness the start of it. Some two million animals move into the lush grazing over a couple of weeks. Here and there the long line five or six abreast with the largest bulls on the outside, is broken as a lion makes a run for dinner. In no time, the lines reform.
Anachronism? – An enduring sight to bring home, was being on the first of four camels led by a long-legged Masai warrior-tribesman, garbed in traditional, colourful woollen robes (it’s winter), complete with spear – while he chatted on his cell phone! We have yet to see a mud brick/thatched house with a satellite dish, but it could happen.
Brilliant – African sunsets across the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers. A large orange sun sinks over the horizon into a purple, fading to aqua sky.
Emma Brady and her boyfriend travelled on Intrepid’s Essence of China trip in July and are still raving about the experience…
“China!! What a country, even after talking to people about it who we’d met along the way we still weren’t sure what to expect? What we can say after spending 3 weeks here is that it’s truly amazing and every single person we have met and talked to has been super friendly and helpful and every place we have visited has been a pleasure!
Australia love its BIG THINGS – there are hundreds of big objects all around the country from the Big Koala to the Big Banana. Plus there are the biggest and heaviest trains in the world – iron ore trains in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara region and rugged road trains, as Intrepid leader John Kirk explains…
“If you travel along Australia’s remote outback roads, you will most likely encounter a road train, road-legal behemoths that truck heavy loads around the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and northern South Australia. Road trains in the mining industry max out at a staggering 200 tonnes, but most consist of a prime-mover and 3 trailers (called ‘doggies’) with a combined weight of up to 140 tonnes and around 54 metres (177 feet) in length. That’s almost 10 average car lengths and with more than 60 wheels, these giants are a tyre-kicker’s paradise!
At first glance Russian looks like the most impossible language to pronounce. There are lots of Cyrillic letters that appear strange to English speakers, like the ones that look like backwards ‘R’ and ‘N’ and the letter that resembles a spider.
In most languages the easiest word of all to say is “hello”, but in Russian even when the word is written in latin letters it still looks intimidating: zdravstvuyte! Don’t let that put you off – Russia and Russian might seem tricky at first, but as Intrepid’s Tara Kennaway explains, you’ll get the hang of it and then there’s so much to enjoy…
“Travelling on the Russia and Beyond trip, our Russian leader Masha helped us to get our minds and tongues around a few of the basics. Her technique for teaching us to read the Cyrillic alphabet had our train carriage attendant a bit nonplussed however – she used a whiteboard marker to write on the train windows! By the time we had crossed into Siberia I thought I was doing pretty well. That was until I asked the name of the little village where we would be staying on Lake Baikal. Instead of answering she wrote it and had us try to read it out loud: Bolshoye Goloustnoye.
There’s so much happening on Intrepid’s Central Explorer trip that we recorded it on video. Our stunning Intrepid Central Australia video tells it like it is and we hear from the now Intrepid traveller, Clive Berry, to find out about his Australian 4WD adventure in front of the camera…
“DJ had been searching the internet for ideas for a trip when she stumbled across an advert for a holiday to anyone who was available at short notice to travel to the Red Centre of Australia. So after posting an email, along with photos and a short profile of ourselves, a prompt reply came back from Intrepid explaining what would be involved. They wanted someone to take part in creating a DVD that would go out with their brochures. “It wouldn’t cost a penny – flights, insurance, transfers and all food would be provided, you just have to be available in 2 weeks time. All we want you to do is say a few words to camera about your experience and we will take photos of you doing some the activities.”
Yeah right! Now I have always held the opinion that you don’t get anything for nothing in this world. Sceptical as ever I suggested to DJ that it was probably some timeshare scam and we would be lucky to get home with both our kidneys in tact. A short time later Sally from Intrepid called and explained that it was all legitimate and no organs were to be donated!
Travelling the length and breadth of a giant country like China takes an extraordinary combination of trains, planes, automobiles and even donkey carts, but for Intrepid travellers traversing the Middle Kingdom by train regularly rates as a highlight.
On many routes we travel ‘hard class’, but as Intrepid leader Joseph Kornides explains, doing it hard in China is an easy way to have fun…
“One of the great things about an Intrepid trip is the use of local transport. It really gives you an insight into how people go about their daily lives, rather than being cooped up in a luxury coach completely separated from the action.
There’s never a dull moment when it comes to travelling local style in Turkey.
From jumping into a dolmus to cruising in a caique, exploring the wonders of this intriguing land go hand-in-hand with doing as the locals do and Intrepid leader Christine Larsen is a big fan of bussing about Turkey…
“The bus system in Turkey is run like a well-oiled machine – even if how it all works is not immediately obvious to the first-time traveller. On arriving at the bus station (Otogar) you are confronted with a huge departure hall containing countless booths and workers offering destinations all over Turkey and beyond. The ‘touts’ are frenetic and offer the unsuspecting traveller a multitude of opportunities to secure a safe passage to their desired destination.