History shouldn’t be boring. At Intrepid, when we think historical holidays, we don’t see textbooks and lectures and tweed. We see crumbling Mayan temples covered in vines, the bone-white dome of the Taj Mahal and the mist-shrouded ruins of Machu Picchu. We see you, the intrepid explorer, learning by venturing into the wonders of history and experiencing these wild places for yourself. Don’t mistake old for old-fashioned – our action-packed historical adventures will bring out the Indiana Jones in every traveller (whip and fedora not included).
From the holy waters of the Ganges and the graveyards of Mexico to the tulip fields and orange groves of Europe, festival season never truly dies – and we’ve got your private pass all ready to go. It’s time strap on your sandals, loosen your lederhosen and dive right in.
Popular cultural holiday destinations
The passage to Petra is long and narrow, winding through The Siq: a 1.2km canyon rent asunder by tectonic forces long ago. The walls are high and oppressive, blocking out the light, and just when you think it will never end, you see it – the Grecian sandstone columns of The Treasury. Nothing quite prepares you for the sight of this architectural marvel, built by the Nabataeans in the 3rd century BC to control the spice route. It lies in relief, carved deep into the red cliffs like something from another world. Thousands of travellers make the pilgrimage to Petra every year, and not one of them leaves disappointed.
When to travel: For such a small country, Jordan has an extraordinary range of climates. The best times to visit are in spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November) when the temperatures are milder. For an extra treat, travel in April to catch the wildflowers in bloom.
Our top trips
The pyramids of Egypt are usually associated with the Great Pyramid of Giza – the oldest and best preserved wonder of the ancient world – but there are dozens of other sites scattered along the banks of the Nile and deep within the high desert that are equally as impressive (and don’t come with the cacophony of Cairo on their doorstep). The sheer size and scale of many of these constructions is astounding, and no visit to the golden sands of Egypt is complete without them.
Egypt’s climate can be summed up in two words: hot and dry.
When to travel: This shouldn’t come as much surprise to anyone that’s at least googled the country before. Generally winter (December to February) is the tourist high season, as the days are milder than the summer months. From June to August, temperatures can soar to over 40°C and it’s best to avoid travelling during this time, despite the smaller crowds.
Our top trips
Machu Picchu, Peru
Lost in the misty valleys of the Andes mountain range until 1911, Machu Picchu is probably the most familiar landmark of the Incas: a spectacular city in the clouds, perched 2,400m above the farmland of Peru’s Sacred Valley. Thousands of travellers every year make the trek along the Inca Trail from the ancient capital of Cuzco, traversing the steep mountain peaks and the ruins of Ollantaytambo. It’s a glorious trail, and our friendly Peruvian porters, guides and chefs help make it as fun and comfortable as possible. Whether you’ve only got a week or want to work it into a sprawling Peruvian itinerary, there’s a Machu Picchu adventure that fits the bill.
When to travel: Peru is a year-round destination, but the mountain dry season generally runs from April to October. The nights are milder in these mid-year months, and there are often wild orchids in bloom along the trail. June and July are the most popular, and therefore most crowded, months on the trail. Low cloud cover in winter also means cold nights on the trail – bring some thermals for a good night’s sleep.
Our top trips
Taj Mahal, India
It’s considered to be the most beautiful building in the world. Rudyard Kipling described it as ‘the embodiment of all things pure’, Rabindranath Tagore as 'a teardrop on the cheek of eternity’. The Taj Mahal draws more travellers each year than the entire population of Agra, and is probably the biggest and longest-standing token of love ever built. Constructed over eight years by Shah Jahan in the 17th century, the Taj Mahal is obviously a must see for any travellers passing even remotely near Delhi. Our local guides can give you the historical background and colourful anecdotes that truly bring this ancient wonder to life.
When to travel: To avoid the worst of the summer heat, it’s generally best to travel in the more temperate months of October through to March. Try to make it to the Taj Mahal at sunrise as the dawn stains the temple pink and purple – this is also good advice if you’re concerned about the midday crowds. Return in the evening for another technicolour display. The structure glows amber as the sun starts to dip below the horizon, then returns to pearl white just before sunset.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
When to travel: When visiting Angkor there are two factors to consider: time of year and time of day. To make the most of your visit, it’s generally best to travel between November and February, when the weather is drier and the temperature a little cooler. When it comes to time of day, try to outthink the tourists. Visit the site when it opens at dawn (5am), when most people are taking their lunch (around 1pm) or right before the park closes (6pm). Not only will you miss most of the crowds, you’ll catch the best sunrises and sunsets over the temple complex.
Terracotta Warriors, China
When to travel: China is a vast country with a whole host of weather patterns, but Xi’an is thankfully pretty predictable. March to May is generally a good time to travel, as temperatures are mild and rain is unlikely. The same goes for September to October, when temperatures hang around the 20°C mark.