10 ways to get closer to nature with Intrepid  

written by Daniel Fahey April 20, 2023

Who said there are only seven wonders of the world? By our count, every square mile of earth offers something to inspire awe. And these days, we are more aware than ever of how precious our planet is. 

Whether we’re exploring sparkling glacier caves in Iceland or virgin rainforests in Peru, it’s essential we tread carefully when we travel, to preserve its fragile beauty. We need to move in harmony with Mother Nature. Leave our wild spaces in a better state than we find them today.  

That’s what these 10 low-impact trips offer. Fulfilling, sustainable experiences in phenomenal places that get up close and personal with nature. 

1. Go on a low-impact camping adventure in Iceland 

Unless you’re Bear Grylls, there’s no more sustainable way to stay overnight than camping. Don’t Bjork at the idea – kipping under the canvas in Iceland is as cool as can be. Time it right and the dancing ribbons of the northern lights will float above the campfire at night; in the morning, you’ll wake in a wildflower meadow, moments from a thundering valley cascade. Our one-week whip around southern Iceland features electric blue glaciers and snorkelling between continental plates. We chuck in geysers and bone-warming hot springs too. In fact, we get you so close to nature that David Attenborough would be green with envy. You’ll also get the opportunity to plant trees in the Hvolsvollur Valley as a regenerative solution to climate change reversal.   

2. Conserve virgin rainforest by wildlife-watching in Peru 

Few make it this deep into the Amazon. Soundtracked by the cries of red howler monkeys and brightly-coloured macaws, the 380-hectare Tambopata National Reserve in Peru is a rich blanket of virgin rainforest. Laced by silver rivers and bejewelled by glassy lakes, this is the domain of jaguars, pumas, crocodiles and three-toed sloths. The entire area teems with extraordinary biodiversity. As well as gliding across the shimmering still waters of Lake Sandoval in a dug-out wooden canoe, our trips take you wildlife spotting under the cover of darkness, before bedding down at the remarkable Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción, a low-impact Feature Stay exclusive to Premium travellers, made up of 25 private cabanas on stilts, secreted in the heart of the canopy.  

3. Support rural communities by trekking in Pakistan 

Pakistan’s colossal Karakoram mountains are pure paradise. Far removed from the bustling bazaars of Islamabad, this elephant-grey, snow-slathered spine of serene super peaks – which includes the 8,611-m-high K2 – feels largely untouched by man or mortal. Our 10-day trek through this imposing, beguiling and underexplored region is a chance to swap over-trodden hiking paths for quiet, contemplative trails through wildflower meadows and across glacial streams. An ideal antidote to overtourism, the trip includes authentic local encounters, organic food, sublime sunrises and the chance to sleep beneath a carpet of pulsating stars.  

4. Challenge your perspective in Israel and the Palestinian Territories 

Any crisis, great or small, requires us to come together to reach a resolution that suits all parties. More often than not, that means putting ourselves into the sandals of others. Our 8-day tour of Israel and the Palestinian Territories aims to break down the historical and cultural complexities of this region. From eating with a Palestinian family to bedding down in a refugee-camp-turned-guesthouse that aims to protect the environment of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River Valley, this tour is a mind-changer. Namely, humans need to work together to sustain our life on earth. 

5. See elephants responsibly in Thailand and Laos 

Back in 2014, we tackled the elephant in the room. (Or the elephant in the jungle. In chains. Kept for the sole purpose of entertaining tourists). If we’re to live in harmony with nature, we need to recognise that humans aren’t the sole proprietors of the planet – we share it with animals too. That’s why we banned elephant rides on our trips, design our itineraries in line with animal welfare guidelines and discourage any activities that exploit wildlife. But these majestic, humble beasts still leave us in awe, so our 13-day trip to Thailand and Laos heads into the thick Laos jungle to visit an ethical elephant project, Mandalao. After years of toil in logging camps, these elephants are now free to live in their natural habitat and a peaceful visit here is as relaxing and remedying as any spa retreat. 

6. Count your blessings among the bounties of New Zealand 

The scenery in New Zealand grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you out of inertia. Like, hello! Have you seen how gorgeous Franz Josef Glacier is? It tumbles down the mountainside like the contents of a fire extinguisher. Visit and you’ll want to protect it like your firstborn. The same goes for the ancient Rimu and Kamahi trees in Hokitika. And the stunning Blue Pools whose piercing turquoise water fills the Makarora River. Our 10-day trip isn’t just a beauty pageant for nature – we also check in on the Aspiring Biodiversity Trust to learn more about the work they do to protect and restore indigenous biodiversity.  

7. Search for the Big Five across South Africa and Zimbabwe 

Search for the Big Five. In an open 4WD. Across three national parks. In two countries. On one trip. This 9-day banger of an adventure not only seeks out lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo in South Africa and Zimbabwe but it helps our partners, the good eggs at the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, rescue and rehabilitate wildlife as well. They aim to reduce human-wildlife conflict by using bomas (predator-proof mobile fences), while also promoting anti-poaching efforts. And all you’ve got to do is take in wild Africa at its most arresting. 

8. Immerse yourself in the epic wilderness of Alaska 

Alaska is McMassive. Home to ‘merica’s tallest mountain, its annual snowfall would smother a giraffe. There are more bears here than in any other state. Plenty of wolves too. The skies are large, like an epic IMAX screen. Come winter, the aurora borealis drift and shimmer in the darkness like flamboyant dancers at the Rio Carnival. This is nature turned up to 11 and our absorbing 8-day winter excursion celebrates the sheer scale of the wilderness on show. From snowshoeing in Denali National Park and soaking weary muscles in Chena’s natural hot springs to eyeballing the ice walls of Matanuska Glacier (yep, the biggest in the US), the state’s great outdoors is pristine. You’ll even visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which takes in injured animals to rehabilitate them and send them back out into the wild. Come during the colder months and there will be fewer visitors too.   

9. Take the family to Borneo and help replant coral 

Little prepares you for the full flush of euphoria when first spotting an orangutan in the wild. These gracious ginger creatures, native to the pristine forests of Borneo, swing between trees, grin infectiously, and chomp on fresh fruit – and are likely to be the first of an all-star cast of Malaysia’s Most Amazing Creatures you’ll see on this trip. Covering rainforest, rivers, islands and cities, you’re likely to encounter proboscis monkeys, macaques, kingfishers, plus a croc or two on this immersive 10-day escape for families (ages 5+). On idyllic Dinawan Island, you’ll get hands on in a marine conservation program – a new experience for 2023 which extols the benefits of marine biodiversity and teaches you about sustainable methods of coral replanting. 

10. Spot rhinos while rebuilding Kenya’s natural landscapes  

Is there any better destination to throw yourself into the bosom of Mother Nature than wildlife conservation pin-up Kenya? We’re yet to find it. Following years of poaching, Kenya’s endless savannahs are bursting back into life. Endangered black rhinos. Prowling lions. Yawning hippos in the depths of Lake Naivasha. Not that the week-long trip is only a stalk-and-snap safari. No, we’ll also visit our Intrepid Foundation partner, the Eden Reforestation Project, to see how they’re rebuilding the wetland plateaus of the Kijabe Forest. Something to feel smug about as the horizon swallows another blazing tangerine sunset. Or Mount Kilimanjaro photobombs another picture like an icing-covered bundt cake. 

Feeling inspired?

You might also like

Back To Top