In 2020 we are unveiling some incredible destinations that we have just released for the first time, with more to follow later in the year. We also have some old favourites which are worth considering if you are looking for travel inspiration to take you off the beaten track. The world awaits! Where are you considering travelling in 2020?
Forbidden Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. It occupies an area about the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River. Saudi Arabia’s population is 33 million, includes around 12 million foreign residents. Saudi Arabia’s geography is diverse, with forests, grasslands, mountain ranges and deserts. The climate varies from region to region. Temperatures can reach can soar in the desert in the summer, while in the winter temperatures in the north and central parts of the country can drop below freezing. A trip to Saudi Arabia can best be described as surpriasin, unexpected and beautiful. But don’t take our word for it discover it for yourself.
A journey of discovery awaits. Our Forbidden Kingdom of Saudi Arabia small group tour which will be led by Crooked Compass Founder Lisa Pagotto, and has a departure date for 9th November 2021. If you are wishing to explore Saudi Arabia before 2021, our Tours By Design team can help you create your perfect journey on a private basis. Only recently opening its previously forbidden doors to travellers, this is one destination that has caught the attention of intrepid travellers the world over. A country rich in symbolism and home to some of the world’s most incredible pre Islamic treasures, the country is also home to unusual yet diminishing tribes, hidden cultures, forgotten practices and contrastingly modern cities with buzzing cosmopolitan vibes and a stunning coastline which is home to a vast array of marine life. Chances for learning and discovery are abundant, Saudi Arabia delivers a contrast of landscapes and lifestyles unlike any other Middle Eastern destination for the curious minded voyager.
Madagascar was only colonised by human settlers relatively recently – perhaps as late as 500AD – some 300,000 years after the first appearance of Homo sapiens in Africa and is truly a world of its own. Separated from mainland Africa over 88 million years ago, it is dubbed the ‘eighth continent.’ According to Conservation International, just 17 countries are considered “megadiverse”. Each possesses a vast number of different species – many found nowhere else. And Madagascar, thanks largely to being undisturbed by humans for so very long, is one. Among its resident animals are more than half the world’s chameleons and dozens of species of lemur. Apart from its natural treasure, the island nation is also rich in a culture of charming ethnic groups.
Calling all adventurers, wildlife lovers and those looking to immerse themselves in a true explorers journey! Our Lemurs & Tribes small group tour will take you places that you thought only existed in the pages of National Geographic. Immerse yourself in the welcoming Malagasy people, the indigenous tribes along with their proud traditions as well as allowing you to venture into the local custom of the ‘Turning of the Bones’. Venture far from civilisation into the wilderness to marvel at the country’s biodiversity which cannot be matched by any other destination on our planet. Visits to National Parks are a chance to spot unique plants and animals whilst exploring stunning landscapes with sharp cliffs and bizarre rock formations, resulting from volcanic activity and wind. Are you ready to see Madagascar in 2020?
Discovery of Central Asia – 5 Stans
Tucked between India, Russia and China, the five ‘stans’ are a congregation of mountains, steppe grassland and desert. Once a mix of feudal khanates and nomadic peoples, they were formed as republics under Stalin’s rule. Now, 20 years after independence, they are forging their own identities. A trip to this region is a chance to witness sapphire lakes, sheer peaks capped with snow, wild nomadic frontiers, cobalt architecture and a tangle of fascinating history which are Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
These almost untouched nations provide travellers with some of the most incredible and fresh travel experiences on our planet. A destination that was once truly off the tourist map is starting to gain momentum as a hot spot, but it is not too late to see it before the masses. Just don’t wait too long! Our small group tour is a true exploration into a bygone era as you uncover time frozen cultures, a jumble of soviet and Persian history, Silk Road trade routes and jaw dropping beauty unlike anywhere else and that transitions into the modern world. This is an immersive and rewarding journey for those adventurers wanting to embrace a region that truly is off the beaten the path.
Looking for a country with no traffic lights? What about a destination that smoking as well as tobacco products are illegal? What about a country where Gross National Happiness was identified by the nation as being more important than Gross National Product? Then Bhutan is for you. The small and predominantly Buddhist nation of Bhutan, tucked between China and India, is lanced by deep ravines and coated with thick woods. It is a mysterious kingdom nestled in the heart of the Himalayas and is no ordinary place. Here, chilies make up whole dishes, the rice is red and you get fined for not wearing your national dress.
Bhutan is a country of surprises terraced by lush rice paddies, pine forests and dotted with sparkling mountain lakes and is one of the most untouched kingdoms on our planet. A fascinating land heavy with deep mythology, where giant protective penises are painted on the walls of houses (no really, they are) and ancient traditions intertwine seamlessly modern complexes. The doors open to only a small number of travellers each year so now is your chance to mingle amongst the elders chewing on red beetle nut, the creak and whirr of spinning prayer wheels and the flap of fluttering prayer flags, your senses are overloaded. A trip to Bhutan with us will truly encapsulate you.
Looking for a bucket list journey to take in 2020? If you would like to make this experience yours then contact us today, our Tours By Design team are ready to create your bespoke journey. Check out our range of small group tours here.
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.