Get under the skin of a destination with these exciting brand new trips for Culture for 2018. We've checked all the latest tour operator brochures to bring you this top selection
Breaking through the polite surface of Japan is one of the most difficult parts of any visit to this incredible land, particularly if you still want to pack in all the sights. Wendy Wu Tours’ Trails of Japan trip aims to do just that: staying in traditional ryokan (inns with hot springs), cycling Kyoto, trekking the foot of Mount Fuji and spying the snow monkeys of Yudanaka. From the Robot Restaurant of Tokyo to bedding down in a temple run by monks, see the sights then meet the locals behind them on a trip that is more than meets the eye.
Who: Wendy Wu Tours
When: Selected dates, Mar–Nov 2018
How long: 13 days
How much: £5,190 (incl intl flights)
India’s distant north-east is not so much a remote corner as another world – one populated by resilient indigenous cultures and incredible wildlife. Intrepid Travel’s Tea & Tribes tour delves right in, fording the far-flung regions of Sikkim, Assam and Nagaland to visit Asia’s largest women-run market and the tribal villages of Naga. Spy one-horned rhino in Kaziranga NP and boat the remarkable ‘floating’ Keibul Lamjao National Park before winding west into the heights of Darjeeling, rattling into foggy mountains on a toy train, before heading to Gangtok to explore wind-swept monasteries and to catch a view of the third highest mountain in the world, Kangchenjunga. Eye-opening.
Who: Intrepid Travel
When: 10 Mar & 20 Oct 2018
How long: 16 days
How much: £1,372 (excl intl flights)
Shimmy and shake your way through Argentina and Brazil on Jules Verne’s Hot Samba, Cool Tango tour. Pit-stop in Buenos Aires long enough to find your feet and form on the dancefloor before flying to Salta to roam the rainbow-coloured rocks and gorges of the Quebrada del Toro. Take your cue from the relentless Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian border and continue on to the 24-hour city of Rio de Janeiro, where the salsa rhythms aren’t confined to the dancehalls. Finish in the city of Salvador, learning how to make a berimbau (a musical instrument closely linked to capoeira), on what is a fascinating look at two neighbours divided by rhythm.
Who: Jules Verne
When: 2 Mar, 6 Apr, 7 Sept & 12 Oct 2018
How long: 18 nights
How much: From £4,345 (incl intl flights)
Exploring the sun-swept isles of the North Dodecanese means one of two things: lazily drifting its twinkling, azure-tipped waters on a private charter or strolling some of the best – and least publicised – island walking in the Aegean. Instead, do both on Peter Sommer Travels’ Walking and Cruising the Dodecanese trip as you alternate between wandering the tunnels of Mount Patela on Leros, exploring the clifftop Byzantine fortress on Telendos and hiking the vast caldera of Nisryos. Then, at the end of a long day’s exploring, retire to a cabin on your own private gulet (sail boat), ready to sail on to a new challenge the next day.
Who: Peter Sommer Travels
When: 22 Sep 2018
How long: 8 days
How much: £2,775 (excl intl flights)
Even in a country as far off the beaten track as Iran, there are regions that few others set foot in, which is why the chance to explore the rich Islamic art and architecture of North-Western Iran with Andante Travels is so appealing. Wander the bazaar of Tabriz – once a key stop along the fabled Silk Road – stop by the ancient ruins of Hasanlu Tepe and Takht-e Soleyman, and spy intricate rock carvings at Taq-e Bostan. The trip concludes in capital Tehran, where visits to the National and Islamic museums boast impressive archaeology and artefacts that help to put your travels in focus.
Who: Andante Travels
When: 8 Nov 2018
How long: 11 nights
How much: From £3,995 (incl intl flights)
Now that the UK has finally lifted its travel ban, the opportunity to soak up Tunisia’s rich history is irresistible. Ditch shimmering sands for millennia-old civilisations on Corinthian Travel’s Carthage & Roman Africa tour, beginning among the bustling souks and grand monuments of Tunis, exploring the ruins of Carthage and spying the Roman remains of UNESCO-listed Dougga. After, head to another great former Roman city in the form of Thuburbo Majus, before seeing one of the great sights of the early Islamic world: the 7th-century fortress-like Great Mosque of Kairouan. Finish in the colosseum of El Djem; its startling size a sign of the scope of Roman ambition in Africa.
Who: Corinthian Travel
When: Year round
How long: 7 nights
How much: From £1,425 (excl intl flights)
When you think of Cuba, chances are that ballet isn’t the first word that springs to mind. Which is why Andante Travels’ Havana and the Ballet Festival tour is such a eye-opener, as it delves into a history few know about. Indeed, ballet has been on the rise here since the 1950s Cuban Revolution – perhaps not a surprise given its then links to the Soviet Union. This trip affords the chance to attend several ballet shows at the Grand Theatre (including a backstage pass) with a pirouette through Havana’s top sights along the way, including its colonial plazas and cultural highs, while also tiptoeing across to the lush Vinales Valley. A rare chance to see another side to Cuba – away from the crowds...
Who: Andante Travels
When: 29 Oct 2018
How long: 8 nights
How much: From £3,595 (incl intl flights)