Back in 1969, we took our first footsteps into the remote kingdom of Nepal on an inaugural adventure led by Mountain Travel co-founder Leo Le Bon. The group, consisting mostly of experience hikers, had two main goals: to trek in the Annapurna Himalaya and to meet Nepali people. As they ventured from village to village, they drank chai tea at wayside stalls, smelled freshly harvested wheat and millet, and listened as wandering minstrels sang songs of love and legend. Since that first trip, we have always traveled with a natural curiosity and an open mind—and a deep respect for the local cultures encountered along the way.
For 2019, MT Sobek has 11 immersive cultural adventures from a new trip to Iraqi Kurdistan to the ever-popular Bhutan Trek & Cultural Discovery. Which culture quest is on your list?
1. Iraqi Kurdistan Adventure
Many are surprised to hear that opportunities for travel in Iraqi Kurdistan do exist. MT Sobek’s new 10-day exploratory adventure visits ancient Erbil—the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city—third-century monasteries, the world’s oldest-known bridge and aqueduct ruin, a biblical prophet’s tomb, a mysterious Yazidi Pilgrimage site, and the Neanderthal Shanidar Cave.
2. Ancient Kingdoms of Sudan
Sudan is a mesmerizing land of breathtaking deserts, buzzing markets and archaeological wonders—in fact it has more pyramids than Egypt! Cruise up the mighty Nile to discover stunning ruins, meet Nubian people and sleep in a traditional home amidst sand dunes and palm trees. Head to the Egyptian-style Soleb temple, considered the most beautiful in Sudan, and marvel at the royal necropolis site of Napata.
3. Discover Ancient Jordan & Petra
Jordan exemplifies the magic of the Middle East. This 12-day adventure blends the country’s highlights and its lesser-known desert routes, including hikes through the Dana Biosphere Reserve and Sharah Mountains. Your reward for six days of epic hiking? Quiet sunset strolls, tea on the dunes, nights under endless desert skies, exploration of ancient Petra, and a chance to float in the Dead Sea.
4. Treasures of Iran
Experience 2,500 years of history plus the warmth of the Persian people on this popular cultural adventure. Home to some of the world’s most renowned and best-preserved archaeological sites, Iran is a mecca for art, history, and culture. This 15-day itinerary explores the fascinating cities of Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, and Isfahan, and showcases Iran’s rich, textured past while visiting ancient ruins, palaces, and world-class museums.
5. Bhutan Trek & Cultural Discovery
The enchanting Kingdom of Bhutan is an earthly nirvana filled with natural beauty and Buddhist tradition. Experience the best of Bhutan through a blend of ridge-line trekking, scenic day hikes and cultural touring. Visit Bhutan’s most famous monasteries, learn about Bhutanese folk art, discover the Paro Valley, explore the remote and magical Haa Valley, and lose yourself amid some of the world’s most exciting peaks.
6. Wonders of Oman
Venture across the mesmerizing Sultanate of Oman, a hidden gem of the Middle East. Enjoy camel rides and encounter Bedouin tribes in the rolling dunes of the Wahiba Sands. Take in Oman’s fascinating heritage: walk through ancient Arabia’s frankincense trade sites and souqs overflowing with fabrics and handicrafts. Drive up to the terrace-style orchards of Al Jebel Al Akhdar Mountains and Prophet Job’s Tomb.
7. Havana Explorer: Casas & Paladars
Discover the vibrant culture of Cuba on this intimate tour that offers the chance to experience true Cuban hospitality. Stay at Havana’s answer to a luxury boutique hotel—a family-run B&B known as a casa particular—and dine on fresh, farm-to-table meals in the best paladars. Take expert-led tours of Old Havana and journey to Las Terrazas for an inside look at the vibrant community of artists and farmers.
8. The Great Silk Road Adventure
Be wowed by rich cultural heritage and vast deserts on this extraordinary journey along the northern Silk Road through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Explore some of region’s most stunning ancient and modern cities, from Tashkent and Samarkand to Bukhara and Khiva. Visit bustling bazaars; explore mosques, mausoleums, and palaces; take in local folk performances; and sample traditional regional cuisine.
9. Lebanon Mountain Trail Adventure
Established in 2007, the 290-mile Lebanon Mountain Trail transects more than 75 towns and villages across a diverse and beautiful landscape. On this new adventure, we’ll hike 23 miles of it—starting with a warm-up hike on the Baskinta Literary Trail. Explore impressive Roman ruins, centuries-old mountain monasteries, vast cedar forests, ancient Phoenician cities, and medieval highlights of Byblos, Tripoli, and Anjar.
10. Perspectives of Israel
Venture through the portal of modern Israel into biblical times on this new cultural adventure that begins in Tel Aviv and ends in Jerusalem. Relive biblical history at the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, and Masada, and enjoy excellent hikes on the Jesus Trail. In Bethlehem, a Palestinian Christian family gives a first-hand perspective on Christian communities in Israel and the political struggles in Palestine.
11. Secrets of Kashmir
Unravel the mysteries of Kashmir on this behind-the-scenes journey through one of India’s most remote regions. Trek the pristine mountains around Srinagar, take tea with local villagers, visit Lake Dal’s vibrant floating market, and tour the mythical “Seat of Solomon.” Experience the deep spirituality of the Dalai Lama’s community in Dharamsala and see the magnificent Sikh Golden Temple at Amritsar.
Interested in these culture quests? Click on the images above to learn more.