Angola might not the first destination that springs to mind when considering a summer holiday destination but according to Native Eye, the bespoke travel operator specialising in unusual and truly off the beaten track adventures, their first ever ‘Expedition to Anglola’ trip, 11 days departing 16th July, sold out. In November. Last year.
“This is travel at its most exciting – breath-taking, new, intriguing and exhilarating, with many destinations seeing less than a hundred visitors a year,” says Jim O’Brien, founder. “If destinations like Angola can sell out months in advance, there’s a real thirst for this kind of pioneering adventure.”
If you are one of those who’d be bored by Benidorm but go crazy for the Comoros Islands or Cameroon, here’s some alternative summer holidays destinations that will have you packing your bags come August.
Where? Cameroon, Gabon and Congo
Why? Glastonbury – with a difference
What you’ll be doing: Witnessing a Bwiti ceremony, where participants take the psychoactive iboga root during a frenzy of drumming and dancing; spend time with the Babongo Pygmies, learning how they’ve mastered the jungle; meet Punu people renowned for mask making, take a thrilling boat ride on the Ogooue River, 3 days in Loango, looking for gorillas, elephants and hippos surfing in the sea.
How? Rhythms of Central Africa, 17 days departing 5th August from £4,999 per person ex flights.
Why? Stay with Kazakh Eagle Hunters in the Altai
What you’ll be doing: Driving through pristine landscapes, climb high passes, explore waterfalls, canyons and lakes, an area home to the ‘Old Believers’ a breakaway sect of the Russian church who maintain traditional lifestyles; meet local shamans, visit ancient graves, stay with Kazakh eagle hunters, explore wild lands and mountains of Tavan Bogd and Tsambagarav, spot a snow leopard if very lucky, visit Ulaan Bataar.
How? Altai Explorer 23 days departing 7th August from £2,599 per person ex flights
Why? Explore the untamed mountains, myths and legends which inspired ‘Game of Thrones’
What you’ll be doing: Visiting Tusheti in the High Caucasus, where watchtowers loom large and pagan beliefs mix with Christianity, visit wine producing region of Kakheti, staying with locals, visiting Svaneti, one of Europe’s most isolated areas; the Black Sea, where Jason and the Argonauts once sought the Golden Fleece.
How? Legends of the Caucasus’, 11 days departing 9th August, from £1,399 per person ex flights.
Why? Celebrate a Hindu Kush wine festival with descendants of Alexander the Great
What you’ll be doing: Tucked away in three valleys of the Hindu Kush is a tribal population who unlike the rest of the countries they are surrounded by are pagan, not Muslim. According to legend the Kalash are descended from four of Alexander the Great’s generals, to whom Alexander gave the Chitral Valley as a reward, and whatever the truth they look very different from most other Pakistanis, with fairer skin, blue-green eyes and distinctly Eurasian features. Join them as they celebrate Uchao, a festival to celebrate and give thanks for a successful harvest, drinking wine brewed from mulberries and some delicious cheese. It’s one of the most colourful celebrations in Pakistan.
How? North Pakistan Explorer, 16 days departing 13th August from £2,099 per person ex flights.
Where? The Comoros Islands
Why? Like Zanzibar – without the tourists
What you’ll be doing: Exploring the three ‘islands of the moon’, visiting old sultan’s palaces, the impressive volcano or Mount Karthala, searching for enormous and very rare Livingstone’s fruit bats, watch turtles lay eggs in Anjouan, exploring lush valleys and cooling off in waterfalls.
How? Comoros Islands of the Moon, 9 days departing 15th August from £1,235 per person ex flights.
Why? Search for dinosaurs in Russia’s largest, yet least visited republic
What you’ll be doing: Explore mammoth graveyards (woolly rhinos and sabre tooth tigers are also found), meet Yakut horse herders, stay with local families, see an abandoned gulag, see the mighty Lena Pillars one of Siberia’s most breath-taking sights.
How? Arctic Yakutia, 13 days departing 20th August from £4,549 per person ex flights.
Why? Europe’s newest country, a fascinating mix of East and West.
What you’ll be doing? Visiting historic towns like Pristina and ancient Roman ruins at Ulpiana, exploring 14th century monastery at Decani, exploring spiritual heritage of the dervishes in Gjakova, wine tasting in Rahovec (the region boasts excellent wines), exploring the Sharri mountains.
How? Kosovo Explorer, 8 days departing 27th August from £895 per person ex flights.
Still fixed on Angola? There’s always next year. Expedition to Angola departs 15th July 2017.
For bookings contact Native Eye on 020 3286 5995 or visit Native Eye. You can also follow Native Eye on Facebook.
About Native Eye
Native Eye was launched in August 2013.
Specialising in small group tours and bespoke travel to far-flung destinations and ‘forgotten’ tribal cultures, founder Jim O’Brien says: “Native Eye specialises in the unusual, allowing our travellers to enter into regions the rest of the planet has largely forgotten about, where traditions have been retained and where each experience in unique.”
With offices on the Suffolk / Essex border, Native Eye offers over 35 trips, which range from 7 to 28 days in length and cost from £875 to £4,999, specialises in travel to Africa, Asia and the Middle East and Europe, with a strong focus on West and Central Africa.
Destinations include: Chad, Angola, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritania, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Moldova, Romania, Siberia and the Ukraine.
Native Eye is a responsible tour operator, member of the TTA and 100% financially protected.