The expert guide to hidden Asia

Peregrine Adventures is one of Australia’s most experienced operators to out-of-the-way places. It began running trekking holidays to the Himalayas in 1977 but then diversified to cover the globe. The company is now part of the Intrepid Group and revelling in getting back to its roots and providing small group adventure travel experiences.

With an expert guide working for an expert company it’s still possible to discover the mystic orient that can seem lost in Asia’s burgeoning high-rise and crowded hawker’s markets.

Nowhere is that more true than in the mountain villages of the Himalayas. Whether this is Nepal where Gurkhas are ready to show you their mountains or on the other side of Everest where Tibetans continue to live in some of the most spectacular landscape imaginable.

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The magnificent temples of Bagan in Myanmar can be visible from all parts of the ancient city

Then, of course, there’s the Indian Himal including Darjeeling and Sikkim and the perfect Shangri-la of Bhutan. Whether trekking or simply exploring the cultural richness of the world’s highest mountains it remains perhaps the most awe-inspiring area on earth.

On the other side of the equation there are the jungles of Asia, whether seeking the orangutans of Borneo, the colourful hill tribes of Northern Thailand or the Birds of Paradise and the remarkable people of the PNG highlands.

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The exquisite Samarkand laneways in Uzbekistan will take your breath away

There’s always more to delve into in this complex part of the world. Few haven’t heard of Angkor Wat but that’s just one of the many temple complexes near the Cambodian town of Siem Reap. Some of the others are being reclaimed by the jungle so you feel like Indiana Jones merely by being there.

If you feel you’ve already “done” these parts of Asia (though I’d argue it’d take a crowded lifetime to do so) then move on from the sub-continent and SE Asia to a place few of us know very well: Central Asia.

When seeking hidden delights and a rich cultural history there’s a whole new world to discover here. As well as the ‘stans like Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan there are all the other places along the Silk Route such as Armenia, Mongolia, Georgia and Azerbaijan with magical cities like Tashkent and Samarkand.

(The English magazine Punch once ran a competition for the most pretentious phrase in a traveller’s lexicon. The winner was "the last time I was in Samarkand..." It engenders envy and admiration so it’s perfect.)

While China is big, with wonders to match, there’s also India, where you’ll discover the pure intensity of life from the backwaters of Kerala to the palaces of Rajastan.

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The northen city of India, Varanasi, is a beacon of culture and sights

Peregrine prides itself in providing you with accommodation that gives you access to the culture you are exploring and providing hospitable local guides who are keen to show you their way of life. And, of course, there’s the food that you discover and enjoy along the way. Exploring at the right pace, perhaps by bicycle or on foot, shows you a country in a way that can’t be merely observed through a coach window. The Peregrine website clearly sets out the level of fitness required for each journey – by clever planning many are often not as arduous as you may think.

Peregrine really is a company run by travellers for travellers. That shows through in everything it does, especially in limited its trips to small group tours. It’s also reflected in the Intrepid Foundation that helps the communities it visits and the company’s commitment to responsible travel. As a traveller, it’s nice to know that there’s definite give as well as take.

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Peregrine offer tours in Vietnam where you can discover the peace and beauty of places such as Ha Long Bay

But being committed is not the same as being uncomfortable: as a company that began in Australia it operates to best suit Australian tastes. If you are looking for unique tours that focus on special interests, then check out Peregrine’s Limited Edition tours.

As adventure travel has evolved, so too has themed travel. Whether your interest is walking or cultural exploration, wildlife or gourmet destinations there’s a trip to suit. That, of course, includes adventure cruising especially to the Polar Regions.

There’s something inherently comforting in travelling with a company that is Australian. It doesn’t mean that there’s an Australian filter applied. But rather it’s showing you the world the way we wish to see it. From the number of return guests who have travelled with Peregrine to one part of the world then return to see where to go next, it’s a bit like being part of a vast family of adventurers.

Peregrine is simply a very rewarding way of seeing the world.

What is your favourite Asia destination?

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