Australians have a complex relationship with the past. Our modern nation is new, with a history that doesn’t go back much past two and a half centuries. Additionally, our ancient Aboriginal culture was so in tune with the land that it left no ancient buildings behind.
So we get an extra kick out of travelling overseas and staying in a pub that was built before Captain Cook was born or seeing structures dated in millennia, not centuries. And that can happen in just about every direction we travel.
Peregrine Adventures has tapped into this theme with a series of tours around the world. These not only head in different directions but do it in a variety of styles from independent, to fully hosted, to special-interest “Limited Edition” tours.
It’s the perfect way to travel into the past – with all the modern comforts.
One region of great interest is the Middle East, the cradle of western civilisation. If you have three weeks or so you can discover Egypt, Jordan and Israel or swap Israel for Oman. Iran, an increasingly popular destination, features in several itineraries and reveals a wealth of Persian heritage. Those who visit Iran today will find a remarkably friendly and culturally rich country.
Explore the ancient world of the pharaohs in Egypt
It’s good to see Egypt back on the travel agenda, too. Whether it’s the Sphinx and the pyramids on the edge of Cairo or the incredible sights of the Valley of the Kings further up the Nile Valley, Egypt is the ultimate destination for those seeking antiquities.
If you wish to travel independently, Peregrine has offerings for Petra, Alexandria, Luxor and Cairo. On the other hand, if you wish to explore Egypt in depth there’s a Limited Edition tour that takes you to all the highlights and beyond with a highly respected local Egyptologist. Very cleverly, Peregrine offers a tour to fabled Petra (think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) at the time of the Perseids meteor shower in August.
Moving to Europe, there are three essential ancient areas and Peregrine offers tours to them all. A cruise around Greece takes you from the time of Homer to Byzantium. Or you can combine the wonders of Turkey with the antiquities of the Greek Islands. Finally there’s Italy, travelling from Venice to Rome via Florence and Pisa and taking in the rich Roman – and more modern Italian – history along the way.
While we may think of it as the New World, there’s a lot of history in South and Central America. For Mayan and Aztec sites there are tours in Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala or a combination of these countries. The Incas were further south so you can head to Peru to see the genius of their civilisation.
Discover the lost civilisation of the Incas
Peregrine’s Limited Edition tour to Peru not only takes you to Machu Picchu, Nazca, Arequipa and Lake Titicaca, but also takes in the modern Inca celebration of Inti Rayma from the ancient Inca calendar. As well as the colourful festival, the trip is also planned around visiting Machu Picchu twice – the second time to be there for the winter solstice.
South America or, more specifically, Chile, is the stepping off point to one of history’s great mysteries: the enigmatic moai of Easter Island. Peregrine’s four-day independent tour through ancient Rapa Nui takes you deep inside the strange culture of this most remote island.
When you think about Asian antiquities China may well be the first place that comes to mind. Peregrine offers an independent tour of several sections of the Great Wall as well as the Eastern Qing Tours.
The rich architecture of ancient India is a must-see
Northern India has immense cultural richness, particularly from the time of the Mughal Empir. Over a 12-night tour you can visit sites from Jaipur’s Palace of the Winds, the erotic temple carvings of Khajuraho, the spiritual heart of Varanassi and, of course, Agra’s magical Taj Mahal.
In Northern Africa, Ethiopia has several ancient sites that well reward exploration, even if they are largely unknown in Australia. Indeed, you can’t go back further in human history than the three million-year-old fossilised hominid remains in the National Museum in Addis Ababa. There’s also the castles of Gondar, the monastery islands of Bahir Dar and the rock churches of Lalibela. Harking back to the earlier reference to Indiana Jones, the church of St Mary of Tsion in Axum is believed to hold the Ark of the Covenant that contains the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.
It’s a joy of modern travel that the whole world is largely open to us so we can visit places that seemed exotic and impossibly out of reach when we first heard of them in our youth. If you like to travel with a distinct purpose Peregrine’s “Step into history” page will provide a world of inspiration.
Which ancient sites would you like to explore? Comment below.