Think you know these destinations? Think again

Think you know these destinations? Think again

As global unease over travel reaches an all-time high, certain destinations can be misunderstood and pushed to the backburner.

But the key to discovering these more adventurous destinations can be as simple as ensuring you’re well looked after while you’re there. That’s why Intrepid Travel has focused on building its own network of destination management companies so that it can ensure the experiences delivered to its clients are truly local experiences, but meet quality and safety standards expected by the industry internationally.

“We are local experts in destination – we are the biggest and only truly vertically-integrated company in the fast-growing adventure travel sector,” Intrepid Group managing director James Thornton told Travel Weekly.

“We have 17 destination management companies taking travellers to over 120 countries, and employ 1300 local leaders and porters. This means we are able to deliver truly local travel experiences, but provide the highest level of quality and safety to the industry.”

That gives a whole new level of reassurance to those considering travel to destinations such as Egypt, Jordan and Africa – often considered unsafe. And the rewards for those that dare to venture off the beaten track can be considerable.

At the weekend, Intrepid brought together 300 of its 1600 plus staff in its Melbourne head office to celebrate the “amazing” growth that the group has seen across its destinations and brands since it returned to private ownership in July last year. The group is up an impressive 23% across all brands since the split from TUI.

Among them were general managers of Intrepid Travel’s destination management company, including those from some of the more misunderstood destinations who took some time to talk to Travel Weekly about why travellers should rethink any existing misconceptions.

Egypt and Jordan


Expert: Sameh Tawfik Sameh Tawfik - Egypt

How has the destination been performing? The majority of our travellers are Australians. Sadly Egypt is down overall on last year, although our Egypt Adventure is bucking the trend and is actually 78% up.

The most common misconception about my destination is… That travellers often think of the Middle East as all alike, as if we were one country. Egypt and Jordan are not Syria or Iraq. Jordan has not experienced the Arab spring and has been stable from day one. However tourism in Jordan is down significantly. It is really important to raise travellers awareness that the Middle East is not a country, and especially for younger generation.

Safety is our number one priority, and Intrepid carefully monitors the situation and amends trips if we have any concerns. Safety of our travellers comes first. The feedback from our travellers hasactually been very positive over the past few years. I believe this is actually a great time for travellers to come and  see our amazing history before tourism in Egypt and Jordan start picking up again – you can get some of the world’s most amazing historic sites such as the pyramids in Egypt almost to yourself.

My favourite thing about my destination is… Historical sightseeing and sailing on the Nile river.

The most surprising thing about my destination is… Aswan city and how friendly the Nubians are. Egyptians and Jordanians are friendly people, and travellers often get surprised when they get invited to lunch or dinner after a chat in a local coffee shop.

What Aussies love about my destination… They come to see the pyramids and other historical sites,  Nubian culture, and go sailing on the Nile – but the friendliness of our people means that they leave with a much better understanding of locals and our lives. We want our travellers to take that back home.

Why an Intrepid Group trip is a great way to see my destination… Intrepid shows the real  diversity of Egypt and JordanWe get travellers under the skin of the destination with real experiences that give them real insights in to Egyptian’s lives. It could be by chatting to local in a local coffee shop or eating local street food or home cooked meals.


East Africa


Expert: Brad John-Davis Bradley John Davis - Sub-Saharan Africa

How has the destination been performing?  We’ve had some tough times in East Africa recently – although the market is now recovering very quickly. In general though we have seen the Australian market (which is the majority of our Intrepid passengers in Africa) hold up better than others through 2015, suggesting the average Australian traveller is more resilient than others. Bookings are up 21% compared to this time last year.

The most common misconception about my destination is… That Kenya and Tanzania are all about safari and wildlife. It’s obviously very central to what we do – but we’ve also got some of the world’s best beaches on the Indian Ocean and an incredible cultural and historical heritage in destinations such as Zanzibar.

My favourite thing about my destination is… The people – East Africans are warm and  welcoming – and the landscapes.

The most surprising thing about my destination is… The vast difference in the level of development between large urban centres (such as Nairobi) and rural/isolated areas.

What Aussies love about my destination… Our region has plenty of opportunities to cross borders and get plenty of stamps in your passport in just one trip!

Why an Intrepid Group trip is a great way to see my destination… Most tour companies really just skim the surface of the destination – Intrepid in East Africa allows you to get up close and in-depth, with plenty of local interaction and travelling to locations that most tourists don’t see.




Expert: Çağlar Gökgün Caglar Gokgun - Turkey

How has the destination been performing?  With the historical connection from Gallipoli, Australians always have an interest travelling in Turkey which is great. They  are our loyal guests.

2015 was a huge year for Turkey because of the ANZAC centenary. If we compare 2016 to 2014, we are up 146% from 2014.

The most common misconception about my destination is… Turkey gets lumped in  with the rest of Middle East,  but we can’t really call Turkey as ‘Middle Eastern’ or ‘European’ – Turkey is Turkey! Our country  has this rich culture with different bits and pieces from various cultures around the country which makes it a  very special place.

My favourite thing about my destination is… The people and food. Anywhere in Turkey, you get the experience amazing local hospitality and get to try amazing food.

Think about a type of cuisine which mixed Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Caucasus, even Asian. It is Turkish cuisine!

The most surprising thing about my destination is: People think that Turkey is a very conservative country,  but when they turn up they are surprised at our cultural diversity. .

What Aussies love about my destination: Aussies love  Turkey because they love to experience our culture and meet the friendly people. Oh, and our food is the best in the world!

Why an Intrepid Group trip is a great way to see my destination: We offer small group adventures which takes our guests to off the beaten path.

We only employ local leaders and so we visit many families and get to know many locals on our trips. All of Intrepid’s tour leaders are well-educated and very knowledgeable about our culture and history..




Expert: Gary Cohen Gary Cohen - South America

How has the destination been performing? It is absolutely booming in Peru and all of South and Central America. We’ve seen huge growth year on year.  Intrepid Group bookings to Peru are up 17% in 2016 – which is huge because  it is one of our biggest sellers – it is actually our third most popular destination this year.

The most common misconception about my destination is… It’s all about Machu Picchu!

My favourite thing about my destination is… The diversity – desert, coast, mountains, jungle,the people, and the food

The most surprising thing about my destination is… It’s NOT all about Machu Picchu. Peru has so much to offer beyond the main highlights.It’s a huge country that is still relatively unexplored in certain areas, so there’s so much to discover even for second time visitors to the country.

What Aussies love about my destination… The beautiful scenery and the food, the hospitality,  and the passionate sense of fun of the locals.

Why an Intrepid Group trip is a great way to see my destination… There’s so much to see in Peru and South America, so our trips help you get  straight to the best experiences – but not lose the local experience. We have  the most knowledgeable local leaders and guides and offer a real insight into what life is like in Peru.


Check out some of these images from Intrepid’s recent awards event – for more, head to our Facebook page!

Awards Night 2016-1

Pictured: Geoff Manchester (Intrepid co-founder), James Thornton (Intrepid Group Managing Director), Tony Carne (General Manager of Urban Adventures), and Darrell Wade (Intrepid co-founder and CEO).

Awards Night 2016-11

Pictured: James Thornton (Intrepid Group Managing Director), Hai Pham (Intrepid’s Leader of the Year), Natalie Kidd (PEAK DMC Managing Director).



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