Middle East... new brochure
Find out more about our range of tours and private travel to the Middle East in 2015.
The release of new brochures marks the perfect time to take a fresh look at destinations that interest you. This month, we're publishing a number of new brochures offering tours to some of our best-loved destinations – and today, we're going to introduce you to our latest collection for the Middle East.
We spoke to product manager for the Middle East Peter Hilton to get an idea of just what 2015 holds for this endlessly fascinating region.
More than just the Middle East
"Our Middle East product region also encompasses North Africa and central Asia, so it's not just the Middle East per se."
Cox & Kings has a well-established selection of tours in the Middle East, covering classic Middle Eastern destinations such as Israel, Jordan, Oman and Dubai. What's really exciting about our brochure, though, is that it goes far beyond the region's standard destinations.
Indeed, our Middle Eastern range also incorporates locations such as Morocco, Egypt and central Asia, which means there really is a vast array of possibilities when it comes to where to go, what to see and the kinds of experiences you can have.
Therefore, within the region itself you are going to encounter real diversity – something that makes it an all the more exciting and rewarding region to explore. "What you see in Morocco you're not going to see in Uzbekistan. What you experience in Oman you're not going to experience in Israel. It is extremely diverse in every sense," Peter commented.
Dome of the rock, Jerusalem
Discover our private travel itineraries
"They're for those who want a slightly more adventurous holiday – or perhaps ‘travel experience’ would be a better term."
Our new Middle East brochure has an expanded range of suggested individual itineraries, which we call private travel itineraries. Unlike the group tours, these itineraries can be undertaken by individual travellers at any time – as opposed to departing on a set date and travelling as part of a group.
Such itineraries are particularly suited to those who are drawn to the destinations, attractions and experiences outlined in the group tours, but who want something a bit different – the addition of exciting hikes, for example, or the opportunity to camp in the desert. They offer that little bit more adventure and discovery than a standard itinerary, and every destination within the Middle East offers such opportunities.
What we're most excited about
"Oman represents the non-commercialised side of the Gulf states."
When asked what element of the new brochure most excited him, Peter was quick to say "Oman". Noting that it seems to have captured people's imaginations in recent years, he suggested that it represents the non-commercialised side of Arabia – the antithesis of the ultra-commercialised Dubai.
"I think Oman represents what perhaps people are looking for if they really want to experience the Gulf states in their perhaps more natural state. There's a whole mix of desert, beaches and historical sites," he commented, adding that the country even has its very own grand canyon.
While being unspoilt, the destination has some great hotels, with Peter highlighting the luxurious resort hotels in Muscat and the recently opened hotel Alila Jabal Akhdar, located in the Hajar mountains and boasting beautiful unspoilt views over the valley below.
Alilia Jabal Akhdar hotel
Brochure highlights for first-time visitors to the Middle East
"I would say there's very little to beat a Nile cruise."
The sheer array of exciting choices available may make it hard for newcomers to the Middle East region to decide where to go, but Peter highlighted a few key options for first-time visitors.
"I would say there's very little to beat a Nile cruise. The classic Nile tour would spend a few days in Cairo, visiting the pyramids, the Sphinx and the Egyptian museum before flying to Luxor and boarding one of the many cruise ships for a four-night sailing experience from Luxor down to Aswan. The Upper Nile cruises stop at all of the major sites and monuments and the experience of seeing of so many temples, tombs and artefacts dating back to ancient Egyptian times is unforgettable. The Oberoi Zahra Nile Cruise tour fits this itinerary perfectly."
For those looking for a different perspective of the Middle East, Peter recommends taking the ‘Splendours of Jordan’ tour. "We start off in the capital of Amman, a typically bustling and atmospheric Middle Eastern city, where you'll spend a couple of nights before journeying down to the fantastic ancient city of Petra, where the first sighting of the Treasury is one of the most iconic and breathtaking sites in the Middle East. Time is also spent in the Wadi Rum desert and at the Dead Sea, giving the visitor a great all-round experience of Jordan, its history, scenery, culture and people."
Petra by candlelight, Jordan
Brochure highlights for return visitors
"If you have been to the Middle East but haven't been to Oman, go there."
The Middle East brochure covers a vast area, as we outlined above, which means there is plenty of scope for making new discoveries, even if you have been to the region before. Among the most fascinating options is Uzbekistan, where you can learn how the country emerged as a sovereign country after over 100 years of Russian rule, discover the rich Islamic architecture within the cities that lie along the ancient Silk Road, and travel through fertile valleys, stark deserts and dramatic mountain scenery.
But Peter singles out one country as worthy of visiting for those returning to the Middle East region; Oman. He believes that this is a place that perhaps does not register so readily on travellers' radars as other Middle Eastern destinations such as Dubai, Jordan and Egypt.
Peter also suggested following a private travel itinerary in a country that you have been to, as this can give you the opportunity to explore in greater depth. "You may, for instance, have been to Morocco and followed the classic Imperial cities itinerary. There is, however, much more to see in Morocco and we have included itineraries which include driving through and camping in the Sahara desert, hiking in the Atlas mountains and stays along the picturesque coastline of the Atlantic Ocean," he offered by way of example.
The Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman
Off the beaten track in the Middle East
"It's got to be Uzbekistan."
While very few destinations could now be described as 'unknown', there are still places where you can get off the beaten track in the Middle East. And should that be your goal, Peter recommends Uzbekistan.
"Uzbekistan is our best selling Middle East ‘Discovery Tour’, and although Uzbekistan is becoming more popular, the accommodation, infrastructure and terrain tend to suit the hardier traveller and definitely would have appeal to those wishing to experience a non-commercialised destination."
Brochure highlights: Best value
"Of particular value next year will be Morocco."
The new Middle East brochure offers excellent value to travellers across the board, but Peter highlighted that Morocco will be a particular winner in 2015, with excellent rates available. Jordan also stands out in terms of value, while Egypt is another destination to keep an eye on.
Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Now is the time to visit the Middle East
"Egypt – there is probably not a better time to go than right now."
While Egypt makes its steady recovery from several years of internal conflict, for smart travellers this represents a wonderful opportunity to visit iconic attractions such as Cairo’s pyramids and the temples at Luxor, without battling the crowds – an experience that would have been unheard of a few years ago.
"We've noticed in the past six to eight weeks or so that interest is beginning to come back so now is the time to take full advantage of fantastic prices and crowd-free tourist sites", Peter recommends.
Order a copy of your own Middle East brochure, or call 020 7873 5000 to speak to a Cox & Kings Middle East expert.
Abu Simbel, Egypt
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- Tags: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Middle East & North Africa, Morocco, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan