Steppes Travel has launched its 2016 brochure of expert-led tours, including a new cruise in Papua New Guinea with naturalist and BBC presenter Chris Packham.
The 12-day expedition sees the operator charter expedition cruise ship True North to sail the remote islands of PNG as well as the Sepik river to visit the country’s interior.
While Steppes already featured PNG, guests on board will get to be pioneers in a sense, with True North visiting parts of the New Britain coastline it has never visited before. Costing from £11,995, the trip includes the chance to dive or snorkel the waters of Tufi and spot wildlife with Packham in the jungles of Papua and takes place November 5-21 next year.
The operator is also pioneering a new safari – into the rarely visited African country of Chad. The tour, called Zakouma, Elephants & The Nomads of Chad, will go to the little-visited national park of Zakouma, which has large concentrations of wildlife in the dry season and has become a new conservation success story, thanks to the work of African Parks.
Steppes managing director Justin Wateridge said the trip was for “those who have visited Africa a few times and are looking for something different”.
Supported by Steppes, the head of African Parks Rian Labuschagne was in London this week for a talk at the Royal Geographical Society on the work taking place in Chad to develop conservation in a very challenging environment in one of the poorest countries in the world.
Steppes will send two groups to Chad next year and is already planning to repeat the trip for 2017. The 2016 trips start from £6,450pp and spend 11 nights in Chad, staying at Camp Nomade, a new mobile tented camp.
So enamoured is Wateridge with Chad that he is even planning to run an ultra-marathon in February 2016 to raise funds for the work African Parks is doing in Zakouma.
Of the new additions to the 2016 programme, Wateridge said: “They are trips set up by our team; that is to say the kinds of trips that they themselves want to do. It may seem a wonderful self-indulgence, but thankfully they are the kinds of things that also appeal to our clients and a wider audience. I think their appeal also lies in the quality of the tour leaders we have selected, the experience and variety of the itineraries and that you will be journeying with like-minded travellers.”
Also new is Cambodia Temples & Kingdoms led by Dr Damian Evans, Nick Butler and John Sanday OBE, which includes the temples of Angkor but also the chance to experience Khmer hospitality with a home stay.
The Tea Trails of Sri Lanka is led by Jeff Fuchs, author of The Ancient Tea Horse Road and the first westerner to travel and document the 6,000km tea trade route in its entirety, with the tour staying in a range of boutique hotels.
Other new highlights include Textiles and Artisans of India led by Rosemary Crill, curator of the V&A Museum’s Indian collections; and Colombia Uncovered, led by Colombian academic, Juan Ortiz.
On the wildlife front, one of the new tours is Swim with Humpback Whales in Tonga, led by Doug Allan, cameramen for the likes of The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, Frozen Planet and Ocean Giants. The 14-day tour includes snorkeling alongside one of the world’s largest mammals.