We always say that travel only truly begins when you immerse yourself in a new culture. When we take the time to understand traditions and local customs, taste the regional cuisine and visit iconic historical landmarks and heady market squares, we uncover the real heart of a destination. So, read on to find out our top 5 eye-opening destinations that you have to see in 2024. From Jordan’s architectural marvels and Morocco’s ancient medinas to prehistoric caves in South Africa and fascinating tombs in Egypt, Exodus does cultural adventures like no other.
Explore Little Petra in Jordan
Our Week in Jordan trip packs in a lot of culture into just seven days. With visits to the Roman city of Jerash and Amman, you’ll also enjoy a floating experience in the Dead Sea, an optional snorkelling excursion in the Red Sea, a 4×4 tour of the Wadi Rum and two full days exploring the ancient wonder of Petra. One cultural sight that is sometimes overlooked because of the sheer grandeur of the towering Ad Deir, however, is the Siq al-Barid, also known as “Little Petra”.
Located just a few kilometres away from the centre of Petra, the Siq al-Barid, may be smaller in comparison, but it stands as one of the most superb testaments to the craftmanship of the ancient Nabataeans in the region. If you choose to do our optional walk to Little Petra, keep an eye out for some of its most notable features including the Obelisk Tomb and the Triclinium, an ancient banqueting hall adorned with detailed frescoes. The site also reveals evidence of residential areas and water channels, which sheds fascinating light on the daily life of the Nabataean people. Taking time to explore Little Petra also offers a less crowded experience than its grand counterpart, making it perfect for travellers who are eager to delve into Jordan’s rich history.
We have limited special 50th Anniversary departures of our Week in Jordan Trip to celebrate our 50th birthday year. So, on selected departures, you can enjoy an included star-gazing experience in the Wadi Rum, alongside a local birthday celebration and a special edition Exodus kitbag.
Wander through the ancient medina of Fez in Morocco
Our Tangier & the Rif Mountains to Marrakech trip offers the perfect introduction to Northern Morocco. Travelling from Casablanca to Marrakech over the course of 10 days, you’ll visit key cultural gems including the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, the Caves of Hercules near Tangier and the Roman ruins at Volubilis. There’s also plenty of time to discover some of Morocco’s most vibrant cities and souks, including a trip to the spectacular Blue City of Chefchaouen and a full guided city tour of Marrakech towards the end of the trip. One of the best ways to admire Morocco’s intricate handicrafts and immerse yourself in local life, however, is by taking a tour through the ancient souks of Fez.
Known to many as the cultural and religious heartland of the nation, Fez is a fascinating place to explore. Inside its medina, lies a labyrinth of twisted alleyways where traditions of woodcarving, brass etching, zellige (tile work) and leatherwork have remained largely unchanged for centuries. There has even been a concerted effort to restore funduqs, ancient inns in Fez once used by travelling merchants, so more artisans can continue these traditional craftmanship roles.
On day six of this trip, you’ll witness the city’s enduring commitment to traditional craftsmanship for yourself. Spending a full day in Fez with our city guide, we’ll take you through the souks, and past local vendors selling brass, ceramics, copper and leather goods. The tour also includes visits to Fez’s famous ancient tanneries. Dating back over a thousand years, tanneries like Chouara and Sidi Moussa, offer mesmerising panoramas of enormous stone vessels filled with vibrant dyes where skilled artisans transform raw hides into supple leather using traditional methods passed down for generations – it’s an incredible sight!
Visit the fascinating Jantar Mantar in India
On our India’s Golden Triangle trip, you’ll follow the classic route linking Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Some of the stand-out moments from this cultural adventure include an exhilarating rickshaw tour of Old Delhi, watching the sunrise over the Taj Mahal and visiting Jaipur’s opulent City Palace and the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). One of the most interesting buildings you may come across on this trip, however, is the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, an observatory of architectural astronomical instruments constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1728.
Built for measuring the heavens, Jantar Mantar translates to “instrument and formula,” and consists of several structures spread across various Indian cities, with the largest and best-preserved site located in Jaipur. Recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2010, the Jantar Mantar holds key historical and scientific significance in India’s cultural heritage. The reason for their construction was to create precise instruments to observe celestial phenomena and provide accurate astronomical data for the compilation of astronomical tables, as Maharaja Jai Singh II, was a keen astronomer. The Jantar Mantar instruments were designed to measure time, track celestial bodies, and determine other astronomical parameters. The key instruments to look out for include the Samrat Yantra (giant sundial), the Jai Prakash Yantra (hemispherical sundial), and the Ram Yantra (a set of cylindrical structures). Thanks to the knowledge of our expert local guides, you can learn how these fascinating instruments work.
Our India’s Golden Triangle trip is another trip that has selected 50th Anniversary Departures. So, on two of our departures in 2024, you can have a cooking experience and dinner with a royal family in Jaipur. These two departures also include a local birthday celebration and a special edition Exodus kitbag.
Discover the Valley of the Kings in Egypt
The best way to discover ancient treasures along the Nile River is by boat, and our Nile Cruise ensures you see the most well-preserved monuments. On this nine-day trip, you’ll visit key places like the Pyramids of Giza, the Egyptian Museum, the Karnak and Luxor temples and Cleopatra’s Unfinished Obelisk, alongside spending time shopping for mementoes in Cairo’s lively bazaar. Yet, one of the places that is bound to impress and leave a lasting impression is the intricate tombs, burial chambers and wall paintings you’ll see at the Valley of the Kings.
Located on the west bank of the Nile River near Luxor in Egypt, the Valley of the Kings is an archaeological marvel and a testament to the grandeur of ancient Egyptian burial practices. Renowned for its historical significance, the valley served as the burial ground for pharaohs and nobles during the New Kingdom period, between 1550-1070 BCE. Dedicating two days of the trip to exploring this architectural wonder, your guide will lead you towards a series of rock-cut tombs, each adorned with intricate hieroglyphs, vivid paintings, and elaborate carvings depicting religious scenes and the afterlife.
One of the most famous tombs in the Valley of the Kings is Tutankhamun’s tomb, which was discovered almost intact by British archaeologist, Howard Carter in 1922. Other notable tombs to look out for include those of Seti I, Ramses II and Hatshepsut. A visit to this fascinating place offers profound insight into ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife and the lengths they went to ensure a prosperous journey to eternity for their rulers.
Our Nile Cruise is another trip that’s part of our 50th Anniversary Departures collection, so on a selected number of departures in 2024, you can enjoy a typical Nubian dinner, a local birthday celebration and a special edition Exodus kitbag.
See the Cango Caves in South Africa
Showcasing the diverse landscapes South Africa has to offer, our Cape Town & the Garden Route takes you through deep canyons, rolling vineyards, vibrant cities, and along arguably one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. On this 12-day trip, you’ll explore the forests of Tsitsikamma National Park, travel over the drylands of Little Karoo, enjoy game drives in Addo National Park and visit the resident penguin colony at Boulders Beach, among other cultural activities. But perhaps one of the most captivating sites you’ll see on this adventure, are the colossal stalagmites and stalactites in the Cango Caves, situated in the Swartberg Mountains near the town of Oudtshoorn.
Boasting a geological history that dates back millions of years, the Cango Caves were formed in Precambrian limestone, and over time, the forces of erosion and dissolution have resulted in unique rock formations. As you wander through the cool chambers and passages with your expert local guide, you’ll get the opportunity to admire this mesmerising underground spectacle.
While scientists claim the indigenous Khoikhoi people were likely aware of the caves, the first records of the caves were in 1780 by Jacobus Van Zyl, a local farmer. In fact, the Cango Caves are South Africa’s oldest tourist attraction, as they opened to the public in 1891! On our tour, we’ll take you through the Cango Caves’ two main systems, namely the Cango I and Cango II, where you can see fascinating formations, such as Cleopatra’s Needle and the Fairyland Chamber – it’s a cultural experience not to be missed!
Cape Town & The Garden Route is part of our 50th Anniversary Departures, so on selected departures throughout 2024, you and your group can enjoy a whale-watching boat trip from Hermanus, a local birthday celebration and a special edition Exodus kitbag filled with goodies.
If this has inspired you to book a cultural adventure with us in 2024, you can browse more of our trips here.