Having now been on three different Intrepid Original Style tours I am sold. I love the way these tours bring you in contact with local cultures.
To be sure, Original Style tours are not for everyone. There is a fair amount of free time to allow for your own explorations and while they use well-located, tourist-class hotels you may also find yourself sometimes travelling on public transport or sleeping in a local home.
But there are plenty of reasons Intrepid built their solid reputation on these tours.
On my most recent trip in Moldova we sat down for a lunch in a village home and we were told about the many ways bread features in the local culture. Then to everyone's surprise the elderly couple pictured above walked in and played us some wonderful tunes - and had great fun doing it. Afterwards we were able to ask them lots of questions (they only spoke Moldovan which was translated by our driver to Russian which then was translated by our tour leader to English). A cynic might say this was just a folkloric performance but I disagree. It was something only done for Intrepid groups and it felt all very impromptu.
In Russia I remember great conversations on an overnight train and later on with a man who proudly showed me around his vegetable garden, something many pensioners still rely on for their daily food. We stayed at his home and learned to cook a traditional meal.
Later on in the tour we visited the home of Miss Russia - alas she was not at home but her parents were lovely and we learned a lot about what it is to live in a Soviet-style apartment building in St. Petersburg.
Home-cooked meals and home stays are integral to the Intrepid experience. It brings much needed money to local communities and as a traveller you get to learn so much about the local people (and they about you!). I remember in Iran staying in a remote mountain village which rarely sees Westerners. During an early morning walk I struck up conversations with people who approached me and wanted to know more about where I came from - not an easy feat when you don't speak Farsi and their English is limited.
Fellow travellers who joined me on my Moldova trip had recently completed an Intrepid Original Style tour in Romania. They rated their home stay in Viscri as one of the highlights of their trip. And because I would love you to try one of these tours, we are offering from now until August 31, 15% off any Intrepid Travel tour to Central or South America departing between November 2018 - March 2019. (Blackout dates: Dec. 15, 2018 - Jan. 15, 2019; some restrictions apply, ask us for details)