Would You Do an 18-Day Mystery Trip Through the Middle East?

©. Intrepid Travel (used with permission)

Intrepid Travel's latest offering is an uncharted journey that starts in Tehran and ends in Istanbul.

When Intrepid Travel was founded 30 years ago, it placed ads in newspapers, calling people to explore the world with no further details. Clearly the 'mystery' tactic worked, for the adventure travel company has grown exponentially since then.

Now Intrepid is doing something similar, returning to its roots in an effort to appeal to those brave travellers who want to get off the beaten path, relinquish control over planning, and see where fate will take them. Intrepid has just announced its second Mystery Trip, an 18-day tour where only the start and finish are known – Tehran and Istanbul, respectively. Whatever happens between those two points will remain unknown until the day of.

Company co-founder Darrell Wade describes it as a "rare chance [for travellers] to abandon expectations." In an era when everything is documented on social media and it's easier to over-research something than to scrape by on limited information, this is a novel and refreshing opportunity.

"While we can’t tell you where you’re going, we can tell you that it will be eye-opening. You’ll sleep in factories and rock caves, and eat boiled cow hoof soup."
Intrepid Travel meal

© Intrepid Travel (used with permission)

The website goes on to say,

"One day you could be exploring a 3000-year-old volcanic village; the next, fossicking for post-Soviet memorabilia at an open-air flea market, then learning an ancient language that doesn’t involve speech. You may visit towns and villages with little to no infrastructure."

The organizers, of course, know what will be happening between Tehran and Istanbul, so it's not an entirely uncharted expedition, which will probably reassure those people who might feel an element of nervousness at traveling in the Middle East. But going in itself is tremendously valuable. So much about the Middle East is misunderstood by North Americans, and it's often made out to be a scarier place than it is. Anyone who has been there can attest to the tremendous warmth of the people, the rich history and culture, and the mouthwatering food.

monastery village

Unsplash (provided by Intrepid Travel)/Public Domain

This trip, however, is not just for anyone. You must apply to be part of it – just as travellers had to apply to go on the first Uncharted Expedition, which is about to depart on June 30 from Kazakhstan and ends in Mongolia. People have until July 9 to apply and then 12 travellers will be picked at random from all applicants. Cost is $3,740 USD per person plus flights.

Intrepid is an Australian-based B Corp-certified company that has been carbon neutral since 2010 and is now working toward becoming carbon positive by 2020. It's an industry leader in ending animal exploitation, such as elephant rides and lion walks, and has identified eight of 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals that it can work toward as a tourism company.