The making of the Himalaya: A geological traverse across Bhutan

Traverse the Kingdom of Bhutan, entering at Paro in the west and departing from the south east along the land border to Assam, India. During the journey you will explore the major building blocks of the Himalayan mountains and discuss their role in throwing up the highest mountain range on Earth and their impact on the Bhutanese who live amongst them. Journey with specialist Professor Nigel Harris who has published extensively on the geology of the Himalaya since 1985, when he crossed Tibet with Professor Augusto Gansser, the grandfather of Himalayan geology.

Origins of Chinese cuisine: A hands-on approach

The continent that stretches from Central Asia to the East China Sea boasts some of the richest and most varied cuisine on earth. Accompanied by English-speaking chef and author Ms Jen Lin-Liu, journey through some of the most important centres of Chinese regional cuisine. Discover the historical origins of China’s most famous delicacies and the role they have played in everyday life for thousands of years. This is a hands-on learning experience and there will be cooking classes in each destination.

Crossing the ancient Silk Road: China and Central Asia

The term ‘Silk Road’ did not refer to a single route but a vast network of roads stretching from Xi’an to the Eastern Mediterranean. Linking India, Europe and the Far East, routes passed through spectacular cities and tiny hamlets, through harsh forbidding mountains, gentle steppe lands and hot deserts. Along its length, intrepid merchants traded in a huge number of items such as beautiful silks, porcelain, jade and fine carpets. Dr Greenbaum will show that the Silk Road was not simply a highway for the trade of precious items: it was the main East–West artery for the flow of ideas.

The mysteries of Persia

Resting between the steppes of Asia and the fertile crescent of the Mediterranean, Iran is a stepping-stone between East and West. Persia’s vast empire once stretched from India to Egypt. Discover this land of incomparable beauty with some of the finest monuments in the Islamic world and extraordinary archaeological sites. Accompanied by Professor Michael Roaf, explore Iran’s vaulted bazaars of turquoise domes and exquisite gardens where the sound of running water and the chatter of the tea house is never far away.

Highlights

A journey through Israel and Jordan: Past, present and future

Journey through Israel and Jordan, whose origins date back to the dawn of civilisation. Learn more of Israel’s fascinating history, encompassing the Old and New Testaments and the more recent Israeli–Palestinian peace process. Discover Israel society today and its unique mix of history, people, religions and cuisine. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a well-travelled bridge between sea and desert, East and West. It is a land of beauty and contrasts, from the fertile and everchanging Jordan Valley to the remote desert canyons.

Highlights

Gardens and landscapes of China

China has a tradition of garden-making and landscape appreciation considerably older than that in the west. The journey will introduce the historical and stylistic development of different types of garden in China, particularly imperial, scholarly and merchant gardens, setting them in the context of the appreciation of landscape in the Chinese tradition. There will also be several visits to some of China’s most inspiring landscapes. Dr Alison Hardie is a leading expert on Chinese garden history, and a cultural historian of lateimperial China.

Along the Burma Road: Walks in the borderlands of Burma, China and Vietnam

Accompanied by Dr Charles Ramble, enjoy a number of easy walks (up to six hours per day) through this beautiful mountainous region, home to many ethnic minority groups who, over generations, have been marginalised to these remote lands. The journey begins in Burma’s Kachin State, one of the least visited areas in Asia and only just opening up to foreigners. Continue on to the southern borderland area of China with some of the country’s best preserved ancient villages. Cross into north Vietnam, an area of pristine beauty whose forests and eco-systems  are internationally recognised.

Italian and Adriatic highlights

Join Dr Damian Robinson, Director of the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology, on this leisurely paced cruise around Italy and along the glorious Adriatic coast to Venice. Discover the marvellous Amalfi coast, cruising past the romantic island of Capri and volcanic island of Stromboli on your way to Taormina, Sicily, before heading across the Ionian Sea to the Greek island of Corfu. The fascinating Graeco-Roman site of Butrint, Albania, leads to the charming Croatian ports of Dubrovnik and Split, then the cruise culminates in Venice for an overnight stay with a special evening event.

Ancient Macedonia: Alexander the Great and the birthplace of the Hellenistic World

Discover the tumultuous forces which propelled the small ancient kingdom of Macedon (in modern-day Greece) into an unrivalled global empire. Its realms extended through Asia Minor, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia and even as far as modern Pakistan. With classicist Dr Alphonso Moreno, learn about Macedon’s most influential rulers, Philip II and his son, the self-proclaimed demi-god Alexander the Great. Through their actions, Macedon became the hub of global advances in philosophy, arts, literature, engineering and science, changing the face of Europe and Asia forever.

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