Travel challenge: a classical tour

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The Independent Travel

Every week we invite competing companies to give us their best deal for a specific holiday. Today: a cultural tour in the Islamic world in October. Prices are per person based on two people travelling together.

Silk Road and beyond

£1,875: a classic private tour of ancient Syria

Includes return flights from Heathrow with departures throughout October, 10 nights' four-star hotel accommodation with breakfast, private chauffeur driven vehicle, an English-speaking local guide and entrance fees into historic sites. "Syria is a fascinating country, boasting the oldest inhabited city in the world, spectacular Roman ruins and a fabulous crusader castle. This trip will truly transport you back in time," says Nigel Fisher of Silk Road and Beyond (020-7371 3131;

The Traveller

£2,275: Syria: Land of Zenobia group tour

Includes return flights from Heathrow to Damascus departing 2 October, transfers, 11 nights' half board, the services of a guide and specialist lecturer. "Syria's abandoned cities, Crusader castles and gloriously empty Roman sites are brought to life by talks from Paul Collins, senior curator in the British Museum's Middle East Department," says Irenie Ekkeshis of The Traveller (020-7269 2770;

Simoon Travel

£2,380: Highlights of Libya group tour

Includes return BA flights from Heathrow to Tripoli departing 16 October, 11 nights' full board, transfers, visa assistance and the services of a guide. "Stay in the quirky, charming riad-style Zumit hotel in Tripoli, which is opposite the Arch of Marcus Aurelius on the edge of the medina. The tour includes two visits to the glorious Roman site of Leptis Magna and also the sites of the Pentapolis along the eastern coast of Libya. You might also catch some camel racing at a festival in Ghadames," says Amelia Stewart of Simoon Travel (020-7737 2664;