Justin Wateridge heads up Steppes Travel (www.steppestravel.co.uk), a UK‑based travel outfitter with expert knowledge of lesser-known, off-the-map hotels. Among them is the newly redone Kifu no Sato (www.kifunosato-ryokan.com; from £302, first picture) inJapan. This family-run ryokan, in a hot-spring (onsen) area a two-hour drive from Osaka, is the ideal base from which to explore Samurai culture. You’re also close to the sword-making town of Osafune and training halls for shogun warlords (Steppes offers 10-night stays from £2,695 per person, excluding international flights). The company is a match for travellers who share Wateridge’s affinity with forgotten cultures – including those of Papua New Guinea. This summer, it is offering two 10-day escorted trips to the country with Australian guide Ray Andrew, departing on either May 30 or July 25 (from £6,095 per person, excluding flights). Highlights include snorkelling the Coral Triangle, visiting skull caves and encounters with Huli wig men (second picture) and Asaro mudmen.