Colombia- once is not enough

A land of Magical realism

By Abhik Dutta

A jeep crosses a stream in the Valle de cocora

A jeep crosses a stream in the Valle de cocora

When Lonely Planet places Colombia second on its list of Best in Travel Top countries & 10 destinations you cannot afford to miss, one tends to sit up and notice that tiny country hedged between the Andes, the Amazon, the Pacific and the Caribbean “somewhere in Latin America”. When I visited Colombia on a 2 week trip a couple of years ago, I knew the place was something special. Whether it was drifting down the Amazon & camping on a hammock in the mosquito infested jungle or walking through the narrow cobbled streets of charming Cartagena de Indias or wandering through the coffee triangle of Manizales, Pereira and Quindio and the famed Valle del Cocora or the colourful old town of Salento, or visiting a local pub in Bogota, the sense of stumbling upon a hidden gem was palpable throughout.

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During my brief stay in Bogota (where I went to attend a travel fair), I met up with many travel partners from all over Colombia who spoke to me about places I was not fortunate enough to visit on this trip. Like the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina which was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000 and the legendary “sea of seven colours.” I came to know of Santa Marta, the first city in Colombia and the oldest in South America & a port of entry for those looking to conquer the “New world” in the 16th Century. I heard of the Gorgona National Park on the Pacific Coast, considered as one of the most bio-diverse & rainy areas on Earth and a paradise for nature lovers and adventurers. A place where the hump back whales arrive from the North in search of warmer waters. And in the midst of it is Nuqui, the Pacific Coast’s Eden, approachable only by air & a paradise for bird lovers, water sports enthusiasts, fishing and unspoiled nature; inspiring artists and poets with its incredible views of lush forest, beaches, waterfalls, stones and boulders of many colours. Then there’s the town of Villa de Leyva, just 200kms from Bogota, declared a national monument in 1954 and best explored on foot. Some spoke of the remote and hidden town of Santa Cruz de Mompox, situated on an island of the same name on the western bank of the Magdalena river, 200kms from Cartagena, that inspires tales of romance and nostalgia. A place that Colombia’s most famous son, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, described in his novel “The General in his labyrinth” as follows: Mompox does not exist, sometimes we dream of her, but she does not exist. In 1995, UNESCO declared this place a World Heritage Site.

Cartagena de indias- look for beaches and you have it here (the Caribbean coast)

Cartagena de indias- look for beaches and you have it here (the Caribbean coast)

Cartagena de Indias. Old town. Look for colours of the rainbow and you have it all here in this enchanting place. Home of Magical Realism

Cartagena de Indias. Old town. Look for colours of the rainbow and you have it all here in this enchanting place. Home of Magical Realism

Other names flashed by. San Augustin (a UNESCO World heritage site) & Tierradentro, the salt desert of Guajira, Santander, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla (the golden gate of Colombia), Ciudad Perdida & of course Cali (the capital of Salsa) and Medellin.

There was more. Much more. I was convinced I had to return to this place to soak in its magical realism.

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Sunset in the Amazon, always larger than life

6 things you need to know about Colombia:

  1. It is not the country that you see in Narcos. That man died in 1995. If thats the reason for going (or not going) to Colombia, think again.
  2. It will be the most sought after destination in Latin America. Soon. Go there before Starbucks opens a store in Leticia.
  3. It is one of the safest places in the Americas. (Despite “Narcos”)
  4. It is a bird watchers paradise. Colombia leads the world in avian biodiversity; it is home to 1889 species, or 20 % of all bird species on Earth. 197 species of migratory birds are also temporary residents. 71 species of birds found here are unique to Colombia.
  5. Barranquilla Carnival, February: This 4-day festival has been awarded the status of a “Masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity” by UN cultural body UNESCO. The event features various days of parades, music, drinking and dancing in a city already famous in Colombia for its active party scene. It is arguably the second biggest and best annual celebration in Latin America’s carnival calendar, falling only slightly below the levels of hedonism witnessed at the street parties of Rio de Janeiro.
  6. The people are honest and helpful. Don’t corrupt them.

Note: For a trip to Colombia, contact The Wanderers. Suggested trip: http://www.thewanderers.travel/itinerary/12-days-colours-of-colombia/?page=173

All photos by Abhik Dutta, The Wanderers

Posted in Active Vacations, Colombia, Eco-journeys & Wildlife Tours, Latin America, Return as the Wanderer, TW Travel Dairy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The ghost of the Himalayas

On a quest for sighting the snow leopard in the wild

By Abhik Dutta

Jigmet, our guide, peered into the scope and began diligently scanning the hill opposite the plateau on which we stood. We peered through our binoculars checking every spur, ridgeline and saddle where the supposed ‘movement’ had been spotted by the villagers earlier in the afternoon. The excitement was palpable. We had braved the severe temperatures of a wintry February in the high altitude of Ladakh on a quest to sight the snow leopard in the wild. It looked like we were close to seeing the elusive ghost of the Himalayas in its natural habitat. “Jigmet, kuch dikha?” we kept murmuring to him. He just shook his head without looking up from his scope. Through our sights, every brown rock in the distance held promise. Against a background of white, dotted with various shades of brown rocks, gazing at a mountain a good 1.5kms away, and searching for a 50kg animal that doesn’t want to be found was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.  What were our chances of seeing this creature when, recently, a Nat Geo team spent the first 5 weeks in the region without spotting it?

One part of the mountain range we were scanning

On its final approach, the aircraft flew high above the airstrip, perilously close to a hill on the left and then banked sharply to the left, circling around the ridge and aligning itself to the runway. Down below, the expanse of Leh opened up, snow draped with shades of brown and grey breaking the monotony. As the flight taxied towards the airport building, from my seat 10A, I saw a red fox scampering along the airport fence and disappearing behind a mound. Aditya Singh, seated behind me, saw it too. It was a good omen, we thought. 

The idea of the trip first occured to me during an earlier trip to Ladakh in summer a few years ago. My wife and I were driving from Tsomoriri to Tsokar, two high altitude lakes in the region, when we offered a lift to an elderly Changpa herder (the nomadic migratory shepherds who stay in the Changthang plateau). He wanted to return to his family members who were camping in the plains somewhere to the East of the dusty highway we were traveling on and he kept looking at the hillside to our right. He spoke animatedly to our driver and when I quizzed the latter, he said the elder was talking about a snow leopard which he had seen a few days ago. He was anxious as it had attacked his sheep the previous year and he believed that these ridges on our right is where the leopard roamed. We got talking through our interpreter, the driver. He said that the best time to spot the same would be the winter months, when these leopards came down from the higher reaches following their natural prey, the bharal (blue sheep), ibex and Ladakhi urial which too came down searching of grass, shrubs and other plants at lower altitudes.  But sometimes they chose easier prey..the sheep that these herders and locals kept in the corrals. But to come to the Changthang region in winter would literally be an uphill task as the region would be inhospitable, the roads snowed out and the passes shut. Maybe we should concentrate on villages closer to Leh or even the Hemis National Park, where sighting was said to be occasional. And so the seed, of catching a glimpse of the snow leopard in the wild, the Holy Grail of wildlife photography, was planted in my head.

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Tsomoriri to Tsokar- I met the Changpa elder trudging along this road during a summer trip, sparking the idea of a snow leopard trip to Ladakh in winter

Joining me early on in this adventure were my friends Ajay and Sharon, two avid trekkers who didn’t need coaxing as they wanted to visit Ladakh in winter, having been there a few times before including on the Chadar trek. Aditya Singh, a wildlife buff and passionate photographer, jumped at the idea as soon as I suggested it to him. We planned a 11 day trip, from 9th to 19th Feb 2017, with 3 days in Leh for acclimatisation, followed by 7 days at the Hemis National Park (HNP) where we would camp. But as the date approached, we got news that there had been sighting near the Village of Ulley, 20kms away and 2000ft above Likir. So we adjusted our fluid plans accordingly, and decided on spending the first 3 nights in Ulley at a homestay and the other 3 nights in HNP, camping at Rumbak. We had to watch out for 2 things in particular. Acclimatising to the altitude and embracing the severe cold that we would have to endure, ranging from minus 22 to minus 8 deg C. It was something that I was really looking forward to!

The snow leopard, is one of the most elusive cats and very little is known of its behaviour in the wild. In India, their main habitat are the upper reaches of the Himalayas where they stay at altitudes ranging from 3000m to 4500m. Their estimated population in India is about 200-600 (so elusive is the animal and so inaccessible its habitat that a more accurate figure is not available) and Ladakh alone is said to have more than half of that. During the winter months, with heavy snowfall in the upper reaches, its natural prey climb to lower altitudes in search of food and the leopard follows them, sometimes to grave consequences as it enters villages and attacks the domesticated sheep and goats. Earlier, the villagers retaliated pushing the cat further away from human settlements. But over the last few years, due to some excellent work by a local conservancy unit, the man-animal conflict has sharply declined and now the villagers take active part in the conservation efforts as it supplements their winter income with wildlife photographers and nature lovers keen to stay with them on their quest to see the animal. 

On 12th Feb, our motley group of 10 consisting of the 4 of us plus Jigmet our guide, Namgyal our local travel partner & his 10 year old son and the support staff of 3 left for Ulley. The drive in winter is quite different from a summer trip when Ladakh sees 95% of its tourist traffic from May to September. Winter tourism consists of the now very popular Chadar trek and the snow leopard quest which is still in its infancy. The landscape was surreal, the mountains bathed in white, the occasional brown patches of land peering through the snow. We stopped at the confluence of Zanskar and Indus river, a sight so spectacular that its nothing like what it is in summer. The Zanskar was frozen solid and the Indus was a narrow streak, the rest of it frozen almost to the centre of the river.

The frozen confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers

The frozen confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers

We soon turned right to Likir and began the treacherous 2okm uphill drive to Ulley. Our vehicle put on the chains as the road was covered in snow. It was a narrow track, with space only for one vehicle to pass by, with sheer drops on one side and like most Himalayan roads, no safety rails on the curbs. En route we stopped to see a herd of 15 Ladakhi Urials, an endangered animal with an estimated population of only a 1000 in the wild.

Ladakh Urial (Shapo)

Ladakh Urial (Shapo)

A lone lammergeier circled high above the blue skies. Near a stream, we spotted the White winged redstart (Guldenstadt’s Redstart), a winter visitor in Ladakh. By 2pm, we reached our destination, the sparsely inhabited village of Ulley (approx 20 persons staying in 6 houses spread over a 4 km radius) surrounded by high mountains. We settled into our rooms with our bed & sleeping bags on the floor, the bukhari in the main room lit up for much needed warmth to our numbed bones.  A simple meal of rice, dal & sabzi had been cooked for us by the owner of the house and after lunch we settled for a short rest. At 4.15pm, we headed out through a snow covered track to a vantage point above the village from where we began scouring the surrounding hills for signs of life. We spotted 3 ibex sitting on a snowy patch on the hill opposite the village. Another solitary ibex grazed on another ridge. At 6.30pm, the sun having vanished behind the faraway mountains, we decided to pack up and return to the lodge. The temperatures had dipped sharply and staying on that exposed plateau would serve no further purpose in fading light. We settled around the warmth of the Bukhari and chatted for a while. At 8pm, dinner was served and soon after we crept into our sleeping bags.

The village of Ulley as seen from one of our vantage points above the valley

The village of Ulley as seen from one of our vantage points above the valley

13th Feb: 6am: Jigmet woke us up. I had slept in fits and starts at night. While my down sleeping bag had kept me warm, the room temperature had dipped drastically once the genset died at 11pm and the heater was turned off. We changed quickly into our outdoor gear (I was wearing 5 layers with a down jacket, I had bought from the local market in Leh, serving as the 6th layer) and after a hot cup of tea, we headed out with Jigmet to the same vantage point of the previous day. The air outside was icy cold, the sun rays had just begun to fall on the upper reaches and the valley was still cast in shadow. The warm rays were still an hour away.

Jigmet peering through his scope at dawn, scouring the mountains for sign of life

Jigmet peering through his scope at dawn, scouring the mountains for signs of life

Jigmet set up the scope & we organised our binoculars and cameras, Aditya his “Bazooka,” a 500mm zoom that he was carrying with him. We soon spotted a red fox dancing up the village road that disappeared quickly in the undergrowth before we could take a photo. An hour later, the sun hit the sweet spot  & gave us much needed warmth. The temperature was around 20 deg C below zero and inspite of the protection we had, our toes and finger tips were becoming numb in the vicious cold. Hot tea/coffee arrived soon. At 9.30am, we  decided to return to the lodge for breakfast. Except for the 3 Ibex of the previous evening and the red fox that we sighted, we drew a blank when it came to any sign of the leopard. At 11.30am, we left again, this time walking down the village road where we had seen the red fox. We soon spotted a herd of over 15 Asiatic Ibex, grazing quietly, digging through the snow with their hoofs, bending down on their knees to search for roots of plants hidden beneath the snow. We set up our scope here again following the Ibex herd as it slowly moved Northwards towards a parallel ridge, hoping to see signs of predators as well. Characterised by their stout bodies and short legs, the Ibex’s long horns curve backwards gently unlike the Urial and Argali whose horns curve backwards sharply.

Herd of Ibex

Herd of Ibex

We decided to go further up the hill, beyond our original vantage point and trudged through shin-deep snow to reach the spot. Every upward step was a task for me and my shortness of breath coupled with the cold made the simple task of climbing 300ft a laborious affair. Once again, except for the same herd of Ibex, which had now settled down on the slope above our guest house, we had no luck with any predator sighting. Lunch was served at the spot by our ever smiling kitchen staff who had brought it all the way up. It consisted of rice, dal, sabzi, tuna, boiled eggs. It was welcomed by all of us. Post lunch, we went further up the trail to another spot above some chortens. The scope was set up again and the place offered a 360 deg view of the surrounding ridges. We scanned the horizon continuously but detected no further animal movement. At 4.30pm, the sun dipped behind the ridge and an icy cold descended on us. We trudged back to the comfort of our lodge.

Vantage point

Scanning the mountains from a vantage point

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Climbing up the valley where we saw the day old set of pugmarks

14th Feb: We woke up late. Had slept better during the night as we had all settled into a routine. Today we would be exploring a parallel valley. Our vehicle took us to the roadhead and then we trudged up the snow draped valley, up the left flank. Shortly, Jigmet showed us the pug marks of the snow leopard, about 3 days old, its scat below a jutting ledge. This was our first sign of leopard movement in the valley. We walked on for another 20 minutes and pitched our scope there scanning the valley for movement. High above us, a Golden Eagle soared, dipping in and out of sight as it circled a sharp ridge to our right. After 30mins Jigmet decided to climb higher to a better vantage point, approx 200 ft higher. I followed him. We stayed there for an hour but we drew a blank. In the distance, at the head of the valley, I saw our camp staff approaching with our lunch packs. That was our cue to climb down. After a hearty lunch of tuna pasta, we decided to walk back following a trail on the other side of the narrow valley. The path climbed up steeply, curving 300 ft above the valley floor. Here again we saw fresh pug marks of the snow leopard, a day old, and this gave us renewed hope of seeing the elusive cat.

soft impression of the snow leopards pug mark on snow

soft impression of the snow leopard’s pug mark on snow

We reached the road-head and boarded our vehicle and returned to the village. There was considerable excitement at the lodge. The landlady and her family members were gesticulating wildly at the opposite ridge and speaking to Namgyal and Jigmet. Earlier in the afternoon, while we were away, they had spotted some “tell-tale movement” pointing to the presence of a snow leopard in the opposite mountain. This steep ridge was at least 1.5kms away and 1000-1500ft higher than where we were. We needed a better vantage point. We quickly boarded the vehicle & drove above the village to a spot 500mtrs up the road. From there Jigmet and Ajay scurried up the mountain while Aditya, Sharon and I brought up the rear, plodding through knee deep snow and panting up the slope.

“Jigmet, kuch dikha?” we kept murmuring to him. He just shook his head without looking up from his scope. Through our sights, every brown rock in the distance held promise. Against a background of white, dotted with various shades of brown rocks, gazing at a mountain a good 1.5kms away, and searching for a 50kg animal that doesn’t want to be found was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.  

And then, he shouted the magic words, “Snow Leopard!”

Sharon spotted it through the scope but by the time our turn came, it had vanished from sight. The scanning began in right earnest with 3 binocs and a spotting scope. There were just 2 colours on the faraway ridge. The white of the snow and the brown of the rocks & boulders. Only a trained eye could spot something that far away. Jigmet’s scanning continued and once again he shouted “Snow leopard” and this time Namgyal and Ajay saw it in the distance before it vanished from sight again. Our binocs were just not picking up any movement. I peered through the scope. Nothing.

And then, suddenly it appeared in my line of sight. A ghost that was moving to our left high up on the ridge. Graceful and unhurried. And then it moved behind another boulder, out of sight. Excitement in our group was sky high. The sun was behind us and the light was perfect. But it was still too far away for a clear shot through the cameras. It was impossible to see it with the naked eye. We couldn’t even figure out which exact point in the ridge it was traversing. Once again Jigmet picked up the leopards movement through the scope.  This time it was wading gracefully through the snow. I saw the lithe creature moving up the slope, the long tail swishing in the snow. And so, on it went, a cat and mouse game as it moved in and out of sight. Each of us got to see the cat in the wild, in its natural habitat. A poignant moment in our lives. We had braved the altitude, the severe temperatures and stay in basic facilities to come to Ladakh when most travellers shy away from visiting the region in winter. But our effort was worth it.

Meanwhile, I was photographing blind on my Nikon P-900, and even with its massive 2000 mm zoom, I couldn’t figure out where it was, so well camouflaged it was in the mountains. Later, much later, when I studied the photographs in detail, I saw the leopard, framed on the edge of the photographs, trudging through snow. The last of the photos had it silhouetted against the sky, standing atop the ridge, the king of the Himalayas in its snowy lair.

snow leopard Ulley

Follow the track on the snow to the top of the ridge on the top right corner of the photo..you will see the ghost of the Himalayas!

Postscript:  On our way to Hozing Nallah in Hemis National Park the next day, I called home and found out about a family emergency and had to rush back to Leh to catch the flight to Mumbai the next day. Aditya, Ajay and Sharon carried on and were extremely fortunate to sight the snow leopard from a much closer distance, 500 mtrs away. They watched it for almost 6hrs that day standing atop a narrow ledge. 

Snow leopard in Hemis National Park

Snow leopard in Hemis National Park. Pic courtesy: Aditya Singh

Essential viewing: National Geographic’s outstanding documentary of the snow leopard in Ladakh with veteran wildlife film maker Hugh Miles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwPIr-AvHRM

Our group at Ulley village with the land lady on top.

Our group at Ulley village

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The carcass of a fully grown Ibex that was killed by the snow leopard the previous night. We saw it in a valley, about 100mtrs from the road on 14 Feb on our way down from Ulley

 

Posted in Eco-journeys & Wildlife Tours, India Himalayas, Ladakh, Return as the Wanderer, TW Travel Dairy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Through the lens: Uma Iyer in Iceland

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As a travel outfit, it prides us, when one of our travelers come back with exciting stories from the land they have visited. Uma Iyer is just back from Iceland and she has put down her experience in an enticing way! She actually touched the very chord of Iceland: it being a land of paradox. Adorned with abstract nature, it is a photographer’s paradise. Ms. Iyer brought home many such images (of course, all of them are copyright protected and any reproduction of any sort will attract penalty!). Enjoy her words and snapshots of happiness!

Over to Uma Iyer:

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A misnomer of Iceland being all ice while Greenland is all green – came out to be quite true during my recent visit to Iceland on a fortnight’s trip to the South and West of this beautiful and geologically diverse country.

The trip was organized by my agent, Farzana Haque from The Wanderers Leisure Travel Pvt. Ltd. and the entire tour of this magnificent country was seamlessly planned from the day I landed in Reykjavik till the day I left the country (with a heavy heart of course).

It makes you wonder why when you look at the globe, Iceland is more oddly green while Greenland is covered in ice. This is for many reasons and most importantly geographically being thanks to the Gulf stream, Iceland’s sea temperatures are 6 degrees Celsius warmer than Greenland. Which then means that Icelandic summers are intensely green throughout Iceland, even though 11% of that country is covered in ice.

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So, like most travellers (especially from the Tropics), exploring a new country, I opted for the summer to visit this beautiful country –imagining that the summer would be the ideal given the maximum temperatures reaching up to 18 /19 degrees Celsius while minimum could be around 5/6 degrees. That was manageable.

As luck would have it, the country welcomed me with warm sunshine throughout my entire trip except for one day where it rained a bit (if you had a jacket – you would do fine). This country is a land of sharp contrasts – FIRE AND ICE – it’s simmering hot springs or geysers, lava fields, volcanoes, vast sand deserts contrasted with thundering waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and fjords. Last but not the least – those who want are interested in the flora and fauna can be rest assured, they won’t be in the least disappointed – be it whale watching or the hundreds of species of birds or the variety of plant species. It is also a hikers paradise.

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I had the choice between Iceland and Norway – and am glad I finally opted for Iceland as I wouldn’t have seen such diverse topography as I did when I travelled far South and then to the west right up to the western most tip of Europe. One of the highlights of my visit to Iceland is exploring the Westfjords. Very few tourists opt for this part of Iceland given its remoteness and unspoiled wilderness. That’s what visiting this place made it even more special. I would recommend everyone travelling to Iceland – not to miss this part of the country if you want to experience true Icelandic wilderness.

The summer’s midnight sun allows you to spend the entire day and night outdoors and enjoy all the wonderful treats of its Viking heritage, food and beautiful ‘scapes’ it has to offer.With global warming threatening to diminish the ice cover everywhere and thereby bringing catastrophically geological and climatic changes, I would recommend everyone who loves nature, to visit Iceland. Talk to ‘The Wanderers’ – they will guide you and give you a memorable experience.

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PS: I am going back – for a winter experience. It is a country that beguiles you and casts you under a spell. Once is not enough. There is still so much to see and experience from this tiny, isolated but breathtaking country. The northern lights beckon and its wish shall be fulfilled hopefully soon.

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Are you inspired? Explore more on our Iceland country page.

Posted in Iceland, Return as the Wanderer | 1 Comment

9 Things That Nobody Told You About Vacationing In Italy

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Pic Courtesy: Shutterstock

Italy is a European country like no other! A wise traveler once said, ‘Put all of Europe on one side and Italy on the other and Italy will still come up trumps’. Maybe it’s as true for their brand of football, wine and food as well, but I guess in his mildly inebriated state he meant it from the tourism point of view! This boot-shaped country has got beautiful landscape with a remarkable coastline and mountains, rolling wine country, an ancient culture which is hard to beat and architecture which will take your breath away. And after you have been suitably mesmerized by Rome, Florence and the Tuscany region, you land up in Venice and think, what the hell were these guys up to? How could they pull off such an incredible feat as building the city of Venice? And then off course there’s the incredible food and wine and the typical Italian way of life ~La Dolce Vita~

1) That Italy is NOT for a hop-skip-jump visit.

St_Peter's_Square,_Vatican_City_-_April_2007Pic Courtesy: en.wikipedia.org

If you are looking at Italy as a 3 night stopover in Rome, don’t waste your time. Go someplace else. That’s a frank advice. You can’t do justice to what this country did in 5000 years and attempt to even try and understand it in 3 days. Minimum spend 10 days. Anything short of that is a blasphemy! Rome and the Vatican needs 4 days; Florence and Tuscany another 4 days; Venice a good 2 full days; Amalfi Coast another 3days. Then there’s Sicily which if you want to get a feel you need 4days. Exploring it would require 6-7 days. And we haven’t covered Milan and the Lake Como region or the Dolomites! So, there you are. In 10 days you would be able to rush through Rome, Florence and a stay in a Tuscan villa, Venice and a bit of the Amalfi Coast.

2) Make a wishlist and dump that checklist.

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For those who want to see a bit of everything and have a hassle free guided tour where even your meals are accounted for, go for the coach tours. Yeah bring out your laundry list for Italy! But if you have your own wishlist and want to see the Duomo in Florence at leisure or check out the ambiance of Tuscany by staying on a farm or a villa or want to enter Venice in style aboard a cruising yacht or spend endless hours in a piazza in Rome or stand transfixed for hours on end in front of the Coliseum, or stay in Taormina in Sicily for the awesome views of Mt.Etna and the Mediterranean, then go for the independent holidays. Don’t get chaperoned like on a guided coach tour and spend all your time in the world to savor the beauty of Italy like you would your red wine while seated in a café in front of the Pantheon or at the Trevi fountain!
3) Add that ‘self drive’ star to your trip.

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Firstly, the ‘self-drive’ houseboat holidays near Venice. It’s a lifestyle holiday that’s so reasonably priced that it’s quite unbelievable. Imagine having a private yacht with 1-4 cabins with en suite loos, a small kitchenette, its own music system, the freedom to navigate down the river, choosing where you want to eat, where you want to moor and go for long walks or cycle down pretty pathways in villages you would never have seen otherwise. The second is self drive car holidays all over mainland Italy where we will chalk out your route and book you in pretty places all over Italy. The 3rd is the enchanting and myth laden island of Sicily. From short breaks to 10 day holidays in Sicily and covering Taormina, a climb to Mt. Etna, Cefalu, Palermo, Agrigento etc.
4) Don’t throw caution to the wind.

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They have never given suparis to Indian tourists. Not even in Sicily. At least not yet. The Godfathers are yet to hear about ‘India Shining’ out there. But yes, we keep hearing from people or reading in news that there have been purse snatching or pickpocketing. I have never ‘met’ someone who has been at the wrong end of Italian hospitality. But since they say its that way in Italy, why not just be more careful and don’t go hanging your new Mont Blanc wallet around your neck!

5) Don’t visit at the wrong time of year and regret.

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June to Sep is summer. The scent of a warm summer breeze, pretty cafes open till late at night, fashion laden locals and hordes of mesmerized tourists waltzing down every narrow lane, music pouring out from street corners and pubs. It’s a heady cocktail of splendid architecture, food & wine, fashion, amazing landscapes and warm people. You will find it hard not be swept into the philosophy of La dolce vita. Apr/May & Oct would have a bit of all that but less in its intensity as well as price.

6) Don’t be the last minute Indian while VISA application.

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Pic Courtesy: Pixabay

Not a problem, if you have your papers in order. In perfect order. It’s a Schengen country. But during the summer months, the consulate is loaded with applications, so don’t plan to apply at the last moment.

7) Don’t club in random countries with Italy and regret later.

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Pic Courtesy: Wikimedia

France, Switzerland and Austria make a good combination. All of them are well connected by trains. For eg, you can combine Geneva (Switzerland), Chamonix (France) with a trip to Lake Como and Milan in Italy. Or you could wander to the Lake side triangle of Lugano (Switzerland), Como and Maggiore in Italy. The schengen visa will suffice for all these countries.

8) Exercise caution while hotel booking for ultimate savings.

ColiséePic Courtesy: Wikipedia

It depends entirely on your budget and the kind of location you like. But we would advise that in Rome choose a centrally located hotel between the Tiber river and Termini stn. Preferably within walking distance of the metro. In Florence choose any hotel close to the station. It’s a walking town. In Tuscany if you want to stay in a vineyard or on a farm, there are plenty of places to choose from. Check with us for ideas. In Venice, if you stay ‘inside’ Venice city, then prepare to pay a stratospheric price for a measly sized room but you may hear the gondola guys serenade you right below the window! Or you may opt to stay instead at Mestre, which is just across the creek and a 3min train ride away. Here you will get a decent 4 star hotel (eg Hotel Bologna) at the cost of a ‘so-called’ 3star hotel in Venice city.

9) Eat through Italy.

7849604206_34015c89cd_oPic Courtesy: Flickr

Italy is a foodie’s delight. The further south you travel the more elaborate the meal becomes, so much so that in Sicily, 1-4pm is siesta time which I guess is more to do with their lunch than with rest. If an Italian decides to host you for lunch or dinner, do keep aside 2-3 hrs for that and no meetings afterwards. Nothing is short of a 3-course meal with wine overflowing. It’s not a Veg food paradise, but veggies will survive well. Indian restaurants are there in the main cities but these are not cheap. A simple dinner for 2 at the only Indian restaurant in Venice will set you back by Euro 40-50. Tap water is safe for drinking in Italy. But then in Italy who drinks water!

Holler if you finally want to take that Italy vacation or just click here to see our awesome Italy package: 16 Days Italy – The Wanderers Way!

Posted in TW Travel Dairy | 4 Comments

9 Reasons Why You Should Never Ever Visit Kumaon In Winter

And the mountains echo

Do you like polishing off scoop after scoop of ice cream as you tightly wrap your shawl around to keep the chill off your bones? Do you screw up your eyebrows and take deep philosophical dives into why some people complain about cold in winter and rain during monsoon – since the elements are just performing fine? Do you wait breathlessly for these gifted 3 months – December, January and February – when winter sweeps you off your feet and you get a reason to strut around in your winter finery? When the other three C’s – curling, cozying and cuddling become the defining words of your daily dos?

If you nod NO to all of the above then all of the below is just for YOU (for YES nod-ers anyways I can’t stop you all from reading on). So you’ve my permission to keep going: 9 reasons why you should never ever visit Kumaon in winter.

1. Trek in winter is like totally revolting!

Inside Corbett National Park

Seeping sunlight lighting up the jungle path

Not when you walk-the-adventure-talk on these narrow pahadi tracks or thrilling and remote Corbett jungle trails!

2. Homestays & luxury in this chill? Duh!

Solar heated pool

Wait till you immerse yourself in this cutting edge solar heated pool on a mountain top home stay – at the height of 2000 mts. (do I hear a gasp somewhere!)

3. Come winter you only will have eyes for BIGG BOSS with SALMAN KHAN from under your blanket.

Tigress walking on gypsy track in Bijrani zone. Picture courtesy: http://bit.ly/1kT0IOA

Else say ‘hello’ to the BIGG BOSS of Corbett NP as you catch some wild action here! Lodge beside a waterhole. What more can you ask for???

4. Breakfast with a view? You’ve done quite a few.

Breakfast on the deck

Not on this wooden deck under a powder blue sky overlooking the gorgeous Himalayan range – hazardous for all your senses.

5. Chatter of solitude is just so not you!

Chill. Read. Repeat.

Ditch the holiday crowd to messy hill stations and get charmed by doing absolutely nothing at all in these hidden gem of a homestays.

6. Crisp sky with bonus sight of the Himalayan hill range – travel agent’s trick I say!

The silver line

In the interiors of Uttaranchal offering a panoramic 180° view of the Himalayas.

7. Corbett – done to death (even the pages are yellowing!). Yawn-inducing.

Jungle Brook

Betcha you didn’t think you go off-roading in the tiger territory, did’ ya? Grool.

8. Living inside the forest – Bro that’s so primitive!

Swiss Tents

Till you try these Swiss tents packed with all urban comforts. Thank us later!

9. You hate to connect with anyone on vacation.

Pahadi pathways

Connect with nature. Connect with yourself.

If you are still hell bent on going to Kumaon this winter check out our gorgeous itinerary:

8 Days Walking and Wildlife Trails of Kumaon (http://bit.ly/1X8iONw)

Till then … Keep wandering !!!

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The Middle Eastern Experience – Jordan and Israel

The Middle Eastern Experience..

By, Veena Suman

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Many of our friends were surprised at our choice of a destination as far as Jordan was concerned.The general impression amongst a lot of people is that it is not a very well- off, and a conservative nation. We chose to go there as we were keen to visit a Middle East country that blended tradition with modernity, and I am glad to say that we were not disappointed.

Arrival at Queen Alia International Airport was a pleasant surprise.It is an efficient airport, very clean and user friendly. We found the Jordanian people to be extremely warm and hospitable, who seem to take pride in the fact that their country is peaceful in these troubled times.

We had an exciting time visiting the Blue Mosque, which besides being very beautiful, required us womenfolk to wear Abayas….a first and novel experience for us!The abayas are very thoughtfully provided by the shops outside the Mosque, free of charge.

Jerash, Petra and Wadi Rum are awesome experiences, and more than justified our decision to visit Jordan. Everywhere you go to in Jordan , you come across pictures of the present king and his very beautiful Queen Noor and their children , who seem to be very popular.

Floating in the Dead Sea is another great experience, though not as easy as it sounds.For one, the water is highly salty, and tends to sting if one has even a minor scratch.Its a good idea to carry a bottle of fresh tap water from the hotel  to rinse out your eyes every time the salt gets in . .It takes a couple of tries before you get the hang of lying on your back and relaxing, but once there, the feel is exhilarating!

Visiting the Dead Sea scrolls was a must for me personally, as I was told that Jordan is the only country that has the original and only copper scrolls. Israel is a unique experience, especially Jerusalem.It is a good idea to read up as much as possible about the city, in order to get as enriching an experience as possible.

The whole city comes to a standstill from Friday evening till Saturday evening,which can be a disappointment for most, but very interesting for me personally as I could see how the Shabbath is observed. The huge Rams horns  used for announcing Shabbat , being sold in the shops on Via Dolorosa make an interesting sight. We bought some souvenirs for our Christian friends and had them blessed in the churches when we walked for the Stations of the Cross.Jerusalem is full of Indians who have come for a tour of the Holy Land.We saw very few Indian tourists in Jordan.

We were very lucky that our guide in Israel was a member of a Kibbutz, who gave us a lot of information on the functioning of a kibbutz.We were very lucky that we could see a number of bar- mitzvah ceremonies at the Wailing Wall. The Jewish people prefer to call it the Western Wall, and we were careful to call it by that name. My only disappointment was that being non- Muslims, we could not see the truly magnificent Al- Aqsa mosque, but had to be content with a distant view. Early risers can however, go near the precinct after early morning prayers are over.

To end- Israel has delicious fruit , one must do full justice to it. The Medjoul Dates are the best in the world.We brought back boxes as gifts for friends and family. Olives are another must buy.

And yes- for travellers to both countries it is advisable to carry a headscarf, for visits to holy places.A lot of walking is involved in both countries, so comfortable shoes are a must.

As far as food is concerned,  I am not aware if there are any Indian restaurants. We dined in the hotels and were happy to sample the local cuisine!

 

 

 

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An Insider’s view of Tirol,Austria

Everything the guide books or tourism websites won’t tell you about the place..

The Wanderers in conversation with  Angela.

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i. One little-known fact/trivia that everyone should know about when travelling to TIROL?

In Tirol fresh drinking water comes straight from the tap. It is very clean and of a high quality, so drinking it is probably one of the most natural and most healthy refreshments you can experience.

ii. What is a must buy when in TIROL?

Visit one the Swarovski shops and you will know. For example, go to the store in Innsbruck and gives you a feel of a Swarovski museum. Buy yourself a present there and take it home with you as something that will always remind you of a very special holiday in Tirol.

iii. One take-away after a visit to TIROL?

In my opinion, a “Zirben-pillow” would be a great take-away, it smells very good and can decorate your couch at home. Otherwise Kitzbühel with its luxurious boutiques and shiny jewelry stores is the most famous shopping destination in Tirol, I am sure you will find something nice at the exclusive shops at the “KITZ GALLERIA” (shopping mall).

iv. What is your advice to first-time travelers?

You have to pack your suitcase for different types of weather. Like the onion-model: Be prepared for cold weather, but so that you can put off clothes if the weather is warm.

v. One thing to definitely pack when travelling to TIROL

Take good shoes with you. Doesn’t matter if you go through cities, on a mountain or just for a walk. Keep in mind that you might want to touch the snow on one of our impressive glaciers, which are easy to reach also in the summer.

vi. One activity anyone travelling to TIROL should not miss.

For sure you should not miss the view when you are on the top of a mountain. It is possible to go there for everyone. You can hike or take the gondola. For Example in Sölden in the Ötztal Valley you can visit the Big 3 panoramic rock path covered in glass, the view from there is breathtaking – even for locals!

vii. Where should anyone, travelling to TIROL, definitely get their picture taken?

It’s nearly the same for this question: On the top of a mountain. Do not forget to share it on social media to let your friends admire the view as well.

viii. Which is the best place to get a panoramic photo?

The Valluga in St. Anton am Arlberg, because you can see the peaks of three countries: Italy in the south, Switzerland in the West and Germany in the North – that’s a unique experience!

ix. Best place to enjoy sunset/sunrise?

As we are in the middle of the Alps, the best places to enjoy the sunset/sunrise is on the top of one of our beautiful mountains or on a tease with a nice cup of coffee.  If you are in Innsbruck you can go up the Mountain with the “Nordkettenbahn” which takes you at an elevation of almost 2,000 meters in 20 minutes directly from the city center.  This is something you could do every day, however for sunsets I recommend considering a Friday as the cable car has extended opening times till 11.30 pm.

x. Most romantic place to take a special someone to.

To the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens (only 20 minutes away from Innsbruck), because with their subterranean “chambers of wonder” they are a sparkling fantasy world and a pure invitation to dream. The atmosphere is magical to romantic there, someone special will notice.

xi. Best place to have local food?

The best place for local food is a real Tyrolean restaurant, beside the numerous international restaurants they are easy to find everywhere.

xii. You are favorite local dish and drink that you would recommend.

I would recommend the “Käsepressknödel” (cheese dumplings) because they are a vegetarian speciality that is typical for Tirol. By the way, the “Graukäse”, which is the cheese used for this dumplings, contains just 0,1% fat.

xiii. One place only the locals would know.

There are many places in the different regions. One example is at the Ötztaler Alps. There you can see ibexes most of the time.When you come to Tirol, just ask one of the locals. The people here are very friendly and will share their hidden spots with pleasure with you. If you would ask me I would send you to the Ötztal Valley to see the most beautiful waterfall – the “Stuiben Waterfall”.

xiv. The best pub and a best place to catch up for a drink.

There are plenty…so I try to give you the highlights.

In Innsbruck on the rooftop of a shopping mall is a quaint local bar called “360 Grad” that has an amazing “360-degree” view of downtown Innsbruck. For a real party experience I would recommend “The Londoner” in Kitzbühel, as it is the favorite party location for summer and winter tourists as well as for the local party animals since more than 25 years. In the Ötztal Valley the “Top Mountain Star” is a combination of a panoramic platform and a bar in a special shape on a mountain beyond 3000 meters above sea level.

xv. A local festival you feel more travelers should come and see

The traditional “Almabrieb” is a very colorful event in in autumn (mainly in September) where the cattle of the farmers that have grazed the mountain pastures all summer long are driven back down the mountain to the safety of their winter quarters. That is very beautiful in the region of St. Anton am Arlberg.

xvi. The things guide books will not tell anyone about TIROL

As you know, the official language in Austria is German, but we are very proud of our various dialects. However, sometimes people from the different valleys do not understand each other. As a result, it is common to make friendly jokes about the `foreign` dialects.

xvii. Is there any particular month you would not recommend travel to TIROL and what would that reason be?

The best time to come to come to Tirol is the summer season (middle of May – end of September) because the climate is very nice. You will have a warm temperature, but it is never getting too hot.

xix. In one sentence, TIROL is: the heart of the Alps!

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Hello, my name is Angela, I am 29 years old and grew up in Innsbruck – the capital of Tirol. In the last years I studied and worked abroad, it was amazing to see so many beautiful places in the world, but coming back and to settle in Tirol was definitely one of the best choices I ever made, because this is where my heart belongs.

 

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“Horton Plains… Anything but “plain.”

“Horton Plains… Anything but “plain.”

by Vikas Kakwani

(Vikas and his wife and son travel regularly with The Wanderers and here’s his post from Horton Plains, Sri Lanka)

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“In the name of Ravan, what would you do in Sri Lanka for 8 days?” was the question posed to us when we planned the travel. How absolutely wrong could that turn out to be? Each day offered us something new, from heritage sites to high rises, from hill stations to pristine beaches, from idyllic resorts to maddening shopping and from tea plantations to Horton plains.

It was Horton plains that got my fancy. Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka at an altitude of approx 2,200 metres and is situated 32 km from Nuwara Eliya where we stayed at The Grand Hotel that was the residence of Sir Edward Barns, Governor of Sri Lanka, till 1850 (to write about just the hotel will be another blog).

We started off from the hotel at 5:30am with packed breakfast and drove for just over an hour to the entry of the national park. It was cold till we started walking. The total trek circuit is of 9 km and it offers three major scenic location viz the World’s end, the mini-world’s end and the Baker’s fall but more than just that, the experience is simply awesome. The terrain changes from normal hilly tracks to forest trails to rocky grooves. One can be carefully treading the slippery rocks at one moment and in the second moment find oneself atop the open hills and soon after climbing the tree roots while holding on to the branches. Bird watchers are treated with a vast variety of beautiful birds and the fauna lovers with exotic plants. The world’s end is truly breathtaking. The fall is steep so one doesn’t see anything down below and the cloud forest is thick so one can’t see anything ahead giving an impression of being the end of the world. It took slightly over 4 hours to complete the trek. The iPod nano recorded the exact distance and steps that we walked. Just as an advice, wear comfortable walking shoes and carry a water bottle.

Finally, if you are not one of the fitness freak, you might need to go in for a foot massage after the trip but in the end, all the pain will be forgotten thanks to the wonderful memories that you would carry forever… In all, a trip to Sri Lanka will not be complete without the fabulous experience on the Horton Plains.

Posted in Return as the Wanderer | 2 Comments

An insider’s view of Greece

Everything the guide books or tourism websites won’t tell you about the place..

The Wanderers in conversation with  Mary Menounou

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Land of Grace (1)

i.One little known fact/trivia that everyone should know about when travelling to GREECE?

Greece is a unique destination for travelers holding a population of 10.815.197. Apart from an incomparable combination of mountain and sea destination spots, more importantly Greece offers remarkable history, monuments, attractions and amazing night life giving every traveler a reason to visit and hold Greece in their hearts!

 ii. What is a must buy when in GREECE?

Greek Olives and Extra Virgin Olive oil.

iii. One take-away after a visit to GREECE? 

Small or big ancient Greek civilization statuettes and fridge magnets sold as souvenirs.

iv. What is your advice to first time travelers?

To taste the rich Mediterranean cuisine and live the myth of Greece.

v. One thing to definitely pack when travelling to GREECE

Comfortable shoes

vi. One activity anyone travelling to GREECE should not miss.

 To swim in the crystal blue Greek Mediterranean Sea and to experience a traditional Greek night with “plate smashing”

 vii. Where should anyone, travelling to GREECE, definitely get their picture taken?

The most spectacular Archaeological site in Greece “Acropolis”; to visit the most scenic area “Delphi“ – the naval of the earth; and to walk on the still active Volcano of Santorini!

viii. Which is the best place to get a panoramic photo?

The magical Caldera views captured only in Santorini.

ix. Best place to enjoy sunset/sunrise?

The world famous sunset in Oia of Santorini.

x. Most romantic place to take a special someone to.

One of the most popular honeymooner’s destination in Greece, Santorini.

xi. Best place to have local food?

Monastiraki and Plaka areas in the heart of Athens most famous for traditional Greek cuisine.

xii. Your favorite local dish and drink that you would recommend.

Greek chicken souvlaki accompanied with traditional Greek beer or fresh seafood meze accompanied with local Greek ouzo

xiii. One place only the locals would know.

Litochoro village, located at the foot of mount Olympus, the home of our ancient Gods!

xiv. The best pub and best place to catch up for a drink.

We wouldn’t suggest just one pub as there are too many good ones, but the best three areas in the downtown area of Athens are Psiri, Kolonaki and Gazi for a fun evening/night out!

xv. A local festival you feel more travelers should come and see

The famous Greek carnival of Patras town which lasts for 2 whole days and includes mascaraed parades with singing, dancing and lots of drinking!

xvi. The things guide books will not tell anyone about GREECE

Religious and local cultural traditions that can only be found out on the spot whilst exploring!

xvii. Is there any particular month you would not recommend travel to GREECE and what would that reason be?

hroughout the year, during all seasons, Greece has many places a traveler can visit which means there is no particular month Greece is not ideal for all!

xix. In one sentence, GREECE is.

Greece is a country of history, culture, beauty and hospitality….. and you don’t have to be Greek to love Greece…

 

I was born and studied in Athens but I spent 12 unforgettable years in Santorini island!

The unique colors and the magnificent landscape writing every day a new story…  a place to spoil yourself!

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10 must do trips in 2015

 

Season’s Greetings from The Wanderers!

Happy New Year! 

We take this opportunity to thank each of you for making 2014 a great year for The Wanderers. And we wish you and your loved ones a fantastic 2015! May it be bigger, better and happier for everyone, wherever you are. To add to your happiness quotient, we promise to bring you awesome travel experiences from around the world throughout 2015. As a trailer, here’s a glimpse of what we would like to begin with! A winter trip to Canada, a wild trip to Botswana, a boat trip down the Mekong, a journey to Colombia or a road trip to North East India. We have all this and more for you in 2015. Its after all the year of the wanderer.

Don’t believe otherwise..

Dine in the wilderness,Botswana

Explore the wonders of Botswana in the wilderness hotspots of this diverse country with this luxury camping expedition. You spend your days in the Okavango Delta and take game drives in Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park before finishing the trip with the sight of the cloud of spray from the  mighty Victoria Falls. Its a one of a kind trip- exclusive & wild! All this and more in our 10 Days Botswana Explorer

Frozen Lake Louise

Enjoy a unique range of recreational activities from world class ski options, to Dogsled mushing, snowshoe tours, skating  along  ice-trails and much more.This trip is dedicated to highlight the winter wonderland – Canada, where you get to experience dog sleds, some winter wildlife, visit Lake Louise and Banff National Park and explore Vancouver city in the 10 Days Winter Extravaganza in Canada

Prime Cathedral,Bolivar Plaza,Bogota

Colombia, located in the southwest of South America, is a tropical country of incredible diversity and charm. it is known to fascinate the world with its ever-changing geography, a history loaded with mystery & adventure and the warmth of its people and rich centuries old culture. Discover this completely new world with The Wanderers on our 7 nights classic Colombia tour

Mekong river cruise

Take a trip down the River Mekong in Laos and its world renowned islands. Start the cruise at Pakse, situated at the confluence of Xe Don and Mekong Rivers, before continuing your cruise to Wat Phou – a UNESCO World Heritage site and the remote 4000 Islands! Our 4 Days Mekong river cruise is meant for discerning traveler.

Discover the beauty of the Sultanate of Oman with this seven days journey. Start your travel in the capital city of Muscat, a vibrant city that has successfully balanced the modern with its traditional culture. Here you will be introduced to Oman’s history, culture and development. Make your way along various tourist hot spots of Oman like Nizwa, Bahia Fort, Wadi Nakher, Jebel Shams and Wahiba Sands before returning to Muscat, where you end your trip. This  7 Days best of Oman trip gives a fascinating insight into a destination so close to India.

Pamper yourself and your loved one while discovering this beautiful country together. This 11 day tour takes you on a magical journey in Rainbow Nation. With the ease of self drive for most part of the journey, you can take your time reaching your destinations. Stop at little known places. Discover those hidden nooks. Go on game drives. Do activities together. Get awed by the sights and the scenery along the way. Live in luxurious lodges and hotels throughout which have been handpicked specifically for this luxury offbeat tour. For more details.11 Days Luxurious Honeymoon in South Africa

See the best that Tanzania has to offer in luxury. Stay at some of the most luxurious tented accommodations and camps while you go on Safaris and game drives. Start your trip at Ngorongoro, famous for its Crater where humans and wild beasts coexist peacefully. Move on to Serengeti National Park, unequalled for its natural beauty and the greatest concentration of plains game anywhere. Drive down to Lake Manyara National Park, extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen  in Africa”. From here you can either return back home or   extend your trip and take in the beaches at Zanzibar while staying in the lap of luxury some 45 kms away from Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar. For more details.. 11 Days Tanzania in Luxury

Discover Mongolia starting with a 2 day visit to the smaller brother of Baikal, Lake Khuvsgul, the deepest lake in Central Asia. In Ulaanbaatar, you will experience a blend of tradition and modernity in the rapidly developing city. Head east to Maikhan Tolgoi, followed by a trip to Gobi desert and then a walk through the ice gorge at Yolyn,Am,Mongolia’s largest sand dunes.Finally, experience Naadam festival which is the most colourful festival of the Mongols. For more details.. 14 Days Highlights of Mongolia

Our 13 Day Kailash overland yatra to Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, which lies in the Southwestern part of Tibet, is an incredible experience. It is an epic pilgrimage to the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva,that is considered the most sacred and revered pilgrimage for Hindus, Jains and Buddhists alike. It is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding spiritual journeys known to man. Apart from this group tour, we have other journeys to Mt Kailash including a trip via Lhasa, another one which is an arduous trek, the inner parikrama, the chopper tour, the private journey and more. Do contact us for details.

The North Eastern region of India is one of the least explored regions of India. With its abundant natural wealth, wildlife sanctuaries, high mountains, tribal culture, tea gardens, waterfalls, famous temples, the majestic Brahmaputra valley, angling opportunities, fast flowing rivers, quaint markets and a flourishing textile trade, it’s a wonder that these sister states have been able to keep themselves under wraps for so long! This 12 day Splendours of North East unveils all of the above during its sojourn through Assam, Meghalaya and the Himalayan region of Arunachal Pradesh.

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Meetings – Incentives – Conferences – Events

Does the reward of a trip to London and Paris or to Australia and Thailand galvanise the sales force into action? We are sure it does if the booming numbers of incentive travelers to places far and wide is any indication. But how about taking this a notch higher and announcing a trip of a lifetime thats truly worth coveting? A voyage to the Antarctic for the top performers! Or a trip to the Arctic Circle or the North Pole or a Trans Siberian Rail journey for the deserving few.. Is it time to turn incentives on its head and move away from mundane trips to the trul extraordinary experiences of life? So, next time you are planning a trip for your delegates, do you want to go on planning the ordinary or would you like to give it a Wanderers touch? For more info, please read on..

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Return as a Wanderer..

Thanks for all your arrangements. The trip was absolutely fantastic and very well organized. Thank you for making this trip happen in a short period of time. I know it was challenging indeed, given the time constraints.It will certainly remain a Dream Trip etched in our minds. I do look forward to organizing a trip too next year with Wanderers ..and hopefully many more trips thereafter.  It was really a pleasure working with you!

Cheers,

Om Hemrajani, after his recent trip to Switzerland,Austria and Prague

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Israel – Shalom!

Abhik Dutta, The Wanderers

 Abhik Dutta travelled to Israel for a recce trip and this is what he had to say about this beautiful country.

Solomon’s Pillar, Timna, Park

“I had always wanted to visit Israel having grown up reading books about the country and its people, how the state was formed, about kibbutz life, their culture of innovation, the politics and religion of the region, the holocaust etc. So, when I got the invite from the Israel Ministry of Tourism to visit the country, I already had one leg in the El-Al flight! Tel-Aviv, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea is a city on steroids! An active city, where people are forever on the go. Cycling, running, skating, sailing, segwaying, dancing. Always moving. No wonder its called the Non-Stop City. Jaffa, is the exact opposite. Quiet, reflective, artsy, historical. To escape the noise...more

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For more offbeat trips and unique experiences around the world, please visit our website

We would also like to hear from you!  If you have any ideas or requirements to help customize personalized tours, do write to us at info@thewanderers.co.in  or contact us at any of our offices.

Mumbai:           M:+91 9820308988;E: info@thewanderers.co.in
Kolkata:             M:+91 9831087222;E: ccu@thewanderers.co.in
Ahmedabad:    M:+91 9601256551;E: guj@thewanderers.co.in
Pune:                 M:+91 98237 77368;E: pune@thewanderers.co.in
Nagpur:             M:+918888226634; E: nagpur@thewanderers.co.in

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