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 !!!

Posted in TW Travel Dairy | 2 Comments

The Middle Eastern Experience – Jordan and Israel

The Middle Eastern Experience..

By, Veena Suman


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!




Posted in Return as the Wanderer | 1 Comment

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.


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!


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)


“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.

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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


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.


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..


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!


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


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


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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Israel- the Non Stop country

Old city, Yaffo, Tel-Aviv

Known as much for its Biblical past as it is for its vibrant present and a promising future, Israel embodies a great ‘never say die’ spirit that encompasses the very life of Israel.

Abhik Dutta, Director & Co-Founder of  The Wanderers gives a brief synopsis of his trip to this ancient land and comes away fascinated.

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 and pulsating rhythm of Tel Aviv, we headed for the quiet lanes of the Old city of Jaffa where we visited the Ilana Goor museum (which is also the current home of this gifted artist).  At the Nalaga’at Centre located near the wharf, we got a taste of different wine in a pitch black restaurant called BlackOut, escorted by blind waiters! A most humbling experience.

An orthodox jew pedals up a street in Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, we followed a local family through the old streets as they celebrated the Bar Mitzvah function of their son’s coming of age. I prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and laid to rest, then headed down the lanes to the Western Wall or Kotel (earlier called the Wailing Wall) where I prayed once again donning a ‘kipa’. Later, I visited a Roman Catholic Franciscan cemetery to pay respect at the grave of Oskar Schindler, the German who saved over a thousand Jews during WW II. Remember the movie Schindlers List?

I also visited the Holocaust Museum. It was a deeply moving experience. The architectural marvel hides the brutality, pain and suffering depicted inside its grey walls as it takes you through the history of the Holocaust with heart rending stories of suvivors, bringing their pain closer to our hearts. And finally, after 2 hours, I emerged at twilight from the dark corridors of one of last century’s most sordid periods to a patio overlooking the dazzling lights of Jerusalem. A sign of light and hope for the future?

While traveling to the Dead Sea we took a cable car ride up to the hilltop fortess of Massada (over a 1000ft high), now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built by King Herod in 30 BC. It has majestic 360 degree views of the Jordan Rift Valley and Dead Sea on one side and the desert landscape on the other. I decided to run down the  ‘Snake Path’ on the way down- a decision that affected my gait over the next 3 days!

That evening we drove in Landrovers into the Judean desert to watch a surreal sunset and the next morning I was up at dawn to master my ‘water floatation technique’ on the Dead Sea. As opposed to the Jordan side of the Sea which is rocky (I happened to visit Jordan in September earlier this year), the place where we entered the water was sandy  and well-maintained. We floated around for the better part of an hour before heading back to our hotel and drove onward to Eilat on the Red Sea.

Solomon’s Pillar, Timna Park

Eilat is hedonism at its Middle Eastern best. The Red Sea is perfect water sports, scuba diving & snorkeling during the day and post sunset, the city makes a quick switchover to the good life full of great cuisine, music and clubbing. Blessed with year round mild weather (water temperature rarely dips below 20deg C), Eilat is the perfect place for relaxation in Israel. We snorkelled in the Sea, discovered the beauty of Timna Park and its ancient copper mines nestled in the magical surroundings of the desert and as the lights of the city dazzled, we made our way to the Three Monkeys Pub to listen to an English band and down a few beers..a perfect way to wind up my short trip to Israel!


1. Which places did you visit?

I travelled to Israel in the month of November and had the wonderful opportunity of visiting the vibrant ‘non-stop’ city of Tel Aviv (including Jaffa & Herziliya) on the shores of the Mediterranean, the ancient city of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the resort city of Eilat on the Red Sea. En route to the Dead and Eilat, we took detours into the Judean desert and the Negev desert.

2. What is the best time to travel here?

Being on the Southern coast of the Mediterranean, it enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate. While it does get cold in Jerusalem for a month in Dec/Jan (it could even snow there), one can still take a dip in the Red Sea resort of Eilat in end Jan. But I would recommend the months of March, April, May, June and Sep, Oct and November. July & August are hot months, specially around the Dead Sea and the desert area of Negev.

View of the Mediterranean Sea from rooftop of Ilana Goor Museum,Jaffa

3. What is the best way to travel around the cities?

In Tel-Aviv, its easy to cab it to any of the main centres and then just walk around. In Jerusalem, you have to walk in the Old City and get lost in its labyrinthine lanes and by lanes of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish quarters. Eilat is chiefly a walking town and its great to just walk the promenade from one end to the other. It’s the most vibrant stretch in Eilat, filled with pubs, cafes, shops and restaurants.

4. What do you consider to be the 3 highlights of your trip? And why?

Walking through the old streets of Jerusalem. Here time stands still. Wandering along the old cobble stoned walk ways of the city leading through the various quarters, past curio shops and galleries right up to the open view of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is a delightful experience. To visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and laid to rest is one of my life’s most poignant moments.

Wine tasting in Tel Aviv: There are many kinds of wine tasting that takes place around the world. But none as rewarding or humbling as that offered at the BlackOut, the pitch-black restaurant with its staff of blind waiters. This is part of the Nalaga’at Center at Jaffa, located near the wharf. The Center – the first of its kind in the world, seeks to promote interaction between deaf-blind, deaf, and blind individuals and people able to hear and see, regardless of cultural or social distinctions. At BlackOut, we were escorted by blind waiters to our seats in total darkness and over the next one hour taken through a session of wine tasting that left an indelible impression on my mind.

Floating on the Dead Sea:

Sunrise over the dead Sea,Israel

We have all grown up reading books about floating on the Dead Sea. Floating here is made possible because of its high  salinity (34%) which is almost 10 times more saline than Ocean water. It was an amazing experience to tread into the still waters of the Dead Sea at dawn in November, the water temperature mild even this early during the day, so late in the season. And for the next hour, I floated quietly on the ‘oily’ water chatting away with my other ‘floating’ friends, smearing my body with salt from the sea bed in what is one of my life’s most surreal experiences. Needless to say, this is perhaps the only Sea in the world where nobody even tries to swim!

5. What are the must do sightseeing when you travel to Israel?

If you have a week in hand, you must visit Tel-Aviv (and Yaffo), Jerusalem, Dead Sea and finally party away in Eilat. En route from Dead Sea to Eilat, you will pass the Negev Desert. You can experience a jeep safari in the Judean desert, visit the Timna Park in Eilat or snorkel in the famed reefs of the Red Sea. For those interested in the Holyland tours, a visit to Bethelhem, the Sea of Galilee etc are a must.

6. What are the best places to eat local cuisine? I can heartily recommend the following places where we tried our luck:

Tel-Aviv: At Vicky Cristina at the Old train station or sea food at White Pergola at the Port area. Or you can just walk through Carmel open market and pick up food from the local stalls. In Jaffa, you could try Dr. Shakskuka restaurant. Its been featured in a few travel channels as well and seems like a favourite with the locals.

Jerusalem: Try the seafood at Adom restaurant in the Old train station area (yes, Jerusalem too has one!). The food is delicious and the atmosphere of the area is electric!

Eilat: If you want to try Asian fusion cuisine, try Ginger Asian Bar and Kitchen. I heartily recommend whatever the chef throws at you. The Bar beach restaurant cooks up great sea food menus.

But no matter, where you are, you MUST try Israeli wine. Its great stuff. I heartily recommend the Galil Mountain red wine made from Syrah grapes.

7. Can you name a few flea/famous markets where one can pick up souvenirs?

Don’t miss the great atmosphere of the Carmel market in Tel Aviv, an open air market selling everything from food to locally made (innovative) window cleaning equipment, curios and flowers. On Tuesdays and Fridays, you are in for a treat as the next door Nahlat Binyamin Pedestrian street comes alive with local craftsmen lining the street with their exceptional crafts that range from miniature rice paintings to stone pantings, sculpture etc. It’s a feast for the eyes.

8. Can you recommend a few ‘watering holes’ to be at post 7 pm?

Tel-Aviv is known as a Non-Stop city! With a reputation to live upto, its no wonder that the city is full of bars and pubs that stay open well past the break of dawn. Unlike other large cities in the world, the cities pubs are small but allow for a great pub hopping experience. Its best to see a few and then return to the one you like best. I would recommend that you head for Lilienblum Street and then take it on from there! In Eilat, my favourite was the “Three Monkeys Pub”.

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An insider’s view of Marseille

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

The Wanderers in conversation with Cyrille Saboya

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

The If Castle on the island If, famous for the Count of Monte Cristo is located in Marseille or that Marseille is the oldest city of Marseille with 2600 years of history

ii. What is a must buy/take – away when in MARSEILLE?

Soap of Marseille

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

Soap of Marseille

iv. What is your advice to first time travellers?

Notre Dame de la Garde for the panoramic view

v. One thing to definitely pack when travelling to MARSEILLE?


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

“The Calanques” National Park

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

Calanque de Sormiou

Notre Dame de la Garde and the Mucem, the new national museum with a great architecture

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

Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde

ix. Best place to enjoy sunset/sunrise?

Corniche, the seaside road

Corniche Turquoise

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

Boattrip at sunset in the bay of Marseille or in one of the typical little marina. Les Goudes for example

xi. Best place to have local food?

Typical little marinas on the seaside road

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

Bouillabaisse fish soup/ dish, Pastis aperitif.

xiii. One place only the locals would know.

Le Grand Bar des Goudes

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


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

Fiesta des Suds/ Marsactac electro music

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

That Marseille has changed and is “A must see city in France” and that Marseille is as much city as a beautiful National Park.

Mucem Fort St Jean

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

Maybe in February as it is a bit cold (5  to 10° C) . June and September are peak season for the hotels so the prices are quite high. But July and August are OK.

xix. In one sentence, MARSEILLE is. Secret. Marseille has completely changed.

_ _ _

I was born in Aix en Provence (25 KM from Marseille). I arrived in Marseille 10 years ago and I was amazed by the diversity of landscape of the city and the beautiful National Park and the sea.

Since 2013 Marseille has completely changed and i am proud to promote the oldest city of France and the trendiest city of France today!

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An Insider’s view of Ras Al Khaimah



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

The Wanderers in conversation with Mohamed Khater

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

Ras Al Khaimah is a unique destination for visitors of all ages. With its 416,600 population this rising emirate boasts of beautiful mountains, red sandy desert and lush green plains along with a series of creeks and lagoons. It has a rich heritage dating back 5,000 years, which manifests in numerous historical sites, forts and abandoned villages. The Emirati culture is omnipresent in Ras Al Khaimah and you will be welcomed with the warm Arabic hospitality wherever you go.

ii.What is a must buy when in RAK?

Arabic Coffee with Cardamom

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

Colorful sand packed in bottles — sold as souvenirs

iv. What is your advice to first time travellers?

Whilst 80% of the population of the United Arab Emirates is made up of non-UAE nationals, it is good to remember that this is a Muslim country and local traditions and customs are recommended to be respected.

v. One thing to definitely pack when travelling to RAK

Swim-wear. And enjoy the best beaches in the UAE!

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

Prince Of Sea Cruise

vii. Where should anyone, travelling to RAK, definitely get their picture taken. Dhayah Fort.Ras Al Khaimah’s rich archeological legacy is distinguished by many unique features such as old forts and watch towers scattered along its coasts line. Dhayah Fort is one of only a few remaining hill forts still existing in the UAE. The fort was place of the last battle between local troops and the British in 1819.

Location: Al Rams

Free Access

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

Ras Al Khaimah – Dhayah Fort

Take a flight at Jazirah Aviation Club for a stunning photos over Ras Al Khaimah. It is truly amazing experience to fly lightweight airplanes or powered parachutes and please your eyes with the magnificent views of the desert, sea and city area of Ras Al Khaimah. This exciting experience is safe and suitable for everyone of normal health.

ix. Best place to enjoy sunset/sunrise? Definitely the beach.

x. Most romantic place to take a special someone to. Safran Tower.Celebrate magical Arabian nights with your beloved in the sphere of a resort sanctuary.Lean back and relax as your dedicated chef expertly prepares a tantalising spread of oriental specialties. The dramatic Safran Tower, constructed in the style of a traditional Arabian watchtower, provides you the perfect vantage point from which to absorb the beguiling sandscape of desert beauty.

xi. Best place to have local food? Al Marjan is an eclectic fusion of tradition and quirky modern interiors and the finest Middle Eastern Cuisine. With menus created by the famed Joe Barza from Lebanon and art created by Sasan Nasernia, this restaurant is truly a joy for all the senses. Appraise the elegant menu whilst enjoying various seating and lighting designs in the restaurant. Oversized settee seating under eccentric ceiling decorations, formal dining, intimate corners and a private dining room are complemented by sublime sunset views over the Arabian Sea.

xii.Your favorite local dish and drink that you would recommend. The range and scope of Emirati food was traditionally very limited since produce was scarce in this extremely arid environment. Bedouin survived on camel milk and dates on long treks through the desert. Fish was plentiful on the coast and any excess was salted and dried, finding its way inland to the desert and oases. Here, date palms flourished, some fruits, vegetables and cereals were grown, and sheep and goats were raised. Despite the fact that ingredients were few, Emirati cooks were inventive, concocting a variety of dishes from very little.Foreign influences also shaped the local cuisine: the dhows that carried pearls to India and elsewhere came back laden with spices and later rice. And so today, Emirati food is characterised by a unique spice mix bezr and usually features rice. Cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, black peppercorns and chilies are the basic ingredients, but each family has its own ‘secret’ recipe.

Traditionally the bezr that was mixed inland was milder than that used on the coast. Considering the lack of ingredients, a surprisingly wide variety of breads were made, ranging from the pancake-like chebab to crispy, wafer-thin regag and leavened khmeer. This was the standard carbohydrate before rice became popular.

In many cases yeast was not available so dates were fermented in the sun to act as a raising agent. Bread was often eaten with butter, cream cheese made from goat’s milk, or honey. Arabic coffee (gahwa) flavoured with cardamom epitomised the hospitality of the desert where even your enemy was served at least one cup.

An expansive hospitality was also evident on festive occasions where food was prepared in large quantities for guests. Khuzi (a stuffed whole roast lamb or goat, on a bed of spiced rice) would have been served at the mansaf (traditional bedouin feast). This would have been the centerpiece of a selection of food which would have been placed on a mat surrounded by guests.

Today, dishes such as machboos (a delicious casserole of lamb or chicken with rice) is a particular favorite in the UAE. So too are diyai mashwi (grilled marinated chicken), hareis (slow-cooked wheat and lamb) and baryani (meat or fish cooked with Indian-style spiced rice). Dates, of course, are a standard staple and dibs (date syrup) is used to flavour both savoury and sweet dishes.

xiii. One place only the locals would know.

Digdaga Camel Race Track

Camel race is one of the cultural traditions in the UAE. In Ras Al Khaimah the Camel race takes place during the main season from late September until March or April. A fast camel can win its owner several 4x4s in a season and sell for millions of dirhams. However, in summer the adult camels are expected to rest. This ensures good health and increases the prospect of big wins next season.

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


Enter the Home of the Original Mai Tai® and indulge in a true tropical Polynesian experience in Ras Al Khaimah. Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge is a spacious chill-out lounge and restaurant where friends can sink into comfy sofas and sip the perfect combination of exotic concoctions. Choose from the best selection of island style tidbits, ideal for sharing, and take in the spectacular views.

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

Awafi motor ride festival that is held annually. There are children play areas, bull fighting, camel riding, football tournaments, horse racing, 4×4 dunbashingesert off road competitions, motor cycling shows and heritage village.

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

Arabian Oryx,horns are so symmetrical that they appear as one if seen in profile, it is assumed that the Oryx was the origin of the legendary unicorn.

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

The emirate of Ras Al Khaimah receives year-round sunshine, little rainfall and nearly perfect winter temperatures. It enjoys a moderate, cool and refreshing climate for 8 months of the year between October and May. High temperatures can be expected for the remaining 4 months of the year. Rainfall is sporadic, falling mainly in winter (November to March) and averaging 12cms per year in most of the emirate. Temperatures range from a low of around 12°C (50°F) on a winter’s night, to a high of around 42°C (118°F) on a summer’s day.  The best time to visit Ras Al Khaimah is during winter and mid-season months. The weather is excellent, warm, sunny and generally pleasant.

xix. In one sentence, RAK is . Escape, explore and enjoy!

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I work in the region from 2009, I was in several positions in other Tourism Sectors and I joined Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority last March. I don’t know if this is helpful or not!

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An Insider’s view of Wellington

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

The Wanderers in conversation with Jo Heaton

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Zelandia Eco-Sanctuary

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

Wellington has lots of quirky features to look out for including the private cable cars that take people up to their houses.  And for Indian travelers, I have to mention the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground which forms one of the world’s largest traffic roundabouts!

ii. What is a must buy when in WELLINGTON?

Tough question!  Wellington’s boutique fashion stores are great and if you’re visiting in spring or autumn, Icebreaker merino clothing will be perfect for layering.  Whittakers chocolate is made locally and available everywhere.

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

The most common feedback I hear is ‘I wish I’d known – we would have stayed longer’.  So now you know – book a minimum two-night stay before sailing away on the ferry to the South Island.

iv. What is your advice to first time travellers?

Because Wellington is so compact, you can see and do a lot in a day.  I like to call Te Papa the museum for people who don’t like museums.  It’s all about hands-on interactivity, using lots of technology and the best thing is … it’s free!  Then take a short walk through downtown takes you to the historic Wellington Cable Car.  This will whisk you up the hill in just five minutes to the Botanic Gardens.  If you’re travelling with children, stop in at Carter Observatory.  And if you want to learn why your country got elephants, tigers and snakes and New Zealand got no mammals at all, take the free shuttle from the top of the Cable Car to Zealandia, one of the world’s most ambitious conservation projects.  If you’re short on time, this is my perfect Wellington day.

v. One thing to definitely pack when travelling to WELLINGTON

Gollum at the Wellington Airport

Pack comfortable shoes – you can walk from Parliament Buildings at one end of town, to the Courtenay Place entertainment district at the other, in under half an hour.

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

For the adventure-seeking, a half day quad-biking trip is a must do.  Start off down on the beach and power up into the mountains for views back to the city, harbour and as far as the South Island.  Adventure and 100% Pure New Zealand scenery wrapped up together!

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

You’ll get great shots from the top of the Cable Car.  (This is how I go home at night!) 

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

Mount Victoria gives you great views over the city and harbor.

ix. Best place to enjoy sunset/sunrise?

Oriental Bay beach for sunrise, and the beanbags outside Shed 5 Bar and Restaurant with a cocktail in hand at sunset.

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

Solace in the Wind is a beautiful bronze sculpture on the waterfront near Te Papa.  The location had been somewhere for the artist to reflect upon life during difficult times – a place of solace.  It’s Wellingtonians’ favourite sculpture.

xi. Best place to have local food?

I’m a big fan of the seafood from Ortega’s Fish Shack, the eight-hour roasted lamb at Duke Carvall’s and whatever’s in season at Floriditas.

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

New Zealand’s ‘culinary capital’ is said to have more bars, cafes and restaurants per capita than New York.  Start like the locals with a ‘flat white’ coffee in the morning.

xiii. One place only the locals would know.

There’s a lot of tucked away bars and clubs – Library Bar in Courtenay Place (up the stairs next to Burger King) is a long time favourite.  HashigoZake and Goldings Free Dive Beer Bars are fun too – ask a local for directions!

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

Hawthorn Lounge

How about a palate cleansing beer from one of the dozen or so craft brewers around the city?  A tasting tray from the Fork & Brewer means sampling four small glasses from local brewers like Tuatara, Garage Project and Parrot Dog.

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

You won’t see anything like the World of Wearable Art Awards anywhere else in the world.  It’s a mix of design, theatre – think John Paul Gualtier meets Cirque de Soleil.  Hard to describe, but a must see if you’re in Wellington during the three week show in late September.

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

Lots of people know about New Zealand and The Hobbit, but lots of other movies get made in Wellington too, including TinTin, King Kong and Avatar 2&3.  There’s a new 45 minute Weta Cave Workshop Tour.  Your guide will be one of the talented artists working at the home of special effects powerhouse, Weta Workshop.

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

Wellington’s climate doesn’t get very hot in summer or very cool in summer, so it’s always a good time to visit.

xix. In one sentence, WELLINGTON is “the coolest little capital in the world”.  Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel said so, and of course we think they’re right!

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Jo Heaton is the Trade Marketing Manager for Positively Wellington Tourism and she travels extensively for work and pleasure.  Favourite destinations include Etosha NP in Namibia for wildlife,The Loire in France for cycling and anywhere in Italy for food.  She thinks Wellington is the perfect city and could only be improved by the addition of elephants.



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