Tim Best Travel

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In the last year we have concentrated
on      extending     our    portfolio
considerably, and now include over
30 countries in four continents;
Africa, Latin America, Australasia,
and India. We have been to many
corners of the globe seeking the best
in family holidays, long weekends,
safaris, adventure, honeymoons,
cultural expeditions and festivals.

In Africa in recent months we have
been to Botswana, Kenya, Libya,
Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,
South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and
Madagascar. In Latin America we have
visited Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and
Chile, and we have also travelled for
further research in Australia, and
through India and Bhutan.

In this edition there is only space
to give you a taste of these exciting
destinations, but it will, we hope,
whet your appetite. Extended
versions of recent trips and much
more can be seen on our website;
otherwise, please give us a call to
discuss your holiday plans.

Happy Travels
Specialist Trip Reports - 4

Unforgettable Walks - 8

Honeymoons - do something different - 10

Half Term Holidays - 11

Islands - away from it all - 12

Something For The Weekend - out of this world - 15

Spotlight on India - 16

A state of happiness - Bhutan - 18

Adventure Travel - 20

Festivals - 22
                                                                                   From Kaya Mawa (see islands) I was picked up by the boatman
                                                                                   from Nkwichi Lodge. Still on Lake Malawi but on the eastern
                                                                                   side and on the shores of Mozambique, the lodge (which means
                                                                                   ‘the sand that squeaks’) sits in a small bay. The journey
                                                                                   between the two taught us yet more about culture and the
                                                                                   lives of those that live there. We stopped once to exit Malawi
                                                                                   and another time in Cobué, to enter Mozambique (customs and
                                                                                   immigration being a man in a hut with an immigration stamp).
                                                                                   Conservation is a strong focus here and we visited a farm about
                                                                                   half an hour’s walk from the lodge, where they are growing fruit
                                                                                   and vegetables to sell to the lodge. All the rooms are designed
                                                                                   differently and cleverly – out of rock or whatever other natural
    Malawi - eleanor remnant                                                       materials exist there. Peace and tranquility exist in abundance.
                                                                                   The clear waters allow for fantastic snorkelling, and canoeing
    I spent a week in Malawi, starting in Blantyre and heading north, to           and sailing are other ways in which to spend part of your day.
    finish half way up the lake – which is enormous – the third largest lake
    in Africa and covers over 9,000 square miles. The tarmac roads were            Malawi is fantastic as a sole destination, or why not combine
    in surprisingly good nick with only a few potholes – well, it wouldn’t         the lake with a safari in Zambia, or even add some time on
    be Africa without them! Of course the alternative is travelling by             safari in Malawi as well? I would…
    air, but you see so much more by road and feel much more part of it,
    ideal to combine the two.

    First stop was Cape Maclear – a small peninsula in the south of the
    lake, followed by a 50-minute boat journey to Mumbo Island. With
    just 6 tents on a private island, it is pretty remote and very peaceful.
    Crystal clear water means wonderful snorkelling, swimming, diving
    and kayaking.

    Our next was Mvuu Lodge in Liwonde National Park. We drove
    through cotton plantations and the people came out of their houses
    in the villages to wave and smile at us – Malawi is not known as the
    Warm Heart of Africa for nothing. Set on the banks of the Shire
    River, the birdlife is fantastic – I have never seen so many Malachite
    Kingfishers in my life!

                 Trip Reports

    Brazil - Katrina Milne Home
    Apprehensive about the change I might see in a place that I love, I returned to Bahia
    after eight years absence. I had nothing to worry about - Salvador has retained its
    charm and splendour. Travelling down the Southern Bahian Coast, in twin propeller
    planes, by boat and Land Rover the journey took me past lagoons, along empty beaches
    lined with coconut trees, to waterfalls and through small fishing villages; there is little
    development along the way and only a handful of luxury hotels. My guide and driver were
    superb; extremely knowledgeable about the area and took me to all the local hotspots. I
    ended the trip at Fazenda da Lagoa, in a private reserve flanked by kilometres of white
    sandy private beach and huge lagoons fed by underground springs. A home from home,
    it is owned and run by a wonderful Brazilian couple from Rio; she is an artist and fashion
    designer and her style is reflected in every detail of the property. There is plenty to do
    here including walking, surfing, kite-surfing, kayaking and indulging in all the spoiling
    treatments offered in the spa. A week here combined with other parts of Brazil is perfect.

4         www. TimBestTravel.com
Chile - Clare Hilton
A few days in Chilean Patagonia can be either an active adventure or somewhere to flop
and enjoy the astonishing landscape. Flying over the southern ice fields to Torres del
Paine National Park has to be one of the most impressive sights I have ever seen. You
can stay at the Explora (but you need to book way in advance) or, explorer-like, sleep
in a cosy, sheepskin lined tent. Either way the views, vast lakes backed by snow-capped
mountains and the all-enveloping peace are revitalising. You can choose full days of
trekking, horse riding, mountain biking or canoeing, planning each day with your guide
so that every day is tailored to suit you. A day’s trekking to the base of three spectacular
granite peaks known as the towers is magnificent; bright blue glaciers, rolling hills
erupting into mountains, eagles and condors soaring the skies above and, gazing upwards,
a glimpse of the top of the towers. Walking through century old beech forests and past
gorges, you reach the glacial moraine where, after quite a strenuous but satisfying climb,
a hot picnic lunch greets you with the three towers and glacial lake as a backdrop.

    a small selection of countries we have visited in the past few months
    - please visit our website for more travellers’ tales.....

                                                     We headed south to Sebha. Our purpose
                                                     to explore the Jebel Acacus and the rock
                                                     carvings within them that date back to
                                                     3000BC. It’s a long journey to the mountains
                                                     and not for the faint hearted. Your 4WD and
                                                     competent driver look after you in this sandy
                                                     wilderness for 4 days and 3 nights. Driving
                                                     through breathtakingly beautiful wadis,
                                                     you stop from time to time to examine the
                                                     rock art of fighting families and wildlife –
                                                     elephant, rhino, oryx, giraffe - that once
                                                     roamed this dry and dusty landscape. The
                                                     camping is without frills; a dome tent, a
                                                     mattress on the sand, no water for washing,
Libya - Anna Frost                                   apart from a small bowl. However, it is a
                                                     privilege to be in the mighty Sahara and the
Within an hour of landing in Libya you can find      lack of water to wash is instantly forgotten....
yourself opposite one of the most beautiful and
well known Roman sites, the arch of Marcus           Ghat sits at the corner of the Acacus              The   Ubari   Sand  Sea   is  another
Aurelius.                                            perched on the Algerian border. The old            wonder, with large salt water lakes
                                                     mud bricked medina is quite something              appearing in the middle of the dunes.
Tripoli has adapted very quickly to the              and has only been deserted in very recent
demands of modern tourism and there are now          years. However the city comes to life              Despite language and cultural differences,
one or two places to stay that really do either      again every New Year during the Ghat               the desert drivers are great characters
have the old Libyan charm or modern comforts         Festival (please contact us for details).          and take good care of you. Our English
depending on which one you require!                                                                     speaking guides are very well informed
                                                                                                        and in many cases well travelled. The
A day should be dedicated to each of the                                                                site guides in Libya are also outstanding.
Roman sites both accessible from Tripoli.
                                                                                                        Libya’s Muslim community warmly welcomed
Sabratha and Leptis Magna stand white and                                                               us into the mosques in Tripoli. And its definitely
grand over the blue waters of the Mediterranean                                                         worth exploring the old streets of Tripoli
and the Jamahiriya Museum, in Tripoli, perfectly                                                        and the charming old medina with Ghadafi
houses the many astonishing treasures preserved                                                         beaming at you from up high as you do ...
at the sites by the sands of time.

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    Western australia - Toby Warren
    A few hours south of Perth on Australia’s west coast lies the Margaret River. Since the first significant planting of vines in 1967, the Margaret
    River wine region has grown to become regarded as potentially one of the great wine-producing regions of the world and although the
    region contributes only 3 per cent of the country’s wine grapes, it commands over 20 per cent of today’s premium wine market. Stretching
    some 100 kilometres from north to south and with a warm Mediterranean style climate the region comprises the rolling hills of the Leeuwin-
    Naturaliste Ridge, between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. To the west, the Indian Ocean provides a dramatic boundary of cliffs,
    world-renowned surf and some of Australia’s most pristine beaches. There’s lots to do around Margaret River from visiting caves, forests,
    galleries and beaches and one could spend a week driving around the many boutique style wineries. My favourite wineries included Brookland
    Valley, Vasse Felix (with its art gallery and sculptures), Voyager (beautiful gardens), Leeuwin (which has a priceless art gallery) and Xanadu.

    Exmouth, an hour and three quarters flight from Perth, is famous for its whale sharks and the opportunity to swim with them. “Shark
    season” is from April – July and you are almost guaranteed a sighting. Other marine life on my day trip to the reef included humpback
    whale, manta ray, dugong and dolphin. The recently opened Sal Salis, about forty minutes from Exmouth in the national park, is
    situated in the dunes on a private stretch of beach. From the camp (five luxurious khaki tents) it is a short walk down to the
    beach where white sand and turquoise water await. I borrowed one of the camps kayaks and paddled my way out to to “blue
    lagoon” to find possibly the best snorkelling in Australia. Sharks, turtles, eels, rays, you name it – paradise with not another soul around.

    Argentina - Katrina Milne Home
    Argentina is perhaps my favourite place in the world. I lived there
    for a year, and my recent trip made me wonder why I ever left.

    Buenos Aires was vibrant with life and colour - full of beautiful,
    friendly people, lots of polo to watch, an array of good restaurants,
    warm weather, and fantastic shopping. With my new wardrobe, I
    set off with some friends for a few days in Southern Patagonia ice-
    trekking on the crystal crunchy Perito Moreno Glacier and boating
    through breathtaking panoramic landscape to Upsala Glacier, an
    amazing experience.

    Then on to Cordoba, northwest of Buenos Aires, with its countryside
    of rolling hills, valleys and the Sierra Chicas, where at luxurious            The horses were beautiful, we ate well and even had a few
    Estancia El Colibri, I had the choice of first class riding, polo lessons      hours in the afternoon for a siesta by the pool. I am tempted
    with professionals, plenty of walking, mountain biking, swimming,              to go back in January to see the gaucho festival with its full-on
    cattle herding and dove shooting. If only I had had more time! But             displays of typical Argentinean machismo.
    next stop was a very different estancia, Los Potreros, a 6000-acre
    working cattle farm owned and run for generations by the same                  The trip ended in the wetlands of northeastern Argentina. Our
    Anglo-Argentinian family.                                                      guide took us out onto the marshes and pointed out hundreds of
                                                                                   different birds, and animals such as families of capybara, howler
    The main activity here is riding. I spent three full days on a horse           monkeys, wild boar, marsh deer, and the reptilian caiman.
    and the fourth day in pain but it was worth it.

6           www. TimBestTravel.com
Highlights of India

              020 7591 0300   7
                     Unforgettable Walks

     “Without a doubt walking is the best way to connect with places you travel to and the people you meet there. It is the
          ultimate and most rewarding way to see the world. I rediscovered the joys of slow travel” - Steve Watkins

     Steve Watkins and Clare Jones, authors of “Unforgettable Walks to Take Before You Die”, the latest travel book from BBC Books,
       travelled with us on three of their (thirty) walks – a Darjeeling Tea Trek, the Takesi Trail in Bolivia and Dogon Country in Mali.

                                                                               There are several trekking route options, but one of the most
                                                                               rewarding is the three-day walk from the village of Sanga to
                                                                               Douro. A pre-dawn start for the four-wheel drive journey to Sanga
                                                                               meant we arrived as the gentlest rays of sunrise slid across the
                                                                               tops of the adobe houses. Sanga sits atop the escarpment on a
                                                                               rocky plateau. Red chillies and maize dried on the roofs, women
                                                                               and children scurried back and fore, like a line of leaf cutter
                                                                               ants, to the village waterhole, filling clay and plastic pots with
                                                                               their washing cooking water for the day. Everybody was smiling.

                                                                               We set off across the plateau, dropping down into a small gully before
                                                                               emerging out from a deep cleft in the cliff face onto the edge of the
                                                                               escarpment, or the falaise. Stretched out ahead lay the rolling dunes
                                                                               of the Gondo Plain and below we glimpsed the conical roofed granary
                                                                               huts of Ireli. A more dramatic entrance is hard to imagine. Scrambling
                                                                               down the rocks, at times with the aid of short wooden ladders, we
                                                                               traversed towards the village. High above us in the rock face, small
                                                                               caves were visible, the burial chambers of the Dogon ancestors.

                                                                            Each village once had its own hogon, or spiritual leader, but these
                                                                            days only a few hogons remain. Their places of worship survive
                                                                            though and are easily recognised by the stark mud wall reliefs of
                                                                            serpents, creatures and fantastical beings. Although their numbers
                                                                            have dwindled, the influence of the hogons has not diminished
               Dogon Country – Mali – Steve Watkins                         greatly and they are still called upon to predict the future and
                                                                            protect the villagers from harm. To do this, they draw elaborate
    Of course, we had to include some of the classic trails, but we were on grids of characters, or divination tables, in the sand and then
    the lookout for something really left field too. Trekking in the Dogon in heightened state of reality read the messages from the gods.
    Country of Mali fits the bill perfectly. Landlocked in deepest West
    Africa, Mali is one of only a few places left in the world that offers In the next village stopover, at Tereli, we witnessed one of the
    a more pure travel experience; the sort of dynamic, unpredictable pulsating mask dances for which the Dogon are most famed. The entire
    and exotic travel which, once experienced, makes you hanker after male population of the village turns out to see the event, as tens of
    it again and again. Forget ubiquitous, western-style hotels, fancy dancers wearing heavy, wooden masks depicting various creatures
    transport networks and the feeling of travelling in a Disney-esque and the gods, pound out a high energy dance to the rhythm of drums.
    bubble of perfection, Mali is the real deal and entirely better for it. The ground shakes, the energy increases and the adrenaline flowing
                                                                            around my body made my heart beat like an overworked engine piston.
    From Bamako, it is a 10-hour drive north east across endless, flat
    desert to Bandiagara, the main town in Dogon Country. Although we At night, we chose to sleep out on the roofs beneath mosquito nets.
    did the trip in one hit (solely due to our book deadlines looming), With the moon at its fullest and a gentle breeze blowing, it was a
    it is easy enough to break the journey into a couple of days or so, magical experience. Listening to the sounds of families chatting around
    with visits en route to Djenne, the world heritage-listed town fires, the thud of the mortar and pestle and the click clack of goat and
    with an outstanding mud brick mosque, or Mopti, from where you sheep hooves on the cobbles took me back to a time when humans
    can take tranquil boat trips to island villages in the Niger River. first existed on the planet. No luxury hotel will ever offer you that.

    Seeing the first warm orange outcrops of the Bandiagara escarpment         The final day saw us climb back up the escarpment to the more
    emerge from the infinite desert plain, it is easy to see why, 700 years    modern village of Douro. Renowned for its indigo cloth dyeing, the
    ago when it is believed the Dogon people first arrived in the area,        early morning stroll through the village became a good natured
    they felt it was a place imbued with spiritual significance. According     attempt to see how many indigo blankets the local children
    to their animist religion, Amma, the creator god, along with his           could sell us. I succumbed of course. The Dogon people and their
    offspring, the Nommo twins, went about the landscape carefully             spiritual landscape had seeped into my deepest imagination and
    creating each and every piece of it; the rocks, rivers, trees and dunes.   reminded me of my earliest inspirations for wanting to travel.

8           www. TimBestTravel.com
                                                                                   You can walk the entire length of the island in a day visiting the Sun
                                                                                   Gate and the Puma stone, where through Viracocha, the creator God,
                                                                                   the Inca nation is supposed to have been born. The end of the walk
                                                                                   leads you to the Sacred Fountain. Also known as the font of eternal
                                                                                   youth it is rumoured to knock ten years off your age. Drinking from it
                                                                                   may well be the final enlivening part of your acclimatisation process.

                                                                                   From the rugged mountains of the high Andes you descend into cloud
                                                                                   forest where temperatures soar and the prospect of spotting the
                                                                                   very rare Jukumarini, the Andean bear, will keep you on your toes.

          Takesi Trail, Bolivia – Clare Jones                                      For those who are looking for less up than down the Takesi may
                                                                                   be reassuringly accessible. After a stiff climb to the Takesi Pass,
It was about 6am and I couldn’t breathe. I had made a sudden                       which at 4630 metres is the high point of the journey and is over in
movement and bolted from our vehicle and into the vast, empty                      a couple of hours, its pretty much all downhill from here onwards.
expanse of the Altiplano. The wind barrelled tumbleweed and whipped                From the rugged mountains of the high Andes you descend into cloud
dust from around my feet. In the distance the snow encrusted                       forest where temperatures soar and the prospect of spotting the
summits of the Cordillera Real reared majestically skywards.                       very rare Jukumarini, the Andean bear, will keep you on your toes.
                                                                                   As you descend further the vegetation becomes thick and
An hour’s drive from La Paz, the capitol of Bolivia and I could already feel       lush and at Kakapi a trellised garden bursts with colourful
the effects of arriving in the world’s highest capital city. My attempt to         flowers and provides a potential campsite. Hanging vines
photograph the dramatic scenery we were travelling through had left me             and sweeping clouds give this spot a distinctly jungle feel.
exhausted. The rarefied air, much thinner than anything we were used would         The final day’s walking weaves along the Chojlla River, a
take time to acclimatise to. Lake Titicaca provided the perfect location           boulder choked stretch of powerful cascading whitewater.
before we even thought about tackling our trek along the Takesi trail.
                                                                                   Another stunning setting that once again takes your breath away.
The highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca is actually two
lakes joined by the straits of Tiquina. To the north in the larger lake,
Lago Mayor, is Sun Island, our base for the following few days as we
steadily attempted to get used to our new surroundings and its climate.

As well as the necessary and important physical acclimatisation we had
a cultural acclimatisation and began to unravel the legends of the Inca
dynasty, thanks to our guide, Fernando, with his boundless enthusiasm and
insatiable appetite for history. Our stay on Sun Island was not by chance.

The cobbled pavestones of the Takesi Trail offered an entirely different
kind of walking along a traditional trading route that stretches 43
kilometres from the high Andes to the gateway to the Amazon.
This was the place widely regarded as being the start point, where it all began,
the cradle of the formidable Inca nation, or Tiksi Marka (the place of origin).

                                                                                   Less than an hour’s drive and you are transported from its busy streets to
                                                                                   Maneybhanjang, a small bazaar of spilling stalls and the start of a 5 day
                                                                                   trek. Whilst the scenery may be ever changing taking you past monasteries,
                                                                                   lined with the white chess piece like Chortens, actually memorials to the
                                                                                   dead and through hill villages, cloaking forests as well as open and airy
                                                                                   pastures, one thing remains constant throughout. Tea drinking. If you
                                                                                   didn’t drink tea before you started out you probably will by the finish.
                                                                                   Tea is served to you in bed, mid-morning, tea again with lunch, a spot of
                                                                                   afternoon tea comes later, tea with dinner and, of course, a nightcap cup of
                                                                                   hot steaming tea. Your night’s accommodation is also usually in teahouses.

                                                                                   The high point of the route is reaching Sandakphu, which at 3,636
                                                                                   metres potentially offers the grandest panoramas of the whole
                                                                                   route. It is from here that you will slowly crawl from the warmth of
                                                                                   your sleeping bag and at around 5am make the short walk up to
                                                                                   the viewing point and then wait. Slowly but surely, as if someone is
          Darjeeling Tea Trek – Clare Jones                                        gradually turning on a light, the world’s highest mountains glow an
                                                                                   extraordinary pinkish tinge as dawn creeps across their summits.
You can’t really write a book about the world’s most “unforgettable”               Weather permitting, this grandest of mountain panoramas will include
walks and not include a visit to the Himalayas. But in making                      Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu and the greatest of them all, Everest.
our selection we did want to find something beyond the usual
Everest Base Camp or Anapurna Circuit treks. What we wanted                        There’s perhaps no more fitting way to end this trek then by
to find was a walk that allowed people to see the world’s highest                  heading to a tea plantation. The luxurious Glenburn Tea Estate
mountains come to life without actually having to scale them. In                   is still very much a working operation but offers boutique style
fact we really tried to find a route that had more ‘along’ than ‘up’.              accommodation and, as you can imagine, a very good cup of tea.

The Darjeeling Tea Trek combines all the very best aspects of the                   One of the most authentic and exciting ways to experience
region, its majestic mountains and its famous tea. If you really                    Africa is on a walking safari. Travelling by foot brings you that
aren’t a serious mountaineer and have no plans to rush out and                      bit closer to the smells, sights and sounds of the bush, heightens
buy a set of crampons and an ice axe then this trek through the                     your senses and gets your heart pumping! Choose from the
foothills of the Indian Himalayas and along part of the Singalia                    Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya or Botswana amongst others and
Ridge is one the best ways to experience these formidable summits.                  incorporate walking as part of a longer safari or go specifically to
                                                                                    walk. You can join set departures or make up a group of your own.
Spread across a crested shaped ridge in the northern ramparts of west
Bengal Darjeeling was formally a colonial hill station. Seated beneath              We have many more to add to our own list of unforgettable walks – in
the mighty bulk of Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain, this                        Tasmania, Latin America and India to name just a few..
world-renowned tea town is now a bustling departure point for trekkers.                          Please contact us for more suggestions.

                                                                                                                                          020 7591 0300      9
         Honeymoons - Do Something Different

     Be the first to go to hot new destinations and set the trend Amongst your friends….

                                 A luxury tented camp in the Galapagos following the Africa safari
                                 model is the perfect place to stay before embarking on a sailing
                                 adventure around the islands. Enjoy lazing by the infinity pool
                                 whilst looking out over the National Park and the Pacific Ocean.
                                 The lodge will arrange riding, trekking, snorkeling and diving…
                                 activities which are not possible from simply going on a seven night
                                 sailing cruise. This lodge is one of a kind; it’s different, new and
                                 it is going to be one of those places you will never forget about.

                                 Greystoke Camp in Western Tanzania is a small luxury camp, built
                                 in a stunning position on the shores of Lake Tanganyika at the foot
                                 of the Mahale Mountains, home to the world’s largest population of
                                 chimpanzees. With the nearest dirt track hundreds of kilometres
                                 away the only form of access is by airplane making this hidden
                                 paradise one of the most remote and unique camps in Africa.

                                 A beach and bush honeymoon is more commonly associated with Africa
                                 so buck the trend and safari in India and chill out in the Maldives.
                                 Combine the world’s most beautiful monument to love; the Taj Mahal,
                                 and the magnificent National Parks of Central India with the pristine
                                 white sandy beaches and crystal clear water of the Maldives..

                                 If you’re getting married in the summer an outback honeymoon
                                 in the Northern Territory could be a winner! Combine bush luxury
                                 at Bamurru Plains with the rugged romance of Faraway Bay and
                                 an Arnhemland safari with one of the best guides we’ve ever
                                 been with. Begin or end your honeymoon on the Barrier Reef in
                                 splendid and spoiling luxury on one of the more far flung islands.
                                 Adventurous, wild and remote but with elegance, comfort and style..

10      www. TimBestTravel.com
                                                                             Half term

Half term is the perfect opportunity to whisk the children away for a week and return them to school refreshed and
 ready for the rest of the term. With fully staffed private houses or guides to occupy their every waking hour you’ll
                                               even have time for a rest.
private houses
                                                                           Either spend a week in a private house in Northern Kenya at Loisaba,
                                                                           Laragai or Mukima House and explore the surrounding areas with a
                                                                           private guide and vehicle or opt for the coast and luxury in Lamu at
                                                                           one of the stunning Kizingoni Villas.

 Jembisa – originally a family home in the bush it couldn’t be more
 perfectly configured to keep the family happy.

 Ant’s Nest – owned and run by Ant and Tessa Baber it feels like going
 home but with a few more exotic pets; 50 horses, white rhino and,
 more familiar…. friendly Labradors …. it is heaven for families.

                                                                            Autumn adventure

                                                                            A week long family safari in Botswana is the perfect antidote to school.
                                                                            A Young Explorers’ Safari in the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari is
                                                                            tremendous fun but also a wonderful way to learn something new. As
                                                                            a family you have exclusive use of a private tented camp in the bush
                                                                            and all the activities are tailored around the children’s ages, including
                                                                            nature walks, tracking, bush craft, bird and animal identification as
                                                                            well as bush cooking! The children will be looked after by expert guides,
                                                                            whilst the parents can just relax and enjoy the wilderness and join in at
                                                                            their leisure, although many are just as enthusiastic as their offspring!

                                                                                                            Moroccan adventure
                                                                                                            Explore the High Atlas and culture in
Get Active!                                                                                                 Marrakesh or Fes. Stay in small and
                                                                                                            private riads in the city and your own
Peru’s not all about historic sites, take the children to enjoy walking,                                    eyrie in the mountains. Please ask us
climbing, cycling, horseriding and white water rafting; with its diverse                                    for details – a magical adventure for
terrain of massive mountains, dipping valleys and rivers, it’s a kid’s                                      everyone – only a few hours but a
playground.                                                                                                 world away.

                                                                           India - A Feast For The Senses
                                                                           Fantastic colours, smells, culture, scenery and shopping. Explore
                                                                           Rajasthan and stay in the old forts and palaces of the Maharajas; in
                                                                           Kerala drift through the backwaters on a houseboat, experience life
                                                                           on a working farm and walk through cardamom and tea plantations.
                                                                           October half term might coincide with Diwali, India’s festival of light
                                                                           and February is a great time for wildlife in India, what could be more
                                                                           exciting than a safari to central India in search of the majestic tiger?

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     There’s nothing like an island for the feeling that you are completely away from it all – the Maldives, the Seychelles
     and Mauritius are obviously idyllic getaways but there are islands for adventure, islands for the most romantic
     honeymoons, tiny islands like Sindabezi or vast ones like Madagascar, the fourth largest in the world. If you really
     want to leave the world behind there are a number you can rent on an exclusive basis. Here are just a few…..

                                                                                                     3.Easter Island
 The simply stunning Kaya Mawa Lodge is
                                                                                                     We are always seeking places that are
 a mere 10-minute drive from the airstrip
                                                                                                     “off the beaten track”, so how about the
 in one of the island’s few vehicles. ‘Kaya
                                                                                                     most isolated place on the planet, 3,790
 Mawa’ means ‘maybe tomorrow’ which is
                                                                                                     kilometres from the nearest landmass?
 exactly how it feels – there is so much to do
                                                                                                     We all know Easter Island for its ‘Moai
 but there is no feeling of pressure. The lodge   2.Lupita Island - Lake                             statues’, the mysterious heads that
 has eight uniquely styled rooms – all of which
                                                  Tanganyika                                         populate the island, but if you haven’t
 are wonderfully private and an infinity pool
                                                                                                     heard about the fantastic beaches, the
 overlooking the lake. The food is exceptional
                                                  After a Tanzanian safari the lure of Lupita        scuba diving, surfing, fishing and walking
 thanks to one of the manager’s Cordon Bleu
                                                  beckons – towards the southern end of the lake     on offer, you should explore its myriad
 experience which she has shared with the
                                                  (that holds 8% of all the world’s fresh water)     attractions and stay at the recently
 chefs to great success. The people of Likoma
                                                  and surrounded by dense indigenous forest,         opened Explora Hotel - comfort with
 are inextricably linked with the lodge and
                                                  open grassland, and rocky outcrops, Lupita         excellent food and creative picnics.
 the community involvement is strong.
                                                  Island Lodge is a glorious haven of relaxation
                                                  with some of the best hiking, diving and fishing
                                                  in Africa. The 14 open air rooms have private
                                                  plunge pools, magnificent lake views, and
                                                  total privacy. The birdlife is spectacular and
                                                  we even saw otters whilst canoeing around the
                                                  island. An evening cruise on the Winsor Rose
                                                  looking out towards the misty hills of the Congo
                                                  on the other side of the lake and swimming
                                                  in the middle of the deepest lake in Africa
                                                  whilst ribbons of fishing boats tied together
                                                  pulled past us were magical experiences.
12         www. TimBestTravel.com
                                                                                               Nosy Komba, often referred to as Lemur Island (the
                                                                                               Black Lemur being the most common), is another of
                                                5. Madagascar
                                                                                               the many unspoilt islands in the Nosy Be archipelago
                                                                                               and the exclusive, tranquil Tsara Komba has only 6
                                                The magic of Madagascar is its unique
                                                                                               spacious rooms. An authentic natural paradise, the
                                                flora and fauna. An astonishing 95% of
                                                                                               lodge overlooks a quiet peaceful bay where where
                                                Madagascar’s wildlife is endemic to the
                                                                                               local fisherman go about their daily activities and at
                                                island, the 4th largest in the world,
                                                                                               certain times of the year you may even see whales.
                                                and the plant and birdlife is almost as
                                                rarefied making it a perfect destination
4. Fernando de Noronha -                        for naturalists. For those who have
Brazil                                          travelled often to the mainland continent
                                                of Africa it is an extraordinary experience
Only an hour’s flight from mainland Brazil,     – dancing lemurs, avenues of baobabs (7
Fernando de Noronha has empty golden            of the world’s 8 species are found here
beaches, turquoise seas, an abundance of        of which 6 are endemic to Madagascar),
coral reefs teeming with aquatic life and       spectacular birds, adventure, barefoot
beach front restaurants serving fabulous sea    luxury on tropical islands and an hospitable
food. Trek along jungle trails, snorkel, dive   and culturally diverse people.
and swim with sting rays, spotted eagle rays,
turtles, sharks and best of all, dolphins.      A 1 ½ hour speed boat ride takes you
With more time, ride, book surfing lessons,     to Tsarabanjina an incredibly remote
visit deserted beaches and reefs and leave      mountain islet in the middle of the Indian
with happy memories of another place to         Ocean, 40 miles off the coast of Nosy Be
add to your list of favourite places in the     on the northern tip of Madagascar. The
world. There are a handful of lovely places     island is fringed by white sandy beaches
to stay from mid-range to luxury hotels.        and surrounded by pristine coral reefs
                                                with spectacular diving. The beautiful
                                                boutique hotel has only 30 wooden
                                                bungalows and a fantastic team of staff
                                                and excellent chefs look after your every

                                                                                                                               020 7591 0300      13
                                                                         “Snorkelling at Two Mile Reef…… moments from the shore
                                                                         we came across a shoal of dolphin - the clouds of black ink
                                                                         in the otherwise crystal waters made us suspect they were
                                                                          successfully hunting squid. The snorkelling was superb, with ex-
                                                                         cellent sightings including turtles, rays and a huge moray eel. On
                                                                         the return journey we fished for tuna and king mackerel - the sea
                                                                         was teeming with them. The chef kindly turned our catch into
                                                                         some amazing sushi, eaten with a cold beer as the sun went down “

                                            7. Benguerra Island -

                                            The most striking feature of the Bazaruto
                                            Archipelago in Southern Mozambique, is its remote
                                            untouched beauty. This is an area of lush green
                                            bush, deserted pristine white beaches and warm
                                            turquoise seas and small fishing communities.

                                            Apart from the odd luxury lodge dotted amongst
                                            the islands, there is nothing else to disturb the
                                            serene beauty of the area. The fertile waters are      9. Sindabezi - Zambia
                                            home to an abundance of life providing superb
                                            diving and snorkelling and some of the best salt
                                                                                                   In the middle of the mighty Zambezi river, this
                                            water fly fishing and deep sea fishing in the world.
                                                                                                   is an island with a difference – explore the
                                                                                                   surrounding area and all the excitement that
                                            On most days you will see shoals of dolphin
                                                                                                   Victoria Falls has to offer and then retire to the
                                            feeding off the endless supply of fish, if
                                                                                                   peace of Sindabezi – with only five chalets you
                                            you are lucky you will see a rare dugong and
                                                                                                   could also take it on an exclusive basis.
                                            from July to November humpback whales and
                                            whale sharks migrate through the area. With
                                            over 150 species of birds, the area is also a
                                            haven for bird lovers, and at certain times of
                                            year you are likely to be sharing the beach
                                            with flocks of flamingoes! Other activities
                                            include island hopping, visits to turtle nesting
                                            grounds, long beach walks, and horse riding.

                                            Azura is a new luxury ‘eco’ boutique
                                            retreat. Built entirely by hand by the local
                                            community and operated in partnership
                                            with them, it has just 14 villas, each with            10. Zanzibar
                                            their own infinity pool and designed for
                                            both pampering and barefoot escapism.                  Set in the Indian Ocean and lying just 25 kilometres
6. Galapagos Islands                                                                               off the coast of Tanzania is the spice island of
                                                                                                   Zanzibar. Every year the old Stone Town is host to
Charter a yacht in the Galapagos                                                                   the Sauti za Busara festival (swahili for “Sounds of
Islands with family or a group of                                                                  Wisdom”) - 4 days of Swahili music, theatre and
friends for Christmas or Easter 2009. A                                                            dance. The music ranges from traditional singers
holiday of a lifetime but it is advisable                                                          and dancers through to the happening scene of
to book up to a year in advance                                                                    African rap and hip hop artists from Central,
to secure the boat you would like.                                                                 East & West Africa. The stage is in the Old Fort
(All year round)                                                                                   and the setting is reminiscent of Glastonbury or
                                                                                                   Womad but the location is a little more exotic…

                                             8. Wilson Island – Australia

                                             This tiny coral cay is both part of the Great
                                             Barrier Reef and surrounded by it, its pristine
                                             waters host to an unimaginable variety of
                                             marine life offereing some of the best snor-
                                             kelling on the Great Barrier Reef right off its
                                             beach. Covering just over 5 acres, Wilson Is-
                                             land is the ultimate island castaway experi-
                                             ence and only takes 12 guests at any one time.

14        www. TimBestTravel.com
                             Something for the weeekend
                                                                                 Short breaks

Out Of This World - Tim Best
Leaving London on a Friday night, arriving in Windhoek at first light on
Saturday you can then be home early on a Wednesday morning having spent
four days flying by private plane west to the coast, north low level along the
shore, then inland to a different camp each night.

The first evening, bathed in moonlight, we look out from Kuidas camp in
Damaraland, over an arid desert landscape of ancient valleys and age old
rock formations. Through the Meade telescope we gaze at the craters of the
moon and pick out where Neil Armstrong walked, and we might be on the
same planet.

Next morning Bertus and Peter fly us along the Skeleton Coast in their
Cessnas, seemingly skimming the waves, past kelp gulls, Cape cormorants,
a seal colony, and over remains of wrecks, landing on the beach not 20
yards from the sea at Terrace Bay. A strong steady wind blows; it’s cold and
desolate, chill factor extreme, the temperature maybe 10°C.

Leon, Bertus’s brother is standing by with two ancient Land Rovers and with
pressure released from the tyres, we set off into the sand dunes that stretch
inland for 40 miles, blown in by the south-westerlies since time immemorial.
There is no sign of life.

Bertus sits us on the rim of a dune and as we toboggan down on our backsides
an extraordinary sound begins and we understand the secret of the roaring
dunes. We gasp as he drives down the steepest of inclines. Then tea on
the wing of the aircraft, before flying east, low across the dunes, and rock
formations seemingly put together by a tribe of giants 70 million years ago.

Suddenly we are out of the cloud, the sand ceases abruptly at a canyon as
we head up the Huarusib valley, where unusually it has rained, and below us
is a family of five elephant whom we descend to greet, though they are less
pleased to see us than we them.

We land on the airstrip next to camp by the river, which unseasonally is still
flowing. The temperature at five o’clock is 34°C.

We travel like this flying between camps for three days, exploring by air, in
4 x 4s, and on foot, while Bertus and Peter educate us in the geology and
fascinating formations of the Namib, the oldest desert on earth. We explore
caves where Bushmen lived and drew on the rocks millennia ago, and we
find primitive shelters of pastoralists. We visit the Himba people who cover
their bodies in ochre mixed with fat, have very low blood pressure, low
cholesterol levels, beautiful skin, and wear hide skirts and ornaments.

At dawn one morning is a rare sight of wave after wave of migrating Abdim’s
stork flying high above the hills from Angola, over camp on the Kunene river
and on south.

                                                                                       020 7591 0300   15
                                                                                                               A Spotlight On


India is an increasingly popular destination, and it is worth taking time to plan when to go and where to stay. Apart from Delhi
and Agra, a classic tour of India will include Rajasthan and Kerala, but India is diverse and vast, with different states having
their own appeal.
     November to March are the best times to visit, although once the monsoon has broken in June or July, and the heat abates, August and September
     are, despite intermittent rains, good months to travel. Rajasthan’s great cities have a wealth of palaces, and temples, reflecting past glories
     of princes and Maharajahs, but visiting too many without a break can be overwhelming. In the past few years forts and family estates in the
     countryside have been renovated, off the beaten track but often within easy reach of such cities as Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Here you find
     a different India, timeless, with a gentle pace of life where you can relax, and, when you feel like it, make forays from your rural base to places
     of interest.

     Shahpura Bagh is an idyllic garden estate, formerly the summer home
     of the Shahpura rulers, where the family look after guests unobtrusively
     in an unspoilt rural setting of 30 acres of garden and pasture.

                                                                                      In the region of Shekwati, you can stay at Primal Haveli,
                                                                                      or take the opportunity of a riding expedition on a
                                                                                      Marwari horse, the warrior horse of the Rajputs, staying in
                                                                                      different villages where the houses are painted with frescoes.
     On a not so well known route between Jaipur and Udaipur, lies the
     ancient fort of Bhainsrorgarh, dating back to the 18th century,
                                                                                      Those attracted by deserts can venture west into the Thar desert,
     now an enticing heritage hotel. The fort, high on a promontory
                                                                                      and at Ossian stay in the dunes in great comfort at the Camel Camp,
     and encircled by its own village, overlooks the Chambal River.
                                                                                      a traditional tented camp in the shadow of the walls of the fort.

     16        www. TimBestTravel.com
October to March are the best times to go to Kerala, with late September
being a good option.

After exploring the hills and jungles of north Kerala, what better than to
arrive at a pristine coastline and flop, staying at a top notch beach hotel
with a sophisticated spa? Neeleshwar Hermitage is right on the beach, only
opened this July, and is the gateway to an unfrequented area, with its own
idling backwaters.

Serenity is a sensitively restored 1920s colonial mansion with six bedrooms,
which can be taken as a private villa. Situated on a rubber plantation between
Cochin, Thekkady and the backwaters, from this retreat guests walk through
the surrounding plantations, or in the hills, and visit the local villages,
temples and churches. You can take a languid trip on the backwaters, go on
a spice walk, borrow bicycles, spend a day with Lakshimi the elephant, have
a session with the in house yoga instructor or simply relax by the swimming
pool. Furthermore, it’s fully staffed and the food is great.
                                                             Madhya Pradesh
Little known Madya Pradesh has its own appeal. Here you find the great fort in Gwalior, over a mile long, towering 300 ft above the town; Man
Singh’s Palace; the great beauty of the temples of Khajuraho, with their erotic facades; the romantic palaces on the banks of the Betwa River in
Orchha; ancient rock engravings at Bhimbetka: and the best national parks, with the highest density of tiger in India - Kanger Valley, Bandhavgargh,
                                           Panna, Khana, and Pench, setting for “The Jungle Book”.

The 250 year old Ahilya Fort, surrounded by the unexploited town of              Forsyth’s at Satpura (opening soon) is a wildlife lodge in perhaps the
Maheshwar, in a dramatic position on a cliff edge above the Narmada river,       least known national park in India, Satpura. If you like wild places,
belongs to Prince Shivaji Roa Holker. You will eat very well here, as Prince     this will be the place for you. It stretches across the mountains with
Shivaji is a great gourmet, the vegetables are fresh from his garden, and he     forested hills, plateaus and meadows, supporting an astonishing
takes pride in the food you are served. Within the fort are the Rewa Society     array of prey and predators, and matchless bird life. You have
silk workshops that employ local women. From there you can witness the           the privilege of exploring this exceptional tiger country in a way
real rural India and visit the deserted city of Mandu and the island temple of   that is not possible in other parks - on foot, by canoe or kayak, by
Omkareshwar.                                                                     elephant, and by jeep, or you can sit in vigil in a specially sited hide.

                                                                                  Unlike Rajasthan and southern India, Ladakh, in the Himalayas is
                                                                                  best visited between May to October.

                                                                                  Feel the rejuvenating effects of walking in the Himalayas, from
                                                                                  village to village, staying in renovated village houses offering
                                                                                  guests a rare chance to experience an unchanged rural way of
                                                                                  life in the homes of the Ladakhi people. Spend over six days with
                                                                                  friends or family without the strenuous effort of trekking, ending
                                                                                  with a journey down the river to stay comfortably in another
                                                                                  village house. All along your route you come across the hospitality
                                                                                  and charm of the people of the hill tribes, and the simplicity
                                                                                  of their way of life. Other regions with village walks of varying
                                                                                  duration are Kumaon and Sikkim.

 India Facts
 • Land mass of over 2 million sq miles (3.3 million sq km).
 • Population in 1973: Estimated at 564 million. 2003: 1 billion
 • The largest democracy in the world
 • Over 80% of Indians are vegetarians
 • Indian Railways are the largest employer in the world, with over 1 million
 • Chail in Himachal Pradesh has the highest cricket ground on a levelled
 hilltop at 2444m above sea level
 • India is the only country with a bill of rights for cows
 • The state of Sikkim does not allow plastic bags

                                                                                                                                   020 7591 0300       17
     A State of Happiness

 Few people travel to ‘The Land of the Thunder Dragon’, despite it
 being voted one of the world’s top destinations.

 Sitting high in the Himalayas, between Tibet and India, the Kingdom
 of Bhutan has remained hidden. The doors were only recently
 cautiously opened for travellers to this Shangri La shrouded in myth,
 where sacred monasteries cling precariously to sheer cliffs, colourful
 prayer flags flutter on high ridges, and red robed monks chant day
 and night.

 Almost unaffected by the influences of the modern world, the
 traditional way of life, guided by an inherent belief in Buddhism,
 continues virtually unchanged to this day.

 Having never been colonised, traditional Bhutanese society is still
 characterised by small scattered communities living in isolation
 with little contact with one another, and retaining a strong sense of
 individualism. (The first road for motor vehicles, linking Bhutan to
 India, was not built until 1961).

 Bhutan is home to abundant bird and wildlife – species such as Snow
 Leopard, Black Bear, Tiger, Musk Deer, Blue Sheep and the Takin - the
 Bhutanese national animal, can be found here.

18       www. TimBestTravel.com
                                                          The flight into Bhutan has to be one of the most scenic and incredible in the world, with
                                                          a running commentary from the Druk Airlines pilot pointing out Mount Everest, K2 and
                                                          Kangchenjunga (make sure you are sitting on the left hand side of the aeroplane for the
                                                          best views). This is the beginning of a magical journey into ‘The Land of the Thunder
                                                          Dragon’. I have never been to a place more beautiful and rewarding, and any fear of
                                                          heights I might have had soon vanished. We visited villages and monasteries, had snowball
                                                          fights with young monks in their habits, we walked up small winding mountain paths,
                                                          trampled daily by pilgrims, red robed monks and occasionally tourists, past ledges covered
                                                          in small stupas, the occasional prayer wheel, and prayer flags strewn from tree to tree.
                                                          Eventually you arrive at the most beautiful monastery, clinging seemingly impossibly to the
                                                          side of a mountain cliff, and sit and sip butter tea, before being blessed by a priest. It is a
                                                          spiritual journey that you will never forget and you will want to go back time and time again.

           Photos By Miranda Boord

                                Photos by Miranda Boord

Visitors   can    participate    in   archery
tournaments, sing and dance through day
and night at the religious tsechus (festivals),
trek to the fantastic monasteries, bicycle
the highest road passes at over 12,000 ft, or
walk the hillsides, ablaze with the colour of
myriad wildflowers between March and May.

The mandate of the modern Bhutanese state
is Gross National Happiness and the main
goal of its people as individuals.

A 14 night holiday to Bhutan including
Delhi, Paro, Thimphu, Punaka, Wangdi to
Gangtey, Trongsa and Bumthang, visiting
the wonderful colourful monasteries,
Dzongs and villages, in particular Tigers
Nest in Paro. Cost from £3360 per person
sharing including return international
flights to Delhi, all accommodation and
meals at Bhutanese Hotels, services of an
English speaking guide, all monument fees,
all transfers, Bhutanese visas, government
royalties and government tax.

                                                                                                                                     020 7591 0300     19
     If you’re after thrills rather than relaxation, a
     whole world of excitement awaits.......


                                              Helicopter rides are also a must
                                              in the Northern Territory. On the
                                              enormous Bullo River Station a trip in
                                              the helicopter simply adds another
                                              dimension to the property. To be
                                              able to visit places such as “The
                                              Cascades” where you can either
                                              swag out at night, or simply swim in
                                              the warm rockpools during the day
                                              is pretty special. Please call us for
                                              Australian ideas – there is plenty
                                              of scope for outback adventure.

     Flying High
     On safari you don’t just need to stick
     to the ground or just use planes as
     taxis to get from place to place.
     There are some wonderful ways
     to adventure in the air. In Laikipia
     in Northern Kenya you could take
     a trip back in time and relive Out
     of Africa exploring the Northern
     Frontier District in a biplane. If you
     love open spaces nothing could be
                                                                                       Elephant Polo
     better than a Skeleton Coast Flying
     Safari in Namibia or you could take
                                                                                       Take part in a game of elephant polo
     a helicopter ride and explore Lake
                                                                                       just outside Jaipur in the Aravalli hills
     Turkana or go heli-fishing for the day
                                                                                       or if that sounds a little too unwieldy
     on Mount Kenya. Just as thrilling are
                                                                                       or energetic, take a wonderful
     balloon rides – across the Mara or
                                                                                       moonlit safari on top of an elephant,
     Serengeti plains in Kenya or Tanzania.
                                                                                       into the surrounding countryside
     Please ask us how to combine an
                                                                                       and through the forests. The dinners
     aerial adventure with a safari.
                                                                                       are particularly special. Under the
                                                                                       night sky the mahout directs the
                                                                                       elephant to a surprise location,
                                                                                       lit up with lanterns and candles.

20         www. TimBestTravel.com
                                             Glaciers & Deserts
                                             Chile is the same length as the width
                                             of the United States of America,
                                             consequently it has a huge amount
                                             to offer: glaciers and rushing rivers
                                             for the world’s best fly fishing in the
                                             South to the driest desert in the
                                             world in the North, where you can
                                             take a 4 x 4 and cross the Andes into
                                             Bolivia and across the Salt Flats…

                                                                                       Somewhere Down A Crazy River

                                                                                       You could choose to take a day out of
                                                                                       a safari and helicopter to Mount Kenya
                                                                                       for a day’s fishing or spend a couple
                                                                                       of days there at Lake Rutundu – some
Riding                                                                                 of the highest altitude trout fishing in
                                                                                       Africa. In India you can go trout fishing
Riding through the deserts of Rajasthan                                                at Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling or
on a Marwari horse, the indigenous                                                     fish for mahseer on the River Ramganga
horse of the Thar desert, endowed                                                      in Uttaranchal close to Corbett National
with sublime beauty and a bold fearless                                                Park. From November to February,
spirit, is impossibly romantic and, if you                                             on the Cauvery River in Karnataka in
ride well, incredibly exciting. There                                                  Southern India you may catch a variety of
are a number of places one can ride                                                    Mahseer, the Silver, Gold, Pink and Black.
these beautiful horses in Rajasthan and
Rohet Garh boasts of one of the finest
stables of the “Marwari” in the country.

                                                                                                               020 7591 0300        21
     Festivals are a wonderful way to engage with the people of a country and to see
                many of their most colourful celebrations and traditions.....
                                                                           © Victoria Upton

22   www. TimBestTravel.com
                 The Rajasthan International Folk Festival
                                                                                 As the sun begins it’s descent over the empty vastness of the Tar
                                                                                 desert, we take a ten minute rickshaw ride to Jaswant Thada for a
                                                                                 sunset performance of Sufi music. The white, marbled tomb built for
                                                                                 a famous 19th century ruler of Jodhpur celebrated for expelling the
                                                                                 bandits from the city, resembles a mini Taj Mahal as the musicians
                                                                                 take their place on a raised platform in front of the cenotaph with
                                                                                 the Mehrangar Fort framed thrillingly on the horizon behind them.

                                                                                 As the sky turns a shade of dark crimson and the lights begin to twinkle
                                                                                 in the old city below, I grab a word with the Maharajah about his
                                                                                 patronage of the festival. “We timed it to coincide with the brightest
                                                                                 full moon of the Vedic calendar, which we call Sharad Poornima,” he
                                                                                 explains. “It’s a traditional time for music and dance and we wanted
                                                                                 to showcase the vitality, colour and energy of Rajasthani culture.”
We are lounging on huge floor cushions in a open-air courtyard in
the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. Far below the craggy sandstone                  After dinner on the ramparts of the fort with spectacular views
outcrop on which the ancient kings of Marwar built the spectacular               over the old city, we bump into festival director Owen Mortimer,
edifice 550 years ago, sprawls the old walled city of Jodhpur.                   who is justifiably satisfied that a major new annual event has
Beyond it in the distance lies the arid terrain of the Tar desert.               firmly booked its place on the world music calendar. “We’ve
Above us is a full moon so bright that its light casts an eerie shadow.          learned a lot and there’s a few things we’re going to work on to
                                                                                 make next year even more successful,” he says, looking up at the
We are listening to the sitarist Krishna Mohan Bhatt on the                      magnificent gold filigree ceiling of the Phool Mahal, the fort’s
opening night of the inaugural Rajasthan International Folk                      ‘flower palace’, once the private pleasure dome of generations of
Festival (RIFF) under the patronage of the Maharajah of Jodhpur,                 maharajahs. “But with a venue like this, it’s hard to fail, isn’t it?”
who began the restoration of the long derelict fort in 1972. Now
magnificently refurbished it has to be one of the most sumptuous                 Journalist Nigel Williamson travelled with us to the Rajasthan International
and romantic settings for a music festival anywhere in the world.                Folk Festival in 2007.

 For centuries the aristocratic rulers of India’s princeling states
sponsored and sustained India’s proud classical music tradition,
employing the best musicians at court, so to hear V.M.Bhatt playing
classical ragas in the former royal apartments is the continuation of
a patronage that is centuries old. But one of the main purposes of the
RIFF festival is to give a platform to the village musicians of rural India.

The following lunchtime finds us in the Chowkelao Garden, a green
oasis beneath the old fort’s northern wall, containing a profusion
of flower-filled verandas, fed by water from the deepest well I’ve
ever seen. Under an elegant canvas awning we are entertained by
a cavalcade of Rajasthani folk groups, each playing a short set of                                                                          © Vipal Sangoi
30 minutes or so with informed commentary and context offered
by a local ‘expert’. They included the Bhopas, the itinerant singing
priests of the Kamad community. From the desert regions around                    12 nights in Rajasthan including 4 nights at the
Jaisalmer and along the Pakistani border come both the Manganiyar,                Festival from £2,650 per person sharing including economy
who play devotional songs in ecstatic fashion and the similar-                    class international and domestic flights, vehicle and
sounding Langas, a community of hereditary singers from Muslim                    driver throughout trip, accommodation on a bed and
stock who perform Hindu folk songs. The Kaalbeliyas’ music and                    breakfast basis, local English speaking guides in Delhi, Agra,
dance reflects the caste’s origins as snake-charmers and the Nat,                 Fathephur Sikri, Jaipur and Jodphur and festival passes.
who entertain us with some terrifying high-wire acrobatic stunts.

                                                          Festivals 2008 and 2009
Libya - Ghadames Festival, October 2008                                                        Mali - Festival in the Desert, January 2009
This annual festival is a colourful event with traditional song and                Tuareg caravans from all corners of the Sahara including Mali,
dance performances staged in Ghadames, one of the great trading                    Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania will reunite near Timbuktu
towns on the centuries old Saharan caravan route. The six night set                for the 7th annual festival. Past performances have included
departure itinerary also includes the Roman sites around Tripoli.                  Tinariwen, Oumou Sangare, Tartit, the Woodabe of Niger
                                                                                   and Vieux Farka Toure. The 13 night itinerary to the Festival
Bhutan - Black Necked Crane Festival, November 2008                                includes Segou, Djenné, the Pays Dogon, Mopti and Timbuktu.
The trip includes Thimpu, Bhutan’s Capital city, Punakha,
Trongsa, Bumthang and the wonderful Taksang Monestry.                                         Mali - Festival on the Niger, February 2009
                                                                                   Set in the charming town of Segou on the banks of the River
Libya - Ghat Festival, December 2008                                               Niger the festival focuses on music, dance, puppetry and art.
The Ghat Festival is a celebration of traditional music
and dance and during the trip we also visit the dramatic                                           Zanzibar - Sauti za Busara, February 2009
Acacas Mountains, the Ubari Sand Sea and Leptis Magna.                                                                             See Islands.

Bhutan - Punakha Folk Festival, December 2008
To commemorate 100 years of Monarchy and to celebrate the                                    Senegal - Saint Louis Jazz Festival, May 2009
coronation of the new king – a once in a lifetime experience.                      This legendary festival takes place in the evenings in venues
                                                                                   across the city and jazz musicians from all over the world
Morocco - Fes Sacred Music Festival, June 2009                                     attend. Days are free to explore the colourful city of Saint
Set in the entrancing Imperial City of Fes most                       of the       Louis and the surrounding areas such as the Fishermans’
performances take place within the large ceremonial                  gateway       Quarters, Djoudj National Park and Langue de Barbarie.
of Bab Mekina or the Batha Museum. We recommend a                   minimum        The itinerary also includes Fadiout Island, the wilderness
of 5-7 nights to take in the festival, to explore the               beautiful      area of the Sine Saloum Delta and Goree where one
city of Fes, to visit Moulay Idris and the Roman site of            Volubilis.     can learn about the slave trade history of West Africa.

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Argentina     Ecuador          Lamu                 Botswana   Namibia
Belize        Galapagos        Maldives             Ethiopia   Niger
Bolivia       Guatemala        Madagascar           Egypt      Rwanda
Brazil        Mexico           Mauritius            Gabon      Senegal
Chile         Peru             Mozambique Islands   Kenya      South Africa
Costa Rica    Uruguay          Pemba                Libya      Tanzania
Cuba                           Seychelles           Malawi     Uganda
                               Zanzibar             Mali       Zambia

    ANTARCTICA                AUSTRALIA             INDIA & BHUTAN


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