T H E T R AV E L O G
L AT I N A M E R I C A
S O U T H PAC I F I C
W H Y T R AV E L W I T H K E R & D OW N E Y The heart of the matter when traveling with Ker & Downey is more than just traveling in luxury and style: it’s all about those little ineffable moments, beholding the beauty of the world the way you always imagined. These experiential moments — a breath of fresh mountain air, the rush of adrenaline, the peace of a calm beach, the taste of a new cuisine — whatever it may be for you, you’ll know it when you experience it. And it comes standard on every Ker & Downey journey.
K E R & DOW N E Y
TA K I N G A I R TO N E W H E I G H T S When reserving your custom land arrangements with Ker & Downey, please ask about our incredible airfare rates. Our experts partner with the best to ensure a comfortable and luxurious journey in transit. Forget the hassles: obtain premium seating at great rates, accrue mileage where available and get the peace of mind of lenient cancellation policies.
CARRIERS AIR FRANCE A L I TA L I A AMERICAN AIRLINES B R I T I S H A I R WAYS C AT H AY PAC I F I C D E LTA E M I R AT E S ETIHAD FINNAIR IBERIA KLM L ATA M A I R L I N E S Q ATA R A I R WAYS R OYA L A I R M A R O C S O U T H A F R I C A N A I R WAYS SINGAPORE AIRLINES T U R K I S H A I R WAYS V I R G I N AT L A N T I C V I R G I N AU S T R A L I A
British Airways KE R & DOWN E Y
A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
The process of innovation is ongoing. At Ker & Downey we are constantly striving to bring you the best travel experiences around the world. Behind-the-scenes, we’re also working to develop ideas and processes to make sure your trip is smooth, every step of the way — from the first phone call or email until the day you return home. This fall, we’re launching new river cruise programs across Europe, Asia, and Africa. In this issue of Quest Magazine, we’ve highlighted a few you can expect, and how to add pre- and postcruise land extensions for a more in-depth exploration on your journey. Closer to home, we are working on new ways to explore some of the nation’s most pristine land. To experience it, my daughter Haley and I drove 924 miles across Texas in three days to check out five different Texas ranches. In addition to the land in Texas, we’re looking at a few other ranches in Colorado, New Mexico, and California to determine how we might best incorporate them into our Ker & Downey portfolio. You can read more about our road trip and peek at our plans on page 54. Your peace of mind and safety while traveling with us is important. To continue providing the best possible service we can during your trip, we are proud to partner with Global Rescue. Through this program, we are able to provide you with Medical Transport Services and Security Evacuation Services. This new service will come standard on every customized Ker & Downey journey. You can read more about our partnership in this issue on page 19. On our YouTube channel* you’ll find the latest destination videos, while our website has a new company store** to assist with all of your travel needs and t-shirts that can be purchased to support our Nets for Africa philanthropy project. While innovation is the key to the future, our commitment to providing life-changing trips stays the same. Let us know where you want to go next at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Marek President
* youtube.com/user/KerDowney ** kerdowney.com/shop 4
K E R & DOW N E Y
THE LATEST TRAVELS AND EXPERIENCES FROM OUR DESIGN TEAM
J E AN N E STAYTON
C ATH E R IN E B R OW N
Where were you last? Moscow and St. Petersburg
Where were you last? Nepal and Bhutan’s Himalayas
What was your most amazing experience? The cleanliness and beauty of the metro stations, which were built resembling museums.
What was your most amazing experience? Wildlife spotting in Chitwan National Park, a private yoga session in Kathmandu, climbing to Tiger’s Nest monastery, breakfast with local monks, and a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath are at the top of my list.
What would you recommend from your trip? Allow plenty of time to visit both sections of the Hermitage including the jewel rooms. Any other tips for travelers? Having an experienced tour guide will allow you to beat the crowds at the busiest tourist attractions. Wear comfortable shoes so you can enjoy walking around and experiencing these cities. The food is really tasty too.
The stunning interior of the Eastern and Oriental Express
What would you recommend from your trip? I loved Dwarika’s hotel in downtown Kathmandu along with the remote, yet incredibly special Gangtey Lodge in Bhutan. Any other tips for travelers? Splurge on the Everest helicopter trip. Don’t leave home without a real camera — you’ll want it to capture the amazing Himalayan vistas.
HOT TOPIC: T R A I N T R AV E L Luxury trains not only get you from point A to B, but they also transport you into a splendid bygone era of travel, slowing the journey down so you can see the world at a different pace. All aboard on these Ker & Downey approved rail journeys. By Rina Chandarana
R OV OS R A IL Namibia’s stark and stunning landscape is front and center on this journey that retraces the path of the pioneers who flocked to this remote region in search of treasures in the diamond mines. Hop off to soar above the jaw-droppingly beautiful, rusty, and rippling sand dunes via a hot-air balloon ride. Grab your camera — you are likely to see a desert-adapted elephant in this unforgettable trip.
E A ST ERN A N D OR IE NTA L E XP RE SS Even though Bangkok and Singapore seem to be moving at frenetic speeds, your route will feel nothing but relaxed in a passage inspired by the classic 1932 film Shanghai Express. The elegant train weaves through rural landscapes dotted with temples, tea plantations, and small villages.
V E NICE SIMPLON - ORIE NT E X P RE SS There’s a reason this art deco set of carriages is one of the most coveted ways to travel through Europe. Sumptuous wooden interiors decked out with rich upholstery and antique fixtures exude the Golden Age’s glitz and glamor. Dress to impress when you mingle at the Champagne Bar. While you get your beauty sleep, you will be whisked to Europe’s timeless cities — Paris, Venice, and London. KE R & DOWN E Y
GIVING BACK Travel that gives back across the globe
10 ARRIVALS Openings, revamps, and the latest travel news
18 THE GUIDE Insider secrets of luxury travel
THE SHOT One memory captured by photographer Austen Johnston
87 JOURNEYS Top itineraries from Ker & Downey
Sleep under the stars at a Bedouinstyle camp in Jordan. See page 94
DESTINATIONS 26 EA ST AFRICA
32 SOUTHERN AFRICA
38 NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EA ST
44 A SIA
52 NORTH AMERICA
60 LATIN AMERICA
E DI TO R S T E P H A N I E R IC E
A R T D I R E CT I O N & DESI GN AMY WILLIS
FROM THE BUSH TO BEACH ZANZIBAR
34 SAFARI SOLITUDE BOTSWANA, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE, SOUTH AFRICA, & NAMIBIA
40 INSPIRING ISRAEL
CO N TR I B U TO RS E D I TO RS N IC K Y B R A N D ON DAV I D M A R E K W RI T ERS HALEY BEHAM R I N A C H A N DA R A N A ELIZABETH FRELS K AT Y H E E R S S E N P H OTO G R A PHERS AU S T E N JOH N S TON
46 A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT VIETNAM, CAMBODIA, & LAOS
54 ROOM TO BREATHE TEXAS, COLORADO, CALIFORNIA, & NEW MEXICO
62 HIDDEN KINGDOMS MEXICO
LETâ€™S CONNECT O N TH E WEB kerdowney.com questkerdowney.com
FAC E B O O K
66 EUROPE NORTHERN & WESTERN
74 ON THE COVER: Letting the horses out at Middle Creek Ranch, Colorado Photo couresty of Explore Ranches
EUROPE EA STERN & SOUTHERN
80 SOUTH PACIFIC
68 ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS FRANCE, BELGIUM, GERMANY, & AUSTRIA
76 SENSES BY THE SEA CROATIA
82 A FOODIE'S FORTUNE NEW ZEALAND
TW I TT ER/ I N STAGRAM @kerdowney
YO U T UB E youtube.com/user/ KerDowney
PHO NE 800.423.4236 +1.281.371.2500
E M AI L email@example.com
Read more about Explore Ranches on page 54 KE R & DOWN E Y
B OTSWA N A
RWA N DA
CA MB ODI A
SOUTH A FR I CA
EAST A FR I CA
When you travel with Ker & Downey, you become a force for good across the globe. These are some of the initiatives and partnerships we’re proud to support.
EAST AFRICA For over two decades Ker & Downey has been returning to Africa on a mission to give back to the communities we love and adore. Our medical missions in Uganda provide doctor and dentist visits, provide life-saving drugs and surgeries, and distribute thousands of insecticide-treated mosquito nets. We want to triple the work we have done and need your help to provide care in rural villages and three schools. Donate at kerdowney.com/nets-for-africa
A portion of every custom Asia journey goes to ABOUTAsia, an organization founded with the aim of changing local communities in the Siem Reap Province through education. Ker & Downey clients have helped close to 53,000 children across 110 schools with upgraded libraries, playground equipment, and new water wells.
R WA N DA
E C UA D O R Eco-conscious Ker & Downey clients traveling to South America support the Galo Plaza Lasso Foundation’s efforts to protect the only surviving South American bear species — the Andean Spectacled Bear — and its habitat through local education efforts and tracking systems. In the future, the foundation plans to build an interpretation center to educate guests about the bears. You will likely see these docile creatures roaming around the pristine hills and valleys around Hacienda Zuleta.
K E R & DOW N E Y
OmniPeace lifts children out of extreme poverty through education and music. The Rwanda Rocks Music Schools offer afterschool music programs for children in Kigali and Rwanda’s Kiziba Refugee Camp. The Foundation has also built schools in Mali, Malawi, and Senegal. With a Ker & Downey journey, you can visit a school and participate in a drumming experience. Ker & Downey is pleased to join forces with Hollywood stars to support this worthy cause.
B OT SWA N A The Bana Ba Letsatsi center supports over 250 vulnerable, atrisk orphaned children and youth. Some have never attended school or dropped out early, while others suffered physical and sexual abuse, or have used drugs or alcohol. Kids are given a safe place to learn, access to counseling and medical services, and are taught new skills. Our Desert to Delta journey directly benefits Bana Ba Letsatsi.
SOUTH AFRICA F I EL D NOT E S
G RO OT B O S P R I VAT E N AT U R E R E S E RV E
FILLING YOUR LUNGS WITH FRESH AIR IS EASY TO DO around the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in South Africa’s Western Cape. Over the years Ker & Downey has supported the planting of 600 trees as part of an extensive milkwood reforestation project in an area that was once devastated by wildfires and human intervention. In total, more than 6,000 trees have been planted, some by Ker & Downey guests who got their hands dirty in an effort to restore this vulnerable environment. A tree is planted by the Grootbos Foundation for every Ker & Downey client traveling to South Africa. The people living in this biodiverse hot spot also benefit from Ker & Downey donations through Grootbos’ local ecotourism and hospitality training programs at the Green Futures College. Ten to 12 unemployed women learn sustainable livelihoods, breaking the cycle of poverty for their families. When graduating from the program, they are offered a certification that is highly sought after in the ecotourism sector and each one is ensured employment. Their children between the ages of six to 19 strap on athletic shoes and learn hockey, soccer, canoeing, and rugby — to name a few — across 16 schools in the Overberg area. In these high-risk communities, the Football Foundation offers children a valuable opportunity to play safely, build camaraderie, and have a healthy meal. An extra bonus is the chance to attend local, provincial, and national sports matches. Through these Grootbos Foundation programs, Ker & Downey clients are investing in people and the planet.
Through these Grootbos Foundation programs, Ker & Downey clients are investing in people and the planet.
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Open in g s , Revamps, a nd th e L a test Tra v el News
S API EXP LO RE RS C A M P, Z I MB A B WE Sleep under a canopy of trees and a blanket of stars with the sounds of nocturnal creatures as natureâ€™s lullaby at Sapi Explorers Camp. This is a sleepover you will remember forever. An elephant wandering through the glassy Zambezi River is just one of the life-changing moments you will experience when you stay in one of only five tents at Sapi Explorers Camp. This is a safari thoughtfully updated with modern touches like private en suites with blissfully warm showers.
BY RINA CHANDARANA 10
K E R & D OW N E Y
TH E M OTS E , S OUTH AFRICA Your journey to the Kalahari is about to get even better. A little facelift of this camp at the foot of the Korannaberg Mountains has elevated the standard. Just like the majestic black-maned lions seek shade in the afternoon sun, so too will you in your cool redesigned suite to a bed oriented to take in the wonderful views. Thank your lucky stars as you shower alfresco with the African night sky blanketing you from above.
Photos courtesy of Great Plains Conservation | Ongava Game Reserve | Tswalu
ANDERSSON ’S AT ONGAVA , NA MI BI A It’s always a warm and fuzzy feeling to stay at a camp that does heaps of good for the Earth. Pick scientists’ brains about insider information at the on-property research center. Kick back in one of seven suites with private viewing decks of the 180-degree panorama. Or, just bask in a moment of peaceful reflection by the infinity pool overlooking the waterhole.
M AR A NYIKA , KE NYA Succumb to the romance of East Africa’s vast open plains. A lion’s roar thunders across the sky as dark clouds rumble in the distance. A hot-air balloon ride reveals a magnificent real-life painting below. Mara Nyika will take you on a time-traveling trip to when explorers braved this remote world. You won’t be roughing it when staying in one of eight comfortable tents. Days are spent exploring the private, wild expanse of the Naboisho Conservancy, home to 500 Masai families. At dinner clink your glasses in toast to the unbelievable wilderness surrounding you.
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M AG A S H I C A M P, RWAND A Akagera National Park's new camp is just the place to holiday for a few days amid some of East Africa's most scenic savannah. Six spacious tents pay homage to Rwandan culture and just outside your abode, find a region home to one of Africa’s highest hippo densities, big crocodiles, and healthy lion and leopard numbers. Gather around the firepit for sundowners with Lake Rwanyakazinga sparkling like a flute of champagne in the background.
THE P EECH V ILLA, S OU TH AF RI C A
S A NC TU A R Y NIL E AD VE NTU R E R, E GYPT A sail down the Nile is always an epic adventure, hopping off to wander through ancient temples, but treasures await you on board this revamped ship too. The 32-cabin vessel’s caravanserai lamps add a patterned glow to the golden ambiance. Rugs, antiques, tiles, and textiles provide a nod to Egypt’s rich culture. Private balconies are your front-row seat to the riverbank’s goings on, while private cooking classes give you a taste of Egypt’s tongue-tickling flavors.
K ER & D OW N E Y
Photos courtesy of Magashi Camp | The Peech Villa | Sanctuary | Four Seasons | Mandarin Oriental | Cirqa
The award-winning hotel has added a luxury two-bedroom villa with modern en suites. Slide your glass door open to a central outdoor area — a private haven for guests with a shaded pergola. Call on the butler to order up some tasty culinary treats. This newest addition to the property is perfect for families in need of a little extra space and the feeling of home within Johannesburg’s coveted Melrose neighborhood.
AROUND THE WORLD
F OUR SEA S ON S M A DR I D, S PA I N Careful recovery work has lovingly restored the handsome façades and interiors of a series of 1887 buildings in the center of the city to create the stunning Four Seasons Madrid. Some of the 39 suites will be outfitted with outdoor terraces giving you a bird’s-eye view of the city streets. With the Four Seasons in charge (this is their first project in Spain), expect a lot of high-end experiences like the attached three-level Galeria de Canalejas — a shopping center with prestigious fashion and jewelry outposts and local culinary hot spots sure to lure the city’s style setters.
M A NDARIN ORIE N TA L J U MEIRA DUBA I, UNI T ED A R A B E M I R ATE S There’s no shortage of tony hotel options in Dubai, but the debut of this beachfront resort is bringing a new wave of luxury to town. For starters it has an enviable address in a prestigious neighborhood. Oodles of natural light flood spacious sea-facing rooms and suites. Pull up a black lacquer motherof-pearl inlay chair and relish in the view of Dubai’s glittering skyline. Take your pick between six restaurants. Fancy some Portuguese cuisine or decadent cakes? The choice is yours to make.
CIRQA, PE RU Recharge and refresh at this revival of the original parador, the latest Arequipa offering from the geniuses behind Titilaka. What was once part of the San Agustin church now houses 11 rooms where you will experience the ambience and authentic architecture of the 16th century all centered around two charming patios. Go on a gastronomic journey of spices and organic produce on the rooftop eatery where you will also eat up the lofty views of the cathedral and snow-capped Misti volcano.
KE R & DOWN E Y
AROUND THE WORLD
AQUA BLU, INDONESIA Aqua Expeditions expanded its fleet in East Indonesia with this coastal ship that sails around the heart of the aquatic treasure trove of the Coral Triangle year-round. See flourishing underwater life and a lot of history too — spice trade routes of days gone by passed along these waters. Each of the 15 suites are sea-facing in this refurbished former British naval ship. Over seven to 12 nights, you will visit the exotic paradises of Raja Ampat, Spice Islands, and Komodo National Park — each sure to leave you dreaming of being a permanent castaway.
COR IN T H IA G RAN D H OT E L D U B OU L EVARD BUC H A RE ST, R O MA NI A
T HE NEWT, E NGLAND Step into a Jane Austen novel at this Georgian-era country home. You can just imagine the author frolicking in the bucolic countryside which inspires the restaurant’s menu and the garden-scented spa treatments. Heritage combines with contemporary design in the only 23 rooms spread out between the main house and the Stable Yard. And what’s a British experience without an elegant afternoon tea with delightful cakes and pastries served in the library.
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Photos courtesy of Aqua Expeditions | Corinthia Hotels | The Newt | Park Hyatt | Six Senses | Raffles Hotel
Despite its charm, this 19th century building sat empty for a decade. Thankfully Corinthia Hotels swooped in restoring the 50 rooms and suites and a grand ballroom, which are slated to be revealed in the coming months. This isn’t the first do-over for the Corinthia — they restored historic properties in Budapest, Malta, and London too — so this Bucharest outpost is undoubtedly in good hands.
PA R K H YAT T AU CK L AND, N EW Z E AL AN D The long jaunt to New Zealand is well worth it when you sink into your comfy bed at this sophisticated, waterfront property. The Park Hyatt Auckland pays homage to its Maori roots, basing the design of the hotel around the idea of a traditional Maori house where families and tribes once gathered. Cozy up around the open kitchen at the Onemata restaurant and watch the chefs whip up locally sourced goodies.
SIX SENSES BHUTAN The "happy kingdom" will be even more cheery with the finishing touches on the completed lodges in Bumthang and Gangtey. Even though there’s a lot of outdoor enjoyment (breathing in fresh glacial valley air, strolls through little villages, and meeting with temple monks), there’s also a whole lot of relaxing to be had. An afternoon spa treatment will leave you feeling content in the best of ways and so too will the soothing rhythm of a river current meandering through Bhutan’s breathtakingly beautiful land.
R A FFLE S H OT E L, SI NGA PORE There’s an awful lot of glittering glass and steel in Singapore, but that’s what makes Raffles’ colonial architecture even more attractive. With this legendary property’s August reopening after two years of extensive renovations, expect the classics like verandahs opening to lush gardens, but with a few more courtyards, social areas, restaurants, and bars. The Long Bar has shifted back to its original spot where the iconic Singapore Sling is still the drink of choice. A little brush up has not taken away the heritage of this 1800s-era property: it exudes the same glitz and glamor that attracted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Charlie Chaplin. KE R & DOWN E Y
TO THE RIVERS ... AND BEYOND By Elizabeth Frels
Rivers have historically represented a key ingredient in a city’s journey to prosperity. Today, they act as a preferred mode of travel as more and more sojourners seek a luxurious and laid-back way to see as much of the world as possible. While multicountry journeys are certainly possible in one single cruise, land extensions on either end of a river cruise offer the best of both worlds: easygoing sightseeing by water and more in-depth exploration on land. Here are a few of Ker & Downey’s most inspiring pre- and postcruise extensions around the world.
The mighty Amazon River
AMA ZON RIV E R The mighty Amazon knows no match. Rich wildlife interactions, luxurious riverboat accommodations, and local villages untouched by outside influence make it a must-do on any visit to South America. The northern Amazon reaches of Peru are particularly attractive as they allow you to easily pair its natural wonders with so many nearby landmarks, Machu Picchu included. Definitely take time for this pre-Incan citadel, but don’t forget to fit in a stop to Lake Titicaca where you can further your water journey along this beautiful lake and its many islands, which share a border with Bolivia. The sun setting over the Danube River in Budapest
K E R & DOW N E Y
LO W ER D A N U BE A journey along the Lower Danube River offers the opportunity to step foot in five different countries. We recommend pairing the historical and natural wonders of Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria with a slow and steady dive into the Transylvania landscape of Romania. Admire the view of the Piatra Craiului Mountains from a countryside inn, go stargazing where the light pollution is nonexistent, spot the brown bears of the Carpathian Mountains, set out on a hike in Piatra Craiului National Park, and take a horse-drawn cart to the village blacksmith in Viscri to watch him work. The wonders of Eastern Europe will undoubtedly unfold before you every step of the way.
Photos courtesy of iStock | Crystal Cruises | Chobe Princess | Sanctuary Sun Boat IV
CLEAN WATER SOURCES. AVENUES OF TRANSPORT AND TRADE. CORNERSTONES OF CIVILIZATION.
M O SEL L E R I V ER
Cruising down the Moselle River
A cruise along the Moselle River represents the path less traveled, taking you from the Netherlands through Germany and into Luxembourg. Consider a continuation of the experience with a personalized extension into beautiful Belgium next door. Between the medieval cobblestone streets and brilliant breweries of Bruges, and the ancient traditions and outlying towns of Brussels — including unforgettable Ghent and tiny Durbuy — you’re bound to appreciate where the path less traveled can often lead.
R HI NE RI V E R With Germany on one side and France on the other, the fabled Rhine River captivates all who sail her waters. There is not much that can compare to the classic canals of Amsterdam, the half-timbered houses of Germany, the vine-covered hills of France, or the many churches and castle in between, but the stunning scenery of Switzerland is definitely up for the challenge. An extension by way of two of Switzerland’s most renowned lakes — Lake Lucerne and Lake Geneva — promises glacial adventures, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and enough chateaux, vineyards, cheese, chocolate, and scenic splendor to leave you wholly satisfied.
Drinking champagne aboard the Chobe Princess
Riverboats docked along the Rhine River
CHOB E RI V ER
N I L E R I V ER
Catch sight of an elephant drinking from the river while lounging in the comfort of your own floating bedroom — a luxury safari along the Chobe River in Africa is an altogether different experience. While you are guaranteed to witness a plethora of wildlife during your riverboat cruise, we recommend pairing Botswana’s Chobe Area with the gentle waterways of the Okavango Delta and the thundering waterfalls of Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls. Round out the water theme along the captivating coastline of Cape Point in Cape Town. From June through December, you may see the southern right whales as they swim with their pods near the shoreline.
A seven-night cruise along the Nile is the perfect way to explore the wonders of ancient Egypt at your leisure. Add to that some amazing behindthe-scenes sightseeing in Cairo, the capital city, with a private egyptologist guide and you have one of the most memorable excursions of a lifetime.
Exploring Egypt with a private egyptologist guide
THE GUIDE Ins ider S ecrets of L ux ury Tra v el
K ER & D OW N E Y
LON G H A U L FLIG H T TIPS Who doesn’t dream about whisking away to a foreign land, discovering a new place, sampling delectable cuisine, and learning about vibrant cultures? Hopping on a plane to reach your destination of choice will likely be the first part of your journey. Having traveled to so many countries with loads of miles covered, we have plenty of tips and tricks to get you through a long-haul flight. By Rina Chandarana
IN THE AIR CARE
"Start your trip hydrated and limit your alcohol intake before and during your flight. It is a good idea to bring a change of clothes and toiletries in your hand luggage and pack some snacks. We also suggest checking in 24 hours before your flight for an opportunity to snag some premium seating." - Joan Belanger, Air Specialist
“I wish I could say I was sipping French champagne while slipping teaspoons of Russian beluga caviar down my throat during flights! The reality is I have survived mostly on Starbucks because of their variety of to-go sandwiches at most airports. What I do enjoy having most on long-haul flights is my inflatable neck pillow with a Velcro strap. My head never flops sideways, allowing me to sleep in a proppedup position. It deflates easily and can be tucked away in my personal carry-on bag. It’s been a lifesaver on many an occasion.”
KEEPING IT COZY “I always carry a pashmina on a long-haul flight because I never know how cold it’s going to be in the airport or on the plane. You can never have enough layers.” - Nicky Brandon, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
TRAVEL WITH EA SE AN N O UN C I N G G LO B A L R E SC U E
- Ken Hermer, Designer
“Try to choose an aisle seat so you can get up to walk around frequently, giving your legs a chance to move about. You might miss the view from the window seat, but this way you can avoid the dreaded swollen feet.” - Rina Chandarana, Marketing and Content Assistant
USE YOUR TIME WISELY "Do you have any books you have been wanting to read? What about that long list of podcasts you haven't started yet? Take a break from the in-flight entertainment and download a few books via the Audible app or podcast episodes from Apple Podcast to listen to offline. If you have a hard time sleeping on flights, download the Headspace app for a plethora of guided meditations and soothing sounds to help you relax on the plane." - Amy Willis, Graphic Designer
Enhanced planning and peace of mind for every Ker & Downey journey. By Katy Heerssen
Ker & Downey is pleased to announce our partnership with Global Rescue, the world’s leading membership organization providing medical, security, evacuation, travel risk, and crisis management services. Every custom journey now includes Global Rescue’s Medical Transport Services and Security Evacuation Services. Photo courtesy of British Airways
WHAT IS INCLUDED? Medical Transport Services provide worldwide field rescue and transportation to the nearest appropriate hospital for any serious medical emergency. Security Evacuation Services will evacuate travelers in situations ranging from (but not limited to) natural disasters, terror attacks, and unrest.
Travelers will also have access to the Global Rescue GRID app, a free app providing customized travel alerts specific to your trip, as well as GPS tracking and communication.
DOES GLOBAL RESCUE REPLACE TRAVEL INSURANCE? Services like cancellation coverage or reimbursements are not part of the Global Rescue inclusions. Travelers are still strongly encouraged to purchase travel and health insurance for each trip, offered through our partnership with Allianz. Your Ker & Downey designer is available to answer any other questions you may have about this service, including extended coverage after completion of your trip.
KE R & DOWN E Y
T H E ON E S TOP S H OP Find all of your travel gear for your next adventure at Ker & Downeyâ€™s new store. Shop our packing suggestions, recommended travel books, and items that give back at kerdowney.com/shop. By Haley Beham
This lightweight water bottle has a French pressstyle plunger that filters waterborne pathogens (including viruses), pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals from freshwater sources, providing purified water anywhere in the world. GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier [+ Filter] Bottle ($60)
The Vortex Crossfire binoculars offer high-quality optics ideal for observing game and bird-watching.
Block out the noise on your next flight and arrive at your destination rested and ready for adventure.
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Luggage Pack-it Specter Compression Cube Set ($38)
Vortex Optics Crossfire Roof Prism Binoculars ($150)
Bose Quiet Comfort 35II Wireless Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones ($350)
K ER & DOW N E Y
Photos courtesy of GRAYL | Eagle Creek | Minnetonka | Bose | Haley Beham | Columbia | Merrell | Vortex
Our number one suggestion for packing smarter: packing cubes that compress to save space in your bag.
ON SAFARI Shop for your safari gear with our Ker & Downey must-have essentials for men and women.
In most cases, you will want to dress for outdoor comfort in lightweight, loose fit clothing. Cotton and cotton/synthetic mixtures are most comfortable. Safaris can be dusty, and while game viewing, the most practical clothing is tan, khaki, and other neutral colors. In the evenings, you’ll want an informal change of clothing for dinner. In the austral winter, you will need a heavy sweater or jacket when game viewing or spending time outside in the early morning and evening.
Safaris can be dusty, and while game viewing, the most practical clothing is tan, khaki, and other neutral colors.
The perfect shirt for a safari, where comfort, a relaxed fit, and neutral colors such as tan or khaki are a must.
Convertible pants are the ultimate staple for the active man; durable enough for whatever activity or weather Mother Nature throws his way.
Columbia Women’s Long-Sleeve Shirt (Starts at $22.90)
Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants (Starts at $21.08)
Our go-to lightweight shoes, suitable for city walking tours in Europe, African safaris, and everything in between.
A favorite among Ker & Downey designers for its packability, this wide-brimmed hat can fold up to fit inside a pocket, then resume its shape.
Merrell Men's Burnt Rock Travel Suede Hiking Shoe ($100)
Minnetonka Leather Outback Hat ($48)
SH OP F OR A C A U SE Each shirt purchased provides an insecticide-treated mosquito net and medical care for the people in rural communities of Africa. Learn more at: kerdowney.com/nets-for-africa
KE R & DOWN E Y
Hot to Trot Longtime Ker & Downey Favorites on the Rise
In our nearly 25 years as a global tour operator, we’ve held fast to our roots in Africa and forged partnerships with safari planners who love the continent, its cultures, and its wildlife as much as we do. Taking a holistic approach to responsible tourism across three countries — Botswana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe — the Great Plains Conservation safari camps remain among our favorites. They continue to innovate in ways that celebrate our connection to Africa, and they work to conserve it for generations of future safari-goers by setting standards for sustainable commercial operations. Their efforts prove that responsible cooperation will positively benefit the environment.
The rangers of Big Life look after the elephants around ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya
Great Plains Foundation Each of the Great Plains Conservation camps (and the travelers who visit them) directly support the Great Plains Foundation. Founders Dereck and Beverly Joubert have spent their professional lives exploring and documenting African landscapes for National Geographic. When they recognized the need to introduce sustainable options and to advocate for the region, the Great Plains Conservation and its Foundation were born. Focusing on landscapes, wildlife, and communities, the foundation’s work stretches to include rhino relocation projects, reforestation, conservation education, and children’s outreach programs. Some one million acres are managed and protected by Great Plains Conservation while plans to expand to five million acres are well underway.
Luxury in the Wild
Duba Plains at night
Traveling with our partners at Great Plains marries the best of incredible experiences with refined amenities and hospitality. Their consistent commitment to this ethos is why it comes as no surprise their newest camp, Mpala Jena on the banks of the Zambezi River, has been included among the prestigious members of Relais & Chateaux. Rigorous standards are evaluated for membership, and Mpala Jena meets the mark with great comfort for its guests alongside great care for the land. Duba Plains, also a member of Relais & Chateaux, has one more feather to add to its cap — membership to National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. With a focus on sustainability and unique experiences, this distinction establishes Duba Plains as a responsible safari choice in Botswana.
The common area at Selinda Camp
A lion in Selinda Reserve
Outstanding safari experiences exist at each option in the Great Plains portfolio; every space was designed to maximize their surroundings and provide the most positive impact possible. In Kenya, find Mara Nyika in the exclusive 50,000-acre Naboisho Conservancy, a lesser-known section of the Masai Mara ecosystem. This camp supports some 500 Masai families via infrastructure improvements and distribution of revenue from conservation fees. Safari-goers delight in the intimate wildlife encounters possible on this less-crowded part of Kenya’s wilderness. Consider Selinda Camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, nestled on some 321,000 acres of pristine wetland wilderness within the Selinda Reserve. Regularly featured in films made by the Jouberts, Selinda offers prime positioning for sightings of elephants, wild dog packs, and the Selinda lion pride.
The Next Big Thing In 2016, Great Plains Conservation began management of the private Sapi Concession in Zimbabwe, including 296,000 acres of fragile and threatened landscape that are a part of the larger Mana-Sapi-Chewore UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since its establishment as a private concession, wildlife sightings have improved exponentially. Sapi Explorers Camp is already up and running, and to further support this positive growth, Sapi’s future will also include a new five-star camp to give discerning guests the mix of refinement and authenticity they come to expect from Great Plains Conservation. Ker & Downey trusts Great Plains Conservation to deliver experiences on par with our world of difference. Ask your designer to incorporate their camps for your next custom safari and see firsthand what makes them one of our favorites.
Photo Left: Local kids learn about conservation with Great Plains Foundation
TOP P ICKS F O R
2020 Before you start planning where to go in 2020, take a look at our curated list of destinations to visit before everyone else. By Rina Chandarana
There are many reasons to put Munich and Bavaria on your travel radar aside from the cuisine (yes, there’s more than bratwurst and beer) and the moody, magical forests. You should add the Oberammergau Passion Play to your bucket list pronto since it is only performed every 10 years. It has included a live orchestra, chorus, and an elaborate cast of actors since it started in 1634. The 250th birthday of Beethoven will be celebrated in his birthplace of Bonn next year, making Germany the place to be for music lovers in 2020.
RWANDA It’s not a new park, but it’s certainly one to visit. Akagera is the poster child of a comeback — once on the brink of destruction 20 years ago
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when refugees of the 1994 Genocide returned to Rwanda using the forests for timber, wildlife for protein, and the savannahs for their livestock to graze. Majestic lions were nearly extinct and the rhinos had disappeared. All of this loss makes Akagera’s flip even more remarkable today. Stay at Wilderness Safaris’ Magashi Camp to see eastern black rhinos and a growing pride of lions keeping the hope alive for Akagera.
AMAZON There's never been a more important time to visit the Amazon to appreciate its value and ensure its survival. Cruise through the steamy jungles of Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil. For starters there’s the new Aqua Nera luxury cruise ship launching in the Peruvian Amazon in 2020. Pair up a journey to the Galapagos with a quiet retreat at an Ecuadorian lodge and a tranquil river cruise. Or for something truly exclusive, hop aboard a private yacht charter taking you through the Amazon in Brazil.
MADAGASCAR Madagascar is eternally intriguing — one of those far-flung destinations that seems so mysterious and untouched. What makes Madagascar all the more appealing is its variety of landscapes. Wide-eyed lemurs dance in the gnarly Spiny Forests resembling something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Impossibly clear water, secluded beaches, and coral reefs near Mitsio encompass island living at its best.
BHUTAN Bhutan’s heaven-reaching Himalayas and cliff-clinging Tiger’s Nest Monastery (which must be living on a prayer the way it dangles over a forest-filled valley) elicit feelings of overwhelming awe. Bhutan’s natural beauty and bright Buddhist festivals — featuring colorfully clad monks in masks dancing to traditional sounds — give insight into this remote and remarkable land.
Photos courtesy of iStock | Aqua Expeditions | Wilderness Safaris | Miavana | Amankora
DESTINATIONS T he Wor l d of Ker & Downey
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S E YC H E L L E S Experience true barefoot luxury on one of the most remote atolls at Cosmoledo Eco Camp.
Photos courtesy of Blue Safari | iStock | Manafiafy | Jabali Ridge
TA N Z A N I A Enjoy the relative privacy of game viewing in Ruaha, Tanzaniaâ€™s largest, most sparsely populated national park.
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R WA N DA Go on a privately guided fashion tour of Kigali.
M A DAG A S C A R Cruise the mangroves along the southeastern coast of Madagascar by motorboat or kayak.
ETHIOPIA Explore rock-hewn churches among the mountains of Lalibela.
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The coast of Zanzibar
FROM THE BUSH TO BEACH After spending time in the bush, switch gears by heading to Zanzibar for a few days of beachside luxury and serenity. By Haley Beham
he famed islands are easily accessible from Dar es Salaam by boat or plane, but you can also grab a direct flight from Johannesburg or Nairobi. Between Zanzibar's culture, spice trade history, beautiful beaches, and lush forests (home to several unique creatures) it's a worthy add-on to your next Ker & Downey safari.
The History Substantial populations of Arab, Persian, Indian, Portuguese, and local African tribal cultures have been traveling to Zanzibar since the start of the first millennium, though itâ€™s possible sailors and traders from Arabia visited the islands even earlier. The influence of these converging cultures is most apparent in Stone Town (Zanzibar City), a UNESCO World Heritage Site characterized by its winding lanes, ornate wooden doors, and beautiful mosques. The spice trade has greatly influenced the vibrant culture of Zanzibar, commonly referred to as the Spice Islands. While the Portuguese imported various plants and spices from South America and India in the 16th century, it wasnâ€™t until the 18th century that the Omani Arabs made Zanzibar the spice-producing entity it is today. Herbs and spices are still a vital part of life in Zanzibar. On a taste-and-see tour, you will discover how the spices are harvested and used in traditional dishes, sampling local fruits of mango, jackfruit, and papaya with spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper along the way.
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The underwater room at Manta Resort
Pink skies tint an evening of sailing on a traditional dhow
The palm-fringed coastlines of Zanzibar are renowned for their white sandy beaches, year-round warm, clear waters, and coral reefs teeming with diverse marine life ideal for snorkeling and diving. From Matemwe Lodge, you can snorkel straight from the beach, or head out on a diving excursion to see larger underwater species like turtles and playful dolphins.
"Spend an afternoon sailing on a traditional wooden dhow. It’s one of the most relaxing ways to take in the coastlines and aquamarine waters surrounding Zanzibar." – Devon Chapman, Designer
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For the ultimate underwater experience, book a stay at Manta Resort’s Underwater Room, a three-level floating structure anchored to the seashore in the middle of the reef. Above water, there’s a cozy lounge for sunbathing and watching the stars at night. Below the surface, you’ll find a bedroom enclosed with panes of glass to give a breathtaking view of the sea and its colorful creatures swimming by. At night, spotlights around the floating abode attract nocturnal sea life like squid, octopus, and vibrant red Spanish dancer sea slugs.
Photos courtesy of Manta Resort | iStock
A red colobus monkey in Jozani Forest
Unique Wildlife Zanzibar’s only national park — the Jozani Forest on the island of Unguja — is home to the endangered red colobus monkey, one of the rarest primates in Africa. It is believed there are about 1,000 of these endemic primates residing among the tropical plants and mangroves. Their markings and calls are different from those of its mainland colobus cousins. You can also find Aders' duiker (a very small duiker found only in Zanzibar and Kenya), sea turtles, and clusters of colorful butterflies throughout the forest. One thing you most likely will not see, however, is the Zanzibar leopard. The extinction of this elusive creature is highly debated. In 2018 a film crew caught a glimpse on a camera trap of what they believe could be one of the rare
animals. DNA testing has yet to prove if it was a Zanzibar leopard or one brought over from the mainland. Regardless, keep your eyes open when visiting Unguja Island — locals swear they still roam around. Over on Changuu Island (Prison Island), just three-and-ahalf miles from Stone Town, you’ll find a colony of Aldabra giant tortoises, one of the few locales in the world where they reside. The tortoises are native to the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles. The colony living on Changuu is made up of four giant tortoises given as a gift in 1919 by the British governor of Seychelles and their descendants. You are able to interact with the tortoises while snorkeling the reef off the coast of Changuu. KE R & DOWN E Y
AFRICA SOUTH AFRICA Stand-up paddleboard with penguins in Cape Town.
ZAMBIA Experience an elephant herd meandering through reception at Mfuwe Lodge during their annual quest for wild mangoes.
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Photos courtesy of iStock | Escape + Explore | Singita Pamashana | Kanana | The Bushcamp Company
Seek desert-adapted rhino, elephant, and lion in Damaraland.
ZIMBABWE See San Bushmen rock art in Malilangwe Private Reserve.
B OT SWA N A Sleep under the stars on a deck at Kanana.
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Sundowners in Botswana at Dinaka
SAFARI SOLITUDE Where to go on safari to avoid the crowds for an experience that’s wholly your own. By Haley Beham
othing kills the safari vibe faster than coming upon an incredible animal sighting only to discover 20 other safari vehicles lined up to see the same spectacle. What’s worse is when the great multitude of vehicles frighten off the animals! Your once-in-alifetime safari doesn’t have to be everyone else’s once-in-a-lifetime safari.
Botswana The classic safari destination is quickly making its mark with vast, untouched wilderness where animals roam freely between unfenced game reserves and concessions. Couple that with its lowvolume tourism model and you have all the makings for an icon-status safari destination. Get lost in a quiet corner of the world at Linyanti Expeditions, located on the western boundary of Chobe National Park. With only six tents, the camp offers a return to the simplicity of expedition-style camping and solitude in the bush. Likewise, Dinaka, in the northern Central Kalahari Game Reserve, gives a breathtaking sense of isolation, especially on its raised decks overlooking the vast expanse of the reserve.
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A quiet evening at Kakuli
Zambia Hosting just a fraction of the tourists its neighboring countries see, Zambia offers a wildly authentic safari. The wildlife in South Luangwa National Park, in particular, is flourishing due to the country’s fierce conservation practices. Head to Kakuli, where time and space to explore the South Luangwa is the true luxury. And for even more exclusivity in the bush, travel between January 20 and April 4 to take advantage of their “Secret Season". It is one of the only bush camps open in Zambia during the green season when the Luangwa River is high, which means you’ll spend the days seeking out wildlife on foot or on boating safaris.
Zimbabwe The guides in Zimbabwe are some of the most qualified in Africa due to their rigorous training and testing procedures. At the forefront of your experience in Zimbabwe, you’ll notice personal attention and detail to be a top priority, especially at Sapi Explorer’s Camp in the amazing wildlife sanctuary of the Sapi Reserve. With only five explorer-style tents and over 832,000 acres of reserve, coupled with the neighboring Mana Pools National Park to traverse, you’ll find exciting animal encounters — not hordes of people — are front and center. The remote wilderness area lends itself to exploring on foot, game drives, and boating or canoeing on the Zambezi River.
Photos courtesy of Singita | Wilderness | Great Plains | Kakuli | Dinaka
An elephant sighting in Mana Pools National Park
Sundowners at Singita Boulders
South Africa is a wildly popular safari destination for its diversity of landscapes and abundant wildlife. While it’s a top choice for many safari-goers, you can still experience a private safari here from the comforts of Singita Boulders Lodge and its sister property, the “Grand Dame” Singita Ebony Lodge. Since 1993, Singita has made protecting large tracts of wilderness and wildlife populations a priority, and it has paid off. On their 111,000-acre reserve, you’ll find high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings. For a safari that ticks off more elusive animals and desert-adapted species, head to the private game reserve of Tswalu Kalahari. The land isn’t shared with any other lodges, so you’ll have a private and personalized safari experience, spending as much time as you desire at A stunning Himba woman sightings ... without 20 other vehicles vying for a view.
"Don’t forget to put your camera down while on safari and be present. Take the time to enjoy the wildlife, listen for the sounds of the bush, and take a deep breath of the fresh air while absorbing the surrounding landscapes right in front of you." – Ken Hermer, Designer
Zebras galloping in Kaokoland
Namibia Remote and plentiful wildlife, a vast, rugged wilderness to explore, and the lowest population density on earth — as a safari destination, Namibia is otherworldly. Explore the raw, natural beauty of Kaokoland — one of the most remote regions in Southern Africa — from the eight-chalet Serra Cafema Camp. Sit on the banks of the Kunene River, considered a precious resource by local inhabitants, in one of the driest deserts in the world. If a safari without any other guests is your desire, Camp Sossus in the Neuhof Nature Reserve, 30 minutes from Sossusvlei, is available purely as an exclusive-use camp. You can expect to see a variety of wildlife like zebra, kudu, giraffe, cheetah, leopard, and hyena on your private safari here.
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NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EA ST E GY P T The head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities takes you around the Sphinx, explaining how it was carved from a single mass of limestone.
J O R DA N Dine on local cuisine under the stars in a Bedouin camp near Little Petra.
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M O R O CCO At Marrakeshâ€™s Spice Square, your guide will spotlight the variety of spices used in Moroccan cooking.
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Photos courtesy of iStock | Memories Aicha Luxury Camp
Go on a quiet desert camel ride at sunset.
OMAN Search for dolphins and whales on a luxury yacht and snorkel in the bay of Bander Al Khayran Island.
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Young man touching the Holy stone on the Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem, Israel
INSPIRING ISRAEL Israel feels like the center of the world geographically and spiritually. The world’s three major religions converge in delicate balance within Jerusalem’s timeworn lanes while the small country’s future blazes ahead in its booming cities. By Rina Chandarana
jerusalem , the holy city The heavens seem to feel a touch closer to us mere mortals in Jerusalem. A muezzin’s call reverberates between the sandstonecolored arteries, pumping life into the mosques where the Muslim faithful gather to prostrate in prayer five times a day. The golden sheen of the Dome of the Rock — an ever-present staple of Jerusalem’s timeless skyline — shimmers behind. Jewish men in crisp white shirts bow their yarmulke-topped heads repetitively in whispered prayer, stuffing scribbled prayers into the weathered cracks of the over 2,000-year-old Western Wall, a sacred remnant of the Temple Mount. Inside the shadowy interior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Christian pilgrims light spindly candles — smoke rising in darkened wisps like spirits.
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Photos: Left: The iconic Dome of the Rock; Top Right: Jerusalem's markets are filled with delicious delights; Bottom Right: A sculpture at Israel Museum
Jerusalem is a mix of many things. It evokes a feeling of undeniable awe of the ancient and auspicious. Here it is impossible not to feel the weight of the past. The stories of old come to life in exuberant color and mood. Somber believers thread through the narrow lanes following the Stations of the Cross — the traditional path Jesus is believed to have walked leading to his crucifixion. The oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible rest in the city’s Israel Museum. Climb the Mount of Olives across from the city and soak in the heavenly view.
It’s not just the intense faith that attracts us to Jerusalem. It’s a foodie’s paradise too. In the Machane Yehuda Market, shoppers haggle for ruby-red pomegranates. A guide leads your taste buds to some unique foods — Ka’ek (Jerusalem bread) covered in a crunchy sprinkle of sesame seeds, Sheikh Al Mahshi (eggplants stuffed with meat), and Mutabaq (a pancakelike treat dusted with powdered sugar). A cheeky glass (or two) of wine at a gourmet restaurant gives you a taste of Israel’s local varieties. Gooey baklava sits in sticky slabs. It’s a saccharine delight that sticks to valleys of your teeth with flaky layers of phyllo pastry, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, honey, and some sweet rose water syrup. Just like Jerusalem, it is multilayered.
Descend below ground to explore the 5,000-year-old water system at King David’s palace. Climb down to the Shilo-ach Pool where it is believed Jesus healed the blind.
"Try to avoid going during certain holidays like Passover, Sukkoth, and Hanukkah when hotels may be full and tourist sites will be busier than usual." - Nicole Porto, Designer
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Photos courtesy of iStock | Unsplash; Roxanne Desgagnes; Toa Heftiba | Israel Tourism
Outside, the scene is more frenetic. Heaps of patterned rugs sit alongside golden images of saints, wooden crosses, and a bunch of touristy kitsch.
the holy land beyond jerusalem Archaeologists are still uncovering treasures from the past all over the land; a fragment of an old pot here and a shard of glistening ancient glass there. Roll up your sleeves and grab some excavation tools in search of the Hellenistic and Second Temple period’s past in Beit Guvrin National Park’s underground caves and subterranean cities — about an hour outside of Jerusalem. The Romans ruled for 500 years further north in Caesarea, a port city founded by Herod the Great and governed by Pontius Pilate. This is also the harbor where St. Paul was taken prisoner and shipped off to Rome. Step foot in St. Peter’s house and tread on Mount of Beatitudes in Israel's northeast, where Jesus issued his Sermon on the Mount. Pious devotees make their way to the West Bank region to weep saline tears in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. Just as Jerusalem and the rest of this ancient country make it a cinch to travel swiftly into the past, Tel Aviv ushers you into Israel’s promising future. Tel Aviv is gifted with a coveted Mediterranean address with bikini-clad beauties splashing in the surf and couples strolling along the promenade. But in the midst of all the modernity, there are hints of the timeless. Old Jaffa is possibly the oldest port city in the world where according to the Bible King Solomon’s ally, Phoenician King Hiram of Tyre, brought cedars from Lebanon for the construction of Solomon’s temple. Israel’s political tides continued to shift in 1948 when the State of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv — just one of many points in modern history a local journalist will discuss with Ker & Downey travelers on a journey to Israel. With such a complex yet fascinating history, everyone leaves with a different perspective and sentiment. It’s hard to know what Israel’s future holds, but one thing is for certain: the sacred past will continue to attract worshippers and the curious for decades to come.
The colorful beaches in Tel Aviv
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VIETNAM Cruise in style on Lan Ha Bay, Halong Bay’s more tranquil neighbor.
S O U T H KO R E A Spend the day exploring Gyeongju’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Bulguksa Temple and Tumuli Royal Tombs.
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B H U TA N Hike to an altitude of over 10,000 feet to Paro Taktsang, also known as the Tigerâ€™s Nest Monastery.
Photos courtesy of iStock | Heritage Line Ginger
Visit Rinca Island to see Komodo dragons in the wild.
M A L AYS I A See orangutans and sun bears in Borneo.
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A women relaxing on the Mekong River
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT Carve out time before and after a Mekong River cruise to explore Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos to make the most of your journey. By Haley Beham
s the Mekong River makes its way from the mountains of Tibet to the South China Sea, it snakes past weaving villages, floating markets, and towering temples. At 2,703 miles long, it is one of the longest rivers in the world, and the lifeblood for many in Southeast Asia. Along its lush rural shorelines, you’ll find Buddhist monks and villagers going about their lives, fishermen casting their nets into the water, and local sampans making their way down the river. As the first five-star vessel to cruise the popular stretch of river between Vietnam and Cambodia, the Aqua Mekong is making waves. The sustainably crafted ship has 20 suites overlooking the Mekong through floor-to-ceiling windows and is the only ship on this stretch of river that includes amenities like a fully equipped gym, screening room, outdoor cinema, and an upper deck pool. With a guide to guest ratio of one-to-one, excursions from the boat are in-depth. From the Aqua Mekong, board a skiff to make your way through narrow channels to villages like Binh Thanh where locals weave mats from Mekong water hyacinths, or Preah Prosop, a remote village of stilt houses largely untouched by the outside world. But beyond the shorelines of the Mekong River, there’s so much to discover in some of Southeast Asia’s most iconic destinations.
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Photos: Top: A colorful traditional junk in Ha Long Bay; Bottom left: Vietnam's famous bowl of Pho Ga; Bottom middle: Beautiful architecture in Hanoi; Bottom right: A rickshaw in Hanoi
Photos courtesy of iStock
Vietnam is well known for its incredible landscapes and welcoming people. Before boarding a Mekong River cruise, head to Hanoi, known as the “Paris of the East” for its yellow ochre French colonial era buildings and tree-lined boulevards. Visiting Ho Chi Minh’s house, the sixth century Tran Quoc Pagoda, and the Taoist Quan Thanh Temple will deepen your understanding of Vietnam’s history. Experience modern everyday life in Vietnam through the local street fare. Eating a steaming bowl of Pho Ga (Vietnamese noodle soup with chicken) or a Banh Mi Pate (baguette sandwich with pate) from a street vendor in the Old Quarter is an integral part of the culture in Hanoi. Likewise, the street coffee scene in Saigon is renowned and offers a glimpse of daily life. Then spend some time sailing in Ha Long Bay. The beauty of the bay is best viewed from the opulent red-sailed Halong Violet as it makes its way through limestone karsts that rise out of the water to hidden beaches and isolated islands. From the five-star traditional junk, take a kayak out to explore narrow caves and the former fishing village of Cua Van, participate in cooking demonstrations with the chef, and recenter with Tai Chi on the boat’s upper deck.
PRO TIP! "Take the seaplane from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay for a bird’s-eye view of the bay and avoid a two-and-half-hour road transfer." - Vanessa Niven, Assistant to the Vice President of Sales and Marketing KE R & DOW N E Y
Angkor Wat at sunrise
OUR SUGGESTED ITINERARY:
JOURNEY DOWN THE MEKONG
DAYS / NIGHTS THROUGH HANOI, HA LONG BAY, HO CHI MINH CITY, SIEM REAP, AND LUANG PRABANG, WITH A RIVER CRUISE ABOARD THE AQUA MEKONG BETWEEN VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA.
The enchanting land of the legendary Angkor Empire is diverse with warm people, floating villages, and ancient temples peeking over lush jungles. After a cruise on the Aqua Mekong, dive deep into the history of this Southeast Asia jewel, extending your stay in Siem Reap to hop between the temples of the Angkor Archaeological Park, including Ta Prohm, Bayon, and Angkor Thom. Wake before dawn to catch a glimpse of the sun rising up over Angkor Wat, one of the world's most impressive temples and the largest religious complex on Earth. This world-famous temple is the crowning achievement in Khmer art and architecture. Outside of Cambodiaâ€™s temples, explore the rural communities surrounded by rice paddies and woodland near Siem Reap. Seek a blessing from the monks, visit with local families, and spend an evening in a private country villa listening to traditional Khmer music while a chef prepares your evening meal.
Photos courtesy of iStock | Aqua Expeditions | Amantaka
LAOS The Mekong River is central to Lao culture and geography. You can’t help but explore this tranquil portion of the river, whether by boat or sitting nearby watching the sun set over it. Stay in Aman Resorts’ Amantaka, set on a large verdant estate framed by the Mekong and Khan Rivers with Phousi Mountain in the background. Take a boat to the Pak Ou Caves where you’ll find two linked caves full of thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues, and visit Wat Long Khun, the limestone cave Tham Sakkarin, or Ban Xiengmene village.
Monks receiving offerings outside of Amantaka
While in Laos, make plans to rise early to witness hundreds of monks processioning through the streets of Luang Prabang, accepting offerings of food from local residents and businesses. It is one of the most timeless scenes in all of Southeast Asia.
A boat on the Mekong River in Laos
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NORTH AMERICA H AWA I I Take a scenic private helicopter flight over the dramatic coastlines, volcanoes, and waterfalls.
A R I ZO N A Take an immersive, private tour with a Navajo guide.
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UN I TED STATES
Photos courtesy of iStock | Turtle Bay | See Mpnterrey | Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau; Craig Thompson
Visit a private distillery and tour a microbrewery, followed by a tasting.
N E W YO R K Go behind-the-scenes with special access to a Broadway show.
CALIFORNIA A private cruise through Monterey Bay brings you up close to marine wildlife.
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Hiking at Hudspeth River Ranch
ROOM TO BREATHE Ker & Downey partners with Explore Ranches as a new way to explore some of the most pristine, privately held land in the United States. By Haley Beham
s a child, I remember my dad pulling out a map of Texas and highlighting the quickest route from Houston to the ski slopes of New Mexico or Colorado. The extent of my west Texas travels was driving through it, or around it, to get to the mountains. Although I’m a native Texan through and through, I hadn’t explored much of the Lone Star State beyond its major cities. When my dad asked if I was up for a road trip to check out a few ranch properties for a new Ker & Downey product in west Texas, I was all in. Exploring the state’s wide-open spaces is actually a pretty rare opportunity. For outdoor enthusiasts looking to get out of the city to mountain bike, hike, or kayak down rivers, there are precious few places to do it. Ninety-five percent of the land in Texas is privately owned, so few people rarely, if ever, get to see what’s beyond the ranch fences and locked gates. Hoping to change all that is Explore Ranches, a brand-new company formed by three landowners passionate about sharing the great outdoors with others in new and exciting ways.
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Photos courtesy of Explore Ranches
T H E A I M OF E X P LOR E R A NC H E S I S F OR L A N D OW N E R S TO U N LO C K T H E I R G AT E S A N D S H A R E T H E I R L A N D ’ S N AT U R A L B E AU T Y W I T H OT H E R S TO C U LT I VAT E A PA S S ION F OR C ON S E RVAT ION . T H E B E S T WAY TO E N S U R E F U T U R E G E N E R AT ION S H AV E A LOV E F OR T H E G R E AT OU T D O OR S A N D A DE S I R E TO C ON S E RV E I T I S TO G I V E T H E M AC C E S S . Jay Kleberg, along with co-founders Allison Ryan and Jesse Womack, have sought out some of the nation’s most historic and pristine ranches. One is located at the headwaters of the clear, cool Devil’s River with seven miles of private water access; another is set at the foothills of the Davis Mountains in big sky country; while another is set against the Santiago Mountain Range on 35,000 acres abutting Big Bend National Park — and that’s just Texas. Explore Ranches has a growing list of properties in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and California including the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch just one hour north of Los Angeles. It’s easy to see the appeal of the ranches — miles and miles from the closest town (and even farther to a big city), limited cell phone access, boundless beauty to explore, and plenty of room to breathe. As my dad and I set out for a ride on a 4x4 vehicle at sunset, I could feel the mental load of everyday tasks and to-do lists dissipate. We were cruising on a gravel road towards the Pecos River at Chandler Ranch — a property of 1,500 acres that was exclusively ours to explore for the evening. At the river, we waded 50 feet across to a large, flat boulder ideal for taking in the view: the river so clear I could see fish swimming in it, winding its way around the bend, bordered by a giant cliff on one side.
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“I can’t believe this is in Texas. I had no idea.” It was our constant refrain throughout the trip. As we worked our way back home, we stopped at Llano Springs Ranch on the edge of the Hill Country. We were hosted by Ann who, along with her brother and father, jointly bought the ranch in 1994. They spent the next 18 years strategically clearing the 4,640-acre property of invasive cedar. As she drove us around the property, her love for the land and passion for sharing it was evident and infectious. From the truck, we gazed out over the pristine landscape and up into a grouping of trees where three male axis deer stood, the sun bouncing off of their antlers — we were already planning our return. We covered 924 miles of scenic Texas highways in three days to see as much of west Texas as we could squeeze in, but I recommend you take it much slower. Given ample time, I would have spent a morning at Hudspeth River Ranch kayaking the Devil’s River and picnicking under the shade of the trees while listening to the spring water trickle over the rocks. Further west at Chalk Draw, I’d plan my days around hiking Bee Cave Canyon, exploring the land’s Native American petroglyphs and pictographs, and mountain biking through the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands. I’d finish the day in the glittering swimming pool, staring at the mountains of Big Bend beyond, the west Texas sun shining on my face. I’d take a deep breath and soak it all in.
Photos: Top left page: The entrance to Chalk Draw Ranch; Top right page: Hiking Bee Cave Canyon; Bottom left: Kayaking Devil's River; Bottom right: Chalk Draw's stunning pool with a view
PRO TIP! "Before you go, download the BirdsEye App from the Texas Ornithological Society and be sure to pack a pair of binoculars." - David Marek, Ker & Downey President
ROU N D I T OU T Enhance your Texas experience with a local guide well-versed in Texas history. Begin your journey in San Antonio with a visit to the Alamo. As you make your way through the Hill Country, stop in Fredericksburg for an afternoon of wine tasting, or head to Fort McKavett where you’ll find the remains of a 150-yearold west Texas fort, considered to be the best preserved and most intact example of a military post from the Texas-Indian Wars. If you’re traveling with children, make plans to stop at Balmorhea State Park to cool off with a swim in the crystal clear water of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool.
KE R & DOWN E Y
H E A D F U RT H E R W E S T TRANSITION RANCH , TEXAS A wildlife photographer and horse lover’s dream ranch on 1,750 acres in one of the most biodiverse ecoregions in Texas THE LAY OF THE LAND
Two casitas and a tack room, featuring a Texas ranch house design, sleeps up to nine guests UNIQUE EXPERIENCES
Horseback riding on Peruvian Pasos, trail running, hiking, wildlife photography blinds WILDLIFE ON THE RANCH
Look for the endangered golden-cheeked warblers, black-capped vireos, orioles, Montezuma quail, hummingbirds, butterflies and mammals from world-class bird and wildlife photo blinds NEARBY ACTIVITIES
Val Verde Winery — the oldest continuously running winery in Texas, Kickapoo Cavern State Park, Lake Amistad
Horseback riding at Transition ranch
TEJON RANCH, CALIFORNIA A national park-sized ranch with 270,000 acres at the confluence of four ecoregions, conveniently located just one hour outside of Los Angeles THE LAY OF THE LAND: Four individual houses spread throughout the property sleep from four to 12 people each UNIQUE EXPERIENCES: Photo safaris, fishing, biking, hiking, and trail running through the rugged mountains of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, San Joaquin Valley, and steep canyons WILDLIFE ON THE RANCH: Deer, elk, antelope, wild turkey, black
bear, bobcats, coyotes, quail NEARBY ACTIVITIES: Sequoia National Park, Kern River rafting
A Texas cowboy
Visiting the horses at Middle Creek Ranch
MIDDLE CREEK RANCH COLORADO
A 10,000-acre family-owned, working ranch near Steamboat Springs offering a luxury wilderness retreat in the Rocky Mountains THE LAY OF THE LAND
The Main House, built with classic log construction practices and two cabins, sleeps 20 guests UNIQUE EXPERIENCES
Trout fishing, 50 miles of trails, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ATV rides, sporting clays, shooting and archery range, paintball field WILDLIFE ON THE RANCH
Black bear, elk, deer, bison NEARBY ACTIVITIES Middle Creek Ranch's living space
White water rafting on the Colorado River, tubing and fishing on the Yampa River, Ski Steamboat
LADDER RANCH HOUSE, NEW MEXICO A vast 156,439-acre ranch intersected by four Rio Grande tributaries, with valleys and sandstone cliffs set against the Gila Mountains in southwestern New Mexico THE LAY OF THE LAND: Ladder Ranch House sleeps 11 in Ted Turner’s private home, decorated by himself and Jane Fonda UNIQUE EXPERIENCES: Hiking, mountain biking, wildlife tours WILDLIFE ON THE RANCH: Works in partnership with the Turner Endangered Species Fund, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for several species’ restoration programs including the Mexican wolf, Chiricahua leopard frog, and Bolson tortoise; find a herd of 1,000 bison, elk, mule deer, bears, antelope, javelina, and mountain lions on the property NEARBY ACTIVITIES: Explore Hermosa, an 1800s ghost town, and tour Armendaris, a 360,000-acre property of Turner Reserves — home to one of the largest populations of Mexican free-tailed bats in the US.
Ker & Downey is working with Explore Ranches to add these new luxury properties to our portfolio in 2020. Speak with a designer for more details. KE R & DOW N E Y
C O S TA R I C A
N I C A R AG UA
PA N A M A
G A L A PA G O S
U R U G U AY
CO LO M B I A
G U AT E M A L A
BELIZE Take an exhilarating private helicopter flight over the famous Blue Hole. Photos courtesy of iStock | Las Islas | Belmond Miraflores Park | Wayde Carroll
PERU Secure coveted reservations at the best restaurants in the world in South Americaâ€™s culinary capital, Lima.
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CO S TA R I C A
BRAZIL Paddle down Ushuaia’s Lasiphashai River into the Beagle Channel in your own inflatable canoe to view stunning wildlife.
In 2020, celebrate the town of Upala’s 50th birthday with a special bean-to-bar experience at a local cacao farm.
ARGENTINA Enjoy a clinic with a famous polo player prior to the Argentine Open Polo Final, the most important polo tournament in the world.
CO LO M B I A Stay in a treehouse bungalow amidst the white-sand beaches and turquoise waters of Isla Baru.
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The pyramids at Teotihuacan
HIDDEN KINGDOMS Product Manager Elizabeth Frels uncovers a rich Maya history deep in the heart of Mexico.
y previous visits to Mexico were all about the stereotypes: daiquiris on the beach, overcrowded cruise ship ports, all-inclusive resort hotels, and plenty of Americanized nightlife in between. But Mexico is so much more enigmatic than its coastline. If my recent dive inland taught me anything, it is that our southern neighbor is a land of rich ancient history where the towering temples and timeless traditions are worth the trek all on their own. Here, you can step back in time. The following journey through Mexico City, Chiapas, and the Yucatan allows you to do just that. Be warned though — several of these destinations require an Indiana Jones level of adventure, as you wander through the jungle in search of hidden kingdoms.
Mexico City Begin in the epicenter of Mexican civilization: Mexico City. A visit to the historical central plaza, known as “Zócalo”, sets the stage for understanding the city’s role as an Aztec hub of activity and power during the 14th century when it was known as Tenochtitlan.
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Don’t miss an after-hours private tour of the famous Anthropology Museum, which will introduce you to the entire map and makeup of the Maya and Aztec worlds through a maze of one of the world’s largest collection of artifacts from pre-Hispanic civilizations. One in-depth tour will provide a solid contextual foundation for the adventures to come. Perhaps the most surprising revelation is a sunrise boat ride through the floating gardens of Xochimilco, a network of canals and orchards located in the southern reaches of the city. Currently popular as a bachelorette party destination, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is actually one of the final remnants of the Aztec people’s complex water transport system. A closer look reveals a diverse bird population and a collective of organic farmers intent on preserving pre-Hispanic growing techniques and saving the endemic Axolotl species.
Preserved architecture in the Anthropology Museum
Take time to cap it all off with a hot-air balloon flight over Teotihuacan — a vast pre-Columbian archaeological complex just 30 miles northeast of Mexico City. Despite flourishing under the Aztecs between 100 B.C. and 650 A.D., its origin 1,000 years prior is still unknown.
Chiapas Leaving Mexico City, continue to the state of Chiapas, a breeding ground for Maya archaeological sites and Spanish colonial towns. With colorful San Cristóbal de las Casas as your home base, you will quickly learn why this quaint kaleidoscopic town is considered the cultural capital of Chiapas. Several nearby indigenous communities await exploration. Zinacantán is inviting for its homemade tortillas, backstrap textile weavers, and friendly Maya people, while San Juan Chamula is noted for its shocking hybrid of pre-Hispanic traditions and Catholicism. Venture north to Palenque along a rough and rugged passage leading to the Chiapan Highlands. An after-hours tour here transforms the UNESCO-protected site into your own playground. Howler monkeys echo in the distance, iguanas scurry along stream waters, bats fly above your head in the labyrinths, and the sounds of the surrounding forest come alive as you climb the 2,500-year-old Maya temples. It’s hard to believe that only one-tenth of this city has been unearthed, leaving more than 1,000 structures still hidden beneath the jungle. Not far from Palenque are the ruins of Toniná, the perfect place to stretch your legs as you ascend its many steps. Standing 240-feet tall, this seldom visited Maya site is considered the tallest pyramid in Mesoamerica. The greatest quest comes in the form of Yaxchilán. You can only access this ancient kingdom by boat via the Usumacinta River, the natural boundary between Mexico and Guatemala. The geographic midpoint between Copán and Palenque, Yaxchilan was once one of the most powerful Maya city-states. Now it is shrouded in jungle, with bats and pythons scaling its stones. Finally, a visit to Bonampak deep in the Lacandon jungle reveals a series of murals whose colors have remained unbelievably intact for more than 1,000 years. 64
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A Mayan temple in Palenque
Photos courtesy of iStock | Ker & Downey
One of the Yucatan's famous cenotes
Yucatan Conclude your historical journey along the Yucatan Peninsula, which is renowned for its many haciendas and Maya ruins. The state capital of Merida is a safe, salsa dance-loving center. All around the city you will find an abundance of hacienda estates turned luxury hotels and cerulean cenotes ready for swimming. While they have become increasingly attractive for Instagramming travelers, these ancient sinkholes were once used as ceremonial sites for the Maya to conduct sacrificial offerings. Sure, you can make your way south toward ever-popular, ever-crowded Chichen Itza. (If you havenâ€™t seen it, it really is a sight.) But you will find neighboring Uxmal even more inspiring. Widely regarded as the gem of the
Yucatan, this ancient Maya city is a wonderland of history and heights. Most of the buildings are toweringly tall because the rulers built upward: they either added on to an existing temple or buried old structures to start anew on top of the rubble. As you stand on top of the imposing palace, not only can you see evidence of three different eras spanning from Preclassic (600 B.C.) to Postclassic (1,000 A.D.); you also get a clear sense of what it may have felt like to view the expanse of your kingdom stretching miles upon miles around you. After so many of these birds-eye vantage points atop Teotihuacan, Palenque, Tonina, Yaxchilan, Bonampak, and Uxmal, I dare say you could get used to the view.
"Bring your own bug spray! The repellent you can find at home is much stronger than the products available for purchase upon arrival." - Elizabeth Frels, Product Manager
NORTHERN & WESTERN
EUROPE Cruise around Bonifacio, marveling at the white limestone cliffs above and the pods of dolphins below.
FINLAND Set out on a reindeer safari through the Lappish wilderness from your very own glass igloo accommodations.
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GR EEN LA N D
N ETHER LA N DS
B ELGI UM
I CELA N D
DEN MA R K
I R ELA N D
SCOTLA N D
EN GLA N D
ESTON I A
LI ECHTEN STEI N
SWI TZER LA N D
FI N LA N D
LI THUA N I A
FR A N CE
LUXEMB OUR G
GER MA N Y
Photos courtesy of iStock | Kakslauttanent | Belmond Grand Hibernian | The Fife Arms: Sim Canetty-Clarke
CO R S I C A
AUSTR I A
S COT L A N D Be part of living history at the Fife Arms Braemar, a restored Victorian coaching inn located in the heart of Cairngorms National Park.
GREENLAND Visit a local home to enjoy the local tradition of Kaffemik, followed by an introduction to the familyâ€™s sled dog team.
IRELAND Uncover the legends and loughs on a luxury train journey through cultural and natural wonders along the western coast.
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Festive decorations line the streets of Colmar
ALL I WANT FOR
CHRISTMAS Spanning France, Belgium, Germany, and Austria, some of our favorite European Christmas markets are those found off the beaten path. By Elizabeth Frels
uropean Christmas markets conjure up a magical scene: ancient UNESCO city centers, lined in sparkling lights and wooden stalls, playing host to copious amount of glühwein and general handcrafted merriment. It’s a scene out of a fairy tale and something that we would encourage everyone to experience at least once in their lifetime. While our preferred markets reside outside the typical tourist circuit, this isn't to say that you should miss the colossal Christmas crèches of holiday hubs like Paris, Brussels, Munich, or Vienna — it just means you should take time to jaunt to these nearby quieter towns where the festivities are at their most intimate.
Colmar, France Cozier and quainter than its popular Strasbourg neighbor, Colmar is the true gem of Alsatian Christmas. The storybook, pedestrian-only city center is filled with colorful timbered houses and meandering waterways decked out in garland and twinkling lights. The locals participate in a convivial decoration contest each year, and you can rest assured that everyone brings their A-game. You won’t find any commercialized goods in the six different markets either — only the finest artisans display their wares here, ensuring a truly authentic and unique shopping experience. Don’t miss: The region’s traditional bredala cookies. The spiced treat dates back to the Renaissance. Closest hubs: Strasbourg (30 minutes by train) and Basel (1 hour by train)
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Lille, France The Marché de Noël of Lille in northern France is the definition of a Christmas dreamscape. Wooden chalets circumvent a massive Ferris wheel and 60-foot high conical Christmas tree in the main square, while window displays of animatronic scenes of polar bears and penguins dance outside the Opera House. The Gallic flavor is in full force here, with vin chaud complementing stalls of nosh and nostalgia. When dinner consists of cured meat, perfected raclette, and life-changing Belgian waffles smothered in speculoos, you know that Christmas has arrived in Europe. Don’t miss: The sausage monger, who dishes out every variation of cured deliciousness, from mushroom to Roquefort. Closest hubs: Paris (90 minutes by train) and Brussels (1 hour by train)
Liège is Belgium’s eclectic college town and there is no better representation of its inherently indulgent culture than the annual Village de Noël Christmas market. The largest and oldest Christmas market in the country, this multi-square concentration of enchantment attracts more than two million visitors per year … and for good reason. Surrounding the central ice rink full of uniformed school children on their postday outings are approximately 200 wooden chalets offering everything from culinary specialties to kitschy souvenirs. Mounds of candy? Check. Waffles galore? Double check. Row upon row of festive bars? Triple check. This is one city always ready for a feast, and its amaretto-spiked mulled wine and signature shots of Peket ensure that the Christmas spirit is full of just that: spirits.
Medieval Brugge is an idyllic, ancient Flemish city with adoringly preserved architecture and lovely cobblestone streets where the only traffic comes in the form of feet and bicycles. One could spend days simply meandering the streets and popping into the vast array of artisanal chocolate shops. The Christmas market, too, is one of the most famous in the country and features stalls on both the main Market Square and Simon Stevinplein nearby. Ice rinks lined in white-light trees and cozy carriages pulled by strong, timber horses only add to the picturesque atmosphere known for its excellent moules frites menus, upstairs tearooms, and did we mention chocolate? Don’t miss: The many Belgian chocolate shops, all of which are generous with their samples. Closest hubs: Brussels (90 minutes by train) and Antwerp (90 minutes by train)
Don’t miss: A taste of Liège’s signature Peket spirit. Closest hubs: Brussels (1 hour by train) and Cologne (1 hour by train)
When dinner consists of cured meat, perfected raclette, and lifechanging Belgian waffles smothered in speculoos, you know that Christmas has arrived in Europe.
K E R & DOW N E Y
Belgium is known for its chocolatecovered waffles
Regensburg, Germany Sometimes referred to as the most northern Italian city, the romantic confines of Regensburg are the perfect canvas for Christmas pageantry. The UNESCO-protected Old Town is the best-preserved medieval town in all of Germany, making your winter wanderings feel like a step back in the time. The Christmas market exceeds all expectations with its roasted chestnut scents and royal setting on the doorstep of St. Emmeram Castle. Donâ€™t miss: The oldest sausage kitchen in the world, Historische WurstkĂźche, which dates back to the 12th century. Closest hubs: Munich (90 minutes by car) and Nuremberg (1 hour by train)
Photos courtesy of iStock Photos: Top Left: Lille's famous Ferris wheel lights up the market; Top Right: Regensburg celebrates Christmas around St. Emmeram Castle
"Remember, while handicrafts, chocolate, and baked goods are acceptable to bring home as gifts, most meat and fruit products are restricted per US Customs regulations." - Elizabeth Frels, Product Manager A couple enjoys Germany's delicious sausage KE R & D OWN E Y
Photos: Left: Christmas in Innsbruck is alive in Old Town. Below: Salsburg's fairy-tale beauty powdered in winter snow
Photos courtesy of iStock
Innsbruck is where to go for truly jaw-dropping beauty. The town lies at the foot of the towering Tyrolean mountains and the view of their whitecapped peaks — coupled with the enormous Swarovski Christmas tree next to the city’s famous “Golden Roof” building with its 2,657 gilded copper tiles — makes this destination one of the most memorable market stops. The Old Town market (appropriately dubbed “Fairy Tale Alley”) boasts the same historic splendor as Vienna, but with the added enchantment of the snowy Alpine setting. For the ultimate adventure, be sure to take a funicular ride up to the mountaintop Hungerburg Christmas market for panoramic views and additional shopping.
Salzburg is where you splurge on the horse-drawn carriage. A beautiful destination year-round, this jewel of a city really reaches its prime over the holidays. Allow your carriage to unveil the magical cobblestone streets of Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while you sip on a steaming cup of glühwein and nibble on kletzenbrot. Refreshingly uncommercial, the Christkindlmarkt at Residenzplatz and the SternAdvent market at Stern Brau display some of the finest Austrian handicrafts alongside musical merriment: you are invited to lend your talents to the caroling singalong choir on Tuesdays and listen to the traditional wind ensemble perform on Thursdays and Saturdays. It is the city of Mozart, after all!
Don’t miss: Kiachl, a Tyrolean-style doughnut with apricot marmalade, nutella almonds, and dark Austrian bread smeared with raclette cheese. Closest hubs: Munich (2 hours by car) and Salzburg (2 hours by car)
Don’t miss: The blue-foiled mozartkugel (“Mozart balls”) made with marzipan, pistachio, nougat, and dark chocolate. Known worldwide, these chocolates are often massproduced elsewhere, but they’re still created by hand in Salzburg where they were originally conceived in 1890. Closest hubs: Munich (2 hours by train or car) and Vienna (2 hours and 30 minutes by train)
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EASTERN & SOUTHERN
EUROPE B O S N I A & H E R Z E G OV I N A Witness history and nature collide in Mostar, a city named for the keepers who guard the bridge over the Neretva River.
I TA LY Explore Palermo as the locals do onboard a Vespa, sampling some of the townâ€™s tasty street food along the way.
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A LB A N I A
GEOR GI A
R OMA N I A
A R MEN I A
R USSI A
A ZER B A I JA N
HUN GA RY
SER B I A
B OSN I A &
I TA LY
SLOVA KI A
HER ZEGOVI N A
SLOVEN I A
B ULGA R I A
MON TEN EGR O
SPA I N
CR OATI A
POLA N D
CZECH R EPUB LI C
UKR A I N E
S PA I N Kick back on the famous Marbella beaches and explore Picassoâ€™s hometown of Malaga on a romantic Andalusian escape.
M O L D OVA
Photos courtesy of iStock
Taste your way through the cellars of Cricova, one of the largest underground wine cities in the world.
RUSSIA Travel by hydrofoil to Valaam to visit the islandâ€™s extensive monastery complex.
KE R & D OWN E Y
Crystal blue waters of the Istria Peninsula
SENSES BY THE SEA There were many pleasant surprises for Ker & Downey’s Stephanie Click and Tess Koptiuch on a life-changing and mouthwatering trip to Croatia. As told to Rina Chandarana
Smells, Sights, and Sounds Croatia’s quiet towns and mesmerizingly blue seas were hard for Stephanie to resist when she visited the country’s many corners. White awnings popped against the ballet slipper-pink walls of a quaint cafe. The soft chatter of friends leisurely enjoying a cup of coffee poured into miniature-size white mugs mingled with the gentle sounds of a musician strumming his guitar. This is everyday life in Pula, a seafront city at the southern tip of the Istria Peninsula in Croatia. It was all so different from the fast-paced, anxietyriddled life I am accustomed to back home. I wasn’t sure what to expect before arriving, but I ended up feeling captivated by its blend of modern conveniences and old-world charm.
KE R & DOWN E Y
The Istria Peninsula’s climate, geographic proximity, historic links, and language (Italian is spoken around here) were reminiscent of Italy. But most visible was the preserved Venetian architecture — its beauty further enhanced by the hot pink blooms of bushy oleanders and deep-green, waxy palms soaring into the remarkably blue sky, all set against the backdrop of the turquoise Adriatic Sea. The Italian influence thankfully didn’t stop there. I felt almost dizzy as I spun around surveying the four walls of Pula’s massive amphitheater where gladiators once took center stage in front of roaring crowds — suggestive of Rome. Instead of being the recipient of a faded postcard in the mail, I was looking at the real thing. There wasn’t a bad view anywhere in mainland Croatia. I've heard the view is just as good from any of the more than 1,000 coastal islands. Thoughts about the stresses of my daily life were interrupted by my over-heightened senses: the tumbling fields of lavender on Hvar Island — their heavenly scent I inhaled from the dried flower satchels and heady oils sold on town corners — and the mouthwatering aroma of basil, oregano, and garlic likely stewed in a pot of tomatoes then ladled onto freshly cut fuzi pasta. Dubrovnik’s dreamy address by the sea and stunning red-roofed vistas were also captivating, but it was really Split and Rovinj that had my heart. Time travel seemed easy in Split with intact ancient city walls and the Roman Diocletian’s Palace sitting side by side with lively boutiques and restaurants. Cobblestone lanes gently sloped up a hill leading to Rovinj’s Baroque Church of St. Euphemia, where views of the Adriatic unfolded before me in endless pleasure. My eyes took delight at Porec’s Byzantine sixth-century Euphrasian Basilica, where our guide pointed out an inspiring mosaic of Jesus shining in the nave.
K ER & DOW N E Y
Photos courtesy of iStock
Photos: Above: Cobblestone streets of Rovinj; Bottom: Walking through the lavendar fields in Hvar
Croatia is small in size but seemed to encompass a little bit of everything (food, history, culture, adventure) for everyone. What I felt drawn to the most was its ethereal coast. I could imagine feeling the sand and wave-worn pebbles between my toes everyday and listening to the calming lull of the surf for hours on end. I could picture myself having a life in Croatia.
Tasting Croatian wine in Hvar
Fresh local cuisine prepared on the boat
"The cuisine reminded me so much of my Italian grandmother; she rarely followed recipes, but just like the Croatians, she transformed simple ingredients into flavorful meals."
Tasty Treasures Tess recalls the culinary discoveries she made while eating her way through Croatia. As I bit into pasta with mussels lightly coated in a white wine and butter sauce, I thought of all the cultures that have influenced Croatia’s cuisine. In the verdant countryside there’s the Austrian, Hungarian, and Turkish presence which meant lots of lamb, veal, chicken, and beef with vegetables. On the sparkling coast, the Italian and Greeks left the country with risotto, smoked hams, pizzas, cheeses, gelato, and olive oils. With so much coastline, seafood is plentiful with sea bass, scallops, and shrimp. The captain greeted us with a strong shot of rakia (Croatia’s version of grappa), candied orange peels, and almonds as we boarded a private boat at sunset. He showed us a harvest of oysters and mussels in the inlet, pulled them straight from the briny sea, shucked them before our eyes, and squeezed lemon and olive oil on top.
Back on land, it was hard not to fall in love with Istria’s rolling, forested hills and rivers — and its truffles, delicately shaved onto fresh pastas. A glass of Croatian wine was the perfect complement to the local cuisine. At the Dubokovic Winery on the picturesque island of Hvar, we sampled rose, white, and reds poured from bottles with handwritten labels. I couldn’t resist taking home a bottle of their olive oil infused with basil. Cherries as red as blood seeped sweetly from flaky layers of phyllo dough — savijaca pastries dusted with powdered sugar — were the perfect snack on a walking tour of Split. My taste buds were constantly pleased with so many fresh flavors. The food was not only delicious, but interesting. The cuisine reminded me so much of my Italian grandmother; she rarely followed recipes, but just like the Croatians, she transformed simple ingredients into flavorful meals.
"Beat the crowds and the heat in the summer months by traveling in April, May, September and October instead." - Tess Koptiuch, Designer KE R & DOWN E Y
Learn about the rebuilding of the town of Napier and its art deco architecture.
AU S T R A L I A Choose from a variety of wines at South Australiaâ€™s oldest operating vineyard with ports dating back to 1879.
K ER & DOW N E Y
FI J I FR EN CH POLYN ESI A N EW ZEA LA N D PA PUA N EW GUI N EA
Photos courtesy of Tourism Western Australia | Seppeltsfield | Dolphin Island
AUSTR A LI A
F R E N C H P O LY N E S I A Watch stone weight lifting, palm tree climbing, and coconut cracking competitions in Tahiti.
AU S T R A L I A Sample from award-winning chefs, sommeliers, and local producers who convene during the Gourmet Escape in Margaret River.
Take a private technical lesson with a golf pro on the greens at Kauri Cliffs on North Island.
Swim with dolphins in the open ocean near Kaikoura.
KE R & DOWN E Y
Craggy Range Winery in Hawke's Bay
A FOODIE'S FORTUNE Where to go — and what to eat — for the tastiest time in Kiwi country. By Katy Heerssen
Centuries of cultural diversity and more recent culinary innovations have left New Zealand’s name on the lips of foodies across the world. Come along for a North and South Island exploration of New Zealand’s edible delights curated by our experts. You’ll discover wonderful wineries, fresh fare, and culinary pros who are eager to teach you tricks sure to dazzle guests at your next dinner party.
North Island Napier Voted 11th in the Top 50 World’s Best Vineyards, the Craggy Range Winery is our preferred lunchtime stop south of Napier. Savor a private lunch within view of Te Mata Peak at this acclaimed winery and its intimate eatery. Boasting “two hats”— the New Zealand Michelin star equivalent — the Craggy Range Restaurant is at once inviting and relaxed. Head Chef Casey McDonald sources inspiration and ingredients from the establishment’s own kitchen garden and the bounty of Hawke’s Bay. Consider fresh-caught octopus, lamb shanks paired with brussels sprouts and polenta, halloumi cheese drowned in honey, and chocolate pudding topped with coconut sorbet and sprinkles.
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Auckland Snack your way along the Matakana Coast, located about one hour north of Auckland. This wine enclave has enough diversity to fill your entire day, and with a private guide you’ll visit some of its finest wineries for tastings, lingering lunches, and peeks behind-the-scenes. Comparable to a Tuscan-style pairing experience, the visits here are always authentically Kiwi. Purveyors of gourmet cheeses, handmade chocolates, craft beers, sausages, coffee, olive oil, and ice cream are among the passionate and proud locals you will meet. If your visit falls on a Saturday, flying through the local farmers market is a must.
Wellington The bucolic Wairarapa region is often compared to France’s Burgundy region, both celebrated for their intimate vineyards and award-winning pinot noir. Just an hour away from Wellington, Martinborough is the regional hub for wine, and the success of its nearly 40-year-old vines has inspired culinary creators to move in as neighbors. Take a full day with your private guide and meet the pros plying their trades in historic small towns. Sample delicious herb-infused olive oils at the farm where the olives are not only harvested by hand, but are pressed the same day they are picked. The baked treats in the local french bakery are indeed concocted by a French pastry chef. And while a sip of pinot noir is surely a must, there’s also chardonnay, rose, pinot gris, riesling, and sauvignon blanc to tempt you.
Making a Difference
Photos: Top: Hip restaurants line Ponsonby Central in Auckland; Above left: Wine tasting in Martinborough; Right: Locals help deliver food to those in need
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As a guest of the Martinborough foodie tour you will not only experience the very best of the region, but you will be supporting the community in a sustainable way. An estimated one in four New Zealand children live in poverty, and your visit directly contributes to two charities that work to meet their needs and provide a sense of security around food. Kaibosh Food Rescue diverts surplus food to homeless and vulnerable families in the Wellington community, and Eat My Lunch provides free lunches to children in need at 79 schools in Auckland and Wellington. To learn more, visit kaibosh.org.nz and eatmylunch.nz.
Photo courtesy of iStock | 100% Pure New Zealand; Camilla-Rutherford; Scott Venning; Kieran-Scott | Otahuna Lodge
Stick around the city and take a walk with local foodie fanatic Lynn Huhtala for a resident’s perspective on the best culinary artisans and inventive eateries in Auckland. The glittering entertainment precinct rolls out the red carpet for your private walking tour. Come hungry: artisan breads, celebrated cheeses, and gelato are just a taste of what awaits.
South Island Marlborough One of our favorite experiences in New Zealand is a cruise on the luxury yacht MV Tarquin. Its owner is Chris Godsiff, a former mussel farmer who turned his passion for sailing into a gateway for guests to enjoy unique access to the Marlborough Sound’s range of gourmet endeavors. With your very own private crew and chef along for the ride, you will make stops at local salmon, mussel, and oyster farms for fresh tastings. Meals of local seafood and produce are all matched with the best of Marlborough’s wines, and guests are even invited to the galley to learn a few of the chef’s secrets during a private cooking master class.
Tasting fresh seafood in Marlborough Sound
There are a variety of ways to zoom over the undulating landscape of the Otago region surrounding Queenstown, but for a change, we suggest a private helicopter flight that ends at one of the region’s most celebrated wineries. After your flight over unbelievably blue waters and rocky hills, land on the snow at Old Woman Ridge — at 5,300 feet elevation — for a spectacular view. Take off again to get to the meat (and wine) of your excursion. The Mt Difficulty Cellar Door is your destination, and despite its name, life here is easy. Grab a glass of their acclaimed pinot noir 2017 or rose 2018 to enjoy with rugged Bannockburn as your backdrop. Indulge in local lamb and venison, fragrant and filling cheeses, and fruit-filled sweets like sticky date pudding and pear strudel before hopping back on your private flight.
Some 30 minutes south of Christchurch in tiny Tai Tapu, the English gardens and elegant country charm of Otahuna Lodge offer a bygone experience. Enshrined as a Relais & Chateaux property, Otahuna holds true to their standards of culinary excellence and superb service. Tantalizing five-course dinners come standard, but for true foodies, a wander through the gardens and grounds with Chef Jimmy McIntyre reveals a glimpse of the process at the heart of Otahuna’s food and wine program. Cooking classes are wholly immersive, including harvesting from the organic gardens, foraging on the grounds, and working side by side with Chef Jimmy in his kitchen. You’ll add a few new skills to your own kitchen prowess and get to enjoy the fruits of your labor too, of course.
PRO IP! P RT O TIP!
Dinner with wine pairings at Otahuna Lodge
"No matter the season, bring a fleece on your helicopter trip. It can get chilly on top of a ridge or a glacier, and you’ll want to spend time taking amazing photos!" ~Catherine Brown, Designer
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ZAMBIA Despite being the second largest park in Africa, wildliferich Kafue National Park is a hidden gem on the safari circuit. More than 55 different animal species make their home here amid rivers, wetlands, and miombo woodland. Explore one of the most diverse safari experiences on the continent from Shumba Bush Camp and Busanga Bush Camp, located in the heart of the Busanga Plains.
Contact Ker & Downey or your travel specialist to include the Kafue National Park in your next custom journey. +1 800-423-4236 | KERDOWNEY.COM
JOURNEYS Ker & D owney 's Top Itinera ri es
Sacsayhuaman Photo courtesy of Andean Explorer
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FA M I LY T R AV E L
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DISCOVER SOUTH AFRICA
9D AY S / 8 N I G H T S Perfect for families, this South African discovery journey ticks all the boxes — food, culture, wine, and safari. Explore the exciting cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg and learn about South Africans’ fight for equality in the 20th century. Head out to quaint and quiet Franschhoek to taste the amazing wines and gourmet cuisine of the Cape Winelands. Wrap up the excursion with a Big Five photographic safari in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve. 89
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S U G G E S T E D J O U R N E Y AT A G L A N C E : DAY 1-3: CAPE TOWN | ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN DAY 4-5: FRANSCHHOEK | LE QUARTIER FRANCAIS DAY 6: JOHANNESBURG | THE PEECH HOTEL DAY 7-9: MADIKWE GAME RESERVE | MADIKWE SAFARI LODGE
UNWIND IN SOUTH AFRICA'S
Leeu Collection currently comprises three five-star properties in the scenic Cape Winelands of South Africa: Leeu Estates, a 17-room country house retreat and boutique winery in the Franschhoek Valley; Leeu House, an equally exclusive 12-room boutique hotel in the heart of Franschhoek village; and Le Quartier Franรงais, a romantic 32-room boutique hotel including two independent villas, also located in the village.
Contact Ker & Downey or your travel specialist to include Leeu Collection in your next custom journey. +1 800-423-4236 | KERDOWNEY.COM
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T H E B O T S WA N A B I G F I V E
1 4 D A Y S / 13 N I G H T S This 13-night Botswana Big Five luxury safari takes you to every major region of Botswana so you can discover her diverse and natural treasures in-depth. Of course, you can’t go wrong with any luxury African safari that begins in Victoria Falls.
S U G G E S T E D J O U R N E Y AT A G L A N C E : DAY 1: JOHANNESBURG | THE SAXON DAY 2-3: LIVINGSTONE | ROYAL CHUNDU DAY 4-5: CHOBE NATIONAL PARK | NGOMA SAFARI LODGE DAY 6-7: LINYANTI GAME RESERVE | SELINDA CAMP DAY 8-10: OKAVANGO DELTA | TULUDI DAY 11-13: MAKGADIKGADI SALT PANS | JACK’S CAMP DAY 14: JOHANNESBURG | DEPARTURE
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Tuludi: A quintessential Botswana experience in the Khwai Private Reserve. Discover the luxury of space and the magic of the Khwai Private Reserve in the Okavango Delta at Tuludi, the newest and most exclusive camp in the Natural Selection portfolio. Contact Ker & Downey or your travel specialist to include Tuludi in your next southern Africa adventure. www.naturalselection.travel
C U LT U R A L J O U R N E YS
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BEST OF PERU
1 4 D AY S / 1 3 N I G H T S This 14-day Peru luxury tour allows you to experience a little bit of everything in Peru: the beauty of Lima, the splendor of Lake Titicaca, the magic and wonder of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, the history of Cusco, and the magnificence of the Peruvian Amazon, all in unapologetic Ker & Downey luxury.
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S U G G E S T E D J O U R N E Y AT A G L A N C E : DAY 1-2: LIMA | COUNTRY CLUB LIMA HOTEL DAY 3-4: SACRED VALLEY | SOL Y LUNA LODGE & SPA DAY 5: MACHU PICCHU | INKATERRA MACHU PICCHU PUEBLO HOTEL DAY 6-7: CUSCO | BELMOND PALACIO NAZARENAS DAY 8-10: LAKE TITICACA | TITILAKA DAY 11-13: PERUVIAN AMAZON | ARIA AMAZON DAY 14: LIMA | DEPARTURE
THE A M A Z O N
Luxury river cruising aboard the
ARIA AMAZON Embark on rewarding wildlife discoveries in the Peruvian Amazon aboard five-star, eco-friendly luxury and comfort. Designed with immaculate style and exclusivity in mind, Aria Amazon’s generous social spaces and suites with floor-toceiling windows make every second onboard an unforgettable experience. Small-group excursions are conducted by highlyexperienced naturalist guides and a focus on sustainability is echoed in the refined cuisine crafted by Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, one of Peru’s finest chefs. Aqua Expeditions’ brand-new Aqua Nera will sail alongside the Aria Amazon in October 2020, setting a new standard for luxury river cruising on the Amazon.
Contact Ker & Downey or your travel specialist to include the Aria Amazon in your next custom journey. +1 800-423-4236 | KERDOWNEY.COM
A DV E N T U R E J O U R N E YS
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8 D AY S / 7 N I G H T S The trail of adventure is lit on this exciting seven-night luxury excursion over the sands of Jordan. You’ll travel to Amman, the Dead Sea, the Wadi Rum, and even Petra, where Ker & Downey will give you an exclusive look inside the historic Petra Treasury, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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S U G G E S T E D J O U R N E Y AT A G L A N C E : DAY 1-2: AMMAN | FOUR SEASONS AMMAN DAY 3-4: PETRA | MOVENPICK PETRA DAY 5: WADI RUM | PRIVATE BEDOUIN CAMP DAY 6-7: DEAD SEA | MA’IN HOT SPRINGS DAY 8: AMMAN | DEPARTURE
EXPLORE & RE JUVINATE IN
A life-changing experience awaits in Jordan. No visit is complete without seeing timeless Petra, the spellbinding beauty of Wadi Rum, and a float in the Dead Sea. We also suggest hands-on cultural experiences at women-run social enterprises. Itâ€™s a meaningful way for travelers to impact the local communities of today in our ancient land.
Contact Ker & Downey or your travel specialist to include Jordan in your next custom journey. +1 800-423-4236 | KERDOWNEY.COM
ONE PICTURE, ONE MOMENT, ONE MEMORY CAPTURED BY PHOTOGRAPHER AUSTEN JOHNSTON
This photo was taken whilst we were filming in Mozambique around the gigantic sand dunes on Bazaruto Island. It’s not often that I get completely distracted, mid-scene, but the combination of crystal-clear azure water, red sand, and the multi-colored dhow was simply too beautiful to not take pause. What really caught my attention were the boys’ beaming smiles. Serenity was suddenly broken by excitement. They were mesmerized by the drone and quickly caught a slip stream to chase us as we flew overhead. This shot captures youth’s complete freedom. Yet none at all. The art of fishing is passed down from generation to generation in Mozambique. The Bazaruto Archipelago is renowned for its tranquil blue seas and rich fishing grounds, which sustains the livelihood of a large proportion of the coastal population. These boys were bringing in their catch of the day, already making a valuable contribution to their family at such a young age.
Austen Johnston, a photographer and filmmaker, worked in the hospitality industry for years before founding Etched Space, a content-creation company geared towards luxury hotels. He has travelled extensively around Africa and the Indian Ocean filming and photographing unique properties around the world. His background adds depth and context to his work, he looks to capture a place’s true beauty and inner soul and identifies those experiences that make it unique to the industry. www.etchedspace.com @austenjohnston firstname.lastname@example.org
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THE PROBLEM MALARIA KILLS MORE THAN
ONE MILLION PEOPLE
E AC H
9 0 % O F FATA L I T I E S O C C U R R I N G I N S U B - S A H A R A N 7 5 % O F T H E S E D E AT H S O C C U R I N C H I L D R E N U ND E R 5 .
OUR GOAL TO P R OV I D E
TO C O M M U N I T I E S TO H E L P R E D U C E T H E
R I S K O F L I F E -T H R E AT E N I N G D I S E A S E S .
C A N P R OT E C T F O U R
C H I L D R E N F O R U P TO T H R E E Y E A R S .
DONATE F O R E V E R Y N E T P U R C H A S E D K E R & D OW N E Y W I L L D O N AT E A N E T. D O N AT E S E C U R E LY O R P U R C H A S E A T- S H I R T O N O U R W E B S I T E AT K E R D OW N E Y.C O M / N E T S - F O R -A F R I C A
TOGETHER WE CAN STOP THE STING OF MOSQUITO BITES
L U X U R Y. T R AV E L .
T H E L U X U R Y M A G A Z I N E F O R W O R L D T R AV E L E R S
Leeu Estates, South Africa
Forget group tours, long lines or packaged experiences; with Ker & Downey, everything is a completely tailored fit, and our artistic signature is threaded throughout. Let us offer you the opportunity for something rare and exotic, an exclusive journey that no one else can duplicate, and a one-of-a-kind adventure filled with the thrill of experience and the luxury of privacy. This is Ker & Downey.
K E R D O W N E Y. C O M | L U X U R Y @ K E R D O W N E Y. C O M | 8 0 0 . 4 2 3 . 4 2 3 6
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C O N T A C T Y O U R T R AV E L P R O F E S S I O N A L O R V I S I T U S O N T H E W E B A T