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THE BOHEMIAN MINI-BREAK HEAD SHOT TBC

WHERE: Amy Grier found her arty side at Borgo Pignano, Tuscany

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had reached the point where I just needed to hit the emergency stop button on my life and escape. You know those moments when you feel yourself getting annoyed with everyone and everything? When a cross look on your commute sends you into a spiral of self-loathing and you snap at even those you love most? I needed peace, green hills, great food and unfettered access to a cellar of wine. I needed Borgo Pignano. I just didn’t know how much I needed it until I got there.

classes in painting and sketching, its own soap laboratory with workshops using natural ingredients grown on the grounds, horses for trekking, a small spa and exquisite cliff-side infinity pool. The rooms are GO SOLO all unique, some One in six people with four-poster now holiday You might consider a beds, some with solo (up from palatial 18th-century Italian frescos and deep-set marble 12% in 2017)* farmhouse (turned elegant, baths. There’s a library, restored country estate) too an art gallery with revolving romantic a destination to travel exhibitions and even a Romanesque to alone. I certainly did at first, but chapel. For dining, Villa Pignano is I was so wrong. Borgo Pignano is no peaceful and quiet, while the riotous ordinary hotel. Found deep in the farmhouse-style Social Table next Tuscan hillside, it’s also a working door is where guests – groups, farm set in 750 acres of land, couples, solos – talk to each other complete with its own waterfall and through mouthfuls of Florentine hiking trails. It has a yoga studio with steak, cooked over the fire, and individual and group classes bookable on request, an artist studio with at least one artist in residence and renowned

LA DOLCE VITA

Go solo Craving a holiday without compromise? Time to go it alone. Here are the best destinations to do it your way

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excellent Sangiovese wines, grown on vineyards that are widespread in this part of Tuscany.

BACK TO BASICS

I spent my weekend reading and swimming, learning to sketch in the artist studio, walking the tranquil grounds for hours, and, at night, trading stories with other guests over sweet Vin Santo and homemade cantuccini biscuits until the embers of the communal fire had died out. I left Borgo Pignano a nicer, calmer, more refreshed version of myself. I felt full – of life and boar ragout – in every way.

GET THERE ✈ Dear Instagram, please make a ‘Tuscan sunset’ filter

Rooms start from €300 per night, including breakfast; Borgopignano.com. Fly in to either Florence or Pisa

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THE ADVENTURE TRAIL HEAD SHOT TBC

WHERE: Daniella Scott had a wild time on the Intrepid Travel Essential African Safari

FIELD NOTES

After an 11-hour flight from Heathrow to Johannesburg, South Africa, followed by a flight to Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls Rest Camp, you’ll be rewarded with your

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basic, but all have showers and toilets. Wifi is patchy, so maybe warn your family back home that you’ll be mostly off-grid. Digital luggage is just as important as the excessive number of knickers you’ll inevitably bring. With long hours spent staring out the window, podcasts, series and audio books are essential. A note on packing: be realistic. That means less make-up than you think you’ll need (a good face mist and moisturiser are musts) and more travel soap than you’ve currently got. Take the basics: long trousers, shorts and T-shirts, plus warm clothes to sleep in as the temperature plummets at night. And

MAIN PHOTOGRAPH ROCCO BIZZARRI. ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS KRISHNA ADITHYA, CINDY GIOVAGNOLI, DAMIEN RAGGATT, STEFANO SCATÀ. * ACCORDING TO AN ANNUAL TRAVEL REPORT PUBLISHED BY ABTA IN OCTOBER 2018

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wasn’t sure about going it alone on an organised tour, but a safari in Southern Africa was on my bucket list, so I doused myself in DEET and plastered a “pleased to meet you” smile on my face. Before setting off, I worried that I would be one of the only solo travellers, that everyone would be in pairs or pre-established groups, but when I arrived I found that the majority of the people in my group first glimpse of the world’s largest were also travelling alone. Intrepid waterfall. It takes about two hours recently launched its 18-to-29 ageto walk through all of Victoria Falls’ group trips, which are popular with viewpoints, and while some people solo travellers, and after only one bring ponchos, I say just embrace the day together, we had meshed spray. Once you leave Victoria into one varied little family. Falls, you embark on the GO SOLO There’s nothing like ninejourney down through the Store useful hour days locked on a truck phone numbers on national parks of Southern your mobile before Africa, from Zimbabwe’s together to expedite the you travel bonding process, after all. Hwange National Park, This is a journey for people where you stay at Ivory Lodge who don’t mind getting their hands and wake up to impalas peering (and feet, luggage and all other at you through your tent window, extremities) dirty. From putting up before ending up back in South and taking down your tent every Africa at the Kruger National Park day, to helping with cooking and and Letaba Rest Camp. The washing-up, and long, long journeys accommodation is typically quite as you travel from park to park.

and their very enthusiastic chief. A sunset cruise on the Zambezi river costs about £33 for a two-hour trip and that includes all the drinks you could want and some local nibbles. The views are stunning, but the real highlight is seeing hippos popping their heads out of the water to yawn. I should have been born a hippo: they like their own space and sunburn easily. Relatable. But the main focus of the trip is the game drives: four-hour-long excursions through the parks while trying to spot animals. Everyone wants to see the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo – but there’s so much more to look out for as well. We were lucky enough to see a family of hyenas playing by if you don’t the side of the road. want to get You have the same knocked out guides with you during a bumpy throughout the trip, Quite the spot game drive, some usually one driver and hardy sports bras are one leader, depending vital. It’s important, on how big your group is. They however, to accept that you’ll rarely are extremely knowledgeable, so feel properly clean. Your feet will make the most of having them there be perpetually dusty and you’ll and ask questions. But it isn’t just accumulate half a national park game drives and animals that make under your nails on a daily basis. this trip so special, it’s the people, It’s all part of the experience, so eat too. Around the campfire each night, whatever’s put on your plate, turn everyone shares a hot meal and a off your emails and just embrace few beers, and swaps stories. You’ll the beauty of the wild. leave with a more open and enriched A huge highlight of this trip was view of humanity and a refreshed the optional activities, but it’s a good sense of positivity. There is something idea to plan them out beforehand unifying and equalising about and set aside money for them – most going alone. Everyone pitches in things aren’t included and will and helps each other out. We may require cash rather than card. (Be sure have started out as six strangers, to have local currency on you: dollars but we became a family. I’d do it for Zimbabwe and Rand for South all over again in a heartbeat. ◆ Africa.) There’s everything from canoe trails and white-water rafting GET THERE ✈ to gorge swings (exactly what it From £700pp for a nine-day Essential sounds like) and rhinoceros treks. African Safari, including eight nights’ Here, you’ll spend the day tracking camping, most meals and some rhinos and then end with a visit to a activities; Intrepidtravel.com local village to meet the community

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MORE SOLO ESCAPES YOU’LL WANT TO BOOK NOW

REETHI BEACH RESORT, MALDIVES

Thought you had to be a honeymooner to visit the Maldives? Nope. The Indian Ocean archipelago is keen to appeal to more than just couples, with resorts such as Reethi Beach offering single travellers a 25% discount. So you get to do all the cool stuff (watersports, spa, lie by a pool) for less. Win. From £1,499 for seven nights; Premierholidays.co.uk

ELEPHANT ENCOUNTER, THAILAND Channel your inner Attenborough and study elephants on an expedition that will take you deep into tropical highlands in the shadow of Thailand’s tallest peak, Doi Inthanon. Plus, work on biodiversity monitoring and conservation. Nine-day expedition, £1,690; Biosphere-expeditions.org

OUR RETREAT, IBIZA There’s yoga, Pilates, meditation, wellness workshops and oceanside fitness on the menu at Our Retreat, alongside fresh organic meals and villas with private pools. Gruelling hours of exercise and limited calorie intake this is not. YES. From £1,450 per week, all inclusive; Ourretreat.co.uk

BIKEPACKING, UK Kitted out by Pannier.cc, you’ll cycle out in a group into the beautiful Peak District National Park. At base camp, sit around a campfire with newfound friends before biking back in the morning. Peakland Weekender £189pp, including bike; Beyonk.com C O S M O P O L I TA N ·

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Profile for Biosphere Expeditions

Cosmopolitan, UK, 2019  

Short mention of our Thailand elephant expedition

Cosmopolitan, UK, 2019  

Short mention of our Thailand elephant expedition

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