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MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA AND ETHIOPIA

INDIA, HIMALAYA AND SRI LANKA

AUSTRALASIA AND THE FAR EAST

LATIN AMERICA

CITYSCAPE

ESCAPE

ANTARCTICA

VOYAGE

INDIA, HIMALAYA AND SRI LANKA 2011/12

SAFARI

Abercrombie & Kent Ltd, St George’s House, Ambrose Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 3LG, UK Tel: 0845 0700 600 • Fax: +44 (0)1242 547 707 • abercrombiekent.co.uk You are welcome to visit us in our Cheltenham offices or alternatively visit: Abercrombie & Kent Private Travel, At Harrods, 87 – 135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7173 6440 • Fax: +44 (0)20 7173 6441

INDIA, HIMALAYA AND SRI LANKA


A&K PHILANTHROPY P67

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A&K PHILANTHROPY AND A&K INDIA SPONSOR 50 STUDENTS AT THE DEEPALAYA SCHOOL IN DELHI

We believe that travel should not only inspire but also respect the natural environment and benefit the indigenous peoples whose lands we visit. Through our charitable division, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP), we have been supporting conservation projects around the world for over three decades. With a ‘high yield, low impact’ policy, we seek to address pressing environmental, educational and public health needs and give more back to the communities in the regions where we operate. This makes a difference to the lives of thousands of people around the world – for example, following the devastating destruction to Myanmar by Cyclone Nargis in 2008, leaving thousands in the Irrawaddy Delta suffering from disease and starvation, A&K rallied to collect over US$340,000 for essential supplies while our teams on the ground ensured that these went directly to those in need. We currently support 30 different projects across the world, from large-scale relief efforts following natural disasters, such as Un Techo Para Chile (A Roof for Chile) following the terrible 2010 earthquake, to initiating local community programmes such as beekeeping in Tanzania or Sam’s Brothers Clean Water project in Cambodia. For every booking we take, a donation is made to A&K Philanthropy and you are welcome to visit our projects when travelling with us. A full list of our projects can be seen on www.akphilanthropy.com


Dear Traveller I founded Abercrombie & Kent in East Africa nearly 50 years ago with little more than a Land Rover, a couple of tents and the all-important icemaker. Little did I know at the time I was creating a blueprint for a travel company that now takes people to every corner of the world in comfort, style and absolute safety. The key to our success? We believe in leaving nothing to chance. We believe in service. We believe in getting to know our clients so we can anticipate their individual needs. We believe that focusing on the little details can elevate a journey from being a great holiday into the experience of a lifetime. We believe that by religiously following these principles, clients will keep coming back to us for their holidays. They do. Now it’s your turn‌

Geoffrey Kent Founder, Chairman and CEO


CHELTENHAM

LONDON

PARIS CHICAGO

MOSCOW

PROVENCE DUBROVNIK

FLORENCE

BEIJING MARRAKECH

AMMAN SHARM EL-SHEIKH

ALEXANDRIA CAIRO

SHANGHAI DELHI

LUXOR ASWAN ABU SIMBEL

JAIPUR

yangon KOCHI

HONG KONG

AGRA

BANGKOK

SIEM REAP PHNOM PENH

GALAPAGOS KAMPALA NAIROBI

QUITO

LIMA

NGORONGORO ARUSHA

MOMBASA ZANZIBAR

CUSCO LUSAKA MAUN

SANTIAGO

JOHANNESBURG BUENOS AIRES

CAPE TOWN MELBOURNE

Our network of offices around the world means that wherever you are, a member of the A&K team is never far away. Whatever their role, A&K staff set the standards of service and excellence. They are chosen for their absolute dedication to understanding the personalised touches that make your holiday both distinctive and individual. The best way to find out more about a place is to talk to someone who’s been there. Our travel consultants have been to every country featured in this brochure. With in-depth, first-hand experience of the countries they specialise in, you can be sure they will take time to find out exactly what you want from your journey and create an itinerary that gives you exactly what you want.


We specialise in tailor-made travel. We go to great lengths to understand exactly what you want from your holiday. We discuss the destination, style of accommodation, mode of travel and experiences you will have to ensure the combination is just right.  For you. Landmark birthdays, weddings, anniversaries or just a big family event provide the perfect excuse to celebrate in a memorable destination. We do these too. Whether finding the perfect retreat for a large family party, arranging for hundreds of guests to attend a wedding overseas or the most romantic place on the planet to celebrate an anniversary, our consultants know exactly which hotels offer the extra touches  that will ensure your celebration goes with a bang. Likewise we know which strings to pull to ensure our travel partners push out all the stops for honeymoons. For those with families, we know how difficult it can be choosing the right place to take children. Trying to find somewhere that will occupy and engage a variety of ages, personalities and interests can be a Herculean challenge. Because we have experience in so many countries and have sampled the accommodation first hand, we are able to suggest destinations that will offer everything you need in terms of entertainment, and also which places are the most familyfriendly and flexible.


Contents India

Maharajas’ Express

Country introduction............................................... 10 – 11

Introduction and journeys.................................... 44 – 45

Accommodation...................................................... 12 – 13

Bhutan

Northern India

Country introduction............................................. 46 – 47

Introduction............................................................ 14 – 15

Thimpu, Bumthang and Paro............................... 48 – 49

Delhi, Agra and Jaipur............................................. 16 – 17

Accommodation..................................................... 50 – 51

Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer............................. 18 – 19

Nepal

Varanasi and Khajuraho........................................ 20 – 21

Country introduction............................................. 52 –53

Himalaya

Kathmandu and Annapurna................................ 54 – 55

Introduction and journeys.................................... 22 – 25

Everest and Dhorpatan..........................................56 – 57

Indian Wildlife

Sri Lanka

Introduction........................................................... 26 – 27

Country introduction............................................ 58 – 59

Ranthambore, Kanha and Pench.......................... 28 – 29

Dambulla, Sigiriya, Galle and Kandy.....................60 – 61

Bandhavgarh, Kaziranga and Satpura.................. 30 – 31

Accommodation.....................................................62 – 63

Central Southern India

Further Information

Introduction and journeys..................................... 32 –33

Airline partners.............................................................. 64

Eastern India

A&K online.................................................................... 65

Introduction and journeys.................................... 34 – 35

Further information....................................................... 66

Southern India

A&K Philanthropy.......................................................... 67

Introduction.......................................................... 36 – 37 Kerala.................................................................... 36 – 37 Goa, Kochi & Mumbai . ....................................... 38 – 39 Backwater Cruising................................................ 40 – 41 Hill Stations and wildlife...................................... 42 – 43


INDIA A blaze of colour, an absorbing mix of faiths and people, India is engrossing, beautiful and complex.

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AMBER FORT NEAR JAIPUR, RAJASTHAN

SHIMLA DEHRADUN HARIDWAR

PA K I S TA N

NEPAL

DARJEELING kaziranga

DELHI

BIKANER Jaisalmer

SIKKIM

AGRA

JAIPUR

JODHPUR GWALIOR VARANASI Kolkata RANTHAMBORE N.P. Khajuraho BANDHAVGARH n.p. UDAIPUR KANHA N.P. AHMEDABAD PENCH N.P. Bhubaneswar PURI

INDIA AURANGABAD MUMBAI Hyderabad Gulbarga Bijapur BADAMI HOSPET GOA

CHIKMaGALUR Bangalore MYSORE KOCHI THEKKADY

CHENNAI COVELONG MUNNAR MADURAI

TRIVANDRUM

an introduction

HIGHLIGHTS

Despite its intricate tapestry of contrasts, from

SCENERY India offers incredible diversity

the climate – the lush tropics of the south to

from the snow-capped Himalaya in the

the arid heat of the deserts in the north – to

north to the emerald green of the backwaters

society in general – opulence and riches on

of Kerala in the south, the arid deserts of

one hand, heartbreaking poverty on the other

Rajasthan to cities teeming with colourful

– India is consistently colourful, noisy and

bazaars. Wherever you travel in this vast

full of character. It is an immensely rewarding

country you will be mesmerised by the

place to travel and yet it can be testing and

contrasting scenery, the ancient temples and

thus demands experience and expertise to

the Royal palaces. Even a journey by road will

design an itinerary that not only unlocks its

leave you in awe, as you share the highways

secrets but is carefully tailored to match your

with trucks, tuk tuks, camels and even the

every need. Travelling across the enchanting

occasional elephant.

landscape of India is memorable in itself

CULTURE India is a melting pot of different

but with A&K there are no limits – whether

cultures. This diversity is reflected in the

travelling by private air charter, rickshaw or

architecture, the cuisine and the country’s

elephant – to ensure that you fully appreciate

numerous enthralling festivals. The cuisine

the country’s magical qualities.

itself varies from region to region, reflecting

BEST TIME TO BE HERE

the varied demographics of the ethnically

From October to March the weather in India is refreshingly cool with minimal rainfall in most places. India’s main festivals also take place during this time: Diwali (the festival of lights), Holi (the festival of colours) and the fascinating Pushkar fair in Rajasthan.

diverse Indian subcontinent. WILDLIFE Home to bears, rhinoceros,

lion, leopard and tiger. It is no surprise that Rudyard Kipling took his inspiration for ‘Jungle Book’ from his Indian homeland.

we recommend

Taking in the highlights of both Northern and Southern India over 15 days. Kerala Head south from Mumbai to the state of Kerala to explore the tranquil backwaters. Udaipur Relax by the waters of Lake Pichola for two nights. Visit Udaipur’s City Palace and wander around the lovely Sahelion-ki-Bari Gardens. Jaipur In the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, explore the Palace of the Winds, the City Palace, the unique Jantar Mantar Observatory and the Amber Fort. Move on to Agra via the deserted red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri. Agra No visit to India would be complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal. Witnessing the sun rise over one of the most iconic buildings in the world, there is no better place to stay than the palatial Oberoi Amarvilas where every room has a view of the Taj Mahal. Delhi In Old Delhi, explore the Red Fort, Rajghat and the bazaars. Continuing into the leafy avenues of New Delhi, drive along Rajpath, taking in India Gate, Parliament House and the President’s Residence. Low Season 14 nights from £5,199 per person High Season 14 nights from £6,215 per person Prices include international flights.

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P12 INDIA

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fateh garh, near udaipur

the oberoi amarVilas, agra

Classic and Boutique Hotels Scattered throughout all of India is a wealth of properties with character and charm. One of the most iconic properties in Asia is The Imperial, New Delhi. From the moment you approach it along the tree-lined drive you will be struck by the hotel’s grandeur. A recent new addition to Delhi is the Leela Palace Kempinski located in the exclusive diplomatic enclave and in close proximity to the Presidential Palace. The Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, a perennial favourite, offers unrivalled views of the Taj Mahal from every room. Elevated high above Udaipur, Fateh Garh offers panoramic views of the Aravalis. Based around the basic elements of nature, fire, earth, wind and space, this rebuilt fort generates most of its power through solar energy. On the edge of the Rajasthan desert, Mihir Garh has just nine beautifully decorated rooms, an oasis of calm in the bustling city. The Nadesar Palace, located in Varanasi, has been hosting royalty and statesmen since 1835. Each of the 10 luxurious suites in the property is decorated with artwork from the Maharaja’s own collection and it is the ideal base from which to explore the spiritual side of India.

Tented Camps Sleeping under canvas in remote areas is one of the most authentic ways to experience the natural beauty of India. Sher Bagh, Aman-i-Khas and The Oberoi Vanyavilas provide an excellent range of tented accommodation on the edge of Ranthambore National Park. The camps will organise game drives into the park for you to go in search of the elusive tiger. Shergarh Tented Camp is located at the southern edge of Kanha Tiger Reserve. From here you might be fortunate to see not only tiger but also leopard and wild dog. Alternatively, The Camel Camp at Osian provides a unique experience where you can explore the sand dunes of the Rajasthan desert by camel. The Camel Camp is perfectly combined with Chhatra Sagar, a lovely tented camp overlooking a reservoir at Nimaj. This wetland area was created in the late 1800s and has become a haven for over 200 species of bird. As well as warm hospitality, you can also be assured of fine home cooked cuisine made from the freshest of ingredients when staying in these luxurious camps. chhatra sagar, nimaj


INDIA P13

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royal palaces Memories of a lifetime will be created when you stay in one of the many palaces of the maharajas. Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur is still used as the main residence of the current royal family. Perched high above the ‘Blue City’ each of the lavish rooms is decorated in an art deco style. In Jaipur, the Rambagh Palace, set in 47 acres of landscaped gardens, has history exuding from every corridor through its fine collection of artwork. Around Udaipur there are further hidden palatial gems. The Taj Lake Palace appears to float on the tranquil waters of Lake Pichola whilst a 40 minute drive from Udaipur is Devi Garh, where you can stay in an 18th Century fort palace. After 10 years of restoration, Taj Falaknuma Palace has recently opened in Hyderabad. Overlooking the Golcanda Fort, the hotel is a tranquil haven from city life with a variety of pampering treatments available at the Jiva spa. For history, nothing can match the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in Mumbai. Since 1903 it has played host to maharajas, kings and presidents. Recently fully restored, this icon of Mumbai is now welcoming back guests as it has done for over a hundred years. Wherever you choose to stay in India, you can be assured you will be treated like royalty. taj falaknuma palace, hyderabad

umaid bhawan palace, jodhpur


NORTHERN INDIA Classic, colourful and compelling, Northern India is a captivating start to any love affair with India.

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PA K I S TA N mehrangarh Fort, Rajasthan

BEST TIME TO BE HERE

NEPAL DELHI

RAJASTHAN Jaisalmer THAR DESERT

MANDORE JODHPUR NIMAJ

Rajasthan is generally hot and dry throughout the year, although there can be a sharp drop in temperature between day and night time temperatures, particularly in the desert. The best time to travel is normally after the monsoon season, from October to March.

AGRA

JAIPUR

VARANASI

RANAKPUR

GWALIOR ORCHHA

UDAIPUR

Khajuraho

INDIA

EXTENSION SUGGESTION

HIGHLIGHTS

Mahal at sunset. Stay in Agra for two nights at

Delhi The main gateway to Northern India,

the Oberoi Amarvilas, where every room has

Delhi is a tale of two cities. From the tree-lined

views of the Taj Mahal.

leafy avenues of New Delhi to the eclectic

Jaipur En route to the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur,

chaos in the narrow labyrinthine streets of

stop to explore the deserted red sandstone city

Old Delhi, it is well worth taking a few days to

of Fatehpur Sikri. Key sites in Jaipur include

explore the Indian capital.

the Jantar Mantar Observatory, City Palace,

AGRA Home to the iconic Taj Mahal, one

the Palace of the Winds and the Amber Fort.

of the modern wonders of the world, this

Jodhpur After two nights in Jaipur, head to

magnificent mausoleum is best seen at sunrise

the city of Jodhpur, to stay at Umaid Bhawan,

and sunset.

a magnificent palace which is still home to

UDAIPUR Described as the ‘Venice of the

the current royal family of Jodhpur. Explore

East’, Udaipur’s lakes and mountains form a

Mehrangarh Fort which dominates the city and

romantic setting for this palatial city.

visit Mandore, the ancient capital of the state of

WE RECOMMEND

Marwar with its beautiful gardens and temples.

Exploring the key cities of Rajasthan with our highly knowledgeable guides will ensure you leave northern India with a deep understanding and appreciation of its vibrant culture.

Delhi Explore the impressive Red Fort and Rajghat, Old Delhi’s teeming bazaars and visit Jama Masjid Mosque.

Udaipur The romantic city of Udaipur is set against the backdrop of the Aravali mountains, where there is a wealth of excellent accommodation on the banks of Lake Pichola to choose from. While here, spend time in the City Palace, a fusion of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture.

Agra Visit the breathtaking Taj Mahal, built

Low Season 12 nights from £4,345 per person,

by the Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum

including international flights

for his beloved wife, Mumtaz. See Agra’s

High Season 12 nights from £5,389 per person,

imposing Red Fort before returning to the Taj

including international flights

The Desert Experience For a more in depth journey through Rajasthan, head to Nimaj to stay at Chhatra Sagar. Set on the banks of a reservoir, this tented camp is great for bird watching. Continue into the Thar Desert to spend a night at The Camel Camp and take a camel safari into the desert. Jaisalmer is a wonderful desert city with glorious temples and palaces and it is worth spending at least two nights in this area; we recommend The Serai. This luxurious tented camp is set on thirty acres of the Great Thar Desert and offers relaxing spa treatments, inspired by local Indian herbs and spices. As you drive through rural villages, you will be treated to a fascinating glimpse of local Indian life, where small cottage industries are still thriving, unchanged for centuries and where the people are as curious of you as you are of them.

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P16 NORTHERN INDIA

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MARKET TRADERS, RED FORT, DELHI

the leela palace kempinski, new delhi

rambagh palace, jaipur

DELHI Delhi is one of the main gateways into India and has a wealth of places to explore. But for something a little different, take a walking tour of Old Delhi with a former BBC journalist or visit the children at Deepalaya School where A&K Philanthropy sponsors 50 children to assist with their education. When it comes to accommodation you are spoilt for choice. The Imperial is one of Delhi’s most famous landmarks. Built in 1931, and close to Connaught Place, the hotel offers some of the best dining in New Delhi. The Oberoi is centrally located and overlooks the prestigious Delhi golf course. The Aman New Delhi offers a contemporary, calm oasis with all the rooms having their own private plunge pools. The most recent addition to Delhi’s luxury hotels is the Leela Palace Kempinski New Delhi set in the heart of the city’s exclusive diplomatic enclave. If you are just passing through Delhi in transit, there are several good hotels near to the airport: relax by the pools of the Trident Gurgaon or squeeze in some last minute shopping in the huge shopping mall adjacent to the Leela Kempinski Gurgaon.

JAIPUR The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur was the first planned city of India, its rose coloured buildings giving it its name of the ‘Pink City’. There are many places to explore here, including the Palace of the Winds and the fascinating Jantar Mantar Observatory which houses a collection of astronomical instruments dating back to the 1700s. The Amber Fort is a must and the local spice and vegetable market is well worth a visit to observe the colour and hubbub of daily life. Outside the city, enjoy a champagne breakfast following an elephant safari at Dera Amer. There is an excellent choice of hotels in and around Jaipur. Our favourites are the Rambagh Palace, an historic palace that exudes regal elegance. The Oberoi Rajvilas is a luxury resort that recreates the architecture of a traditional Rajasthani walled city, complete with red sandstone fort, torch lit ramparts and ‘Haveli’ mansions. There is also a wealth of new boutique properties. If you want to get away from the city itself, then Amanbagh near Alwar is a tranquil haven two hours from Jaipur.


NORTHERN INDIA P17

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AGRA The Taj Mahal, one of India’s most iconic landmarks, stands proud in Agra, its white marble glistening against the sapphire blue sky. We recommend visiting the Taj Mahal at sunrise and sunset to fully appreciate its magnificence, the delicate white marble of its exquisitely symmetrical architecture changing colour with the different light. However, there is more to Agra than the Taj alone. The Red Fort of Agra is more like a walled city. The former imperial city of the Mughal rulers, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, housing palaces and mosques within its high walls. Near Agra is Fatehpur Sikri, built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, a red sandstone fort that was his headquarters until a water shortage meant he had to return to Agra, leaving the fort deserted. the oberoi amarvilas, agra

Taj Mahal and Yamuna River, agra


P18 NORTHERN INDIA

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jaisalmer

the serai, jaisalmer

Jodhpur The mighty 15th century Mehrangarh Fort dominates the ‘Blue City’ of Jodhpur and is one of the largest forts in India. A private viewing of Mehrangarh museum which has galleries showcasing artefacts from the royal collection is, in our view, the best way to appreciate its treasures. While in the area, visit Mandore, the ancient capital of the state of Marwar with its beautiful gardens, temples and memorials. There are a number of lovely small boutique properties in and around Jodhpur or, on a grander scale, the Umaid Bhawan Palace is a lavish hotel with rooms over looking the manicured lawns. Umaid Bhawan is one of the last great palaces of India and is also still home to the current royal family. 50 miles from Jodhpur is the ancient village of Osian with its 6th and 8th century temples. The ideal base to explore this village is the Camel Camp, from where you can take a camel safari into the Thar Desert.

Jaisalmer Founded in 1156, the desert city of Jaisalmer (known as the Golden City) was an important defence and trade town for centuries due to its strategic position on the camel trade routes. The Jaislamer Fort is over 800 years old and has nearly a hundred turrets to defend it. Inside its walls lie the narrow lanes of the old city as well as Jain temples. Located in the heart of the Great Thar Desert, The Serai is a luxury desert camp and spa set in 30 acres. The Tented Suites are spacious - over a thousand square feet of living space - whilst the Luxury Tented Suites have the added bonus of a private walled garden complete with sunken pool. After a day exploring the fort and havelis of the city, head out into the desert for a camel ride and end the day watching the sun set over the timeless dunes.


NORTHERN INDIA P19

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taj lake palace

Udaipur Udaipur is a romantic city with beautiful lakes surrounded by the majestic Aravali hills. Here, eleven palaces are encircled by fortifications at the City Palace, the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Along Lake Pichola’s shoreline there is a wealth of palatial accommodation. The Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur is the latest luxurious addition, where every room offers views across the lake and to the City Palace. The white marble Lake Palace, built by in 1746 by Maharana Jagat Singh and now a Taj hotel, is situated on a four acre island in the middle of Lake Pichola and appears to float on its tranquil waters. Access is by boat across the lake, providing a different perspective of the city. The luxurious Oberoi Udaivilas is designed in the style of a Rajasthani palace, its spa overlooking the lake, a perfect place to enjoy an indulgent treatment. Just ten minutes from the city, Fateh Garh is a boutique property with incredible views of the Aravali hills. Further afield and 45 minutes from the city, Devi Garh is a luxury fortress hotel. This 18th century fort has an imposing elevated position and uses local marble and semi precious stones throughout its 39 suites.

City Palace of Udaipur


P20 NORTHERN INDIA

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The Nandi temple at Khajuraho

musician with a traditional violin, Gwalior

Khajuraho Khajuraho’s 9th to 12th century Jain and Hindu temples are famous for their erotic carvings and considered to be one of the wonders of India. The monuments have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are many legends behind the creation of the statues and carvings. Located a couple of minutes’ walk from the temples at Khajuraho is the Lalit Temple View Hotel. A member of ‘Small Luxury Hotels’, the hotel is set amongst 9 acres of landscaped gardens. Deluxe rooms and suites have views of either the gardens or the temples. Rejuve – The Spa combines ancient therapies of healing with modern treatments of rejuvenation and balance. The hotel also offers yoga sessions from teaching the importance of the sun salutation to aqua yoga in the pool. Khajuraho has direct air links with Delhi and Varanasi and can easily be combined with a visit to Orchha and Gwalior.

Orchha and Gwalior A four hour drive from Khajuraho is the medieval riverside city of Orchha. Famous for its 16th and 17th century temples and palaces, and surrounded by forests, it is home to an impressive fort complex situated on an island in the river Betwa, and contains three palaces. The Orchha Resort is located on the banks of the river and has a spa offering a choice of Ayurvedic treatments, the perfect finish to a busy day exploring the city. Just 2 ½ hours drive from Orchha is the historic city of Gwalior that has a chequered history of heroic battles and tales of chivalry. Gwalior is located at the geographical and historial crossroads of India. No visit to this city would be complete without a visit to the cliff top fortress built on the site of a 5th century temple of the sun. The Taj Usha Kiran Palace offers old world charm, reminiscent of the elegant lifestyles of the maharajas.

orchha palacE


NORTHERN INDIA P21

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Varanasi Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities of the world. This sacred city is set on the banks of the mighty Ganges, where the centuries-old religious bathing and cremation rituals at the Ganga ghats are a daily occurance. Many of these ghats, nearly one hundred in total, are associated with myth and legend, according to which the Dashashwamedh, the largest and most spectacular of the Varanasi ghats, was created by the Hindu deity Brahma to welcome Shiva. Here you will witness pilgrims entering the Ganges to cleanse themselves of their sins. As the sun rises, watch people gathering on the shores of the river as they pray to the rising sun. At night, the colourful aarti ceremony takes place at the Dashashwamedh ghat where the river is worshipped with flowers, candles and incense. While here, take time to wander through the old town of Kashi with its narrow lanes, bustling markets and colourful temples. At its heart lies the magnificent Vishwanath Temple, its golden spire rising over 15 metres above the surrounding buildings and attracting Hindu pilgrims in their thousands. Our favourite hotel in Varanasi is the Nadesar Palace. Since 1835, the property has been hosting royalty and now provides luxury boutique accommodation with just 10 beautifully furnished rooms. The Nadesar Palace serves as an oasis away from the bustling city life of Varanasi.

varanasi

portrait of a Sadhu, Varanasi

Š Michael Becker


TEA PICKERS IN DARJEELING, west BENGAL

himalaya The Himalaya represent the awe-inspiring power, beauty and grandeur of nature.

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BEST TIME TO BE HERE

PA K I S TA N

tibet SHIMLA

DEHRADUN HARIDWAR

NEPAL DELHI

DARJEELING

bh u tan

bagdogra

bangladesh INDIA

The best time for exploring the Himalaya is from March to May and from October to December. The climate varies in the Himalayan region according to elevation. Lush tropical valleys rise up to the snowcapped mountain peaks. From March to November you will often see tea-pickers on the mountain slopes around Darjeeling. EXTENSION SUGGESTION

HIGHLIGHTS

capital of India until 1911. Staying at the

DRAMATIC MOUNTAIN SCENERY

Oberoi Grand Hotel for two nights, explore the

Wherever you travel in the Himalaya, you

city including a visit to the Kali temple.

will be surrounded by stunning vistas.

Sikkim Fly to Bagdogra and travel by

Kanchenjunga, India’s highest mountain and

road into Sikkim. Spend two nights in both

third highest in the world, dominates the

Kalimpong and Gangtok to explore the

skyline with its snow-capped peaks.

colourful monasteries that are scattered in

HILL STATIONS The remote hill stations of

the hillsides. This area of North East India is

the Himalaya have many colonial influences

bordered by Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.

from when the British retreated here to enjoy

Darjeeling The foothills of the Himalaya

the cooler mountain air and to escape the

became a summer retreat during the days of

humidity of the monsoon. Darjeeling, with

the British Raj in India, where the temperate

its lush green tea plantations and its World

climate of the hill stations around Darjeeling

Heritage railway, is a perennial favourite.

offered perfect conditions for growing tea.

WELL BEING Absorb the incredible views,

There is a good choice of accommodation in

fresh mountain air and take time to relax

Darjeeling, such as the nostalgic Windamere

with a visit to one of the many spas and

or the Mayfair Hotel. Alternatively, stay at the

wellness centres.

delightful Glenburn Tea Estate. This charming

WE RECOMMEND Follow in the footsteps of the Raj on a tour of north-eastern India. This journey is a perfect extension to a north India itinerary and is ideal

retreat offers incredible views of the Himalaya and the tea plantations that cling to the mountainside, an excellent base from which to make day trips to Darjeeling and Kalimpong.

for repeat visitors to India looking to explore

Low Season 8 nights from £1,815 per person,

the region in a little more depth.

excluding international flights

Kolkata Start in the vibrant city of Kolkata

High Season 8 nights from £1,925 per person,

(previously known as Calcutta), the former

excluding international flights

Shimla For a complete Himalayan experience, it is possible to extend this itinerary to the Shimla area. Fly from Delhi to Shimla or Chandigarh and then drive through spectacular scenery to Wildflower Hall. Once the home of Lord Kitchener of Kharthoum, this wonderfully remote mountain retreat has been painstakingly rebuilt to bring world-class comforts to this fascinating, littleknown part of the world. As a member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’ and part of the prestigious Oberoi group, not only is the decor exquisite but presentation and standards are high Alternatively, extend your journey into Assam where you can visit Kaziranga National Park, renowned for its population of one-horned Indian rhinoceros.

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P24 HIMALAYA

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Oberoi Wildflower Hall, shimla

windamere hotel, darjeeling

Shimla During the days of the British Raj in India, Shimla became the summer residence for many. Located in the northwest Himalaya its cool mountain climate provided a suitable escape from the humidity of the monsoon season. The surrounding mountains offer white-water rafting, mountain biking, horse riding and of course trekking. Wildflower Hall, near Shimla, was once the home of Lord Kitchener of Kharthoum and is a wonderfully remote mountain retreat set amongst 22 acres of pine and cedar woods. The Oberoi spa at the resort offers holistic treatments based on Ayurveda, Oriental and Western traditions and is an ideal place to unwind and take in the mountain air. The Oberoi Cecil Shimla is a sister property to Wildflower Hall. Built over a hundred years ago as a Himalayan hill station, the hotel offers incredible views across the valley. Roaring log fires and period furniture create a colonial ambience throughout.

Darjeeling Darjeeling, the remote hill station of the British, has a magnificent backdrop of the Himalaya. Its steep narrow streets are served by the Himalayan Mountain Railway whilst its fertile slopes are perfect for tea plantations. There is, however, more to Darjeeling than tea and trains. The Himalayan Mountain Institute is a showcase for the early explorers who faced the challenge of scaling Everest and is dedicated to its founder, Sherpa Tenzing. The town is colonial in style and amongst the surrounding hills, you will find monasteries bedecked with colourful prayer flags. Little has changed at the colonial Windamere Hotel which first opened its doors to guests in the 1800s. The property exudes character. Afternoon tea, (Darjeeling of course) is still served in the parlour and home cooked roasts and a choice of Indian specialities are served in the candlelit restaurant. The nearby Mayfair hotel provides a more modern alternative and both offer a central location with easy access to the town. young Indian girl, Sikkim


HIMALAYA P25

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entrance to ananda

Ananda in the Himalaya Surrounded by the Himalayan foothills and overlooking the Ganges River, this elegant destination spa resort effortlessly celebrates the spiritual teachings and philosophies of this spectacular and unspoiled region. The public areas are in a section of the Palace of the Maharajah of Tehri Garhwal and include nostaligic touches, such as one of the first billiard tables to reach Asia. There are 75 spacious and luxurious rooms offering all modern comforts plus exceptional views over the gardens and the mountains beyond, all equipped with air-conditioning, private balcony, personal yoga mat and bathroom with breathtaking bathtub views. Suites have their own gardens, whilst the sumptuous Viceregal Suite has an extensive terrace and outdoor spa pool. The spa at Ananda offers an extensive menu of nearly 80 body and beauty treatments combining traditional Indian Ayurveda with western approaches. Therapists, healers and Ayurvedic doctors visit Ananda regularly to share their holistic and well-being master classes. Spa packages include de-stress, detoxification, anti-ageing and weight loss programmes. Each of the programmes is tailor made to suit individual requirements. Cook your way to better health with a lesson from the Ananda chef, take a relaxing game of golf on the six-hole course or simply absorb the clear Himalayan mountain air that envelope the resort. Ananda in the Himalaya is a wonderful extension to any Indian journey.

yoga at ananda


wildlife of india The incredible richness of Indian wildlife is perhaps not sufficiently realised.

call 0845 0700 615 to speak to an expert or visit www.abercrombiekent.co.uk P26 wildlife of india


nepal

b h u ta n

The Royal Bengal Tiger, Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

DELHI

KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK

b a n g l a de s h RANTHAMBORE BANDHAVGARH

PENCH

satpura KANHA NAGpur

i n di a

HIGHLIGHTS

banks of the Banjaar River. Over the next two

SEARCHING FOR TIGER ON ELEPHANT

days enjoy early morning and late afternoon

The majestic elephant is one of the best ways

game drives searching for tiger. Kanha is

of looking for tiger. The elephant’s elevated

a particularly attractive park where the

height enhances the chances of spotting the

landscape is just as interesting as the wildlife.

elusive cat, while the silent approach can lead

Bandhavgarh Drive from Kanha to

to a close encounter.

Bandhavgarh to spend a further three nights

ONE HORNED RHINOCEROS IN

at Mahua Kothi, another sumptuous Taj

KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK One of

property, situated just outside the park.

the great conservation successes, Kaziranga

Bandhavgarh was originally the private

is now home to the largest population of the

hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Rewa. It

greater one-horned rhinoceros in the world.

was given National Park status in 1968 and is

Kaziranga’s habitat of grassland, swamp and

reputed to be one of the best places on earth

thickets provides ideal grazing.

to spot tiger. Early morning and late afternoon

TREKKING FOR SNOW LEOPARD Whilst

game drives will allow you to also view the

sightings of snow leopard are rare, Ladakh

rich and varied bird life while searching for

in far north India, sandwiched between the

tiger, leopard, Asian elephant, barking deer

Karakoram and Himalayan mountain ranges,

and wild oxon.

attracts energetic wildlife enthusiasts who

Khajuraho After six nights looking for

relish the opportunity to trek high into the

wildlife, journey to Khajuraho to visit the

mountains in search of this secretive animal.

Chandela Temples that date back to the 10th

WE RECOMMEND

and 11th century, featuring erotic art and

A superb Indian wildlife experience, taking in two of India’s finest parks with the option to travel on to Ranthambore.

Mumbai Spend a few days in Mumbai

wonderful sculpture. Fly back to Delhi to connect to your international flight home or extend your journey to take in Ranthambore National Park.

allowing ample time to explore this vibrant

Low Season 11 nights from £4,625 per person,

and engaging city.

including international flights

Kanha Fly to Nagpur from where you will be

High Season 11 nights from £6,229 per person,

driven to Kanha. Staying at Banjaar Tola for

including international flights

three nights, a Taj safari lodge situated on the

BEST TIME TO BE HERE

Access to the parks is seasonal. Kanha and Bandhavgarh are open from mid October to June. Ranthambore and Pench enjoy an extended season opening in early October. Kaziranga opens in early November to early April. March and April are usually better times for tiger viewing as the grasses are shorter and animals congregate around the diminishing water holes. EXTENSION SUGGESTION

Ranthambore Safari Depart

from Delhi to Jaipur from where you will be driven to Ranthambore National Park, reputed to be amongst the finest places in the world to see wild tigers. Here you have a choice of accommodation, ranging from the uberluxurious Oberoi Vanyavilas and Aman-i-Khas to the more traditional Sher Bagh, a beautiful tented camp where home-cooked Indian dinners are frequently served al-fresco around the camp fire. Enjoy morning and late afternoon game drives into Ranthambore National Park, home to a wide variety of birds and mammals including tiger, sloth bear, leopard, striped hyena and caracal. The park is named after one of India’s largest and most beautiful forts which stands majestically in the heart of the jungle.

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P28 WILDLIFE OF INDIA

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shergarh tented camp, kanha

safari vehicle, pench national park

baghvan, pench national park

KANHA With its diverse habitat, Kanha is considered by some to be India’s greatest park. The densely forested hills of sal and bamboo, grassy plateaus and lush green meadows in the valleys are an attractive setting for a safari, whilst the sheer size and remoteness of Kanha means that it is often less busy than other parks. Herds of animals are found in the central parklands, where approximately 22 animal species are regularly spotted, including tiger, the three-striped palm squirrel, common langur, jackal, wild pig and black buck. Striped hyena, leopard, mouse deer and porcupine also reside here, as do the chinkara and ant-eating pangolin. Kanha is home to the highly endangered deer, the hardground barasingha, as well as sambar, chital and gaur. Kanha features approximately 70 tree species and is a bird watcher’s paradise, with over 200 recorded bird species. Set amongst woodland overlooking a lake, Shergarh is a tented camp located at the southern edge of Kanha. Alternatively Banjaar Tola is situated along the banks of the Banjaar River, directly overlooking the heart of the National Park.

Pench One of Central India’s lesser known reserves, Pench National Park is situated in the Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh. Dominated by hills, forests and valleys, this national park derives its name from the Pench River, which meanders its way through the entire stretch of the 757 km sq. park. A typical Central Indian teak jungle, Pench supports a rich variety of wildlife, including the tiger, leopard, wild dog, gaur, sambar, chital and brilliant birdlife. The Park’s open habitat not only lends itself well to wildlife viewing, but it also offers striking views of the area’s sheer beauty. This national park received international recognition as the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale, The Jungle Book. Baghvan is aptly named after one of India’s iconic symbols, the Bengal tiger (bagh – tiger and van – forest). This enchanting lodge is located on the edge of Pench, a dry deciduous forest of predominantly teak trees and meandering jungle streams. A mere five-minute drive to the park’s entrance takes you deep into the heart of the Indian jungle.


WILDLIFE OF INDIA P29

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Ranthambore fort, Rajasthan

RANTHAMBORE Ranthambore National Park in south-eastern Rajasthan is reputed to be amongst the finest places in the world to see wild tigers. The park is named after one of India’s largest and most beautiful forts which stands majestically in the heart of the jungle. Ruins of Rajput and Mughal cenotaphs, pleasure palaces, watch towers and guard posts are dotted around the park, standing testament to its royal and heroic past. The Great Mughal Emperor Akbar, fought a battle for control of the fort in 1568. Today, the greatest of the big cats, the tiger, rules Ranthambore. Apart from the tiger, leopard, caracal, civet and jungle cats, sloth bear, hyena, wild boar, deer, antelope, monkey, marsh crocodile also roam this unique forest. Home to over 350 species of birds, including a large variety of migrants, Ranthambore is an ornithologist’s paradise. Set amidst lush trees, Sher Bagh is the perfect place for those looking for the ultimate in authentic Indian jungle camps. Aman-i-Khás, with its sumptuous spa, offers an atmosphere of relaxation and well-being beyond compare. The 10 air-conditioned tents decorated in a contemporary Mughal-inspired style have soaring six metre canopies and delicately draped screens of fine cotton, which separate the tents into different areas for sleeping, dressing, bathing and living. Or for many, the Oberoi’s Vanyavilás resort is the ultimate location to combine game viewing with relaxation for a few days, in extremely spacious airconditioned tents with finely embroidered canopies, luxurious bathrooms and private walled gardens.

Hanuman Langur group, Ranthambore National Park


P30 WILDLIFE OF INDIA

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ELEPHANT SAFARI IN BANDHAVGARH PARK

SATPURA Satpura National Park is cradled in the Satpura Range of the Mahadeo Hills and straddles the State of Madhya Pradesh. Satpura National Park provides 1427 sq kms of unique Central Indian Highland ecosystem. Unchartered and unspoiled, it represents wilderness at its very best. This reserve is part of one of the largest contiguous blocks of forest left in India and is still connected to other reserves by forest ‘corridors’. This region therefore represents the largest block of tiger habitat left in the world. The magnificent deep valleys, high mountains, rivulets, waterfalls and vast reservoir combine to give this park a unique beauty. The terrain is extremely rugged and consists of sandstone peaks, narrow gorges, ravines and dense forests, the altitude ranging from 300m to 1352m Forsyth’s Satpura is a stylish eco-lodge with 12 cottages set in 44 acres of wildlife-filled jungle at the edge of the tiger reserve and is in our view the best base from which to explore this wonderful wildlife area of India.

Kaziranga Kaziranga in North East India is a stunning park renowned for its one-horned Indian rhinoceros. Tigers - the natural enemies of rhinos - are also to be found. Other attractions of this national park include the wild buffalo, magnificent swamp deer, hog deer, wild boar, Hoolock gibbon, capped langur and ratel (badger). Less visited due to its location, the park offers those who make the journey here a very rewarding experience. Jeep and elephant-back safaris are easily arranged and less restrictive than those in the Central Indian Parks. Diphlu River Lodge opened in January 2008, providing much-needed top-class accommodation in Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage site. The position of the lodge is second to none: only the boundary river separates its extensive grounds from the National Park itself, and the jungle views are exceptional. Assam Bengal Navigation runs the lodge to the same exacting standards of their well-established river cruises on the Brahmaputra and the Hugli, while their Bansbari Lodge at Manas National Park on the Bhutan border offers simpler but comfortable accommodation for another wildlife experience.

Rhinoceros, Kaziranga National Park, Assam


WILDLIFE OF INDIA P31

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mahua kothi

Bandhavgarh Bandhavgarh is a small national park, but with the highest known density of tiger population in India. Its setting is impressive: the ruins of the ancient fort provide a stunning backdrop, with archaeological remains of the Kalchin period and numerous prehistoric caves dotted around the park. The terrain comprises rocky hills, sal forests and grazing areas, formerly agricultural land. At the highest point of Bandhavgarh Hill stands Bandhavgarh Fort, believed to be about 2000 years old. Mahua Kothi sprawls over 40 acres, the setting for 12 stunning airconditioned cottages which blend into the rustic surroundings. The cottages are built in the vernacular of Central India, each one accessed through a private courtyard with shaded seating and traditional mud floor. Inside, the tapered mud walls have been hand-finished in lime and earth washes, interspersed with exposed rafters, wooden beams and shutters. Guided walks with naturalists and daily morning and evening game drives are all part of the jungle experience.

Bengal Tiger, bandhavgarh national park


CENTRAL SOUTHERN INDIA Ancient cities and temples, coffee plantations and vibrant bazaars invite you to immerse yourself deeper in Indian culture.

call 0845 0700 615 to speak to an expert or visit www.abercrombiekent.co.uk P32 CENTRAL SOUTHERN INDIA


INDIA

BADAMI

BEST TIME TO BE HERE

Hyderabad

Gulbarga

October to March is the most pleasant time to visit Central Southern India. Humidity starts to build during April and the rainy season generally tends to be from June until September. October in Mysore is a colourful delight when the whole city is illuminated in lights for the 10 day celebration of Dussehra.

Bijapur HOSPET CHIKMaGALUR

arabian sea

bay of bengal

MYSORE

sri l an k a

EXTENSION SUGGESTION

HIGHLIGHTS

restoration. It is the most wonderful base

HYDERABAD Hyderabad is home to some

from which to explore the intriguing city,

of India’s best cuisine and has a lively bazaar

home to some of India’s best cuisine and

culture. The newly refurbished Taj Falaknuma

vibrant bazaars.

Palace makes a stay in Hyderabad worthwhile

Bijapur Travel by road to Gulbarga to

in its own right.

explore the dramatic fort ruins before heading

HAMPI Once the former capital of the

on to Bijapur to see Gol Gumbaz, the third

Vijanyagara Empire, the largest in post Mughal

largest dome in the world.

India, Hampi is now a UNESCO World

Hampi Stay at Hospet for two nights as a

Heritage site and has become a pilgrimage

base to explore the ancient temple ruins at

centre for worshippers of Shiva. Scattered

Hampi and Pattadakal, including the famous

around the area are over 500 monuments

Viruspaksha temple, built in around 740 by

including Virupaksha Temple, the oldest on

Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her

the site.

husband’s victory over the kings from the South.

MYSORE Mysore is known as the ‘city of

Chikmagalur Situated in south-western

palaces’ with good reason, the Maharaja’s

Karnataka, Chikmagalur is the birth place of

Palace being amongst the most impressive

coffee for India and is surrounded by the Baba

of all the splendid examples. The Brindavan

Budan hills.

gardens, and their beautiful illuminated

Mysore Explore the Maharaja’s Palace

fountains, are also worth a visit.

and the Brindavan gardens at Mysore. The

WE RECOMMEND

Windflower Spa and Resort is a beautiful hotel

Get away from the usual sites for a more in depth insight into Indian culture.

rear exit of Amba Vilas city palace Mysore, Karnataka

situated in ten acres of gardens at the foot of the Chamundi Hill.

Hyderabad The Taj Falaknuma Palace, itself

Low Season 10 nights from £2,125 per person,

one of the most remarkable landmarks of

including international flights

Hyderabad, is a luxury palace hotel that has

High Season 10 nights from £2,275 per person,

recently reopened after ten years of sensitive

including international flights

Kerala Travel from Mysore to Coonoor to explore the surrounding hill stations. The Nilgiri Hills that surround Coonoor are lush and green, appealing to hikers and bird watchers. For a spectacular view of the hills take the toy train that connects Coonoor and Ooty. It is no wonder this beautiful part of India was chosen as the backdrop for the film ‘A Passage to India’. Travel to Kochi before taking a relaxing cruise on the backwaters in a converted rice barge. Visit Periyar Wildlife reserve for nature walks and learn more about the spices that are abundant in this area. Explore the temple city of Madurai, one of the oldest cities of India dating back over 2,500 years. Explore the numerous monuments and temples, the most famous being Meenakshi Temple.

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EASTERN INDIA From the vibrant city of Kolkata to the relaxing beaches of the Bay of Bengal, Eastern India is absorbing and diverse.

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bangladesh

Orissa temple

BEST TIME TO BE HERE

Kolkata

October to March is not only the most pleasant time for travelling to eastern India but it is also when thousands of migratory birds arrive in Orissa to nest in the lakes and forests. The monsoon months of June to August bring heavy rains and high humidity.

Bhubaneswar PURI

india

HYDERABAD

bay of bengal

EXTENSION SUGGESTION

The Kerala Backwaters CHENNAI COVELONG

HIGHLIGHTS

architecture with modern facilities.

TEMPLE CITIES Both Bhubaneswar and Puri

Bhubaneswar The capital of the state of

have incredible palaces and temples whose

Orissa, Bhubaneswar is also known as the

history and heritage will not fail to impress.

‘Temple City of India’ and is an important

TRIBAL CULTURE Orissa has one of the

Hindu pilgrimage centre with 500 temples

largest concentrations of hill tribes in India

dating back to the 7th century. During your

and their many cultural influences are

stay here, visit the Khandagiri Udayagiri Caves,

reflected in the arts and crafts that are for sale

famous for its Jain carvings.

in the local markets.

Puri One of the oldest cities in eastern India,

LAKES, MOUNTAINS AND BEACHES

Puri’s skyline is dominated by the Jagannath

Eastern India is an area of outstanding beauty

Temple. Its rich cultural heritage dates back

and incredible diversity. Inland from Puri lies

to the 3rd century. Explore the narrow streets

Chilka Lake, home to over 160 varieties of fish

of the city before relaxing on the long stretch

and, during the winter months, thousands of

of coastline.

migratory birds.

Hyderabad Spend two nights at the Taj

WE RECOMMEND

Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad. This glorious

Starting in the cultural capital of Kolkata, journey through the beautiful state of Orissa en route to the beaches of Covelong.

Kolkata Spend two nights in the vibrant former capital of India, Kolkata, or Calcutta as it was previously known. Notable sights include the Victoria Memorial, the Botanical

hotel has been wonderfully restored to its former palatial splendour and is ideally located for exploring the city.

Covelong Once a Dutch fort, Fisherman’s Cove is a wonderful place to stay for a few nights. The spacious rooms and individual cottages overlook the Bay of Bengal.

Gardens and Mother Teresa’s home. Stay at

Low Season 12 nights from £4,025 per person

an icon of Kolkata, the Oberoi Grand, for two

High Season 12 nights from £4,365 per person

nights; a stately hotel combining Victorian

Prices include international flights.

Drive to the charming hill station of Munnar, the region’s foremost tea growing area. The drive is scenically spectacular, with narrow roads weaving through the lush green tea plantations. Accommodation is at the Windermere Estate in Munnar. Explore the 60 acres of forest with a naturalist guide who will show you the local flora and fauna. After spending a night in Madurai, with its magnificent Meenakshi temple, it’s time to go in search for wildlife at Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. You will stay at the nearby Spice Village, a genuine eco-resort. On a beautifully converted rice barge, explore the backwaters of Kerala. Accommodation is simple but comfortable and delicious home cooked food is served. After your cruise, head to the shores of the Indian Ocean to Mararikulam where you can rest and unwind before your flight home.

call 0845 0700 615 to speak to an expert or visit www.abercrombiekent.co.uk EASTERN INDIA P35


souTHERN INDIA The south of India is rich in colour and redolent of its fragrant spices.

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MUMBAI

BEST TIME TO BE HERE

Elephant Festival, Kerala

INDIA

bay of bengal

GOA arabian sea

BANGALORE MYSORE COONOOR

KOCHI

MUNNAR

KUMARAKOM

THEKADDY

October to March is an ideal time to visit southern India. From the end of March to May the temperatures and humidity rises prior to the monsoon season from June to August. People are still drawn to Kerala during monsoon to indulge in Ayurvedic treatments. EXTENSION SUGGESTION

MADURAI

AYUrVEDA Ayurveda is taken from two

a night in Madurai, with its magnificent

sanscrit words, ‘Ayur’ meaning life and ‘veda’

Meenakshi temple, go in search for wildlife

This is an in-depth tour of Southern India and takes in the temple cities of Madurai and Mysore, the coastal region of Pondicherry and the beautiful Nagarhole National Park which is home to elephant and tiger. Madurai Fly from Mumbai to Madurai. Take a morning city tour of Madurai including the famous Meenakshi Temple. Pondicherry Journey to the coastal region of Pondicherry where you will have two days to explore this intriguing area of India.

meaning science. Throughout Kerala you will

at Periyar. Stay at the Spice Village, a genuine

Nagarhole National Park

find places offering Ayurvedic treatments, the

eco-resort a short drive from the sanctuary.

ancient Indian system of healing.

Backwater Cruise On a beautifully

MARARIkulam

sri l an k a

HIGHLIGHTS

sunset cruise will give you a taste of the

BACKWATER CRUISING Stereotypical

bustling harbour life.

though it may be, cruising through the

Tea plantations Drive to the charming

backwaters of Kerala on a converted wooden

hill station of Munnar, the region’s foremost

rice barge is a relaxing way of observing rural

tea growing area. The drive is scenically

Indian life.

spectacular, with narrow roads weaving

TEA PLANTATIONS Journey inland to the

through the lush green tea plantations. Staying

tea plantations around Munnar. Here you will

at the Windermere Estate in Munnar, explore

see a rainbow of colour as the women in their

the 60 acres of forest with a naturalist guide

colourful saris pick leaves off the tea bushes

who will show you the local flora and fauna.

that hug the hillsides.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary After spending

WE RECOMMEND Kerala, meaning ‘land of the coconut trees’ is a charming region of India. It is lush and tropical, with wonderful beaches and exquisite cuisine. This journey takes in the highlights of the area.

Kochi It is worth spending a few nights in the

converted rice barge, explore the backwaters of Kerala. Accommodation is simple but comfortable and delicious home cooked food is served. After your cruise, head to the shores of the Indian Ocean to Mararikulam where you can rest and unwind before your flight home.

former colonial port of Kochi (Cochin). Take

Low Season 11 nights from £2,965 per person,

a walk through the spice market and watch

including international flights

the local fishermen casting their ingenious

High Season 11 nights from £3,125 per person,

Chinese nets to haul in their catch. An evening

including international flights

After two nights in Chennai, fly to Bangalore and onto Nagarhole National Park. Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives in the park which is home to deer, hyena, elephant and tiger. Mysore Explore the fasicnating city of Mysore. Take a tour to Srirangapatnam to see the ruins of Tipu Sultan’s summer palace. Visit Somnath and the Keshava Temple.

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P38 SOUTHERN INDIA

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TAJ MALABAR, kochi

brunton boatyard, kochi

Fishing nets, kochi

GOA Goa’s warm welcome will embrace you, its people will capture your heart and an exotic yet strangely familiar charm will surround you. Beautiful beaches bask in the sunshine, vibrant colour characterises the roadside markets and, as the sun sets, streets come alive with music and gastronomic delights. A former Portuguese colony on the west coast of India, Goa has long been a refuge of sybarites. Whilst it is the stunning beaches that bring travellers from afar to Goa, its attractions run deeper: the opulent churches of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Goa, the colour of the local night markets, beautiful temples and the delights of rural India just a few hours’ drive into the hinterland. Surrounded by 75 acres of tropical palm groves, peaceful lagoons and wonderful wide sandy beachfront, the Leela Kempinski Goa is a firm favourite. Alternatively the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa is a superb hotel, set on 45 acres of lush beachfront gardens. Based on a unique village concept, with extensive spa facilities, it creates the magic and romance of a luxury boutique hotel while offering the amenities and vibrant attractions of a resort.

KOCHI A cluster of islands, Kochi (colonial name Cochin) is a vibrant city situated on the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala. Its strategic importance over the centuries is underlined by the sobriquet ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’. From time immemorial, the Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese have left indelible marks on the history and development of Kochi. Moored on a historic stretch of Kochi’s famed harbour, The Brunton Boatyard Hotel was resurrected from the remains of a Victorian shipyard. Lime-washed walls and terracotta floors, fine public areas and bedrooms featuring antique four poster beds create a fusion of old and new. Alternatively, situated on Willingdon Island with a magnificent view of the harbour, the Taj Malabar combines oldworld elegance with modern day convenience.


SOUTHERN INDIA P39

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Mumbai Measure out: one part Hollywood; six parts traffic; a bunch of rich power-mughuls; stir in half a dozen colonial relics (use large ones); pour in six heaped cups of poverty; add a smattering of swish bars and restaurants (don’t skimp on quality here for best results); add equal quantities of mayhem and order as many ancient bazaars as you have lying around, a handful of Hinduism and a dash of Islam; fold your mixture in with equal parts of India; throw it all in a blender on high and hey presto: Mumbai. An inebriating mix of all the above and more, this mass of humanity is a frantic mélange of India’s extremes. It is the country’s financial powerhouse and its vogue centre of fashion, film and after-dark frolics. Glistening skyscrapers and malls mushroom amid slums and grinding poverty as Mumbai slowly marches towards a brave new (air-conditioned) world. Only once the initial shell shock of Mumbai’s chaos subsides can you start to appreciate the city’s allure: a wealth of art deco and grand colonial relics; cacophonic temples; warrens of bazaars; and the odd spiritual bastion of tranquillity. The Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, a gracious turn-of-the century hotel holds an imposing location overlooking the Arabian Sea, making it an ideal base from which to explore Mumbai. The hotel offers elegant and spacious rooms and has a mass of award-winning restaurants with cuisines ranging from contemporary Indian to fine-dining. Located on Marine Drive, The Oberoi Mumbai offers panoramic views of the ocean and city skyline from each of its meticulously appointed rooms. the oberoi, mumbai

taj mahal palace & towers, Mumbai


P40 SOUTHERN INDIA

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backwaters, Kerala

BACKWATER CRUISING The charming backwaters of Kerala provide a peaceful and tranquil experience, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday Indian life. You can cruise for just a day, overnight or base yourself at one of the many properties that are situated along the banks. As well as the traditional converted rice barges offering day and overnight cruises, the M.V.Apsara is a new eight cabin vessel that has fixed departure dates. The dining area has been specifically designed to maximise the views of the backwaters. Enjoy local and international cuisine as you gently meander through the waterways. Each of the luxurious cabins is equipped with a television, DVD player, safe and mini bar. The M.V. Apsara can be chartered exclusively, an ideal venue for celebrating a family event. A cruise on the M.V. Apsara works well with a soujourn at The Park on the Vembanad, a boutique hotel of just 10 rooms and one suite offering a fantastic waterside location. Also located on the edge of the backwaters, The Zuri Kumarakom Kerala Resort & Spa offers contemporary accommodation with plush villas, cottages and rooms, some with private pools. The accent is on quality accommodation and is the last word in style and space. Facilities include restaurants, cocktail lounge and a wonderful spa.


houseboat, Kerala


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munnar

tea gardens of Munnar

Kovalam

HILL STATIONS Originating as summer resorts for the British during the monsoon, the hill stations of Kerala are located in some of the most picturesque areas of the region. Munnar is one such station. The hillsides are covered with sprawling tea plantations, dissected by winding country lanes. The Windermere Estate is surrounded by lush green forests and tea plantations. The rooms, cottages and villas are spacious, overlooking the valleys below, through which the local naturalist will take you on a guided walk explaining the different types of plants and spices. The area is also a haven for birdlife which you will encounter on any of the mountain and waterfall walks around the property. In Munnar itself, the Tea Museum showcases the art of making tea for which this area is renowned.

BEACHES The beaches of Kovalam have been a favourite for travellers for many years, offering sheltered bays which are ideal for swimming. The Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach offers 194 guest rooms and suites. The hotel is built on a rock face, cradled between two wide sweeping beaches with panoramic views of the famous Kovalam coastline and offers an array of facilities including two stunning infinity pools overlooking the Arabian Sea. The Marari Beach Resort, in Alappuzha (Allepey) is built in the style of a traditional fishing village with thatched villas that have been designed in keeping with the traditional style. Marari is set in a superb location with 55 acres of coconut palm groves, lawns and lotus ponds that lead down to the beach. This is a wonderful hotel to relax in after exploring Kerala.


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Bonnet Macaque

Wildlife Easily accommodated into a journey through Kerala is a visit to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. This area of natural beauty is home to elephants, sambars, ibex, macaques and if you are fortunate, the tiger. At the heart of the sanctuary is a picturesque lake, abundant with bird life. We can arrange a variety of walks to make the most of the park. An ideal location from which to explore Periyar and its surrounding spice plantations is The Spice Village. This eco-friendly property offers 52 individual thatched cottages set amidst spice gardens. The resort features a swimming pool and a buffet restaurant serving imaginative South Indian cuisine. Eravikulam National Park, located 15 kilometres from Munnar, is a sanctuary for the Nilgiri tahr, the endangered mountain goat of India. It can be easily visited from the Windermere Estate. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is situated on the banks of Vembanand Lake. Not only does it attract local species of bird, the migratory Siberian crane may also been seen here.

IBEX


MAHARAJAS’ EXPRESS An exceptional way to appreciate India.

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PA K I S TA N

departure dates

NEPAL

Princely India (Mumbai to Delhi) 2011: 01, 22 Jan; 12 Feb; 05, 26 Mar; 08 Oct; 05 Nov; 03 Dec

DELHI BIKANER

JODHPUR RAJASTHAN

AGRA JAIPUR

LUCKNOW

GWALIOR RANTHAMBORE N.P. Khajuraho UDAIPUR

VARANASI

Royal India (Delhi to Mumbai) 2011: 15 Jan; 05, 26 Feb; 19 Mar; 09 Apr; 29 Oct; 26 Nov; 24 Dec

BANDHAVGARH VADODARA

Classical India (Delhi to Delhi) 2011: 09, 30 Jan; 20 Feb; 13 Mar; 03 Apr; 16 Oct; 13 Nov; 11 Dec.

INDIA

MUMBAI

PRINCELY INDIA (MUMBAI TO DELHI) ROYAL INDIA (DELHI TO MUMBAI) classical INDIA (DELHI TO DELHI)

The Presidential Suite

OPTIONAL RAIL JOURNEYS

HIGHLIGHTS

Ranthambore Search for the elusive tiger in

SERVICE The red carpet is rolled out, the

Ranthambore National Park, former hunting

band strikes up, showers of rose-petals are

ground to the Maharaja of Jaipur. Home to

strewn in your path when you disembark.

tiger, leopard, sloth bear and jackal to name

Your very own butler will look after your every

but a few of the mammals, Ranthambore is

need and the train’s service ethos of ‘whatever

also a bird watcher’s paradise.

it takes’ is evident at every step of the journey.

Rajasthan The train progresses through

CARRIAGES Equipped with every modern

royal Rajasthan with its hilltop forts and

amenity and comfort, the cabins are spacious

palaces, stopping at the ‘Pink City’ of

and stylish, whether a junior suite or the uber-

Jaipur, the medieval city of Bikaner and

grand Presidential Suite. Each cabin has large

the principality of Jodhpur. En route you

panoramic windows to savour every view of

can participate in a colourful elephant

magnificent India.

polo match and explore local rural villages

guest lecturerS The Maharajas’ Express

where traditions have remained the same for

offers a series of journeys with prominent

centuries.

guest lecturers. From BBC broadcasters to

Vadodora Visit the World Heritage site of

Chief Executive Chefs, these celebrity speakers

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, an

will shed light on India’s fascinating history

ancient town full of ruins scattered over the

and culture.

foothills of Pavagadh.

WE RECOMMEND Journey through imperial India on the seven night ‘Royal India’ itinerary.

Mumbai The Maharajas’ Express reaches its destination in the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Mumbai.

Agra Depart from Delhi to Agra where the

Princely India 7 nights from £5,775 per person

magnificent Taj Mahal awaits. There will be

Royal India 7 nights from £5,775 per person

some free time for shopping; Agra is famous

Classical India 6 nights from £5,165 per person

for its marble work, carpets and jewellery.

Prices include international flights.

Aboard Maharajas’ Express

An alternative Maharajas’ Express route is the ‘Classical India’ itinerary. The journey begins in Delhi and taking in the Taj Mahal before arriving in Gwalior. Next it’s onto Khajuraho, famous for the erotic carvings on its temples. Enjoy a tiger safari in Bandhavgarh National Park before continuing to the sacred city of Varanasi where, during a cruise on the River Ganges, you can observe ancient spiritual rites. Continue to Lucknow, once compared with Rome for its grand palaces and pleasure gardens, before returning to Delhi. Either route on the Maharajas’ Express can easily be combined with an extension into other regions of India.

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bhutan The mountain kingdom of Bhutan, for so long sheltered from foreign influences, has a mystical beauty.

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CHINA

WE RECOMMEND

Buddhist festival (Tsechu), Trashi Chhoe Dzong, Thimphu

BUMTHANG PARO

TONGSA

THIMPU

GANTEY

TASHIGANG

B H U TA N SAMDRUP JONGKHAR

PHUNTSHOLING

INDIA

BHUTAN, AN INTRODUCTION

HIGHLIGHTS

Bhutan’s a unique way of life and timeless

TREKKING IN THE HIMALAYA With over a

traditions are virtually untouched from

quarter of the country’s total land area given

the influences of the 21st century. Sacred

to national parks and nature reserves, Bhutan

mountains soar above enchanting rural villages

offers some of the best trekking opportunities

and spectacular fortified monasteries cling

in the world. Whilst the trekking is at altitude,

to cliff tops in this extraordinary country.

you are rewarded with pristine Himalayan

Bhutan’s enchantment lies in its wonderfully

scenery; unrivalled vistas of soaring snow-

endearing and friendly people to whom our

capped peaks, wooded mountains and remote

local guides will be delighted to introduce you,

temples strewn with colourful prayer flags.

from the Royal family to yak herders. Thimpu,

MEETING THE LOCALS It is Bhutanese

nestling in a beautiful wooded valley, is the

tradition to shower visitors with hospitality

only world capital without a single traffic light

and a warm welcome will await every visitor.

thanks to a remarkable lack of cars and the

Enjoy a traditional meal with locals who

determination of Bhutan’s leaders to maintain

love to share their folklore and traditions or

its unique culture and environment. Paro

practice your archery skills with guidance

is the gateway for trekking the surrounding

from a local instructor.

mountains and valleys whilst remote

COLOURFUL FESTIVALS Bhutan, the

Bumthang is where you will witness some of

‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, has a devout

the last living examples of Himalayan culture.

Buddhist culture. Festivals are regularly held

BEST TIME TO BE HERE

throughout the country. On the tenth day

Bhutan offers warm days and cool nights all year round. October and November are arguably the best months, when the monsoon has passed and the skies are clear, making it ideal for mountain photography. The spring months of March, April and May are best for the flora, but it can be stormy as the monsoon starts to build.

of a month of the lunar Tibetan calendar, the annual tsechus or religious festivals are held. Visitors during this time will witness colourful costumes and masked dancers. One

We recommend at least eight days in Bhutan, staying at beautiful Amankora lodges, which will allow time to appreciate the highlights, ambience and culture of Bhutan. Paro Begin your time in Paro with a visit to the National Museum and Paro Dzong. After a two hour trek you will reach the magnificent Taktshang Goemba. Also known as Tiger’s Nest, this remote monastery, perched on the edge of a cliff, is believed to be the place where Buddhism started in Bhutan. Punakha Take a scenic drive from Paro via the mountain pass of Dochu La to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan, taking in Simtokha Dzong and the ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba monastery en route. We recommend staying two nights at Amankora Punakha. Thimpu Visit the Textile Museum and Folk Heritage Museum which will give you a greater insight into Bhutanese life. Explore the untouched Haa Valley enroute from Thimpu to Paro, which only opened to tourism in 2002.

of the largest festivals is held over four days

Pricing 7 nights from £5,110

in the capital, Thimpu and will give you a

per person, including flights from Delhi

greater insight into the culture and spirit of Bhutan and its people.

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P48 BHUTAN

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Autumn Tsechu (festival), Trashi Chhoe Dzong, Thimpu

THIMPU At an altitude of 2,350m, Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, lies in a steep valley surrounded by mountains. The Textile Museum has an excellent collection of samples including rare antiques from the Royal Family. The Folk Heritage Museum is built in the form of a traditional Bhutanese House and stages demonstrations showcasing local traditions such as husking rice. The Zorig Chusum School teaches the techniques of traditional painting carving and weaving. Tashichodzong, also known as ‘The Fortress of the Glorious Religion’, houses the main throne room of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan. From Thimpu, it is worth taking a full day excursion to Punakha. Drive through the Dochula Pass at 10,000 feet where there are 108 chortens decorated with colourful prayer flags. On a clear day you can see breathtaking views of the mountain ranges extending into Tibet.

Bumthang Located in central Bhutan and at elevations of up to 4,000 metres, Bumthang is often described as the spiritual centre of Bhutan. There are numerous monasteries and temples scattered throughout this picturesque and fertile valley. Of these, we particularly recommend Kurjey Lhakhang, associated with Guru Rinpoche, who first brought Tantric Buddhism to both Tibet and Bhutan, and the temple of Jampey Lhakhang, which dates back to the 8th century. As in many parts of Bhutan, at Bumthang you will see some of the last living examples of Himalayan culture. While here, you may be lucky enough to witness one of the many festivals that occur. During this time, the valleys come to life with the echoes of chanting as the local communities offer prayers of well-being. These festivals are small but colourful and will give you a greater insight into the culture and spirit of Bhutan and its people. Karchu Dratsang Monastery, Jankar, Bumthang


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PARO The dramatic approach between the mountains as your aeroplane makes its descent into Paro airport may be a little hair-raising, but once you have landed you will soon be in awe of one of the most beautiful regions in Bhutan. The Paro valley area was once an important part of the trade routes into Tibet. Today you can explore one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, Kyichu Lhakhang dating back to the 7th century. The temple has an orange tree that bears fruit all year round. The National Museum is worth a visit, as are the ruins of the Drugyal Dzong. This 17th century fortress was built to stop Tibetans from invading. Probably one of the most iconic sights of the Paro Valley is Taktshang, or Tiger’s Nest as it is known. As one of the most important spiritual sites in Bhutan, the monastery is perched precariously on a sheer cliff, 900 metres high above the ground. Whilst there are good views from the bottom, it’s worth making the two hour trek up to the monastery itself.

Musicians at Paro Festival

The whole of the Paro area is best explored on foot and there are many walking trails of different durations throughout this vertile valley. The Haa Valley, which only opened for tourism in 2002, is accessible from Paro. You can drive from Paro to Chele La and then walk or cycle down into the Haa Valley. From Chele La it is a two hour walk to Kili Goemba which houses an ancient nunnery.

Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)


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Taj Tashi

Uma Paro Uma Paro is an inland retreat with an understated philosophy of quiet comfort in an inspiring, culture-rich location. It is also a place for adventure, where the landscape and people are sure to uplift you. The hotel is located on a 38 acre site atop a tree-clad hill, close to the town of Paro. Each of the rooms and suites is positioned to maximise the wonderful views of the surrounding forests and mountains. This hotel offers the chance to explore the valleys on foot or by bike, try your hand at archery or enjoy being pampered with spa treatments or a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath.

Taj Tashi Located in Thimpu, the Taj Tashi is the perfect base to explore both the city and surrounding countryside. Built in the design of a traditional dzong, the 66 guest rooms are spacious and offer views of the surrounding scenery. After a busy day exploring Thimpu or walking in the surrounding valleys, a lavish dinner offering a mix Bhutanese, Indian and Chinese cuisine will be very welcome. The hotel can also arrange an extensive range of activities and sightseeing into the surrounding areas. Sample holistic Indian treatments or try a local Bhutanese hot stone therapy at the Jiva Spa, a wonderfully rejuvenating treat after a day trekking in the spectacular mountains and valleys.

uma paro


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amankora paro

Amankora Amankora has created beautiful lodges at Paro, Thimpu, Bumthang, Punakha and Gangtey, each one unique and sympathetically balanced with its environment, nestling into the surrounding landscape. Suites are spacious and luxurious, decorated in a simple but sophisticated style and extremely comfortable. All the lodges have spas that incorporate Bhutan’s traditional plant and herbbased therapies into the treatments and emphasise the spiritual path to well-being.

amankora Punakha, courtyard

amankora Bumthang, Suite


Nepal With its bustling markets, its friendly people and great forests which are home to tiger and rhinoceros, Nepal is much more than just a trekking destination.

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CHINA

WE RECOMMEND

Annapurna RangE, Mustang

For the reasonably fit and energetic, we recommend trekking in the world’s most spectacular mountain range, a journey that immerses you in the best of the Annapurna and Everest. Experience first hand the distinctive cultures of each area.

NEPAL POKHARA

MT. EVEREST KATHMANDU ANNAPURNA RANGE

INDIA

AN INTRODUCTION

HIGHLIGHTS

Kathmandu Start your journey in the capital, Kathmandu, taking plenty of time to get under the skin of this crazy city with its many temples, stupas, markets, tea houses and cafés.

The remote Kingdom of Nepal contains

MOUNTAINS The foothills and snow-covered

more of the world’s highest mountains than

peaks of the Himalaya are a haven for trekkers

any other country dominated by the soaring

but the breathtaking beauty and clear air of

snow-covered peaks of the Himalaya. The

the region are a powerful magnet if you are

Annapurna range, where winding paths link

looking for peace, solitude and a more gentle

rural villages and yak pastures, is a mecca for

pace. The breathtaking Annapurna range,

walkers and, for the serious hiker, Mustang

where winding paths link rural villages and

remains the ultimate trekking goal in Nepal.

yak pastures, is a must for walkers. For the

Yet Nepal is much more than just a trekking

serious hiker, Mustang is the ultimate challenge

destination. Kathmandu’s bustling streets,

in Nepal. Scenic flights can take you in the

Scenic flight to see Everest

markets and people form an intoxicating riot

shadow of Mount Everest and you can even

including the Bengal tiger, one-horned

One of the highlights of this journey is the opportunity of seeing Mount Everest from the air (weather permitting). Depart from Syanthe airport to see the world’s highest mountain and the surrounding Himalayan peaks in all their glory. The plane flies up the valley to allow you to see Everest Base Camp and the throng of activity as the intrepid mountaineers prepare for their ascent.

rhinoceros, clouded leopard, sloth bear and the

Pricing 11 nights from

Indian wild dog. The red panda is endemic to

£2,555 per person, excluding international flights

of noise and colour whilst the great forests

play two holes of golf at 14,500 ft with Everest

and grasslands of Chitwan and Bardia are

as your backdrop.

home to endangered species including the

PEOPLE The gentle, kind and friendly

Indian one-horned rhinoceros and the elusive

people of Nepal give the country its unique

tiger. Nepal can also form an extension to any

karma. Hinduism and Buddhism co-exist

Indian journey.

in complete harmony and the spiritual

BEST TIME TO BE HERE

nature of the Nepalese is apparent at every

The climate varies in Nepal from cool summers and severe winters in the north to subtropical summers and mild winters in the south. There is a monsoon wet season between June and September but the best time to travel is October and November where the clear mountain air should provide some spectacular photography opportunities of the Himalaya.

turn, its landscape liberally scattered with multicoloured prayer flags. WILDLIFE Visit the beautiful Royal Chitwan

National Park, with its ox-bow lakes, rivers and hills; it is home to 43 mammal species,

the bamboo forests of the Himalaya.

Trekking in the Annapurna Range Setting off from

Pokhara, trek around five hours each day and up to an altitude of 3440 metres. At the end of each day, there is ample opportunity to relax in comfortable mountain lodges.

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P54 NEPAL

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THE durbar square, valley of Kathmandu


NEPAL P55

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KATHMANDU Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal is friendly, frenetic and full of character. It serves as the main gateway and meeting point for excited travellers and trekkers returning from their adventures, who mingle with the lively mêlée of vendors, holy men, rickshaws and cows, creating a unique, madcap but easy-going ambience. There is nothing better than relaxing with a chilled beer in Dhurbar Square, observing the different characters and soaking up the atmosphere. There is a range of accommodation available in Kathmandu. If you like heritage properties, look no further than the Dwarika’s Hotel. Each of the rooms and suites has been individually decorated with handmade fabrics and furniture. In contrast, the Hyatt Regency is the ultimate in sumptuous luxury and is within walking distance to Boudinath. Surrounded by colourful Tibetan shops and tea houses, this is one of the largest stupas in Asia and is home to some ten thousand Tibetans.

ANNAPURNA The Annapurna range of mountains stretches for a distance of 55 kilometres through the Himalaya. The highest peak is Annapurna 1 which, at 8,091 metres, is the tenth highest in the world. The area is a magnet for trekkers, drawn by the challenge and cachet of trekking in the Himalaya. Annapurna translates from Sanskrit as ‘Goddess of the harvests’ and its verdant valleys still provide crops for the Nepalese villagers. The treks that criss-cross the picturesque mountains and valleys follow the carved ancient pathways that traders once used as they journeyed between Tibet and Nepal. Pokhara is the main gateway to the Annapurna ranges and is accessible by air from Kathmandu (weather conditions permitting).


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Kala Patthar peak, looking over to Mt Everest, Sagarmatha National Park

EVEREST Whilst the summit is the ultimate physical challenge, you don’t have to be a world-class mountaineer to appreciate its majesty. Just seeing the mountain from a distance will leave you in awe. This journey has been designed so that you can enjoy the splendours of the Everest region in complete comfort. Depart from Kathmandu on a flight to Lukla. From here, trek for three hours to Phakding. Over the coming days you will trek between three to four hours a day staying in remote but comfortable mountain lodges. Enroute you will be visiting isolated Nepalese villages and monasteries nestled in the shadows of Everest. If time is short and you just want to get a glimpse of Everest, we can arrange a scenic helicopter flight. Or, if you are a golfer, why not play a couple of holes at 14,500 feet, with Everest as your backdrop?

DHORPATAN WILDERNESS TRAIL The remote and untouched Dhorpatan Valley in mid-western Nepal was once exclusively the preserve of royalty. To trek into the valley would take 14 days, but now, with improved flight access, you can have a taster of this wonderful unspoilt area of Nepal that few are privileged to visit. A half-hour scenic flight from Pokhara takes you over the spectacular Annurpurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. Whilst your bags are being portered by horses, you walk to Chentung Monastery where you are invited to stay for two nights for an authentic insight into the life of a Buddhist monk, including a walk in the forest with the resident Tibetan herbalist who will teach you the medicinal uses of the local herbs and plants. From Chentung you walk further into the valley to Gurjaghat where a comfortable camp is set up for you on the riverside. The spectacular views continue as you trek to towards the Dhaulagiri range. An early start is worth the effort to see the sun rise over the Annurpurnas and Fishtail Mountain. This journey culminates in a breathtaking helicopter flight to Pokhara.


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Dhorpatan


sri lanka With its blend of cultures and seductive landscapes, Sri Lanka is arguably one of the most charming places on earth.

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INDIA

WE RECOMMEND

BAY OF BENGAL

SRI LANKA SIGIRIYA DAMBULLA INDIAN OCEAN

KANDY

COLOMBO

NUWARA ELIYA YALA NATIONAL PARK

ATURUWELLA GALLE

TANGALLE

AN INTRODUCTION

and national parks offering a wide diversity

Sri Lanka, with its fascinating blend of cultures

of flora and fauna, few countries offer such

and seductive landscapes, is arguably one the

variety as Sri Lanka.

most intensely beautiful and charming places

PEOPLE From ‘Serendib’, the old Arabic name

on earth. Tropical sunshine and Indian Ocean

for Sri Lanka, came the word ‘Serendipity’ - the

beaches have replaced the jewels and spices

happy event of coming across good things by

of bygone times as the lure that draws people

chance. Wherever you go in Sri Lanka, you will

here. Encompassing 25 centuries of history,

be charmed by the natural friendliness of the

Sri Lanka is a country where past civilisations

Sri Lankans you meet.

and traditions abound. Travel through the

CUISINE Sri Lanka’s colourful history and

beautiful, green interior, stay in colonial tea

melting pot of cultures is reflected in the

plantations, go in search of leopard, revel in

delicate flavours of its cuisine, a fusion of

the sights of Dambulla and Sigiriya and end

Portuguese, Dutch, British, Malay and Indian

your stay with a few days of beach relaxation.

influences. Hoppers, kottu rotti, Tamil crab,

Sri Lanka is a land of contrasts, but it is all

lamprais and coconut sambol accompany the

the colourful cultural traditions and the

habitual village staple of rice and fragrant curry.

smiling local people that will make a lasting

BEST TIME TO BE HERE

impression on you.

The best time to visit Sri Lanka is during our

This journey encapsulates some of Sri Lanka’s charm, staying in small, boutique properties to immerse you in the country’s culture. Sigiriya From your base at Vil Uyana it is a short drive to the fifth century rock fortress at Sigiriya, where you can see the ruins of King Kashyapa’s Palace. Vil Uyana is comprised of pretty individual villas dotted amongst the rice paddy fields. Anuradhapura The first capital of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura is home to the revered Bodhi tree, believed to have been grown from a cutting taken from the original tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. Polonnaruwa This medieval capital dates back to the 12th century, and is where you will find the reclining Buddha. Kandy Stay in the charming Clingendael, a boutique hotel with five stylishly decorated rooms. Visit the Temple of the Tooth or enjoy a stroll around the Botanical Gardens before seeing a traditional evening Kandyan dance performance.

HIGHLIGHTS

winter months, when the humidity is lower

DIVERSITY Travel through the beautiful

and the temperature more comfortable for

Low Season 12 nights from

green interior, soaking up the culture and

sightseeing. However, the monsoon season of

atmosphere, taking in the ancient sights of

May to September is worth considering as the

Dambulla and Sigiriya. Immerse yourself in

whole of Sri Lanka bursts into lush greenery

the Buddhist spirituality by exploring the

due to the rainfall, showing you a side of this

many temples and shrines that are scattered

island not everybody gets to see.

£1,885 per person, including international flights High Season 12 nights from £1,959 per person, including international flights

throughout the country. With golden beaches

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P60 SRI LANKA

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Kandyan Dancer

Sigiriya Lion Fortress

Dambulla and Sigiriya No visit to Sri Lanka would be complete without exploring the historical sites of Dambulla and Sigiriya. Located 148 kilometres from Colombo, Dambulla is a unique historical site and part of Sri Lanka’s ‘Cultural Triangle’. Founded in the 1st-century BC by King Valegamba, Dambulla is home to over 80 caves, some of which have been used by the monks for meditation. Five of these caves display Hindu statues dating back to the 12th-century AD, sculptures and paintings. The temple is a perfect location to appreciate the evolution of the ancient Sri Lankan arts. The ancient city of Sigiriya has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ruins of this ancient rock fortress with its gardens, walled terraces and moats lie on ‘Lion’s Rock’ and date back to the 5th Century; frescoes carved into the rock face are still visible today.

GALLE AND KANDY The capital of Sri Lanka’s southern province, Galle, is a city with a colourful history. Its Dutch atmosphere is very much alive and its most popular site is the magnificent Dutch fort, another UNESCO World Heritage site. The beautiful beach of Unawatuna is just 4 miles south east of the city centre. Kandy, the last Royal capital of Sri Lanka, is situated amongst wooded hills on the shores of a lake and, due to its rambling colonial buildings and temples, could be described as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. Its most famous temple is the Temple of the Tooth, because allegedly it holds one of Buddha’s teeth. Every year in July or August the Kandy Perahera festival takes place, a spectacular carnival that involves golden caskets being paraded around the city accompanied by drummers, dancers, chieftains and more than fifty elephants.

golden Buddha statue, Dambulla Cave Temple


SRI LANKA P61

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Wildlife Sri Lanka is home to many interesting and beautiful species of flora and fauna, including colourful birds, monkeys, elephant and leopard. The best way to appreciate the wildlife is by exploring the National Parks, staying in mobile camps. The tented accommodation, which is set up before you arrive, is comfortable with showers and flushable toilets, if reasonably basic. The location, however, cannot be beaten. It enables you to arrive in the parks early in the morning, before anyone else arrives, for the best wildlife sightings. Dinner on your return to camp is sure to impress, with multiple courses of sumptuous Sri Lankan food, cooked in situ. The mobile camps are located close to some of Sri Lanka’s best wildlife habitats. Sinharaja Rainforest is a bird watcher’s paradise, a World Heritage site with a great diversity of landscapes and home to 95% of the endemic Sri Lankan bird species. Udawalawe National Park is famous for its elephant population. Mahoora Safari Camp is located just 16 kilometres from the park, enabling you to have maximum time observing the wildlife. Wasaguma National Park, situated in the Central Province, contains ancient religious sites and is home to elephant, deer and buffalo. However, an undoubted highlight is Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s second largest park. Yala’s eco systems range from dry monsoon forests to marine wetlands attracting a wide variety of wildlife species. Yala West (Ruhana) is recognised as one of the best places to see leopard in the world.


P62 SRI LANKA

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clingendael, kandy

casTLEREAGH, tea trails

Boutique properties Scattered around Sri Lanka are several hidden gems. With a small number of rooms you can be sure of an extremely warm welcome from the owners and exceptional service. Our favourites include: Lavender House, just outside the town of Nuwara Eliya, is a lovely restored colonial house with just five individual rooms, situated among seven acres of tea gardens. Vil Uyana has created a wetland system to form its very own nature reserve creating wildlife habitats, complete with ‘house’naturalist in residence. The individual stilted villas are located around four different habitats: water, paddy, forest and marsh. Clingendael in Kandy is built in Dutch Sri Lankan style, offering five large well-appointed bedrooms, with spacious wrap around verandahs and colonnades, and a well manicured garden with an infinity pool overlooking the mountains and lake. After a long international flight, head for the spa at Wallawwa at Negombo. This old ‘Dutch warehouse’ set in acres of lush gardens, is a luxurious hideaway with 14 beautifully decorated and conveniently located near to the airport.

Tea Trails Nuwara Eliya is the heart of Sri Lanka’s hilly tea plantations. The town was created by the British during colonial times and as a result, the homes in the area are very English in style, with manicured lawns and Georgian architecture. The lush green countryside extends for miles across the hills and no visit to the region is complete without exploring one of the many tea gardens. Tea Trails is comprised of four colonial buildings, built between 1888 and 1925, each housing a maximum of six luxurious rooms and garden suites, some with their own croquet lawn and tennis court. The architecture of each house is unique, ranging from classical to modern colonial, each one elegantly decorated throughout. Tea Trails has focused on creating a relaxed, ‘non-hotel’ atmosphere; each house has its own housekeeper, chef, butler and houseboys, conveying a sense of being welcomed into a planter’s home. clingendael, kandy


SRI LANKA P63

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AMANWELLA

Beach retreats No visit to Sri Lanka is truly complete without a few days relaxing on one of its gorgeous beaches. Set in three acres of tropical gardens, with the Indian Ocean as its backdrop, Reef Villa encompasses an elegant blend of Sri Lankan manor house and colonial grandeur with contemporary influence. The seven beautifully decorated rooms, complete with sitting areas and private verandas, are just a few steps away from the unspoilt shores of Wadduwa. The utterly tranquil Reef Spa has its own courtyard gardens and secluded outdoor baths. Complete your mind and body rejuvenation with the meditation and yoga pavilion and all weather tennis courts, bask by the infinity pool or dine under the stars. The Fortress, near Galle, is styled on a Dutch fort, enclosed in verdant walled gardens, next to the beach. Each of the rooms has either a balcony or private courtyard with views on to the magnificent gardens, water features or the Indian Ocean. The suites have their own private indoor or outdoor pools. The resort offers a range of leisure facilities including a free-flowing swimming pool, water sports centre, gym and extensive spa. Amanwella is situated amidst a mature coconut grove on a beautiful crescent shaped beach near Tangalle. It is perfectly combined with its sister property Amangalla, located in the historic walled town of Galle.

Mirissa


P64 airline information

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Jet Airways, India’s premium privately owned airline, offers a twice daily flight to Mumbai and a daily flight to Delhi with onward connections to 63 destinations across India and beyond including Colombo and Kathmandu. Economy Class offers a generous 32” seat pitch, whilst in Premiere you can relax on a 73” flat bed. First Class offers uncompromising luxury with just eight suites providing a private individual space. Throughout all cabins, you will experience a choice of Indian and international cuisine, an on demand entertainment system and exceptional service.

Upper Class guests are pampered before they have even left the UK, with a separate check-in area and a quick transfer through a dedicated security channel so that you can make full use of the Clubhouse lounge before your flight. Generous seat pitches are available in Economy (32”) and Premium Economy (38”). In all cabins you have personal television screens with hours of entertainment from the latest blockbuster movies to the hottest television shows as well as dedicated children’s channels. Virgin Atlantic flies daily from London Heathrow to Delhi.

Departing from London Heathrow’s Terminal 5, British Airways fly to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. World Traveller has a 32” seat pitch, World Traveller Plus 38”, Club World a 6’ flat bed and in First you can relax in a 6’ 6” bed. Audio Video on Demand is available in all cabins with 200 channels of entertainment. Complimentary meals and drinks are served, or if you are travelling in Club World you can also help yourself to drinks and snacks from the Club Kitchen. In First you have a choice of formal or informal dining.

A warm welcome awaits you on Sri Lankan Airways who fly direct to Colombo with onward connections to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Trivandrum and the Maldives. Economy class offers a 32” seat pitch with individual seat back televisions, a choice of meals and a complimentary bar service. Business class has a seat pitch of 58” reclining seat and entertainment is provided with 18 movie and television channels. Western and Eastern dishes are accompanied with champagne, wine, liquers or if you prefer you can choose from the tea menu.


a&K online P65

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a&K maGaZine Our magazine, published three times a year, in January, May and September, lets you in on the travels and experiences of our consultants as they journey to exotic locations building their knowledge and insight, checking out new hotels, destinations and experiences. It highlights our favourite places and brings you closer to the world of A&K. If you would like to receive a copy, please let us know by calling us or registering on:

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WeBSite

e-neWSletterS

The A&K website opens up a world of ideas. It is brimming with information, news, special offers and examples of the kind of itineraries we create. It’s a great place to find out more about our team, browse for ideas or see more detail of a particular destination or hotel. We constantly update it with our latest products, events and blogs from our consultants as they travel the world experiencing new places.

If you would like to be kept up to date with the latest from A&K, new hotels and special offers, you can subscribe to receive our e-news. Each month we send an email to our subscribers sharing our insights and thoughts on the ever-changing world of travel. We also send a monthly bulletin detailing savings to be made and the best offers from around the globe.

Here you can make an initial enquiry, chat online with one of our consultants in real time or look through our other brochures, which you can order via the post, download as a pdf or flip through as an electronic book.

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P66 further information

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BOOKING YOUR HOLIDAY

2829 or visit their website at www.fco.gov.uk/

travel. Names entered on your Booking Form

HOLIDAY INSURANCE

To discuss your holiday with our experienced

knowbeforeyougo

must agree with those on the passports you will

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be using. This will enable us to ensure that your

have adequate insurance protection against

Sales Consultants please telephone us anytime Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 6.00pm.

YOUR SAFETY

air tickets carry your correct identity.

cancellation, medical and other expenses. You

To book your holiday. You should complete

At Abercrombie & Kent we pride ourselves

Honeymooners. Newly-weds should also

must ensure that you have taken out insurance

and sign a Booking Form (hard copy or online),

on selecting the highest quality hotels and

ensure that they carry a copy of their marriage

and confirm this to us, with details, in writing

and send it, together with a deposit as specified

services available to make your holiday the

certificate.

on your Booking Form. If undertaking activities

and the relevant details of your insurer. You may

best. However, because we travel to interesting

Visas. Visas are required for UK passport

considered by some insurers as ‘hazardous’, for

also book your holiday through an ABTA Travel

destinations, often off the beaten track, it is not

holders for India, Nepal and Bhutan. On average,

example scuba-diving or other watersports,

Agent, who will then be responsible for all

always possible to find standards that match

a minimum of one week (per country) is

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those we take for granted in the UK. The safety

necessary for obtaining a visa. Visa requirements

coverage. Please note that travel insurance

make sure you read our booking conditions

standards and regulations which apply overseas

can change at short notice.

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before confirming.

are those of the country you visit. General

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Confirmation & Payment. After receipt of

standards of safety and hygiene, fire precautions

before departure, with the up-to-date health

curtailment risks.

your Booking Form a contract will come into

etc. can be a different standard to those which

precautions recommended for your holiday

existence on the date on which we accept your

we expect in the UK. Please be careful when you

destination. You should seek professional advice

A&K AND ONE NAME

booking in writing and issue a confirmation

are in unfamiliar buildings or surroundings.

from your medical practitioner or from the

Throughout this brochure, you will see reference

invoice. Any outstanding balance shown on this

Do not let non-swimmers or children jump

following:

to Abercrombie & Kent (or simply A&K). This

and any amended invoice issued will be due for

into swimming pools, or swimmers dive into

• ‘MASTA’ (Medical Advisory Service for

is our shorthand for the many independent

payment eight weeks (56 days) before departure.

swimming pools without first checking the

Travellers Abroad) offer a ‘Health Brief ’

If your booking is made within eight weeks of

depth and how to get out. Get to know the

specifically tailored to your journey Visit www.

Kent Ltd, to provide travellers with a consistent

departure, you should forward full payment for

escape route from your room in the case of fire.

masta-travel-health.com.

standard of expertise and excellence in travel.

your holiday with your Booking Form. Your

Any change to your diet may cause an upset

holiday tickets and travel documents will be

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Travellers’ publish information, visit www.doh.

AIRLINE PARTNERS

dispatched 10-14 days prior to your departure.

help. You can reduce the risk of insect bites by

gov.uk

Your holiday begins at 30,000 feet which is why

A&K companies that work with Abercrombie &

• Department of Health ‘Health Advice for

using repellents and dressing in clothing that

we use only scheduled flights and handpick our

covers the skin especially when insects are at

DRIVING WHEN ABROAD

airline partners with your contentment and

The information shown in this brochure has

there most active – at dawn and dusk. Crimes

If you plan to drive whilst abroad you must

comfort in mind.

been compiled as accurately as possible and

against people and property are a fact of life

ensure that you have a valid licence. For some

has been checked at the time of publication.

throughout the world and you have the same

countries you may require an international

To insulate our clients from the stresses of

We are not responsible for facilities outside the

responsibility for your own safety as at home. In

driving licence. You should also make sure you

travel, flight upgrades to premium cabins can

accommodation in which you are staying and

all countries it is important to take care of your

are aware of the local driving laws.

be arranged at competitive prices. Typically

cannot guarantee that these will be available

own safety and avoid attracting unwelcome

all year round. Maps shown are for general

attention by not wearing expensive jewellery

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES

legroom and extras such as the use of airport

information only and may not accurately show

and accessories.

Passport, visa and health requirements can

lounges so that you arrive more refreshed and

change at any time. It is your own responsibility

relaxed. Many of these cabins are available at

HOLIDAY DOCUMENTATION

to ensure that you seek advice from a professional

special limited rates. Please check our dedicated

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Passports. A full passport valid beyond the

source and comply with all requirements.

flight offers page www.abercrombiekent.co.uk/

The Foreign Office (FCO) provides information

duration of your holiday and for entry to all

Abercrombie & Kent will not be held responsible

flightoffers for up-to-date savings.

for British nationals. For the latest information,

countries included in your holiday is essential.

in any circumstances for the consequences –

before you book your holiday, you should

Most countries now insist upon at least six

whether financial or otherwise – of any failure on

telephone their Travel Advice Line on 0845 850

months’ validity beyond the date of your return

the part of the client in this respect.

BROCHURE DESCRIPTIONS

exact locations.

these cabins include larger seats with more


A&K PHILANTHROPY P67

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A&K PHILANTHROPY AND A&K INDIA SPONSOR 50 STUDENTS AT THE DEEPALAYA SCHOOL IN DELHI

We believe that travel should not only inspire but also respect the natural environment and benefit the indigenous peoples whose lands we visit. Through our charitable division, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP), we have been supporting conservation projects around the world for over three decades. With a ‘high yield, low impact’ policy, we seek to address pressing environmental, educational and public health needs and give more back to the communities in the regions where we operate. This makes a difference to the lives of thousands of people around the world – for example, following the devastating destruction to Myanmar by Cyclone Nargis in 2008, leaving thousands in the Irrawaddy Delta suffering from disease and starvation, A&K rallied to collect over US$340,000 for essential supplies while our teams on the ground ensured that these went directly to those in need. We currently support 30 different projects across the world, from large-scale relief efforts following natural disasters, such as Un Techo Para Chile (A Roof for Chile) following the terrible 2010 earthquake, to initiating local community programmes such as beekeeping in Tanzania or Sam’s Brothers Clean Water project in Cambodia. For every booking we take, a donation is made to A&K Philanthropy and you are welcome to visit our projects when travelling with us. A full list of our projects can be seen on www.akphilanthropy.com


MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA AND ETHIOPIA

INDIA, HIMALAYA AND SRI LANKA

AUSTRALASIA AND THE FAR EAST

LATIN AMERICA

CITYSCAPE

ESCAPE

ANTARCTICA

VOYAGE

INDIA, HIMALAYA AND SRI LANKA 2011/12

SAFARI

Abercrombie & Kent Ltd, St George’s House, Ambrose Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 3LG, UK Tel: 0845 0700 600 • Fax: +44 (0)1242 547 707 • abercrombiekent.co.uk You are welcome to visit us in our Cheltenham offices or alternatively visit: Abercrombie & Kent Private Travel, At Harrods, 87 – 135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7173 6440 • Fax: +44 (0)20 7173 6441

INDIA, HIMALAYA AND SRI LANKA


Abercrombie and Kent India, Himalaya & Sri Lanka