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ith w rts ay o st Res ht ig s & -n el ur ot fo tt H a Hy

APRIL 2012




Jungle Fever

Emerald fauna, pink dolphins and bucketloads of charm in Suriname Produced in International Media Production Zone

Secluded retreats to stun the senses...


Mimi Spencer loses herself in the outback


The bizarre beauty of Britain’s best-loved beach



The latest news, events and launches happening all over the world.


Pick between traditional ryokan-style digs and high art design in Tokyo.



Three sensational snapshots from around the globe.


Escape from it all in one of these secluded treasures.


Switzerland’s capital boasts bears, politicos and Unesco-listed cobbles.


Uncover Zulu roots and Indian influences in this charismatic city.


Don’t forget to enter this month’s competition, courtesy of Park Hyatt.


Swarovski-trimmed touches in the UK’s devilishly decadent Crazy Bear Hotel.



FEATURES 32 COSTA BRAVA A surreal dalliance with Dalí leaves Simon Calder in a spin.


Eccentricities and chips abound on the UK’s quirky south coast.


Sarah Barrell seeks out a wilderness escape on the earth’s driest continent – but first has to brave the rain.


Gavin Bell hops on board the Oslo to Bergen tourist train for hobbit houses, arctic foxes and Art Nouveau design.


Dancing for dolphins and peering over waterfalls in Guyana and Suriname.

Deck chairs and pier, Brighton Beach. Ethel Davies / Photolibrary



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April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 3

The Musician’s Penthouse The seven exceptional two-storey penthouses at Corinthia Hotel London offer the highest level of elegant and spacious accommodation – up to 5,000 sq ft / 465 sq m. The Musician’s Penthouse, a bold, grand space, features the classic Steinway Model O piano and an expansive terrace with views towards The London Eye, St. Paul’s and the City.

COrinTHia HOTEL LOndOn, WHiTEHaLL PLaCE, LOndOn SW1a 2Bd +44 (0)20 7321 3000 | PEnTHOuSES.LOndOn@COrinTHia.COM | /london





RIXOS THE PALM DUBAI This month sees a newcomer to Dubai – the first Rixos Hotel in the Middle East. Now open, you’ll need to head to the very end of the palm-shaped isle’s east crescent to reach it – but it’s a journey that’s well worth it: a sprawling show of natural wood finishes, lime green accents and floor-to-ceiling glass windows dominate the lobby, while its 261 rooms give way to a bevy of luxurious suites – no more so than the four-bedroom Penthouse Suite whose highlights include a sprawling terrace, sea-facing tub and 24-hour butler service.

If you have your heart set on relaxing, head out to the pool where you’ll also find a cotton-white stretch of beach and cool, white cabanas – a glamorous spot in which to lounge with a glass of something cool. The hotel’s Rixos Royal Spa is the place to take pampering to higher levels, be it with a water ritual, massage or reinvigorating drink in its Vitamin Bar. And if boisterous little ones threaten your quiet time, The Rixy Club and Baby Butlers (for one- to three-year-olds) will keep them occupied. April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 5



The Godfather of Resorts

Find a new five-star retreat in Italy this April, brought to you by a film-making legend... What could be more deliciously Italian than resting your head in a restored 19th-century villa, in the Basilicata region, created by the man who brought us The Godfather: Francis Ford Coppola? The director’s latest resort, Palazzo Margherita, is exactly that, proving a beautiful getaway for film fans and jet setters alike. Seek out charming Bernalda (the birthplace of his grandfather, Agostino Coppola) where every inch of the 1892 villa is a vision to behold. Its revamp comes in partnership with French interior designer Jacques Grange, marrying old Italian elegance (tiled floors, handpainted fresco ceilings) with

modern finishes (luxe linens, state-ofthe-art technology). Reserve one of its seven suites and you’ll find yourself by a courtyard, before pea-green gardens and, beyond, an almost-secret swimming pool shrouded by plants. If you’re in the mood for romance, plump for a room with a Juliette Balcony for Romeo and Juliet-style serenades. The highlight for film-lovers, though, has to be the Palazzo salon which is transformed in to a private screening theatre at night, where you can watch one of Coppola’s personally-curated collection of 300 classic Italian films.


Matthew Hirtes, travel journalist and author of Going Local in Gran Canaria, checks in with KWT to share his favoured travel spot – as well as a few top tips…

The locals have a saying – ‘see Agaete and leave’ because they’re worried that their small yet perfectly-formed village will be spoiled if more people decide to stay. That’s why I love it so much – it’s like a Greek island village has been transplanted to the Canaries. The best place I’ve stayed here has to be Las Longueras (; a rural hotel in the Valle de Agaete. This valley is a rich agricultural area with plantations of avocados, oranges, mangoes and papayas. Next time, I’d love to stay in Hotel Puerto de las Nieves (Port of Snow). I’ve lunched in the four-star establishment before – which is named after Agaete’s port in which it’s located – and I really love the interior, in particular the sleeping quarters which are designed to resemble a boat. For dinner, seek out La Palmita (Carretara Puerto de Las Nieves S/N) – their acclaimed cocina de playa (beach cuisine) includes the freshest gold sea-bream I’ve ever tasted. A real must is to visit during the Bajada de Rama fiesta (Bringing Down the Branches) in August when locals descend from the Tamadaba forest above the village, wielding a pine branch above their heads. They beat the branches in the Atlantic Ocean in tribute to the aborigines who did so before the Spanish Conquest in a bid to guarantee much-needed rainfall. As the party-goers head through the village, they cry out for ‘aguita, aguita’ (‘water, water’) and those in the balconies looking down oblige by pouring bottles of water over the revellers.

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+44 (0)20 7730 1234


TICKET TO RIDE This month’s offers – train trips through Europe – brought to you by Kanoo Travel and American Express Travel

ITALY, FRANCE AND SWITZERLAND 14 DAYS, 13 NIGHTS From $2,052 p/p Hop aboard a second-class train in Italy and you’re in for a twoweek trip that takes you through three of Europe’s most picturesque countries and includes overnight stays in Paris, Geneva and Rome, to name a few. Highlights include a hop on/hop off pass to visit Parisian attractions, including Disney World.


CITY STINTS Plannning a city break this year? Then you’d do well to bag the latest funky guides from Taschen. Its new 12-piece box set chronicles four of the world’s most-loved cities – Paris, New York, London and Berlin – with a trio of volumes dedicated to each, covering hotels, shops and restaurants, so you’ll sleep like a baby, eat like a king and look like a star. Flick through Paris, for example, and you’ll know where to gobble the best candy-hued macaroons in town (Ladurée at the Ritz); read Berlin to stop off at its hottest nightspot (Green Door – ring the doorbell once to enter); see the Big Apple and make a booking in a former sailors’ dorm (now cool, Chelsea-based bolthole, the Waverly Inn) and find out where to go to snap up seriously stylish threads in the Big Smoke. All illustrated with page-turning photography.

GERMANY AND AUSTRIA 10 DAYS, 9 NIGHTS From $1,178 p/p Behold the bountiful scenery of Germany and Austria from the comfort of a classic train carriage. Sit back and you’ll drink in rolling countryside, the snow-headed Alps and famous Rhine, before stopping off at beautiful cities like Munich, Salzburg, Frankfurt and Vienna – a wonderful chance to stretch your legs.

GRAND TOUR EUROPE 15 DAYS, 14 NIGHTS From $1,814 p/p For a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the continent, traverse the European rail network on this ‘grand tour’ and, as you do, take in the myriad cultural pleasures of a multitude of famous cities: start in legendary London before trading the Big Smoke for chic Paris, chugging on to the waterways of Venice and ending in romantic Rome – plus much more besides...

8 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


Great British Grub

If you loathe plane food you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when flying from Dubai to London this summer: British Airways long-haul passengers can spend the route sinking their teeth into menus devised by Heston Blumenthal’s culinary protégé Simon Hulstone, who has joined forces with the super chef and BA to bring travellers a menu of British-inspired fare. “Simon has created an exciting, delicious and well-balanced menu in a clever and subtle way,” Blumenthal tells KWT. “The dishes celebrate our rich history and British talent at its best.” Thankfully for some, there’s no sign of Blumenthal’s odder concoctions (remember ‘snail porridge’?), rather a post-war-inspired menu that cites ‘fish pie dressed with parmesan pomme puree and a warm tartare sauce’ and ‘potted braised beef with a potato and horseradish topping’. It’s almost worth booking for the food…


Bags of Style KWT rounds up a trio of stylish totes for discerning gents – perfect for stashing your essentials in next time you jet off… Available at Mr Porter,

For city breaks… Brown leather holdall, Gucci


APRIL OPENINGS It’s a big month for the ever-expanding Meliá Hotels International, with not one but two new openings – Gran Meliá’s Villa Agrippina Rome (, pictured) and Meliá Dubai ( While we can’t guarantee you’ll escape the April showers in Italy, the property will more than compensate for any spring rainfall. The apricot-hued villa was once the grand residence of Emperor Nero’s mother and delivers a rich history, jawdropping scenery (take a vesper tour to get closer) and eye-catching interiors (excerpts of Italian masterpieces are displayed above the beds). Meliá Dubai, meanwhile, is in the somewhat unlikely setting of Bur Dubai – but an injection of the hotel’s signature Spanish flavour makes it well worth the trip – not least for Marco Pierre White’s much-anticipated restaurant, Titanic. Head there from 11 April to see what

all the fuss is about… Sofitel hotels kicks off April with a duo of openings too – Sofitel Abu Dhabi ( and Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit ( The former (set on the corniche) is a show of modern-meetsauthentic-French-style (keep eyes peeled for art by Pierre Soulages) – an approach that’s reflected in its cuisine: try La Mer, where the Gulf’s seafood is prepared with French flair. In Bangkok, meanwhile, Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit brings five-star style to the non-stop capital, a sight you can behold from one of its 345 rooms. If it’s the USA you crave, however, check in to Revere Hotel Boston ( from April 18. The new boutique hotel is a perfect fit in the achingly cool city and is set to bring ‘liveable glamour’ to its guests (plus bathrooms chock full of cool Skoah products).

For business or pleasure… Charleroi Leather Holdall Weekend Bag, WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie

For adventurers... Leathertrimmed canvas holdall, Belstaff

April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 11

Treasured Time. Our promise to you. At Rotana Hotels & Resorts, our open and friendly character means that both you and your loved ones are ensured of having the time of your life. So go ahead and relax. Our growing portfolio includes four different property types in over 70 locations. P.O. Box: 43500, Abu Dhabi, UAE. T: +971 (0)2 644 4412, F: +971 (0)2 644 4413, head.ofďŹ



The Great Escape

What does it take to convert a Moroccan riad into a boutique hotel? Ina Tibka and Christian Krug did exactly that, bringing Marrakech-bound travellers a unique retreat. KWT chatted to the duo on what makes The Great Getaway Medina so, well, great…

Where did the idea to turn a riad in to a hotel come from? Well, we had been looking for such an opportunity since 2009. We have always wanted to have at least two houses for our guests – one in the heart of the city, and one outside as a retreat and resort. This building, which is in the heart of the old city in a historic district called Sidi Ben Slimane, ticked the box. Was it a painstaking process? Our partner Moritz Theden, an architect from Berlin, and our designer Olaf Thomas from Hamburg converted it and spent quite some months renovating it and then turning it into a hotel. What authentic Moroccan features has the property maintained from its days as a riad? So many features are original – only workers from the neighbourhood have been brought in and they have worked on the finer details for months and months and turned it into a small palace of style and grace.

What was the most difficult thing you faced? Actually, it wasn’t the building process that was difficult as there is great craftmanship in Marrakech. Rather, we found it was the regulation and the administration that took time – everyone has problems with that! What was your original vision for the hotel, and have you achieved it? We wanted The Great Getaway Medina to be a home for world travellers; a house that welcomes people who have seen many places. We wanted it to be unique and warm. Already we are receiving guests from many countries who are enjoying this experience – that counts the most. And, certainly, we like the quality and style of the rooms – we instantly had photographers asking to do shoots here. Can you describe the overall feel of the place today? All of the old houses have an ancient story and we believe this one is over 300-years-

old. Many people have stayed here, many people have been welcomed and you feel this in the overall atmosphere: it’s a house of friendly people. What can guests expect to see when they first arrive? Guests will find a luxury boutique hotel. They arrive in a romantic city and after they enter the door of The Great Getaway Medina they feel the silence and cosiness of an ownerdriven place. In a lot of ways these days this personal approach is a luxury in itself. What do you think is the highlight of the hotel? It has to be the lounge with the fireplace. It’s a room where you can rest and tell the stories of your day or even your life. The master suite is a real highlight too: the reaction when guests first arrive to this room is stunning. Finally, for sure, it has to be our big terrace which overlooks the city. / April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 13







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1 WEST COAST BLUES ’N’ ROOTS serves up the best of America’s rhythm and blues and country music on Australian soil – catch the likes of John Fogerty, Buddy Guy and Steve Earle alongside a smorgasbord of unsigned local acts. Pack a picnic, your Stetson, and head to Fremantle Park for the show.

12-15 THE FRENCH QUARTER FESTIVAL sees New Orleans doing what it does best: heading to the streets for a good old fashioned party. With over 800 local musicians taking part, this funk and jazz extravaganza is the place to see home-grown talent at its finest. Bring your dancing shoes! 15 SHAM EL NESSIM marks the dawn of spring. Translated as ‘sniffing the breeze’, the festival features customs yet to change since Ancient Egypt: take a picnic of salted fish and boiled eggs and watch parades bring the streets to life.

20-22 FORMULA 1 GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX transports high-octane F1 racing to the the GCC for the first time this season. See the world’s finest drivers, headed by defending champion Sebastian Vettel, do battle against a backdrop of fantastic off-track entertainment.

23 WORLD SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL thrusts the Bard’s finest writings onto the global stage: as London limbers up for the Olympics, catch popular and lesser-known works throughout the city. With performances in different languages, the plays have never been so accessible. Runs until September 9. 30 ARABIAN TRAVEL MARKET welcomes the best of the travel trade to Dubai’s International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Browse flights, hotels and guides at your leisure, and book your next trip of a lifetime. Runs until May 3.

April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 15




Unashamed opulence or a design-led masterpiece? Foody haven or a room with a view? There’s no need to resort to a claustrophobic ‘capsule hotel’ – this eclectic city has a vast array of restful retreats in which to recharge your batteries START

City Centre



Urban Retreat






The Claska Hotel

Hotel Seiyo Ginza Originally built in the 1970s, the Claska was renovated into a true boutique design haven in 2003. Each room has an individual style – our favourite is the sleek Tatami abode. The charming area of Meguro is home to art galleries and restaurants galore, and the banks of the river are awash with the sweet scent of cherry blossom every April. With its elegantly-appointed rooms and luxurious lobbies, the Seiyo Gina has got wow-factor in abundance – and it boasts four restaurants and an artisan cake shop too. Now in its 25th year, the hotel will be celebrating throughout 2012 with one-off menus – join the party and stay for the spacious rooms and suites and top-notch service.







Park Hotel

Mandarin Oriental

Peninsula Hotel

Palace Hotel Perched in the Shiodome business hub, this hotel comes with unrivalled vistas – splash out on the Park Suite for a real panoramic treat. This is a true dining destination: take a sunrise breakfast on the 38th floor, high-tech tapas in the Molecular Bar and luxe nibbles in the Gourmet Shop. The dramatic light installation in the Peninsula’s lobby sets the precedent for this breathtaking hotel – expect spectacular artworks at every turn. Opening in May 2012, this hotel will be brimming with traditional features such as Ryokan-style rooms, Japanese linens and tranquil gardens.

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KANGAROO ISLAND South Australia, Australia

Fighting an endless battle against coastal winds, the rock formations of Australia’s third largest island cut eerie figures against their stark surroundings. The smooth-edged limestone boulders each harbour cavernous hollows at their heart – one of the world’s best places for a game of hide and seek, we reckon. Just watch your footing – a slippery blanket of fiery lichen covers every surface, making a colourful playground for the resident seals. Remains of centuries-old civilisation have also been discovered on the island, and it’s easy to imagine Aboriginal tribes seeking shelter in the hollows – and, as local legend would have it, the odd escaped convict or runaway sailor... Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye


AFRICAN ELEPHANT Amboseli National Park, Kenya

If you can tear your eyes away from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli’s imposing neighbour, you’ll no doubt spy one of the continent’s most famous denizens: the African elephant. After years of poaching and poor resources, conservation efforts are now relentless, and the news is encouraging – there are reports of a ‘baby boom’, and numbers are thought to top 1,600. See for yourself on an elephant safari, or visit one of the conservation initiatives to lend a practical hand. Keep an eye out for the park’s more low-key residents, though – its 3,810 sq km bushland is home to white-bearded wildebeest, vervet monkeys and yellow baboons, as well as the Big Five. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye



Joshua Tree National Park, USA The gnarly limbs of the yukka cacti aren’t softened by the waning light of the Californian sunset – if anything, the pink illuminations make the twisted shapes even more grotesque. In fact, you’d be wise to stay away – those razor-sharp fronds pack a mean poke, and the arid Mojave Desert stretches out for miles. Despite its inhospitable environs, though, hardy miners, mormons and ranchers have all called this wilderness home. Today, the gritty landscape still attracts adventurers and thrill seekers and is one of the most popular rock-climbing areas in the world, boasting over 4,500 established routes. The cacti flower from March until May, so brave a visit now to catch the wilds at their softest. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye




Seeking a slice of paradise? Laura Binder uncovers to-die-for digs in remote locations… For an African adventure…

Fundu Lagoon, Tanzania If you have to be stranded somewhere, few places will serve you quite so well as Fundu Lagoon: helplessly remote, the only way to reach it is by boat. Once there, sink your toes into its cotton-white beach and pad your way to one of just 18 tented rooms, each styled by fashion designer Ellis Flyte (think ‘shabby chic’). Stays bring

chances to relax by the bucketload – its al fresco eatery is a good place to start, with a plate of fish fresh from the Indian Ocean. And if you do want to leave the island, the sea is the only way: enjoy a dhow cruise under a pink sky (a dreamy way to discover the neighbouring islets), or row a canoe to the nearby mangroves...

April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 25

For style and seclusion…

For Jungle Book environs…

Stay at Pousada Maravilha (pictured) and you’ll be outnumbered not by other guests but dolphins and sea turtles – best spied from your bungalow-in-the-hills. Here, the secluded island of Fernando de Noronha (just 10km long and 1.5km wide) sets the secretive scene for rest and relaxation (Naomi Campbell sought refuge here after Sao Paulo Fashion Week). Suites are a show of soothing neutral hues and native beams, while an adjoining wooden deck means you can admire the sea-lashed cliffs and horseshoeshaped Baía do Sueste. While the hotel blends seamlessly with the creamy beaches below, each of its rooms is brimming with mod cons (we love the Japanese hot tubs) while, outside, you can step into a glass-walled sauna before diving into an infinity pool.

Set deep in the rainforest, you’ll have to set foot aboard a raft (and keep your balance while you’re at it) and paddle your way to this jungle-shrouded lodge. Globetrotters will be wide-eyed from the off; emerald green fauna and near-neon-hued birds pass by as you glide along the river beneath hanging creepers. It’s the perfect prelude to Pacuare Lodge, where treehouse-style abodes poke out of thickets of green and peer over flower-dense gardens (best admired from your rope-swing bridge). Whether you’re honeymooning or not, the Honeymoon Suite is our pick for luxury – its turquoise plunge pool, four-poster bed and terrace-based hammock all serve as admirable spots in which to relax to the sound of hummingbirds and sight of swinging monkeys.

Pousada Maravilha, Brazil

26 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica


For Downton Abbey-style digs…

Ballyfin, Ireland

One look at Ballyfin and you’ll give up the busy streets of Dublin for far-flung Laois in a heartbeat. Tucked away on 600 acres of pea-green landscape, the lavish Regency mansion has long enamoured visitors (among the first, Lady Kildare in 1759). But, nine years on from its tender transformation, Ballyfin now serves as a 15-room hotel. Inside, opulence caresses every crevice: sneak to the 80-foot library to steal some quiet time; retire to the French-inspired Drawing Room; or bask in the sun-licked Conservatory and paw over a too-good-to-be-true afternoon tea. While you’re here, be a sport and try your hand at falconry, tennis and croquet on the grounds (not to mention gourmet picnics) – just make sure to pick up a pair of Hunter wellies which line the lobby on your way out… April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 27

For country charm…

For tropics off the tourist trail…

Cley Windmill, UK

Maya Villa, Sri Lanka

If the English countryside beckons, make for the Norfolk coast and seek out the reed-shrouded Cley Windmill (pictured). Once the property of 18th century milling families, today its aptly-named rooms (the Wheat Chamber, Barley Bin…) serve as a unique getaway. For the best views in the house, request The Wheel Room – its four windows each bestow a different vista, from the chocolate box local village to the salt marshes and Blakeney Habour. Though, you’ll have to be nimble to get to it – a steep ladder is the only way to reach the room’s dizzying heights (but its oak four-poster bed makes the effort well worth it). Elsewhere, make the most of good old-fashioned British cuisine in the windmill’s restaurant, where you can gobble up homemade pies by a roaring log fire.

Untouched by tourists, a stroll through the sleepy fishing village of Tangalle will lead you to lush paddy fields – and the century-old Maya Villa. The bolthole serves as a charming base from which to discover twee villages, as well as creatures great and small – make for the UdaWalawe wild elephant park for the greater of the species, or to nearby beaches where you could spot anything from sperm whales to tiny turtles. That’s if you can peel yourself off the villa’s garden hammock, or part with its glistening pool (keep eyes peeled for tropical birds as you dip, from the red-backed woodpecker to the Paradise flycatcher). The food is good enough to keep you villa-bound too, with a private chef who whisks up delectable local dishes, best eaten in the garden pavilion.

28 April March2012 2012Kanoo KanooWorld WorldTraveller Traveller


For a seaside idyll…

For cowboy country…

A tiny island off the coast of western France, Île de Ré is the essence of seaside charm: hop on a bicycle and breeze past quaint ports filled with bobbing fishing boats, stopping off for just-caught seafood in the sun. Once here, few abodes are more pleasing to the eye than L’Hôtel de Toiras (we love its butter-coloured walls and white shutters), nor so wellplaced for people-watching (its linen-clad, olive-skinned locals inject a south-of-France-style dose of glamour). Drop your bags in one of its nine suites (expect pinks, greens and soft blue hues, claw-footed baths and floral finishes), before a jaunt about the port. Or make for a local market with a hotel basket on your arm, fill it with whatever you desire and pass it on to the hotel chef who’ll cook you a custom-made meal.

You’ll need your wits about you to spot Amangiri. Submerged in the deep southwest, it takes a drive through a sand-blanketed valley (and an eagle eye) to make it out, camouflaged against soaring rock formations and at the foot of towering plateaus. Step a sand-dusted foot through its stony entrance and you’ll find every surface comes in a light honey hue, while dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows serve as picture frames to the awesome canyon country. And no more so than in the Amangiri Suite – make a beeline to its private sky terrace where a sink-straight-in day bed is a glorious base for desert star-gazing. But, if you ask us, it’s the pool that is the resort’s crowning glory – find its turquoise sun-soaked waters snaking their way round a huge rust-coloured rock formation.

L’Hôtel de Toiras, France

Amangiri, Utah

March April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 29

For an alpine escape…

Blanket Bay, New Zealand Break the still of the alpine air with a helicopter descent into Blanket Bay, which sits by Lake Wakatipu amid frosttipped meadows and snow-dipped mountains. While the lodge has made the history books as a former gold-rush settlement, today the timber and stone bolthole is a wellhidden stop-off for jet setters. With the wilderness at your feet, make the most of outdoor pursuits, from the heartracing (skimming Mount Earnslaw Glacier by helicopter) to the demure (casting a rod in The Greenstone Valley’s troutthick rivers) and simply jaw-dropping (delving into the prehistoric rainforests of Fiordland National Park). When night falls, warm your cockles by the Lake View Dining Room’s log fire (try the broccoli veloute with kikorangi blue foam), or slip into the spa’s lake-facing Jacuzzi and let the crisp air rush over you...

30 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

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32 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


KEEPING it SURREAL After 50 years, has the Costa Brava fallen off the map for travellers? Simon Calder returns to the place Salvador Dalí once called home

Opening page: Air vents and chimneys on the roof of the Casa Milà. Next page from left: Olive Grove; El Port de la Selva; Local cafe; Portdoguer Beach; Casino in Sant Feliu de Guixols, La Selva.


he beginning of Spain, or a last resort? Sipping a strong coffee on the terrace of the Bar Maritim, as the late-autumn sun washed gently over the enjoyers of elevenses, it was hard to tell. Beyond the peninsula marking the easternmost point of the Spanish mainland lay, pleasingly, the southernmost resort in mainland France. But Cadaqués has an end-of-the-world feeling. The whitewashed village wedged haphazardly between the mountains and the Mediterranean is on the way to nowhere, except contentment. What’s more, its longstanding link with Britain (the Aeroport de Costa Brava, which has had year-round flights from the UK for ages, has lost all its British links), makes its isolation from the masses even more splendid. Flights may resume, but in the interim you have a precious opportunity: to enjoy Cadaqués in glorious solitude. The rewards start with a seafront where the only crowd is a huddle of watercolourists dabbing dollops of sunshine onto their canvases. Fifty years ago, the British had never had it so good – and a good few decided to splash out on a package holiday. So where would April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 33

‘This fragment of north-east Spain remains just as alluring as ever – a real work of art, or more accurately, artists’

they go? Somewhere affordably exotic, naturally, but more pragmatically somewhere within range of the propeller aircraft that UK charter airlines used. All of which pointed in one direction: the nearest bit of Spain to Britain, known as the ‘wild coast’: the Costa Brava. Half a century ago, British holiday horizons ended round about here. Today, there’s barely a corner of the planet beyond reach to the average British wage-earner. Yet this fragment of north-east Spain remains just as alluring as ever – a real work of art, or more accurately, artists. As with the far end of Cornwall, painters were lured to this isolated peninsula by a special luminescence and the raw beauty of the land crumbling into the sea. Picasso’s old house is that blue one on the corner where the coastline makes another crinkle in Cadaqués’ shoreline. And if you clamber beyond it and over the headland, you find the fantastic palace that belonged to the mustachioed maestro whose statue presides over the Maritim Bar. In 1930, Salvador Dalí was already a surreal success when he came to Cadaqués – or specifically to the little cove of Port Lligat, a 34 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


mile to the north. He could afford to indulge, and indulge he did. The man who mangled reality turned a sequence of fishermen’s cottages tottering down a hillside into a labyrinthine home and studio that almost gets its feet wet. You will be expected to scrape your shoes thoroughly on the mat before you step across the threshold into this house of marvels. But by then you will be accustomed to falling in line. Such is the fragility of the Casa Museu Salvador Dalí that tourism is strictly controlled. Call ahead and book a slot, then arrive half-an-hour ahead to pick up the tickets. Spend 30 minutes wandering between the fishing boats drawn up on the sand, or clamber over the crumple of rocks that comprises the final flourish of the Pyrenees – an aperitif before a feast of absurdity. After the welcome mat, the welcoming bear. The vestibulo del oso, where the tour starts, is dominated by a polar bear, stuffed and standing as nonchalantly as any dead creature decorated with medals and clutching a lantern can muster. (A version of the poor beast appears in the new Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris.)

The dining room and library look surprisingly conventional, but on the next level up Dalí starts playing tricks. A pair of irregular polygonal rooms, made for storing supplies and models respectively, flank the artist’s north-facing studio. One of his final paintings still graces an easel; he fled the house in 1982, after the death of his wife, Gala. But what catches your eye is a work of engineering, a massive movable steel contraption that Dalí had built to enable him to work on large canvases while sitting down. Heath Robinson might have felt at home in Dalí’s bedroom, with mirrors and windows contrived to enable the artist to watch the sun rise while sitting in bed. His bed, and that of his wife, are dressed theatrically with drapes pinned back ready for a surreal drama. Dalí and all his famous mates occupy an adjacent room, plastered all over the walls in fuzzy black-and-white prints. They show that a cruel civil war, followed by four decades of fascist dictatorship, did not entirely stifle creativity and celebrity. When you emerge into the daylight, don’t expect instantly to re-boot your sense of reality. This is Dalí’s back garden, where

the good nature of a Spanish hillside gets unnaturally twisted. A huge white egg is pinned to the roof where other people have television aerials. Up the hill, one of a pair of gigantic steel skulls has been cracked like, well, a nut. And, look, that compilation of basuras (rubbish) strewn over in the corner is actually a figure of the fallen Christ. Time to find a way back to normal life. The finger of land pointing due east is real enough. Ancient dry-stone walls embroider the headland, though olive groves have been mostly elbowed out by holiday homes and hotels. But Cadaqués remains the polar opposite of the archetypal Costa Brava resort, unblemished by mass tourism due to its inaccessibility. The biggest hotel in town, the Playa Sol, celebrated its 50th birthday last week with a party (complete with jazz band imported from across the border in France). For half a century, it has lived happily up to its name, with a pretty little beach all of 10 yards from the reception desk. Last week, the Med was still warm enough for swimming, and when an almighty storm supplanted the sunshine you could gaze out at daggers of lightning striking at the hills on April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 35

‘Cadaqués remains the polar opposite of the archetypal Costa Brava resort, unblemished by mass tourism due to its inaccessibility’

This page: Cadaques region. Next page: Cadaqués, Girona province. 36 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


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the far side of the bay – illuminating the old fishing village. The first tourists arrived in the late 19th century, which is when the handsome casino sitting squarely on the main plaza was built. Subsequent development has involved ingeniously inserting properties between ripples of rock. Cadaqués has achieved a critical mass that enables it to provide the holidaymaker’s essentials – restaurants serving fresh fish, shops dispensing colourful trinkets, a tangle of lanes to while away a warm afternoon – without surrendering its character of quiet elegance. A newspaper provides lots of information; not just in the stories it contains, but about the person reading it. Such as their nationality. At the Bar Maritim (founded in 1935, the proprietor announces), Le Monde and Suddeutsche Zeitung are the main titles in evidence. French and German travellers know that a precious reward lies at the end of a long drive from the Rhône or Rhine, and that the final few miles of that journey are simply magnificent. The road to almost nowhere is a marvel of engineering, twisting like an intestine as it climbs, then curving on a contour around a deep canyon. Depending on your constitution, this comprises either poetry in motion or a recipe for motion sickness. But for the final, essential part of the Dalí journey, 38 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

it is a road you must take back across the hills from Cadaqués. It’s been a good year for the Roses tourist industry. The hoteliers and bar owners of Spain’s northernmost ‘proper’ beach resort have prospered as recession-hit Continental Europeans remembered the old ways of tourism, packed themselves into peoplecarriers and swerved back to the Costa Brava. Some stopped here, at the first big, wide Mediterranean beach you find after crossing the Spanish border. The mountains provide a mighty backdrop to a bay where kite-surfers display their balletic mastery of wind and water – and Swiss yacht-owners display their mastery of finance by populating the marina with shiny new kit. Roses is mostly, though, just somewhere to pause on the road to Dalí’s finest masterpiece. He was baptised in Figueres, a sleepy town that – in a surreal twist – is the only place in Spain connected to Europe’s high-speed rail network, with direct TGVs to Paris. The town’s elegant 19th-century theatre had been destroyed as Franco’s nationalists crushed Catalan republicans at the end of the Spanish Civil War. So Dalí decided to create from its burned-out shell an indelible print of his life and work. He wanted “the most extravagant and solid examples of my art” to be housed in his home town. Not in a mere

gallery, but a Theatre-Museum, claimed to be “the largest surrealistic object in the world”. It is also the reason why everyone comes to Figueres. Dalí’s moustache might curl with pleasure at the queue that snakes to the box office where admission tickets are dispensed. When finally you get in, it is a strange and wonderful performance: a circuit of works by the man himself, and also works from his collection, around a garden where a old darkblue Cadillac is permanently parked. This is the vehicle in which Dalí was said to have driven Gala’s corpse around on a macabre trail of the unexpected after her death – though that may be just another surreal tale. Visitors to the museum are urged “not to follow any preconceived route”. Eventually, you will track down the Mae West room, and climb steps to the lens through which the sofa becomes her ruby lips, and two Dalí paintings her eyes. Windows on the soul, indeed, of the star-struck genius whose tomb can be viewed in the crypt. If you can find it. Dalí’s celestial creation is, like this entire corner of Spain, a difficult place to comprehend – a collection of crumpled surfaces imprinted haphazardly by man, and where the light is full of playful tricks. This corner of Spain may be difficult to find, especially now that the Costa Brava has become the Costa Losta. But it is an easy place to love.

Images: Photolibrary. Text: Simon Calder / The Independent / Interview People

‘The whitewashed village wedged haphazardly between the mountains and the Mediterranean is on the way to nowhere, except contentment’


April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 39

Brighton Rocks Mimi Spencer finds bracing liberalism (and extraordinary characters) on Brighton’s pebbly beach


here’s a bloke on Brighton beach today wearing a T-shirt which reads ‘Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls’ – which just about sums up the seafront in my home town, with its bizarre mix of sauce, grit and comfort food. The beach itself – pebbled, peopled, pitched on a daring tilt to the sea – isn’t exactly what you’d write home about. Kylie Minogue, for one, never did: “Oh come on, I’ve been to Brighton,” she once said. “Have you seen that place? I mean, the city itself is nice but the beach is full of rocks and pebbles! Not something I’m used to back home, I must say.” It irks me, but she has a point. There are arguably better beaches up the road at Climping, vast and romantic beneath the Turner sky, or at Rottingdean, with its rock pools and near-empty dreamscape. Brighton’s beach, though, is about what’s up. Or, more precisely, who’s up. Usually, you’ll find a fascinating collection of specimens in among the eight million tourists who rock up each year. Just as Brighton has its own microclimate (the locals reckon it’s a few degrees warmer than you’ll find north of the Downs), so it has its own human sub-species of what rock critic Steven Wells called “crusty-wusty, hippy-dippy, ning-nang-nongers”. Again, fair point. But they’re my ning-nang-nongers. And I love them.

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I particularly love the skateboarding terrier who performs tricks down by the pétanque pitch, and the Somalian guy forever playing the mbira, on and on, day on day, until it has become the song of the sea in these parts. I love the bracing, embracing liberalism of the place. The whatever-ness, the anything-goes. Not long ago, a giant Lego man washed up on the beach, and everyone just shrugged and got on with getting along. The beach – all 614 billion pebbles of it, cast out beneath the hulk of the Thistle Hotel and the scandalously ugly Brighton Conference Centre – is really about the people, not the place. The whole scene moves, grooves, ebbs and flows like the roiling sea beyond. On a summer’s day, laced between the tangle of tourists who’ve paid a fortune to park and more again for a sorry portion of fish’n’chips in a polystyrene tray, you find the city’s fitness fanatics, the gadabouts, the fly guys and the show-offs, most of them on wheels. Skateboards, mountain boards, rollerblades, road bikes, unicycles, trikes, buggies, the occasional penny farthing – they’re all jockeying for position down on the prom, while up on the road above, it’s still more wheels, from the tailgating traffic to the swarms of Lambrettas, Harleys, classic cars or naked cyclists which descend in their thousands each year to peacock about down by the pier.


‘The beach is really about the people, not the place. The whole scene moves, grooves, ebbs and flows like the roiling sea beyond’

April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 41

Besides being a glorious gaudy sideshow, though, Brighton beach is a living, working environment. There are police patrols and beach cleaners, professional dog walkers, cockle and whelk vendors, lifeguards, DJs, barmen and baristas and a man who will walk the length of the strip to tell you that you can’t have your dog on this particular beach (there are designated dog areas; even anarchy needs rules). An idle ice-cream eater can wander past beach volleyballers, barefoot joggers, paddle boarders, kayakers, basketball players (very serious, very tall, huge shorts), stunt-bike riders, Fit Bitch trainees, a handful of tentative bikini wearers with goosebumped buttocks, Ultimate Frisbee freaks and a geezer making meaningless sculptures with sand. And at night, when the music kicks up and the beach chills out, night paddlers and the punters at the Fortune O’ War pub, which sells drinks in plastic cups so you can take it down to the water’s edge and look for phosphorescence. It’s a sensual place, this beach. The view to the horizon as an orange sun sets equals any in the world, whatever Kylie says. There’s power here, and an odd, messy kind of glory. It’s about the naked black bones of the West Pier, stark against the sky, and the starlings in their cloud formations, circling the Palace Pier’s Helter Skelter, sketching pictures in the air. It’s the hurdy-gurdy twang of the carousel, the art galleries tucked into the salty arches and the lazy thump of chill-out music coming from tired beach-club speakers the morning after the night before. It’s the countless fallen hens in pink cowboy hats flaked out on the beach, still wearing last night’s glitter eyeshadow and angel wings. As they snore, a singer on a bar stool outside the Brighton Music Hall croons Frank Sinatra numbers into a microphone, Fly Me to the Moon soaring up above the hot sweet tea. 42 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

My favourite stretch by far is the fishing quarter. There’s a quaint little museum here, a place plucked out of time and shoved under the arches, recalling the days when the beach was heavy with boats, tackle and catch and Brighton’s industry was fish, not fun. These days, the ocean-going vessels are mostly weekend sail boats and Hobie Cats, launched on Sunday mornings from Brighton Sailing Club (the Club is run by a couple called Roger and Virginia Barnacle, which is so perfect it makes my heart sing). Up the way, you can still buy wet fish from Jack and Linda’s Smokehouse, jellied eels in tubs (this is London-by-Sea after all) or a hot mackerel sandwich. Further west from the Pier, things glide upmarket and the residents of Hove have their own beach quarter – an ‘esplanade’, if you please – up past the renovated Victorian bandstand where you can get hitched or simply pitch up for a macchiato, beyond the string of pea-green huts (the colour is designated by the Council, and woe betide non-conformists), past Hove lawns and out to the Lagoon. In the other direction, to the east, the Volks Electric Railway will haul you along

at sedate pace, past the Sea Life Centre, which always smells of boat bottoms and seaweed to me, past the rock climbing wall and the screeching playgrounds, below the great Regency crescents, vanilla, decadent and voluptuously curved, to the soulless wastes of the concrete Marina and back. Back on the beach, beyond its daily quirks, there’s a perpetual roster of races, championships and parades, the runs and rallies, the festivals, the circuses, big events like Paddle Round the Pier and the Burning of the Clocks, when paper lanterns are released to mark the Winter Solstice. The seafront is soon to get jazzier still with the arrival of a 45m-high Ferris wheel and, if sponsorship materialises, the i360, a towering observation needle allowing visitors to ascend to 150m and see far up into the skirts of England and out into the Channel, some say as far as France. Not that I’d want to go. Sit for a while on Brighton beach, and you’ll get the drift. People say it’s impossible to be a misfit here, and I reckon that’s about right: 600 billion pebbles, don’t forget, and no two of them the same.

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Shutterstock; Supplied. Text: Mimi Spencer / The Independent / Interview People


Opening page, clockwise from top left: A street musician; Beach huts; Performers on Brighton beach; Funfair Rides on Brighton Pier. This Page: Brighton marina. April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 43

Way Outback Australia’s Eyre Peninsula is a harsh, empty place. Yet it’s soul-stilling in its beauty


here is water everywhere. It runs off the tin roofs of farm buildings in a clattering rush, making great red rivers in the sand. Our Land Rover aquaplanes, chased by bolts of lightning, as cracks of thunder fall like boulders around us. Through curtains of rain, I can see vast, water-filled clay pans that look like permanent lakes, yet given just two weeks of hot dry weather they will burn off to dust. At the moment, that seems unimaginable. Australia’s red centre is green. The biblical rains that have pummelled the population of the country’s east coast out of their houses, making thousands homeless, have turned the desert to floodplain. Here, on the fringes of South Australia’s outback, kangaroos hop in sodden clumps across mossy fields and the clouds of flies that usually pepper the sky are nowhere to be seen. “We are in the driest part of the driest continent on Earth,” says my copassenger, Bertina, in her matter-of-fact German accent. “It says so in my guidebook.” She’s laughing, until we slide and stall in some rutted tire tracks running with water like guttering. Another ribcage-shaking clap of thunder and Geoff, our driver and host, guns the engine, spraying mud across the windows. We sit in darkness listening to the storm snarling as Geoff rodeos the 4X4 back and forth, finally lurching us free. “We could do with getting out of here before it really starts raining,” he says with an easy smile.

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If you’re going to be in the outback with anyone, Geoff Scholz is your man. Born and raised in the bush, this former farmer and opal miner is unflappable when faced with pretty much anything the elements throw at him. And in this part of the world the elements are not kind. Geoff and his wife, Irene, organise tours into the 1,500-million-year-old volcanic landscape of the Gawler Ranges National Park, based on a concession camp on the border of the reserve. This 600 sq mile tract of sheep stations, salt lakes and sculptural rock formations sits at the northern tip of the Eyre Peninsula and is one of Australia’s oldest volcanic terrains. Despite the area being tantalisingly sandwiched on the map between Eyre’s pristine, white-sand beaches and popular outback sights such as the Flinders Ranges and Coober Pedy, few people make it to Gawler – and that is very much a part of its appeal. To get here I have taken a 50-minute flight from Adelaide to Port Lincoln, where the airport is composed of one check-in desk, no luggage carousel and a rickety vending machine. As the crow flies, Eyre lies just 250 miles from Adelaide but that distance encompasses two massive gulfs: St Lawrence and Spencer. Circuitous road access means Port Lincoln’s airport is one of Australia’s busiest regional hubs. But with its white clapboard houses, corn silos and fishing harbours, it reminds me of a sleepy Connecticut town.


April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 45

Opening page: Pildappa Rock, Eyre Peninsula. This page, clockwise from left: Eucalyptus Tree in Gawler Ranges National Park; Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby; Scarlet-breasted parrot; Four-wheel drive on the road.

46 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


We head inland towards Geoff’s outback camp on a road that runs ramrod straight through golden-green fields, flanked by the narrow-gauge rails of a “grain train”. Not far from here, the wider tracks of the mighty Ghan train run from Adelaide deep into the Red Centre. In the days before it became a three-class, smart tourist service, the Ghan would regularly be washed out and stranded passengers would rely on food drops. “There were plenty of marriages on that train,” says Geoff. “Ghan couples, we call them.” I love being in this part of the world where a scant and scattered population makes an odyssey out of work-aday services such as trains, post and doctors. We are passed on the road by the Koongawa bus as it travels on one of the longest school runs in Australia: 55 miles from Wudinna to Cummins, twice daily, carrying children as young as five. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by scale here – both the sheer size of the land mass and the human responses to it. But technology is doing its best to master this overwhelming wilderness. Cattle roundups are no longer done on horseback but by helicopter, while 50m-long road trains or epic narrow-gauge railways transport farm goods, and giant GPS-driven tractors harvest crops. En route to camp, Geoff offers to call in on a friendly farmer who lets people ride in one of these $400,000 space-age tractors. “You don’t even have to touch the wheel,” says Geoff. “It knows where it’s going.”

But I am keen to push on, moving inland spotting the eucalyptus trees that signpost our progress into the outback. The one-stem gum tree that stands as an elegant coastal sentinel gradually gives way to shorter mallee and finally acacia – whose silhouette conjures the African plains but here provides shelter for kangaroos and rare yellow rock wallabies. From top to toe, Eyre is the size of Tasmania. It is home to a population of only 18,000, most of whom are scattered along the coast. By the time we reach Wudinna, the closest settlement to camp, residents number just 600 or so. This could soon treble if Iron Road Limited, a South Australian mining firm, moves in. Prospectors have struck the mother lode of magnetic ore in Wudinna’s backcountry and the company plans to create services and accommodation for some 1,200 workers, plus a processing plant and commercial airport. But, for now, Wudinna remains a quiet jumping-off point for expeditions into the Gawler wilderness. Beyond town, an angry purple storm rolls in on the horizon, sending out forked licks of lightning. We bump on to one of the ‘hundreds’ roads, dirt tracks that delineate pioneer-era farming subdivisions. Their outer reaches mark both the beginning of the outback and the place where the concept itself was born. In 1864-65, South Australia suffered one of the worst droughts in its history, prompting surveyor-general George Woodroffe Goyder to venture out into the

‘Farmers here have become savvy, learning how to diversify crops and livestock to survive in the harsh, dry climate’

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Opposite page, top to bottom: Lake Gairdner national park; Kangaroos at a dam.

margins of the settled country where farming had been worst hit. In one year alone, while valuing pastoral leases, Goyder covered some 30,000 miles on horseback. His stamina outshone that of his mounts, which he changed twice daily; standing barely 1.5m tall, he earned the nickname Little Energy. These wilderness travels allowed Goyder to make some remarkably prescient observations about Australia’s inconsistent climate, and he mapped a series of lines, the southernmost indicating the limits of reliable rainfall. This eventually became viewed as a way to calculate the reasonable reaches of safe agricultural development – land beyond which became ‘the outback’. But this line, as rock steady as its rainfall predictions have proved to be, even now, was not without harsh critics. In the late 1860s, a string of good seasons fed the land and Goyder was ridiculed everywhere from the pub to parliament, but it took only a few seasons more for this resilient man to be proved right. The ruined remains of stone farmhouses found across South Australia, just beyond Goyder’s Line, stand as a crumbling testament to the blind folly of the 1870s push north. Technology has now made it possible and profitable to farm beyond the line – soil can be chemically altered, crops encouraged, and machines bring in harvests quickly. And farmers here have become savvy, learning how to diversify crops and livestock to survive in the harsh, dry climate. Yet, climate change is lately blurring Goyder’s maps and Geoff talks in a haunted voice of farmers recently ruined by drowned crops. He is much happier rounding up tourists than cattle. Evidence of Geoff’s farming past is found everywhere in camp. Old chains, cogs and axles from agricultural machinery have been cleverly converted into towel rails, hat stands and chairs, combined with natural materials such as driftwood and local stone. The effect is rustic, stylish and laid back. Guests are housed in three comfy safari-style tents with raised wood floors and annexe bathrooms fed by rainwater, or in a fabulous ‘Swagon’ – a renovated covered wagon where you can stargaze as you fall asleep. The camp doesn’t operate like a resort but has set dates for arrival and departure to accommodate group safaris. My co-travellers, Bertina and her husband Cristophe, have just arrived from Cologne and are having trouble keeping their eyes from drooping with jet lag. But from the camp’s open dining room it’s possible to spot an impressive 146 species of bird. Bright flashes of scarlet48 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

breasted parrot and the sweetly-named splendid fairy wren, making chirruping darts at the ground, provide lively distraction. Still, there are bigger natural wonders. The entire Gawler Ranges National Park sits within an enormous volcanic crater. “It blew off in one hit,” says Geoff. “This is what America’s Yellowstone will be like when it goes.” We head into the park and have been on the road only a few minutes before three emus make a comedic, leggy dash towards the car and run alongside, keeping pace while training beady eyes on us passengers. I’m not sure whether to laugh or salute them. The birds, capable of 30mph sprints, soon outstrip our vehicle. The sun has finally burnt through the clouds and water lies in mercury pools on the red topsoil; fallen leaves of eucalyptus shine like shattered glass. Ahead of us, groups of eastern grey kangaroos and smaller ’roo-like euros bound across the gleaming grassland, mothers confidently driving the skittish young ahead of them. Over coming days, we park up in the wilderness to trek through Gawler’s canyons of rhyolite rock; sky-scraping, cylindrical stacks with names like the Organ Pipes and Peter’s Pillars. Deeper into the park, we find Gairdner, a vast dry salt lake that has been the site of numerous land-speed record attempts. We take it slow, picnicking on Irene’s summer salads of watermelon and mint while watching the fiery sun make a surreal Siberian scene out of the crystal white salt, surrounded by the red desert. Back at camp, sunset walks are taken around Sturt lake, where Geoff tells Aboriginal creationist stories of lizards and snakes, painting his arms yellow, amber and white with the multi-coloured ochre that threads and swirls across the dried lake bed. It’s a mesmerising, primordial wilderness. Hours are spent without sign of civilisation. In the middle of the reserve, at Thelga sheep station, we are startled by two children from the homestead who run out to wave at our passing car – their outlines in the rear-view mirror gradually shrinking to dots on the horizon. Then, nothing again but red road, big sky and a dry creek lined with strange, skeletal trees, snapped and scattered like matchwood by a recent tornado. On my final journey back towards the ‘hundreds’ road, I have the overwhelming urge to turn back. Life beyond Goyder’s Line is tough, no doubt, but surrounded by the Gawler Ranges, it is also uniquely, soul-stillingly beautiful.


Images: Photolibrary. Text: Sarah Barrell / The Independent / The Interview People

‘We park up in the wilderness to trek through Gawler’s canyons of rhyolite rock; sky-scraping, cylindrical stacks with names like the Organ Pipes and Peter’s Pillars’

April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 49

50 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


Northern Heights The rail route from Oslo to Bergen rises to 4,000ft and passes glaciers, lakes and fjords. It’s one of Europe’s most scenic journeys, says Gavin Bell

April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 51


hey don’t tell you at Oslo station that you can buy a train ticket to an icy planet in a distant galaxy, but you can. Plan ahead, and it will cost you as little as £21 (or NKr199). The planet lies in the Hoth system, which aficionados of Star Wars will tell you is where Luke Skywalker fought Darth Vader’s gigantic war machines in The Empire Strikes Back. Back on Earth the movie location is known more commonly as Hardangerjokulen, a glacier on a mountain plateau midway between Oslo and Bergen and conveniently located near what Norwegian State Railways claims is the highest station on the highest mainline railway in Europe. I discovered this by chance when the rail operator sent me a brochure outlining the delights of a line that certainly lays fair claim to being among the most scenic in Europe. I also learnt that Jedi knights are not the only diverting characters to have visited the station at Finse over the years. When the line was officially opened in 1909, King Haakon of the newly-independent Norway hailed it as “our generation’s masterpiece”, and few disagreed. It is a rollercoaster of a railway, climbing almost as high as Ben Nevis as it twists and turns for 300 miles through forests and over a rocky wilderness between the country’s two main cities. Along the way it snakes through 182 tunnels, one of them more than six miles long, where sheer precipices defeated even

the most daring engineers. The definition of ‘tunnel’ does not include ‘snow sheds’ – structures designed to protect the line from winter blizzards that regularly dump snowdrifts more than 15ft deep. Happily, I am travelling in August, ensuring that neither snow nor even the wrong kind of leaves are on the line to disrupt services. There are, however, reminders of home in the form of engineering works around Oslo, which means I spend the first hour of the journey on a bus. This turns out to be a bonus, because it gives me time for a break at Honefoss station, while waiting for my train to arrive; a chance for coffee and a stroll in sunshine to admire the waterfall that gave the town its name. The shiny red coaches of the inter-city train are as comfortable as you’d expect in this well-to-do Nordic nation, with big-picture windows for admiring its natural splendours. Even more importantly, it is lunchtime, so the first thing I admire is the buffet car, which has seats in red upholstery and serves up meatballs with potatoes that quickly put the Ikea version to shame. Thus fortified, I return to my seat to find that I am passing through several countries. First, the summer pastures of Alpine Switzerland, with cattle grazing in forest glades, then the Western Isles of Scotland, a treeless wilderness of moss and rocks and dark lochs. These highlands are the realm of Arctic foxes, reindeer, and Norwegians who like to spend holidays in log cabins with turf

‘These highlands are the realm of Arctic foxes, reindeer, and Norwegians who like to spend holidays in log cabins with turf roofs that look like Hobbit houses’

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‘the train begins the long descent to Bergen and plunges back into forests clinging precariously to abrupt mountains wreathed in mists, like scenes from a Viking saga’

54 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


Many leave at the highest station, Finse (altitude 4,009ft), which is where the Jedi knights got off to battle the evil empire. Even in high summer the glacier that was the film set is visible in the distance, glinting in the sun. It has also been a scene of real-life adventures, with both Scott and Amundsen choosing it to train for their rival polar expeditions. Other notable visitors have included some RAF bomber pilots, who attacked a German aircraft research facility at Finse during the Second World War (and in the process also blew a local ice rink to smithereens). Beyond Finse there is an option of a spectacular side trip on a railway that drops almost 3,000ft in 12 miles from Myrdal to a fjord at Flam. It takes about an hour to go down and the same to come back up again, or you can cycle up from Flam and cycle back down on the old Rallarvegen. For its length, it is one of the world’s great cycle trips, and it’s downhill all the way. Instead, the train begins the long descent to Bergen and plunges back into forests clinging precariously to abrupt mountains wreathed in mists, like scenes from a Viking saga. Having left Oslo mid-morning, I arrive in time to stroll along the bustling wharves of the old Hanseatic capital before dinner, secure in the knowledge that Darth Vader’s evil plans lie in ruins in a galaxy not so very far away.

Images: Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Shutterstock Text: Gavin Bell / The Independent / Interview People

roofs that look like Hobbit houses. There is water everywhere: in lakes and fjords, and rushing down to the sea over countless cliffs and rapids in a tumult of spray. The Oslo to Bergen line is not a commuter train, crammed with tired office workers. It has evolved into a major Norwegian tourist attraction, carrying half a million passengers a year who are more intent on gazing at the scenery and admiring Art Nouveau station buildings than burying themselves in newspapers. As a result, mobile phone conversations are mercifully rare. The 15,000 workers who built the railway over a period of 15 years were a tough lot. Plagued by lice infestations in the construction camps, they found a novel repellent – carefully warming dynamite and rubbing it on their skin. Another engineering wonder they created was a single-track road to transport them and their equipment. It is known as the Rallarvegen, and is popular with hikers and bikers who get on and off the train to follow its meandering course over the Hardanger mountain plateau. The higher the railway climbs, the wilder the scenery. From deep green forests it traverses a rocky plateau dominated in summer by bare hillsides and in winter by an blanket of snow and ice. The little station at Ustaoset faces a lake dotted with islands and wooden holiday cabins, for those who crave the silence and solitude of a true wilderness. Above them loom barren mountains, streaked with snow even in high summer.

Opening page:Mountain, lake and grazing cattle. Previous page, clockwise from top left: Arctic wolf; Bergen Railway view; Norwegian Reindeer; Norway Blue sky Mountain Green Track Train. This page: A farm in the valley of the Setesdal. April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 55

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World-class wildlife, swathes of untouched rainforest and historic cities. Donald Greig uncovers Guyana and Suriname Clap your hands and sing, and they will come! They need to know that they’re appreciated. You’ll see. Clap your hands and sing!” So shouted Simone, the most ebullient guide I’ve ever come across. She was as irrepressible as a leaping dolphin, which was appropriate since it was the river dolphins of Suriname, spotted not too far from our boat, that we were being urged in a spirit of evangelical adoration to entice towards us. “Sing what?” we asked. Anything at all was the ans wer – but they do like Abba. We were a group of 10, mostly tour operators and me, recently emerged from an intense week of ‘familiarisation’ in the Guyanan rainforest. That morning, we had flown by light aircraft from the Guyanan interior up to the coast, and from there to Paramaribo, the Surinamese capital. The warm breeze and open space on the Suriname River were a blessing after the smothering dankness of the rainforest and, though hesitant at first, we soon drummed up a cacophony of claps, whoops, whistles and any old tune in our quest. Suddenly, the dolphins were all around us, leaping like trained performers, riding the bow wave and clearly loving the adulation of their audience. It was thrilling and reaffirmed in a delightfully innocent instant our collective support for this relatively unexplored corner of South America.

The river dolphins, similar to bottlenose dolphins, are known locally as profosu and are on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) most at risk list. Bubbly Simone told us that until about two years ago they had been hunted, but there’s now a concerted effort to protect them. River police patrol the waters; fishermen look out for them, and tourists come, which in turn is helping to fund research and demonstrate that there is greater value in conservation than in killing. Guyana and Suriname are relatively new to today’s travellers. Guyana may have been British once and English may still be the main language, but tourism here is in its infancy. Suriname, meanwhile, has been popular with the Dutch for some time (it was, after all, a Dutch colony in the 17th century and Dutch is still spoken), but many others are only just beginning to discover the country. Beyond their capitals, which are historic and architecturally noteworthy, they offer vast swathes of untouched rainforest with a mix of world-class wildlife and bird watching, adventurous river trips, rainforest treks, and community-based tourism in Amerindian and Maroon villages – the Maroons are the descendants of the 17th- and 18th-century west African slaves who were brought to Suriname and later escaped into the forest, where they have lived ever since. April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 57

‘Guyana is particularly known for its ‘giants’, be they fauna or flora or simply spectacles of the natural world, such as the immense Kaieteur Falls’

Opening page, clockwise from top left: Male orange coq-rock; Caiman alligator; River dolphins; Local children at school; Angel Falls. This page: Kaieteur Waterfall. 58 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 59

Opposite, top to bottom: National Day celebrations of indigenous peoples in Suriname. Next page: Locals boating on Suriname river.

Guyana is particularly known for its ‘giants’, be they fauna or flora or simply spectacles of the natural world such as the immense Kaieteur Falls, which is five times the height of Niagara. Here, we lay on our stomachs and peered over the edge at the swirling mists far below. Nature in all its wacky forms showed its hand, convincing me that there are few creatures as strange and outlandish as the giant anteater, which we discovered complete with baby on its back on the glorious savannah of the country’s northern Rupununi area. Here, too, on night-time river trips, we came face to face with caiman, the world’s largest alligator, eyes glowing devilishly red in the torch beam just above the water line. And it was also here that we struck wildlife gold and saw a jaguar on the river bank, staring back at us, remarkably unperturbed by our whispered gasps of astonishment. Birdlife is no less engaging: more than 720 species have been identified in Suriname and 814 in Guyana. We saw about 60 of them (enough to make one of our group, from the RSPB, comment that he would be the envy of his colleagues). Our guide led us through the rainforest at one point to a spot where we craned our necks and stared through binoculars at the massive nest high up in the canopy. It was empty, but not for long. An audible beating of wings was followed by a tumble of leaves and shaking of tree tops, and there for all to see was a young harpy eagle. The largest raptor in the Americas, it can grow longer than a metre, weighs up to 9kg and has a wingspan of more than six feet. Now I’m no twitcher, but that’s one impressive bird. Guyana’s national bird, the cock-of-the-rock, is bright orange (truly Tango’d) and stands out among the myriad greens of the rainforest, but had it not been for our guide we wouldn’t have had a clue where to go to find it. Indeed, the involvement of local people at the community-owned lodges is half the pleasure of travelling here and infuses any visit with an honest intimacy. At the award-winning Surama Lodge, about halfway down 60 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Guyana, the villagers’ hospitality warmed our hearts, while at Rewa, further south, local schoolchildren treated us to a delightful performance of songs and poems. Nowhere is the ‘home-stay’ experience more keenly felt than at Karanambu, the home of Diane McTurk, where we took meals in Diane’s house, a large structure made of traditional materials with a thatched roof. Diane is known for her work with orphaned giant river otters. We met Philip while we were there, who had come off worst in a scrap with other otters. “He’s not handsome at all,” said Diane. From Guyana it’s an easy hop across to Suriname, where we found the dolphins playing on a stretch of river just to the northeast of Paramaribo, offering an easy mix of city visit and wildlife watching. Paramaribo is a buzzing, zesty place of exotic allure, home to about a quarter of a million people (more than half Suriname’s population) whose ancestors were either transported as slaves or came later to work the plantations. With Creole, Indonesian, Hindustani, Amerindian, Maroon, Javanese, Chinese and Europeans all intermingled, diversity is revealed in unexpected ways, no more so than in the position of the city’s synagogue slap bang next door to the mosque, indicative of a cross-cultural understanding that sees religious festivals being celebrated by all. The old town of Paramaribo is a Unesco World Heritage Site and lives up to its rarefied status. Fort Zeelandia, the centrepiece of the early architectural legacy on the banks of the Suriname River, was built by the British in 1651 around a trading post previously established by the Dutch. Next to the fort is Independence Square, a lawn of sorts where parades once took place but which today is used regularly for local celebrations. The Presidential Palace, all gleaming white arches and balconies, overlooks the square. Originally the home of the Dutch governor, its grounds have since been turned into a fantastic Palm Garden with about 1,100 trees, some 300 years old. And just round the corner is Waterkant, a


‘Paramaribo is an intoxicating shot of cultures and nationalities, enchanting but also perplexing’

April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 61

‘Dolphins play on a stretch or river to the northeast of Paramaribo, offering an easy mix of city visit and wildlife watching’

62 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Images: Photolibrary, Corbis / Arabian Eye Text: Donald Greig / The Independent / Interview People


tree-lined street of white-painted clapboard houses which reminded more than one of us of the architecture of the Deep South. The plantations, which were established in the 17th century, are still there in name if not function. We visited the Johann and Margarita Plantation, which had belonged to a German coffee-grower who named it after his children. At the top of the jetty we were surprised by an inquisitive parrot and equally friendly capybara (an oversized cousin of the guinea pig) grazing on the scrub next to an airy riverside café. The plantation today is home to a Hindustani community and, native wildlife aside, feels – and smells – more like Asia than Latin America. Paramaribo is an intoxicating shot of cultures and nationalities, enchanting but also perplexing. John Gimlette, in his recent book Wild Coast, sums it up when he says: “I spent my first day falling in love with Paramaribo, and then the rest of the time wondering quite why.” How had it ended up with square coins, he asks. And why is the newspaper called The Times of Suriname and yet is published in Dutch? On top of all that, I asked our guide, why they drive on the left? The story goes, it’s because the first car to reach Suriname came over the border from Guyana, previously a British colony, where, of course, cars are right-hand drive. Beyond Paramaribo the flat river plain extends about 100km inland rising not much above two metres. For a taste of rainforest with a touch of comfort, the Bergendal Resort and Activity Centre is just the place, surrounded by wilderness on the banks of the Suriname River about an hour’s drive to the south. Besmirched from a week of rainforest living, we gratefully made the most of our comfortable cabins and hot showers. We also threw ourselves with gusto into the activities, zip-wiring through the trees and across the river, canoeing up tiny forested creeks, and mountain-biking at dawn, not to mention a restorative immersion in the infinity pool with its view across the river. We took evening drinks on the pontoon, ate heartily, and sank into chairs in the open-sided foyer to watch an energetic show of local music and dance. Even with such comfortable trappings, though, the jungle wasn’t far away and the performers found the end of their routine eclipsed by the unscheduled arrival at reception of a pink-toed tarantula. It was an unexpected but fitting finale to a trip that had been punctuated by cultural incongruity and chance encounters with wildlife. April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 63




CHRISTINE GRIMM, L’ERMITAGE, BEVERLY HILLS It’s my first time in Beverly Hills – does L’Ermitage reflect the city’s style? It certainly does. While the hotel’s design is modern and offers uncomplicated comfort, the feel is residential and the service is exceptional but discreet – just how the local guests like it. What kinds of guests does it tend to attract? Like many hotels in Beverly Hills, we cater to guests connected with the entertainment industry firstly. It’s not uncommon to see a celebrity or two sitting in our lounge or on the LIVELLO restaurant patio having lunch! In your opinion, which is the hotel’s finest feature? With such amazing weather everyone tends to spend time at our rooftop pool, with amazing 360-degree views of the Hollywood mountains, Downtown LA and Beverly Hills.

Where can I head out to in the day time? Go on a shopping trip! Rodeo Drive is the most exclusive shopping street in the heart of Beverly Hills with high-end boutiques, fashion, haute couture, jewellery and boutiques as well as Saks, Neiman Marcus and Barneys. More fabulous shopping is located on Robertson Boulevard with more trendy and chic boutiques, and Melrose Place is in range of our house by car. Which Beverly Hills haunts would you recommend I dine in? Our new main restaurant, LIVELLO – my favourite dish is the tuna sashimi and sweet chili. Outside, try Mastros Steakhouse on Canon Drive – one of the best steakhouses in Beverly Hills, set in a Frank Sinatra-era-style setting (request the upstairs seating, it’s the best). Aside from the amazing steaks, a must-try is the seafood tower with several tiers of seafood with dry ice and flashlight presentation! For romance, Il Cielo is fabulous. It’s directly across from L’Ermitage on Burton way, and has an amazing patio space. April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 65


BERN With its quirky clock tower and lively medieval old quarter, Switzerland’s unlikely capital is full of surprises – just watch out for the bears, warns Hazel Plush


his isn’t your average capital city. With its cobbled streets, rolling pastures and hotchpotch of architectural treasures, Bern’s magic lies in its charm – and it’s got bucket-loads. Nestled in the crook of the Aare River, the city is Switzerland’s policital hub, but it’s not all work – the city’s medieval centre is a labyrinthine playground of independent restaurants and boutiques, and a bustling creative scene keeps gallery-hoppers and night owls entertained 24/7. Take a day to get lost among the 15th century houses and marketplaces, stopping to refuel in the city’s low-key cafés, and spend the evening in its waterfront clubs and late-night eateries. Prefer cols to cobbles? The Bernese Alps are just 12 miles away, where you’ll find lake-side retreats, mountain trails and a lively ski scene. 66 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

MUST-DOS Parliament Building (1) ( is the place to brush shoulders with Switzerland’s politicos – when the chambers aren’t in session, get the lowdown on the affairs of state on a guided tour. If you’re not of the political persuasion, the building’s stained glass windows and grand marble hallways make for spectacular viewing. Einstein Museum (2) ( is the place to explore ground-breaking history in a more unassuming setting – the museum building was the great man’s home for two

years at the height of his career. Einstein actually lived in Bern for seven years, but it was from this poky flat that he published the first of two papers on the theory of relativity. Exhibits include his personal effects and original documents. Historiches Museum Bern (3) (, is full to the brim with national treasures. The Archeological Collection boasts over 200,000 finds, and you can browse the Historical Collection for artifacts from Switzerland’s bloody Early Middle Ages. Bärengraben (4) ( and its resident bears offer a more


BERN’S BEST… LEAFY RETREATS Bundesterrasse, on the south side of

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Shutterstock.

the Federal Palace, is a see-and-beseen sun trap favoured by parliament members; perfect for picnics. Kleine Schanze, once part of the city’s fortifications, boasts a bandstand – look out for free public performances on festival days and national holidays. Grosse Schanze is popular with students – afterall, the University of Bern is just a stone’s throw away. Grab lunch from one of the campus’s eateries and watch the world go by.

lively (and fearsome) reminder of Bern’s heritage. Located just outside the city centre, the bear pits of the 16th century held the animals for public amusement, but now the bears roam their own spacious park. The city owes its name to the animals, and watching them play (from behind a wire fence) makes for an entertaining afternoon. The clock tower (5) has been keeping city dwellers on-time since 1530, and is a useful landmark when negotiating those winding streets. The mechanicallyminded can take a tour inside to explore its inner workings, or head to there a few minutes before the hour to catch a quaint mechanical display of roosters and bears – it’s a colourful nod to the famed Swiss punctuality. The Paul Klee Center (6) celebrates one of Bern’s most famous artistic figures, Paul Klee. He made his name by mixing oil paint and watercolours – a controversial technique in the early 20th century – so it’s fitting that the museum building is also a revolutionary construction. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the glass wave-like structure houses a permanent collection of the artist’s works, and a day’s wanderings around





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its futuristic atriums makes for an enjoyable introduction to the Bernese creative scene. The Museum of Fine Arts (7) offers more high art, or head to Kunsthalle Bern (8) for contemporary installations – both are held in high international regard.

WHERE TO STAY Bellevue Palace (9) ( offers a five-star stay that’s brimming with Bernese charisma. With expansive views over the parliament building, picturesque old town and alpine peaks, you’ll get a taste of the city without even leaving your











room – and won’t have to stroll far to the action when you do. Expect fine furnishings and chandeliers in this elegantlyrestored pre-war building. The Belle Epoque hotel (10) ( is a real haven for art lovers, home to paintings and antiques from Bern’s golden Art Nouveau period. Each room is decorated in individual style with chic touches – and the Sunday evening jazz sessions in the adjoining bar are well worth a visit.

WHERE TO EAT Schöngrün (11) ( serves

traditional fare with a modern twist, from a menu designed by resident chef Werner Rothen. Dine in the spacious, modern interior on caviar and seafood while overlooking the Paul Klee Center’s atriums, a spectacular view over lunch or dinner. Jack’s Brasserie (12) (en., in the stylish Schweizerhof Berne hotel, serves up hearty meals and haute cuisine against a backdrop of fin-de-siècle elegance. A great place to sample local favourites like the veal schnitzel and kartoffelsalat (potato salad), this cosmopolitan hangout also boasts a swanky cigar lounge. April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 67


DURBAN It may be perched on South Africa’s coastline, but Durban isn’t just a beach-side retreat. Pack for an adventure in this dazzlingly diverse city


he jewel of South Africa’s hip and happening cities and the gateway to the Garden Route, Durban deserves more than just a weekend break. Take your pick from the country’s finest galleries and museums and shop til you drop at the humungous Gateway, the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere. The markets of the Indian Quarter, the home of Durban’s vast expatriate population, are brimming with treasures – set aside a day for some serious bartering. Getting hungry? Fill up on Indian and Pakistani favourites (with a SA twist) from the city’s plethora of cafés and street-side eateries, or splash out on big names down at the harbour. While you’re there, mooch around the myriad independent art spaces and performance halls that brim the water, and take to the seas – well, port – on a boat tour. Hankering after a little more action? Head to the beach for windsurfing, kiting and diving, and take advantage of those awesome breaks – this is a surfer’s paradise too. 68 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

MUST-DOS The Golden Mile (1), Durban’s bustling beach-side stretch, is the place to kick off a day’s wanderings. Rid your shoes and pad your way across the sands, or take to the promenade on a colourful café-crawl. Look out for Vetch’s Pier, home of dolphinarium, aquarium, and watersports hub Ushaka Marine World. The Bangladesh Market (2) (bangladeshmarket. offers a lively glimpse of Durban’s Indian population at both work and play. From stalls overflowing with freshlypicked fruit, to makeshift displays of clothes and crafts, there’s enough to keep you entertained all day. Don’t bring lunch – tuck into a ‘bunny chow’, a hollowed-out loaf of bread

filled with curry, best enjoyed while indulging in a good dose of people-watching. Durban Art Gallery (3) offers up the pick of the city’s homegrown artwork, as well as extensive national and international collections. Found in the marble masterpiece that is City Hall, the gallery houses both contemporary and classical art and entry is free. The Natural History museum (4), also found in City Hall, is the place to learn about South Africa’s wildlife, and the stories that have shaped its people. Looking further afield, an Egyptian mummy, life-size model of a T-Rex and dodo skeleton await… Phansi Museum (5) ( is one of the biggest collections of African art in the world. Browse beadwork, basketware and blankets, as well

DURBAN | SOUTH AFRICA Opposite page, clockwise from top left: The Golden Mile; Downtown Durban; A festival-goer in Durban. This page, left to right: Tourists walk along the promenade along the promenade; The Benjamin Hotel.

as ceremonial items and fetishes. Zulu heritage is pride of place here – look out for artist talks and workshops. Botanic Gardens (6) (durbanbotanicgardens. was founded during colonial times for potential commercial use, but now it’s a real community hub. The site boasts an expansive collection of sub-tropical plants and trees, and is a great escape from the city’s bustle. Take a picnic and head to the tranquil lake, or catch an open air concert. Cato Manor visitor centre (7) ( is the result of a local initiative to protect African traditions. Events held here explore the painful histories of apartheid through storytelling, dance and drama, and bring Zulu music-making and performance to a diverse audience. If you’ve more time, ask to be taken on a ‘township tour’ – it’ll give you a taste for the modern Durban community and the lively spirit that exists within.



Images: Photolibrary; Shutterstock; Supplied.

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and its quiet garden is the perfect place for a laid-back breakfast.

WHERE TO EAT Little Gujarat (10) (031 305 3148) is one of hundreds of Indian eateries in downtown Durban, but caters purely to vegetarians. You’ll love its innovative take on traditional staples. 9th Avenue Bistro (11) (9thavenuebistro. boasts the finest of South African meats, fish and veggies on its menu. Sample delicacies from its celebrated tasting menu, or order à la carte – the fresh line-caught fish of the day is a local favourite.

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WHERE TO STAY The Royal Hotel (8) (theroyal. offers the finest of Durban hospitality – and has been doing so since it opening in 1845. Sleep on crisp sheets, take your pick from its four boutique restaurants, and soak up the breathtaking harbour-side views. The Benjamin Hotel (9) ( is a quiet retreat on a tree-lined avenue, perfect for some R&R after a busy day exploring the city. Its friendly staff and colonial style give this 43-bedroom hotel real charm –





DURBAN’S BEST… WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS St Lucia Wetlands This sub-tropical marine reserve is home to hippos, crocodiles and flamingos. Off-shore, snorkel Africa’s southernmost coral reefs alongside dolphins, turtles and tropical fish. Drakensberg Mountains A short trip inland takes you to South Africa’s mountainous playground, where – if luck is on your side – you’ll find the Drakensberg leopard. Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park The oldest game park in Africa, Hluhluwe was founded in 1895, and is famed for its strident efforts in rhino conservation.

April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 69

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April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 71



A 15th-century coaching inn in rural England might not conjur up images of unbridled luxury, but the Crazy Bear Hotel in sleepy Beaconsfield is just that. Step inside and you’ll be transported into a decadent playground: a restaurant whose gold leaf walls sparkle with crystal chandeliers, a white marble staircase that sweeps down to the private Crystal Bar, and a 17-metre Swarovski studded black Chesterfield in the main lounge. After an introduction like that, you can’t pass up a stay in one of the hotel’s ten unique suites – if only to marvel at their lavish copper baths (filled by ceiling-mounted taps), suede-lined wardrobes and spectacular lantern-lit vaulted ceilings. Velvet drapes and glittering features abound, and theatrical twists ensure that the smallest detail makes a dramatic statement. The hotel’s outside space doesn’t disappoint either – the mosaic-lined swimming pool and Jacuzzi are heated all year round, and fibre optic lighting brings the water to colourful life every evening.

72 April 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

A PLACE TO DREAM Do you wish that your dreams would travel further? Our rooms and suites are the perfect place to switch off to the world. Enjoy fine details in these spacious and light interiors. Our commitment to every guest extends to each of our rooms and every countless experience. From unique aromas to pillow menus, and ultimately, The Level, the most exclusive service at Meliá. You’ll love the new essence of Meliá. Maybe it is because we created it with you in mind. It is not our job, it is our passion. Welcome to Meliá. The Meliá experience coming soon to Dubai. MORE THAN 100 HOTELS AROUND THE WORLD: BERLIN MADRID MARBELLA PARIS MILAN LONDON DUSSELDORF ZANZIBAR BALI SAO PAULO ORLANDO

Kanoo World Traveller_April'12  

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