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THE FIRST-TIMER’S GUIDE TO

EAST AFRICA

BUSINESS | LEISURE | WILDLIFE

150

in

2017

INSIDE

SOUTH AFRICA Travel Deeper

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Contents JANUARY 2017

Fe a t u r e s 96

Among The Whales In the waters of the South Pacific, Maggie Shipstead enters the domain of some of the world’s largest creatures and discovers that, sometimes, beauty can conquer fear. Photographs by Sean Fennessy

104

Fish Farm Fork On St Croix, a dynamic new generation of farmers and chefs is reinventing what it means to eat local in the Caribbean. By Boris Fishman

114

The Walls That Speak Enclosed by the grey-green Aravalli hills with their ridge of crumbling battlements, the blue town of Bundi seems more like a mirage at first sight, discovers Kalpana Sunder.

120

Divers descend into Swallows Cave, a popular spot in the Vava’u archipelago.

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ON THE COVER Tami Williams soaks up the sun in Jamaica. Shirtdress by Onia; bikini top, Rochelle Sara; trousers, Stella McCartney.

SEAN FENNESSY

Sun Is Shining The Weather Is Sweet On a trip across Jamaica’s untrammeled coast, native daughter Tami Williams shows off the latest resort collections in some of her favourite spots— and reminds us of the joys of going off the beaten path. Photographs by Jerome Corpuz Fashion Editor Melissa Ventosa Martin


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D epartments

HERE&NOW

Contents

15

JANUARY 2017

87

15

Find out what destinations are going to be big in 2017. Also discover skin care essentials for Spring, and the read all about two Mumbaikers who are making it big in the city of dreams.

BEYOND 49

The holy city of Moulay Idriss in Morocco is now open to non Muslim visitors. Anna Hayward takes a look around.

THE GUIDE 87

The Business & Leisure Guide to EAST AFRICA East Africa’s combination of unique cultures, wildlife experiences and gorgeous new luxury hotels, make this a fabulous region to explore. By Devanshi Mody

In Every Issue 8 Editor’s Note 12 T+L Digital 130 Wish You Were Here

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S E A N BY R N E / C O U RT ESY O F L AU R E N BAT H ; C O U R T E S Y O F R I C H A R D P OW E R S ; C O U R T E S Y O F R A C H E L G O E N K A ; N I C K DA L E / E Y E E M / G E T T Y I M AG ES

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Editor’s Note JANUARY 2017

Food, particularly sourdough bread… Last year, on a trip to San Francisco, I spent 128 hours planning my ‘San Francisco Sourdough’ expedition, talking to people on Facebook sourdough groups, calling up top chefs at hotels including The Palace Hotel and The St Regis San Francisco, for recommendations. When I got there, I allocated a whole day to making pilgrimage-like trips to Chad Robertson’s Tartine, the famous Boudin outlet on Fisherman’s Wharf, and a bunch of other Ivy League bread bakeries. I even carried my 1.4kg hardcover copy of The Tartine Bread Book, so I could get it signed by Robertson. I landed up at Acme Bread Company with an empty Kissan jam jar, begging for 100gms of their famous starter, and armed with a Mogambo-like master plan of how that starter will survive the 19-hour fl ight back. I’m also a big fan of Feluda, a fictional Bengali detective created by fi lmmaker Satyajit Ray. Over the years, I’ve taken holidays that are plotted according to places his stories are set in. They were so much fun. It was like retracing the character’s steps, and experiencing places and cultures through his eyes. I’m that person who took her 17-year-old copy of Tintin’s The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of The Sun across three continents, just so I could read it on the Orient Express going up to Machu Picchu. I’m not alone on my geek-travel planet. Within our team, we have a writer who turns her favourite-book-of-the-moment into an itinerary, going to all the places mentioned in the book, eating at the restaurants or visiting buildings that are part of the story. We have a reader who is otherwise a hugely respected media consultant, but on her own time, she is a hardcore diver, founder of two environment NGOs, and takes holidays which combine these two pursuits at extraordinarily serious levels. She’s the sort who will take two weeks off every four months, meeting award winning conservationists and working with them in exotic places to save turtles, or sharks, or something! At Travel+Leisure India, we think if you don’t have nerdospheric passion for travel, then you’re missing something. So while it’s conventional to dedicate the January issue to destinations you should look at for the year, we decided to present these for those who travel for particular passions. These are such intense experiences, that we’re certain, even if you weren’t crazy about it, you’d still find them incredibly inspiring and memorable. I’m not a big sports fan, but watching the Monaco F1 from the Paddock Club with celebs like Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling around you, does sound amazing! And there’s more. So here’s wishing you a very happy new year, and many many brilliant journeys!

ruchira@emmindia.com @TLRuchira on Twitter @pinterest/ruchirabose

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E D I T O R ’ S P H O T O G R A P H : A S H I S H C H AW L A ; M A K E U P B Y V I P I N A R O R A

I don’t know about you, but I’m quite a geek about some things.


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INDIA & SOUTH ASIA

EDITOR

Ruchira Bose Jaya Sharma Anwesha Sanyal Apeksha Bhateja

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TRAVEL+LEISURE INDIA & SOUTH ASIA VOL. 10, ISSUE 125

Copyright © 2014 Exposure Media Marketing Pvt. Ltd., Plot No. 378-379, Second Floor, Udyog Vihar, Phase IV, Sector 18, Gurugram – 122015, Haryana. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited. Published by Xavier Collaco from Exposure Media Marketing Pvt. Ltd., Plot No. 378-379, Second Floor, Udyog Vihar, Phase IV, Sector 18, Gurugram – 122015 Haryana. Printed at Kala Jyothi Process Pvt. ltd., S.No. 185, Kondapur Village, Serilingampally Municipality, Ranga Reddy District Hyderabad - 500 133. Editor: Ruchira Bose. Travel+Leisure does not take responsibility for returning unsolicited publication material. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of competent courts and forums in Delhi/New Delhi only. Opinions expressed in the articles are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or publishers. While the editors do their utmost to verify information published they do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy. Unsolicited material is sent at the owner’s risk and the publisher accepts no liability for loss or damage. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced, whether in part or in whole, without the consent of Exposure Media Marketing Pvt. Ltd. This edition is published by permission of TIME INC. AFFLUENT MEDIA GROUP 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 USA. Tel. +1 212 522 1212 Online: www.timeinc.com Reproduction in whole or in part without consent of the copyright owner is prohibited. © Exposure Media Marketing Pvt. Ltd. in respect of the published edition. Copyright queries to travelandleisure@emmindia.com ADVERTISING For your advertising enquiries please contact : adenquiries@emmindia.com SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe call Gurugram: 0124-3083500, 09899414369; Mumbai: 022- 26041735/36; Bangalore: +91 80 41120353; Chennai: Call or Fax: 044-28141816; Kolkata: 033-40042815, Fax: 033-22805323; E-mail: circulation@emmindia.com; Web: www.emmindia.com.


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T+L Digital JANUARY 2017

TR AVELANDLEISUREINDIA.IN

05.12

WHAT MICHELIN-STAR CHEF VINEET BHATIA IS UP TO Chef Vineet Bhatia is often hailed as the father of the evolving modern Indian cuisine, who has put the country’s culinary heritage on the map. We meet the chef for a quick chat and get a whiff of his new menu at Ziya, The Oberoi Mumbai. travelandleisureindia.in/exclusiveinterview-with-michelin-star-chefvineet-bhatia

09.12

HOW TO NAVIGATE THE KOCHIMUZIRIS BIENNALE 2016 An event so big that we can handle it only once every couple of years: the KochiMuziris Biennale is ready for the 2016 edition. Simply put, it’s India’s biggest exhibition of international contemporary art. travelandleisureindia.in/howto-navigate-the-kochi-muzirisbiennale-2016

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Meet Hawaii and Napa’s

LOVE CHILD: MARGARET RIVER

SWEET & SASSY JAMAICA

Trending...

TEL AVIV’S TOP DANCING SPOTS

travelandleisureindia.in JANUARY 2017 /

THE FIRST-TIMER’S GUIDE TO

EAST AFRICA

BUSINESS | LEISURE | WILDLIFE

in

2017

TASTE THE LATEST CHEF CRAZE:

CARIBBEAN FISH FARMS RWANDA NICARAGUA MOROCCO BOLIVIA THE OASIS OF WADI BANI KHALID, OMAN

150

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The average number of nights spent by Indian tourists in South Africa is now

11 days

for holidays and

19 days

for business. India is SA’s 8th largest longhaul tourism source market. *Source: South African Tourism.

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TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // JJAANNUUAARRYY 22001177

F R O M L E F T: C O U R T E S Y O F M A H E S H D AT TA N I ; C O U R T E S Y O F T H E O B E R O I M U M B A I ; K A R A N TA K U L I A

ART OF WRITING: A TÊTE-À-TÊTE WITH MAHESH DATTANI Playwright, director, actor, and teacher, Mahesh Dattani has donned many hats over the years. He speaks to T+L India about being socially responsible as a writer. travelandleisureindia.in/maheshdattani-at-serendipity-arts-fest


Reader Favourites JANUARY 2017

World’s Best Cities for Culture These are the cities that resonated most with our readers for their rich history and immersive experiences—and they are all miles and continents apart.

Kyoto, Japan Rome Jerusalem Florence Paris Venice Barcelona Charleston, South Carolina 9 Lhasa, Tibet 10 New Orleans

Tokyo may be Japan’s humming capital, but Kyoto is arguably its spiritual center, a city where ritual and tradition inform the culture. Staying at a ryokan, or inn, like the centuries-old Hiiragiya, offers a unique window to the past, as guests take multicourse meals in their rooms and sleep on futons over tatami-mat floors.

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RAY MON D PAT RI C K

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Where to Go in

2017

The Atix hotel, in La Paz, Bolivia.

We know that technology and globalisation can make the world feel small and thoroughly explored. But we also know that the world is big and that there are always places to discover—and rediscover—for yourself. From familiar getaways that have found a new groove to far-flung corners that are finally within easy reach, these are the buzziest destinations to visit this year. Photograph by Nick Ballon T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7

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WHERE TO GO IN

2017

1

City on the Rise

Big in Bolivia

O

2

3

Packing ng g for La Paz z 4

La Paz, as seen from the Atix hotel.

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1. Issey Miyake mosaic coat, oat, US$2,375 (issey ( miyake.com). 2. Yosuzi rabbit-felt fedora, US$460 t-felt fedo (net-a-porter.com). 3. Fresh Vitamin min Nectar Vibrancy-Boosting Face Mask, US$62 (fresh.com). 4. Jason Wu saddlebag, US$1,195 (saksfifth avenue.com). 5. Valentino ballerina shoes, US$945 (Valentino stores, +855/436-8686).

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F ROM LE FT : N IC K BA LLO N ; PH I LI P F R IE D MA N ( 5) . ST Y L IST ST:: BIL B IL L L AU AUG GH HL IN AT M A R K E DWA R D INC.

nce beleaguered by frequent strikes, roadblocks, and a paucity of amenities, the backpacker haven of La Paz, Bolivia, has emerged as a true culture capital. Infrastructure has played a key role: in 2014 the city introduced Mi Teleférico, a network of aerial trams that transport riders across the city in minutes on routes that once took an hour by bus. For less than 50 cents, travellers can ride from Zona Sur up to the windswept Altiplano in El Alto, where architect Freddy Mamani is designing whimsical, New Andean–style homes for the newly wealthy. The first rumblings of a renaissance came in 2013, when Noma cofounder Claus Meyer opened Gustu (tasting menus from US$59; restaurantgustu.com), a fine-dining restaurant where—in classic Noma fashion—local ingredients like caiman and fermented Amazonian honey get haute-cuisine treatment. It’s the flagship of a larger culinary revitalisation project that includes 10 cooking schools in low-income areas, a collective of street-food vendors, and a bar devoted to regional craft brews, Tarija wines, and Bolivian spirits like singani. Since then, the La Paz restaurant scene has exploded with surprisingly diverse ventures from Gustu alums: elevated vegan fare at Ali Pacha (tasting menus from US$22; alipacha.com), locally inspired pastas at Propiedad Pública (entrées US$9���US$11; +591/2277-6312), and house-roasted, single-origin coffee at Typica (+591/279-5764). The city’s latest upgrade came with the arrival of its first Design Hotel, the Atix, which opened in the upscale Calacoto neighbourhood last fall (doubles from US$161; atixhotel.com). If a stellar Bolivian restaurant and a bar featuring cocktails by award-winning mixologist David Romero aren’t enough of a draw, each of the 53 rooms doubles as a gallery, displaying works by Bolivian artists like Gastón Ugalde. It’s a microcosm of the city’s thriving contemporary art scene: galleries like Mérida Romero (+591/7722-0615), Mamani Mamani (mamani.com), and the reopened Salar Galería de Arte (salart.org) showcase much of the country’s top talent.


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WHERE TO GO IN

2017

Machneyuda, one of the best restaurants in Jerusalem.

Hot Tables

Feast of the Future

Lively drinking and dining scenes have put three destinations on the culinary map.

ISRAEL

Typically more of a pilgrimage site than a sybaritic city, Jerusalem has now emerged as a culinary force to rival Tel Aviv. At the sprawling Mahane Yehuda Market, food-and-drink spots have popped up in former produce stalls, many of which stay open long past sunset. The Jewish diaspora and Middle East merge at restaurants like Ishtabach (entrées US$9–US$18; +972-2/623-2997)— try the Kurdish shamburak, a pastry with brisket, potatoes, and chimichurri—and Machneyuda (entrées US$21–US$44; machneyuda.co.il), known for its standout beef tartare with plums. Stay at the new boutique Brown Jerusalem Hotel (doubles from US$265; brownhotels.com), which opens soon in a restored Ottoman-era villa and will serve drinks in an underground water cistern.

BELGRADE /

SERBIA

Since the end of the Yugoslav wars, Belgrade has attracted steady investment—its graffiti-covered neighbourhoods are now full of restaurants and bars. You’ll find hearty platters of ćevapi—smoky sausages without casing—and stuffed somborka peppers at Sokače (+381-11/328-7939), paprika-laden kebabs at Tri Šešira (entrées US$8–US$15; trisesira.rs), and pan-Latin tapas at Toro (richardsandoval. com/torobelgrade). But the biggest draw is the growing craft-beer scene (the city has 37 breweries). Don’t miss the Kabinet Supernova IPA at Prohibicija (+381-11/ 274635) in the bar-filled Savamala district, as well as Kas’s full-bodied pale ales and Salto’s IPA at Bajloni (bajloni.com), set in a former brewery.

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VALLE DE GUADALUPE /

MEXICO

This wine region 80 miles south of San Diego is known for its red blends, but most bottles can’t be exported, so a visit is the best way to try the coveted pours. Start at Decantos Vinícola (decantosvinicola.com), which uses a flavour-preserving anti-gravity decanting method for its rich Malbecs. There are several new design-forward hotels here, too: chef Javier Plascencia runs Finca La Divina (doubles from US$200; fincaladivina.com), a fourroom B&B with a pool. It’s just a few miles from his acclaimed Finca Altozano restaurant and Lupe, his torta truck, housed in an Airstream. And in the summer, haciendastyle El Cielo Winery (vinos.elcielo. com) will open a 58-suite hotel where you can sip its traditional varietals with abandon.

Y. L E V Y/A L A M Y

JERUSALEM /


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WHERE TO GO IN

Weekend Getaway

2017

Rotterdam Uncovered

Known for its pulsing student nightlife and alternative vibe, Rotterdam is starting to steal Amsterdam’s spotlight. Here’s how to spend three days in this dynamic Dutch city.

Start your weekend off by checking in to the Mainport (doubles from US$165; mainporthotel.com), a wellness-oriented hotel where you can book a room with a Finnish sauna, or the CitizenM Hotel Rotterdam (doubles from US$92; citizenm.com), which feels like your design-savvy friend’s living room. Wander north for some shopping in Oude Noorden, a vibrant residential area with experimental fashion and home-design boutiques. Grab a pre-dinner drink at Brouwerij Noordt (brouwerijnoordt.nl), a brewery with 20 beers on tap situated in a former firehouse. Continue the tasting tour with a 15-minute bike ride to Roffa Streetfoodbar (entrées US$9–US$28; roffafood.nl), a smokehouse that serves bread, beer, and cheese from some of Rotterdam’s best producers. The brisket— slow-cooked over oak for 24 hours—is not to be missed.

F R I D AY

The lobby lounge at the CitizenM Hotel.

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Art is everywhere in this city—more than a thousand pieces adorn the public spaces. Walk along the Rijnhaven for a glimpse of Bobbing Forest, a surrealist installation of floating trees by art collective Mothership, then head to De Markthal (markthal.nl), a vast, mural-covered space where vendors sell aged Goudas and cinnamon-kissed stroopwafels. It’s also home to De Tijdtrap, an exhibition of medieval artifacts excavated from the ground on which the building now stands. Save room for dinner at Fenix Food Factory (entrées US$3–US$27; fenixfoodfactory.nl), in buzzy Katendrecht. In the winter, a hip crowd hovers indoors over cured meats and pear cider. In warmer months, benches overlooking the canal are the setting for long, boozy evenings.

S U N D AY

Ballroom’s lamb meatballs.

F ROM TOP : R IC H A R D POWE R S ; IN G M AR SWA LU E

Stroll to the nearby Het Nieuwe Instituut (hetnieuweinstituut. nl), a museum dedicated to Dutch design and architecture. Afterward, cruise the river in a water taxi to spot a few examples in person, like the Erasmus Bridge and De Rotterdam, a striking skyscraper by Rem Koolhaas. This summer, cool off with a dip at RiF010 (rif010.nl), an artificial-wave park in the Steigersgracht canal. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, take in the skyline while dining on dishes such as veal tartare with langoustines and pata negra at HMB Restaurant (small plates US$5–US$24; hmb-restaurant. nl). Cap off the evening with a bespoke G&T at Ballroom (ballroomrotterdam.nl), where your ideal elixir is crafted with one of more than a hundred gins.

S A T U R D AY


Happenings

Right Time, Right Place

The openings, events, and festivals worth planning a trip around this year.

MONTREAL in

F R O M L E F T: S H U T T E R S T O C K ( 2 ) ; C O U R T E S Y O F Q U E E N S T O W N W I N T E R F E S T I VA L ; S H U T T E R S T O C K ; C O U R T E S Y O F B Ü R G E N S T O C K H O T E L S A G

JANUARY This month, the Canadian city kicks off a year of events in honour of its 375th birthday (375mtl. com). Even subzero temps can’t stop the celebrations: until March 11, the city holds Les Hivernales, a carnivalesque series of wintry games and events. Later this year, look for art pop-ups, symphony performances, and the unveiling of the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne, an urban boardwalk that will connect Mont-Royal to the St Lawrence.

Travellers hoping to see East Africa’s waning population of mountain gorillas will be able to do it in style starting this summer, when Wilderness Safaris’ first Rwandan property, the upscale, six-villa Bisate Lodge (villas from US$1,400 per person; wildernesssafaris.com), opens near Volcanoes National Park. Pa

RWANDA in

JUNE

JACKSON

QUEENSTOWN in

JULY There are two new places to stay in New Zealand’s adventure capital (ski season starts in mid-June, but there’s bungee jumping and jet boating year-round). Bed down at the boutique Hulbert House (doubles from US$672; hulberthouse.co.nz), with six suites in an 1888 Victorian villa, or the 69-room QT Queenstown (qthotelsandresorts. com), which is slated to land on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this year.

HOLE LAKE in

AUGUST LUCERNE in

The total solar eclipse on August 21 will be the first in almost 40 years to be visible from the continental US, with a path of totality that slashes across the States from Oregon to South Carolina. For prime viewing, head to Jackson Hole, Wyoming (wyoming stargazing.com)— spectacular scenery, expansive vistas, and minimal light pollution make it an ideal vantage point.

SEPTEMBER The ultra-modern Bürgenstock Resort (buergenstock.ch), which opens in mid-2017 with four hotels and a spa, is one of the biggest developments to come to this part of Switzerland. Get there quicker via the 36-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel (the world’s longest train tunnel), which has shaved 40 minutes off the trip from Milan. And don’t miss Mount Pilatus—its popular cog railway is now included in the Swiss Travel Pass.

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WHERE TO GO IN

2017

Return Trips

Bermuda Reborn

A high-end hotel boom is helping this sunny British territory shed its stodgy reputation. Even if you’ve been there, done that, it’s time to plan your next visit.

The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, in Bermuda.

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MORE SPOTS TO REVISIT Philadelphia

The first UNESCO World Heritage city in the US is celebrated for its history, but its future looks even brighter. Young people have flocked to the city, helping its food and craftbeer scenes thrive. With the spring debut of the Museum of the American Revolution (amrev museum.org) and hotels from W, Four Seasons, and Study, this may be Philly’s best year yet.

Provence

A wave of modish auberges is changing Provence’s staid image. In St-Rémy, a landmark mansion is now the Hôtel de Tourrel (doubles from US$244; detourrel.com), a seven-room inn dotted with Eileen Gray designs. At Villa La Coste (chateaula-coste.com), near Aix, the estate’s contemporary architecture is a fitting home for artwork by Damien Hirst and Louise Bourgeois.

Okavango Delta

It’s now possible to spot the Big Five in Botswana. Buoyed by the anti-poaching efforts of the government and local conservationists, the impeccably renovated Sanctuary Chief’s Camp (from US$1,180 per person, all-inclusive; sanctuary retreats.com) has reintroduced rhinos to the delta. For lovers of wildlife and luxury, there’s never been a better time to go.

C O URT ESY O F H A M ILTON PR IN C ESS

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fter being hit hard by the fi nancial crisis, Bermuda is shaking itself out of stagnation and attracting a new generation of travellers. In 2014, the island won a bid to host the 35th America’s Cup, the highprofi le international sailing race, which takes place this June. The promise of a flood of wealthy visitors—and a loosening of restrictions on foreign investment—has sparked a spate of development. Big news is the $100 million overhaul of the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club (doubles from US$279; thehamiltonprincess. com), the island’s 132-year-old grande dame, whose revamped rooms have a fresh, contemporary look. The hotel has also added a stellar art collection, a spa, and a restaurant serving locally sourced fare from James Beard Award–winning chef Marcus Samuelsson. Elsewhere on the island, a St Regis, a lavish RitzCarlton Reserve, and the Ariel Sands resort (backed by actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones) are in the works.


The Nomura Samurai Family Residence, a museum in Kanazawa, Japan.

Fast Track

Getting Here Just Got Easier

C O URT ESY O F N OMU R A HO US E

Infrastructure and transportation updates have made travel to these four destinations a much smoother process. Go now, before the secret’s out. KANAZAWA, JAPAN

OSLO

PANAMA CITY

CAMBODIAN COAST

This city on the western coast of Honshu has seen a boost in visits since a bullet-train extension shortened the trip from Tokyo to just 2½ hours. Go for the old wooden teahouses of the Higashi Chayagai district, the beautiful samurai residence in Nagamachi, and the contemporary art museum (kanazawatourism.com). Then have your pick of sushi that’s just as good as, and much cheaper than, what you’d find in Tokyo. Try it at Sentori, Kagayasuke, or Omi-cho market—a favourite of sushi master Masa.

Some 28 million additional visitors will pass through Oslo’s airport in the next 12 months, thanks to its new swooping, Scandichic wing. Many of these travellers are here to participate in one of the world’s most thriving coffee cultures. Two great spots are in the Grünerløkka area: Supreme Roastworks (srw.no), where a world-champion brewer helms the bar, and Tim Wendelboe (tim wendelboe.no), whose owner is so obsessed with quality beans that he bought 17 acres of Colombian farmland.

After nearly 10 years of construction, the Panama Canal expansion has opened. Giant cruise ships—like the Caribbean Princess—can now pass through via the 180-footwide locks. Princess (princesscruises.com) is one of the first lines to take advantage, with six sailings in 2017. On land, a sleek W Hotel (starwoodhotels.com) will open downtown and a new boutique property, La Concordia (panamahotelcollection. com)—where rooms have private balconies and claw-foot bathtubs—is near completion in historic Casco Viejo.

Cambodia has some of Southeast Asia’s most stunning islands, but getting to them has always been arduous (a flight to Phnom Penh, a four-hour drive, then a choppy ferry ride). Luckily, there are now direct flights into the coastal Sihanoukville airport via Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. That means a smoother journey to the island escapes coming this year: the wellness-minded Six Senses (sixsenses. com) on Krabey Island and the Alila Villas eco-resort (kohrussey. com; doubles from US$350) on Koh Russey.

By Lila Battis, Jane Broughton, Govind Dhar, Adam Erace, Nicholas Gill, Adam H. Graham, Mary Holland, Selena Hoy, Diana Hubbell, Carrie Hutchinson, Raphael Kadushin, Melanie Lieberman, Eimear Lynch, Archana Ram, Aoife O’Riordain, Krista Simmons, Paola Singer, Sara Toth Stub, and Stephanie Wu. T TRRAAV VE EL L++ L LE EI SI SUURRE E/ / J JAANNUUAARRY Y 22001177

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NEUTROGENA Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60+ `1,464 for 3oz Water-resistant, hypoallergenic, and light-weight broad spectrum sunscreen perfect for a day on the beach. LANCÔME Absolue Yeux Global Multi-Restorative Eye Concentrate `9,406 for 0.5oz It helps eyes look rested and fresh after long journeys and all-nighters.

Beauty On-The-Go ORGANIC HARVEST Blush Shine & Glow Serum `1,395 for 30gm Softens age-spots and enhances skin elasticity.

Skincare Essentials

10 beauty buys we recommend you carry in your travel bag no matter where you’re heading—sun, sand or snow. By Jaya Sharma PETER THOMAS ROTH Instant Mineral SPF 45 US$30 for 0.11oz We love the doublewhammy of a compact powder with sun protection.

COLORBAR Hydra White Intense Whitening Hydrating Foam Cleanser `790 for 70ml Gentle foam face cleanser that leaves skin clean and toned.

CLARINS Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil `2,000 approx for 7ml Nourishing lip oil in 3 yummy flavours—Honey, Raspberry, and Red Berry, all tinted. EPIQUE Multi-Action Sculpting and Firming Cream `3,900 for 50ml Acts at an intra-cellular level to visibly lift and tighten facial zones.

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JUST B AU NATUREL Clay Mousse Cleanser Rhassoul & Hemp Seed `1,500 for 100gm Detoxifies congested skin and balances oil production.

CLINIQUE Repairwear Lift Firming Night Cream `6,150 for 50ml Works for your skin just like a good night’s sleep works for your mind. HEDONISTA Cold Pressed Almond Body Oil `1,210 for 100ml Provides intense moisturising, and leaves a lovely scent.


Palette Pleasing

A Sweet Memory of Italy

Influences of central and northern Italy dominate Bella Cucina at Le Meridien Gurgaon. Chef Amit Kumar has an unconventional menu—try these dishes that impress with their complex preparation and presentation. SOUP Served in a small cup, the creamy cappuccino of mushroom soup combines flavours of three types of mushrooms (button, portebello, and porcini) with white truffle oil. It comes with porcini bread, their version of savoury cookies to go with the cappuccino.

SALAD A must-try is the smoked chicken salad with avocado mousse and cucumber juice sheet. The chicken breast is marinated with scallion dressing and it’s plated on a sea of bright cucumber jelly. On its side are crispy cigars filled with avocado mousse.

PASTA Take it from someone who isn’t a seafood fanatic—the prawn ravioli will make you a fan. Fresh and juicy prawns, marinated with garlic, basil, and lime, are rolled in homemade pasta and prepared in tomato sauce. What makes this dish memorable is the bisque foam on top.

DESSERT Bella Cucina’s Espresso Coffee Mouse is a visual treat. Served under a shiny chocolate dome against a dramatic splash of raspberry coulis. Pairing chocolate and berries is a classic, and the silkyness of the mousse is wonderfully contrasted with the sharpness of the berry coulis.

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he newly-opened Bella Cucina at Le Meridien Gurgaon is dolled up with colourful leather seating and Travertine marble flooring, a handcrafted Pavesi oven, and a custom-built Molteni kitchen. The winter afternoon that I visited, the sun was shining brightly on the window-side table. Over a glass of Australian Chardonnay, I spun plans of having a staycation at the 285room hotel and spending lazy days by the pool, with a cool mocktail in one hand and my Bill Bryson book in another. On my way out, I stopped at Latest Recipe (the all-day dining restaurant) and peeked at Le Meridien Gurgaon’s signature éclair—as is my habit whenever I’m at a Meridien. Here, the flavour is Coconut and Tonka Bean. lemeridiengurgaondelhincr.com —APEKSHA BHATEJA

+ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // JJ AA NN UU AA RR YY 2 0 1 7 TT RR AAVV EE LL +

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PROMOTION

River Tapti in Burhanpur.

TRANSCENDING

The tomb of Begum Shah Shuja.

Burhanpur, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, has seen bloody battles as well as pious moments of love. Discover the capital of the Mughal kingdom that is still significant to Bohra Muslims and Sikhs.

town where Hazrat Shah Nizamuddin’s memory is still alive in his dargah; a town where Faruqi kings and Mughal emperors once ruled; a town that still whispers the love story of Shah Jahan—Burhanpur is a hidden gem that beckons with its historic grandeur.

A LIGHT ON ITS HISTORY

Burhanpur was founded in 1400 AD by the Faruqi king, Nasir Khan, on the banks of River Tapti. The kingdom reigned over this town for the next two centuries, but in the 1600s, the Mughals captured it. It became the capital of their empire and until Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, Burhanpur remained critically important to them. It is fascinating to know that a fort on its outskirts, Asigarh Fort, was crucial to their Deccan ambition. So much so that it was called the Gateway to Southern India.

UNMISSABLE SIGHTS

You must start your exploration of the city with the two oldest Faruqi monuments—the Kali Masjid and the Bibi ki Masjid. Built by a Faruqi queen between 1520 and 1540, the Bibi ki Masjid is set amidst the labyrinth alleys of Itwara mohalla. Jama Masjid, another significant landmark for Muslims, was commissioned by Faruqi ruler Adil Shah, but Mughal Emperor Akbar completed the structure. The tombs of several Faruqi ruler and queens are walled in an enclosure, some three kilometres away from here. You must see the crafted jaalis that decorate the tombs of Nadir Shah and Adil Shah. In the Mughal reign, Burhanpur was gloried with beautiful structures. Of these, Badshahi Qila is the most famous. Maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, the fort features the Diwan-e-Khas and Diwan-e-Aam. You must see the

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The royal bath or hammam at the Badshahi Qila.

Dargah-e-Hakimi in Burhanpur was made in the memory of Syedi Abdul Qadir Hakimuddin.

THE DETAILS

The tomb of Nadir Shah is a popular attraction.

The airport nearest to Burhanpur is the Devi Ahilya Bai International Airport in Indore, 180 kilometres away. Or if you're visiting Aurangabad, you can just drive over for a short getaway. Book your stay at the Tapti Retreat run by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board. +91-7325/242-244; tapti@mptourism.com

Zenana Hammam—the royal bath that combines Mughal and Persian styles. There are underground channels in the town that were used to transport water into the town—visit the Kundi Bhandara (eight kilometres from the town) and you will be amazed to see the ingenuity and skills of engineers in that era. The tombs of Shah Nawaz Khan and Bilquis Jahan are also popular attractions.

NEAR BURHANPUR

Some 21 kilometres from Burhanpur is the Mahal Gulara on the banks of River Badi Utaoli. It used to be a retreat of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Then a prince, he often spent moonlit nights in this palace, listening to a beautiful singer named Gulara, whom he later married. Another fascinating place of interest around Burhanpur is the Asigarh, a formidable fort located 25 kilometres from the town. The strategic location of this fort—once ruled by a local chieftain and later captured by the Faruqis in 1400—

GURU NANAK VISITED THE TOWN IN THE 16TH CENTURY AND THE 10TH SIKH GURU, GURU GOBIND SINGH SPENT 20 DAYS TEACHING HERE. VISIT THE GURUDWARA SANGAT RAJGHAT PATSHALI PAHILI AND GURUDWARA BARI SANGAT THAT COMMEMORATE THESE EVENTS.

made the city's defences impregnable. It was called the Gateway to Southern Indian since any ruler with an ambition to get to the Deccan had to first gain control of this fort. You must also see the temple of Ichhadevi, situated 23 kilometres from the town. The temple structure is recent, but the site is more than 450 years old.

MUMTAZ CONNECTION

Burhanpur was frequented by Mughal ruler Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The royal bath, or hammam, was built exclusively for her use. It is also believed that a rock in the middle of River Tapti was their love corner, where Shah Jahan would often take his wife on a boat on starry nights. Across the Tapti is the Ahukhana (which means deer park). It was here that Mumtaz was buried when she died in Burhanpur in 1631. Later, her body was taken to Agra and she found peace in the Taj Mahal. Interestingly, Burhanpur was the preferred location of the Taj Mahal.

For more information, visit mptourism.com


Business As Usual

Mumbai Mavericks

This month, we meet two visionaries in the City of Dreams who are reaching for the stars with their business acumen and ambition.

Sameer and his partner Venkat raised US$18 million for Culture Machine in second round of funding in 2015. It was the largest investment in the multi-channel network space in Asia.

ENTREPRENEUR>>

SAMEER PITALWALLA CEO, CULTURE MACHINE Sameer quit a high-profile job at Disney India to start his digital media company with ex-Google Venkat Prasad. A momentous decision, for their multi-channel network Culture Machine has crossed 600 million monthly views on YouTube and the network’s channels like Being Indian, Put Chutney, Awesome Sauce, and Blush are being lauded for their thought-provoking content. CITY HANGOUTS Escobar (199, 4th Floor, VN Sphere Mall, Linking Road, Bandra West; +91-22/26407070) and Olive Bar & Kitchen (olivebarandkitchen.com). PARISIAN DIARY “I went backpacking in Paris in my early 20’s, walked the streets while listening to Doors, ran amok in Bastille, poured myself into Picasso, Dali, Rodin, the Parks, Morrison, and the Velvet Underground. Now, whenever I visit, I see the city through the same rose-tinted lenses of those times.” CULTURE MACHINE FAVOURITE

The Indian Dalit by Being Indian. TRAVEL BUCKET LIST

Scandinavia and Galapagos islands.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY RYAN MARTIS


Rachel brings back local produce from wherever she’s travelling. She recently picked up 13 jars of different kinds of honey from Tasmania.

RESTAURANTEUR>>

CHEF RACHEL GOENKA OWNER, THE SASSY SPOON Rachel learned the culinary arts from namesake celebrity chef Rachel Allen at The Ballymaloe Cookery School and later honed her skills at Le Cordon Bleu, London. Partnering with Chef Irfan Pabaney, she launched The Sassy Spoon, a gourmet eatery in Mumbai, and her love for desserts has translated into the patisserie, The Sassy Teaspoon. A self-confessed shopaholic, she frequents boutiques in London and Florence and brings back one-off pieces. DOWNTIME IN MUMBAI

The Dome (ihg.com) and Asilo (stregismumbai.com). ON MUMBAI’S FOOD SCENE “It’s rapidly evolving and there’s a shift from traditional to modern cooking. Almost every restaurant has something exciting to offer, so the bar is set quite high.”

C O URT ESY O F R AC H E L G OE N KA

FAVOURITE FOOD DESTINATIONS

Food in Sydney and Melbourne is delicious and creative. Even a random hole-in-the-wall serves up spectacular dishes, she says.

WEIRD EXPERIMENT THAT WAS SUCCESSFUL Eggnog macarons. BOOKSHELF Restaurant Babylon

by Imogen Edwards-Jones, White Slave by Marco Pierre White, and The Intolerant Indian by Gautam Adhikari. —A.B.

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Jaipur Literature Festival

For the Stylishly Late

If you’re the type who plans and packs at the last minute, we got you covered. See the latest in town, eat at the best places and stay in style with our picks for your visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival.

ACCESSORIES Kit yourself with these accessories, and look stylish and intellectual.

◄ Bucket Bag Layla

Bucket Bag in Tan (`7,000) (In the movie Dear ar Zindagi) vitastadesign.com m

Round Bucket Danglers by Simran Chhabra (`3500) available at nimai.com

Jharoka Necklace By Razia Kunj (`5830) Available on raziakunj.com and nimai.com

Matsuda M t d E Eyewear M Matsuda t d 2809HSUN (`1,69,372 approx) Available on luxuryeyesite.com

THE GYAN MUSEUM

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JuttiChoo Juttis (`2,500) Available on juttichoo.com oo.com com

Estate Blue Rag Long Dress Plantation House (`4,640) Available at plantationhouse.com

C O U R T E S Y O F G YA N M U S E U M (4) (4 )

The late Gyan Chand Dhaddha—a naturalist, collector, and gemologist grew up in a joint family setting, and was greatly influenced by the abundance and diversity that came with it. His affinity towards arts, crafts, poetry, philosophy, and literature, and his fascination for antiques led him to become an avid collector. The Gyan Museum is a tribute to him by his sons Suresh and Arun, housing a collection of over 3,000 items including exquisite antique jewellery, silver utensils, rare textiles, miniature paintings, and ancient manuscripts plus the largest collection of Hookah mouthpieces in the world. The museum, designed by award winning French architect Paul Mathieu, is located at the Gem Plaza—a factory that manufactures jewellery inspired from the collection at the museum. gyanmuseum.com


The Maas-ahari’s Guide to Jaipur

We like being a little contrarian sometimes. And, it’s a complete myth that Jaipur doesn’t have great non-vegetarian dining options. both and instead have their Rajasthani thali. It’s pretty good. WHERE: Panch Batti, MI Road, Tel: 0141 3319272 PRICE `1,500 for two.

TARUVEDA BISTRO

Designer Marie-Anne Oudejans with her border collie, Aedo, at her Bar Palladio, in Jaipur,

1135 AD

Fine dining in Rajathan, the royal way. Located within the Amber Fort. Luxurious and romantic, this grand restaurant serves in pure silver crockery, under sparkling chandeliers that hang from a recast roof with glass inlay and gold leaf motifs. Sit on regal furniture with silver-plated armrests. The Food isn’t too shabby either. WHERE: Level 2, Jaleb Chowk, Near Sheela Mata Temple, Amer Palace, Amer. Tel: 91 9829066688 PRICE: `2,500 for two.

BAR PALLADIO

T O P : A PA R N A J AYA K U M A R ; T O P R I G H T: C O U R T E S Y O F PA L L A D I O

A hot favourite during Lit Fest (because of its proximity to the main venue), it’s also highly likely that you will run into some glittering Literati here. They also have great outdoor seating: candle-lit and romantic in the evening, charming and sunny with canopies during the day. WHERE: Narayan Singh circle, Hotel Narain Niwas, Kanota Bagh, Narayan Singh Circle. Tel: 0141 2565556 PRICE: `2,000 for two.

JAMMIE’S KITCHEN

Run by a father-daughter duo, Jammie’s Kitchen is a delightful place for a spot of old-school cooking and authentic flavours. Perfect for a long lunch in the winter sun (they have lovely outdoor seating), they’re particularly a great option for non vegetarians visiting Jaipur (which otherwise tends to have only veg dining options). WHERE: 52, Green Park, Queens Road, Vaishali Nagar, Tel: 0141 3319406 PRICE: `1,500 for two.

NIROS

If you’ve ever asked for recommendations for places to eat in Jaipur, this is the first name that pops up. It’s an old old classic–it opened back in 1949 and has been an MI Road landmark since. Serves veg, non veg and alcohol, too! Unless you’re craving chinese or have an upset stomach and need to have continental food, we’d suggest skip

From a collection of luxury home decor and accessories, to promoting organic living, and a bistro offering world cuisines, Taruveda offers an experience that is beyond just a meal. WHERE: 2 Mysore House, Jacob Road, Civil Lines Tel: 0141 4043157. PRICE: `1,000 for two.

HANDI

Don’t go by it’s rustic-meets-touristy set up, the Lal Maas here is one of the best you’ll get in Jaipur. Also good for other Indian food, be sure to drop in if you’re craving rich, spicy Rajasthani cuisine, close to the venue. WHERE: Maya Mansion, Opposite GPO, MI Road. Tel: 0141 2371313. PRICE: `1,000 for two.

ARTISTIC AIRBNBS IN JAIPUR The Artist’s Studio

We love that this residence is actually converted from a sculptor’s studio. Designed by French photographer Saskia Durand-Raucher, it’s sure to get your creative juices flowing. After spending the day at the festival, it’ll be the perfect place to unwind.

Camelia

Just two minutes away from the central metro station, this threebedroom property is perfect if you’re travelling in a group. The hosts live there too and you can schedule music and cooking lessons ahead of your arrival.

Ikaki Niwas

‘Ikaki’ literally translates to ‘one-of-a-kind residence’ and that’s exactly what this luxury home-stay offers. The traditional Rajasthani décor of the rooms adds to the Rajputana experience. A huge terrace with a pink floor makes for a cool evening setting.

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PHOTO CREDIT

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Nature’s Design

SALAR DE UYUNI Bolivia

P HH AO NT S ONC ER LED MIATN / G E T T Y I M A G E S

Nature has a way of levelling things out and one such marvel is the Salar De Uyuni in the Potosi and Oruro departments, southwest Bolivia. Covering 10,582 square kilometres, it is the world’s largest salt flat, with the average altitude variation of only one metre. When wet, the salt plains turn into natural mirrors extending as far as the eyes can see, merging with the sky in the horizon, creating the magician’s pet illusion of walking on water, a reality. When dry, the ground cracks into perfect hexagons, and identical salt mounds rise from beneath in perfect order—all of man’s measuring devices can’t compare to the precision of nature’s design.

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Cityscape

MANHATTAN BRIDGE Suspended over the East River, the Manhattan Bridge connects two very different parts of New York City—Lower Manhattan, the business centre along with government offices; and Downtown Brooklyn, a flourishing civic centre for the neighbouring Borough. Even for New Yorkers, the bridge is a lair with conspicuous views of the city. Here, you can see one such vista, the Empire State Building framed by a stately arch of the bridge. The narrow path, meant for biking and running, offers sights of the bustling Chinatown and DUMBO, the tech centre. At times, the grey exterior of the bridge is interrupted with a cluster of graffiti covered buildings, but apart from that, it has remained unchanged through the century, providing a welcome familiarity to the people of New York City.

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New York City


P HAT M OTO E OC R CE OD L IOTM B O / G E T T Y I M A G E S

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Costume Drama

AYUTTHAYA Thailand

PHOTO CREDIT

Traditionally reserved only for the royal courts, Khon is a form of dance-drama performed to the beats of Piphat—a music ensemble of percussion instruments from the most scared compositions of Thai classical repertoire. The practice of Khon Ramakien narrates the tale of Ramayana with four main characters: Phra Ram (the hero), Sita, the ogre (demon), and Hanuman (the warrior monkey). Performers wear costumes made of colourful fabrics embellished with intricate embroidery and sparkling stones. There are mainly three elements of the getup: Siraporn (head accessories), Pattraporn (clothing), and Tanimpimpaporn (worn accessories). Khon is a gateway to Thai mythology, culture, and virtues of the people.

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PETITE PROMESSE BAUME & MERCIER This playful double-wrap wrist watch with blue calfskin straps is encased in diamonds and a statement accessory that takes any outfit from drab to glam.

Timepieces

LEATHER GOODS

Time chip implants and watch-gadgets may be around the corner, but the classic leather straps remain timeless with unmatched elegance. By Jaya Sharma

CARROUSEL PHASES DE LUNE BLANCPAIN The carrousel counteracts and neutralises the effects of deceleration and acceleration of the balance wheel caused by gravity.

GLOBEMASTER CO-AXIAL MASTER CHRONOMETER OMEGA With the brand’s most advanced mechanical movement and design inspired by early constellation models of horological expertise, this was the world’s first Master Chronometer unveiled in 2014.

EL PRIMERO ZENITH As the world’s most luxurious Cohiba cigars celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Swiss watchmaker pays tribute by launching a special edition of brown-alligator leather-strap chronographs featuring Cuban motifs.

BIG PILOT’S PER PERPETUAL CA CALENDAR IWC It display displays not only cyc the cycles of the bu also the moon, but seconds minutes, seconds, hours, date, day, a year in month, and ffour digits.

THE LINDBERGH HOUR ANGLE WATCH LONGINES The most remarkable herita heritage designer watch is the truest complim compliment to the air na navigation systems.

*All prices on request.

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Festival

PHOTOCONCIERGE

Caring For The Past

Puducherry’s biggest draw over the years has been its heritage quarters and beautiful old buildings restored by INTACH. Every year in February, the city celebrates these efforts with a festival.

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he Pondicherry Heritage Festival, now in its third year, will be a 3-day festival with workshops, talks, conferences and performances all within the theme of Heritage. Not just architectural, but the equally important role that art, dance, music, and even local forests play in the city’s heritage. It is organised

Before you plan your visit, discover beautiful Airbnb stays and top tips from Puducherry Insiders on travelandleisure india.in

by INTACH, The People for Pondicherry’s Heritage (PPH) and PondyCAN, with the Departments of Art & Culture and Tourism, Government of

Puducherry, supported by the AFP, IFP and many otherorganisations and individuals.With the participation of many distinguished guests and expert speakers the festival promises to be both interesting and colourful. Usually held in February, the final dates of the festival will be announced by mid January 2017.

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Traditional African dancers at Volcanoes National Park; Below: The Lounge Bar, Bisate Lodge.

HOW TO GET THERE

Africa Update

Rwanda on the Rise

Wildlife and nature reserves aside, Rwanda is turning out to be the most favoured African destination for business and leisure travellers, finds out Devanshi Mody.

C

ALLED the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ or more popularly the land of Dian Fossey’s Gorillas in the Mist, Rwanda will now be more accessable to Indian travellers. A new direct flight service between Mumbai and Kigali debuts this month. Known for its iconic mountain gorillas of the Virunga Massif, safari lovers can celebrate the new year in style. With the advent of Wilderness Safaris (wilderness-safaris.com) at the much-touted Bisate Lodge the experience promises to be a game-changer that will pollvault Rwanda to glamorous safari heights. Bisate means ‘pieces’ in Kinyarwanda and

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the lodge set to launch in June 2017 finds itself in the natural amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone so the lodge’s name conveys how the integrity of the cone was naturally eroded. The surrounds offer spectacular views of Bisoke and Karisimbi—volcanoes rearing up through the Afro-alpine forests at the nearby Volcanoes National Park (volcanoesnationalpark rwanda.com)

Green-Stay

Twelve bristling slick rooms equipped with smart amenities and captivating views are designed to thrill while upholding Wilderness Safaris’

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There are direct international flights into Kigali from Brussels several times a week on Brussels Airlines. Starting January, Rwanda Air also starts its direct service from Mumbai to Kigali. rwandatourism.com


BUSINESS AND LEISURE HOTELS IN RWANDA RIGHT AND BELOW:

C LO C K W I S E : C O U RT ESY O F RWA N DA ( 2 ) ; C O U RT ESY O F S E R E N A H OT E LS ; JA M I TA R R I S / G E T T Y I M AG ES ; S H U T T E R STO C K O P P O S I T E : R E N ATO G R A N I E R I / A L A M Y ; C O U RT ESY O F RWA N DA ;

A treatment room at Lanserhof Tegernsee, in the Bavarian countryside; a meditation session at Vana, in India.

signature environmental ethos and reflecting the culture of surrounding rural Rwanda. But you wouldn’t think Rwanda’s rural when at this super contemporary lodge, whose terrific green clustered lights evoke a gleaming jungle canopy—a very modern one! Bisate is near the Park Headquarters, from where gorilla treks depart. Its vision of reforestation and rehabilitation ensure guest contribute to biodiversity.

Clockwise: Whisky Bar at the Highlands Suites Hotel; Swahili Platter; Milima Restaurant at the Kigali Serena Hotel: the African Giraffe; Golden Monkey

Visit Iby’wacu cultural village, the Twin Lakes of Buhondo and Burera, the lava tunnels of Musanze Caves, and even seeing the endemic golden monkey.

Gear Up

If you’ve planned your Rwanda trip before Bisate can receive (really can’t wait to join the posh parties to Bisate next

summer?) then Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is more than a vacation, it’s a voyage that indelibly etches your memory for ever. Set into the foothills of the Virunga mountain range, this five-star lodge features individual cottages with decks and fireplaces. The food’s great. So’s the wine.

The hotel is built around a polished granite atrium, that showcases the very best of Rwandan art. This laid-back property features a wide sun deck, a swimming pool, and the Milima Restaurant with an all-day buffet. Regarded as Kigali’s business hub, the hotel also boasts its own extensive conference centre, 500-seater auditorium, and a lavish ballroom. (serenahotels.com)

RADISSON BLU HOTEL & CONVENTION CENTRE, KIGALI

More on the Horizon

Conservation and local community engagement thus making a far-reaching positive impact on the endangered mountain gorilla. Besides tracking one of the several habituated gorilla groups, activities could include visiting Iby’wacu cultural village, the Twin Lakes of Buhondo and Burera, the lava tunnels of the Musanze Caves, Dian Fossey’s grave, and even seeing the endemic golden monkey. Walks on the extensive property offer birding and participation in the reforestation programme.

KIGALI SERENA HOTEL

But don’t have too much for at dawn your private butler will come knocking at your door with coffee and biscuits, waiting to extract you out of pyjamas and fit you into more amenable safari gear. You’ll need it on a hike into the National Volcano Park (which the lodge conveniently borders) whose plethora of gorilla families includes the largest known Silverback in the world. Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is operated by a community trust that works to further conservation and protection initiatives in the park so don’t count your pennies, splurge, this is worthy luxury. ▪

Just five kilometres from the Kigali International Airport (KGL), the hotel is an office park with a room capacity for up to 5,000 delegates. The 292 luxurious rooms come with a lavish breakfast buffet, all-day dining, and hi-speed internet. Guests can relax at the Lounge Bar with cocktails and the best in Rwandan cuisine. (radissonblu.com)

KIGALI MARRIOTT HOTEL

This five-star business hotel has a prime location, close to the financial district and embassies. Modern and chic, the Lobby Bar offers its guests clear views of the surrounding city with an elaborate cocktail menu. Complete your stay with a day of pampering at the Saray Spa, the largest spa in the city, with rejuvenating treatments and an outdoor pool. (marriott.com)

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TRAVEL UNIFORM

I still use a custom-made leather jacket that Manish Malhotra made for me two decades ago. During my travels, you’ll find me with my Tod’s strolley, Sennheiser headphones, iPad, and Puma footwear.

On Location

Turn Around, It’s Mykonos!

Brands (thejarofbrands.com) are for those who love to carry back colourful lines by local designers—find MiRo, Despina Vandi, and others here.

Celebrity photographer Atul Kasbekar recently travelled to Mykonos for the Kingfisher Calendar 2017 shoot and came back with a handful of favourites from the Greek island.

The sun-kissed Caprice Bar at dusk. Clockwise from above: Atul Kasbekar on location; the blue houses in Mykonos make a stunning backdrop to the Myconian Avaton Resort; octopus before being taken to the Spilia kitchen.

IN THE ARMS OF LUXURY

The Myconian Avaton Resort (myconianavaton.gr) is scalloped on a hill side and the view from anywhere is simply magnificent. T+L TIP Check into the twobedroom Mystique villa that features two bedrooms, a living room, and kitchen, and offers a panoramic view of the city.

IN STYLE Arjun Rampal, Arunoday Singh, Rannvijay Singh and Hasan Zaidi relax on the mountains., Arjun Rampal gives us a view of the base camp, (L-R): Namratha Gujaran, Sonnalli Seygall, Shlok Sharma, Rannvijay Singh, Arunoday Singh, RP Singh, Hasan Zaidi, Yuvraj

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Old town Chora is quite incredible with its whitewashed cubic houses and maze-like streets where lots of tiny, luxury fashion boutique stores sell interesting knick-knacks and clothing.  T+L TIP Visit two outstanding stores: Daquared2 (9, Mitropoleos Street; +30-228/9077314) offers chic Italian tailoring coupled with an edgy Canadian fashion sensibility that’s laidback and extravagant; The Jars of

Some bars locals swear by are Caprice (caprice.gr) in Old town that has an incredible view and the best strawberry margarita I’ve had in a while. Spilia (spiliarestaurant.gr) is located in a beautiful cave of Agia Anna that hangs over the sea. Must-try here is the seafood, especially if you like octopus. Nammos (nammos.gr) is a gem in Psarou. It is an elegant and formal beach bar and club where you might spot a famous face. T+L TIP For some enviable Instagram shots, hang around the neighbourhood of Little Venice at dusk when the crowd is just beginning to gather around the boho-chic bars.

ONLY IN MYKONOS This happened on one of the recces in Mykonos. We were on Timos Island for lunch at a local restaurant and I had gone to the bar to get the wifi password. The owner sat me down instead and offered me a couple of ouzo shots and copious amounts of fresh seafood and caviar. He and his daughter and their two friends kept me entertained for almost an hour before my production team came to find me reasonably wasted with a bunch of new friends.

C L O C K W I S E : C O U R T E S Y O F AT U L K A S B E K A R ; C O U R T E S Y O F M Y C O N I A N AVAT O N R E S O R T; C O U R T E S Y O F AT U L K A S B E K A R ( 2 )

INTO THE NIGHT


Field Notes

Silk En Route

A trip through the Silk Route has inspired designer Anita Lal, creative director, Good Earth, to create unique patterns for Shambala, a new collection of home décor products for the brand.

C O URT ESY O F A N ITA L A L( 4 ) ; LI U KUA N X IN / A L A M Y( C E N TR E )

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ne can often catch Anita Lal musing on designs she finds during her travel expeditions, the outcomes of which reflect beautifully on her product line: Farah Baksh from the legacy of Kashmir’s gardens and crafts, Ratnakara from the cultural influence of India on the islands of the Indian Ocean, and Samarqand from the legendary crossroads of the Silk Route. For Shambala, she set out to discover the art and craft of the following cities.

to a community kiln for firing. In Jingdezhen, Lal worked with local artisans to create a line of hand-painted blue and white jars, platters, and bowls.

CORE POTTERY

The Chinese culture takes much from nature. Visit Liu Xian Guan Tea House (28 Guozijian St, Dongcheng Qu; +86-10/8404-8539) for a customary Chinese tea ceremony, where you are served a range of fragrant teas in tiny teapots and miniature cups.

Jingdezhen, also known as the Porcelain City, is the heart of China’s pottery region. It has a history of over 1,700 years in porcelain-making including the famous blue-and-white Ming pots. Today, pottery and hand painting thrive in small apartments in narrow alleys here. Potters then send their products

STAPLE HARVEST

In Beijing, Lal picked one of the earliest Chinese weather forecasting rituals for inspiration. Here, the arrival of summer is predicated by the flowering of the plum tree in early spring.

TEA TRAILS

Clockwise from above: Anita Lal, creative director, Good Earth; dinnerware from Shambala collection; Anita Lal has taken inspiration from the Silk Route for one of her collections; Good Earth’s Gyasar Brocade cushions; an artisan handpainting on crockery.

Not much later when the rains arrive, the plum ripens over three weeks, hence the term ‘plum rain.’ The golden clouds and flowering plum trees on her hand-painted papier-mâché bowls and trays are punctuated by real gold leaves.

PURE BROCADE

The Gyasar brocade from Varanasi, a silk-weaving tradition that connects India and China, is derived from a silk fabric of

the Kinkhwab structure with extra layers of warp threads. This rich ceremonial brocade, which typically comes in metallic gold and silver, has vivid imagery of dragons and oversized flowers that are often seen in Buddhist monasteries, especially those in Ladakh and Tibet. The signature Shambala designs are derived from this Gyasar weave. –AS TOLD TO AROMA SAH ANANT

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New Again

SHADES OF GREEN

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et amidst the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, majestic volcanic mountains, and lush paddy fields, Soori Bali immerses itself into its beautiful surroundings. It began as a vacation home for Soo K Chan and his wife Ling Fu, their friends and family, and later expanded into a resort. Soo has designed the property and has contributed to its interiors, furnishings, and landscaping. The 48 contemporary villas

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crafted using locally-sourced materials, traditional Balinese motifs at the resort, ceramic ornaments from local artisans, and fresh produce from farms and their own spice gardens orchestrate a dialogue between nature and the local community. Moreover, its sustainable initiatives that minimise carbon footprint and maximise locale engagement have won the EC3 Global EarthCheck certification for best building, planning, and design.

An independent brand now, Soori Bali has introduced new initiatives like the 2017 Psyche Retreats (a programme for psychological well being) that are bookable already.Apart from the villas upgrades and new uniforms, a cantilevered cliff-top event space overlooking the Indian Ocean, an Indonesian restaurant set amidst paddy fields, and a wedding lawn offering views of the peninsular will be added to the resort.

sooribali.com

COURTESY OF SOORI BALI

After six years of being a part of Alila Hotels, Soori Bali (former Alila Villas Soori), which was designed by Singapore-based architect Soo K Chan, has got a revamp and is all set to launch in 2017.


PROMOTION

Clockwise: The Jagannath Temple in Puri; tourists at the Sun Temple in Konark; an idol at the Chausathi Jogini Temple.

TEMPLE TALES C L O C K W I S E : D R E A M S T I M E ; V I N C Y L O P E Z /A L A M Y; R O B E R T P R E S T O N P H O T O G R A P H Y/A L A M Y

Architecture, history, folklore, and craftsmanship define the temples of Odisha.

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ancing naiykas to sculptures of maithunya, the union of Shiva and Shakti, mind and matter, male and female; floating idols to carved wheels that reflect time; virtues attributed to animals and the struggle of man with material desires—the temples and monuments in Odisha narrate history in a language clearer than words. Jagannath Temple, Puri One of the four sites of char dham or the holiest pilgrimage of Hindus, is Jagannath Temple in Puri. The colossal structure demonstrates the elevated architectural style of the Kalinga Dynasty starting from the 11th- to

the 15th-century. Legend has it that the image of the deity centred in the temple has the power to grant ‘moksha’ or eternal salvation to the visitor. Sun Temple Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, the Konark Sun Temple is an architectural masterpiece that depicts the Sun God Surya manning a mammoth chariot pulled by seven horses and 12 wheels. The 10-foot tall wheel, a sun dial, bears testimony to ancient wisdom and science—the shadows that the spokes cast can tell time accurately. During its construction, a magnet was placed right on top and iron tiles

placed between stones, so the iron idol would float mid-air. Chausathi Jogini Temple This tantric temple located in a hamlet outside of Bhubaneshwar, was built in the 9th-century by Queen Hiradevi of the Bramha dynasty. It is extremely relevant in tracing the cultural roots of ancient India—a time when Goddesses and the female power were worshiped above all. The temple was built with blocks of sandstone in a circle with 64 Joginis (demiGoddesses) encircling the granite idol of Goddess Kali, who stands over a human head. Interestingly, Tantra, which originally connoted the union of

the physical and spiritual energies and the worship of the five elements, was contorted through the course of history relating it to witchcraft and black magic. Each idol represents a female figurine expressing all emotions from rage and pleasure, to happiness and sorrow. Anantashayana Vishnu, Dhenkanal District Carved in the 9th-century, it is an open-air rock relief of the Hindu God Vishnu in the Anantashayana (sleeping on the serpent Shesha or Sheshanaga). Measuring 14.5 metres, it is the largest exposed horizontal structure in India.

For more information, visit www.odishatourism.gov.in


Nassau Island, Bahamas

INSTAGRAMMER OF THE MONTH

Sivan Askayo

Leaving behind a corporate job in New York, Sivan studied photography at the International Center of Photography in NYC and has been taking food, travel, and lifestyle shots ever since. So when she has time to spare from her assignments with tourism boards, travel magazines, and commercial clients, she loves to capture the local street art scene for her project, ‘Intimacy Under the Wires’. After 12 years in the Big Apple, she recently moved to Tel Aviv and now divides her time between the two cities. Follow her journey on instagram@sivanaskayo Arusha National Park, Tanzania

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Cao Dai Temple, Vietnam

CLOCKWISE: Teenagers in

Nassau, The Bahamas, running on the pier to jump off in the water. Sivan tried to capture their energy and vibe; the Cao Dai Temple in Vietnam is just four kilometres from the small city of Tay Ninh (located around 95 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh). It has been the centre of Cao Dai—a homegrown religious movement in the country with five million followers; a young boy fishing for squids in Zanzibar; lunch in Praca do Comercio, Lisbon, which is also one of her favourite cities to travel and shoot. She visits often and has witnessed its revival as a tourist destination; an early morning shot in Shu’Mata Camp, Tanzania, at the foothills of the Kilimanjaro.

Praca do Comercio, Lisbon

Fishing for Squids in Zanzibar


The rocks at the Ken Gharial Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. Inset: The Indian Gharial is an endangered species.

Into the Wild

Making It Ripple

As we sip our evening tea, the Indian Gharials slither over the gorgeous volcanic rocks that paint the serene landscape in wild splashes of greys, greens, purples, and bronze. I am visiting the Ken Gharial Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, about 24 kilometres from Khajuraho, where the twin rivers Ken and Khudar meet. There are many other animals and trees found in the region, but the gharial, slimmer cousin of the mighty crocodile, remains its chief attraction.

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The sanctuary is one of the few places where the endangered species are found. According to the survey in 2006, around 38 adults are still in this area, spotted in River Ken or near the Raneh Waterfalls. These fish-eating reptiles can make you shudder with fear. Although no human attack has ever been reported here, some years ago, a cow was killed by one of them somewhere close to where I am sitting. These fast and long gharials spend more time in water than

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THE 13.5-SQUAREKILOMETRE KEN GHARIAL SANCTUARY IS HOME TO THE CRITICALLY ENDANGERED INDIAN GHARIALS. ONCE FOUND ABUNDANTLY IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, THE WORLD POPULATION OF THE BREEDING GHARIALS HAS DROPPED DOWN TO 200 DUE TO HUNTING AND DESTRUCTION OF THEIR HABITATS.

the crocodiles. Look for the distinctive snout in the gharials and you will be able to tell the difference between them. In the soft twilight, the gorge sparkles in silver and the water creates tiny jewel pools—it is a lovely day to be in the wild. DETAILS The best time to visit is between November and April (it’s closed during monsoons). You can book your stay at Ken River Lodge in Panna (kenriverlodge.com).

This article was first published on Tripoto.com.

P B S T O C K /A L A M Y; I N S E T( D E A / C . D A N I / I . J E S K E / G E T T Y I M A G E S )

The gharials lu lurk in the deep blue waters of River Ken, stretch out on the huge white rocks waiting for their prey, and bask under the sun—the Ken Gharial Sanctuary is one of the few places where you can still find this family of crocodiles, discovers blogger Srotoswini Svetlana Baghawan.


Morocco p. 50 Mexico p. 54 Australia p. 74

CÉLINE CLANET

BEYOND A mosaic floor at Volubilis, a partially excavated Berber and Roman city in Morocco that dates back to the 3rd century BC.

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BEYOND Pilgrimage

History on a Hill

The holy village of Moulay Idriss only recently opened to nonMuslim visitors, which is why it is one of Morocco’s most authentic and untrammelled outposts. Anna Heyward takes a look around.

Dinner on the terrace at Scorpion House, a private rental house with sensational views.

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n the early spring, when I visited Moulay Idriss, the climate was at its most Mediterranean. The four-hour drive from Casablanca took me through forests of cork oaks, their bark stripped to arm’s reach to make corks for wine bottles. The greens of the countryside were muted and slightly dusty, the air was soft, and there were olive trees everywhere. Approaching the town from the west, I saw a cluster of colourful boxes framed by bare mountain peaks. Reachable by just a pair of roads, Moulay Idriss spreads across two foothills of Mount Zerhoun, at the base of the Atlas Mountains. Edith Wharton came here in 1919, taking the same route I did. In her travel book, In Morocco, she described the “piled up terraces and towns of the Sacred City growing golden in the afternoon light across the valley.” Moulay Idriss was, until recently, off-limits to non-Muslims between 3 pm and sunrise—Wharton had to continue on to nearby Meknes to spend the night. This was because of the town’s holiness: it is a pilgrimage site, the burial place of Moulay Idris Al Akbar, a great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. In 2005, Muhammed VI, the current king of Morocco, issued a decree to open the town to non-Muslim visitors as part of his plan of Westernoriented reform. Despite the lifting of restrictions, the tourism infrastructure that is so ubiquitous throughout the rest of the country has been slow to arrive here, and the place feels suspended in time. Centuries before Moulay Idriss became sacred to Muslims, Romans occupied the region. To reach the town from Rabat or Casablanca, you must navigate around Volubilis, the ruin of an ancient Roman city about three miles away whose UNESCO listing describes architectural influences that “testify to Mediterranean, Libyan and Moor, Punic, Roman, and Arab-Islamic cultures as well as African and Christian cultures.” The farmers in the area tell stories about turning up bits of antiquity—broken relics and Roman stones—when tilling Photographs by Céline Clanet


Clockwise from left: The ancient Roman city of Volubilis; a young friend of the owners of Walila Farm on the property’s terrace pumpkin and vegetable soup at Walila Farm.

The farmers in the area tell stories about turning up bits of antiquity when tilling the earth.

the earth. The logic of Moulay Idriss, when seen from Volubilis, becomes clear: it’s a raised, defensible outpost, surrounded by arable land, which allows occupants to see intruders approaching. The town’s history has imbued it with its own patchwork quality. After the Romans left, it became the seat of an Islamic dynasty. Then, following the French conquest of Morocco, it was remade as a weekend destination for the ruling class. One reason the Romans chose Moulay Idriss was its potential for making olive oil, which is today the town’s primary product. Once a week, a member of each family takes a bushel of olives and a jug to the local press, watches the machine churn, then collects the oil to bring home. With just under 12,000 residents, Moulay Idriss is by no means a large town, but it feels even smaller than it is. When I arrived, I went to Dar Zerhoune, a five-bedroom inn that opened in 2009 with a multi-storey interior divided up by wooden beams and balconies. Its owner is Rose Button, a British expat who was one of the first non-Muslims to buy property here. As you look out onto the mountainside from the rooftop terrace, it’s easy to think of Wharton again: “The light had the preternatural purity which gives a foretaste of mirage: it was the light in which magic becomes real, and which helps to understand how, to people living in such an atmosphere, the boundary between fact and dream perpetually fluctuates.” The only other Westerner in town is Mike Richardson, who left the London food scene to set up Café Clock in Fez, then bought a weekend home in Moulay Idriss. After renovating it to emphasise its open fireplaces, terraces, and picture windows, he opened it to guests as Scorpion House—or Dar Akrab, in Arabic—in late 2015. It hangs on a cliff just below the city’s lookout spot. The terrace, where the cocktail hour takes place at sunset, is an excellent place to study the panorama of the adjacent hill and discover that various sections of town are each painted their own pastel shade. It’s also a good vantage point for


BEYOND Pilgrimage

From left: A donkey in one of Moulay Idriss’s many narrow, painted alleyways; a guest room at Scorpion House.

observing the ‘promenade hour,’ which in Moulay Idriss begins at about 4 pm and continues until nightfall. As the streets fill up, so do the windows. “People here love to sit and watch,” one local told me. When darkness arrived, Richardson and I stayed out on the terrace under a single light, eating rabbit that he had stuffed with merguez sausage and dates. Moulay Idriss was built for donkey traffic. It is threaded with arteries that are less streets than openings just wide enough for a pack animal loaded with goods. One afternoon, lost in the maze of streets, I had to ask two young engineering students for directions. As they walked me home, they explained that development in Morocco follows a particular process that has remained unchanged for decades. The king arrives in a region, the people make their requests, and he allocates a budget. Several months later, he comes back in disguise to see whether what he commissioned is actually being carried out. I asked what sort of disguise. “In glasses, or with his trousers torn,” one said, in a manner that suggested the answer should have been obvious to me. I went the following day to the town’s hammam. It is heated with burning olive wood, the scent of which floats into the street. Inside, though, the atmosphere is less like a spa than a communal bath full of screaming women. They brew afternoon coffee there while holding what could be called the town congress. I got so caught up in their interaction that I found it hard to leave. One of the area’s best-kept secrets is Walila Farm, positioned between Volubilis and the two hills of Moulay Idriss. Built in 1920, it was once the weekend home of Michel Jobert, the French foreign minister under Georges Pompidou and François Mitterrand, who wrote a novel about the house. It had fallen into disrepair when Azzedine Zayr, a Moroccan who had spent many years working as a chef in Belgium, bought it in 2000. His renovation turned it into one of the most tranquil guesthouses I have ever visited. The Jobert family remains present in every detail, from the original tile work and furniture to the books in the library. Gardens and a copse of pine trees surround the house, with fields beyond where Zayr grows ingredients for the European-inflected traditional Moroccan dishes he serves to guests. Wild orange blossoms were flowering between the organic, hand-farmed crops when I visited. Zayr crushed a fragrant handful and held it up to my face to inhale, releasing a delicate perfume. Later that afternoon, he put the blossoms in a tea for me. As we sat in

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the garden eating a veal tagine, quinces, and dates from the trees that shaded us, a lamb grazed near a chunk of Roman stone that had rolled down the hill from one of Volubilis’s crumbling columns. If you walk to the top of Zayr’s land, you can look down on the valley and the slip of a river and see the same sweep of muted greens and patches farmed by hand and donkey that the Romans would have seen. This is a place where time unfolds and history passes, changing nothing.

The Details GETTING THERE Indian passport holders need a tourist visa to visit Morocco, which can take up to eight business days. The closest airports to Moulay Idriss are Fez (a 1½-hour drive) and Casablanca (3½ hours). STAY Dar Zerhoune A five-room B&B inside a traditional Moroccan home with a dining terrace and some of the finest views in town. Doubles from US$66; darzerhoune.com Scorpion House Mike Richardson, the former maître d’ at the Ivy and the Wolseley, in London, has opened his weekend retreat as a guesthouse with meals he prepares himself. House rentals from US$326; scorpionhouse.com Walila Farm A historic home in the countryside that offers accommodation as well as meals prepared from ingredients grown on the property. Doubles from US$50; +212-6/5209-6373 ACTIVITIES Roman Baths Ask your host to point the way to the path leading to these ancient thermal baths, said to have curative properties. Volubilis Once the capital of a remote corner of the Roman Empire, this partially excavated city just outside Moulay Idriss dates back to the third century BC and is a fascinating detour.


BEYOND Mastering the Journey

Coming S E A N BYR N E / C OU RT ESY OF L AUR E N BAT H

into Focus

After finding a following for her stunning travel images, chef turned photographer Lauren Bath traded her apron for a new life exploring the world one shot at a time.

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auren Bath’s life can easily be divided into two parts: before December 31, 2012, and after. That New Year’s Eve, she was working as a chef in the kitchen of Café Marina, a casual Italian restaurant on the Gold Coast, in Australia, and it was a particularly rough night. “I had a few drinks with friends after service, and was just over everything,” Bath says. “The next

day, I rode out my hangover, and on January 2, 2013, I told my boss I wanted to quit.” Good thing she had a backup plan. Over the course of the previous year, Bath had quietly become one of Australia’s most successful Instagrammers, teaching herself the tools and tricks of photography with a professional camera and then posting three to four pictures a day

Bath captured the Vermilion Lakes in Banff, Canada, on a campaign for Travel Alberta.

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BEYOND Mastering the Journey

Right: On location in Venice for Zonin1821, Italy’s largest privately owned winery. Below: Bath visited the Swiss Alps, where she photographed a friend atop this cliff.

on the social media platform. “My friend Garry and I would practise. We’d do a sunrise shoot on Wednesday, then research a technique like water-droplet or macro photography and learn it together. It became an addiction,” she says. Bath knew she was on to something when her account, where she was posting beautiful beach pictures of the Gold Coast, started growing by 1,000 followers per day. By the end of 2012, as New Year’s Eve approached, the total was nearly 2,00,000. That’s when she decided it was time, in her words, to “go rogue and become a full-time Instagrammer.” Doing so allowed her to indulge her love of travel, a passion that, like photography, Bath discovered later in life. Her father, a professional chef, and her mother, an excellent home cook, gave Bath the love of the trade that led her to the chef’s life. (“Hospitality is such an invigorating industry,” she says. “You form these friendships and people become your family, but the hours are terrible.”) Then, several trips to Thailand and Bali changed her perspective on the world. “I loved the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, and all

the Thai street food. And in Bali, I stayed in a little budget hotel in Kuta for a few months. It cost US$7 per night—I negotiated that rate—so I could afford to leave half my stuff there and go explore the other side of the island. It was total freedom.” Now, her travel schedule is so action-packed, those unscripted moments can feel few and far between. And she’s okay with that. “I do believe in the energies and the universe. I had a gut feeling this would work out. Being on the road is amazing, but I’m also running a business, and it’s hard. However, I’m in this for the long haul.” As of press time, Bath’s followers have soared to more than 4,60,000, and she is now a highlysought-after travel photographer and social media influencer, advising tourism boards and hotel brands on how to navigate the digital world—and capturing stunning images for them along the way. In four years, she’s worked on 150 campaigns and visited destinations as varied as Oman, Finland, Canada, and Argentina, in addition to exploring all corners of her home country. Within six months of quitting her job, she was earning as much as she had been in the kitchen. “I’m not the same person I used to be, when I was a chef,” she says. “Travelling changes you fundamentally. It makes you more accepting of other people, it helps you understand other cultures. There’s not even a piece of me that has any prejudice anymore. You can’t learn that sort of thing—you have to experience it.” — Jacqueline Gifford

C O URT ESY O F L AU RE N BAT H

“Travelling makes you more accepting of other people. It helps you understand other cultures.”


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BEYOND Travel Diary

Hot on the Trail Chef Michael Beary heads to the Mexican state of Oaxaca to find—and revive— some of the world’s finest chillies.

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hen Michael Beary opened Zocalito, his Oaxacan restaurant in Aspen, Colorado, more than 15 years ago, he quickly found that many of the ingredients he needed weren’t available in the United States. Even in Mexico, some heritage chillies— such as the achilito, which once featured prominently in many Oaxacan salsas—were nearly impossible to find. “They had become so rare, even local chefs were using generic substitutes,” Beary said. So, he started making trips to the remote Oaxacan valleys where the terroir lends these peppers their particular flavour. “My project is to get to the farmers, so I can pay them what the middleman would take,” said Beary, who hopes his purchasing power can convince growers to keep producing traditional peppers. He imports chillies and other Oaxacan items like chapulines (grasshoppers) for his restaurant; in 2012, he launched an online store (zocalito.com) that makes them available to professional and home cooks around the world. — Kelly Bastone

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1 Initially, I looked for rare chilli varieties here, at the Central de Abastos Market in the city of Oaxaca, and I still get some of my taviches there. But to find my best peppers, I had to work directly with farmers. 2 Felix Antonio Gomez (left) is one of only six growers who plant the chilhuacle—its name means ‘old chilli’ in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs—in the Cuicatlán district of Oaxaca. He has the best land and the best plants, which usually produce outstanding chillies. I’m interested in the larger ones you get from the third or fourth pickings, which have been left on the plant longer. After the chillies are

harvested, Oaxacan growers often dry them in the sun, but at this altitude there’s heavy dew that doesn’t allow them to dry sufficiently. So I bought a US$20,000 dehydrator and brought it to Oaxaca. Now we can do 2,000 pounds in 10 days. I dry them to a precise water-activity level, so no mold can grow. 3 Markets like this one near the Zócalo, the city’s central square, are quintessentially Oaxacan. One of my favourite things to buy in this area is the

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roasted chapulines in the Benito Juárez Market, which are a popular snack. I always buy from Daniela Santiago Cruz, who has the freshest ones in Oaxaca. They’re typically sold in three flavours—garlic, lime, or chilli pequin—but for mine, I have her combine all three flavours. We serve them on our guacamole, and people go nuts.

Photographs by Lindsay Lauckner Gundlock

4 At his house in Cuicatlán, Felix’s wife, Mayra, prepares dishes like chilli caldo, a soup made with meat, calabaza, and corn that features fresh chilhuacles negros. The freshness of the chillies is key, as it provides the soup with its bright flavour. 5 These chilhuacles negros enjoy the greatest fame, because they’re used in mole negro, one of the most popular Oaxacan dishes. Red chilhuacles, meanwhile, are used in mole coloradito. The yellows are less

known, and really scarce. They’re made into mole amarillo, which I pool beneath my chillies rellenos. Mayra learned to make mole negro from Felix’s grandmother, and she still does it the traditional way, using only chilhuacles instead of the cheaper stand-ins most people now rely on. Even Oaxacan restaurants that say they serve mole negro generally use only a few chilhuacles, if any. 6 I always stay at the Hotel Parador San Miguel, where Nancy Galvez is the chef. I brought her some of Felix’s fresh chilhuacles amarillos. Dried ones are hard enough to find, but fresh ones are nearly impossible to get because they’re available only

during harvest in the towns where they’re grown. 7 This molino (mill) is one of the few commercialscale machines in Oaxaca, where the chillies are ground to your specifications. Corn, beans, chocolate, chillies— there’s a different molino for each one, with stones inside that are hand-cut to mill a particular food. There’s no other kitchen tool that can approximate it. I couldn’t find one of these in the United States, so I bought one on one of my trips, disassembled it, and flew it home as checked luggage. The TSA people thought I was crazy, but now I use it at Zocalito to grind corn and beans for sopes and tamales. I’m the only producer of powdered pasilla de Oaxaca in the US.

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BEYOND

Clockwise: A couple dances the tango; the Clock Tower at Jaffa, Tel Aviv; Yaya Dance Bar which is considered to be one of the top spots in Tel Aviv.

Routine Steps

Twirl

Once More The dance studios in Tel Aviv are adding a whole new ‘twist’ to the emerging nightlife of the city. Here, choreography lessons end in dance parties. By Ananya Bahl

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el Aviv is deeply rooted in Mediterranean culture with strong links to Latin history. When Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and South America arrived in Israel in the early 20th century, they brought with them a diverse dance culture that brewed exponentially, resulting in the heady mix of dance forms like salsa, kizomba, flamenco, jazz, hip hop, reggaetón, swing, ballet in their clubs and studios.

STUDIO TALK Tel Aviv is home to several studios that conduct private and group lessons. These courses often culminate into dance parties and are a great way to make friends. Located in the heart of the city is Dance Tel Aviv (dancetelaviv.co.il) that offers partner styles like Argentine Tango, salsa, and ballroom, along with parties every night. Since 1979, Studio B (studiob.co.il) has been conducting amateur and professional dance workshops, and teaches off-beat dances like whacking & voguing, barreu au sol, bachata, and street jazz. Holy Lindy Land (holylindyland.com) has been giving lessons in blues, balboa, Lindy hop, and Charleston for years now. GO GAGA Ohad Naharin, the artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company (batsheva.co.il),

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LOCAL TAKE “My Romanian ancestry nudged me towards ballet at first, but I discovered I love swing more. Holy Lindy Land has helped me make many friends in Tel Aviv’s dance community.” —IRIT B, ADVERTISING PROFESSIONAL

has developed a concept called the Gaga Movement. It is a contemporary dance form that helps increase self-awareness through their bodies. Regular shows are put up at the company and tickets can be bought online. SUZANNE KNOWS BEST Located in the hip Neve Tzedek, The Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre (suzannedellal.org.il) is the mecca of dance in Israel. They pride themselves on presenting some of the best Israeli contemporary dance companies like Kolben Dance Company, Israeli Flamenco Dance Company and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. Performance schedules are put up online.

F R O M T O P : S H U T T E R S T O C K ; T H O M A S S TA N K I E W I C Z /A L A M Y; YA D I D L E V Y/A L A M Y

THE FIRST STEP

A detailed manual designed to help newbies find their feet in the city’s eclectic dance scene.


JOIN THE CLUB

The basic steps are good enough to take you to the night clubs for your first try-out.

Get around in Tel Aviv by hiring a bike at Tel-O-Fun. (tel-o-fun.co.il)

ALMA DE CUBA Arguably the best Latin Club in Israel, this is where salsa dancers enjoy Cuban and Latin beats. Mojitos come in handy between exhausting dance routines. Best time to visit is between 11pm and 5am on weekends. Yigal Alon St 126; +972-53/532-5972 HAVANA MUSIC CLUB They organise prelessons in Latin dance, have two separate dance complexes, and live music performances. Come here for Cuban and LA Salsa. Starts at 9.15pm until the last dancer leaves the floor. havanaclub.co.il KULI ALMA Started by a collective of Tel Aviv DJs, it’s a merger of music and art, giving one a unique nightlife experience of electronic, house, hip-hop, and live music. kulialma.com

FROM TOP: COURTESY OF KULI ALMA; COURTESY OF NANUCHK A(2)

THE BLOCK CLUB Hosts international and Israeli DJs and is renowned for its world-class sound system. It has multiple floors and is famous for house and techno dance music. block-club.com

Musicians perform live at Kuli Alma.

PANORAMA DANCE FLOOR The studiobar-club combination hosts Latin parties on Friday nights. Once a month, there are bachata nights, typically on a Thursday. Ben Zvi 84; +972-52/351-0544

5 POINTS JAFFA A stark contrast to the modern Tel Aviv, the old neighbourhood of Jaffa or Yafo has an ancient port around which are very inviting, local stores and restaurant.

BONUS ROUND Apart from dance, Tel Aviv has a lot to offer night birds. Here is a handy list of other fun places. Tel Aviv is big on veganism; head to Nanuchka (nanuchka.co.il) for a vegan-Georgian meal topped with a dose of poetry and Communist nostalgia and Tenat (Chelnov 27; +972-54/749-9538) for a unique vegan-Ethiopian meal. The thematic Port Sa’id (Har Sinai 5; +972 3-620-7436), named after an Egyptian port, overflows with a young hipster crowd gorging on middleeastern food with an Ashkenazi twist. For local craft beers, The Dancing Camel Brewery (dancingcamel.com) offers an Olde Papa and Midnight Stout—take a tour and enjoy comedy nights. Local finds like Beer Bazaar (36 Yishkon 1 Rambam; +972-3/504-9537) at the Shuk Carmel offers a Fat Cat and Indian Pale Ale; Shpagat (Nahalat Binyamin Street 43; +972-3/560-1758) and Apolo (Allenby Street 46; +9723/774-1106) embrace LGBT nights.

→ At Abu Hassan (1 Ha’ Dolfin Street;

+972-3/682-0387), a simple, no-frills restaurant, you may have to wait to be seated, but their masabacha, hummus, and ful, more than make up for it. → Buy authentic Roman glass jewellery by Israeli designer Rachel Arbel (rachelarbel. com) at her shop next to Jaffa’s clock tower. → For great seafood, head to The Old Man and The Sea (86 Kedem, Hangar 1; +9723/544-8820); follow it up with sambuska and pastries at Abu Elaifa (Yafo 4, Yefet; +972-3/682-8544), a historic bakery

owned by an Arab-Israeli family.

→ Stroll through the Jaffa Flea Market that brims with eclectic knick-knacks, a furniture market, and restaurants. → Art junkies can head to Zadik Gallery

(Shim’on Ha’tsadik St 16; +972/774-956-981)

to pick up quick souvenirs.

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BEYOND Culture Trips

Playing PARSI

Mumbai’s fond minority community has had a deep social, cultural, and gastronomical impact on the city. Ananya Bahl buys a ticket to a Parsi life and makes wonderful discoveries.

Clockwise: Wall-mounted vintage posters at the Leopold Cafe; Mr Boman Kohinoor showing guests a photograph of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge with him at the restaurant; Parsi pulav prepared with rice and dry fruits; CafĂŠ Mondegar featuring Mario Miranda cartoons on the walls.

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Photographs by Ryan Martis


NICE TO KNOW

Forerunners in many fields, it’s no wonder that Regal Cinema, the country’s first air-conditioned theatre—a feat recorded in the Limca Book of Records—was built in Mumbai by Framji Sidhwa, a prominent member of the Parsi community. The institution attracts movie-goers even today and stands tall at the junction of the Gateway of India and Colaba Causeway.

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n American journalist once asked me for my berry pulav recipe. I told her, ‘First, you give me the recipe of your Coca-Cola.’ When she said it wasn’t possible, I too, said it isn’t possible,” quipped Britannia & Co’s Mr Boman Kohinoor, as he peered at me through his thick-rimmed glasses. Even at 94, there’s a sharpness in his gaze as he pours over—and proudly flaunts—news clippings about his iconic restaurant. His attentiveness towards every customer, amusing conversations, and blessings for the young guests reveal a joie de vivre that is innate in every Parsi. TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE / / JJAANNUUAARRYY 22001 177

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The Qes.s.a-ye Sanjān recounts the Persian invasion of India between the 8th and 10th centuries. Then as late as the 1750s, the community began to migrate from small towns and villages in Gujarat to Mumbai for work, establishing walled residential complexes or baugs. The largest complex and the only one sans any physical fencing, is the Dadar Parsi Colony. Charming threestorey buildings resembling villas line its streets, interspersed with five lush gardens built by Mancherji E Joshi, the colony’s founder. This area, called ‘Five Gardens’, is an oasis offering respite in an otherwise bustling Dadar. Another is Colaba’s Cusrow Baug, a posh Parsi residential complex where the architecture is unique in its white-washed block apartment buildings alongside a sprawling football field, a community centre, and an ornate agiary. On a balmy Sunday, a stroll in the baug unfolds delightful scenes of bawa-style bonhomie with middle-aged couples bonding over chilled beer amidst Gujarati chatter, boys roughing it out with a game of football, and devotees walking piously in and out of the agiary.

SAVOURED BITES

Delectable food, a relaxed vibe, and an old world charm help Mumbai’s Irani cafes hold their own, despite growing competition from fast food chains. Britannia and Co is famous for its chicken berry pulav and bombil fry, Café Military in Fort for its sali boti and caramel custard; Jimmy Boy for keema pav and saas ni machchi; and Kyani & Co at tea time for bun maska, akuri, and Irani chai. Raspberry soda—unique to these establishments—is a must-try. If you do get lucky to be invited to a Parsi wedding, expect a lavish

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PIOUS WALKS Mumbai has the largest Parsi community in India, and therefore the largest number of Atash Behrams, the Zoroastrian place of worship. The Wadiaji and Anjuman Atash Behrams in Marine Lines are two prominent ones whose fires are said to have been brought in directly from Iran. At Churchgate, the Bhika Behram Well, founded in 1725, is known for its sweet water despite its coastal location, drawing worshippers in large numbers.


Clockwise: Entrance of Café Mondegar; a waiter pouring draught beer in a mug at Café Mondegar; a Parsi fire temple. Opposite, from left: Delicious keema pav; inside the restaurant Kyani & Co.

B O T T O M L E F T: I N D R A N I L M U K H E R J E E / G E T T Y I M A G E S

A CERTAIN FARROKH BULSARA, PERHAPS MORE POPULARLY KNOWN TO THE WORLD AS FREDDIE MERCURY, FRONTMAN OF THE ENGLISH ROCK BAND, QUEEN, WAS A PARSI WHOSE FAMILY TRACES ITS ROOTS TO THE DADAR PARSI COLONY. HE WOULD OFTEN VISIT DURING VACATION TIME WHEN HE WAS STUDYING AT THE REPUTED ST PETER’S SCHOOL, PANCHGANI. IN 1991, HIS RELATIVES ORGANISED AN UTHAMNA—A PARSI CEREMONY HELD ON THE THIRD DAY AFTER A FUNERAL—AT THE COLONY’S RUSTOM FARAMNA AGIARY.

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A PLAY ON PATETI

THE GRANDIOSE GARA For authentic Parsi buys, Mumbai locals have depended for years on these popular stores. ◄ NAJU DAVER is credited with reviving the Gara art in the mid-80s using quality fabric to produce intricate hand-embroidered heirloom sarees. Now, her daughter carries on the legacy, visiting India thrice a year to handle the business. `70,000 upwards; najudaver.in THE RATAN TATA INSTITUTE

on Hughes Road sells handembroidered pieces and assists in preserving existing ones. `50,000 upwards; +91-22/66236969. Shree Pushpam on Grant Road sells affordable machine-work Gara sarees. `15,000 upwards; +91-22/2385-3228

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From left: Parsi Well at Cross Maidan Mumbai Society. an Indian Parsi couple pose for a photograph in front of a sculpture after offering prayers at a Zoroastrian fire temple.

sit-down wedding feast, lagan-nubhonu, that includes multiple courses served on a banana leaf; dhansak, chicken farcha, patra ni machchi, and lagan-nu-custard among others. Colaba Causeway introduces gourmands to a different side of Parsi hospitality. Café Mondegar, known for the Mario Miranda cartoons on its walls and Café Leopold, a chic Iranian café, are institutions in themselves, serving contemporary bar food to be washed down with towers of draught beer. Down the road is Café Churchill known for its lasagnes, steak, and sublime Kahlua torte. All three attract hordes of Mumbaikars, expats, and foreign tourists.

F R O M T O P L E F T: I N D R A N I L M U K H E R J E E / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; H I N D U S TA N T I M E S / G E T T Y I M A G E S

Pateti is the day before Navroz, the Parsi New Year, that usually falls in August. On this day, members of the community flock to the National Centre for the Performing Arts to watch Gujarati plays that focus on Parsi culture. Other venues include YB Chavan Auditorium, Birla Matoshree, Sophia Auditorium, and Rangsharda.


WHERE TO GO IN 2017...

SANTIAGO URQUIJO/GE T T YIMAGES

This year’s top travel experiences for all kinds of crazy travellers: Tintin lovers, anime collectors, environment activists, discount fashion hunters, World War II buffs, and more.

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Helsinki is one of the cleanest and tidiest cities in the world now, perfect for travellers who border AN NU UA AR R YY 2 0 1 7 a little on OCD. JJ A

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BEYOND So Personal

FOR SPORTS-NUTS WHEN WATCHING A MATCH OR RACE ON YOUR 52-INCH TV APPEARS PEDESTRIAN, WHEN YOU’RE A VERY HARD CORE LOVER OF SPORTS, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD TO.

GEORGIA, US | Masters PGA, With the Berckmans Place Badge at Augusta

Corporations want that ‘moneycan’t-buy’ experience, and this is it. Literally, your money is no good here. The menus at the four restaurants do not have prices. Entry is rumored to cost US$6,000, but no one is quite sure if that’s for a day or the week. Everything is included, whether it’s oysters on the half-shell at Augusta’s Seafood, Southern-style deviled eggs at Ike’s or an Azalea (Ketel One vodka, lemonade and grenadine) at Calamity Jane’s. The Berckmans Place Badges offer the ultimate in VIP hospitality on Augusta National golf course. And while money will get you a spot to view the tournament, only the ‘right’ access will get you a BP badge.

The best F1 experience is at the Paddock Club during the Monaco Grand Prix race. It’s a luxurious retreat right above the pit lane, with visual access to everything that happens in the team garages. It is an experience in itself, observing the precision of tire changes operated in flat 2.5 seconds during pit stops. The Paddock Club offers social connotations as well—a chance to mingle among the elite, and famous personalities, VIP access express lane entrance on arrival, a Michelin 3 stars dining menu, and an open bar with champagne flowing. grandprixevents.com Clockwise: A high-adrenalin ice hockey match in LA; Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team’s German driver Nico Rosberg walks in the paddock; the Augusta National Championship Golf Course.

VIP BOX AT ICE HOCKEY IN LOS ANGELES

The Los Angeles Kings VIP Ice Box is the most exclusive seating in the Staples Center— the seats between both team benches (this is also where the celebrities sit). You can hear what the coaches are saying, listen to the players and really experience what is going on in their minds during the game. nhl.com

RESTLESS WEEKENDERS | Nepal Nepal is back on the travel list after the 2015 earthquake devastation that hit tourism badly. If you’re feeling the itch to escape to nature for a long weekend, Nepal has some great trekking routes in the Himalayas. For those with just three to four days, the Ghorepani Poon Hill trek that starts close to the lakeside city of Pokhara is ideal—you’ll cross forest foliage, climb up stone steps, walk along streams, and traipse around charming villages with Wi-Fi enabled cafes.

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C L O C K W I S E : C O U R T E S Y O F K I N G S V I P I C E B O X ; A N D R E J I S A K O V I C / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; P I S I T R A P I T P U N T/ G E T T Y I M A G E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F A U G U S TA N AT I O N A L G O L F C O U R S E

MONACO | Grand Prix from the Paddock Club


SEEKERS OF THE UNTRAVELLED SVALBARD, NORWAY

The raw wilderness of Norway’s Svalbard is one of the harshest environments on the planet. But it’s a land where everyone gets along, because getting along is the only way to survive. This is real-life ‘Fortitude’, the Scandinoir that’s soon to resurface. See migrating sea birds, spot polar bears, and ride snowmobiles through narrow valleys before traversing frozen delta systems.

C H I C U R E L A R N A U D / H E M I S . F R / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; M A R C S O L E R /A L A M Y

THE-NEXT-BIGTHING HUNTERS

PARIS | Visit Paris Airshow 2017

Last time, it was the Martin Jetpack that debuted at the Paris Airshow. If you had been there and pre-ordered your personal GO AHEAD, JUST ADMIT IT, YOU DO REALLY jetpack, you’d be the most smug-cool LIKE TO BRAG BEING THE ‘FIRST’ TO TRY cucumber with your own Bond-like jetpack SOMETHING. WE LOVE ‘NEXT BIG THING’ by now (deliveries for the first lot of jetpacks HUNTERS. YOU ARE THE PEOPLE WHO KEEP are zooming out of Martin’s Christchurch THE LUXURY AND TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY facility this month). In addition, the Paris Airshow is by far the sexiest and edgiest DREAMING BIG AND BOLD. SO HERE’S aviation and tech event you could witness. WHAT WE THINK WILL APPEAL TO YOU. Held every other year at the Le Bourget Airport in North Paris, France, the first few days of the event are closed to the general public, but the following Friday, Saturday, and Sunday welcomes in spectators of all ages. See in person a Dassault Rafale fighter jet flying display, creative design studios put up extraordinary exhibits, see gorgeous air displays by Boeing’s F16, crazy looking helicopters, and more. siae.fr BARCELONA | Test Ride a Hoverboard

Lexus has developed a real-life levitating board called Slide. Unveiled at a skate park in Barcelona this year, it glided above water, jumped over cars and swooped around half-pipes under the expert skills of pro-skateboarder Ross McGouran. Sadly, it’s just a prototype and only works above specially laid metal tracks. However, the electric surfboard by Spanish surf brand Onean will have you flying across real waves, propelled by a silent, battery-powered motor, even if it can’t do the other fancy floatation wizardry. Visit Box220, Barcelona. boxbarcelona.com

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BEYOND So Personal

YOU’VE PLANNED ENTIRE TRIPS AROUND MYTHICAL OUTLET PLACES YOU HAVE READ ABOUT ONLINE; YOU HAVE TREKKED THROUGH THE RURAL ITALIAN COUNTRYSIDE ON A TRAIN, GOTTEN LOST WITH GPS INSTRUCTIONS TILL YOU REACHED YOUR FINAL DESTINATION, THE LAND OF 80 PER CENT OFF PRADA. HERE IS THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FINDING THE WORLD’S BEST FASHION AT THE LOWEST PRICES STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN | Acne Archive

Acne Studios is a Stockholm based fashion house founded by Creative director Johnny Johansson. Johansson’s interest in photography, art, architecture and contemporary culture lead to turning Acne Studio into a highly respected creator of pret fashion, magazines, furniture, books and exhibitions. At the Acne Archive (yes, a fashion store called Archive, already sounds super cool), expect all prices to be slashed by at least 50 per cent, with many going as low as 80 per cent off. Since the brand is based in Stockholm, there are lots of one-of-a-kind pieces like runway samples in colourways that were never put in production. acnestudios.com A HOT TIP Unlike most outlets, Acne has a major stockroom with sizes that aren’t always out on the floor. Ask the sales associates if you don’t see something you’re looking for. MENDRISIO, SWITZERLAND | Foxtown Factory Outlets

More than 160 designer stores are located at Foxtown’s Factory Outlet in Switzerland, where items are priced between 30 and 70 per cent off year-round. It’s close to the border of Italy, and as a result, includes some of the best high-fashion Italian labels on earth: Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Valentino, and Versace all have a presence. They even have their own casino on-site if that’s what you’re into. foxtown.com GETTING THERE If you’re driving, it’s only 15 km from Lugano and 50 km from Milan, directly along the Milan-Lugano highway (A2). Exit at Mendrisio. Alternatively, you can take the Foxtown shuttle service from Milan, an hour-long ride. On the way back, the bus stops a customs so you can get your tax-free forms processed. Return tickets cost €20 and are bookable online at zaniviaggi.com.

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SAN MARCOS, TEXAS |

San Marcos Premium Outlets

Here’s another outlet that gets bonus points for its views. Under the blue Texan sky, the design of San Marcos Premium Outlets was inspired by the architecture of the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Its castle-like walls hold past season treasures from Armani, Diane von Furstenberg, Etro, Prada, and more, all discounted up to 70 per cent off in some cases. premiumoutlets.com GETTING THERE It’s on the Interstate Highway 35 at Exit 200, about 30 minutes from Austin. From Dallas, it’s a four-hour ride, and three hours from Houston.

TOP: COURTESY OF ACNE ARCHIVE; COURTESY OF SAN MARCOS PREMIUM OUTLETS

FOR THE OUTLET FASHION OBSESSED


BICESTER, UNITED KINGDOM | Bicester Village Winner of this year’s Best Shopping Destination in our India’s Best Awards 2016 edition, Bicester has more than 130 designer boutiques. The outdoor outlet mall should be your number-one stop to snag pieces from Britian’s top luxury labels, among others. Think: Anya Hindmarch bags, Smythson notebooks, Alexander McQueen accessories, Rupert Sanderson heels, All Saints jeans and more. Like it sounds, the space is set up like a mini village full of discount shops. Make sure to check the website for extra deals. bicestervillage.com

GETTING THERE An hour from London, you can either drive there, or take the train to Bicester Village station from Maryleborne. Alternatively, book the Shopping Express bus that can pick you up from most major hotels in London. Return tickets cost £28.

C L O C K W I S E : M A R K H A M I LT O N /A L A M Y; C O U R T E S Y O F G O T E M B A P R E M I U M O U T L E T S ; B I G R E D /A L A M Y

MONTEVARCHI, ITALY | Prada Space Outlet This is Prada and sister line Miu Miu’s factory outlet, about an hour drive or train ride from Florence, Italy. It’s located in the middle of nowhere, but it’s definitely worth the trip. If you hit it at the right time (end of season) the huge space is packed with the season’s runway samples at a whopping 90 per cent off, as well as menswear and a ton of one-off accessories straight off the runway, like hats, scarves, and gloves for as low as US$40. Of everything, shoes are possibly your best bet, with prices as low as US$75, and if you love outlandish fashion, you’ll be in heaven, since the outlet houses some of the labels’ wackiest pieces here—like pink knee-high sequined boots and a green mohair fur bag, which a friend bought for about US$75 each. Yes, really.

GETTING THERE The secret is to drive on the A1, the Autostrada del Sole or ‘Motorway of the Sun’, the spinal cord of Italy’s road network that runs from Milan to Naples. Alternatively, you can take a shopping tour from Florence that includes Prada Space and The Mall.

GOTEMBA, JAPAN | Gotemba Premium Outlets This outlet mall has the added advantage of striking views of Mt Fuji hanging over it, and with hundreds of brands both Japanese and international, there’s enough shopping to take up an entire day. Some of the more interesting and hard-to-find (when it comes to typical outlet mall material) options include Alexander Wang, Issey Miyake, Maison Margiela, and Vivienne Westwood. premiumoutlets.com

GETTING THERE There are one or two direct buses per day each from Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shinagawa Station to the outlets. It takes 90 minutes to get there, and a round trip ticket is available for YEN 2,880 and includes a coupon book and a special gift. Make sure you book ahead. Alternatively, you can take the Asagiri Limited Express from Odakyu Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Gotemba Station and transfer to the free shuttle bus to the outlets. The trip takes around 100 minutes and costs about Yen 2,800.

TUSCANY, ITALY | The Mall Deep in the heart of the rolling hills of Tuscany sits this designer outlet mall that’s technically an outdoor space that houses individual boutiques from all the major Italian labels including Gucci, Fendi, Moschino, and Versace, plus harder-to-find outlets like Tom Ford, Philipp Plein, Lanvin, and Alexander McQueen. You could easily spend an entire day here scouring the racks for 30 to 50 per cent off. Most notably, the Fendi outlet has an amazing selection of limited-edition Baguette bags. The Mall is also a convenient 30-minute drive from Prada Space, so plan on making a day of it. And unless you are blessed with an equally passionate-aboutfashion partner, don’t even bother bringing them along. themall.it GETTING THERE There’s a direct bus that departs from Busitalia Bus station in Florence, and return tickets cost €13. The bus has free wifi!

SERRIS, FRANCE | La Vallee Village In addition to the usual high-end labels that other outlets carry, La Vallée Village has individual boutiques dedicated to discounted French fashion that you won’t find anywhere else. Carven, Givenchy, Céline, Kenzo, Longchamp, Robert Clergie, Repetto, and Yves Saint Laurent are just a few of the chic options. lavalleevillage.com

GETTING THERE The village is only a 30-minute drive from Paris, so it’s definitely worth renting a car. But if you’re feeling uncertain about driving, you can take the Shopping Express that departs twice a day from Place des Pyramids, Paris.

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WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING FOR SINGULARLY EXCEPTIONAL FOOD EXPERIENCES THAT ARE GREATER THAN GIMMICKS AND TRICKS, THAT CAPTURE A SENSE OF PLACE FOR YOUR PALATE, THIS IS WHAT YOU WOULD LOVE.

LAMAY | Peru There is nothing like being up in the Andean mountains of Janac Chuquibamba in Lamay near Cusco, having freshly harvested native potatoes that are cooked under the ground with hot stones, and locally-grown aromatics like muna (a medicinal plant) and huacatay (a black mint-like herb). It’s an amazing experience to see the native Andean communities doing this type of cooking. Ask a local hotel chef in Cusco to recommend the best place to go and take a taxi to Lamay, or ask a tour guide to take you.

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MODENA | Italy

The Albinelli Market in the centre of Modena is a gathering place, bustling with great energy and even better products. From the best Italian cheeses to Manzini, gastronomy with condiments, anchovies and spices, as well as fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and cold cuts. It’s a cook’s paradise and a fantasy land of flavours for people who love to eat. mercatoalbinelli.it

ATXONDO| Spain The drive to Asador Etxebarri restaurant is spectacular. Chef Victor Arguinzoniz cooks a brilliant tasting menu showcasing a single ingredient. He combines amazing ancient cooking techniques and carefully selected firewood. His grilled red prawn is cooked over embers and his dessert of milk ice cream is made by reducing the milk slowly in the oven, then transferring it to the grill, where he cooks it in a pile of small embers. asadoretxebarri.com

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SCHILTERN | Austria The Bio-Jungpflanzen Markt ran by the Noah’s Ark seed savers association in Schiltern, Lower Austria is a cook’s dream. Hobby gardeners and small organic farmers from all over the country descend upon this small village with their rare plants, seeds and delicious homemade products, creating a real festive atmosphere. It is always a joy and an inspiration to walk the stalls and see, taste, and be inspired by the passion and creativity on display.

PROVENCE | France There is a goat farm and restaurant in Provence called Ferme Auberge Le Castelas at Le Castelas, Sivergues, that is the most amazing place to visit. The food is delicious, simply prepared, with dishes like roasted vegetables and local ham, roasted pork and potatoes, beautiful cheeses made on the property, and plenty of wine. Everything is served communally and the tables are all made of large rocks. While you dine, the goats from the farm roam the grounds following the food. Another plus, the property has stunning views overlooking the valley. (To make reservations, call +33-4/9074-3081).

While you dine, the goats from the farm roam the grounds following the food.

C L O C K W I S E : A I N A R A G A R C I A /A L A M Y; C O U R T E S Y O F F E R M E A U B E R G E L E C A S T E L A S AT L E C A S T E L A S ; W E S T E N D 6 1 G M B H /A L A M Y; L E O N N E A L / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; WA D E D AV I S / G E T T Y I M A G E S

EXCEPTIONAL GOURMET TRAVEL


FOR THOSE WITH A TOUCH OF OCD | Helsinki, Finland It’s not just about a clean house for you; you need order in your life and everything needs to be spick and span. Even the destinations that you visit. That means no litter anywhere on the streets (obviously) and no pollutants in the air. And God save your fellow travellers if you find a historic monument in disarray. While India is on an overdrive to be cleaner (if the Swachh Bharat tax and the motto on our new currency are any indication), the neat freaks should turn their eyes towards Scandinavia (we are assuming you have already scoured Switzerland). Helsinki, the capital of Finland, made news last year for its witty board for tourists: “Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in November. Except you, you badass. Welcome.” Even with a population of 5.4 million, it is one of the cleanest cities in the world and perhaps among the funniest. One third area of this harbourside city contains parks and it has over a hundred kilometre shoreline and 300 islands—you won’t have to go far if you want to go hiking in the forest or cycling in a botanical garden. And it’s a delight to look at the architecture here, which is a mix of modern buildings and neoclassical and art nouveau elements. Besides, there are no traffic jams in the city. Even the spotless airport that offers free sleeping pods, free Wi-Fi, and pleasant service is also a favourite among passengers.

Soon, the city will have a mobility service to give users the fastest way to get to a place combining public transport and rentals. No buying tickets; subscribers will only pay a monthly fee. In its beta stage now, this app is built in collaboration with the city and will launch next year.

FOR WELLNESS JUNKIES |

T O P : G R E G B A L F O U R E VA N S /A L A M Y; M AT T H E W WA K E M /A L A M Y

The Farm at San Benito, The Philippines

A 90-minute drive north of the Philippine capital, Manila, in the Batangas hinterland, The Farm is an award-winning wellness sanctuary on a 49-hectare coconut plantation with an A-list-heavy global following. Woody Harrelson is among devotees who come to eat raw organic food, detox mind and body and immerse themselves in nature. Nature, that is, coaxed into a flawless, indulgent version of itself that elevates The Farm to ‘barefoot luxe.’ Each villa comes with a constant supply of virgin coconut oil, made on site. The jug is labelled ‘Oil of Life.’ thefarmatsanbenito.com

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LEAVESDEN, LONDON | Drink a glass of Butter Beer

YOU HAVE TWO SETS OF THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS IN YOUR HOUSE: ONE SET FOR YOUR KIDS, THE OTHER FOR YOURSELF (TO READ IN BED ON CHILLY WINTER NIGHTS, WHILE CUDDLING A CUP OF HOT GODIVA). YOU SECRETLY LOVE THE IDEA OF TAKING THE KIDS TO UNIVERSAL STUDIOS AND BUILDING THINGS WITH LEGO. YOU WOULD LOVE IT IF REFRIGERATOR COMPANIES BUILT A SECRET CHILD-PROOF COMPARTMENT JUST FOR YOUR BOXES OF NUTTIES, AND YOU HAVE A NEARMENTAL OBSESSION FOR COMIC BOOKS. IF EVEN TWO OF THESE RING TRUE, YOUR INNER CHILD WILL ABSOLUTELY LOVE THESE HOLIDAYS!

Actually, everything at the Warner Brother’s Studio for Harry Potter in Leavesden, can bring out the glee-ful child in you. From real Butter Beer, to walking through Diagon Alley, to exploring Snape’s table of potions. It’s truly magical! wbstudiotour.co.uk JORDAN, INDIA AND EGYPT | Holiday in the Footsteps of Tintin

Created through an exclusive association with Moulinsart, the rights holders to the work of Hergé, these holidays by On The Go Tours are a tremendous combination of travel today and the original Tintin trail. And as Tintin and his colourful entourage manage to charm just about everybody aged 7 to 77, they’ve designed the adventures to suit all ages and degrees of Tintin mania—from true aficionados to the everyday fan. Itineraries include India, Egypt and Jordan (where The Cigars of the Pharaoh and The Red Sea Sharks were set). onthegotours.com

CARDIFF, UK | The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff

BBC’s Doctor Who is a cultural phenomenon that is followed by millions of people in the world. If you are a die-hard fan of this fictional series, you have to go on The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, UK. It’s the Mecca for Doctor Who fans, showcasing a variety of props and merchandise from the show and tours of the filming location. You could also step into TARDIS, which won’t help you travel through space time but is still pretty cool. doctorwho.tv Learn to build an Igloo in Salzburg, Austria. To find out how and where, visit us at travelandleisureindia.in.

TOKYO, JAPAN |

Anime meets awesomeness at Akihabara, Tokyo

Moving on to the land that gave us fan favourite anime’s such as Naruto, Dragon Ball- Z, Monkey D. Luffy and of course Pokemon. Japan is a geek heaven and Akihabara district in Tokyo is its capital city. It boasts of the largest electronic market that sells not only cheap gadgets but is also a great place to get cheap Manga, Otaku and Anime related merchandise. Some places to check out here are Liberty stores where you will get second hand Anime DVD’s, CD’s and Blu-Rays, Akiba Culture Zone for a large variety of Manga and Anime merchandise and Cospa Gee Store which is a Cosplay haven.

SOON TO COME!

GO CRAZY AT SUPER MARIO THEME PARK Nintendo is planning to build a US$300 million theme park at Universal Studios, Japan, in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. This will be the world’s first theme park based on Nintendo games and will feature rides, interactive areas and shops based on Nintendo’s roster of characters including Mario and Donkey Kong.

C L O C K W I S E : S E A N PAV O N E /A L A M Y; B I L L B A C H M A N /A L A M Y; FA B I O N O D A R I / E Y E E M / G E T T Y I M A G E S ;

CHANNEL YOUR INNER CHILD


FOR TWITCHERS | Otago Peninsula, New Zealand Have you resolved to find the most exotic bird species this year? You must plan a trip to the Otago Peninsula in New Zealand that is home to the rare Yellow-eyed penguin. You will also find the world’s smallest penguin, the Little Blue Penguins, the royal spoonbill, the white-faced heron, and the New Zealand Sea Lion. Travel 32 kilometres from the city centre to the Royal Albatross Centre, which is the world’s only breeding colony of albatross.

F R O M T O P : VA L E R I Y T R E T YA K O V/A L A M Y; A U S C A P E / U I G / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; A S T R A K A N I M A G E S /A L A M Y

FOR WORLD WAR II BUFFS | Okinawa, Japan If you’re trailing the World War II sites, don’t stop in Europe. In another corner of the world, Okinawa, a beautiful Prefecture in Japan, draws tourists with its beaches and water sports, but it has a bloody history. The battle was the biggest land-sea-air invasion in history. In numbers: 5,45,000 Americans fought the Battle of Okinawa and 2,00,000 people were killed, including civilians who committed mass suicides. It’s a sobering experience to visit the Former Navy Underground Headquarters. In these passages and tunnels, many soldiers committed suicide when it became apparent that America has infiltrated their defences. The Himeyuri Monument and museum is made in the memory of 240 students and teachers who worked as nursing staff at the army hospital and 227 of them lost their lives. The Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum in Itoman City was one of the battlegrounds. On the Cornerstone of Peace, the names of those who died during the battle—soldiers from each side and civilians—have been inscribed. STAY The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa has views of the East China Sea and Motobu Peninsula. ritzcarlton.com

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FOR ECO-LOVERS

SODWANA BAY, SOUTH AFRICA | Scuba Diving and Conservation

Combining a love of the ocean with the chance to conserve its fragile ecosystems is an incredibly rewarding opportunity for scuba divers with a green heart. Sodwana Bay is home to 50 kilometre of underwater habitat that constitutes one of the world’s most southerly tropical reef systems. In 2000, the bay became internationally known after divers rediscovered the prehistoric coelacanth in the depths of the park’s Jesser Canyon, but it is for the incredible biodiversity of the area’s shallower reefs that most divers flock there. Volunteer with non-profits like the Oceanic Society and Pod Volunteer, from identifying whale sharks to monitoring manta rays and turtles, to reef surveys, there’s loads of ways you can be helpful. ADDED BENEFIT If you are a beginner, you will be given your PADI Open Water training during your first week. Qualified Open Water divers can complete a PADI Advanced Open Water course, or depending on the length of your stay, choose from a range of dive speciality courses (eg Deep Diver, Nitrox, Peak Performance Buoyancy, etc) or the Rescue Diver course.

TAHITI | Swim with humpback whales From August to October each year, the gentle female giants of the sea give birth in the sheltered waters of French Polynesia. You will witness the bond between mother and calf, the song of the male humpback and the unique behaviour that can only be experienced first hand in the Tahitian waters. HOT TIP Book the ‘Magical Humpbacks in Tahiti’ tour with Responsible Travel and spend nine nights on the beautiful island of Moorea with sparkling turquoise lagoons; and the immensely knowledgeable wildlife photographer Dr Olivier Betremieux. whaleswim.com

UGANDA AND RWANDA | Ultimate Primates Trip To trek into the rain forest and sit with a family of wild mountain gorillas, looking into the eyes of a huge silverback at close range, watching babies cling to their mothers, laughing at youngsters playing in the trees, is a

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life-enhancing experience for a wildlife lover. To capture amazing photographs of such encounters, travel with Natural Habitat Adventures, an organisation that partners with World Wildlife Fund and boasts of an expedition leader who is both a primate naturalist and an

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accomplished photographer. nathab.com

HARDCORE VALUE The itinerary is unique that it takes you deep into primate territory that others don’t have access to.

C L O C K W I S E : M A R T I N S T R M I S K A /A L A M Y; R E I N H A R D D I R S C H E R L /A L A M Y; J U E R G E N R I T T E R B A C H /A L A M Y

IF YOU’RE ONE TO RAISE FUNDS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL NON-PROFITS, OR VOLUNTEER WITH CONSERVATION AGENCIES, THESE ARE EXCEPTIONAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES THAT WILL BE IMMENSELY SATISFYING IN TERMS OF THE PLACES AND CREATURES YOU SEE, THE WORK YOU DO AND THE INCREDIBLE PEOPLE YOU WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET.


CUBA | Sea Turtles, Coral reefs and Culture

See two sides of Cuba—art and science. Join a group to explore the coastal wildlife and valleys–snorkel, dive, see nesting sea turtles, rare birds and visit organic farms. Embrace Cuban culture with tours of historic Havana, live jazz performances, authentic Cuban food, and visits to museums and markets. Meet and learn from Cuban marine biologists and conservationists. This programme is offered with SEE Turtles, Cuba Marine Research & Conservation Program, and Altruvistas. altruvistas.com HARDCORE VALUE An impressive lineup of Cuban insiders will entertain and enlighten all along the way. On the coast, biologist Dr Julia Azanza will guide the group through the fragile sea turtle nesting site visits.

PANTANAL, BRAZIL |

F R O M T O P : H E L M U T C O R N E L I /A L A M Y; L A U R A R O M I N & L A R R Y D A LT O N /A L A M Y; F R A N S L A N T I N G S T U D I O /A L A M Y; F R A N S L A N T I N G S T U D I O /A L A M Y

Close encounters with Jaguars

The Pantanal holds the world’s highest density of wild jaguars, stay in the heart of this region for amazing sightings. Unlike in other areas, jaguars here are active during the day, offering excellent chances to see these elusive cats in the wild. Along the way, also expect to see giant river otters, anteaters, tapir, capybaras, hyacinth macaw, and the world’s largest stork, the jabiru. The Oceanic Society organises a nine-day expedition, guided by award-winning nature photographer Pete Oxford, that ends at South Wild Pantanal Lodge where more than 300 bird species have been recorded. Expedition dates: July 16-26, 2017. oceanicsociety.org ADDED BENEFIT You will be staying at the only hotel that’s inside the Iguassu National Park, so you’ll also be just a short walk from the incredible falls— allowing you to visit the falls at dawn and dusk when other visitors have vacated the park.

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BEYOND Dispatch

Due South

If Hawaii and Napa Valley had a love child, it would look like Margaret River— an Australian wine region with epic surfing beaches, a welcoming vibe, and standout Cabernets and Chardonnays. Ted Loos flies halfway around the world for a taste.

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ussies like to say that Perth, the capital of Western Australia and a five-hour flight from Sydney, is the most isolated major city in the world. Which means that the Margaret River wine region, which is set on a tab-shaped peninsula jutting into the Indian Ocean—and a three-hour drive south of Perth— must be as remote as it gets. A gruelling 24 hours of travel from New York City, Margaret River was the farthest I’d ever been from home. But flying wasn’t the stressful part of this trip. Driving on the left side of the road was what really made me anxious. I stuck a Post-it note on the steering wheel of my rental car: stay left, it read, with an arrow for emphasis. The agent chuckled as I pulled out of the lot.

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I made the trek to ‘Margs,’ as locals call the area, primarily for the wine. The case can be made that it’s Australia’s best wine region because of the sophisticated restraint that vintners pour into its top bottles. (Cabernet Sauvignon is the star grape here, followed closely by Chardonnay.) There are nearly 100 wineries open for tastings, many of which are located north of the town of Margaret River along a 10-mile stretch of Caves Road, where dense patches of forest alternate with honey-coloured pastures. Fees are non-existent—the winemakers are just thrilled you made it to see them. But Margs has a lot to offer beyond the wine. It’s one of the most free-spirited places I’ve ever visited, and the people here have struck an enviable work-life balance. Because much of the coastline falls inside 145-square-mile

Australia’s Margaret River wine region has an exceptional dining scene.


Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park—a constantly shifting landscape of granite cliffs, scrubby forests, and golden sands—the beaches are pristine. “Surf culture runs deep here,” said Will Berliner, when we met at his winery, Cloudburst. “If there’s a big swell that day, your plumber might be late to fix your sink.” An expat who fled New York and his film-industry job in 2003 to become a winemaker, Berliner now makes three exquisite bottlings using biodynamic farming practices. (You can find his wines in top US restaurants like Alinea and the French Laundry.) As Berliner drove me in a pickup truck around his 250-acre property, he sent gangs of kangaroos scattering. “There’s a real wildness here,” he said. On cue, Australian ringnecks yakked above us in a karri tree. There’s really no industry—except wine and tourism.” That evening, Berliner and I shared a bottle of his 2013 Chardonnay, which had incredible apple and lemon blossom flavours, at Morries, his favourite restaurant in the town of Margaret River. The co-owners, Anthony Janssen, Alex Brooks, and Tony Howell (who is also the executive chef) have that singularly Australian knack for creating a familiar, casual atmosphere while quietly delivering major sophistication— here in the form of dishes like beet gnocchi with citrus ricotta and almond-garlic purée.

From above: Morries, an upscale tavern in Margaret River; grapes at Leeuwin Estate.

F ROM TOP : E LE M E N TS M A RGAR E T RI V E R/ C OU RT ESY OF MOR RI ES; S HU T T E R STO CK

You’re not here to troll Instagram. You’re here to stare at the coast from your private pool.

After dinner, I drove half an hour on Caves Road to the serene Injidup Spa Retreat, which is perched high on a bluff overlooking the cobalt Indian Ocean. (Most of the top hotels are just to the north of the wineries.) When I first checked in and had trouble connecting to the wonky Wi-Fi, manager Lisa Maclaren smiled and said, “Good luck with that.” But I soon discovered that you’re not here to troll Instagram (though I did manage to post a few photos). You’re here to stare at the coast from your private plunge pool. Injidup’s romantic, isolated setting soon made the rest of the world seem irrelevant. Leeuwin Estate, which is Margaret River’s most famous winery and is renowned for its rich and complex Art Series Chardonnays, also feels worlds away from reality. Set on a former cattle ranch, the wood-and-adobe building with a corrugated-metal roof appears a bit dated at first. The modernised interior, however, has both a farm-to-table restaurant and a gallery showing paintings by Aussie artists. “People like an adventure—they like to find you at the end of the road,” says Tricia Horgan, who founded Leeuwin in 1974 with her husband, Denis.

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Margaret River’s first-ever winery, Vasse Felix still delivers one of the area’s most elegant experiences.

AU ST R AL IA N S C E N IC S/ G E T T Y IM AG ES

Caves Road, the main winerylined path that runs through the Margaret River region.

“And we have more than a hundred thousand visitors a year, so they figure it out.” Many of these guests come for the summer outdoor concert series, which takes place on the lush lawn every year. The two chipper septuagenarians don’t make wine anymore, but are never far away from whatever’s going on at Leeuwin. When I stopped by for a tasting, the Horgans told me that back in the early days, they enlisted the help of a knowledgeable friend. “Neither of us knew anything before we met Bob Mondavi,” recalled Tricia, of the man who put Napa Valley wine on the map. “He told us what to plant and where to plant it.” Those decisions were made easier by the climate. “We’re a warm region with an air conditioner,” Virginia Willcock, the chief vintner at the well-regarded Vasse Felix, explained to me over a lunch of roasted root vegetables topped with toasted barley and dill at the winery’s restaurant. She was referring to the ocean that provides balance to the warm grape-

growing season. Willcock’s Cabernets have what she calls “a savoury, floral, earthy quality,” which she attributes to the cool, dry breezes. Vasse Felix was Margaret River’s first-ever winery, established in 1967—and it still delivers one of the area’s most elegant experiences. The two-storey tasting room has walls clad in reclaimed timber, and its concrete floors are painted to a dark gloss. At the restaurant, chef Aaron Carr’s cuisine far surpasses typical winery fare; he offers a US$73, Asian-influenced tasting menu that might include kingfish, served alongside eel and wasabi, or a banana dessert with miso, yuzu, and peanuts. If Vasse Felix is the region’s established heavyweight, then Si Vintners is its brash upstart. Run by Iwo Jakimowicz, who founded the 30-acre, all-natural winery along with his wife, Sarah Morris, in 2010, Si has a bare-bones, by-appointment-only tasting room. “We’re constantly broke, but at least we have passion,” Jakimowicz joked when I met him one afternoon. The dynamic wine-making couple, who honed their craft while living in Spain, make an exquisite Chardonnay, a standout rosé, and a wonderful blend of Cab, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Surprisingly, I didn’t see many tourists during my winery visits, which added to

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The Details GETTING THERE Indian nationals need a visa to travel to Australia. You can get a tourist visa in 30 days for stay up to 12 months. Air India, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, and Malaysia Airlines have flights from Delhi to Perth.

A N D RE W WATSO N / G E T T Y I MAG ES; I L LU ST RAT IO N BY HOL LY WA L ES

Margaret River’s off-the-beaten-path charm. But that vibe could change when a US$46 million airport expansion wraps up in Busselton, a city on the edge of Margaret River, in 2018. Some locals feel that an influx of visitors will change the area’s quiet, quirky character. For now, though, Margaret River is still a peaceable kingdom—one with an outdoorsy, Australian edge. On my last night at Injidup, Maclaren hosted a barbecue for me. The guests included Berliner as well as Brad and Jodee Adams, the founders of Ocean Grown Abalone. When the couple aren’t at the beach, they’re eco-farming the mollusk on artificial reefs set at the bottom of Flinders Bay, some 45 miles away. Maclaren put some of their fresh abalone on the grill, and we chatted on the wooden deck outside my villa. As the sun set in an orange blaze and the night air turned cool, Berliner uncorked his Chardonnay. I had never travelled this far from home, but I was already thinking about how soon I could get myself back.

ANCIENT TREASURES

Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park offers a landscape of granite cliffs, scrubby forests, and golden sands.

There are more than 150 caves in the Margaret River region. Mammoth Cave, just 15 minutes outside the main town, has yielded fossils more than 50,000 years old.

HOTELS Cape Lodge This 22-room hotel offers some of the area’s most luxurious lodging. Its rooms are decorated in an earth-tone palette and feature many locally-made items, like Vasse Virgin bath products. Yallingup; doubles from US$338; capelodge.com.au Injidup Spa Retreat With their white stone, light-wood trim, and sisal rugs, the 10 villas clustered on a magnificent bluff right on the Indian Ocean immediately encourage relaxation. The beach below is pristine, empty, and seemingly endless. Yallingup; villas from US$491; injidupsparetreat.com.au Smiths Beach Resort A full-service beachfront property perfect for families. Many rooms resemble stand-alone condos and are clustered around an infinity pool. It also has a tennis court and an excellent restaurant. Yallingup; doubles from US$212; smithsbeachresort.com.au RESTAURANTS Miki’s Open Kitchen Take a seat at the three-sided bar and watch chef Mikihito Nagai and his assistants whip up mushroom tempura and kingfish sashimi. Margaret River; tasting menu US$46; 131 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River; +61-8/9758-7673 Morries Try the charcuterie board or the creatively combined scallops and venison at one of the best

restaurants in the area. It’s open for lunch and dinner, and the tapas menu is perfect for anyone on the tasting trail. Margaret River; entrées US$22–US$26; morries.com.au Riversmith A smartly converted gas station run by a mother-son duo serves breakfast and lunch and offers local jams, jellies, and honey in the back. Margaret River; entrées US$7–US$21; riversmith.com.au Studio Bistro Set within a lush garden in a clean-lined modern building, this restaurant has an eclectic menu that includes dishes like prawn dumplings and fiery Malaysian duck curry. Yallingup; entrées US$24– US$32; thestudiobistro.com.au WINERIES Cape Mentelle Founded in 1970, this winery was one of the region’s pioneers. The property is now owned by LVMH and is producing some of the best Cabernet Sauvignons in the area. Take the hour-long, behind-thescenes tour. Margaret River; capementelle.com.au Leeuwin Estate A Margaret River original tucked away from the main roads. It’s famous for its concert series, held on the tree-ringed lawn, and for its Art Series Chardonnays, which are getting better all the time. leeuwinestate.com.au Si Vintners The young couple running this smallproduction winery does a range of varieties, from Pinot Noir and Cabernet to Chardonnay and Semillon. Rosa Glen; sivintners.com Vasse Felix A beautiful, full-service winery with lovely garden-studded grounds and a tasting room covered in stone and wood. An all-day ‘Cape to Vine’ tour is US$375. Margaret River; vassefelix.com.au

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the magic in TRAVELLING like a LOCAL

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y 10-year visa to the US is going to expire in 2018, and for the last two months I had been contemplating a trip to my second home—because I have at least one friend in every state; and because travel isn’t all about suites and room service. Travels create your story, making you a part of places, and people who become like an extended family. So when I heard I’m travelling

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to Los Angeles for the Airbnb Open 2016, it was as if Google Maps had displayed a search result of the exact place and type of experience I’d been looking for. When I received my itinerary I was further psyched—I was going to be in the same room as Ashton Kutcher. Plus, I was going to see Maroon 5 live in concert. My good karma had paid off in an unexpected bundle of days. Christmas had come early.

C H A R L E Y G A L L AY/ G E T T Y I M A G E S

Airbnb wants to do more than just rent you a room. Jaya Sharma attended the digital event of the year— the Airbnb Open 2016 held in November in LA and featuring an astounding line up of speakers and events: From Ashton Kutcher, to Gwyneth Paltrow; from Maroon 5 to Lady Gaga. Still reeling from it all, she tells us how Airbnb will change the way we experience places.


C O U R T E S Y O F A I R B N B (4) ; F R E D E R I C S O LTA N / G E T T Y I M A G E S ( 1 )

DAY 1

CLASS ACT

Out of habit, I bought a book before taking off, and an accessory that would become my uniform for the trip, superseding everything else I packed in the same category. With about half an hour to kill, I went straight to the Plaza Premium Lounge at the Delhi airport, took several happy selfies with a glass of wine, put my feet up, and felt relieved knowing this part of the world was asleep. Etihad Airways offers US border pre-clearance (cbp.gov) at Abu Dhabi airport, which took longer than usual because first, at their domestic check-in, the security officer asked if I was carrying any perfumes or chocolates in my hand bag, not to confiscate, but to give to him as a gift; second, the US officer asked me to pen down a Maroon 5 playlist for him. I may have been up for over 24 hours, but with full-blown FOMO I wasn’t sleepy enough to forego a glass (or more) of Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaïque, my experiments with in-flight Arabic Cinema, and a lot of food. DAY 2

STAY AT A SPANISH VILLA

I was looking forward to my first Airbnb experience—a Spanish Villa in Echo Park, about 20 miles from the airport— owned by Elena Beuca, Hollywood Actor and Producer of D-Love (2016) and Connectivity (2010) fame. We went through the heart of LA through World Way route, under the San Diego Flyway, another one of my favourite cities, along Downtown,

Clockwise: Orpheum Theatre; Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky addressing the audience at the event; murals along the skyscrapers in the city; Echo Park; a vintage poster of the Downtown LA. Inset: Interiors of the Spanish Villa at Echo Park.

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BEYOND

From above: Ashton Kutcher and Brian Chesky; open market at the Airbnb Spotlight 2016 Event; Gwyneth Paltrow; crowd cheers as Maroon 5 walks on stage; community areas at the event.

As my cab pulled over South Broadway Street, it felt like I was on a Hollywood set.

and finally swerved around Echo Park Lake to reach our destination. Flanked by trees and endearing houses, a slanting street led up to my Airbnb home for the next few days. Accessed by a security code, the doors opened to a warm, pastel interior that was so cosy, I dropped on the bed and had the best snooze in months. I woke up to the sound of chimes out on the patio, and remembered to read the note Elena had left with ‘how-tos’ in the house. I noticed she had placed miniature glass jars on the window ledge in the kitchen with marigold flowers. So thoughtful. Next, I took a tour of this twobedroom property—each room was painted a different hue; wooden furniture upholstered in vintage Spanish patterns; antique-finished eclectic lamps and hanging ceiling fans added to the old world charm; the kitchen wall was hand-painted with a floral pattern—I felt like I could live here. I ventured to the backyard, and discovered a clay oven, a BBQ station surrounded by garden landscaping and soft lights. Even if Elena hadn’t left a single instruction, everything in the house was located in a familiar place, one just had to reach out to find the blow dryer, towels, cereal, detergent—you name it. In the evening, Simran Kodesia, the Airbnb India country manager invited me to have dinner along with other journalists at Terroni, an Italian restaurant in Downtown LA (terroni.com). DAY 3

BOULEVARD OF DREAMS

Early next morning, as my cab pulled over South Broadway Street in Downtown LA, it felt like I had stepped inside a TV screen and onto the sets of not one, but a thousand Hollywood movies, clearly etched in my memory: Michael Jackson and Ola Ray walking out of The Palace Theater (palacedowntown. com) in Thriller (1982); Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker chasing ‘Juntao’ around California Jewellery Mart (607 Hill Street, Los Angeles; Tel: +001-213/627-2831) in Rush Hour; ‘The Battle of Mission City’ in Transformers (2007) or stage performances from the The Artist (2011) at the Orpheum Theater; The ‘Beatles Walk’ from I Am Sam (2001) at the corner of the Tower Theater (towertheatrela.com);

C L O C K W I S E : S T E FA N I E K E E N A N / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; J O H N S C I U L L I / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; J O E S C A R N I C / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; C H A R L E Y G A L L AY/ G E T T Y I M A G E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F A I R B N B

Spotlight


Airbnb Launches TRIPS Airbnb launched TRIPS, a people-powered platform with three key developments—EXPERIENCES, PLACES, and HOMES—with FLIGHTS and SERVICES to be added soon. ABOUT PLACES— GUIDEBOOKS, MEET-UPS AND AUDIO DRIVES.

Share first-hand experiences, and tour the nooks and crannies of the city through the unique concept of Audio Drives where you a local literally tells you where to take the next step. Currently you can have access to 100 Insider Guidebooks, in six cities: Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Havana, Nairobi, Detroit, and Seoul.

AIRBNB LAUNCHES TRIPS

As Brian Chesky took the stage, I looked around to see a fullhouse of eager eyes waiting to hear the news that was going to accelerate their businesses on an exponential level. With the launch of the new app, travellers had a chance to truly mix around with local communities while hosts got the chance to showcase their talents, hobbies, and recommendations. ABOUT EXPERIENCES

Whether a single activity like a pottery workshop, or a multi-day experience through the music scene, Experiences offers unprecedented access and insights into the local communities that you won’t find ordinarily. Currently you will find 500 experiences in 12 cities worldwide, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul.

HOMES

WITH OVER 3 MILLION HOMES IN OVER 191 COUNTRIES, AIRBNB OFFERS THE MOST DIVERSE ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS FOR TRAVELERS.

COURTESY OF AIRBNB

IDENTITY AUTHENTICATION

As the Airbnb community expands further, the app is now equipped with a security feature where it is mandatory for hosts and guests to scan their official IDs, take a selfie, and get authenticated once facial images are a match.


BEYOND Spotlight

a secret tunnel emerging at the Los Angeles Convention Center from The Dark Night Rises (2012); Se7en (1995), Inception (2010), The Prestige (2006), The Big Lebowski (1998), Godzilla (1998)— such varying interpretations of this one street in the city. The press check-in was at the Globe Theater where we were handed wifi passwords and refreshments. A couple blocks, at the Orpheum Theater, Brian Chesky, CEO Airbnb, was about to reveal something big. You couldn’t imagine how the beige stately exterior of the building burst into snazzy fluorescent purples, pinks, blues, and reds inside— taking you back to the burlesque and vaudeville of the ‘20s. Hand-painted dome ceilings were adorned with intricate carvings, crystal chandeliers lit up the multi-foyer halls, and heavy curtains draped the frescoed walls. Even with an empty stage, the theatre had enough drama to leave me starry-eyed. DAY 4

DAY WITH CITY HOSTS

My Airbnb experience would have been incomplete without spending a day exchanging anecdotes with a city insider. I was going to meet Alexandra Constantinides, who works with Airbnb, at her adorable LA home at Glendale Boulevard for a lesson in pottery—it turned out to be so much more than that. I was welcomed with a warm hug and led to her backyard where seven other travellers, from completely different parts of the world, sat under a sun umbrella eating fresh fruits. I switched off my phone and joined them on the grass floor in a circle, Alexandra behind me, two bottles of local Tequila in each hand. The start was almost ritualistic, but if it involved Tequila, I was game. Under

“Today Airbnb is launching TRIPS, bringing together where you stay, what you do, and the people you meet all in one place. We want to make travel magical again.”—Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb

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From above: Orpheum Theater; Lady Gaga; Maroon 5; An Airbnb residence; a musician plays the violin at the Airbnb Open 2016; a DJ kickstarts the celebrations at the event. Opposite: An interactive art kiosk at the festival.


WHAT I TASTED

JOHN S CIUL L I/GE T T Y IM AGES; C OURT ESY OF A IR BNB(2). OP P O S I T E: C OURT ESY OF A IR BNB(3), F R O M T O P : S T E FA N I E K E E N A N ; N E I L M O C K F O R D ; J O E S C A R N I C I , A L L G E T T Y I M A G E S

HIGHLIGHTS AT TERRONI, A LOCAL FAVOURITE Starters Pane, Olive e Taralli Bread, olives and handmade taralli Frittura di Calamari Deep fried calamari served with lemon Prosciutto d’Anatra e Burrata Duck prosciutto, burrata, fresh spinach and extra-virgin olive oil

Mains

Maccheroncini Geppetto Little homemade rigatoni with dandelions homemade spicy Italian sausage, fontina, parmigiano garlic and extra-virgin olive oil

Pizza

Pizza di Sofia Tomato, mozzarella and sweet genoa salami (terroni.com)

the sun, seven of us, downed tequila shots, conversation ranging from the holocaust to the female orgasm, it was the best pottery lesson of my life. Eventually, we took turns on the wheel to create our individual masterpieces, mine looked like a tornado had destroyed it. Alexandra thought it was charming and placed it on the wall of fame. DAY 5

LIVING WITH THE STARS

I tried my best not to let out a scream but all restraint went out the window when Ashton Kutcher entered the stage in a gorgeous pink sweater. I barely heard the contents of his speech on Creative Strategies for Entrepreneurs, which when I youtubed later was genius—I, on the other hand, was on the sets of A Lot Like Love. What I do recall, is that he talked about how his perspective on life and understanding of people and relationships developed through the one year he spent travelling across Europe and staying solely at Airbnbs. He shared instances of small, kind acts by hosts that helped him get over a difficult time in his personal life. Next, actress Gwyneth Paltrow shared her insights on Cultivating the Art of Taste and Style, giving us a sneak peek into her sevenbedroom Airbnb villa on the French Riviera.

She admits to being an Airbnb addict and believes it is the only way to travel, and to host. Paltrow herself, recently launched her travel app G. Spotting, an extension of her fashion line.

THE CONCERT

I reached the Airbnb Open Spotlight venue by six in the evening, there was still time for Maroon 5’s performance, so I stood, probably 30th in line, of a Thai Food Truck. Over the next hour, I saw a mélange of people and conversations— there were couples in love, young groups of friends uncontrollably excited about the concert, musicians at every corner, and crowds breaking into flash mobs. Alongside, there was an open market of small businesses, a jamboree of interactive stalls and kiosks, a maze of white panels glowing with UV lights, and photobooths with people falling over each other. By the time it was announced that Maroon 5 was in the house, we were all kind of dizzy. The concert kickstarted with Move Like Jagger, followed by Sugar, Misery, She Will Be Loved and more. But what I didn’t know was that Lady Gaga was the closing act, she sang Million Reasons as part of her short gig. This was epic on a whole new level.

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T H E

Guide The Business & Leisure Guide to

EAST AFRICA

D ES I G N P I C S I N C / A L A M Y

With increased trade relations between India and East African nations, the region is of renewed interest to travellers. Its combination of unique cultures, wildlife experiences and gorgeous new luxury hotels, make this a fabulous region to explore. By Devanshi Mody

St Catherine’s Passage is the Old Town's most picturesque street. T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7

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View of Victoria Falls early in the morning.

The saphire seas, pearl-like in islands are now welcoming tourists with new resorts that offer a wide variety of experiences ranging from spas to unprecedented sea excursions. One of the most biologically diverse regions in the world, in East Africa you will find thick forests and golden grasslands; snow-capped peaks and volcano valleys, plains teeming with wildlife and several lakes; not to forget the marine life across its coastline. Here, 'game' in safari parlance assumes a whole new meaning. Most of the terrain in East Africa varies largely in altitude: the higher altitudes have cooler weather conditions while the coastal areas are warm and humid. This has allowed different flora and fauna species to co-exist. Until recently, African Safaris were only associated with Kenya and Tanzania, but as we ventured into the

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unvarnished parts of East Africa, we were taken aback with the beauty of coastline that stretches to about 16,470 kilometres. The saphire seas, pearled in islands are now welcoming tourists with new resorts that offer a wide variety of experiences ranging from spas to unprecedented sea excursions. East Africa is emerging as a region for tourists who want to experience more than just the wild side of the continent: beach resorts, marine life centres, business hotels, trade shows, music festivals, food trails, heritage sites, and mass media are creating a wave of change in how we plan our next African holiday.

N I C K DA L E / E Y E E M / G E T T Y I M AG ES

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Zambia HOW TO GET THERE Zambia’s main airport is KENNETH KAUNDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (LUN), located 14 kilometres from the capital city, Lusaka. From Lusaka, you can book charter planes or simply drive between reserves. zambiatourism.com

This and below: Zambia’s colonial style luxury at the Royal Livingstone by Anantara.

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HE land of the legendary walking safaris Zambezi, attracts tourists to the Victoria Falls—the country’s tallest tourist attraction. More than twice as high as Niagara Falls, the Victoria Falls is considered one of the ‘Seven Natural Wonders of the World’. Zambia is enormously rich in natural wealth, sprawling as it does three national parks—Kafue, South Luangwa, and Lower Zambezi. Shumba means ‘lion’ and Shumba Camp is the undisputed titan of all of Zambia’s tented camps, for this one comes with four-poster beds and under-the-heavens outdoor stalls for showers. Your luxury tent never runs out of water but Zambia’s Busanga Plains do, in dry season. They’re then inundated with starved antelope, stalked by large lusty lions. And Shumba Camp zooms you in on a view to a kill. It seems so close, you could stick your hand out

and touch the drama, but you’d better not unless you want to be the lions’ supper. It’s much wiser then, to live to relish dinner theatre over camp feasts cooked on open fires and served up in natty dining, and viewing decks from where you descry besides migrating antelope and the predatory lions—wild dogs, a lonesome cheetah, even hippo families, fatly cluttering the watering holes. Elephant lovers head to Chobe National Park which boasts the world’s largest concentration of elephants. Stay on a private island, actually two, for the Islands of Siankaba Lodge, with only seven chalets, straddles two profusely jungled islands in the Zambezi River. Their restaurant is fabulous. Gorge on! But not too much for there’s only a footbridge linking you to civilisation and you don’t want to feed yourself to the crocs.

ROYAL LIVINGSTONE Live it up at the Royal Livingstone whose 17 colonial-style thatch-roof buildings laze along the scenic banks of the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls. They’ve Victorianstyle baths and beds big enough for Queen Victoria herself. royal-livingstone.anantara.com

BUSINESS AND LEISURE HOTELS IN ZAMBIA TAJ PAMODZI HOTEL (vivanta.tajhotels.com) In the heart of the business and government district of Lusaka, the fivestar Taj property boasts 193 rooms and suites, five meeting rooms including a boardroom with theatre-style setting. TONGABEZI LODGE (tongabezi.com) A quiet property on the banks of the Zambezi River, this lodge is great for business meetings in an informal, creative environment around a bonfire, or for team building exercises in an inspiring settting. THE RIVER CLUB (theriverclubafrica.com) With a board room and conference area in place, The River Club is ideal for business travellers and corporate groups. Once you wind up your workshops and meetings, go for a team-bonding excursion. PROTEA HOTEL BY MARRIOTT LIVINGSTONE (marriott.com) Laidback luxury and top notch service make this a popular choice for group travels. The hotel is a short drive from the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, and offers shuttle services too. KANYEMBA LODGE (kanyemba.com) A haven for professionals looking for a break from their hectic schedules. It comprises six stone and thatch ‘rondavel’ chalets, each with a private deck, full en-suite bathroom, and walk-in wardrobe.

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Madagascar HOW TO GET THERE The easiest way to travel to Madagascar is via Johannesburg: You can book non-stop flights between the two on SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS and AIR MADAGASCAR. For those travelling from the West Coast, book direct flights from Guangzhou and Bangkok. madagascar-tourisme.com

the door of your luxury villa from where you could snorkel and scuba dive. You need to be radical to get attention in the blasé world of luxury travel and Miavana manages to by shipping the land safari to the oceanic wilderness with their ‘Blue Safari’ guided water activities designed to provide fascinating insights. They hope to protect and conserve the island’s vulnerable natural resources and provide employment for locals. Think chopper rides, lemur trekking, whale watching, fly-fishing, deep-sea fishing… If you’ve had too much sun and see then they’ll take you on a Rainforest Hike on the mainland after which you’ll no doubt need to avail of their spa.

MIAVANA ISLAND SANCTUARY But perceptions are changing with the muchhyped, much-awaited launch of Miavana Pvt Island or Miavana Island Sanctuary as they rather call themselves. All’s set to make Madagascar hotter than its tropical climate could! But Miavana has less blazing ambitions. timeandtideafrica.com

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KNOW MADAGASCAR BETTER LEMURS ARE SACRED HERE The over 100 species of lemurs are considered a sacred animal in the country. Remember the lemur King Julien from the movie Madagascar who likes to 'move it! move it'! STRONG HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTIONS Human rights are protected under the constitution. Family, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities are legally protected, and freedom of assembly is also guaranteed. UNIQUE SPECIES Most animals native to the country are in fact, not found anywhere else in the world. Madagascar was also home to extinct species like the giant flightless birds and dwarf hippos. MALAGASY FASHION Whether it's women, men, children, or elders, everyone in Madagascar wears the same style of clothing called the Lamba. Made with different fabrics, it is similar to a wrap skirt. LITERATURE 'Hainteny' is a Malagasy oral tradition, that translates to 'knowledge of words'. It heavily uses metaphors, folktales, fables, riddles and historical poems to convey simple messages.

C O U RT ESY O F N O R M A N CA R R SA FA R I ( 2 ) ; C O U RT ESY O F M I AVA N A I S L A N D SA N CT UA RY

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HIS large island on the Indian Ocean has long been disdained as the shabby cousin of its glitzier neighbours Mauritius and the Seychelles, and been derided as the place frequented by only Frenchmen with a penchant for bashlessly unadorned nature, the island’s colonial past and the allures of its local lasses. They’re quite happy to make you see Madagascar as they do and that is as a “celebration of the extraordinary; a place where Nature’s creative genius takes flight.” An ambition easily achieved by the people behind Norman Carr Safaris’ Chinzombo in Zambia, Miavana’s sister camp, who’ve invoked none other than Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the much-sought architects of North Island fame (yes, where Wills and Kate honeymooned in the Seychelles) to engineer a low-impact, high-style look for the fourteen-villa lodge on Nosy Ankao, part of a private five-island archipelago where the marine biodiversity culminates. But it isn’t enough nowadays to announce sands as white as virginity and blue, blue waters that lap right up to


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lions for supremacy of the Zimbabwean jungle this oft-ignored wildlife destination is fetching celebrity. But if you’re weary of embarking on wild goose chases after that elusive leopard then go put your feet up -on a canopied four-posted bed at thatat the Victoria Falls Hotel. It seems like it’s been around for ever, but it’s actually Edwardian and is as much an Edwardian museum as a stately abode in which to relive Zimbabwe’s colonial past. Rooms even have original tubs. There are also lush English lawns you’d expect Alice to suddenly manifest on and teetering platters of traditional English Tea to be had with champagne. Lots of it!

HOW TO GET THERE Very few airlines fly directly to Zimbabwe. You can fly to Johannesburg and from there connect to VICTORIA FALLS AIRPORT (VFA) on the same day. Continue from there by vehicle or charter planes. zimbabwetourism.net

Zimbabwe

W

HY would you spend almost `1,00,000 a night to stay at Singita Pamushana, that too in a lodge that looks like an extension of the jungle. Well, if you have ever stayed at a Signita, you know the level of safari grandeur they are capable of. The lodge sits atop a densely forested mountain from which it glances down haughtily upon the Malilangwe Dam. Amidst delicious seclusion, six luxury gardened suites come with private plunge pools in which to sip champagne as you imbibe astonishing views. But wouldn’t you rather be on those twice daily game drives in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve or on the San Bushman Rock Art tour to see 2,000-year-old monuments? There’s also a sun-downer cruise after which you could dine romantically in the jealous embrace of the forest with views of the river and sandstone hills beyond. For those who think there’s nothing beyond Singita, & Beyond thinks otherwise. And they’ve just procured 15 kilometres of private Zambezi River frontage at the & Beyond Matetsi River Lodge which offers both land and water safaris. But rippling the savannah with expert safaris is Wilderness Safaris Linkwasha Camp. If you didn’t know, Wilderness Safaris think or rather know that they are beyond anything else in safari realms. Conservation is an obsession and they’re equally known for savagely sexy camps that titivate the safari without adulterating the wilderness. With three of the biggest players on the safari circuit tearing like

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES IN ZIMBABWE GOLD MINING INDUSTRY Zimbabwe is rich in gold, and has a flourishing gold mining industry with mining businesses and investors, however the opportunity to collaborate with a these business is still untapped and can be very profitable. MEDIA From privately owned radio stations to new TV channels, media in Zimbabwe is at a nacent stage with immense growth potential for investors and professionals. Their digitalisation process has given the people access to international media, especially in the e-commerce sector. MOBILE BANKING With technology on the rise, more and more people in the country are relying on smart phones for banking and this has opened doors for mobile service providers to launch their service centres and stores in the country. FASHION Recent times have seen a surge in shopping malls that house international fashion and beauty brands. The Zimbabwe Fashion Week is a popular event for indigenous and international designers to work with local craftsmen to create modern ensembles. HOSPITALITY The younger population, the go-getters are entirely consumed by their work life, and look forward to eating out at fast food chains or restaurants, and holiday in wellness resorts that offer personalised services.

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he Serengeti National Park has also been called one of the planet’s indisputable gems that presents you nature’s most operatic display as you watch the circle of life complete itself on a guided safari. It has further been said, when it dawns on you that what you’re watching is essentially the universe’s fiercest buffet, head back to the resort for some dining of your own. And there are ravishing resorts aplenty in the Serengeti to dine, stay and play at. Singita has its following no less fiercely faithful to the brand than the ‘Aman Junkie’ and they’d scarce venture elsewhere. But Serengeti Migration Camp has encroached Singita territory and dares to price itself as steeply as Singita’s premium camps. They would when they offer twenty elevated, ample tents handsome with massive beds, leather arm chairs, sunset-viewing deck capturing Ndasiata Hills and the Grumeti River and a retinue of staff arching to please. Best of all, the location is insuperable to watch the Serengeti wildebeest migration, the largest mammal migration on earth. Ensure you’re not having your champagne picnic in the path of a billion wildebeest stomping past! There’s more than one migration in the Serengeti lately now that Namiri Plains has relocated here, having been banished by rebels from agitated Gorongosa National

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Park in Mozambique. It’s a place for big cats and bigger fossilised bones of prehistoric giraffe. The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater just got more glamorous with the coming of Highlands of Ngorongoro Crater, edgy at the fringes of a crater marvellously overlooking the landscape. Chem Chem Lodge introduced the ‘slow safari’ and it’s new sister Little Chem Chem with only five tents is the lavishest thing skirting Tarangire National Park. There’s more to Tanzania than safaris and more islands in Tanzania than Zanzibar, neighbouring which the tranquil jungle island Pemba has gained fame since The Aiyana opened. All’s local and natural at their Maji Spa. If mehemsahib feels she’s begun looking like maaji, rejuvenate at Aiyana’s spa and then look without trepidation at the aiyna.

HOW TO GET THERE There are direct and one-stop flights to Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar Island. Arusha town is the starting point for the Northern Safari Circuit. KILIMANJARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (JRO) is situated 46 kilometres off Arusha. tanzaniatouristboard.com

INTERNATIONAL EVENTS HOSTED IN TANZANIA SWAHILI FASHION WEEK (swahilifashionweek.com) The year 2016 marked the 10th anniversary of the famous Swahili Fashion Week that showcases international, domestic, and emerging fashion designers. TANZANIA TRADE SHOW (growexh.com) The trade show is held annually in November. It's an ideal platform to interact with professionals from the Automotive, Hospitality, Printing, IT, and Pharmaceutical industries etc. SAUTI ZA BUSARA (busaramusic.org) Sauti Za Busara is an annual music festival held in Tanzania to propote musical talents from across the continent. It is a 100 percent live show with over 400 participants. 20TH FOOD AGRO AFRICA 2017 (expogr.com) International Trade Exhibition on Food, Hotel & Kitchen is the largest event held annually in Tanzania, concurrently held with East Africa Trade Exhibition (EAITE). ZANZIBAR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (ziff.or) ZIFF is East Africa’s largest multidisciplinary art and cultural festival bringing together arts from film, music, and arts industries for a Zanzibar Tamasha.

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There are several flights daily from Johannesburg to Maputo, operated by South African Airways (SAA) and the Mozambican flag-carrier Linhas Aereas de Moçambique (LAM). mozambiquetourism.co.za

ANANTARA BAZARUTO ISLAND RESORT & SPA Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa is no masterpiece of photoshop chicanery. It exists. On a private island off the Mozambique Coast. Besides the luxuries Maldives offers, here you have something the Maldives hasn’t—horses to ride on infinite stretches of beach with sands as white as the clouds and as soft to the feet.

TO M R I C H A R D S O N A F R I CA / A L A M Y ( 1 ) ; C O U RT ESY O F M OZ A M B I Q U E ( 2 )

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ID you think the Maldives alone had piercing blue waters, blazing white sands and paradisal private island resorts? Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa is no masterpiece of photoshop chicanery. It exists. On a private island off the Mozambique Coast. Besides the luxuries Maldives offers you’ve something the Maldives hasn’t—horses to ride on infinite stretches of beach with sands as white as the clouds and as soft to the feet. Besides, Mozambique has inimitable African hospitality. Whilst private island resorts like Anantara are a rare luxury still in Mozambique, big brands like & Beyond have just set up camp with the Benguerra Island Resort and further glamorised the destination. They’ll fly you in on a chopper if you like that. And you’ll certainly need a chopper to Azura Quilalea, the second luxury Indian Ocean retreat from Azura Retreats- it’s a hidden gem, a private, wholly uninhabited island haven surrounded by the pristine waters of the Quirimbas Archipelago marine sanctuary. Azura’s trademark African-chic style is stamped on it. The marine life amazes but romantics still prefer Azura Benguerra Island, Mozambique’s first eco luxury boutique resort hand-built by the locals. It’s more private than a private island with only 20 gorgeous villas each with an infinity pool, thatched roofs like a long shaggy wig and private butlers. It also seems to have an in-house genie that fulfils your every wish- be it excursions on or in the ocean or a fantasy supper under sparkling skies.

Mozambique

HOW TO GET THERE

ROMANTIC MOZAMBIQUE SECLUDED BEACHES Over 2,500 kilometres of beaches in Mozambique are un-spoilt and preserved as they were thousands of years ago. The Quirimbas Archipelago is a string of gorgeous islands with marine ecosystems, miles of sandbar beaches and stunning coral reefs. PRISTINE DIVE SITES Mozambique has some of the most pristine dive sites in the world. The reefs of the Bazaruto Archipelago are home to over 1,200 species of marine creatures including the rare Dugong—a medium-sized marine mammal that looks like a seal. FRESH SEAFOOD The country has some of the best seafood in the world. The Portuguese influence is felt in dishes such as the fiery Peri Peri chicken. A local dish without any Portuguese influence is Matata which is a seafood stew, usually made using clams in a peanut sauce. ARTWORK The sculptures produced by the Makondo people in Northern Mozambique display craftsmanship at its best while depicting traditional beliefs, the struggle for independence and the civil war. GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARK Revenue from the tourism is aimed at making Gorongosa a self-sustaining African park. Some of the activities that you can look forward to here are hike to waterfall, guided game drive at dusk, trip to Vinho Community, sundowner at Bué Maria. (gorongosa.org)

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Kenya J

UST when you said dismissively “Kenya, been there, done that,” this sultan of all safari destinations like a wily cabaret dancer pulled up its skirts a little further to keep you enticed. Yes, Kenya has been seductively unveiling unimaginable nooks (and “nook” in Kenya means endless wild expanses) of seldom-explored territories that change so dramatically so rapidly that you wonder if you’re in the same country. And just when you thought you’d done the Masai Mara (if it’s possible to!) Great Plains Conservation lures you back with their latest little number Great Plains Mara Expedition Camp, a more intimate interpretation of its celebrated Mara Plains Camp, the classiest safari camp on earth, surely. Ensconced on a riverbed where throbbing forest and savannah meet Mara Expedition quite simply enchants, casting you back to Africa’s romantic safari era. Experience camp life à la Africa’s original explorers. Exclusive and exquisite this camp has but 5 tents and the best food on safariwe don’t mean in the wild (don’t feed the animals and don’t feed on the animals or in these parts you’ll have more than the RSS baying for your blood). Great Plains’ most unique feature is that they’ve hand-picked the best guides in the business- they’re savvy, funny, sharp, they can spot a leopard a lightyear away and tell a tale with as much drama as Willi Shakespeare and with more wit. Mara Expedition’s attractions

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HOW TO GET THERE You can fly directly from New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport to Nairobi, Kenya (NBO). Many airlines including KLM, Etihad, Jet Airways, Emirates and Kenya Airways fly directly to Nairobi. magicalkenya.com/

include access to two migrations—the renowned Serengeti migration and the green season Loita Plains migration. Moreover, leopards famously slink its riverbed so you needn’t squat around a month to spot the clandestine spotted creature. Find the heights of luxury at Angama Mara precipitously perched on a ridge. It’s new, has too many famous names behind it to enumerate and Rift Valley views to make your jaw drop 1,000 feet down to the Masai Mara below. Finch Hattons in Tsavo National Park has finally re-emerged and sports a sensational new look. They’ve tiered tents so big you’d get lost in them but it’s best not to if you want to make your way to the chandeliered, silvercandelabrad dining hall where 7-course suppers still unleash. And if you didn’t know Laikipia then you will now that Elewana Collection has launched Loisaba Tented Camp by Elewana, one of the most exciting new properties in Kenya with ten suites flaunting contemporary African elegance. Loftily swaying on an escarpment, the camp offers uninhibited views across Laikipia’s variegated landscape straight to Mt Kenya. ▪

Expect sky safaris and one of Africa’s most picturesque infinity pools that seemingly flies to the horizon.

TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN KENYA BREAKFAST WITH GIRAFFES (thesafaricollection.com) The Giraffe Manor is home to a herd of the Rothschild's giraffe. Don't be surprised if you find them craning their necks through the large windows to eat your breakfast. FOSTER AN ELEPHANT (sheldrickwildlifetrust.org) The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi rescues orphaned elephants and rhinos. You can play with baby elephants during their mud-bath sessions every morning. OL MALO RANCH (olmalo.com) A privately ranch owned by the Francombe family, Ol Malo is a game sanctuary right in the centre of African bush. The ranch is also known as a popular proposing spot for lovers. CHEESE TOUR (brownscheese.com) The award-winning Brown’s Cheese factory has won many accolades, including the South African Dairy Championship and awards from the East Africa Cheese Festival. ALI BARBOUR’S CAVE RESTAURANT (alibarbours.co) This cave restaurant in Diani is thought to be around 1,20,000 to 1,80,000 years old. The seating is 10 metres below ground in an open-air coral cave. The restaurant specialises in seafood.

F R O M TO P : C O U RT ESY O F M A R A EX P E D I T I O N CA M P ; I N S E T ( C O U RT ESY O F K E N YA : F I N C H H AT TO N S )

T H E


January 2017

AMONG THE WHALES Enter the domain of the world’s largest creature

FISH FARM FORK

Re-inventing what it means to eat local in the Caribbean

BUNDI

Discover the indigo city

SUN IS SHINING THE WEATHER IS SWEET

K AT H E R I N E W O L K O F F

On a trip across Jamaica’s untrammelled coast


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A hump humpbac back k whal whale e pass passes es within wit hin fe feet et of the ph photo otogra graphe pherr during dur ing an ex exped pediti ition on off one of th the e isla islands nds of To Tonga nga..


I n t he waters o f t he S out h Pac i f ic , M A G G I E S H I P S T E A D enters the domain of some of the world’s largest creatures and discovers that, s o m e t i m e s , b e au t y c a n c o n qu e r f e a r.

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photog raphs by S E A N F E N N E S S Y


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confession: I’ve always been afraid of deep water. Like most phobias, mine isn’t entirely rational. It’s not about drowning, exactly, or being eaten by a sharp-toothed creature, although that wouldn’t be ideal. It’s more about not knowing what’s below me, about darkness and emptiness, and my own insignificance.

And yet there I was, floating in the open ocean, peering down through a snorkel mask into water hundreds of feet deep. Above the surface there was wind and swell, blowing spray, gray sky. In the distance were the limestone cliffs and tousled coconut palms of Vava’u, an archipelago of 61 islands within the Kingdom of Tonga, itself a collection of 176 islands scattered across approximately 260,000 square miles of the South Pacific. Beneath the surface, there was stillness, vastness, silence. There was the saturated cobalt blueness of the Tongan waters, and there was a mother humpback whale 50 feet below, resting with her calf tucked under her. The sight was both familiar and alien. I’d seen countless humpbacks on television and IMAX screens, gazed up at life-size replicas hanging from the ceilings of natural-history museums, even caught glimpses of flukes and fins from whale-watching boats. But now I was floating above a 40-ton, 50-footlong animal with a beating heart and a mind full of unfathomable instincts and impulses. The white edges of her pectoral fins and fluke glowed bright aqua. The rest of her was a massive charcoal shadow, suspended in space. Nisi Tongia, a local guide who works for New Zealand–based WhaleSwim Adventures, gripped my wet-suited upper arm, anchoring me against the current. We formed a loose cluster with three other swimmers—five of us in all, the maximum number legally allowed in the water so as to avoid crowding the whale. Because scuba diving with the whales is not permitted, we had only snorkels and fins. This was our first of seven days in the water with WhaleSwim Adventures, a tour operator that has led expeditions in Tonga since 1999 and recently expanded to Tahiti (humpbacks) and Sri Lanka (blue and sperm whales). The company offers only multi-day trips, a policy intended to give swimmers time to get used to the whales and to avoid pressuring guides into forcing encounters. Sometimes, though, while sitting on the boat’s swim platform, my fins dipping in and out of the wake as I craned around to see columns of vapour sent up by exhaling whales, I did find myself caught up in a certain hectic energy, an Ahab-like thrill of pursuit. The challenge of finding whales is part of what makes encountering them meaningful, but because the quest can be so unpredictable (big ocean, swift wild animals), swimming with these creatures is an activity I can’t recommend for control freaks. On this drop, everything was going according to plan. A pale face, small by whale standards and studded with the wartlike tubercles characteristic of humpbacks, peeked out from under the cow’s chin. We floated, waiting. After a moment the calf emerged and glided upward, nose to the light, eye trained on us, inspecting. A clutch of remoras, or suckerfish, clung to his underside, and his white belly was grooved with expandable ventral pleats that would, in adulthood, help him filter up to one and a half tons of krill a day. For now, he was consuming only milk, while his mother ate nothing. The warm, protected Tongan waters provide safety during the whales’

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birthing and breeding season, but no sustenance. In a few weeks, this pair would turn south, toward their Antarctic feeding grounds. The calf took a breath, rolled languidly onto his side, and started wiggle-swimming in our direction. This was what I’d come for. This was an experience I’d wanted so badly that I’d put aside my trepidation about Big Blue and embarked on a 5,000mile pilgrimage that could well have ended up becoming an exercise in terror management. Just a few feet from me, the calf rolled onto his back, opening his knobby pectoral fins wide. We made eye contact: a six-week-old, 18-footlong marine mammal and a woman from California. What could he have made of me? His beauty thrilled me almost to the point of pain. His mother ascended, surfacing to breathe. At such close range, her size was overwhelming, a moving wall of whale, her skin encrusted here and there with barnacles. Her body language was relaxed, tail and flippers low, but she kept her eye fixed on the gaggle of snorkeled paparazzi extending GoPros toward her hammy, curious baby, who was now turning a backward somersault. In the water, whales’ conversation is often audible, and after a few whistles passed between the pair, they swam away, unhurried, their oscillating flukes vanishing into the blue. “Okay,” Nisi said, smiling broadly below his mask as we all popped up among the waves, five pinheads atop a dark and choppy sea. “We go back to the boat, yeah?”


Divers Div ers de desce scend nd int into o Swallo Swa llows ws Cav Cave, e, a popu popular lar sp spot ot in the Vava’u Vav a’u ar archi chipel pelago ago.

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onga is not one of the South Pacific’s most storied destinations, but the upside to its obscurity is that it is relatively unspoiled. On the island of Vava’u, the largest in the archipelago, the cows, pigs, dogs, chickens, and children are all free-range. Walk more than 20 feet and someone will offer you a ride. Island time is strictly observed. “It’s raw and authentic,” said Annah Evington, our other guide. A New Zealand native, she has returned often to Vava’u since a transformative humpback encounter in 2001. “There’s no major tourism here. There’s no huge hotels, and there’s no white-coated waiters and cocktails by the pool. The boats are still small, and the experiences are still very personal.” In the harbour of the main town, Neiafu, white yachts float at their

moorings while small fibreglass boats put-put among them, people from outlying islands crowding the bows and perched on the roofs on their way to shop or pick up their kids from school. Storefronts offer day trips to go reef diving and sportfishing. Waterfront cafés like the Mango and Aquarium have pleasant decks for afternoon beers and hearty pork or seafood dinners. In the evenings, hymns waft from the churches, only to be drowned out, at sunset, by a roaring chorus of cicadas. Every Wednesday night at Bounty Bar, above the harbour, a wry and regal matriarch in a mesh dress and sensible shoes presides over a rowdy drag show and dance party. Her name, both in life and onstage, is Brian. “Here people are nice to you because they want to be nice to you, not because they have to be,” said Ben Newton, a former Bay Area entrepreneur. He and his wife, Lisa, arrived on a sailboat in 2004 and, to their mutual surprise, never left. “It’s hard for Tonga as a developing nation, because people want the Disneyland experience. But I appreciate its raw beauty. It’s out here on the edge of the planet.” After settling in Vava’u, the Newtons started several small businesses, including a restaurant and a dinghy-rental shop, before a twist of fate brought them to Fetoko Island, a round, sandy blip surrounded by reef in a tranquil bay. The couple had helped a Tongan family with a house loan; in gratitude, the family offered first their unborn baby, then the rights to Fetoko. The Newtons passed on the baby, but they eventually accepted the island, with the stipulation that the family remain shareholders in the eco-resort they’d dreamed up, to be called Mandala. After four years of construction, which they TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE / / JJAANNUUAARRYY 22001177

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A humpback whale, seen during an excursion with WhaleSwim Adventures, descends into the ocean.

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did mostly by themselves, the Newtons opened in 2013 with just a restaurant and a tree house. Since then they have added four bungalows and a yoga porch overlooking the water. “The island already had its own vibe,” Ben said. “We just had to figure out what to do with it.” Though Fetoko Island is only about 70 yards in diametre, the Newtons found space for some big ideas. Ben’s swooping design for the open-air restaurant was inspired by, among other things, manta rays and fractal geometry. Upon arrival by boat, guests are greeted by the couple’s two dogs, Higgs and Boson, named after the Higgs boson, a theoretical subatomic particle. All electricity is supplied by solar panels and all water by the clouds. The toilets operate on a composting system, and plans are afoot for an aquaponics garden, which will allow them to grow more of the resort’s (excellent) food on site. There’s talk of keeping chickens and dairy cows on a nearby island, since there isn’t space on Fetoko. These green measures feel especially urgent in Tonga. Like other Pacific island nations, the kingdom is especially vulnerable to climate change, as rising sea levels and increasing water temperatures have begun to cause inundation of low-lying coasts, reef degradation, and saltwater infiltration of soil and freshwater reservoirs. “Be the change and whatnot,” Ben said. “We’re not real focused on it as a business. It’s been more about the project, building it and enjoying it as we do it.” One of Ben’s businesses back in San Francisco involved arranging personalised experiences designed to help people confront and conquer their fears—for example, skydiving for those afraid of heights. “I got addicted to it,” he said, “but I realised I hadn’t faced my own biggest fear.” Which was? “Running out of money.” To that end, he and Lisa traded the rat race for the boat. “We sailed through the Golden Gate and turned left,” he said. Three years later, they arrived in Tonga. Money ran out a few times while they were building Mandala, but the rewards have been rich. “How do you beat the tropical island lifestyle?” Lisa asked. As I sipped a rum cocktail in a hammock on Mandala’s beach at sunset, I wasn’t sure you could.


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animal with A B E AT I N G H E A R T and a m i nd fu l l o f u n fat homable instincts and impulses.


Humpback whales’ ventral pleats let their throats expand to accommodate water during filter-feeding.

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s undiscovered as Tonga remains to most people, whale swimming is drawing a growing number of visitors—from a few hundred annually in the early 1990s to more than 3,000 a year in the past decade. That might not sound like a lot, but as with any other tourism enterprise built around encounters with wildlife, whaleswimming companies must balance a desire to spread the gospel of conservation with the risk of intruding on the animals and disturbing their habitats. Australia, the Dominican Republic, and Tahiti are among the few countries besides Tonga that allow operators to put customers in the water with humpbacks. To its credit, Tonga has regulations in place to protect the whales—limits on lengths of swims, mandatory breaks between encounters, prohibitions on harassing the whales, and caps on the number of swimmers allowed and boat licenses issued—though these are largely self-enforced.

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By 1966, when the International Whaling Commission instituted a worldwide moratorium on killing humpbacks, only about 250 remained in the area around Tonga, down from an estimated original population of 10,000. Nevertheless, subsistence whaling persisted until the king ended it by decree in 1978. By 2010, the local whale population had rebounded to between 1,500 and 2,000, prompting some Tongans to argue that the ban should be lifted. At the moment, however, a reversal seems unlikely, given the economic boon of whale swimming and the public


THE DETAILS GETTING THERE Fly from Sydney or Auckland, New Zealand, to the Tongan island of Tongatapu. From there, Real Tonga Airlines flies to Vava’u twice daily, except Sunday. Fiji Airways also offers a direct flight to Vava’u from Nadi, Fiji, twice weekly. HOTEL Mandala Island Resort A boat transfer is required to get to this small private island, where you’ll find eco-friendly accommodations, excellent food, and tropical serenity. Bungalows from US$320; mandalaisland.com ACTIVITIES Nai’a Live aboard this 18-passenger boat, which takes you from Nuku’alofa to the Ha’apai island group for snorkeling with whales and scuba diving on coral reefs. You’ll have to book way ahead, as the next available slot isn’t until 2019. From US$6,186 for nine days; naia.com.fj WhaleSwim Adventures An experienced and conscientious outfitter offering a variety of multiday whale-swimming trips in Vava’u and elsewhere. From US$4,375 for eight nights with six days of water activities; whaleswim. com

outreach the whales have been doing on their own behalf. “I always hope people are going to get the experience of looking into the eye of a whale and understanding that they’re ancient creatures,” Annah said. “I’ve seen it so many times, people being touched or moved in so many ways.” Every Saturday, the Tongan whale-swim boat captains get together to share a meal and talk shop, as part of a conscious commitment to maintaining a cooperative bond. “It’s good for us if every swimmer sees a whale,” Po’uli Tongia, our skipper and a first cousin of Nisi, told me. “We try to help each other.” The skippers keep in radio contact throughout the day, pooling intel about whales’ locations and behaviours. If one boat isn’t having any luck and another has found a whale amenable to encounters, the two boats might take turns dropping swimmers. On an afternoon when the whales were giving us the cold shoulder, a small boat of day-trippers offered to share a mother-and-calf pair with us. The other swimmers wore blocky orange life vests and held on to a float while their guide towed them. Such arrangements weren’t uncommon, Annah said, as some tourists who couldn’t swim still wanted to see whales. This elicited a few derisive snickers on our boat, but Annah said she admired the day-trippers’ bravery. Then Po’uli learned over the radio that the group was a Japanese ambassador and his family. Japan, we all knew, is one of the few nations that has persisted in commercial whaling despite international censure. We fell silent, watching the orange dots on the water. “Let’s hope they have a wonderful, aweinspiring experience,” Annah said. In my seven days on the water, we found whales every day, but every day—and every encounter—was different. We floated for 45 minutes above a male as he sang to attract a mate, the water coming alive with whistles, chirps, trills, moans, and groans that rattled my ribs. We dropped into a group of five males on a heat run, all chasing a female, and found ourselves immersed in whale chaos. The boys, unafraid, spiraled around us, grunting. As one slid by just under my fins, another passed within arm’s reach to my left, and a third came up from the deep. Gliding and gigantic, they seemed always to be watching us, always careful to arc their flippers over or under us and not to whack us with their tails. We drifted on glassy, calm water above a placid mother and calf, their bodies dappled by sunbeams slanting down into the indigo water like light in the nave of a cathedral. We rocked and rolled on five-foot swells as a different, feistier calf shot up from below and fully out of the water, breaching just yards away. Its mother followed, rocketing up like a missile, water streaming off her as she arced against the sky, fins outspread. As the splash rained down on us, we cheered, exhilarated by her magnificent exuberance. If there was time after lunch, we might go for a non-whale-related snorkel. Near the end of our trip, one such excursion brought us to Mariner’s Cave, on the island of Nuapapu, where we dove down alongside a sheer, coral-encrusted drop-off and through an underwater tunnel into a black hole of rock, a humid air bubble encased in limestone. Such a place was once the stuff of my nightmares, but I finned into the darkness without hesitation. I wish I could say that my swims in Tonga were acts of courage, but my fear of the deep, which had seemed like a part of me, had turned out to be nothing at all—a coward that turned tail as soon as I looked right at it. I hadn’t been afraid, not since my very first drop, when I found myself surrounded by a blue so intense that the sensation was not of dangling above an abyssal depth but of being suspended in light, cradled by color. Wonders are waiting on the other side of our fears: singing whales and hidden caves, the bluest of blues. T TR RAAV VE EL L++ L LE EI SI SUUR RE E/ /J JAANNUUAAR RY Y 22001 177

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ShaddockShaddo ck-cur cured ed porkk bell por bellyy at at Balt Balter, er, a new new res restau tauran rantt on on the is islan land d of of St St Croi Croix. x. Opposi Opp osite: te: Ju Justst-cau caught ght fish sh at at La La Rein Reine e Farmer Far mers’ s’ Mar Market ket..

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F i s h

F a r m

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F o r k On St Croix, a dynamic new generation of farmers and chefs is reinventing what it means to eat local in the Caribbean. By Boris Fishman P H O T O G R A P H S BY K AT H E R I N E WO L KO F F T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7

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F OR AG I NG F OR W H E L K S W I T H DIG BY STRIDIRON. The exuberant, 33-year-old chef helms the kitchen at Balter, the most ambitious new restaurant on St Croix. When I visited his Christiansted establishment this past April, a month after its opening, the bright dining room, with its wooden tables, iron railings, and brick-and-stainless-steel open kitchen, was still figuring out its aesthetic, and the eager servers were checking on their tables so often that I considered asking ours to join us for dinner. But what a dinner it was. A friend and I worked our way through popcorn dusted with leek ash; local wahoo accompanied by pork-belly mofongo and mango kuchela, a Trinidadian chutney; and a slab of pork belly cured in shaddock, a local, pomelo-type grapefruit, and served with Haitian pickled slaw, chayote coulis, and a sauce made from caramelised yucca juice. Cocktails crafted with ginger beer and herbs from the restaurant’s garden kept us hydrated. Not every dish reached its goals, but you could taste the promise of magic down the line, like the right word moving toward the tip of the tongue. After I introduced myself, Stridiron invited me to go foraging. From our loot, he would improvise lunch. “Like, seven tomorrow morning?” he said. My eyebrows rose. “Eight, maybe?” I replied. St Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands, and the most elusive. If St Thomas offers cruise ships and commerce, and St John unpeopled majesty (two-thirds of it is a national park), then St Croix is ‘where the real people live’, as the local saying goes—it’s the best of both worlds. No beachgoer could wish for a sweeter shoreline than Point Udall, the easternmost point in the territorial United States. Meanwhile, there are two vibrantly disparate versions of Crucian life: one on the western end, in Frederiksted—scruffier, louder, and more ‘Crucian’—and the

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other in Christiansted, a Danish-colonial jewel heavy with ‘Statesiders’, to the east. Such distinctions are more freighted in a place where, as a local acquaintance told me, “we’re still healing” from slavery, which makes the island’s relative racial harmony feel all the more miraculous. Over the past several years, St Croix has experienced a radical shift toward better food—which is remarkable in a region where importing ingredients is still the norm, and farm-to-table cooking is a relative rarity. Balter, which sources more than half of its products locally and intends to increase that figure by 15 percent every year, feels like a culmination. It has its own garden, and infuses its own oils, vinegars, and liquors with local fruit and other flora. The restaurant uses no plastic foam, saves gray water for its garden, and will soon invest in solar panels. The wood I saw was native red mahogany, the iron railings came from the local metalworks, and the bricks were 240 years old—they served as ballast for Danish ships on their runs to the island (rum was the ballast on the way home). While Balter finds its way, Zion Modern Kitchen, a casual, two-year-old Christiansted restaurant run by chefowner Michael Ross, offers St Croix’s most consistently satisfying menu; its tuna in citrus beurre blanc and gooseberry gastrique has infiltrated my dream life. Ross also makes his own breads, pastas,


The beach near the Renaissance St Croix Carambola Beach Resort, on the northern shore. Left: Star fruit at La Reine Farmers’ Market.

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Isaac Bay Beach, a prime snorkelling spot on the eastern end of St Croix.

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Local Wahoo with sea purslane, yucca flowers, and mofongo at Balter.

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and mozzarella, but Zion is most effusively Crucian behind the bar. “There are fewer rules, fewer people,” Frank Robinson, the restaurant’s resident cocktail wizard at the time, said of St Croix when I stopped by one afternoon. (This past fall, Robinson opened his own farm-to-glass spot, Bes Craft Cocktail Lounge, leaving two mentees behind the bar at Zion.) “You can get lost in it—it’s like New York in that way. But it can uplift you, too.” Robinson, who was born and raised on the island, produces his own bitters and infusions:

“What happens now,” Robinson said, “is we finish on the grill, and break out the lanterns and flashlights.” He laughed. “Price of paradise, man.” By evening, the outage had endowed the Christiansted streets with a decadent air. The cooks at 40 Strand Eatery, another newcomer that focuses on local fish and produce, were working a grill in the street between tables whose inhabitants were only too happy to have an extra cocktail while waiting. Away from the emergency lights, the town’s warren of boutiques, restaurants, and hotels—each somehow accommodated to a centuries-old Danish-colonial edifice—felt like a ship that had temporarily submerged under the nearby waters. That night, I had dinner at Savant, a veteran of the island’s fine-dining scene. Passing through its cavelike front room on the way to the low-lit stone grotto that serves as its courtyard, I found it easy to forget that the electricity had come back. But St Croix, it turns out, — feels that way a lot of the time, even when he power is on. By 9pm, Savant was out of M AU B I , G UAVA , G O L D E N A P P L E — most of the day’s catch, mahimahi, so I WA S D I Z Z Y I N G T O M E A F T E R A settled for the fish tacos and beer-battered N E W YO R K W I N T E R O F O L D fritters, both made with wahoo. That late in A PPL E S A N D PE A R S. the day, after a power outage, no less, that fish had no reason to be as good as it was. ginger and gooseberry rums, guava and marjoram vodkas, sweet-pepper-andn an island as fertile as St Croix, the shift to locally cilantro tequila. He squeezes all his juices sourced food shouldn’t have been so recent or so from fresh local fruits. “If you’re challenging. St Croix, which flew the fl ag of five consuming alcohol, why not make it as nations, plus that of the Knights of Malta, before healthy as you can?” he joked. Robinson becoming a US territory in 1917, was once the breadbasket of told me to pick a liquor, and he’d invent a the Caribbean. Unlike many of the region’s islands, it enjoys cocktail around it. relatively flat, nutrient-rich, arable soil: here, ‘foraging’ is I asked Mary Orr, the manager, just another word for walking. The profusion of plants and why she had made her home on St Croix. fruits—breadfruit, Moringa, maubi, guava, golden apple, She shrugged: “You have to bring a book to mespila, eggfruit, dragon fruit—was dizzying to me after a the post office, and there are forty-seven New York winter of old apples and pears. potholes on the way there. But those are “St Croix was under sugarcane production as late as 1966,” little things when you can put your feet in Dale Browne told me. He runs Sejah Farm, near the old the water on the way to work.” Robinson Bethlehem Sugar Factory in the interior, and supplies produce set down my drink: plum-infused Bulleit to Balter. We spoke in a lean-to surrounded by boxes of peppers bourbon mixed with lemon juice, orange and papayas that doubled as the market stand most mornings. juice, tamarind, and tarragon, poured “But then the Department of the Interior decided light industry over unstirred passion-fruit juice. and tourism would be the thing. People moved into government It tasted as good as it sounds. jobs, and agriculture disappeared.” Soon, St Croix was It was 4 pm, the sun molten and the air importing nearly all its food. heavy with late-April heat, but even with In 1998, Browne and his wife, Yvette, decided to “get some the flames and steam of dinner prep in goats so our children could understand eating right, being the open kitchen several feet away, the bar connected to the land, what it means to care for another life,” felt cool—no doors and no windows they got really into it. Today, the Brownes farm vegetables and means a draft all the time. Pressure raise livestock on 15 acres and supply four CSAs. It’s a time of Busspipe’s Run Away was loud on the great promise. “For forty years, the land has been dormant,” stereo system, and little by little, Browne said. “It’s as virgin as land can be.” The Department the entire staff, from the servers laying of Agriculture is offering subsidised plots to aspiring farmers. out silverware to the line cooks, picked up Many Crucians have been asking not only what the island lost in the words until the whole place was its embrace of industry but also what food dependence means rumbling in one voice: “Run away...you during a time of weather extremes caused by climate change. can’t run away...from yourself—” “The supermarkets are asking for local, because customers are And then the power went out. asking for local,” Browne said. “What happens now?” I asked, a rookie Ridge to Reef, the only certified-organic farm on St Croix, ready to go home. sits deep in the rain forest in the island’s northwestern corner.

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(Its name refers to the watershed that runs from the farm’s 134 acres toward the sea.) Here, owners Nate Olive, who grew up in Georgia, and his wife, Shelli Brin-Olive, who is from St Thomas, grow vegetables and raise livestock, lead educational tours, and offer off-the-grid lodging and wilderness-survival workshops, in addition to supplying organic produce to schools. But they’re best known to visitors for their Slow Down dinners, for which local chefs use the farm’s bounty to prepare all-organic, all-local meals for upwards of 60 people. Many guests build their entire trip to St Croix around the Slow Down schedule. When I stopped by, Nate was away at the University of Georgia defending his PhD dissertation on whether eco- and cultural tourism alone could sustain the island. “Nature versus casinos, basically,” Shelli said, as we walked through a bamboo grove. The farm’s bounty was making me feel like I’d stepped through some prelapsarian wormhole. Shelli pointed out an Antillean crested hummingbird, the only bird that can fly backward; a ‘painkiller bush’ known for the anti-inflammatory qualities of its leaves; and a Moringa tree, a handful of whose leaves could be enough for a day’s nutrition. Ridge to Reef was hosting 39 young Danish volunteers—a crowd big enough to warrant an unscheduled Slow Down dinner—and I was invited to stay. Michael Matthew, who cooks at the Eat at Cane Bay restaurant on the northern end, braised a Ridge to Reef lamb in a stock made from bones and herbs. He served it alongside Ridge to Reef farm greens tossed with a dressing he’d devised by shaving down and puréeing a ball of cactus fruit. The dinner talk was about pelicans, terns, and the reappearance of a certain mockingbird after two years of drought. The food was worthy of seconds (and thirds). At some point, Shelli’s phone buzzed. It was Nate, texting from Georgia. He had passed.

From top: Bread pudding with guavaberries at Balter, Stridiron’s Christiansted restaurant; Christina Gasperi, the co-owner of Art Farm; Chef Digby Stridiron picking yucca flowers on one of his foraging missions.

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hat young man can fillet a 20-pound tuna with a machete by the light of an iPhone,” said Susan Kraeger, proudly, as we walked through La Reine Farmers’ Market, already humming shortly past dawn on a Saturday morning. Kraeger, an escapee from New Hampshire, had picked me up at 5am for her weekly visit to the market, which is located not too far from Sejah Farm. Any later and all the good stuff would be gone.


The rise of eco-minded farms and restaurants on St Croix makes it easy to forget that some local farmers have been working the land responsibly for decades. “This is a big word today, organic,” said Violet Drew, who farms papaya, sour oranges, and more on three acres in a neighbourhood near Upper Love. (St Croix has the best neighbourhood names in the world—Upper Love is surrounded by Jealousy, Hard Labor, and Hope.) Her stall also offered golden-apple juice and cassava bread. “I grow what I eat,” she said. “I would come here just to hear ‘Good mornin’, darlin’,” Kraeger said as we watched fishermen hack and sell fresh catch on pickup beds for half the supermarket price. “People from up north will turn their noses up: ‘Fish from the back of a truck? How do you know it’s good?’ I buy from these people every week, that’s how.” What thrilled me was that I was beginning to recognise the items in the market stalls. That milky-yellow beverage was unfiltered ginger beer, as bracing as a mouthful of the root. That was maubi juice, from the bark of a tree. In my farmless New York life, this kind of aptitude had always seemed reserved for the select. No—you just had to spend time in a place that lived by the soil.

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t Croix is home—the people, the culture, the beaches, the food,” Stridiron said when he showed up for our foraging session. “Everybody cares about everybody here.” Born and raised on St Croix, Stridiron joined the Air Force, then studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta and worked under Florida chef Norman Van Aken before returning. Our first stop was the beach at Judith’s Fancy, where I had been staying in a friend’s guesthouse without the least idea I was near a forager’s paradise. Stridiron gathered sea grapes, miracle grass, and sea purslane, at once briny and sweet. “I just ate the beach!” he exclaimed. “When you want fine dining, the Virgin Islands has everything,” he said as we drove away, “but it’s not local. When I was thinking about Balter”—the name tweaks a Danish word that means to dance without particular skill but with joy—“they said I should do it in St Thomas, where the fine dining is. But then I’d just have to fly the food over from here. St Thomas is the energy. But St Croix is the motherland.” Stridiron’s mission with Balter is to cook the way Mom and Pop used to, but

with modern technique and gastronomy. “They used salted codfish because that’s all they had. But what happens when you do local steak with maubi bordelaise? Chlorophyll soda over citrus-cured wahoo? We’re part of America, but a different part of it.” We pulled over at a nondescript spot on the northern shore and made our way down to a jagged outcrop, where we dodged rushing waves while peeling whelks off the rock. “When I came back here three years ago, there was no farm-to-table in the restaurant scene. Now I’ve watched twenty farms pop up in the last couple of years. A farmer is more powerful than an army. You control your life because you control what you eat.” In Balter’s gleaming prep kitchen, he laid out what he’d foraged, adding ingredients as they occurred to him: yucca flowers, sweet peppers, pungent leaves of Spanish thyme, and green garlic from Art Farm, a small property owned by Luca Gasperi, who was born and raised on St Croix, and his expat wife, Christina. (The couple, who also have an art space, welcome visitors.) What was he making, I asked. “I don’t know yet!” he replied. That was the way it went for the next hour, as the whelks went into a whey broth on one induction cooker and ginger began steeping in sorrel juice on another: I would ask, and Stridiron would still be figuring it out. In the end, Stridiron served grilled mahimahi steaks in a saltysweet mix of plantains, pork belly, whelks, white wine, butter, and many of the plants, herbs, and spices I had watched him lay out, along with Art Farm escarole and dandelion dressed with gingerinfused sorrel juice. Patrick Kralik, Balter’s co-owner and sommelier, who runs a farm-to-glass program to complement the cooking, dreamed up a gin-based cocktail with mint, sea purslane, shaddock, yucca flower, holy basil, and tarragon from the garden. The three of us ate at the bar, the shutters closed against the heat, the crunch of wheels echoing down the street, and the sound of passersby calling good day to one another.

THE DETAILS HOTELS The Buccaneer This luxe property, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year, has an 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, three beaches, and more. Christiansted; doubles from US$299; thebuccaneer.com Starfish Cottage at Judith’s Fancy A cottage with a thoughtful aesthetic, a full kitchen, a wraparound porch, and pool privileges in the gated community of Judith’s Fancy. Doubles from US$100; +340/690-6616 RESTAURANTS Balter A contemporary West Indian kitchen that epitomises Crucian haute cuisine. Christiansted; entrées US$17– US$34; balterstx.com Galangal A white-tablecloth temple of French–Southeast Asian fusion. The couple who run the place spend part of each year hunting new flavors in Asia. Christiansted; entrées US$24– US$36; galangal stx.com Savant This lovely haunt has been serving creative cuisine, like baby-back ribs marinated in blackstrap rum and root beer, since 1998. Christiansted; entrées US$18–US$39; savant stx.com

Zion Modern Kitchen Serves the island’s most consistently satisfying food and drink, including house-made pasta, bread, and mozzarella. Try one of the cocktails infused with local fruits. Christiansted; entrées US$25– US$42; zionmodernkitchen.com ACTIVITIES Historical Tours Choose from a variety of hikes or sign up for a walking tour of Christiansted, Frederiksted, or the Works at Butler Bay, a former sugar factory. chantvi.org La Reine Farmers’ Market Arrive around 4:30 on Saturday morning to find the best on offer at one of St Croix’s thriving local markets. You’ll find soursop, breadfruit, and a variety of homemade hot sauces and jams. goto stcroix.com/farm-stands. Slow Down Dinners at Ridge to Reef Farm About once a month, local chefs use Ridge to Reef’s bounty to prepare multicourse, all-organic meals. The farm also offers educational tours, off-the-grid lodging, and wilderness-survival workshops. Frederiksted; ridge2reef.org

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Beautiful turquoise and gold murals illustrating the Ragmala and Ras Leela stories lining the walls of the Chitrashala, built by Rao Umed Singh in the 18th century, located inside the Garh Palace of Bundi. Opposite: Wall painting on the wall of an old Bundi temple in Rajasthan.


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he king resplendent in a saffron Mughal robe and a turban, sits on a horse, holding a flower in his right hand, and controlling the reins of his horse with the left. The scabbard and sword are all too realistic, transporting me to an ancient battlefield. Lord Krishna plays his flute, gamboling with gopikas. Gleaming panels of Tikri—the Indian word for mosaic work, where, using scalpels, hand-cut pieces of mirrors are inlayed into frescos on the ceiling and the walls. Even the floors narrate the story of crusading elephants in tempered red, black, and white, the art style called izara. Poet Rudyard Kipling mentioned in his Letters of Marque published in 1899, “...but the Palace of Bundi, even in broad daylight, is such a palace as men build for themselves in uneasy dreams—the work of goblins rather than of men.” A great medieval fortification snakes across the hill sides, indigo and white houses spill across the ground, and water reservoirs glisten in the afternoon sun. We drove through lush green poppy, striped groundnut, emerald paddy, and golden corn fields; guava and pomegranate orchards, with flocks of swallows soaring overhead in perfect symmetry. We crossed sandstone mines stacked endlessly with rock slabs; and forests of Khejri trees. In the battlement shades, where soldiers once stood, hundreds of langurs nurse their young ones, eyeing us curiously, as we strode past in the afternoon sun. In ancient times, the area around Bundi is said to have been inhabited by various local tribes. It was Rao Deva Hada of the Rao Chauhan dynasty, who established the princely state Bundi in the land of the great Hada Rajputs, present day Hadoti.

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Bundi’s architectural heritage is still intact and the town is famous for its baoris— terraced stone reservoirs that collect monsoon water for the long dry season.

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Bundi’s architectural heritage is still intact and the town is famous for its baoris—terraced stone reservoirs that collect monsoon water for the long dry season. Today, most of the houses are painted a pale shade of blue, created by mixing indigo with whitewash, the cheaper alternative to modern-day enamel or distemper paint, and also because the mix acts as a mosquito repellent. Our first stop was the Taragarh Fort. I followed our elderly guide Keshav Bhati, through a gargantuan gate where local artists greeted us with folk tunes. Despite the magnificence of the structure, I was immediately endeared by the simplicity of my surroundings. There was no sign of organised tours, no overbearing guides, no street-shop owners trying to sell grossly overpriced souvenirs. A short walk away, we reached the Garh Palace. Inside, the Chitrashaala—a structure of several rooms is stacked on an elevated podium framing a garden-courtyard—is a treasure trove of colourful murals and frescoes. The paintings date back to the years between


The interiors af the Bundi City Palace, Opposite: An artistic drawing of the Maharaja’s Palace from ancient times.

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Tourist climbs an ornate staircase at the Bundi Palace. Above from left: Arched section af the Palace; women carrying clay pots during a weddng procession. Right: Lobby of the jüSTa Lake Nahargarh Palace.

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View of the city of Bundi from Taragarh Fort.

Inside, the Chitrashaala—a structure of several rooms is stacked on an elevated podium framing a garden-courtyard—is a treasure trove of colourful murals and frescoes. I gazed in awe at intricate scenes of dancing girls, marching soldiers, royal processions, local festivals, and polo matches; portraits of princes and princesses, and gods and goddesses—all in a delightful turquoise palette.


AMONG THE PAINTINGS ARE DEPICTIONS OF RAS LEELA, THE COSMIC DANCE OF LORD KRISHNA; THE WEDDING OF RAM AND SITA; AMOROUS SCENES FROM DHOLA-MARU. Beautiful murals lining the walls and ceiling of the Badal Mahal.

1773 and 1821. I gazed in awe at intricate scenes of dancing girls, marching soldiers, royal processions, local festivals, and polo matches; portraits of princes and princesses, and gods and goddesses— all in a delightful turquoise palette. Among the paintings are depictions of Ras Leela—the cosmic dance of Lord Krishna; the wedding of Hindu gods Ram and Sita; amorous scenes from Dhola-Maru, the region’s own Romeo and Juliet. “Note that most of the pictures are side profiles with just one eye, very few show both the eyes of a person,” explains guide Bhati. I noticed that some of the walls are peeling, and some have blackened over the course of time, but these imperfections only add to the allure of these ancient painting. The intricacy with which they have been decorated is astounding—petite birds perched on fine tree branches, paintings of palaces and buildings, costumes and jewellery—all detailed with minerals and precious stones. Interestingly, the paintings display an assimilation of divergent styles—the oval shape of the eye borrowed from Mewar paintings, the male attires had Mughal influences, and the placement of the pavilion had Deccan origins. Within the premises of Taragarh Fort, the zenana (pertaining to women) Badal Mahal, is a sequestered area with little access to the outside world, home to the women of the royal family. It has a brilliant ceiling mural with a bright red background, a kaleidoscope of diamonds and triangular arches painted with vivid images of Krishna’s Raas Leela and scenes from the Ramayana. This was done by Chinese and Mongolian artists, which harks back to the source of Bundi’s riches—poppy, cultivated for the lucrative opium trade with China. Next, I headed to the jüSTa Lake Nahargarh Palace, a beautiful hotel property surrounded by a man-made lake and flanked by the Aravalli hills on one side. Their annual art initiative also called the Chitrashaala, attempts to perpetuate the rich artistic traditions of the region. The organisers, fashion designer Deepika Govind, and her husband Ashish Vohra, a former art-gallery owner from Delhi, host over forty artists from countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Russia, Jordan, and Germany to name a few, at this annual affair. These artists visit Bundi and Chittorgarh, collaborate with local artisans to create masterpieces. I was lucky to witness a painting made by Dheeraj Choudhary, an Indian artist who taught art at the Delhi University for over forty years. Now, he works with villagers and ploughs back interest from the proceeds of their art into the development of their region. Malak Jamil from Iraq paints in the Baghdadi style of vibrant colours with Islamic motifs. Olivier Barrot, a French photographer who lives in Auroville, does monochrome portraits and images, drawn from India’s history and culture. Sailesh Sanghvi does exquisite acrylic collages on canvas. Breathtaking no doubt, but my heart was still rapt with the blue murals of ancient Bundi. TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE / / JJAANNUUAARRYY 22001177

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Tami Williams at Celine’s restaurant, on Hellshire Beach. Onia one-piece, The Row bag and sandals.

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SUN IS SHINING, ON A TRIP ACROSS JAMAICA’S UNTRAMMELLED COAST, NATIVE DAUGHTER TAMI WILLIAMS SHOWS OFF THE LATEST RESORT COLLECTIONS IN SOME OF HER FAVOURITE SPOTS—AND REMINDS US OF THE JOYS OF GOING OFF THE BEATEN PATH. Photographs by JEROME CORPUZ Fashion Editor MELISSA VENTOSA MARTIN

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t was business as usual at Celine’s, on Hellshire Beach, when model Tami Williams dropped in on a gloriously clear Wednesday afternoon this summer. The no-frills, brightly coloured seafood restaurant was well into lunch service, dishing up heaping plates of fresh lobster, fish, rice, and beans to the mostly local crowd that frequents the half-mile swath of sand near Kingston. The handful of sun-seekers who had made the trek sipped Red Stripes as the waves lapped the shore, the day grew long, and the dinner throngs began to roll in. This lesser-known, arguably more authentic side of Jamaica—a place far from the manicured resort towns of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios—is where Williams feels at ease. She was raised in Kingston and St Elizabeth Parish, and grew up going to Hellshire with friends and family. “Hellshire is the real Jamaica,” said Williams, who took Travel + Leisure on a tour of her favourite spots, wearing our top picks from the new resort collections. “The way the restaurants here prepare their fried or steamed

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lobster and fish is out of this world. And then of course you have to have a few festivals.” (For the uninitiated, a festival is like a sweet fritter.) Williams has come a long way from Hellshire. She’s currently one of the most sought-after models in the business, having shot campaigns for Valentino and walked the runways for Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein. New York and Paris may offer her fame and fortune, but Jamaica is the place that grounds her. “Tami was so excited to bring us somewhere she knew, somewhere she felt at home,” says photographer Jerome Corpuz, who, along with T+L fashion editor Melissa Ventosa Martin, travelled with Williams across the island. The crew made its way to Port Antonio, another under-the-radar spot, where Williams met up with her friend, fellow Jamaican model Aneita Moore. Set on the north-eastern coast, the town was a popular escape for the likes of Errol Flynn, Dean Martin, and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1950s, but had fallen off Hollywood’s radar by the 80s. It still attracts a discerning clientele, however. Williams brought the group along to the unspoilt beaches and bays that Port Antonio is still famous for, like tiny Frenchman’s Cove, wide, expansive San San Bay, and the jungleshrouded Blue Lagoon. “Everything in Port Antonio is a bit tucked away—you have to work to find it,” says Corpuz, who stayed at Crystal Cove, while the rest of the crew based themselves at its sister property, Goblin Hill Villas at San San, and the elegant Trident Hotel. “In another era, people used to come with their yachts. Now, the scene is just mellow and beautiful.” —Jacqueline Gifford

Unwinding at Goblin Hill Villas. Solid & Striped one-piece, Khaite jeans, Tiffany & Co earrings. Opposite: Williams and friend Aneita Moore at Crystal Cove. On Williams: Chanel cardigan and dress; on Moore: Tory Burch dress, Tomas Maier bikini. Straw hats: stylist’s own.


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Breaking for lunch at Cynthia’s, on Port Antonio’s Winnifred Beach. J Crew bikini, Valentino skirt, The Row sandals.

Williams stops at a roadside vendor on the drive to Port Antonio. Gabriela Hearst polo, Flagpole bikini.

Left: The models at Frenchman’s Cove. On Williams: Eres bikini; on Moore: J Crew onepiece. Above: The view from Hellshire Bay, just outside Kingston.

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Left and right: Scenes from Frenchman’s Cove. Hermès bathing suit (at right). Below: At Fort Clarence Beach. Edun dress and pants, Lola Hats bucket hat.

Jamaica’s Quiet Side WHERE TO STAY

Built in the 1970s, the Trident Hotel remains the most fashionable place to stay in Port Antonio, with its 13 recently renovated villas all overlooking the sea. Enjoy a nightcap at the Time Bar, which is well stocked with Cuban rums. Villas from US$500; thetridenthotel.com A collection of airy oneand two-bedroom suites, the Goblin Hill Villas are a 10-minute walk from sparkling San San Bay. Next door is a sister property, the three-bedroom Crystal Cove. Villas from US$170; goblinhillvillas.com WHERE TO EAT

A half-hour drive from Kingston, Hellshire Beach is known for its

no-frills, delicious seafood shacks, like Celine’s, where you can order grilled lobster or steamed fish for lunch or dinner. Set on Port Antonio’s quiet Winnifred Beach, Cynthia’s draws a mix of locals, tourists, and foodies like Anthony Bourdain, who come to feast on jerk chicken and fish at communal outdoor tables. WHAT TO DO

With its cool waters and hanging vines, the spring-fed Blue Lagoon is one of Port Antonio’s most popular attractions. Boat tours (from US$30) are popular, and there’s also a small beach for swimming. Home to species like the blue mahoe, Jamaica’s national tree, the 200-acre Hope Botanical Gardens is the largest public green space in the Kingston area.


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Opposite: Outside Celine’s restaurant, on Hellshire Beach. Gucci cape and cardigan, Stella McCartney bikini, Re/Done jeans, The Row sandals.

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Setting out for a visit to the Blue Lagoon. Vince crewneck T-shirt, Tabula Rasa knit bikini.


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MASTER CLASS BANGALORE

A MASTERCLASS IN BANGALORE Travel+Leisure India & South Asia hosted their first Masterclass in Bangalore recently with Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway. Bangaloreans are known for their discerning tastes and huge knowledge of world cuisines which lead us to create an advanced-level masterclass in three cuisines, along with a spotlight on Modern European Desserts. Sheraton Grand’s top Chefs in Japanese, Italian, and Indian coastal cuisine set up live demonstration sections across Bene, their Italian restaurant. We invited readers who particularly love to cook, or are ardent gourmet travellers. The Travel+Leisure India & South Asia Masterclasses are designed to celebrate the connect between food and travel, so the three chefs demonstrated not just six stellar recipes but also shared insights on where to shop for the ingredients locally. Chef Guiseppe Loce, Chef Saravanan and Chef Myo were not only generous in sharing their technical skills and secrets but also wonderfully warm and fun to interact with. Great food, travel anecdotes, lovely wine and lots of laughter characterised the afternoon. If you’d like to join us for our next masterclass, look out for the announcement at travelandleisureindia.in.

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Chef Giuseppe Loce shows off his signature pesto.

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Chef Myo shows guest Ms Samudyata Kadur Shivaram how to roll a sushi.

3,5&8. A variety of sushi from Chef Myo’s station.

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Chef Saravanan smokes the meat with cinnamon.

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Guests connect over conversations on travel and food.

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Chef Saravanan shows how he uses a local Quinoa to create a healthy vegetable-rich pilaf.

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Mr Shiju Jose, founder, Novus Travels, with Chef Myo and Chef Loce.

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Entrepreneur Ms Loveleen Multani Arun, founder, Panache-Leisure Services, strikes a pose in front of the T+L cover.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY SHIJU JOSE

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Worth Flying For

Swimming in the zambezi River’s DEVIL’S POOL, ZAMBIA Illustration by Jun Cen

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et on the edge of Victoria Falls in Zambia, the Devil’s Pool lives up to its frightening name. It is a rocky basin that has been hollowed out by thousands of years of erosion as the waters of the Zambezi River swept through it before falling 350 feet downward—twice the height of Niagara. For much of the year, the Devil’s Pool is inaccessible to visitors. But when the river level declines and the current slows between mid-August and mid-January (the region’s dry season), it turns into nature’s version of an infinity pool. These drier months reveal a rock wall at the edge, which acts as a barrier that makes it safe to jump in and take a dip.

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TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // JJAANNUUAARRYY 22001177

Experiencing this thrill requires a boat ride to a small island in the Zambezi River, followed by a swim to a large rock, then finally a leap into the pool. Just inches away, the torrents cascade over the precipice, producing dramatic clouds of rainbowdappled mist. Your guide will happily take your picture as you pose to make it look like you’re going over. Floating above the roaring falls, it’s easy to understand why the locals call them Mosi-oaTunya—“the smoke that thunders.” — ADELINE DUFF For help coordinating a visit, contact T+L A-List agent Craig Beal (craigb@travelbeyond.com), who specialises in travel to Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


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sanket odisha tourism 2016

Website: odishatourism.gov.in/www.visitodisha.org • E-mail: oritour@gmail.com Toll Free: 1800 208 1414, OTDC Central Reservation Counter (10 am-6 pm): Tel.: +91674 2430764

Sun Temple (Konark)

Bhubaneswar

TAKE YOUR BODY WHERE YOUR MIND HAS BEEN LATELY. TAKE YOURSELF TO ODISHA.

If you’re looking for an extraordinary holiday destination, look closely at Odisha. Dotted with some of the world’s nest est beaches and waterfronts at Puri, Chandipur, Gopalpur, Talasari and Astarang, Odisha is the sun, sand and surf paradise ise like none other. But it isn’t only the beaches that will bring you to its shores. Odisha’s resplendent past, evident at Khandadagiri, Udayagiri, Ratnagiri and Konark; pristine wildlife beauty at Bhitarkanika, Similipal and Chilika; and uninching devovotion at Jagannath, Lingaraja, Ananta Vasudeva and Mukteshwar temples will leave you spellbound for years. So make itt to Odisha this year. It promises to be a one-in-a-million holidays.

Konark – Behold the man-made wonder, behold the magnificence of the Sun Temple

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SOUTH AFRICA INDIA & SOUTH ASIA

Travel

DEEPER

FAMILY ADVENTURES / LUXURY EXTRAVAGANZA / SOCIAL EXPLORERS / ROMANTIC GETAWAYS


TAKE A STROLL

WITH CHARMING

STRANGERS

Whether you’re taking morning walks alongside friendly penguins or getting one step closer to seeing the sunset from the top of a natural world wonder, in South Africa, you’re always on a phenomenal adventure.

Explore Explor xplore more at 24hoursofwow.southafrica.net 24hoursofwow. southafri africa.net

#WowSouthAfrica #WowSouthAfric rica


EDITOR’S NOTE SOUTH AFRICA is home to some of the world’s oldest surviving ethnic groups, a stellar wine region with exceptional dining; it’s where you can see stars the way our ancestors did three million years ago, where you can swim among Africa’s only native penguins, where you can not only dive with great white sharks but also see them hunting for seals. Few other destinations are worthy of this many superlatives. Amidst such high acclaim, however, you’ll discover a country in transition. Cities are expanding and developing at a rapid pace, and political conditions and safety of travellers is more stable than ever before, making it an ideal time to visit the country. The buzzing cities, awe-inspiring wildlife corridors, and warm and welcoming people will stay with you long after you’ve left South Africa. Ruchira Bose Editor, Travel + Leisure India-South Asia

G R E AT S T O C K /A L A M Y

CONTENTS 4 8 10 14 17

CROSSROADS OF LUXURY A WHOLE IN ONE THE SOUTHERN WAY OF LOVE ALL IN GOOD TIME WAIT, THERE’S MORE! COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY ADIL JAIN


EXPERIENTIAL HOLIDAYS

CROSSROADS OF LUXURY Beneath the African skies, these luxury experiences bring you closest to nature and change you a little each time.

Over 1000 runner ducks march their way to the vineyard at Vergenoegd Wine Estate. Opposite: The Rovos trains have a pre-1940s style dining car; La Motte prepares to recieve dinner guests.

WINE IN BLISS

Untangle the subtle threads of Pinotage as you swirl the wine between your cheeks; let the fragrance of Chenin Blanc fill you with a bit of the Cape coast; South Africa is blessed with some of the finest wine regions in the world and here, a customary wine tour is in order. The wine regions of Stellenbosch, Paarl,

and Swartland are replete with legendary wine estates that offer tours and tastings in the classic ambiance of old Dutch mansions or quaint cottages, albeit with a side of history. The Vergenoegd Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, is one of the oldest farms in South Africa and is famous for its fleet of runner ducks who are set free on the farm twice a day to take care of pests

S U M AYA H I S H A M / G E T T Y I M A G E S

T

he true make of a luxury holiday itinerary is often defined by how gratified you feel on your way back. When the best wines have complemented the best steaks, your adrenaline levels have soared to surprising new levels, and you’ve learnt a thing or two about world history, you know your South African holiday is complete.


TOP: BL AINE HARRINGTON III/GET T YIMAGES; COURTESY OF L A MOT TE

and fertilise the land. Here, you can book a blending experience and follow it up with an artisanal picnic. La Motte in the Franschhoek Valley is helmed by owner Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg, who is a music lover and presents monthly music concerts in the beautiful La Motte cellar. Wine connoisseurs can take the Hermanus Wine Route on R320 that meanders through the picturesque Hemel-en-Aarde area with stops at 15 wineries that produce world-class wines.

THE GRAND STOPS

South Africa’s repertoire for the finest experiences go beyond wine regions. For the most discerning of luxury travellers, Luxury Yacht Charters offers a five-hour cruise between Cape Town and Hout Bay (a fishing village) on Princess Emma, an elegant yacht with four TRAVEL + LEISURE 2017

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EXPERIENTIAL HOLIDAYS

en suite cabins, al fresco dining for eight, a swimming platform, sunbeds, a bar and lounge. You could also choose a luxury journey with Blue Train and find a classic representation of the forties’ elegance, with goose down duvets in well-appointed suites, butler services, and fine dining (expect Sheffield cutlery and crystal glassware), between Pretoria and Cape Town, Durban, or Hoedspruit. Walk into One&Only Cape Town for High Tea, and be welcomed with a wide range of teas and coffees, along with a lazy Suzy crafted with sweet and savoury delights you’d gladly miss lunch for.

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South Africa is a gourmand’s delight, with some of the most hardto-book restaurants in the world like The Test Kitchen and The Tasting Room at top spots. Take on a golf safari with the luxurious Rovos Rail that departs from Pretoria on a nine-day itinerary, taking you through Sun City, Champagne Sports Resort, Durban Country Club, Royal Swazi, and Leopard Creek. Finally, sleep in the arms of nature in a luxury king size bed in the middle of a game reserve at Tswalu Kalahari private game reserve, surrounded by nocturnal sounds under the sparkly Kalahari skies.

CULTURAL PLAYS

It is only fit that you take a walking tour of a multicultural nation like South Africa for complete cultural immersion. Begin with a township tour with an overnight stay at Soweto, in Johannesburg. Here, you can experience the urban vibe that hides layers of black freedom struggle underneath—visit the heritage sites, the museums, and churches. Move on to a tour of Bo-Kaap, a former Malay settlement with cobbled streets and colourful houses. Other city tours offered in Cape Town include the District Six Walk in an inner-city suburb, the Historic City Walk that include spots like Greenmarket

C L O C K W I S E : S U R E T H A R O U S /A L A M Y; C O U R T E S Y O F T E S T K I T C H E N ; D O E L A N YA N N / G E T T Y I M A G E S

Clockwise: Skydivers land at Robertson airfield in South Africa; tuna nicoise at Test Kitchen; a group of travellers enjoy the sunny deck on Princess Emma.


C O U R T E S Y O F B L A I N E H A R R I N G T O N I I I /A L A M Y; IAN TROWER /GET T YIMAGES

Brightly coloured houses line the Bo-Kaap Quarter; Below: A guest looking over the forest cover at Tsitsikamma National Park.

Wellness Retreat UNDERNEATH THE THICK, DARK CONOPY OF TSITSIKAMMA NATIONAL PARK, THE TROGAN HOUSE AND FOREST SPA OFERS SOME ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE THERAPIES.

Square and City Hall, and the V&A Waterfront Walk for a tour of the Clock Tower and Nobel Square, among other places. Then, trace your way to the indigenous tribes by visiting one of the cultural villages. In the Matsamo Cultural Village, stay in a traditional custom-built hive, watch entertaining dance performances and captivating folk songs, and gorge on Swazi food. In Gaabo Motho Cultural Village, you will be caught in the local Zulu games, the Gum Boot dance, learn about the Tswana spirit and visit the traditional healer.

QUEST FOR UNUSUAL

In South Africa, experiences that come in little packages often bring the best memories. A horseback safari takes you through a diverse terrain: A brisk gallop on the beach, a slow amble through a vineyard, a quick run on the grasslands, an upward climb

FAST FACT BO-KAAP During your tour of this Malay township, stop at some of the Malay restaurants like Bo-Kaap Kombuis that serves traditionally cooked cuisine in the heart of the city. on a mountain. Consider a moonlit ride with Cape Nature Conservation in the Western Cape, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in KwaZulu Natal, or African Horse Company that offers two- to 10-day trails. Take to the skies with tandem skydiving and hang above the jaw dropping landscape in Durban with Skydive Durban, one of the many skydive centres in South Africa; go whale-watching in Hermanus, especially near Walker Bay, the breeding ground for the Southern Right Whale in winters (June to November). For underwater adventures, take a snorkelling trip that departs from St Lucia and takes you to Cape Vidal. Here, on the shallow floor of the ocean watch rays, fire fish, and octopus in their natural habitat. ▪ TRAVEL + LEISURE 2017

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SOCIAL

EXPLORERS

A WHOLE IN ONE

Say goodbye to all your inhibitions and experience a new culture, try a new sport, or play a few rounds on the table—the country offers a repertoire of activities that can excite intrepid travellers.

T

he Big 5 are the biggest attraction in South Africa, but if you also want to get a taste of adventure and culture, the country will not disappoint. From night safaris of the shy-five and drives on the stunning Garden Route to jazz clubs and casinos, a roster of activities can keep you occupied.

ADVENTURE

South Africa beckons the young and the restless who need a shot of adrenaline. Bungee jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge above River Bloukrans will give you some serious bragging rights. This is the world’s highest bridge bungee where celebrities like Prince Harry, Kelly Slater, and Hansie Cronje have had a go. A nighttime shy five safari will bring you closer to easily spooked species like the meerkat, aardvark, porcupine, aardwolf, and bat-eared fox which are difficult to spot during daytime. A face-to-face shark encounter is possible at Shark Alley in

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KwaZulu-Natal where you’re dropped below the water surface in a secured cage and white sharks come visit. A great incentive to hikers ascending the Table Mountain is its view. South Africa’s famous landmark is a part of the Table Top National Park and has defined hiking paths for

the experienced as well as novices. If you’re feeling rather adventurous, abseil down the mountain.

NIGHTLIFE

Cape Town has a buzzing nightlife scene and you’ll discover the best of it along the Long Street. Teeming

T O P : A F R I P I C S . C O M /A L A M Y; T R AV E L S T O C K4 4 /A L A M Y

Bungee jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge above River Bloukrans. Below: The Chapman’s Peak Drive.


C L O C K W I S E : A R I A D N E VA N Z A N D B E R G E N /A L A M Y; E R I C N AT H A N /A L A M Y; J O H N S N E L L I N G / G E T T Y I M A G E S

Clockwise: A performance at the Hermanus Whale Festival; graffiti at Long Street in Cape Town; Hout Bay.

with lively nightclubs, hipster bars, restaurants, and cafes, this is your go-to place when you’re looking for a great time. Its equivalent in Johannesburg is the suburb of Melville, where locals and tourists party through the night. The lavish casinos in South Africa are true entertainment destinations. Take for example the Boardwalk Casino & Entertainment World in Port Elizabeth, which features a Victorian-inspired hotel with beachfacing rooms and many restaurants and bars. The highlight is its casino with slot machines, tables, and a private area for highrollers. The other popular casino is at Sun City, in North West province, which offers world-class entertainment for people of all ages.

CULTURE & LIFESTYLE

When in South Africa, groove to the South African jazz. The country loves its music and you will find many jazz bars with a calendar of live performances. Your quest to find good jazz will take you to The Crypt

Jazz Restaurant in Cape Town which sits below the famed St George’s Cathedral and The Bassline in Johannesburg, which is a 1,000-seat venue. Plan your trip around a jazz festival and you’ll feel the full swing of it. The Joy of Jazz festival in Johannesburg and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival are two major gatherings for jazz lovers in the country. Trck other popular event like the Hermanus Whale Festival that brings thousands of visitors to Hermanus each year; the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown that celebrates dance, drama, theatre, music, and visual arts; and the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival that packs a punch with oyster shucking, gourmet dinners, and farm tours. The country is a hotspot for art lovers. Apart from galleries and museums, street art has piqued the interest of many travellers. Graffiti artists like Mak1One, Solo One, DALEast, and Falko have done beautiful work that celebrate the country and its people. ▪

CAPE PENINSULA DRIVE Drive from Cape Town to Hout Bay, the coastal town between Cape Town and Cape Point home to antique shops and craft markets. From Hout Bay, you will come to the Chapman’s Peak Drive, the nine-kilometre route, which is possibly the most scenic drive in South Africa, meandering along the Atlantic Ocean with 114 curves. Pit stops include Cape Point Lighthouse and the Table Mountain National Park. The idyllic views from the False Bay Coastal Road will make for Instagram-worthy pictures. En-route, the Boulder’s Beach gives you a chance to observe penguins and have a quick bite in Simon’s Town. End your trip with a relaxing visit to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden on the slopes of the Table Mountain.

TRAVEL + LEISURE 2017

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ROMANTIC GETAWAYS

During sunset, enjoy scenic views of the ocean at Cape Point.

THE SOUTHERN WAY OF LOVE

S

outh Africa has opened its wings for couples who like to tread virgin romantic territories. We take one province at a time, characterised by what they offer, and shuttle between what’s anticipated and unexpected. Here’s a short guide for the moon chasers and night gliders.

MPUMALANGA

‘The place where the sun rises’ when translated in English, Mpumalanga is the easternmost province of

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South Africa with an unbelievably diverse natural landscape breeding the most curious animals, insects, and birds. Nature lovers can take their romance to the Blyde River Canyon, the largest green canyon in the world stretching over 26 kms in length and 800 metres deep. The Panorama Route offers terrific viewpoints of the gorgeous valley, plunging waterfalls (like the Berlin Falls, Lisbon Falls, and Mac Mac Falls), and peeking mountaintops that pay tribute to the Gold Rush years. You can drive all the way up

to God’s Window one of the most dramatic vantage points in the country that offers a sweeping view of Lowveld’s indigenous forests, deep ravines, and rolling hills. The valley of Mpumalanga are home to South Africa’s most treasured wildlife parks: The Kruger National Park and Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, for example, that offer luxurious game lodges with early morning game drives, romantic turndowns, private dinners, couple’s spas and bath rituals, and interaction with elephants on the cards.

MERTEN SNIJDERS/GET T YIMAGES

Fancy twosome dinners under the stars, long drives on scenic routes, wine-tasting in picturesque vineyards? They are all here in South Africa.


C L O C K W I S E : M A R K VA N A A R D T/ G E T T Y I M A G E S ; H E I N R I C H VA N D E N B E R G / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; R O B C R A N D A L L /A L A M Y

LIMPOPO Clockwise: Take a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards in Stellenbosch; In Kapama Private Reserve, Limpopo, a private dinner for two can be arranged outdoors, on request.; spot a giraffe at Kruger National Park.

Besides being home to South Africa’s best birding route in Pafuri and the famous South African Amarula Lapa Cream Liquor, Limpopo offers romantic culinary journeys through world cuisine— French, Italian, Indian, modern steakhouses, and African delicacies. The Hat and Creek is a great place for sumptuous grills, Cala la Pasta for Italian, and La Fleur for French cafe delights in Vaalwater. However, the luxury bush lodges and safari camps are its main draw, offering wildlife adventure trips to untrodden territories. Mabula Game Reserve, Mopani Bush Lodge, and the Pafuri River Camp are some of the most famous places to visit here.

WESTERN CAPE

An indulgent getaway with wine tours and cheese-tasting, or an adrenaline pumping weekend with aerial and water sports; romantic holidays in the Western Cape brings you to the regions of Cape Town and the West Coast, the Overberg, right through the Garden Route and into the heart of the winelands. Choose one of the removed vineyards of Stellenbosch and Paarl, the centuries-old Franschhoek wine region peppered with Dutch mansions, or Groot Constantia, the oldest wine region in the country. The Garden Route is a traveller’s paradise with numerous lagoons and lakes dotting the panorama, private beaches like Noetzie, and the famous Stanley Island private which has access to the Keurbooms Lagoon in the Plettenberg Bay.

The Groot Constantia WINELANDS (1679) HAS CONSISTENTLY PRODUCED TOP QUALITY WINES. ITS MANOR HOUSE IS A LEADING TOURIST ATTRACTION.

KWAZULU NATAL

Whoosh your partner off to the beautiful Valley of a 1000 Hills or a gorgeous beach property in Durban, Umhlanga, Ballito or Margate—at KwaZulu Natal or ‘place of the Zulus’, neither the countryside nor the city is out of reach. For magnificent ocean views complemented by South African hospitality, check out resorts TRAVEL + LEISURE 2017

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ROMANTIC GETAWAYS

T O P : J O H N WA R B U R T O N - L E E P H O T O G R A P H Y/A L A M Y; A F R I C A M E D I A O N L I N E /A L A M Y

A young couple enjoys a bottle of Champagne in the Franschhoek Valley.

like the Palm Dune Beach Lodge and Hotel Izulu. If the country charm appeals more, Pietermaritzburg, Howick, and Winterton offer numerous owner-run luxury boutique hotels perfect for intimate weddings. Further in, the lush landscaped lawns of Midlands Meander that were earlier farms, have been refurnished by their owners to make huge mansions with gardens. As such, Curry’s Post, and Caversham Mill Manor, and other pretty properties dotting the Mooi River lend fabulous ambiance to romantic holidays.

A traveller parks his car to enjoy the sunset on Orange River.

EASTERN CAPE, GAUTENG, NORTH WEST

A quiet hideaway in a century-old country estate, a boutique property in the mountains, or a five-star luxury hotel in the middle of the city; the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, and North West provinces offer couples everything between sophisticated city stays to relaxed, small town spots for quiet weekends. Feel the cool winds of Port Elizabeth blow over ocean-facing properties like Paxton

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Quick Tip

STOP AT A BEAUTIFUL SPOT ON THE BANKS OF THE ORANGE RIVER IN RICHTERSVELD TO ENJOY THE SUNSET HOURS.

Hotel, The Beach Hotel, and King’s Tide Boutique Hotel in Eastern Cape. You can also book the stylish Oxbow Country Estate in Gauteng and enjoy fly fishing within the estate, and discover the quirky neighbourhood that surrounds the property. In the unpretentious mountains of Magaliesberg in North West province,


C L O C K W I S E : E S P I E G L E / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; F 1 O N L I N E D I G I TA L E B I L D A G E N T U R G M B H /A L A M Y; R O B E R T H A R D I N G /A L A M Y

Clockwise: A long mud path leads to a quaint, lovingly built Cape Dutch Manor House and Vineyard; A Four wheel drivw in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park; Mapungubwe National Park viewpoint overlooking Limpopo and Shashi River.

FREE STATE Expect historic freedom sites, a terrific topography, and between them, classic properties that exude sophisticated South African luxury. Whether you’re traversing the capital city of Bloemfontein, or small towns like Rosendal, Clarens, and Bethleham, options are aplenty. Stay at Gariep Hotel which offers views of Gariep Dam (100kms long and 24 kms wide). Visit the Golden Gate Highlands Park to see Vredefort Dome, the oldest and largest crater on earth, also home to the world’s only pink granite.

enjoy a quick getaway in a charming country property called Valley Lodge & Spa or settle for some five-star hospitality in Sun City.

NORTHERN CAPE

From sprawling cotton, date, and grape farms, to lions roaming freely in the Kalahari Desert, the best of South Africa is packed in the remote province of Northern Cape. Explore

the luxury game reserve of !Xaus Lodge in the desert area of the Kgalagadi Transfontier Park, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in the grasslands, or Richtersveld National Park in the vast plains of the Tankwa Karoo. Tread further into the Kalahari Desert and you’ll find boutique gems like the Sun River Kalahari Lodge and the River Ridge Resort that offer breathtaking views of

the Orange River transecting the Northern Cape. Apart from the privacy of the lodges, there’s the Diamond Coast, winding along the coast of the Northern Cape between Port Nolloth and the mouth of the Orange River. Take a walk through the history that pillars this coastline, among which are some restricted diamond mining areas and a dramatic shipwreck site. ▪ TRAVEL + LEISURE 2017

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ADVENTURE FAMILY TIME

ALL IN GOOD TIME

Rewarding wildlife safaris, culture trails, adventure trips and island holidays; South Africa has a melange of activities that a family can take together.

F

amilies yearning for some quality time together can take a holiday to South Africa. The breathtaking scenery, diverse ethnicity, and exciting adventure itineraries make the southern African nation a fantastic destination to explore for people of all ages. Whether you are treading into wildlife and conservation, nature and natural resources, or tucking in some quick facts about anthropology as you travel between cities, this is where your whole family, whether young or old, can feel entertained effortlessly.

THE WILD CHASE

Despite the commercialisation of wildlife safaris across the world, South Africa has held its own with intimate experiences it offers to earnest travellers. At game reserves such as the Pilanesberg National Park, the Shamwari Game Reserve, the Kruger National Park, and the Madikwe Game Reserve, among others, you can get up close with the Big 5 (African lion, African elephant, African leopard, Cape Buffalo, and the two-horned rhinos). Whoosh past a sunbathing hippo or a skittish herd of zebras in a four-wheel drive, and let your guide pour out a wealth of

interesting facts about the surrounding eco-system. Or take a bush walk to spot exotic insects, butterflies, birds, and fish. The fantastic junior ranger programmes allow kids to be directly involved in the holiday and learn first-hand, how nature maintains its balance. For the best aerial views of the country, take a canopy tour of the lush Drakensberg mountains, the indigenous Karkloof forest, or the Elgin valley to witness the wealth of natural flora and fauna.

COSMOPOLITAN EDGE

Just a few kilometres away from the

Zebras feed as impala run by and tourists watch on at the Kruger National Park.

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C L O C K W I S E : N I C H O L A S P I T T/A L A M Y; C O U R T E S Y O F K A R K L O O F C A N O P Y T O U R ; R O S A I R E N E B E TA N C O U R T 2 /A L A M Y; O P P O S I T E : S T E V E C A S I M I R O / G E T T Y I M A G E S

Clockwise: Summers are spent on Fourth Beach at Clifton; a traveller hangs above the canopy line in the Karkloof Forest Reserve; a visitor observes the homonim exhibit at the Cradle of Humankind.

forest cover, the multicultural cosmopolitan cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban bring you to all the shopping hotspots, theme parks, luxury resorts, fine dining establishments that the country has to offer. Joburg comes to life at the Gold Reef City, a theme park fancied after a gold mining town, with thrilling rides, a science exploratory, helicopter rides, a 4D theatre, and more. At Montecasino, the Italianstyle entertainment hub, adults may try their luck at the award-winning casino, while kids enjoy a day out birding at Bird Gardens. Together with the family, learn about the aquatic diversity in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans at Cape Town’s Two Ocean’s Aquarium or head to uShaka Marine World that has the

fifth largest aquarium in the world and hosts world-class events.

WATCH AND LEARN

South Africa is the melting pot for natural resources, culture, and historical milestones. The best way

One of the most

ICONIC STADIUMS IN THE WORLD, THE NEWLANDS CRICKET GROUND OFFERS TOURS OF THE PRESIDENT’S SUITE, THE ELEGANT SOUTH CLUB, THE DRESSING ROOMS, AND SNAKE PITS.

to navigate its rich variants is to take a tour of the famous sites, of which, the Cradle of Humankind (maropeng.co.za) is a unique kind. This UNESCO World Heritage Site preserves the 2.3-million-year-old fossil remains of the Australopithecus Africanus (an early ape species) and the Homo Naledi (early man species) in the Sterkfontein caves, about 50 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg. Also, the Lesedi village in the rocky hills within the T R AV E L + L E I S U R E 2 0 1 7

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ADVENTURE FAMILY TIME

At Boulder’s Beach

IN CAPE TOWN, THE LITTLE ONES WILL LOVE CLIMBING THE ROCKS TO GET A CLEAR VIEW OF THE AFRICAN PENGUINS IN SUMMER. BESIDES, THIS IS A GREAT PLACE FOR A DAY LONG CAMPING TRIP.

site has accommodation options in traditional Zulu style where you can experience the lifestyle of five African tribes that reside there—Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Basotho, and Ndebele. Move on to the small town of Oudtshoorn in Klein Karoo, which is called the ostrich capital of the world. Here, you can watch the world’s largest birds thrive in their natural habitat. The region also hides the remarkable Cango Caves, an ecological hotspot where three distinct plant biomes (succulent karoo, cape thicket, and fynbos) flourish. From the arms of nature, fall into to the laps of history. Take a

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tour of Robben Island, where political prisoners like Nelson Mandela were imprisoned. This is a good place to fine tune your knowledge of Apartheid.

THE KIND WE ARE

From museums to townships and scenic drives, South Africa can have you chasing your interests without a breather. In Johannesburg, you can find yourself in a military or a beer museum depending on how exploratory you’re feeling, but do take a full day tour of the historical

neighbourhood of Soweto which has crucial landmarks where Mandela fought against social injustice. A short drive away is the Satyagraha House, where Mahatma Gandhi lived intermittently between 1893 and 1914. If you have a family of beach lovers, hire a car and drive to one of the many beaches with a picnic basket in tow: The Camps Bay and Clifton beaches near Cape Town, Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route, and Jeffery’s Bay in Eastern Cape are great options. ▪

T O P : A S H I S H C H AW L A ; F R A N S L E M M E N S /A L A M Y

Clockwise: Take a trip to the Gold Reef City on a bright summer South African morning; spot African penguins on Boulder’s Beach.


WOW

EXPERIENCES

WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

So you’ve ticked off safaris, diving, and bungee jumping from your South Africa bucket list? We have five experiences that will bring you to the country again, and often.

S

easoned travellers who’ve fallen in love with South Africa and wish to visit again, this is the next step—dig deeper into the country and find out why global travellers are coming back for seconds.

TOP: J. COUNTESS/GET T YIMAGES; DOUGL AS HOLDER /GET T YIMAGES

ALTERNATIVE SAFARIS

Did you know that there’s more to safaris than the Big 5? In South Africa’s national parks, look for the Little Five that includes buffalo weaver, leopard tortoise, the ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, and elephant shrew; the Ugly 5 group of hyena, marabou stork, vulture, warthog, and wildebeest; or the Magnificent 7 that has lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo, Southern Right whales, and Great White sharks.

ON GROUND AND UNDER

South Africa is home to the largest cave system in Africa, Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn, Western Cape. Take a two-hour caving tour deeper into the underground passageways to see chambers and rock formations. Or, if you want to up the adventure, go kloofing at the Suicide Gorge in the Western Cape that involves hiking, jumping off cliffs into water streams, and sliding in the waters. A freefall of 68 metres from the gorge swing

From above: Nelson Mandela’s statue affront the Union Buildings in Pretoria; on volunteering projects, one learns to track the wellbeing of rhinoceroses, this in HluhluweImfolozi Park.

TRAVEL + LEISURE 2017

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WOW

EXPERIENCES

IN THE CANGO CAVES, SEE ANCIENT STALACTITES LINE THE GREY-BLUE LIMESTONE CEILING AS YOU MOVE FROM ONE CHAMBER TO ANOTHER.

Clockwise: A signboard affront the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind; a tourist takes the Big Swing plunge in Graskop, Mpumalanga; a family inspects the Cango Caves.

in Mpumalanga will take you from zero to 160kmph in three seconds, which is quite exhilarating as you slide into the water.

SELF-DRIVING ROUTE

Route 62 is a road less travelled. It takes you through Wellington, Tulbagh, Worcester, Robertson, and the Klein Karoo, to terraced vineyards, quaint small towns, and art galleries and museums. The scenery changes from lush green valleys to mountain passes to farm lands and there are many adventures you can stop for: canoeing, hiking, ostrich riding, and paragliding.

VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCES

Volunteering experiences are becoming a trend among the well-travelled. In South Africa, from elephant rescues to shark conservation, one gets an

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understanding of the enormous efforts undertaken by the South African government to preserve natural habitats. SAVE Volunteering’s four-week Predi-Cat Project guides you through African cat husbandry, with insight into the predator’s life in quasi-captive environment. The African Elephant Project takes you through the Garden Route on a learning experience of the perpetual threats faced by the ecosystems, besides elephant conservation. Lastly, the Endangered Species Project is a hands-on involvement in the protection of endangered species like the African rhino and the cheetah.

FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS

History enthusiasts with a voracious appetite for a hands-on experience

can follow the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. The Hector Pierterson Memorial and Museum built near the spot where 12-year-old Pieterson was shot; the Constitutional Hill in Braamfontein which has served as the hallmark for justice and democracy; the Union Buildings and the Nelson Mandela statue in Pretoria; Mandela House in Soweto; Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 years in prison; all are stark reminders of his battle against Apartheid. Mahatma Gandhi’s legendary moments in South Africa are commemorated by landmarks such as the Pietermaritzburg Station where he was racially discriminated against and thrown off a first-class coach during the Apartheid and Gandhi Monument which was erected here in his honour; Phoenix Settlement in Inanda where Gandhi ran his printing press; the Hamidia Mosque in Fordsburg where he led 2,000 supporters against the ‘non-white’ inter-city passes. ▪

C L O C K W I S E : J E F F G R E E N B E R G / U I G / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; G R E AT S T O C K /A L A M Y; H E I N R I C H VA N D E N B E R G / G E T T Y I M A G E S

What to Look For


ENJOY SOME ROMANCE OVERLOOKING THE SAVANNAH

From experiencing spectacular views from the balcony to discovering the world’s second tallest cluster of never ending waterfalls; hiking up one of the oldest mountain ranges or exploring the largest manmade forest, South Africa offers you a range of some of the world’s most loved wonders.

Explore more at 24hoursofwow.southafrica.net

#WowSouthAfrica


DISCOVER

THE DESERT THAT

BLOOMS Between morning yoga on golden carpets in Namaqualand and afternoon discoveries of human evolution at the Cradle of Humankind; the sight of two mighty oceans meeting at the Cape Point during sunset or admiring spectacular evening views from Table Mountain top, South Africa boasts a host of natural wonders that will take your breath away.

Explore more at 24hoursofwow.southafrica.net

#WowSouthAfrica


Travel + Leisure India & South Asia – January 2017