The Tropics Issue
TRACKING MOUNTAIN GORILLAS LUXURY TRAIN TRAVEL IN PERU BEYOND VICTORIA FALLS
SCANDINAVIA A NEW JACADA DESTINATION If you dream of racing across crisp, white snow behind a pack of huskies, gazing at the dancing aurora, or snuggling up in front of a crackling fire in the middle of a magical, glittering forest – then you’ll be pleased to discover Jacada Travel will soon be launching Scandinavia as a new destination. From thrilling wilderness adventures and reindeer encounters, to ice-fishing lessons and snowmobile safaris, our travel designers will craft a perfect journey to Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Faroe Islands for you and your family.
WWW.JACADATRAVEL.COM HONG KONG JOBI@JACADATRAVEL.COM +852 2110 0537 LONDON RUTH@JACADATRAVEL.COM +1 877 967 0096 (US TOLL-FREE) / +44 203 7335 698 PAGE TITLE
THE RESIDENCE IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A BOUTIQUE EXPERIENCE. Located in the historic Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, home to many famous residents, including former president, Nelson Mandela, the Residence is a gorgeous spot, where you are treated with personalised service and invited to make yourself at home.
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Editor Heather Richardson Sub-editors Kirsty Page James Whiteman Design She Was Only shewasonly.co.uk Illustrations Lauren Crow
Sue Watt Travel Writer Sue fell in love with Africa after travelling across the continent on a belated gap year. To continue her love affair, she turned to travel writing and is now regularly published in UK broadsheets and magazines including The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, BBC Wildlife magazine and Travel Africa. She specialises in Africa, responsible tourism and conservation.
Sarah Gordon Travel Writer Sarah is a freelance travel writer with a passion for South America – so much so that she exchanged her London life for Chile, living in the shadow of the almighty Andes in the capital, Santiago. She now spends her time exploring Patagonian glaciers, Inca ruins and lush jungles as she criss-crosses the continent in search of great stories.
Kate Herz Asia Travel Expert It was during Kate’s regular trips to Asia when she lived in Australia that she first discovered her love for this continent. Numerous trips back to the region have taken her trekking in the Nepalese Himalayas; exploring Myanmar; re-discovering the charms of Indochina; and island-hopping around her beloved Indonesia.
Other Contributors Arturo Bullard Byron Thomas James Whiteman Travel enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org jacadatravel.com UK +44 2037 335 698 US toll-free +1 877 967 0096 HK +852 2110 0537 Advertising email@example.com Cover image Byron Thomas
The Explorer is published quarterly by Jacada Travel Online jacadatravel.com/the-explorer-magazine Address London 144 Liverpool Road, London, N1 1LA, UK
Keith Ladzinski Photographer Born in New York, raised in Colorado, Keith’s love of photography started in 1995 after buying a beat-up camera from a pawnshop. Today, Keith’s work primarily focuses on natural history, extreme sports and advertising, sending him to the furthest reaches of the seven continents on assignment as a contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine.
Heather Richardson Editor/Travel Writer Heather is the editor of The Explorer and an awardwinning travel writer. She has had the travel bug ever since travelling to Ecuador at age 18, spending six weeks in the Amazon rainforest and two in the Galápagos highlands. She recently moved from London to Cape Town, where she spends much of her free time running around Table Mountain or being decidedly less healthy in the winelands.
Hong Kong 29/F Wyndham Place, 40-44 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong Cape Town Suite SP7C6, Somerset Square, Highfield Road, Cape Town 8005, South Africa Santiago El Golf 40, 12th Floor, Office 1228, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile Connect #JacadaTribe #JTExplorer @jacadatravel
When you have finished with this magazine please recycle it.
â€œThere is something about climbing thousands of kilometres into the clouds on a century-old railway that adds a whole new level of romance to a Peruvian expeditionâ€? Page 22
32 Masking Up for Mountain Gorillas Sue Watt treks into the forests of Uganda to meet the critically endangered mountain gorillas and learn how we can best protect our closest cousins.
42 Mud, Sweat and Tears in the Amazon Rainforest Pip Stewart tells us about cycling the width of the Amazon rainforest and the critical condition in which she found this ecosystem and its inhabitants.
46 Beyond the Falls National Geographic photographer, Keith Ladzinski, travels from Victoria Falls to southern Zimbabwe, encountering epic natural wonders, beautiful wildlife and the local people. CONTENTS
BOARDING CALL 10 Briefing The latest news from the world of luxury travel 14 The List Products to beat the heat
“I swear the silverback can hear my pounding heart, but he saunters casually past as if I wasn’t there.” Page 32
15 Responsible Travel What Jacada Travel do to make travel uplifting
68 Foodie Kate Herz explores Saigon’s food scene on the back of a vintage Vespa
71 Letters from the Field Christine and Graham write to us about their time in Zimbabwe
18 Hotel of the Moment Anton Noll describes a stay at Zambia’s Royal Chundu lodge
72 Jacada Photography The winning shots from our Hong Kong travel photography competition
66 Hot Tickets What to book and where to travel now
70 Ask the Experts Byron Thomas answers questions about seeing the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda
16 A Thousand Words Tugo Cheng talks to us about his aerial photograph of the Ethiopian salt flats
88 The Five-Q Travel Interview High-altitude climber and guide, Kenton Cool, answers our five questions
DEAR TRAVELLERS ISSUE 9
etween the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn lie some of the world’s most striking ecosystems and environments. From steaming jungles to vast salt pans and high-altitude plains to frenetic cities, the tropics – as this area is known – is more diverse that you might immediately think. In this issue of The Explorer, Sue Watt hikes into the hills of Uganda to meet the endangered mountain gorillas (page 32). Last year, Jacada Travel launched a campaign to encourage people to wear face masks around the gorillas to protect them from diseases such as the common cold, which can be fatal in primates. The governments of Uganda and Rwanda have been reluctant to enforce the covering of mouths and noses around gorillas for fear of scaring off tourists, but Sue found her fellow hikers more than happy to ‘mask up’ once they understood the issue. We’ve rolled out our mask-wearing policy and have encouraged other operators to follow suit (which many have). We even won an award for the campaign earlier this year, but there’s still a way to go before it is official policy in Uganda and Rwanda. Leading by example is one of the ways we can help foster responsible tourism
in these areas and across the world. Being able to get this close to gorillas in the wild is such a privilege and something we hope many future generations will be able to experience, too. In a very different environment, the Andean mountains of Peru are the setting for the first luxury sleeper train in South America, the Belmond Andean Explorer. Chile-based travel writer, Sarah Gordon, was one of the first people on board (page 22). Pip Stewart’s cross-continent adventure ended in Peru, but at a far lower altitude, in the Amazon rainforest. She cycled from the Atlantic coast of Brazil right across South America, through the Amazon, to the coastal capital of Lima. Pip spoke to us about the trials of the journey and her sadness at the state of deforestation and meeting the tribes at risk on page 42. Finally, I’m so happy to be able to publish some of National Geographic photographer Keith Ladzinski’s captivating photographs from his Jacada trip to Victoria Falls and southern Zimbabwe on page 46. He showcases not just the wildlife of Zambia and Zimbabwe, but also the locals who live in these areas of great natural beauty.
Heather Richardson Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Boarding Call 10 Briefing 14 The List 15 Responsible Travel 16 A Thousand Words 18 Hotel of the Moment PAGE TITLE
BRIEFING Openings and news in the luxury travel world.
DUBROVNIK PLANS TO CUT NUMBER OF VISITORS TO PROTECT THE CITY Dubrovnik’s newly elected mayor, Mato Franković, revealed that Croatia’s most popular city will dramatically cut the number of visitors it receives to curb overtourism. The restrictions exceed UNESCO’s recommended halving of current numbers (from 8,000 to 4,000 per day) and the first measures – primarily restricting cruise ships – will be put in place in 2018.
KENYA BANS PLASTIC BAGS WITH FINES OF UP TO US$38,000 After years of delay and a six-month adjustment period, Kenya has now formerly introduced its total ban on plastic bags. Anyone found selling, manufacturing or carrying plastic bags could be fined up to US$38,000 or sentenced to up to four years in prison. Kenyans use approximately 24 million bags per month, which are discarded as litter and often eaten by cows, affecting both the animals and meat-eaters. Visitors are instructed to leave duty-free bags at the airport upon arrival in Kenya and advised to ensure they do not pack any plastic bags in their luggage.
TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE WAS THE MOST VIEWED IN HISTORY Over seven million people were estimated to have watched the total solar eclipse on 21st August 2017, making it the most viewed astronomical event in history. It was the first eclipse of its kind to run from the west coast to the east coast of the US in 99 years.
The Body Shop reveals US$2.7m ‘bio-bridge’ plan The Body Shop has announced a US$2.7 million scheme to create ten so-called ‘bio-bridges’ in rainforest areas by 2020. The bridges will help to create corridors between wildlife hotspots, allowing endangered or isolated animals and plants to thrive. The bridges will be created in countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. Thailand commits to cleaning up the ocean around tourism hotspots Thailand has announced the commencement of a three-year project – Upcycling the Oceans – that will encourage local fishermen to help clean up the ocean around popular tourism hotspots. The plastic that fishermen will help retrieve from the waters in which they fish will then be recycled into thread for fabric which local companies will turn into clothes and accessories. Chile’s Atacama Desert in full bloom Heavy rains during August transformed the Atacama Desert to what is locally called the desierto florido (flowering desert). Such an event usually happens every five to seven years, but the 2017 bloom follows one just two years ago, in 2015. Though this is one of the driest places on earth, up to 200 different types of flowers can be found in the desert.
ARTIST YAYOI KUSAMA TO OPEN HER OWN MUSEUM IN TOKYO The 88-year-old artist, Yayoi Kusama, will open a museum of her work in Tokyo, Japan. Kusama is famed for her brightly coloured works of art and infinity rooms. The museum is slated to open on the 1st October 2017, with an exhibition called ‘Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art’. Tickets, which must be bought in advance, cost ¥1,000 (US$9) and allow the visitor 90 minutes in the museum.
381 NEW SPECIES HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED IN A TWO-YEAR AMAZON STUDY A two-year study in the Amazon rainforest has uncovered 381 new species. The report, published by WWF and the Brazilian Mamiraua Institute for Sustainable Development, revealed that on average, one new species was discovered every couple of days. The bad news is that all the new species are in areas of the Amazon at risk from human activity, such as logging and farming. The report is released at a time in which environmental organisations are battling decisions that would open up areas of the rainforest to commercial mining. BRIEFING
THE ZEITZ MOCAA OFFICIALLY OPENS IN CAPE TOWN C a p e To w nâ€™s Z e i t z Mu s e u m o f Contemporary African Art (MOCAA) officially opened its doors to the public on 22nd September. It is the largest museum of contemporary African art anywhere in the world and located in an old silo, reimagined by Thomas Heatherwick, at the V&A Waterfront.
THE CALEDONIAN SLEEPER GETS US$194 MILLION REFURB The Caledonian Sleeper, which runs a route first opened in 1850, between London and Scotland, has been revamped to the tune of US$194 million. The train will have 75 new cabins, currently being tested in the Czech Republic, including private en-suite cabins with double beds. Further upgrades are wi-fi, key cards and an updated colour palette to replace the tartan of the old model. The new train will come into service in spring 2018.
VENICE TO FINE LITTERERS AND DAWDLERS UP TO €500 In response to overtourism and bad behaviour, the Venetian authorities have announced fines for tourists who do not keep to the Italian city’s laws and etiquette. The penalties range from €25 (US$29) to €500 (US$585), and punishable offences include littering, dawdling, picnicking in public areas, cycling on pedestrianised paths, being scantily attired or jumping into the canals.
Tropical travel buys
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Oakley Hold Out polarized sunglasses $183 oakley.com
3 Dry-Packs 10-pack 56gm silica gel moisture absorber packets $25.99 amazon.com
Keihl’s Activated Sun Protector™ for face and body $29 keihls.com
4 Silou Maria tank £79/$105 siloulondon.com
7 NosiLife Elbrus insect repellent trousers £65/$113 craghoppers.com
8 Billingham Hadley One camera and gear bag $459.10 billingham.co.uk
MAKING TRAVEL A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE
Here at Jacada Travel, we talk about responsible tourism a lot – but what are we actually doing to make travel more sustainable?
Carbon offsetting In May 2017, Jacada Travel committed to offsetting 100% of carbon emissions from all future trips by investing in community-based and environmental projects in Brazil, Tanzania and Cambodia. We even offset international flights, whether they are booked with us or independently. In Brazil and Tanzania, we support deforestation projects. The Cambodian project is a zero-energy water filter production and dissemination business. These projects all work towards reducing carbon emissions, thus helping to balance out the footprint of our travels. We are proud to say that we’re the only company of our size that has implemented this scheme.
Illustration: Tom Jay
Giving back Giving back has long been at the heart of how Jacada operates. When we launched our Africa tours back in 2011, we decided it was crucial to spend some of our profits in a positive way. So, we partnered with Uthando, a community charity based in Cape Town, with whom we have worked ever since. Now we support one community charity and one conservation project in each of the regions we work, donating a set amount of our profits to each from every trip we book. Taking a stance on animal interactions Animal interactions (for example, walking with cheetahs and lion cub petting) are grey areas in travel. We decided to take a stronger stance to help inform our travellers – as such, we actively discourage people from visiting any establishment that could be detrimental to wildlife. Some sanctuaries are dedicated to rescuing orphaned wildlife and reintroducing them back into the wild. Tourist visits and donations help to fund these projects and ultimately have a positive impact on conservation. However, many animal interaction institutions have no such noble intentions. At petting zoos in Africa, for example, lion
cubs are often bred specifically for canned hunting (where animals are kept in fenced areas for ease of trophy hunting). These are the kind of establishments with which we do not work. Promoting the use of face masks when gorilla trekking Human diseases can be deadly to primates such as gorillas. We realised one way in which we could help protect these endangered animals would be to encourage our travellers to wear surgical face masks when they visit the gorillas. This is enforced by the Democratic Republic of Congo and by Tanzania when visiting the chimpanzees, but not in Uganda or Rwanda. We asked our suppliers in these two countries to make sure our travellers are provided with masks and we inform our travellers about the issue, and why wearing a mask is so important. In May, we won an award for this campaign. For more on this subject, read Sue Watt’s feature about gorilla trekking on page 32. Choosing partners whose ethics are in line with ours We hand-pick our local guides, safari lodges and hotels to ensure they share the
ethics that we have at the core of our business. We also communicate our thoughts on certain matters (e.g. mask-wearing around gorillas and animal interactions) to make sure our policies are followed through. Beach clean-ups in Cape Town We have recently committed to sponsoring two big community beach clean-ups a year in Cape Town, the location of one of our offices and one of our most popular destinations for travellers. Making our offices green All our offices practice recycling and avoid printing where possible. We ask our partners to avoid bringing us brochures if they have the material online or on a USB. Our London office is in the process of switching to a sustainable energy provider and our Hong Kong office has three renewable energy certificates.
If you have any questions about how we make travel a more positive experience, please email your travel designer or email@example.com, and check out our blog – jacadatravel.com/the-explorer – for more about travelling sustainably. RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL
Tugo Cheng captured this aerial view of a camel caravan crossing the salt flats of Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression.
A THOUSAND WORDS
Where was this photograph taken? The picture is of the salt flats in the Danakil Depression, in north-east Ethiopia. The area is one of the hottest, driest and lowest places on earth, and considered uninhabitable by many except the local Afar people. The Danakil is known for its otherworldly landscapes, such as active volcanoes, sulphur hot springs and black lava flows. These vast salt flats account for almost 100% of Ethiopia’s salt production. What is happening in the image? As the most ancient and gruelling trade in Ethiopia, salt mining in the Afar region still uses the most traditional ways to extract and transport salt slabs – every salt block is hacked off by handheld tools and loaded onto camel caravans which transport them to the market for trading. However, the under-developed infrastructure and the modernisation of the salt production industry along this old salt route may soon render this unique culture obsolete. How did you capture the scene? The picture was captured by a drone with its camera pointed vertically downwards, providing an abstract and geometric composition with the camel caravan shadows as highlights.
What was your experience of being in this region? As a photographer, I was fascinated by the surreal landscapes and indigenous cultures of Ethiopia, especially of the Danakil Depression and the Afar people. I was totally astonished by the colourful geology of Dallol, a cinder cone volcano and hydrothermal field, and intrigued by the stories behind the local culture. I loved meeting the Afar children, who were so curious. I showed them how to use my camera and take pictures. They were so excited! Hiking to the active volcano at midnight and stepping on the fresh lava along the crater was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The technical details DJI Phantom 4 Professional drone (ISO 100, F/11, 1/200s).
Tugo Cheng is a fine-art photographer and professional architect based in Hong Kong. He uses his photography to raise awareness of conservation issues and has been particularly focused on China in recent years. He has won several international awards and this image of the Danakil Depression was shortlisted for the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest, 2017.
A THOUSAND WORDS
HOTEL OF THE MOMENT
Locals call Victoria Falls Mosi-oa-Tunya: ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. Crashing into a gorge that forms a border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the mighty falls – named in honour of Queen Victoria in 1855 by the Scottish explorer David Livingstone – are an appropriately popular destination. There are a number of ways to experience this scenic natural wonder: you can fly over the foaming water in a helicopter, go white-water rafting along the rapids or even bungee jump over the great Zambezi River. As a big, bucket-list destination, it makes sense to spend at least a couple of nights soaking up the sights and sounds of the famous falls and river. Anton Noll checked into Royal Chundu to enjoy some Zambezi-side luxury. How did you get there? From Livingstone Airport in Zambia, Royal Chundu is about 45 minutes’ drive away, but the best and most enjoyable way to travel to the lodge is by helicopter. You’ll enjoy a heli flip over the Victoria Falls, into the gorge, skimming the water of the Zambezi River, before landing at the lodge. That takes about 20 minutes and it’s included for those who stay at Royal Chundu for two nights or more. What were your first impressions? The lodge is very grand and impressive, with high, thatched roofs, bright African prints and chandeliers hanging from the timber rafters. It’s located right on the banks of the Zambezi River, which is a truly dramatic setting. From the main lodge, you look out across the full width of the river, over to Zimbabwe on the opposite side. The location really is Royal Chundu’s ace card. What are the differences between the two lodges? River Lodge is the main lodge, with ten waterfront suites. Each one has its own 20
On the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, Royal Chundu is a tranquil, romantic lodge from which travellers can discover the dramatic Victoria Falls and its surroundings. Anton Noll went to explore.
Below. Royal Chundu is based on the banks of the Zambezi River. Right. clockwise from top: An open-air bathtub on an Island Lodge deck; snacks on a sunset cruise; Royal Chundu’s bright colours and high roofs.
deck facing the river, big beds draped in sheer mosquito nets, and floor-to-ceiling windows. You’ll want to spend a lot of time hanging out on your deck, maybe with a cold gin and tonic, just admiring that sensational view. Island Lodge is the more romantic, luxurious of the two – perfect for honeymooners. The four villas are located on an island in the river, which is only accessed by boat. A highlight of these villas is the standalone bathtub on the river-facing deck – totally hidden from adjacent villas, of course – that can be filled with bubbles and surrounded by candles for a romantic evening under the stars. What did you do during your stay? Of course, Victoria Falls is the main reason people visit this area, but Royal Chundu offers many activities for those who want to make the most of their time by the Zambezi. Every evening, there is a sunset river cruise. On board the boat, they serve snacks such as homemade hummus and crisps and smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés, with gin and tonics (the African sundowner classic), beers and wine.
The river is home to tiger fish, powerful creatures that put up a big fight when hooked. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, you can go tiger fishing from the lodge, usually in the morning before it gets too hot. We also went canoeing down the Zambezi, passing through gentle rapids and enjoying the serenity of the surroundings. You might spot elephants munching leaves on the bank or cooling down in the shallows. Another fun thing to do is to head over to the riverside ‘beach’ for an al-fresco dinner with your fellow guests or spend a couple of leisurely hours over a private picnic lunch. There are also opportunities to visit the two local communities to find out more about life by the Zambezi. Who would this appeal to? Royal Chundu is perfect for couples, romantic getaways and honeymooners. Need to know Victoria Falls is a year-round destination, though the water levels change. High water levels mean the falls are at their most spectacular, though the spray can impair visibility. For bookings or more information, contact Africa travel designer Anton Noll (firstname.lastname@example.org).
HOTEL OF THE MOMENT
Features 22 All Aboard The High-Altitude Express 32 Masking Up For Mountain Gorillas 42 Mud, Sweat And Tears 46 Beyond The Falls
Sarah Gordon journeys through the Peruvian countryside on board South Americaâ€™s first luxury sleeper train.
All Aboard 24
High-altitude Express 25
here is an old railway line that snakes its way across the Peruvian Altiplano. Glinting tracks laid in 1908 cut across golden plains in the shadow of the Andes, curve past tiny settlements and climb to thousands of metres above sea level. For two decades they have lain abandoned. But since May, three times a week, a sleek train dressed in midnight blue and ivory has rumbled along the railway. It is a sight so unusual that locals farming their small parcels of land still look up in surprise and vicuña camelids scatter as it comes into view. The train is the Belmond Andean Explorer – the latest project from the company formerly known as Orient Express – and is South America’s first luxury sleeper, rattling along some of the highest railway tracks in the world. It plies the route between the former Inca capital Cusco, the colonial city of Arequipa, and Lake Titicaca at an average speed of just 35 kilometres per hour. The one- and two-night journeys ensconce up to 48 guests in a world of blonde wood panelling, polished brass and soft Peruvian textiles while whisking them through some of the country’s most spectacular Andean landscapes. The 17 gleaming carriages originally trundled along Australia’s Great South Pacific
Express route before they were shipped to Peru and remodelled. They now house two restaurants, two bars, 24 cabins and a spa, keeping original touches such as the parquet flooring in the en-suite bathrooms, the brass luggage racks and even a baby grand piano in the main bar. Departure: Arequipa My two-night trip began in Peru’s second city of Arequipa, a charming mix of baroque buildings and elegant colonial churches tucked between three majestic volcanoes. Suffused with sunshine and a laid-back atmosphere, it is an ideal base to acclimatise to the altitude before climbing higher into the Andes. The city’s tiny, restored train station only opens its doors when the Andean Explorer glides alongside its solitary platform. At nightfall, it was abuzz with staff in crisp, white uniforms serving champagne, musicians playing rousing Latino tunes and a sense of anticipation from the passengers. On board, my en-suite double cabin was a sanctuary of starched sheets, covered with a velvety alpaca wool blanket, and ivory-coloured décor set off by bright Peruvian fabrics. Other cabins were a mix of larger doubles, twin rooms and bunk beds. As the train pulled out of the station and into the inky night, we sat down to a three-course din-
Above. The train travels between Cusco, Arequipa and Lake Titicaca, three of Peru’s most popular tourism destinations. Right. Interior detail in one of the carriages of the Belmond Andean Explorer, South America’s first luxury sleeper. ALL ABOARD THE HIGH-ALTITUDE EXPRESS
Below. Travelling through the Andes. One of the many spectacular landscapes through which the trainâ€‹â€‹journeys.
Bottom. Locals still live a traditional lifestyle in the Peruvian highlands around Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
ner designed by Diego Muñoz, former head chef of the famed Lima restaurant Astrid y Gastón. Taking inspiration from the landscapes of Peru, his dishes throughout the journey combined the familiar with the exotic – lima bean cappuccino, fresh fish, alpaca tortellini, duck with locally-grown vegetables, a selection of the nation’s 4,000 varieties of native potato, and rice pudding with purple corn custard and roasted strawberries. The bar in the observation carriage, with its outdoor viewing area, seemed the optimum place to toast the journey with a tangy pisco sour – the national cocktail made with distilled pisco grapes, egg white and lemon – before being rocked to sleep en route to Lake Titicaca. Day One: Lake Titicaca In the morning, I awoke and peered out the window to find our elegant locomotive squeezing through the dusty streets of Puno, the biggest city overlooking the highest navigable lake in the world. The train tracks took us across streets, wound us around buildings and deposited us right at the water’s edge. From there, it was a short speedboat ride to discover the golden-hued archipelago of floating islands constructed entirely from totora reeds where the Uru indigenous people live. They build their islands, houses and even boats from the lake’s reeds and have deftly turned their hand to the tourist trade, selling handicrafts to passing boats. Their vivid textiles have competition an hour away on the island of Taquile. A sun-baked sliver of land that wouldn’t look out of place in the Mediterranean, it is home to the Taquileños, who are famed for their exquisite woven fabrics. It’s not the women who create the colourful textiles, but the men, who must master the art to be accepted into the community and allowed to marry. Back on dry land, we were greeted with cold towels, refreshing pisco-spiked drinks and afternoon tea as the train left the lake behind and continued to climb higher into the Andean plains. Wrapped in an alpaca shawl provided by the staff, I ventured to the beautiful outside section of the observation carriage. The open expanses, dotted with the odd adobe house and backed by snow-capped peaks, were slowly replaced with roads so narrow I could almost reach out and touch the buildings in the city of Juliaca. Day Two: Cusco Overnight, the train pulled in at the small outpost of Marangani, in the shadow of the 18,000-foot Chimboya mountain, and the familiar rocking motion stopped until daybreak. At dawn, I peered out of my window to see women, swathed in layers of blankets, bent double as they collected the potatoes they had laid out in green, open spaces to freeze overnight – an age-old practice used to dehydrate and preserve the vegetable. ALL ABOARD THE HIGH-ALTITUDE EXPRESS
“STEEP GREEN MOUNTAINSIDES WERE RIBBED WITH FARMING TERRACES CREATED BY THE INCAS AND THE RUINS OF VILLAGES AND SETTLEMENTS COULD BE PICKED OUT ALONG RIVERBANKS”
Below. The Belmond Andean Explorer journeys through verdant valleys and along mountain rivers.
Above. A local woman looks out over a valley of terraces in the highlands. Left. The Andean Explorer dining car affords views of the passing countryside. 32
We were at the highest point of our trip, a breathless 15,419 feet, where the air was crisp and the light brought the greens and blues of the scenery into sharp focus. A short journey took us to the Inca ruins of Raqchi, dominated by the soaring Temple of Wiracocha, or what is left of it. A lone adobe wall of the temple to the Inca creator god stands 65 feet above the surrounding huts and irrigation systems that make up what is thought to have once been a religious and administrative centre. The last stretch of track was a delight. Steep green mountainsides were ribbed with farming terraces created by the Incas, and the ruins of villages and settlements could be picked out along riverbanks and amongst the trees. And at the end of it all was Cusco. Towering Inca walls created from great slabs of perfectly-cut honeyed stone blended with handsome colonial churches and mansions, the captivating result of a deadly clash between two great empires. A pair of grand colonial masterpieces have been converted into Belmond’s two hotels in the small city. Dark wood, historic paintings and exposed stone are complemented by flower-filled courtyards at Hotel Monasterio, while the neighbouring Palacio Nazarenas – once a strict convent-like institution for the daughters of Spanish aristocracy – is an all-suite retreat of oxygen-enriched rooms, secluded patios and the city’s first outdoor pool.
Every street seemed to hide another secret of its Inca founders or Spanish conquerors, the very stones of the buildings whispering tales of a tragic history as inevitable as it is heartbreaking. Beyond the former Inca capital, higher in the verdant mountains, sits the lost city of Machu Picchu, wondrous and beguiling despite its ever-growing fame. In Inca times, it communicated with Cusco via runners, young men who ran perilous mountain paths, covering up to 45 kilometres a day, to carry messages. Taking a more comfortable route to Machu Picchu, I boarded another train, the Hiram Bingham, named after the American who re-discovered the citadel in 1911, which clattered through gorges and along rivers. For four hours, I dined in style, sipped surprisingly good Peruvian wine and soaked up the scenery – a special way to arrive at one of the world’s most famous sites. Anyone who has experienced Peru’s awe-inspiring Andean landscapes knows they don’t need any help to dazzle visitors. But there is something about climbing thousands of kilometres into the clouds on a century-old railway that adds a whole new level of romance to a Peruvian expedition. Pack your bags Spend 12 days travelling in Peru, including a journey on the Belmond Andean Explorer, from US$7,398 per person. For further information, contact Latin America travel designer Lily Bunker (email@example.com). ALL ABOARD THE HIGH-ALTITUDE EXPRESS
Masking Up for Mountain Gorillas
Sue Watt heads into Ugandaâ€™s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to come face to face with the forestâ€™s mountain gorillas and to find out how we can best protect our closest cousins.
all, dark and handsome, with gentle, chocolate-brown eyes and hair as black as the night, Kanyonyi is one cool, good-looking guy. And he knows it. “He’s a bit of a Casanova,” Benjamin smiles. “Always trying to steal the ladies and getting into trouble. See that notch on his ear? He got that in a fight when he was after another woman.” I’m smitten as soon as I see the lovely lothario, but he shows little interest in me nor in the rest of my group who are tracking the Mubare mountain gorilla family in western Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with our guide, Benjamin. A blackback, four females and three youngsters surround Kanyonyi, their silverback, who’s sitting calmly just a few metres away from us, munching happily on stalks and stems. He pays no heed to our whispered ‘wows’ and our wideeyed incredulity at his relaxed, almost nonchalant
demeanour, nor to our gasps at his family’s human-like expressions and breathtaking beauty. We’ve walked for two hours in pouring rain, up and down muddy trails tangled with vines and vegetation to reach the Mubare group, but the reward upon seeing them more than makes up for our exhausting efforts. Named ‘Impenetrable’ for good reason, Bwindi’s 316-kilometre-squared rainforest is dense and diverse, its 400 or so species of plants providing sustenance to 350 bird species and over 120 species of mammal, including almost half the world’s mountain gorillas. The fight for survival Classed as critically endangered, only around 880 mountain gorillas roam Bwindi and the Virunga Mountains that span the borders of southern Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Below. Mountain gorillas live in the thick, highland forests of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bottom. Rangers monitor the movements of the habituated gorillas, ensuring they know where each group is before visitors start hiking.
Found nowhere else in the world, in the mid-1980s they were staring extinction in the face; their entire population was estimated at just 250. Extensive poaching, loss of forest habitat, civil unrest in their once volatile homelands and human wildlife conflict have all threatened these majestic primates. Their survival is one of Africa’s greatest conservation success stories and one in which sustainable tourism played – and still plays – a critical role, benefiting both people and primates. Essentially, the gorillas have become worth more alive than dead to local people, who in turn have become their protectors rather than poachers. P ermit fees contribute to both conservation and community development; hotels, lodges and tourism provide employment; and often, visitors donate to projects like schools and clinics. Lodges here also directly support local communities. I’m staying at the relaxing Volcanoes Safa-
Above. Mountain gorillas are critically endangered, partly due to deforestation and loss of habitat, but also due to human diseases. MASKING UP FOR MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
ris Bwindi Lodge in Buhoma, with eight beautiful, eco-luxury stone cottages overlooking the forest. It supports several conservation and community projects through its non-profit Partnership Trust, including the popular Bwindi Bar in the village that provides hospitality training for young people. But tourism has also brought with it a risk of harm to the vulnerable mountain gorillas – it is simultaneously protecting and imperilling them. Often described as our closest cousins, mountain gorillas share 98.4% of human DNA, making them particularly susceptible to our diseases – yet they have no immunity to them. Being in close proximity to people can threaten their survival; a common cold could kill them. For this reason, there are strict rules governing our encounter. Masking up Arriving at 7am at the park headquarters, walking distance from our lodge, we’re allocated one of Bwindi’s 12 habituated gorilla groups for tracking. Each group is tracked once a day by a maximum of eight people, who can only stay in their company for one precious hour.
Benjamin briefs us on the rules before we leave, all designed to limit our contact with the primates. “You must stay at least seven metres from the gorillas. If you want to sneeze or cough, turn away from them. If you have flu, a cough or diarrhoea, we can’t take you. And if we discover you’re ill on the way, we’ll have to stop tracking.” The chances of transmitting diseases are very real. Ugandan wildlife vet Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka discovered the first case of scabies spreading from human to mountain gorilla in 2000, when a young primate died of the disease after having come into contact with infected rags on a scarecrow. Realising that community health was inextricably linked to gorilla health when they live in such close environs, she now educates local people on health and hygiene through her Bwindi-based NGO, Conservation Through Public Health. Last year, Gladys was invited to join the Mask Task Force, supported by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Initiative. Made up of government agencies, conservation NGOs and tour operators, it is looking at the issue of tourists wearing surgical masks when tracking gorillas to reduce the risks of infection transmission. Whilst it’s compulsory to wear masks in DR Congo,
Bottom left. Volcanoes Safaris Bwindi Lodge is one of the luxury accommodation options in Uganda. Bottom right. Bwindi Lodge is set on the edge of the forest in which the mountain gorillas live.
no such rule applies in Uganda or Rwanda, with both countries concerned that it might deter visitors. Inspired by Dr Gladys’ Tusk Conservation Lecture at the Royal Geographic Society in London last year, Jacada Travel started a campaign called ‘Masking Up for Gorillas’. Encouraging their clients to wear masks, they aimed to show the authorities that visitors would happily do this if it meant added protection for the primates. In May, their campaign won the Innovation Award for Support Africa in the prestigious We Are Africa awards. “Rules have been developed to minimise disease transmission,” Dr Gladys tells me. “However, gorillas are now ‘breaking’ those rules. They often wander much closer than the permitted seven metres to tourists and sometimes even touch them. Conservation agencies and tour operators, including Jacada, are working with the governments of Uganda and Rwanda to make mask-wearing compulsory. It’s a prudent precaution for minimising fatal disease transmission from humans to critically endangered gorillas.” There is concern in some quarters that more analysis is needed on the health benefits to gorillas in regions
where mask-wearing by tourists is already common practice. Meanwhile, the use of masks during gorilla visits is included in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s ten-year General Management Plan, approved in 2014; hence, it’s likely that rules will be introduced before 2024. Dr Gladys explains the current situation to me. “Tourists in Uganda can wear masks if they want to, but it is not yet compulsory. Some visitors have said they’re willing to wear them, especially those who’ve been to other great ape sites where masks are compulsory, including Mahale in Tanzania and Tai Forest in Ivory Coast, which both offer chimpanzee tourism.” With this in mind, I’ve brought a surgical mask for my encounter, a plain, off-white paper one that you can buy in chemists. Before our briefing at the Park HQ, Geoffrey Twinomuhangi, Bwindi’s Assistant Warden, confirms his approval for me to use it. But my fellow trackers at first appear bemused. “Isn’t that a bit extreme?” one comments. When I explain the issues, they accept my reasoning and I slip it on when we reach the Mubare group.
MASKING UP FOR MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
Above. A baby gorilla sits by his watchful mother. 40
MASKING UP FOR MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
Close encounters I’m instantly engrossed. Having first fallen for Kanyonyi, I move on to watch Malaika quietly peeling a plant resembling sugarcane to savour its sweet juices. Her name means Angel and she does looks angelic, keeping an eye on her two-year-old playing tag with other toddlers. The three youngsters jump onto a sapling that sways and bends until it snaps under their weight and they all come tumbling down, landing on a lush green cushion of ferns. Mitunu, a hefty female, sits on the ground feasting on ants, a good source of protein for gorillas, while a young mum nurses her tiny nine-monthold baby with a tenderness that brings tears to my eyes. So mesmerising is this maternal scene, I fail to notice the gorgeous Kanyonyi moving towards me, almost within arm’s reach. “Kneel down and stay quiet,” Benjamin whispers. I swear the silverback can hear my pounding heart, but he saunters casually past
Top. Local children are being educated about how to live in harmony with the gorillas, reducing the risks for both animals and people. Left. Getting so close to the gorillas brings home how important it is to protect these primates from our diseases. A common cold could be fatal for a gorilla. 42
as if I wasn’t there. Thrilled at this close encounter, I have the biggest, most ridiculous grin on my face. Only then do I remember that I’m wearing my mask and no one can see my smile. All too soon, our time is up. “That was the quickest hour of my life,” a member of our group comments, still in awe of these gentle, giant apes. As we walk back to Buhoma, my fellow trackers agree they would happily don masks. “I think we should all wear them,” one lady remarks. “It just makes sense. After all, we’ve come here as tourists to help conserve these amazing animals.” Without sustainable tourism and the benefits it brings to communities and conservation, mountain gorillas would struggle to survive. As I fly back to Entebbe over Bwindi, I see the gorillas’ home panning out below me, a carpet of lush dense forest surrounded by a patchwork of crowded farmsteads and shambas
(plantations). “Bwindi Forest is a living island in a desert of destruction,” Geoffrey Twinomuhangi tells me. “Many people see the forest as a wasted resource, they want to cut down the trees and use the land for crops,” he explains. “Uganda is densely populated; encroachment is increasing as the population increases.” Thankfully, Bwindi’s gorilla population is also increasing. In an unprecedented baby boom, 29 have been born in the groups used for tourist tracking during the last two years alone. “We have to preserve their forest,” Geoffrey says emphatically, “and protect our mountain gorilla cousins for future generations.” Pack your bags Spend four nights in Uganda, including three nights in Bwindi National Park tracking gorillas, from US$6,000 per person. For further information, contact Africa travel designer Byron Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org). MASKING UP FOR MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
Adventurer and journalist, Pip Stewart, cycled through the Amazon rainforest to show the world what’s happening to the planet’s largest tropical jungle and the tribes who live there. She talks to Heather Richardson about arguments and tears, meeting the people directly affected by deforestation and how tourism could save the rainforest.
Mud, Sweat And Tears in the Amazon Rainforest 44
“What I love about adventure is it’s never all good,” Phillippa – or Pip, as she’s known – Stewart enthuses. “You are going to have moments where you need to dig deep, but you find the strength from yourself. I think that echoes life. We all have those highs and lows.” There were certainly highs and lows on Stewart’s most recent adventure: a two-and-a-halfmonth journey via bicycle, boat and plane through the vast Amazon rainforest, from the Atlantic shores of Brazil to Lima, on the Pacific coast of Peru. The trailer for the resulting documentary, Transamazonica (out later this year on Fox in the States and CBC in Canada), shows her in tears when confronted by her travelling partner, Reza Pakravan, a record-breaking cyclist, adventurer and filmmaker, about her speed. Pakravan has previously set a record cycling across the Sahara Desert, biked from Norway to South Africa in 102 days, carried his bike to the summit of Iran’s Mount Sabalan and cycled the Annapurna Circuit in the Nepalese Himalaya. It was Pakravan who planned the Amazon traverse and approached Stewart – with her broadcasting
and adventure travel background – to be his journalist and dig into the issues of conservation and survival that currently surround the Amazon jungle. When you’re cycling the length of a 4,000-kilometre road through the tropics, bust-ups are perhaps inevitable. “I probably didn’t do as much training as I should have,” Stewart confesses, with a slightly sheepish chuckle. “Which is why there might have been a few moments of conflict in our documentary!” It’s clear there was no lasting damage done though and she describes Pakravan as being like a “brother” and one of the closest people in her life. 46
Prior to departing for Brazil, Stewart trained with the same coach as Pakravan to get her speed and fitness up, went to the gym and already had the experience of cycling from Malaysia to London under her belt, but she confesses that the pace was particularly tough. “I cycle, but it’s more about stopping for cake,” she jokes. “I can go a long way, but slowly, and Reza is very much about speed.” She reveals that the ensuing arguments were not something she was initially comfortable with, but that she gained something from Pakravan’s frankness. “I’d always hated conflict until this trip and I’d go to any length to avoid it – but Reza made me confront it head on. At first that was deeply uncomfortable and I hated it, but it was actually fine. That was a really nice learning for me, having always been very conflict averse.” Where there should have been trees Stewart talks about the experience of cycling through the Amazon. “The Trans-Amazonian Highway was built in the 1970s as a way of opening up the region to development. And for a lot of the trip, I was like, ‘where the hell is the Amazon?’ I didn’t feel like I was in the jungle, because all you could see were burning
Top. Stewart and Pakravan followed the Trans-Amazonian Highway across the width of South America. Left. Deforestation was a tragic, but frequent sight as the pair cycled through the Amazon.
trees being cleared for cattle ranching. It’s been so deforested, it didn’t feel like jungle. It was only really when we got off the Trans-Amazonian Highway and we got into parts of Peru that it felt like a different world. We were staying with tribes, close to the isolated people that live up there. That contrast between the road and the pure, pristine virgin rainforest was phenomenal.” There were other surprises, too. “There were more hills than I’d thought in the Amazon,” Stewart laughs. “I’d just naively thought it was flat! And the roads were appalling. It was the sort of road where you get mud in your mouth. It was such a visceral journey because you just felt it. At the end of the day, you’d wipe your face and you’re covered in this red mud – in the eyes, in the ears, nose – it’s just everywhere.” Was there a moment on the trip that she remembers as being particularly difficult? “I wouldn’t say it was a moment, it was more of a mindset. It’s when you’re covered in bites and your arse is sore and you have to get back on that bike again and you’ve had a massive argument because you’re being slow…they’re the tough moments.” Tourism as a solution Stewart’s efforts were all in aid of drawing attention to the issues facing this sensitive region of the world. What brought the conservation problems home to Stewart during her trip? “I think it was meeting people,” she says after a pause. “We grow up reading that the Amazon’s in trouble and I think we can become a little bit desensitised to that. So, actually talking to families…for me it was meeting a woman called Diana Rios. Her father had been murdered by illegal loggers and just to see the pain in her eyes… you think ‘it’s such a distant place, it doesn’t affect me’, but actually we consume wood, we consume soya, we consume palm oil, we consume gold.” Stewart wants people watching her documentary to understand the role we all play in the destruction of the rainforest. “I think Blood Diamond did a lot for the whole diamond industry, but I’d never thought about the gold mining industry,” she says. “So that’s something I’d definitely look a lot closer at as a consumer, asking where has it come from? Often, they put mercury in the water to bring out the gold. Obviously, that can poison the fish, fish that the local people eat. We interviewed a man whose wife had died from mercury poisoning and she was only 27. You think, is that worth my gold jewellery? It was horrible, because I came away with so much guilt.” Tourism is the answer to much of the Amazon’s problems, Stewart believes. “We went to this ecolodge in the Amazon and what they’re trying to encourage people to do is to make the forest worth more alive than it is dead by bringing tourists to that area rather than chopping it down. If you consider that a tree is worth US$15,000 on average, you can understand why people are doing that [chopping
down trees]. As consumers, we can choose to go there and spend our money – that’s where we have real power. Choosing operators who really care for the areas they’re going in to and who take a more responsible approach – that’s powerful as well.” “Tourism is great,” she goes on. “Yes, my carbon footprint isn’t amazing, but it’s a balance. What I love about it is that you get the chance to meet people from other cultures and I do think the more conversations you can have with people who are different, then, ironically, you realise we’re all the same. Dialogue is never a bad thing.” Stewart hopes viewers of Transamazonica will realise that “the Amazon is a magical place. The energy is phenomenal. I think if people get themselves out there, they will understand that these are the lungs of the planet.”
Pack your bags Trek the Inca Trail and journey into the Peruvian Amazon on a 12-day, eco-friendly adventure, from US$6,599 per person. For more information, contact travel designer Emily Opie (email@example.com). MUD, SWEAT AND TEARS IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST
Photographer, Keith Ladzinski, travels to Zimbabwe and Zambia to discover how much more lies beyond the famous Victoria Falls.
Beyond The Falls
Below. Elephants tussle in the scenic Chilo Gorge on the edge of Gonarezhou National Park, in southeast Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is known as the land of the elephant â€“ nzou in Shona â€“ and Gonarezhou (named after these giant mammals) is home to thousands of them.
Top. White-backed vultures are critically endangered. Some communities believe vulture body parts can assist in telling the future. Wildlife poachers will often kill them so they don’t give away the location of a carcass or, indirectly, through the poison they use. Vultures are critical to a healthy environment – thankfully Chilo Gorge lodge has a breeding colony on its doorstep.
Above. One of Zimbabwe’s famous elephants at Singita Pamushana. This bull is surrounded by hundreds of red-billed queleas, of which there are around 1.5 billion breeding pairs in subSaharan Africa. When their flocks are big enough, it can sound like an aeroplane flying past.
BEYOND THE FALLS
Left. A coy look from a nyala. These antelopes are very shy, but very beautiful. This bull was spotted in the forest around Singita Pamushana. Right. Zambian fabrics flutter in the warm breeze at a community near Royal Chundu lodge, about an hour away from Victoria Falls. 52
BEYOND THE FALLS
Left. At one of the villages around Chilo Gorge, a girl stops work to strike a pose. The founder of Chilo Gorge, Clive Stockil, grew up with the local Shangaan community, with whom he has created an environment in which everyone benefits from tourism to the area.
Right. Two boys herd their cattle on the outskirts of Gonarezhou National Park. One of the risks for locals here is elephants trampling their crops, so the farmers will often sleep in their fields, creating loud noises with pots and pans to scare off any approaching elephants. BEYOND THE FALLS
BEYOND THE FALLS
Above. Wild dogs play around Singita Pamushana. These animals hunt in a pack, chasing down their prey, and are one of the most successful predators in Africa. 58
Top right. A misty African scene in southern Zimbabwe. Bottom right. San Bushmen rock art dates back hundreds of years.
BEYOND THE FALLS
BEYOND THE FALLS
Left. Focusing on the smaller – but no less interesting – animals in the African wild.
Right. At Victoria Falls, these school kids run across the Knife’s Edge bridge, under the warm spray coming off the thundering sheets of water.
BEYOND THE FALLS
Pack your bags: Travel for a week from Victoria Falls to southern Zimbabwe, including stays at Royal Chundu, Singita Pamushana and Chilo Gorge, from US$8,800 per person. For more information, contact Africa travel designer Anton Noll (firstname.lastname@example.org).
BEYOND THE FALLS
Arrivals 66 Hot Tickets 68 Foodie 70 Ask The Experts 71 Letters From The Field 72 Jacada Photography 88 Five-Q Travel Interview PAGE TITLE
HOT TICKETS The destinations and holidays you should be booking now.
TRACKING GORILLAS IN UGANDA 2018 With Rwanda doubling the price of its gorilla trekking permits (from US$750 to US$1,500 per person), all eyes are on Uganda to see if it does the same. Book your trek now to secure the current Ugandan rates of US$600 per person.
CULTURE IN VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA
WITNESSING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE IN CHILE’S LAKE DISTRICT
December 2017 to March 2018
The classic Southeast Asia combo of Vietnam and Cambodia is a popular one, especially over the upcoming peak season. Hotels are filling up fast and these are the final couple of months in which to book a 2017/18 stay at the top luxury properties.
It might seem like planning way in advance, but those inspired by the recent eclipse in the US have already been booking their stay in Chile’s Lake District for the 2020 solar eclipse, which falls on 14th December. The Lake District is in the path of the eclipse as it crosses Chile and then Argentina.
ITCHY FEET? Travel Now
MAASAI MARA, KENYA Catch the end of the Great Migration and the river crossings in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. As the peak season comes to an end, you can still see some epic migration scenes with a little less of the crowds.
GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR
SOUTH OF SPAIN
Snap up the last of the end-of-year availability for a cruise around the iconic Galápagos Islands. Don’t fancy staying on a boat? Stay in an amazing eco-lodge for a land-based adventure instead.
The south of Spain is one of the sunniest places in Europe over October and November, plus the temperature is more comfortable than during the sweaty summer months.
Asia travel expert, Kate Herz, saddles up and explores Vietnam’s foodie scene like the locals, on the back of a vintage Vespa.
VIETNAMESE VIA VESPA Saigon is Vietnam’s biggest city with ten million residents, a frenetic hub of culture, history and business. Grand, French colonial governmental buildings and cathedrals sit alongside ornate Buddhist temples and towering silver skyscrapers. The Saigon River winds its way through this melting pot whilst thousands of scooters pack the streets, pedestrians calmly crossing the roads as they allow the traffic to move around them like flowing water around rocks. In 1975, the city was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City, but Saigon has stuck. One of the best ways to get to know a city like Saigon is through its food. Discovering local cuisine reveals the history and heritage of a place, provides an opportunity to meet residents and, aside from all that, is a delicious way to spend an afternoon. And what better way to get under the skin of the city than by travelling as the Saigonese do? This is how I found myself on the back of a vintage Vespa scooter about to experience Saigon’s street food scene. French fancies Our first stop was District 4, where the Saigon Port is located. Canals surround this little island district and it’s here that the French background to the city becomes apparent, as we are offered popular local dishes such as snails and frog legs (“better than chicken!” we’re told). Snails are very popular in Saigon, especially in District 4, and are often cooked with coconut milk. Other seafood to taste in this district include baked clams, crab claws covered in mounds of chilli, and scallops 70
Above. Bánh xèo, savoury rice pancakes filled with pork and prawns. Left. The blend of old and new that merge together in Saigon, Vietnam’s largest city. Right. Phở, or noodle soup, Vietnam’s most famous dish.
served in their shells with crushed peanuts and yet more chilli. Vietnamese specialities Next, we leave the riverside and zip off to District 3, just outside the city centre. Though there are lots of French villas here, the street food we find is more traditionally Vietnamese. We stop for some bánh xèo, savoury rice pancakes filled with pork and prawns. Its name literally means ‘sizzling cake’, because of the loud crackling sound when the rice batter is poured into a hot pan. Another street dish you can try in this area – or anywhere else in Vietnam – is the famous phở, Vietnamese noodle soup (local tip: it’s pronounced ‘fuh’ – not phonetically to rhyme with ‘know’). The broth with rice noodles can come with chicken or beef and is served with a bunch of fresh herbs, such as mint and coriander, chilli, fresh lime and bean sprouts that you can add to suit your taste. District 3 is also the perfect place to try Vietnamese coffee. Vietnam is the world’s second biggest exporter of coffee, after Brazil, an industry introduced by the French. Since then, coffee drinking has been adapted by locals and is now a ritual with its own style. Served in a filter that perches on top of the cup, the brew that trickles through is rich and strong. It’s usually mixed with sweet condensed milk and can also be served over ice. Saigon’s speakeasies Our last stop reveals a side to Saigon many won’t expect. We cross an empty courtyard, passing a barking dog yanking on his chain, climb a flight of stairs and find ourselves in a little candlelit lounge with a jazz singer entertaining Saigon’s hip crowd sipping iced tea and cold beers. It’s discovering places like these that make great locally-guided tours pay for themselves. Pack your bags A 13-day culinary adventure through Vietnam and Thailand, from US$4,960 per person. For more information, contact Asia travel designer, Kate Herz (email@example.com).
ASK THE EXPERTS
Will I definitely see the gorillas?
Yes, you will. We have a 100% success rate for our travellers seeing the gorillas. The rangers know the park and the gorillas very well, and will be up in the early hours of the morning to check where the gorillas spent the night. When you start trekking, your tracking team will know exactly where to head. The only instance in which you might not see the gorillas is if you fall ill, in which case you will not be allowed to continue. A common cold is enough to kill a gorilla, so it’s important to take this seriously and be honest. If you say you are ill before the trek, you will usually be refunded 50% of the permit fee.
Africa travel expert, Byron Thomas, answers some frequently asked questions about trekking to see the mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda.
How many hikes should I do?
We recommend two hikes, if not three. This is a big bucket list trip and you are only allowed one hour with the gorillas. Rain and the challenges of photography in the dimly-lit conditions mean that time goes very quickly. You may also want to do a trek without a camera, so you can better enjoy the experience of being with these amazing animals.
How strenuous is the hike?
It’s a good idea to make sure you’re fairly fit before your trip. You’ll be trekking through the jungle over rough terrain at altitude (though not high enough for sickness) and you want to arrive at the gorillas with enough energy to enjoy the experience and to trek back. The length of your hike will depend on your destination, but is usually between 1.5 hours to 3.5 hours each way. In Uganda, the hiking is quite tough, with valleys and hills. Your permit – which allocates you to a certain gorilla family – will be assigned before you arrive, so there’s no way of knowing where they will be in relation to your lodge. In Rwanda, the permits are assigned on the day and according to ability, so if you’re worried about the hiking, this might be a better destination. The terrain is still hilly, but slightly less challenging than Bwindi in Uganda. In both countries, there are porters who can help carry your backpack if needed, and a hiking pole might be useful for those with poor balance. What should I bring?
Wear long sleeves and pants/ trousers to protect your skin from stinging nettles during the hike and comfortable, worn-in hiking boots and gaiters. Thick gloves are also recommended to protect your hands from thorns. For the hike, take lots of water and snacks to keep your energy levels up during the day. With your camera kit, forget the flash – it scares the gorillas – and make sure your kit bag is waterproof. Until it becomes standard practice in Rwanda and Uganda, please also bring a basic, surgical face mask to protect the gorillas from potentially fatal human diseases.
LETTERS FROM THE FIELD Christine and Graham in Zimbabwe
Good afternoon Byron, We want to thank you, Byron, for organising such a fabulous trip for us. We're grateful for the lovely bags which came in useful, for your messages along the way and for organising the meet-and-greet. I must admit it was most impressive, as we were accompanied through security and passport control all the way to the South African Airlines lounge. Such service! We loved Zim and it has to be the best safari experience we've ever had. There was such a contrast between Linkwasha and Ruckomechi, so we experienced the best of both worlds. The views from Ruckomechi across the Zambezi to the Great Rift Valley escarpment were stunning. We've been racking our brains trying to think of where we've been in the world where we've had a better 'room with a view', but we can't come up with anything even close! We were in tent 10, which was right on the edge of camp. A family of elephants, which included a baby, seemed to have made that area their own and we did have a couple of run-ins trying to get from our tent to the main area for brunch. The first time we were only metres from our tent when six eles formed a semi-circle in front of us. We stood still hoping they'd move on, but they just stood there staring at us. I suggested to Graham that we slowly back off to our tent, but he said there was another elephant behind us. So, we stood our ground and in the end, after about 10 minutes, they did get bored and wandered off. The next day we were confronted again, but this time by just the one ele â€“ the one who had been behind us the day before. Turns out he was a stroppy male teenager and was probably just showing off. Again, we were only metres from our tent and the boy appeared out of nowhere and blocked our way. We stood still, but he mini-charged us three times. Then, when we didn't move he threw dirt at us. Unfortunately for him the wind was in the wrong direction and the dirt blew back at him! Hee hee! He was so embarrassed. He raised his trunk, trumpeted and ran off. We also saw hippo, crocs, many birds, wild dog, zebra, buffalo, jackal, numerous antelope, lions and cubs and four different leopards (but only at night). One of the leopards walked through camp so we had to be taken to dinner in the jeep. We liked Linkwasha very much. The camp was refurbished two years ago and is beautiful. Our tent was large and comfortable. One of the little luxuries there is having an electric blanket and also hot water bottles on game drives. Heaven! The staff were wonderful and really are a family. Our two guides, Eddison and Joshua, were great. Again, we saw some wonderful animals - wild dog, sable, hippo, spotted hyena, jackal, elephant, giraffe, buffalo and, the icing on the cake, cheetah. We also saw two other male lions, a pride with youngsters and on our last night, in the dark, Cecil's pride. They numbered 10 and appeared to be doing well. Let's hope it stays that way. So...WOW! It was all fabulous and we can't thank you and your team enough. Best wishes, Christine and Graham
Photographer, Joseph Anthony, helped judge Jacada Hong Kongâ€™s recent photography competition, in which travellers submitted their best photographs across three categories: landscape, culture and wildlife. Here are the three winning photographs and the runners up.
SAFARI IN TARANGIRE Bob Waiâ€‹ Tarangire National Park, Tanzania July 2015
The trip This was our first trip with Jacada, back in 2015, and it was supposed to be a honeymoon trip to catch the Great Migration and Mara River crossings. It was the first safari for both of us, and perhaps Joyce did too good a job because it has since become a life pursuit. Our itinerary was thoughtfully planned and well executed, starting slow with Tarangire, Chem Chem reserves and the Ngorongoro Crater to ease us into safari life, before ramping up to the exciting river crossing in Northern Serengeti. The photo Tarangire was our first safari stop and the day this photo was taken was our very first morning on safari. As first-time safari-goers, we were excited by every animal that crossed our paths, even if the light was bad or there was really nothing remarkable about the scene; we probably had a few hundred photographs by the time we stopped for lunch. The time (early afternoon) should have meant the light was too harsh, but luckily it was a cloudy day, delivering that awesome bright, overcast light. We have to thank our guide for bringing us to this place. He was very into photography himself (shows how important a guide is!) and had picked out the best scenic spots for us in Tarangire to get some good photos. It was a spectacular view without the crowds and we were so lucky to find a herd of elephants wandering in the riverbed to anchor the whole photo. Shot on a Sony A7II (200mm F/6.3) Joseph Anthony says: Making the elephants look small is unusual. Itâ€™s somewhere between an aerial and a traditional landscape shot, with a strong sense of place, of scale and an epic feel. The image could be sharper and the whites are a little blown out, but the story and the scene compensate. This is a lovely, evocative photograph. 76
THREE FISHERMEN Frank Jahnke Inle Lake, Myanmar March 2016
The trip This was a holiday where the days just dissolved into nights as time disappeared in the excitement of new experiences and unique photo opportunities – all thanks to Joyce Choi of Jacada Travel, Hong Kong. We visited Myanmar last year at a time that promised to be a turning point for the country. There are many areas where Myanmar will experience rapid change as accelerated industrialisation banishes cottage industries to mere memories. For example, in a farming village near Bagan, where locals haul water by bullock and live in rudimentary bamboo and palm leaf homes, we witnessed a calf being born – a first for our guide, which he captured on his mobile phone to share instantly with his friends. In another village, visited on our three-day river boat cruise between Bagan and Mandalay, we saw a modern lilac rendered house sitting awkwardly between bamboo dwellings with dirt floors. The occasional electric light powered by a solar panel and even the odd satellite dish signalled that times are changing. The photo No trip to Myanmar is complete without visiting Inle Lake (the location of the ‘Three Fishermen’ photograph). Over three days, our private guide, Snow, and our boat driver showed us life as it is for the locals on the lake, from the floating hydroponic vegetable and flower gardens, to the traditional lake fishermen (captured in this shot), silk and lotus weaving workshops, silverware workshops, ancient temples, the local markets and even a cooking class in a typical family home. Shot on a Canon 7D (1/320 sec, F/8, 70mm, ISO 250) Joseph Anthony says This is a classic travel photograph shot in a fairly original way thanks to the compositional balance and symmetry. It’s slightly underexposed, but the settings are appropriate. The shapes were not easy to handle to get a pleasing frame, but you waited for that all-important moment when the elements aligned. A great cultural photo. 78
ON THE WAY TO THE WATERHOLE Jacqueline Cheng Etosha National Park, Namibia June 2017
The trip We started planning this trip with Jacada almost a year and a half in advance due to the lack of availability – I had wanted to go to Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp for a chance to see the desert lion ‘Five Musketeers’ after watching a documentary. Sadly, in the year after booking, all but one had died. We were disappointed, but it also took the pressure off us and the guide. Without a set agenda, we were able to just focus on taking good photos of ordinary animals – and that’s when our guide pulled a hat trick on our last day: desert leopard, cheetah AND a lioness! The photo This was taken in Etosha National Park in June 2017, our final stop in Namibia. We were racing towards the waterhole at sunrise when we saw this lone jackal running on the path towards us. The light was absolutely beautiful at this moment. The scene was perfect, so I asked to stop and we waited for it to run towards us. Even better, it veered off into the bush (a more natural landscape) and bounded past us in the long grass – clearly determined to get somewhere. We had a private vehicle, so were able to utilise both sides – I scooted over to the left and had time while waiting for it to run past to tinker with the settings. I wanted a shallow depth of field, so I set the aperture to F/2.8 (a bit risky on a hopping subject in hindsight!). I also needed the shutter speed to be fast because I was hand-holding the camera. I waited for it to jump into frame, following it until the angle no longer worked for the photo. Shot on a Nikon D500 (300mm F/2.8) Joseph Anthony says: This is not an easy capture to nail. The angle of jumping would have been difficult to predict and the settings were risky at F/2.8, but you got away with it. The composition is very good and the light source is warm with a gorgeous catchlight in the eye, which really elevates this photograph. It evokes a sense of place and a feeling of being there. Well done! 80
1. Bridal Veil Falls Brian Chen Bridal Veil Falls, New Zealand May 2017 “This was taken during our stay at Treetops Lodge in New Zealand”
2. Wildebeests in Ngorongoro Lynn Yeo Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania July 2016 “A perfect line of wildebeest inside the Ngorongoro Crater.”
3. Salinas de Maras Roy Lamsam Maras, the Sacred Valley, Peru November 2014 “A large truck had broken down on the road leading to the Maras Salt Mines, blocking off all access to and from the mines. So instead, we hiked up the hill to an abandoned village to take this photograph of this fascinating landmark that is still producing salt like the Inca did hundreds of years ago. We were rather fortunate not to have anyone in the picture except for the solitary salt farmer walking down the slope.”
4. Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya) Monica Hemrajani Zimbabwe/Zambia border December 2014 “The Victoria Falls forms the largest mass of falling water in the world, with a local name that means ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. Although the mist of the falls and the sound allow for a great experience from all angles, the sheer grandeur of this water body is best captured from a helicopter.”
5. Moon-trekking in Altiplano Roy Lamsam The Bolivian Plateau, Bolivia November 2014 “During a six-hour drive from the Uyuni Salt Flats to San Pedro de Atacama, we passed by some of the most surreal landscape formations we’ve ever witnessed. We were completely captivated by the striking colours of the rock composition against the blue, cloudless skies of some of the driest parts of South America. There was not a soul in sight and the silence around us felt magical.”
6. Balloons over Bagan Petra Diener Bagan, Myanmar December 2014 “Early in the morning, during sunrise, dozens of balloons fly over the hundreds of pagodas in Bagan. This picture was taken facing the Irrawaddy River with the pagodas visible as shadows.”
1. The Power of Women Elly Slamet Chinchero, Peru June 2016 “This woman is a guide in a weaving centre in Chinchero. She brought her baby to the work place, so she could work and look after her child.”
2. Stupas of Bagan Frank Janhke Bagan, Myanmar March 2016 “Bagan has over 3,000 stupas and temples over 1,000 years old, a testimony to their expert builders.”
3. Manuela and Marcela had a Little Lamb Roy Lamsam Urubamba, Peru November 2014 “We were passed by a couple of traditionally dressed local women with their lambs in the small town of Urubamba, in the Sacred Valley of Peru.”
4. A Passing Glance Wendy Janhke Yangon, Myanmar March 2016 “A young girl joining worshippers at the Schwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.”
5. Child at Titicaca Suet Yu Titicaca, Peru June 2016 “I met her at Lake Titicaca – she was so cute, I had to take a photo of her.”
6. Barista Christopher Chua Truth Coffee, Cape Town, South Africa July 2015 “A private, locally guided food and drink tour took us through the side streets to check out local food and hangouts. A lovely place called Truth Coffee, a steampunk-style coffee shop, really inspired us with its amazing interior details, as well as the coffee (our favourite drink!)”
1. One Big Family Lee Heng Lee Serengeti, Tanzania October 2015 “We were roaming around the safari park around 4pm, looking for the rhinoceros, a species we hadn't had the chance to see yet. We chanced across several ostriches and we stopped to take a closer look. Although ostriches usually lay around ten eggs at one time, they have communal nests and this pair was probably babysitting for other adults.” 86
2. Follow Me into the Sunset Bob Wai Damaraland, Namibia June 2017 “The Damaraland landscape is like Mars and supremely rocky. As we were driving on the bumpy road back from our rhino sighting, we saw this pair of zebra walking in the distance. The sunset was on the horizon and the whole moment made for a compelling photo opportunity.”
3. Gotcha! Raymond Goh Alaska, USA August 2016 “An Alaskan brown bear catching salmon at Brooks Falls, Alaska.”
4. Where's my Breakfast? Christopher Chua Sabi Sands Reserve, South Africa August 2014 “At the break of dawn, this lion was captured waking from its sleep in the middle of the reserve.”
5. Untitled Robert Bao Tanzania August 2016
6. You Scratch My Back and I'll Scratch Yours... Roy Lamsam The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador November 2014 “A Sally Lightfoot crab was seen casually meandering across motionless marine iguanas basking in the warm sunshine. In the Galapagos Islands, these bright red crustaceans and the dusky marine iguanas come across as the most unlikely of friends.”
7. Oryx on a Desert Jog Jacqueline Cheng North Damaraland, Namibia June 2017 “Oryxes unfailingly ran from our vehicle, whereas zebras would run and turn around to look back curiously. This was our second day at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, and we had yet to see any predators, but getting action shots like this made for a very satisfying afternoon.”
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS Joseph Anthony is a multi-award-winning photographer. He has been widely published and exhibited around the world, from large format advertising to magazines, books and prints. A versatile photographer with a passion for wildlife, conservation-related issues and storytelling, he is also a photographic tutor and mentor, offering classroom-based or one-to-one workshops covering topics from capture to print and including all aspects of post-processing. Here are some of his top tips: In cold climates, battery efficiency significantly degrades. Keep your spare batteries warm until ready to use them. Engage with local people on your travels. You never know what photographic opportunities might come about from those conversations. If you really have to change lenses in dusty locations, turn the camera off completely (to avoid electrostatic attraction of dust particles) and point the camera down away from the wind.
8. Rush Hour Lee Heng Lee Serengeti, Tanzania October 2015 “It was early in the morning, around 8am. We were having breakfast at the back of the trucks, waiting for the migration to start. Just as we finished, the wildebeest started to cross the river. This scene captured barely a small proportion of the animals that were trying to cross. The line stretched for many kilometres and the crossing took hours to complete.”
Common errors which occur in ‘auto’ mode are blur due to a slow shutter and excessively high ISO, especially in low light. Learn to shoot outside auto mode! On safari, change your focusing mode to continuous servo auto focus for moving subjects. Another safari tip: single point or group focus points help you more accurately focus on your desired subject. If your camera has two memory card slots, use one slot for capture and the other for back up. Otherwise, back up as soon as possible and make at least one other back up before you empty the card and begin shooting again. It’s not just hard drives which fail. Memory cards fail too! Put a bit more effort into storytelling and you will come back with more interesting photographs. Learn how to interpret and look at the histogram of each photo. This will help you identify exposure errors in camera. Be discreet with your camera gear and get decent insurance. It is becoming increasingly common for photographers to be targets of daylight robbery.
Where was your last trip? I’ve recently spent some time in Papua, which blew my mind in terms of the tribal culture that still exists there. It’s really made me challenge my own thinking on what I consider to be an acceptable social structure. What was the highlight? We were there to climb a mountain, but without doubt the highlight was the trek to the basecamp and our interaction with the local tribe people. That said, the ‘escape’ through the world’s biggest open gold mine when the chopper pick-up failed to materialise was also somewhat exciting! What are your three travel essentials? A clean shirt, my climbing boots and a sense of humour. 90
High-altitude climber and guide, Kenton Cool, has summited Mount Everest 12 times, has the best track record of any Everest leader, and is the only Briton to ski down two 8,000-metre peaks.
What is the most memorable place you have visited? I adore the European Alps – it’s a playground beyond compare, one that constantly changes with the seasons. Its mountain beauty and diverse cultures are unique and, for me as a mountain guide, it offers a lifetime of adventure for myself and my clients. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from travelling? To go with it – being understanding and tolerant in situations we find ourselves in and with people we meet. Pushing back against things only causes undue stress and anxiety, which we don't need in life.
Photograph: Patrick Tillard
THE FIVE-Q TRAVEL INTERVIEW
You have to stay here at least once in your lifetime. Welcome to Cape Grace. Situated on a private quay between the V&A Waterfront’s bustling working harbour and tranquil yacht marina, there is no better position from where to soak in the natural beauty of our Mother City and the very essence of Cape Town living at its best. Our elegant and warm atmosphere, evident in every fine detail, begins at the welcoming reception lounge and extends to our spacious harbour and mountain-facing rooms. Stories of the Cape’s colourful past present themselves in our exquisite furniture, rare fabrics, intriguing artefacts and original antiques. Local paintings and sculptures lend a contemporary flair to our décor and feel, while fresh displays of Proteas that hint at the wonder of our natural botanical kingdom enrich each room. Each one of the uniquely designed rooms have been inspired by the charm and wonder of our South African and Cape heritage, inviting travellers to discover and connect with the history and culture of our fascinating region. We invite you to you share in tailor-made experiences that include our sumptuous tasting menus, rare whisky pairings, luxurious spa treatments, and indulgent Afternoon Teas – all thoughtfully created to enhance your journey in the Cape and with us.
WWW.JACADATRAVEL.COM CAPE TOWN TESS@JACADATRAVEL.COM / +1 866 928 7950 (US TOLL-FREE) / +27 21 200 6371 HONG KONG JOYCE@JACADATRAVEL.COM / +852 2110 0537
INSTAGRAM COMPETITION Are you a budding photographer, or maybe a well-seasoned enthusiast? We want to see your best shots! To feature on our Instagram account (@JacadaTravel), upload your photo and include the hashtag #JacadaTravelPhotos. Our favourite images will be published in The Explorer magazine. Check out what people have been sharing so farâ€Ś
Published on Oct 1, 2017
Published on Oct 1, 2017
Luxury travel, destination inspiration and epic journeys. 09 - The TROPICS Issue: Tracking mountain gorillas | Luxury train travel in Peru...