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ICELAND’S BLACK LAVA LANDSCAPE, SHOT BY EINAR ÓLI MATTHIASSON ON TOUR IN THE HIGHLANDS (P13). PHOTO: EINAR ÓLI MATTHIASSON
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A LETTER FROM ALEX
Dear Traveller, What a year 2016 has been. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel quite exhausted by politics and current affairs. But despite all the surprises, there is one thing of which I’m still certain: that travel is and will continue to be a force for good in the world. No matter how unstable things may seem to be, we must continue to see new places, understand other cultures and grasp what is happening all over the world, not just in our immediate surroundings. When we created our list of places to go in 2017, we were thinking about destinations set to shine in the coming months – literally in the case of Uluru, as you’ll see on page 32 – but also locations that offer true escapism. Because that’s what more and more travellers are seeking: a real escape. Places such as the Puna in Argentina are so remote and otherworldly that they feel a million miles away from the tangle of news and social updates that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Other places, such as Nepal, are in need of our tourism after spending 2016 rebuilding following the devastating earthquake of 2015. The UK, my home country, currently offers great value due to the weakened currency. Whatever the country, region or city, we’ve chosen this top ten for 2017 based on uplifting experiences for locals and travellers alike. Looking back, some of our team have highlighted their best moments over the past year – because it’s important to remember that a lot of 2016 was great! For one thing, we won an award last month (see page 44) – and that’s down to you, our travellers, voting. Thank you so much for your support. It really means a great deal to me and my team. Wherever you head on your travels in 2017, make your trips lifeaffirming and uplifting. The world is a wonderful place - don’t forget it. Have an amazing year. Warm regards,
ALEX MALCOLM JACADA TRAVEL FOUNDER & MD
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IN THIS ISSUE OF THE EXPLORER
P13 I C E L A N D P H OTO J O U R N A L
P20 A LO C A L TA S T E
Photographer Einar Ă“li Matthiasson captures the wild, raw power of nature on a trip through the Icelandic highlands.
We visit the Cotswolds in England to meet Barney Wilczak, the creator of 2017â€™s finest spirit.
P26 T H E B E S T P L AC E S TO T R AV E L I N 2 01 7
P36 T R E K K I N G TO E V E R E S T
From vast wildernesses to cities on the move, we select our ten top places to visit next year.
Heather Richardson treks to the iconic Everest Base Camp in Nepal on a journey that leaves her breathless (in more ways than one).
09 W H AT TO G I V E : P R E S E N T S F O R T R AV E L A D D I C T S 11 T H E B E S T LU G G AG E: T R AV E L I N S T Y L E 24 T H I N G S TO D O : T H E COT S W O L D S 25 W H E R E TO S TAY: OA K H O U S E N O.1 32 F I E L D O F L I G H T: A R T I N T H E O U T B AC K 40 T H E G U I D E: G R A N A DA , S PA I N 42 T R AV E L I N 2 0 1 6 : T H E T E A M ’ S TO P T R AV E L M O M E N T S 46 G I V I N G B AC K : T H E S U M B A F O U N DAT I O N 48 D E S T I N AT I O N I N S P I R AT I O N : T H E B E S T B AT H R O O M S
A LEC C U R RY UK EXPERT
C L E MMY MA NZO T R AVE L W R IT E R
E I NA R Ó L I MAT T H I A SSON P H OTO G R A P HE R & IC E LA ND GUIDE
A born and bred Yorkshireman, Alec loves the UK for its variety of cultures, traditions and accents that you find from one region to the next. His biggest revelation was discovering incredible history on his own doorstep, which means he now travels in the UK as much as overseas. The north Devon coast and Somerset, for its excellent cheese, are next on his hit list.
Clemmy’s childhood years in Indonesia, Brazil and Italy shaped her future career choice in travel. More recently, she fell head over heels for Argentina, where she worked as Editor of Time Out Buenos Aires. She also worked on guidebooks such as Rough Guides and Footprint in South America. She continues to freelance for food and travel publications from her current home in sunny Barcelona, Spain.
Einar worked as a photographer for over a decade before becoming a guide in Iceland. He now gets to experience the highlands and glaciers of Iceland on a daily basis, whilst meeting people from all over the world. During his tours, he is still able to exercise his photographic muscle, providing professionalstandard photographs for his guests – the results of which you’ll find on page 13.
HE ATHER RIC H AR DSO N EDITOR
NAT H A L I E C RA I G T R AVE L W R IT E R
T E RRI JA NS E N T R AVE L W R IT ER
Heather’s experience of travelling started at 18 years old with a trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands, including a six-week stint in the rainforest. Now an award-winning writer and named one of the travel industry’s 30 under 30 in 2015, Heather combines her passion for travel with her creative credentials as Jacada Travel’s marketing and editorial manager. @hg_richardson
Nathalie Craig is an Australian journalist specialising in travel and food writing. She started her career working as a newspaper journalist in a picturesque coastal town in New South Wales before spending a year travelling in Europe and working as a journalist in the UK. She now works as a travel and food writer in Sydney while dreaming of her next travel adventure or dining experience.
Terri is a Cape Town-based writer with a particular love for superb food, great whiskey, and that thrilling moment when the house lights in the theatre go down. She believes that culture and cuisine are the heartbeat of every city. When travelling, she loves to wander and get hopelessly lost, because that’s often how you find the most fascinating things. THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 5
With warm weather and half the tourists of the summer, April and May are wonderful months in which to explore scenic New Zealand, from its snowy mountains and tranquil lakes to world-class wine and Maori culture. APRIL >>> MAY 2017
BOOK N OW MAY >>> JUNE / SEPTEMBER >>> OCTOBER 2017
With only a handful of luxury hotels, Croatiaâ€™s peak season books up very quickly. We recommend travelling in late May, June, September and October to beat the crowds and high temperatures of the summer.
MARCH >>> APRIL 2018
Cherry blossom season in Japan is the best time to visit this enchanting country, but its popularity means hotels fill up many months in advance. Get well ahead of everyone by booking your trip for 2018 now.
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 7
lifting cares away Almost 5 million children in the UK didnâ€™t get a holiday this year. Thankfully we are here to help. For over 40 years the Family Holiday Association has been providing seaside breaks for families coping with some of the toughest challenges life can bring. For many of the children and families we help, a short break or day trip offers the chance to go away for the very first time offering welcome respite, a new sense of optimism and happy memories to sustain them when life becomes hard. Please help us. As little as ÂŁ25 can help fund a much needed and often life changing daytrip for a family.
Donate online now: FamilyHolidayAssociation.org.uk
WHAT TO BUY
Gifts for Travel Addicts What to buy the travellers in your life.
01. S’WELL LARGE MARBLE BOTTLE julesb.com $43.99
02. MARC JACOBS GOTHAM CITY PASSPORT HOLDER julesb.com $122.99
OFF WITH THE CODE JACADA10
03. HICKMAN & BOUSFIELD CASHMERE MIX SCARF IN DEEP RED CHECK hickmanandbousfield.com £99 / $124
04 . BANG & OLUFSEN BEOPLAY H5 WIRELESS HEADPHONES beoplay.com $249 05. RIFLE PAPER CO. BON VOYAGE TRAVEL JOURNAL riflepaperco.com $15
MOROCCANOIL TRAVEL LUXURIES SET sephora.com $42
07. LOLË AIR YOGA MAT lolewomen.com $55
‘WILD BY NATURE: FROM SIBERIA TO AUSTRALIA, THREE YEARS ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS ON FOOT’ BY SARAH MARQUIS barnesandnoble.com $26.99
09. PLANET EARTH II DVD amazon.co.uk £14.99 / $19
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 9
WEST GR E E NLA N D A N D D I S K O B AY WE L COME T O BI RT HP L A C E O F I C EB ER G S
22 MAY - 30 MAY 2017 B O O K: + 1 8 7 7 9 6 7 0 0 9 6 / E N Q U I R I E S @ JA C A D AT R AV E L .COMÂ
Up your style game in 2017 with some of the best luggage for smart travellers. 01. RIMOWA Classic Flight Cabin Multiwheel $850 rimowa.com
02. GLOBE-TROTTER Safari 33-inch Extra Deep Suitcase $1,745 globe-trotter.com
03. VICTORINOX Spectra Large Expandable $600 victorinox.com
04. SAMSONITE The Starfire Spinner, 69cm £195 / $243 samsonite.co.uk
05. MAXWELL SCOTT The FleroM - Medium Leather Duffel Bag $752 maxwellscottbags.com
05. THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 11
HEADING FOR THE HIGHLANDS
We make our way up through the beautiful valleys that have been sculpted by water running down from the glaciers for thousands of years. There is water everywhere.Â
FEATURE: ICELAND PHOTO JOURNAL
PHOTOGRAPHER AND ICELAND GUIDE EINAR ÓLI MATTHIASSON TALKS US THROUGH SOME OF HIS PHOTOS FROM A RECENT TRIP TO THE HIGHLANDS.
ICELAND PHOTO JOURNAL
PHOTOS: EINAR ÓLI MATTHIASSON
BY EINAR ÓLI MATTHIASSON
LAVA ASH AT LAKAGÍGAR
The otherworldly landscape of Lakagígar reminds us of the devastation caused by the eruption in 1783. The moss in the background is trying to cling onto the loose lava rock.
THE THE EXPLORER EXPLORER | WINTER | WINTER 2016/17 2016 | 13
WINDING ROADS ➔
The highlands in Iceland are a magical place and the playground of our heavily modified super jeeps.
AT 1,270 METRES ON A GLACIER
Ascending the second largest glacier in Iceland, Langjökull, is no challenge for the super jeep. HIKING ON THE ICE ➔ There is no way to describe the feeling you get when you’re walking on the ice. The landscape, the crevasses and the blue colour have no parallel. LANDSCAPE SCULPTING GLACIERS As the outlet glacier makes its way down from the biggest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, it carves its way into and through the landscape creating beautiful valleys and mountains.
FEATURE: ICELAND PHOTO JOURNAL
THE VOLCANIC CRATERS
A row of around 135 craters were created during the 1783 eruption which lasted eight months, killing more than half of the livestock and 25% of the population.
These great dunes of black lava and the moody sky behind them look still and dark - but I like to think there is a little ‘hope’ in the green moss that has grown on the surface of the rock.
THE THE EXPLORER EXPLORER | WINTER | WINTER 2016/17 2016 | 15
INTO THE GLACIER
After driving up to 1,270 metres on the ice, we make our way into the glacier. It’s a unique feeling to be standing inside the glacier, seeing evidence of volcanic eruptions with veins of ash in the ice.
AT THE FOOT OF THE GLACIER
On this day, the glacier was bare at the bottom, but as we got higher up in elevation, winter engulfed us with new snow and a proper whiteout.
JOURNEY TO THE ➔ CENTRE OF THE EARTH
On the Snæfellsnes peninsula there is a volcano called, fittingly, Snæfellsjökull. As we were making our way up onto it, the first snow of winter greeted us as well as sunshine and superb views. Snæfellsjökull played a large role in Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne in 1864, as the entrance to our beloved planet’s centre.
FEATURE: ICELAND PHOTO JOURNAL
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 17
FEATURE: ICELAND PHOTO JOURNAL
SPECTACULAR SNÆFELLSNES A farm on the southern side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula that has seen better days.
With its vast wildernesses and dramatic scenery, Iceland’s nature has the ability to put things into perspective. It’s a great destination in which to reconnect.
Since Iceland is so far north, the sunrise and sunset take forever, and give us the kind of beauty that you never tire of.
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 19
BY HEATHER RICHARDSON
A Local Taste Heather Richardson journeys to a Cotswolds garden to meet Barney Wilczak, the maker of 2017â€™s finest spirit.
FEATURE: A LOCAL TASTE
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 21
never really been a big drinker, but when I do drink, I just want it to be perfect,” Barney Wilczak explained. Unable to find something that matched his expectations, he started making his own eaux-de-vie (fruit brandies), before branching out into gin. In mid-2016, he created Capreolus Distillery and started selling his hand-crafted spirits; by November 2016, his Garden Tiger dry gin had been awarded Spirit of the Year 2017, having fought off competition from thousands of gins, vodkas, cognacs, calvados, rums, vermouths and sherries. As Barney puts it: “slightly ridiculous for a little greenhouse in the Cotswolds”. Back in September, I went to visit Barney and his greenhouse distillery at his family’s home in the Cotswolds, a bucolic countryside region in southern England. In his early 30s, standing very tall, he is polite, softly-spoken and infectiously enthusiastic. At this point, he’d only been selling his gin for three months, but already it had been snapped up by a Michelinstarred restaurant and his last batch had sold out within four days. His distillery might look a humble, one-man operation at first glance, but after meeting Barney, listening to him talk about eaux-de-vie and gin and hearing about his precise, laborious distillation process, it wasn’t a huge surprise when he emailed me about the Whiskey Exchange’s Spirit of the Year award a couple of months later. Barney’s attention to detail is second to none. He is borderline obsessive when it comes to creating spirits, in every stage and element of production; even the red pen he uses to write the batch details on the labels was chosen only after lengthy ink and nib testing. The labels themselves are printed on a traditional hand-fed letterpress by his partner’s father, Andrew Morrison. Being based in the Cotswolds has vast advantages for a distillery. This leafy, fertile corner of England is bursting with
the ingredients required for an eau-de-vie or gin, such as dessert and perry pears, traditional cider apples, plums and elderberries. The award-winning Garden Tiger dry gin has no less than 34 ingredients, and the eaux-de-vie require up to 45 kg of fruit to make a litre of the finished spirit. Barney tells me that the elderberries took eight days to pick this year, resulting in just 14 375ml bottles - roughly 35 kg of berries per litre. Barney describes the resulting eau-de-vie as “rich smoke, powerful cocoa, herbs and spice, a reflection of both earth and environment, united in a masterful whole, much greater than the sum of its parts.” With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the elderberry eau-de-vie is the most expensive blend at £120 ($150) for a 375ml bottle. Produce is of the utmost importance and Barney personally visits the sites of all his ingredients, assessing whether the fruit will be of high enough quality. There is a scientific basis for his choice of ingredients: he identifies produce from each of the main plant groups, and includes at least one of each in every blend. Living in the Cotswolds, Barney notes that he’s “been brought up with a strong knowledge of botany”, but he also spent many years amongst biologists and botanists during his previous career as a conservation photographer. Once Barney has settled on a farm, he must wait for the fruit to reach peak ripeness. When the produce is ready to pick, the farmers call him, and he has to drop everything and rush off to ensure the fruit is picked at exactly the right moment. The week before I met Barney, he’d handpicked two tons of plums and was waiting to hear about the ripeness of a batch of local elderberries. Picking alone is highly time consuming, but the preparation can be even more laborious. Barney’s parents’ home and garden is turned into a one-man factory of zesting, drying, fermenting and sieving. The prep work is the result of extensive testing, working out how best to cut the Sicilian blood oranges (one of the very few non-local ingredients Barney sources) to reduce the bitterness of the pith, or how to retain the merest suggestion of almond flavour from the plum stones. We sat down in the kitchen to taste some of Barney’s eaux-devie and gin, and – as someone who rarely drinks spirits neat – I’m amazed how much I enjoy sipping the fragrant blends. Yes, even at 10am. Barney talked me through the tasting notes. I could taste the blood oranges in the Garden Tiger gin, which were blended with flowers, berries, spice, pine and drying resins, resulting in a much more complex flavour than any other gin I’ve tried. His passion for distillation is hard to resist, and I was swept along as he explained how he captured the essences of each ingredient,
FEATURE: A LOCAL TASTE
and how they played out across one’s tongue. I asked if he disapproves of mixing – admitting that for me, gin is always accompanied by tonic. But he’s accepting of less purist drinkers, as long as the tonic water is right. “Waitrose own-brand is one of the best,” Barney revealed. Afterwards, we walked into the garden to see where – after all the preparation – the magic finally happens. Barney’s distillery is housed in his half-windowed greenhouse, where a copper and steel contraption with various bulbs and tubes stands against the stone wall. It’s here that the gin and eaux-de-vie are distilled, with Barney ‘nosing’ the mixture throughout to make sure the distillation is on track. He explains how the process works and how the sections of the distillation differ – the ‘heads’, the first section, are disposed with, as is the final section, the ‘tails’. Barney prides himself on not reusing these, unlike other distilleries about which he is unashamedly disapproving. His
goal is achieving the highest quality possible, and wasting that ethanol is one of the prices he pays. The meaning of the term ‘luxury’ has changed dramatically in the past decade or so. At the upper end of products from alcohol to hotels, luxury is now less about over-the-top bling and more about thoughtfulness and responsibility, running alongside a perpetual commitment to providing the best service or product. What strikes me about Capreolus Distillery is that it is a true luxury operation: a single-minded pursuit of the highest standards in gin and eaux-de-vie, keeping everything – from the ingredients to the packaging – as local as possible. That the distillery is based in a Cotswolds garden is unimportant. The lengths Barney goes to in order to create the best spirit on the market (at least according to the Whisky Exchange) are extraordinary – a word that describes the result just as well as the method.
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 23
There aren’t many places in the world where a wander through a park might unexpectedly lead you to the outer course of the British Carriagedriving National Championships, but the Cotswolds is one of them. This rural area of south west England is one of the wealthiest and prettiest areas of the country. Grand, stately homes reside at the end of long gravelled drives, tucked away in forests; quaint, Roman villages and towns still feature houses warped with age; and acres of walking trails criss-cross the countryside. There’s a farm-to-table, organic foodie movement here, but also a major art scene, with its hub in Stroud, home to world-famous artists such as Damien Hirst. If you visit the Cotswolds, here are five things to add to your itinerary.
VISIT THE ABBEY HOUSE GARDENS
The Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury were created from scratch by Ian and Barbara Pollard in 1994. They are not only some of the most beautiful gardens in the Cotswolds, but they also date back 1,300 years; the first king of England is buried here and not one, but two saints were thrown into the well. Owner Barbara will show you around the gardens and house, regaling guests with stories and secrets. There’s even a monthly ‘clothing optional’ day - if that’s your bag.
SIP AWARD-WINNING GIN AT CAPREOLUS DISTILLERY
Meet Barney Wilczak, the man behind the award-winning Capreolus Distillery, with an exclusive tasting session at his Cotswolds family home. Discover what goes into making one of the best spirits on the market – read more on pages 20-23.
BY ALEC CURRY
THINGS TO DO IN THE COTSWOLDS UK Destination Expert, Alec Curry, suggests five of the best things to do when you visit the Cotswolds.
HAVE LUNCH AT DAYLESFORD ORGANIC FARM
One of the forerunners of the organic food movement, Daylesford is not just a sustainable farm, but also home to a spa, award-winning café and farm shop. You don’t just need to sample their produce – you can also lend your hand to making dishes with said ingredients at Daylesford’s cookery school, with a choice of around 50 classes. Produce changes on a daily basis and everything is sourced fresh from the farm.
SADDLE UP AT CIRENCESTER POLO CLUB
For a quintessentially English countryside experience, pop into Cirencester Polo Club, founded in 1894. The season is from May to September, during which time you can learn more about this sport from a distance or hands-on, depending on your preference. Watch the experts play a game of polo over a leisurely champagne afternoon tea, or learn how to master the sport yourself with a threehour, expert-led lesson.
EXPLORE THE COTSWOLDS’ HIDDEN VILLAGES WITH A LOCAL FARMER
Steer clear of the most popular villages of the Cotswolds – and the coach parties that flock there – and visit some of the lesser-known, equally picturesque and interesting villages with a lifelong local farmer. Learn about real life in the Cotswolds, where to source the best local food, and get backstage entrance to traditional factories and shops. For real foodies, this is a must-do tour.
LEFT: THE ‘BLUE ROOM’ - DESIGNED BY CO-OWNER OF OAK HOUSE NO.1, GARY KENNEDY. ABOVE: THE DINING ROOM.
WHERE TO STAY
OAK HOUSE NO.1
PHOTOS: ISTOCK; BARNEY WILCZAK; OAK HOUSE NO.1.
Oak House No.1 is relaxed yet glamorous, and one of our top picks for a stay in the Cotswolds. Heather Richardson checks into the three-room art hotel.
hat’s seen a lot of action over the years,” Gary Kennedy notes drily, responding to my compliment about the brown leather saddle slung over the end of a chaise longue. You get the impression that a lot of things in this house have seen plenty of action – although not necessarily in the way Gary might have been implying. Oak House No.1 is one of the most interesting, visually-arresting hotels in the country – though it doesn’t feel like a hotel or any old country B&B. Owners Gary Kennedy and Nicola MacWilliam live in the basement of their Grade II-listed Georgian house in the little Cotswolds town of Tetbury, having opened up the three upstairs suites to guests. Gary is the creative eye behind the house, an interior artist and art collector who trained at Saint Martin’s School of Art. The three bedrooms are all completely different. We’re in the largest of the lot, the Cavalier Suite. There’s a bedroom with a king-sized four-poster bed and Frette
sheets, a separate sitting room and library, and a bathroom complete with Philippe Starck taps. There’s a silver tea set, antique desk and of course, that legendary seenit-all saddle. Breakfast is served on the ground floor, the communal dining table set up beneath an enormous, glittering chandelier. Across the hall, the ‘Blue Room’ is – you guessed it – sapphire blue, from the walls to the velvet-swathed sofas and high-backed armchairs. There is art covering most wall space, including Andy Warhol in the dining room, ornaments from the likes of Grayson Perry, and furniture by Mark Brazier-Jones. Classic pieces sit alongside wild designs, creating a fun, relaxed yet lavish space. That vibe is mirrored in the way Gary and Nicola run their B&B, both warm and welcoming, but not hovering over their guests. Upon arrival, Gary opens the bluepainted door and clasps me warmly by the hand, hauling me inside, commenting on the ludicrous weight of my bag: “What
have you got in here? Rocks?” After Gary has shown us around, Nicola gives us the low-down on the best places to eat in Tetbury (voted third best place to live in the UK – though Nicola adds with a smile, “I think all the little villages around here have got some claim that they pull out all the time”). The next day at breakfast, she presents a hand-written sheet with a guide to the attractions around Tetbury. We sit down to a feast of banana bread, fruit salad, cereal, cakes, fresh coffee and omelettes cooked up by Nicola in the adjacent kitchen, and chat to our fellow guests, a Monaco-based couple dropping their children off at nearby boarding schools. As we get on our way a little later, we have one last kitchen chat with Gary and Nicola, before Gary tells himself off for nattering and Nicola hands me a paper bag with water and cake to tide us over until lunch. For guests who like a hotel with personality, warmth and vibrancy, it’s difficult to go wrong with Oak House No.1. THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 25
THE BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL IN 2017
From deserted Inca trails in Argentina to the burgeoning art scene of Cape Town, weâ€™ve selected the hottest places for you to explore in 2017.
01. ARCTIC CANADA WHY?
2017 marks Canada’s 150th year of Confederation. To celebrate, the usual national park entrance fees are being waived in order to encourage people to get outside and admire the country’s diverse landscapes. There are 44 national parks in Canada, but with the increasing trend for travellers seeking the most remote polar regions of the world, due to safety, a sense of wilderness and spectacular scenery, we’re focusing on the area in and around the Arctic Circle.
In the far, frosty north of Canada, Sirmilik National Park offers a relatively accessible experience of the Arctic. Up here, the sun doesn’t set in the summer or rise in the winter. Orca and beluga whales coast through the frigid sea beneath the glistening ice on which the occasional polar bear rests. A little further south, Auyuittuq National Park is a terrain of granite peaks and frozen tundra. The nearby Qikiqtarjuaq – which means ‘big island’ in Inuktitut – is often called the Iceberg Capital of the North. Spot ‘sea unicorn’ narwhals, blubbery seals and even polar bears on excursions around the iceberg-strewn coast. Churchill is the usual jumping-off point for those who want to see polar bears. Wapusk National Park lies where boreal forest turns into Arctic tundra and has one of the world’s largest polar bear maternity denning areas. Each year, when the sea ice begins to reform, the bears migrate to the shores of the Hudson Bay to hunt. During the summer, they wait inland, and this is when you can spot the giant mammals from the safety of tundra buggies.
To see the Northern Lights, travel during the winter (November to February), when you can also go cross-country skiing. Go hiking or camping in the summer (May to August), and see polar bears in September or October, when a carpet of purple flowers blooms.
FEATURE: DESTINATIONS FOR 2017
02. THE PUNA, ARGENTINA WHY?
In the constant scramble to get ‘off the beaten track’, Argentina’s north-westerly Puna (puna comes from a Quechua word meaning a cold and remote place) is isolated, otherworldly and largely undiscovered. With new flight routes connecting the gateway city of Salta to Lima, it’s time to explore the Puna before everyone else cottons on.
The Puna is located between Salta and the Chilean and Bolivian borders in the north west of Argentina. The landscape varies between desolate salt flats, sweeping sand dunes, rustred rock formations and teal-green lakes. It’s an unearthly spectacle that is all the more sublime for the lack of visitors the region receives. Ancient Inca trails run through this landscape, empty of the tourists who rush to the famous routes through Peru. Trek or take a 4WD tour to explore the Puna from Salta to the village of Tolar Grande. The new and exclusive Antofallita Oasis lodges are conveniently positioned to break up this journey and allow more time exploring the Puna.
The Puna is a year-round destination, though at its chilliest in July and August.
03. CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA WHY?
South Africa’s most beautiful city, Cape Town is an endlessly popular destination. In 2017, it will become even more desirable as it gains another world-class hotel, The Silo, and the Zeitz MOCAA, Africa’s first major contemporary art museum, all in one building.
At the foot of Table Mountain, Cape Town resides on South Africa’s south-eastern coast where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Outside the city lies one of the world’s best
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 27
In January, British Airways will launch their first direct flights from London Heathrow to Santiago, Chile’s capital. With the South American nation becoming easier to access from the UK and Europe, it’s the perfect excuse to visit.
and most scenic wine regions, peppered with lavish, luxury retreats. Looks alone are not the only attraction. Cape Town is home to several thriving scenes from fine dining and craft beer to art and design. Cape Town’s foodie landscape covers everything from top-end tasting menus at the famous Test Kitchen to street eats such as bobotie samosas in the colourful Cape Malay district of Bo Kaap. Aside from wining and dining, visitors to Cape Town can call upon the tiny penguins that congregate at Boulders Beach, go surfing, watch great white sharks breach in False Bay, spot southern right whales cruising down the coast, hike in the mountains, learn about the oftentroubled history of this region and visit the prison that held Nelson Mandela for 18 years on Robben Island.
Cape Town is at its best during the summer from December to March, but it receives sunshine throughout the year and even in the dead of winter the average temperature rarely drops below 13°C/55°F.
Chile is one of the most geographically diverse countries in the world, a skinny nation running 2,670 miles north to south and just 217 miles at its widest point. The landscape ranges from the arid Atacama Desert to the epic, snowy peaks of Torres del Paine in Patagonia. There are fertile winelands and glittering fjords; simmering hot springs and towering volcanoes; caves ‘marbled’ by water and ancient forests. For any active traveller, the options in Chile are endless. You might go hiking around the mountains of Torres del Paine or kayaking
in the Aisen Region. Cycle around the winelands outside Santiago or go horse riding in the Lake District. There’s more to Chile than just jaw-dropping scenery. Easter Island’s moai statues tell a sad, strange tale of islanders who devised their own end through mass deforestation. The island of Chiloé is steeped in myths and folk legend. Whales, penguins and sea lions populate the coastline, and on the plains of Patagonia, you can spot guanacos, eagles, rheas and even the Patagonian puma.
Spring and autumn see less visitors in many places and fine conditions throughout. The season for Patagonia is October to April.
05.UNITED KINGDOM WHY?
The weakened pound makes the UK a great-value destination. Usually a strong currency, the pound has taken a hit following the vote to leave the EU earlier in 2016. Against the dollar and the euro, its value has decreased, making tourists’ money go much further.
London is one of the world’s most exciting capitals, where ancient history and cuttingedge modernity are interwoven throughout the sprawling city. To the south of London, the Kent wine region is producing sparkling wine that has topped Champagne in recent blind tastings. The Cotswolds countryside is covered in rambling trails and dotted with enormous stately houses. The sublime Lake District is where Wordsworth ‘wandered lonely as a cloud’. Stags look out over Scotland’s wild highlands where castles crumble and the white-sand, windswept beaches are lapped by crystal-clear water. Spend Hogmanay in Edinburgh, listening to pipers playing on the narrow, cobbled streets of the Old Town. Discover the burgeoning adventure travel scene in Wales and visit the UNESCO-protected hexagonal basalt columns on Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway.
The UK is best visited in summer (June to September), when the weather is (usually) warm and sunny. Spring and autumn are also great times to travel, with crisp, bright days and less tourists.
FEATURE: DESTINATIONS FOR 2017
The introduction of South America’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer, in May next year is reason enough to journey to Peru. In the spirit of getting off the tourist trail, there are many more treks to discover in Peru that offer an alternative to the well-trodden routes up to Machu Picchu. The Ausangate trail (above) is one of our current favourites.
Peru is a country with endless attractions, from its ever-growing foodie scene and worldclass surfing, to luxury Amazon cruises and the pièce de résistance, the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu. Whether you want to challenge yourself with a tough, high-altitude trek or prefer the comforts of luxury trains or boats, you can travel around this diverse and fascinating country in whatever manner you choose; whichever route you pick, you can be sure it will be an extraordinary journey. Travel to Cusco from where you can catch the train to the well-preserved ruins of Machu Picchu or begin a trek along the Inca trails taking anywhere between two and 13 days. Cap it off with three days cruising into the Amazon rainforest along the jungle-lined waterways.
Peru is a diverse country with seasons that differ according to the area. May to September is the driest period, and the best times for trekking and visiting Machu Picchu.
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 29
After the enormously destructive earthquake of April 2015, Nepal has refound its feet, locals are optimistic and tourists are returning to this irresistible country in growing numbers. Given that Nepal is home to some of the most famous and iconic sights in the world, supporting this country through tourism is no great hardship.
With topography that ranges from 59 metres above sea level in the Terai region to the peak of Mount Everest, the highest point in the world at 8,848 metres, land-locked Nepal is a hugely diverse country. The jewels in Nepal’s crown are the great Himalayan mountains, which include eight of the world’s eight-thousander peaks (the other six are located elsewhere in the Himalayan range). This is the roof of the world and journeying to the area presents staggeringly beautiful scenes for mountaineers and trekkers alike. If trekking’s not your thing or you’re short on time, you can take a helicopter ride right up to Everest Base Camp. But it’s not just mountains and trekking. Spot the rare Asian rhinoceros in lush Chitwan National Park; discover Nepal’s most important religious sites, followed by a cocktail at a cool rooftop bar in the frenetic capital Kathmandu; meet the welcoming Nepalese locals; or go kayaking on the pretty Himalayan Phewa Lake.
High season for Himalayan trekking is October and November, but spring is when you’ll see climbers embarking on their Everest summit attempts. The rainy season is between June and September.
A much-overlooked safari destination, Zimbabwe’s new infrastructure developments – including Victoria Falls International Airport and new flights from Johannesburg to the safari lodge Chilo Gorge – make it much easier to travel around the country.
For those in the know, Zimbabwe offers one of the most exciting safari experiences in southern Africa. With fewer tourists than its neighbours, game sightings are more or less private, despite it being one of the best countries for elephant viewing. Animals are unperturbed by the presence of humans, affording intimate sightings. In Mana Pools, you can visit the oxbow lakes that attract crocs, hippos and elephants on walking safaris or in canoes. Much of this area is only accessible on foot, which has helped it remain unspoiled and wild. Combine a safari in the Zimbabwean bush with a visit to ‘the smoke that thunders’, Victoria Falls, for sundowner drinks on the Zambezi River, white-water rafting and microlight flights across the falls. Straddling the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, the waterfall is arguably the most scenic in the world.
The best time for game viewing is between April and October, during the dry season. Victoria Falls is a year-round destination.
FEATURE: DESTINATIONS FOR 2017
Cambodia is upping its private island and hotel game with several new luxury openings in 2017, including Six Senses Krabey Island and Alila Villas Koh Russey.
Most people travel to Cambodia simply to see the greatest relics of the Khmer Empire, the famous Angkor Wat and the rest of the Angkor complex. Although this is a must-visit site, there’s so much more to Cambodia than just the temples. Phnom Penh is a high-energy, sometimes chaotic capital, but it is home to several historic sites that aid an understanding of the country. The Gulf of Thailand is littered with beautiful islands that see a fraction of the tourists who visit the shores of neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam. Unwind in a private pool villa, indulge with a spa day and watch the world go by from these sleepy, private shores.
Cambodia’s dry season runs from November to May, though it’s still possible to travel throughout the rest of the year. July to September are the wettest months.
10.THE OUTBACK, AUSTRALIA WHY?
The Australian outback has always been a tempting destination in which to escape from the trials and tribulations of the modern world, but there’s an added incentive to visit next year with the magical Field of Light installation having been extended until 31st March 2018 (read more on page 32).
Uluru is the centrepiece of the outback. Located slap-bang in the middle of Australia, the giant rock – the world’s largest – was of enormous significance to the Aboriginal people, for obvious reasons. It dominates the horizon in a landscape of flat, barren desert and is one of the world’s most recognisable sights. A guided walk around the perimeter of the rock (it’s highly disrespectful to climb it) affords a chance to learn about Aboriginal culture and the mythical Dreamtime stories. Spend your time here hiking around Kings Canyon for high views of the surrounding desert, enjoying the silence, and gazing up at the most dazzling starry skies. Up in the ‘top end’ of Australia, Kakadu National Park is the size of Slovenia and the country’s largest park, with waterfalls, Aboriginal rock art and lush vegetation topping giant, burnt-orange cliffs.
The central outback around Uluru is a year-round destination, but the dry season (June to August) is the best time to visit the Northern Territory. THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 31
THE HEART OF
NATHALIE CRAIG VISITS BRUCE MUNROâ€™S MAGICAL INSTALLATION, FIELD OF LIGHT, AT THE ICONIC ULURU
BY NATHALIE CRAIG
FEATURE: THE HEART OF AUSTRALIA
was awe-stuck the first time I laid eyes on Uluru. The massive sandstone monolith which rises from the heart of Australia’s Red Centre has a powerful presence. Standing taller than 1,100 feet above the arid desert sands of the Northern Territory’s Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the colossal rock is believed to be over 600 million years old. It is highly sacred to the indigenous Australians living in the area, known as the Anangu people, who believe the formation was created by their ancestral beings during the Dreamtime. I am lucky enough to experience Uluru in conjunction with Bruce Munro’s Field of Light exhibition, which has been extended to run through until 31st March 2018. The installation, set up in front of Uluru, is made up of 50,000 long stemmed, solar-powered lights, connected
via illuminated optical fibre. Spanning an area the size of four football fields, the spectacle comes to life each night as the outback sun goes down. Renowned UK artist Bruce Munro said the idea for Field of Light came to him during a trip to Uluru in 1992, which he embarked on as a “swan song” to finish up eight years living in Australia. His visit to the Red Centre had a profound impact on him. It was while looking at Uluru for the first time that he saw in his mind a landscape of illuminated stems that “like the dormant seed in a dry desert, quietly wait until darkness falls, under a blazing blanket of southern stars, to bloom with gentle rhythms of light”. He jotted the idea down in his sketchbook and said it kept “nagging at him” to be done. He debuted the concept of a Field of Light in
“SPANNING AN AREA THE SIZE OF FOUR FOOTBALL FIELDS, THE SPECTACLE COMES TO LIFE EACH NIGHT AS THE OUTBACK SUN GOES DOWN.” THE THE EXPLORER EXPLORER | WINTER | WINTER 2016/17 2016 | 33
England in 2004 before wowing visitors at sites across the US and Mexico. Now, more than two decades since Munro’s idea was born, he has brought his vision back home to the landscape that first inspired it. To view his spellbinding installation, I board a coach from Ayers Rock Resort to one of the top viewing spots just before sunset. Upon arrival, we’re greeted with champagne and canapés. It’s a surreal experience being treated to such luxuries surrounded by the wide open desert while looking out to one of the most iconic landmarks in Australia. The atmosphere becomes even more charged when a group of local Aboriginal dancers perform for us. Watching the sun set, I’m completely absorbed by the warm oranges and deep pinks which are reflected off the Rock. The 50,000 lights slowly come to life. The subtle yet breathtaking light show glows deep purples, red ochre and soft whites under the vast outback sky strung with stars. When darkness has fallen over Uluru, we’re invited to fully immerse ourselves in Field of Light by wending our way through a maze of paths formed by the gently glowing lights. The experience is nothing short of magical, losing yourself among the pops of colour. At the end of the walk we’re greeted by the scene of a fine dining restaurant, white table cloths and flickering candlelight, right in the middle of the outback. We’re treated to a three-course menu inspired by Australian bush tucker. For an entrée, we indulge in a paperbark smoked
“THE ROCK IS REVEALED IN A GENTLE LIGHT, GLOWING CRIMSON AND GOLD. ” cheddar soufflé with pickled apple, glazed samphire and hazelnut butter followed by a melt-in-your-mouth native thyme roasted porterhouse steak with wilted warrigal greens and red wine jus. We finish off with a selection of small desserts showcasing vibrant native ingredients: the warm pear pudding is lifted with the distinct flavour of lemon myrtle while there is also the choice of a desert lime curd tartlet and a sour plum baked cheesecake. And what better way to help your dinner go down than stargazing? We take advantage of the atmosphere’s exceptional clarity to spot the Southern Cross, signs of the zodiac and the Milky Way. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a shooting star. Back at Ayers Rock Resort’s flagship hotel, Sails in the Desert, I’m setting my alarm for 5am to watch Field of Light
gently fade with the rising sun the next morning. There is a common debate among visitors up here – is Uluru more stunning at sunrise or sunset? A word of advice: don’t miss either experience during your stay. In the pre-dawn darkness, we return to the same viewing spot as the previous night. Pure serenity is the only way to describe watching sunrise at Uluru. I find a space alone on the red desert sand to watch the first rays of light appear from the vast, inky landscape. The Rock is revealed in a gentle light, glowing crimson and gold. The experience is like an active meditation, so invigorating and peaceful. The installation is just as magical in the early hours of the morning, taking on a new identity as we watch the colours from the long-stemmed frosted globes dim like a fading campfire as the sun rises. I have seen some of the most beautiful sights of my life on this journey, moments which all resonate with artist Bruce Munro’s thought-provoking observation that “light is a 24-hour thing – daylight, starlight, moonlight and darkness”. A trip to Uluru is bucket-list material for many across the world, but Field of Light gives travellers an added impetus to make the trip sooner rather than later. “We are all very privileged to share this land,” Munro said of Uluru. He hopes his work can, in a small way, encourage people not just to visit to see Field of Light, but to come out to a place which will inspire them, perhaps in a similar way to how Uluru inspired him.
PHOTOS: ISTOCK; TOURISM AUSTRALIA.
PREVIOUS PAGE: FIELD OF LIGHT AT NIGHT. CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: DRIVING THROUGH THE OUTBACK; THE RED DESERT; ULURU; FIELD OF LIGHT.
FEATURE: THE HEART OF AUSTRALIA
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 35
H E AT H E R R I C H A R D S O N TREKS TO EVEREST BASE CAMP I N N E PA L A N D F I N D S T H AT T H I S PA RT I C U L A R T R I P I S A L L A B O U T THE JOURNEY AND LESS ABOUT T H E D E S T I N AT I O N .
DESTINATION INSPIRATION: TAKING THE HIGH ROAD
BY HEATHER RICHARDSON
THE THE EXPLORER EXPLORER | WINTER | WINTER 2016/17 2016 | 37
12 days of hiking, covering 136 kilometres and reaching 5,454 metres above sea level: trekking to Everest Base Camp is all about the journey. The destination – the world’s most famous Base Camp – might initially attract people to this part of the world, but in truth, when I arrived in early October, it’s essentially a pile of rocks marking the point where, during the spring, climbers prepare to tackle the highest mountain on earth. Multi-coloured prayer flags stream from a small mound of rocks. Ahead, the Khumbu icefall, one of the most perilous parts of the Everest climb, rises steeply up the lower slopes of the mountain. There was a celebratory spirit at Base Camp amongst the trekkers who had spent the past week hiking through the Himalaya to reach the foot of Everest. But what really made this trip special was the sublime, epic scenery; the welcoming locals that greet you at each teahouse; and the liberating experience of being up in the mountains where the air is clean, there are no sounds of traffic or sirens (I live in London), and the only aim of the day is reaching the next lodge. From the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, we flew to Lukla
PREVIOUS: MT EVEREST AND NUPTSE. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: THE AUTHOR A DAY AWAY FROM BASE CAMP; FLOWERS AT HIGH ALTITUDE; HIMALAYAN SCENERY; THE FINAL STAGE OF THE TREK.
in a tiny, vibrating DHC-6 Twin Otter plane, the pilots making light of one of the world’s most dangerous airstrips, a short uphill runway that hangs off the edge of a cliff. Trekkers are often delayed for days waiting for the clouds to clear before they can fly into Lukla; we’d been forced to turn back initially, but a few hours later, our second attempt was successful. The first section of our journey saw us hiking along the ‘Milk River’, Dudh Kosi, part of the world’s highest river system which we would follow all the way to its source: the glaciers of the Himalayan mountains. The valley was lush with emerald-green vegetation covering the slopes. Mist shrouded the higher ground, but as it cleared we glimpsed the towering snow-covered peaks above. As we hiked, the only sounds were the rushing of the fast-flowing river and the dull clang of yak bells. Our route zig-zagged across the white, frothing river, crossing high above the water on suspended bridges swathed in fluttering prayer flags. We passed little mountain communities where potatoes grew, goats bleated and yaks grazed. Buddhist monuments peppered the trails, sometimes stupas decorated with the eyes of Buddha, symbolising all being equal, or prayer wheels that we ran our hands along as we went past. In this part of Nepal, it is customary to pass the monuments clockwise, so we walked around to the left of each one. At night, we stayed in teahouses: basic but comfortable lodges. During the first couple of days we didn’t make any great gains in altitude. Our head guide, Tenzing Sherpa, gave us a brief every evening on what was to come the next day, and inevitably, the terrain was “undulating”; even on the way down, Nepal still manages to throw up several killer hills to tackle. We climbed up and down, navigating the trails that took us – gradually – upwards into the mountains. There were tough steep sections where you simply put your head down, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, hoping that around the next bend, the trail would even out for a while. We had a long way to go until we reached ‘the top’ (or, rather demoralisingly, ‘the bottom’ for Everest climbers). The altitude made everything more difficult, the thin air sometimes inducing headaches and unsettled stomachs. Despite this, there was only one person in our group – with an age range of 21 to 70 – who didn’t make it all the way to Base Camp. We completed regular altitude climbs – hiking up to a point higher than that at which we’d spend the night – and were constantly instructed to take it “slowly slowly” by our guides. With more than enough time to complete the hike, our days were never that tough, and we had plenty of time to rest if we needed to. Eventually, we passed the tree line, leaving behind the
PHOTOS: ISTOCK; HEATHER RICHARDSON
DESTINATION INSPIRATION: TAKING THE HIGH ROAD
fertile valley and hiking into a barer landscape of rocky trails and hardy shrubs. We trekked through valleys flanked by giant peaks. Dramatic landscapes spread out before us, as we made our way higher and higher. One steep section led to an unearthly-looking valley of boulders, through which we picked a path, following the river that was now a trickle of icicle-cold glacial water, gravity pulling it in the opposite direction to us. Sometimes we heard a far-off roar, and turned to watch a cloud of snow appear distantly in the peaks, a shuddering avalanche. Even as the terrain became more barren, there were still flashes of vibrant colour, such as a pink little rosefinch perched on a granite rock and delicate lilac flowers that blossomed out of the stony ground moments from Base Camp. We passed turquoise glacial lakes and gazed up at perilous crevasses, ice-blue gashes in the slopes above us. The night before we set out for Base Camp, the clouds had cleared and we were treated to one of the wonders of the wilderness: a sky full of stars. We stood in the biting cold, necks craned back, widening our eyes to try and fit in the vast blanket of inky night covered in twinkling stars, the Milky Way a shimmering highlight blended across the sky. A young Scottish girl in our group started to cry. The next day, we reached Base Camp after a 5am start and several hours of trekking. Mild altitude sickness had finally set in for me, but a headache didn’t stop me enjoying the brief rest and triumphant photos we took at the foot of Everest. I couldn’t forget, however, that we hadn’t yet
TOP: GLACIAL LAKE IN THE HIGH HIMALAYA. BELOW: THE AUTHOR AT EVEREST BASE CAMP, 5,335M.
finished the climb: for half the group, we had Kala Patthar to tackle the following morning. Base Camp was 5,335 metres above sea level, but Kala Patthar’s peak reached 5,545m. I put it out of my head and went to sleep. We had to rise at 4.30am to summit Kala Patthar. An uneasy stomach and banging headache made that morning’s climb particularly tough and countless times I considered turning back to join the sensible half of the group enjoying a lie-in and a leisurely breakfast. But eventually I scrambled up the last of the giant rocks that formed a pyramid shape leading up to the prayer flags at the summit, collapsing onto a conveniently flat boulder to recover and take in the scenery. Most people climb Kala Patthar because it affords the best views of Everest (you can’t see the peak from Base Camp), but it was determinedly hidden in cloud that day, though we had clear sight of Nuptse’s pointy summit and the glacier below that looked like whipped meringue peaks. It occurred to me that I didn’t mind not seeing Everest at that moment. The combination of the things we’d seen and the time we’d spent removed from our day-to-day lives trumped the sight of a single peak or the feeling of getting to a particular point (though I can’t say how far this would apply to actually summiting Everest). A hike like this is not about seeing one thing, or reaching one place; it’s about the journey to get there. To quote author Ursula K. Le Guin: ‘It’s good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.’
PA C K YOUR B AGS Classic Nepal - 12 nights seeing the highlights of Nepal from the mountains of Annapurna to Chitwan National Park - from $8,327 per person. THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 39
GRANADA When Mexican poet Francisco Asís de Icaza y Beña famously wrote, ‘Nothing in life is worse than being blind in Granada’, he had a point. This is a place of astounding beauty, where past merges with present. Granada was the last stronghold of the Moors in the Iberian Peninsula, and reminders of a Moorish rule and Catholic conquest are everywhere. Today, the buzzing university city dazzles visitors with its mix of medieval and Renaissance architecture, popular tapas culture, and its friendly, Andalucian vibe. A cosmopolitan city with a Moorish heart and a gypsy soul, there’s nowhere quite like Granada. BY CLEMMY MANZO
EXPLORE Of course, the Alhambra tops every list of things to do in Granada. Standing tall above the River Douro, this spectacular UNESCO Heritage Site is Spain’s most visited landmark, and it’s easy to see why. Built in 1238 as a fortress-palace for the Nasrid dynasty, rulers of Islamic Spain for over 250 years, the complex remains one of the world’s most impressive examples of Moorish architecture. Intricate carvings and colourful mosaics come together in perfect symmetry; in the jasmine-scented Generalife gardens, you’ll find neat orchards and sun-drenched patios with trickling fountains and orange trees. The influence of Moors also lives on in the Albaicín, a district of labyrinthine streets, flamenco clubs and whitewashed houses draped in bougainvillea. At
the top is Mirador San Nicolas, looking out to the palace opposite. Come sunset, locals and tourists huddle to watch the golden evening light turn the Alhambra from cappuccino to caramel. Winding back down the hill towards Plaza Nueva is Calle Caldería Vieja, lined with traditional teahouses and Arabian stalls selling lanterns, spices and slippers. For more Moroccan-style goods, there’s the Alcaicería (souk) off the Bib-Rambla square. To meet the Spanish monarchs who brought down the Moorish kingdom of Al-Andalus, head to the 16th-century Cathedral. It was built on the site of a former mosque, in ornate Renaissance style. Beneath the marble columned interior is the Royal Chapel where King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I lie to rest.
THE GUIDE: GRANADA
EAT & DRINK Granada’s mix of Moorish, Christian and Jewish heritage left its mark not only in the city’s architecture, but also in its cuisine. Ingredients such as honey, almonds, lamb, saffron and raisins became popular during the Moorish reign; deep-fried fish is a Jewish tradition; while Granada’s obsession with pork came from the Christians. But the most striking thing about Granada’s food scene is its free tapas culture. The city remains one of few places in Spain that dishes out complimentary mini meals with every drink, much to the delight of the student population and surprised visitors. Many of Granada’s best tapas bars centre around the narrow streets of the historical Jewish quarter, the Realejo. La Tana (Placeta de Agua, 3) is an all-time local’s favourite – a pint-sized space famed for its excellent wines and regional tapas such as salmorejo (cold tomato and bread soup) with anchovies. Just up the road is Taberna de Jam (Plaza de los Campos, 1) – the city’s top spot for jamón ibérico. Most of Granada’s tapas joints are stand-up only affairs, but for a traditional sit-down meal, try Mesón El Trillo (3 Callejón Aljibe de Trillo). High up in the Albaicín, this friendly restaurant has a lovely garden, where you can lunch on Andalucian specialties under the shade of a quince tree.
For something really special, stay at Parador de Granada within the Alhambra complex. Stone archways and wooden beamed ceilings are original features from its former life as a 15thcentury convent, built on the orders of the Catholic monarchs on the site of a Nasrid palace. Contemporary rooms are lovely, but the real highlights are the romantic patio and excellent restaurant – its outdoor terrace overlooks the magical gardens of the Alhambra.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: THE GARDENS OF THE ALHAMBRA; A STREET SCENE IN GRANADA; TAPAS; PARADOR DE GRANADA; COURT OF THE VESTIBULE, THE ALHAMBRA.
PA C K YOUR B AGS Gems of Southern Spain - 10 days exploring Madrid, Granada, Cordoba and Seville - from $5,887 per person. THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 41
2016 We asked the team of Travel Designers at Jacada Travel, what was your stand-out travel memory of 2016?
JACADA TRAVEL: MEMORIES 2016
01. KATIE HOLMES AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND EXPERT
My favourite memory of the past year is finally getting a quokka selfie. I have always wanted to meet a quokka and was so excited when they had one at Sydney Zoo – most of the Australians I was with didn’t even know what it was!
02. ALEX MALCOLM FOUNDER & MD
Trekking across the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. I was on a personal trip with my mum and my sister and we were blessed with the most amazing weather. Under the sunshine, the glacier turns a thousand different shades of blue and it was simply breathtaking. It was on my mum’s bucket list, so it was great to be able to make it come true.
07. ANNA MASCARO EUROPE EXPERT
The well of the Quinta da Regaleira, an estate with a history of Masons and dark alchemy, near the historic centre of Sintra in Portugal, has a concealed passage connecting to a labyrinth of tunnels that run the length of the gardens. I experienced first-hand the sensations of what a young man would have felt 100 years ago, during a masonry initiation ritual. For the brave, there is a pitch-black tunnel which takes you close to the lake, which our guide Joao pointed out. We walked 15 metres of it, the furthest anyone had done with Joao.
Trekking the Huchuy Qosqo trail in Peru’s Sacred Valley – the high pass is amazing, you feel like you’re walking in the sky! The views are breathtaking (so is the altitude). The harsh moonlike landscapes turn into lush meadows, with goats leaping around the Incan steps as you descend to the ruins. It’s not easy, but I only saw two other tourists - awesome!
04. GEORGE WARREN
05. LILY BUNKER
My favourite travel memory this year is from Yala National Park, Sri Lanka. After a wonderful afternoon game drive, we were treated to a spectacular sunset as we drove out of the park.
L AT I N A M E R I C A EXPERT
L AT I N A M E R I C A & P O L A R EXPERT
L AT I N A M E R I C A E X P E R T
06. RACHEL BECK
03. EMILY OPIE
Snorkelling in the Galápagos Islands. Swimming in crystal-clear waters alongside sea lions, turtles, penguins, eagle rays and hundreds of colourful fish was an incredible experience and something I will always remember. The strangest thing to see underwater was a marine iguana.
In November, at the start of the summer season, Antarctica is covered in ice and snow. On board the expedition ship, our crew offered us one night camping, without a tent, on the ice. With both the super moon and the near midnight sun overhead, I dug out a shallow area to shelter from the wind. Although not the most comfortable night’s sleep, in part thanks to far-off avalanches rumbling, it was one of the most memorable. The pair of penguins waddling over in the morning for the wake-up call, and the Weddell seal taking his morning dip nearby ensured it was a really special experience.
THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 43
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They have a right of passage. Let’s give it back. Once, Asian Elephants travelled over uninterrupted territory that covered the whole of South Asia and beyond, but now they have disappeared from over 95% of their historic range. The ancient paths they have created are vital not only to their own survival, but to that of countless other wild animals including tigers, leopards and monkeys. As human populations expand and shift, farms, roads and villages are built across the Asian Elephants’ essential paths, hindering their movement and destroying opportunity for these majestic creatures to feed and unite with other herds. World Land Trust is committed to working in partnership with Wildlife Trust of India to enable local communities to protect corridors connecting elephant habitats across India. It is a huge undertaking, but if we don’t act now it will be too late; elephants will be trapped in ever-shrinking scraps of wilderness.
INDIAN ELEPHANT. Elephas maximus indicus. FACING EXTINCTION
For more information please call 01986 874422 or visit www.worldlandtrust.org. For instant donations please text BMFE16 with an amount (up to £10) to 70070. Help us save the ancient habitats of elephants. #rightofpassage
“The money that is given to the World Land Trust, in my estimation, has more effect on the wild world than almost anything I can think of.” — Sir David Attenborough, Patron, World Land Trust
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WE LOVE IT WHEN YOU SHARE YOUR TRAVEL PHOTOS WITH US. HERE ARE SOME OF OUR RECENT FAVOURITES. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: THE LEE FAMILY IN ICELAND; SHEILA & TORI IN ITALY; CANDACE & MYA IN ICELAND; JOSH AT IGUASSU FALLS; ERIN & CHRIS IN CHIANG MAI, THAILAND; AND HELENA AT GROOTBOS IN SOUTH AFRICA. THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 45
THE SUMBA FOUNDATION BY HEATHER RICHARDSON
The Sumba Foundationâ€™s mission is improving the quality of life for the people of Sumba in Indonesia. Heather Richardson finds out what gains have already been made. wice the size of Bali, but with just a couple of luxury hotels, Sumba is an Indonesian island of which few have heard. Untouched by mass tourism, the local Sumbanese have been able to continue living much as they always have: their dress is traditional; the men carry swords with them at all times; horses still play a central role in their culture; and they are immensely spiritual, making regular animal sacrifices to the dead. It is an incredible island. And despite the apparent violence of their culture, the people are some of the warmest and most friendly Iâ€™ve ever encountered. The downsides of their isolation are high rates
of malaria, poverty and lack of healthcare. When Nihiwatu became the first hotel on Sumba in 1988, its founders Claude and Petra Graves had strong sentiments about supporting the Sumbanese people through their profits. In 2001, Claude Graves established the Sumba Foundation, with regular visitor Sean Downs as President, to support the community in a structured, dedicated way. In 2004, Dr Claus Bogh was brought on as Health Programme Director. Bogh had previously worked for the Indonesian government as Malaria Control Advisor and he came armed with valuable experience. Malaria eradication is one of the major focuses of the foundation, with Sumba having one of the highest occurrences in Asia. An estimated 20% of children die or suffer serious brain damage due to malaria before they are ten years old. Since its inception, the Sumba Foundation has
done remarkable work. In the villages in which the foundation operates, malaria in children has been eradicated by 85%. There are four medical clinics that care for 20,000 patients per year, and in 2010 they opened their WHO-level Malaria Training Centre. Malaria also takes the lives of adults, of course. The foundation documents the example of a local woman, Berta, who estimates her age to be
around 70. Her husband died of malaria 20 years ago, and since then she has worked every day making sure there is food for her children. There is a big knock-on effect from early deaths in a place so poor. Bogh and his team often stay overnight in the villages so they can better understand how people get infected by mosquitos and when they are not under the mosquito nets provided by the foundation, but also to connect with the community and really understand what they need. Bogh is hopeful that now the framework has been put in place, in five to ten years it will be possible to wipe out nearly all malaria from the whole island of Sumba. In other projects, the foundation has built
50 wells with over 150 water stations, which provide around 20,000 people with water. They conduct roughly 100 eye operations and hand out 1,500 pairs of glasses every year. The ‘Mama to Mama’ programme provides local pregnant women with the support of two nurses and a midwife. The malnutrition programme has aided approximately 800 children suffering from severe malnutrition since 2008, and the school lunch programme provides 2,200 meals per week to children in five local primary schools. Although the Sumba Foundation works separately to Nihiwatu, there is obviously a close link and the resort brings the foundation much-needed donations and publicity. The new owner of Nihiwatu, Chris Burch, is the biggest individual donor to the foundation. Nihiwatu’s staff is nearly 100% local too, which is crucial to providing employment opportunities; each employee will be supporting between ten and 15 people in their extended family. Guests of Nihiwatu are encouraged to get involved in some way, whether it’s visiting the communities with the foundation to better
understand the difficult conditions locals face, or donating. When I visited in 2014, the resort had organised a sunset horse race on the beach and guests could ‘bet’ on a rider to win, with all the proceeds going to the foundation. The riders were all local young men and boys from the community and it was a wonderful thing to watch them happily galloping their horses up and down the beach as the sun slipped below the horizon. I’d encourage anyone who can to visit Sumba – an island like no other – and to support the work of the incredible Sumba Foundation.
You can support the Sumba Foundation through a visit to Nihiwatu or directly at sumbafoundation.org. THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 47
The Best Hotel Bathrooms Terri Jansen picks four of the best hotel bathrooms for size, facilities and loos with views. SOUTHERN OCEAN LODGE,
High above the crashing waves on the rugged south western coast of Kangaroo Island, Southern Ocean Lodge is an architectural marvel. Admire the glorious views and unwind in tranquil and welcoming surroundings. Clean lines, muted hues and natural textures add to the sense of calm. Sink into a luxurious handcrafted granite bath as you gaze towards the horizon. The open bathroom in the Osprey Pavilion Suite features floor-to-ceiling windows with views that will tempt you to soak all day. Heated limestone floors and a deluxe rain shower complete the experience.
Nestled in the foothills of the Franschhoek mountains is La Residence, an opulent and eclectic hotel bursting with stylish décor, texture and tones. Antique furniture is given new energy with vibrant colours, all the while maintaining a stately charm. With white marble walls and touches of Eastern inspiration in the design, the elegant Frangipani Suite features the ultimate indulgence – a magnificent bathroom reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. With a heated marble floor, huge stand-alone bathtub and view of the vineyards, it’s a bathroom fit for royalty.
SANCTUARY BAINES’ CAMP,
You’ve heard of star beds, but what about star baths? At Baines’ Camp in the Okavango Delta, you can take a soak in a zinc bathtub on your private viewing deck. Gaze up at the stars as you wallow in the bubbly water with a glass of wine. You can also move your bed out to the deck too, to take full advantage of the wilderness in which the eco-friendly Baines’ Camp is located. During the day, head out on game drives in one of the most unique safari destinations in Africa.
THE SAMAYA SEMINYAK,
This chic Balinese hotel is all about space and light. Rooms lead seamlessly into one another, natural light resting gently on soft fabrics and calming hues. In the pool villas, the spacious bathrooms are almost as big as the rest of the suite. Marble surfaces, glass and natural wood combine to create tranquil havens. As you soak away a busy day, look out onto the lush courtyard, or spend a lazy evening catching up on your favourite shows on the TV mounted above the bath. THE EXPLORER | WINTER 2016/17 | 49
I TC H Y FEET NEED TO SCRATCH THAT TRAVEL ITCH? HERE ARE SOME DESTINATIONS JUST RIPE FOR VISITING...
January and February are two of the best months to visit India, whether youâ€™re hoping to admire the Taj Mahal, spot tigers in the wild or take a low-key cruise around the backwaters of Kerala.
Head to the home of the spectacular Victoria Falls and the original walking safari, Zambia, in early 2017 for a safari experience without the crowds.
One of the most interesting, biodiverse beach destinations in the world, the eco-friendly, super-luxe resorts of the Seychelles still have some availability for the first couple of months of 2017.
From Caribbean beaches to the Andean highlands, Colombia is a diverse, beautiful country, easily accessible from North America and Europe, and perfect for a cultural winter getaway.
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