MCI (P) 100/05/2014
Reine, Lofeten Islands ÂŠ CH - Visitnorway.com
Norway | India | Andorra
From soaring mountains to lush landscapes that are home to some of the worldâ€™s most endangered animals, India never fails to enchant travellers looking for adventure. With the new Tourist visa-on-arrival facility for citizens of Singapore, India is now so close to home. Be there to discover the charms of Incredible India.
India Tourism, #01-01 United House 20 Kramat Lane, Singapore 228773 Tel: (65) 6235 3800 Fax: (65) 6235 8677 Email: email@example.com
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Living It Up
Our Team Editor-in-Chief May Lynn Writers Konrad Clapp Creative Director Lynn Ooi
This issue’s theme is a slight departure for us, but then again in travel, it’s all about departures, really – in this case, focusing on the luxury side of adventure travel. While the first thing to come to mind is, not surprisingly, the cost, luxury travel is not always about breaking the bank. Thanks to the high standard of living (ie. costs) in Singapore, many of these destinations don’t have stratospheric costs, but offer ‘luxury’ in many other ways.
We start with Lofoten – Norway’s stunning, coastal islands, made more exclusive both by their remote location as well as their high, albeit well-worthit cost. We also explore other countries in Europe, this time with 4 quirky, “royal” micro-states – namely Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Monaco – which are all kitschy and unique, with prices to match.
We then get into luxury cruise train journeys as well as the high art of glamping (or ‘glamorous camping’) in safari parks in India, where you may be able to spot an elusive tiger or two.
General Manager Aaron Stewart
Media Rep Lennox & Ooi Media Pte Ltd 242A River Valley Road Singapore 238299 Tel 6732 0325 www.sportsandtravelonline.com email@example.com
Following the ‘royal’ theme, we also drop in on Bhutan – the undeniably high-end destination in the Himalayas. Closer to home, we’ve also got Taiwan for castles (yes, castles), where boutique homestays can be found alongside famous attractions like Taroko Gorge.
Designer Marilyn Wong
Check out our short film, ‘10 Days in Rwanda’ on Youtube!
Further afield, it’s off to one of America’s most high-end – and high-altitude – resorts: Aspen Snowmass. With an early winter season, ski season starts ahead of schedule this year. If winter’s not your thing, then grab your board for some excellent surfing in Chile, where the Andes meet the Pacific. The waves here are plentiful, and the crowds minimal. It won’t be ‘luxury’ without an indulgent boozey tour; for our liquid travel, we also explore the homes of some of the world’s most iconic drinks, including Scotland (for whisky), France (for wine) and Japan (for sake). Do check out our website for the latest blogs, or feel free to drop us a line if you want to contribute to our next issue!
Until then, Happy Trails!
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Contributors Gunther Deichmann, Ken Berg, Nadine Staes-Polet, Tamara Sanderson, Wee Keng Rui
Special Thanks Aspen Snowmass Taiwan Tourism Bureau Visit Andorra and many, many others!
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Consistently rated as Europe’s most expensive country, the potentially prohibitive costs of travelling in Norway is an inescapable factor behind any decision to visit. But Norway is also recognised as one of Europe’s most beautiful countries, meaning you get what you pay for. The Lofoten Islands offer some of Norway’s most magnificent scenery. Take a cruise past towering fjords and quaint fishing villages, clamber up its many jagged peaks or stroll along its fine beaches. Gorge on its bountiful seafood, or look out for its variety of wildlife. Between May and July is the period of the midnight sun, where above the sub-polar latitude of 68º north, the sun never leaves the sky. If anybody is deterred by expenses, the Lofotens serve as a reminder that there is also luxury which money cannot buy.
JUST CRUISIN’ Nobody said that the Caribbean or the Mediterranean had a monopoly on cruises. The indented Lofoten coastline is prime cruising territory. One does not even have to get on a cruise liner for that. Travelling by sea is as common in an archipelago as hopping on a bus. Furthermore, it offers that exclusive front-row seat to the bewildering variety of jaw-dropping seascapes. Camp out on the deck and admire on the horizon the serrated profiles of the Lofoten Wall, the mountainous spine of the Lofoten Islands. These are sometimes garlanded in clouds, and grow to forbidding heights as one draws nearer. Sail past sheltered coves of white sand and turquoise water, and scatters of skerries – small islands of raised rock which pepper the entire Norwegian coastline.
LOFOTEN LUXURY by Wee Keng Rui
The highlight of any Lofoten cruise is Trollfjord, one of the most dramatic fjord settings in Norway. Watch in disbelief as the ship inches its way inside the narrow, 100mwide entrance of the fjord. Most ships take visitors on a round inside the fjord, providing ample opportunities to lap up picture-perfect vistas all round of sheer rock and still water. Pack a windbreaker though, and have a hot drink at hand. The wind can be biting, and the weather fickle, even at the height of summer.
SEA, FOOD! The sea is the lifeblood of the Lofotens. The life-giving Gulf Stream carries valuable nutrients to these far northern shores, nourishing the cod spawning grounds which in turn has attracted fishermen here since medieval times. These rich cod fisheries have filled both the islanders' stomachs and pockets. Today, the tourism industry also
reaps the benefits from this bounty. In 1120, King Øystein Magnusson ordered the construction of wooden huts along the Lofoten coast to house the annual influx of fishermen who arrive in winter to harvest the gathering cod. The fishermen who quarter in these brightly-painted rorbuer huts have since been replaced by tourists hankering after the quintessential Lofoten experience. In some villages, the breeze still brings with it the distinct tang of rows of cod drying on racks. A visit to the local restaurants will unearth the many different ways – partially dried, dried, unsalted, salted, sliced, boiled – in which cod can be served. These are served alongside other Norwegian specialties such as smoked salmon and even something one does not get all the time around here – smoked whale.
Despite the wealth of maritime travel options, there are plenty of other activities in the Lofotens for those who need to feel firm earth beneath their feet. Those craving a Lofotens panorama without having to splurge for a scenic flight can literally take a hike. All you need is a map, a compass and an appetite for slopes – the higher you go, the grander the views. One need not be a hardened peak-bagger to enjoy the Lofotens’ many scenic vantage points. Indeed, the Lofotens’ tallest peak measures an attainable 1,146m above sea level. The islands are also small enough that most of these are reachable within a day’s hike.
from Bodø. This trail begins at the village of Sørvågen, near the western end of the E10 highway, and climbs steadily along a series of lakes left behind by the retreating glaciers to the hut. There is a fine view of Hermannsdalstinden (1,029m), the only mountain in the western Lofotens that tops a thousand metres. The summit of Hermannsdalstinden is a full day’s slog from the hut. The second hike leads to the top of Reinebringen. This vantage point provides an arresting view of the striking blue water of the Reinefjord to the left, and to the right
the spectacular rocky ramparts of the Lofoten Wall receding north-eastwards. At 448m and less than half the height of Hermannsdalstinden, the possibility of the views being obscured by clouds is also considerably lessened. The narrow path climbs rapidly, and is rather steep along certain stretches (and therefore not recommended to tackle on a rainy day).
AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH
Two half-day hikes on the island of Moskenesøya exemplify the variety of the Lofoten landscape. The first takes you inland to Munkebu Hut, and makes for a good introduction to the Lofotens if you choose to arrive via the ferry
© Frithjof Fure - Visitnorway.com
GETTING THERE AND AROUND SAS (www.flysas.com.sg), together with Singapore Airlines, flies 5 times weekly between Singapore and Norway (Oslo), as well as other Scandinavian cities in Sweden and Denmark. Bodø on the Norwegian mainland is the main gateway to the Lofotens, by air or by sea. From Bodø there are flights to Svolvaer or Leknes. The famed Hurtigruten coastal service also sails from Bodø and calls at several stops in the Lofotens. The E10 is the main highway through the Lofotens, along which a bus service runs to Svolvaer from Harstad and Narvik. Bus services also ply the E10 between the main towns and villages on the islands. Best time to visit Temperatures are surprisingly mild for such northerly latitudes, so travellers may visit year-round. Winter visits yield the haunting aurora borealis, while summer visits are basked in the midnight sun.
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
Montane Alpine Stretch Glove
PUFF DADDY TECHNICAL MOUNTAIN GLOVE Montane’s Alpine Stretch Glove is designed and constructed for cold mountain activities, offering both insulation and weather protection. The Primaloft insulation on the back of the hand and a deep pile in the palm provides heat retention while wicking sweat. It has a waterproof lining, and the Chameleon fabric wicks moisture fast, with a 4-way stretch for superb hand movement. Its slightly longer gauntlet-style cuff and locking wrist cinch offer additional protection, with adjustable hem to prevent spindrift entry and heat loss. Now available at S$140 from www.gearaholic.com.sg.
The Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody is a streamlined, lightweight down jacket with a unique design which combines 850 fill down with 80g/m CoreLoft synthetic insulation in select areas like the lower forearms, bottom hem, and collar area. This jacket is intended as a warm mid-layer or standalone piece in cold, dry conditions. The synthetic insulation is strategically placed in areas where moisture may build up (in the core), while the padded hood provides maximum warmth. Weighing under ten ounces, this all-around down jacket is well suited for the backcountry. Available at Campers’ Corner at S$835. There is a 20% discount storewide till 31st Dec 2014.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT Kestrel 4000SL Ultegra
FAST SMOOTH RIDE Designed for competitive triathletes seeking serious speed on the road, the 4000SL is the fastest bike Kestrel has ever produced. The 4000SL Ultegra Di2 not only brings electronic shifting, but also Shimano's new 11sp Drivetrain. Built in a wind tunnel for enhanced aerodynamics, it is also one of the most comfortable race bikes around. Using a combination of 700K & 800K grade carbon, it reduces flex in high-stress areas as well as overall weight. Every angle is customisable for tall or short riders, from the handlebar reach to the seat clamp and seat-tube angle (up to 79Âş). The Kestrel 4000 SL SHIMANO ULTEGRA DI2 is available by factory order (650c:47cm - 750c:59.5cm) via Byx Bicycles, at S$6,500.
The compressible Mammut Menâ€™s Ambler Hooded Down Jacket is stuffed with lightweight, fill with 300 grams 90/10 goose down with 800 cuin fillpower, packing a lot of heat for cold, unforgiving mountain environments. The baffled construction eliminates cold spots, and the DWR coating adds water-resistance, while the reinforced Pertex Endurance shoulders adds durability. The jacket has lots of pockets, and the adjustable waist and hood cinch down to seal out the cold. A packing bag is included to store this compressible jacket. Now available at Adventure 21 at S$889.
Mammut Ambler Hooded Down Jacket
Taiwan may be famous for its rugged scenic landscape and wild nature, but when you want a little luxury to end your day, Taiwan also has its fair share of unique accommodations. Few large international hotel chains operate here, so it’s not difficult to find boutique hotels or homestays that let you soak in the local hospitality. Taiwan is no stranger to five-star digs, which range from uber-luxury hotels like Lalu and Villa 32, to high end boutique love motels (like Wego) featuring opulent themed rooms, some even with in-room lap pools. While Taipei has its fair share of these establishments, there are still pockets of the country where you can enjoy unique homestays in the heart of some of Taiwan’s most picturesque settings. PHOTO COURTESY Taiwan Tourism Bureau
TAIWAN’S UNIQUE ACCOMMODATIONS
UNDER THE KENTING SUN Located in southern Taiwan, Kenting National Park is the centrepiece of the Hengchun peninsula. The country’s only tropical park, Kenting was once an undersea coral reef which has since metamorphosed into a unique landscape with a combination of limestone caves, narrow canyons, sand dunes and rolling grassland. To Do Sheding Nature Park is an expanse of open grassland with oddly-shaped trees that are home to a population of sika deer. The area is also a great place to spot dozens of butterfly species and is a popular birding site where you can find colourful swallowtails and the migratory Grey-faced Buzzard (from autumn to winter). The landscape at Kenting Forest Recreation Area comprises a few caves (admission chargeable) that you can visit: the Fairy Cave (the largest of its kind in Taiwan) and the long, narrow Silver Dragon Cave which is lined with beautiful white flowstone
formations that cover the cave walls. The most obvious landmark of the park is Dajianshan, a rocky outcrop that sticks out amongst gently rounded hills. While this peak is in private land (meaning no climbing), you can tour the surrounding area on a mountain bike. The terrain in the park ranges from open singletrack through rolling cow pastures to quick downhill sections. Guided mountain bike tours are recommended so you don’t inadvertently cycle into private land. Other attractions include the swimming beaches along the coast, as well as the sand dunes at Kangtzu which runs along the coastline of the peninsula. In winter, you can go for a dip in Sihjhongsi Hot Springs, one of Taiwan’s “Top Four” hot spring resorts. Getting There Kenting is about 120km from Kaohsiung, and you can travel the distance by bus (about 2.5 hours) or on a bicycle. If travelling from Taipei, the HSR (High Speed Railway) takes you to Zuoying in Kaohsiung in 90 minutes.
For a unique homestay, the KenTing Tuscany Resort (http://tuscany.tw) is located within KenTing Stony Brook Nature Farm, an area with recreational facilities and animal farms in close proximity to Kenting National Park. With scenic mountain and seaside views, this rustic homestay is inspired by Italian villas (with colourful walls and mosaic bathrooms), and features regular events like cheese and wine tastings to add to the European mood.
Situated high in the mountains of central Taiwan, Cingjing Farm is unlike any other place in the country. This picturesque highland area in Nantou County is reminiscent of Europe, with its predominantly manor- and castle-like architecture. Located at 1,700m above sea level, the cooler climate here makes it ideal for agriculture. Nantou is heavily dependent on farming, and dozens of well-planned recreational farms dot the county, set against a mountainous backdrop. To Do Hiking is a great way to explore the vicinity of Cingjing; a number of short hikes are available, including Green Grassland (with
its rolling grassland and sheep farm), Green Lake Trail (with its views of tea gardens and lakes) and the 499-Steps Trail, where a series of steps takes you past a forest of maple trees (which turn fiery red in autumn) to Shoushan Park with its amazing views. Nantou County is home to a number of undulating mountains over 3,000m high, including Hehuanshan (3,416m) and Yushan (3,952m), Taiwan’s highest peak. Cingjing Farm is in close proximity to Hehuanshan, which is characterised by rolling green hills that often disappear in a sea of clouds. Several trails, ranging from 30 minutes to a full day, take you to various points on the mountain. The trail to Hehuan Jianshan (3,217m) is a short and steep 45-
minute return hike, while the popular Hehuan East Peak (3,421m) is a 2-hour hike to one of the most scenic spots on the mountain. Cycling is also another popular activity in this area – the road from Cingjing goes all the way to Taroko Gorge on the eastern side of Hehuanshan. Plenty of cyclist challenge themselves by starting the punishing uphill journey from the base of Taroko Gorge and cycle the narrow, winding road towards Dayuling before taking Highway 14 towards Cingjing Farm.
CASTLES IN THE SKY
You can soak your weary muscles at the end of the day at nearby Lushan Hot Springs, nicknamed “Cherry Hot Springs” for its picturesque cherry blossoms that bloom in spring. Getting There Cingjing Farm is easily accessible from the town of Puli, which is a 1-hour bus ride from Taichung City on Taiwan’s west coast. From Puli, a 1-hour shuttle bus takes you to Cingjing Farm.
Cingjing Farm has a number of accommodations, and is home to The Old England (www.theoldengland.com), a luxurious family-run hotel that is outlandishly designed to create an atmosphere that is more European than Taiwanese. Perched on the edge of a hill with spectacular views of the surroundings, it features Tudor-style architecture, complete with turrets, 4-poster beds, chandeliers and stone fireplaces.
BY THE SEA The Northeast Coast National Scenic Area of Taiwan incorporates some of the country’s most spectacular coastal scenery, which includes surreal rock formations, dramatic coastal cliffs and a string of white sand beaches. The area is a big draw with beachgoers, surfers, as well as hot spring lovers. Thanks to the nutrient-rich waters of the Pacific Ocean, the east coast is also popular for whale-watching. To Do Situated between the mountains and the ocean, the Northeast Coast Scenic Area encompasses a network of hiking trails between Bitou Cape and Longdong. An iconic walk is the Caoling Historic Trail, which runs along the rugged coastal bluffs taking you past thick woodlands and scrub, past wild grazing buffalo and many kilometres
of high, grassy headlands that overlook the Pacific. Built in 1807, this is one of a few historical trails left in Taiwan. The entire trail (including the addition of the Taoyuan Valley Trail section) is about 16km (5-8 hours), and you can start/end from Fulong Beach and Daxi. For a short excursion, the beautiful Bitou Cape Hiking Trail (2-3 hours) takes in a couple of rocky capes and leads to a scenic viewpoint at the end. Longdong – an area dotted with spectacular eroded cliffs – is a popular site for rock climbing, and in recent years has become a magnet for world-class climbers. The vertical rock face has literally thousands of routes of varying difficulty, and rock climbing schools also operate in the area. Further north along the coast is Daxi (Honeymoon Bay), which is a horseshoeshaped cove that’s famous for the local surf
scene. Depending on the season, the waves get up to 3m, and it’s home to national surfing competitions. A little further away is Daxi Harbour, another surf beach where you can rent boards. Whale-watching is a popular activity along the east coast; you may be able to spot sperm whales, orcas and pilot whales from spring to summer, although the waves die down between June and August. Boats will take you to Turtle Island just offshore from Toucheng, but a permit is required as there is a daily limit on visitors to the island. Located south from Toucheng, Jiaosi is a popular hot spring resort, although it can get crowded during the weekends with crowds from Taipei. The clear, odourless water is also used by local farmers who use it for their hot spring vegetables. Getting There The Northeast Coast National Scenic Area is accessible in under 2 hours from Taipei by bus or car, to the seaside towns of Fulong or Toucheng.
Located along the beach in Yilan county’s Toucheng town is the small seaside resort of Sealuv (www.sealuv.com.tw), a whitewashed building that looks more at home in Mediterranean Greece than in Taiwan. This family-run homestay has just 8 rooms, some of which feature balconies with Greek-styled jacuzzis offering ocean views of Turtle Island just offshore.
GEAR GUY: Ken Berg Ken grew up on the doorstep of the Canadian wilderness, backpacking, paddling and rock climbing in this rugged land. Armed with a degree in recreational studies, he has been working at Canada's premier outdoor retailer for over 10 years, putting gear to the test whether it's cycling in -35ºC winters, running marathons or travelling to the far reaches of the planet.
CREATURE Sometimes the fun part of being on an adventure is going minimalist, feeling like you’re roughing it and surviving against the elements. However, at other times you want to have all the comforts of home and maybe even a little more, because there are times when comfort is a necessity and price is secondary.
BASE CAMP If you’re base- or car-camping, the GSI Gourmet Camp Kitchen gives you a stable surface where you can have running water (if you add on some water carriers and an air mattress foot pump), a wire cooking surface and an adjustable wind break. Zodi Hot Tap
In the middle of a long outdoor excursion, it’s hard to imagine something as luxurious as a shower. The Zodi Hot Tap Double Shower Burner uses propane tanks over 227L of water before you need to refill. The storage case doubles as a 15L water
GSI Gourmet Camp Kitchen
tank, allowing you to shower for up to 10 minutes.
THE ADD-ONS Can you really put a price on your life? If you are travelling in avalanche country the Black Diamond Saga 40 Jetforce bag could literally save your life. It has a built-in inflation system
Black Diamond Jetforce
that is activated in 4 seconds and stays inflated for 3 minutes in order to create an air pocket in the surrounding snow. It uses a powered fan so that you can practice using it and remains safe to transport by plane. The shock technology of the G Shock Aviation GWA1100 will protect the watch if it is struck, and a myriad of features – like a built-in compass and atomic clock that’s always accurate in 29 time zones – will help you find your way. No Casio GWA1100 batteries are needed as the solar panel will charge it up and once fully charged it will last for approximately 6 months without any exposure to the sun.
© Sernatur Tarapacá
© Turismo Chile
Chile is one of those travel destinations that you’ll want to visit with your surfboard in tow, as diehard surfers already know. Four thousand kilometers of wide wild beaches line the planet’s most active ocean waters, making this country the ideal place to find waves year-round. You can explore some of Chile’s unbeatable breaks, along with other attractions that line the country’s long coast, including fishing, dining and breathtaking landscapes. © Turismo Chile
SOUTHERN CHILE: THE LAND OF LEFT-HAND BREAKS The stretch between the Rapel and Itata rivers is one of the world’s prime spots for perfect, left-hand breaks. The waves here are long, constant, cold and all of them are lefties. Everything depends on the sand bars and the seasons, but the good surfing lasts for months. This area is almost completely rural: there are no large cities or ports, just a few industries and a string of charming fishing villages.
MATANZAS Just two hours by car from Santiago, this small beach town and the surrounding area offers endless perfect tubes. Southern Chile is very, very windy, which makes it one of the best places in the world for windsurfing and kite-surfing. Surfing Highlights Puertecillo and Topocalma are classic points well off the beaten path (there are no urban areas along the next 70km of coast). During the season, you’ll find perfect waves and surfers generally camp right on the beach.
PICHILEMU This traditional beach destination in the south of Chile – with its variety of surfing-focused tourism offerings – is one of the country’s surfing capitals, and is a great place to spot some of Chile’s best surfers. Surfing Highlights There are plenty of surf spots here, ranging from tubes at La Puntilla and Infiernillo (which can get really windy) to the classic Punta de Lobos, Chile’s most famous surfing spot known for gigantic, perfect waves (of 10m or more), with a full kilometer of breaks available along the beach. Each May, the “Quiksilver Ceremonial Punta de Lobos” is held here.
CONSTITUCIÓN & SURROUNDING AREA This charming area has undergone a major facelift, and offers natural beauty, hospitable people, surfing and fishing beaches, and lots of restaurants that serve up traditional local fare (mostly involving seafood).
Surfing Highlights A number of fishing villages dot the area, including Pellines (with perfect surf depending on the sand bar, plus seaside lodging and dining), Pullehue (surrounded by beautiful vegetation, with streams that run into the sea, plenty of fishing and the occasional tubular wave) and Curanipe, a longtime local surfing destination with a steady break near town. Further south along the coast, the area is completely rural; there are no services or public transportation. There are lodgings and food in Pullay, Buchupureo and Cobquecura, the last of the left-hand breaks and home to La Rinconada, an extraordinarily beautiful spot with 52km of grey-sand beaches and spectacular rock formations ideal for surf fishing and swimming. The local Santuario de la Naturaleza is home to more than 3,000 sea lions that live in the high, rocky areas.
The northern region of Chile is more populated, with surf beaches often located in or very near major cities, meaning it’ll be easy to find surf schools and explore Chile’s cultural offerings.
ARICA The country’s northern port city features some of Chile’s most famous waves, as well as the most active surfing communities with plenty of surf schools open year-round. Thanks to the region’s climate, Arica is practically the only place in Chile where you can surf without a wetsuit. Inland, you can explore the altiplano (home to the imposing Lago Chungará, perched 4,570m high in the Andes). You can also learn about the local pre-Columbian cultures and view one of the oldest mummies in the world at the Museo Arqueológico San Miguel de Azapa or experience life in small Andean villages like Putre or Parinacota.
the clearest skies in the southern hemisphere. La Serena’s surfing community spans an area of nearly 100km of beaches. Totoralillo is famous for its beautiful white sand and turquoise-blue water, making it popular for swimming, scuba diving and fishing; it’s popular during the summer thanks to its perfect waves, which are sought out by surfers and bodyboarders alike. Surfing Highlights Surfers can tackle the waves at Caleta Hornos, with its shifting sand bars and quality waves that are exposed to the wind and surf, as well as Punta T and Avenida del Mar.
Highlights The ride ranges from short breaks at Huaiquique and El Faro, to popular big wave spots at Colegio and Las Urracas. There are also spots for expert surfers at El Bajo (which are big, tubular and difficult), Intendencia (the most demanding tube that ends in a deep pool) and Punta 2, an aggressive tube that ends in a “dry” section.
CHINCHORRO, LAS MACHAS, GALLINAZO Three beaches of uninterrupted sand stretch from Arica to Peru. Chinchorro is a popular spot for surfing as well as other watersports, like water skiing and windsurfing. The warm waters also make it an excellent place to swim. The sand bars and pools at these beaches produce a variety of waves, with lots of new spots to discover and plenty of schools willing to teach novices the ropes.
Surfing Highlights You can catch a wave at El Buey, El Gringo (host to several world surfing championships with tubular waves), and La Isla (the locals’ favourite point break).
LA SERENA La Serena is one of Chile’s most popular destinations, with highlights including the historic downtown that’s full of colonial architecture, the bustling Avenida del Mar, a wide variety of beaches, the Museo Arqueológico, and the picturesque market of La Recova. Nearby day trips from the city include the city of Ovalle and the fertile Andean valleys of Elqui and Limarí, where you can sample potent pisco (an alcoholic beverage made from distilled grapes) and local wine. The “Astronomy Route” takes you past the many observatories in the area, which is home to
excellent lodging, and lively nightlife. Iquique’s Old Quarter is full of beautiful architecture and museums where you can learn about the saltpeter era. The local beaches are home to a considerable surfing community and reefs that produce world-class waves that should only be tackled by experienced surfers.
NORTHERN CHILE: ROCKY BREAKS GALORE
© Sernatur Tarapacá
This solitary town located next to the highway (30 km south of Chañaral) is a desert surfing capital. During winter holidays, it fills up with beach campers, while in summer, it’s a popular vacation destination for those visiting the Copiapó-Chañaral area.
IQUIQUE This major city in the north of Chile is famous for its beautiful beaches, warm climate, © Turismo Chile
GETTING THERE There are several options for flying into Chile; the fastest connection is via New Zealand, with an average flight time of about 25 hours. © Turismo Chile
More than just aperitifs or dinner accompaniments, fine wines, whisky or sake represent the culture of their country of origin in a single drop. To really appreciate these national icons, there can be few better ways than imbibing them at the source.
1 RUM Born in the 17th century in the Caribbean (and long associated with rum-running pirates), this beverage has recently seen a resurgence, with producers emerging from around the world.
The islands of the Caribbean are still the top producers of rum, and there’s a distillery on almost every island, from Dominica to Jamaica, Grenada and Barbados. Most distilleries have rum tours (bookings required), and the best way to see the Caribbean and drop by rum distilleries is by boat; scheduled as well as chartered yachts and tallships ply these waters.
3 2 1
AROUND THE WORLD IN A GLASS 3 BEER Beer is one of the oldest forms of brewed alcoholic drinks in the world, and these days there are many varieties of beer available, from wheat beer to porter and flavoured craft beer.
There are well over 1,200 beer breweries in Germany, with the oldest – and most numerous – located in the Bavaria region (home to Oktoberfest). You can take a weeklong bicycle tour through Franconia where there's a brewery every kilometre, stopping
at traditional brewery towns like Bamberg, Ansbach and Nuremberg along the way.
The US has seen a huge boom in the craft beer sector in recent years. Vermont packs in more craft beer breweries than any state in the country, and is home to several award winning brews. The state also has plenty of quality singletracks and quiet roads that you can explore on a mountain bike as you drop in on the breweries.
2 TEQUILA Often taken as shots or in margarita, tequila has also grown in popularity recently, with plenty of boutique distilleries producing top quality – and pricey – tequila.
The town of Tequila is home of the Tequila Trail, where distilleries of all styles – from traditional to industrial – are scattered across this desert landscape of the agave countryside. You can join tours or take the Tequila Express train, dropping by distilleries for a tour and tasting. You can also go horseback riding through classic dirt trails, dropping by distilleries and haciendas along the way.
4 GIN Once relegated to just gin-and-tonics, this juniper-based liqueur is now experiencing a renaissance of sorts, with hand-crafted quality gin gracing the watering holes of high society.
While gin may have originated in Holland, a gin craze developed in London in the 18th century, resulting in a boom of bathtub distillers. Today, there are a number of gin tours that take you to various distilleries in London, ranging from centuries-old brands (like Beefeater) to newer boutique players in the market, like The London Distillery Company.
5 VODKA Vodka has always been associated with student life and hangovers, but these days, its image is one of luxury (some of the most expensive bottles of alcohol are vodka) and craftsmanship.
The motherland of vodka, Russia patented its national drink in 1894. You can start your vodka experience at the Vodka Museum before heading to one of Russia’s 180 distilleries like Stolichnaya, Liviz, and the Moscow Cristall Vodka Distillery, all producing versions not found elsewhere in the world (like those flavoured with elderflower).
SCOTLAND | 17
Whisky Whisky is as Scottish as kilts and bagpipes, and it’s no surprise that there are several trails dedicated to its national drink. Classic Malts Cruise, West Scotland Some of the best distilleries are located on far-flung islands in the Inner Hebrides just off its western coast. As most of these distilleries are scattered on small islands, the best way to explore them is by yacht. Every summer, the Classic Malts Cruise is organised as a 200-mile non-competitive sailing event through the Inner Hebrides, with daily stops at distilleries during this 2week itinerary. There is no participation fee, and only up to 200 boats can register to take part, with captains free to choose their own route around Oban, Skye and Islay. Along the way, ships will dock and spend the night, and meet up with other crew members for tours and tastings at the distilleries of Oban, Tobermory, Talisker and Lagavulin. In addition, there will also be local ceilidh (traditional Gaelic social gathering involving Gaelic folk music and dancing) and BBQs. Distilleries aren’t the only drawcards: yachts can explore other islands, remote lochs and
secluded anchorages on the West Coast, including the islands of Mull, Coll, Rum, Muck, Canna, and Eigg. This isolated region is rich in wildlife, so you can probably spot sharks, pilot whales, orcas, dolphins, as well as puffins, sea eagles and gannets. On some islands, you can also visit castles.
Distillery (the oldest in the Highlands established in 1786) and Cardhu (the only malt distillery pioneered by a woman).
There are plenty of yacht hire options (which lets you do as much or as little as you like) available to do the Malts Cruise, however, the next scheduled event will only take place in the summer of 2016. Malt Whisky Trail If you’re not into sailing, there is also the Malt Whisky Trail which takes you to 7 working distilleries (there are many more in the area you can drop by) in Speyside in the northeast Highlands. This region produces over half of Scotland’s whisky, and is home to renowned names like Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. The tour takes you to working distilleries where you’ll get the opportunity to taste the handcrafted drinks. Some unique distilleries include the Benromach Distillery (Speyside’s smallest working distillery), the Strathisla
Along this signposted trail, you can also drop by Dufftown’s Speyside Cooperage, where you can witness the ancient art of creating whisky barrels and even make your own mini-cask. Most people take tours or drive the route, but you can also hike in the area, past historic castles nestled amongst rolling green hills. The Speyside Way is a long distance route (a portion of it is in Cairngorns National Park) with gentle gradients that follow the valley of the River Spey, passing some of the distilleries along the way. Part of the route is open to bicycles. In May and September, whisky distilleries, shops, pubs and whole villages welcome visitors at weekends with drams, special nosings, and ceilidhs.
ACCESS The Whisky Trail isn’t near any major city, but it is easily accessible from Inverness, Aviemore or Aberdeen. Most itineraries start from Edinburgh and head north for a 3-day tour of the Malt Whisky Trail.
FRANCE | 18
© Atout France/Franck Charel
Wine If it’s one thing the French are proud of, it’s probably their wines. France has 10 major wine-growing regions, each with its distinct characteristics, with Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne being the most well-known. Burgundy Located in the eastern portion of France, Burgundy is one of France’s best known wine growing regions, and the Côte d’Or – a vine-covered slope that runs south from its capital of Dijon for about 60km – is its biggest drawcard. This incredibly picturesque land is home to idyllic stone villages and immaculately-groomed vineyards that bear the names of the greatest – and most expensive – Grands Cru red wines in the world. This is because wines in this region are often produced in small quantities, which lead to high demand. Burgundy (Bourgogne) has 5 wine routes, the most famous being the Route des Grands Crus, a narrow trail which winds its way between vineyards and villages, taking you to 24 of the 33 Grands Crus in Burgundy. The terroir in the northern portion – Côte de Nuits (at 20km long and in parts just 200m wide) – is ideal for pinot noir grapes which
© Atout France/CRT Bourgogne/Alain Doire
are used for the majority of this winegrowing region’s Grands Crus, including the prestigious Romanée-Conti (wine from its estate was recently auctioned at Sotheby’s at just over S$17,000 per bottle). If you’re interested in a bottle, the 2003 vintage is said to be the best. Further south is the Côte de Beaune, which is famous for its Chardonnay grape that produces some good dry white wines at estates like Montrachet and CortonCharlemagne. The villages along the route (like Beaune and Vosne-Romanée) are excellent places to sample and purchase wines; you can also join winery tours – which range from half day to week-long – in order to visit the individual cellars. Along the route, you can also visit some chateaus, like the 16th century Château du Clos de Vougeot, a country castle where you can learn about Burgundy’s winemaking techniques. You can follow the wine route by bicycle, which takes 3-4 hours to cover about 50km and offers fine views of the slopes and vineyards. Burgundy also has thousands of kilometres of hiking trails, including sections of the GR7 which runs along the Côte d’Or.
Where the route of the Grands Crus ends, the route of the Grands Vins begins. Running from Santenay to Saint-Gengoux-le-National, over a hundred signposted kilometres connect about 40 communes via the vineyards of Maranges, the Couchois and Côte Chalonnaise. Here, you’ll find Romanesque churches and castles alongside wooded countryside, and the water way of Canal du Centre offers opportunities for boating (and biking alongside). © Atout France/R-Cast
Another extended trail connects the Mâconnais-Beaujolais wine-growing region, where you can explore the most southerly vineyards via one of 8 circuits that break away from the main route. Ending at Romanèche-Thorins, this is the Beaujolais region where young red wines are produced.
ACCESS The main access into Burgundy is via its capital, Dijon, which happens to be one of France’s most beautiful cities, as its historic buildings and byways have been left mostly intact after WWII. Famous for its mustard, Dijon is easily accessible by rail, air and road. From here, the wine route leads you to Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy. There is a wine sale event at the Hôtel-Dieu (Hospices de Beaune) which happens every autumn. © Atout France/Cédric Helsly
SCOTLAND | 19
Japan’s national drink is undoubtedly sake. Brewed in almost all regions acfross the country, its characteristics differ according to the quality of its raw materials (water, yeast and rice and the skills of the brewers). Some of the best sake come from the Japan Alps region, which include the prefectures of Nagano and neighbouring Niigata. The high mountains here are famous for their abundance of snow which translates into plentiful pristine rivers that feed the rice fields and breweries. © JNTO
Nagano Nagano’s sake is a perennial favourite, with its characteristically soft, often fragrant and very approachable flavour. The sake here makes a good contrast to those from neighbouring Niigata (a major producer of sake by volume), which is drier in comparison. There are around 100 breweries in the prefecture, dotted throughout Nagano’s countryside. You can begin a brewery tour at Nagano City; near the landmark Zenkoji Temple is Nishi-no-mon, which is housed in a group of traditional buildings, and offers a variety of sake and its by-products. Nearby is Obuse, a quaint town renowned for its chestnuts and sake warehouses. It is home to the 250-year-old Masuichi sake brewery, where you can try sake at its traditional “teppa” (an old-fashioned bar where people would take their own sake
vessels to drink from) and savour “yori tsuki” style cuisine. In the centre of Nagano is Matsumoto with its famous castle. Here, you’ll find breweries ranging from the modern Eh-shuzou, with its state-of-the-art brewing technology, to Kametaya, which is more traditional in its architecture (the brewery is in an old farmhouse) and techniques. A must-visit sake town is Suwa, where 5 breweries are packed into a half-kilometre stretch near Suwa’s Kamisuwa station: Masumi, Honkin, Maihime, Reijin and Ito breweries. Home to some of the purest sake in Nagano, this area utilises artesian water from Yatsugatake Mountain. You can sample 3-5 varieties of sake at each brewery at ¥1,800, or attend a Nomiaruki (“drink and walk”) event which takes place every autumn and spring, where one fee allows you to drink freely at any of the breweries. The Kiso Valley was once part of the Edoperiod highway (Nakasendo), lined with a number of trading posts. Today, several of these quintessentially rustic Japanese post towns (Tsumago, Magome and Narai) have
been so well-preserved deep in the mountains that it feels like you’ve travelled back in time. Kiso is also an excellent place to sample their locally made sake – which is well-known for its crisp and dry flavour – at one of the 5 sake breweries located along the valley. Another location along the Nakasendo is Saku (on Nagano’s eastern border), home to several well-preserved post towns that are less well-known, but are home to many historic buildings, including several traditional sake breweries to visit, including Takeshige Shuzo and Tsuchiya Shuzo.
ACCESS Nagano is easily accessible from Tokyo by shinkansen. From there, local trains and buses ply the routes between smaller towns. Visiting the breweries during winter means you can sample the first brews of the year (plus, the mountains provide excellent opportunities for skiing, and soaking in an onsen in winter is another cultural classic), while spring usually brings sake events.
Thereâ€™s no better place to immerse yourself in the sake lifestyle than in the heart of Japan, Nagano. Uncover centuries-old traditions on exclusive brewery tours, sample the authentic flavours of Nagano sake, and discover a more relaxed, and yet exciting, side to Japan. Take in everything else that Nagano has to offer: sacred mountains, ancient cities, quaint hamlets, soothing onsen and, unique cuisine. Every season has its highlights â€“ skiing in the winter, cherry blossoms in the spring, festivals in the summer, and autumn foliage.
Nagano Sake Sojourn Departure Date: Feb 2015 Set within the mighty mountains of the Japanese Alps, winter in Nagano is not just about sake: hit the ski slopes, soak in a traditional onsen, or simply take in its rich cultural heritage.
For more details on Nagano Sake Sojourn, please call us at 6221 4250 or email us at email@example.com
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PHOTOS BY Tamara Sanderson
BHUTAN rise of uber-luxury accommodations, its foot is firmly planted in its centuries-old traditions and Buddhist culture.
A nation that has long been on many travel bucket lists, Bhutan is a kingdom with many charms. Famous for its approach to tourism as one of ‘low volume, high value’, it means you won’t find any backpacker-style (read: budget) travel. All visitors will need to pay a levy, making it appear as one of the world’s most expensive destinations. However, what you do get for your US$250 a day tariff (US$200 in low season from June to August) includes 3-star hotel accommodation, 3 meals a day, a professional guide and transport. If you’re Thai, the levy for their low season is only US$65 a day. And there is no limit to tourist visas issued. While Bhutan embraces global developments, which is especially apparent in the
without a 2-3 hour trek to the famous Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang Monastery) which is perched precariously on a cliff.
Here you’ll find locals dressed in their national attire (the "gho" for men and the "kira" for women), where colourful ancient monasteries – with their colourful tsechus (dance festivals) – are part of everyday life, and archery is a national sport where men show off their machismo at traditional tournaments. Bhutan is also a little quirky: their rice is red, they measure economic growth with “Gross National Happiness”, and locals paint colourful giant penises outside their houses as protective charms. Mountains feature greatly during a trip to Bhutan, and trekking is an excellent way to see the country. For those on a high-end package, a trekking tour involves both camping and 5-star accommodation, with all luggage and camp gear transported by a support crew. Treks range from easy trails (like the easy 3-day Bumthang Cultural Trek) to the 25-day Snowman Trek which takes you to the high altitudes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. No trip to Bhutan is complete
By law, 60% of the country is forested, with mountain meadows resplendent with rhododendron blossom in spring. Bhutan’s gradual approach to development has largely been successful in avoiding the social and environmental destruction wreaked in other developing countries. From its impressive architecture and mountain scenery to its friendly hospitable locals, it’s a destination that even the most seasoned traveller considers a privilege to visit.
Andorra Hidden high in the Pyrenees Mountains, tucked between its massive neighbours France and Spain, the tiny nation of Andorra had remained quietly out-of-view of almost everyone for nearly 1,200 years – before the arrival of ski-tourism. Capitalising on the country's soaring summits, since the 1950s Andorra's been evolving into one of Europe's most popular ski destinations, bringing it out of obscurity and into the limelight. Like its fellow European principalities (Liechtenstein and Monaco) Andorra isn't an EU member, although it does use the Euro. Its official languages are French and Catalan, which it shares with the people of neighbouring Catalonia. It also has "royalty" – in this case by historic decree. Its co-princes are the Bishop of Urgell, and the President of France (uniquely, this makes the President of France the only elected "monarch" in the world, albeit elected by the French public, not the Andorrans).
of its GDP, helping to give it one of the highest standards of living and longest life expectancies in the world.
Tourism in Andorra While ski is what sells, Andorra also hides another side that most day-trippers fail to discover – from ancient mountain villages, to summer hiking routes through the high Pyrenees, to the unique Catalan culture that defines the country.
Despite its small size at just 468sq.km., Andorra has over 60 summits above 2,000m. Outside of the main ski areas, like Grandvalira and Vallnord, this has kept large tracts of Andorra rural, traditional and best explored on foot.
To say tourism has been a game-changer in Andorra is a vast understatement. Prior to the 1950s, Andorra's population was a mere 6,000 mainly rural farmers. And while farming and livestock still exist, they make up just 1% of its economy today, with Andorra's 11 million visitors per year accounting for 80%
Despite this development, the country still remains largely untouched, due to its rugged terrain. There's just one main highway, connecting Andorra la Vella (Europe's highest capital city at 1,028m), while outlying villages and valleys are reachable only by winding mountain roads.
HIKING IN SUMMER
GR1 There are dozens of hiking routes through the mountains, including the GR1 (part of the famous trans-European Grandé Randonnée network), connecting Andorra, France and Spain via a 5-day walking circuit starting and ending at the mountain village of El Serrat (1,520m), near the popular Ordino ski area. The route is serviced by mountain
huts for each night's halt, zig-zagging across the borders, and topping out on Day 3 along the upper slopes of Port de Baiau at over 2,700m. Pic de Coma Pedrosa Another popular and challenging hike is Andorra's highest peak - the pyramid-shaped Pic de Coma Pedrosa (2,942m) straddling the French and Spanish borders, near the GR1 which runs up the adjacent Estany Negre (2,627m). The mountain lies within Valls del Comapedrosa Nature Park, ensuring there's been minimal human impact, making it home to a wide range native fauna including 77% of all species found in Andorra, such as eagles, the occasional bear and the rare Pyrenean chamois. Setting out from the village of Arinsal (1,500m), Coma Pedrosa can be climbed FIT, or via guided tours in 4-5 hours. Above 2,200m, the terrain transitions from pine forests dotted with numerous alpine lakes, including Estany de les Truites ("Trout Lake") and Estany Negre ("Black Lake"), to a scree scramble above 2,700m up to the summit.
Nothing says “lux” more than royalty. In this case, we're looking at Europe's charming club of royal micro-states, namely the principalities of Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco, and the GrandDuchy of Luxembourg. While each is associated with a very different image – ranging from Monaco's glamour, to the mountains of Andorra and Liechtenstein, and the castles of Luxembourg – they all have an undeniable, if kitschy, allure for travellers.
WINTER SKIING Obviously known for its skiing, Grandvalira is southern Europe’s largest ski area comprising 118 skiable slopes, and 210km of piste. With lift access up to 2,640m, there’s nearly 1,000m of vertical drop, meaning consistent snowfall on the upper slopes. Since opening in 2003, Grandvalira’s ¤93 million upgrading includes 3 freestyle areas, 6 ski and snowboard centres, 64 lifts and 3 World Cup slopes, 40 restaurants and Wifi coverage across the entire resort, plus live HD webcams covering the slopes. Other
activity options include snowmobile, snowshoe, skijoring (skiers pulled by sled dogs), and moonlight dogsled rides. Uniquely, Grandvalira also boasts southern Europe’s only Igloo Hotel (2,350m), with access via CAT or ski-in, ski-out. Ideal for couples, it’s privately remote but not isolated as there’s also a bar and jacuzzi serving the cluster of guest-igloos up on the mountain. Situated in eastern Andorra, at just 190km (2.5 hours) from Barcelona, it’s also possible as a daytrip from the coast.
GETTING THERE Andorra is located less than 200km from Barcelona (its main international gateway). Due to its mountainous terrain, there are no flight or train connections into Andorra, with selfdrive being the best option. Thanks to its ski centres, the country boasts a huge range of hotels, from budget to luxury, with good discounts for offseason bookings. For more on Andorra, visit www.visitandorra.com.
ANDORRAN CULTURE While it's missed by most day-trippers, Andorra's culture, festivals and history are a major attraction for visitors who take the time to discover them. Festivals The Feast of Sant Jordi is one of Andorra's (and neighbouring Catalonia's) most important festivals, alongside the Feast of our Lady of Meritxell, held on Andorra's National Day (8 September), celebrating the country’s patron saint. There are also designated Parish Festival days in each of Andorra's 6 administrative parishes, happening throughout July and August each year. Andorran Cuisine Similar to the lowland Catalonian cuisine found in Barcelona, Andorran meals generally begin with toasted bread rubbed in garlic,
tomato and salt. Steamed or stewed cargol (snails) are also extremely popular, as well as mountain trout, or anchovy and cod brought up from the Mediterranean. These, along with various stews, soups and roast meats, are prominently on offer at any Andorran festa. Historic Churches For centuries, religion has had a huge influence on Andorran culture, and almost every village no matter how small has a historic, old church. Some great examples among the nearly 30 gazetted, historic churches in Andorra include the 11th century Església de Sant Martí de Nagol in the far south, or the 9th century Església de Santa Coloma just outside Andorra la Vella, the 11th century Església de Sant Joan de Caselles in Canillo, and the 11th century Església de Sant Esteve within the capital itself. These are generally dedicated to
particular saints, and burst into life on their respective feast days throughout the summer. Andorra Trivia Due to its unique and complex history, Andorra is the only country with two equal monarchs, or an elected monarch. Until 1993, the token annual tribute paid by Andorra to the Bishop of Urgell included cheese, meat and live chickens.
The pocket-sized Principality of Liechtenstein measures just 25km long and 6km wide, nestled in the mountains (up to 2,500m high) between Switzerland and Austria. This doubly-landlocked micro-nation has only 11 villages and 36,000 inhabitants, and is the last remnant of the Holy Roman Empire, and today shares its currency (and non-EU status) with neighbouring Switzerland. Like the Swiss, it also has a profusion of private banks, the swanky offices of which line the streets of its capital, Vaduz. VADUZ Vaduz’s museums, shops and restaurants are easily covered on foot in under an hour (which explains the profusion of day-trippers). Perched on a cliff above the city is the Gothicera Vaduz Castle, home of Liechtenstein’s reigning monarch. A short walking path leads you to the castle, and while it’s not open to the public, you can walk through the forests of his estate and enjoy the magnificent view.
HIKING LIECHTENSTEIN Just on the outskirts of the town, a 400km network of well-marked hiking trails line the surrounding mountains – ranging from easy walks to multi-day hikes – offering spectacular views of the Alps dotted with quaint villages. In addition, 3 classic mountain huts – the Pfälzerhütte (2,109m), Gafadurahütte (1,428m) and Berggasthaus Sücka – provide excellent bases for hikers.
PHOTOS FROM Liechtenstein Marketing
Liechtenstein The ‘Drei-Schwestern-Weg’, or the ‘Three Sisters’ track (12.4km, 5 hours), is the most classic mountain hike; opened in 1898, it has fantastically laid-out tracks leading along steep cliffs and mountain ridges. The Kuhgrat ridge (2,123 m) offers spectacular panoramas of the Swiss and Austrian mountains while views of the villages situated along the Rhine to Lake Constance, and the magnificent flora, provide an exceptional backdrop. The Princes' Way Hike (6km, 3 hours) is a classic hike in Liechtenstein, taking you from Alp Gaflei over green pastures and pine forests before climbing to exposed sections (with fixed ropes) and mountain peaks with spectacular views of the Alpine valleys of Liechtenstein. Guided hikes are available. The romantic Grüschaweg Trail (11km, 3.5 hours) starts from Vaduz along the historic 'Schlossstrasse' (castle path) to Vaduz Castle before entering the Princely Forest where the Grüschaweg Trail meanders to
Triesenberg village, famous for its 400-year old museum-house. The trail then passes the Wals Fable Trail where hikers encounter bizarre mythical figures (with interpretive boards) along the way, before reaching Rotabada village and the descent to Vaduz. In addition, numerous themed trails allow you to explore a certain region or village – the 6km Schaan Culture Trail takes you through the town's history via interpretive boards, while the Triesen trails allows you to explore this ancient settlement with its historic sawmills, blacksmiths and other workshops. For multi-day hikes, the Liechtenstein Panorama Trail (48km) has 3 stages from Malbun to Ruggell, passing ridges, peaks and panoramic views of mountains along the way. There are also guided 4-day hikes that include accommodation at all 3 of Liechtenstein's mountain huts.
WINEMAKING It may not be apparent at first sight, but if you take a closer look, there’s a surprising diversity of winemaking in Liechtenstein.
The principality’s 99 winemakers and the Prince of Liechtenstein Winery grow more
than 20 different types of grapes in the Rhine Valley, where the warm Föhn wind creates perfect conditions for their wines. While it seems as if almost every house has it own vineyard, there are only 4 professional winemakers in Liechtenstein, all of whom offer tasting sessions: Prince of Liechtenstein Winery (in Vaduz), Castellum and Hoop vineyards (Eschen), and Harry Zechs Weinbau Cantina (Schaanwald). Winegrowers here cultivate pinot noir and Müller-Thurgau grapes, which are used to produce fruity wines with a unique character. With just 26 hectares of vineyards in the principality, less than 1% of its produce is exported, meaning that a visit to Liechtenstein is more or less the only way to sample the country’s wines.
GETTING THERE There is no train station or airport in Liechtenstein, so the only way in is by road. From Switzerland (Sargans, Buchs) or Austria (Feldkirch) you can take regular buses (LIEmobil) into Liechtenstein. Visit www.tourismus.li for more on Liechtenstein.
CYCLING From rides along the flat banks of the Rhine to day trips over the border and energysapping Alpine climbs, this small country has over 100km of marked bike paths and mountain bike trails, catering to cyclists of all abilities and fitness levels. Liechtenstein’s rich culture and nature can be explored in one day along Route 66 (the main throughway that cuts across the entire principality). You can also cycle over the border to Lake Constance via 50kms of wellmaintained cycle paths, taking you through Switzerland and Austria. For more of a challenge, you can tackle the 29km-long Triesenberg Tour (with 1,238 vertical metres) from Vaduz to Maiensäss Silum, taking you past Vaduz Castle. The popular Gafadura trail climbs from Schaan up to the Gafadurahütte hut (1,400m),
passing Planken village before steadily climbing to the pastures of Alp Gafadura. Hearty food and wonderful views of the Rhine Valley reward cyclists at the hut.
There are also plenty of guided cycle tours, ranging from winery tours to those that take you around the entire country.
The picturesque Valorsch trail takes you through the romantic Valorschtal Valley around Schönberg to Malbun (1,600m), framed by three mountain streams.
At an altitude of 1,600m, the car-free ski resort of Malbun is the heart of winter activities in Liechtenstain. A number of chairlifts (including one with heated seats) take you to over 23kms of piste (up to an altitude of 2,000m), ranging from easy to challenging.
Cross-country skiing is offered at Valünatal Valley, where there are 3 cross-country skiing schools. The 'Valünaloipe' cross-country skiing trail in Steg has both a large hilly15km loop, an easier 4km loop, and a 3km stretch of floodlit night trail. Cross-country skiing equipment can be hired here.
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© Claudine Bosseler / ONT
While it’s a seemingly small country at just 84kms long, the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg actually boasts a very diverse landscape filled with hidden gems. It is home to a rich historic capital with its UNESCO-listed core, as well as rolling hills and gorges dotted with beguiling villages and over 50 medieval castles.
The densely forested Ardennes – with its famous castles and nature reserves – covers the northern half of the country. Heading south, you pass into the Müllerthal region with its primeval forests, deep ravines and extensive hiking and biking trails, while due east along the Moselle River is Luxembourg’s historic wine region. All of these regions are easily accessible by bike, car or train from Luxembourg City. The country has a 600km network of cycling trails, making it an ideal way to explore the country at a slower pace.
LUXEMBOURG CITY Charmingly small, Luxembourg City’s UNESCO-listed historic centre is laid out like a classic European fortification, containing a network of 23km of underground galleries. The beautiful Chemin de la Corniche is a pedestrian promenade that winds along the course of the 17th century city ramparts, with views across the river canyon. Within this historic centre is the 16th century Flemish Renaissance-style Grand-Ducal Palace, with its majestic interior that is open to the public in summer.
ARDENNES Northern Luxembourg’s Ardennes region is best-known for its mix of history and rolling
hills, and winding its way through that is the Eisch River and the “Valley of 7 Castles” – which as its name implies, is home to some of the country’s most impressive medieval architecture. Linked via a tranquil, wooded 40km footpath, 4 of the castles are open to the public (Hollenfels, Mersch, Schoenfels and the ruins of Koerich Castle), as well as the old Ansembourg Castle which has a boutique hotel. The New Ansembourg and Septfontaines castles are privately owned.
and medieval towns. You can explore this region on mountain bike trails, nordic walking paths, as well as along the 42km-long Moselle Path which takes you along the Moselle River past vineyards and picturesque villages where you can sample wine along the way. © Andreas Kern / ONT
The route can be comfortably driven in an hour, cycled in a day (including stops), or walked in two days. Also worth visiting are the castles of Wiltz with its national brewery museum (complete with a historic bar), and the 11th century Vianden, one of Europe’s most impressive. Not to be missed is the village of Esch-surSûre, which is set on a hillock surrounded by a river, dominated by a dramatic ruined manor house (927AD) and cliffs which plunge down to the river.
MOSELLE Moselle is one of the most beautiful valleys in Luxembourg; its steep hills are famous for vineyards which produce Luxembourg’s wines (Riesling, Auxerrois and Pinot Gris), and is dotted with wineries, charming hotels
MULLERTHAL A hilly region characterised by rock formations, Mullerthal is home to Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg that was founded by Benedictine monks in 698AD. The town is also home to the Dance Procession of Echternach, Europe’s last remaining religious dance festival held annually on Whit Tuesday. You can explore the region on the Mullerthal Trail, which takes experienced hikers through 112kms of magnificent valleys dotted with dramatic rock formations.
With a history dating back over 700 years, today Monaco – the secondsmallest country in the world at just 2sq.km. – is home to more millionaires per capita than any other nation. Nestled between the French and Italian rivieras, the beachfront along Avenue Princess Grace, for instance, is the most expensive real estate in the world at over US$75,000/sq.m. While it’s not part of the EU or France, it uses the Euro and speaks French (along with Monégasque, the Genoese dialect of the Grimaldi family which has ruled Monaco since 1297).
Monaco the public, with events like free classical music concerts, and the daily changing of the royal guards.
The nearest airport is located in Nice from where there are regular bus and train services. Another option is to arrive by helicopter from Nice (around ¤100/person).
PHOTO BY Monaco Press Centre Photos
and is home to the Chapiteau (the venue for the International Circus Festival).
Situated in a stunning former palace perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, and formerly run by Jacques Cousteau himself, the Musée Océanographique is one of the world's most renowned marine museums, with extensive displays of marine oddities, and even a life-size sperm whale. Monaco is made up of 4 distinct areas: the old city of Monaco-Ville, the waterfront quarter of La Condamine, legendary Monte-Carlo, and the newest part of the city, Fontvieille.
Literally everything in Monaco is within walking distance along its narrow, winding roads, including the Casino, Prince's Palace and the Oceanographic Museum. The city's upper and lower levels are also connected by a series of public escalators and lifts.
Dating from the mid-19th century, gambling at Casino de Monte Carlo used to account for 95% of Monaco's income in its heyday, hence the opulent, antique decor; today it's only a fraction of the country's income, with locals forbidden to gamble.
Above Monte Carlo just over the border in France are a series of rugged, winding bike routes and roads. This area is the site of the annual Monte Carlo Rally, and makes for a challenging bike climb or hike, with the added reward of unparalleled views of Monaco.
The casino is also home to the famous Palais Garnier, with its stunning opera house and the Monte Carlo Ballet.
Another popular day-hike follows the beautiful Route des Crêtes, hugging the coast towards the Italian border via the historic village of Eze and a 5th century castle.
Resting atop the Rock of Monaco – a rocky 141m-high outcrop that looms over the country – is the old city of Monaco-Ville with its historic sites. The Palais du Prince's stunning setting, together with its heavily fortified defenses, are a testament to the early Grimaldi rulers' tenuous grasp on power. A self-guided tour takes you through richly decorated state rooms. The palace courtyard is also open to
Tumbling down the cliff face into the sea, its winding streets are home to the famous Casino and the iconic Hôtel de Paris.
LA CONDAMINE & FONTVIEILLE Overlooking the famous Port Hercules (filled with expensive yachts), it's the starting line of the Grand Prix, and home to the country's only train station with connections to Nice, Cannes and Marseille. Fontvieille has a long list of famous residents,
HEAD FOR THE HILLS
The nearby Via Alpina long-distance hiking route begins (or ends) at the Jardin Exotique, and winds its way north into the mountains towards the picturesque villages of La Turbie and Peillon before connecting to Germany and Liechtenstein.
LUXURY CAMPS IN INDIA From the jungles of India’s national parks to the mountains on the edge of the Himalayas, luxury tented camps are the new byline in luxury, and it’s even got its own vocabulary. Gone are the days of dingy tents and collapsible chairs – glamorous camping, or ‘glamping’, prove that you don’t need solid walls to soak in the riches.
SAFARI TENTS Once the private hunting grounds of Maharajahs, India’s national parks are home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, which include around 400 species of mammals and over 1,000 species of birds. Tigers, understandably, are the major draw at most national parks and those protected under Project Tiger are the only areas where you can catch a glimpse of these elusive cats. After enjoying a game drive, you can discover some of India’s most stylish safari lodges. Kanha National Park Located in the southeastern part of the state of Madhya Pradesh, Kanha’s deciduous forests, savannah grasslands and rolling hills are home to unique species like the threestriped palm squirrel, the highly endangered hardground barasingha deer, as well as over 200 species of birds. It is also prime tiger country, and is one of India’s natural reserves protected under Project Tiger.
Within the park, Taj Safaris’ Banjaar Tola Tented Camp has 18 tented suites, spread out along the riverbank and into the sal forest. Each luxurious tent has wide glass doors that open onto private decks overlooking a river, featuring pressed bamboo wall panels and floors. Kabini River Located at the confluence of both Nagarhole National Park and neighbouring Bandipur National Park, the Kabini River is an ideal location to explore both of these Project Tiger parks. The parks make up a part of the Nilgiri Bioshpere Reserve in Karnataka, and while both offer sightings of the same wildlife (from tigers to leopards and elephants), Nagarhole sees fewer visitors than Bandipur.
A number of luxury resorts, like Orange County and The Serai Kabini, provide opulent accommodation options along the river. A glamping option is the The Bison Kabini, strategically located between grasslands
and waterholes to provide optimum wildlife sightings from the tents’ verandahs. Luxuries here include a king-sized bed, and a bathroom with rain shower and walk-in tub. Ranthambore National Park Another of Project Tiger’s reserves, Ranthambore National Park is one of the most photographed wildlife reserves in the world, thanks to its population of very visible tigers. Dotted with lakes and abandoned fortresses, the park is located on the outer fringes of the Thar desert. Ranthambore is also home to a handful of uber-luxurious tented digs. The most opulent is perhaps The Oberoi Vanyavilas with its 25 tents featuring polished hardwood floors, four-poster beds, and freestanding clawfoot bathtubs. Equally opulent is Aman-i-Khás with its 10 luxury tents complete with soaking tubs and oversized daybeds. The older Sher Bagh has 12 individually hand-stitched tents evoke the nostalgia of campaign-style safari.
You need not go on a safari or be in a national park to experience ‘glamping’. Luxury camps are popping up at places you don’t expect, from the deserts of Rajasthan to the high altitude valleys of Ladakh.
Some of them have a private walled garden with sunken jacuzzis, while the Royal Tent has a private garden, spa and outdoor pool.
Rajasthan Situated in India’s northwest, this arid land is home to the famous Thar desert, surrounded by a landscape of sand dunes. It is also a land of Rajput warriors, a heritage that is evident in the many medieval hilltop forts, intricate havelis and opulent palaces established by the Maharajahs of old. Rajasthan’s famous cities include Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. The ‘pink city’ of Jaipur is famous for Hawa Mahal, a honeycombed pink sandstone palace that is said to be built to allow royal Rajput women to observe daily life outside the palace; the ‘golden city’ of UNESCOlisted Jaisalmer is situated in the Thar desert with its impressive yellow sandstone fort; and the ‘blue city’ of Jodhpur is known for its majestic Mehrangarh Fort and a jumble of blue cubed Brahmin houses. Known for its vibrant culture, the best times to come to Rajasthan are during their various festivals, including the annual Desert Festival (January or February) in Jaisalmer and the Pushkar Camel Festival (October or November) in Pushkar.
Set on 100-acres of private estate of desert scrub in Jaisalmer, The Serai has 21 large canvas tents, each with an en suite bathroom.
Set in the beautiful Indus Valley near Leh (the Ladakhi capital), Chamba Camp lies near the foot of Thiksey Monastery, a whitewashed medieval hilltop monastery that is one of Ladakh’s most imposing. The camp’s location provides striking views of the monastery and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. Each of the airconditioned tents are lavishly decorated with 4-poster beds and en-suite facilities, and come with a private butler.
The camp is part of The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC), a seasonal nomadic luxury experience across India.
Situated between Pushkar and Jodhpur, Chhatra Sagar’s 13 hand-stitched tents are perched on a 100-year-old dam overlooking a lake awash with waterfowl, all featuring en suite facilities and private decks overlooking the water.
Nagaland Tucked in the remote northeastern part of India, Nagaland is full of rolling hills and verdant rainforests that are home to 16 exheadhunter tribes of the Naga people. The Nagas still retain much of their traditional culture, with elaborate costumes and ritual headdresses (complete with hornbill features and boar tusks), part of the norm for their annual celebrations.
Ladakh Situated in India’s north west, Ladakh is a land of stunning landscapes with endless mountain vistas and river valleys. Thanks to its proximity to Tibet, it has a strong Buddhist culture, characterised by numerous gompas (monasteries) that are set atop craggy hills, or hidden away in deep ravines. In summer, the monasteries become home to festivals featuring whirling cham masked dancers. The only glamping option is Kohima Camp, which only operates during the annual Hornbill Festival (30 November - 10 December this year), a cultural display showcasing the region’s colourful performances, games and ceremonies. Like the camp in Ladakh (it is also a TUTC initiative), each of these luxurious tents come with a personal butler.
Thanks to an excellent network of railway lines throughout India, several luxury 'cruise trains' have sprung up to offer an alternative window into India. All of these trains offer service you'd find at a 5-star hotel, and are inclusive of everything from meals to excursions within their week-long itineraries. Most have a spa and gym carriage, while some have WiFi, ensuite bathtubs and double beds.
Cruise Trains ROYAL RAJASTHAN ON WHEELS Launched in 2010, this 15-carriage luxury train has larger rooms than its predecessor Palace on Wheels, and features an elegant crystal artwork in its Bar Lounge.
Delhi and explores the deserts of Rajasthan before and ending at Mumbai with a stopover at Balasinor (the ‘Jurassic Park’ of India). The shorter ‘Treasures of India’ is a quick 4day sojourn into the desert region of the Golden Triangle, stopping by at Agra, Ranthambore and Jaipur.
DECCAN ODYSSEY The 21-carriage Deccan Odyssey – nicknamed the ‘Blue Limousine’ – offers 10 rail journey itineraries ranging from 2 to 7 nights. While it offers journeys to some of India’s most popular sites, it also takes you to some of India’s lesser known destinations.
Its itinerary calls in at most of the classic cities in Rajasthan (Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur), and packs in a wildlife excursion at Sawai Madhopur before heading eastwards towards the 'temple city' of Khajuraho with its exquisitely-carved kama sutra temples. The journey continues to the holy city of Varanasi to witness the power of spirituality, and drops in on Agra for a glimpse at Taj Mahal before ending back at Delhi.
MAHARAJA’S EXPRESS Introduced in 2010, Maharaja's Express offers 5 journeys with a different theme per year, each taking a different route.
The Chariot drops in on the World Heritage sites of Hampi, Badami and Pattadakal, before heading to Aihole – the 'Cradle of Hindu Temple Architecture'. Hundreds of temples are scattered around the village, including the Durga Temple with its semicircular apse and gallery encircling the sanctum. After Goa's famous beaches, the train returns to Bangalore.
PALACE ON WHEELS
The shortest journey takes you from Mumbai to Shirdi (home to Sai Baba) in 2 nights; their week-long itineraries include the ‘Jewels of the Deccan’ which calls in on Hampi and Hyderabad with their impressive collection of magnificent temples and forts, and the ‘Hidden Treasures of Gujarat’ which takes you to the salt plains of Little Rann of Kutch and the Sasan Gir, home of India’s population of Asiatic lions.
The pioneer of India’s luxury train journeys, this service calls in on all the classic cities in Rajasthan, including Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur for a glimpse at some of India's most breathtaking desert architecture, as well Jaisalmer (with its fort and intricate palaces and temples) in the heart of the Thar Desert. It also calls in at Agra, home of the Taj Mahal and nearby Fatehpur Sikri.
GOLDEN CHARIOT Launched in 2008, this sojourn takes you around the southern state of Karnataka through what's known as India's 'cradle of stone architecture'.
Their week-long itineraries include the 'Indian Panorama' that takes you from vibrant Rajasthan to the sleepy hamlet of Orchha and the sensuous temples of Khajuraho, while the ‘Indian Splendour’ begins from
From Bangalore, the train heads towards Mysore, dropping by at Bandipur National Park along the way for a game drive to see tigers and elephants. Mysore’s elegant palaces are on the itinerary, as well as Belur’s magnificent Hoysala Temple complex.
The journey also takes in some of Rajasthan's famous wildlife reserves, including Ranthambore National Park for a tiger excursion, and Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a bird sanctuary that's home to thousands of migratory birds.
© Jesse Hoffman
© Jeremy Swanson
Situated high in the Colorado Rockies, the famous winter resort of Aspen is one of the US’s best-known ski towns. Known collectively as Aspen Snowmass, it includes 4 main mountains: Aspen Mountain (3,417m), Aspen Highlands (3,559m), Buttermilk (3,000m) and Snowmass (3,810m). Ski season runs from 27 November 15 April, with all 4 mountains covered under a single ski pass.
Aspen Mountain Aspen’s original ski area, it's also the most convenient with lift-access right from the main street, making the town ski-in, ski-out. There are no beginner slopes, but a mix of intermediate to double black diamond over 76 runs, covered by 8 lifts. Buttermilk Characterised by long, wide runs Buttermilk's most associated with beginners, while the few black runs on its Tiehack face have lots of deep, untouched off-piste powder and some tree skiing. Snowmass Aspen Snowmass's biggest mountain has the most skiable vertical area of any mountain in the US with a drop of over 1,300m. There are 88 runs, the longest of which is almost
PHOTOS FROM Aspen Snowmass
9km, including big moguls, all serviced by 17 lifts, as well as terrain parks and extensive backcountry.
MTB Aspen Mountain’s and Snowmass’ lifts run year-round, opening up their extensive backcountry to bikers, with FIT access, guided trips and cycling clinics throughout the green season. Aspen hosts major MTB races including iconic the Power of 4 (August), which crosses all 4 mountains over 58km of winding single- and double-track, gaining 2,700m of elevation along the way. Snowmass alone has 80km+ of trails, from easy downhills to tough single-tracks, while each of the peaks has extensive, varied terrain.
HIKING Specifically for hikers, some innovative programmes on offer include “Leave the boys behind” with all-female hikes, camping trips, trail runs and climbs; as well as “Hut Run Hut”, a 6-day, 160km trail run through the mountains from Aspen to Vail. A popular hike is at Maroon Lake (2,920m), one of the most photographed locations in the country with the famous "Maroon Bells" – the summits of Maroon Peak (4,318m) and North Maroon Peak (4,273m) – in the backdrop. It’s scenic year round, with alpine flowers in spring-summer, and changing leaves in autumn. The easy Maroon Lake Scenic Trail (2.5km, 1hr.) winds through aspen and pine forests, past beaver dams with occasional views of the Bells. Longer trails include Maroon Creek Trail (5.5km, 2hrs.), or the hike to nearby Crater Lake (3km,
2hrs.). Entry to the area is US$10/person, with public bus access.
FROM THE AIR One of the best ways to see Aspen and its undulating landscape is from the air. Aspen has paragliding year-round (weather permitting), with local USHGA-certified pilots running daily tandem flights from Aspen Mountain and Snowmass, giving extraordinary views over the summits as they cruise around 5,500m. A 2-hour experience, including transport costs US$250/person. For a more passive bird’s eye view, there’s also hot air ballooning. Several companies run year-round trips, allowing passengers to see both scenery and wildlife like elk, deer and eagles as they slowly cruise past the mountains at just 400-800m above ground, with flights from US$295/person.
© Tomas Zuccareno
© Jeremy Swanson
GETTING THERE Aspen is 3-4 hours’ drive from Denver International Airport through rugged mountain scenery; it also has a small airport with regional connections to Denver. Not surprisingly, Aspen has a huge range of après-ski offerings, both on- and off-mountain, as well as extensive facilities. For more on Aspen Snowmass, visit www.aspensnowmass.com.
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EVENTS: RACE CALENDAR DECEMBER 2014
Bliss Out 2014
MetaSprint Series Aquathlon
5km | 20 Dec, 5.30pm | Gardens by the Bay | Registration: $20-$50 One mass yoga experience, and a 5km run route. www.blissout.com.sg
750m swim, 5km run | 8 Feb | Sentosa | Registration: $40-$82 First of the 3-race MetaSprint Series featuring a swim and run leg. www.metasprintseries.com
Chiang Mai Marathon 2014
Terry Fox Run Singapore 2015
42km, 21km, 10km | 21 Dec | Chiang Mai, Thailand | Registration: THB900 A flat road run through the city’s natural spots and historical sites. www.chiangmaimarathon.com
10km, 5km | 8 Feb, 7.30am | East Coast Park | Registration: min. $10 A fun run that raises funds for cancer research in memory of Terry Fox. canadians.org.sg
JANUARY 2015 MR25 Ultra Marathon 10.35km laps | 3 Jan, 7am | MacRitchie Park | Registration: $70 Runners have to complete as many 10.35km-long laps in 12 hours. mr25.org.sg
West Coast Mazda Run 2015 6km | 4 Jan, 7am | West Coast Park | Registration: $25 A 6km fun run open to singles, families and corporates. www.westcoastrun.com.sg
Brooks Marina Run 2015 21km, 10km | 14 Feb, 5.30pm | Marina Bay | Registration: $50-$60 A scenic half marathon & 10km race in Singapore www.marinarun.com.sg
Bhutan International Marathon 2015 42km, 21km | 23 Feb | Punakha, Bhutan | Registration: USD150 A full- and half-marathon through Bhutan’s scenic Punakha valley. bhutaninternationalmarathon.com
MARCH 2015 Green Corridor Run 2015
NUS Bizad Charity Run 2015 10km, 5km | 10 Jan, 5pm | NUS | Registration: $25-$38 A charity run to provide financial aid to students in need. www.bizadcharityrun.com
China Coast Marathon 2015 42km, 21km | 18 Jan, 8am | Sai Kung, HK | Registration: HK$400 A race through Sai Kung organised by the Athletic Veterans of Hong Kong. www.avohk.org
10km | 8 Mar, 7am | Tanjong Pagar Rail Station | Registration: TBA A run through Singapore’s old railway corridor. www.greencorridorrun.com.sg
North East Compressport Run 2015 21km, 10.5km, 5km | 15 Mar, 6.30am | Punggol | Registration: $22-$35 A scenic run through the waterways of Singapore’s northeast. www.northeastrun.sg