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Epic trips to sink your claws into

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e f i l d l i W THE UK’S BIGGEST INDEPENDENT TRAVEL MAGAZINE Burlington Arcade - Unit 1/2, Burlington Arcade - London W1V9AB - Tel: +44 207 499 6558 Regent Street - 63 Regent Street - London W1B4DY - Tel: +44 207 287 3075 Fulham - 56 Fulham Road - London SW36HH - Tel: +44 207 589 8445 Covent Garden - 9 King Street - London WC2E8 - Tel: +44 207 836 8673 Westfield - Unit 2030A (Village), Ariel Way - London W127GF - Tel: +44 208 743 9169

* Born in St-Tropez in 1971

Né à St-Tropez en 1971*



Photograph by Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool

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Photograph by ###

UP, UP AND AWAY: Hot air balloons gather above the honeycomb hills of Cappadocia in Turkey, to see Red Bull paragliders attempt the world record for ‘Triple Infinity Tumbling’. Balloons are, unsurprisingly, an almost permanant fixture in the tranquil skies above the area’s otherworldly terrain.



TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION: The Salomon X-Reid, held in Norway’s Hardangervidda mounain plateau, is one of the most brutal trail runs in the world. Competitors take on the 128km route, battered by wind, wet and the slushy remains of the winter snow. It can be so brutal that in 2013 all participants had to pair up so they didn’t get lost in the storm and/or fog. No wonder Hardangervidda has the words ‘hard’ and ‘danger’ in it.

Photograph by Kyle Meyr/Red Photograph Bull Content byPool ###


haveKINDLE willTRAVEL @ ANASBARROS, ISTANBUL | Amazon asked me to take the Kindle Paperwhite on my next trip. I found my way up to the rooftops to read Kafka on the Shore— it’s a book I keep coming back to. Because, like this beautiful city, it means something new each time I visit.

Follow more journeys on Instagram @ AMAZONKINDLE

La Tomatina is Spain's famous mass tomato fight, which takes place this month in the Valencian town of Buñol. Here's the lowdown TOMATOES ARE THROWN DURING THE FESTIVAL




10 €€ €1010



Instant ANORAK


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MEANS OF ESCAPE The world’s first relocatable research station in Antarctica is on a whole new level of remote

#20 A SKIING TRIP WITH A DIFFERENCE Image taken from ‘Ice Station’ by Ruth Slavid and James Morris (Park Books), which charts the creation of the Halley VI research station.

“Superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results.” Ernest Shackleton knew a thing or two about exploring the earth’s snowy hinterlands, and his descendants have taken the same view. Run by the British Antarctic Survey, Halley VI is a research station whose inhabitants are dedicated to discovering more about the earth’s atmosphere. In fact, it was findings from Halley which led to the discovery of the much-battered ozone layer. Halley VI differs from its predecessors in that it floats on giant skis, so that it may be towed to new locations

in order to avoid the same snowy fate that befell previous Halley research centres, which became submerged beneath the tundra. Attractions include the endless white vista, stunning night-time skies and almost uninterrupted peace and quiet. Bear in mind, however, that only 13 people live on the station, and with 105 days a year when the sun doesn’t reach above the horizon, it’s certainly not for the faint hearted (though the beautiful Aurora Australis is a worthy substitute). If you can hack it, this could be the one place where the sun doesn’t shine that’s worth visiting. e

Photograph by James Morris

WEIRD world

Things you never knew you loved. Up this month: sheep racing, phone throwing and a replica Austrian village in Luoyang, China. Yes, really.




Horse racing = old news. We’re placing our bets on sheep racing being the next big thing. The Sheep Racing Festival on Sark is where the Channel Islands’ fittest sheep compete in the Grand National of furry white animals. Jockeys (ok, teddies) guide the sheep to the finish line, and you might make a few bob from it – Dodgy Dave offers decent odds. Retreat to the, er, baa for a consolation drink if you lose.

Ahhh, the Nokia 3210 – we miss the good old days of battery life. If you’re anything like us, your old mobiles will be gathering dust in a drawer of tangled wires. Here’s a better way to treat them: hurling them as far as you can in the World Mobile Phone Throwing Championships in Savonlinna. People travel for miles to take part and it’s all very serious – you will be disqualified if you’re considered a danger to the public. ACT NORMAL.

The real geographers among you may know that Hallstatt is in fact a lakeside town in Austria. But Austria is really quite far to travel if you live in China, so instead a Chinese construction company has decided to replicate the picturesque town, along with churches and clock towers. The building work has slowed, but when it does finally open there’ll be horse drawn carriages and everything! Next up: Blackpool (we hope).



Head to HEAD HANOI, VIETNAM Population: 7.7m


Nickname: City of Lakes

Nickname: Pearl of the Orient

Population: 1.7m



Old artists and intellectuals, upholders of family values, friendly people (expect to be greeted as you walk down the street). 8/10

Americans, Spaniards, Koreans, well-good boxers, world-record holders of the biggest zumba class ever danced. 7/10





"There is nothing funny about the name of your currency"

"Why are you talking to me? I don't even KNOW you bruv"

"Underdeveloped duck foetus? YUMMY YUMMY"

"Floyd Mayweather is easily my favourite boxer in the world"







Try the picturesque lake-based Ngoc Son Temple and see its mummified turtle. Or check out the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. But no revealing clothing is allowed inside, so ditch the mankini. Also, no talking. So stop shouting "Mankini!". 6/10

If you want to stay in the thick of it, yet still experience luxury grounds and decor, then try the Sofitel Legend Metropole. For a cheaper (and more cheerful) stay, try the Central Backpacker's Hostel (and prepare for lots of partying). 8/10

Try Le Mat (or Snake Village) and order some cobra blood wine. A waiter will kill a snake in front of you, drain its blood into some rice wine, and plop its still beating heart in the glass. You don't get that in (most) Wetherspoons. 7/10

Take a tour of Intramuros, the walled core of Manila. You can even take an 'electric chariot', which sounds exotic, doesn't it? It's a Segway, but still. Or visit one of the festivals taking place throughout the year. 6/10

For a unique stay, try the Kabayan Hotel in Pasay. It's unique because your room is a capsule. It's got plugs in it though, so it's pretty fancy. Failing that, you could stay in the Manila Hotel for a taste of Filipino opulence. 8/10

If you like your street food, check out the Z Compound in Maginhawa, which houses a bunch of different traditional vendors. For nightlife, head to the Remedios Circle, which is the centre of Manila's nightlife. 9/10


AND THE WINNER IS… Manila... It's a thriller





by comparison. But the roads – not so much. Endless hairpin bends wind higher and higher, with only a flimsy barrier and a few mountain goats standing between the next blind bend and the sea 3,000ft below. And the roundabouts are even worse. Don’t even think about checking for traffic – Greece is the only country in Europe where people joining the roundabout have right of way. But as much as I’ve fretted and flapped beforehand, these trips have made me realise something: getting behind the wheel doesn’t have to be stressful. If you’re willing to miss a few turnings, get lost, stall a few times and skid away from hill starts burning clutch and rubber, you’ll be rewarded by seeing parts of the country that you wouldn’t have known existed before. This whole driving abroad thing? It turns out I’m a natural. Although, wait a second. Does that make me… my Dad? e

Illustration by Mark Boardman

I’ve always thought driving abroad was something old people did. You know, people like my Dad (sorry, Dad), and those retired couples you see towing vast caravans through France. It was something about the responsibility – the sheer magnitude of travelling on the other side of the road, and changing gears with the wrong hand, that made me think it was an act so serious that only proper grown-ups could handle it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a good driver. Passed my test first time aged 17 (one minor, ta v much), and my licence is clean (aside from a few smears of ketchup). Hand me the keys to a Rascal van (essentially a shoebox on bike-size wheels), Although now a lowered Peugeot independent from 106 (my first car) or a Britain, Malta's UK Maserati (jammy work links are seen in the left -hand drive rules gig), and I’m fine. But

the thought of driving a one-litre Kia Picanto ABROAD? No thank you. But there’s no getting away from it. To see a place – and I mean really see a place – you need four wheels. And so over my last few trips I’ve made a concerted effort to say no to a lunchtime cerveza, and say yes to peering over the steering wheel. Malta’s where it started. After a few uneasy laps of the airport car park, I was jerkily shifting along the island’s ridiculous system of narrow, one-way streets. The Maltese may also drive on the left, but that’s about the only similarity: there’s no right of way, no one bothers signalling and working brake lights are a novelty. Parallel parking (not my forte, I admit) becomes even less achievable when you add a 20% incline and a queue of locals aggressively revving their engines and waiting to pass. The drivers on the Greek island of Kefalonia were relaxed

Est. 1977

Dive into another world

Look beneath the surface of Tobago’s tropical beauty and discover the wonderful wildlife, world-famous cuisine and colourful festivals that define this unique island. Call your personal holiday specialist at Kenwood Travel for tempting deals that bring the world of Tobago closer than ever.


020 7749 9270





AMSTERGRAM NEW HOXTON OPENS £89 doesn’t get you much these days – a pair of trainers, maybe. Even more reason to try the new #HoxtonAmsterdam, with luxe rooms starting just shy of 90 quid. Housed in five former canal houses on the prestigious Herengracht, rooms come with mini bars you can stock with your own booze.

Boston, along with neighbouring Cambridge, has a student population of around 250,000. There are more than 50 colleges and universities in the Greater Boston area. Photograph by Marcio Silva (Boston);Jitske Hagens (Hoxton)



That US trip is looking even more appealing thanks to new flight launches from low-cost airline Norwegian. From May 2016 the company will be jetting travellers to the home of the Red Sox for a super-competitive price. As if that weren’t enough, the airline’s bargain route to NYC goes daily from October.

TRAVEL CHANNEL Russ Malkin and Charley Speed are two blokes with very different tastes in travel. In new series Road Rivals on Travel Channel, they take on mammoth road trips through Europe and US, driving everything from Lamborghinis to Monster Trucks. And there we were thinking our toy-sized hire car was pretty decent.

SORT IT OUT HOLIDAY FIXERS LAUNCH “We don’t do boring holidays,” the website from reads. Nor do we, and that’s why we’re fond of this new startup, which promises to ‘fix’ your holiday, making arrangements pain-free. So whether you want to rock the Kasbah in Morocco or eat your way through Italy, one thing’s for sure – they can make it happen.




NEW HOTEL IN KEFALONIA What’s that you say? No screaming kids? No tears at dinner time? The Ionian Sun is a newly opened, adult-only boutique hotel on the west coast of Kefalonia. Along with an outdoor gym (tempting, sort of) and natural-hued rooms, it’s well located for beach hopping – check out nearby Avithos beach for lilo-ready turquoise water.

ROCK OF AGES GO BACK TO 1980 IN IBIZA If you’re the person going mental on the dance floor when Total Eclipse of the Heart comes on (guilty), this is for you. For the rest of the season Ibiza’s Hard Rock Hotel will be hosting retro acts (including Bonnie T herself) in a weekly 1980s party. The rest of the time Tinie Tempah will be keeping things fresh with DJ sessions and pool parties.


INCREDIBLUE TRIPS Move over yachties and you lot swigging cocktails on your gin palaces. With us normals can now hire one of 300 boats for an Airbnb-style holiday on water. Each yacht comes with a ‘rentable captain’, which is nice – and also, incidentally, a great name for a band.





Stylish and surfing may not be two words you’d normally put together, but this boutique retreat combines both. Located 100km north of Lisbon in Peniche, the boho bedrooms are a great place to hang after catching some waves. When you’re not flailing around in the water, take in the area’s natural beauty with a hike. From £525pp per week.

We’ve tested the new Philips NC1 noisecancelling cans in some seriously demanding situations: in an office with blaring house music; sitting next to a crying baby; inside an industrial cement mixer (ok, we made that one up). Whatever you throw at them, the NC1s keep things serene.

Photograph by (portugal); Andres Iglesias (Ibiza)


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TEAM EFFORT Stuck in a holiday rut? Banish boredom on one of these family friendly UK activity breaks. We can’t promise they’ll eradicate the annual chorus of “are we nearly there yet?” though... Farming at Cwmcrwth Farm, Wales

Photograph by Tim Jones (piglets)

At this toddler-friendly farm in Wales’s Towy Valley, families can hop on a tractor with Farmer Rob and join him on his daily rounds – bottle-feeding lambs, collecting eggs and hanging out with the piglets (grown-up fun comes in the form of cheesemaking courses). Guests can sleep off the hard work in one of the farm’s cottages, or book a night in the pig ark, where the alarm call comes in the form of oinks. How: Three nights from £189 for four.

Surfing and riding at Natural Retreats Trewhiddle, Cornwall You can pack the whole family in at one of these two-, three- and four-bedroom selfcatering cottages near the quaint Cornish fishing village of Mevagissey. The Natural Retreats team is on hand to arrange surf lessons at the local beach, while the nearby countryside is prime bike and horse riding territory. With approximately 30 cottages on site, even the surliest teenagers are sure to make some like-minded mates. How: Three nights in a stone clad two bedroom cottage costs £368, based on four sharing.

Sea kayaking with Wilderness Scotland This specially-designed trip for families has parents and children paddling across the calm and peaceful waters of Scotland’s west coast. Along the way there’s a chance of spotting otters and dolphins, while double and single kayaks allow kids as much or as little time as they wish to spend with their parents (or, indeed, the other way around). Accommodation is provided at a local inn, with hearty, home-cooked meals. How: Prices from £695 per person based on a family of four sharing a room for a week.

Dee, Betsy, Gloria, Annie and our favourite, Peggy). There’s an on-site vintage play truck and giant trampoline, and you can continue the retro holiday vibe with a trip to the seaside town of Southwold – home to a pier, arcades and colourful beach huts. How: Caravans from £375 per week based on two or more sharing.

Raft building and camping in the Lake District Get back to basics and inject some adventure into your break with a River Deep Mountain High activity holiday. Families are encouraged to work together to build a sturdy, buoyant raft, before paddling it across a stretch of Lake District water. If that sounds like hard work, the company also offers a Swallows and Amazons trip, which ticks off the main lake-side beaches featured in the book in a much more stable way – by canoe. The local area is scattered with proper campsites – a child’s dream, potentially a parent’s nightmare. Good luck. How: River Deep Mountain High offers a variety of adventure days in the area.;

Consider taking the fam retro glamping in Suffolk (ABOVE) or make friends with the piglets in Wales

Glamping with Retro Vacations, Suffolk For old-school camping without the leaky tent and damp sleeping bag, try a vintage American Airstream from Retro Vacations. Located on a campsite just seven miles from the Suffolk coast, the 1950s caravans come with equally retro names (pick from Dee


IN FOCUS BRIGHTON There’s a lot more to Brighton than piers, paddling and the promenade, so we’ve compiled a guide to some of its best bits. All together now: “Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside...”

DRINK Brighton has a booming coffee culture; research by the University of Stirling and Greggs (don’t lol) has shown the city’s residents spend an average of £177 a year on the stuff; that’s £25 more per head than Londoners. To settle your cravings, head to the Cyclist for cute 1940s-style decor (, Pelicano for coffee with a side of cakes (@Pelicanocoffee) and Presuming Ed for a hipster vibe (presuming-ed. com). If tea’s your poison, the kitsch Blackbird Tea Rooms is a good place for cream tea in old china cups ( Not your style? You might prefer the Caribbean vibes in the Cocktail Shack – a den for dub, ska, reggae and (rum) cocktails (cocktailshackbrighton. More sophisticated visitors should try Plateau wine bar (@PlateauBrighton) for natural wine, epic sharing plates and a top cocktail menu, while Shuffle Bar – a newish addition in the up-andcoming London Road area – is a fun option where drinkers can select tunes from the jukebox via their smartphones (@theshufflebar). Dead Wax Social, a bar for “those of us that are done with digital”, offers a different perspective – a temple to vinyl culture and craft beer. Bring your own vinyl and they’ll play them for you (@DeadWaxSocial).


STAY For lairy interiors and a laugh, book into Hotel Pelirocco ( – England’s sauciest and most rock’n’roll hotel, according to, well, them. It is cool though: 19 rooms are kitted out with themes ranging from reggae to Motown (although the Sex Pistols-inspired double is an escapism favourite). Swankier options include Drakes on the seafront – take a dip in your freestanding bath while watching the seagulls, just like Woody Allen when he stayed ( My Brighton, in the busy North Laine area, offers fresh and modern interiors in entry level rooms, with some glammed-up suites on offer, too ( For a local experience try an Airbnb rental: the site is rammed full of rentable rooms to rival the chicest boutique hotel (

Brighton Pier (AKA the Palace Pier) was one of three – the others being the Chain Pier (which no longer exists) and the West Pier (in ruins, pending a decision on its future).


Photograph by (background) Martin Bond / Alamy; Mike Banks –; Adam Bronkhorst; Visit Brighton; Chloe Smith


SEE The Hotel Pelirocco’s bar is a suitably raucous place in which to continute the party – it’s open late, and serves cocktails with such charming names as ‘Dirty Fuckin’ Rotter’

Photograph Photograph by ######## by ###

Standing outside the Royal Pavilion, you’d think you were somewhere far more exotic than Brighton. The domed structure was originally built as a seaside playground palace for George IV, but nowadays the 19th-century Indian-style pavilion is a good place to stroll for crazy-grand architecture. Don’t leave without visiting the newly restored music room, with its silk curtains, domed ceilings and nine very opulent, lotusshaped chandeliers. It’s also worth stopping for a look in the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery (it sits in the gardens of the palace) for the the Images of Brighton exhibition, which offers a journey through the city’s history (brighton

For quick-to-eat food on the street try Brighton’s Street Diner market. Our favourite stalls include the Little Blue Smoke House (@littlebluesmoke) for meat and Beelzebab (@Beelzebab666) for vegan kebabs and hot dogs (so Brighton, but so good). For something heftier try the Troll’s Pantry burgers (@thetrollspantry). They are, without question, the best in Brighton (and we’ve eaten plenty); the Stinky Breath burger is top of the game – expect a 35-day-aged 1/3lb steak patty, St Giles cheese, smoked garlic mayo, stinky sauce and home-made pickles and buns. Stockpile your chewing gum. Tucked away in the lanes, 64 Degrees is a small, openkitchen option with award-winning food including kimchi and blue cheese wings ( Spice things up with regional Indian food at the acclaimed Chilli Pickle (, and cool your mouth afterwards with kitsch artisan ice cream from Gelato Gusto ( – its onsite lab churns out flavours including Sea Salt Caramel and Syrup Sponge Pudding (they may sound odd, but owner Jon Adams trained at the University of Gelato in Bologna, Italy, so he knows what he’s up to).


A MILLION MILES FROM EVERYDAY LIFE Disconnect from the stresses of modern life and discover the island paradise on your doorstep just 1hr from Exeter Airport SKYBUS FLIES FROM EXETER, NEWQUAY AND LAND’S END WITH UK AND EUROPEAN CONNECTIONS FROM NEWQUAY AND EXETER. BE TRANSPORTED AT FLYTOSCILLY.CO.UK 01736 334220


short stay


Secret Meadows in Suffolk provides an idyllic backdrop for a much-needed break from the city, finds Aby Dunsby What’s the score?

Once the sun goes down, light the oil lanterns, If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat away get the BBQ fired up and settle down in your from the fast pace of the city then yes, it’s a sign hammock to watch the stars. If that ain’t one you’re getting old, but embrace it, we say. Pack for the Instagram family album, we don’t know your bag, put your foot down and you’ll be at what is. Secret Meadows in Hasketon, Suffolk in time The grounds for lunch. Now you’re surrounded by 115 acres Spend a couple of hours walking through the of wildflower meadow and dense woodland, farm’s dense, buttercup-filled woodland, it’s time to set up camp. But hold on, which is owned by the Sinfield before you start running back Nature Conservation Trust and to the smoky safety of the A12 is home to more than 50 city in horror, don’t – you species of bird, including won’t find any dank, White House Farm the nightingale – if smelly tents here. Farm twitching’s your thing, owners Charlotte Woodbridge pack the binoculars. Daniel and husband Ipswich Alternatively, raid the Ross have created a farm’s bountiful pantry luxurious, safari-style before you head off, setup that barely then laze by one of the qualifies as camping. tranquil ponds and dig into The tents goodies including crusty Step inside one of the farm’s bread with creamy local cheese seven luxury lodge tents and when the munchies hit. you’ll feel as though you’re standing Nearby in a chocolate-box country cottage. Each comes If the sun’s out, the coastal town of Aldeburgh with a fully-equipped kitchen, private toilet and is only a short drive away, and its pretty shingle shower with hot water, and there’s a separate beach is dotted with small boats and colourful bedroom with a huge four-poster bed, so you’re fishermen’s huts. Grab a lobster roll from one not exactly roughing it. That said, those wanting of the fresh-fish shacks by the sea, then take a to embrace country living can busy themselves stroll to the Red House: it’s the former home of by making fire: there’s a box full of wood for you composer Benjamin Britten. Once you’ve had a to chop and throw into the wood-burning stove. healthy dose of history, head to the Ice Creamery for a larger, less healthy dose of locally-made ice cream, packed full of cookies or peanut butter. e




ABOVE: Banish all thoughts of soggy canvas and painstakingly trying to start a fire – glamping, Secret Meadows-style, comes with all mod cons

The farm’s owners have created a luxurious, safaristyle setup that barely qualifies as camping at all NEAREST STATION WOODBRIDGE (VIA IPSWICH) INFO: 0117 204 7830; CANOPYANDSTARS.CO.UK



In the Pink

Forget the Bermuda Triangle – get lost in Bermuda’s pink-hued coast & relaxed vibe. Enjoy free-night offers when you book with British Airways



ark Twain was onto something when he remarked: “You go to heaven if you want to, I’d rather stay right here in Bermuda.” You’ll know the blissful Atlantic Ocean isle for many reasons, not least its pristine pink-sand beaches, idyllic vibe and superior wreck diving thanks to the surrounding ring of coral reef. Add the Fairmont Southampton to that list. Bermuda’s famed luxury resort is found at the island’s highest point, with 360-degree views of those sparkling azure seas and pink-hued sands.


The richly-appointed rooms and suites, each with private balcony and some with glorious sea views, mean a stay here is as relaxing as stepping into a hot bath. To really amplify your holiday experience, check into the Fairmont Gold Floor, an exclusive sanctuary with other likeminded guests where a private lounge – serving complimentary breakfast and snacks throughout the day – comes as standard. Days at Fairmont Southampton can be spent indulging at the decadent Willow Stream Spa, teeing off at the 18-hole championship Turtle

Hill Golf Club or lounging at the hotel’s two pools and slice of private beach. When the sun goes down, unwind with a choice of nine different restaurants, including the awardwinning historic Waterlot Inn. Make sure you take the time to explore Bermuda’s vibrant capital, Hamilton, too. Fairmont Southampton guests enjoy complimentary private ferries to the historic city, so there’s no reason not to explore this cosmopolitan seaside hub. Like the Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda has it all.


How To Book Get 7 nights for the price of 5, with 7-night holidays from just ÂŁ1,169pp. To book, and for more information: THE DEAL

DETAILS: Terms and conditions apply. Availability may be extremely limited. Price is based on selected travel between 1 November and 16 December and includes return British Airways World Traveller flights from London Gatwick. Book by 31 August.








SEEING RED: It may look like a cool bit of street art in a European capital, but this colourful creation is in fact a hand-dyed batik cloth from the Gambia. Along with art, the country’s chock-full of wildlife. [p52]






Photograph (Tiger) by Brad Wilson / Getty, (Arm) by David Harrison

Photograph by ###

There’s a whole world out there, and it’s filled with wild and wonderful creatures of all descriptions. Whether you want to seek out penguins in Cape Town, track gorillas in Uganda, or hang out with the bats in Texas, here’s how to do it… 35

Wildlife in the city

Bats in Austin, US We don’t usually recommend going on holiday and hanging out under bridges, but you’ll have to trust us just this once. Between March and October, the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas is home to the USA’s largest urban bat population, with nearly 1.5m Mexican free-tailed bats paying a visit. Grab a spot on the (crowded) sidewalk on the bridge at sunset and you’ll see hundreds of thousands of bats swarming over Lady Bird Lake. For an even better view, hire a kayak or stand up paddleboard and watch them from the water. HOW: Live Love Paddle offers kayak bat tours from $45pp.; visit for booking options. Owls in Kikinda, Serbia Owl fanatics – and there’s plenty out there – clear your diaries for this trip. David Lindo,

also known as the Urban Birder (now that’s a job title) has started running bird-watching tours to the ‘world owl capital’, aka Kikinda in Serbia. Never heard of it? Well, the town square is now an official nature reserve for over 750 long-eared owls. That’s not all: elsewhere in the town you’ll spot little owls, Syrian woodpeckers and great grey shrikes (these are all birds, FYI). Spy them while sipping some fine Serbian beer. HOW: The Urban Birder is running a trip from 29 November-3 December for £695. Visit

These little critters are the celebs of the bat world – they’re the official ‘state bat’ of Oklahoma and Texas (whatever that role entails), and they’re also pictured on all Bacardi labels.

Bees in Oslo, Norway Buzz, buzz, buzz goes the honeybee – even more so in Oslo, where they’ve just started building a bee highway for the endangered

ABOVE: The Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin is home to the USA’s largest urban bat population. Crowds go, er, batty for them...

Jeep with ®

Model shown Jeep Renegade 1.4 MultiAir II Limited 140 hp 4x2 Manual with optional two-tone alloy wheels and optional bi-colour paint at £23,545 OTR. OffIcIAL fueL cO2 eMIssIOns: 160 – 120 g/kM. fuel consumption and cO2 figures are obtained for comparative purposes in accordance with ec directives/regulations and may not be representative of real-life driving conditions. factors such


pollinating bee. When we say ‘build’ – it’s more of an urban garden of flower pots scattered across the city’s rooftops; a place for bees to kick back in a hive with an array of pollinating plants to feast on nearby. It’s all due to the hard work of Bybi, an environmental group supporting urban bee populations. When you’ve had your fill of stripey insects, check out Grünerløkka, the Norwegian capital’s answer to Hackney. HOW: Stay in a local home with Airbnb.; Ryanair offers return flights from £30.

Endangered Species

Cranes in Phobjikha, Bhutan Every November, hundreds of endangered black-necked cranes flock to Bhutan’s Phobjikha Valley for the winter, and their arrival is celebrated with a festival held in the courtyard of the Gangtey Monastery. There’s singing, dancing and





Photograph by ###

cOnsuMpTIOn fIguRes fOR Jeep RenegAde RAnge Mpg (L/100kM): exTRA uRbAn 48.7 (5.8) – 70.6 (4.0), uRbAn 32.1 (8.8) – 51.4 (5.5), cOMbIned 40.9 (6.9) – 61.4 (4.6), as driving style, weather and road conditions may also have a significant effect on fuel consumption. Jeep ® is a registered trademark of fcA us LLc.

dressing up as cranes – all in the name of highlighting efforts to conserve these rare birds. The 17th-century Buddhist monastery – which is located in a striking glacial valley in central Bhutan – is a spectacle in its own right and, unlike the cranes, is there all year round and the starting point for some epic trekking.

STRAP IT You could buy a camera strap with as much personality as a brick, or you could give that pricey DSLR the style and sass it really deserves. The cotton iMo strap from Bear & Bear comes in a range of colours and prints, meaning you can be as tame or as wacky as you like. Bonus points for matching your strap to the animals you’re photographing. £25;


HOW: Explore’s

12-day Black Crane Festival of Bhutan tour departs on 5 November; from £3,392pp including flights, accommodation, transport and guides.

Monk seals in Kefalonia, Greece With only 500 individuals left, the Mediterranean monk seal is one of the most endangered marine animals in the world. The majority of the remaining slippery creatures are lapping it up on the shores of northern Kefalonia in Greece. Duck into the caves here (only accessible by water) and you may spot the wonky-necked animal basking in the sea. Elsewhere on the island, catch sightings of wild ponies in the black pine forests of Mount Athos. HOW: Arrange sea kayaking and safari trips with and; Ryanair offers flights from £40 return. Tigers in India If you’re looking to catch the eye of the tiger (not sorry, not even one bit) then



take a trip through Central India’s national parks: Kanha and Bandhavgarh. The grassy plateaux lend themselves to spotting tigers, monkeys, mongoose and leopards. The World Wildlife Foundation say the world has lost 97% of its tiger population in just over a century, but India’s 2014 tiger census has reported an increase of 30% in three years – the country is now home to 2,226 tigers, making up 70% of the world’s population. HOW: Responsible Travel aims to help and support a more responsible and sustainable approach to wildlife tourism in Central India. Eight-night trips from £660pp, excluding flights.

Wildcats in Scotland Far from the cuddly cats making their millions on YouTube, Scotland’s wildcat is far more elusive. Wildcat Haven, a fieldwork-based conservation project, is championing the Scottish wildcats plight of the lynxare Britain’s last esque feline, trying remaining large wild to create a safe, predator, so while they look pretty disease-free home in similar to domestic the West Highlands tabbies, treat these of Scotland. The cats solitary creatures with caution... are so endangered

FROM ABOVE: India is home to 70% of the world’s tiger population, and thanks to careful conservation, this number’s on the up; yes, swimming pigs. As if you needed another excuse to visit the beautiful Bahamas...


(with only around 35 left) that sightings are rare, so if you do want to catch a glimpse you’ll need to book a trip with highland expert Adrian Davis, an ecologist and Scottish international mountain runner who knows every last ditch of the moors. These tours don’t involve running, thankfully. HOW: Wild Outdoors offers a range of conservation-sensitive trips in the Scottish highlands, POA.;

The Unexpected

Swimming pigs in the Bahamas If cocktails, beaches and sunshine sound like more of a holiday than a day trudging through the Scottish moors, then zip across the Atlantic to the celeb-packed shores of the Bahamas. Along with the usual Hollywood suspects, the islands are home to some other beach-bound celebs: swimming pigs. The remarkable front crawlers bask in the sunshine of Pig Island, just off Big Major Cay; no one’s sure how they’ve come to live in such prime real estate, but some stories suggest they are shipwreck survivors who swam to shore when their boat started sinking a couple of hundred years back. Cute AND smart, then. HOW: Seven nights at Sandals Emerald Bay costs from £1,829pp all-inclusive, including flights. Penguins in Cape Town, South Africa You don’t need to don your thermals and journey all the way to Antarctica to see penguins. African penguins – also known as jackass penguins – have set up a permanent camp on the coast of South Africa, drawn to the pristine white sands and chilly water, no doubt. It’s easy to see them, too – hop on the local train out of the city and stick your head out of the window as it curves along the coast, skimming past epic beach after epic beach (stop off on the way – the stations are right on the sand). Arrive in Simon’s Town and get your camera ready for the best photos of your trip – hundreds of penguins sunbathing and swimming in the South African sunshine. HOW: 51 on Camps Bay is a chic, boutique hotel minutes from one of the liveliest beaches in the city.; SAA offers return flights from £650.

Photograph by ###

Firefly squid in Tayoma Bay, Japan Squid aren’t often celebrated for their beauty – which is understandable, really. But all that changes as soon as you head to the coast of Japan, specifically Toyama


FROM ABOVE: Just your average view on safari in Zimbabwe; take to the seas off Mirissa in Sri Lanka and expect to spot blue and killer whales, and more dolphins than you can shake an, um, fin at


Hippos, elephants and buffalo in Zimbabwe Zimbabwe’s a great option for first-time safari goers, and with Wilderness Safaris you’ll combine glamping with door-step wildlife viewing in the Hwange National Park and Mana Pools National Park. This is a place where elephants and buffalo have right of way, and leopards, cheetahs and lions hang out by the dozens. Stay a night at Victoria Falls and you can cross the river to Zambia for prime rhino spotting. HOW: Rainbow Tours offers a five-night safari in Zimbabwe from £3,820pp including flights, accommodation and park fees.

Beautiful firefly squid are a sight to behold at night. Sadly, they only live for one year, but they use it wisely – the reason they illuminate is to attract a mate.

Animal Adventures

Sloths in Costa Rica When they’re not sleeping, sloths tend to go about their business verrrry slowly, which makes them handy to spot in the wild, and even

Mountain gorillas in Uganda Combine hiking up volcanoes and mountains with gorilla tracking in Uganda. The forested path up the Sabyinyo volcano is steep and muddy (with bamboo ladders) but the summit offers views over three different countries. And then there’s those remarkable primates to look at, too.

Photograph (whale) by Liz Leyden


Bay, home to the glowing, bioluminescent firefly squid, famous in the region for their light-producing capabilities. These squid normally live 1,200ft under the sea, but the wave motion in this particular bay drags them onto the beach every year between March and June. You need to rise early to see them (we’re talking 3am) but your efforts will be rewarded with sea that glows a deep-neon shade of blue. HOW: Inside Japan offers a 14-night selfguided tour of Japan including this region from £1,360pp excluding flights.

As well as the sleepy easier to photograph. sloths, Costa Rica is To see them in their home to 250 other natural habitat, head kinds of mammal, including jaguars to the beaches of and pumas, bats, Costa Rica. Sure, anteaters and four the country may not different species of monkey. offer the glorious architectural wonders of some central American countries, but their stretches of sand are hard to beat in wildlife terms, particularly in Cahuita National Park, which is sloth central. There are 615 different species of animal in Costa Rica, so if sloths aren’t your thing, you’ll quickly find something that is. HOW: STA Travel offers a range of trip suggestions.


phenomenon in Portugal, and can be viewed all year round if you take a trip on Vertigem Azul’s 75ft catamaran. The team can identify the different dolphins just by looking at the shape of their dorsal fins, and they’ve also named each of the animals. On each trip you’ll be joined by a marine expert crew that includes Be and Jazz – two beagle dogs who can’t resist a day of ocean winds blasting through their fur. HOW: Vertigen Azul offers three-hour dolphin-watching trips from £20.; Areias do Seixo is a quirky new 14-bedroom hotel just an hour from Lisbon. Book with


COR, BLIGHTY! This new View Quest Blighty portable DAB and FM digital radio offers 10 hours of battery life and is small enough to slip into your pocket. It’s perfect for chucking in your bag for your jollies, and also handy for drowning out the noise of screaming monkeys, shrieking birds or children – either yours or someone else’s. £49.99; HOW: Volcanoes

Safaris offer a fournight Gahinga safari from £1,508pp.

Under the Sea

are plenty of boats offering trips, but Raja genuinely cares about the whales’ welfare, and his considered approach to tracking the mammals means that sightings are pretty much guaranteed – the very least you’ll see is a couple of hundred dolphins. HOW: You’ll find Raja’s ‘office’ (tent)




% FF

Dolphins in Lisbon, Portugal Escape the big bad city for an afternoon and share the Sado Estuary with a family of bottlenose dolphins. They’re a rare

Whales in Mirissa, Sri Lanka A former fisherman and now part tour guide, part marine conservationist, Raja leads whalewatching tours out of Mirissa – a hippy town of bars and beaches on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Here, you’ll find some of the best blue and killer whale spotting opportunities in the Indian Ocean. There





W W W. S N O WA N D R O C K . C O M



TUNA GROW TO 6FT, AND CAN OPEN THEIR MOUTHS WIDE ENOUGH TO FIT A HUMAN HEAD on the main beach in Marissa.; guesthouses line the

surrounding streets. Sri Lankan Airlines offers return flights from £600.



Huskies and reindeer in Finland If you have a fondness for furry four-legged animals, you’ll have your fill in Finland. For three nights you could be exploring the wilderness 230km north of the Arctic Circle by husky and snowmobile, although you’ll need a full driving license for that part: you can’t trust any old person on what is essentially a jet ski on snow. You’ll also learn the art of reindeer herding, before embarking on a reindeer-pulled sleigh ride through the forests, Santa style. As part of the trip you’ll also meet 400 huskies (we know, calm yourself) who will guide you through the wilderness on a high-speed journey in search of the magical Northern Lights. HOW: Artisan Travel offers the Northern Lights trip from £1,185pp including flights and accommodation. Polar bears in Arctic Canada For polar bears and whales in one bankbusting extravaganza, divert all your funds, and attention, to Arctic Canada. Churchill

Arctic Canada... e

FROM ABOVE: Cute and stong – what’s not to love about huskies?; see tuna in a new light – under the sea as opposed to in a sandwich

Photograph by ###

Chase the action and keep your video footage smooth as a python’s skin. The new QuickPod Dual GoPro and camera tripod from XSories doubles as a non-slip grip, so whether you’re on the move or sitting still, you’ll capture the same high quality videos, without worrying about slippy hands. And, yes, we will judge you if you use it as a selfie stick. £32.99;

The Deep Freeze

– the self-proclaimed polar bear capital of the world – awaits at the epicentre of the region, and is home to bear-themed cafés and gift shops (paw-shaped salad tongs, anyone?). But your base will be far more remote. Sitting on the shores of Hudson Bay, the Seal River Heritage Lodge is the stomping ground of 1,000 of the 20,000 polar bears in the world. When you’re not spotting fluffy white mounds lolling around in the ethereal wilderness, you’ll be seeing equally captivating beluga Polar bears don’t whales – hundreds of just hang around in them, guaranteed. the snow for fun – HOW: Abecrombie & they use it to clean themselves, and also Kent offers sevenas a way to ‘cool off’ night all-inclusive from those balmy trips from £6,839pp. temperatures in

Photograph by (huskies) Federica Gentile

Tuna in Port Lincoln, Australia Turtles? Bit tame. Sharks? No flipping way. Strike a happy medium with a day of blue fin tuna swimming off the south coast of Australia. Before you scoff, let us explain. This seemingly mundane fish actually grows to 6ft long, can reach speeds of 50mph and can open its mouth wide enough to fit in an adult human head. Still interested? Well there’s only one place in the world where you can swim with them in the wild – four miles off Port Lincoln,

South Australia. The town also claims to be the seafood capital of Australia, so if you’d prefer to see your tuna grilled on the barbie (boo!) you can do that, too. HOW: Swim With the Tuna offers three-hour trips for £35.; return flights with Qatar from £800.

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As mysterious as it is impressive, Madagascar is brimming with unusual creatures. In fact, there’s nowhere on Earth quite like it, says Rob Crossan 45


Photographs by Getty/Paul Souders (chameleon);



Giant jumping rats, which hop like kangaroos, hognose snakes, big-headed geckos and pygmy lemurs all thrive here amid a dense, grey confusion of enormous, bulbous trees and spaghetti junction of branches and leaves that all but blots out the insistent, searing African sun. These creatures are, incredibly, the leftovers from this vast island nation which, before it was reached by man a mere 2,000 years ago, was home to lemurs the size of gorillas and the elephant bird, the largest bird that ever existed, which Marco Polo claimed stood three metres tall. Conservationists Nope, they’re not simply can’t get a grip really up themon Madagascar, such selves... Big-headed is its uniqueness. geckos are so-called because their heads Teams of researchers are adapted to from Kew Gardens accommodate a trek out here every jaw large enough to catch beetles. year and keep on

iStock (sea)/Adobe Stock (paddy fields and town)

t’s hard to fathom what’s going through a lemur’s mind the first time you look at one eyeball-to-eyeball. And that’s probably just the way they like it. This particular male, hanging by its rope-like tail, upside-down, from a knobbly, leather-coloured branch, looked at me with his satsuma-coloured eyes locked in a mildly surprised and doleful expression; as though I’d just informed him of the recent and unexpected death of a celebrity. Using the branches around him as trampolines, he disappeared into the vast, verdant canopy with the kind of athletic prowess that would reduce even the most prodigious Soviet-era teen gymnast to tears. The Kirindy forest, situated near the south-western coastline of Madagascar, is home to an array of animals who sound like they must have been imagined by Roald Dahl and Terry Gilliam on a particularly virulent chemical high.


Among the mind-boggling array of creatures found in Madagascar are 300 species of bird – 60% of which are endemic – and more than 260 different species of reptiles

finding new species. About 90% of the flora and fauna that lives here simply doesn’t exist anywhere else. Next time an eager travelling friend tells you about how ‘unique’ Thailand or Queensland is, simply point to this almond-shaped island off the coast of East Africa on the nearest map you can find, then walk away. You may have seen King Julian in the animated Madagascar films, which has made the island a dream destination for any child who doesn’t assume it’s actually a made-up, fictional land. For most locals, however, lemurs are at best an irrelevance, or, in the bad times, dinner. For Madagascar is one of the poorest half dozen nations on the planet, with the US Census Bureau placing it alongside basket-case states such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti in a 2011 study. If you’re Malagasy, your average income is a measly, wallet-crumbling £305 a year. Brutal French colonial rule followed by a failed attempt to create a socialist paradise under independence, coupled with a spate of military-backed coups – the most recent of which occurred in 2009 and resulted in swathes of foreign aid and investment being withdrawn – has created a nation which, although now at peace, has a ballooning population that struggles to survive on the country’s barely sufficient rice production.


MADAGASCAR HAS AN ABUNDANCE OF TRULY ASTONISHING NATURAL BEAUTY And yet, travel beyond the crumbling edifices of the French colonial buildings, anarchic traffic and teetering slums of the barely-functioning capital of Antananarivo, and this is still a land with an abundance of truly astonishing natural beauty, a panoply of ruffled sand dunes, tropical forests, crenulated mountain ranges and sodden swathes of rice paddies. Although the lemurs are the poster boys and girls for Madagascar, there are several other contenders for the title of strangest inhabitant of this utterly peculiar land. As

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: You’ll need to look pretty closely to distinguish the parson’s chameleon from its natural habitat; terrain varies dramatically, from vast beaches and paddy fields to crowded urban areas

Photograph by ###




ABOVE: Baobab trees are a distinctive part of Madagascar’s landscape; BELOW: Don’t mess with the distinctly dismissive fossa


wilderness and the number one predator of the more commonly found lemurs. Stopping in its tracks, it looked at us with a look of utterly haughty disregard. Then, sniffing the air with something approaching disgust, it sauntered back into the heavy bushes, totally uninterested. If the fossa looks like a particularly effective ‘mix and match’ of creatures, then the baobab tree is simply nature engaging in a colossal bout of showing off. The enormous They may look sweet trunks are the and stroke-able, height and girth of but fossas are lighthouses, and we stealthy hunters, with semi-retractpassed a collection able claws and of them on a road extra-flexible ankles called ‘Baobab Alley’ that enable them to climb trees quickly on the way back from our lemur-spotting trip in the Kirindy Forest. At dusk, as the sky slowly bleaches shades of ochre, lemon and peach, these ‘Queens of the Forest’ – as the Malagasy call them – stand proud, the trunks soaring up to a flat, green canopy of branches and leaves, much like a squashed head of broccoli, at the summit. These dinosaurs of the tree world


Photographs by Adobe Stock; Christian Leynard (boababs)/iStock; hakoar (fossa)

our guide Andre led us out of the Krinidy forest to a dusty set of wooden huts, where cold local beer awaited us, we saw a lurking creature dash across our path, his belly low to the ground, with a thick coil of a tail, the body of a fox but with a head and whiskers more like an otter. This was, we were told, a very rare daylight sighting of the fossa; one of the very few carnivores in the Madagascan


Beauty had an address... Oman Storytelling is an integral part of Omani life, here TV presenter Kate Humble tells her tale of how she discovered Oman.


want my experience of a country to be as authentic as possible and nothing beats local knowledge. Mohammed, a Bedouin told me about the Frankincense Trail and after months of research and careful negotiation I set off with a small TV crew to Oman. Frankincense is still grown and harvested in the Dhofar Mountains above the Omani port of Salalah. During the summer the landscape is transformed from a palate of browns

to a riot of greens making it one of the best areas for wildlife, particularly birds. Off shore dolphins, whales and turtles are frequent visitors. I knew already this short time in Oman would not be enough. So a year later I returned with my husband, walking boots and diving gear. We camped under the stars. We came across tiny settlements, almost entirely hidden deep down steep-sided wadis, where we were greeted with a warmth rarely afforded to strangers. We wandered beneath the mighty walls of the many forts that dot the hillsides, some atmospheric ruins, others beautifully and sympathetically restored. Oman’s capital Muscat, manages somehow to be a harmonious marriage between ancient and modern; the souk, a complex maze of tiny alleyways, the air thick with the mixed fragrances of frankincense and myrrh.

FAST FACTS Kate Travelled with Oman Air on their non-stop daily 7 hour flight from London Heathrow and visited the ancient cities of Salalah and Nizwa (including the Friday cattle market), and capital city Muscat and Muttrah Souk. • For further information see • Follow us on Facebook: Oman Tourism UK and Twitter: @Oman_Tourism_UK.



CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Nobody knows how old Madagascar’s baobab trees are; a traditional Malagasy village among red soils; you won’t be fighting for space on the beach


Despite the blissfully warm sunshine and clement, clean waters, the hotel had only a handful of occupants on my visit, and the country remains way off the radar for most British tourists. Cursed by the venal greed of its leaders, and yet blessed with some of the greatest wonders of nature that man has ever laid eyes on, this is a land that quite simply defies comparison with anywhere else on earth. Away from the wilds As I stroll of the rainforests, back towards my there’s 1,800m of thatched hut at the coastline around Madagascar, much Palissandre, a local of which comprises woman carrying a tourist-friendly huge bag of washing white sands and clear water. steps out of the darkness. Sensing my shock, she simply purred, in sultry French, “don’t be surprised”. Reassured I may have been by her words, but in this beguiling, surreal and utterly singular land, surprise is the default setting for any visitor. e Air France flies from London Heathrow to Madagascar via Paris; return fares from £797. For more info see For more info on visiting Madagascar see

Photographs by Adobe Stock; Dudarev Mikhail (land)/ iStock; Mihtiander (boat)


maybe gargantuan, but there still remains mystery around them. Nobody knows how old they are – the trunks are hollow and nobody has ever found any saplings, so it’s possible that the baobabs that lie scattered across this land may be the last survivors. And yet, as well as being home to such anomalous quirks of nature, this is still an island that can deliver more familiar holiday pleasures. Just 30 minutes’ rattling drive from Baobab Alley, I reached the beach town of Morondava and the Palissandre Côte Ouest hotel. Thirty individual bungalows with thatched roofs and wooden verandas tumble down onto a peaceful beach with sand the colour of Greek yoghurt mixed with coffee. As the final traces of daylight faded into another inky African night, I walked along the cotton-soft sands from my bungalow to the restaurant for a Malagasy dining experience. With their roots in both the African mainland and France, signature dishes include goat-meat tart, grilled shrimps and a surprisingly tender steak made from the flank of the zebu – the bizarre-looking humped tropical cow with hangdog jaws and cape-like, drooping ears.

Be Special Be DeStineD for BaroS For 40 years, we have been dedicated to one single goal: making you happy! You are special to us; we know you by name, not villa number. We are delighted to have you staying with us so we can attend to your desires and make your holiday special too. Come to Baros to celebrate the best there is; discover the Essence of the Maldives, and the holiday of your dreams! . Baros Maldives is a small private coral island in the Indian Ocean ringed by a sun-kissed beach and a vibrant house-reef. The awardwinning boutique luxury resort is proud of a long and outstanding history of service excellence. Awards include the Traveller’s Choice by TripAdvisor in 2013 as the Number 1 Hotel in Maldives, Number 8 Hotel in the World and Number 5 Hotel for Romance in the World as well as The Most Romantic Resort in the World by World Travel Awards 2013.




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A trip to the Gambia reveals rich local culture and a remarkable array of wildlife. Just watch out for the shrieking, whiskyloving baboons, says Andy Jones 53

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typical for the children to ask for a small donation so they can buy a football – in the meantime, they make do with kicking a plastic bottle around – though any requests are friendly, rather than a hassle.

Into the Wild

ABOVE AND BELOW: Houses in the Ballabu region have been adorned with striking street art as part of the Wide Open Walls project


Photographs by Ian Cox

t’s morning on the banks of the lazy Gambia River, and I’ve got a one-to-one appointment with a dawn chorus of bird calls and whooping baboons to go with my cup of tea. Less than an hour’s journey from the country’s Banjul International airport in the far west of the country, the stilted Mandina Lodges offer near-luxury comfort in a secure and comfortable environment, with your accommodation kneeling into the river itself. Raised wooden walkways mean you are always hovering close to the lapping water's edge, making it the best place for catching wildlife. Each morning starts with front-row seats for the spectacle of kingfishers and Goliath herons swooping down for their breakfast from their branches Makasutu is in the mangrove, Mandinka for while local fisherman ‘sacred forest’, and row past collecting in addition to all the wildlife who call oysters from the the 1,000 acres of roots of the trees. foliage home, you’ll The optional find five different dawn wake-up call ecosystems. is a must, especially as you barely have to roll out of bed to take coffee and stare at the wilderness. The roving pack of baboons – who have been known to swipe bottles of whisky from guests’ windows – are a constant companion and, so long as you don’t mind the shrieking, they can be followed through Makasutu’s 1,000 acres of private wilderness or tracked along the river in a canoe.

Wide Open Walls Within that sheltered area, Mandina also

runs an internationally-recognised street art project – Wide Open Walls – where urban artists decorate the breezeblock and corrugated iron houses of the Ballabu people. Founded in 2010, the project is a collaboration between locals and designers from all over the world (including David Shillinglaw, Remi Rough, Best Ever and Rimon Guimarães), who come together every year to turn the village into a gallery, full of bold and inspirational murals. As you enter the dusty compound and take in the art, eager children swarm around, fascinated by any flashes of western technology or fashion – many of them have no internet or television, and a chance to try on your cap or sunglasses will be politely and enthusiastically taken. It is fairly


Throughout the Gambia, fixed-itinerary and bespoke local tours are offered everywhere from the beach to the rivers and towns, and while you have to be careful to pick the right one, local tours can offer a unique insight into how locals interact with wildlife and tourists. At Janjanbureh, formerly called Georgetown, some five hours inland from the capital Banjul (chartered tours are available, pay-and-stay taxis are around £60), you can explore the old slave trading port – a fascinating but humbling insight into how Europe pillaged Africa for slaves. You can also take Janjanbureh is in a more sedate often noted as ride along the river, being the site of the and you won’t need first church in The Gambia, but the any knowledge of area’s incredible Gambia's birdlife selection of wildlife to be wowed by its is what draws the majority of visitors. beauty – kingfishers, vultures, and fish eagles hang from the bending branches, often accompanied by green velvet and red colobus monkeys. While anyone with a passing knowledge of Attenborough will have seen footage of these primates in their natural habitat, what you can't factor in is the colour, noise and the animals’ mutual curiosity in humans. The monkeys sit daily to watch women wash their clothes in the river. At Janjanbureh, your arms will ache from lifting your binoculars so often, such are the endless points of interest. For blockbuster wildlife on your doorstep, the Chimp Rehabilition Centre (, at the Gambia National Park, takes






happily nose through the open drapes of the canvas tents. Chief primatologist Lisa Lane is happy to answer questions, while the night-time or breakfast walks are a must, if not for the unmatched starry skies, then for the macabre tales of what eats what under night fall. Who knew a single baboon could easily take a giant python apart? This is wildlife in your backyard – expect to spend each night wondering what is making all that noise outside your tent – but those expecting a selfie with a chimp will be disappointed. This is animal access strictly on their own terms and at arm’s length, and it’s nothing short of remarkable. e

HIT THE BEACH WHITE HORSE RESIDENCE Private, comfortable hotel on the west coast that sleeps no more than a dozen or so guests at a time. Stumble to Tanji beach for tanning and reading, or walk to the throbbing Tanji fishing village. You’ll know you’ve failed at DIY when you see 15-year-old craftsmen carve fishing boats from a single piece of mahogany. From £80 per night;


GETTING THERE Seven nights half board at Mandina Lodges is available from £949pp, based on two sharing a Jungle Lodge and includes flights, inflight meals, airport transfers and taxes based on flights from Gatwick. The Gambia Experience also offers accommodation at the Chimp Rehabilitation Project and Senegambia. To book please visit or call 014 8986 6939

A little further north of White Horse Residence you’ll find Kombo Beach – big resort accommodation complete with activities, bars and beachside cocktail service. While the Gambia is a Muslim country, it is happy to welcome European drinkers and sunbathers, though the real entertainment comes from the local entrepreneurs who are keen to charm any penny from your pocket. From £420 for seven nights;

Photographs by Adobe Stock (monkeys)

some beating. Set up by Stella Brewer in the late 1970s to help rescued chimps and protect Gambia’s indigenous primate population, the centre is set on the river across from three Chimpanzees are natural islands. our closest relatives, And by ‘centre’, thought to share the National Park around 98% of our genes. The doesn't mean a shiny Gambia’s indigenous modern outlet – this population died-out is a wooden hut on in the early part of the last century. the river’s edge, with immaculate yurts for a small number of guests to live in on the hillside. Some 150 chimps, spread into four neighbouring packs, all live happily on the island where, though managed by centre staff, they are left to their own devices. The best way to see them is by a boat, which passes by close enough to see the chimps’ human-like hands and chattering lips without disturbing them or putting them at risk of disease. Elsewhere, crocodiles, snakes, baboons, monkeys and hippos can be seen at close quarters in their natural habitat. Rather like a safari visit, the great excitement is seeing a flash of scaled skin through the undergrowth or a hippo’s nostril breaking the water, before quietly waiting and watching the animal reveal itself. Though I came here for the chimps, I left having fallen in love with the green velvet monkeys, who trip through the camp and

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There’s more to Bavaria than be er. Christopher Beanland sets down his stein and finds an area as rich in history as it is in hops

Illustration by Ben Tallon



’m stood on the kind of scissor lift you get at a building site. But this is as far from a modern, urban universe as you could imagine. I’m surrounded by green hop plants – climbing up poles like giant alien tentacles. The lift is inching upwards at a snail’s pace, and a beeping noise is pumping into my ears. It’s a surreal feeling. And when it reaches the top, about 20ft up, I can see for miles around.


I’m at the Anheuser Busch hop farm in Hüll, where the hops for Budweiser are grown. Next door, there’s a hop research centre where scientists in white coats obsess over the tiny seeds of this prized plant. They take their beer seriously in Bavaria. Very seriously. This is the land of Oktoberfest (19 Sep-10 Oct; after all. And Bavarian hops are what give Bavarian brews their edge – that punchpacking taste so lacking from identikit mainstream lagers, bulk-brewed and flogged in cans at our off licences. All over Bavaria there’s this mish mash of old and new. You may think of Bavaria as a sort of cosy, anti-Berlin. And that’s certainly true in a way. It’s so bucolic – those low hills covered with lush greenery, and fields that are more manicured than almost anywhere on earth. Every farm looks like it’s from a postcard. There’s a definite lack of the



CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Harvesting the hops, contender for the ‘number one job’ tag; barrels of Bavaria’s finest brew. We’ll take three. Actually, make that four; set your stein aside and explore picturesque Regensburg

burnt-out bangers, piles of crates or mountains of tyres and puddles of mud you seem to see on British farms. The villages are so pretty they make you ache. In Markt Schwaben there’s a wonderful square surrounded by old buildings. In Wolnzach it’s all about the little houses sloshed with dainty pastel colours. Each village has its maypole – proud and tall, always strung with blue and white ribbons to signify the primacy of Bavaria. These are the ‘national’ colours and Bayern Munich FC wear them, too. But there are cutting-edge eye-catchers, as well. Take the German Hop Museum ( in Hallertau’s main town, Wolnzach. A traditional story is told here – the most interesting bit is about the poor urban workers who Maypoles are big migrated en masse to news in Bavaria. pick the hops every Villages vie to summer in the 1800s. steal each other’s poles and hold This was some of the them ‘hostage’. The first mass tourism ransom? Copious in history, because amounts of food and beer, of course. these ‘working holidays’ were highly prized by dem Deutschen volk. But the museum is a striking modern design by Krug & Partners, and the traditional story is told using loads of interactive devices. In nearby Au, the maypole is present and correct, and so is the beer garden of the Schloss Brewery ( It’s a lovely, shady spot where I try a knuckle of pork and wash it down with pilsners from the brewery. From tank to table? About 50 yards. The brew master lets me look round and again any idea I might have had about Bavaria being backward is shattered


– the little whitewashed brewery is full of modern, stainless steel tanks and pipes; and computers controlling the processes. Catholic Bavaria considers itself a bit different to the rest of Protestant Germany. Take the mushroom domes on the church towers, which seem more Czech than Prussian. But Germany’s heart lies here too. Leaving the Hallertau beer region and heading to pretty Regensburg, you see Walhalla (, a copy of the Parthenon in Athens designed by Leo von Klenze and opened in 1842. It’s a celebration of notable Germans past and present, and was conceived by Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria. Inside, more than 100 busts hold court in surreal style. In nearby Ingolstadt I reach the bullseye of Bavaria, the geographic centre-point of the region. Ingolstadt has its Kreuztor, once part of the city’s impressive fortifications. In the 15th century, it was the capital of Bavaria, and part of Brecht’s play Mother Courage And Her Children – another key pillar of German culture – was set here. But again, besides the banks of the Danube, Ingolstadt also does modern. Around the main town square are handsome 1960s offices for the city’s banks. And on the northern outskirts of town is Audi’s

Photographs by Alamy/ Alamy; Stuart Foster






ABOVE: If there are two things you’ll find plenty of in Bavaria, it’s maypoles and beer. Sounds like a winning combination to us

Maglevs do exactly what they say on the tin, and move via magnetic levitation. Yep, they actually float. Not only is that very cool, but it means they’re pretty bloody fast, too.

at Chiemseebahn ( in the south. Travelling south from Munich towards Rosenheim and the Chiemseebahn, you see the Alps rising up. This is a different, much more dramatic Bavaria. Lake Tegernsee has tons of Teutonic charm, and the hotel Bachnair Weissach ( looks traditional enough. But inside it’s stylish and a million times hipper than you’d expect. And that’s Bavaria in a nutshell. Sometimes it seems staid and safe – then it surprises you by pinning its much more modern colours to the mast. e

NEED TO KNOWalamy FLUSHING MEADOWS Double rooms start from £115

HOTEL LOUIS Double rooms from £130 per night Swiss offers daily flights from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London City, Manchester and Birmingham to Munich (via Zurich);

Photograph by Alamy; Walter Pauser

HQ. Next to it is Museum Mobile, where you can find out everything about the legendary Bavarian motor brand ( Audi isn’t the only car company on the block. Who could forget Bayerische Motoren Werke? In Munich there are autobahns criss-crossing the city. BMW’s towering HQ stands overlooking one, as does BMW Welt (, where you can find out about the corporation that now also owns those distinctive British brands, along with Mini and Rolls Royce. But Bavaria loves its railways as well as its cars. From Ingolstadt to Munich I took the sleek, white ICE – the high-speed express service that’s as fast as it is silent. And everywhere else it’s easy to travel by cherry-red Deutsche Bahn trains. The U-Bahn station right next to BMW Welt, meanwhile, is also well worth a look. Olympiazentrum Station is an incredible cacophony of concrete built to serve the 1972 Olympics, and its stark, arch design is striking. Munich has even been toying with the idea of building one of Europe’s longest Maglevs to connect the city centre to its airport, just like Shanghai’s model. Germany leads the way in Maglev technology, though few have been built. If you long for something more traditional there’s always the charming little steam railway



s “special beer girl s” beautiful “heidies – ” c & DJ’s, si u m n a le ro y T l a in ig Or st beer, fe r e b to k O t n ia g l a ci e Sp ous food ci li e d r e th o & e g sa u Bavarian sa




NTAIN Central America remains uncharted territory for many travellers, but the aweinspiring landscapes of El Salvador and Nicaragua are crying out to be explored, says Caroline Phillips Photograph by ###



ll the best trips involve the possibility of dying. The first time this occurs to me is when three soldiers cock their rifles at us outside our hotel in Ataco, El Salvador. (It transpires that the hotel is opposite an army communications mast.) On another occasion, we’re accompanied on a sightseeing trip to Conchagua volcano by two policemen with guns: a precaution because machete-wielding locals once mugged some tourists. Then there’s the time an armed policeman shadows us in an historic graveyard in San Salvador. “In case gangs follow us in,” explains our guide, Eduardo Ariaza. Plus, security guards are all armed and there are signs outside some buildings that read, ‘guns prohibited inside’. So is this a good place for a holiday? “El Salvador,” notes our guidebook, “has


Photographs (main) by Getty/ John Coletti; (Right) Getty/ Stefano Ember; (left-top) Alamy/Vespasian; (left-bottom) Alamy/Thornton Cohen


a reputation for guns, gangs and danger which, while not unfounded, is no longer a problem in areas frequented by most tourists.” Indeed, apart from the above, we feel safe, nothing untoward happens and the country is certainly appealing for those who want an adventurous trip. El Salvador is Central America’s leastvisited nation. Aside The Ruta de las from gang violence, Flores is a 36km it’s known for its road that gets its vicious civil war name from the colourful flowers back in the 1980s. that line it. Visit But it should also from October to be renowned for February when they’re in full bloom. beaches that stretch beyond eternity, galaxy-class surf, volcanoes, rare wildlife, colonial cities, and amazing forest reserves. The country has long tried to gain tourists’ trust and now, maybe, its moment is coming. A highlight is our drive on the Ruta de las Flores – ‘the flower route’, through colourful colonial towns – which ends in Juayua. Founded in 1525, it’s crammed with traditional adobe houses. As it’s the weekend, there’s also booming al fresco Latin American music, hawkers selling pistachios, and vendors with woven baskets containing candy on their heads; plus a photogenic, live, yellow python. “$1 for a photo,” requests its owner in Spanish, as he wraps it around my daughter’s neck. (We don’t meet anyone aside from our guide in El Salvador who speaks English.) Juayua is famed for its weekend feria gastronómica (food fair) and there are lots of outdoor grills: for lunch, there’s chargrilled iguana, guinea pig or snake – or rabbit, for the more conservative. Plus rice and beans – a staple of the Salvadorans’ diet. “See that handsome fellow,” points our guide. “That’s frog.” It’s all eaten in a makeshift restaurant: plastic chairs at plastic tables under a plastic canopy. We drive, via El Imposible National Park, to colonial Suchitoto – which means ‘birds and flowers’ in Nahuatl. Here we discover a place that comes from the pages of Gabriel García Márquez. There are cobblestones, and the Iglesia Santa Lucia, a 19th-century church in which pigeons pay their dues; low-rise houses in sky blue, pistachio and lemon with red clay-tiled roofs; and a women’s cooperative where they still practise the traditional art of dying with indigo. After the war, the town was largely resettled by ex-guerrillas. “During the 1980s Suchitoto was the scene of heavy fighting,” says Jose Rene


Melara, a shopkeeper, restaurant owner and our guide, pointing to protective metal bars that still remain across some shop windows. We’re sitting in the piazza eating pupusas – traditional cornflour pancakes stuffed with beans and minced pork. But Suchitoto is now the country’s No one’s really cultural capital, with sure if Guazapa is regular arts events, still active or not, and February’s however it’s lain dormant for long month-long Festival enough to attract of Culture that draws visitors, who go for the country’s best the view from the 1,438m-high summit. poets, musicians, and painters. “We’ve swapped guns for galleries,” says Melara. Lago de Suchitlan – a lake created in 1976 and overlooked by Guazapa volcano, a former FMLN guerrilla stronghold – is a mile away. Under its olive waters are submerged haciendas and archaeological sites, including ceremonial pyramids.


CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: El Salvador is a mix of lively cities and breathtaking landscapes; beaches are seemingly neverending; the food fair in Juayua: don’t be shocked to find a frog on your plate...




We board a wooden boat at the water’s edge, disturbing a grey heron from his lake-to-plate activities. As we chug closer to an islet, the sky turns brown and quacking: dark with ducks. A snowy egret hides in the reeds, while in the trees are thousands of turkey vultures, grey herons and egrets.

Photographs (top) by Getty/InterNetwork Media; (bottom) Getty/Matthew Micah Wright

The Gulf of Fonseca has a coastline that’s 261km long, and it includes sand beaches, mangrove swamps and rock cliffs. No reports of any piers or arcades though, sadly...

Making a splash

There’s something Conrad-esque about crossing the Gulf of Fonseca to Potosi, Nicaragua. “So much better than the Pan American highway, where the police stop you under any pretext to get bribes,” reveals Benjamin Melara, our guide. The gulf has a vast, painterly sky. In unhappier times, Salvadorans crossed here to flee the civil war. Now we’re travelling in a modified fishing boat. “It’s known as ‘the limo’ because it has plastic padded seats,” divulges the captain. It’s also backbreaking as we smash over waves, the spray soaking us as we pass little green islands that look like lazy crocodiles emerging out of the sea. There are stingrays just under the water’s surface; but the dolphins have gone further out: it’s too choppy. Meanwhile, brown pelicans soar over the waves dive-bombing for fish. There are volcanoes in the distance. We arrive in Nicaragua like pirates or illegal immigrants, crashing over more

ABOVE: A boat ride on the Gulf of Fonesca ensures an adrenaline-fuelled arrival in Nicaragua. BELOW: Forget waves, boarding on ash is where it’s at in this part of the world

Photograph by ###

waves, dropping anchor on a deserted black volcanic beach, wading through the water barefoot and with our suitcases carried by porters on their heads, and then going up to a little hut that is the immigration office. There’s a whiff of salted fish that’s being loaded onto a lorry. “Not the most fancy border ever built,” reveals Benjamin. Yet this must go down in history as the best arrival in a country. Ever. Nicaragua is the largest nation in Central America, but one of the least visited. It’s also the safest. So forget Sandinistas, the civil war and the Iran-Contra scandal. Years of revolution and natural disasters may have disposed of museums, galleries and theatres – and there are almost no ancient monuments – but it’s the size of England and 17% of its land is nature reserves. Plus it boasts 7% of the world’s biodiversity. It offers ‘ooh, ah’ landscapes and 25 volcanoes; lakes, mountains and vast rainforests, tropical forests and cloud forests full of tropical wildlife. Surfing on lost beaches. The beautiful highland colonial cities of Granada and Leon. The large freshwater sea, Lago de Nicaragua, with its sharks. Little wonder Nicaragua has become such a hot destination – with a year-on-year growth of 7% in tourism. It’s definitely worth Like sharks? Lake visiting before the Nicaragua has shipping canal (being plenty of them, and built by the Chinese it’s recently been discovered they can and destined for ‘jump’ up rivers. Just completion in 2020) like salmon. But, carves the country in um, slightly more intimidating. two and transforms

THERE’S AN OX CART TRAFFIC JAM ON OUR WAY TO GO ASHBOARDING DOWN THE VOLCANO the environment; before the sight of ospreys and kingfishers is superseded by super-tankers on the horizon. Top billing in Nicaragua – for adrenaline junkies – goes to ashboarding down Cerro Negro volcano. A Central-American torture? No, ashboarding is like snowboarding – but on ash. There’s an ox cart traffic jam on the dusty road on our way to it. Once there, we sign the waiver for dismemberment and death – our guide, Juan Carlos Mendoza,



MY HEART IS BEATING IN MY MOUTH, EARS, NOSE AND TOES AS I SET OFF DOWN THE SLOPE was on the nearby Santiago crater in 2001 when it burped a 200lb rock onto his van – and set to climbing the coalblack, 2,395ft volcano. “According to volcanologists and geologists it’s like Mars in its atmosphere and material,” explains Juan Carlos. “Scientists came to check the crater for microorganisms to see if there’s life on Mars.” It’s also like walking up a giant pumice stone in an oven, against a gusty

BELOW: Overlooked by a dozen volcanoes, Leon is a must-visit for travellers in search of a true taste of Nicaragua. Not only are there buzzing markets, there’s Central America’s largest cathedral – Basilica de la Asuncion

GETTING THERE Journey Latin America ( specialises in tailor-made travel to all of Latin America, including Nicaragua and El Salvador. A 15-night itinerary costs from £3,590pp including B&B, some meals, excursions, transfers and flights from London. United Airlines offers three daily nonstop services from London Heathrow to Houston, with onward connections to El Salvador and Nicaragua (

the bottom – and he’s walking. Now, to our final destinations. How to choose between Granada and Léon, the finest of the highland cities, with their colonial majesty? Which place to highlight? The case for Granada: Nicaragua’s oldest colonial city, it was founded in 1524; stands at the foot of Mombacho volcano on the shore of Lago de Nicaragua; was once Central America’s jewel, boasts its oldest church (Convent y Museo San Francisco); plus it has horses and carriages and, pastel colonial buildings. It’s the sort of place Central American dreams are made of. But my favourite is Léon for its street life. It’s there, the capital and ecclesiastical centre for most of colonial times, that I sit for hours on the plaza by the Bishop’s Palace, overlooking Central America’s largest cathedral, Basilica de la Asuncion, a baroque masterpiece. Sit on a bench by the market stalls that sell dining utensils made from gourd, coconut husk bracelets and wicker baskets. And There’ s a network listen to the bells of of underground the ice cream seller tunnels that connect vying with the bells the Basilica de la Asuncion with of the cathedral and other temples that the calls of the candy were once used as floss sellers. Léon is hideouts during attacks by pirates. liberal – it remains a Sandanista heartland – and has a buzz and political energy. And who could fail to love a city close to a dozen volcanoes and at the foot of one named Momotombo? I leave my heart in Léon. In fact, I leave my heart in Nicaragua and El Salvador. As Gabriel García Márquez wrote: “There is always something left to love.” e

Photograph by Alamy/Carver Mostardi


wind that occasionally carries the eggy smell of sulphur. Plus, the ground is hot enough to melt your boots. Once at the top, we feel super smug and exhilarated as only folk who have hiked a volcano can; and we drink in the betterthan-heaven’s view of 15 volcanoes and the Pacific in the distance. If this were the first world, there would be signs and protective fencing around the crater – but, thrillingly, there’s nothing. Plus Nicaragua is we’re in the middle often referred to of a 45-mile, non-stop as the ‘country of chain of volcanoes, volcanoes’. As well as climbing up them the Cordillera de los and boarding down, Maribios. The silence, you can swim in solitude and scenery the craters (of the dormant ones...). are superb. We put on (very fetching) protective grey boiler suits, goggles and gloves, and look ready to deal with any forensic emergencies that may arise. After a quick lesson in ashboarding (lean back to go faster; dig your feet into the ash to brake; steer with the rope), my heart is beating in my mouth, ears, nose and toes. I’m a wuss about heights. I hate being out of control. Bravely I set off down the slope – with fine ash filling my nostrils, bra and socks. I’d love to say that I outstrip French athlete Eric Barone who got up to a speed of 107mph careering down here on his bicycle (and broke most of his ribs). But let’s just say that Juan Carlos beats me to


Making adventures real.





ALL IN GOOD TASTE Photograph by ###

Follow your taste buds to San Sebastiรกn, the undisputed Basque capital of cuisine. By Imogen Rowland 73



sk any foodie about the diminutive city of San Sebastián and their response is invariably the same: the eyes glaze over, the mouth hangs slightly ajar, and all action is momentarily stilled at the mere mention of the gastronomic mecca. Those who have been well up, reliving decadent mouthfuls of exquisite pintxos, while those who have not whimper like a 13-year old girl upon catching sight of her favourite 1D member. And with good reason. Situated on Spain’s northernmost coast – just 20km or so from the border with the south of France – San Sebastián is, to those in the know, one of the world’s all-time best culinary destinations. Moreover, it has the trophy cabinet to prove If you’re going to it. With no fewer go Michelin in San than 16 Michelin Sebastián, plan stars – after Kyoto ahead: Arzak – one of the city’s most in Japan that’s the lauded restaurants most concentrated – has a two-to-threecollection in the month wait for a reservation... world – it’s also


the proud home to two restaurants in the World’s 50 Best 2015 (down from three in the 2014 list), and is also regularly voted one of the planet’s best culinary cities in multiple magazines. In short, this is a city that tastes very good indeed. On the ground, those claims are quickly substantiated. Pintxos – bite-sized skewers of beautifully constructed food – originated here and are the stuff of foodie dreams, so while the pricey Michelin-starred options are definitely worth a look, you don’t have to pay more than a few euros a piece for some seriously wonderful grub. But the city is also a lot more than just an eatery: it’s superbly located, with the Bay of Biscay bringing warm Atlantic waters to the edge of Concha Bay, the perfect curve of white sand and clear sea that’s responsible for the city’s rather romantic nickname, the Pearl of the Cantabrian Sea. With the Basque city preparing for its role as European Capital of Culture 2016, there’s never been a better time to check it out for yourself. Here’s how to widen your horizons – and your waistlines – San Sebastián style.

Pintxo perfect

Every pintxo is little more than a

Derived from the mouthful, meaning Spanish word for you can order at least two – if not thorn or spike, more – of every ‘pintxo’ refers to the variety. Each. Just skewer many of these don’t try and match a drink to each one... bite-sized tapasstyle bar snacks are held together with. After all, bars in San Sebastián are not, first and foremost, about drinking. Instead they’re all about food – the countertops are covered, every inch crowded with hundreds of different options, like a gourmet buffet where each morsel has been constructed with loving care. To say which is the best pintxo would be like trying to pick a favourite child, but if you need a helping hand deciphering the menus (Basque is the region’s first language, making Spanish its second – so English translations are few and far between) turn to a food tour company such as San Sebastián Food (, who will take you on a three-hour pintxo crawl through some of the city’s most famous bars and most delicious morsels for €95 (should you be so inclined, they even have a new



++ La Cuchara de San Telmo on Calle 31 de Agosto for carrillera (slow-cooked tender beef cheeks) ++ Munto on Calle Fermin Calbeton for txipi relleno (stuffed baby squid) ++ A Fuego Negro on Calle 31 de Agosto for Makobe with txips (a kobe beef slider with plantain chips) Top tip: don’t be afraid to order from the blackboards, even if you’re not entirely sure of what you’re ordering. They list the house seasonal specialities and all of the hot options available – and are often (contentious claim alert) even better than the incredible crowds of cold pintxos that line the countertops.

Basque booze

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: San Sebastián’s bars are as much about food as they are drink – expect them to be laden with pintxos; Vineyards packed with grapes ready to make into txakolí; swim it all off in the Bay of Biscay

Photographs by San Sebastián Food (pintxo); Michael Hilgert (beach)/Alamy; Alex Segre (pintxos)/ Alamy (vineyards)

cookery school where you can learn how to make your own). If you want to try and go it alone though, here are the pintxos that escapism couldn’t live without: ++ Zeruko on Calle Pescaderia, for la Hoguera (a mini salt cod bonfire that will blow your greedy mind) ++ Goiz Argi on Calle Fermin Calbeton, for pimentos de Padron (char-grilled Galician green peppers) and txakoli wine ++ Astelena on Plaza de la Constitucion for rabo de buey (melt-in-the-mouth oxtail)

Height is important in San Sebastián – or, more specifically, the height from which your drinks are poured. There are two local specialities on offer: the regional cider, txotx (tx is pronounced ‘ch’), which is produced in cider farms in the Gipuzkoa province, and txakolí, a fruity young wine produced in the nearby coastal towns of Getaria and Zarautz. Both tipples are poured from a height in order to fully release their flavours, and the bar tenders are more than happy to splash those close-by, so it’s best to stand back if you don’t want a boozy shower. For cider aficionados, it’s definitely worth taking a trip just outside the city to one of the farms in the outlying towns of Astigarraga, Hernani, Urnieta or Usurbil. Here you can sample the cider in the very place it’s produced, teamed with fantastic plates of local fare – think salt cod tortilla and blistered padron peppers. Try Sidreria Iretza in Astigarraga (, a modern cider house where some of the dining tables are situated within giant cider barrels, or Sidreria Intxaurrondo ( for a more traditional experience. e

STARS OF THE SHOW Should budgets allow, contrast your pay-per-bite pintxos experience with one (or two, if you’re blowing the budget) of the city’s Michelin-starred eateries – but bear in mind you’ll need to book well in advance. Here are three of the top players that’ll make you brace your bank balance, not to mention your belt:

MUGARITZ Postioned at number six in the World’s 50 Best and with two Michelin stars, Mugaritz is headed up by Andoni Luis Aduriz and is an all-consuming experience from the word go. The tables are dressed with a white tablecloth and a broken plate; a smoky barbeque scent emanates through the room – and the food plays with the senses, too. There’s no menu: instead, diners are presented with 24 dishes (no bigger than pintxos themselves) that form a culinary exploration into the unknown.

ARZAK At number 17 in the World’s 50 Best and with three Michelin stars, Arzak marries the traditional flavours of Basque cuisine with ultra-modern culinary techniques. Run by father and daughter team Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, freeze-drying, dehydration and distillation are all used to pull together astonishingly creative platefuls of flavours that hark back to the region’s cornerstone ingredients including squid and monkfish.

MARTÍN BERASATEGUI With three Michelin stars to his name, and coming in at number 35 in the World’s 50 Best 2014, Martín Berasategui’s self-titled restaurant is not short of accolades. His tasting menu takes you on a journey through his four decades in the kitchen, with dishes such as mille-feuille of smoked eel (1995) and oyster with cucumber, kafir and coconut (2011) date-stamped to show their year of creation.


Global Travel

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In association with

FROM TOP: The main pool at Conrad Algarve includes an underwater music system; Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian is a former train station; Conrad London St. James brings the Conrad philosophy to the UK

Scotland Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian Affectionately known as the ‘Caley’, the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian is a former Victorian railway building in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. Spoil yourself at two award-winning restaurants presided over by the Michelin-starred Galvin brothers, or soak in the Guerlain Spa after exploring the Scottish capital.

England Conrad London St. James The only Conrad hotel in the UK, Conrad St. James is ideally located just moments from historic London landmarks such as Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. Expect Conrad’s world-class hospitality combined with state-of-the-art décor wrapped into one modern, luxurious urban property, with sophisticated drink and dining options. For more information and to book visit:;



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CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The Trianon Palace Versailles; one of the tranquil pools at Conrad Algarve; the Presidential Suite at Waldorf Astoria Berlin; rooftop views over the Eternal City from the Rome Cavalieri

France Trianon Palace Versailles Versaille’s royal connections are well known, and Trianon Palace Versailles, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel – keeps the creed beautifully. An enchanting five-star hotel, Trianon Palace is a sumptuous woodland oasis on the outskirts of Paris. Classic elegance is top of the agenda here, with Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous two-Michelinstarred French restaurant, and decadent treatments from luxurious French beauty brand Guerlain. For more information and to book visit:;

Germany Waldorf Astoria Berlin After a weekend spent in this buzzy capital, an urban oasis like the Waldorf Astoria Berlin is just the place to relax. The Art Deco-style modern hotel boasts Michelinstarred restaurant Les Solistes, under celebrated chef Pierre Gagnaire, as well as Germany’s only Guerlain Spa. That’s not all: the exclusive Library Lounge on the 15th floor offers panoramic views over Berlin.

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Conrad Dubai

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The peaceful swimming pool at the Conrad Dubai; the lush fairway surrounding the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah; bedrooms at the hotel

The Conrad Dubai is found on the doorstep of the glitziest of Dubai’s superlatives – the glassy Burj Khalifa and the huge Dubai Mall. Choose between blockbuster views of the ocean or the dramatic cityscape from the vast outdoor pool deck, or kick back in the peaceful and contemporary spa – all to the tune of Conrad’s flawless bespoke service. For more information and to book visit:;

UAE Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah The United Arab Emirates’ Ras Al Khaimah – Dubai’s neighbour – is famed for its combination of sun, sea and mountainous backdrop. The palatial Waldorf Astoria here offers superior golf and spa facilities on the glittering Arabian peninsula. Spend days relaxing on a long stretch of private beach, enjoying award-winning cuisine or discovering adventurous desert escapes such as dune safaris and camel rides. For more information and to book visit:;


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USA Waldorf Astoria Orlando Orlando offers the best of both worlds: heart rate-spiking theme park fun and peaceful rural retreats. Waldorf Astoria Orlando is found in a stylish 482-acre reserve, where guests enjoy world-class dining facilities, flawless service and other amenities – but where all the fun of the Walt Disney theme parks are just a complimentary transfer away.

Waldorf Astoria New York CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The lobby at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando; elegant bedrooms at the Waldorf Astoria New York; the over water spa at the Conrad Maldives; the pool area at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando

A Park Avenue landmark, the Waldorf Astoria New York is legendary for many reasons, including being the home of the eponymous salad. The Art Deco Midtown landmark is famous for exquisite dining (the Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse being just one example) and lavish suites, as well as having one of the most celebrated guestbooks in New York. For more information and to book visit:;

Maldives Conrad Maldives Located in the Maldives’ best diving and whale shark-spotting area, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is the quintessence of resort destinations. Crowned Indian Oceans Leading Hotel and twice winner of Best Hotel in the World, the resort is an untouched slice of paradise. Guests can choose from villas across two islands, enjoy award-winning dining – including 12 world-class restaurants and bars – and discover two spas and an abundance of locally inspired experiences, all in beautiful Maldivian surroundings. For more information and to book visit:;


Unique luxury at Conrad Hotels At Conrad Hotels & Resorts your stay will be as unique as you are – refined luxury and intuitive service defines your experience. While the location, design, art and inventive food make your stay even more inspired. Whether you choose to stay in a luxurious beach or golf resort, or connect to the exciting buzz of the city, you’ll find an adventure waiting for you.

For more information and to book visit

DON’T MISS OUT TICKETS & HOSPITALITY FOR THE FINAL OF RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015 AVAILABLE NOW FOR £1,195 Prices exclude VAT. Rugby Travel & Hospitality Ltd is the exclusive provider of official hospitality for Rugby World Cup 2015. TM © Rugby World Cup Ltd 1986


Rhythm & Spice Tobago’s beauty stretches far beyond its idyllic beaches and lush landscape – a packed annual calendar of festivals show the Caribbean island at its fun-loving, glorious best


here are many things we want from a Caribbean holiday – palm-fringed beaches lapped by clear blue seas, rich local culture, world-class seafood and great music. Tobago is a distillation of all that’s good about the sunsoaked islands, with its own distinctive character thrown into the heady mix. You can discover the best of Tobago at one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year, from the annual carnival in February to August’s Great Fete – a five-day beach party that takes place over the Carib Great Race powerboat weekend. There’s also the Tobago International Classic in September and October, where enthusiastic crowds watch cyclists from all over the world take on the island’s lush, undulating terrain over six celebration-filled days. Food is at the heart of Tobagan culture, and two of the island’s most popular festivals revolve around celebrating local chefs and produce. The annual Culinary Festival in June brings together Tobago’s top cooking and bartending talent, with hotly contested competitions pitting them against one another in the ‘kitchen stadium’. In October, the Blue Food Festival celebrates the dasheen – a nutrient-rich root vegetable used widely in island cuisine. It’s a unique and vibrant taste of Tobago – an authentic Caribbean gem just waiting to be discovered. ◆


FROM ABOVE: Englishman’s Bay is hidden away behind lush, green forest; food is an important part of Tobagan culture, with two festivals focusing on local cuisine; taking a dip at No Man’s Land


A trip to Tobago could be closer than you think, thanks to great deals with holiday experts Kenwood Travel. Get seven nights in a four-star hotel plus flights from only £695pp. For more information, call 020 7749 9270 or go to




NO JUNK IN THE TRUNK: Swimwear brand Leo Joseph is more than just a summer fling – the Chapman bag teams canvas and leather, with an elephant twist inside. See more urban adventure gear on p86.




FALL INTO LINE Sorry to be the ones to break it to you, but those long, lazy days of endless sun and good times that failed to show up (again)? They’re never coming. Deal with autumn in style…









6. HARRY STEDMAN, Black ecru stripe t-shirt, £85. UKmade with Italian cotton – and an unmistakably Gallic twist courtesy of the horizontal stripes.

8. GLOVERALL X LOCHCARRON, Tartan scarf, £40. Two legendary British brands combine to save your neck from adverse weather conditions.

7. GLOVERALL, Racing shirt, £120. Inspired by sporting images from the 1950s, the Racing shirt is a modern take on motorsport style.

9. RETROSUPERFUTURE, Matte black frames, £113. Because the sun even shines when it’s autumn. And they look cool – yes, we’re that fickle.


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PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###

1. TIMBERLAND, Chestnut quartz boot, £180. With seam-sealed construction and insulation to keep you warm, dry and looking sharp.

3. LEO JOSEPH, The Chapman, £125. Hidden from view are the padded leather shoulder straps, laptop sleeve and elephant-pattern lining.

2. SAMSØE & SAMSØE, Leaf jumper, £119.95. The pattern is inspired by Bob Dylan, we’re told. Though not as much as it’s inspired by leaves, obviously.

4. PEREGRINE, Titan jacket, £499. The ultimate durable jacket, with water, chemical and flame-repellant fabrics. BRING ON THE FIRE.

5. PAIGE, Jackson Jogger in aster night, £224. Calling these joggers is stretching it a bit, but for style plus comfort, they’ll be your go-tos in cooler months.



Wearing a coat stuffed full of feathers doesn’t mean you have to look like the Michelin man. This slimline jacket’s nipped-in waste is flattering, too.

★ GIRLS ★ 2


EDGE OF GLORY You don’t have to dress like a square to be practical – these edgy glad rags are both functional and fashionable, so you’ll be prepped for anything

8 9 1. CAT FOOTWEAR, Colorado boots, £110. Can’t make a safari this year? Stomp around the city streets in these comfy and durable leopard-print bad boys insted.

3. REPLAY, Leather backpack, £160. Studs aren’t exclusively for dog collars or 14-year-old goths. Add them to soft Italian leather for sophistication with a bit of grit.

2. HALLHUBER, Hallhuber coat, £149. The puffer jacket – it’s a look favoured by stylish Italians and Spanish. And now us, too.

4. GOLDIE, Denim dress, £49. It’s the female equivalent of a Canadian tuxedo, but way better looking. And it’s versatile, too.




We’re no fashionistas, but we’re pretty sure that denim won’t be leaving the shops any time soon. Better embrace the trend, then, with this new number from Goldie.

5. SCOTCH & SODA, Leopard print scarf, £59.95. Give your outfit some POW! with a bold scarf, also doubling as a handy blanket for the plane. 6. POPPY LUX, Rosella pineapple tee, £28. Here’s an interesting fact: pineapples are the international symbol for swingers. Careful where you wear it.

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7. HALLHUBER, Hallhuber jumper, £69. The chunky knit, wide neck and loose fit of this jumper makes it comfortable as well as stylish. Job done. 8. HOOK LDN, Parklife sunglasses, £85. Designed by a new, British brand, these shades come in a range of crazy colours. Or no colour at all, just like these. 9. DAISY JEWELLERY, Chakra Bracelets, £58/£86. Balance your Chakra while travelling with the help of a bracelet or two.


PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###







DEFINITELY THE RIGHT CHOICE Coastal cliffs provide any birdwatcher with a breathtaking experience. Unique seabirds, like the shearwater or albatross, leave you amazed by their elegant aerobatics. The aim of the ATX/STX range from SWAROVSKI OPTIK is to give you the privilege of experiencing such rare creatures, right up close. This range allows you, for the first time, to change the spotting scope’s performance using the objective lens size. If you’re birdwatching at the coast or on mudflats, choose the 95-mm objective lens, with a magnification of up to 70x, which will allow you to totally enjoy their magnificent beauty, in crystal clear vision. If you’re travelling or spending long days in the field, the compact 65-mm objective lens is the perfect choice. Enjoy those moments even more – with SWAROVSKI OPTIK.



★ GEAR ★ 2

TOUGHER THAN THE REST Your phone might take half-decent pictures, but put it anywhere near water or muck – or subject it to any kind of brutality – and it’ll burst into tears and beg you to take it home. These hardnut cameras won’t, however. Grrrrrrr.


Photograph by ###

2. CANON, Powershot D30, £169. Shoot down to 25m underwater, plus high performance in low light levels and a rugged body that resists shocks and dirt.


Photograph by David Harrison

1. FUJIFILM, FinePix XP80, £129. Get the perfect shot without even being there – Wi-fi means you can shoot remotely from an app on your phone.




A GARDEN FULL OF SECRETS Looking out the window, you see flashes of colour darting about your garden, before making the wonderful discovery that a robin has taken up residence in a hedge. While you’re observing this small visitor and his eye-catching plumage, he’s diligently looking for suitable twigs to make a nest. It’s at times like these that the CL Pocket compact binoculars from SWAROVSKI OPTIK impress with their unique optical quality, optimum viewing comfort, and intuitive use. The perfect binoculars for the whole family, always ready to hand to bring the small wonders of nature closer. SWAROVSKI OPTIK – enjoy those moments even more.




Deep notes in this Michael Kors fragrance include tobacco smoke, suede, spices and bergamot. Combined with patchouli, the resulting scent is rich and refined.




SCENT CRAZY Look good, smell good. That’s the aim at least, and this month even your hair can be wafting a heavenly scent about town.


by ### PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison

1. JO MALONE, Incense and Cedrat Cologne, £105. Top notes of cedrat add a citrus twist, with base notes of warm Omani incense.

3. MICHAEL KORS, Eau de Toilette, £50. Classic patchouli combines with spices and bergamot for this luxe but everyday fragrance for men.

2. ACQUA DI PARMA, Ginepro Di Sardegna , £82. This energising scent contains spicy notes of pepper, nutmeg and juniper.

4. THAMEEN, Hair fragrance, £85. This long-lasting hair scent uses keratin and Moroccan argan oil. Great for warm climates.

Thameen’s hair fragrance is scented with ‘Peacock Throne’ – that’s a combination of Taif rose, Egyptian oris, pink pepper pearls and delicate burnished vanilla.


■ A hotel in Barcelona that feels like home Primero Primera is an old house owned by the Barcelona bourgeoisie and converted into a hotel; its style is synonymous with warmth and a sense of belonging, offering guests the mixture of an elegant yet homely feel whilst travelling. The building, located in one of the peacefull districts of Barcelona, Tres Torres, has been restored while leaving the original structure as it has always been, giving the hotel a timeless quality. The thirty rooms and bathrooms are distinguished by their spaciousness and natural idiosyncrasies. Each room has a different interior design, reinforcing the idea of a private house, the brand identity of Primero Primera.

Hotel Primero Primera ■ C/ Doctor Carulla, 25-29 08017, Barcelona ■ +34 934 1 75 600 ■


DUNE WITH A VIEW Here’s your chance to win Taylor Morris sunglasses or a flight to the unforgettable landscapes of Namibia


ome to the oldest desert, the highest sand dunes and the largest canyon in Africa, Namibia offers the most mesmerising scenery in the world. That’s why Hugo Taylor and Charlie Morris – British designers and co-founders of eyewear brand Taylor Morris – chose the Namib Desert for the brand’s latest sunglasses shoot – a place where their stylish shades would be complimented by a unique backdrop. Namibia offers something for everyone, so we’ve teamed up with South African Airways, the Namibia Tourism Board and Taylor Morris to give you the chance to win a return flight to see the country for yourself. Runners-up will also have the chance to win a pair of Taylor Morris sunglasses. To enter and to view terms and conditions simply visit

INCREDIBLE SIGHTS AWAIT IN NAMIBIA, HOME TO THE OLDEST DESERT IN AFRICA SUN STYLE: Just some of the sunglasses included in the new range of eyewear from UK brand Taylor Morris



CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: The historic Quisiana Palace; the Grand Tirolia Hotel’s lush grounds ; take a dip at the New Peterhof Hotel


From the spectacular streets of St Petersburg to the rolling fields of Austria, here’s your chance to win a chilled-out spa break in a destination to suit your mood


f you’re looking for a relaxing weekend escape, we have just the ticket. Here’s your chance to win a luxurious three-night break in one of three fantastic destinations. If lavish buildings are your thing, how about a long weekend in the dazzling Russian city of St Petersburg? The New Peterhof Hotel blends elegant surroundings with modern interiors, while bedrooms offer views of the world-famous Peterhof Palace. Stroll the nearby streets, taking in the grand architecture, churches and cathedrals before returning to the hotel for a leisurely swim or spa session. At the Grand Tirolia Hotel in the Austrian countryside, it’s all about wellness and activities. Set in the Kitzbühel Alps, the hotel is surrounded by lush Alpine countryside – prime cycling and horseriding territory in the summer, and an excellent skiing and snowboarding destination in the


winter. To slow the pace, play a round of golf on the resort’s landscaped fairways, or visit the spacious Grand Alps spa for a massage or dip in the indoor/outdoor pools. Meanwhile, the Quisiana Palace is a 19thcentury boutique hotel set on the charming banks of the river Teplá in Carlsbad, Czech Republic. The historic spa town, sitting in the middle of the forest, has streets lined with colourful houses and cafes. The hotel’s spectacular, too, boasting grand interiors, majestic balconies and a peaceful spa. For your chance to win a stay at one of these luxe hotels, and for full inclusions and terms and conditions, simply visit


designed by Travellers for Travellers




Photograph by Tom Murphy/Getty

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the snow, you’d better have a decent coat – and luckily this bison does. The animals – tens of millions of which used to roam the US – use their massive heads and muscular necks to forage for food (and also to fight). Must be a nightmare finding a bike helmet that fits, though. e

Win an incredible trip to Melbourne flying Qantas Premium Economy



ancy winning a holiday to Melbourne for two, including return flights and a five-night hotel stay? To find out how, read on… Whether you’re setting off on a trip or returning home, nothing beats having the space to relax, switch off and enjoy your flight. You’ll find precisely that in Qantas’ Premium Economy class, where not only can you enjoy comfortable, spacious seating, but also entertainment, a top-quality wine list and the option to choose your meal before you fly with Select on Q-Eat. The Australian airline knows that what matters most on a flight is your happiness and comfort, and its Premium Economy experience has * For full terms and conditions, please visit

been designed with this in mind. Sit back in your ergonomically designed seat, complete with extendable footrest and with a luxurious pillow and blanket provided; enjoy complimentary drinks onboard, from sparkling wine as you arrive to a self-service bar in the air; and choose from hundreds of films, TV shows and albums to watch or listen to on your personal screen, with your own noise-cancelling headset meaning you don’t miss a second of the action. If this sounds like a flight you’d like to take, enter our competition by 12 September and you could win two return Premium Economy tickets to Melbourne flying Qantas plus five nights’ accommodation.

To be in with a chance of winning this amazing prize, all you have to do is head to qantas-melbourne and answer one simple question… *

Qantas Premium Economy fares from London Heathrow to Melbourne start at £1,913 for selected travel dates. Offer ends 19 August 2015 unless sold out before. For more information, visit

“I like to make people feel at home, no matter how far they are from it.� Tanya Lazarou Qantas Flight Attendant

All inclusive fares with service that makes the difference, thanks to people like Tanya. Qantas Airways Limited ABN 16 009 661 901

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Escapism, 21, Wildlife Special  

Escapism Magazine, Issue 21, Wildlife Special

Escapism, 21, Wildlife Special  

Escapism Magazine, Issue 21, Wildlife Special