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THE ADVENTURE SPECIAL

Yucatan, Mexico

Catania, Sicily

Raasay, Scotland

Java, Indonesia

Teyuna, Colombia

New Zealand

I s s u e

51 I S S N

2 3 9 7 - 3 4 0 4


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ISSUE 51 • ESCAPISM • 9

EDITOR’S LETTER

E D I TO R I A L

DESIGN

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Jon Hawkins DEPUTY EDITOR

Lydia Winter ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Tom Powell CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Mike Gibson SUB EDITOR

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Matthew Hasteley DESIGNERS

Emily Black, Annie Brooks JUNIOR DESIGNER

Louis Moss COVER PHOTOGRAPHY

Gleb Tarro/Getty Images: Lake Powell, Arizona, p36

Victoria Smith CONTRIBUTORS

David J Constable, Stuart Kenny, Nick Savage, George Scott

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Mark Hedley SALES DIRECTORS

Mike Berrett, Alex Watson BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Jason Lyon

PRINT ADVERTISING

FINANCIAL DIRECTOR

Steve Cole ACCOUNTS

Jess Gunning, Jenny Thomas MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Melissa Van der Haak Kate Rogan

LEAD DEVELOPER

Emily Fulcher

JUNIOR DEVELOPER

Tim Slee

Matt Clayton OFFICE MANAGER

Caroline Walker

Jon Hawkins, Editor

MARKETING AND EVENTS

Jo Birt, Francesca Neal, Sam Ratcliffe, Seth Tapsfield AJ Cerqueti

W

HEN YOU’RE ONE of the world’s best rock climbers, and you spend your time racking up first ascents of extraordinarily challenging walls and appearing in your mates’ Oscar-winning movies (which, if you haven’t seen Free Solo, is very much about climbing), where do you take the family on holiday? A beach resort, maybe? A cultural city break? Center Parcs? If you’re Tommy Caldwell, you take them to France. To go climbing. Which is exactly what he was doing – bouldering in Fontainebleau, just south of Paris, to be precise – when we spoke to him in early March about Californian climber’s paradise Yosemite National Park, and his landmark ascent of the Dawn Wall route on the park’s famous El Capitan cliff (read more about his El Cap exploits on page 114). The point is, I suppose, that if you’re adventurous in daily life, why would you stop being adventurous when you travel, even (or especially) when the kids are in tow? Of course, your starting point on the adventurous scale is probably a little bit below Tommy’s, but the same principle applies – and whatever you want from an adventurous holiday, we reckon you’ll find a trip for you in our bumper roundup on page 36, from a weekend hiking, biking and running in Morocco to kayaking in Albania. Or you could just speed-climb a 3,000ft cliff in Yosemite and be done with it. Last one to the top of El Cap’s a loser! ◆

MARKETING AND EVENTS EXECUTIVE CEO

@EscapismMag

@escapismmag

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Tom Kelly OBE

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© Square Up Media Limited 2019. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Square Up Media cannot accept responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Square Up Media a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine. All material is sent at your own risk and although every care is taken, neither Square Up Media nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be held liable resulting for loss or damage. Square Up Media endeavours to respect the intellectual property of the owners of copyrighted material reproduced herein. If you identify yourself as the copyright holder of material we have wrongly attributed, please contact the office.


114

15

CONTENTS

36

EXPERIENCES

15 ◆  In The Frame 22 ◆ Just Landed 27 ◆ On Location ◆ Game of Thrones 30 ◆ Short Stay Wiltshire

0

32 ◆ Good Reads ◆ Travel books

C OV E R S TO RY

36 ◆ Adventure Special The best action-packed activities 44 ◆ Yucatan, Mexico ◆ Hidden Depths Cenotes, haciendas and more on a mile-munching road-trip 50 ◆ Raasay, Scotland ◆ Whisky Business Forgotten whisky stills and local legends on a remote Hebridean island

72

EXCURSIONS 55 ◆ New York, USA ◆ A guide to Williamsburg and Greenpoint 60 ◆ Catania, Sicily ◆ Out of the Ashes 36 hours in the shadow of Mount Etna 67 ◆ Java, Indonesia ◆ Reaching new highs A first foray into the vast island nation 72 ◆ New Zealand ◆ A tale of two islands An epic journey in pictures

89 ◆ The Checklist ◆ Everything you need for your next adventure 97 ◆ The Intrepid Series ◆ Trekking in remote Colombia 104 The Selector Summer sun

114 Rear View ◆ Tommy Caldwell

[Catania] imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo; [Adventure Special] Liam Neal; [In the Frame] Greg Lecoeur; [Rear View] Jeff Johnson

DEPARTURES

60


NEW IN STORE AND ONLINE NOW: JACK-WOLFSKIN.COM


Discover why on normandy-tourism.org

Š Emmanuel Berthier - CRT Normandie

2019, the year to visit


DEPARTURES

London in the Sky 2019 – for more details see p22 or visit londoninthesky.co.uk

15 22 27

Chris Johnson

30

In the Frame

◆ ◆

Just Landed

On Location

Short Stay 32

◆ ◆

Game of Thrones

Lucknam Park, Wiltshire Travel Books


IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 15

IN THE FRAME

This year’s Outdoor Photographer of the Year category winners have been announced and the best shots are as epic as ever [

PHOTOGRAPHY

BEAR WITNESS:

Roie Galitz

Lake Kuril in Russia is visited by millions of sockeye salmon during spawning season each year, while brown bears sit and wait. You’ll need a drone to see the full situation unfold from above, though.

]


ON YOUR BAIK’:

Hungarian photographer Peter Racz drove his vintage campervan all the way to the shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia for this epic ice cave snap. Brave. Very brave indeed.


IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 17

STEP OUTSIDE #OPOTY The awardwinning shots in year’s Outdoor Photographer of the Year awards take in everything from the deserts of Namibia to this ice cave in Siberia. For more info on the 2019 awards, head to opoty.co.uk

Peter Racz


WHEN YOU SEE IT:

Can you spot the baby gelada monkey in this photo from Simien National Park in Ethiopia? This epic shot won in the Young Outdoor Photographer of the Year category.


IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 19

Firstname Surname Riccardo Marchegiani


20 • DEPARTURES • IN THE FRAME

REEF ENCOUNTER:

Greg Lecoeur

Live the Adventure category winner Greg Lecoeur braved fierce waters in French Polynesia to get this shot of a surfer duckdiving a wave.


Introducing the special edition

kånken art what do you get when you ask artists to express their relationship with nature using a Kånken backpack as their canvas? That’s right; Kånken Art. This year we proudly introduce Erik Olovsson and Cecilia Heikkilä, two fantastic creatives, both with their own unique form of expression, that have designed two

beautiful new members of the Kånken family. Not only visually exceptional but also environmentally ambitious by being part of the Arctic Fox Initiative, funding projects that give back to nature. Read all about it and get your Kånken Art at fjallraven.co.uk.


22 • DEPARTURES • JUST LANDED

NO PLASTIC, NO PROBLEM

JUST LANDED

Everything you need to know from the world of travel, including exciting eco news from Barbados, a tasty way to explore the Lake District, and a new home for aged sloths (no, really)

[

WHAT’S

NEW

IN

TRAVEL

When an island has as much gorgeously inviting water, incredible marine wildlife and as many long, beautiful beaches as Barbados, it’s worth every effort to protect. And that’s exactly what the Caribbean island nation has just kickstarted the process of doing. From April 2019, the country will ban the import, sale and use of single-use plastic cups, plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, egg cartons and styrofoam. But that’s not all: at the start of 2020, Barbados will see a country-wide ban on all petro-based plastic bags, too. visitbarbados.org

]

THE ONLY WAY IS UP It’s time to take a different kind of flight: one that’s altogether more comfortable, more exciting and, well, more enjoyable than hopping on a plane – and with seriously tasty food, too. This summer, London in the Sky lands at The O2, where you’ll be able to sit at a Sky Table suspended 100ft in air with outrageous views over the city skyline. While you’re up there, you’ll be served delicious grub from Social Pantry – from a three-course dinner to prosecco and cake – or enjoy one-off events like comedy shows or jazz nights. londoninthesky.co.uk

ACCESS ALL AREAS

gowheeltheworld.com

RAISE YOUR GLASSES: [right]

Whether you go for cocktails or a full-on dinner, bagging a seat at the London in the Sky table is a pretty unique experience

[London in the Sky] Chris Johnson

The dazzling Inca city of Machu Picchu is without doubt one of the most iconic tourist spots on the planet, with more than one million flocking there each year, but at 8,000 feet up a mountain via a challenging trek, it’s always been a bucket-list destination that’s offlimits to people with disabilities. Until now. Thanks to accessibility-oriented travel company Wheel The World – which uses specialist wheelchairs and tour guides to reach remote places – far-flung tourist sites like Machu Picchu are becoming easier to reach than ever before.


24 • DEPARTURES • JUST LANDED

FRUITS OF THE FOREST You know the rules: if you want to get a proper taste of the place you’re travelling to, you damned better gather that grub with your own hands. And that’s exactly what you’ll be doing at The Forest Side in Grasmere, which has just launched a one-night foraging package for spring that allows guests to taste the very best of the Lake District. After a sixor ten-course dinner, a night’s stay and a fortifying local breakfast, you’ll hit the fields to find wild food for yourself, before heading back to the hotel and chowing down on a Michelin-starred picnic lunch made with the very best bits. From £229. theforestside.com

SLOWING THE PACE

TAKE YOUR PICK: The

Forest Side’s foraging experience will allow you to scour the Lake District’s fields and woods for fantastic wild produce

HELPING HANDS Want to hear something good? On International Women’s Day this March, adventure travel company G Adventures added another four G

For Good projects to a roster of 70 social enterprises they help around the globe, all dedicated to supporting women and young people across Africa. The newly supported projects include a community-

run fabric workshop in Zambia, a farm-totable restaurant run by an all-female co-op in Zimbabwe and a gallery and café that gives its profits to children living with HIV in Uganda. gadventures.com

[sloth] James Davies; [radishes] White Feather & Co; [helping hands] G Adventures Inc.

Recommending a weekend visit to a retirement home might not be the kind of travel inspiration you’d expect to find inside escapism, but stay with us… At Tenbybased Folly Farm wildlife centre in Wales, you can check out the world’s first retirement home specifically for OAP sloths. Yep, because sloths stop breeding at around 20 but can live until the ripe old age of 50 when kept in captivity, there’s a huge need for a place to retire these inactive, non-breeding marsupials for their twilight years. You learn something new every day. folly-farm.co.uk


SKi.

LIVE. BREATHE. OUTDOORS. shops nationwide | ellis-brigham.com

NEW SUMMER CATALOGUES OUT NOW


NEW

ROLLING TRANSPORTER ADVENTUREPROOF ON WHEELS. Built for demanding adventures, the Rolling Transporter is an ultra-durable, gear hauling duffel with all-terrain wheels.

ospreyeurope.com


ON LOCATION • DEPARTURES • 27

ON LOCATION

ON THE FLY

Breaking news – winter is no longer coming, it is well and truly here, and as the world prepares to delve into the ice-cool eighth and final series of Game of Thrones, we take a look at the locations close to home that have already seen a lot of the action…

[

NORTHERN

IRELAND

From stylish suitcase to adventure-proof rucksack, we’ve got your kit bag covered

]

EAGLE CREEK MIGRATE DUFFLE 40L, £80 Heavy duty and converts into a backpack. Sorted. eaglecreek.com

E (Game of Thrones) 2019 Home Box Office, Inc

VERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT it, and that’s because it’s coming: winter, the White Walkers, the days in the office spent avoiding spoilers. Yep, Game of Thrones is back this April, and it’s among the best travelled shows on the box. There are loads of GoT filming locations you probably already know about: Dubrovnik as King’s Landing, Seville as Dorne and that cone-shaped, Insta-famous mountain in Iceland as the site of that battle with the White Walkers. One country that’s survived all eight seasons, though, is Northern Ireland: yep, from the entwined beech trees of the Kingsroad in County Antrim to the House of Greyjoy at Dunluce Castle near Bushmills, there’s tons to see for UK-based fans. None of those is more iconic than Winterfell, though. Why? Because this

season saw 600 crew, 500 extras, 70 horses and 65 stuntmen descend on a field near Downpatrick on Northern Ireland’s east coast for the most epic battle scene in the history of film. It took 55 consecutive days to shoot and lasts 90 brutal minutes, so you couldn’t even watch the whole thing on a flight to Belfast if you tried. ◆ See Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic from 14 April

SAMSONITE ZIPROLL DUFFLE, £189 This colourful wheely is made out of recycled plastic bottles. BRAVE THE COLD:

Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in series 8 of Game of Thrones. We’d like to tell you what they’re doing... But we can’t

THIS SEASON SAW 600 CREW, 500 EXTRAS, 70 HORSES AND 65 STUNTMEN DESCEND ON A FIELD IN NORTHERN IRELAND

samsonite.co.uk

THE NORTH FACE BASE CAMP DUFFLE, £100 This enduring icon is the ultimate expedition bag. thenorthface.co.uk


Welcome to Nature’s Nature’s Playground… Playground… Dominica invites invitesadventurers adventurersof ofthe themind, mind, Dominica body and and spirit spiritto toexperience experiencethe therich richtapestry tapestry body of unspoiled unspoiledbeauty beautyand andrich richculture cultureheritage. heritage. of With world-class world-classhiking hikingand andamazing amazing With underwaterexperiences experiencesamidst amidst underwater breath-takingnatural naturalwonders. wonders. breath-taking

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HOT SHOTS: ICELAND • DEPARTURES • 29

BLUE LAGOON, REYKJANES PENINSULA

HOT SHOTS

If you’ve ever been on Instagram, chances are you already know how beautiful Iceland is on the ground, but aerial photographer Tommy Clarke has captured the iconic adventure destination from a whole new perspective. Follow him at @tommy.clarke

[

ICELAND

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most famous locations now, but while bobbing around the steaming blue waters when I visited as a tourist on my first trip to Iceland, I couldn’t help but want to know what this colony of face-mask wearing humans would look like from above. It’s an image that, for me, conjures up memories of those famous shots of penguins huddling for warmth in David Attenborough documentaries.

]

RIVER DELTA, SOUTH COAST The river systems in Iceland are infamous. The flat outwash plains, mixed with the soft, easily moved volcanic alluvial soils, means that the rivers can meander their way freely towards the chilly waters of the North Atlantic. The volcanic minerals in the rivers are deposited along its course, adding colour to what is otherwise a pretty dark and brooding landscape.

Tommy Clarke (@tommy.clarke)

GLACIAL PONDS, VIK This was an area of Iceland that I’d researched on Google Earth to within an inch of its life. These colourful glacial ponds are pretty much unique to this one particular spot in the south of the country, and I was determined to capture them in all their glory. My pilot Haraldur Diego (@volcanopilot) understood the shot I was after and flew me with military precision over the area so I could get that vertical viewpoint and reveal the true colours of each separate pond.


SHORT STAY

LUCKNAM PARK & SPA

A luxurious hotel with a stand-out spa, perfectly manicured grounds, bucolic surroundings and a dose of decadence. Where’s the catch? There isn’t one… Jon Hawkins finds country house charm without the chintz at Wiltshire’s Lucknam Park

[

LUCKNAM

PARK,

WILTSHIRE

]

COST: From

£295pn ADDRESS:

Colerne, Chippenham, SN14 8AZ NEAREST TOWN:

Chippenham GETTING THERE: Trains

from London to Bath or Chippenham take from 1hr 15 mins, then it’s a 15-minute taxi to the hotel. Or it’s a two-hour drive from London. TO BOOK: lucknampark. co.uk

WHAT’S THE SCORE? Close your eyes and imagine a quintessential English country house hotel – long driveway leading up to an ornate and slightly imposing house, wisteria creeping up its grey stone walls, and immaculately coiffed hedges – and you’ll probably conjure up something that looks a lot like Lucknam Park. Roughly equidistant between Chippenham and Bath, right on the SomersetChippenham border, the hotel sits in the middle of 500

acres of parkland, which makes it perfectly possible to have a weekend in the country, complete with long walks and a flickering fire, without even leaving the grounds. We should point out right now that if your vision of a country house hotel also includes a slightly ramshackle, musty chintziness, you won’t find that at Lucknam Park – from the reception and lounges to rooms that’ll make you feel like master or mistress of the house, there’s a timeless luxury that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

THE SPA SIDE: As

well as a stellar place to stay, Lucknam Park is a serious place to spa – the indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pools are a highlight


SHORT STAY: WILTSHIRE • DEPARTURES • 31

WHAT TO EAT There are plenty of reasons to escape to Lucknam, but maybe the biggest is Restaurant Hywel Jones, where both the setting and the food are impossibly elegant, and the flavours are so good you’d be almost (but not quite) as happy sitting down to eat in a shed. As you’d expect, the nearby Cotswolds and coast are responsible for some seriously good ingredients, and they’re used liberally here, along with herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden. Roasted hand-dived scallops, served with a streak of red wine vinaigrette and little smoky chunks of eel from the Severn estuary, were both beautiful and delicious, as was rich and comforting pork belly from Wiltshire’s Roundway Hill farm, served with roast duck liver and caramelised apple. It isn’t hard to see why RHJ has held a Michelin star since 2006. It is, though, a pretty formal experience, so there’s a useful alternative across the inner courtyard in The Brasserie, where the relaxed and modern dining room spills out into the garden. There, the food – though still absolutely excellent, and much of it still local – is easier going and a bit less ‘cheffy’, too. WHAT TO DO We wouldn’t judge you if you went to Lucknam Park for the weekend and didn’t leave the hotel at all – there are plenty of walks to take around those expansive grounds, plus a cookery school, an equestrian centre, an excellent spa and – crucially – a lounge bar with a great cocktail list that’s particularly big on the old fashioned. It really is a case of all bases covered. That said, venture beyond the gates and you’re within easy reach of Bath, Bristol, Chippenham and the everwell-heeled Cotswolds. ◆

HOME FRONT:

Approached by a grand driveway, Lucknam makes a statement before you’re even inside, but don’t take that to mean it’s all serious

MORE TO DO NEARBY Don’t hurry home – there are canals to explore, street art to find, and trails to walk

CANAL CANOEING Anyone who’s ever been in a boat on a canal knows life goes approximately ten times slower there. Tap into the relaxed pace by renting a Canadian canoe from Towpath Trail in nearby Bradford-Upon-Avon, and find a willing companion who can do all the hard work while you sit back and keep an eye out for pubs. towpathtrail.co.uk

STREET ART IN BRISTOL If you find yourself in need of a break from all that country air, a trip to Bristol (just over 20 miles away by car) should sort you out. The Banksy walking tour isn’t only a great way to see the city (and the work of one of its own) on foot, but it’s free – go to visitbristol.co.uk, download the app and head out in search of Bristol’s hidden street art.

(swimming pool) Marc Wilson

THE COTSWOLD WAY If you fancy a really, really long walk you can trek all the way from Bath to Chipping Campden along the Cotswold Way – all 100 miles of it. Or, you could join it and walk a stretch from Lucknam Park, taking in some of the area’s scenic countryside – or, if you have kids, hunting geocaches along the way. nationaltrail.co.uk


GOOD READS

If you’re looking for your next inspirational travel read, who better to ask than the incredible speakers at this year’s Hay Festival of Literature & Arts?

[

TRAVEL

BOOKS

]

A

S YOU’D EXPECT from a travel magazine, here at escapism we’re pretty passionate about travel

writing. Good travel writing can be entertaining, it can be inspirational, and when it’s at its very best, it has the power to effect change. So that’s why we asked some of the incredible speakers at this year’s Hay Festival to tell us about the stories, travel and otherwise, that made them want to see the world, and what, for them, makes them want to write about their travels. Add these to your reading list, stat.

FATIMA BHUTTO On meeting the inspirational A.A.Gill

The first time I met A.A.Gill I was 25 years old. “Your article on Haiti made me want to go to Port au Prince,” I told him after we had been introduced. He had gone to Haiti at the start of a coup, arriving at the height of mass demonstrations against Aristide’s rule, witnessing a shooting at close range, and managing to get stuck in a riot. “That’s entirely the wrong reaction,” Adrian replied benevolently. We became friends and I bothered him constantly for stories about his travels. Travel writing, to me, does its job best when it does what Adrian used to do – go out unarmed into the world and come back with observations as sharp as daggers. V.S Naipaul’s An Area of Darkness sits on the top of my list of books that made me want to travel, but more so, that made me want to write about the world. Funny, frustrating and vicious in parts, it’s Naipaul at his best. Ryszard Kapucinski’s Shah of Shahs is such an elegant, slim work of narrative reportage that it broke so many boundaries of what writers can do when they move through the world with their eyes open and engaged. Joan Didion’s Salvador is another classic, written in her dry Didion style at a moment of grotesque violence, treachery and corruption. All of these books, I’m aware, are about dangerous moments in time, but what is travel supposed to do if not take us out of the safety and comfort of home and into collision with the world? THE RUNAWAYS is published by Viking, out now. Fatima Bhutto is speaking at Hay at 5.30pm on Friday 24 May

LINDSEY HILSUM On using travel writing to tell the stories of ordinary people

For a journalist, the purpose of travel is to tell the stories of people you meet; books provide the inspiration and the language. While researching In Extremis; the Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin, I learnt Marie was heavily influenced by Hiroshima by John Hersey, her journalism tutor at Yale. Hersey’s account of the aftermath of the atomic bomb is told through the interwoven stories


TRAVEL BOOKS • DEPARTURES • 33

Petit Prince. I don’t remember if I immediately wanted to fly to the Sahara, where the narrator’s plane crashes, or to the planets the prince visited. But I suspect that it opened my mind to the magic of travel. IN EXTREMIS: THE LIFE OF WAR CORRESPONDENT MARIE COLVIN is published by Chatto & Windus, out now. Lindsey Hilsum is speaking at 1pm on Sunday 2 June

KAPKA KASSABOVA On the relationship between people and place

WHAT IS TRAVEL SUPPOSED TO DO IF NOT TAKE US OUT OF THE COMFORT OF HOME AND INTO COLLISION WITH THE WORLD?

[main image] Daniel Mordzinski; [tent] SamJPeat

of six survivors. When she became a reporter, Marie resolved that she too would tell the stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. My own path to foreign corresponding and writing is also littered with books. I was inspired to go to Latin America by Gabriel García Márquez’s A Hundred Years of Solitude, and the poetry of Pablo Neruda. Aged 20, I got a volunteer job with Oxfam in Guatemala. After a few weeks I knew that travelling and writing about people in poor and troubled countries would be be my life – as it was Marie’s. The inspiration, though, goes back earlier. At 15, I read the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. That year I spent Easter in Granada, excited to wander the back streets he wrote about, echoing with flamenco played by gypsy musicians. The dictator Franco was still in power and I fear that the family who hosted me were not impressed by my obsession with a writer they would have seen as an immoral, homosexual communist. Maybe I need to go back even earlier than that. When I was a toddler, my mother, a French teacher, read me Le

HAY FESTIVAL The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts takes place every year in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. Speakers include everyone from from Nobel prize winners to musicians. Hay Festival takes place 23 May-2 June 2019. hayfestival.com

I grew up dreaming and reading of escape, adventure, and the great elsewhere. Early on, I noticed that the only story I knew where the adventurer was a girl was Pippi Longstocking. My early influences were the novels of American writer Jack London and Soviet writer Alexander Greene. The first had elements of lonely man (never woman) pitted against pitiless nature; the second was fantastical and symbolic. It’s not always ‘travel’ books that inspire you to explore; I found Paul Gauguin’s Diary of Tahiti, Herodotus’s Histories (5th C BC), or the poems of Pablo Neruda equally conducive to wanderlust. I’ve always been drawn to novels, poetry, and any narrative that gets under the skin of a place. The mysterious and all-important relationship between places and humans is central in my work. I’ve loved the intense (and very un-British) explorations of Danish travel writer Carsten Jensen, the poetic sparseness of Bruce Chatwin, the humanism of Rebecca West in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, and more recently, the fascination with Europe’s peripheries of Andrzej Stasiuk in On the Road to Babadag. The Polish tradition of travel literature is strong: the great Ryszard Kapuscinski’s Travels with Herodotus accompanied me while writing Border, although there is no map connection. But that’s exactly how the geographic imagination connects across time and space – in invisible ways. Having spent years trying to get away from my native Balkans and explore the great elsewhere, I have now returned to them – the eastern Balkans in Border, the western Balkans in my forthcoming book. Ismail Kadare’s fiction, set in an Albania that is both real and mythical, is for me one of the great oeuvres of place. But while journeying for my book, I was struck by how little I could find on the Strandja and Rhodope Mountains, the locations of the book. It is an unwritten region, despite its extraordinary natural and civilisational wealth. In a 20th and 21st century context, this is down to the Cold War and its long shadow – the iron curtain sealed off these beautiful borderlands from the world, and lifting that curtain is the principal quest of Border. BORDER: A JOURNEY TO THE EDGE OF EUROPE is the winner of the 2018 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding. Out now. Kapka Kassabova is speaking at 1pm on Saturday 25 May ◆


EXPERIENCES

36 Antonio Violi / Alamy

44

◆ ◆

50 55

Action & Adventure Special Mexico ◆

Scotland

NYC

60

A Yucatan road trip ◆

Remote Raasay

A guide to Williamsburg

67 72

Sicily

36 hours in Catania

Indonesia

Islands on the up

New Zealand

Taste of the action


[

EXPERIENCES

]

RUN FOR THE THRILLS Beach bums, look away now – from wild river kayaking to trekking through rainforests, we’ve scoured the planet for trips designed to push boundaries, both physical and mental. High-octane adventures don’t get much better than these

35km

Trail run in The Azores

B

10 day

Trip around Antarctica

REAKING NEWS: ACTIVE holidays are apparently more relaxing than just plonking your bum on a beach. We’d never say no to chilling by the ocean, piña colada in hand, but we’re also about getting out there and experiencing the world by any means possible. That’s why we’re bringing you the best adventurous holidays all around the globe. But we know that adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, so whether you’re into exploring the far reaches of the planet from a comfy seat or more about racing across the desert, we’ve got you covered. So grab your running shoes and a helmet, and get ready for the ride. >

20 mins

From Oslo to the ski slopes

Words by LYDIA WINTER Johnny Fenn

ON THE ROCKS: Run, hike and bike your way through 58km of the Atlas Mountains. It’ll be fun. Honest. Plus, you get a medal at the end…


ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS • EXPERIENCES • 37


ACTIVE ADVENTURES BIKING IN NOTO, JAPAN

◆ Rating: Take it easy Feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin, and fill your belly with some of Japan’s best seafood on a cycling tour of the remote and near-unexplored Noto peninsula. Book onto TravelLocal’s seven-day itinerary and you’ll cycle from village to village via sandy beaches, rugged coastline, Buddhist Limited transport monasteries and the on the peninsula is one of the reasons Insta-worthy Ganmon it remains so rock formation. You’ll unexplored – visitors stay in locally owned are pretty much left to make their own ryokans, where the way around, adding owners raise their to the secluded feel. own fish and forage for wild vegetables in the surrounding fields. NEED TO KNOW: From £1,580pp for a sevenday tour. travellocal.com; fly from Heathrow to Osaka from £1,104. britishairways.com

SWIM ACROSS LAKE POWELL, USA

◆◆ Rating: More than your usual workout Swap chlorine for crystal-clear blue water, manky white tiles for red rocks, and your commute for hiking through the Navajo Indian trails of Lake Utah, Arizona for a four-day, three-night adventure with Strel Swimming. You’ll spend your days splashing around the warm waters of Lake Powell under the watchful eye of Martin Strel, a swimmer so legendary he earned the nickname Big River Man, and your nights gawping at the sunset and star-filled sky in one of the world’s most beautiful locations. Beats our morning swim any day. NEED TO KNOW: Around £837pp, including guides, transfers and accommodation on a half-board basis. strel-swimming.com; Finnair flies from Gatwick to Las Vegas from £980 return. finnair.com

HIKE, RUN AND BIKE IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS, MOROCCO

◆◆◆ Rating: Get yourself to the gym, stat Don’t mind getting sand in your pants? Good, because after taking part in IGO Adventures’ Morocco weekender you’ll probably have half the Sahara desert in your shorts. Over two days, you’ll hike, run and bike through 58km of the Atlas Mountains, home to snow-capped peaks, lush valleys and traditional Berber villages. Of course, you should do this just for the sheer exhilaration of completing such a mammoth challenge, but the locally sourced organic food, bushcraft workshops and shiny medal all help, too. NEED TO KNOW: From £699 per person, not including flights. igoadventures.com; Ryanair flies from Stansted to Marrakesh from £188. ryanir.com

URBAN ADVENTURES SURF IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

◆ Rating: Life’s a beach There are few surfing locations more legendary than Sydney, and with waves that are so absolutely perfect and blue, it’s easy to see why. Tick off the must-visit beaches of Bondi and Manly, then swerve the crowds and head to the lesser-surfed spots at Garie in the Royal National Park, home to a lefthand break, and Wanda, which has a nice southeast and easterly swell. NEED TO KNOW: Vietnam Airlines flies from Heathrow to Sydney via Saigon from £388 return. vietnamairlines.com

GO SKIING IN OSLO, NORWAY

◆◆ Rating: Pack your woollies When it comes to cities for adventure, the Norwegian capital of Oslo is hard to beat, all the way from its glittering fjords to its soaring mountain peaks. You’ve got swimming, you’ve got hiking, you’ve got heaps of food and culture… And less than a

WHEN IT COMES TO CITIES FOR ADVENTURE, OSLO IS HARD TO BEAT, WITH ITS GLITTERING FJORDS AND SOARING MOUNTAIN PEAKS

20-minute train journey from the city centre you’ve got the Oslo Vinterpark, where you can find all the snow-based thrills and spills you could ask for, whether that’s sledding down the corkscrew-shaped Korketrekkeren run or exploring the Holmenkollen ski jump. NEED TO KNOW: Norwegian flies from Gatwick to Oslo from £196 return. norwegian.com

AHEAD OF THE CURVE: See the arch-shaped Ganmon rock formation on a trip to the Noto peninsula, one of Japan’s a lesser-explored areas


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MOUNTAIN BIKE IN SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, USA

◆◆◆ Rating: Bring a first aid kit You could enjoy the foothills of the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountains from the safe (read: boring) confines of a car. Or you could get your hammer on at La Tierra Trails, 17 miles of well-signed trails from downtown Santa Fe – where you’ll also find plenty of pueblo architecture, culture and delicious food, too. You can thank us later. NEED TO KNOW: British Airways flies from Heathrow to Santa Fe from £1,090 return. britishairways.com

SLOW ADVENTURE WINTER SAFARI THROUGH YELLOWSTONE PARK, USA

◆ Rating: Sit back and relax Sure, we love exploring and getting up close and personal with the great outdoors. But there are times when it’s OK to park your butt on a comfy seat and take it all in, too – especially in the dead of winter. Head out on Audley Travel’s 11-day tailor-made tour of Yellowstone National Park in the colder

months and not only will you get to see this legendary landscape in a whole new light, with fewer crowds and from the toasty confines of a car, but it’s also the best time of year for spotting wolves, too. Win-win. NEED TO KNOW: From £2,970pp for 11 days, including flights, vehicle hire and accommodation. audleytravel.com

KAYAK AND CAMP ON THE SOUTHERN GREEK COAST

◆◆ Rating: Make a splash The first physical challenge of this Med weekender will be kayaking around Greece’s >

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40 • EXPERIENCES • ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS

SHORE FLING: [left, top to bottom] There’s going for a dip, and then there’s a four-day swim trip to Lake Powell, AZ; cliff jumping at the Cornish coast

gorgeous National Trust locations of Port Quin and Port Gaverne. For an extra twist, book into an Ecoasteering session and you’ll get to learn about local marine life, too. Worth it for the sexy helmet photos alone. NEED TO KNOW: Introduction to coasteering sessions, £45pp. cornishrocktors.com

RACE ACROSS UNTAMED WILDERNESS IN THE AZORES, PORTUGAL

OVERLAND YOUR WAY ACROSS SOUTH AMERICA

◆◆◆ Rating: Get ready to go all-in When it comes to adventure, hopping in a truck and making your way from Santiago, Chile to La Paz, Bolivia will give you a

little bit of everything: two nights in the world’s highest city; star gazing in the Atacama desert; and exploring on horseback with gauchos at a working Estancia. How adventurous you are is up to you – scale it up with extra activities like white water rafting on the Mendoza River, or take it easy and kick back in the thermal baths in Cacheuta. NEED TO KNOW: 21 nights for £1,090 plus £590 for the kitty, including guides, accommodation, most food. dragoman.com

BUDGET ADVENTURE JUMP OFF A CLIFF IN CORNWALL

◆ Rating: Helmets at the ready Why sit on a beach when you can throw yourself off a rocky outcrop and into the Celtic Sea instead? Cornish Rock Tors’ sessions will see you spend two hours in the waters of the Celtic Sea, clambering over rocks and swimming into coves at the

KAYAK DOWN A WILD RIVER IN ALBANIA

◆◆◆ Rating: You’re going to get very wet There are several reasons why you Lush and verdant, should spend your Flores is an offbeat destination that’s a hard-earned time off haven for ecotourbraving the waters of ism. The coastline is Albania. 1) You’ll have rugged, while inland you’ll find waterfalls four days hurtling and lakes formed in down the Vjosa, one volcanic craters. of the world’s last wild rivers. 2) With Much Better Adventures, your guides will be local activists working to protect the river from the threat of hydroelectric dams. 3) You’ll also get to experience breathtaking beaches, snorkelling in crystalline waters and visit Albania’s historic cities and villages – and you only need to take two days off work. >

(Lake Powell) Strel Swimming; (Cornwall) Cornish Rock Tors/Mat Arney

> wild coast; the second will be seeing how much souvlaki you can possibly fit inside your body. And given you’ll be spending your days paddling around the Peloponnese and hiking to a medieval castle, you’re guaranteed to work up an appetite. Much Better Adventures’ sun-soaked watery tour will see you stay a night in a three-star guest house, spend a night camping under the stars on an islet, and lounge around on secret beaches, giving you all the adventure you need with a healthy dollop of R&R. NEED TO KNOW: From £387 for two nights, including accommodation, guide, local transport and food. muchbetteradventures.com; easyJet flies from Gatwick to Athens from £188 return. easyjet.com

◆◆ Rating: Prepare to sweat Home to lush mountain landscapes, volcanic craters, blue lakes and more outrageous natural beauty than you can shake a stick at, the Azores archipelago – an autonomous region of Portugal – sounds like our idea of Eden. Except our Eden probably wouldn’t involve a trail race through rocky mountainous terrain against other fitnessmad runners. If that does sound like your kind of thing, the Extreme West Atlantic trail run is a 35km dash around the island of Flores, 90% of which takes place on unpaved trails. On your marks… NEED TO KNOW: Entry to the race costs £40. azorestrailrun.com; TAP flies from Heathrow to Terceira, where you can take a ferry to Flores, from £342 return. flytap.com


Adventure, on another level Kitesurf off Lefkas’ Venetian-studded shores, snorkel in Mallorca’s underwater meadows or paddleboard across Bahama’s atolls – all from the comfort of your own yacht. Enjoy the freedom to roam with Bareboat, discover together with lead crew support on Flotilla, or relax and let our skipper be your guide. The adventure starts here.

Find out more at sunsail.co.uk or call 0330 332 1184 BAREBOAT l FLOTILLA l SAIL BY THE CABIN l SKIPPERED l SCHOOLS

SEE THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY


42 • EXPERIENCES • ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS

ALL AT SEA: [above] Antarctica offers next-level adventure for intrepid travellers; [right] kayak around Greece’s wild coast, stopping off for souvlaki

> NEED TO KNOW: From £333, including local transport, meals and accommodation, muchbetteradventures.com. Jet2 flies from Stansted to Corfu from £215 return. jet2.com

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME ADVENTURE TREK THROUGH BHUTAN

◆ Rating: Time to get some new walking boots In a world that’s becoming increasingly accessible, the country of Bhutan – sandwiched between China and India – remains delightfully mysterious. The number of tourists is controlled by the means of a minimum spend per day (several hundred dollars), but this is hands-down worth it for access to the nation’s largely crowd-free sights and outrageous natural beauty. The best way to experience it? With Another World Adventures’ Druk Path trek that’ll see you make your way through the Himalayas

along an ancient trade route that traverses lush rhododendron forests, mountain passes and yak herder settlements. NEED TO KNOW: 12 days costs £3,149, including flights, visa, accommodation and most food. anotherworldadventures.com

with forays in Zodiac boats and on-shore excursions? *Warning: if you literally save up pennies, you’ll be waiting a long time. NEED TO KNOW: Ten days from £3,995 per person, including meals. Departures run from December 2020. intrepidtravel.com

DISCOVER ANTARCTICA CRUISE

VENTURE UP THE BURRO BURRO RIVER, GUYANA

◆◆ Rating: Prepare to gawp Start saving your pennies*, because Intrepid’s once-in-a-lifetime new trip is an absolute stonker. Venture through the Drake Passage, where there’ll be orcas, humpback whales, seals, penguins, and you, freezing your butt off. But who cares about the cold when you’ll get to drink in the outrageous landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula

(Antartica) Liam Neal

THIS EXPEDITION TO THE SOURCE OF THE BURRO BURRO RIVER HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE, AND WILL NEVER BE DONE AGAIN

◆◆◆ Rating: Bucket list: complete Bush Masters’ expedition to the source of the Burro Burro river in Guyana has never been done before and will never be done again. You’ll strike out into untapped jungle terrain with an ex-British Special Forces instructor and members of the Makushi tribe, hiking through tropical rainforest and hunting for your meals. Bush Masters uses local guides and their resources whenever they can to give them an additional source of income in the face of rainforest development. NEED TO KNOW: From £1,900. bushmasters.co.uk. Virgin Atlantic flies from Heathrow to Georgetown via New York from £870 return. skyscanner.net ◆


Travel Insurance with you in mind Travel insurance designed by travellers Up to £10M medical expenses Available for UK/EU Citizens if you’re already abroad Cover for cameras and gadgets available Extreme sports and activities covered, including trekking and winter sports

Get a quote

truetraveller.com or call 0333 999 3140


YUCATÁN PENINSULA, MEXICO • EXPERIENCES • 45

Words by GEORGE SCOTT Matteo Colombo/Getty

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THE DEEPEST BLUE Many head to Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula for the crazy days and party nights of Cancún, but that’s not our style. Bypass the big city and take a road trip to discover the region’s Mayan ruins, balmy beaches and stunning sights

10.5 hrs

London-Cancun flight time

26°C

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6,000

Cenotes on the peninsula

ENLIGHTENING EXPERIENCE: One of the Yucatán’s hidden cenotes – natural swimming pools formed in collapsed limestone caverns. They’re a must for snorkellers

T

HE DASH ALONG the highway to Cancún airport is a welltrodden path, taken by millions of holidaymakers every year. And now us. The city is the gateway to the Mexican state of Quintana Roo and its neighbour the Yucatán, which together pack idyllic islands, delicious food, Mayan ruins, mythical cenotes, colonial cities and tropical lagoons into one accessible and traveller-friendly peninsula. Except most visitors to the region don’t get beyond the walls of the all-inclusive resorts that hug the highway to our right. While Cancún may be the start, middle and end of most trips to the Yucatán peninsula, it’s only the beginning of ours; a 17-day mile-munching adventure that takes in so much extraordinary ground that you >


> wonder why it’s never joined California’s Route One, Australia’s Great Ocean Road and South Africa’s Garden Route on the list of the world’s great road trips.

DESERT ISLAND KICKS

We spend the first night downtown, itself a world away from Cancún’s ‘hotel zone’, and stumble across the Parque de las Palapas. The bustling park is a favourite spot with locals on a steamy Saturday night and we while away the evening chowing down on tacos, washed back with thirst-quenching It’s not just tourists aguas frescas, a who appreciate the warm and shallow combination of fruits, waters surrounding cereals, flowers, or this gorgeous island seeds blended with – resident flamingos can be found sugar and water. paddling and basking The next morning, offshore, too. we’re driving east into

the dense shrubland and jungle typical of this part of the country. Our first destination is Isla Holbox, a long, narrow island stretching across the very northeastern tip of the peninsula, that has developed a reputation for offering an antidote to Cancún’s high-rise hotels and raucous nightlife. The small town of Chiquilá, a two-hour drive via the Yum Balam nature reserve, is our jumping-off point from the mainland. From there, the ferry service to Holbox is passenger-only, so we ditch our ride and hop aboard. After a 30-minute journey, our boat docks at a small port, mangroves lining every inch of coastline on either side. Reaching Holbox requires enough effort to keep the crowds of Cancún at bay, but the increasing popularity of this tranquil island has seen it labelled the ‘new Tulum’. The care-free, barefoot living of Holbox is a world away from Tulum’s catwalk chic,

PAUSE FOR FORT: [clockwise from main] Remains of a Mayan walled city and fort in Tulum; Tulum’s beach; a ruined hacienda at Yaxcopoil

but the island’s infrastructure is beginning to show signs of strain – the Mexican government has recently spent £1.5m to upgrade the creaking sewage system. For now, much of Holbox’s charm lies in its off-grid vibe. We’re greeted by yellow golf buggies that taxi visitors around the island. Only a small proportion of Holbox is inhabited and a network of potholed sandy streets connects the port, town square and, little more than a stone’s throw away, the ocean. Almost everywhere can be easily accessed by foot or bicycle and it’s rare to see a car; a far cry from the Starbucks-lined highways we left just hours earlier. From May to September, Holbox is a


YUCATÁN PENINSULA, MEXICO • EXPERIENCES • 47

FLOATING IN THE WATER, GAZING THROUGH THE EYE OF THE CENOTE, IT’S EASY TO SEE WHY THEY WERE SO REVERED BY THE MAYANS

among the best in Mexico, with everything from modern takes on traditional Mayan cuisine and roadside vendors serving up mouth-watering cochinita pibil (marinated slow-roasted pork), to bustling cantinas selling beers by the bucketload.

hotspot for diving with migrating whale sharks, and the island is a bird watcher’s paradise year-round, but otherwise its appeal is in doing very little: wading half a mile into the bathtub-warm ocean and finding the water only comes to your waist; hiring a bicycle to ride east into the mangroves or west to watch the sunset; wandering the dusty streets barefoot to admire the murals that adorn the technicolour ramshackle buildings; pitching up at a beachfront bar for ceviche fresh off the boat; or just finding a hammock under a palapa. Holbox lies where the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea meet, and the two currents mix to turn the water jade-green. The whole island is a rainbow of white, green and blue: the perfect white sand that stretches from beach to road; the jungle green of the dense mangroves and palm trees; and the deep blue of the cloudless sky. Despite this tranquility, there’s plenty of atmosphere by night, centred around a main square lined with taco joints, low-key bars and excellent restaurants (bring cash; there’s only one ATM and it often runs out of money). Locals and tourists alike queue at stalls selling marquesitas, a traditional Yucatán snack of a crispy, rolled wafer filled with anything from Edam cheese to Nutella and banana.

A STEP BACK IN TIME

TAKING THE PLUNGE

Mexico Tourism Board; [Yaxcopoil] Ricardo Espinosa

After four days on Holbox, we swap island life for the city, heading west from Quintana Roo to the Yucatán capital of Mérida on a 200-mile journey that we break up with a detour from the highway to take a dip in one of the region’s famous cenotes. The Yucatán peninsula is covered in thousands of ancient sinkholes, formed by the collapse of porous limestone, that were used by the Mayans to make sacrificial offerings. Today, they’re often repurposed as natural swimming pools, and Cenote Xcajum is one of the area’s deepest, plunging 35m into the ground. An underground river emerging from the rocky walls cascades into the jetblack water while thick vines trail into the

subterranean world from the trees above. Floating on our backs in the water and gazing through the eye of the cenote to the sky above, it’s easy to understand why they were so revered by the Mayans. Leaving Xcajum behind, we reach the outskirts of Mérida as the setting sun casts a warm golden light onto the city’s coloured buildings. This sleepy city’s safe, compact centre and wonderful architecture are best enjoyed at a stroll, and that’s exactly how we start the next day. For every beautifully restored and manicured colonial masterpiece, we find an equally charming crumbling facade painted any conceivable colour of the rainbow. Mérida’s mix of Mayan culture and Spanishinfluenced architecture extends to its parks and gardens, and the Plaza Grande takes centre stage. The imposing Catedral de San Ildefonso towers above it all; inside, the Cristo de la Unidad (Christ of Unity) crucifix behind the altar is a symbol of reconciliation between Spanish and Mayan cultures. Colonial conflict is a running theme here and underpins the city; the cathedral itself was built by Mayan forced labour in the 1500s, using stones from ancient Mayan temples. By night we stroll from bar to bar along the boulevard, lined with floodlit villas juxtaposed to the tight streets of the old city centre. Mérida’s food and drink scene is

By the time we leave Mérida, we’ve seen Yucatán at its most modern, but our next stop is the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal, an hour south. En route we stay at the Hacienda Yaxcopoil, one of the biggest former colonial estates in the area, dating back to the 17th century. Walking into Hacienda Yaxcopoil’s expansive grounds is like stepping back in time, the magnificent buildings and richly textured façades still in near-perfect condition, and original plantation machinery giving a glimpse back to a bygone era. Uxmal is part of a string of five archaeological sites south of Mérida called the Ruta Puuc. The archaeological site here offers much of the jaw-dropping grandeur of better-known Chichén Itzá without the tour groups, although it’s still undoubtedly popular. As we enter the ancient city, iguanas dart across the path and scale the breathtaking 35m-high pyramid. A climb to the top offers spectacular views back over the Uxmal site and the surrounding jungle, but clambering back down the vertigo-inducing steps will make anyone’s knees quiver.

STILL WATERS RUN DEEP

After spending the morning exploring Uxmal, we’re on the road for the five-hour drive to the lakeside town of Bacalar. Night has fallen by the time we reach the road >


> skirting the edge of the 42km-long lake, but with a bright full moon high in the sky, the shimmering water hints at the beauty of this little-visited corner of the peninsula, nestled against the border with Belize. Laguna Bacalar is known as ‘the lake of seven colours’, but we’re still unprepared for the technicolour water as we pull back the curtains the next morning. The lake has a limestone bottom and is fed by a network of underground rivers that turn the crystalclear water almost every shade of blue imaginable, from the lightest baby blue of the shallows lapping up to the shore, to the deepest indigo of the Cenote Azul, which plunges 90m into the lake. Life here revolves around the water, whether you’re kayaking over one shade of shimmering blue to the next or visiting one of the balnearios (swimming grounds). The water itself is home to one of the earliest signs of life on Earth – Laguna Bacalar is one of only a handful of places on the planet where stromatolites (layered structures of cyanobacteria dating back billions of years) continue to grow, and we jump aboard a boat to see some of the coral-like formations.

MAYAN GOLD: [right] The ancient Mayan city of Uxmal; [above] Chablé resort and spa is built on the site of a historic hacienda and mixes the old and new

On the far side of the water, El Canal de los Piratas (‘pirates canal’, so-called because it was a perfect attack point for marauding pirates) links the lake to a wider network of lagoons and rivers. Today it offers a postcard-worthy spot for us to swim through the impossibly turquoise water into the mangrove-lined channel.

MARCH TO THE BEAT OF TULUM

Bacalar remains off the well-trodden path of the Riviera Maya and Cancún to the north, but its pristine water may well lure in more tourists given the seaweed assault that has

affected Mexico and the wider Caribbean since 2011. After a particularly bad seaweed season in 2015, 2018 saw sargassum – the particular type of seaweed floating across the Caribbean in huge mats and washing up on beaches – return in even greater quantities. Sargassum waves are unpredictable and localised, but luckily Tulum’s southern sands and the beaches further north in Akumal were largely unaffected during our visit. North and east-facing beaches across the Caribbean are likely to be seaweed-free, too, leaving Holbox an alternative for beach bums previously set on the Riviera Maya. There’s much more to Tulum than lying on the beach, though. The clifftop Mayan ruins don’t have the scale of Chichén Itzá or Uxmal, but, overlooking the ocean and with crashing waves below, they trump both sites for pure drama. Further south, the Mayan site at Muyil stands in contrast to Tulum, with ruins set deep in the jungle, and huge, exposed tree roots clambering over ancient stones like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie. There’s no shortage of cenotes to choose from and we head to Cenote Dos Ojos to snorkel through underground caverns, with bats circling the stalactites hanging from the ceiling and complex stalagmites rising through the water. Tulum is undoubtedly the most touristheavy stop on our route but it’s easy to see why. There’s something for everyone here, from boutique hotels and candlelit dining in some of Mexico’s best restaurants to cheap eats and hostels either side of the highway – and that’s before you throw in the beach.

TURTLE POWER

There’s one thing for sure, though: you’ll never have Tulum to yourself. Luckily, we don’t have to travel far for a slice of tropical solitude, even as we head back towards Cancún. Our final stop is Akumal, a small town on a reef-protected bay famed for its laid-back vibe and rich marine life. Akumal is one of Mexico’s best spots for swimming

WALKING INTO HACIENDA YAXCOPOIL’S EXPANSIVE GROUNDS IS LIKE STEPPING BACK IN TIME. THE BUILDINGS ARE NEAR PERFECT


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with turtles (the town’s name is Mayan for ‘place of the turtles’) and our first stop is the Akumal Dive Center to rent snorkel equipment. We wade out into the warm water quicker than you can say tortugas and it’s not long before we spot one of Akumal’s You can snorkel with Akumal’s enfamous locals dangered green sea munching on seagrass turtles (equipment before surfacing for is available to hire air just a few feet on the beach), but heading out into the away. We quickly water with a guide is come across another, recommended. this time diving deep towards a coral reef teeming with tropical fish. We float silently in the water, bewitched by the graceful giant minding its own business beneath us. The rocky coastline north of Akumal is broken by idyllic beaches and, after two weeks on the road, it’s time to spend our final two days on the sand before heading back to reality. The 90-minute drive from Akumal to Cancún to catch our flight sees us pass a near-unbroken string of vast hotel complexes; despite arriving on the Yucatán Peninsula more than two weeks ago, this is the first time we’ve seen the true scale of the region’s mega-resorts. But beyond those walls lies the true Yucatán; a wonderfully colourful, diverse and beautiful region waiting to be explored.

WHERE TO STAY Isla Holbox HM PALAPAS DEL MAR

(Chablé) Kenny Viese; (Uxmal) CPTM Foto Ricardo Espinosa

This stylish hotel enjoys a stunning beachside setting only a ten-minute stroll from the island’s main square. Cool off in either of the two pools (many of the rooms also have private plunge pools), enjoy a margarita at the swim-up bar or kick back in a hammock beneath a palm tree. From £106 per night. villashmpalapasdelmar.com Mérida THE DIPLOMAT BOUTIQUE HOTEL

A short walk from the city-centre, this four-room boutique hotel is in a beautifully restored colonial home. The Canadian expat owners know Mérida inside out, and serve delicious breakfasts in the courtyard garden. Relax by taking a dip in the swimming pool

or drinking complimentary mezcal. From £129 per night. thediplomatmerida.com Chocholá CHABLÉ RESORT & SPA

Chablé occupies 750 acres of tropical paradise on the site of a historic hacienda. The resort combines restored Yucatán architecture with exquisite design touches in 38 private casitas, each with its own swimming pool. The gardens are lit by treehung lanterns, while the spa surrounds an ancient cenote, making this one of the most luxurious wellness resorts in Mexico. Ixi’im, one of Chablé’s three restaurants, provides fine dining in the ruins of the hacienda’s engine house with produce from the garden. From £770 per night. chableresort.com Tulum MEZZANINE AND MI AMOR HOTELS

Mezzanine and Mi Amor may only be a few

hundred metres apart on Tulum’s northern beach road, but the boutique sister hotels offer two very different experiences. Mezzanine overlooks Tulum’s white sand, with a stairway down to the beach, while Mi Amor occupies a secluded position perched on the rocks, with luxurious day beds with sea views. Mezzanine Hotel, from £175 per night. slh.com/ mezzanine; Mi Amor, from £222 per night. slh.com/mi-amor Akumal UNICO 20º87º

This may be a large all-inclusive but Unico 20º87º, four miles north of Akumal, aims to offer a fresh take on the Riviera Maya’s triedand-tested resort experience by offering local excursions and authentic food as part of the package. It’s an ideal spot to relax and indulge after touring the Yucatán, with three pools, a spa, beach and four restaurants. From £305 p/n. unicohotelrivieramaya.com ◆


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SPIRIT OF THE WILD The Isle of Raasay has rugged good looks, Celtic charm and, for the first time, a legal whisky distillery. Don’t take that to mean the spirit hasn’t been produced here before, though. In fact, this tiny island is full of fascinating secrets to uncover…

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N A DAY like this, it is pretty glam.” says Alasdair Day, co-founder of the Isle of Raasay Distillery, as we jump out of the car beside a road sign reading just that: Glam. We’ve been driving this scenic high road – one of only two on the 14-mile-long, three-mile-wide Scottish island of Raasay – since breakfast, gawping at views of tumbledown castles, abandoned jetties and the sea lochs of the Inner Hebrides as we go. Turning towards the coast, the morning sun scythes down through the late-winter sky, burning off the remaining clouds and revealing Skye’s Cuillin mountains out on the horizon to the west. >

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Words by TOM POWELL Phil Thornton

CUILLIN THE GANG: Looking over the Cuillin mountains from one of two roads on the Inner Hebridean island of Raasay in western Scotland


ISLE OF RAASAY • EXPERIENCES • 51


> It’s not often you get weather this good on Raasay, Day tells me. Winter has been long and hard, just as it always is here on an island with limited infrastructure, a population of around 160, a single shop and a petrol station operated out of a jerry can in a garden shed. But that’s not to say it hasn’t been fruitful: last winter was the very first in which a distillery – Day’s gleaming, golden-fronted Isle of Raasay Distillery on the waterfront four miles south – has created alcoholic spirit on the island. A legal distillery, that is. Look in the right places, says Raasay Distillery guide Iain Hector Ross, and you’ll find under-the-radar illicit stills that go way back to the island’s bootlegging past. These stills wouldn’t have been made purely to ensure whisky was available for the islanders when the boats weren’t delivering, either: during the 18th and 19th centuries, tax rates on malted grain were raised, causing larger distilleries

LOOK IN THE RIGHT PLACES AND YOU’LL FIND UNDER-THE-RADAR ILLICIT STILLS THAT GO BACK TO THE ISLAND’S BOOTLEGGING PAST to opt for unmalted raw grain, which cost less than appetising tipples like corn spirit and grain whisky. Therefore, these nontaxpaying illicit stills – often tucked out of sight near secluded water sources – became the de facto homes of real whisky, which was smuggled to market and sold at a high price. Schlepping sleepily up a hill just south of the island’s main village of Inverarish, Hector Ross points us in the vague direction of one later that morning: “If you know what you’re looking for, you’ll find it quite quickly,” he says, gesturing further upwards to the northeast past the guts of an old iron ore mine (now home to a flock of sheep).

[Distillery exterior] Peter Lawson

Admittedly, as a bunch of Londoners less than au fait with 19th-century alcohol production, we don’t know what we’re looking for, so we hop in the car and make a beeline back to the distillery. But that’s the thing about Raasay: it’s a place that’s full of locally held secrets. And you’ll never get beneath the surface unless you take the time to chat with its small, tight-knit community. What initially seems like a smaller, flatter, less dramatic cousin of Skye next door is actually a destination that works perfectly as a more remote, less tourist-packed alternative for those that really want to get away from it all. And thankfully, perhaps due to the poor phone signal or the fact that everyone on the island already knows each other, most people are pretty comfortable shooting the breeze when you give them half a chance. In an hour’s afternoon tea with the locals, I manage to extract about a dozen vignettes about the island’s hidden history, covering everything from how villagers across the water in Skye used to hang out white washing to warn bootleggers the taxman was coming, to the history of an Iron Age broch on From Arnish, you the hillside above the can walk to Fladda (tides allowing), a distillery. I even make small, tidal island a promise not to tell that was once anyone where the best populated but now has only three places to go bouldering cottages used as are in the island’s holiday homes. windswept northeast. One of the most interesting tales is the story of Calum’s Road: in the 1960s, a crofter called Calum Macleod got sick of campaigning the local council for a road connecting the tiny village of Arnish in the far north to the rest of the island, and took it upon himself to build one. Using nothing more than a shovel, a pickaxe and a wheelbarrow, he chipped away for ten years – making a crude paved track that would keep supplies running to the lighthouse he manned on the nearby island of Rona. Several years later, the council


ISLE OF RAASAY • EXPERIENCES • 53

finally agreed to surface the road properly, and Macleod was awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to the community. The building of the road was never mentioned as the reason why, though, because what he’d done was technically illegal. A more recent tale I hear comes from the mouth of a someone the islanders call Batman, but Bruce Wayne he certainly is not: a conservationist in charge of protecting a colony of longed-eared European brown bats found in the once-derelict guesthouse that’s now part of the distillery buildings, Ross Preston has been instrumental in creating a so-called ‘bat hotel’ that’s earned him the moniker of a superhero. Just metres from the thrumming of the still room, Preston’s hotel – known lovingly as The Belfry – sits in a sealedoff section of the roof above two guest rooms in the distillery’s luxury six-room hotel. One of which is my room for the weekend. Bats aside, the hotel will wow you with both rooms and views. You’ll breakfast with a wide-windowed view overlooking the Cuillin mountains, have access to a lounge loaded with locally brewed beer and tons of whiskies from the company’s range of blends and vintages, and there’s the option to tack on a tour of the distillery while you’re there, too. Later that afternoon, that’s exactly what I find myself doing – clouds whipping across the sky, distillery staff rolling newly filled casks across the warehouse floor, founder Alasdair Day holding aloft a nosing glass of 63.5% Raasay spirit above a barrel marked ‘January 2018’. As the sun shafts into the cool sanctum of the distillery’s hilltop maturation facility, the spirit in the glass glints rosé pink from the Médoc wine cask it’s been ageing in. I wait my turn as everyone else sniffs, swirls, sips, recoils and grins at the brute strength and nascent possibility of the liquid in the glass. I take the tiniest mouthful and my mind bounds into hyperdrive, running away with imaginative interpretations of this thimbleful of booze: young, crisp and ever-so slightly smoky, with a battenburg kind of sweetness, this raw spirit doesn’t roll off the tongue. But it’s not meant to – this is a drink that’ll have to be aged for several months

GET INTO THE SPIRIT: [clockwise from left] Tasting in the Raasay warehouse; the Isle of Raasay Distillery; stills overlooking the Cuillin mountains

before it becomes a bottle of scotch. While not every tour gets to taste Raasay’s young scotch straight from the barrel, they do get to try Raasay While We Wait – a contract-distilled preview of the kind of whisky being made on the island that showcases the style before the first batch is released in September 2020. More mature (and more palatable at 46%), While We Wait gives off peat smoke and spice, but balances itself out with notes of dried fruit from the Tuscan red wine casks it’s been aged in. This might be an accurate sampler of the kind of whisky made on the island for now, but the future of Raasay whisky remains pretty fluid: the distillery team will never know what the island’s illicitly made whisky tasted like, so their project has become a process of making the absolute best of the ingredients and environment that the island has given them. As a result, experiments are being made with French and Tuscan red wine casks, high-rye bourbon barrels and even champagne yeasts, which should help highlight the high minerality found in their spirit. What’s certain, though, is that they’ll

end up with a whisky that’s big and bold for its years, and one with a clear vision. A clear vision much like the idea behind the distillery as a whole: to draw a different kind of traveller across the water from Skye, to create more jobs for locals, help other businesses on the island thrive and to encourage people to find beauty in tall tales and the smaller things in life, be it bats, brochs, boulders or bogus roads built by lighthouse-manning crofters. Yeah, I suppose I can raise a dram to that. ◆

GETTING THERE Rooms at Isle of Raasay Distillery cost from £125per night, tours from £10. raasaydistillery.com; easyJet flies from Gatwick to Inverness from £64 return. easyjet.com; from there, it’s a twoand-a-half-hour drive to the ferry at Sconser, Skye.


WILLIAMSBURG AND GREENPOINT, NYC • EXPERIENCES • 55

Words by TOM POWELL

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EXPERIENCES

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MAKING TRACKS We know you know about NYC, but we also know you’re a discerning traveller who likes to explore new parts of town. Head to Brooklyn neighbourhoods Williamsburg and Greenpoint to explore the city’s up-and-coming side

8 hrs 15

Flight time from London

17°C

Average temp in April

ON THE RAILS: Catch the train over Williamsburg Bridge and get yourself amongst the craft beer bars and cool hotels of Williamsburg and Greenpoint

28 min

Manhattan to Greenpoint

Getty / Arun Sundar


STAY HOXTON WILLIAMSBURG

It says a lot about a neighbourhood when a hotel group known for its attention to detail, laidback vibe and experienceled approach to hosting sets up its first Stateside property there. Complete with a rooftop bar and free rental bikes for getting around Brooklyn by day, NYC’s first Hox outpost is a thing of poise and design-led grace. Food comes from livefire restaurant Klein’s, breakfast comes to go in a bag hung on your door in the morning, and the views? Well, you can

choose between the skyline of Manhattan and the water towers of Brooklyn, so it’s fair to say they’re pretty epic, too. From £141; 97 Wythe Ave, 11249; thehoxton.com

FRANKLIN GUESTHOUSE

In a lot of ways, Franklin Guesthouse is a bit like a mini version of Brooklyn: it’s a place where old-time industrial features meet more than a little bit of hipsterfied modern elegance. Here, artsy, airy modern rooms provide you with the perfect space to kick back after exploring the city. They’re also the ideal place to fall back into after sampling some of Greenpoint’s

low-key dining and nightlife scene. From £147. 214 Franklin Street, 11222; franklinguesthouse.com

THE WILLIAM VALE

So you’re on an upscale escape, and you’ve booked yourself a stay at the William Vale. But why? Well, firstly, it’s got the longest rooftop pool in the entire greater New York area. Secondly, all its 183 rooms have floorto-ceiling windows and open-air balconies. And thirdly, you can’t see the whole Manhattan skyline if you stay at a hotel in Manhattan. It’s as simple as that, really. From £145. 111 N.12th Street, 11249; thewilliamvale.com


WILLIAMSBURG AND GREENPOINT, NYC • EXPERIENCES • 57

GETTING THERE EXPED QUIDESE QUATUR HEREERE Aad magnia ides aut rest, issimpori ullam, net, quunt a doles as deriassimin foodism.co.uk consequid squaremile. Comnis re et fugitat et dellest am, que vel ium utemque nosandae sant. Il in pro conestis prero quatis sundipsunt es vel mo eum deliatur atenditium conse quo esto viditia

Emily Andrews


EAT PAULIE GEE’S (PICTURED)

There aren’t too many things more NYC than a New York slice: that big, pliable triangle of cheesy goodness with simple toppings, served on a paper plate on the sidewalk. And while the pizza at this new offshoot of legendary Greenpoint pizzeria Paulie Gee’s costs more than the traditional $1 (the cheapest slice is $3.50), it’s most certainly worth the price hike. 110 Franklin St 11222; pauliegee.com/slice-shop

GREENPOINT FISH & LOBSTER CO.

Small and unassuming, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster is a great way to get a taste of the Atlantic without heading out to Long Island. Head down any time and you can splash the cash on chowder and lobster rolls, but it really comes alive at Happy Hour (2-6pm weekdays; 4-6pm weekends): sit at the counter and chase half-price oysters and clams from the raw bar with a plate of baja fish tacos – all of which will set you back about $15-20. Then wash it all down with $5 beers from the likes of Queens-based Finback. 114 Nassau Ave 11222; greenpointfish.com

FRANKEL’S

It’s not often that a new upstart gets mentioned in the same breath as an age-old institution, but this Jewish deli on Manhattan Avenue is already being mentioned in the same breath as Manhattan classics like Katz’s. Whether you’re after a classic pastrami sandwich on rye or a salmon and cream cheese schmear on a bagel, you’ll find it here. Sit back with a sarnie and wonder how a place that only opened in 2016 can feel so old-school. 631 Manhattan Ave, 11222; frankelsdelicatessen.com


WILLIAMSBURG AND GREENPOINT, NYC • EXPERIENCES • 59

DRINK TØRST

Since opening in 2013, Tørst has been on a mission to showcase some of the USA’s finest beers and look cool while doing it. How? By throwing out nostalgic Americana and replacing it with clean-lined Scandi minimalism, serving drinks in long-stemmed wine-style glasses to accentuate aroma, and rotating its 21-strong taplist daily to ensure everything is super-fresh. 615 Manhattan Ave, 11222; torstnyc.com

GRIMM ALES (PICTURED)

This new taproom and brewery site provides a laid back space to enjoy one of New York’s youngest, most celebrated and forward-thinking breweries. Run by husband and wife Joe and Lauren Grimm, the light and airy taphouse is the first place to go for any beer lover heading across the pond. To be honest, it’s a pretty good bet for people that don’t love beer, because they serve oak-aged sours, cider and New York State wine by the glass, and do great Middle Eastern food, too. 990 Metropolitan Ave, 11211; grimmales.com

THE GUTTER

No trip Stateside is complete without some authentic dive bar action, and this place has a little bit of everything. Pinball and an eight-lane bowling alley? Check. Dozens of American beers on tap, a load of different whiskies behind the bar, and the ability to order in takeout? Oh yes. A bonus event space that regularly holds hard rock gigs and comedy nights? You betcha. Toilets covered floor to ceiling with graffiti, and loo roll suspended from a chain on the wall? All original features, my friend. ◆ 200 N.14th St 11211; thegutterbrooklyn.com


CATANIA, SICILY • 61

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OUT OF THE ASHES Mount Etna doesn’t just overlook Catania – it’s at the very core of its architecture, culture and cuisine. From street food to wine made from grapes grown in volcanic soil, this city on the Italian island of Sicily is an explosion of flavours

3 hrs

Flight time from London

I

15°C

Average temp in April

N MY HAND I cradle a warm arancina, its base fitting snugly, comfortingly in my palm. I take a bite, the crispy outer shell of fried breadcrumbs giving way to dense risotto-style rice, porcini mushrooms and, finally, a gentle eruption of golden melted cheese in my mouth. This turns out to be an apt description, because “Catania’s arancini are pointed to look like Mount Etna,” I’m told at the bakery. “Everywhere else in Sicily they are round.” I turn and look at Etna herself, a brooding, ash-grey sentinel squatting on the horizon. She dominates the skyline and daily life in this vibrant port city on Sicily’s eastern >

3,350m

Height of Mount Etna

Words by LYDIA WINTER

NAPA / Alamy Stock Photo

FAIR-WEATHER FRIEND: Mount Etna can be dangerously unpredictable, but her fertile ashes and lava stone helped give birth to the city of Catania


> coast. The volcano is woven into the very fabric of Catania, its striking renaissance buildings hewn out of dark-grey lava stone – a chic little black dress, if you like – at odds with the noise, scruffiness, and general chaos. While Palermo and Taormina have their aristocratic airs and the tiny island of Ortigia is resplendent in ambrosial white stone, Catania pulses to a different beat. The energy here is youthful, focused around cool bars, a buzzing market, and a food scene so deeply entrenched that it’s not really a ‘scene’ at all – it’s a way of life. I arrive in Catania on a self-appointed mission to spend 36 hours eating like a queen and soaking up the vivacious Sicilian character, taking in everything from the loud, pungent-smelling fish market to Etna’s ashy slopes and fertile vineyards. My day starts with breakfast in a café serving granite, sugar-laden flavoured ice shavings that go down a treat in the scorching Sicilian summer. In Catania, this traditional dish is smoother than elsewhere on the island; my favourite flavour is rich, mouth-coating almond, washed down with strong black coffee. Catanians tuck the cold granite inside a warm (volcano-shaped, natch) brioche bun, but I spoon it greedily straight into my mouth. After this, my starting point for sightseeing is the Via Etnea, a wide, elegant

boulevard that points straight as an arrow to the foothills of the volcano – not to give tourists brilliant views, but instead as a means of escape if she decides to blow her top. I find the relationship between the locals and their taciturn neighbour fascinating. The name Etna Catanians love her, means ‘I burn’, and, as Europe’s most imbuing her with a active volcano, feminine character Catania’s fiery – sometimes gentle guardian really is aptly named. It and sometimes fiery, last erupted on but essentially giving Christmas Eve 2018. birth to their city. Spending time in her shadow, I understand: she is a watchful eye, a mother, and an anchor, and I see why locals say they miss her when they leave the area. One of my stopping-off points is the Orto Botanico (botanical gardens) in the centre of Catania’s old town, where I ogle more than 200 species of cacti, from cute to full-on enormous. From there, I spend the morning getting lost on Via Etnea’s side streets.

By 11am, it’s hot and things are getting sticky. I’m visiting in September; hardly the warmest month of the year, but still I welcome a cooling glass of sciroppo, a homemade syrup made from seasonal ingredients, mixed with soda water, traditionally sold at tiny kiosks around the city. I bypass the mandarin and sour tamarind flavours and opt instead for chinotto, made out of a bitter orange native to southern Italy and France. I continue to amble around the backstreets, stopping in at chic boutiques and rustic bakeries, before arriving at the Piazza Duomo. This main square is dominated by the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, Catania’s patron saint, her tale of woe documented on engravings in the wooden doors of the church. Persecuted for her Christian faith during Roman times, she was tortured and had her breasts cut off – a story also immortalised thanks to traditional Catanian iced buns, which are topped with a bright cherry to look like, well, boobs. At the centre sits the Fontana dell’Elefante, an elephant topped with an Egyptian-style obelisk and a pagan symbol said to have magical powers that calm Etna’s volatile moods. Sat on the cathedral’s steps with Etna squatting on the horizon, this idea seems pretty fanciful at best. From here, I brace myself and head over to a fountain of Poseidon in the square’s northeastern corner: the entrance to La Pescheria, Catania’s infamous fish market. This is street theatre at its finest. The atmosphere is raucous, and I’m assaulted by a cacophony of sounds – and smells – as I amble between tables bowed under the weight of mounds of silvery fish. On the advice of one of the stall owners, I stop for a Sicilian-style standing lunch at a takeaway by the market entrance. ‘Takeaway’ isn’t really the right word; I eat at a high table in the street, but this is a far cry from fish and chips. Instead, there’s caponata, veg cooked in tomato sauce, with meaty

MOUNT ETNA IS WOVEN INTO THE VERY FABRIC OF CATANIA, ITS STRIKING BUILDINGS HEWN OUT OF DARK GREY LAVA STONE


CATANIA, SICILY • EXPERIENCES • 63

(Fontana dell’Elefante) Domingo Leiva/Getty; (university) imageBROKER/Alamy; (Etna) Antonio Violi/Alamy

chunks of swordfish, layers of sardines, breadcrumbs and pine nuts. It’s divine, and all the better washed down with a wheat beer made from ancient Sicilian grains. As a port city, it While I munch makes sense that Catania is packed away, I admire the with fantastic signage: instead of seafood. As well as taking down the familiar fish, look out for the likes of traditional fish shop sea urchin at the sign, the owners huge fish market. have put their own branding on a glass pane, keeping the old paintwork visible underneath. This is par for the course for Catania: things are modernising, but with respect for the old ways. Full, I pocket a few mini squid ink arancini for emergency snacks and walk to the Castello Ursino. This 13th-century structure was erected by Emperor Frederick II, originally sitting on a cliff looking out to sea. Several centuries, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions later, its moat has been filled in by lava and the castle sits a kilometre inland, in a pretty plaza surrounded by shops. Today, it’s a civic museum, home to artefacts and artwork from the area, and is well worth a wander for a flavour of Sicily’s history. By now, it’s dark. The sky has descended into velvety blackness, broken by the ghoulish yellow glow of the street lamps. The night is balmy, and young people roar past me on Vespas, squeezing through improbably tight gaps while I wince. Before I arrived in Sicily, I promised myself I would try two local specialities that can be described as, er, acquired tastes. The first is horse meat, which I sample at a traditional butcher’s shop belonging to a man called Leone, who’s been cooking horse meat for nearly all of his 70 years. He gives me the ‘special treatment’, laying out a plastic tablecloth, plonking chilled red wine in a plastic bottle onto the table, and whistling for fresh bread, delivered in a paper bag by a breathless little boy from a bakery just a few doors up. Leone slaps some steaks onto a charcoal grill. Sprinkled with lemon juice, black pepper, vinegar and tucked inside a poppy seed bun, they’re tender and surprisingly delicious. Recent years have seen calls for Italy to ban the sale of equine meat, but the tradition still survives. The meat itself is lean and rich

in iron, and comes from retired riding horses – making use of food that would otherwise go to waste. To me, this makes more sense than it doesn’t, particularly for a historically poor and largely rural island. I regard the next delicacy with a little more trepidation. Over the road from Leone’s is a street food cart with a giant pan of boiling water. Into this pan go grey, slippery, suspicious-looking things: tripe – stomach and intestine. I try both with salt and lemon juice, much to the amazement of the old-school Sicilian men sat around the cart. Apparently women pick up the tripe in paper bags and eat it at home; it’s only men who eat it openly on the streets – which speaks of a culture still led by traditional attitudes. Belly full and feet hot and tired, I make my way back to my hotel. The next day, my menu reads rather differently. Instead of drinking wine from a plastic bottle by the roadside, I sit on a shaded veranda for a wine tasting with glorious views over Etna. Alice (pronounced ‘Aleechay’) is founder of Valcerasa wines, a vineyard on Etna’s fertile slopes. I watch hundreds of tiny white butterflies flutter around her vines – testament to her organic methods – as she tells me about Rosso Relativo, a wine she makes according

OUT FOR THE MOUNT: [above left] The Fontana dell’Elefante; [below, left to right] the University of Catania, Sicily’s oldest uni; Etna overlooks the city

to the “old ways”. It’s deep in colour, with a rich, almost woody flavour. The first run wasn’t classified at DOC, simply because the old style of wine making didn’t match the quality controls. Instead of being put off, Alice turned this into a campaign, proudly declaring its lack of DOC on the label. This clash of old-meets-new is characteristic of Catania. I see it again when I stop for lunch at family-run butcher Dai Pennisi in the tiny village of Linguaglossa. Here, what was once a small local business has become a sleek, chrome-filled – but no less atmospheric – restaurant. Surrounded by Sicilian families settling in for long, chatter-fuelled lunches, I choose my meat at the counter and have it cooked to order: a juicy steak, simply grilled over charcoal and scattered with chunky crystals of salt. It’s a far cry from Leone and his plastic tablecloths, but the same spirit – welcoming and unpretentious – remains. Catania’s character is just like its beloved Etna’s: unchanging, unpredictable, but one that proves extremely hard to resist. ◆

GETTING THERE British Airways flies from Gatwick to Catania from £200 return. For more information, see britishairways.com


Abu Dhabi: Two tales, One City Whether it’s oceanside relaxation, buzzing cocktail bars or the thrills and spills of a water park that you’re after, Abu Dhabi has it all. The only question is why you haven’t booked your holiday yet... Many holidays present a dilemma. For most, the chance to spend a week or so roaming the streets of a destination in a hell-for-leather race to tick off as much of its sights and sounds as is physically possible is just too good to pass up. For others, though, it’s the sense of adventure that drives them to travel: the thought that an easy seven-

WHAT A VIEW: [clockwise from left] A gorgeous beachside resort; Ferrari World; epic architecture at Louvre Abu Dhabi; camping in the desert

hour flight and somewhere to rest their head is all that stands between them and exploring the desert on a 4x4, or whizzing down a flume at a waterpark. The best thing about a trip to Abu Dhabi is that it affords travellers the opportunity to do both. That means whether you’re after a touch of culture, or you want to quicken the pace and dive into some adventure – or a bit of both – the United Arab Emirates’ capital is a destination that has you covered. And what’s more, Kenwood Travel is partnering up with two influencers to show you how

it’s done, so keep your eyes peeled for the brand’s influencers travelling in May with the hashtag #TwoTalesOneCity. With that in mind, here’s a taste of what they can expect in this vibrant city... The cultural touch Abu Dhabi may be a relatively new addition to the Middle East’s cultural landscape, but it’s nonetheless an eclectic mix of architecture, museums and nightlife. Take Louvre Abu Dhabi, for instance: inside its Jean Nouveldesigned curved exterior you’ll find a raft


KENWOOD TRAVEL • PROMOTION • 65

PROMOTION

in abu dhabi, beautiful resorts meet pristine shores and gorgeous turquoise pools

[hotel] Abacapress/Alex Jeffries

of fascinating cultural treasures and diverse exhibitions, with a programme of events that’s up there with the world’s best-known museums. Or the pristine white minarets of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, whose marbled courtyard provides a stunning glimpse at this spectacular tourist attraction. And, for a bit of R&R, take a load off at one of the city’s beach clubs, with beautiful resorts meeting pristine shores and gorgeous turqouise pools, where you can order drinks at swim-up bars – or simply kick-back on a white-sand beach and see turtle hatchlings make their first foray into the water. After something a little more fast-paced? Indulge your inner petrolhead with a trip to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, where you can fly through the world’s highest rollercoaster loop and hit speeds of up to 120km/h on the legendary Flying Aces ride. Waterbabies will also leap at the chance to pay a white-

knuckled visit to Yas Waterworld, where you can speed down a steep flume from the top of a mountain, or board more than 40 rollercoasters and rides.And if you’re after a day for the family, head to Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi for fun with Superman, Wile E Coyote and more. Caught your breath yet? Good, because there’s still the chance to spend a night desert camping on the undulating Emirati sands, toasting marshmallows over an open fire. All this is yours to discover in Abu Dhabi – how much culture, relaxation and adventure you choose is up to you... ◆ To find out more, visit kenwoodtravel.co.uk

Explore Abu Dhabi Want to start planning your own Abu Dhabi adventure? Kenwood Travel offers five-night holidays to the Emirate starting at £499pp. For more information, visit kenwoodtravel.co.uk


ANCIENT VINEYARDS CAVE MONASTERIES MAZED STREETS MELTWATER STREAMS GEORGIA AND THE CAUCASUS BY WILD FRONTIERS

WILDFRONTIERSTRAVEL.COM 020 8741 7390


INDONESIA • 67

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REACH NEW HIGHS From the mystical to the magical, exploring Indonesia comes with a serious slice of adventure. Prepare for jungle jaunts, ancient creatures and a spiritual awakening in an island country so vast it’s impossible to experience completely

17,508

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TROLLING TOWARD A Timor deer with my camera aloft like a typical gormless tourist I hear the words “hati hati,” which roughly translates to “watch out” in Bahasa, the most widely spoken of Indonesia’s 300 languages. Hakim, the park ranger I’ve just met, adds “later, later.” I’ve sauntered off on my own, sleep deprived and idiotic, without noticing the big bull lizard less than ten feet away, charcoal-hued, pink bifurcated tongue flickering past a pendulous rope of saliva. My own reptile brain offers a shot of adrenaline and vocalises the words “oh shit”. It takes approximately 90 minutes by >

3,000

Dragons on Komodo Island

Words by NICK SAVAGE Stefano Politi Markovina / Alamy

LIFT YOUR SPIRITS: A statue of Buddha sits on top of Candi Borobudur, a huge and ancient temple in Java overlooking lush, volcanic terrain below


A KOMODO DRAGON’S MOUTH HARBOURS VENOM AND PREHISTORIC BACTERIA THAT CAN FELL A HUMAN IN JUST THREE HOURS > speedboat to reach Komodo Island from Labuan Bajo on the isle of Flores (recently made famous by the discovery of prehistoric ‘hobbits’ coexisting with giant rats and pintsized elephants). As twin 250 horsepower outboard motors hum us across Listerine-bright waters, the approach offers Jurassic Park vibes. The island’s russet-sere landscape contorts in unlikely rock formations, its ridges serrate as carious teeth, a few solitary palms clinging to the rock, resembling the trees in The Lorax. It’s a saurian landscape, as primordial as the lizards that occupy it. Baked in the kiln of equatorial heat and restive volcanoes, Komodo is populated by just over 2,000 humans and 3,000 dragons. While the reptiles are a major draw to the island, I found its remoteness and stillness equally captivating. The cicada drone, heat and sun bewitch, lulling the traveller into a torpor easily exploited by a savvy predator.

STEALTH MODE: [below] a Komodo dragon roams in the undergrowth on its eponymous island; [right] fishing boats in a cove off Labuan Bajo

The scaly beasts laze around in stealth mode, waiting for their moment to strike. At full sprint, they top out at 13 mph, with mouths harbouring a lethal cocktail of venom and prehistoric bacteria that can fell a water buffalo in three days or a human in just three hours. I’m informed that a bite requires an immediate blood transfusion and then subsequent ones yearly for the rest of the victim’s life if he or she is to survive. Luckily, Hakim’s in possession of a long wooden stick, which he uses to fend them off. ‘Beast’ is no This is only the exaggeration when it comes to these fifth day I’ve been ancient, carnivorous, in Indonesia, and otherworldly-lookthe fifth island ing lizards – they can reach ten feet I’ve visited of the in length and can nation’s 17,508. weigh over 200lbs. Once you arrive in the archipelago it’s easy and relatively cheap to pop from one place to another. Garuda Indonesia – the country’s premier airline – has a non-stop service from London to Jakarta with a Wonderful Indonesia Travel Pass that can be bolted on to make island-hopping even more accessible and inexpensive. After landing in the capital we’re whisked away to Jogjakarta in central Java, where we tour the sultan’s palace and witness our first gamelan orchestra and golek ayun-ayun The former is a traditional ensemble of primarily percussive music with a warbling singer, xylophones, metallophones, hand drums and bowed flutes. It sounds more in line with Four Tet than folk music. The latter is a Javanese court dance performed for nobility by a woman in a gold and feather headdress, a tradition patronised by the Jogjakarta Sultanate and practiced and taught in the Suryo Sumirat dance school. Taken in tandem, on a hot, close day with sunlight spilling over the pavilion tiles, the whole experience invokes an ineffable eeriness that seems to penetrate to the quick of this ancient culture. It’s roughly a 90-minute drive from >


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Ministry of Tourism Indonesia


> Jogjakarta to Borobudur, ascending across broad rivers and rolling hills until the roadside shops peter out and verdant rainforest takes their place. During the evening I decamp at the Plataran Borobudur. Before settling in I borrow a mountain bike and take a quick ride through the nearby Menoreh Hills. The spine of rock is cloaked in thick teak forest and shrouded in late afternoon mist. A few miles later a golden dome emerges amongst the trees. I

SPIRITUAL AWAKENING: [clockwise from below] Sunrise from Candi Borobudur; a traditional gamelan performance; Labuan Bajo’s craggy terrain

INDONESIA IS A COUNTRY THAT YOU CAN NEVER EXPERIENCE IN A COMPLETE SENSE, WHICH MAKES IT ALL THE MORE ALLURING cycle in its direction and arrive at a small village of muddy lanes and whitewashed buildings with terracotta tiles. As I make my way toward the mosque at its far end I’m greeted with a salvo of ‘halo’ and ‘assalamu alaykum’. In Indonesia as with many places, the more off-piste you go, the more interested the people are. After peddling through heavy showers I

return to Plataran and am taken aback by the dimensions of the suite. The bedroom for the night is a detached structure double the size of the average London flat. There’s a dining pagoda and infinity pool with views of the ridge recently cycled. I opt for a swim as the call-to-prayer crackles across the landscape, competing with the sound of weighty raindrops crepitating in the


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(sunrise) Valery Bocman/Shutterstok; (gamelan) Robert Harding/Alamy; (Labuan Bajo) Minisrty of Tourism Indonesia

poolwater, feeling rather unworthy. The next morning we rise at 4am to the cacophony of the jungle and board an open double-level transport, dodging wet paddle-like leaves that glom onto the top of the rollcage. Candi Borobudur looms into sight through the gloaming: one of the world’s largest Buddhist temples, built in the eighth century. It rises in shortening tiers like a flat-topped pyramid, with 72 stupas along the ridges and one outsized stupa rising from its centre. Built to resemble the lotus flower of nirvana in the Bhagavad-Gita, within each hand-carved chamber is a carved figurine symbolising an event from the Buddha’s journey. Lacking the crowds of Angkor Wat, the sunrise at Borobudur is sparsely attended yet arguably more dramatic. From the peak of the temple the central Javan sky progressively lightens in pastel pyrotechnics. Eventually the smoke and ash of Mt Merapi become apparent on the horizon. In the basin below a misty congregation of farm plots and paddy fields brightens into This volcano is Indoview. A yolky yellow nesia’s most active, with its last eruption sun edges above the taking place in May horizon – half creepy, 2018. It’s incredibly half comic. Uninvited, symbolic to locals, and shrouded in it puts me in mind of myths (as well as, Donald Trump’s quiff. er, smoke). A quick restorative kip would have been useful, but we have a couple flights to catch, stopping off at Nusa Dua in Bali overnight before heading onwards to Labuan Bajo, gateway to the Komodo Islands. Popular amongst adventurers, Labuan Bajo has an abundance of diving companies but the droves of tourists thronging Bali are absent; a welcome change. I board a van and drive out of town along an unpaved road – a recent hard rain has stripped out ribbons of it. The vehicle teeters over uneven terrain. Looking down over the road’s edge you can see where white limestone sarsens have tumbled into a thicket of eucalyptus, luminous amongst the undergrowth. A few more hairpin turns and we reach Atlantis on the Rock, another hotel operated by Plataran, where we whet our appetites by kayaking across the serene bay to Monkey Island, chiefly populated by crab-eating macaques. Dinner is lime-marinated grouper

served in a sauce of galangal, ginger and turmeric. Chef Berta informs me that the fish are purchased live from local fishermen. Squinting against the sunset, she points out the two-masted pinisi boats that they use to ply their trade. Lubricated with a couple of Bintang beers and with the road obscured in darkness, white knuckles make no appearance on the ride back. After my misadventure with the big lizard and a quick flight back to Bali, I’m jarred by the juxtaposition of walking through the fashionable district of Seminyak on a Friday evening. My hotel is Katamama, located adjacent to and sharing the same ownership as Potato Head, the island’s most famous nightclub. Watching lissom, attractive Westerners knock back classic Italian cocktails on a steamy evening, you could forget for a moment where you are. Still, it provides a good setting to absorb the kaleidoscope of moments comprising

this week in the archipelago. With only five of 17,508 islands visited, it’s apparent that Indonesia is a country that you can never experience in a complete sense, which makes it all the more alluring for repeat excursions. As I pack for the flight home I don’t have the feeling of wistfulness that often attends the end of a visit. Likely because I have a return trip scheduled in six months. ◆

NEED TO KNOW Flights from London to Jakarta, internal flights, then back from Bali start from £541. Domestic island-hopping passes start from £30. garuda-indonesia.com. Panorama Destination offers tailormade programmes to suit any budget. See panorama-destination.com


NEW ZEALAND • EXPERIENCES • 73

Words by DAVID J CONSTABLE Getty/ViewStock

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EXPERIENCES

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FROM NORTH TO SOUTH You can't ever expect to explore everything that New Zealand has to offer in one go, but there's no harm in trying. These breathtaking experiences are just a few examples of what you might find...

24 hrs

Flight time from London

4.8 m

Total population

six

Sheep to every one person

LETTING OFF SOME STEAM: Head to Rotorua on North Island, best-known for its geothermal pools, geysers and Māori culture

N

EW ZEALAND IS a country rich and verdant; fragrant, sniffable, but just out of reach. Wind roars across arid bushland; and sheep, my goodness there are a lot of sheep. But then, a mountain and a lake, too. Waterfalls crash into rock, and landscapes range from beachy, volcanic, rainforest country to glacial climbs and frosty winds whipping off the Southland waters. Such riches mean there's an almost infinite variety of culture, adventure and food to discover, and while many dedicate their time to either the North or South Island, I was determined to take in both. From the art deco city of Napier to foraging in the forest with a Māori chief, I explored a country brimming with beauty. What follows is just a taster of what to expect… >


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FOOD AND CULTURE WHAKAREWAREWA VILLAGE

❶❺ NORTH ISLAND At Whakarewarewa Village, Lou Baddiley gave me a guided tour of the living Māori village, where hāngi is cooked in the bubbling geothermal waters of the Whakarewarewa Valley. I pulled a husk of corn from the spitting pool, concealed within a sandwich bag, and chucked in salt, pepper and cubes of butter. I caught the last cultural performance

of the day and watched as women danced, twisting and twirling their pois (balls on a chord); followed by my first haka in the flesh, with all of the wide-eyed-knee-slapping aggression of a fiercely synchronised war cry.

ROTORUA

❹ NORTH ISLAND Known for its geothermal activity and hot mud pools, you smell Rotorua before you see it. The thick stench of sulphur hangs in the air, gripping the town with a hint of strangulation. Here I met Māori chef Charles Royal, and together we scoured the forests

behind his home for produce; picking, plucking and pulling from the earth, making our lunch from the morning’s bounty.

NAPIER

❸ NORTH ISLAND I took a bus from Rotorua to Napier, on the eastern coast. Located in Hawke’s Bay, Napier is a city with a unique concentration of 1930s art deco architecture. After the 1931 earthquake devastated the original town, the city’s reconstruction began in the classic architectural design of the time. It’s one of the finest collections of art deco in the world.


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(2) Graeme Murray; (3) Mark Meredith/ Getty; (4) Gotya Photography

In Rotorua, you can wind your way through lofty trees via a series of 23 suspension bridges at the Redwoods Treewalk. Glowing lanterns make it extra magical at night.

CHRISTCHURCH

SOUTH ISLAND ❷ New Zealand’s third most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington, Christchurch is very much under renovation after a hugely destructive earthquake in February 2011. I squeezed in tours of the museum, botanical gardens and a hunt for black truffles in the Waipara Valley, before travelling to Akaroa to swim

with Hector’s dolphins, the smallest and rarest marine dolphins on the planet. They surfaced for a passing minute, their fins giving away their position, then disappeared back into the dark waters.

ADVENTURE PIHA BEACH

❼ NORTH ISLAND Zana Cottingham from Aotea Roadies collected me and drove me to Auckland’s

wild west coast, up Scenic Drive and through the bush-clad Waitakere Ranges. From here we descended to the black volcanic sand beach of Piha with views out across the Tasman Sea. A few brave surfers bobbed on the horizon, preparing to face bone-crunching waves. Paragliders cut through the sky, held only by their colourful fabric wing. Further up the coast, I was lucky enough to spot the fiercely territorial gannets at Otakamiro Point.

MOUNT TARAWERA

➑ NORTH ISLAND I hiked up a volcano – responsible for one >


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DANSEY ROAD SCENIC RESERVE

➒ NORTH ISLAND I travelled to Dansey Road Scenic Reserve to visit Rotorua Canopy Tours, a 1.2km network of six zip-lines and numerous swing-bridges. Belted, buckled and harnessed, I was led up through the trees, pausing to discuss work by the company to protect the forest; then I flew through the

jungle, dangling from a series of fixed wires.

TWIN FALLS WATERFALL

❻ SOUTH ISLAND On the road from Queenstown to Wanaka, I passed Twin Falls Waterfall, the highest via ferrata waterfall climb in the world. At 450 meters, 'The Lord of the Rungs' descent takes around seven hours. (Though I did it in six. I’m not bragging, just saying.) Climbing, swinging, and slipping more than once, I heaved myself towards the summit. Once aloft, a helicopter collected me, returning me to terra firma in less than ten minutes. ◆

NEED TO KNOW For more information on visiting New Zealand and to plan your own trip, see newzealand.com. Cathay Pacific flies from London Heathrow and Gatwick to Auckland and Christchuch (seasonal flight) via Hong Kong from £1,305 return. For further information, visit cathaypacific.com or call 0800 917 8260. For domestic flights, go to airnewzealand.co.uk

(9) Graeme Murray; (7) Ian Rushton/Getty; (8) David Wall/Alamy

> of New Zealand’s most extensive historical eruptions – then ran down into the deep, dry crater, skidding and sliding and scuffing up my boots (and knees).


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PROMOTION

hurtigruten: journey south Turns out you don’t have to be the next Scott or Shackleton to discover the magic of Antarctica – you just have to wrap up warm, climb aboard and head south on an epic adventure with Hurtigruten

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve visited five countries around the world or 50 of them – one thing’s for sure: when you set foot on Antarctica, you’ll experience something completely unlike any other destination on the planet. Cold and unforgiving, remote and rugged, stark and yet somehow incredibly beautiful, the world’s most far-flung continent has long

held a sense of mystery in the minds of some of the world’s most intrepid explorers, and now you can experience it all for yourself. Luckily though, unlike the explorers of the past, you’ve got the option of doing it with Hurtigruten, whose luxurious expedition ships let you cruise through the heart of the action – penguins, marine wildlife, icebergs and all – and tailormake your own adventure.

Marsel van Oosten

this far-flung continent has long held a sense of mystery in the minds of great explorers

OUT IN THE COLD: a colony of penguins on Cuverville Island – one of many remote Antarctic destinations you can reach with Hurtigruten

So whether you fancy staying on the ship and watching icebergs from the top deck, or getting in amongst them in a kayak, with Hurtigruten you can – and each different itinerary gives you a new set of shore excursions and daily activities from the last. So what are you waiting for? It’s about time you unshackled your inner explorer in Antarctica. ◆ For more, visit hurtigruten.co.uk, email uk.sales@hurtigruten.com or follow at @hurtigruten


[ INSIDER’S GUIDE ]

VALAIS, SWITZERLAND

In association with

To find out more about the canton of Valais and its regions, go to visitvalais.ch; regiondentsdumidi.ch; nendaz.ch; aletscharena.ch


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INSIDER’S GUIDE

hill behaviour

©Valais/Wallis Promotion - Pascal Gertschen; [Nendaz] Etienne Bornet

NENDAZ

Found in the south of Switzerland, the canton of Valais is home to the legendary Matterhorn, elegant alpine resorts and the lush, fertile vineyards of the Rhône Valley. Its unique climate means the area receives around 2,000 hours of sunshine every year – making it an ideal destination for action and adventure year round. With iconic natural sights including the Great Aletsch Glacier and more, the beautiful landscape is primed for hikers and explorers to strike out amongst the lush alpine scenery. For those looking for something a bit more fast-paced, Valais has a burgeoning mountainbiking and cycling scene that will excite riders of any level. And if good food and drink are more your thing, you’re in luck: the Mediterranean-like climate means Valais has an incredible natural larder, too. Flip the page to find out where to fill your boots. For more info: visitvalais.ch

DENTS DU MIDI REGION

ALETSCH ARENA


SPOTLIGHT GASTRONOMY

Valais: travel with good taste Valais’ sunny climate and fertile soil means it’s the place to sample loads of utterly delicious regional produce, from cheese to wine

From the iconic silhouette of the legendary Matterhorn to the sun-drenched vineyards in the south, the Swiss canton of Valais is a land of contrasts. The most obvious of these is the division of its languages, with French-speaking towns lying to the west and German-speaking villages in the eastern province. Yet despite these differences, one thing’s for sure: the people of Valais are united by a love of good food and drink – especially when it comes to cheese and wine. And when you learn that Valais boasts more than 200 days of sunshine a year – making it the perfect place for growing grapes – this all begins to make sense. The canton’s lower slopes are blanketed with 5,000 hectares of vineyards ripe for long, sun-soaked walks with convenient pitstops to visit the region’s premier winemakers. Valais has almost 60 grape varieties, some of which are unique to the region, and a diverse wine scene to match. Make sure you don’t miss the district of Visperterminen, where you’ll find some of the highest vineyards in Europe at an altitude of 1,150m. At a slightly lower altitude you’ll find the gorgeous Aletsch Arena, home to lush meadows, rolling mountain pastures and pure water that comes down from the Aletsch glacier. The fields here are resplendent with aromatic, flavour-packed flowers and herbs that have been used in Valais cooking for generations, imbuing

traditional dishes with distinctive flavour. One of the most significant dishes of all is the Valais Cholera, which was born during a time when the canton was struck by the illness. To avoid infection, people didn’t want to leave the house, making pastry pies filled with the fresh vegetables and herbs growing in their gardens and ingredients they already had in their larders. As you’d expect from a region with French and German influences, cheese sits pretty high up on the Valais menu, with heaps of local cheese producers. Raclette – the much-loved oozy, gooey cheese fondue – was invented here, by a wine grower called Léon who warmed up a piece of cheese over an open fire rather than eating it raw. The word ‘raclette’ came from the local French dialect – racler means to scrape – and this became the official name for the cheese in 1874. Today, Valais cheese makers still follow the historic recipe to make Raclette du Valais AOP. Another Valais staple is fibre-rich rye bread, which had a key role when it came to meeting the day-to-day nutritional needs of the people of Valais. This bread is deeply intwined with the canton’s history, creating an important link between the farmers, bakers and consumers. Elsewhere, the Région Dents du Midi is home to six quaint alpine villages perched high in the Swiss Alps, with sweeping peaks and incredible views that make it the perfect destination for hiking and biking. Thankfully,

sun-soaked valais has 5,000 hectares of vineyards and a thriving wine scene to match


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[food] © Valais/Wallis Promotion - Sedrik Nemeth; [vineyard] © Valais/Wallis Promotion - Frederic Huber Firstname Surname

it’s also the perfect destination to refuel with treats from the area’s many local bakeries, restaurants or alpine huts. There’s something to tickle everyone’s fancy, from a craft brewery to 41 brilliant high-altitude restaurants, many of which participate in the Trophée des Alpages epicurean adventure. What’s more, the area has three culinary specialities: the cinnamon sugar tart known as Salée de la Vallée, Reine des Prés caramels and the savoury Soupe au Plat. Over in the Nendaz municipality there’s also an unmissable food scene. A standout among its many acclaimed inns is Les Bisses, which sits between the resorts of Nendaz and Siviez. The restaurant specialises in

FEELING VINE: [clockwise from main] Valais has a diverse wine scene; the traditional cholera vegetable pastry pie; a Valais Platter with wine

showcasing Valais’ most traditional produce, serving plates of beautiful local food against the stunning backdrop of the mountains. And as you’d expect from such a stellar repuation, Les Bisses is extremely popular – so it’s a good thing it’s easily accessible by car and by foot all year round. Whether you’re after mouthwatering cheese, fine wine or both, you’ll find all that and more in the Swiss canton of Valais. ◆ For more info, visit valais.ch/winetourism


SPOTLIGHT OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

let’s take things outside Wherever you go in the canton of Valais, you’ll find all kinds of outdoor adventure to keep you happy – from adrenaline-filled glacier walks to testing trail runs and family-friendly hikes, you can do it all

See the Great Aletsch Glacier from up high Aletsch Arena A staggering sight of immense primeval beauty, the Great Aletsch Glacier is an absolute must-see. The immense river of ice stretches 23km from the Jungfrau to the northeast. In the last ice age 18,000 years ago, the vast swathe of ice covered the mountain ridges of the Aletsch Arena, with only the peaks exposed above the ice. Since

then, the glacier has carved the gorgeous mountain valleys we can see today. tip: The glacier is best seen from viewpoints high up on the Moosfluh, Bettmerhorn or Eggishorn mountains, where you can look down on the ice 2,500m below. Blaze the trails Dents du Midi Near the French border, the peaks of the

Dents du Midi mountains are the perfect place for those with a penchant for adventure. The mountain ridges, alpine lakes and woods are just waiting to be explored by bike, or heading out for a day of rock

PEAK YOUR INTEREST: [clockwise from above] A walk through Valais' countryside; explore by bike; trail running; taking in the view from a chairlift


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climbing – but perhaps the best way to explore is by foot. Trail runners will love the 54 signposted routes around Portes du Soleil, and for more of a challenge, you can sign up for the legendary Trail des Dents Du Midi Seven Summits Challenge race. tip: If you’re new to trail running, there are plenty of expert-led tours to give you a crash course in moving fast in the mountains. Stroll the bisses Nendaz Back in the olden days, irrigation channels called bisses were vital for supplying fresh water from the mountains to the pastures, vineyards and villages in the valleys below. These days, more than 98km of these channels remain and some have dramatic walking trails right next to them, making them perfect for day hikes and more. tip: There are eight trails along the bisses to explore in the Nendaz valley today, six of which are still filled with water.

[Main pic and trail running] © Valais/Wallis Promotion – David Carlier; [climbing] Sarah Udriot; [lift] LITESCAPE MEDIA Julie Rebaudo/JB bieuville

Go glacier walking Aletsch Arena The Great Aletsch Glacier is made up of 11 billion tonnes of ice, and there's no better way to experience their awe-inspiring beauty than by heading out for a day’s walk. You'll be surrounded by mindboggling views of Valais' gorgeous flora and fauna, too – a surefire way to take your mind off the stresses and strains of daily life. Tip: Head out on a guided day tour with an escort to make the most of it – and make sure you cross icy areas safely.

There’s a hike for everyone Dents du Midi Whether you’re looking for a short walk to keep the family entertained, or fancy heading out on a multi-day adventure in the mountains around Dents du Midi, there’s a hike for everyone in these dramatic peaks. Themed family-friendly trails give you astonishing vistas across the mountain valleys below, while more challenging, long distance trails like the GR5 or Tour des Dents Blanches provide the perfect break for active travellers who want to feel the burn. tip: A real highlight of the Dents du Midi range is the hidden alpine lakes accessible only by foot. Spend a day hiking out and back to remote Lac Vert or Lac de Soi for the perfect bucolic picnic spot. Soak up mountain hut culture Nendaz To get a real taste of Swiss alpine life and relax to the pace of the mountains, take a four-day trek from hut to hut in Val de Nendaz. By day, you’ll be breathing in the crisp mountain air, taking in extraordinary wildlife and soaking up all manner of views. Then, come evening, you’ll be staying in a mountain hut, where you can hunker down for a night in the middle of some of Switzerland’s most striking natural habitats. You’ll wake up to a new view every morning. Tip: These three-night trekking tours take you through the Nendaz Valley, with 1115km being covered on foot through the mountains each day – it's the ultimate way to slow down and chill out. ◆

enter to win three days in nendaz

Read all this and fancy getting a taste for the outdoors in the Canton of Valais? Well you’re in luck, because one lucky reader could be in with the chance of winning a two-night stay in Nendaz, including breakfast and a three-day mountain lift pass for two. Visit in the summer, and you’ll be able to hike around the valleys, soaking up the fresh mountain air by day, and experiencing a little bit of that famous Swiss alpine hospitality every night. The lifts will shuttle you nearer to the most dramatic views in the mountains, meaning you can make the most of a short time away. Then again, if you feel like earning your lunch, you could just as easily hire a mountain bike and strike out on the trails yourself – in Nendaz the options are endless. Winter, meanwhile, is a whole different story: when Nendaz is covered in snow, you’ll get full use of the lift pass included in the prize, heading out on 400km of runs in the vast four valleys area. If you’re a bit of a pro, you’ll be able to go ski touring among the dramatic peaks, and if you’re not, there are plenty of opportunity to learn the ropes on 135km of beginner slopes. The prize entitles the winner to travel between 1 June 2019 and 30 September 2020. To enter, and for full terms and conditions, all you need to do is answer a simple question at escmag.co/nendaz


SPOTLIGHT BIKING

come along for the ride From easy rides from village to village through alpine valleys to some of Europe’s most challenging mountain biking events, Valais is home to some seriously stellar bike routes – here’s what not to miss

Valais cycling tour

Trails from Fiesch

Lac de Cleuson

valais

aletsch arena

nendaz

Thanks to its unique topography, Valais has a huge variety of cycling routes, and the best way to experience them all is with the Valais Cycling Tour. Set up by professional Valais cyclist Steve Morabito, this loop crosses Valais’ most gorgeous landscapes over 740km, 18,500m of up and down and 25 climbs spread over 10 stages. It’s not for the fainthearted, but it’s definitely worth it. To find out more about mountain biking in Valais: visitvalais.ch/cycling

If you’re looking for a range of mediumdifficulty rides to fill a morning or afternoon with epic vistas and enough exercise to keep you feeling fresh, you should make Fiesch your base. Found at the foot of the Eggishorn, the village is home to more recommended cycle routes than any other part of the Aletsch Arena – and that’s saying something. From here, you can strike out along the Rhone river to the beautiful Bieligertal valley or ride the mountain ridge up to the high-altitude villages of Bellwald and Fleschen – now that’s variety. To find out more: aletscharena.ch

The turquoise waters of Lac de Cleuson are well worth the detour if you’re in the Nendaz area. Found at 2,186m, the lake is a 10.3km ride from the village of Siviez. On the way out, the ascent takes you up to the Cleuson dam at the lake’s end, where you’ll get a view that’s worth the effort your legs have put in during the ride. On the way down, things can start to get chilly, so make sure you’ve packed something warm. To find out more: nendaz.ch

stoneman glaciara aletsch arena This 127km-long mountain bike race takes you through 4,700m of elevation gain among dramatic glaciers, dozens of 4,000m peaks and the sleepy allure of Aletsch Arena’s mountain villages. Not only will you fix your eyes on Europe’s mightiest ice stream (the vast Great Aletsch Glacier) en route, you’ll also bag the mountain passes of Moosfluh and the Breithorn on your way as well. After the epic high-altitude part of the ride, you’ll then descend to the valley beside the Rhone river, where you’ll keep passing monuments steeped in history, as well as the odd inviting café, restaurant or bar. Fancy it? This year’s event start on 14 June. To find out more: aletscharena.ch


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Grand raid bcvs

bikepark champerymorgins

nendaz

Dents du midi

There are four startlines to the worldfamous Grand Raid Swiss Mountain Bike Race Marathon, one of which is in the gorgeous resort of Nendaz. The event is Europe’s biggest mountain bike race, taking in 125km and 5,000m of altitude change, and is a must-see for bikers. Save the date: 24 August. To find out more: grand-raid-bcvs.ch

With nine downhill tracks, seven crosscountry trails, a world cup trail and four lifts dedicated to mountain biking, the Champéry-Morgins Bikepark turns the Portes du Soleil into a mountain biker’s paradise. With more than 600km of trails suitable for both amateurs and the world’s finest riders, it’d take you multiple trips to explore it all. To find out more: regiondentsdumidi.ch

MTB Guiding dents du midi [Valais Cycling Tour] ©Valais/Wallis Promotion - David Carlier; [MTB Guiding] LITESCAPE MEDIA, Julie Rebaudo/JB bieuville; [Lac de Cleuson] Etienne Bornet; [mountain biking and pumptracks] Sylvain Cochard; [Stoneman Glaciara] Pascal Gertschen_Stoneman Glaciara

It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned veteran or a first timer, you’ll get more out of your time in the Portes du Soleil when you head out into the hills with a guide. Not only is it a great way to have the best experience in a shorter break, it’s also a great way to stay safe on the trail if you’re a little less confident in your abilities. Luckily, there are plenty of guiding companies based in Dents du Midi’s main hubs, including Morgins, Champéry, Monthey and Val-d’Illiez. To find out more: regiondentsdumidi.ch

fatbike touring

Pra da dzeu

the pumptracks

aletsch arena

nendaz

dents du midi

Come wintertime, you can still head out on a bike in the mountains. With bigger tires that work perfectly in the snow, fatbikes are a great alternative to skiing or snowboarding. There are several routes you can follow to take it all in – try striking out from the village of Fiesch and finishing in Chäserstatt. To find out more: aletscharena.ch

If you’re looking for a straightforward ride through tranquil alpine woods, you can’t do much better than a tour of Pra da Dzeu. This sequence of woodland bike trails translates to ‘the meadow in the forest’, and as soon as you’re out there riding, you’ll get the recuperative feeling of being close to nature. To find out more: nendaz.ch

Found in the villages of Champéry and Morgins, pumptracks are great for improving technique and balance before hitting the mountains. ◆ To find out more: regiondentsdumidi.ch


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The Intrepid Series

Shereen Mroueh

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The Selector Rear View

Colombia

Summer sun

Tommy Caldwell


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IN ASSOCIATION WITH PROTEST

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Emily Black

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HAT DO YOU think of when you hear the word ‘adventure’? Some of us reckon it’s yomping through miles of untouched wilderness, while others probably think it involves checking into a proper plush glamping pod and ordering a shedload of room service straight to the door. Whichever camp you fall in, you’ll find the gear for your next adventure right here. From well-made waterproof boots [pictured above] to backpack essentials, we’ve got you covered. Just flip the page. ◆

Founded by a small group of snowboarders in the flattest place on the planet – Holland – Protest’s goal from day one has been to make the world a better place for boarders, no matter what obstacles stand in their way. Whether you’re a first-time boarder or a master looking for the joy of the next ride, whether you want to hit the slopes or get out in water, Protest designs fashionable and functional sportswear at an affordable price for all. So if you want to have fun out on your board and look good while you’re doing it, ride with Protest. protest.eu


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▶ PATAGONIA

STRETCH RAINSHADOW JACKET, £180: A supple,

stretchy waterproof jacket with a face fabric made of recycled nylon. eu.patagonia.com

It’s time to embrace the great outdoors, but to make sure you’re properly adventure ready, it’s essential to have the correct gear. This kit will see you through even the most waterlogged terrains in style

▲ SHERPA

▲ TEVA

This Nepal-inspired durable mini-ripstop shirt wicks away sweat and uses silver salt to stop bad smells. sherpa adventuregear.co.uk

sneaker-boot super light, it’s completely waterproof and grippy on rugged terrain, too. teva.co.uk

RAVI SHIRT, £50:

ARROWOOD 2 MID, £130: Not only is this

▶ SMITH

SNARE GLASSES, £105: These mini-

malist sunglasses are impact-resistant, made of eco-friendly materials and have timeless good looks. smithoptics.com

▲ STANCE

▶ FINISTERRE

don’t just look good, they have cushioning that’ll keep you moving for longer. stance.eu.com

just a good-looking cropped trouser, these are made of organic cotton ripstop for toughness. finisterre.com

UNCOMMON TWIST OUTDOOR SOCK, £16.99: These socks

REAY TROUSERS, £85: More than


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▶ ARC’TERYX

ZETA SL JACKET, £280: This super-

light, packable Gore-Tex waterproof jacket makes the perfect emergency shell for hiking. arcteryx.com ▶ ADIDAS

TERREX FREE HIKER SHOES, £169.95:

These knitted, water-repellent trainer boots give you great comfort in all conditions. adidas.co.uk ▶ COLUMBIA

BAKER BROOK T-SHIRT, £27: Be-

cause there’s nothing more outdoorsy than a tee with a grizzly bear on it. columbia sportswear.co.uk

▲ FILSON

▼ RAB

son shirt made of 5oz cotton that’ll last you for years. filson.com/uk

feeling pair of softshell trousers that are great for the city and the hills. cotswoldoutdoor.com

LIGHTWEIGHT ALASKAN GUIDE SHIRT, £120: A truly all-sea-

VECTOR TROUSERS, £90: A luxurious-

▼ DARN TOUGH

LIGHT HIKER MICRO CREW SOCK, £20:

High-grade, Vermont-made merino wool socks that come with a lifetime wear guarantee. darntough.com

ADVENTURE TIME Whether you’re an all-action hillwalker heading out on a city break or a full-time city dweller who likes to look like they live in the mountains, you’ll probably quite like these adventure-ready outfits. Why? Because when you’re kitted out with this excellent arsenal of versatile outdoor gear, you’ll get through the wickedly unpredictable weather of spring and summer in Britain, and look good while you’re at it. Ladies (to the left) and gents (to the right), it’s about time you got shopping.


◀ BAMBAW

BAMBOO TRAVEL CUTLERY SET, £11.50:

Resist single-use plastic for food on the go with this easy travel pouch full of wooden cutlery. bearandbear.com ▶ LIFESAVER

LIBERTY WATER BOTTLE, £89.99:

A water-purifying bottle that removes 99.99% or more of viruses, bacteria and cysts from water. iconlifesaver.com

CHECKLIST ▲ LIFEVENTURE

SOAP LEAVES, £3.49:

This pack contains 50 feather-light leaves of soap that are perfect for keeping clean when you’re on the go. lifeventure.com ▲ TRACKISAFE

V-MULTI TRACKER, £45 (+£2 MONTHLY):

Track lost bags and send SOS messages with this multi-purpose mini tracker from Vodafone. vodafone.co.uk

◀ BLACK DIAMOND

▲ ABRAMS NOTERIE

men head torch can provide light 83m in front of you for up to 65 hours. ellis-brigham.com

stylish journal for fieldnotes on the go. abramsand chronicle.co.uk

SPOT HEAD TORCH, £39.99: This 325-lu-

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES NOTEBOOK, £10.99: A compact,


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IT’S IN THE BAG It goes without saying that every adventurer needs a good bag. But aside from a soggy sarnie and an absolute shedload of Kendal mintcake, what do you actually put in it? We’ve selected a few essentials, covering everything from eco-friendly eating to wilderness hydration and hygiene, and much more in between. Time to hit the road.

▲ JUICE

▼ LEFRIK

two-port charging station is durable and sealable for extra water and dust resistance. juice.co.uk

made from recycled bottles and coated with a durable, waterproof finish. As good as it looks. lefrik.com

EXTREME POWER BANK, £24.99: This

FLAP BACKPACK, £45: This rucksack is


94 • EXCURSIONS • THE CHECKLIST

ON YOUR BIKE CAFE DU CYCLISTE ZELIE JACKET, £252

As any cyclist who’s ever shivered or stewed (or both) through a long ride will tell you, dressing for cold weather on the bike is often easier to get wrong than right. The Zélie jacket, from Nice-based Café du Cycliste, has been created to make that task easier, using a clever combination of Primaloft insulation and technical windproof fabrics to keep you warm when it’s cold, and cool when the temperature (or your output) rises. It also only comes in one colour – but everyone looks good in black, right? cafeducycliste.com

CHECKLIST


A NE N E W SMA SM A LL BU B U T PERF PER F E C T LY F O RM RMEE D F E S T I VA L F O R C OR ORN N WA LL BR B R O UG UGHT HT T O Y OU WITH G U S T O A ND C A R E BOOK BO OK TIC TI C KE KETT S , A D VENTUR VENTUREE S & EXPERIEN EXPERIE N C E S

P O R T H I L LY S P I R I T . C O M

S U B J E C T TO L I C E N S E .

UN U N P L U G FOR A L O NG W EEKE EEKEN ND OF G GLL O RI RIOU OUS OU S FOOD, M MU U SI SIC C A ND O UTD UTDOO OOR OO R A D V E N TUR TUREE S


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HAT IF WE told you the rainforest of Colombia harbours a 1,200-yearold lost city that’s both older and less packed with tourists than Machu Picchu? What if we told you that you can tour it responsibly with guides from indigenous tribes that have lived in the region for centuries? What if we told you that all you had to do to find out more was turn the page and start reading? Well you're in luck, because we sent intrepid, adventurous and mosquito-bitten

writer Stuart Kenny on a trek through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta jungle in northern Colombia to discover the lost city of Teyuna for himself. Along the way, he met the people working for Planeterra Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that sets up social enterprises promoting responsible travel and ensuring travellers support the local communities they visit around the globe. Interested? We bet you are. Flip the page and start reading his story overleaf. We’ll bring the mozzie cream. ◆


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THE INTREPID SERIES Colombia’s lost city of Teyuna may not be known to everyone, but the indigenous tribes of the surrounding jungle are now able to share its secrets. Stuart Kenny meets the people who are using tourism to cement their future


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E’VE BEEN HIKING for three days, and we’re now in the heart of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta jungle in Colombia, South America, covered in mosquito bites and without a dry possession left between us. After the last two days, we’re starting to appreciate just how appropriately a ‘rainforest’ is actually named. Having traded our sleep for an early start, done a bit of hiking and waded through a river at about 6am, we’re now looking up at a series of connected rocks that wrap around the dense green trees on a mountain before us, then spiral sharply out of sight. These stones make up a staircase. And it was in search of this staircase that we set off from the city of Santa Marta in northern Colombia, gateway to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, one of the highest coastal mountain ranges on Earth. To be a little more specific, we set off in search of what lies at the top of the 1,200

Diego, a Colombian working for responsible travel company G-Adventures. G-Adventures is the only operator currently working with the indigenous people to provide tours to Teyuna, and last year opened up a new route which sees travellers stop in Gotsezhi, a relatively new settlement of the Wiwa tribe in the lowlands of the jungle, on their way home from Teyuna. Of course, the first thing many think of when indigenous people meet tourism is exploitation. Tourism to Teyuna started in 1982, and at that point, it was exploitative. The relics of Teyuna were discovered by gold diggers in 1972, heading up into the mountains in hope of finding their fortune digging near indigenous sites. The government knew it was happening, but did nothing about it. After golden relics from the area began to appear on the black market though, archaeologists headed to the site in 1976 and began to excavate.

IN 1991, THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT RECOGNISED MOST TRIBES AS INDIGENOUS AND RETURNED SOME OF THEIR ANCESTRAL LAND

Shereen Mroueh

steps – the ancient ruins of the city of Teyuna, as the indigenous people know it, or Ciudad Perdida as the government named it in Spanish for the purposes of tourism. In English, the name simply means ‘the lost city’. Teyuna dates back to 800 AD, when it is believed to have been founded by the Tairona, the ancestors of the indigenous people. Archaeologists believe it was the political and social heart of a network of villages in the mountains, and housed between 2,000 and 8,000 people. Think Machu Picchu, but built 650 years earlier, without so many tourists. For now. Teyuna has since been used as an ancient temple, a spiritual place of the four indigenous tribes of the jungle: the Kogi, the Wiwa, the Arhuaco and the Kankuamo. We are guided up the staircase by José and Javier, two indigenous guides working for Wiwa Tourism, one of the first indigenous tourism companies in the world. José is from the Wiwa tribe, and Javier is from the Kogi. Our guiding party is completed by Juan

Like many nations, the Colombian government has a dark history with the country’s indigenous people. Before 1991, indigenous tribes weren’t recognised as part of the Colombian State. To be Colombian was to be Catholic, and so the indigenous people were treated as savages. The torture of the indigenous Kankuamo people by Catholic missionaries in the past century is still attributed as the cause of the demise of the tribe today, which numbers only a few hundred as opposed to the thousands of indigenous people that make up the other tribes. But in 1991, things changed. There was a new political constitution. Most tribes were recognised as indigenous, were given back some of their ancestral land, and given autonomy over that land. The formation of Wiwa Tourism in 2008 was then sanctioned by the Mamos of the tribe – the spiritual leaders of the indigenous people, who use a code to consult the spirits that live in their jungle, >


A S O U N DT R AC K FOR THE SOUL

T OM O DEL DELLL V IL ILLL A G E R S GILLEE S PETER GILL PETE R S O N T OM FIN FI N D L AY (G RO OV E A R M A DA)

MR J UK UKEE S SONGH SO NGHO NGH O Y BL BLUES UN F O R GE GET T TA B L E F O O D & DRI DR I N K

H IDDE IDDEN N HUT T O M O S P AR ARR RY ANNA ANN A J ON ONEE S SMO SM O K E S TA K SMOKIN SMOKI N G GO G O AT P R A WN O ON N THE L AW N IN SP S P I R AT I O N AL AL TA L K S & W O RK R K SHO SHOP PS

S T R AN ANGER GER C OLL OLLEC ECTI EC TIV TI VE TA L E S OF A D VEN VENTURE TURE N ATU TUR R A L W IN INEE KIT KI T CHE CHEN N TA L E S

> returning from their sacred places with guidance and direction for their tribe – with the intent of raising money through tourism to buy back more of their land. The indigenous tribes define themselves as “guardians of the heart of the world”, the heart of the world being the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, where “all life lives”. “We are not in charge of nature,” José says. “We’re part of nature and here to obey.” “Nature is part of our spirit,” adds Javier. “When we cut nature, we cut our own spirit.” For years, the indigenous people did not benefit from the tourism to their own sacred place. But now, the tribes are using tourism to raise money to sustain their community and buy back more land, which has more recently been home to marijuana and cocaine production. “If they wanted to stop tourism, they could,” we are told by Joel Callañaupa, the man who first approached the tribe on behalf of G-Adventures and Planeterra Foundation in 2015, “it’s under their autonomy, so they could close, but they don’t want that.” Our three guides are an ever-present fountain of knowledge and encouragement on the tough five-day hike. And it is tough. Two members of our party vomit due to the strain. Much of the trip is spent hiking

in torrential rain – it is rainy season in a rainforest, after all – and occasionally that makes walking down hill much more like trying to walk down a water slide. If it isn’t pouring, it tends to be doing exactly the opposite, baking you in 35°C heat. The temperamental This not-for-profit weather is more than organisation was set up by G Adventures levelled out by the in 2003. It connects jaw-dropping views social enterprises though – jungleto the tourism market by providing covered mountains as catalyst funding and far as the eye can see capacity training. forming a backdrop for hummingbirds, huge crabs, exotic flowers, vegetation, loud roaring rivers and perfectly silent lagoons. Juan Diego worked for several tour operators in the area before joining G-Adventures. He counts that this will be his 115th trip to Teyuna. He is critical of the ignorance of the other operators’ behaviour towards the indigenous tribes, however, and their lack of understanding and respect for the natives, while G-Adventures very much prides itself upon the opposite. “Other companies come here and they misinform the travellers,” Juan Diego says. “I used to have to translate for local guides


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A HUT ABOVE: [clockwise from below] A Wiwa mountain village; a Wiwa woman shares traditional weaving skills; cable-car travel, Colombian jungle style

and they would all tell a different story to one another. Their own lies. “The companies in mainland Colombia don’t want to work with indigenous people because the misconception is that they are not prepared to receive travellers, or tourism, and they basically don’t know how to run any sort of business. “There are some tourists and guides who think these people are zoo attractions. Some companies just use them as tourist attractions,

(zip wire) Shereen Mroueh

then never have any contact with them.” Even before we set off for Colombia, we were sent a set of guidelines on how to interact with the indigenous people. G-Adventures partnered with the International Institute of Tourism Studies at George Washington University in 2016 to literally write the rulebook on responsible travel with indigenous people. If all of this makes the indigenous tribes sound particularly mysterious or unsociable, though, it should be highlighted that by the end of the tour, we were singing reggaeton songs with José and drinking beers with both him and Javier in Santa Marta, in a crabthemed cinema-slash-rock and roll bar called Crabs, no less. Where else? Juan Diego translates José and Javier’s Spanish for us throughout the trip, and by teaching us about their culture, and through the care and compassion in their guiding, we end up growing close. Back in the rainforest, Javier reaches the top of the 1,200-stone staircase first, and welcomes us into Teyuna. The ancient sacred temple is formed from various platforms of ringed stone circles, each higher than the next, which lead to yet more stairs that in turn bring you to a stunning plateau looking out over the glory of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta jungle. We perform a cleansing ritual at the first circle “to leave our negative spirits behind”. Each circle represents a moment of creation, whether for the birds, the trees, the rivers or otherwise, and stands as a reminder to look after and treasure each. Strangely, Teyuna experienced something of a tourism boom after leftist guerillas kidnapped eight tourists, including two Brits, and their guide at the site in 2003. All of >

W A V EH EHU UNTERS S URF & S UP S E A S A FA RI RIS S RIB RIDE RID E S F O R A GING W IT ITH H 7 T H RIS RISEE A M INDF IND F U L M E N U OF WEL WE L L BEI BE I NG

CURA CUR AT E D B Y

N A DI DIA A NA NAR RAIN Y O G A • WILD SP S PA TREE ATM TR TME ENTS N UTRITI UTRITIO ONAL W O R K SH SHO OPS A R O M AT H E R A P Y TA I CH CHII F U N & G AM AMES F OR A L L T HE FAMI LY

R OG OGU UE T THE HEA HE ATRE EMBEE R S EMB C O LL LLEC ECTI EC TIV TI VE T HE GR GREE AT KITEE FFLLY KIT WILD W A RRI RRIO ORS


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INTREPID FORCE OF NATURE: [above and right] The dramatic surroundings of the Sierra Nevada jungle and mountains are at the very core of Wiwa life

[our] community to travellers, because we saw the opportunity,” he says. “We hope to make money to recover our ancestral territory and grow as a community. We are buying back lands taken over by farmers who grew illegal things here. Our main aim is to recover these lands, and to recover the nature that was on them.” We finish our five-day hike, return to the comfort of our cold city showers and dry clothes, and fly home secure in the knowledge that the guardians of the heart of the world will continue to work to preserve and nurture the Sierra Nevada jungle and, indeed, their own way of life. ◆

NEED TO KNOW G Adventures’ seven-day Lost City Trekking tour starts from £539 per person including six nights accommodation (two hotels, four hammocks or rustic bunks), six breakfasts, five lunches, four dinners, Chief Experience Officer throughout, Indigenous Wiwa or Kogi guide, visit to the Wiwa village of Gotsezhi, guided tour of the Lost City and transportation to/from activities. gadventures.co.uk

G Adventures

> the hostages were eventually released. We meet Edwin Ray, the guide who was in charge of the group who got kidnapped, and who was tied up at gunpoint and left at Teyuna himself. He still guides to this day. “The bad thing was that the Teyuna became known for such a violent event,” he says. “But it helped raise the profile and it encouraged people to come back, somehow. “This was the way they used to protest against our corrupt system; kidnapping, taking away your money, extortion. Fifteen years ago, somehow this was normal. This was our daily news, our daily bread. Today it’s the opposite. Today it wouldn’t be normal for us at all.” He explains that the current military presence at Teyuna is part of the Colombian mountain battalion that was formed to look after the region on the back of that kidnapping. Helicopters come and go, soldiers stroll and stop for photos with tourists. It’s all part of the experience. The hike is safe now, and times have changed. Not just for tourists, but for the indigenous people, too. They are using tourism to buy back their land, and to sustain their way of life. In Gotsezhi, on our final day in the rainforest, we meet Lorenzo, a 20-something member of the tribe in charge of running Wiwa Tourism. He is attending university in Bogota, the Colombian capital, to learn the laws of the country that could help the indigenous people. “This is the first time that we’re opening


T O M O DEL DELLL V IL ILLL A GE GER RS GILLEE S PETE GILL PET E R SO SON N T O M FIN FI N D L AY ( G R O O V E ARMA ARMAD DA)

MR J UK UKEE S SONG SON G H O Y BL BLUES D AT BR B R AS ASS S

W A VEH VEHUNTE UNTER UNTE RS S URF & S UP SC SCHO HOO HO OL S E A S A FA RI RIS S RIB RIDE RID E S

F O R A G ING W WII TH 7 T H R I S E R O GUE TH THEE AT RE • EM E M BE BER R S C O LL LLEE C T I V E THEE G TH GRE REA RE AT KI K I T E F LY • WILD WAR ARR R IOR IORS S

HIDDEN HIDDE N HU HUT T T O M O S PA R R Y ANNA JONES SMOKEE S TA K SMOK SMOKIN SMOKI N G GO G O AT

P R AW N ON TH THEE L AW N W OO OOD D F I RE RED D C A N TE TEEN EN • NU N U D DU DUDHIA DHIA W I LD C O O K E R Y E XP XPEE DITI DITION ONS ON S

C U R AT E D B Y

N A DIA NA N A R AI AIN N YOGA WILD SP S PA TREA TRE ATME TMEN NTS

NUTT R IT NU ITIONA IONALL W OR IONA ORK K SH SHOP OPS OP S A R OM OMA ATHE THER R A P Y • TA I CHI CH I

S T R A NGER C O LL LLEE C TIV TIVEE

BOOK BO OK TIC TI C KE KETT S , A D VENTUR VENTUREE S & EXPERIEN EXPERIE N C E S

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s u m mer s u n From Europe’s most incredible under-theradar beaches to far-flung family escapes, we’ve got your summer holiday sorted

privat e para d i s e

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If you’re going to do it, do it right and book into one of these luxe hotels with private beaches

2] U CAPU BIANCU CORSICA

1] AMAN SVETI STEFAN MONTENEGRO

Take it from us: the scallop-shaped Queen’s Beach in Montenegro is probably up there as one of the most beautiful beaches you’ll ever clap eyes

on. There’s only one problem – in order to park your bum on its pristine sands, you’ll have to book yourself in for a stay at the plush Aman Sveti Stefan. Of course, that’ll also give you access to an 80-acre estate that was once a royal residence, views over mountains blanketed in pine

trees, a mind-blowing clifftop pool and Aman’s trademark excellent spa. No, that doesn’t really sound like a ‘problem’ to us, either. STAY: From £1,035pn. aman.com GETTING THERE:

Montenegro Airlines flies from Gatwick to Tivat from £520 return. montene groairlines.com

Bonifacio is tiny yet lively, with a stonker of a medieval citadel. The narrow twisty streets of its old town are rammed with shops and cafés, making them ripe for exploration.

Sometimes, having a stretch of golden sandy beach to yourself isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need two golden sandy beaches, an infinity pool and a wine cellar. When that need arises, check yourself into U Capu Biancu, a boutique hotel occupying

prime position in Bonifacio, a gorgeous town at Corsica’s southern tip. When you’re not luxuriating in your copper bathtub with views over the bay, explore the rugged coastline with the hotel’s complimentary paddle boards and kayaks. STAY: Around £400pn. ucapubiancu.com GETTING THERE: Air Corsica flies from Stansted to Calvi from £147 return. aircorsica.com


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3] ELIVI SKIATHOS GREECE

OK, so the beach at the divine ELIVI resort isn’t technically private, but before you tell us off, none of Greece’s beaches are. That said, the beach here sits cheek-by-jowl with one of the best stretches of sand on the tiny island of Skiathos in the Sporades archipelago, and can only be accessed through the hotel – and that’s almost as

4] HILLSIDE BEACH CLUB TURKEY

[Greece] Heinz Troll; [Aman hotel] Daniel Herendi

The clue is in the name: Fethiye’s Hillside Beach Club is all about its beaches, and with good reason. The resort has four golden stretches of sand set against the sparkling backdrop of the Aegean Sea, each with a different character. There’s the Main Beach, where you can have cocktails delivered to your sunbed at the tap of a button; Serenity Beach, which is adults-only and reached by a gentle hike through lush foliage or an easy shuttle boat;

good, right? One look at ELIVI’s heavenly whitewashed rooms and wooden decks and you won’t be able to resist – trust us. What’s more, the resort is surrounded by the protected Black Swan Wetland, while the photo-worthy grounds are peppered with pine trees and olive groves. Aaand relax. STAY: From £169pn. elivihotels.com GETTING THERE:

Thomas Cook Airlines flies from Gatwick to Skiathos from £265 return. thomascook airlines.com

Silent Beach, which is, er, silent; and Pasha, where you’ll also find an adults-only restaurant. And because private beaches aren’t just for grown ups, Hillside Beach Club is a family-friendly resort, with buckets of activities to entertain kids both big and small. STAY: From £305pn. hillsidebeach club.com

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As well as being gorgeous, Skiathos is known for its nightlife, with restaurants and bars spilling on to the pavement and several open-air waterfront clubs.

5] FINCA CORTESIN SPAIN

GETTING THERE:

easyJet flies from Stansted to Dalaman from £221 return. easyjet.com

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If you’re more about looking at outrageously blue water than actually swimming in it, Finca Cortesin in Andalucia is a bit of you. The hotel’s Beach Club sits right on the water with a 35m Infinity pool, so at least it can look like you’re frolicking in the waves (although of course you can actually swim in the sea should you be

that way inclined). The Beach Club is also home to an excellent restaurant dishing up brilliant Mediterranean cooking, a bar serving swiggable cocktails and plush Balinese sun beds just begging to be lounged around on – all of which make the speedy courtesy shuttle bus journey absolutely worth it. STAY: From £371pn. fincacortesin.com GETTING THERE:

British Airways flies from Heathrow to Gibraltar from £105 return. britishair ways.com


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Sh or e t hin g s Not all beaches are made equal, and this lovely lot are some of the most beautiful ones you’ll find in Europe

1] ST AGNES

CORNWALL, UK

Forget the sheer cliffs, the on-beach cave and the abandoned tin mines just down the coast path. In St Agnes in north Cornwall, it’s all about community: from the tightknit crew of local surfers to beachside brewpub The Driftwood Spars, Aggy is a small but bustling hive of activity all year round. Head up the cliff

from Trevaunance Cove beach to Wheal Kitty and you’ll find even more: lovingly prepared grub from Ben Quinn’s Canteen, sustainably-made clothes from Finisterre and the HQ of anti-single-use-plastic charity Surfers Against Sewage. STAY: There are all kinds of properties in St Agnes on Airbnb, from coastal cottages to woodland cabins. airbnb.co.uk GETTING THERE: St Agnes is a 5h drive from London.

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2] COFETE

FUERTEVENTURA, CANARY ISLANDS

Sure, it’s only accessible by a gnarly dirt road that’s a nightmare for hire car drivers, but this 11km strip of sand is well worth the journey for the views alone. Once upon a time, the beach at Cofete was the caldera of a huge volcano. When the north side of that volcano collapsed into the sea, it formed a beach that sits right at the foot of a range of rugged mountains. Now home to more goats than people, it’s one of the most unique beaches in Europe. STAY: Barcelo Corralejo Bay. From £99. barcelo.com GETTING THERE:

Ryanair flies from Stansted to Fuerteventura from £44 return. ryanair.com

If the dirt road gets a bit much, take a break and go on a detour to the Punta Jandía lighthouse. The still-active lighthouse is one of the oldest in the Canary Islands.

3] URSA BEACH

LISBON, PORTUGAL

Here at escapism, we like a good beach, but we like a good beach even more when it’s got a slightly epic rock formation on it: gives us something to look at while we

build our sandcastle, dip our toes in the water, tuck into our picnic – you know. Naturally, that means we really like Ursa Beach, which you’ll find just a 45-minute drive away from Lisbon, on Portugal’s Atlantic west coast. The beautiful stretch of sand gets its name from two

giant sea stacks that are supposed to look like a bear and its cub (better get squinting). STAY: Memmo Principe Real. From £206. memmohotels.com GETTING THERE:

Wizz Air flies from Luton to Lisbon from £73 return. wiz zair.com; Ursa Beach is a 45-minute drive from Lisbon.


THE SELECTOR • EXCURSIONS • 107

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SELECTOR

fa m ily jewels From wildlife watching to dancing the samba in Brazil, these family-friendly getaways are anything but boring

1] GO ON A TREASURE HUNT VIETNAM

5] ATRANI

AMALFI, ITALY

5

[Fuerteventura desert] Tamara Kulikova; [Fuerteventura beach] Vilmos Vincze;[Cornwall] Visit Cornwall/Adam Gibbard; [Atrani] Derrick Brutel

4] ZLATNI RAT BOL, CROATIA

The days of Croatia’s beaches being an under-the-radar gem may be long gone, but the iconic feeling of spreading out your towel on Zlatni Rat beach in Bol will never die. Found on the southern side of the Adriatic island of Brac, Zlatni Rat – also known as Golden Horn – is leg-

endary because of the peninsula it sits on: poking out into the sea, it’s like sitting on the prow of the cushiest cruise ship. Just make sure you get there early if you want a spot at its very farthest tip. STAY: Zlatni Bol Apartments. From £44. zlatni-bol.com GETTING THERE:

Norwegian flies from Gatwick to Split from £70 return. norwe gian.com; ferries from Split to Bol cost £4. jadrolinija.hr

While the southwest Italian towns of Amalfi and Positano get all the love, the adjacent village of Atrani somehow avoids the tourist hordes. We’re not sure why, though, because it’s almost as iconic-looking as its more famous neighbours. Here, a sun lounger-covered beach sits in the shadow of a characteristically Amalfi coast sight: gorgeous pastel-coloured buildings trapped between rugged cliffs and a road that winds out from the cliffside. Get down early in the morning to bag the best lounger, then watch as the fishing boats come and go. STAY: DieciSedici in nearby Amalfi. From £83. diecisedici.com GETTING THERE:

Alitalia flies from Heathrow to Naples from £114 return. alitalia.com

Zlatni Rat is widely considered to be Croatia’s best beach, which makes it well worth a visit. It changes shape, too, according to the wind conditions and the sea currents.

From its cool cities to its adventure-friendly coastline, Vietnam has something for everyone. Vivid Travel’s Treasure Trove and Coral Cove tour will see you take in the best of Ho Chi Minh City’s vibrant culture with a treasure hunt around bustling Ben

3 1

Thanh Market. You’ll then explore rural Vietnam and the maze of waterways of the Mekong Delta before kicking back on beautiful beaches on the island of Phu Quoc. Job done. STAY: 10 days from £1,595pp. vivid.travel GETTING THERE:

Vietnam Airlines flies from Heathrow to Ho Chi Minh City from £520 return. vietnamairlines.com


108 • EXCURSIONS • THE SELECTOR

SELECTOR 2

3] GO CAMEL TREKKING

4] SIT ON A BEACH

Families come in all shapes and sizes, so if you’re a solo parent or just fancy travelling on your own with your kids, Intrepid’s solo-parent tours are just the ticket. On this adventure you’ll do everything from sip fresh mint tea in rural villages to hike to a Berber homestay. Mouthwatering Moroccan food and unparalleled sea views? Sign us up. STAY: Eight days from £440. intrepidtravel.com

When you’ve got a whole brood to look after, it’s highly likely that all you’ll want to do on holiday is, well, nothing. Enter Ikos Aria – a handy four-hour journey away in Greece – which ticks all the boxes. Not only will you get a lush holiday, but the resort also has a creche, a mini club, a teen club and beach childcare, so literally all bases are covered. Just don’t blame us if you never want to leave… STAY: From £218pn. ikosresorts.com GETTING THERE: Tui flies from Gatwick to Kos from £299 return. tui.co.uk

MOROCCO

m o r e fa mi ly jew els

2] LEARN TO SAMBA DANCE BRAZIL

Whether you’re after epic adventure, natural beauty, heaps of local colour or just kicking back on a beautiful beach, you’ll find it in Brazil. Visit the incredible Iguazú Falls, spot colourful toucans in the jungle or join the parties during carnival for an experience like

no other. And if you book your trip through the specialists at Families Worldwide, you’ll be able to pick and choose from loads of great activities that you already know are family friendly. Easy peasy. STAY: 11 days from £2,529pp; children from £2,499. fami liesworldwide.co.uk

The Iguazú Falls are the largest waterfall system in the world, making them a seriously awe-inspiring sight – and sound. You’ll see heaps of flora and fauna, too.

GETTING THERE:

Ryanair flies from Stansted to Marrakech from £123 return. ryanair.com

GETTING THERE:

Norwegian flies from Gatwick to Rio de Janeiro from £340 return. norwegian.com

5] STAY IN A TREEHOUSE

4

THE COTSWOLDS

adults, two children) and you’ll be in the whole family’s good books for the rest of the year.* (*Not guaranteed). STAY: Treehouses from £370pn. thefishhotel.co.uk GETTING THERE:

The Fish is a 2h30 drive from London.

(Brazil) Shutterstock

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If dragging your ragtag bunch on a flight sounds too much like hard work, jump in the car and make

for the Cotswolds instead. At the end of your journey lies not a pot of gold but something almost as good: the gorgeous Fish hotel, which boasts 400 acres of grounds ideal for curious kids. Book yourself into a Treehouse (two

GREECE


DRAGOMAN • COMPETITION • 109

WIN

COMPETITION

overland adventures await We’ve teamed up with expedition tour specialist Dragoman to give one lucky reader the chance to explore the stunning scenery of Bolivia and Peru on an amazing eleven-night adventure tour

Ever wanted to link together some of the finest sights in South America in one mighty getaway, but not quite had the confidence (or driving license) to go and drive it yourself? We’d wager you’ll quite fancy a trip with overland tour operator Dragoman, whose all-terrain expedition vehicles and super-knowledgeable guides can show you everything from iconic must-sees to lesser-known sights that are a little bit more off the beaten track. By way of introduction, we’ve teamed up

with Dragoman to offer one lucky reader a place on the 11-night Inca Heartland tour, taking in the high plateau of Altiplano, comprising the dramatic landscape of Peru and Bolivia. On the trip, head to Cusco, see Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail and set sights on Lake Titicaca before exploring the iconic Bolivian cities of Copacabana and La Paz. Find out how to enter to the right. ◆ For more information visit dragoman.com, follow on Facebook at @dragomantravels or Instagram at @dragoman_overland

dragoman’s expedition vehicles and knowledgeable staff will help you see the iconic sights

how to win What are you waiting for? A land of mountains, Quechuan culture and Andean adventure awaits. One lucky reader will win a place on the 11-night Dragoman Inca Heartland tour, led by two guides in an overland expedition vehicle. The prize includes a $1,020 kitty to pay for meals, accommodation and activities, excluding flights, airport transfers, insurance and spending money. Enter at escmag.co/dragoman


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112 • PROMOTION • ANA

PROMOTION

cities, slicker To get a different perspective on two of Japan’s most incredible cities, look no further than this guide from the experts at ANA

Japan is one of the most popular destinations on the planet right now, and the cities of Kyoto and Tokyo are just two of its hotspots. Sure, you could go and just tick off the classic sights, but with a little research, you can get under the skin of a rich and diverse culture. That’s why we’ve partnered with ANA to bring you an alternative guide to two incredibly beautiful cities – including the best places to eat, see and stay.

Find a unique souvenir For a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home, make sure you save some time to dive into the local markets that open at sunrise outside Japan’s shrines. You’ll have to do your research though – they only open their gates on certain days.

See a microcosm of Japan Get off the beaten track and spend some time finding the world’s smallest museum dedicated to Ukiyo-e woodblock printing, tucked away in Kyoto’s Gion district. It’s an amazing, in-depth insight into an ancient tradition that’s not to be missed. Refuel at a Japanese coffee shop Every last detail of Kaikado’s tranquil shop in Kyoto is uniquely Japanese: there’s beautiful tableware made by local craftsmen and cups crafted by ceramicists Asahiyaki, as well as locally sourced coffee and cakes to revive visitors who are after a break. Eat expertly made sushi Tokyo concept restaurant Suigian serves some of the city’s best sushi whilst entertaining

diners with traditional noh theatre – one of Japan’s oldest and most revered art forms. It’s a chance to get an insight into an ancient culture that’s in danger of being lost. ◆

ANA takes you there In 2018, ANA was awarded Skytrax’s highest accolade for the sixth consecutive year, and is Japan’s largest 5-Star airline*. Guests know that ANA carries on a tradition of knowledgeable, welcoming hospitality that has been refined over thousands of years. And with eight direct daily flights to Tokyo from Europe, no matter what experiences you seek, ANA takes you there. Discover Japan’s best-kept secrets with We Are Japan, ANA’s insight into the ideal escape. #WeAreJapan wearejapan.com

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Discover a peaceful side to the city Japan’s cities are renowned for their relentless, buzzing energy, but for a muchneeded dose of serenity, make a beeline for the ancient temples tucked away behind the high walls of Kyoto. Or explore the city’s Gion district at sunrise to beat the crowds – ideal for unmissable photo opportunities.

Stay in a cool hotel Book and Bed offers visitors to the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto or Fukuoka the chance to sleep among the bookshelves. Each hotel is home to more than 3,000 books specially chosen by Shibuya Publishing & Bookseller, and guests can bed down in cabins behind the shelves.


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[

EXCURSIONS

]

REAR VIEW We speak to rock climber Tommy Caldwell about what it’s like to spend 19 days living on a 3,000ft-high slab of rock

REAR VIEW

W

We spent 19 days on the Dawn Wall. You don’t shower when you’re up there, because you can’t afford the water. The toilet is gross, you go in a bag, and then you have a little container you put it in, so your toilet is a few feet from you at all times – 19 days worth, and then you haul it up. A portaledge is a metal frame that enables you to hang from the wall and live up there. It’s about seven feet by three-and-a-half feet, so two people can sleep side by side in it. It’s pretty comfortable: a lot of people are like “whoa, it must be so scary”, but compared to actually climbing it feels really, really comfortable. When you spend so much time on a wall, you endure some relatively sketchy things. On the Dawn Wall, we were climbing in winter, and had to deal with quite a few ice falls: there were these big bombs of ice

flying past us, and you’re looking at them thinking ‘that looks pretty deadly’. I have a very fond memory of my last morning on the Dawn Wall. We woke up near the top of El Capitan, and after seven years, I knew that success that day was inevitable – we were going to top out that day. Me and Kevin were sitting on our portaledge, and the sun hit that part of the wall first; it’s the first thing it hits in the whole Yosemite Valley. It was January, and the rest of the valley was encrusted with ice below us, and we’re just sitting there, jacked up with coffee in the sunlight: it was glorious. I think often beauty is defined by the circumstance, and that was a good one. I love being up there, just enjoying the view and hanging out. You’re in the middle of a very intense-seeming environment, but it’s quite relaxed – it’s a cool existence.

Jeff Johnson (courtesy of Patagonia)

OULD YOU SPEND 19 days hanging from a 3,000ft-high slab of rock in the name of climbing? No, we wouldn’t either. But we’re not Tommy Caldwell – legendary climber and first person to complete the Dawn Wall route on El Capitan in Yosemite, California. It took him seven years of planning, and almost three weeks on the wall, to complete with his climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson. Caldwell has made many first ascents on some of the USA’s hardest routes over the course of his career. Along the way, he’s been held hostage by militants in Kyrgyzstan, and lost an index finger in a DIY accident – yet remains one of the world’s best climbers. It’s fitting, then, that Caldwell is the first person we spoke to for a new series looking at some of the people giving us a whole new perspective on the world around us. ◆


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Escapism – 51 – The Adventure Special