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Travelling is not just about being able to geotag yourself in a foreign country and say, “I was there,”. If that was the case, you’d never have to leave the airport. Instead, travelling is about exposing your senses to a new country and perspective. It is about trying new things, new sounds, sights and tastes. It is about immersing yourself in a culture and savouring every drop and every morsel of it.
Every country in the world has something unique to offer. A history and a story more diverse and interesting than you could imagine. Towns, cities and communities are the ambassadors of a country and the holders of a country’s history, they are the first contact first-time travellers have to a place and its people. In a very real sense, represent the soul of a country.
What you get to experience in a place and how all of your senses are involved really does determine your long term perspective and memory of it. Every country has its secret troves of pleasure and you need someone that can show you where these caches of joy can be found.
If you’re deciding on where to go next and what flavours you want to explore, check out the following.
1. Cyprus Taste Tours.
Ignite your pallet in Cyprus.
Can you truly have experienced a place if you have not explored the various cuisines and drinks available there? For people, food represents far more than just sustenance and the way it is prepared and shared speaks volumes about a place.
Cyprus Taste Tours have taken exploring this very aspect of travel extremely seriously and have cultivated a number of specific tours focussed on engaging the pallets of their guests. These tours include not only sampling the food but exploring how it is made and prepared. Each one ranges from the preparation of foods and cheeses in the local villages to a comprehensive look at Cyprus’ 5500 year old wine making history.
The Village Venture Tour, gives participants the chance to have a real in-depth look at life in Cyprus. Visiting selected villages and traditional product workshops you’ll learn about the sourcing of ingredients; the making process and the traditions linked to the products and even have the opportunity to taste and enjoy the various dishes and wines. Along the way the tour visits the quaint village of Omodos, where it stops for an authentic meze lunch and some good old-fashioned village exploring.
WHAT IS REALLY UNIQUE?
The food and drink that you’ll discover on this tour is quite magnificent and completely authentic Cypriot, as all of Cyprus Taste Tours explore the rural villages of the Troodos mountains. This gives participants time with real locals and allows them to get a true window into the village style of living.
It is a safari for your taste buds.
2. Wine Valley Safari. South Africa.
Eno-tourism at its finest
Shame on anyone who travels to South Africa and does not take the time to enjoy the wine. Even those who may not be wine lovers can still appreciate the marvellous history and the incredible work that goes into creating some of the world’s favourite brands and flavours.
Wine Valley Safari offers the best way to explore the Robertson Wine Valley, which is only a two-hour drive from Cape Town and home to over 50 wine estates. Hop-on the open-air safari vehicle as your reliable, convenient and extremely fun means of transport that allow participants to sit back and enjoy the 360-degree views, as the tour weaves through rolling vineyards and magnificent mountain views.
The safaris operate all week round with a different route for each day, which gives a unique selection of sights for participants to explore. Choices of tours range from self-guided hop-on hop-off routes to pre-packaged wine tasting tours, so there is something for everyone. Other adventures include such things as olive and olive oil tastings, the lavender farming tour, a river cruise, cellar expeditions and a cultural McGregor Village visit.
And, while you are spoiled with wines, craftbeers, whiskeys, gins, grapa and a range of exquisite food and wine pairings, the skilled and experienced driver and tour guide act as your personal chauffeur. Robertson Wine Valley is the perfect place for an extraordinary eno-touristic adventure and a great place to get a buzz on for a shared appreciation for this glorious industry.
WHAT IS REALLY UNIQUE?
Like a safari, you are sitting in an open air safari vehicle while you visit the top wineries in the Robertson Wine Valley. You can arrange for a pick-up and drop-off at your accommodation door. Tastings are presented in a personal one-on-one atmosphere where you will often get to meet the owner or wine maker of the estates and get to learn about the unique qualities of the region. It is a social gathering of people that creates a sense of adventure and pleasure and promises memories that will last forever (depending on how much wine you drink. Of course.)
3. Namaste Yoga Safaris. Namibia.
Find Your Centre in Nature.
The world needs more places like Namaste Yoga Safaris. Founded in 2016 by Marcel Vosloo after she spent many years exploring exotic locations as a diving instructor and was then drawn to yoga for the same intrinsic reasons.
NAMBWA TENTED LODGE
Nwamba is the only lodge in the Bwabwata National Park and is used exclusively for Marcel’s retreat. The setting helps the guests be really mindful on and off the mat and apply the yoga lessons to their daily lives when returning home.
The staff at the lodge are very supportive of the retreats, making guests and instructors feel like they are family and at home. They go out of their way to accommodate the spirit of the retreats including providing the most delicious vegan and vegetarian meals, something you don’t often get at most African lodges.
Each safari lasts about 7 days and 6 nights, with an option to visit Victoria Falls before or after the retreat.
People usually go on safaris and by the end of it, you always hear that they feel tired from all the activities, game drives and unhealthy food. In contrast the aim of Namaste Yoga Retreats is that guests still get to experience a safari, but feel rejuvenated, relaxed, and healthier after a week.
Morning yoga followed by free time or optional spa treatments, lunch, an afternoon activity and then afternoon yoga and dinner.
Most meals for their retreats at Nambwa are vegan and vegetarian and cater for special diet requirements too. Each morning before and after yoga there are also detox drinks and smoothies. Breakfast and lunches consist of buffets and the dinners are four course meals.
Marcel explains that a lot of her guests join the retreats not only for the safari experience, but because they feel the need for change in their lives. She has several repeat clients and often receives referrals from previous retreat guests. This is all possible because of good communications between her, her clients and her colleagues.
WHAT IS REALLY UNIQUE?
Marcel is busy working on one or two Yoga Retreats with Overlanders that starts in South Africa, then visiting Namibia, Botswana, Vic Falls, Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar. These tours will most likely be running in 2020.
She will also be launching an online platform in mid-April offering wellness retreats, African venues and adventure travel. As many online platforms mainly focus on Europe, Asia and the USA, her vision is to only advertise Africa including all Indian Ocean Islands and help people find the right retreat for them.
4. Silver Compass Tours. Italy.
Authentic and delicious.
Silver Compass Tours was founded by Kelly and Paolo Picarazzi and established in 2014 in Orange which is an emerging cool-climate wine region in New South Wales, Australia. Kelly is Australian and Paolo is Italian, and their business covers both regions with tours focused on taking guests away from the “touristy tours” and providing them something authentic and real.
WILD HEART OF ITALY.
The Wild Heart of Italy itineraries are completely off-the-beaten-track with many of the destinations being in regions that would be difficult to reach if you didn’t know the area. Paolo is a local to the area which is handy as they speak Ciociarian dialect, and each village in Ciociaria has a different dialect. Paolo understands them all and is the designated translator.
The tour lasts eight days but only touches on everything that Ciociaria has to offer. It was the food and wine destination of choice for Roman Emperors over 2,500 years ago but over the last two centuries it has become largely forgotten. It also has an amazing history stretching back to prehistory when dinosaurs walked its valleys and there is evidence that early humans settled there over 700,000 years ago.
WHAT TO EXPECT.
Kelly and Paolo have gone to incredible lengths to ensure that they open up the door to some unique experiences. A shortlist includes lunch in the garden of a 16th Century noble’s villa with the descendants of the last Italian queen. Private tours of one of the world’s most beautiful gardens Il Giardino di Ninfa. A personal tour by a senior monk on the most incredible art history within the walls of the Benedictine monastery. The same monastery where St Benedict actually founded the order around 400 AD.
WHAT IS REALLY UNIQUE?
This year Kelly and Paolo have been extending their Wild Heart of Italy itineraries into the neighbouring region of Molise. Ciociaria and Molise were deeply connected during the Samnite civilisation in the Etruscan era, and they share similar dialects and traditions. Both are completely untouched by tourism and the local communities are thrilled at the thought of sharing their culture and history with international visitors.
They also offer food and wine tours to the Orange wine region in Australia where they currently live. For the past two years they have been focusing on domestic visitors, but this year they will be opening up their packages to international visitors by extending them to 5-7 days.
5. Bali Food Safari. Bali, Indonesia.
Spice up you experiences.
Bali Food Safari offers food tours inclusive of world-class culinary establishments that are truly unforgettable. Choose from a handful of locations across South Bali including the regions of Seminyak and Jimbaran. All our exclusive tours offer up to twelve dishes and include transport, taxes and private host – along with other special inclusions along the way. Join us for an exclusive, memorable experience created for true foodies and those seeking to expand their culinary and cultural horizons.
Do you consider yourself a foodie? Then Bali is the place to be for you. The island of the gods offers a variety of excellent restaurants which serve divine cuisine for everyone’s taste. The beach towns of Seminyak and Jimbaran can overwhelm you with their amount of high-class dining options and fantastic settings. To ensure you don’t miss out on any great experiences or dishes we have selected a variety of restaurants that provide you with a unique dining experience. Our food tours are developed in collaboration with the best Bali restaurants available and therefore we are confident to say that, as a foodie, you will go home satisfied.
WHAT IS REALLY UNIQUE?
MYSTERY FOOD TOUR EXPERIENCE
The Mystery Food Tour Experience. As you are embarking on your mystery culinary food fest you may expect a wide variety of flavors to tickle your taste bulb. Depending on the food tour of your choice, you may expect a great diversity of Balinese fusion, straight-up Balinese flavors or some high-class international cuisines that leave you drooling for more. Leaving the exact dishes, a mystery until you have arrived on location will provide a fantastic dimension to your dining experience. We cater to various dietary requirements as well, so please let us know your wishes and/or requirements upon booking your food tour in order for us to optimize your experience.
6. Art Tours Ltd. London
Find Yourself some Culture.
With the job of making art, history and culture come to life, Art Tours Ltd aim to create a once in a lifetime experience. They use the best guides in the business because they believe it is the guide who makes all the difference to a trip and are passionate about what they do. Many of their clients have travelled with them every year for over a decade, enjoying the latest and most mesmerising pieces of art and high culture.
Featured in publications such as High Life, The Daily Telegraph and House and Garden, Art Tours Ltd have carved a reputation for establishing city tours that have a sense of class and presence.
Other tours cover all aspects of art and history including art and exhibitions, architectural tours and home and garden. Details available on website.
7. The Paris Catacombs. Paris, France.
Consider This Carefully.
Certainly the grizzliest on this list and definitely one that will live with you forever. Haunting your every thought. The Paris Catacombs. In the late eighteenth century, when major public health problems tied to the city’s cemeteries led to a decision to transfer their contents to an underground site. Paris authorities chose an easily accessible site that was, at the time, located outside the capital: the former Tombe-Issoire quarries under the plain of Montrouge. Today it is literally under the city’s feet.
The Paris Catacombs is unique among world sites, and due to it combining the very old and fragile, the very cramped and dark with the usually jumpy tourist, there are certain things to keep in mind.
For the proper preservation of the site and for safety reasons, the number of simultaneous visitors is limited to 200. In case of a very large number of visitors, you may have to wait a long time and entrance may be temporarily interrupted. If you can, choose a visit outside school vacation periods.
If accessibility is a concern, it isn’t a recommended site as the Paris Catacombs aren’t wheelchair accessible because of the site’s underground constraints. The sort of individuals who this tour is definitely not for, include, individuals with a motor disability, cardiac or respiratory insufficiency, pregnant women (can you imagine hearing labour screams in there?), young children (because learning people are mortal can be taught in a less profound manner) and of course sensitive individuals who are likely to freak out.
It is a 1.5km circuit that lasts 1 hour and there are 243 steps in total, 131 steps to go down and 112 steps to climb up. The average temperature is a cool 14°C and it can be very humid. Clothes that are easy to move around in and comfortable shoes are best to dress in, no bags or incumbering clothes are allowed.
And, of course, you must not touch the bones, which are the fragile remains of millions of Parisians.
8. Wasipunko Eco Lodge. PERU.
Destressing is an art.
Framed by the Peruvian desert landscape, wrapped in magical colours and evenings characterized by countless stars upon clear night skies, Wasipunko Ecolodge is was founded and is owned by artist Olivia Watkin. Born in Nasca, Olivia has dedicated her work in recent years to preserving, protecting and respecting the traditional culture of the area and developing the eco-tourism to keep it in harmony with nature.
Wasipunko Ecolodge has everything that is necessary to make visitors feel comfortable and de-stressed as they’re surrounded by the sounds of the wind and trees, the chirrups of birds and the flighty attention of the butterflies. The lodge offers comfortable rural style accommodation with each room having a private bathroom, solar powered heating, gas and hot water 24 hours a day.
Wasipunko is part of a select group of Peruvians who are rescuing the traditional cuisine and cultural festivities of Nazca. Staying at the Ecolodge also comes with available tours which are all focused on experiential tourism. Including hosted tours across gorgeous, mythic landscapes and community social experiences, organized camping, vineyard tours and adventures through the natural reserves of Nasca, San Fernando and Pampa Galeras. And for those visiting in June, the Chaccu.
The Chaccu is a yearly event where vicuñas, the wild relatives of the llama, are sheared for their wool. It occurs in the final week of June at Pampa Galeras-Bárbara d’Achille Natural Reserve in Ayacucho.
During it, a human fence of participants encircles the vicuña herds and through music, singing, chanting and dancing movements drive the animals into a funnel where trained shearers are waiting. The animals are sheared, obtaining this valuable natural fibre and then released without injury. It is a mutually beneficial activity that dates back to pre-Hispanic times, stopping the animal hair from getting overgrown which can lead to parasites and providing an important material for the local community.
WHAT IS REALLY UNIQUE?
ENOTOURISMO. WINE AND LIQUOR TOURS
A revamped tourist concept focussed on wine production areas and wine tourism led by Alan Watkin, Olivia Watkin’s son, eno-tourism has proven incredibly popular. This tour takes guests through the production areas between Pisco and Nasca passing through vineyards, wineries, restaurants and lodgings offering samples, information and insights.
The tour offers a full account of what goes into the creation and manufacture of these wines from the grape, through the harvest, manufacturing and finally bottling . It culminates at Wasipunko which has 6.5 hectares of their national pisco grape vine variety, Quebranta.
9. MarGins Walking Glamping experience. UK
Walking the Coastline of Norfolk.
Combining one of the most beautiful coasts in England with the luxury of glamping, Walk and Glamp offer the ideal mix of exercise and comfort. The Norfolk Coast is the perfect go-to place for walking holidays, spending time with loved ones, watching wildlife and getting that much needed “me time”. Just you, fresh air, big skies and the vast expanses of sandy beaches that are very often unoccupied by anyone else.
Here a guest has the opportunity to totally immerse themselves in walking the famous Norfolk Coast Path National Trail through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. While you’re breathing in the rich sea air and enjoying the remarkable peace that this area is famous for, the MarGins team are erecting the safari style tents along the way and transferring your luggage. This is a place where the stresses of city life can be left in the sea. It is also child and pet friendly so bring the whole family.
WHAT TO EXPECT.
Fully equipped safari style tents with an added touch of luxury plus a breakfast hamper of delicious Norfolk produce is provided each day by owners Gin and Mark. The campsites are situated close to the path and each day the tent and luggage are moved to the next site to meet you after your day’s walk.
The Norfolk Coast Path covers 84 miles of the Norfolk Coastline starting from Hunstanton and finishing in Hopton-on-Sea. Gin and Mark can recommend walking packages and are happy to tailor one to meet your unique requirements if needed. This is no trouble for them, the pair have thoroughly explored and re-explored each one several times and know them all intimately.
Along the way there are coastal towns to visit for food and refreshment, each one having its own unique feel and pace. Gin also provides an Information Pack including things to do, places to eat and the locations of toilet facilities.
Considered as one of the gentler National Trails, the Norfolk Coast Path is classified as “moderate”, perfect for anyone new to long distance walking, or if you’re doing it with your family and have little ones or older legs to consider.
After an invigorating walk the guests can enjoy the full Glamping set up of safari tents, sumptuous beds and your own private kitchen area. There is a capacity of 4 tents and each can sleep 2 people or can be extended to accommodate 3-4 people if necessary.
WHAT IS REALLY UNIQUE?
With a generally flat terrain with gentle gradients, the route provides wonderful scenery from salt marshes, cliffs and dunes, spectacular beaches, mesmerising sea views and the famous big skies of Norfolk.
Some of the highlights include Holkham beach from Burnham Overy Staithe, Thornham Harbour at sunrise and sunset, the endless Stiffkey beach at low tide, the seals at Horsey beach and the sand dunes at Winterton-on-Sea.
10. DoLittle Holidays. Portugual.
Retreat from the pressures of Urban Living.
A few years ago, Dave and Alison were on holiday in Portugal. There they dreamt of a retreat from the pressures of urban living. Comfortable camping in the heart of rural Portugal, exclusively for grown-ups, a sideways move from the tourist traps and the bland blare of identical tour reps.
They sold up in 2016 and moved. Now, having opened Dolittle Holidays in June 2017, they have already taken more bookings for their locations this season than all of last year. Open during the summer months of June to October, this really is the place to get away from it all.
Surrounded by ancient olive trees and twisted oaks, Dolittle Holidays offer four luxurious bell tents, set among meadowlands and wildflowers a-flutter with butterflies. Inside there are comfortable double beds and all the convenience you’d expect from a hotel room – but under canvas!
In the converted barn there are sinks and toilets, an outdoor kitchen to prepare your food and a dining area looking out on the surrounding land. Here you can enjoy a continental breakfast every morning or have a barbecue later in the day. Wi-fi is available in these shared spaces, if you ever feel the need to communicate with the outside world.
Wifi is available in communal areas, not in the bell tents.
WHAT IS REALLY UNIQUE?
Right in the middle of a forest, in the tiny village of Moita Negra, nestled in a lush, green, ICNF-protected natural space in the slowly-beating heart of the Ansião district of Central Portugal.