Encountering A Bird Wave


Bring curiosity, leave your expectations behind, Shivkar gently advised our group as we headed Wildlife Sanctuary, northern Karnataka, diverse, scenic and spreading forest cover. It was a practical approach to adopt for birding enthusiasts, for then every sighting would be like a gift. But once at the Timber Depot, located across the office of the Conservator of Forests, we were eager to spot and identify birds, and jot down sightings in the little notepads we carried.

woodpekr n blue birdAN EXERCISE IN PATIENCE: We knew the unwritten rules of bird watching and the ways of the forest. Silently walking through the growth of tall trees and passing a clump of bamboo, piles of cut lots and an old banyan tree bestowing long aerial roots on the Earth, we kept our eyes and ears open for the slightest movement in the foliage and bird calls. But in the mid-morning heat, the birds seemed to have vanished as if satiated with their morning forays for food. Only the Coppersmith Barbet called —a monotonous call filling the warm air, while it remained concealed in some leafy branch. One could only imagine the little green bird, its head bobbing, throat inflating and deflating with each call as its beak remained shut tight all the while!

Adesh Shivkar and Mandar Khadilkar, the two sharp-eyed naturalists leading the group, patiently kept scanning the foliage and canopy for the slightest movement that would give us a chance to spot a bird or two. With the many happy hours that they had spent in the field across the country, they knew it was just a matter of time before we would spot a few winged ones. At the Timber Depot they recalled having seen several  Malabar Pied Hornbills—the large and striking members of the  hornbill family—enjoying a mud bath at dusk and gliding across to settle on a fig tree. Their anecdotes only had us thirsting for sightings.

hornbill and green popWe waited patiently, soaked in their stories and experiences, and silently hoped we would be blessed with a spot of luck. It was end of November but the air was warm and dry and the forest was silent. Taking a pause, they suggested we wait for birds at a spot rather than go out to seek them. Scanning the vegetation in all directions only made one realise the vastness of Dandeli’s legendary forest as there were hundreds of trees in every direction.

A BURST OF JOY: At long last Adesh exclaimed in an excited whisper—a mixed hunting party! And true to his word, all of a sudden there was a buzz in the air. All heads turned to the towering Terminalia bellerica tree and eyes scanned its trunk, branches, leaves and flowers. There they were—a loose gathering of insectivorous bird who had come together to hunt insects in an animated wave filled with twitters, flutter of wings and movement in the  trunk, branches, leaves, fiowers and on the ground. All of a sudden the silent tree was a hotspot alive with calls and activity.

Deftly setting up and focusing the spotting scope, Mandar beckoned us to quickly take turns to peer through the lens. And what a treat was in store! The first to come into view was a Greater Flameback Woodpecker with a gorgeous yellow—golden back; it was going up the trunk with its tail for support, tapping at the bark, disturbing insects. And while the woodpecker was making its way up, an utterly charming Velvet—fronted Nuthatch, with a violet-blue colouring, was coming down the trunk. While climbing up a trunk is no small feat, the nuthatch was deftly making its way down without losing  its grip and in fact, circling the trunk now and then while descending and looking for insects as well.

birdsSwooping through the foliage was a Bronzed Drongo, its glossy body shining in the sunlight as it made neat aerial sallies while sounding its loud metallic call and snapping up insects on the wing. Spotting it, Adesh explained that mixed hunting parties are generally motivated by drongos— Black, Ashy, Bronzed, Racket—tailed, White-bellied or Spangled—who are vocal, and along with woodpeckers, the heart of a mixed hunting party.

A MERRY BAND: Unlike a flock of one species, a mixed hunting party has different species of birds who come together to increase their foraging efficiency and reduce predation. “There are more eyes to look out for danger. This helps, as during feeding, birds tend to get engrossed in looking for insects. Individual birds in a mixed hunting party can focus a bit more on finding food as there are other birds warning about predators. So it helps when there are lots of birds on the same tree; the probability of getting attacked by a prey is minimised,” explained Mandar.’  The sudden arrival of so many birds, and the activity of birds such as the woodpecker and nuthatch along the trunk, disturbs the insects much to the advantage of the other birds who snap them up. Some of the birds forage on insects that may be or flowers or fruits, while babblers rummage the forest cover on the ground upturning leaves, looking for insects and adding to the activity.

birds-1All eyes were scanning the tree and enjoying the delightful sighting of actively feeding birds. Among them was a lovely Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher with a tinkling musical call; an endearing Brown Cheeked Fulvetta lost in the foliage but its whistling call  helped us locate it; different leaf warblers flicked  their tails restlessly, their greenish, brown and  yellow colouring helping them merge into the foliage; bright green leaf birds whistled and called  as they quickly moved along branches; a Scarlet  Minivet pair flitted about, the male standing out with its striking colours; different bulbuls, including a prize sighting of a Ruby Throated  Bulbul—its black head, yellow body and ruby  throat making it a picture of cheer; and a Large  Woodshrike flying through the branches.

A CONCERTED EFFORT: The common interest of a mixed hunting flock is obviously to catch insects, but interestingly, they have different foraging techniques. While woodpeckers and nuthatches probe wood for insects, leaf birds and leaf warblers glean insects from leaves while perched, Minivets catch insects on the wing and sometimes beat their wings to flush them out, the Drongos make superb sallies while pursuing and swoop on insects in-flight, flycatchers hawking insects while flying from a branch and babblers overturn leaves on the forest floor to find them!  We watched the buzz in the tree, the movement from ground to canopy, quickly identifying birds with the unaided eye and through the scope. And then, as swiftly as they had arrived, the party bobbed away from the tree and headed off deeper into the forest. Maybe some birds would leave the flock while others would join as they headed to another tree home of insects; maybe after sometime, another jolly mixed hunting party with a different composition would pass our way. Till then the forest fell silent and the call of the barbet suddenly became noticeable again!

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Maharajas’ Express, India


The latest luxury offering in India, a tour on this train will transport you back to the era of elegant travelling, reminiscent of the romance of Indian Maharajas. There are five pan- Indian journeys offered by the Maharajas Express, which include two Golden Triangle tour itineraries covering cities like Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. Equipped with state-of-the-art amenities such as Wi-Fi Internet, individual climate control and luxury restaurants, the train can carry a total of 84 passengers in elegantly appointed cabins, including a lavish presidential suite spanning over an entire carriage!

 

For Maharajas’ Express Packages, write to us on , adler-tours@hotmail.com

 

HAPPY GLAMPERS


happy glampers.docxThere is no need to rough it to enjoy the Middle East’s great outdoors any more – the global phenomenon of glamping (glamorous camping) has finally hit our shores, says Kerry Baggott.

  1. Dibba’s Adventure House with Absolute Adventure

Glamping is all about balancing the thrill of the great outdoors with some home comforts and at Dibba’s Adventure House, rather than sleeping under the stars, you and 13 others will be sleeping in bunk beds in a traditional stone house on the beach in Dibba, Oman. The mattresses might not be overly thick, but this is more than made up for with air conditioning, clean sheets and pillows, three bathrooms with hot showers, and a semi-equipped kitchen. The house is set in a large courtyard with the beach on one side and the Hajar mountains on the other (you may also find it a comforting thought to learn that it’s also a stone’s throw from the Golden Tulip Hotel).

A massive table sits in the centre of the yard, so it’s fabulous for hosting large groups who can also spread out to chill in the barasti hut on stilts, or lounge on the cushions in the majlis. There’s even a small freshwater pool — fairly old, but perfect for cooling off.

kayakingA BBQ grill is provided, and although dinner can be cooked for you, why not head down to the local harbour — about a five-minute drive from the house — when the fishermen bring in their catch? See them unload huge kingfish or snapper, make your choice and then go watch it be gutted and cleaned. Dinner doesn’t come fresher than this. Wood can be delivered to order, allowing you all to pull up a chair around the campfire and roast your marshmallows until the early hours before retiring to your bunk.

But for those who want more adventure, you’ve come to the right place. The name says it all. This is Dibba’s centre for all things adventurous — climbing, kayaking, diving, mountain biking and canyoning. The Adventure House is run by a bunch of outdoor enthusiasts, and there is a whole load of guided activities for you to try, from a two-hour pootle around town on a bike, to a half-day mountain trek.

  1. Musandam with Dolphin Khasab Tours

musandam tourThis is far more than just a camping trip — this is an exhilarating adventure that sees you cruise the fjords of Oman’s Musandam Peninsula taking in overwhelmingly dramatic scenery, snorkelling, chasing dolphins and spending the night under canvas on a remote beach.

Dolphin Khasab Tours collects you from Khasab harbour, the main harbour within this small bite-sized Omani enclave, where you’ll board a traditional wooden dhow to spend the day exploring what is dubbed the ‘Norway of the Middle East’. Although there is no evidence of glaciers having gouged these fjords within a landscape that is grey, barren and austere, the sheer mountainous cliffs plummeting into the sea, the jagged, sun-bleached rocks and the deserted coves are just as mesmerising as any Norwegian picture postcard.

And, as if the scenery were not enough, you’ll be accompanied by schools of playful dolphins ducking and diving as you ply through the water — loads of them.

The cruise will take you passed the historic Telegraph Island (the former British communication base in the region) and the isolated villages of Nadafi, Qanaha,  Maqlab and Sham — villages frozen in time in an area that

seems unaware that the century has even turned. At 4pm you’ll be transferred from the dhow into a speedboat and taken to one of the many small sandy beaches where you’ll spend the night.

snorkeling-1Muslin tents (they look flimsy but they are perfect for keeping cool and they are taller than normal camping tents, meaning you can stand up in them), sleeping bags, chairs, tables, electricity, firewood, a portable loo and even a fresh water bag for bathing are all set up for you.

If you’re lucky, no other party will join you on ‘your’ beach – there are lots of sandy coves to choose from, so most parties cruise along the coast until they find their own private spot. If you prefer, you can even choose to stay on the dhow for the night. Plus, you can either bring your own food to cook on the barbecue or Dolphin Khasab Tours can rustle this up for you. In fact, they’re happy to tailor-make the tour to your liking. You’ll be returned to Khasab harbour the following morning by 10 am.

  1. Liwa Desert with Abu Dhabi Adventure Tours 

Liwa desert safariVenture where few have gone before — into the Empty Quarter, or Rub’ Al Khali as it is locally known — the world’s largest uninterrupted desert. Flowing through Oman, Saudi Arabia, the Yemen and the UAE, this ocean of sand was first explored by the famous Etonian explorer Wilfred Thesiger with a caravan of camels and group of Bedouin back in 1945.

Still today, venturing too far into the Liwa Desert is not something to be done on a whim, but it can be if you put yourselves in the hands of Abu Dhabi Adventure Tours.

So, don your khakis and discover for yourself some of the tallest sand dunes in the world and the bizarre rock formations of Saddle Rock, the Ancient Fossil Rocks and Camel Rocks. With rolling waves of sand stretching all around you, you’ll discover that this desolate place is teeming with life and, as the sun traverses the sky casting its myriad of golden colours on the dunes, you’ll agree that this place is as breathtakingly beautiful as it is hauntingly hostile.

camal ridingThe highly experienced drivers at the helm of their Toyota Land Cruisers make small work of the dunes, seeing you roller—coaster and surf the waves. This is a private tour for a minimum of four people per car, so experiences can be tailored to each group — if you want dune bashing or sand boarding that can be on the cards, but if you prefer a more leisurely sail across the sand that’s OK too.

Camp is set up with all the gear provided — including a barbecue chicken dinner and shisha. Tents are provided of course, but many people choose just to sleep outside beside the campfire. It’s then over to the night sky to provide the evening entertainment as a velvety blanket of stars light up Liwa.

The next morning you’ll watch a magical sun rise before heading back to the capital for noon.

  1. Dreamland Aqua Park, Umm Al Quwain

dreamland waterparkFor those who can’t get enough of waterparks, this is literally a dream land. Most of us know the UAE’s oldest and most family-favourite waterpark, but we may not be aware that guests can also camp on—site, in either air- conditioned wooden chalets or in tents.

All the gear is provided, from your BBQ to airbed mattresses, pillows arid sleeping bags. This is camping on a full-board basis — breakfast, lunch and BBQ dinner are included. In fact, you and your party will be given a cooler box heaving with a very generous helping of shish taouk that you can cook yourself whenever you wish after the park closes at 6 pm.

  1. Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve with Arabian Adventures

Camping with camels, oryx and gazelles is possible within the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, about 45km southeast of the city centre. With the reserve only accessible to authorised tour operators, Arabian Adventures has its own, permanent camp within the area for its Arabian Dreams Overnight Safari guests (separate from the Bedouin camp that entertains day trippers with belly dancers and henna painters).

arabian adventureAs expected from this desert giant of a tour operator, everything is well thought out. In fact, this camp has only recently been completely refurbished and opened in December. The emphasis is on luxury: the eight permanent tents sleep two people and come with a queen-sized bed with linen and towels. In fact, all you’ll need to remember to take is your toothbrush — which you can use in the bathrooms that come with all mod cons. You’ll even be collected from your door in the late afternoon arriving in the desert in time for an exhilarating dune drive and to be able to appreciate the sunset.

A lavish dinner is provided of barbecued meats and sweet treats and in the morning you’ll enjoy a full American breakfast – after you’ve watch the magical sunrise, of course. Even better, you can be back in Dubai by mid-morning — but not before you’ve been taken on a gentle safari of the reserve to learn about the flora and fauna.

Courtesy by K.T.

 

Walking in the wild


A valley to soothe your soul
Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks ( Uttarkhand )

Trekkers, naturalists, artists and poets love to map the glaciers, rivers and streams of the Nanda Devi and Valley of flowers National Park, with its gentler landscape and placid alpine meadows, beautifully complements the rugged, inaccessible, high-mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi. Both parks are ripe with flora and fauna, with a sizeable population of the elusive Himalayan musk deer and even the snow leopard. For bird watchers, the place is an absolute treat.

Tip:- The trek can be arrange through the DMVN Mountaineering and Trekking division in Rushikesh

Highlight:- During and post monsoons, the floor of valley of flowers us covered with a carpet of rare flowers like brahmakamal and blue poppy!

Best time to visit: - July to October. (Valley of flowers) and April – October (Nanda Devi National Park).

Spot the Elusive snow leopard
Hemis High Altitude National Park ( Jammu and Kashmir )

The high – altitude park derives its name from the Hemis Gompa, a famous Buddhist monastery situated near Leh ( India ). The confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers cordons the park and is a treat for the eyes. “ While the park is most sought – after for its snow leopard sight – seeing, it’s also home to bharal or the blue sheep, Ladakhi urial, Himalayan Marmots and Tibetan Wild ass,” says seasoned trekker and photographer Neelima Vallangi. The fact that these areas are protected makes them pristine minus any litter. However, there is a high chance of coming down with Acute Mountain Sickness ( AMS ) on this trek, if not acclimatized enough. The only place to stay during these treks is in campsites by pitching your own tents.

Tip: - Light crampons might be useful in crossing snow – ridden sections;

Highlight: - The trek offers some of the most rugged landscapes in the country that keeps changing color and form every few hours;

Best time to visit: - July to September

Waterfall of hope
Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary ( Himachal Pradesh )

Virtually explored, the Kugti wildlife Sanctuary leads you through steep slopes, rough terrain, snow and glaciers. The mountains on this trek are replete with greenery and the slopes are lined with many waterfalls making for beautiful scenery along the way. High – altitude Himalayan fauna species have made this sanctuary their home, including the endangered goat called Himalayan Thar. It also houses the famous Manimahesh Temple that is annually visited by thousands of pilgrims.

Tip:- Ensure all your supplies for the trek are bought at Bharmour since you don’t get much beyond rice and dal at the Kugti village

Highlight :- The trek has medicinal plants along the way with some rare floral species as well.

Best time to visit:- September is a good time as the snow melts and the pass is open for crossing.

A view of Mt. Everest
Singalila National Park ( West Bengal, India )

steal a look at the Everest on this trek located in the higher ridges of Darjeeling Himalayas. One can reach the start of the trel at Moneybhajan by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and further from there in vintage Land Rover jeeps. The trek can be done in three days or more with an option of a side trip of Phalut, through the ridge where one gets unrivalled panoramic views of Mr. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Everest! As you trek, you will pass through areas full of oaks, ferns, silver firs, bamboo and flowering plants like rhododendrons, wide range of orchids, magnolias and a lot more.

Tip :- there are government – run trekkers’ hut that provide basic accommodation. One can also stay at government – run lodges in Ghoom, Darjeeling or Siliguri

Highlight:- Home to exotic red panda and Himalayan black bear

Best time to visit:- March – April

For Trekking Packages contact us on adler-tours@hotmail.com or visit us at http://www.adler-tours.com

Hitting the Right Notes


Home to some of the greatest names in musical history, Leipzig in Germany has something for everyone – from history buffs to car enthusiasts and shopaholics – so much so that it will probably make you want to burst into song yourself.

leipzig.docxI arrived in Leipzig one bright and phosphorescent autumn afternoon. As the car gobbled up the buttery smooth A 14 tarmac, the drive to this central German Metropolitan Region city in Saxony had taken me through salubrious surroundings.

Misty meadows, contiguous hills and well-patterned vineyards leapt at me from a complex landscape that clearly belonged in a Karan Johar potboiler. Occasionally, the scenery was splashed with the azure of water bodies too, as Leipzig is wedged between three rivers — White Elster, Pleisse, and Parthe.

However, the biggest draw for me in Leipzig was not nature’s accoutrements (although that too), but a chance to visit the hometown of the granddaddies of music — Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Richard Wagner. Indeed, what could be greater nirvana for a music lover than to set foot on terra firma that has the world’s highest density of original residential and working places of top-notch musicians?

johann sabastian bachThere is musical history at virtually every corner in Leipzig, I discover while working its sun-splattered streets. Wagner was born in Leipzig, Bartholdy led the Gewandhaus Orchestra to international fame, and Schumann, the composer and influential music critic, studied in Leipzig University. Bach lived and worked in Leipzig for over 27 years and was later buried in the city’s St. Thomas’ Church. The Bach Museum, Schumann’s House and Mendelssohn’s House all pay an ode to the famous sons of this city.

A popular way to view the city’s musical heritage is through the Leipzig Music Trail. The 5.1 -km stroll helps one explore places associated with the city’s famed musicians on a route that winds through the city centre, marked by curved steel inserts in the ground. Leipzig is cosmopolitan and crackles with life in a way I don’t expect. Young people are ubiquitous, streaming out of Leipzig University’s glassy facade, squatting on sidewalks, chin wagging in cafés and putting up electrifying street performances, giving the city a fun and energising vibe.

medler passageThe reason for the city’s predominantly young demographic is that Leipzig has the second oldest University after Heidelberg, where over 50,000 students come every year from across the world to study. Incidentally, it was also within the walls of Leipzig’s St. Nicholas Church that the local youth unleashed a non-violent protest movement that soon engulfed Germany, culminating in the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany in 1989.

Post reunification, the story in the East has largely been one of deprivation — chronic unemployment, economic stagnation and youth fleeing to greener pastures. However, in places like Leipzig, federal funds have continued to pour in. Construction cranes dot the skyline, historic renovation projects are on in full swing, cultural events are aplenty and the dining/ nightlife scene is as pulsating as anywhere else in Europe.

Adding to Leipzig’s prosperity is its thriving arts scene and a rich architectural heritage prompting The New York Times to dub it “one of the top destinations in the world to visit”. In a stroll through the dense city centre, I spot medieval buildings next to stark modernist boxes, and gorgeous Baroque complexes existing cheek-by-jowl with churches dating circa the 1 100’s.

old town in the eveningSteeped in history, Leipzig was also the first town in Germany to win the right from the Emperor to hold a trade fair in 1497. Even today, Leipzig is considered to be Germany’s largest trading town. The Leipzig Fair — or the Leipziger Messe — is, in fact, the world’s oldest trade fair and is referred to as the ‘Mother of all Fairs’.

Due to its economic heft and reputation as a trade fair town, Leipzig also boasts the biggest train station in Germany. It is not only one of the most beautiful, but also the largest terminus in Europe with 26 platforms and 140 shops and restaurants.

The town’s reputation as an automobile, industry and technology hub is also well entrenched. Global players like DHL, Amazon and Siemens have their headquarters in Leipzig.

The Porsche Cayenne is produced here, as is the 3 Series of the BMW and the Volkswagen.

aurbacks kellerA visit to the Volkswagen Transparent factory was one of sheer delight for me. Not just another manufactory, this was a studio format designer facility where custom-made Phaetons are manufactured. The factory produces about 28 cars a day vis-a-vis a traditional set-up that would typically churn out about 4,000 cars daily.

After wrapping up my day’s work, I gravitate towards Grimmaische Street where we’re booked for dinner at a very historical place — the Auerbachs Keller (or Auerbach’s Cellar), a spectacular restaurant in the innards of the most beautiful shopping arcade — the Madler Passage.

trade fainThe Méidler Passage is a dazzling ensemble of spiffy boutiques, fine cafés, art galleries and retail outlets owned by the big daddies of the luxury market. Porsche Design, Mont Blanc, Bassetti, Givenchy, Bulgari, Coco Chanel, Prada, Lancome… all of them mark their presence on this slice of prime real estate.

Resisting the urge to splurge, I quickly make my way past the shops to the Auerbachs Keller that ranks among the world’s best. The ambience inside the eatery is distinctly medieval — chunky tables, old world décor and period bric-a-brac. The 100-seater eatery is bustling with people, waiters are expertly threading their way in between the tables with tray loads of victuals while a steady hum of voices, emanating from the diners’ tables, rises up to the ceiling like a crescendo.

concert hallOur hosts are charming and the evening seems full of promise. I experience fine Saxonian hospitality with 100 years of tradition, not to mention lip-smacking cuisine that left me a hunger to return.

Courtesy by G.N.

10 MUST VISIT PLACES ON A TRIP TO KENYA


Kenya is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world. With its beautiful people from different cultures, animals and breathtaking vegetation, there is no way anyone would not want to visit the country. Tourists come to Kenya for both safaris and business purposes. There are many places which serve as both Kenya luxury safaris rand Kenya normal safaris (cheap). But what are the places that every tourist wants to visit whenever on a visit to Kenya? We have compiled a list of 10 must visit Places while on a Kenyan safari.

1.Nairobi National Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANairobi National Park is about 7 KM away from Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi which is equivalent to a 10 minute drive. The park’s environment is comprised of open grass plains and scattered Acacia bushes. There are several tree species found here like, Apodytes dimidiataCanthium schimperiana among others. Some of the animals found here are black rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, African Buffalo, Ostrich, Maasai giraffe among others. Nairobi’s towers are visible from the park.

2.Maasai Mara National Park

masai maraThis is the most visited tourist attraction site in Kenya. It’s famous for its remarkable population of wild animals and famous wildebeest migration. The Wildebeest Migration which takes place each year from July to October is one of the ‘Wonders of the World’. There are several hotels, Camps and conservancies that offer accommodation while on a visit to Maasai Mara.

3. Lake Nakuru

lake nakuruLake Nakuru is one of the soda Lakes in Rift Valley Kenya. The Lake is famous for its beautiful flamingos that give a breathtaking view to tourists. It’s often referred to as the greatest bird spectacle on earth. Other animals found here are Baboons, Warthogs and the black & White rhinoceros. Other birds also camp at the lake.

4.Samburu National Reserve

samburu nrThe Samburu National reserve is located in Northern Kenya on the banks of Ewaso Ng’iro River. This is a nice destination to see wild animals like blue-legged ostriches, Elephants, Leopard, Zebra as well as enjoy the culture and traditional practices of the Samburu People. There are daily flights from Nairobi to Samburu.

5.Mount Kenya

mt kenyaThis is the highest mountain in Kenya and the Second highest mountain in the whole of Africa. Its slopes are covered with forests while its highest peaks are covered with snow. The highest peaks are Batian (5200m) and Nelion (5188m which are difficult to climb. However, there is another peak Lenana (4985m) which is easily accessible and tourists have much fun climbing it. Tourists can use huts built on the mountain for accommodation or put up tents.

6.Tsavo National Park

tsavo npTsavo National park is comprised of Tsavo east and Tsavo West National Parks. It’s located in the Kenyan coast. Tsavo East National Park is famous for Bird watching, animals like the Cape buffalo, Caracal, African Wildcat etc., Rock Climbing, Falls and dams and several other attractions. Tsavo West is famous for Rock climbing and wide range of wildlife.

7.Malindi and Watamu

malindi and watamuIf you are looking for a beach safari, Malindi is the place to visit while on a Kenyan Safari. It is an island located in the Kenyan coast surrounded by magnificent beaches. Watamu, also found in the Kenyan coast about 15 KM south of Maslindi is surrounded by beautiful beaches and has a National Park. Fishing is also practiced here. This is also where one of the world’s largest spitting cobra called “Nasha Ajei” was discovered in 2007.

8.Lamu

lamuLamu Island, found in the Kenyan coast is one of the oldest cities in Kenya. It is the place to go to when you want to ‘run away’ from the world. There are no disturbing matatus and buses here. Donkeys are greatly used as a means of transport. One will also find comfort in the beautiful oceanic waves. It is a quiet Kenya Safari destination.

9.Amboseli National Park

amboseli npIt is located on the Kenya-Tanzania border on the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro; the highest mountain in Africa. Amboseli National Park is famous for elephants and a very beautiful view of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

10.Hells Gate

hells gateAs the name suggests, it’s one of the most adventurous Kenya safari destinations. It is the only place where tourists can take unguided walks and cycles. It is famous for its steep cliffs, gorges basalt columns and varied wildlife (few). Hells gate is one of the historical sites in Kenya.

For Packages, write to us on, adler-tours@hotmail.com
Or visit us at, http://www.adler-tours.com

MOST EXTRAORDINARY HOTELS


Indian fort named ‘most extraordinary hotel’

New building in Rajasthan desert heads lonely planet list while Liwa resort in UAE is voted fourth best in the world

MIHIR GARH

There are dozens of converted historic forts  and palaces offering   luxury accommodation in India, but a fort, built from scratch in the Rajasthan desert just five years ago, has been named the most  extraordinary hotel in the world by Lonely Planet.

Perched on a sand dune, overlooking the parched earth and shrubs of the Thar desert,  Mihir Garh or the fort of the sun was a labour of love for owner Sidharth Singh, who says he was driven by intuition rather than reason; hiring more than 100 local craftsmen and carpenters who worked for  two years to create nine 1,700 square foot suites, each with  its own plunge pool, fireplace  (made in the local style, from cow dung) and decorated in furnishings from Jodhpur.  “Few hotels are created without compromise, Mihir Garh is a rare example,” says Lonely Planet writer James Kay. “This is not just a unique place to stay, it’s a shrine to the artistic and architectural traditions of Rajasthan in general and Jodhpur in particular.”

The top 10 most extraordinary hotels is one of three inaugural lists naming the guidebook publisher’s favourite places to stay in the world. The other two are best-value hotels in the world and the 10 most outstanding eco-hotels.

In second place on the most extraordinary list was Planet Baobab, a collection of grass and huts with an onsite ‘shebeen’ (bar) in the Makgadikgadi salt pans of Botswana, where the lunar-like landscape is dotted with 4,000 year old baobab trees. No UK hotels, and only a few hotels in Europe, made it on to the three lists. One exception was Prendiparte BB in Bologna, a single suite in a 900—year old tower, one of the few left in the city, with a rooftop terrace “offering breathtaking views over Bologna’s historic skyline”.  Other extraordinary places to stay include a collection of spherical treehouses suspended in the forest on Vancouver Island, an 1869 lighthouse on the Hudson River in New York State and a cave hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey, famed for its troglodyte architecture. Two of the top three best- value hotels in the world are in South Africa. The No 1 best- value place to stay is The Backpack in Cape Town, a hostel with a pool, which supports local community projects, is accredited by Fair Trade Tourism and was recently voted Best Hostel in Africa 2014 by hostelworld.com. lnkosana Lodge, which offers dorms, camping and private rooms in the Drakensberg  mountains, is in third place, while Sydney harbour YHA, famed for its harbour views,  came in second.

South Africa also made an appearance on the eco-list, with Bulungula Backpackers coming second. A collection of huts overlooking a remote beach on the Wild coast, jointly owned by the local Xhosa community, it warns potential guests it is “not an old—style, white South African beach resort”.

lt also promises night skies so clear it guarantees “your  money back if you don’t see a shooting star for half an hour at night”. In first place was Lapa Rios in the Costa Rica rainforest, where guests staying at its 16 bungalows fall asleep to the sound of the Pacific Ocean and are woken by the calls of howler monkeys.

List of winners

HOT SPOTS

  1. Mihir Gahr, Rajashtan, India
  2. Planet Baobab, Gweta, Botswana
  3. Prendiparte BB, Italy
  4. Qasr Al Sarab, UAE
  5. Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, TAS, Australia
  6. Free Spirit Sphere, British Columbia, Canada
  7. Taskonak Hotel, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
  8. Thonga Beach Lodge, Isimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
  9. Saugerties Lighthouse, New York State, USA
  10. The Gibbon Experience Treehouse, Bokeo Reserve, Laos

Healthy Holidays


Whether you want to fire up your fitness, maximise your health or simply feel better, a break at one of these destinations will help you meet your goals this year.

koh samuiSleep Better in Koh Samui: A good forty winks can make the world of difference to your well—being and the seven-night Sleep Enhancement Programme at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary on the stunning island of Koh Samui in Thailand is an insomniac’s idyll. While the can’t believe-your-eyes coastline and signature Thai hospitality will do wonders to help you unwind on their own, the intensive programme summons a squadron of soporific soothing methods to address your slumber issues, aiming to help you re-establish good sleep health for the long term. Following a full-body analysis, you get a combination of tailor-made treatments and therapies such as acupuncture, ayurvedic massage, personal meditation, herbal remedies and shirodhara. www.kamalaya.com

detox in turkeyDetox in Turkey: Give a healthy new meaning to the term Turkish Delight with a seven-night detox programme at the Gardens of Babylon Wellness Resort in Bodrum,Turkey, which promises to give you smoother skin, a slimmer silhouette, a healthier body and a happier outlook. Surrounded by fragrant tangerine orchards and shady olive groves in its location on the ruggedly beautiful Aegean coastline, you’ll get a personalised plan combining yoga, Pilates, massage and colonic treatments, alongside sessions in the sauna, hammam and thalasso pool, while the menu includes Detox soups, juices, superfoods and supplements. There are also various slimming programmes. www.gardenbabylon.com

 

 

stop smoking in alacanteStop smoking in Alicante: Every smoker knows they should quit, but hanging up the nicotine habit is much easier said than done. Sweeten the deal and improve your chances of sticking to a new smoke-free you by booking a place at the seven-day Stop Smoking Programme at the award-winning luxury SHA Wellness Clinic in the Valencia region of Spain. This mountainside medical hotel boasts glorious views  of the glittering Mediterranean and  provides a personalised package of  treatments and techniques — from  macrobiotics, meditation and  hypnotherapy to acupuncture, oxygen  therapy and advanced relaxation techniques — to help you quit for good. You also get a personalised post-treatment health plan. www.shawellnessclinic.com

 

de-stress in omanDe-stress in Oman: If being too highly strung is your bugbear, you will want a getaway that’s still relatively dose to home to help you relax, so you can feel a million miles away from your worries without the counterproductive stress of a long-distance flight. Set in its own secluded bay – think majestic mountains and sparkling zaches — Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman offers a three-, five- or seven-day Sense of de-stress programme, to calm your qualms and recharge your batteries. In addition to the spectacular, soul-nourishing scenery, there’s massage, reiki, Indian head massage, foot acupressure, private meditation, as well as power yoga, sunrise stretching and even boot-camp training for those who need to get hot under the collar before they can chill out. The resort also offers functional fitness, detox and slow life programmes. www.sixsenses.com.

heal yourself in peruHeal yourself in Peru: Are you sick of the rat race? Do you feel you have lost your way? A two- or three-week stay at Ayahuasca Healing Retreat in the Amazon rainforests of Peru could set you on the right path. In a remote jungle, you receive treatments from authentic indigenous healers, such as a Peruvian shaman, as well as treatments including massage, vapour baths and plant-based therapies, which they say will both assist in healing your illnesses and help you understand your purpose in life. www.ayahuascaassocation.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

lose weight in portugalLose weight in Portugal: Few of us would pass up the opportunity to blitz the blubber if it wasn’t too painful, and one sure-fire way to soften the blow of a fat-fighting plan is by placing it against the dazzling azure backdrop of the Portuguese Algarve. Nestled among lush green mountains, Longevity Wellness Resort offers a seven-night structured weight-management programme to help you achieve and maintain your ideal weight. You get a personalised schedule of wellness workshops (with the focus on treatments such as oxygen therapy, detox baths, massage, skin brushing) and activities (yoga, boxing, nature hiking) alongside a meal plan and gym sessions. There are also program for stress reduction available. www.longevitywellnessresort.com

change your life path in spainChange your life path in Spain: Bored of your job? Stuck in a negative relationship? Dissatisfied with life but don’t know why? A life coaching holiday could be the answer, kick-starting confident change in your life. The Big Stretch one-week mountain retreat in Spain uses creative problem-solving, lateral thinking and brainstorming exercises, alongside role-play and classic life-coaching tools, to take you out of your comfort zone and help you rediscover what you feel passionate about. Expect to stretch both body and mind; to meet intelligent, self-aware people; to see spectacular scenery; to dine on local deli-style picnics in the mountains; and to participate in lots of workshops and walking. www.thebigstretch.com.

 

 

de-age in keralaDe-age in Kerala: What better way to turn back the clock — both literally and metaphorically — than in a former Maharaja’s palace in the historic foothills of Kerala? The grand Kalari Kovilakom’s 28-day Anti-Ageing Programme is based on Ayurveda, aiming to keep you disease free by arresting the degeneration of the body cells and increasing your immunity. The tailor-made package includes cleansing treatments for detoxing (think medicated ghee to absorb your toxins), followed by rejuvenation treatments — massages, daily yoga, medicine and a nourishing diet. http://www.kalarikovilakom.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy by G.N

FLOATS, LIGHTS AND MAGIC


The festival of Loy Krathong in Thailand gives an insight into the cultural quotient of the Land Of Smiles.

lon kathrongLoy Krathong, which loosely translates to ‘floating decorations’, is celebrated in various parts of Thailand in November every year. Earlier, empty coconut shells were decorated with leaves and flowers and floated in the river, and now Krathongs are made with a base of banana tree barks decorated with leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. There is an award for the most beautiful Krathong, which is given by the king. This festival, celebrated on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, originated in Sukhothai, which was the capital of Thailand 700 years ago. Sukhothai translates to ‘happiness of the dawn’; and this was where the king invented the Thai alphabet. Today, the museum in this town is a mine of information if you want to learn more about the country’s history.

Sukhothai, 45 minutes away from Bangkok by air, is also home to a beautiful green – but miniscule – airport, with a tiny zoo right next door. We landed in a tiny Bangkok airways plane, and were transferred from the runway to the airport in what I can only call an open mini bus. Sukhothai is also a four-hour drive away from Tak, which was our first destination – located on the border between Burma and Thailand.

This sleepy little town transforms into a mini carnival during the Loy Krathong festival. Decked-up dancers making their way through the streets to the main venue for performance, a night bazaar and street food, the whole town comes out to celebrate the first night of the festival, which is celebrated for a week.

A stage is set on a special platform on the river, which fireworks going off in the background; the festivities start with a speech by the Mayor, and continue with dance and drama performances (the speech and the narratives are in Thai, and it is recommended you get someone who can translate them for you), while Krathongs are set out into the river. Some of the Krathongs sent out on the river are large, elaborate, set on their own platforms, and are offerings from the members from the Royal family of Thailand. There are also smaller krathongs made from banana tree barks that are set into the river.  Next morning, after a satisfying breakfast, we began our four-hour journey to Chiang Mai – where the festival of floating lanterns takes place – Yi Peng is how this town celebrates Loy Krathong. We made a pit stop at Lampang, where we visited the Wat Phra That Lampang Luang Temple, one of the most revered temples in the country.

thai girlsWe visited the cafe and store at Hug You Sheep Farm in Lampang where I made some quirky beauty purchases, and savoured my first taste of green tea ice cream. All the ice-creams, and milk-based products are made from sheep milk here, and there is also an area where you can feed the sheep. The store here has a variety of souvenirs that can be picked up at a decent price, and if you’re a beauty junkie, you will enjoy going through their little section, which has creams made from snail slime, and masks and lotions made out of sheep placenta, among other things.

Chiang Mai, which means “new city”, is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. In the evening, we headed to the Yi Peng festival at Chiang Mai, to check out the khom lois (floating lanterns). The festival, which takes place behind the Mae Jo University, is attended by thousands of people, and to beat traffic, we set off four hours before scheduled time. Even from miles away, the khom lois are visible floating up in the sunset sky; it’s an experience that must not be missed.  Avoid taking a car/taxi as all roads to the venue are blocked for miles. It is best to hire a two-wheeler, or just walk it.

Luang templeThe lanterns are made with rice paper, to which a candle or fuel cell is attached.  When lit, the hot air trapped in the lantern creates enough lift for it to rise up in the sky. There are vendors selling lanterns en route to the venue, but refrain from any purchases as they are not allowed inside the vicinity. Once you enter the premises, there are a number of sellers you can buy the Khom Lois from. Here too, there is a carnival-like feel, as people of all ages come together, taking pictures, setting off fireworks, and enjoying a variety of Thai street food — from fresh fruit plates and grilled skewers of chicken to various types of seafood and spiced raw mango. Coming closer to the ground, where the synchronised lighting of the lanterns takes place, I realised just how many people were present. But despite the crowds, no one lost their cool — there was no pushing, no screaming and no jostling for space — instead, the people around you make an effort to make space, help you up on benches so you can witness this breathtaking event. An announcement is made for people to light their lanterns together, wait a while, and as thousands of lanterns are let go together, there is a collective sigh.

The fun part of celebrating the moment with a number of people that can be equalled to the population of a small city ends there. Since there is one main way out, and everyone attempts to leave at the same time, it can be slightly overwhelming, but on an upside, you don’t really have to walk much because you are pushed through with the crowd. The process of leaving may take a long time, so ensure you are hydrated, and are wearing comfortable footwear.

sukhothai airportThe show goes on all over the city, as the sky is dotted with these beautiful lanterns that carry someone’s wish with them. The festival, which is celebrated over two to three days, continues throughout the city, with fireworks in the sky, krathongs lit in the water, and festivity all around. This festival takes place in the month of November, and it is highly recommended you make your bookings a few months in advance, as people from all over the world come to Chiang Mai to witness this event.

I do not know if it was the hospitality, the scenic beauty or the lively spirit of the Thai people I fell in love with, but I do know I am going back for more.

HOT SPOTS: While Tak does not have much to do, there are few attractions at Chiang Mai and Bangkok you can check out.

CHIANG MAI: Take a cooking class: An activity popular with a lot of tourists who come to town, a  professional chef can teach you how to  make a few traditional Thai dishes, tell  you more about the flavours that various ingredients lend to the dish, and alternatives – in case you have any dietary restrictions, or specific preferences.

talented suda Mae Taeng Elephant Camp: A great destination for adults and children, the gentle giants live with their mahouts at this camp and training centre. You can feed the elephants bananas and sugarcanes available in baskets at the camp, watch them bathe in the river, and watch their show. They play instruments, play football, perform tricks with their mahouts, and also dance. The entry fee to the camp includes a raft ride, an elephant trek, lunch and a trip in an ox cart. The raft ride on the river lasts approximately 2O-25 minutes, and is a very calming and soothing experience — with nothing but the sounds of the forest and flowing water. The elephant trek is a little bumpy, as the elephant takes you on a 30-minute ride around the forest. The final leg is an ox cart ride, which transports you back to the entrance of the camp, and the ox cart drivers often let the passengers take their seat and click pictures.

Dinner at Samsen Villa: This restaurant is a must-visit if you are in the city. Located by the river where you can witness floating Krathongs, fireworks and floating lanterns, this restaurant serves seriously delicious Thai food, and is often booked to full. Make reservations before you head there.  Located at: 201, Charoenrati Road, T Wad Ket A Muang, Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar: A great place to pick up souvenirs, bags, scarves, and regular bazaar stuff at very good prices! You can test your bargain prowess here, but head there on a weekday, as weekends can get crazy crowded. Open from 7 pm to midnight, head there early so you can cover the entire one-km long stretch located along the footpath of Th Chang Khlan from Th Tha Phae to Th Lol Kroh.

Bangkok: The name of the city translates to ‘city of the angles’ in English, but that is only the popular name of the city. It holds the world record for the longest name for a capital city in the world, and the real name of Bangkok is – Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit!

Known as a popular hub for food lovers and shopaholics, there are a multitude of malls and bazaars that you can check out. Also, make sure you make the trip to the floating market, which is an experience in itself. One of the oldest markets in the city, there are vendors who sell a variety of items – from fruits and vegetables to clothes and souvenirs – on their boats that float along the lake. The market wares here are expensive, as it is a major tourist attraction; ensure you bargain well before paying for something.

 

fruit vendor

 

Courtesy by K.T.

 

New Mumbai Airport Terminal 2 Guide


1)       MUMBAI AIRPORT (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport)

 

 

Level 1

  • Pick-up Area
  • Lost & Found Baggage
  • Ground Transportation Lobby
  • Direct access to Multi-Level Carpark (MLCP) level 4 & Bus Gates

 

 

Level 2

  • Arrivals & Transit
  • Immigration, Baggage Claim & Customs
  • Duty Free & Meet/Greet Area
  • Direct access to MLCP level 6

 

Level 3

  • Boarding Gates
  • Connectivity to MLCP level 7
  • Retail, Duty Free, F&B

Level 4

  • Departure Concourse & Check-in Islands
  • Departure Immigration, Customs & Security Screening
  • Retail, Duty Free, F&B and Departure Lounges
  • Direct access to MLCP terrace level 10

 

Transportation

  • Elevated Road direct from/to Western Express Highway (WEH).
  • Access from Andheri-Kurla Road.
  • Access by Car, Taxi, Coach, BEST Buses & Autos.
  • Taxi/Car Rentals: Prepaid taxis available at Ground Transportation Lobby at PTB Level 1.

mumbai t2 map

2)       DEPARTURE FORMALITIES

  • After check-in, proceed to Security Screening, Immigration & Customs on PTB Level 4.
  • Beyond the Departure control area:
    -        Lounge guests proceed to Lounge Entrance near Gate 86, on Level 4.
    -        Proceed to boarding gates on Levels 3 or 4.
  • Approximate Distance/ Walking Time:
    -        Check-In counter to Departure Concourse – 150m (5 mins’ walk).
    -        Departure Concourse to furthest Gate 75  – 450m (15 mins’ walk).

3)       AIRPORT LOUNGES (LEVEL 3)

  • Guests can access the lounge on Level 3 (near Gate 86) of the Departure Hall by taking the elevator from Level 4 Departure Hall.

4)       ARRIVING INTO MUMBAI & TRANSFERS TO ONWARD FLIGHTS

  • Passengers arriving into Mumbai proceed to Arrival Immigration & Baggage Claim (Level 2).

For Transfer Passengers:

  • Connecting Domestic-to-International Flights – Arriving passengers on domestic flights proceed to collect their checked baggage at Mumbai Domestic Airport, and board the Inter-Terminal Coach to Mumbai International Terminal 2, Level 4. Check-in at Level 4. 
  • Connecting International-to-International Flights - International Transit passengers proceed to International Transfer counter on Arrival Level, PTB Level 2 to check-in. Please remember to present checked baggage receipts (if any) to counter staff.
  • Connecting International-to-domestic Flights - Upon collection of checked baggage, arrival passengers proceed to re-check area on Level 2 (if airlines have the facility). Otherwise, passengers must check-in for onward flights at Domestic Terminal. Proceed to the Inter-Terminal Coach area on Level 2 for onwards transfer to Domestic Terminal.

5)       LAND TRANSPORTATION FOR ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES

 

  Departure Arrival

Private Vehicles

Using the elevated road, drop off at PTB Departure Level 4 Kerb side.

Park at the MLCP in front of PTB. The Carpark is linked to PTB Level 4 via walkway.

Pick up at PTB Arrival Kerb side on Level 2 or through MLCP Level 5.

 

Taxis#

Using the elevated road, drop off at PTB Departure Level 4 Kerb side. Ground Transportation Lobby located at PTB Level 1. Fleet Taxis pick-up is through MLCP Level 4.

Private Coaches/ Buses

Using the elevated road, drop off at PTB Departure Level 4 Kerb side. Pick up at PTB Level 1 west side of terminal.

Auto Rickshaws

Drop off through grade level road. Pick-up through grade level road.

# TAB Cab (+91-22-63636363), City Cool Cabs (+91-22-22164466) and MERU (+91-22-44224422)

6)       AIRPORT INFORMATION

  • Airport Information desks are located at PTB Departure Level 4 Kerb side and PTB Arrival Level 1/2.
  • CSIA Airport Information Call Centre at Tel:  91-22-66851010 & http://www.csia.in

**Above all is just for information and are indicative, for further assistance contact on Airport Numbers mentioned above. 

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