When you say you’re going trekking in Peru people immediately assume you’re doing the Inca Trail. But, with conveyor-belt overcrowding – 500 permitted trekkers embark on the Trail each day – Julian and I decided for a path less travelled to the Incan Citadel. Instead we took the gloriously scenic Salkantay trail which, over 6 days, saw us trek from flower filled meadows up to the chilly heights of the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range and then down through sub-tropical cloud forest to the steamy jungle; all with hardly another person in sight. We also shied away from ending each night in a freezing cold tent, opting instead for bricks and mortar in the form of four comfy lodges complete with huge squidgy beds (down quilts and hot water bottles as standard), scorching showers and good food.
Each day brought something new and exciting to experience and here’s our story:
Like most people, my trips to South Africa have been limited to the usual suspects: Cape Town, Winelands, the Garden Route and on safari in Kruger and Madikwe. I’d never contemplated a holiday to KwaZulu Natal. I think in my mind I’d written if off as place just for history and war buffs and I’m not sure a very, very long film with Michael Caine depicting the Anglo-Zulu war did it any favours – I’ve never yet got to the end of it! But, I have to admit, on a recent visit to the area I was more than pleasantly surprised by what I found. Read more
Known as the Mother City, mother-nature certainly excelled herself when she created Cape Town. With the dramatic Table Mountain as its backdrop and bordering the rugged Atlantic Coast, Cape Town is certainly a stunner. But, it’s not just its in your face beauty that appeals. Cape Town offers South African charm in spades, successfully balanced with a cool and upbeat side; outstandingly good restaurants; hip boutique hotels; and a vibrant cultural scene. And it doesn’t stop there. What makes Cape Town so special is that within an hour’s drive of the famous Victoria and Albert Waterfront, you have access to shell strewn beaches, wildlife, adrenalin sports and the stunningly beautiful Winelands.
The only problem I find with Cape Town is that there’s so much to see and do, people often really don’t give the place enough time and leave wishing they’d stayed longer. Trust me, you’ll go to Cape Town once and will immediately start planning a return trip even before you’ve left.
Here are some of my suggestions of things to do and the best spots to explore: Read more
It’s funny, Porto seldom figures on most people’s mental hit list of city breaks but it really should. To me it’s probably one of the most delighting cities in Europe with its friendly vibe and unique personality so often lacking in many of the more homogenised Euro-towns. And, with Easyjet starting new flights to the city from Manchester in May, there’s no better time to plan your visit. Read more
Often referred to as ‘India Lite’, travelling round Sri Lanka is certainly less of an assault on the senses than India: You encounter less of the noise and chaos, you get less hassle from the locals and you certainly cover less distances to see the major sites. But, one thing Sri Lanka is definitely not lite on is the sheer variety of things to see and do. Here, on this little tear drop shaped island in the Indian Ocean, you’ll find some of Asia’s most fascinating Buddhist temples, 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites, historic hill towns with architectural reminders of the British colonial era, an abundance of wildlife, verdant tea plantations and beautiful beaches that wrap around the island.
Sri Lanka has fond memories for me as it was the first big adventure Julian and I took together nearly 20 years ago. The country was different then. Accommodation was basic and, due to the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict, the north and eastern parts of the country were out of bounds. Now, 5 years after the end of the bloody 25-year civil war, the island is fully open and it has some of the best places to stay in the region from contemporary seaside retreats to boutique B&Bs, immaculately restored colonial-style hotels and wonderful private villas (perfect for families) strung out along the coast.
Here are some of my highlights you don’t want to miss on a trip to Sri Lanka: Read more