Sabah, Dabah, Do!

by Lesley-Ann on March 2, 2017

For me Borneo has always had an air of mystery about it.  I remember watching a TV programme with David Attenborough roaming through the undergrowth in search of orangutans.  I had to get a map out to find exactly where this wild place was.

Sandwiched between mainland Malaysia and Indonesia, Borneo is the third largest island in the world and its land mass is shared between three sovereign nations: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

I recently had the chance to spend some time travelling through Sabah, one half of Malaysian Borneo (the other half belonging to Sarawak) to see what it offered, which turned out to be a huge variety of exciting things to see and do:  I found myself being mesmerised by the most stunning scenery, gawping in awe at towering peaks, laughing uncontrollably at a female orangutan getting the water from a coconut, donning rather unsexy leech socks to trek through the rainforest and cruising the Kinabantangan River in search of wildlife. Read more

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A Far-Flung Family Adventure

by Lesley-Ann on February 2, 2017

With your children getting older, is it time to start thinking of a more adventurous family holiday? Or after a long career is a sabbatical on the cards? Or maybe you would like to take advantage of the longer school summer holidays to do an extended family trip?

These were all considerations for one of my long standing clients who asked me to organise a four week trip last summer for him, his wife and three teenage sons.  But what were the main ingredients?  The family wanted guaranteed warm weather, a chance to relax on a beach or two, a mix of activities to keep mum, dad and kids entertained, amazing hotels and limited rain, which isn’t easy to find if you’re looking for an adventure in an exotic location in our summer months.

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After our amazing time getting up close and personal with wild animals in Kenya (read about that trip here), Julian and I flew to Zanzibar for a few days of culture before our beached out bliss.

Ever since I was young, the name Zanzibar has always sounded so exotic and conjured up images of streets filled with spice traders and intrepid adventurers arriving on dhows with billowing sails.  In reality, the traders and adventurers were actually on the hunt for gold and power and Zanzibar was, at one time, East Africa’s main slave-trading port.

Today there are no slaves but the waves of Swahili, Portuguese, Omani, and Chinese traders who passed through the island over the centuries have left their cultural mark.  This is most evident in Zanzibar’s capital, Stone Town, where elaborately carved doors, forts and ornate traders’ houses reflect layer upon layer of its past heritage, all weather beaten by the sea breeze. Read more

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I don’t know about you, but I’m of the view that life is way too short not to celebrate every occasion.  So, when Julian and I were approaching our 10th Wedding Anniversary, we decided we wanted to celebrate with a special trip; one that followed a similar pattern to our honeymoon – Cape Town, Kruger safari and Mozambique beach – but also ticked off a few things on our Travel Bucket List.

The question was: where to go?  To be honest, I knew the beach section had to involve a stay on an island I’d wanted to visit for such a long time, Mnemba, which sits on the north-east coast of Zanzibar.

As for the safari, Julian and I had always wanted to experience a river crossing during the Great Migration.  So, looking at the route of the Migration in September, our best chance of seeing this phenomenon was around the Mara Triangle in Kenya.  So that was the safari sorted.

Finally, as we had to pass through Nairobi, I had the chance to tick a third item off my Bucket List, a stay at the legendary Giraffe Manor.

Here are the highlights of the first part of our trip, with Zanzibar and the beach section to follow next month.

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The answer to this question is never easy, especially when the one flight is from Manchester.  But here’s a secret.  Tucked away on a secluded beach cut off from the world by the craggy Hajar Mountains you’ll find a very special place, Zighy Bay.  On Oman’s wild and wonderful Musandam Peninsula, you feel a million miles away from its ritzy, glitzy neighbour, Dubai, and yet it’s only a two hour drive.  Arrive early in the morning on the A380 from Manchester, snooze in your 4 x 4 and then have lunch in paradise.

Even the arrival is spectacular.  A bit of dusty off road action.  Then a climb up, up, up on a winding road until the last bend when the view opens up and you finally see the resort way down below.  From there you can decide to continue your journey by road or, if you’re feeling brave, you can opt to tandem paraglide down landing on the beach – surely there aren’t that many resorts where you can make such an entry?

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