Angkor Wat Floating Bridge Officially Open

A temporary floating bridge constructed from plastic bags was recently opened to allow restoration of the original stone moat crossing.  The bridge made from recycled plastic bags was built for the safety of tourists visiting Angkor Wat Temple, while the original causeway will be closed completely for experts from APSARA Authority and Sophia University to begin restoration work.  Mr. Heng Kim Leng, Director of the Department of Technical Support and Inter-sectoral Project, said the temporary floating bridge is suitable for use of up to 20 years.  The recycled causeway has six locations along it where visitors can stand and relax or take pictures.  The bridge was studied by APSARA and built by KTS Company.

http://www.world-discovery.co.uk/destinations/cambodia-holidays_9.htm

Sights, Sounds and Taste of a Beijing Craft Beer Tour by ‘Tuktuk’

Navigate the streets of Beijing by ‘tuktuks’ for an all-inclusive visit to Beijing’s best brewery taprooms!  Beijing is the epicentre of China’s craft beer scene.  The city has some of the world’s best beer in hidden, quaint locations around the city that many travellers simply wouldn’t find on their own!  Try over 10 different types of beer at a number of locations hidden in the traditional hutong alleys of Beijing.  All craft beers are hand selected by the brewers and made fresh in Beijing to showcase the best the city has to offer.  Travel between breweries by private ‘tuktuk’ (stocked full of additional beer) so you can try all the best taprooms in one night!

 

Lao, French and Persian Inspired Azerai Hotel Opens in Luang Prabang

Two-thirds of Laos is covered in rugged mountains, and within these mountains you will find some of Asia’s most charming towns and cities.  Luang Prabang is one of the lesser known and beautifully preserved living heritage sites in the world.  The peninsula town is located in the north of Laos, 388 kilometres from the capital Vientiane.  Formerly the capital of Laos, it has a spiritual soul that many are drawn to and is recognised as a cultural and religious centre for Theravada Buddhism.  It is also a town that is home to a growing number of refined, architecturally respectful and excellently serviced hotels.  The new Azeri Luang Prabang is one of them.

The first buildings on Azerai Luang Prabang’s unique site were unveiled over 100 years ago in 1914, on French National Day. They were designed as French officers’ quarters and were later adapted by the Laos government.  The 53 room hotel seen here today was inspired by the town’s traditional Lao and French colonial architectures, built around a leafy courtyard with a 25-metre pool, surrounded by comfortable loungers and an old shade-bearing Banyan tree with a sacred legacy.

http://www.world-discovery.co.uk/destinations/laos-holidays_7.htm

 

Jim Corbett’s India

gallery_wildlife9_newWorld Discovery’s Roy Davies writes….

“On a recent visit to India I was kindly presented on my birthday with a copy of Jim Corbett’s “The Temple Tiger”.  First published in 1954, this is a classic account of how the legendary hunter, author and conservationist came to the rescue of a number of villages in the Kumaon region of the Himalayan foothills that had been devastated by man-eating tigers and leopards for a number of years.   Given the scale of the terror in the first decade of the 20th century – it’s reckoned, for example, that the Champawat tiger and the Panar leopard killed between them a total of 836 human beings – you will understand why Jim Corbett came to be regarded as a hero!

Jim Corbett was born in the former British hill station of Nainital, and continued to live there for most of his life before moving to Kenya.  His books are thrilling and beautifully written, and are well worth finding. In 1936 Corbett went on to found the National Park that now bears his name.  Tigers still roam the forests of the Corbett Reserve but no longer threaten the lives of the local villagers.  It’s one of the more attractive Indian game reserves and has an incredible variety of birdlife, as well as the larger mammals and herds of deer.”

World Discovery have added a new 6 day private tour that can be taken as an extension from Delhi; it includes 3 nights at the wonderful Jim’s Jungle Retreat, including daily morning and afternoon jeep safaris in the Corbett Tiger Reserve, and 2 nights of relaxation in a heritage hotel overlooking Nainital Lake.  Jim Corbett’s India starts at £1125 per person and is available from November to mid-June.

Jasper National Park

peyto-lakeJasper National Park is the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain Parks and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Jasper spans 10,878 square kilometres (4,200 square miles) of broad valleys, rugged mountains, glaciers, forests, alpine meadows and wild rivers along the eastern slopes of the Rockies in western Alberta.  There are more than 1,200 kilometres (660 miles) of hiking trails (both overnight and day trips), and a number of spectacular mountain drives.

Jasper joins Banff National Park to the south via the Icefields Parkway.  This parkway offers unparalleled beauty as you travel alongside a chain of massive icefields straddling the Continental Divide.  The Columbia Icefield borders the parkway in the southern end of the park.

Why not drive through this magnificent landscape on World Discovery’s classic ‘Canadian Pacific’ itinerary?

Earthquake near Peru’s Colca Canyon

Colca-Canyon.peru_As you may well be aware, on August 16th an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit the Caylloma region, located in the southern tip of the Arequipa state.  Although the quake itself was relatively moderate, this particular movement appears to have taken place closer than usual to the Earth’s surface.  The consequence of this unusually shallow epicentre is a greater degree of disruption for the affected area than would typically be expected.

Please take note of the following information, for your own peace of mind and safety:

  • So far, the primary disruption appears to be affecting electrical pylons and therefore distribution; phone lines in some of the smaller towns of the region; a handful of irrigation channels; private homes, schools and a section of highway.
  • Specifically, the main tourist areas impacted by the earthquake were Chivay, Yanque y Coporaque.  Thankfully, World Discovery did not have any travelling guests in these regions, although we will keep track of all developments for trips in the near future.
  • The tremors have not affected the Colca Canyon or Arequipa itself, with most of physical damage being caused 10 km south of Chivay.
  • Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, and other important cities are functioning entirely as usual.
  • So far, the only temporary hotel closures have been Eco-nn and Aranwa.
  • Currently, all main roads and access points have been cleared in the region surrounding Chivay, Yanque, Mirador Condor´s Cross and Cabanaconde. However, at this early stage, we would advise caution if looking to travel to these areas.

Please be assured that World Discovery’s representatives in Peru are on top of the situation, aware of all developments, and will act accordingly.  The safety of anyone associated with us is our number one priority, and we will not be taking risks on any trips or any excursions.

The earthquake and its aftershocks have passed.  With this in mind, we feel confident that unless anything changes, no holidays or excursions for any of our guests will be affected in any way.  We will be in touch if this changes

Umaid Bhawan Palace voted the Best Hotel in the World

umaid-bhawan-palaceThe sumptuous Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, managed by Taj Hotels & Resorts, has been voted the ‘Best Hotel in the World’ in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Awards 2016.  This is the first time an Indian hotel has acheived this accolade.

Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present Maharaja of Jodhpur, this golden-yellow sandstone monument was conceived on the grandest possible scale, in the fashionable Art Deco style of that time. After 15 years in construction, the 347-room palace was finally completed in 1943 – and has served as the principal residence of the Jodhpur royal family since.

You can upgrade to the Umaid Bhawan Palace on World Discovery’s ‘India of the Maharajas’ tour – 15 days from £1185 per person –  or stay there as an extension to several of our other northern India itineraries.

World Discovery’s Top 5 Hotels in India

I’m frequently asked the question “What is the best hotel you’ve ever stayed in?”  It’s an almost impossible one to answer, as each hotel is dependent as much as location, size and style as much as the quality of service, food and accommodation.  Today I’ve been thinking about my years of travelling in India, and here’s my personal top 5 of the hotels I’ve enjoyed in this amazing country.

No. 1 – The Lake Palace, Udaipur

Lake Palace from city1The Taj Lake Palace is located in the middle of Lake Pichola and is without doubt one of the world’s most romantic hotels.  Built in 1746 by Maharana Jagat Singh II, this unique palace spreads across a four-acre island – an almost surreal vision in marble.  The hotel’s 200 rooms and suites are all different in layout and design.  This is a stunning hotel, managed by the prestigious Taj Hotels Group, with fantastic food and service, and is totally unique in style and atmosphere.  It’s a magical experience to approach the hotel on its own private island by the small boat from the city.  This a hotel with a dreamlike quality that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

No. 2 – Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra

RoomThe Oberoi Amarvilas is located just 600 metres from the world-famous Taj Mahal, and all guest rooms and suites, as well as the lobby, bar and lounge, offer breathtaking views of the monument.  Built in a style inspired by Moorish and Mughal architecture, the resort is a splendid display of terraced lawns, fountains, reflection pools and pavilions.  No other hotel in Agra comes near to the Amarvilas in either quality or proximity to the Taj; it’s in a league of its own.  Naturally it comes with a hefty price tag, but I would say it’s worth it.  An unforgettable experience.

No. 3 – Glenburn Tea Estate, near Darjeeling

Glenburn Tea with a Private View of Mt KanchenjungaMy favourite mountain retreat in India – “a little corner of heaven” as one guest described it.  Consisting of just 8 rooms (all completely different), housed in two separate bungalows, Glenburn is a place to get away from it all, either to simply relax and take in the breathtaking scenery of the Kanchenjunga Mountain Range, or hike through the forest, raft on the river, or enjoy the superb birdwatching.   Started by a Scottish tea company in 1860, Glenburn is now in the hands of the third and fourth generations of the Prakash family, who over the years have come to be known as the “Chaiwala family” – which literally means “tea planters”.  You’ll also learn about the fascinating process of tea making during your stay.  From bush to factory – and into your tea cup at a tasting session – discover what goes into making a fine Darjeeling tea.

No. 4 – Mahua Kothi, Bandhavgarh National Park

Mahua Kothi1Searching for the Bengal Tiger is one of the things you must do when visiting India.  Until fairly recently the accommodation in the game parks was pretty poor, but the collaboration between Taj Hotels and the African wildlife specialists &Beyond has produced a string of top class game lodges that have set new standards fir wildlife viewing in India.  My personal favourite is Mahua Kothi in Bandhavgarh.  Each of the 12 charming guest suites – or kutiyas (jungle village huts) – is built in the vernacular style of Central India, and is accessed through private courtyards with shaded seating and traditional mud floors. Each ensuite bathroom features twin hand basins, indoor shower, bath and separate w.c. It also helps that the Mahua Kothi guides are amongst the best in India so you are guaranteed a fantastic safari experience.

No. 5 – The Imperial, New Delhi

03-EntranceAfter the long flight from London, there’s nothing better than being whisked from Delhi Airport to the wonderful Imperial right in the heart of the city.  One of the best hotels in Asia, the award-winning Imperial Hotel is World Discovery’s top choice of accommodation in Delhi.  Built in 1931, this landmark hotel is located on the famous Janpath (Queensway during the days of the British Raj), just steps away from Connaught Circus and the capital’s best shopping.  The Imperial has 235 guestrooms including 43 suites.  There are many dining options, including the 1911 Restaurant for all-day dining, the Spice Route for Southeast Asian cuisine (one of “top restaurants in the world” according to Conde Nast readers), Daniell’s Tavern for Indian food, the Nostalgia Brasserie (dinner only, with jazz or piano music), and the San Gimigniano for Italian dishes.  For drinks and cocktails, head for the 1911 Bar or the Patiala Peg.

I’ve left out some superb hotels in South India, especially Kerala, but I’ll cover these in a separate post.

Roy Davies, founder of World Discovery

 

 

 

 

It’s Tiger time again!

The m01onsoon is long gone and the land has been drying out for a month or more.  In the searing heat of late summer and early autumn, water sources begin to disappear and it’s at this time of the year that tigers start to roam the jungles of central India in search of life-giving springs and vanishing streams.

The national parks, closed during the summer months, are opening again for the winter season.  Now is the ideal moment to book your holiday to India and head to the wilderness areas to search for the magnificent Bengal Tiger.

The long-term future of this beautiful predator is threatened by poaching, interaction with human settlement and loss of habitat, but there are still excellent opportunities to see tigers in the wild in India’s top national parks, and World Discovery has a selection of safaris for you to consider.

Top-of-the-range is the ‘Luxury Tiger Safari’, using the superb lodges run by Taj Hotels in collaboration with the worldwide safari experts &Beyond, setting new standards of wildlife accommodation and expertise on the Indian sub-continent.

Visiting the same national parks but at a more affordable price (but still offering a very high standard) are lodges of Pugdundee Safaris, which are featured on our ‘Wildlife of India’ tour.

If you want to combine a visit to the Taj Mahal and the ‘Golden Triangle’ with a tiger safari, then you should consider our ‘Palaces and Tigers’ tour, which includes 3 nights in the popular Ranthambore National Park, where tiger sightings are at a premium.

TOFTAs part of World Discovery’s commitment to responsible tourism practices, we are International Tour Operator members of the Travel Operators for Tigers campaign (TOFT). For further details please view this website : www.toftigers.org.

If you want to personally get involved with TOFT, you may wish to consider joining ‘Tiger Nation’.  This people-powered platform aims to increase our knowledge of individual tigers in India’s best parks, and helps keep a living database through visitors’ photographs.

Cheap flights to Canada from London Gatwick

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Canadian carrier WestJet has announced the introduction of no less than 6 new routes from London Gatwick, starting on May 2016.

With fares starting at around just £100 one way to St John’s Newfoundland, the new flights will make Canada more accessible and more affordable to thousands of UK passengers.  Destinations to be served are Toronto (daily), Vancouver (6 days a week), Calgary (5 days a week), Edmonton (2 flights a week), Winnipeg (once a week) using new Boeing 767-300 aircraft.  These planes seat 262 guests and have a range of approximately 11 hours.  The flights to St John’s (daily) will be aboard the smaller Boeing 737-800 planes.

“We’re taking the same approach to our London flights that we brought to air travel within Canada 19 years ago. That is, we find ways to keep the fares low, and give you control of what you pay for”  said a WestJet spokesman.  As well as the main cabin (238 seats witha 2-3-2 configuration), there is also the excellent Plus Cabin, which has wider seats arranged 2-2-2 with increased legroom and a deeper reclind.

westjet-hotmeals-plus-620x414WestJet maybe a ‘no-frills’ airline, but it offers a more complete service than other competitors in the category.  Even in the main cabin there are complimentary light snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, with the option of purchasing more substantial snacks and meals.  In the Plus Cabin (pictured left) you will enjoy a welcome drink, hot towel service, and hot meals served with wine or beer (except on the flights to St John’s, where hot food is not available – a premium meal box will be served instead, complete with deli-style sandwich, dessert and beverages).

There are few things more enjoyable on a flight than kicking back and watching a few of your favourite movies or perhaps one you’ve never seen before.  WestJet Connect, the airline’s new inflight entertainment and connectivity system, houses hundreds of on-demand movies and TV programmes, and live TV channels you can enjoy at no extra cost.  There will also be a selection of premium movies and internet access available for a fee.

WestJet Connect is streamed via the WestJet app on your smartphone or tablet, or to your laptop. There are USB outlets at each seat in the main cabin, and 110-volt power outlets at each seat in Plus.

Make summer 2016 the time to take that Canada trip you’ve always promised yourself!