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


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!

Anglo-Indian hospitality in the Himalayan foothills

Exterior View 2Pragpur, India’s first Heritage Village, lies at the crossroads of history in the beautiful Kangra Valley at an elevation of 2,500 feet.  “Prag” in Sanskrit translates to pollen and in a way it well describes Pragpur which is filled with blossoms in spring.  The village of Pragpur was classified as a heritage zone in 1997 for the mud-plastered slate-roofed houses, ornamental tanks and the cobbled streets leading to the village courtyard of this seemingly medieval village.

Situated in the heart of Pragpur, WelcomHeritage Judge’s Court (pictured) is considered to be amongst the finest Heritage Country Manors; parts of property are over 300 years old.  There are 20 rooms including 3 cottages in the ancestral courtyard, and a multi-cuisine restaurant.

A historical experience with a journey back in time.

World Discovery features a 2 night stay at Judge’s Court on our Himalayan Journey tour.  Many passengers comment that they would like to have stayed longer.  As we are specialists in tailor-made holidays, this is not a problem!

Great News – Introducing the new Jordan Pass!

The Treasury 5We told you in May about the efforts, including waiving the cost of a visa, that the Jordanian authorities announced as a way of revitalising tourism to their country.

Jordan Holidays – Petra – The TreasuryThis has now gone a stage further with the introduction of a new Jordan Pass, which you can book online from just JD70 or approximately £64, and which covers the entrance fees to all the major sites in Jordan (a total of 40 attractions which are listed on the Jordan Pass website). There are 3 different passes, the only differential being the number of days on which you plan to visit Petra, Jordan’s premier tourist site (pictured).

As normally we include all the entrance fees in our website prices, we will be adjusting our prices to reflect this. It should lead to vastly more competitive prices as the total cost of the entrance fees would normally come to much more than the cost of the new pass (the entrance fee to Petra alone was higher!).

Look out for our new prices on the World Discovery website in the next few days, but in the meantime don’t hesitate to contact us if you want an immediate quotation for any of our Jordan Tours.

Laos – Asia’s forgotten gem

Plain of JarsIn French colonial times Laos was considered the earthly paradise of South-east Asia, a vast landlocked Tahiti just awaiting its Gauguin.

Despite the turmoil of the late 20th century, Laos retains today the easy going peaceful atmosphere that so captivated the French, and its friendly gentle people are keen to welcome visitors to their beautiful country. You’ll soon understand why travellers affectionately know Laos P.D.R as “Laos – Please Don’t Rush”.

World Discovery’s brand new Undiscovered Laos tour includes not only the relatively well known cities of Vientiane, the capital, and Luang Prabang with its gilded temples, but also takes in the more remote and little visited region of Northern Laos, well off the normal tourist track.

Discover authentic hilltribes living in simple villages amidst stunning mountain scenery, enjoy gentle treks through ricefields and forested hillsides, and visit an elephant camp where you’ll discover the privileged role elephants play in Lao culture.

Your ultimate destination is the Plain of Jars, home to one of the most unusual and mysterious archaeological sites in Asia, where a profusion of enormous 2,000 year-old stone jars – some of them up to 4 metres high – have puzzled experts since excavations began in the 1930s.

Call us on 01306 888799 or contact enquiries@worlddiscovery.co.uk for further details.


Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

Panaormic views of the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park from one of the many lookoffs between the communities of Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay

Panaormic views of the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park from one of the many lookoffs between the communities of Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay

Cape Breton Highlands National Park is known for its spectacular highlands and ocean scenery.  The Cape Breton Highlands are the most striking feature of northern Cape Breton.  Steep cliffs and deep river canyons carve into a forested plateau bordering the Atlantic Ocean.  One third of the Cabot trail, a world-famous scenic highway, runs through the national park along the coasts and over the highlands.

The cool maritime climate and rugged landscape of the park permit a unique blend of Acadian, Boreal and Taiga habitats, plants and animals.  This special mix of northern and southern species is not found anywhere else in Canada.  Within the park, several dozen species of rare or threatened plants and animals can be found, as well as old growth forests of international importance. Small populations of arctic-alpine plants left over from the last ice age can also be found here.

Check out World Discovery’s 13 day Self-drive Nova Scotia tour from £1970 per person.  As we specialise in tailor-made holidays, this can be adjusted to your own wishes, including a longer stay in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.