Sundowner: Spring/Summer 2019

AbercrombieKentUK

Lone ranging: solo travel is on the rise but there's no need to always go it alone. Botswana nirvana: a paradise for animal lovers. Places to go: 2019's eight hottest travel destinations.

SPRING/SUMMER 2019

Lone ranging

SOLO TRAVEL IS ON THE RISE BUT THERE’S

NO NEED TO ALWAYS GO IT ALONE

BOTSWANA

NIRVANA

A PARADISE FOR

ANIMAL LOVERS

PLACES

TO GO

2019’S EIGHT HOTTEST

TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 3


S/S 2019 £4

A PARADISE FOR

ANIMAL LOVERS

2019’S EIGHT HOTTEST

TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

14

50

72

DEAR TRAVELLER

Happy new year and welcome to the latest issue

of Sundowner. Animals abound in this edition

of the magazine – in the upcoming pages, you’ll

spy species from mighty mountain gorilla to

adorable Adélie penguin.

Experiencing wildlife in its natural habitat is

one of travel’s greatest rewards. As I read reports

such as the WWF’s most recent, which states

that humanity has wiped out 60 per cent of

mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles since 1970,

my desire to conserve our world’s wildlife is

reaffirmed anew.

Every holiday you undertake with us

contributes funds to A&K Philanthropy

and its excellent animal conservation and

local community benefit programmes. It’s a

simple and easy way to help protect animals

including rhino and leopard, and benefit

local communities, while you enrich your life

through experiential holidays.

Wishing you happy (animal sighting-filled)

travels in the year to come.

Founder, Chairman and CEO,

Abercrombie & Kent Group

Follow me on Instagram @geoffrey_kent

Front cover: Exploring a bamboo

forest in Kyoto, Japan

Editor: Alicia Deveney

Deputy editor: Faye Wiltshire

Design: Debbie Edkins & Louise Maggs

Contributors: Ian Belcher, Janet

Brice, Graeme Bull, Ianthe Butt, Katy

Calderwood, Nina Caplan, Nick Curtis,

Jane Dunford, Sacha Harrison, Jan

Masters, Joe Meredith, Penelope Rance,

Amanda Springer, James Treacy, Philippa

Turner, Sue Watts, Charlotte Wells

Sundowner is Abercrombie & Kent’s

magazine, St George’s House,

Ambrose Street, Cheltenham, Glos,

GL50 3LG. Advertising enquiries to:

gbradvertising@abercrombiekent.co.uk

SUNDOWNER SPRING/SUMMER 2019

SPRING/SUMMER 2019

Lone ranging

SOLO TRAVEL IS ON THE RISE BUT THERE’S

NO NEED TO ALWAYS GO IT ALONE

BOTSWANA

NIRVANA

PLACES

TO GO

CONTENTS SPRING/SUMMER 2019

4 BUSH TELEGRAPH

All the latest from A&K and the wide world

of travel

6 IN THE KNOW

The most exciting hotel openings

68

8 48 HOURS IN MATERA

A weekend in 2019’s European Capital of

Culture offers ancient culture and fine food

10 THE HOTTEST PLACES

TO TRAVEL IN 2019

A&K’s experts choose the best places to

explore in the year to come

14 DOG DAY AFTERNOON

In Botswana, Sue Watts discovers that every

(wild) dog has its day

18 OPEN FOR BUSINESS

How hurricane-affected Caribbean islands

are bouncing back

20 TIME TO WINE AND DINE

Nina Caplan is driven to delight in Victoria

and South Australia’s vineyards

24 DUE SOUTH

Our top 10 reasons why now is the time to

visit Adelaide and South Australia

28 ALOHA HAWAII

An island by island guide to the US’s 50th state

32 MEET THE GUIDE

Having conquered Africa, the world’s top

safari guide, Garth Hovell, is turning his

attention further afield

34 ANOTHER SIDE OF SPAIN

In search of Iberian idiosyncrasies,

Penelope Rance takes a tour of Andalusia

38 YEE-HAW!

Our favourite five places to play cowboy

40 FAMILY TIES

Keen to bond with her niece, Jane Dunford

heads to Costa Rica to have an adventure

28

42 BEACH BABES

The European boltholes that combine the

advantages of a villa with all the perks of a hotel

44 GRAND DESIGNS

Ianthe Butt details five head-turning hotel

properties that aren’t simply raising the bar –

they’re reinventing it

48 JORDAN’S SOUTHERN STAR

How new flights to Aqaba are opening up

this Middle Eastern country’s Golden Triangle

50 PUMA PURSUITS

Jan Masters ventures into the wilds of

Patagonia in search of elusive big cats

54 PARTY OF ONE

With the support of an escorted tour group,

Japan is the ideal place to fly solo

56 ANIMAL ATTRACTION

An African safari veteran, Nick Curtis is still

blown away by Tanzania’s wildlife

60 ALTERNATIVE INCA TRAILS

Finding the path less-travelled in Peru

62 OUR FAVOURITE VILLAS FOR 2019

40 sumptuous retreats and dream hideouts

66 POLE POSITION

Paying tribute to the first explorers, who

braved the Southern Ocean 200 years ago

68 ACCESS SOUTH-EAST ASIA

How to enjoy VIP hospitality in the region,

with a little help from us

72 THE JOURNEYMEN AND WOMEN

Take a tour through India with our experts

78 A TO Z OF SRI LANKA

Experiences on the teardrop island that span

the alphabet

82 THE WATER’S EDGE

How A&K Philanthropy is helping more than

40,000 people in two countries access clean,

safe drinking water

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 3


HAPPY BIRTHDAY,

A&K AT HARRODS

The A&K boutique at Harrods is

celebrating its 10th birthday this February.

We will be marking the occasion and the

continued partnership between the two

luxury brands with exciting events and an

exclusive offer that’ll be worth waiting for…

Bush

TELEGRAPH

NEWS FROM A&K AND THE WIDE WORLD OF TRAVEL

18 SUMMERS

You have 18 summers with your

children before they’re too cool to want

to travel with their mum and dad. You

want to make every single holiday count

with your kids – summers, half terms,

Christmas breaks. Every. Single. One.

We know that, and get that the key to

successful, safe, and educational family

travel is a sprinkling of sympathetic,

knowledgeable expertise and advice.

Understanding this, A&K is pleased

to announce the appointment of 10

dedicated family specialists, who have

undergone a specialised training

programme. Booking holidays that can

cater to any age just got a whole lot

easier. Amanda Springer, programme

manager, said: “Thanks to both personal

and professional experience, the team

understands the unique requirements

of families, with young children,

families with teenagers, and extended

families, and will recommend tours,

accommodation and experiences

tailored to each family, taking

into account safety requirements,

education, and fun. I’m delighted to

lead this talented team of specialists

who will enhance the A&K family

holiday experience.” To speak to a

family specialist, call 01242 903 401.

AND THE WINNER IS…

A&K was proclaimed ‘Best Luxury Tour

Operator’ for the third time at the annual News

UK Travel Awards. This plaudit is voted for by

the readers of The Times, The Sunday Times and

The Sunday Times Travel Magazine – and we

were pleased and proud to have been people’s

choice yet again. And we’ve had success with

the critics too, winning ‘World’s Leading Luxury

Safari Company’ and ‘Africa’s Leading Luxury

Tour Operator’ for the ninth year in a row at the

World Travel Awards – dubbed ‘the Oscars of

the travel industry’ by The Wall Street Journal.

Here’s to a 10th.

WINNER

BEST LUXURY TOUR OPERATOR

2 0 1 8

Africa's Leading

Luxury Tour Operator

4 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


FLYING HIGH

THE NEW AIR ROUTES & ADDITIONAL SERVICES

THAT WE’RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT

Vietnam on Qatar’s radar

qatar airways has launched direct flights to Da Nang – linking

London to the beautiful coastal city via the hub of Doha. This will

be the third Vietnamese city on the airline’s global network.

Carnival capital is calling

The first low-fare direct flight between London Gatwick and

Brazil could be taking off in spring 2019. norwegian has

announced plans for this new route following the success of its

London to Buenos Aires, Argentina, route, which was launched

earlier this year.

Five new routes per year from Stansted

london stansted is planning to introduce 25 direct new

routes over the next five years. Passengers could soon be flying

nonstop to holiday destinations in the Far East, India, North

America, and the Middle East.

Turkish delight with Istanbul

to Sydney flights

turkish airlines is putting Australia back on its route map, with

the airline’s head confirming plans to launch flights to Sydney next

year. Turkish Airlines Chairman lker Aycı said the Star Alliance

member planned to begin flying to Sydney by June 2019. “It’s

going to happen,” he said. It’s believed the route could be flown by

the airline’s new Boeing 787s, which will also see the debut of an

all-new Business Class seat and a strong focus on privacy.

easyJet heads East

Passengers should benefit from the announcement that

singapore airlines will join the Worldwide by easyjet global

connections service. The move, which will also include low-cost

subsidiary Scoot, will connect easyJet customers with South-East

Asia through Singapore Airlines via Milan Malpensa airport and

with Scoot through Berlin Tegel.

Rule Britannia

Spring over to Osaka

Fly directly into Osaka, the food capital of Japan, when

british airways launches its new flight in the spring. As

the country prepares to host the Rugby World Cup, be

the first to board the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner service

which takes off in April 2019. The flight will depart

Heathrow Terminal 5 and land into Osaka’s Kansai

International Airport, bringing the number of daily

flights between the UK and Japan up to 32 per week.

Japan Airlines will also offer a code share on the new

service, giving customers the chance to earn and redeem

Avios loyalty points across the network.

Summer route to Kos

british airways will be launching a new route to

the Greek island of Kos – just in time for the school

holidays. The service will start this summer and

operate from Gatwick.

New look for centenary year

british airways staff will be wearing new uniforms designed

by Savile Row’s Ozwald Boateng to commemorate the airline’s

centenary in 2019. Boateng will follow in a long line of prestigious

fashion names from Hardy Amies to Julien MacDonald in

designing the new look. “It is important for me to create something

that makes all of British Airways’ 32,000 uniform-wearing

employees across the world excited,” said Boateng.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 5


in the KNOW

Here’s our scoop on the most exciting hotel openings

THE FARMSTEAD AT ROYAL MALEWANE

Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa

Hats off to the tastemakers behind The Royal Portfolio, which

includes The Silo and La Residence. Making any stay in the bush

even more elegant is their new property: The Farmstead at Royal

Malewane in Greater Kruger. They have reimagined a safari

lodge, that also delivers on style and substance. The guiding

teams are world class and the animals you are likely to see

are some of Africa’s best. There are different accommodation

options including The Farmhouse, a wonderful, exclusive hire,

three-and-a-half bedroom villa with its own chef, housekeeper,

and butler, as well as a private safari vehicle with ranger and

tracker. There’s a great chance of spotting the Big Five, as well

as specialist safari trips such as wildlife photography and

bushwalks. For an incredible family and friends getaway,

the Farmstead can be booked exclusively for up to 14 guests.

IKOS ARIA

Kos, Greece

Kos is going to get cosier when the 19-hectare, stylish IKOS

Aria opens on the mountainous Greek island in May 2019.

The Infinite Lifestyle brand hotel will feature eight restaurants

offering a world of flavour – everything from the Mediterranean

to the Orient. The kids won’t have time to stop here, whether

they are in the supervised club, in one of the pools, or engaging

in activities including paddleboarding, yoga, tennis, and football.

For the romantic touch, the IKOS Deluxe Collection will provide

a complimentary spa treatment, an exclusive swimming pool

and beach bar area, as well as high levels of service at both the

beach and pool, including snacks, cocktails and, perhaps most

importantly, a bottle of Taittinger on arrival.

6 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


ROSEWOOD MIRAMAR BEACH

Montecito, California, US

Beach lovers rejoice! In 2019, you’ll be able to stay on one of

the world’s most beautiful beaches. Whether you choose to take

in the Los Angeles lifestyle first and then head 129 kilometres

north-west, or whether you prefer to make this your start and

end point, Rosewood Miramar Beach is simply spectacular. Set

in the idyllic seaside community of Montecito, this coastal retreat

oozes style, grace, and glamour. Come here simply to see and be

seen, or to rejuvenate with early morning yoga and sunset sandy

walks on Miramar Beach. There’s lively and entertaining dining

available or more intimate, romantic tables in the convivial

Manor House. The views over the Pacific Ocean are intoxicating.

Be prepared to book your next trip before you even leave...

FUTANGUE HOTEL & SPA

Lake Ranco, Northern Patagonia, Chile

We love the idea of an everyday escape at Futangue. This

privately owned park, a 90-minute flight from Santiago, lies on

the shores of Chile’s Lake Ranco. Here you can easily go off-grid

if you choose, with over 100 kilometres of wilderness trails to

select from and activities such as biking, kayaking, fly-fishing.

Or simply turn everything off including your mind for a few

hours in the hotel’s spa. The landscape here is beautiful, with

waterfalls, mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes, as well as more

unusual lava fields and hot springs to explore. This area is also

one of the most important biodiversity hot spots on the planet,

with some of the best-preserved examples of the Valdivian

rainforest right on the hotel’s doorstep.

ON OUR RADAR: OTHER HOT HOTEL OPENINGS

Billed as the first all-inclusive resort in the Florida Keys, the adult-only luxury resort of Bungalows Key Largo opens in 2019. With stunning sunsets on tap

from Sunset Cove, this is tropical Florida chic. Personal and personalised – it’s a dream holiday getaway. For a more indoor-outdoor tropical environment,

the Alila Villas Koh Russey in Cambodia is an ecological escape, with beachfront swimming pool as well as couples’-only alcoves for complete privacy.

Wilderness Safaris has notched up another environmental success story for spring 2019, this time in Rwanda, with its plastic-free camp Magashi in the

country’s Akagera National Park. Small and intimate, this private concession offers excellent safaris and is a homage to Rwandan culture and heritage.

Combine a stay here with a trip to Bisate for the unmissable gorilla-trekking experience.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 7


48 HOURS IN

MATERA

SPEND TWO DAYS IN MATERA, EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE 2019, AND DISCOVER AN

ANCIENT CITY OF STONE AND LABYRINTHINE CAVE DWELLINGS, SAYS A&K'S PHILIPPA TURNER

DAY 1

11.00

Arrive in Puglia, hop in a hire car and drive to

the hilltop town of Matera. One of the oldest

inhabited cities in the world, it is made up of

cave dwellings, or sassi, shaped out of soft tufa

rock. It will become clear that the caves are

pivotal to Matera’s lifestyle when you park up

at a hotel embedded in the ancient stone.

12.45

Drop your bags and leave your car at the gate:

Matera is all about walking around. Stroll

down the city’s cobbled streets lined with

honeycomb-like caves. Today you can explore

art galleries, cafés and baroque palaces carved

into the hillside. With or without the sassi,

Matera is UNESCO-credited, and rightly so,

for its medieval sleepy squares and sweeping

biblical views. Stop for lunch at Osteria al

Casale for local specialties such as homemade

bean soup and pizza with spicy sausage and

turnip tops.

15.30

You can work off lunch walking up the

Sasso Caveoso to Museo della Sculptura

Contemporanea. Housed in the 16th-century

Palazzo Pomarici, its rough-hewn chambers,

courtyards and Italian sculptures are worth

the climb. On the way down, duck into Casa

Cava, the world’s only underground cultural

centre, before heading back to your hotel to

relax and get ready for dinner.

18.45

Amble down to the Duomo Café in the

Cathedral square for an aperitivo at sunset.

After soaking up the evening ambience,

walk to Il Terrazzino where we’ve reserved

a front-row table overlooking the city,

gloriously lit up at night. Dine on handmade

orecchiette with creamy mozzarella.

8 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


DAY 2

09.00

After a leisurely breakfast, it’s time to head to

Parco della Murgia Materana, a national park

reminiscent of Jerusalem. Here you will find

over 100 Rupestrian churches dug into the

rockscape. Before you set off, stop in at

Il Forno di Gennaro, a family-run bakery

for straight-out-of-the-oven tomato focaccia.

It’s perfect picnic fare which will keep you

fuelled throughout the day.

11.30

Head to the Crypt of Original Sin, around

a 40-minute drive away from the national

park, where you can see caverns containing

eighth-century frescoes. After spending some

time here, you’ll feel like a refreshing snack.

Drive back to town and make a pit stop at

I Vizi degli Angeli for the prettiest

lavender-flavoured gelato.

14.30

There’s plenty of time for a spa session at your

hotel. If you’re still up for exploring, it’s an

hour’s drive to Martina Franca, a picturesque

town with whitewashed lanes, winding

alleyways and airy piazzas. After lingering

a while in this charming spot, head back to

Matera to change for dinner.

19.30

It’s your last night, so why not celebrate at one

of the town’s uber glam restaurants, Baccanti?

Overlooking a picturesque gorge, dine on veal

cheek with aglianico wine sauce under the glow

of soft candlelight. Nightcap? Head to Area 8,

a creative watering hole and discreet celeb hot

spot. Sip on thyme-infused negronis on the

terrace backed by the sounds of a DJ.

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to book your

next European city break, call our travel

specialists on 01242 547 703.

left to right:

Matera skyline; Parco della Murgia Materana;

scenic courtyard in the Sassi district

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 9


WHERE TO explore

IN 2019

FROM AN OLD FAVOURITE SHINING BRIGHT ONCE

MORE TO AN IDYLLIC ISLAND, BUSTLING METROPOLISES,

AND REMOTE REGIONS, THESE HOT DESTINATIONS ARE

A&K EXPERT-ENDORSED AND SET TO BE THE NEXT BIG

THING. CONSIDER YOURSELF CLUED-UP

RWANDA

Luxury travel has arrived in Rwanda. Known as the ‘Land of

a Thousand Hills’, the country is home to more than a third

of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla. Environmentally,

this is one of the cleanest countries in the world. Combined

with a reduction in fees and several luxury hotel openings,

there’s never been a better time to visit.

HOTEL NEWS: One&Only Nyungwe House, located on the

edge of the Nyungwe Forest in the mountainous south-west,

has just opened. Within the lush green expanse of a working

tea plantation, One&Only Nyungwe House offers an exciting

window to Africa’s fascinating wildlife and culture. One&Only

Gorilla’s Nest is set to open in April 2019, near the village of

Kingi. From its vantage point on the foothills of the Virungas,

guests will be able to explore the habitat of mountain gorilla.

Due to open in March 2019 is Wilderness Safaris’ Magashi

Camp. Designed to help ensure the protection of the savanna

ecosystem and shoebill and black rhino species, this is a

wonderful opportunity to experience Rwanda beyond its

gorilla families. Singita Kwitonda Lodge is set to open in

August 2019 on the edge of Volcanoes National Park.

Located on a breathtaking 32-hectare plot, this lodge

puts gorilla trekking within easy reach.

An A&K eight-night, tailor-made holiday to Rwanda starts

at £6,695 per person (based on two sharing, includes flights,

transfers, accommodation, and selected excursions)

10 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


ZIMBABWE

There’s never been a better time to visit Zimbabwe. A renewed

hope is evident amid a changing political landscape and this

spirit of optimism is attracting a fresh wave of tourism. ‘Zim’

is home to five different UNESCO World Heritage Sites and

the glorious natural attractions of Victoria Falls, the Zambezi

River and Hwange – the country’s largest game reserve.

The country is more vibrant than ever with a burst of exciting

hotel reopenings to boot.

HOTEL NEWS: Bumi Hills Safari Lodge on Lake Kariba

recently completed a £2.3 million upgrade. The lake-view

rooms were reconfigured, ensuring wonderful vistas over

Kariba. The accommodation was consolidated from 20 down

to 10 lake-view rooms and two premium rooms, making this

an intimate resort. Other improvements include lake cruise

boats and pontoons. These have been added to improve

the exceptional game viewing and sunset cruises. Singita

Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe’s Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

reopened in May 2018 after a complete refurbishment. A pair

of two-bedroom suites were added, bringing its total offering

to eight suites and a private five-bedroom villa. Nature is

omnipresent: the lodge is set among towering trees, atop a

mountain, overlooking a lake in the remote reaches of the

pristine wildlife reserve.

An A&K 12-night, tailor-made holiday to Zimbabwe starts

at £6,715 per person (based on two sharing, includes flights,

transfers, accommodation, and selected excursions)

PERU

Known for its ancient ruins, spectacular scenery and colonial

architecture, Peru has added cuisine to its international appeal.

The vibrant restaurant scene is home to some of the world’s

most influential chefs. Virgilio Martinez Véliz and Mitsuharu

Tsumura’s establishments in Lima and Cusco are a must

for visiting foodies. But some of Peru’s most beautiful hikes

begin just outside the city. In the Cordillera Blanca, Huaraz

has become northern Peru’s centre for outdoor activities.

Huascarán National Park, covering nearly 340,000 hectares,

is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of

some of South America’s most gorgeous scenery and glaciers

with 25 trekking routes and 102 mountaineering spots. And

last but not least, in 2019, the Dakar Rally will take place in

only one country for the first time in its history, with Peru the

sole host nation for the event.

HOTEL NEWS: Lake Titicaca has a new hotel – Amantica

Lodge lies on the small island of Amantani. Composed of

just two suites, it has been designed around the spectacular

panoramas, allowing guests to gaze over the calm waters to

the Peruvian mountains beyond. And in those picturesque

Peruvian Andes, the Belmond Andean Explorer is taking

relaxation to new lengths next year. After debuting its first

spa-on-wheels earlier this year in Scotland, the hotel and

leisure company is adding another spa to the sleeper train that

traverses the picturesque Peruvian Andes. The train’s spa car,

Picaflor (Spanish for hummingbird) is set to debut in March.

The spa-on-wheels will specialise in treatments inspired by

ingredients local to the region.

An A&K nine-night, tailor-made holiday to Peru starts at

£3,295 per person (based on two sharing, includes flights,

car hire, accommodation, and selected excursions)

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 11


ITALY

It’s hard to beat the mixture of history, architecture, food,

and people in the home of the Renaissance. The year to come

marks the 500-year anniversary of the death of one of the

Rebirth’s most preeminent figures – Leonardo da Vinci. In

honour of this quincentenary, there are events and exhibitions

scheduled throughout the country all year. Another cultural

happening of note, this year the European Capital of Culture

baton passes to the Puglian city of Matera – the first southern

Italian metropolis to be recognised in this way.

HOTEL NEWS: The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has taken

over management of an existing resort on the shores of Lake

Como. The property will be rebranded as Mandarin Oriental,

Lake Como, in spring 2019 following a refurbishment of

facilities. It will feature 76 spacious rooms and suites housed

in nine villas, dating from the 19th century. Hotel Eden Rome

has just opened after a 17-month renovation and is in one of

the city’s most-loved spots, ideally placed by the Spanish Steps

and Villa Borghese. In Puglia, the one to watch is the Masseria

Torre Maizza hotel, which was recently taken over by Rocco

Forte. In Florence, the Hotel Savoy is being modernised and

will reopen in April this year.

An A&K nine-night, tailor-made holiday to Italy starts at

£3,045 per person (based on two sharing, includes flights,

transfers, accommodation, and selected excursions)

TURKEY

Turkey is a cultural marvel – where east meets west. It’s a

richly historical land with some of the best cuisine you’ll ever

taste and stunning scenery, from the Taurus Mountains to the

beaches of Bodrum. New hotel openings have brought it back

to the top of the agenda after a recent downturn.

HOTEL NEWS: Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum has teamed

up with pioneering name in healthcare, the Mayo Clinic.

Their programme is set to open in 2019, further highlighting

travellers’ appetite for wellness holidays. The Mayo Clinic is

ranked the number one hospital in the US, and the wellness

programme will focus on preventive practices, designed to

inspire a more balanced lifestyle. Guests will have the choice of

tailor-made experiences from one-day assessments to five-day

retreats. The new Six Senses Kaplankaya enjoys a stunning

position on the Aegean coast, surrounded by olive groves

and cypress trees. This is a perfect destination for families

wanting to take advantage of activities, classes, and cultural

trips, while also delivering relaxation and luxury in its spa and

dining experiences. Aman’s Amanruya once again opens its

doors in its secluded spot on the scalloped Aegean coastline.

The isolated resort, a scenic 30-minute drive from the bustling

town of Bodrum, rests in seclusion on 24 hectares of forested

hillside. It overlooks its own private bay – a rare privilege on

the Bodrum Peninsula.

An A&K seven-night, tailor-made holiday to Turkey starts

at £2,965 per person (based on two sharing, includes flights,

transfers, accommodation, and selected excursions)

12 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


JAPAN

Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and while there are

12 match venues, our eyes are fixed on Osaka and the Higashi

Osaka Hanazono – the country’s oldest rugby stadium. Japan’s

third largest city is famous for its top-notch museums, cool

urban parks, and rich food scene. British Airways will fly

direct to the city from 31 March – in plenty of time for

kick-off in the first match at Hanazono: Italy versus

Namibia on 22 September. Direct flights into this southern

city will open regions such as Setouchi’s seven prefectures

and 350 islands. While best-known for Hiroshima and its

Peace Memorial Museum, Setouchi is gaining traction as a

destination and can easily be accessed from Osaka. Setouchi

city’s winding hillside alleys and historic architecture

thankfully survived the war.

BED DOWN: Hotel Cycle is a former maritime warehouse

that’s been converted into a complex with amazing restaurants

and a bike shop. A design haven for cycle lovers and loathers,

it is located at the start of the 72-kilometre Shimanami Kaido

cycle path that connects the mainland, Honshu, with seven

islands in the Seto Inland Sea via a series of striking bridges.

A&K’s 14-night Discover Japan suggested itinerary starts at

£4,445 per person (based on two sharing, includes flights,

transfers, accommodation, and selected excursions)

BRAZIL

Both 2016 and 2017 were tough on Brazil. The Olympics

brought both positive and negative attention: Zika scare

stories, economic downturn and far-reaching government

turmoil put tourists off. But Brazil is on the up again and is

abuzz with new luxury hotel openings from the bustling streets

of São Paulo to the white-sand beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

HOTEL NEWS: Four Seasons Hotel São Paulo is due to open

at the end of 2018 in one of São Paulo’s fastest-growing and

most desirable areas, Nações Unidas. Also expected to open

around the end of 2018, with a fantastic location in front

of Rio’s Leblon Beach, is Hotel Janeiro. There are also new

charterable boats on the Amazon. Trips on these vessels can be

transformed into a culinary journey. Top Brazilian chefs travel

aboard with guests, creating high-end food with anything

that can be foraged from the forest. Additionally, adventurous

travellers are now able to visit the restricted indigenous

territories of Brazil. One of the last villages remaining distinct

from the Western world, visits to Kayapo Camp are exclusive

to A&K and available for just two months each year. Hike with

Kayapo warriors, and enjoy boat safaris on the lookout for

tapir, great river otter, deer, jaguar, and puma.

A&K’s 10-night Classic Brazil suggested itinerary starts at

£4,695 per person (based on two sharing, includes flights,

transfers, accommodation, and selected excursions)

INDIA

India overflows with heritage, culture, and history and 2019

is a very important year for this colourful country. It marks

150 years since the birth of Mahatma Gandhi; 90 years

since Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta to help the sick

and the country’s poorest people; and 200 years since the

birth of Queen Victoria, Empress of India. After a period of

restoration, the dome of the Taj Mahal will be uncovered in

early 2019, making Agra one of the places to be.

HOTEL NEWS: New for spring 2019 is Taj Rishikesh Resort &

Spa. The resort sits high up – 35 kilometres above Rishikesh

– allowing for incredible views of the surrounding mountains

as well as access to a private white-sand bank on the shore of

the River Ganges. As the mighty river curves around the hotel,

the 81 rooms, including 47 villas, and public areas overlook

the Ganges and the pristine forest beyond. Utilising the rich

expertise of the Yoga Masters of Rishikesh, this property will

offer the very best of yoga and meditation in its 800-squaremetre

Jiva Spa. Jaagir Lodge Dudhwa is the latest opening from

The Ultimate Travelling Camp, a luxury camping experience

set in Terai which borders India and Nepal. This area is still not

on most travellers’ radars, and allows visitors to discover four

different national parks, with the chance to see some amazing

wildlife including tiger, one-horned rhino, leopard, wild

elephant, sloth bear, civet, and many more.

A&K’s eight-night Classic Northern India suggested itinerary

starts at £2,835 per person (based on two sharing, includes

flights, transfers, accommodation, and selected excursions)

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 13


EVERY

DOG HAS

ITS DAY

IT MAY BE ELEPHANT, LION AND RHINO THAT DRAW

PEOPLE TO THE OKAVANGO DELTA, BUT IT’S THE

‘PAINTED’ DOGS THAT DRIVE SUE WATT WILD AS

SHE GOES BEYOND THE BIG FIVE IN BOTSWANA

photographer: Will Whitford

A NEW LUXURY BEACH RESORT HAS OPENED ITS

DOORS IN A REMOTE INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO IN

THE BAY OF BENGAL. WRITER AND PHOTOGRAPHER

CHRIS CALDICOTT DISCOVERS WHY THE TAJ

EXOTICA ANDAMANS IS WORTH THE JOURNEY

14 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


BOTSWANA

As dusk falls over the Delta, I’m transfixed by an

enormous elephant heading straight towards me. He

comes so close I can see the dense lashes shielding his

reddish-brown eyes, the wiry hairs on his trunk and myriad

scratches on his tusks. I swear I could reach out and touch him

without taking a single step forward – yet he has no idea that

I’m here.

Neither do the other 20 bull elephant slurping and splashing

around the muddy waterhole. That’s because I’m safely tucked

away in a hide, a semi-submerged container with windows

just above ground-level, and I’m watching all this unseen.

Mesmerised, we stay here for an hour.

It’s one of many magical Big Five encounters I get to

experience in Botswana’s famous Okavango Delta. Traditionally,

the term referred to the five most dangerous animals to hunt –

elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo, leopard and lion – but today, it

denotes the most popular wildlife species to tick off (by spotting

not shooting) while on safari, the ones that pull in the crowds.

Here in the Delta, though, there are no crowds.

Our first stop is Sable Alley in Khwai Private Reserve, a

25-minute bush flight from Maun, the gateway town to the

Okavango. With an emphasis on affordable luxury, it’s part

of Natural Selection’s portfolio of small, owner-run camps,

brimming with character.

The 12 stylish tented rooms and the main lounge and dining

area all overlook a pan frequented by elephant and hippo, which

often wander through the unfenced camp. Its soothing, natural

ambience is complemented by high thatch roofs over the main

open building, plenty of comfy sofas and chairs, carvings and

crafts, and wooden decking leading to the swimming pool.

Bordering Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park in

northern Botswana, Khwai Private Reserve is a former hunting

concession. Wildlife here was understandably skittish but after a

couple of years of habituation, the animals now realise that guests

here shoot with cameras, not guns. There are few camps in the

reserve, which spans 2,000 square kilometres of woodlands, rivers

and open floodplains, and it feels as if you have it all to yourself.

On our first game drive, we meet Nicholas, a beautiful

11-month-old leopard. He’s lying by a termite mound in shady

mopane woodland, waiting patiently for mum Nicky to return

from hunting. Nicky is apparently one cool, laid-back cat and has

passed this on to her son. Totally chilled, he raises his head to see

us then flops down again and continues snoozing.

Later, we find two tiny lion cubs with their mum lying in the

shade in the afternoon sun. Balls of tawny fluff with furry white

bellies, they’re just two months old and are utterly adorable. Full

of naughty curiosity, one cub strays too far in our direction so

mum picks him up in her mouth and carries him back to safety.

On game drives along the Sable Alley channel, we come across

hippo wallowing in the water. Giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu,

waterbuck and reedbuck amble along the plains. Famously the

most aggressive and unpredictable of the Big Five, grumpy Cape

buffalo caked in dried mud glare at us as we pass.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 15


FULL OF NAUGHTY CURIOSITY, ONE CUB STRAYS TOO FAR IN OUR DIRECTION

SO MUM PICKS HIM UP IN HER MOUTH AND CARRIES HIM BACK TO SAFETY

The Delta’s cold, clear nights are ideal for stargazing and a

night at Natural Selection’s Skybeds is the perfect way to do

this. An intimate, rustic camp deep in the bush, it has just three

‘rooms’ – five-metre-high wooden towers like treehouses, open

to the elements with the starlit sky for a ceiling.

Our two-hour drive from Sable Alley includes that

mesmerising encounter at the elephant hide, and we arrive

at Skybeds in time for sundowners. Sipping G&Ts in the bar

treehouse, we realise that elephant have joined us, drinking their

own sundowner at a waterhole just beyond camp. Dinner is

cooked over the campfire, then we head to bed on the top floor

of our tower, snuggling up under thick duvets and that fabulous

twinkling sky. But sleep doesn’t come easy – I’m too busy taking

in the cosmos and counting shooting stars.

Our next Delta destination is Chief ’s Island in Moremi Game

Reserve, a half-hour flight away. Renowned for its high density of

wildlife, the largest island in the Delta was once the royal hunting

ground of local ruler Chief Moremi, who gave it to the reserve in

the 1970s.

Our home on this beautiful and bountiful island is Sanctuary

Chief ’s Camp overlooking the Piajio floodplains in the private

Mombo concession. Chief ’s exudes relaxed luxury: it’s all cream

and wood décor with sumptuous leather sofas and chairs in the

lounge under a high thatch roof and sunbeds shaded by calico

umbrellas surrounding the pool. Chief ’s 12 spacious suites

have private plunge pools and all the mod-cons you need, from

Nespresso coffee machines and aircon to well-stocked mini-bars

and wifi.

The island certainly lives up to its reputation as a predator

paradise. On game drives, we see hardly any other vehicles but

plenty of lion, either alone or in prides of up to ten, prowling the

plains or sleeping in the afternoon sun. We come across a huge

dark-maned male lying by the track. As he gets up, he roars then

stalks towards a herd of impala. The tension in the air is palpable

but the antelope defiantly stand their ground, rooted to the spot

as their predator walks past.

On one drive, we spot a black rhino waddling gracelessly

across the plain. She’s huge and prehistoric-looking, and

she’s very special. Mary was brought from South Africa in

an extensive relocation programme with Botswana Rhino

Conservation. Secrecy surrounds the exact number translocated

to Botswana, where rhino were once extinct. Our guide tells us

that she’s “heavily pregnant and, unusually for a black rhino,

always calm”. I’m very thankful we saw her.

But it’s not all about the big beasts. On a mokoro, a traditional

dug-out canoe, we glide blissfully along a lily-strewn channel

spotting tiny frogs clinging on to grasses and dragonflies

fluttering all around us. It’s a classic Okavango scene as the

floodwaters arrive from Angola. We head back as the sun sets,

reflected perfectly in the mirror-like waters.

And for all the thrill of the Big Five, the animal I really love

to watch is the wild dog. The following morning, we leave at a

chilly 6am, aiming to reach their den before they go hunting.

We find these super-efficient killing machines snuggled up

together against the cold, with sated bellies and blood-stained

faces. There are 10 in the pack, their huge saucer-shaped ears

popping up now and then amid their palette of unique brown,

white, gold and black patterned hides – no wonder these canines

are known as ‘painted’ dogs.

These fascinating, family-focused beasts may not be in the

exclusive clique of the Big Five, but they’ve long intrigued me

and my time in their company was truly special.

Once again, effortlessly, the Delta delivers…

previous page, from left: A wild dog; leopard on the prowl;

Sanctuary Chief ’s Camp

opposite, clockwise from top left: Wild dog; a lioness with her cub;

a rhino in the bush; giraffe; sunset over the Delta; cruising up to Chief’s Camp

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

A&K’s 11-night Classic Botswana itinerary starts at £5,695 per

person (based on two sharing, includes flights, private transfers,

accommodation and selected excursions). For more information,

call our Africa travel specialists on 01242 547 702.

16 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


BOTSWANA

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 17


OPEN FOR

BUSINESS

OVER A YEAR AFTER TWO MAJOR HURRICANES MADE LANDFALL

IN THE CARIBBEAN, HOTELS ARE REOPENING AND THE ISLANDS

ARE BOUNCING BACK, SAYS A&K’S AMANDA SPRINGER

Furious storms are nothing new in these islands

but 2017’s hurricane season was unparalleled in the

Caribbean. Hurricanes Irma and Maria were both

Category 5 strength (top of the Saffir-Simpson scale

of hurricane intensity) and 2017 was only the second

season on record when two of these storms hit. Many

islands were battered and damaged, but that doesn’t

mean you should stay away – quite the opposite. Around

70 per cent of the islands were unaffected by Irma and

Maria, and tourism revenue coming into one island

helps the whole region. The countries that were affected

are now rebuilding and reopening, as swiftly as possible,

to tourists.

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to book your next Caribbean holiday,

call our beach travel specialists on 01242 547 780.

18 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


ANGUILLA

Irma swept across this tiny British dependency on 6 September 2017.

More than a year later, the island has mostly recovered. Over 70 per

cent of the island’s villas and 95 per cent of restaurants have reopened.

Most luxury hotels are welcoming guests including Four Seasons

Resort and Residences, which required repairs due to storm damage,

and Belmond Cap Juluca, which closed before the storms for a $121

million refurbishment. Malliouhana (below) will debut 17 new rooms in

early 2019 – including Turtle Beach-front villas.

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA

The dual-island nation had two blasts of the hurricane season.

Barbuda, the smaller island with a population of just 2,000, was the

worst hit of all the Caribbean nations – Irma’s eye passed over it on 5

September. Antigua, however, only sustained minor damage. Jumby

Bay Island (above), Curtain Bluff, Carlisle Bay (left) and Hermitage

Bay – to name but a few – are all open as normal.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

Hurricanes Irma and Maria joined forces to inflict notable damage

on the BVIs, with Virgin Gorda hit very hard. The islands were still

reeling from the impact of Irma when Maria passed through. On

these devastated islands, full power was only restored in spring 2018.

Long-term reconstruction is underway and a few of the resort islands

are reopening. Richard Branson’s Necker Island resumed welcoming

guests in October 2018. Rosewood Little Dix Bay (below), which

sustained significant damage, is slated to reopen in late 2019.

ST BARTS

This tiny French overseas collective was slammed by Irma on

6 September, with beach hotels sustaining the most damage.

Many buildings on the island are concrete so have been rebuilt

with exceptional speed. Eden Rock on St Jean Bay and

Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France (above) saw Saint Barthelemy

reopened in time for Christmas.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 19


I REALISED IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO GO

FROM MELBOURNE TO ADELAIDE THROUGH

WINE REGIONS I BARELY KNEW

20 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


AUSTRALIA

Time to

WINE AND DINE

STOPPING TO TASTE THE VERY BEST THAT

VICTORIA AND SOUTH AUSTRALIA HAVE TO

OFFER, NINA CAPLAN ALLOWS HERSELF TO

BE DRIVEN TO DELIGHT IN THEIR VINEYARDS

There are two great things about road tripping in

Australia: the lack of complications – no borders or

language changes – and the wondrous sense of freedom.

There’s so much to see, and you are in control of how and when

you see it. Plus, the horizons are so broad and the landscape

so beautiful, you feel as if you’ve removed blinkers you never

realised you were wearing.

I’ve travelled the Great Ocean Road, the spectacular coastal

drive between Victoria and South Australia, before; this time

I decided to see what lay inland, away from that distractingly

lovely shoreline, and the answer, happily, was wine. These

regions are less famous than the Yarra or Clare Valleys, but their

lack of renown has nothing to do with quality. I realised it would

be possible to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide through wine

regions I barely knew, stopping at the excellent restaurants that

seem to grow like vines in grape territory, and discover a whole

new Australia while I was at it. And when I say “drive”, obviously

I mean “be driven”. Who wants to be behind the wheel when

there’s tasting to do?

From Melbourne’s fabulous QT hotel in the CBD, I went

south-west, to Geelong, the little city right on the bay, to dine at

Igni, a superb restaurant that prides itself on its tasting menu,

invented daily according to what producers have supplied that

morning. I also stopped at Geelong Cellar Door, a cosy spot

with an open fire that specialises in local wines – which you can

also take away.

If you’re wondering what to try, Wines by Farr is a good label

to look for, since they, unusually for an Aussie winery, don’t

welcome visitors: the wines are so good, and quantities so small,

they don’t need to. Or try Lethbridge wines, which are also

superb – although you can visit Ray Nadeson and Maree Collis,

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 21


just 30 minutes drive north, and if you ring in advance they’ll

prepare a platter lunch to accompany their vintages.

Geelong is a great jumping-off point, not into the bay but into

the vineyards that benefit from its cooling influence. There are

plenty to choose from: Leura Park Estate; Jack Rabbit Vineyard,

which has a restaurant with panoramic views; Oakdene, where

the owner’s offbeat artistic sensibility shows in artworks dotted

round the premises, and you taste the wines in what looks like

a house tipped on its head; and Scotchmans Hill, from which

winemaker Robin Brockett claims you can see all the way to

Melbourne, although I’m not sure why you would particularly

want to. Better to admire the vines from the old-style

farmhouse, in between sampling platters of nibbles, and tasting

their excellent wines.

Another way to enjoy the scenery is on the Q Train, a

crazy notion to show off the view and the local produce via a

decommissioned locomotive brought down from Queensland.

A six-course tasting menu is served in First Class; dishes arrive

on a tiered tray of the kind more usually seen in hotels serving

afternoon tea, and local wines are served as the train slides past

the birdlife of Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park and the

scenic waters of Swan Bay.

Under no circumstances should anyone travelling this

route miss out on Brae – that is, unless they hate great food

and wine. Dan Hunter made his name at the Royal Mail Hotel

(still worth a stop for his successor Robin Wickens’ restaurant

– and the largest privately owned wine cellar in the Southern

Hemisphere), but has since moved to Birregurra and created

a gastronomic marvel in a former farmhouse. Here, he and

his team mill their own flour and grow their own produce.

The multi-course menu in the restaurant, from which you can

look outward onto gum trees or inward to the busy kitchen, is

an exceptional blend of local ingredients, witty presentation

and a broad overview on what’s needed to create a worldclass

restaurant. There are six rooms, all with record players,

baths overlooking the countryside, and the best mini-bar I’ve

ever seen: half bottles from makers like Bill Downie, whose

recherché wines are hard to find even in big cities.

Drive across the invisible border into South Australia and the

land changes subtly: first there’s the Blue Lake, a volcanic crater

near Mount Gambier filled with water that turns turquoise in

the summer (I was there in winter and it’s pretty blue then, too);

then the Naracoorte Caves, a series of grottos discovered in 1859

by Reverend Tenison-Woods, who claimed they were Australian

evidence of the Biblical flood. The caves are filled with the bones

of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures that fell into these

hollows and were trapped and preserved, including marsupials,

lion and gargantuan kangaroo, and the eerie lighting and

dramatic rock formations make for a memorable experience of

the land that nurtures the vines above.

The third place to see the differences between this patch of

Australia and every other region is in the glass. The distinctive

red soil of Coonawarra makes a great home for cabernet

sauvignon in particular. There’s plenty of tasty proof, at Redman

Wines, Katnook Estate, Wynns – the longest-serving winery,

with an interesting mini-museum and the original train station,

long defunct, on their property – and Raidis Estate, where a

young couple are making great wines in an informal setting that

bodes well for the next generation of cabernet lovers.

And nobody goes hungry in Coonawarra, either. There’s

terrific food overlooking the vines at Hollick Estate or in town at

Pipers of Penola, a fine-tuned little place with a fabulous list of

local bottles.

Then it’s on to McLaren Vale, where Chester Osborn of

d’Arenberg wines has built a showplace for his products that’s

as oddball as he is: a giant Rubik’s Cube among the vines filled

22 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


AUSTRALIA

with experiences from sensory chambers to 180-degree filmic

views of the vineyards, to an opportunity to blend your very

own d’Arenberg. And when the craziness gets too much (even

the toilets have bonkers decoration), you can nip across to their

old-fashioned restaurant, d’Arrys Verandah, for a superb lunch

made from local ingredients.

Everybody is talking about the Cube, but a quieter McLaren

Vale experience that nobody should miss is feeding kangaroo

at Woodstock Wine Estate. Their wines are excellent too, but

there’s nothing quite like entering an enclosure where young

roos bound up for bottled milk, while a friendly emu looks on

wondering what all the fuss is about.

If you have time on the gorgeous drive to the Adelaide

Hills, Yangarra Estate Vineyard has a tasting room like a well

upholstered living room and a selection of wines made from

southern Rhône varieties that could give the vignerons of

Châteauneuf du Pape a run for their money. Nip east before

you drive west into Adelaide for lunch at Bird in Hand winery,

where the food is excellent, there are back vintages open to try,

and the birds in question – rose-breasted cockatoos, or galahs –

hop around the vines as if they own the place.

previous page: d'Arenberg Cube

clockwise from top left: Blue Lake, near Mount Gambier; Woodstock

Wine Estate; autumn in Adelaide Hills; Bird in Hand Winery; d’Arenberg Cube

Dead Arm shiraz vertical masterclass

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to book your driving tour of Southern

Australia’s wineries, call our Australasia travel specialists on

01242 547 826.

WHERE TO STAY

The QT Melbourne is slap-bang in the middle of the city’s CBD. This

old cinema has been transformed into an industrial chic boutique

hotel. There’s a buzzing rooftop bar, a Japanese knife store operated

by tenth-generation sword makers, and the walls are dressed with

specially commissioned artworks. Located on the famed Great

Ocean Road, in the village of Apollo Bay, Captains at the Bay is an

11-room seaside retreat that has the beach in easy reach. Formerly an

agricultural outpost built by a German immigrant in the 19th century,

The Barn in Mount Gambier is set in two hectares of manicured, English

gardens and is ideal for making hay during a stay. Constantly enticing

epicureans, The Louise is a slice of contemporary luxe in Barossa

Valley’s shiraz vine-lined hillside. Guests rave about the outstanding

restaurant and 15 suites with outdoor rainshowers in most. The Mayfair

Hotel on Adelaide’s King William Street has a gleaming, and gargoyletopped

Art Deco façade, but don’t let that scare you away. This sleek,

170-room hotel recently had a $55 million refurb and has upped

Adelaide’s accommodation game as a result. AD

clockwise from top: The QT Melbourne; The Louise vineyards; The Mayfair;

The Louise Appellation dining; Captains at the Bay

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 23


ADELAIDE

FLINDERS RANGES

TOP 10 REASONS TO VISIT

ADELAIDE

AND SOUTH

AUSTRALIA

KANGAROO

ISLAND

FLEURIEU

PENINSULA

BAROSSA VALLEY

ADELAIDE

ADELAIDE HILLS

MCLAREN VALE

The understated, and by many undiscovered, gem of Australia, Adelaide is idyllically located

between white-sand beaches and green rolling hills. This compact, accessible city is the

gateway to more than 200 vineyards, all within an hour’s drive. With impeccable foodie

credentials, Adelaide has a vibrant market precinct and scattering of quirky bars lining the

famous laneways. But lovely as it is, there’s more to South Australia than its capital – and if

you need convincing, here are our top reasons why you should visit…

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to discuss your next

holiday to Adelaide and South Australia, call

our travel specialists on 01242 547 826.

1

STAY IN TRUE LUXURY

A heritage-listed Art Deco building, the Mayfair Hotel

displays all the class of its London namesake. Rubbing

shoulders with Adelaide’s burgeoning laneway bars and

incredible restaurants, you’ll be rewarded for venturing

out from its tastefully decorated rooms – but if you’d rather

stay put, the Mayfair’s 13th-floor Hennessey Bar is stunning.

The elegant décor, from marble bar to glittering chandelier,

spills out on to a stylish deck and balcony, allowing you to

enjoy Adelaide’s Mediterranean climate.

WATCH WILDLIFE IN THE HILLS

If touring gently rolling hills, historic villages, and country roads lined with grapevines

appeals, read on. An easy 30-minute drive east of the city is the cool countryside of

the Adelaide Hills. Kick off the day with an excellent breakfast and panoramic views

at Mount Lofty, before meeting kangaroo, koala, wallaby, emu, Tasmanian devil, and

wombat at Cleland Wildlife Park. Of the nearly 50 wineries in the region, our favourite

is Penfolds Grange for a tour and to dine at their cellar door.

24 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019

2


3

HIT THE BEACH

The picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula is home

to fantastic surf beaches and pretty harbour

villages. Just a 45-minute drive south of

Adelaide, you can laze on the sand, or if you’re

feeling active, fish, snorkel, and scuba dive.

At the historic river port town of Goolwa,

Australia’s longest river, the Murray, meets

the sea. Keep an eye out for seal and penguin,

which frequent the coast. And if you haven’t yet

had your fill, the charming McLaren Vale has

over 65 wineries open for tastings.

WINE AND DINE IN

THE BAROSSA

The lovely Barossa valley is South Australia’s most

famous wine region, with more than 150 wineries

and around 80 cellar doors. Seppeltsfield Wines offers

the chance to taste a tawny fortified vintage from the

year you were born, straight out of the barrel – an

experience enjoyed by HRH Prince Charles and

the Duchess of Cornwall when they visited. A&K

recommends a hot-air balloon ride to take in an aerial

view of the vineyards. For the more active, a cycling

tour will help build up a thirst.

4

IMAGE: SEPPELTSFIELD WINES

5

SLEEP AMID THE VINES

We highly recommend a stay at The Louise, a winery

hotel set on a hill and surrounded by spreading grape

vines as far as the eye can see. There are just 15 suites,

each with its own terrace, allowing you to take in

the view while sampling world-class local wines. The

hotel’s Appellation Restaurant is well worth a visit,

attracting international acclaim with its locally sourced

produce. The daily chef ’s tasting menu is our favourite.

WORDS: JAMES TREACY

HOP OVER TO KANGAROO ISLAND

Known to locals as KI, this wildlife haven seems like something out of a

storybook. With just 4,000 people living on the island, there’s plenty of scope

to find a patch of wilderness and get under the skin of this incredible place.

For the active visitor, a trip through the rock formations and a hike along the

spectacular new KI Wilderness Trail – a three-hour walk along the coast –

are a must. With the Southern Ocean on one side, on the other you can spot

abundant wildlife including kangaroo, koala and many birds.

6

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 25


EXPERIENCE A SHORE THING

Sitting on the clifftop, surrounded by sand dunes, boutique hotel Southern

Ocean Lodge is the stuff of (sweet) dreams – and a favourite haunt of the

rich and famous. The Great Room serves as the lobby, with exhilarating

views of the Southern Ocean crashing against the rocks below. The open

bar and wine cellar allow you to continue your South Australian wine

odyssey in comfort. An eco-friendly design, the lodge runs on rainwater,

solar power, and compost recycling. Rooms are effortlessly cool, and the

Osprey Pavilion is our top choice. Don’t miss the Kangas and Kanapes

experience – sunset drinks surrounded by kangaroo in their natural habitat.

7

8

GET OUT IN THE OUTBACK

Remember the sweeping landscapes of the film Australia, starring Nicole

Kidman? You can experience the red desert in person at Arkaba Conservancy

in the Flinders Ranges. A four-and-a-half-hour drive, or quick flight north

of Adelaide, this former sheep station is an elegant 1850s homestead and

wildlife sanctuary set across 24,000 hectares, offering guests an all-inclusive

experience in its five elegant rooms. Each day, 4x4 safaris allow you to get

close to the wildlife and learn about award-winning conservancy projects. If

you’re feeling adventurous, you can book a guided walk and sleep in campsite

swags for two nights. Hot water is solar-generated at the homestead, with no

appliances in rooms, and a decanter of rainwater on bedside tables.

EAT AT AUSTRALIA’S

BEST RESTAURANT

Scottish chef Jock Zonfrillo, winner of MasterChef

Australia, is an odd champion for the Aboriginal food

revolution. Nonetheless, Orana has been named Australia’s

Restaurant of the Year at the Good Food Guide Awards.

Sitting in the centre of Adelaide’s Rundle Street, the intimate

dining spot focuses on native Australian ingredients and

traditional cooking methods. Orana means “welcome” in

some Aboriginal languages, and Zonfrillo has spent years

researching with the Aborigines. Everything cooked in the

restaurant is foraged by the chef ’s team, keeping the menu

in line with the seasons.

9

IMAGE: MATTHEW TURNER

10

TOUR WITH A LOCAL

Adelaide is small and compact, and with a friendly welcome

guaranteed, you’ll soon feel at home in its European-style

streets and lush green spaces. One way to accelerate the process

is to take an electric pedicab tour run by knowledgeable locals,

exploring the city’s intricate laneway networks, parks, cafés, and

boutiques. Lasting from one to two hours, let your guide know

what you’d like to see, and they’ll tailor the experience for you.

26 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


RAPID BAY, FLEURIEU PENINSULA

WELCOME TO OUR BACKYARD.

Paradise awaits on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, the Eyre Peninsula and the Fleurieu

Peninsula, where coastlines stretch hundreds of miles and the only footprints you’ll spot are

your own. Of course, our locals will be more than happy to show you around. Follow the lead of

dolphins and sea lions to crystal-clear coves with snow-white sand, then reward your wonder

with world-famous seafood and legendary local wine. Soak up the best of Adelaide and unearth

the raw beauty of South Australia in 2019. Visit abercrombiekent.co.uk or call 01242 547 826.


aloha

Hawaii

WHETHER YOU’RE TRAVELLING WITH FAMILY OR FRIENDS,

HONEYMOONING, OR SEEKING ADVENTURE, ONE OF HAWAII’S ISLANDS

WILL PROVE THE PERFECT DESTINATION, SAYS A&K'S CHARLOTTE WELLS

Sandy beaches, surf competitions, movie

blockbuster backdrops – the state of Hawaii

has it all, but it is also a haven of escape

and holiday bliss. A place with a distinctive

personality, it’s defined by its island culture,

unique nature, and looming volcanoes.

The 143 islands of Hawaii make up an

archipelago spanning 2,400 kilometres. Hawaii

will celebrate its 60th anniversary as a US state

in 2019, but it is far from a typical American

destination. The only state comprised of islands,

Hawaii has its own time zone and a diverse ethnic

mix – ranging through European, Polynesian,

American, Asian, Japanese, and Chinese.

Looking back a few decades, Hawaii was

synonymous with huge, faceless hotels focused

solely on US travellers looking to emulate Elvis

Presley’s lifestyle. Nowadays, visitors are savvier

and more international, seeking luxury and

adventure, cultural experiences, and a chance to

discover the natural world. Accommodation here

has had to step up to cope with demand.

Hawaii offers so much that it can be hard to

decide which island to choose, and how to spend

your time. So here’s a guide to the best bits of its

largest landmasses, and how to go about making

the most of a trip here. Hawaii is a place to

treasure – absorb the culture, the landscape,

the sun, the memories. Every island will delight

you in its own unique way.

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH: KATY CALDERWOOD

28 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


HAWAII

Kauai

GOOD FOR: ADRENALIN JUNKIES AND THRILL SEEKERS

Kauai is the oldest, northernmost, and fourth largest of Hawaii’s

main islands. You may recognise it as the backdrop for films

including Jurassic Park, Blue Hawaii, South Pacific and The

Descendants. This location is all about natural beauty and is

commonly known as the ‘Garden Island’. While there is surfing to

be done on its laid-back Na Pali, Kauai’s main attractions are its

landscapes – unspoilt rainforests, deep valleys, and awe-inspiring

cliffs dominate the scenery.

It’s an island for the outdoorsy and the active, with much of

it only accessible by sea or air. The Waimea Canyon or ‘Grand

Canyon of the Pacific’ may not be as large as its Arizona cousin,

but it is unique to the area. It’s 22 kilometres long, 1,600 metres

wide and 1,100 metres deep, showcasing waterfalls, and inland

and ocean vistas, and offers beautiful hikes into Kōke‘e State Park.

For other outdoor activities, kayaking down the island’s only

navigable river, the Wailua, is an excellent few hours of exercise;

or try to spot bird species such as frigate, booby and Laysan

albatross from the Daniel K Inouye Kilauea Lighthouse on the

island’s northernmost tip. In the right season and if you’re lucky,

humpback whale also pass this point, but even without seeing a

whale, a trip here is never wasted thanks to the spectacular views

of the surrounding peninsula and sea.

MAKE IT MEMORABLE WITH A&K:

• Take an overnight adventure into the Waimea Canyon and enjoy

two days of swimming, relaxing, and exploring petroglyphs and

unique flora and fauna.

Oahu

GOOD FOR: FAMILIES SEEKING FUN, SUN, AND SURF

Oahu is the ‘Gathering Island’, a melting pot of culture, sport,

nature, and family-friendly activities. The birthplace of Barack

Obama combines the Orient and the Occident, the modern and

the ancient. This ‘heart of Hawaii’ has the largest population of

the islands and is home to Honolulu, the state capital, a bustling

metropolis of shops and cultural highlights. Here you can visit the

Honolulu Museum of Art, ‘Iolani Palace, the Kawaiaha‘o Church,

and the Bishop Museum, helping you to understand more about

the heritage of this beautiful island and its sometimes sad history.

A visit to Pearl Harbor is a poignant and powerful reminder of

tragic times in World War II, as well as a commemoration of those

who lost their lives.

Oahu is more than its history, though, and Kualoa Ranch offers

activities for families including zip-lining, mountain biking, and

ATV drives, horse riding, and kayaking against the backdrop of

movie sets from Jurassic Park, Lost, Godzilla, 50 First Dates and

You, Me and Dupree. For even more active adventures, there are

remote hikes to be taken on the Leeward Coast and up to Kaena

Point for birdwatching and perhaps whale spotting. Or for surf

lovers, this is the place to be for the annual Vans Triple Crown

surf competition.

MAKE IT MEMORABLE WITH A&K:

• Explore the best of Oahu with a local insider revealing hidden

gems from remote beaches to authentic local culture.

• Enjoy serious big game fishing off the coast aboard a private

yacht charter, with family or friends.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 29


Lanai and Molokai

GOOD FOR: HONEYMOONERS AND HISTORY BUFFS

SEEKING OFF-THE-BEATEN-TRACK EXPERIENCES

Lanai

The smaller island of Lanai has only 3,200 inhabitants and the

grandly named Lanai City may be more of a village, but don’t be

fooled. Lanai has many a claim to fame. Known for its historical

industry, the ‘Pineapple Island’ was bought by James Dole (founder

of what is now the Dole Food Company). Dole bought Lanai

in 1922, creating an island-wide pineapple plantation – its final

pineapple was harvested in 1992.

Although one of the most remote, rural, and private islands,

Lanai now has another famous owner. In 2012, Oracle founder

Larry Ellison bought 97 per cent of Lanai for a record $600

million, wanting to make it the “first economically viable,

100 per cent green community”.

Whether he can achieve this remains to be seen and the island

remains divided into two distinct parts – luxury resort tourism

and low-key escapism. In the south, five-star resorts and golf

courses dominate an idyllic honeymoon destination – around

here, head for romantic sundowners and sunsets over Hulopoe

Bay, exciting cruises around Manele Bay to see spinner dolphin

at play, and exhilarating hikes to Puu Pehe, known fondly as

‘Sweetheart Rock’.

In contrast, head north for a more active adventure, where 643

kilometres of Lanai’s roads are dirt track, accessible only by 4x4

vehicles. The deserted beaches here will delight you, including

Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach) or, for a more horticultural trip, seek

out Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods). Lanai is also famed for

its sea cliffs, not as high as those of Molokai, but dramatic and

disconcerting nevertheless. These rocky edifices rise from 105

metres around Kaumalapau Harbor to 300 metres along the

coast and the sea stacks offshore at Nänähoa have to be seen to

be believed.

Molokai

Oh, Molokai – an island of discovery and delight. But it’s

somewhere most tourists to Hawaii simply don’t reach. There’s not

much there, no amenities to speak of – just a few local cafés for the

islanders (and those who make the extra effort to visit). But those

tourists who do come here are well rewarded.

Famed for its lack of infrastructure, Molokai is nature

undiscovered and a step back in time to the ‘old Hawaii’. The

residents, numbering around 7,500, are mostly native Hawaiian

and have a strong affiliation to the area’s heritage and history.

This area was once shunned and was used as a leper colony in

the 1800s within the confines of Kalaupapa National Historical

Park. Nowadays this park is only accessible by mule or on foot, but

it’s worth a visit to understand its history and see its flora and

fauna. Many of these species are federally listed as threatened and

endangered and here you may also spot monk seal, humpback

whale, and green sea turtle. At the edge of the park are the North

Shore Pali Cliffs – the tallest sea cliffs in the world – with views

over the Pacific.

For something unique on Molokai, a visit to Hoolehua Post

Office is great fun. Here, you can head to the Post-a-Nut counter

and mail a free coconut back to friends and family. Let them

experience a taste of the exotic, just like you.

MAKE IT MEMORABLE WITH A&K:

• Enjoy a challenging canoe trip to Molokini. Take part in a

stunning, yet rigorous, paddle and then jump in for truly

spectacular snorkelling.

• Island hop on a 50-minute flight from Kahului to Molokai,

passing over stunning views of west Maui’s rugged terrain.

previous page: Na Pali coast, Kauai; Waimea Canyon, Kauai

left to right: Sweetheart Rock, Lanai; beach off the Road to Hana,

Maui; lava flow off the coast of Big Island

MAKE IT MEMORABLE WITH A&K:

• Experience a relaxing and romantic catamaran sail as the sun sets

over beautiful Lanai.

• Ride through the hills surrounding Koele on horseback following

a ranch hand who will share the history of Lanai and the best

vistas to appreciate its beauty.

30 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


HAWAII

Maui

GOOD FOR: HONEYMOONERS AND THOSE

SEEKING AUTHENTICITY ON THE ISLANDS

Maui is the ‘Valley Isle’, boasting local charm, community spirit,

and activities that will keep you enjoying the Hawaii countryside

and outdoors all day long. The second largest Hawaiian island,

it prides itself on breathtaking scenery, lunar landscapes, and

bamboo forests, alongside its beachside opportunities for whale

watching, luau experiences, and excellent local cuisine including

Hawaii’s must-eat shave ice.

There are two sides to Maui that should both be experienced.

The first and the most touristy is the Road to Hana – an 84-

kilometre stretch that connects the town of Hana with Kahului.

With a 40 kilometre per hour speed limit on most of the route,

it’s a perfect way to spend time, meandering past waterfalls, sea

cliffs, rainforests, and beaches, and navigating hairpin bends. It’s

a testing drive (and sometimes called ‘the Divorce Highway’), but

it gives a lot back to those making the effort. Stopping off at the

many roadside stalls means you can experience an authentic side

to Maui – peruse flowers and lei, pineapples, banana bread, and

local jewellery – and then take a break at the Pools of Oheo for a

refreshing dip.

Artisan products are big business in Maui – and a visit to the

O’o Farm in Kula guarantees coffee lovers an experience of passion

and pride. This is coffee produced from seed to cup and is well

worth a detour. Craft beer should be sampled at Maui Brewing

in Kihei and the spirits on the island are very powerful – Ocean

Organic Vodka draws its strength from the deep ocean water used

in its production, while liquors from Hali’imaile Farm are locally

produced from the field to the bottle – something the owners are

rightly proud of.

It’s with good reason that Condé Nast Traveller has named Maui

the best island in Hawaii for more than 20 years.

Island of Hawaii

GOOD FOR: FAMILY HOLIDAYS WITH ACTIVE TEENAGERS

The ‘Big Island’ of Hawaii is also its youngest – and it really does

have it all. Several of the world’s climate zones are found here as

well as cosmopolitan bustle, natural beauty, and tourist bounty,

plus gastronomical excellence. If it comes to choosing a Hawaiian

island holiday and you don’t know where to start, this is probably

the one for you.

For a relaxing, break, there’s golf, luxury resorts and well-being

spas, authentic Hawaiian paniolos (cowboys), and home-grown

coffee to get you through every fun-packed day. In the main city

of Hilo, you can buy anything you could desire, and this vibrancy

lends itself to farmers’ markets, art museums, street-side cafés for

people-watching, shops, and even a rainforest zoo.

But there is also so much more. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

is simply unmissable. Here are three of the state’s most stunning

volcanoes – two of which are active. Mauna Loa is the world’s

tallest volcano, while its little sister Kīlauea sits 2,743 metres lower.

This is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, with bubbling

lava and molten magma. Part of the same park is the world’s tallest

mountain (when measured from its seabed base), Mauna Kea.

The area’s geology is fascinating, even for amateur enthusiasts.

For those that can bear to tear themselves away from the

volcanoes, the black sand of Punalu‘u Beach in the south and

the nearby volcanic, geothermal baths are worthy of a visit,

as are the views from Waipi‘o Valley Lookout, from where

you can see the tropical beauty of the Valley of the Kings.

MAKE IT MEMORABLE WITH A&K:

• Be guided off-the-beaten path for an amazing blend of nature,

culture, and a little history around the Big Island’s most

awe-inspiring sites, and greet the day from the top of Mauna Kea.

• Take a scenic sunset cruise aboard a state-of-the-art catamaran

then strap on your snorkel gear and dive in.

• Get up close to gentle manta ray, when you snorkel in the waters

off the beautiful island of Kona – the only place this can be done

in the islands.

• Enjoy a private, curated beach experience from a traditional

luau to an intimate ceremony on Kona.

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, advice on which island is right for you,

or to book your holiday to Hawaii, call our North America travel

specialists on 01242 547 717.

MAKE IT MEMORABLE WITH A&K:

• Soar above the traffic and twists of the road to Hana by

helicopter, passing over Haleakala volcano as well.

• Learn some new moves during a luau experience and participate

in traditional cultural dances followed by an authentic meal.

• Visit from December to March and view humpback whale passing

by from the comfort of your ocean-facing hotel room.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 31


MEET THE GUIDE

GARTH HOVELL

FOR 25 YEARS, A&K’S GARTH HOVELL HAS BEEN ONE OF AFRICA’S TOP GUIDES, IN DEMAND

BY THE MOST DISCERNING. HE TELLS ALICIA DEVENEY HOW HE’S NOW GOING GLOBAL

Named ‘Top Safari Guide’ at the 2018 Wanderlust World

Guide Awards, Garth Hovell is the real deal, with guests

calling him “the best – hands down”. Born in the Eastern

Highlands of what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the

43-year-old caught the wildlife bug early.

Aged five, he went to boarding school in Melsetter National Park

(since renamed Chimanimani), and was fascinated by the wardens.

“I would watch these guys who seemed so connected with nature

and the environment around them, and I just knew I wanted to be

like them,” Hovell remembers. Animal encounters were the norm

in the wild school grounds. “One day, I was running along a road

sloping up a hill with my head down and I heard a snort. I looked

up and there was an eland bull standing above me on the road. It

jumped right over my head and ran off into the bush,” he recounts

with glee.

During the school holidays, Hovell’s miner parents – who

moved to Botswana when Garth was 10 years old – took the

wildlife-obsessed boy to national parks all over East Africa.

And even when his parents couldn’t travel, Hovell wasn’t sitting

at home. Expat family friends would take Garth with them on

holiday. “Everyone knew I loved the outdoors and that I was

handy around a camp. A good kid to have around on safari,” he

laughingly recounts.

Upon leaving school aged 17, Hovell and his classmates were

all faced with the choice of university or an apprenticeship. For

the hands-on teenager, the decision was obvious, and he moved

to Victoria Falls to work towards his safari guide qualifications.

When he passed his Guide’s Proficiency Exam in 1998, he was the

youngest person ever to attain what was then the world’s most elite

guiding credential. “That year, 32 of us took the exam and only

three of us passed,” Hovell says with pride. The culmination of a

four-year apprenticeship, passing this exam licensed him to walk

unaccompanied with a rifle in any national park in Zimbabwe.

But as the political situation in the landlocked country

deteriorated and tourist numbers declined, Zimbabwe’s elite

guiding fraternity scattered. Thanks to the reputation they enjoyed,

they were highly sought-after all over Africa, and the world. Many,

including Hovell, who had moved to Zambia, set up training and

licence schemes, running guiding qualifications throughout the

continent. “I was on the Guiding Examiners’ Committee for the

South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Parks,” he says.

While working in Zambia, Hovell started to spread his wings.

“The season was short, and in the off-season I was guiding all

over the world. I worked in Australia, Russia, Malaysia; I did two

32 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


seasons in Ranthambore in India.” As well as tracking tiger, one of

Hovell’s favourite animals for its sheer power, size, elegance, and

majesty, it was in India where Garth met Lindsay, a Californian

whom he would later marry and return with to Zambia.

At around this time Hovell’s reputation as a guide came to the

attention of Abercrombie & Kent founder Geoffrey Kent. “Geoff

was looking for someone to conduct a VIP safari trip. He needed

a top guide and apparently my name came up a few times.” This

A&K safari would be the first of many and Hovell cites Kent as one

of his greatest influences. “Geoff is creative and brave. He thinks

outside the box. I learnt a lot from him.”

Another influential figure in Hovell’s career was Howard G.

Buffett, on whose advice Garth bought a decent camera and started

to hone his photography skills. He now acts as his guiding clients’

personal photographer, chronicling their journeys from South

America and Russia to Garth’s home territory of West Africa.

Clients hail him as an “excellent photographer” as well as praising

his “flawless guiding”.

Although lauded as a safari specialist, Hovell is now something

of a global expert – credit for which he gives to his parents, and

National Geographic magazine.

“When we moved to Botswana,

my parents bought hundreds of

National Geographics dating back

to the 1950s from another family.

We didn’t have a TV so that’s

how I entertained myself. I’ve

spent a lifetime learning about

the natural world.”

Aided by technological advances

and the proliferation of private jets,

Hovell is now able to lead

pan-African, pan-South American,

and pan-Asian trips with A&K from

his base in the UK’s Cotswolds. “In

the old days, you would go on safari for six weeks and maybe do

one country. Nowadays you can see six countries in two weeks.”

Does that mean that people are simply dipping into countries? Not

at all, he says: clients who travel with A&K want to be educated

and the role of the private guide is to impart in-depth knowledge.

Is there anywhere he hasn’t been, anything he hasn’t seen?

“I’ve been to Borneo several times and still never seen a clouded

leopard. And I haven’t really explored West Africa.”

Does he have a favourite destination? “Asia, and Central and

South America for their monumental archaeological sites; I’ve

been to Easter Island eight or nine times and seeing the moai

sculptures still wows me; but for sheer diversity of large mammals,

you can’t beat Africa.” For first-time Africa visitors, where would

Hovell recommend? “Africa has a way of getting under your skin,

it’s an evolution. First-timers go to Kenya and Tanzania. Then

Botswana and South Africa. And then, they start to go off-thebeaten

track.”

Has he ever been frightened for himself or his guests? “Sure –

not that they ever knew it,” he laughs. As he recounts campfire tales

of charging elephant protecting their young and other near-misses,

including saving a guest from a collision with the one car driving

along the one road in a remote desert, it becomes clear why truly

great private guides are so valued. “Guest safety is paramount. My

clients want to go to far-out places, often with their kids. And that’s

why I’m there: to be their safety net.”

When he passed his Guide’s

Proficiency Exam in 1998, he was

the youngest person ever to attain

the elite guide credential

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 33


34 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019

of Spain


SPAIN

IN SEARCH OF IBERIAN IDIOSYNCRASIES SCATTERED ALONG THE ROAD LESS

TRODDEN, PENELOPE RANCE TAKES A TOUR OF ANDALUSIA IN THE

COMPANY OF A&K REGIONAL EXPERT SIMON BUTLER-MADDEN

Hidden between the Costas and Córdoba, there is so

much more to southern Spain than a city break or

fly-and-flop beach holiday. A journey around

Andalusia unlocks a treasure trove of delights overlooked on

a standard Spanish sojourn. I am lucky enough to be escorted

by A&K expert Simon Butler-Madden, who opens the doors to

Seville, Córdoba, and Granada – and beyond, to the monuments

of the Muslim occupation and an unspoiled countryside of

pretty villages, rolling fields, and farms where fighting bulls are

bred and olive oil pressed, spread out beneath the white peaks of

the Sierra Nevada.

CÓRDOBA AND CASTLES

Our tour starts in Córdoba, once an important Roman city

set on the River Guadalquivir. At its heart is the Mezquita, a

cathedral built within a mosque. “Miraculously, unlike most

mosques in Andalusia, it was neither destroyed nor converted

into a church, but rather became incorporated into the Christian

monument,” says Simon. “In the 16th century, they built this late

Gothic, early Baroque Christian cathedral in the middle of the

mosque’s forest of arches.”

For an unparalleled view of the Mezquita, we walk over

another historic monument, the Roman pedestrian bridge

across the river, then enter the maze of whitewashed streets

and private patios with their famous flowers that make up the

Jewish Quarter.

After exploring CÓrdoba, we drive out of the city to the ruins

of the Palace of Medina Azahara which, until its destruction

in the 11th century, was alleged to be the most magnificent

building in Moorish Spain. A 24-kilometre detour takes us to

Almodovar del Río where, Simon promises, the beautifully

preserved castle is one of the most spectacular in the country.

THE ROAD THROUGH THE HILLS

Rather than following the herd on the charge to Granada,

we take a day to drive through the Subbética Córdobesa,

a landscape of rolling hills covered in olive trees. The road

leads south, through the town of Montilla, famed for its

sherry-style wines, which A&K can arrange for guests to

sample in a traditional winery.

Of late, Simon has favoured a pit-stop at Zuheros, a typical

village in the mountains, surmounted by a castle. “It’s a

marvellous place for walking up into. Next to Zuheros runs the

railway line once used to carry olive oil, which has been turned

into a walking and cycling track.” We hire bikes in Zuheros and

wheel 20 kilometres to Cabra, where our driver picks us up.

Cabra’s medieval centre, churches, and palaces merit an

exploratory stroll before we follow the pilgrims’ route to the

Hermitage of the Virgen de la Sierra. From here the road leads

to Priego de Córdoba, where A&K can organise a private visit

to an olive oil mill, and a walk through orchards harbouring

1,000-year-old trees.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 35


THE GLORIES OF GRANADA

In Granada, Simon sidesteps the cathedral in favour of the

exquisite Chapel of the Kings, created as the tomb of King

Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in tribute to their reconquest of

Moorish-occupied Spain.

But this city is famous above all

else for the Alhambra, the most intact

Moorish palace in the world. “It is

genuine Arabic architecture and the

tile-work is superb,” enthuses Simon.

“Built in the 14th and 15th centuries,

its highlight is the Court of the Lions,

with a fountain supported on six lions,

surrounded by columns, patios, and

reflecting pools.” Above the Alhambra

is the Generalife, originally a hunting

lodge and now the site of an early

20th-century reconstruction of

medieval Moorish gardens.

Across the valley sits Albaicín, an

Arab town preserved as a UNESCO

Heritage Site. “This is a perfect

Moorish town unchanged since 1492,

its tiny streets and alleys running up the hill,” reveals Simon.

“The streets smell like Marrakesh, with shops selling leather

goods from Morocco, and shisha cafés.” From the streets, we

take in sweeping views over the valley to the Alhambra, backed

by the snow-capped Sierra Nevada.

To the south is the Alpujarras, where we spend a day

exploring mountains, valleys, and villages – including Lanjarón,

famed for its mineral springs – which in the 16th century saw

the last resistance of the Moorish inhabitants.

UP INTO THE MOUNTAINS

The road to Seville takes us through a succession of villages,

among them Órgiva, where potteries still produce Alhambrastyle

tiles. We head along the dramatic Poqueira canyon, first

to Pampaneira, capital of the Sierra Nevada National Park, then

IT TOOK THE

MOORS SEVEN

YEARS TO CONQUER

SOUTHERN SPAIN.

THEN IT TOOK THE

CHRISTIANS SEVEN

CENTURIES TO

GET IT ALL BACK

up to Trevélez, the highest town in Spain at nearly 1,400 metres,

lauded for hams cured in the pure mountain air. At every turn

spectacular views, bubbling streams, or remote farmsteads

delight. “The English writer Gerald Brenan lived here in the

1930s and he was a great lover of Spain,”

says Simon, recommending the author’s

book South From Granada as holiday

reading. “You can still see the unspoiled

countryside fabled by Brenan in his

writing today.”

A second day en route to Seville is

spent in some of Andalusia’s enchanting

white villages. We stop in Ronda, atop

a cliff, and traverse the dramatic gorge

of El Tajo. One side of the town is little

changed since the time of the reconquest,

while on the other stands the oldest

bullring in Spain, dating from the

18th century.

Continuing through the ancient

landscape of the Serranía de Cádiz

mountains, we come to Ubrique, nestling

among forests of cork oak and indigenous

pinsapo pine. For centuries renowned for its fine leather goods,

the town still supplies fashion’s most famous names.

SEVILLE, A CITY OF TWO PEOPLES

“The Moors arrived in 712, and by 720, they had conquered

southern Spain. It took about seven years, and it took the

Christians seven centuries to get it all back.” Simon’s history

lesson underlines how large Arab heritage looms in Seville.

We begin at the Giralda, originally a minaret, and now the bell

tower of the cathedral. Commissioned in 1171, it is the twin of

the minaret of the Koutoubia in Marrakesh.

Another product of Seville’s dual heritage is the Alcázar, the

oldest functioning royal palace in Europe, built for the kings of

Castile after the reconquest. “But its origins go back to Moorish

times, in combination with more recent Arab architecture

36 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


SPAIN

called Mudejar, created by Muslim craftsmen living in a then-

Christian part of Spain,” says Simon.

We wander through the Santa Cruz district, its squares and

alleyways fragrant with orange blossom and jasmine, before

stopping at the Maria Luisa Park, created at the end of the

19th century and containing the Plaza de España, a massive

neo-Moorish structure with fountains and soaring spires,

used as a location for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

Often overlooked are the University, originally the Royal

Tobacco Factory, where, points out my guide, Bizet’s Carmen

worked; and the Palacio de las Dueñas, the Seville residence of

the Dukes of Alba, private entrance to which can be negotiated

on request by A&K.

Later we drive to Jerez de la Frontera, where, avoiding the

tourist traps, we sample sherry at the family-run Bodegas

Lustau, which dates back to 1896. Jerez is also famous for the

Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, run by the Domecq

clan, with twice-weekly displays of dressage and country riding.

We end with a visit to the Doñana National Park, one of the

most impressive wetland wildlife reserves in Europe. Here A&K

can line up a tour with a professional naturalist, exploring areas

closed to the public. Simon suggests one last look at the green

hills of Andalusia from the Sierra Norte, and I cannot resist.

This is a land less travelled, and is all the better for it.

CÓRDOBA

SEVILLE

ANDALUSIA

GRANADA

previous page: Puente Nuevo Bridge over the Tajo Gorge, Ronda

from left to right: Medina Azahara, Córdoba; Trevélez in the Sierra Nevada;

Doñana National Park; Plaza de España, Seville; the Alhambra, Granada

DOÑANA

NATIONAL

PARK

JEREZ

SUBBÉTICA

CORDOBESA

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information on how to arrange a guided tour of

Andalusia, or to book your next Spanish adventure,

contact our Europe travel specialists on 01242 547 703.

SEVILLE

RONDA

ÓRGIVA

SIERRA DE CÁDIZ

MOUTAINS

SIERRA NEVADA

NATIONAL PARK

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 37


FIVE PLACES

TO PLAY

COWBOY

GRAB YOUR STETSON AND MOUNT UP – IT’S TIME TO MAKE LIKE

JOHN WAYNE AND HARRY THEM STEERS. A&K’S EXPERTS PICK THE

MOST AUTHENTIC WILD WEST EXPERIENCES ON OFFER

Cowboy fever has hit us hard – vast lands, big skies and outdoor

pursuits never seemed so appealing, and when you can get

off-grid without compromising on comfort, there’s every reason

to indulge. It’s not just the US that champions the cowboy. You can canter

through the Argentine pampas on horseback, watch high-speed barrel

racing in Calgary, or embrace a rustic ranch in Chilean Patagonia offering

one of the most authentic gaucho experiences out there. So, saddle up

for the ride of your life: from southern Australia’s rust-red Outback to

the sweeping desert plains of Arizona, here are five places where you can

round ’em up and head ’em out.

CÓRDOBA

ARGENTINA

Play out your cowboy fantasy on a working cattle farm in Argentina’s

stunning Córdoba region. Overlooking the foothills of the Sierra Chicas,

rippling pampas and infinite plains, Estancia Los Potreros oozes true

estancia life.

Dating back to the 16th century, this ranch-cum-organic farm has

been run by the Anglo-Argentine Begg family for four generations. The

farm was originally used to breed mules for the Bolivian mines. Today

you’ll see herds of Aberdeen Angus cattle and over 100 Peruvian Paso

horses as well as a number of sure-footed Criollo cattle.

Slip on your poncho to go steaming through the pampas or track

further afield to see rural homesteads and small communities. It’s also an

excellent choice for a family holiday. Children can roam around (safely)

in the 2,500-hectare working farm and swim in waterfall pools.

Back at the ranch, it couldn’t get more authentic than working

alongside the gauchos. Guests can try their hands at lassoing cattle and

rounding up the herd.

After days in the great outdoors, unwind in a hammock with a good

book. In the land of superlative steak and wine, food is a real highlight.

Gather around the wooden dining table for home-cooked empanadas,

sizzling asados, and the finest Malbec.

CALGARY

ALBERTA, CANADA

Every July, over a million visitors head to Calgary in Alberta to watch

‘The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’. It’s a strong statement, but one

that’s entirely justified. The famed Calgary Stampede is where you can

go full Billy the Kid or Butch Cassidy – chuckwagon racing, horse riding

shows, one of the largest rodeos in the world, you name it. The event lasts

for 10 days but even after one, you’ll come out having learned how to

dress, act, and eat like a cowboy.

From sheep-shearing competitions to steer wrestling, there’s something

for everyone. You’ll need to reserve tickets to the most popular events

such as barrel racing, where women gallop on horseback at full-speed

around a series of barrels.

From as early as 6am, visitors amass for all-you-can-eat pancakes

loaded with bacon and maple syrup. Then there’s everything from

the obligatory steak to indulgent mac and cheese throughout the day.

Don’t forget to take home a legendary white cowboy hat, traditionally

bequeathed on visiting dignitaries including the Duke and Duchess

of Cambridge.

SCOTTSDALE

ARIZONA, US

It’s not just about Stetsons and leather chaps. For a taste of real-deal

cowboy life, head to Scottsdale, where you can sign up to cowboy

college. Here you can channel the rough ’n’ tough cattle wranglers whose

traditions continue on the ranches dotted throughout Arizona’s plains.

38 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


acacia trees and you’ll no doubt see emu or a family of red kangaroo.

Go for a bush walk Crocodile Dundee-style or join a field guide in the

evening to track nocturnal creatures. Guests also have the opportunity to

camp out under the shooting stars.

Highlights include a private flight over the Wilpena Pound, where you

can take in the mighty scope of its natural amphitheatre, and trips to the

scenic Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorges. Sip on sundowners on the top of

a mountain ridge and return to your Outback lodge to dine on delicious

bush tucker.

PATAGONIA

CHILE

There’s no internet or a bar of phone signal here – just Patagonia’s

reverberating wilderness. It takes a boat ride and an hour’s drive on a dirt

road to get to Estancia Mercedes, a family ranch offering a true dose of

gaucho life. Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said, “he who does not know the

Chilean forests, does not know the planet”, and staying here among the

mountains, fjords, sea, and pines, that quote could not resonate more.

Expect authenticity – helping to lasso cattle and searching for herds

in the mountains. You can also enjoy outdoor pastimes, galloping on

horseback along ancestral trails or seeking out waterfalls for a quiet dip.

Or hike through native forest to the Cerro Mirador lookout point where

you can see ever-blue views of the Almirante Montt Gulf.

The main highlight, though, is joining the gauchos for the day,

rounding up cattle in the countryside. This is far from the tourist set up.

Head out into the wild, eyes peeled for roaming herds, and drive them

back to the corral with the help of steely dogs. After a hard day’s work,

share stories around the fire with your new cowboy family while tucking

into flamed steak and local wine.

At one of these ranches, wild-west fans can learn the ropes under

expert tutelage, riding Western style, practising horsemanship as well as

rope and wrangling techniques. Swing a lasso like a pro and master the

art of shoeing, then show off your skills at the gymkhana, jumping fences

and cantering around barrels – guaranteed family fun. Highlights include

cattle roundups and children’s camp specials that will have your Sundance

Kids reading animal body language and driving mini horse-carts. You’ll

also have the opportunity to ride out into the wide open spaces of the

prairie and camp out if you’re feeling more adventurous.

After days of working cattle, retreat to Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort

& Spa. Guests come here to lap up this desert oasis with waterways,

gondolas, and every bell and whistle – the flowering cacti and expansive

swimming pools are the perfect antidote to ranch work. You can knead

out any muscle ache in the spa.

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to book your authentic cowboy experience,

call our travel specialists on 01242 547 760.

ARKABA

SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA

Australia’s Wild, Wild West can be explored from Arkaba, a former

sheep-station-turned stylish homestead set among 24,000 hectares of

private conservancy. On the edge of the eye-catching Flinders Ranges,

the landscape is a natural playground for adventurers, or anyone looking

to reconnect with nature. Drink in amber-coloured mountains and

golden plains, so expansive you could spend days exploring the

500 million-year-old red rock, fossils, and Aboriginal artwork.

While you can’t herd livestock any more at Arkaba, the removal of

sheep means that wildlife here gathers en masse, including the rare

yellow-footed wallaby and elusive quoll. Walk out among the creeks and

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 39


LOOKING FOR A BONDING EXPERIENCE THAT WILL BRING YOU CLOSER TO YOUR YOUNG

RELATIVES? TRY AN ADVENTURE IN COSTA RICA FOR FUN AND THRILLS ALL ROUND,

RECOMMENDS JANE DUNFORD

A

light mist hangs in the early morning air as our raft

navigates the curves of Rio Blanco. All around, tropical

foliage cascades down towards the water – and with

no one else in sight, we feel like true explorers on a jungle

adventure through an undiscovered land.

As we round a bend, our small group draws a collective

breath as our guide points to the riverside – there on the bank,

just a couple of metres away, a crocodile sunbathes, its mouth

ajar, looking like something out of the Jurassic period.

My niece Georgia snuggles a little closer to me, but she’s

mesmerised – and not for the first time on this Costa Rica

trip. We’re two days in and the animal kingdom has already

impressed, with everything from spider monkey to giant iguana

and colourful toucan. This tiny Central American country

(about the size of Denmark at 121 kilometres by 290 kilometres)

is home to an incredible five per cent of the world’s biodiversity

– and with some of the most enlightened conservation policies

on the planet, it certainly packs a punch when it comes to

brilliant wildlife experiences.

With its volcanic landscape, lush rainforests, and Caribbean

and Pacific coastlines, it’s a natural playground, but the tourism

infrastructure is impressive too – amazing lodges and hotels as

well as decent roads. So for anyone travelling with children it

strikes a perfect balance between comfort, safety, and adventure.

I don’t have children of my own and wanted somewhere

special to take my 12-year-old niece for an alternative family

holiday, somewhere she would remember forever.

Costa Ricans use the phrase “pura vida” (pure or simple life)

as a greeting and our week was to be an immersion in nature, a

bonding experience far from life back home.

A direct British Airways flight from London to the capital San

José, which launched mid-2016, makes travelling with children

much easier – and we spend a day exploring the museums and

Botanical Gardens.

But the real fun starts when we hit the road north – driving

through valleys of cloud forest, where waterfalls splash close to

the roadside and signs warn of monkey and raccoon-like coati

crossing. “It feels like we’re in The Jungle Book,” says Georgia,

wide-eyed as the dramatic scenery unfolds.

It’s a landscape that lends itself to countless activities – from

zip-wiring to canopy bridge tours, from white-water rafting

to scuba diving. We hike around soaring Arenal Volcano near

La Fortuna – and soak afterwards in the soothing waters of a

thermal spa under the stars. We venture north into the pristine

forests near the border with Nicaragua, enjoying kayaking river

trips and day and night walking safaris where we spot sloth and

the cartoon-like tree frog with its bulging orange eyes and feet.

Experiencing it all with a child in tow enhances the sense

of wonder – and as auntie/niece bonding time it couldn’t have

been better. A family holiday doesn’t have to mean one with

your own children – whether it’s a niece, nephew, grandchild,

or godchild who accompanies you, a Costa Rica holiday can’t

fail to be magical.

FAMILY-FAVOURITE ACTIVITIES

THE RAINFOREST AND SOUTH PACIFIC

Don’t miss a stay on the stunning Osa Peninsula, one of the

wildest and most remote areas of the country and home to

Corcovado National Park (recommended for children aged six

and over). Lapa Rios eco-lodge, high on a hillside overlooking

the ocean, makes a wonderful base, with beautiful bungalow

accommodation. From here it’s easy to explore the coast and

go dolphin watching (common, bottle-nosed, or spotted), as

well as whale watching in September and November. Children

can learn about rainforest conservation at Lapa Rios too, and

plant a tree with their name on it. The 400-hectare protected

national park has plenty of kid-friendly hiking trails, and the

lodge will provide junior-sized hiking boots. For a true cultural

immersion, families can visit Carbonera School on the edge of

the park, meeting schoolchildren and perhaps enjoying a song

or game of football. Energetic older children can learn to surf

on many beaches like Playa Pan Dulce, or kayak through the

picturesque mangroves.

TREE-TOP TOURS AND NIGHT WALKS

Around Arenal, an active volcano in north-western Costa

Rica, and Monteverde, an area to the south known for its

cloud forest, hanging bridges and trails, getting up close to

the rainforest is easy. Special naturalist guides lead small groups

on impressive Sky Walks through the canopy, 1,600 metres

off the ground, with the chance to spot countless bird species,

monkey and sloth, as well as learn about the ecosystem and its

flourishing plant and animal life. It’s full immersion in the sights

and sounds of the jungle – a winning experience for kids of

all ages.

For an alternative, heart-pounding journey, try zip-wiring

through the treetops and watch the jungle flash by as you whizz

along cables over canyons, flying between trees, with incredible

views in all directions.

After sunset, both Monteverde and Arenal are perfect places

for ground-level night tours. It’s an active time for varied

fauna, with diurnal animals seeking out places to sleep and the

nocturnal creatures waking up.

40 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


GEORGIA’S TAKE:

YOUR FAVOURITE MEMORY

I loved Costa Rica, it was a great

experience – particularly seeing

animals up close in their natural

environment. My favourite part

was the river safari. It was very

relaxed and peaceful, even if we saw

crocodiles! I learnt a lot from our

guide. Afterwards we ground cacao

and made our own hot chocolate.

RIVER-BASED FUN

Criss-crossed by many rivers, Costa Rica has boating adventures

for all ages. For older children the thrill of white-water rafting

on fast-flowing Pacuare River, which runs to the Caribbean,

might appeal (ages 14 and up). The river gorge, flanked by steep

green walls, traverses virgin rainforest and is one of the best

places in the world for white-water adventures with dozens of

exciting rapids. There are plenty of options for more leisurely

raft floats (suitable for ages six and up), perhaps Balsa River in

Arenal or Penas Blancas near Nicaragua’s border.

Corobici in the Guanacaste region in the north-west is a

favourite too, the river bordered by tropical dry forest with

mahogany and ceiba trees. Whichever you choose there will be

wildlife aplenty from exotic birds to Jesus Christ lizard – named

for its ability to run on water – as well as morpho butterflies and

caiman.

Larger boats are used for cruises in some areas, such as Caño

Negro wildlife reserve – an important wetland area in the north

and an incredible place for wildlife-spotting in comfort.

WILDLIFE CLOSE-UPS

Any animal-loving child will be in their element at the Asis

Wildlife Refuge in Arenal. As well as getting up close to the

wildlife and hearing their stories, there’s an option to volunteer.

From learning about their diet and helping prepare food and

feeding them, to helping clean or repair enclosures, it offers a

unique insight into the animal world – with everything from

rescued snake to monkey and toucan or hawk.

The Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean, famed for

turtle that nest here, is another must-visit. Green sea turtle,

leatherback and hawksbill can all be spotted here during the

summer months (especially green turtle from July to October).

Guides take visitors to the beaches at night to watch these

mesmerising creatures crawling onto the sand to dig nests and

lay their eggs – or if you’re lucky you might even see baby turtle

hatching and scuttling to the sea. Memories that will last forever.

SEA ADVENTURES

While land-based activities won’t fail to impress, the ocean

offers yet more brilliant family fun. From a catamaran or sailing

boat, the lushness of the coast is even more striking – and there

are pristine white coves and incredible coral reefs, rich with

marine life, to explore beneath the waves. The Gulf of Nicoya,

an inlet on the Pacific Ocean, is known for its enchanting

landscape, and places like Tortuga Island with transparent

waters that are home to giant schools of fish are snorkelling

heaven. The Gulf of Papagayo, off the north-western coast,

is another top spot with secluded beaches and great diving

and snorkelling.

The Pacific Coast is a surfing mecca with options for

all levels and ages. Stay at Lapa Rios or the Four Seasons

Papagayo for lessons with the pros – and wonderfully luxurious

accommodation at the end of a day on the water.

opposite: River-kayaking adventure

above: Jane and her niece Georgia

on a hike

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

A&K’s 12-night Active Costa Rica itinerary starts at £4,570 per

person (based on two sharing, includes flights, private transfers,

accommodation and selected excursions). For more information,

call our Latin America travel specialists on 01242 547 701.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 41


EUROPE’S BEST

BEACH BOLTHOLES

Whether it’s the desire for peace or the chance to loll

by the pool undisturbed, there are plenty of reasons

to choose a holiday in a villa. You could be a family

wanting quality time under one roof or a group of friends seeking

the ultimate jaunt – either way, combining the villa with the perks

of a hotel can really up the ante.

From all-singing, all-dancing resorts with every facility under

the sun to romantic whitewashed hotels with sought-after privacy,

here is our European roundup of the fabulous beach villas that tick

every box.

Best for wellness

THE MARBELLA CLUB, SPAIN

The low-down

The Marbella Club may have been around for 60-odd years, but

its charm remains irresistible. Stay here for a seamless blend of

restorative wellness in true Andalusian style. Talk to a life coach

who can orchestrate a tailor-made healing menu. Nutritionists,

naturopaths and personal trainers are also on hand to advise on

various detox, fitness, and de-stress programmes.

The villa

To take wellness to the next level, bunk down in Villa El Cortijo

(inset below), a two-floor home away from home. Rooms feel

fresh with sophisticated neutral tones, four-poster beds, paisley

throws, and deep bath tubs. Flop by the outdoor pool and enjoy

dinners on the terrace. If you’re with the family, children can

zip off and enjoy anything from gazpacho making lessons to

flamenco classes.

Best for families

PINE CLIFFS RESORT, PORTUGAL

The low-down

Overlooking the sweeping gold sands and rust-red rock of the Algarve, Pine Cliffs Resort

offers more than just a dose of sun, sand, and sea. A village-sized kids’ club complete with

two playhouse pirate ships (inset above) offers guaranteed excitement. It caters for toddlers

to teens and everyone in between. Sporting types can make use of the Annabel Croft Tennis

Academy as well as golf for both parents and children.

The villa

If you’re a large family or even two families together, you can enjoy doing as little or as much

as you want. The Retreat Villa (above) sleeps up to eight people, and comes complete with

an outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, and open-plan living room. The hotel chef can whip up celebratory

dinners or prepare outdoor barbecues so you don’t have to lift a finger.

42 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


Most romantic

THE GRACE SANTORINI, GREECE

The low-down

Sleek, chic, and deliciously romantic, the Grace Santorini (right) is

an all-white escape carved into the clifftops. Framed by minimalist

lines with a charcoal-beige colour palette, gazing over the sea-filled

caldera will keep you hypnotised for days. When the evening sets

in, take to the Champagne Lounge for legendary sunset views.

The villa

Hole up in this two-bedroom villa for undisputed privacy or a

romantic escape. Arrive to a pre-stocked fridge of goodies and a

seven-choice pillow menu. There’s a private swimming pool (inset

right) with gorgeous sea views, and your very own spa complete

with a hammam, Jacuzzi, and treatment room. Guests get first

dibs at the restaurant or can request a private chef to cook fresh

fish dinners. The on-call concierge can arrange island hopping by

helicopter or boat trips on the sparkling Aegean Sea.

WORDS: SACHA HARRISON

All bells & whistles

FORTE VILLAGE RESORT, SARDINIA

The low-down

There’s a reason why Forte Village Resort is repeatedly voted

World’s Leading Resort. Aside from the sweeping views of the

south-western Sardinian coastline, its five-star service stands

unrivalled. Think dinner orchestrated by Gordon Ramsay followed

by Andrea Bocelli for the evening’s entertainment. Stand out

facilities include an award-winning kids’ club complete with

Barbie VIP packages and an AcquaPark, as well as Versace and

Alberta Ferretti boutiques and an on-site Mahiki nightclub.

The villa

Villa Aurora reveals a contemporary chic space with polished

oak floors and alabaster walls. Sliding glass doors look out to

1,000 square metres of immaculate lawns and tropical gardens.

Lounge on the teak wood sundeck or under the shade of the

bougainvillea-covered pergola. A private chef and butler remain

at your disposal should you wish.

Most glamorous

BORGO EGNAZIA, ITALY

The low-down

Planted on Puglia’s Adriatic coast, Borgo Egnazia’s white tufo stone

walls resemble a gleaming citadel (inset left). Lap up celeb-worthy

service with local advisors on hand should you want to hire a bike,

make a spa reservation, or learn how to make orecchiette. Il Borgo,

the village-like square, offers buzzing restaurants and live music

at night, while sun worshippers can make use of the two beach

clubs nearby.

The villa

Villas here have names like Meravigliosa and Magnifica, befitting

their grandeur. The best bit is that you don’t have to share your

swoon-worthy pool with another soul, and you can enjoy citrus

gardens and private courtyards in peace. For ultimate glamour,

the owner’s seven-bedroom villa, Padronale (left), spreads over

500 square metres with ancient olive trees. Its enviable rooftop

terrace, lit by candles at night, is the perfect place for a nightcap.

The villa also comes with an on-hand masseuse, butler, and

local advisor.

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

To book your next European beach and villa holiday, call our

travel specialists on 01242 546 611 or 01242 547 705.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 43


GRAND

DESIGNS

ESCHEWING COOKIE-CUTTER ARCHITECTURE AND COULD-BE-ANYWHERE

SURROUNDINGS, THE CLEVEREST HOTELS ARE PUSHING THE ENVELOPE WITH

EVER MORE CREATIVE SPACES TO STAY. IANTHE BUTT LOOKS AT FIVE

HEAD-TURNING PROPERTIES WHICH HAVE REINVENTED THE BAR

THE END-OF-THE-EARTH ONE: FOGO ISLAND INN, NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA

IN A NUTSHELL: A remote island retreat off the north-east

coast of Newfoundland famed for its showstopping criss-cross

architecture, created by Todd Saunders.

THE DESIGN BUZZ: Fogo Island Inn is a real celebration of

its rugged fishing village surroundings and traditional culture.

The area’s original settlers weren’t allowed to build permanent

structures, meaning they created wooden buildings which rested

gently on the coastal landscape using wooden legs or ‘shores’.

Similar columns can be seen supporting Saunders’ minimalist

structure, which is clad in locally sourced black spruce and was

constructed in collaboration with a host of resident craftspeople

and artisans.

THE VIBE: Natural history. Rough-hewn woods and earthy

colour palettes provide a backdrop for stylish furniture, flickering

fireplaces and snug nooks to hole up in. It’s the kind of place to

let creativity run amok, write a novel, or paint the ever-shifting

scenery; 29 rooms have spectacular views of the iceberg-studded

North Atlantic Ocean. Plus there are hot tubs and a sauna on

the roof, an art gallery, mini-cinema, and restaurant helmed by

Jonathan Gushue, which focuses on hyper-local ingredients

and, of course, fresh seafood.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Hike the island’s ancient trails; go

fishing; try your hand at boat-building; and daytrip to Oliver’s

Cove or the Little Fogo Islands. Also spy on more of Saunders’

handiwork – he’s designed a number of artists’ studios on

the island.

44 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


THE OUT-THERE ONE:

SHIPWRECK LODGE, NAMIBIA

IN A NUTSHELL: In what looks like a surreal Dalí canvas, washed up in the striking

Skeleton Coast desert are ten shipwreck-inspired timber cabins and a restaurantlounge,

all with wood-burning fires and decked out with nautical curios.

THE DESIGN BUZZ: The sustainable-whizzkids at Namibian studio Nina Maritz

Architects were responsible for the bold rooms. Sustainably sourced timber panels

were prefabricated using laser cutters in Windhoek, before travelling a bumpy 10

hours overland and assembled on-site. As the lodge’s concession spans a 25-year

period, a leave-no-trace ethos was adopted, should it need to be dismantled in

future. Recycled plastic insulation and beechwood – rather than metal – nails were

used in the build, and electricity is solar and wind-generated.

THE VIBE: Otherwordly; each ‘boat’ is a snug haven, with slanted windows

which let in panoramas of oryx skittering over sand dunes and crow cawing

over the gunmetal-coloured waves of the distant Atlantic Ocean. The architecture

might be inspired by the area’s notoriety as a treacherous spot for sailors,

evidenced by the shipwrecks which line the shore, but interiors by Melanie van

der Merwe – antique chests, marine-hued velvets, and battered books – create

a cosseting atmosphere. She’s chosen to shine a spotlight on Namibian crafts:

bespoke furniture made by Namibian carpenters at Wild Wood; glittering

chandeliers and grape-like strings of beads created from upcycled old bottles

by Kabo Craft; and placemats made by underprivileged women as part

of a social enterprise in Windhoek.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Visit real-life shipwrecks; lunch surrounded

by the unusual ‘wax-drip’ rock formations of the Clay Castles; search for

desert-adapted elephant and giraffe; or hang out with millions of seal at

Möwe Bay.

THE ADVENTUROUS ONE:

SHINTA MANI WILD, CAMBODIA

IN A NUTSHELL: The latest opening from hotel hitmaker

Bill Bensley, 15 custom-designed tents nestled in the southern

Cambodian wilderness, in a valley between Phnum Bokor and

Kirirom National Parks.

THE DESIGN BUZZ: Arrival is unconventional – after a road

or helicopter trip, guests can whizz along a 380-metre zip-line

through the treetops, into the landing bar – setting the tone for

a fun stay. “Too many hospitality projects take themselves too

seriously,” says Bensley, “and what is the point of that? I want

folks to laugh, learn, and remember where they have been.”

(Jeep transfers are available for those who don’t fancy an Indiana

Jones-style entrance.) Plush tents, constructed in ecofriendly

materials, are raised from the forest floor to help minimise

impact, and perch over rushing rivers and waterfalls –

meaning not only astonishing views, but natural cooling too.

THE VIBE: Wild at heart, with heart. While Bensley has said

interiors are a take on what a Cambodian safari might have

looked like if accompanied by Jackie O – think sofas adorned with

bright wildlife-pattern prints, deep iron bathtubs, and artefacts

sourced from flea markets and antiques fairs – and there’s a luxe

spa and forest-to-table cuisine. The project took shape as a way to

help protect the surrounding river valley from poaching, mining,

and logging, and supports local community projects.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Take a boat along winding waterways;

join Wildlife Alliance Rangers checking camera traps; and go

foraging with the chef.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 45


THE ARTY ADAPTIVE REUSE ONE:

THE SILO, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

IN A NUTSHELL: A 1920s grain silo on the V&A Waterfront

reimagined as a luxe hotel atop a groundbreaking art museum,

masterminded by hoteliers The Royal Portfolio and Thomas

Heatherwick Studios.

THE DESIGN BUZZ: A real skyline gamechanger, at first glance

what’s most striking are the rows of statement pillowed glass

windows which bulge, bubble wrap-like, popping out a metre past

the historic building’s façade. These upper floors, in the former

grain elevator portion, house the hotel’s 28 rooms. What’s inside is

just as impressive, a soaring atrium with the central silos hollowed

out in mesmerising grain shapes and the Zeitz Museum of

Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), the silo structures creating

natural divisions for gallery space in the building’s lower levels.

THE VIBE: Bejewelled industrial. Liz Biden wanted to “balance

the stark style of the architecture with aspects of classic glamour”.

This translates to scores of Egyptian crystal chandeliers, intricate

fabrics by Ardmore, velvet sofas in playful, opulent tones set

against concrete walls hung with contemporary art, plus historical

touches – the original grain hoppers sit in the lobby. Private

basement gallery the Vault holds biannual exhibitions, while

just downstairs at MOCAA (the first-ever museum dedicated to

modern African art) there are colourful images which explore

counter narratives by Athi-Patra Ruga (who’s just had his first

solo show at London’s Somerset House), and dream-like abstract

nudes by Banele Khoza.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Scramble up Table Mountain; enjoy

killer mountain and ocean views from the rooftop pool; have

a romantic dinner at the Granary Café; or visit the adorable

penguin at Boulders Beach.

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information on the best – and most interesting – hotels

in the world, and how to combine them with an A&K holiday,

call our travel specialists on 01242 547 760.

46 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


THE IMMERSED-IN-NATURE ONE: ARCTIC TREE HOUSE HOTEL, FINLAND

IN A NUTSHELL: Eye-catching cube-shaped cabins on stilts

by Studio Puisto Architects Ltd, in the heart of a pine forest

in Rovaniemi.

DESIGN BUZZ: The 32 woodland cabins are a riff on käpylehmä,

a traditional Finnish toy – a pine cone cow – often created by

children using pine cones and sticks for legs. The shingle-clad

timber structures appear frozen atop Syväsen hill, between

towering trees and rugged boulders, with the north-facing wall of

each constructed completely of glass to allow the snaking glow of

the Northern Lights to take centre stage.

THE VIBE: Cosy arctic mysticism. Decor was chosen to help

create a “safe, nest-like space”, with a riot of tactile throws

and furry cushions, caramel woods, and chrome touches. At

snowflake-shaped restaurant Rakas, chef Jonathan Guppy serves

up smart, seasonal Lappish cuisine with a twist, with dishes such

as wild reindeer in lingonberry sauce, potatoes with pine-infused

butter, and cloudberry baked Alaska.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Come face to face with Santa Claus

at subterranean festive-themed Santa Park, just next door;

take a Finnish sauna in the Arctic Forest Spa; or travel across

the snow-covered landscape pulled by a team of huskies.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 47


JORDAN’S

SOUTHERN STAR

NEW FLIGHTS TO AQABA MAKE IT EASY TO COMBINE JORDAN’S ANCIENT SITES, DIVE-WORTHY

COASTLINE AND DRAMATIC DESERT. IAN BELCHER EXPLORES THE POSSIBILITIES

It’s a gloriously unexpected moment. I’m riding a camel

alongside Bader, my Bedouin guide, under a dark dawn sky

still frescoed with a wafer-thin moon and sprinkle of stars.

As we pad across the cold sand, the colour returns to the vast

grey landscape – a sudden stroke of deep ochre paint.

Fittingly, given that the palette evolves into a rich burnt

orange with the passage of the sun, I’m in one corner of Jordan’s

Golden Triangle: an intoxicating mix of tropical ocean, ancient

architecture and widescreen, bone-dry wilderness.

From this winter, you can see Bader, his camel and the

seductive trinity of attractions far more easily thanks to the

launch of economy flights into the southern city of Aqaba. The

relaxed Red Sea port with its relentless

sunshine, beaches and coastal mountains

makes a fabulously convenient base for

day-trips – or longer excursions – to

the Rose City of Petra and desert of

Wadi Rum.

There’s no need to hurry. I enjoy a

gentle couple of days among Aqaba’s

colourful locals, including blue and white

striped surgeon fish, purple tangs and

wafer-thin crown butterfly fish with vivid

scarlet daubs across their flanks.

Jordan’s 27 kilometres of coastline may be compact, but

snorkelling in the Aqaba Marine Park (a very acceptable 20˚C

in mid-winter) reveals several exotic denizens from the Red

Sea’s 2,148 species of fish. I hover alongside coffee and cream

lionfish with ethereally beautiful yet venomous spinal spikes,

before swimming through shimmering blizzards of silversides,

an experience straight out of Blue Planet.

Their home isn’t too bad either. The Yamanieh Reef, easily

accessible from the Berenice Beach Club, has over 200 flavours

of coral. I drift over waving cream sponges, delicate sea fans, and

‘I COULDN’T

LIVE ANYWHERE ELSE,’

WHISPERS MAHMOUD.

‘THE DESERT IS

MY HEART’

a neon green brain that’s both gorgeous and slightly alarming.

“Some corals have lived here for thousands of years,” boasts

Mohamed Abd El-latif Ali, the dive centre manager. “They’re

older than Jordan’s famous archaeology.”

They may well be, but Petra, the country’s most celebrated

historical site, is equally compelling – even if its beauty is

man-made. The UNESCO-listed Nabatean city with over 2,000

caves, tombs and temples cut into soft sandstone cliffs a couple

of millennia ago, is popular. Hugely popular. With local hotels

often booked up far in advance, Aqaba, less than two hours’

drive away, offers a viable alternative for anyone hoping to visit

without months of pre-planning.

Indeed the journey, cutting through

a dramatic and brutal landscape of

volcanic peaks, adds to the excitement.

The final descent into the folds of

the Shara mountains, followed by a

kilometre-long walk through the Siq,

the vertiginous cleft in the rocks, further

whets the appetite.

Even though I’ve seen Petra’s Treasury

via everything from Tintin’s adventures

to Indiana Jones’s, it’s still a showstopper.

The perfectly preserved façade

underlines how the Nabatean traders, after accumulating wealth

and travel miles, returned home to recreate striking foreign

designs from Greek columns and capitals to Egyptian obelisks.

To bring the almost overwhelming volume of architecture

to life, I have an expert A&K guide. Khaled Twaissi, who has

spent 39 years unravelling Petra’s secrets, shows me the grand

sights – the Monastery, Royal Tombs, Street of Façades – but

also the tiny but telling features: a circumcised fertility symbol

(at first glance I thought it was a spaceship), Greek graffiti and

the ceramic-lined royal water supply – ordinary mortals made

48 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


do with a sandstone canal. The devil is in the detail. Or in the

desert. My final stop, Wadi Rum, is relentlessly spectacular, and

relentlessly harsh.

I experience it in the safe hands of Mahmoud Zawaideh.

The Bedouin guide, raised among the sun-burnished cliffs

and multi-hued dunes with a sheikh for a grandfather, uses a

contemporary ship of the desert: a 4x4 Toyota Hilux.

We roam across interplanetary landscapes – inspiration for

film directors from David Lean and Ridley Scott to Michael Bay

– study ancient petroglyphs, and the towering slash of a valley

where TE Lawrence is said to have spent shady days among the

forces of the Arab Revolt.

The tour ends with tea beneath the pillowy dusk outline of

the Rum mountains. “I couldn’t live anywhere else,” whispers

Mahmoud. “The desert is my heart.”

Although only 45 minutes from Aqaba, I’d strongly

recommend staying in one of Wadi Rum’s camps. Not just for

the lamb, roasted in a traditional zarb earth oven, or for the

billion-tog duvet of stars, but for that sunrise camel ride. Yes, my

mount might have interrupted the immense poetic silence with

a mighty burp. Yes, I may have been serenaded by the timeless

ring of Bader’s mobile phone. But that magnificently abrupt

brushstroke of wilderness paint, followed by the eye-popping

speed of the sunrise – from sliver to burning orb in 60 seconds –

will remain with me to the end of my days.

from top: Wadi Rum; Black Rock Jetty, underwater in Aqaba; Dead Sea;

Petra’s Treasury; Aqaba Gulf at night

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to book your trip to Aqaba and Jordan,

contact our Middle East travel specialists on 01242 547 703.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 49


I WANT TO SEE A PUMA SO BADLY THAT

I THINK I MUST BE IMAGINING THINGS

WHEN SUDDENLY, I CATCH A GLIMPSE OF

A SANDY-COLOURED ANIMAL

50 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


PATAGONIA

PURSUITS

LEAVING BEHIND THE BUZZING STREETS OF

SANTIAGO, JAN MASTERS VENTURES INTO THE

WILDS OF PATAGONIA IN SEARCH OF ELUSIVE BIG

CATS, AND FINDS A SALVE FOR THE SOUL AMID

EMPTY LANDSCAPES AND JAGGED MOUNTAINS

When I try to pinpoint Patagonia on a giant globe, I’m

reminded just how far south it is, because I have to

lie on the floor to locate it. It really is a case of next

stop Antarctica. An untamed wilderness, geographically isolated

by the Andes, ice fields and oceans, it lies at the southern end of

Chile, extending into Argentina to the east. For me, it has always

conjured a sense of romantic drama. Of electric blue glaciers and

gauchos galloping across windswept grasslands.

Of condors wheeling over jagged peaks, and

empty roads that pursue endless horizons. So

when it comes to taking a holiday that offers a

truly meaningful break from urban stress, it is to

Patagonia I decide to head – or more specifically,

the Torres del Paine National Park, which has

been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1978.

Chile has recently created five new national

parks, preserving vast tracts of Patagonia and

representing the culmination of 25 years of work

by the late US philanthropist Doug Tompkins,

founder of The North Face and Esprit brands,

and his wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, CEO

of Tompkins Conservation. Her recent handover

of over 400,000 hectares is considered to be the

largest donation of private land to a government.

With the Chilean president pledging another

three and a half million hectares, the country is

cementing its place as one of the global leaders

in conservation. And as the country has recently

marked 200 years of independence, it’s attracting

tourist attention like never before.

Any trip from London to Chilean Patagonia

is likely to be bookended with a stopover in the

increasingly cosmopolitan capital of Santiago, so

I spend a couple of days exploring. Each barrio

(district) has its own character and there are

museums, markets, buzzing bars, restaurants and

grand buildings aplenty, all lying in a valley with

the Andes as a towering backdrop.

Hotel Lastarria is my base, a boutique hotel in

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 51


the bohemian neighbourhood of Lastarria with easy access

to the city’s attractions. Built in 1927, its air of classical elegance

is offset with contemporary interiors. And with only 14 rooms,

this refurbished mansion still feels homely. The Deli Lounge

serves breakfast, tasty plates and snacks, and delicious wines,

and overlooks a quaint courtyard with a small pool. A shout out

here to the staff, who go the extra mile to make sure you’re

well looked after.

One of my favourite excursions is a tour of street art with a

genuine Chilean artist. Forget random graffiti, the San Miguel

barrio is home to the Museo a Cielo Abierto (the Open Air

Museum) where artists are selected to create murals that not only

enhance the properties but help with the ongoing rejuvenation

of the area. Another district well worth checking out is Barrio

Yungay, which is awash with historic and eclectically painted

houses and shops.

For a day out of the city, the impressive Santa Rita Winery,

only a 45-minute drive away, has plenty to offer beyond its

award-winning wines. The old estate house is now the grand

Casa Real Hotel and you can take a carriage ride around its

manicured gardens. There’s also an Andean Museum and the

Dona Paula Restaurant on site, and no trip is complete without

a wine tasting in the atmospheric cellars.

After my short stay, the call of the wild can no longer be

silenced, so I board my plane south to Punta Arenas, a threeand-a-half-hour

flight that skims the snaking Andes. There

follows another four and a half hours by vehicle to my ultimate

destination in the heart of the Torres del Paine, Explora Patagonia.

Here, it’s all about luxury served up in the heart of the

wilderness, and the lodge offers everything from great food and

wines to an indoor pool and open-air Jacuzzis. But it’s the setting

that’s a revelation. Lying on Lake Pehoé, picture windows frame

the Salto Chico waterfall and the Paine Massif ’s soaring torres

– three granite towers that give the park its name. Sustainably

managed, this is a hotel that minimises your eco footprint while

maximising the ‘ahhh’ factor after a long day’s exploring.

Let the adventures commence. I’m here in winter, which runs

from June to early September. Summer is predictably more

popular but all seasons have their charm – and changeable

weather. There’s a saying in Patagonia: “If you don’t like the

weather, just wait ten minutes.” I wrap up well for my first

morning trek around Nordenskjold Lake to see the Cuernos del

Paine, jagged columns of rock resembling horns. The water is so

glassy, it reflects the surrounding spectacular peaks perfectly. All

around are guanaco, an animal so synonymous with Patagonia, it’s

become the poster-child of the region. Related to the camel, it has

a long fluffy neck and lashes straight out of a mascara ad.

The sheer number of guanaco tells us one thing. There are no

puma in the vicinity. Good news for the guanaco, less so for me,

because part of my mission is to spot these big cats that venture

further down the mountains in winter. I am told by the guides

that we could be lucky and see one anywhere on our travels, and

that in said moment, we should remain calm, keep a respectful

distance and listen to our guides for safe instruction. Fingers

crossed, then.

Explora offers more than 40 daily excursion options that meet

differing fitness and experience levels, with some following parts

of the W circuit, a renowned trail that requires at least five days

of trekking if you were to go the whole 80 kilometres. Horse

riding with the gauchos is also a must, no matter your level of

experience. Once kitted out with a must-wear helmet, you can

take a gentle amble among skipping hare and strutting flamingo

or go flat out over the pampas.

A great hike is to Lago Grey. Crossing the hanging bridge

over the Pingo River and traversing a lenga forest, we reach the

shores of the Lake Grey, where too-blue-to-be-true icebergs break

off from the Grey Glacier in the distance. Another is around

Lake Sarmiento, a picturesque panorama of tranquillity. But as

inspiring as all this is, I still want to see a puma, and so far, nada.

The guides tell me a great chance to see one is on the Aonikenk

trek in the eastern part of the park, so I optimistically walk

through early morning snow. Halfway through the hike, we stop

to view a cave with 4,000-year-old paintings left by the indigenous

Aonikenk people. Fascinating, but puma count: zero.

52 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


PATAGONIA

Back in the van, returning to Explora, I scour the mountains

one last time. I want to see a puma so badly that I think I must

be imagining things when suddenly, I catch a glimpse of a

sandy-coloured animal way up high. A flash and he’s gone.

We stop the van and stay put in it to wait. And wait. Then he

comes back into view, zig-zagging down the rock face. Muscular

and powerful, he picks his way over rocks and pads across the

road ahead, looking back at us with piercing eyes. I return to the

hotel, suitably jubilant. Now if that doesn’t call for a pisco sour

in Explora’s cool bar, I don’t know what does.

previous page: A puma stalks the mountainside; riding with gauchos

above left: Guanaco against the mountains

clockwise from above: The bar at Explora Patagonia; murals in Santiago;

Lake Pehoé; Salto Chico waterfall; snowy pampas

photography: Jan Masters

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information on holidays to Patagonia, or to book your

next tailor-made Chilean adventure, call our Latin America

travel specialists on 01242 547 701.

WANT TO REALLY GET TO KNOW

SANTIAGO’S LOCALS?

A&K has created an experience that puts you at the heart of Chilean

life in a single evening. Dining with locals, usually at a private home,

you could be in the company of anyone from a local artist to a dynamic

young business couple.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 53


Party OF ONE

THERE’S NOTHING QUITE LIKE SOLO TRAVEL: JOURNEYING ON YOUR OWN LEAVES YOU OPEN TO

NEW EXPERIENCES AND MAKES IT EASIER TO TUNE INTO YOUR SURROUNDINGS. AND JAPAN IS

THE IDEAL PLACE TO FLY SOLO, SAYS SACHA HARRISON

The idea of travelling solo was always so appealing; the

pure freedom, the new connections, my very own

meaningful experiences. When it came to booking, I

would often find myself on the verge, but would talk myself out

of it at the last minute. Questions tumbled in; what if I get lonely

or bored? Who would I talk to at dinner? Is this an odd thing to

do? I also questioned my safety – a very real concern, especially

for a lone female traveller.

That being said, one day I just woke up and booked a trip. The

first step to the most incredible journey on which I have ever

been – it was better than the most luxurious hotel and the most

exotic destination I had ever experienced. What made the trip

so special was the ability to design my own day, to develop new

relationships, and to make unforgettable memories that were

mine alone. It was hugely liberating and life changing in many

ways. Now I plan to travel solo every year. Next on my hit list: the

Land of the Rising Sun.

Japan is the perfect place for solo travel as there is so much

to see and do. From Tokyo’s neon skyline to Kyoto’s old-world

encounters, the country is a feast for the senses. Not to mention

the endless ramen and saké bars! Here are five reasons to travel

to Japan on a solo adventure.

FULL-THROTTLE TOKYO

Move over New York, this city really never sleeps, with its

bright neon lights, buzzing atmosphere, countless soba bars

and shopping meccas. If you want to make the most of Japan’s

capital city, dive into the deep end of its head-spinning culture.

Take a tour of Harajuku’s edgy youth-culture and hip cafés, or

visit Japan’s important Shinto shrines. You can even undergo

Samurai training, or learn how to make sushi at the world’s

largest fish market.

TRAINSPOTTING

We can’t list an iconic itinerary in Japan without talking about

the bullet train. The fastest locomotive in the world, you can

travel at 480 kilometres per hour from Tokyo to Nagoya in just

over an hour and a half – a hi-tech work of art. Don’t miss one of

the best views of Mount Fuji on the right-hand side. And while

the bullet train zips you out of the capital, the slower-paced train

to Takayama affords panoramic rural views of thick bamboo,

mist-swathed forests, and traditional villages.

SEE SHIRAKAWA-GO’S TRADITIONAL

GASSHO-ZUKURI HOUSES

Far from the bright lights of Tokyo, there’s a quiet magic to

behold in Japan’s rural regions. Shirakawa-go holds such charm,

untouched by modernity. Wander around the village, especially

fairytale-like in the snow, and see its clusters of thatched

gassho-zukuri houses, said to resemble the hands of Buddhist

monks. Stop to talk to farmers who raise silkworms throughout

the year, or take a walk around the lantern-lit rice paddies.

ANCIENT KYOTO AS YOU PLEASE

Once the country’s Imperial capital, the city evokes old-world

Japan with its kimono-wearing geishas, Zen temples, and the

feudal-era Nijo Castle with its original moats and stone walls.

You can easily tailor your day, perhaps learning how to make

traditional sweets in the 17th-century Nishiki market, or taking a

rickshaw ride around the lofty Sagano bamboo forest and buying

bamboo baskets from the local craft workshops. With so much to

do, explore the city as you please.

HIROSHIMA WITH AN EXPERT

Take the bullet train to Hiroshima, the site where the first atomic

bomb was droppedon 6 August 1945. Today you can still see

the ruins where this devastating attack took place. A specialist

guide is crucial in order to unravel the city’s poignant past with

true insight. Walk around the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park,

a legacy of the attack, detailing its history with pictures and

memorabilia. You can then take the ferry to Miyajima (‘Shrine

Island’), to see its floating red Torii Gate shrine.

SO HOW CAN YOU MAKE THE

MOST OF IT?

Take the pressure off with an escorted tour, offering experiences

that you may not be able to organise on your own. The time you

would usually spend thinking about getting from A to B could be

better used learning how to swing a Samurai sword or visiting a

fantastical Buddhist temple. And with no single supplements on the

first four places of our escorted Immersive Journeys, there’s never

been a better time to go it alone.

clockwise from top: Eating out in Tokyo; a typical gassho-zukuri house;

Torii Gate at Hakone shrine at Lake Ashi, near Hiroshima

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

A&K’s Journey through Japan: From Tokyo to Kyoto starts

at £6,740 (excludes flights). The first four solo places booked

won’t pay any single supplement. For more information,

call our escorted tours specialists on 01242 547 892.

54 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


abercrombiekent.co.uk | 55


NIMAL

TTRACTION

A VETERAN OF AFRICAN SAFARIS, NICK CURTIS IS STILL BLOWN AWAY BY THE

SHEER VARIETY AND ABUNDANCE OF THE WILDLIFE IN TANZANIA

There’s a theory that the most beautiful word in any

language is the one for butterfly. And a delightful

by-product of a stirring, four-day safari in the new

Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp in Tanzania is that

I learned that the Swahili for butterfly is kipepeo.

After he’d told us that, we charged our splendid A&K guide

Filbert Jacob with teaching us the Swahili word for all the

animals we saw. Not just thousands of nyumbu (wildebeest)

and pundamilia (zebra) making their ponderous, thunderous

migration across the vast Serengeti, but also kiboko (hippo),

several aggressive tembo (elephant, spoiling for a fight with each

other rather than us, thank goodness), and amazingly, six simba

wa kike (lionesses) drowsing in a tree.

56 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


TANZANIA

We parked breathtakingly close and watched them for a

good half hour from Filbert’s spanking new A&K Landcruiser.

Having previously been on safari in Zambia and Botswana, it

was delicious to experience once more the deep peace one gets

communing with the landscape of Africa and its inhabitants.

Although those previous trips had not prepared me for the varied

landscape – volcanic craters and boulders, hills and plains, jungle

and grassland – or the sheer vastness of the Serengeti. The name

means ‘endless’ in Swahili.

Sanctuary Kichakani is a mobile camp, which, mistakenly, calls

to mind a rough and ready caravanserai of vehicles and collection

of makeshift shelters, hastily erected one day and collapsed the

next, always on the move. Rather, the collection of 10 elegant

guest tents, the huge one containing the restaurant and lounge,

staff accommodation, kitchen, laundry, generator, and so on,

rotate between three locations in the Serengeti, where everything

is fully plumbed in on arrival (there’s running water to taps and

toilets, though the ‘bucket showers’ in each tent involve a steward

filling up a cistern). It takes three weeks to set up the camp in each

location, and a week to dismantle it.

Sanctuary Kichakani follows the course of the east to west

Great Migration of herbivores looking for food, and predators

looking for, well, herbivores. The location we stayed at was in

the elbow of a sunken river, where an unseen hippo burped out

his “haw-haw-haw” chortle during the garish sunset. We were

pretty impressed by that, the day we arrived. But late the following

afternoon, Filbert took us to a pond where 30, 40, maybe 50

hippo, ranging from tiny calves to humungous bulls, butted and

bellowed and splashed at one another, bathed in the golden light

of the low sun. To complete the experience, he handed us each a

chilled bottle of local Kilimanjaro beer.

I wasn’t prepared for the sheer number of animals we’d

encounter. In Botswana, we’d gone for hours without seeing

anything other than balletic red lechwe and colourful songbirds

– and don’t get me wrong, they were beautiful – and so our first

glimpse of a small lion pride was extraordinary, and the time a

leopardess and her almost-adult cub shadowed our vehicle was

heart-stopping. In Zambia, rangers brought us up close to a white

rhino, which was pretty amazing.

In Tanzania we tracked a distant dot that Filbert said was

a rhino, but otherwise we had an embarrassment of riches.

Countless zebra and wildebeest, travelling in an earnest,

purposeful line, or lowing and whinnying together as they

congregated in a flat, empty plain, too many of them to count.

There were huge groups of giraffe and water buffalo. I’d never seen

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 57


a Thomson’s gazelle or a hartebeest before, and here there were

scores of them.

We encountered several rambunctious bands of elephant,

and truculent herds of water buffalo. Shortly after we saw those

lionesses, we chanced upon three huge, bushy-maned adult

males sunning themselves on a volcanic rock. The small creatures

were no less beguiling. Here were jewelled lizards and birds,

and families of mongoose scampering out of our path. The only

downers on the wildlife front were the tsetse flies, which

seemed oblivious to insect spray, and able to bite through several

layers of clothing.

The quality of a safari is down to the guide, and Filbert, a burly

former accountant and father to a young daughter, was terrific:

funny, knowledgeable, easy-going, capable. When we sprung a

low puncture on the big Landcruiser, he changed it without a

blink, as we watched flamingo skimming a lagoon. We set out at

dawn most days, returning to camp for lunch on some occasions,

taking picnics on others. An alfresco lunch of cold chicken by

Gong Rock – a shard of lava that rings when struck with a stone

– atop a huge boulder, near to ancient Maasai paintings, and with

the scenery stretching for miles, will stay in my memory forever.

Meals back at camp were informal but the fare surprisingly

sophisticated – a chilled soup to start, followed by a sumptuous

buffet of salads, meatballs, chicken, and pork, and on one

occasion a barbecue of unfathomably tender Tanzanian beef

around the campfire. The bar was well stocked, not only with local

wine and beer and international spirits, but with books, games,

and sofas to lounge on. Bread and pastries at breakfast were

excellent, and the fruit out of this world.

On our first night, we were alone in camp, with the entire staff

of 22, at our disposal, which was a little overwhelming. And to be

honest, I never quite got used to the constant attention of our tent

steward, Rama, who walked us back to our tent at night, woke us

with fresh coffee and handmade biscuits each morning, and filled

up our bucket shower when we asked.

The tents themselves are a modern take on classic safari styling,

with lots of canvas, zips, and straps, and a veranda at the front for

a gin and tonic at sundown. There was also an outdoor washstand,

and I took great pleasure in shaving in the dying sunlight before

dinner. On our last day, as we waited to board the puddlejumping

plane for a series of short hops back to Arusha airport,

Filbert expressed regret that he hadn’t been able to find a duma

– a cheetah – the only animal I’d expressed a great desire to see. It

doesn’t matter. It gives us an excuse to go back.

58 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


TANZANIA

SOUTH-SIDE STORY

Safari-lovers go to Tanzania to see game, take a walk on

the wild side, and get back to nature. Tanzania’s north is

well known to tourists thanks to the Great Migration and

the millions of wildebeest that cyclically move around the

Serengeti and into Kenya’s Masai Mara. The upper part of

the country is home to the superlative-defying Ngorongoro

Conservation Area. Once a titanic volcano, the crater was

named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being the largest

unbroken caldera. But there is a downside to this fame:

tourist-carrying vehicles sometimes have to queue to gain

entry to Ngorongoro, and in the Serengeti, there are over

130 lodges, hotels, and camps. For those seeking rawer,

wilder, and emptier Africa, southern Tanzania is extolled as

the real deal: authentic and off the tourist radar – closer to

the Africa of the great white hunters (and more palatably,

explorers) like Frederick Courteney Selous, who the Selous

Reserve is named after. This vast reserve, covering more than

50,000 square kilometres of south-east Tanzania, is twice

the size of Wales and the second largest conservation area

in all of Africa. There is an abundant population of hippo,

giraffe, cheetah, and leopard. It’s also home to the continent’s

largest population of wild dog. It was listed as a UNESCO

World Heritage Site in 1982, in recognition of its outstanding

universal value as one of the last remaining large tracts of

wilderness in Africa. To the west of Selous, Ruaha National

Park is little known, and at its heart runs the Ruaha river. It’s

larger than the Serengeti (20,260 square kilometres to the

Serengeti’s 14,763) and only receives six per cent of its visitors

(20,000 annually in comparison to 350,000). It’s famed for

its elephant and buffalo – who perform a mini-migration here

annually. There are also 570 species of birds and it’s home to

ten per cent of Africa’s total lion population, where they live in

super prides. AD

previous page, clockwise from top left: Wildebeest; tented luxury at Sanctuary

Kichakani Serengeti Camp; a lion; campfire views at Kichakani

clockwise from top left: The communal area at Kichakani; exterior view of the

tented camp; zebra; spot the cheetah

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to book your safari adventure in Tanzania,

contact our Africa travel specialists on 01242 547 702.

SELOUS

When to go:

From June to October, it’s

dry and warm (16-35°C);

November to December, it’s

spring in Selous and there

are short rains; November

to March, it’s the hottest

part of the season with

temperatures rising to

40°C; April to May, camps

are closed for the long rains.

Where to stay:

Azura; Siwandu;

Roho Ye Selous

RUAHA

When to go:

From June to November,

it’s dry and warm (high 20s

during the day); December,

Ruaha only has one annual

rain cycle and it happens

during this month; January

to March is springtime in the

park and migratory birds

return to breed; April to

May, camps are closed.

Where to stay:

Jongomero Camp;

Jabali Ridge

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 59


ALTERNATIVE

INCA TRAILS

WANT TO EXPERIENCE PERU’S MOUNTAINS WITHOUT TAKING ON

THE MADDING CROWDS? NEVER FEAR, SAYS A&K’S GRAEME BULL:

THERE’S MORE TO THE ANDES THAN MACHU PICCHU

You may have heard of the Inca Trail – a four-day hike over 42 kilometres,

which is on just about everyone’s travel bucket list. But while millions flock

to this very beaten track, trekking off-piste can be hugely rewarding. Visit

sites that rival Machu Picchu such as Choquequirao, Peru’s unsung citadel. or take

paths that lead you deep into the Andes without seeing another soul. Who needs

the Inca Trail? Here are five alternative hikes.

NOT SO LITTLE SISTER

Experienced hikers should revel in this lesser-known trail.

Referred to as Machu Picchu’s little sister, the hilltop complex

of Choquequirao dates back to the 15th century. Currently,

the site is only accessible to those willing to take a five-day

hike (60 kilometres) across steep canyon slopes, snowy

mountains and jungle terrain. Unlike its bigger sibling, only

64 kilometres away, which sees over a million visitors per year,

this archaeological site receives only a dozen or so people each

day, who can explore its stone terraces, green plazas and holy

temples in peace. And although Choquequirao hasn’t quite

reached the same iconic status as Machu Picchu, there’s talk of

a cable car for those who don’t want to trek. On the horizon,

there may also be a road connecting it to Machu Picchu. But

for now, hiking means that you can take in a marvellous Inca

site in rare solitude.

DURATION: Five days, or eight should you want to end at

Machu Picchu

BEST SUITED: Intrepid travellers

MAXIMUM ALTITUDE: 2,896m

A SAVAGE CHALLENGE

Those game for a challenge may want to consider the

Salkantay trek, which includes a mountain pass that reaches

just over 4,572m. You’ll be rewarded for your endeavours with

Salkantay’s raw peaks (Salkantay means ‘savage’) and a journey

along rocky pathways once trodden by the Incas.

En route you can meet Quechuan-speaking indigenous

communities tucked away in the mountain landscape. On your

last day, descend into tropical terrain where adrenalin junkies

can whizz over the jungle canopy on one of South America’s

longest zip lines. End at the Hydroelectrica station, a 45-minute

train journey to Machu Picchu Town. You could camp, but the

hot tubs and deep duvets at Mountain Lodges of Peru along the

trail will help you recuperate after days of adventure.

DURATION: Five days

BEST SUITED: Experienced hikers

MAXIMUM ALTITUDE: 4,633m

60 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


BEAUTY FOR ALL

One of the most stunning treks in Peru, the terrain on

the Ancascocha route varies from the exposed foothills

of the Andean peaks to the fabled Queuñas forest. With the

help of horses who’ll carry most of the load, the trek isn’t too

strenuous – a good one for adventurous families.

Trek up trails carved by the Incas and take in emerald

lagoons. You can explore traditional stone houses in remote

farming villages, and if you’re lucky you may see a condor or

two. A chef will whip up lunches alfresco and every evening

you’ll arrive at camp in time for happy hour.

DURATION: Three days

BEST SUITED: Those who like off-beat adventures

with perks

MAXIMUM ALTITUDE: 4,694m

A ROYAL VISIT

Follow the trail to Huchuy Qosqo or ‘Little Cusco’, believed to

be a royal estate of the Inca Emperor, Viracocha. Arrive at the

scenic Laguna Piuray, where horses will be waiting to carry

your bags. As you traverse the countryside and along mountain

passes, you’ll come across jewel-like lakes and plenty of

endemic flora and fauna. You won’t see many people, but you’ll

be confronted with wild Andean views and herds of curious

llama. Stop at an ancient quarry where the Incas cut stones

to build Huchuy Qosqo. After wandering the site with your

history guide and refuelling on deluxe picnic fare, you

can hitch a ride with our 4x4s that will take you down to

the Sacred Valley.

DURATION: Two days

BEST SUITED: Families and those short on time

MAXIMUM ALTITUDE: 4,450m

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to book your Andean adventure,

contact our Latin America travel experts on 01242 547 701.

WALK THROUGH HISTORY

Set off along rarely visited ancient Inca roads which wind

through rolling valleys and past high-altitude lakes. Pop into

villages where traditionally dressed farmers live a lifestyle

unchanged for centuries. Every night arrive at your campsite

set up with double beds and hot showers to soothe any aching

muscles, not to mention three-course dinners with your

favourite tipple and decadent picnics with wow-factor views.

If camping’s not your style, then Mountain Lodges Peru offer

post-hike cocktails and plush beds along the way. For those

who don’t want to miss out on trekking to Machu Picchu,

combine this route with a night in a Sacred Valley hotel. The

next day, take a train ride to the KM 104 trail, skipping most

of the crowds, and climb the final seven miles of the main Inca

route to Machu Picchu’s Sun Gate.

DURATION: Four days, or five if you want to end at

Machu Picchu

BEST SUITED: Those who like hiking with added luxury

MAXIMUM ALTITUDE: Around 4,572m

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 61


A&K VILLAS'

FAVOURITES

FOR 2019

As with children, we know you shouldn’t play favourites, but sometimes it just can’t be helped… Infinity pools, moats, gyms, tennis courts,

voice-activated assistants, wine cellars, yoga pavilions, turrets, helipads, private cinemas – at A&K Villas, we know the features that really wow

our guests. And then there are some villas with a little something extra, a certain je ne sais quoi that our villas specialists fall for and ensures

that these rental properties are always on the tips of their tongues. Read on to discover which properties are our picks for 2019.

Le Mas des Papillons, France

BEST FOR: A RURAL ESCAPE

This 18th-century stone farmhouse-turned-villa shouts

quintessential rural France. White wooden shutters fling open to

Luberon landscapes and three hectares of manicured lawns, olive

groves, and avenues of lavender. Inside, the open-plan kitchen and

sitting room boast original wood beams offset by chic gunmetal

and tones of pale grey. Rustic meets contemporary country-style

in the five bedrooms, all fresh with omnipresent light. Lounge on

soft wicker sunbeds by the aquamarine pool and enjoy long, lazy

lunches in the shade of the patio.

62 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


Mas Mateu, Spain

BEST FOR: CELEBRATING THE RIGHT WAY

Mas Mateu is one for the elite. Within an 18th-century estate,

glass walls set in stone overlook the Catalonian countryside and

snow-capped Pyrenees. The residence is run by a legion of staff

complete with a chef and sommelier, who wouldn’t be out of place

in Michelin-starred restaurants. Sleeping 20, perfect for parties,

rooms boast vaulted ceilings, fireplaces, and private terraces.

Relax by the outdoor pool, in the spa and home cinema. Horse

riders will love the equestrian centre often used by the Spanish

Olympic team. Children can burn energy on the basketball court,

football field, and in the expansive grounds.

Podere San Giorgio, Italy

BEST FOR: CHARACTERFUL RETREATS

Once owned by nobility, Podere San Giorgio remains

the grandest of Sicilian villas, complete with a private

chef, concierge, and views of Mount Etna. Interiors

feel colonial-esque with terracotta tiles, striped sofas, a

large stone fireplace, and Aztec rugs. Eight old-world

bedrooms are decorated with antique furniture and

vintage ornaments. Hang by the outdoor pool reminiscent

of a Slim Aarons photograph, or take a stroll around

the private palm tree collection and orange groves. Play

a game of tennis or a spot of cricket, before the sauna

provides the perfect antidote to all that activity.

akvillas.com | 63


Villa Oaza, Croatia

BEST FOR: WELLNESS WANDERERS

When it comes to Villa Oaza, it’s not all location, location,

location – although the accommodation places you in the

heart of Hvar’s Old Town, moments from the promenade

and marina. It’s so much more – from the Baroque façade

of this 16th-century house to the refurbed interior, and

lavender, jasmine, orange, and lemon blossom-filled gardens.

The interior has been transformed into a lavish wellness centre

with sauna, Jacuzzi, and massage room waiting to centre you

after you’ve spent a long day exploring this long, slender island

in the Adriatic. Stari Grad Plain is a UNESCO World Heritage

Site – its location is the home of olive groves planted by Greek

colonists over 2,500 years ago.

Simeroma, Crete

BEST FOR: SUN WORSHIPPING IN STYLE

Where else could the king of the gods, Zeus, have been

born than the island of Crete? Set in the cerulean blue of

the Aegean, Crete has retained its natural beauty, as well

as its wealth of history. Elounda on the island’s northern

coast is centred around a picture-postcard harbour from

which you can sail to Spinalonga. Nearby is the subtle but

luxurious rental, Simeroma. From the Steinway grand

piano in the library to the artwork – both sculpture and

pictorial – touches of classic style are never lacking.

Wander through the ancient olive grove, play a match on

the Davis-Cup-sized court, while away an hour on the

croquet lawn or, of course, drink in the sun and sea views.

A villa fit for a god, or king – or both.

64 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


OUR

FAVOURITE

FAVOURITES

GERMANY

PORTUGAL

Algarve

Bordeaux

Biarritz

SPAIN

Andalusia

FRANCE

Dordogne

Provence

Languedoc-

Roussillon

Catalonia

Majorca

Ibiza

Côte d’Azur

Corsica

Sardinia

Venice

ITALY

Lake Como

Tuscany

Umbria

Rome

Amalfi Coast

Sicily

CROATIA

The Islands

Split

Puglia

Dubrovnik

GREECE

Mykonos

Santorini

Crete

Portugal

Casa Florianne, Algarve, sleeps 10

Villa Saranza, Algarve, sleeps 8+2

Spain

Can de la Roca, Majorca, sleeps 6

Can Jardi, Majorca, sleeps 10

Can Masta, Majorca, sleeps 8+2

Casa Viva, Majorca, sleeps 6

La Luna Rey, Majorca, sleeps 6+4

La Maroma, Andalusia, sleeps 8

Mas Mateu, Catalonia, sleeps 18+17

Pedra d'Or, Majorca, sleeps 10

San Mariana, Majorca, sleeps 16

San Raffa, Majorca, sleeps 8+2

Villa Estila, Majorca, sleeps 8+6

Villa Jondal, Ibiza, sleeps 6

Italy

Borgo di Campioni, Tuscany, sleeps 10

Casetta nel Chianti, Tuscany, sleeps 8

L'Olivo, Umbria, sleeps 12

La Limonaia, Tuscany, sleeps 16

La Perla, Amalfi, sleeps 12

Parco del Principe, Tuscany, sleeps 16

Podere San Giorgio, Sicily, sleeps 16

The Casina, Tuscany, sleeps 2

Villa Cetinale, Tuscany, sleeps 23+4

Villa Nereo, Tuscany, sleeps 14

Croatia

Plavi San, Dalmatian Coast, sleeps 8

Villa Oaza, Hvar, sleeps 10

France

La Borie, Provence, sleeps 10

La Maison du Chais, Bordeaux, sleeps 10

Le Mas des Papillons, Provence, sleeps 9

Le Mas des Roses, Provence, sleeps 14

Le Mas des Trois Platanes, Provence, sleeps 15

Les Terrasses, Côte d’Azur, sleeps 6+4

Villa Jasmine, Côte d’Azur, sleeps 8+2

Villa Mia, Côte d’Azur, sleeps 10+1

Greece

Simeroma, Crete, sleeps 12+4

Villa Cien, Crete, sleeps 16

Villa Iranai, Crete, sleeps 8

Villa Kamari, Santorini, sleeps 6+2

Villa Octavia, Crete, sleeps 6

Zarassi Estate, Mykonos, sleeps 26+4

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT VILLAS

For all villas holidays, we advise early booking. For more information,

or to discuss a reservation, call our villas specialists on 01242 547 705.

akvillas.com | 65


Pole position

MARKING 200 YEARS SINCE MAN FIRST LAID EYES ON ANTARCTICA, SACHA HARRISON

PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE EXPLORERS WHO FIRST BRAVED THE SOUTHERN OCEAN

It is almost two centuries since Nathaniel Palmer, heading

south on a sealing expedition, laid claim to the discovery of

Antarctica, that beautiful but brutal landscape that has captured

the imaginations of explorers ever since.

Around the South Pole lies a frozen, wind-torn landscape of

floating ice, oily gunmetal seas, and arresting snow-clad peaks.

It’s one of the most severe yet stunning places on Earth, where

no terrestrial mammals exist and marine creatures thrive freely. The

fifth largest continent in the world, this southernmost landmass is

virtually uninhabited by humans, save for a few hardy scientists and

engineers holed up in stark research stations. A land so remote that

it was only discovered in 1820.

It was a big year for explorers during the height of nautical

expeditions, when success lay in tales of derring-do. Nathaniel

Palmer, a young American from Stonington, Connecticut, was

preparing to venture to the ends of the Earth.

Palmer first went to sea at the age of 14 as a sailor on a blockaderunner

in the War of 1812. At a young age, he had all the makings

of an ambitious explorer. In a time when the sealing industry

dominated Stonington, he quickly became a skilled hunter, joining

the fleet in search of rookeries that lay on the South Sea horizons.

In the early days of his career, Palmer served as second mate

onboard Hersilia, the first American ship to reach the South

Shetland Islands.

Together with his crew, he returned to Stonington with as many

as 8,868 fur skins in one season. When the islands grew depleted,

he looked to push his adventures further south.

Success earned Palmer command of his first ship at the tender

age of 21. His vessel? A 47-foot sloop named Hero with a mission

to further scour the South Shetland Islands and their surrounds for

new sealing territories.

It was from the eerie caldera of Deception Island that he first

caught sight of a swathe of polar coastline, later confirmed as the

western tongue of the Antarctic Peninsula, “a snug Antarctic haven”

known today as Palmer Land. Sailing across the wild stretch of

the Drake Passage, he entered iceberg-studded waters where he

identified Antarctica at 63°S in the Orleans Channel, but no furseal

rookeries. As he travelled closer, he saw leopard seal dotted

on the beaches, but an inhospitable shoreline and his duty to his

crew compelled him to return home without setting foot on the

untouched continent.

Who exactly discovered Antarctica remains controversial to this

day. Two other explorers, Fabian Gottliev von Bellingshausen, a

Russian naval officer, and Captain Edward Bransfield, an English

explorer, both reported Antarctic sightings earlier in the same year.

Two centuries later and the frozen continent remains shrouded

in mystery, but it is Palmer’s legacy that lives on. While the

American explorer found the shore inaccessible, today Antarctic

exploration is a much less hazardous experience. A far cry from

Hero’s shallow draught, modern-day luxury cruisers come complete

with high-end navigational equipment and eco-friendly technology.

Not to mention butler service, private balconies, and expert

naturalist guides.

In what was once a hostile environment, intrepid travellers

can experience Antarctica’s frozen beauty on a once-in-a-lifetime

expedition. Follow in Palmer’s wake on an A&K Luxury Expedition

Cruise. A special-edition voyage, Antarctica Discovery: Palmer’s

Bicentennial Expedition, is setting sail aboard the luxurious

Le Lyrial in January 2020.

Weather and conditions allowing, the cruise will visit the blacksand

beaches of Deception Island, peppered with penguin. Some

of the most exciting marine biology research can be seen at Palmer

Station, grafted into the rocky Anvers Island. Then venture all the

way to wildlife-rich Marguerite Bay, the southernmost point of

Palmer’s expedition. Located 66°S of the rarely-transited Antarctic

Circle, discover an epic wilderness in the world’s final frontier.

main: Adélie penguin

clockwise from top left: On deck aboard Le Lyrial; Le Lyrial in Antarctica;

a Le Lyrial cabin; a Zodiac excursion; Palmer Station; seal watching

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

A&K’s 14-night Antarctica Discovery: Palmer’s Bicentennial

Expedition, departing 16 January 2020, starts at £16,070

per person (based on two sharing a Classic Balcony

Stateroom, excludes flights). For more information, call our

luxury expedition cruising specialists on 01242 547 892.

66 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


abercrombiekent.co.uk | 67


ACCESS

SOUTH-EAST

ASIA

MINGLE

WITH MONKS, TAKE TEA AMONG TEMPLES OR KICKBOX

WITH THE MASTERS AS YOU DISCOVER THE BEST OF SOUTH-

EAST ASIA, WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM A&K, SAYS JOE MEREDITH.

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH: ALEXANDRA ROBERTSON

South-east Asia is a place of spirituality and personality.

Contrasts abound, with tranquil temples tucked away just a

few streets from urban centres, and dense jungle giving way

to gorgeous, golden coast. Countries such as Thailand are

well-established as holiday destinations – Bangkok is the world’s

most visited city by international tourists – whereas Laos and

Myanmar are still on the up. This means, whether you’re drawn

to the most popular sights or pursuing the path less travelled,

there will be something here for you.

A&K has in-country offices across South-east Asia, so we’re

able to deliver a five-star experience first-hand. For something a

little bit special, we’ll pull strings to give you access few others are

privileged to. Fancy a private helicopter ride to secluded jungle

temples? No problem. Want a masterclass in everything from

martial arts to authentic cooking? It’d be our pleasure. Here is just

some of what we can offer in this captivating region.

Cultural highlights

CAMBODIA | CIRQUE DU PHARE

A gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage region of Angkor,

Siem Reap offers ancient temples, vibrant nightlife and eclectic

museums. For something a little more fast-paced than the city’s

hypnotising Apsara dancers, Phare, The Cambodian Circus, is just

the thing. The performing arts group combines folkloric theatre

with gravity-defying circus skills for a crowd-pleasing spectacle.

With A&K, you can enjoy the full VIP experience: a premium seat

inside the circus tent and a one-hour show courtesy of Phare, all

rounded off by an exclusive dinner with the performers and director.

Note: Dinner is subject to the availability of the artists and director

LAOS | HELICOPTER TO THE JARS OF GIANTS

Scattered across the green valleys of Xiangkhoang Plateau lie

hundreds of huge, ancient containers carved from stone. Collectively

referred to as the Plain of Jars, this mysterious archaeological

landscape has fascinated locals and historians for centuries. Little

68 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


SOUTH-EAST ASIA

is known about the civilisation which created it, though tall tales

abound – including some pointing the finger at giants. We can

arrange a scenic helicopter flight out from Luang Prabang or

Vientiane to this unique site. Upon arrival, enjoy a guided tour by an

expert, followed by a picnic arranged just for you. As you gaze out

over the fantastical landscape, let your imagination run wild with

the myths and legends surrounding these Laotian marvels.

MYANMAR | CAPTURE THE MOMENT

Myanmar is chock-full of attractions, from teetering stupas and

Buddhist shrines to colourful markets and hilltop villages. But when

it comes to travel photography, sometimes a selfie-stick and smart

phone just won’t cut it. So you can capture this country at its best,

we can arrange for a professional photographer to accompany you

during a city excursion. Whether you’re in Yangon admiring the

Shwedagon Pagoda, touring Bagan’s ancient temples or cruising

along the Irrawaddy in Mandalay, the photographer will snap

expertly framed, candid pictures for you to cherish. Alternatively,

they can act as a photography instructor, helping you with the

fundamentals and encouraging your own style.

THAILAND | A MUAY THAI MASTERCLASS

Both a contact sport and centuries-old martial art, Muay Thai is

esteemed in Thai culture. It has steadily grown in popularity over the

years, and you’ll now find gyms across the world offering lessons.

If you fancy getting to grips with the basics, or know a thing or two

and are ready to kick it up a level, where better to learn than the

art’s heartland? In Thailand’s capital of Bangkok, A&K can arrange

a private masterclass with an experienced trainer. You’ll leave with

a deeper understanding and appreciation of this unique style of

kickboxing (and feel as though you’ve had a thorough workout).

Note: Maximum of two people per class

Fabulous food

MYANMAR | WINE AND DINE ON TEMPLE GROUNDS

The ancient city of Bagan was once the capital of the Pagan

Kingdom, a civilisation which ruled the Irrawaddy valley for

centuries. Almost a millennium later, many of its towering temples

and pagodas have stood the test of time – despite earthquakes

doing their best to topple them. A tour around these honey and

rose-hued buildings is guaranteed to be a magical experience, but

one you’re likely to share with other tourists. For something a little

more exclusive, we can arrange a private dining experience. While

you dine beneath the stars with temples as your backdrop, you’ll be

treated to a traditional Burmese music and dance performance.

CAMBODIA | LEARN THE ART OF KHMER CUISINE

Siem Reap is a vibrant base for tourists heading to the UNESCO

World Heritage Sites of Angkor, the Khmer Empire’s most

impressive legacy. In this gateway city, we can arrange a culinary

experience with a chef for you to learn the art of traditional

Cambodian cooking. Your first port of call is Phsar Leu, an authentic

market showcasing a dazzling array of ingredients. Once you’ve

collected the essentials, you’ll move to an outdoor kitchen for a

private cooking session. Learn each step from a master of Khmer

cuisine, rustle up something delicious, and then tuck in.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 69


MYANMAR | A FLOATING FEAST

The tranquil waters of Inle Lake are a perfect vantage point for

taking in the sights of rural Myanmar – fishermen glide in slender

boats trawling for their daily catch, the stilted houses of the Intha

people dot the banks, and cloud-feathered mountains rise and fall

on the horizon. It’s also a scenic place for a bite to eat. We can take

you aboard two anchored boats – one a restaurant, and one its

floating kitchen – where you can indulge in a multi-course feast with

a view. Enjoy appetisers, a choice of mains and a dessert of the day,

accompanied by Myanmarese beer or soft drinks. While you dine,

you can watch the slow ebb and flow of life on Inle Lake.

THAILAND | COOK THAI LIKE A PRO

Thailand is famous for its flavourful food. Aromatic, colourful and

often packing a punch of chilli-heat, it’s a fusion of regional and

international influences which has become popular the world over.

If you want to discover the secrets of cooking fine Thai cuisine

yourself, A&K can help. In Bangkok’s Issaya Cooking Studio,

award-winning chefs Ian Kittichai and Ben McRae can teach you

to tell your tom yums from your som tams. The cooking class can

cater to your specific interests, so whether you’re keen to master the

classics, or into more maverick menus, these celebrity chefs will help.

Sweet charity

MYANMAR | MINGLE WITH MONKS

Myanmar is home to hundreds of thousands of devout Buddhist

monks and nuns. These saffron-robed acolytes aren’t ordained

overnight. Instead, each aspiring monk (or bhikkhu) must prove

themselves with years of rituals and monastic schooling. At the

hilltop monastery of Kalaywa, the young novices – many of whom

are orphans – study Buddhist scriptures. For a rare insight into their

unique way of life, we can organise a visit, where you can sponsor

the last meal of the day for the 1,200 monks-in-residence. Your

donation covers the food provided and you can witness the beaming

smiles and humility of the students as you help to serve their food.

VIETNAM | LEND A HAND IN HO CHI MINH

Take a detour from Ho Chi Minh’s tourist trail to witness something

a little different. The Nhat Hong Centre for the Blind and Visually

Impaired was set up by Catholic nuns to meet an urgent need.

Children with visual impairments face an uphill struggle in

Vietnam, with many unable to access education and facing a

lifetime of challenges. This centre gives these vulnerable children

an opportunity to learn, socialise, play and grow. During your A&K

holiday, you can see the valuable work being done here for yourself

– and even lend a hand. Afterwards, a dining-in-the-dark experience

at Noir restaurant will give you a taste of life without sight.

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SOUTH-EAST ASIA

previous page: Inle Lake fishermen;

photography in Bagan

Clockwise from left: Lake life on Inle,

Myanmar; Buddist monks in Myanmar;

Shwedagon Pagoda at dusk; the ruins of Koh

Ker; dinner in the dark; tom yum soup

Spirituality

MYANMAR | A GOLDEN SUNSET AT SHWEDAGON

The 99-metre-tall, gold-drenched stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda is

an ancient icon of Myanmar. Guarded by two fearsome Chinthes

– themselves a sight to behold – it’s a must-see during a visit here.

While its gilded frame is impressive by day, seeing it shimmer in the

light of 1,000 oil lamps at dusk is truly enlightening. During your

A&K excursion to Shwedagon, work your way around the golden

stupa, lighting the encircling oil lamps one by one. The stage is then

set for the ultimate sunset spectacle. Sit back and drink in the view.

Note: Available October to April

CAMBODIA | BLESSING AND BIKING IN ANGKOR

Although many Cambodians have swapped the pedal power of

the bicycle for the horsepower of the motorbike, a cycle around

Siem Reap still has its charms. In this hub of the Angkor region,

we can organise an early-morning bike ride for you, taking in the

picturesque countryside scenes, weaving by ancient city sights and

enjoying the open air. The 40-minute cycle route will take you to

a small pagoda near Bayon temple – famous for its ancient face

towers. You’ll then take part in a traditional purification ceremony in

which local monks offer a blessing said to bring peace and happiness

to one’s life.

CAMBODIA | HELICOPTER FLIGHT

TO HIDDEN TEMPLES

Around 120 kilometres away from the famous temple complex of

Angkor Wat lies an older, lesser-known UNESCO World Heritage

Site. The ruins of Koh Ker spread across remote, forested plains

in rural Siem Reap. This was briefly the capital city of the Khmer

Empire, and its monuments, shrines and temples are fascinating

relics of a once-powerful civilisation. A&K can whisk you away in

a private helicopter for a scenic flight to Koh Ker. Continue on to

Beng Mealea, one of the largest temple complexes in the Khmer

empire, now mostly hidden within an overgrown forest.

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to discuss your next tailormade

adventure to South-East Asia, call our Asia travel

specialists on 01242 547 895.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 71


“It was the best trip ever.

India is exhausting but

amazing: it surpassed all my

expectations on every level.”

KERRY GOLDS, A&K’S MANAGING DIRECTOR,

TRAVELLED TO INDIA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 2018

THE

JOURNEYMEN

AND WOMEN

2018 WAS THE YEAR FOR INDIA, WITH A&K’S TRAVELLING

TEAM RETURNING BUZZING ABOUT THE SUB-CONTINENT.

WE ASK, WHERE DID THEY GO AND WHY HAS IT FIRED THEM UP?

FROM THE COUNTRY’S SPIRITUAL HEARTLAND TO ITS WILDLIFE

RESERVES, TAKE A TOUR THROUGH INDIA WITH OUR EXPERTS

72 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


INDIA

Lisa Warner DIRECTOR OF MARKETING

Where did you go?

Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Shahpura, Jodhpur,

and Udaipur.

Why there?

India has been a destination I’ve wanted to visit for years –

I knew one trip would never be enough so decided to start

with the Golden Triangle, leaving the south for future visits.

Did you read anything (fiction or non-fiction) about your

destination(s) before you went?

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. A very Indian novel

that doesn’t so much teach you its history – it immerses you

in it. It’s a great way to learn about India’s violent, tragic, and

optimistic rebirth following Independence.

What was in your suitcase?

Flip flops and sunglasses on the way there. Indian textiles by

the dozen on the way home.

Did you stay anywhere outstanding? If so, what made

it so?

Honestly, every place we stayed was outstanding, but if I

had to pick one, then Sujan Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur was a

highlight. A palace in a previous life, it boasts just 15 suites

and rooms, all named after illustrious former guests, giving

it an intimate, boutique feel. The interior design could

have been overwhelming – with vibrant colours, heavily

patterned wallpaper, and velvet furniture throughout – but it

just works. They’ve combined the past and the present with

incredible results and the personal, unobtrusive service was

first-class.

Of all the places you visited – where was your favourite

place and why?

Udaipur – for all the reasons the guide books tell you. By

Indian standards it’s relatively peaceful. Whether you wander

the narrow streets, cruise the lake at sunset, or enjoy the view

at dinner from any of the excellent lakefront restaurants, it’s a

fabulously colourful and romantic city.

What was the best thing you ate on holiday, and where

did you eat it?

We did a street food tour in Agra and the deep-fried, pipinghot

parathas with vegetables and pickles from Ram Babu

Paratha Bhandar were so good we went back for seconds.

What were the best things you did while in India?

A morning cycle-ride around Jaipur was incredible. An early

start meant we avoided the traffic and had time to be part of a

city just waking up – meandering through the flower market,

going to temple with the locals, and enjoying a cup of chai on

a rooftop overlooking the city walls. Other standouts were

learning to make paratha during a cooking lesson in Delhi,

hanging out with local ladies at lunch in a small rural village,

joining a classroom full of children in time for their English

lesson, spotting a sloth bear on safari... I could go on!

What was the best experience you had?

Clichéd but no less true: visiting the Taj Mahal. We took

photos at sunset and returned the next morning for sunrise.

On the advice of our guide, we sped past the camera-clicking,

selfie-taking hordes and for five magical minutes we were

completely alone inside the Taj Mahal. It was one of the few

times in my life when using words like awe-inspiring,

breath-taking, and jaw-dropping actually seemed justified.

Did you bring anything back?

A suitcase full of incredible scarves, throws, and bedspreads.

I never normally bring anything back from holidays, except

photos, but the fabrics were extraordinary so everybody

I know is getting something from India this Christmas.

Did you learn anything?

That I only scratched the surface of what there is to learn

about India’s diverse culture, faiths, history, and customs

– hence the need to return. And that tiger are notoriously

difficult to spot.

How did the destination make its mark on you?

Like every good travel experience, it gave me a lifetime of

memories and a yearning to create more.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 73


Graeme Bull PRODUCT MANAGER

Where did you go?

Kolkata, Bawali, Delhi, Amritsar, Dharamshala,

and Chandigarh.

Why there?

To discover more about West Bengal and its fascinating

history, especially in reference to the UK. The stretch

of countryside from Amritsar has always been an area of

wonder for me and it didn’t disappoint.

Did you read anything (fiction or non-fiction) about your

destination(s) before you went?

No, but I have recently read The Silk Roads: A New History

of the World by Peter Frankopan. It’s a great read for anyone

wanting to travel east.

What was in your suitcase?

A suit for my meetings, but also a pair of flip flops for when I

could go out and explore.

Did you stay anywhere outstanding? If so, what made

it so?

The Rajbari Bawali in Bawali, which is an hour and a half

from Kolkata. This heritage hotel delivers something unique

in India. Its history, location, and service made for quite

an experience.

Of all the places you visited – where was your favourite

place and why?

The Langar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. This

volunteer-run, free kitchen serves up to 100,000 people each

day. It was a humbling and amazing operation to witness.

What was the best thing you ate on holiday, and where

did you eat it?

The food served at The Rajbari Bawali was amazing, but, out

and about, I’m always happy with a good kati roll.

What was the best experience you had?

At St Paul’s Cathedral in Kolkata, I went through the archives

and was able to see my great-grandmother’s baptism forms

from 1885. This was signed by my great-great-grandparents,

I had never seen their writing before and it was a real Who

Do You Think You Are? moment. My guide then showed me

round the cathedral, so I could see where she actually would

have been baptised.

Did you bring anything back?

Some jewellery. My partner is a jewellery designer and so I

had to hit the bazaars.

Did you learn anything?

A lot about colonial history, Sikhism, Buddhism, and the

Tibetan people.

How did the destination make its mark on you?

This is hard to define, but I think anyone who travels to India

is indelibly changed by the experience.

74 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


INDIA

Brandon Clements

SENIOR TRAVEL SPECIALIST, INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT

Where did you go?

I went on a whistle-stop, 24-hour tour of Mumbai’s lesser visited

districts, then on to three national parks in the state of Madhya

Pradesh, and I finished with two nights in the newly refurbished

Oberoi Delhi before flying home.

Why there?

Being a bit of a wildlife enthusiast, I wanted to get an authentic

tiger safari experience at the same time as exploring India’s central

jungles, made famous by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

Did you read anything (fiction or non-fiction) about your

destination(s) before you went?

I tend not to read much but I did watch a re-run of Tiger – Spy in the

Jungle, a great BBC documentary predominantly filmed in Pench

National Park a decade ago.

What was in your suitcase?

Essential were a mirrorless camera with zoom lens for the wildlife,

my GoPro, horrendous camouflage safari shirt, and Keen sandals.

Did you stay anywhere outstanding? If so, what made it so?

Taj Banjaar Tola – African-style safari tents with distinctly Indian

décor set in the buffer zone of Kanha National Park. The tents are

huge inside with all mod cons, a sundeck overlooking the river and

pool, plus great staff, service, and cuisine.

Of all the places you visited – where was your favourite place

and why?

Pench National Park gave me my first tiger sighting in central India.

We were the only jeep parked up overlooking a dry riverbed during

a morning game drive. We were lucky enough to spend around an

hour watching a tigress and her two cubs exploring their territory.

The highlight was the two cubs

play fighting each other and

stalking prey, before resting with

their mother underneath the

shade of a large banyan tree.

What was the best thing you

ate on holiday, and where did

you eat it?

Everything on the street-food tour of Delhi – especially jalebi (an

extremely rich dessert made by deep frying swirls of maida flour and

afterwards drenching them in sugary syrup) purchased from Old

Famous Jalebi Wala in Chandni Chowk. Kachori, a savoury snack

made from stuffing spicy moong dal and vegetables into casings

made from flour, deep frying, and then covering in a curry sauce

– purchased from Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala in Chandni Chowk –

was also incredible.

What were the best things you did while in India?

All the tiger safaris were amazing, and the wildlife-spotting was

excellent. A Mumbai by Dawn tour was also a highlight, as was

experiencing the luxury at the Oberoi Delhi – any hotel that plays

chill-out music you can hear underwater as you swim gets a thumbs

up from me.

What was the best experience you had?

Seeing a tiger kill on the final game drive of the trip.

Did you bring anything back?

A wooden carving of the Hindu god Ganesh, the remover of

obstacles and difficulties. It’s come in very handy – I’m currently

renovating my new house.

Did you learn anything?

Chai is always served very, very, very sweet; any brand of cold beer in

40-degree, pre-monsoon heat tastes good; and tiger are sneaky.

How did the destination make its mark on you?

As with all trips to India, it left me wanting more. I’m already

planning another trip next year to the Indian Himalaya and

Andaman Islands.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 75


Rosanna Milburn

INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT PRODUCT ASSISTANT

Where did you go?

Hyderabad, Hampi, Chikmagalur, Coorg, Kabini, Mysore,

and Bengaluru.

Why there?

To experience the culture – everything from the amazing

(and spicy) food and the ancient ruins of the UNESCO

World Heritage Site of Hampi, to witnessing the bustling

local businesses of Bengaluru. I went on my first safari at

Nagarhole National Park and saw a leopard within the first

ten minutes. This is rare, particularly in monsoon season,

but the park is great for spotting a variety of wildlife. These

locations offer another side to India – a greener, more

tranquil place that you usually don’t see on a first trip to

the country.

Did you read anything (fiction or non-fiction) about your

destination(s) before you went?

No – as a former English literature student and a travel

professional, this is shameful, I know.

What was in your suitcase?

My camera, GoPro, and chocolate (just in case).

Did you stay anywhere outstanding? If so, what made

it so?

Taj Falaknuma Palace [pictured below]. From the gold

horse-drawn carriage to the rose-petal baths and personalised

service, this hotel is all about luxury. As soon as you take

your first step into the lobby, you’ll see amazing art. The hotel

is filled with interesting objects – take a Champagne tour,

guided by a historian, and you will see the grand 101-seater

dining table and a unique ivory snooker table. Attention to

detail here is next level. The outdoor dining area offers great

views and is the perfect place to enjoy a jasmine cocktail.

Of all the places you visited – where was your favourite

place and why?

Hampi was my favourite destination. It’s perfect for those

interested in history and architecture. Now a city in ruins, the

capital was renowned for its stunning architecture, parts of

which can still be seen and explored today.

What was the best thing you ate on holiday, and where

did you eat it?

Mysore pak at a local sweet shop in Mysore.

What were the best things you did while in India?

Exploring the different temples of Hampi was really

interesting. In Coorg, we visited Namdroling Monastery

and got to witness the Tibetan Buddhist monks praying –

a memorable sight. In Mysore we took a cooking class at a

local home and made our own dosa. This was a really fun

experience and a great opportunity to interact with a local

family while enjoying chai tea.

What was the best experience you had?

I really enjoyed exploring Bengaluru and being immersed in

its bustling atmosphere.

Did you bring anything back?

Coffee, incense sticks, and stacks of bangles from the local

market in Mysore.

Did you learn anything?

Being my first trip to India, I learnt a lot about the culture,

the mythology surrounding different monuments, and

different religious beliefs.

How did the destination make its mark on you?

I loved India and enjoyed experiencing the culture. It has

definitely made me want to go back again and see what else

the country has to offer.

76 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


INDIA

Gabriele Niems PRIVATE CLIENT MANAGER

Where did you go?

Northern India.

Why there?

For the culture, people, spiritual experience, gorgeous hotels,

and delicious food.

Did you read anything (fiction or non-fiction) about your

destination(s) before you went?

No, but I re-watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel –

a wonderful movie set in Rajasthan.

What was in your suitcase?

An alarm clock – we had a lot of early starts.

Did you stay anywhere outstanding? If so, what made

it so?

The Taj Lake Palace – as the name suggests, this hotel is a

palace built on the lake. I was upgraded to a Grand Royal

Suite, which had a winter garden overlooking the lake.

The best bit was the Jacuzzi, which was bigger than most

apartments in Monte Carlo. On two sides, there were views

of the lake – I didn’t emerge from that Jacuzzi for hours.

Of all the places you visited – where was your favourite

place and why?

Jodhpur – the Blue City. The Mehrangarh Fort felt so

spiritual and the view across the blue rooftops of the city was

stunning. I visited the nearby Bishnoi village community

– interacting with local farmers and pottery makers, and

witnessing an opium ceremony were interesting. These

memories will last a long time.

What were the best things you did while in India?

Feeding a cow with grass for protection; interacting with

school children from a children’s home; and washing and

feeding orphan elephant.

What was the best experience you had?

A behind-the-scenes tour of a Ganesh factory, where huge

statues are built and painted by artists for the Ganesh

Festival. Seeing Mumbai by dawn and watching the

Koli women, the oldest residents of the city, buying and

auctioning fish. Visiting a school project run by AKP in

Udaipur – learning how teachers and underprivileged

children learn and work together. Their principles and ethics

should be an example to any Western school.

Did you bring anything back?

Besides lots of great memories, a wooden Ganesh.

Did you learn anything?

I learnt a lot about the culture and people and how they value

life and interact with their surroundings.

Did the destination make its mark on you?

How could it not?

What was the best thing you ate on holiday, and where

did you eat it?

The chilli-stuffed mushrooms at the Taj Lake Palace get

my vote.

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information, or to create your own Indian adventure,

call our India travel specialists on 01242 547 755.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 77


FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF AMERICAN NOVELIST

MARK TWAIN WITH A JOURNEY TO SRI LANKA.

ACCORDING TO TWAIN, THIS TEAR-SHAPED COUNTRY

WAS ‘ALL HARMONIOUS, ALL IN PERFECT TASTE’.

A Z

TO

OF SRI LANKA

FROM RECEIVING A BLESSING UNDER THE WORLD’S OLDEST TREE

AT ANURADHAPURA TO WATCHING MINIATURE ZEBU GRAZING

ALONG THE SHORES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN, EXPERIENCES IN

SRI LANKA SPAN A TRAVELLER’S ALPHABET FROM A TO Z


SRI LANKA

AANURADHAPURA

Receive a blessing at the world’s

oldest recorded tree, the Jaya Sri

Maha Bodhi, when you visit the UNESCO

World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura. The

sacred fig tree, in Mahamewna Gardens, is

said to come from a branch of the tree under

which Buddha attained Enlightenment.

Incredible to think it was planted in around

288 BC. Today, Buddhists bring offerings

and pay homage.

BBENTOTA

Coconut palms dominate the landscape of the beautiful

beach at Bentota. This family-friendly shore on the west

coast is renowned for its clean, fine sand lapped by the crystalline

waters of the Indian Ocean. From November to April, Bentota

Beach is ideal for wind-surfing, sailing and water skiing. Enjoy

sunset walks along the sand. Travel to the

nearby Kosgoda Sea Turtle Hatchery to

gain an insight into the challenge

of protecting turtles.

CCULTURAL TRIANGLE

Explore the sacred shrines of

the Cultural Triangle, made up of

the ancient cities of Anuradhapura,

Polonnaruwa and Dambulla,

renowned for its rock cave temple.

This jewel in Sri Lanka’s crown is

brimming with Buddhist temples

and ancient cities, and capped by

the World Heritage Sigiriya Rock

Fortress. Be the first to stay at the

luxurious Sigiriya Resort when it

opens in 2020 and enjoy spectacular

views of lakes and mountains.

DDAMBULLA

This great cave-temple complex

includes the largest number

of Buddha statues ever found in one

place. The Dambulla Cave Temple, a

UNESCO site, is still used by monks

for meditation. Founded in the 1st century

BC by King Valagamba, these numerous caves

feature Hindu statues, sculptures,

and frescoes that date back to

the 12th century.

EELEPHANT

At Udawalawe National

Park, the Sri Lankan

elephant is the star of the show.

There are more than 500 of

these gentle giants in the park,

roaming in herds of up to 30. Sri

Lankan elephant are the largest of the

three Asian subspecies. Elsewhere on

the island, every year ‘the Gathering’

occurs, when hundreds of elephant

migrate to the shores of an ancient reservoir in

Minneriya National Park.

FFOOD

Indulge in Sri Lanka’s rich melting-pot cuisine. Start your

day with a traditional breakfast of hoppers, bowl-shaped

pancakes made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk. Better

still, why not learn how to make this local delicacy in a cooking

class? Don’t leave without feasting on the ultimate street food of

kottu roti along with green

jackfruit curry and tangy

gotu kola mallung (salad).

GGALLE

The walled trading

port of Galle is a

mix of the exotic with the

colonial. The architecture of

this UNESCO Heritage Site

reflects its Dutch history and

Sri Lankan tradition. Take the

time to explore Galle Fort. A

walled enclave surrounded on

three sides by the ocean, this

impressive fortress includes a

fascinating maritime museum.

Galle is the perfect place to

pick up some spices or

visit a nearby cinnamon

plantation.

HHAPUTALE

Enjoy the ultimate

cuppa on the actual

tea estate started by Sir

Thomas Lipton himself. From

Dambatenne Tea Factory you

can take a tuk-tuk to Lipton’s

Seat lookout and gaze across the

emerald hills to no fewer than

seven different provinces. Stay

on the southern edge of Hill Country, in Thotalagala, a beautifully

restored 16th-century plantation bungalow.

IINNINGS

A legacy of British colonial rule, cricket is played everywhere

in Sri Lanka from the beaches to the back streets of Colombo.

The islanders are keen cricketers and even won the Cricket World

Cup in 1996. Watch The Lions play an innings at grounds in the

capital or in Galle, which had one of the world’s most picturesque

pitches, bordered on two sides by the iridescent Indian Ocean.

JJAFFNA

Discover more about Sri

Lankan’s Tamil culture with

a visit to Jaffna. This intriguing

place, off the beaten track, features

attractive palm-shaded, old-world

suburbs and beautiful temples

and churches. The city, which is

rebuilding itself after decades of war,

emigration, and embargoes, is an

ideal base for exploring the idyllic

islands just to the west and trips

along the coastline and lagoons

of the surrounding peninsula.


O

OYATE INGRISI KA-THA

KARANNA

PULU-WANDA?

Do you speak English? Always a

handy phrase whatever country

you’re in. When you’re travelling

through Sri Lanka, you can use the

Sinhalese phrase: “Oyate ingrisi ka-tha

karanna pulu-wanda?” The local

people will appreciate it.

KKANDY

Retreat to the Sri Lankan Hill Country, home

to the world-famous tea plantations which

fringe the city of Kandy. One of its most popular

events is the Esala Perahera, which takes place in

July or August. The Perahera is held in honour of the

Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha. The grand procession

features elephant, rhythmic drummers, and dancers.

LLION ROCK

Why not climb

to the top of

Sigiriya Rock? The

magnificent rock-top

fortress is known as

the ‘Lion Rock’. As

you ascend, look out

for the mirror wall,

frescoes, and the great

lion’s paw. Incredibly, this

spectacular construction

was commissioned by

King Kashyapa I in the

5th century. From the

summit, take in

panoramic views

over the jungle and

green rolling hills.

MMINISTRY OF CRAB

Ministry of Crab is one of Colombo’s top

eateries, and number 25 on the list of

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Co-owned by former Sri

Lankan cricket stars Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela

Jayawardene, this is the place to eat lagoon crab.

From quality ingredients to its prime location at the Old

Dutch Hospital in Colombo, this knockout eatery has it

all. Sample the chilli crab which uses a variety of Sri

Lankan spices to create warmth and sweetness. You can

even opt for a two-kilogram Crabzilla!

NNUWARA ELIYA

Known as ‘Little England’ for its picturesque landscape

and cool climate, Nuwara Eliya was discovered by

John Davy in around 1818. Road and rail approaches are

dramatic as both routes hug the narrow mountain passes

before making the steep climb down. The city, lying in the

shadow of the country’s tallest mountain, Pidurutalagala,

features colonial-era architecture.

P

PERADENIYA

The fragrant walkways of the

Royal Botanical Gardens in

Peradeniya are bursting with its collection of

rare orchids. It was here that the first leaves of

tea, imported from China, were grown. You can

stroll through the classic Avenue of Palms and see the

Cannonball Tree planted by King George V in 1901.

Q

QUADRANGLE, POLONNARUWA

Just north of the Royal Palace ruins in the ancient

city of Polonnaruwa is the Quadrangle, a group of

ruins raised on a stone bank and bounded by a wall. This

concentrated collection of monuments includes the Vatadage,

which is where it is thought the tooth relic of the Buddha was

enshrined, and is surrounded by four well-preserved seated

Buddha statues.

R

RESPLENDENT ISLAND

Did you know Sri Lanka means ‘resplendent island’ in

Sanskrit? Formerly known as Ceylon under British

rule, it was only renamed in 1972, despite gaining

independence in 1948. You can join locals for a day

of celebration on 4 February each year to mark Sri

Lankan National Day. The country comes together for

flag-hoisting ceremonies, dances, military parades and

cultural events.

S

STILT FISHING

It’s mesmerising to watch the locals

stilt fishing. Unique to Sri Lanka, the

practice consists of sitting on a single pole

and crossbar mounted in the shallows

while wooden rods are used to catch the

fish. Fishermen balance on the stilt and

wait silently. Early morning and late

afternoon are the optimum times

to watch this spectacle.

T

TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH

No visit to Kandy would

be complete without a

pilgrimage to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth.

You can experience Thevava or ‘offering’ at the temple

which houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist

relic, a tooth of the Buddha. As monks carry out the

ceremony to the sounds of drums, breathe in the heady

scent of incense and jasmine which fills the inner

sanctum. Remember to dress respectfully.

80 | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


SRI LANKA

WORDS: JANET BRICE. ADDITIONAL RESEARCH: ALICIA DEVENEY

U

UNESCO

Few countries are blessed with as many UNESCO World

Heritage Sites as this gem in the Indian Ocean, making

it perfect for a cultural odyssey. Its seven historic marvels are

the sacred city of Anuradhapura, the ancient settlements of

Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the

old town of Galle, the magnificent temples and palaces of the

royal city of Kandy, and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

Y

YALA

This national

park may be

famous for having one of the

highest leopard concentrations

in the world, but you can also view

elephant and sloth bear here. It’s estimated

that more than 40 leopards live within the

130,000 hectares of Yala, the country’s oldest

park, which borders the Indian Ocean. Spotted

deer, wild boar, buffalo, and flocks of migratory

birds also call this slice of Sri Lanka home.

V

VIRGIN RAINFOREST

The virgin rainforest of Sinharaja is the most

biologically unique lowland forest in Sri Lanka,

covering 11,187 hectares from east to west. This UNESCO

World Heritage Site is a great place for birdwatchers. You can

see the Ceylon lorikeet, Layard’s parakeet, Ceylon blue magpie

and the white-throated flowerpecker, among others.

W

WORLD’S END

Early morning is the best

time to visit the

awe-inducing escarpment of World’s End. From your

vantage point within the Horton Plains National Park in

Nuwara Eliya you should see tea plantation villages in the valley

below and views towards the coast. A trek to the sheer cliff, with

a drop of about 1,200 metres, usually takes about three hours.

X

X MARKS THE SPOT

X out of ten to anyone who knew the Romans visited

Sri Lanka by accident. In 45 AD a ship was caught in a

monsoon and landed in a natural harbour of Taprobane (as it

was known to the ancient Greeks). Evidence of the landing can

be seen in Jetavana Museum at Anuradhapura where Roman

coins, found at the nearby monastery, are on display.

Z

ZEBU

A familiar sight grazing in rural parts of Sri Lankan

is the zebu. You can recognise this diminutive breed

of cattle by the distinctive fatty hump on its shoulders. Well

adapted to thrive in the intense heat and drought conditions,

the zebu is the world’s smallest natural breed of cow. When fully

grown, they measure less than one metre and are occasionally

kept as pets by children.

previous page: Sigiriya Lion Rock

From A to Z: The Bodhi tree, Anuradhapura; turtle; Polonnaruwa;

elephant; Galle Fort; Vallipuram Alvar Vishnu Kovil, Jaffna; Esala Perahera

procession in Kandy; Lion Rock; rare orchid; stilt fisherman; view from top

of Sigiriya Rock; Temple of the Tooth; Ceylon blue magpie; leopard

CONTACT ABERCROMBIE & KENT

For more information on visiting this gem of an island, or to

book your very own A to Z of Sri Lanka’s many wonders, call

our Indian Sub-continent travel experts on 01242 547 755.

abercrombiekent.co.uk | 81


A&K PHILANTHROPY

THE WATER’S EDGE

AKP’s wells and straws are

helping more than 40,000

people across two countries

Regular readers of these pages will

know that water, and related hygiene,

health and sanitation projects, are

key in Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy’s

efforts to improve the lives of residents in the

diverse destinations we visit. Water may be a

basic human right, but its effects go far beyond

quenching thirst. Clean water is also crucial to

preserving agriculture, ecosystems and cultural

development. According to the United Nations,

there are 633 million people in the world (one

in 10) without access to clean drinking water.

In Kenya and Cambodia, due to

contaminated water, malnutrition and disease

are the norm. Recognising that water is

key to both society and the environment,

Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP)

operates clean water programmes in these

countries. In Kenya’s Masai Mara and

Cambodia’s Siem Reap, wells and straws

are both playing a vital role. Together with

local support on the ground, award-winning

collaborators and generous donations, our bid

to tackle water contamination continues.

IN CAMBODIA

More than half of the total deaths in Cambodia

are due to water-borne illnesses, many in the

country’s rural communities where locals can

only access contaminated sources.

Ten years ago, AKP started tackling the

issue by building water wells for families in

the rural villages of Siem Reap. Working with

trusted local partners, we continue to install

bio-sand filter wells as well as carrying out

yearly spot checks to perform maintenance

and ensure sustainability.

By the latest count, our teams have built

more than 1,200 wells, providing clean water

to over 28,000 people and offering fresh new

starts for Cambodian families.

And it’s not just village communities that

benefit from the wells. Livestock and farms

flourish due to functioning, well-supplied

irrigation systems.

Want to get involved? If you’re on your way

to Cambodia, request a visit to Siem Reap’s

outer villages to experience our project

first-hand and meet our local operatives.

Learn how to install a bio-sand filtered well

and witness their impact on both health and

the environment.

MEANWHILE, IN KENYA

Many of the communities in Kenya’s Masailand

share the same water as wildlife and cattle and

hence are subject to a wide range of diseases.

Inevitably it’s the most vulnerable who suffer

the most – children are no strangers to the

relentless struggle of being forced to miss

school due to water-borne illnesses.

In the Masai Mara 12 months ago, AKP

joined forces with LifeStraw, inventors of a

high-volume water purifier, whose straw-like

filter successfully aids projects in over 64

countries around the world. When it launched,

the Safe Water for Schools project introduced

sustainable access to clean water in the least

invasive way, and brought safe drinking water

to 7,078 students in 11 schools.

LifeStraw’s hollow-fibre purification

technology removes 99.9 per cent of bacteria,

viruses and parasites. The purifiers themselves

may not look impressive, but a single filter

will serve 100 children per day for up to five

years. In its lifetime, just one can produce up to

100,000 litres of clean water.

Our team also orchestrates follow-up visits,

training and support so that communities can

remain self-sufficient. A year later and AKP

and LifeStraw are proud to be providing all

schools around the Masai Mara with clean

water, helping over 15,000 students reach their

full potential.

Heading to Kenya? Visit a local school where

you can witness the operation in action, talk to

the students and see our progress.

| ABERCROMBIE & KENT PHILANTHROPY |

If you would like to know more about Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, please call us on 01242 547 760,

or visit akphilanthropy.org to find out about other projects we are involved in.


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