5 things to do in New Zealand

                            By Meenakshi Shankar

1) Bungy Jumping

How about rolling down a hill in a transparent cushioned ball filled with water? You will travel downhill at speeds up to 50 kilometers per hour! Game for it? This revolutionary adventure activity is called Zorbing!

Or if speed thrills call on you then Jet Boating is a must do – take a ride of your life in an adrenalin-pumping jetboat while enjoying the stunningly beautiful scenery.Experience the thrill and excitement in the rivers and lakes of South Island.

2) Skydive from 12000ft

It takes a certain kind of person to jump from an aircraft into thin air. It takes courage. Harnessed to an experienced jumpmaster, expect sensory overload as you step out that aircraft door and for some 60 seconds plummet towards the ground @200kph. Game?

                                                                                  See Milford Sound

New Zealand’s most breathtaking road journey is State Highway 94 in Fjordland on the remote southwest side of the South Island. The route winds through towering mountains and steep valleys of dense native forest. At the road’s end the valley opens into the deep, narrow fiord of Milford Sound and one of the world’s great views, with Mitre Peak rising majestically from the water. It’s popular, but no matter: board a boat to explore the passage that leads 10 miles to the open sea. Seals and penguins can be spotted and bottle-nose dolphins will sometimes bow-ride the passenger boats.

3) Swim with the dolphins

From the lovely bay side town of  Whakatane, explore White Island, a spectacular active volcano that you should head out to. Head out on an ocean adventure to find dolphins and explore the bays of Whale Island (Moutohora) – a wildlife sanctuary 7 km off the coast. The island is home to some of NZ’s most endangered species including the iconic kiwi, saddle back birds, blue penguins and the native tuatara.

For the wildlife enthusiastic

Common Dolphins – We frequently encounter large pods (up to well over a thousand) of these powerful, quick swimmers. Beautiful colorations and highly photogenic!

  • Bottlenose Dolphins – With their permanent grin, the most recognised and likeable of all dolphins. We tend to see them in smaller pods of around 30.
  • Sea Birds – Gannets, shearwaters, pied shags, spotted shags, giant petrels, the albatross and the adorable little blue penguin.
  • NZ Falcon – Only 4000 pairs of falcon are left in the country – fierce and fearless, they live on live prey and dive on humans if you go near their nest.
  • Sharks – We occasionally encounter hammerhead, bronze whaler and mako sharks – usually spotted by their fins gliding silently through the water. Shy creatures that don’t hang about for long.
  • Little Blue Penguins – The world’s smallest penguin, they grow to about 40 cm tall and weigh a little over 1 kg. They feed at sea during the day and come ashore at dusk to their burrows on Whale Island.

4) Fly over the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Walk on a glacier on this a unforgettable ski plane flight!

Share in the most breathtaking adventure of a lifetime. Enter the world of one of nature’s most magnificent mammals – the giant sperm whale.

5) Stay in a farmhouse

Off the regular tourist trails, get a first hand feel of the real ‘New Zealand’ by opting to stay in a farmhouse. (You may get to enjoy home-cooked meals, and you will have the chance to join in with whatever is happening on the farm. Depending on the type of farm and the season, you could experience milking, shearing, lambing or harvesting kiwifruit and other crops)

Check out our package on New Zealand 


6 reasons to visit Tanzania

By Meenakshi Shankar

Behold the beauty – The King of the Jungle

See the Great wildbeest Migration in the Serengeti

                                                              Take off at dawn : To see Nature’s Greatest Show

The great annual Serengeti National Park migration is certainly a top highlight of destination Tanzania. This is one of the most amazing wildlife spectacles on earth involving millions of animals migrating from the Masai Mara in Kenya down to the Serengeti in Tanzania in pursuit of sweet grass and rain. The best place to experience this natural event would be on the southern plains from December to March during birthing season.

Take a hot air balloon in the Serengeti and enjoy the spectacular views on the game

Probably one of the most beautiful balloon flights in the world and an ultimate safari experience. Take off at dawn –  rising as the sun rises and floating in whichever direction the winds of the morning take you. The Balloon Safari is an unique opportunity for an adventure and unique perspective over outstanding quintessentially African landscapes.

Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

 Conquering the cold and the altitude to make it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most amazing feelings and is definitly a once in a lifetime experience. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent, it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 meters – to an imperious 5,895 meters (19,336 feet). Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors around the world.

Dive in Mafia and discover some of the richest reefs in the world.

Mafia Island is a world class diving destination offering an incredible marine life with an unparalleled diversity of hard and soft corals as well as a superb variety of tropical fish. Besides being a paradise for divers, Mafia Island is the ideal stop-over to relax after a safari. This tropical gem remains a well-kept secret offering secluded and unspoiled beaches as well as a wide range of water sports.

Go chimpanzee trekking in Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park allows visitors to track chimps on foot. The chimpanzees are totally wild, but absolutely accessible. The habituated chimpanzees are easily tracked by the skilled guides and trackers, and most visitors are guaranteed to see them during forest hikes. The walking can be long, but is not over-strenuous. The chimps ignore the intrusion and you will achieve an intimate insight into their daily life, where the mood varies from the Zen-like calm of family life to sexual politics and the high-tension power struggles of the dominant males.

Check out our latest package on Tanzania

6 must-do wildlife experiences across the world

By Meenakshi Shankar

Giraffe: In Masai Mara

Not much can come close to that feeling when you spot an animal in the wild, especially when you’re not expecting it: awe-inspiring, breathtaking and wonderful and always a moment you will never forget.  With so many wildlife vacations on offer in so many fabulous locations it’s hard to decide where to go or what animals to see.

We’ve put together our top six  favorite must-do wildlife experiences across the world.

1. The Alaskan wilderness beckons you

A must-see for adventure seekers, explore the pristine national parks abundant with wildlife.  From the soaring mountaintops to low land fjords and valleys – Alaska is one of the most remote and remarkable wilderness destinations in the world.

For the wildlife enthusiasts:  Whales, Dall porpoise, sea lions, otters and puffins

2. The Serengeti Migration : The Greatest show on earth

Nowhere in the world can we watch such a spectacular scene, nowhere do we have such a large number and diversity of large mammals.

More than just “endless plains” which is what ‘Serengeti’ name means in the language of the Maasai.

Nature at it’s best: A Lioness with her cub

The great annual Serengeti National Park migration is a must do – one of the most amazing wildlife spectacles on earth involving millions of animals migrating from the Masai Mara in Kenya down is a breath taking and a heart pounding moment.

For the wildlife enthusiasts:  Wildbeest, zebra, elephants, lions, cheetahs, crocodiles…the list goes on.

3. Birding in Meghalaya

In a forest teaming with birdlife – Meghalaya is your one stop destination.
Head out on a 6 day trek deep into the forest…look out for interesting new species, in forests teeming with birds.

For the bird lovers: Black breasted Parrotbill, the White-belied Heron, Snowy-throated Babbler, Rufus -Vented Laughing thrush, Rufus-backed Sibia , Beautiful Nuthatch, Rufous-necked, great and wreathed hornbills, Black-necked crane, Emerald cuckoo , Blood pheasant, Monal, Ibisbill, Purple cochoa…our list goes on.

4. On a Tiger Trail

To look into the eyes of a tigress is a wonderful, truly mystical experience. For that instant, the elemental beast and you are one in soul and spirit, the tawny eyes staring deep into your very being. You are enraptured, unable to break your gaze, so totally in the moment. You are intensely aware of even a blade of grass moving, of the leaves falling around you, of the wild bird’s call. Yet, she has you enthralled; she is the only focus of your being. Such is the magic of a tigress sighting in the Bandhavgarh National Park.

For the wildlife enthusiasts: The elusive tiger, the sambhar, hyenas

5. The Borneo Jungles

The jungles of Borneo are reputed to be deep, dark and full of secrets. In the thick maze of tropical vegetation, head out to a sanctuary for the care and rehabilitation of orphaned or injured Orang-Utan.  From a vantage point you can watch an assortment of the endangered animals come to keep their appointment with their ten o’clock brunch of bananas and milk.

For the wildlife enthusiasts: Head out into Sabah Wildlife Reserve, go on a boat journey into the virgin mangroves  – a treat for bird lovers, watch the green turtles lay eggs and catch the crocodiles sunning themselves.

6. The South African wildlife trail

Discover, experience,explore a world of diversity in one Park

The wildlife sanctuary is a must do for every wildlife enthusiasts. Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park. Here, the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolin’s call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace.

And if the Big Five is on your agenda – head out to Imfolozi Game Reserve.

For the wildlife enthusiasts: This  finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 550 elephants, lions, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard, a variety of antelope and zebra species

Check out our next adventure in Masai Mara

Things to at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

By Priyanka Bhat 

Come in August and you would find us packing our bags and heading out to revel in the magic of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the biggest arts festival  held every August for three weeks in Scotland’s capital.

The opening of the Edinburgh Fringe Fest

This year, block your dates, pack your bags and head out to – The Fringe (Aug 5 –  Aug 29).

Joie d’vivre…it’s a journey where music plays to your soul – sings to your core and draws you within its folds.

And if the arts scene is not enough – the journey to Edinburgh will take your breath away too. Whether by rail or road, via the Highlands or the Borders, the landscape is spectacularly breathtaking.

The fans: The magic: Behold the sight

Behold the sight: Every year thousands of performers take to the stage at venues all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste. The festival caters for everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, musicals, operas, music, exhibitions and events.

The dance of surrender @ The Fringe

Tips for first-time visitors to The Fringe:

1.       First, pick up a free copy of the Fringe 2011 Programme. This 300+ pages guide to the festival is available at book stores, newsstands and main areas of the festival. You can also download the Fringe App for free (iPhone & Android phones)

2.       With over 2400 shows held at more than 250 venues, choosing what to see can be daunting. Start by going through those sections of the guide which interest you the most – be it comedy, dance, music or any of the other categories.

The fans cheer on @ The Fringe

Other ways to decide could be the dates of the shows, location of venues and ticket prices.

3.       Free events: The Fringe hosts a number of free events – Watch as world class street shows, buskers and entertainers of every talent imaginable descend upon 12 performance spaces on the High Street section of the Royal Mile or catch free street theatre at the Mound Precinct.

For more info: https://www.freefringe.org.uk/

4.       Visit the Half price hut (located at the Mound precinct) which is the place to grab a bargain. Thousands of tickets are available every day at half price. Open from 10 – 29 August, the Hut offers tickets only for the day of purchase. Information on what shows are on offer can be found at the Hut and through the Fringe App.

5.       For almost all Fringe events, seating is on first-come, first served basis – Reach the venue at least 30 min prior to the show as the audience will start queuing up for seats.

The Magic of The Fringe

6.       Explore Edinburgh during the Fringe:  Experienced local guides show you historic places, from the castle to Holyrood Palace, including narrow closes and secret gardens and relate stories of famous people who lived and died there. Or simply head out on your own and discover the magic of the land.

7.       Wanderers unique Fringe experiences:  Learn the art of wine tasting & appreciation, have a couple of beers, enjoy a show and unique stunning views.

8. Open your mind… and your heart
Edinburgh’s population triples during the festival, so that means there will quite a few people around. The good news is that you can always rely on a good ol’ British spirit – and queue – in the most unlikely of places!

Queues are a great place to make friends and get festival recommendations, so make the most of your time in line.

Keep a sense of humour about it all as you move around town and an open mind: swap any emerging ‘crowd rage’ for a lovely dose of ‘festival fever’.

9.     Fringe not enough for you? Edinburgh also hosts 5 other summer festivals around the same time:

Edinburgh Art Festival 

4 August-4 September

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 

5-27 August

Edinburgh International Festival

12 August-4 September

Edinburgh International Book Festival

13-29 August

Edinburgh Mela Festival

2-4 September

10. Most of all, just sit back, relax and enjoy the ambience – where else in the world would you find the whole city buzzing with festival spirit for 3 whole weeks?

About  Priyanka – When she is not traveling or daydreaming about her next trip, Priyanka enjoys reading, photography, running the Mumbai half-marathon & meeting new people. Her life’s purpose is to explore as many new places as she possibly can, during this lifetime.

Top 5 cities in Turkey

By Meenakshi Shankar

The Top Five Cities to head out to in Turkey

With its huge coastline dotted with quiet little coves and fishing villages, the gorgeous sunshine and a famously warm welcome, Turkey features in the Wanderers must-do destination.

VISITING Turkey should come with a warning: you visit once, you’ll visit the country thousand times. That’s the common effect on many first-timers whether they have come for sun, sand and sea or for a quick jaunt to Istanbul.

If you want to discover the ‘must head out to destinations’, this list is just for you.

1. Cappadocia

Whether it’s to marvel at the fairy chimneys made of volcanic rock, go white-water rafting in its rushing rivers, descend into the multi-storey underground cities (underground city of Kaymakli ) or squeeze into a hermit’s cave in an early Christian monastery, there is plenty in Cappadocia to sate the appetite of the curious wanderer.

And if getting high is your thing, hot air balloon rides have become legendary here as the views of the lunar-type landscape are like nothing one has seen before.

2. Kusadasi

Visit the incredible ancient city of Ephesus; hike upto the summit of Bulbul Mountain; marvel at the marble ruins of the pillars of the temple of Artemis – one of the Seven Wonders of the World, built over eight centuries ago – and more.

3. Istanbul

Haggle for carpets, tuck into Kavun dolmasi, kick back in a hamam and more in Istanbul which is a treat for every Wanderer. Take in the sights and sounds of the legendary waterway lined with historic villages, grand wooden mansions, imposing fortresses, and the Baroque summer palaces of the late Ottoman sultans. At the end of it, escape to Princes’ Islands – where you revel in the magic of Buyukada, the popular summer resort with sandy beaches and pinewood scenery.The Spice Market is a heady brew of fragrances: spices, dried fruits, nuts and seeds.And take our word – it is about the most exciting market shopping experience you can find anywhere in the world.

4. Antalya

Set on a crescent-shaped bay, Antalya is bounded by citrus groves, valleys and the gorgeous Taurus Mountains.Go on a walking tour tour through the winding streets of the old harbor quarter of Antalya. Explore the museum and let history come alive and speak its tales. Hike up to see nature’s curiosities, the eternal flame of Chimaera.Or you could simply head out to Aspendos , an ancient city dating to the fourth and fifth centuries B.C where the stunning and best-preserved ancient theater in Turkey beckons you to come and explore.

5. Ankara

The old world charm of the capital city captivates the Wanderer. The bold touches of the mystical east transports you to a bygone era – which comes alive whilst you walk through the city’s Citadel walls and explore the Roman Baths of Ankara. A treasure trove – explore the by lanes, the souks, the Mausoleum of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey and more. With its history dating back to 3000 years, Ankara is a potpourri of the old and the new – a treat for the Wanderers.


Father’s Day – Travel more with DAD

Whether you’re still looking to find the perfect gift for dad, or you just want to mix it up and escape the everyday for a while, we’ve got our list of  top three  ‘indulgent dad friendly destinations’ that you can surprise your father with.

And the best part is that these  destinations don’t take too much planning (because the visa is on arrival).

Angkor Wat: A must do sojourn for every Wanderer.

Cambodia’s Angkor Wat attracts many Wanderers to the  Buddhist land of smiles

Explore the magic of the magnificent Angkor Wat

Must dos:
Revel in the mystical glory of Angkor Wat
Relax in the sleepy seaside town of Kampot
Trek to the nearby Bokor National Park
Ogle the Mekong dolphins at Kratie

The surreal beauty: Just the place for you and your dad to unwind

Laos: Head out to the country if you are seeking for a refreshingly simple and relaxed sort of languid riverfront life.

On a cultural sojourn: In Laos


Exploring the city and it's flavors

Must dos:

Head out to the sleepy river archipelago with rare dolphins & mighty Mekong rapids.

In the paradise: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: If exotic is on your agenda – the lush emerald landscapes and turquoise Indian Ocean hold you bewitched in its magnificent beauty.


Must dos: :
The ruined palaces of the kings of Kandy
Experience life in the verdant tea plantations
Step back in time and explore the exquisite Buddhist temples.


– Meenakshi Shankar

Hidden Treasures Croatia

By Meenakshi Shankar

Reasons why we think you should head out to Croatia for a vacation.

It’s on our destination watch – simply because the country is spilling over with gorgeous Adriatic beaches, boasts over a thousand islands, and throws in some ancient Roman ruins just for kicks. Top it with unique natural sights that hold the promise to taking your breath away…and voila – it’s a must pack and head out to destination.

An old world charm:  Founded in the 6th century BC by the Greeks, the little towns are loaded with history. But we always believe that it is the people who make the place – and in Croatia – the warm smiles greet you all the way through.

It’s the place where you can spend the morning lounging next to the crystal clear waters, lunch at one of the many  outdoor restaurants lining the promenade, and go back to watching the ridiculously huge yachts go by…soak in the local flavor as we Wanderers like to call it.

A Long Splendid Coast

Yes…the long splendid Adriatic coast is one of the reasons to explore this gorgeous land.  You could head out on a cruise along the Southern Dalmatian islands with its innumerable bays, inlets and coves which make it seem surreal.  Or simply head out to the islands – where the windy bays and channels  lure the wind surfers, quiet coves and rocks serenade the divers, or simply laze around the beach with a book….the beaches cater to just about everybody.

If you can’t find the beach of your dreams here, it probably doesn’t exist.

Behold the beauty

Explore the lush green meadows, forested mountains, lakes and rivers – the unadulterated beauty of the land beckons you. The gorgeous Plitvice Lakes – UNESCO’s List of World Natural Heritage is a must see – sixteen lakes, each at a different level, are joined in a series of cascading waterfalls. Surrounded by dense wood, it’s a rare and one of a kind beauty that captivates you.

To experience the magic of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s Old Town maintains a precarious equilibrium between Then and Now, Here and Elsewhere. And whilst you explore the layers – capture the gorgeous sights which await you – the twisting staircase above Gundulic Square, an explicit homage to the Spanish Steps; the 16th-century Baroque cathedrals abutting Renaissance palaces and medieval fortresses; and the Gradska Kavana, a café straight out of fin de siècle Vienna.

Head out on a cruise

The Adriatic cruise is a definite must do for the virgin as well as a seasoned traveler. Sailing along the  Dalmatian islands, the peace and beauty of its secluded coves and crystal clear sea – you wander through the quaint villages and drink in the local flavor – cuisine, wines and the way of life.

Listening to the Sea Organ (Zadar)

Waves move water through this organ’s undersea pipes, creating music. Add a set of white stone steps descending into the crystal water above the organ and a sky full of stars, and you have a matchless venue to enjoy the moonlight. Let the water lap at your feet, and luxuriate in the organ’s haunting sounds.
Haven for history buffs:  Diocletian’s Palace, in Split – the retirement home of a Roman Emperor is the reason the whole city exists. Today, the crumbling walls woven into the fabric of the city might seem less commanding, but coupled with the sequence of underground chambers they’re considered the greatest Roman ruins in Western Europe. Escape the street-level crowds to wander the foundations of the royal quarters before admiring the Peristyle, an open-air square flanked with colonnades and guarded by a granite sphinx.

You have walled cities instead of a wall of condos, local markets instead of souvenir shops, fresh locally caught fish instead of fast food.

Try the famous “dalmatinska pašticada” [Dalmatian stew], a meat dish that takes two days to prepare.

In Zagreb, –  steak a la Zagreb — veal stuffed with cheese and ham.

In Coastal Dalmatian dishes are Mediterranean-inspired, and rich in seafood and risotto.

In Istria, the wild truffles are deliciously divine.

Explore the caves: As a true Karst region, Croatia is full of caves. The most famous and most magical are the Modra Špilja [Blue cave] on Biševo and the Zmajeva Špilja [Dragons cave] on the island of Brač. It’s a whole new world which awaits the Wanderer.


Honeymoon Travel Tales: Amalfi Coast, Italy

By Sonal S. Talathi

I’ve always believed that there is travel and then there is your honeymoon sojourn – a trip which creates a whole new chapter in your travel diary.

Would I be far from the truth if I were to say the ‘honeymoon’ is indeed one of your most memorable trips – the romantic setting, the gorgeous sunsets, the soft breeze, the long walks…connecting with your beloved.

Something that you always go back to…

Something that will always linger and create that special ‘place’ in your heart.

We narrowed down on the oh so gorgeous Rome (suggested by almost everyone in my circle), the sensual Venice and the truly spectacular Amalfi Coast as our honeymoon getaway.

The picture perfect coast was a must go – ever since I had heard travel lore from a close friend and the vivid images that were painted beckoned me like a siren…the craggy coast, the jewel tone green blue waters…the romance of the coast and the sheer beauty of the cliffs was the perfect honeymoon getaway.

From Venice, we took a flight via Rome to Naples (Air Italia). From Naples airport, there are two alternatives to reach the Amalfi coast. To get there, you have to go to a place called Sorrento. To get to Sorrento, there is a direct bus from the airport which leaves about every 1.5 hrs. Alternatively, you can take a local bus which goes to Grand Terminal Station and from underground, take a local train named Circumvesuviana (pronounced ‘Chirkum-vesuviana’) which will reach you to Sorrento. From Sorrento there are Sita buses which take you along the Amalfi coast.

It’s a bit of travel but one you would thoroughly enjoy. We took the bus to the station and the train from there. Along the way, we caught glimpse of the great Mount Vesuvius and lemon orchards along with many holiday homes. The coast is made up of small towns and we chose to stay in Positano for its sheer beauty and its beach. Also, its one of the most stylish places on the coast.

First Impression: The moment our journey began and we started cruising on the narrow roads with a deep cliff on one side ending in the green-blue sea, we could think of nothing else. It was so beautiful and one could only hear ‘WOW’ from everyone in the bus! The bus drops you on top of the cliff and then you walk down to your hotel along the winding road which ends at the beach.

It was sunny the day we reached there and followed by light showers in the evening. The next day was perfect for a  boat ride though it was again cloudy in the evening. However, the change in weather had absolutely no effect on the vacationing crowd. Au contraire…added to the romantic element.

Love at first sight: Positano is actually two cliffs dotted along the small winding road with hotels. The entire place is made up of steps…you come out of your hotel on the road, and if you don’t feel like walking all the way down, just look for a small exit on your right to find the steps and then you are on your way to the beach. You will find these steps almost everywhere and all the steps end up at the beach.


The beach is made of small pebbles, with sun-beds dotting it.

If you stand on the beach and look up, all you will see are colorful hotels right up the hill. There is a small square before the beach which is the main area. Amalfi coast is made of small towns which one can visit by taking a open air bus ride. These are similar but none has the charm of Positano.

The vibe of the place is very fresh and energetic but at the same time relaxing.

From there, one can go on a speedboat to Capri island which is another beautiful place. A visit to Anacapri and its famous cable-chair, should be a must. The views from the mountain top are just breathtaking, with the pristine blue-green waters spread in front of you.

Local Flavors:  Amalfi coast is well known for its lemon orchards and you will find football sized giant lemons everywhere. As the production is very high, a liquor is produced from these, called limoncello. This is the local drink of the place. It’s a bit strong, the tangy smell and taste – you need to mix it with juice or water to have it (you can google the many ways to have it).

Sea-food is in abundance, especially prawns and fish. The place is very laid-back, perfect for a relaxing holiday. Having delicious pasta and pizza alongwith the drink of your choice (we were recommended local draft beer) sitting in a sea-side beach café has its own charm.

And its totally soothing on the mind.

The main problem for me, being a vegetarian that I am, is the lack of good food options, but in Italy – food is not a problem at all. The Italians love food and And add to that gelato ice creams at least thrice a day…life can’t get better than that.

The Locals:  This place is the south coast of Italy and a very famous weekend getaway for the locals. The summer weekends are packed with people driving down. The entire place thrives on tourism and the people are the most friendly.

Can’t wait to go back… ABSOLUTELY. It rained the day we were to leave and once in between but that doesn’t stop you from stepping out and lazily walking down the road and indulging in some shopping (though the rates are very high!).

We’ve already decided to definitely revisit the place sometime in future.

Till then my memories are captured on my lens – which, whilst I write this piece, I keep going back to till I can pack my bags and head out to my own little paradise.

About the author, Sonal: Busy with corporate finance during the week, her free time would find her hooked on to the internet. She is an avid reader and  loves to explore new places.

Check out our latest package on the Amalfi Coast

Wanderers Travel Tales: Europe in a houseboat

By Meenakshi Shankar

A Houseboat adventure – in the lagoons of Venice

A holiday to remember is how I would put traveling around Europe in a houseboat – a world removed from touristy hotels and villas; a world where a sense of freedom and adventure beckons you –  wherein you could chart your own course when you take hold of the wheel of a houseboat.

Simply put …in a houseboat, everyday the choice is yours.

Breakfast by the lagoon in the Houseboat

The brochures invited me to come and explore a different journey of sorts.

Which is what prompted me to shrug away the usual ‘hotel’ accommodation and board a houseboat – wherein, every morning, the balmy breeze would caress my wanderin’ soul and come twilight …. sipping my glass of wine, I would let the alluring beauty envelop me. My neighbors’ who would drop by to say a quick hello – would be a handsome swan pecking at a porthole of my rented houseboat waiting for some handouts or seagulls who would keep me company on an odd day.

Well, this is exactly the kind of thing that I signed up for – a world away from the usual. In the dreamy European city, Italy, laced with canals, there’s water, water everywhere, and well, I thought I might as well stay on some. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked myself onto one of the city’s hundreds of houseboats – Would it rock back and forth, or bob up and down? Would I get a hot shower and a decent night’s sleep? Would I get cabin fever, or worse, become seasick?

Needless to say – all my fears were unfounded — and every expectation was exceeded.

I signed up for a boho lifestyle aboard my own personal houseboat and it was a bargain – (some of the very best are for rent, and at prices on a par with three- or four-star hotels).


Shopping at the local market


The advantage:
You can move around while sunbathing on the dock with a book, grilling steaks, or indulging in other pleasures that car, plane, or train travel would prohibit.  Even the most banal daily chores, like making beds or washing dishes, become a novelty when they’re performed on a floating abode.


Glorious sights – off the tourist trails

The landscape slips by. Squadrons of swallows skim low over the water ahead of the bow. Cruising into the glittering path of a shaft of morning sunlight, with the smell of bacon and eggs cooking on the on board barbecue, it’s easy to see why people choose to live on a houseboat.

Life is visibly slower.

And if you are traveling with children -I believe there’s no better place for children to live out their Huckleberry Finn fantasies. Pelicans, carp and young boys have a symbiotic relationship. On a good day on the river, with only a bit of bread for bait, the fish virtually throw themselves on the hook, and the boys throw all their efforts into catching them.


Sailing away on my houseboat trip

Reasons to head out on a house boat trip around Europe

1. If you are a Wanderer like me and want a slice of travel with an edge to it, then a house boat trip is a definite must try. It’s different and panders to your Wandering soul.

2. There is a freedom to discover…unearth and feast on the glorious sights, landmarks and cuisines. In fact, you could discover more than the usual fare. Sailing along, you could chance upon a little tucked away cove, a tiny island hidden away from the usual tourist trails, a quaint cafe which serves the best breakfast…all of that and more.

3.  At first glance, it may seem that houseboats are an expensive option (because they look plush) however they work out to as much as a 3-4 star accommodation.

4.  Yes, it is an ideal getaway for a family vacations – simply because it gives you a feeling of adventure. Pirates of the Caribbean, Huckleberry Finn and other fantasies come alive – it’s an adventure like none experienced before.

5.  There is no license required to drive a houseboat. It’s very easy to work your way around.

6. The best part of a houseboat trip is the simple fact that there are so many options available –

Go on a long weekend – a perfect break from your routine.

A week long trip/roundabout trip – The best way to enjoy your holiday sights. You can take in all the sights and explore the wonders at your pace.

2 week plus – For those who want to simply enjoy the feeling of being on a boat and wandering.

7. The boats are fully equipped – so you don’t miss out on the creature comforts. It’s luxury redefined.

Meeting new friends – warm smiles, glorious sunshine

8.  Catching up on your reading, nurturing your writing skills, meeting new friends,  fishing, angling …the possibilities are endless. The freedom to bask in the glorious sun and do things that you otherwise wouldn’t have done in a holiday trip is what makes a houseboat trip ‘oh-so-tempting’.

9. Cycling tours available – The houseboat trip is not just ‘a world of waterways’ –  you can leave your boat securely moored in a safe harbor and jump on land. Explore the local museum, the market – enjoy the rich flavors of the street side café and more…In fact, some of the islands in Venice’s lagoon are considered sanctuaries for cyclists.

10. The houseboat trips are available in France, Holland, Ireland, Italy, England, Germany, Belgium, Scotland

Check out our latest package on Ireland

Things to do in Australia

Meenakshi Shankar

Tired of the same old tourist spots like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House? Wanderers Offbeat Australia is the guide to the weird and wonderful attractions that most tourists miss. Explore the odd places that make Australia truly offbeat.

From saffron to ocher, the earth paints herself in Australia. Some slip into the outback and forget about everything else, some savor the culture of the Aboriginals, some drink in the beauty of the land…and some simply launch themselves into the sky with parachutes attached to their backs.

Fancy a walk? You could either head out from the foot of Tasmania’s most famous peak, Cradle Mountain, and finishing at Australia’s deepest lake, St Clair. It’s called the Overland Track and it will take you a good week to walk it. The constant views of tall and marvelously shaped dolerite peaks (including Tasmania’s highest, Mount Ossa), beautiful waterfalls, rain forest, scrub land, swamps, bush, alpine plains and rivers. And we haven’t even mentioned the variety of fascinating flora and fauna.

Or hike to the top of Mount Amos where you drink in the glorious beauty of the picturesque Tasman Peninsula to Port Arthur.

Find out how you can connect with the world’s oldest living culture. Discover it the same way Aboriginal Australians have passed it down for at least 50,000 years – through art, dance, myths, music and the land itself. See Aboriginal art and contemporary dance in the cities. Or head to the outback and listen to Dreamtime myths of creation by the campfire. Bushwalk and snorkel, share bush-tucker or learn to craft spears and catch fish in the traditional way.
Let Aboriginal Australians help you understand this ancient land and its spirituality and wonder.

Try your luck noodling opal – in Coober Pedy – With more than 90 percent of the world’s opal mined from 70 different fields around northern SA’s Coober Pedy, you’re bound to find something, aren’t you? In between your mining excursions, you might want to take a look at the remarkable desert country near Coober Pedy – aptly named Moon Plain. It looks much like the lunar surface, dotted with mine shafts and mullock heaps from eight decades of digging.

Experience the sheer beauty of Kings Canyon :  The breathtaking sandstone chasm plunging 270m is one of Australia’s most dramatically beautiful places – a slash of deep green in a red landscape. – Hugely rewarding, though, with delights all the way round, including the Garden of Eden valley and the Lost City’s weathered rocks.

Visit little penguins on Phillip Island – Every day at dusk, Summerland Beach on Phillip Island comes alive with thousands of little penguins. Watch them waddle home in riotous packs and pairs after their long day foraging for food in icy Bass Strait. The rugged ocean beaches, sheltered bays, blowholes and caves are also home to koalas, abundant bird life and a large colony of fur seals.

In Kalabari, connect with the adventurer in you – Go abe sailing, Sand-boarding or simply explore Nature’s Window and Z-Bend Gorge which is an exhilarating 150 metre descent into the heart of the gorge.

Exhilarate in the spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef – Unforgettable is the word most people use to describe the Great Barrier Reef – a spectacle so vast it can be seen from space.

Swim with the whales –  Meet the world’s biggest fish – the whale shark – in the clear, turquoise waters of Western Australia’s huge fringing reef. These gentle underwater giants feed on the bright coral reef between April and June. You can also dive, swim or snorkel with dolphins, graceful manta rays and hundreds of species of tropical fish. On Ningaloo, this rainbow of marine life is just metres from the shore.

Drink in the beauty of the landscapeSoak up the beauty on the stunning Freycinet Peninsula. The most famous is Wineglass Bay, a perfect curve of white sand and turquoise sea against pink and grey granite peaks. Take in the magical view after an easy climb from Coles Bay or challenging trek from the top of Mount Amos. Or connect to this coastal paradise by going sea kayaking, swimming and scuba diving.

And, you cannot miss a trip to Christmas Island to watch the march of the red crabs. A perfect illustration on how Mother Nature can astound even the hardened cynic.