When God switches on the Lights…

By Srinivas Krishnan

Ever seen an abstract painting in which the sky is the canvas? The colours are nothing but sheer light in magical shades while the dark sky is the background on which this divine work of art is presented. Watching this play of light in the night sky high above the Earth is an experience that cannot be replicated; the effect is simply mesmerising. After all, it’s not an ordinary human artist, but a divine one that’s putting up the show for you.

Called Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights, this is a majestic spectacle that occurs in the high latitude regions of the planet. There is of course a purely rational, unemotional and dry scientific reason as to why this natural phenomenon occurs – and that involves words like magnetosphere, solar wind, charged particles, magnetic field, ionization, etc. But what the scientific description can never tell you is how spectacular, mystifying and jaw-dropping the phenomenon is, when you see it with your own eyes.

So where best in this whole, wide world do you get to see this fantastic light show? Read on…

Trippy lights

The Aurora Borealis is best witnessed in the Lapland region of Finland. Lapland is the largest and the northernmost region of this beautiful country. It seems far away from the rest of the world, and is virtually untouched by light pollution which allows you to see the Northern Lights in all their glory. And the best time to do that is during the winter months – starting November, and going all the way up to April. During this time, there is snow wherever you look and the Lapland gets coated in white – juxtaposed by the mysterious lights in the dark nights.

And there is a beautiful way of seeing it too. While you can always wait for the darkness to set, sit in a capable 4×4 and hunt down the Lights, you can also chase the lights the way explorers used to do a hundred-plus years ago: sitting in a reindeer sled! Watch God’s light show unfold in the skies as the reindeer pulls you along at it pace.

You can also get an adrenaline rush while hunting down the Northern Lights: on a Snowmobile! With skis at the front, caterpillar tracks at the rear and a handlebar to manoeuvre, you can leave tracks on the snow in search of the elusive Northern Lights.

In the Lap of the Gods

Of course, Lapland is more than the Aurora Borealis. It is a stunning winter destination that will fill up your senses with beauty all around and your lungs with chilled, unpolluted air. Understand the unique flora and fauna of this region where it is snowed out nearly seven months of the year: visit the Rauna wildlife zoo, where over 50 species of wild Arctic animals, including moose, wolves, lynxes, foxes and of course the polar bear can be seen, as well as birds that live ‘at the top of the world.’ Speaking of fauna, you can also get close to the lovable huskies that can be called the Finnish’s best friends and of course go along on a husky sled ride!

The Lapland is also home to the indigenous Sami people, who have developed their own unique customs and culture in tandem with the unique geography of this place. Open your eyes by meeting and interacting with the Sami people, and maybe even learn how to make reindeer boots!

Lapland is also where you get to meet a big, burly, bearded man wearing a red outfit. Yes, you can meet Santa Claus! Where? Well, at his own village, of course. Ho! Ho! Ho! You can click pictures with him, meet his reindeer’s and even post letters back home from Santa Claus’s own post office! Stay in a luxurious glass igloo at Santa Claus village, where in the winter, you can see the Northern Lights unfolding in the sky through the glass roof of your own igloo. The Arctic Circle passes through here, so it’s one for your travel record books.

Tick this one off your must-visit, must-do list. Head to the Arctic Circle in Lapland this winter and let God switch on the lights!

Also check out our latest package on the Northern Lights

Call us or email us on the following coordinates, today!

Call Farah: 9820904765

Email: askus@thewanderers.co.in

The Guest Who Walks in Zambia

By Srinivas Krishnan

There is an old jungle saying: “The tourist who walks deep into the bush understands the heart of Africa best.”
Apologies to Lee Falk and his famous comic creation, the Phantom, but we guess you understand the sentiment behind that ‘old jungle saying’. Because if you want to absorb the real wild Africa, you have to immerse yourself and be a part of the jungle, like our ancestors did for thousands of years. The only difference is that you can do it in great comfort and safety, with a dash of luxury.

It’s a different experience altogether compared to watching the bush unfold from the back of a vehicle. In a mobile walking safari, you are one with the vast sky, the distant horizons, the teeming wildlife, the lush flora, the untamed waters, the unpolluted air and the breath-taking sunsets. All your five senses are on a refined state of alertness, allowing you to take in the bush in its real state, where even seemingly insignificant sounds, smells and sights get highlighted. The flutter of a bird’s wing, the cry of an animal, the rustle in the grass, the distant sounds of water gushing, the smell of the earth… It’s like being inside a David Attenborough documentary! Sounds like an adventure, right?

The mobile walking safari in the unspoiled South Luangwa National Park in the beautiful, blessed and peaceful country of Zambia is a unique African adventure. The Park is unsullied and offers you Africa in its primal, natural form. The magic is because of the seasonal flooding that, with its ebbs and flows, makes it inaccessible by road. Consequently, there is a terrific concentration of game in this Park and it hosts some of the most varied collections of wildlife on this planet.

Centred in and around the Luangwa River, there are over 400 species of bird, large pods of hippos, as well as lion, leopard, elephant, unique zebra and giraffe species as well as the extremely endangered African wild dog. Now imagine walking through it, accompanied by a campsite that moves along with you. Of course, you will be accompanied by an experienced naturalist who will ensure you know and understand more than what you’d get by watching a documentary on the telly. You will be taught how to spot clues, hone your skills as well as use your senses to the fullest to truly discover the African bush. From tiny ants to humongous elephants, from understanding the intricacies of a bird’s nest to tracking a lion, you will experience the rawness of wild Africa the way it’s meant to be.

You must be thinking that’s fine during the day, but many of these animals are nocturnal. True. Which is why you can go on a drive in a specially customized vehicle which is equipped with a powerful spotlight – so you can witness the mighty cats and other animals in the darkness too.

Starting your trip at the ideally situated Nkwali Camp which has an excellent view of the Luangwa River, you begin your orientation of the African jungle. Your walking experience starts soon after, along the Mupamadzi river (which is a major tributary of the Luangwa), through remote parts of the park. The camps will be set and ready to welcome you from your walks through the bush. They are well-equipped with walk-in tents, with a shower under a tree while the toilet is a wooden throne with a long drop. Camping out in the open in the true African wilderness is an unmissable experience, especially at night with the vast sky and the countless stars to look up to… with the inimitable noises of the jungle providing the scene with a soundtrack!

Will the walks through the bush be strenuous? Well, if you are moderately fit, you should be able to accomplish the adventure with not much effort. Want to test it out rather easily? Try running for about 50 metres; if you can do it, then you are on! The walking safari, on the varied ground, averages about 10 km daily, but you have a staggering four hours to accomplish it. So it’s a decent pace, which allows you more time to observe and watch the real African bush.

But the walking safari is not only about giving your shoes a good work out. You get to relax and rest your weary legs at some very good spots. For instance, the Tena Tena camp, which is located in a remote section of the National Park, sits atop a sweeping bend of the Luangwa River. From the comfort of the camp, you can watch elephants, hippos and antelopes pretend as if you are not there. You will also get to spend some time at the Nsefu game camp, which was the first one to be set up in Zambia way back in the early 1950s. This one overlooks a waterhole, where you can observe game during the day and leopards in the night.

Sounds good? Come with us for the Walking Safari in Zambia – you can be our Guest Who Walks, who makes old jungle sayings come true!

Email: askus@thewanderers.co.in

Check out our package on Zambia : Zambia Package