TOP 15 WISHLIST JOURNEYS

 

1. KAILASH MANASAROVAR –

An Inner Journey

Will you be called this year to visit this holiest of all holy mountains? Will you be invited by its famous resident to make the divine trek and seek his blessings?

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2. ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS ISLANDS – Evolution, Not Revolution 

No amount of study can prepare you for the absolute magic that the Galapagos Islands hold. From the world’s only seagoing marine iguanas to giant turtles to stunning boobie birds – every inch of this volcanic island bubbles with life. 

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3. ZAMBIA WALKING SAFARI – Spectacular Wildlife Viewing in Comfort and Style

Live it up in the spectacular African bush. Enjoy terrific sightings of the magnificent wild animals of Africa in great comfort and luxury in the well-appointed lodges in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

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4. ANTARCTICA – The Last Continent

The ultimate travel destination. Go on an expedition cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland
Islands to experience the fascinating and extreme part of our planet – the last pristine region of Mother Earth.

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5. GLAMPING IN THE ARCTIC – Canadian Beluga Whale Watching

Somerset Island in the far Canadian North is the world’s best place to spot the beluga whale. That too, in the comfort of a well-appointed lodge strategically located at a migration site.

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6. TRANS–SIBERIAN – The Last Great Train Adventure

A railway journey that covers almost one-third of the Earth’s surface. Get on board the Tsar’s Gold Train, and watch the landscape unfold from Moscow all the way to Beijing via Lake Baikal and Mongolia.

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7. MOROCCO PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR – Blue your mind

If blue is your favorite color, we have just the place for you. Discover ‘The Blue Pearl of Morocco’ deep inside the Rif Mountains. And capture your blue feelings with help from an internationally acclaimed photographer mentoring you.

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8. MONGOLIA PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR – Mongolia In A Snap

Go on a photo tour with an international award-winning photographer. Discover the lives of throat singers and traditional nomad families who are an intrinsic part of the distinctive Mongolian landscape.

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9. NORTHERN LIGHTS – Lights, Camera, Action

Deep inside the Finnish Lapland, sleep under the stars (literally) as you plonk yourself on a bed in a glass igloo.
Resign yourself to the most sought-after travel experience in the world – catching the ever elusive Northern Lights. 

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10. CENTRAL EUROPE – Europe’s Beating Hearts

Imagine a trip that combines three majestic cities of central Europe – Vienna, Prague, Budapest! Stunning architecture, evolved culture, resplendent parks and gardens, exquisite cuisine and heaving with modern history. Great for kids, brilliant for adults.

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11. BHUTAN – Boost Your Happiness Index

Imagine a country that measures its productivity by Gross National Happiness! This beautiful kingdom is tiny but large of heart. We have a special itinerary for senior citizens who can enjoy this exotic land in great comfort.

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12. FAMILY FUN IN SWITZERLAND – Picture Postcard View In 3D

Switzerland is great fun for the whole family. Its natural beauty is incomparable, while its manmade charms are unbeatable. Go on a chocolate tour, zoom in a toboggan, and make fairy tale towns come alive.

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13. CANADIAN ROCKIES – Rockies-N-Roll

When Nature shows off, she does it in Canada. Visit some of the most scenic landscapes on Planet Earth and take it all in via various modes of transport – on land, water, and air. It will leave you mesmerized.

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14. JAPAN CHERRY BLOSSOM Visit Yesterday And Tomorrow… Today

Japan is a country where the future and the past have a blissful coexistence. Absorb the unique Japanese culture,
observe their terrific attention to detail and bask in their hospitality. Compose a haiku as the sakura blossoms.

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15. EGYPT – From Here To Eternity

Explore this timeless land in luxury and style. Relive its magnificent history as you visit its greatest monuments.
Take a relaxing cruise along the Nile. Dive right into the buzz of Cairo. Pause and wonder about it all.

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Facts for traveller in Ooty

By Abhik Dutta

“ Almost heaven, West Virginia, blue ridged mountains, Shenandoh river.”


Denver took hold of my senses halfway between Mysore and Ooty, somewhere in the middle of dense jungles of Bandipur. The forest whizzed past. It was around 3 in the afternoon but the canopy formed by the trees shut out the sunlight and allowed the passage of streaks of sunlight that formed an eerie image on the black stretch of forest road. This was a journey I was getting to love. It was a journey of the senses that had been screaming for help over the past year, wanting an out from the staid existence back home in Calcutta. The forest, the streams and the distant hills beyond, beckoned me. And sitting in the bus I allowed myself to zoom through a corridor of strained light right into the lap of nature at the other end. It was a meeting of lovers kept apart by circumstances. One, a confused youth from the city and the other a demure lass full of beauty and wisdom.

I needed this break as much as my friends. Calcutta had taken its toll. Sipping our tea in a roadside stall, we had decided to pack our rucksacks and head South. Over the last ten days the five of us had journeyed through the confusion in Chennai (then Madras), rode piggy back on my brother in law in Bangalore (till he wanted an out too), almost got crushed to death in a stampede on the parapet walls of the dam in Brindavan gardens and found relief in the green hills of Madikere in Coorg.  Fresh out of college, no job in hand and a future as dark as the forest we were passing through, the five of us had decided to stray far away from our homes in Calcutta.

The girl seated across the aisle turned and smiled at me. I smiled back. She clung on to her doll tightly. I clung on to my dreams and watched the jungle pass me by. We were passing through the Bandipur National Park on our way to Ooty. The bus rumbled through the dense jungle. The others were sleeping. Amit with his head weaving over the aisle like a pendulum; Sanjay waking up sheepishly after every bump on the window sill; Bumba resting most of his 80 kilos on the thin old man seated next to him crushing him under his weight; Ashis snoring by my side. All presenting a picture of tired minds and bodies in need of rest. But I stayed awake with Denver for company. Sleep doesn’t come to me easily on such journeys. My mind wanders.

The sight of a large herd of elephants brought out squeals of delight from the little girl. The commotion woke the others up. The giant beasts were tied in chains next to the road. Bells dangled from their colossal neck and chimed with their movements. There was a gap in the thick foliage. A lovely clearing with some huts on the other side of a small stream held our attention. Then the bus roared around a sharp bend. Both the elephants and the clearing vanished from sight. It always saddens me to see elephants in chains. Somehow, I always think of these majestic animals roaming the jungles freely without care. Not sheathed in chains as beasts of burden.

And then the climb up the Blue mountains began. We turned and twisted up the ghat roads. The scenery took our breath away. By now the others were wide-awake soaking in the splendour of  the blue ridges of the Nilgiris. The setting sun created magic on these mountains and the ranges seemed to blush in delight at we watched her unabashedly allowing our minds to wander all over her beauty, wanting her like a long lost lover. Each turn showed us a different dimension of nature – every scene casting a spell on us, vibrating within us till our minds seemed to burst. Looking at our happy faces I realised that this was the closest I would come to feel Utopia on this trip.

Over the next five days we explored the town of Ooty. The quaint market place bustling with the post Diwali holiday crowd, the numbing cold of the evenings spent at the Botanical gardens and the boating on the lake; the excursion to Coonoor and our delight at seeing the botanical gardens at Sims Park with its wide variety of roses. We visited Dodabeta peak and marvelled at the breathtaking views from the place. But most of all, I still remember the wonderful after dinner sessions of animated conversation in the dormitory beds of the Youth Hostel; the carefree laughter of five disillusioned youths from Calcutta who found temporary Nirvana in the Blue Mountains of the South. And still the haunting strains of Denver kept me company in the cold, moonlit nights after the lights in the dormitory were switched off .

dark and dusty painted on the sky, misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye..

Facts on Ooty:

New name: Udhagamandalam. Also called ‘Queen of the Hill stations’.

Best season: January to March due to less rush. Otherwise, coinciding with the holidays, April-June and Sep-Oct are good too. November-Feb can get quite cold. It rains from June to Sept and greenery is at its best with a plethora of waterfalls all over.

How to reach: By road it is 165 kms approx from Mysore. By train one can take the quaint Nilgiri Blue Mountain railway from Mettupalayam in the plains to Ooty (46kms via Coonoor).

What to see: Botanical gardens, St Stephens Church, Government Museum, Fernhill Palace, Dodabetta peak. A day excursion to Coonoor and the magnificent Sims Park.

Moving on, one can visit the Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary and Bandipur National Park en route to Mysore.

A good route: Bangalore-Mysore-Madikere (Coorg)-Bandipur-Ooty-Vythri-Calicut. Can be done in 10-12 days.