An Insiders View on Morocco

By Nora Aghmane

What makes Morocco an ideal travel destination for all?

Morocco is a wonderful change of scenery for those who want to experience something truly unique. Situated on the northwest corner of Africa, Morocco boasts stunningly beautiful landscapes including the cool blues of the Mediterranean and the warm sands of the Sahara Desert, the high peaks of the Atlas Mountains to the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Morocco is a country rich in culture and steeped in history, providing its visitors with a diverse range of unforgettable experiences.

Tell us something that every traveller should know before traveling to Morocco?

Morocco is very accessible to most travelers, and is a direct flight from nearly every major European city, as well as New York, Boston, Miami, Washington D.C., and Montreal. Citizens of the U.S., Canada, China, Japan, and most European countries do not require a visa to visit. The country also has excellent domestic transportation services, with ample road and rail infrastructure that allows for ease of travel between major cities and the various ports of entry.

Any essentials that one needs to carry?

Skin care products, hats, comfortable shoes, wipes, hand sanitizer, Moroccan dirhams….

Which are the most surreal places to visit when in Morocco?

The Desert of Merzouga, The blue city of Chefchaouen, Fes , Tangier and Marrakech !


Can you tell us a little about the life of the locals?

Moroccans are extremely hospitable and religious people. They are very conservative people and observe their culture to the fullest. Moroccan customs do not allow wearing clothes above the knees, kissing in public, eating in the open during Ramadan.

What are the local delicacies/drinks which one must try and where in Morocco?

Moroccan Tea with Moroccan sweets is absolutely a must try when in Morocco.

What are a few things which one must buy here?

Argan oil, Moroccan spices, babouches (Moroccan slippers) .

Which is the most romantic place to visit here?

Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas Mountains, Caravan by habitas in Agafay desert.

What are the local festivals which one must come to attend here? Which is your favourite and why?

Lost Nomads in Agafay Desert. Love it full of music and sensations in the middle of the Desert , it is magic !  Otium Festival in Taghazout Beach is ferric just right on the beach.

What is your most endearing travel memory here that you wish more people could have been part of?

The Moroccan culture is very rich, each one should discover it by visiting monuments, souks and local houses.  Moroccan cuisine is definitely one of the best in the world, very rich in flavors.  I suggest that visitors explore Moroccan cuisine by participating in cooking class workshops.



An Insider View on Reunion Island

  By Stephane Bonneau

Intensely exotic, lunar landscape of the volcano with lush circuses, grandiose, vibrant, rejuvenating and preserved; Reunion Island amazes with its majestic landscapes, its authentic culture, its unique living together and its cuisine with mixed flavors as fragrant as the local vanilla…! Its one of those unique island in the world where you can swim with whales, recharge your batteries in the heart of UNESCO’s world heritage, let yourself be hypnotized by its volcanic landscape, discover Creole culture and the richness of living together. In Reunion Island, the elements mingle: water, earth, air, fire invite the traveler to a unique epic in the heart of the Indian Ocean.

Reunion Island is a French and European island.  Its a land of cross breeding; spectacular and captivating.  Reunion is a unique island in the world, characterized by its diversity. Diversity of landscapes, cultures, religions, ethnic groups, outdoor activities, accommodation and gastronomy, climates.  Discovering Reunion is like travelling around the world in one trip. Thanks to its diversity on all levels, Reunion is an island that leaves no tourist unmoved. There is something for everyone!

Top 5 surreal places to see in Reunion Islands

  • The Volcano / La Plaine ces sables

Check out the Land of Lava and explore the incredible massif of Piton de la Fournaise! This enigmatic region is the perfect witness to the birth and natural transformation of Reunion Island. Its magnetism tirelessly draws locals and travellers to immerse them in the dawn of time, the birth of the world.

Before attempting the steep slopes of the volcano, exploring the coastline is an excellent way to get a feel for the beauty of this rocky region. There, at aptly named Grand Brûlé, the black basalt contrasts with the deep blue of the ocean, while the vegetation gradually restakes its claim. The Lava Route, as it follows the different lava flows that have flowed over it to reach the sea, reveals unique landscapes shaped by the various eruptions.

If you feel no fear you can even launch yourself into the bowels of Reunion Island and its iconic volcano and explore the lava tubes, on unforgettable potholing adventures.

If you prefer the peaks, take the forest road on the volcano. Whether you go for a hike or a “volcano path picnic” in the best Creole tradition, you will find yourself immersed in an intense and spectacular atmosphere. Your heart will beat faster and your face will light up before the panoramas on show and this elusive atmosphere.

The Holy Grail is, of course, to climb Piton de La Fournaise and reach the Dolomieu Crater. This stunning hike crosses Enclos Fouqué from Pas de Bellecombe. The challenge is well worth it, reaching the top of the crater is always a surprising, magic and spellbinding moment.

  • Mafate caldera

The Cirque of Mafate is an exceptional place that is worth a visit! This extraordinarily preserved site can only be accessed on foot or by helicopter, and offers a range of breath-taking landscapes within a UNESCO World Heritage site. To make sure the Cirque remains a preserved environment, and to ensure the protection of the local people and culture, tourism here is limited and sustainable and responsible practices are encouraged.  Clean energy is used, waste management practices are implemented, environmental pollution is limited, the biodiversity is preserved, local production and consumption are encouraged and a culture of disconnection and sharing make the Cirque of Mafate a reference in terms of ecotourism.

  • Lava tunnels

A Hike to explore the secret Lava tunnels of Reunion Islands. Depths of Piton de la Fournaise, an active volcano located in the south-east of the region!  Activities includes hiking in the Enclos Fouqué, the caldera at the foot of Reunion’s volcano, and a potholing exploration of two lava tunnels whose whereabouts remains our guide’s well-kept secret… We’re ready, may the adventure begin!

  • Bébourg Forest (Jungle Forest) /Iron Hole (waterfall)

We have discovered the most magical tropical forest: Bélouve, perched on a plateau 1,300m above sea level in the East of Reunion Island. Welcome to the kingdom of the highland tamarind!  Before we set off on the path, we stop once more to admire the panoramic view of the cirque of Salazie below. Bélouve extends on a plateau, 1,300m above sea level, that can only be reached by a track from Plaine-des-Palmistes. The edge of the rampart offers spectacular views of the greenest cirque in Reunion Island.

  • Iron Hole :

Among the top 3 tourist attractions, the Trou de Fer waterfalls are the Niagara Falls of Reunion Island. Sensations and vertigo guaranteed! The Trou de Fer is a geological depression in the Piton des Neiges massif. It takes the form of a chasm almost 300 m deep. Numerous streams rush into the Trou de Fer and form a 725 m drop, forming a river called the Bras de Caverne which flows into the Rivière du Mât.  Discover this mythical place on board a helicopter.

  • Lava Road

Surrounded by the ramparts of Bois Blanc and Le Tremblet, Grand Brûlé has unique landscape, shaped by regular eruptions that have poured lava down the slope. It is part of La Réunion National Park and listed World Heritage. In this natural theatre, minerals and plants reveal the mysteries of life growing on the island’s youngest basalt soils.

Lava flows often plunge into the ocean, redesigning the coast which is of rare wild beauty. Under the open sky, braids, drapes and folds of lava are like works of art. Underground lava tunnels reveal hidden facets of the Earth’s veins.



More about Reunionese

Reunion is a land of intermingling, where a diversity of cultures are superimposed, reflecting a rich history which illuminates the daily life of Reunion. The island’s population is the result of a unique blend of Asian, Indian, African and European cultures which coexist and enrich each other in perfect harmony. The sega and maloya, the island’s traditional music, are a testimony to this multicoloured heritage and are listed as intangible world heritage by UNESCO. Their rhythms still enliven the gentle evenings of Reunion Island. The island’s cultural heritage can also be appreciated during visits: Hindu temples, century-old churches and Chinese pagodas are daily reminders of the many influences of Réunion’s way of life. Similarly, the calendar of events is an inexhaustible source of surprising events steeped in distant traditions preserved over the years.

Reunion, an example of living together

At the crossroads of European, Malagasy, Indian, Asian and African civilisations, Reunion Island is a melting pot of a thousand faces, with a unique mix of religions, culture, art and cuisine. Reunion has 858,450 inhabitants (source: Insee 2021).

Unparalleled ethnic diversity: Reunion’s population is particularly mixed. Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Chinese live in harmony. The same is true for traditional music, the cadences of the sega and maloya give rhythm to the daily life of the inhabitants. Let yourself be carried away by an original show, a music festival or a cultural event that brings together locals and tourists.

Today’s Reunionese faces, most of them mixed race, carry this history. They are colloquially referred to as :

  • Cafres: descendants of slaves or indentured labourers from Africa and Madagascar;
  • Zarabs: Indian Muslims, who share the same religion as the Arabs;
  • Malbars: descendants of indentured labourers from South India;
  • Zoreys: French people from mainland France (the French are hard of hearing when someone speaks a language other than their own!
  • Chinese: Reunionnese of Chinese origin and not very mixed.
  • yab, or “petit blanc des hauts”: descendants of the most modest settlers who were pushed to the upper reaches of the island in the second half of the 19th century.

History & Cultural beginning

Reunion Island is intensely authentic. Sharing cultures: enjoy the warm welcome of the Reunionese and taste the art of living in the Creole way! Reunion offers visits to cultural and religious sites and monuments, as well as workshops for total immersion. The pride of Reunion, respect for others is in the genes of the Reunionese. Churches, Tamil temples, mosques and Chinese pagodas are all symbols of this tolerance and are an integral part of the urban landscape.

Over the course of immigration, Reunion Island has created a rainbow population.

The settlement of Reunion Island began in the middle of the 17th century on a virgin land. The first settlers, the French, were soon surrounded by slaves from Africa, the “Cafres”, or from Madagascar. Later on, Indian, Tamil or Coromandel (New Zealand) indentured labourers joined them.

Their descendants are still called “Malabars”. The immigration of Indian Muslim craftsmen and traders, known as “Zarab'”, or Chinese, dates from the 19th century. From the 1960s onwards, a growing number of French people from mainland France came to settle in Réunion. In the 1970s, the Mahorais and Comorians also came to settle in Reunion.

Reunion, a French look with Creole charm

Reunion Island is a kaleidoscope of grandiose landscapes but also of cultures. A land of exemplary interbreeding, Reunion Island holds high the universal values of respect, benevolence and sharing.

Here, the population of Reunion and its different cultures and religions rub shoulders and share in perfect harmony: a warm welcome, a wealth of smiles, discoveries and flavours from all over the world.

Reunion, a French department, invites travellers to discover the origins of Creole culture by visiting the magnificent colonial houses, the multicoloured huts decorated with mantling, the historical monuments, the museums and gardens.


Reunion Religion

At the meeting, people pray to Christ, Allah, Shiva, Saints and other deities.  Cults coexist smoothly in this land of mixed cultures, giving it an exceptional cultural and religious wealth. Religious festivals and traditions are celebrated all year round: fire walks, Dipavali (festival of lights), Chinese New Year, Guan Di Festival, Cavadee, “Fêt Caf” on 20 December (as part of the commemoration of the abolition of slavery), Réunion Métis…

We share with you this unique privilege in the world, Reunion offers the variety and depth of its cultures and spiritualities.

Catholicism – Saint-Denis, Saint-Paul, Saint-Pierre, Saint-Gilles, Saint-Joseph, Sainte-Anne, Sainte-Rose… most of the names of the towns bear witness to the presence of Catholicism on the island. The churches are crowded every Sunday and for every feast of the Catholic calendar.

On the roads, small altars painted in red catch the eye of visitors. They are dedicated to a saint who is little known outside Reunion: Saint-Expedit. He is said to have the power to solve the most difficult cases as quickly as his name indicates!

A beautiful religious tolerance

The intermingling of populations has resulted in a diversity of religions in Réunion. You will surely be surprised to find a church next to a Hindu temple or to hear the call of the muezzin breaking the silent atmosphere lulled by the incense rising from a Chinese pagoda next to the mosque.

Rhythm of Creole, music in Reunion

Reunion Island is known for the beauty of its volcanic landscapes and its culinary delights, but it is also known for its strong cultural and musical identity!

The origins of music in Réunion

Music is truly part of the soul of Reunion Island. Pei music, dance shows or world music, Reunion Island is inspired by the different cultures around the Indian Ocean. Reunion’s towns are ablaze with the rhythm of sega and maloya, two major musical genres on the island.

Where to listen to music in Reunion Island?

Over the years, Reunion’s music has gradually been enriched and transformed by the addition of European sounds (French variety, electro-fusion, rock, reggae, etc.)The question would be where not to listen to it? Because music is present everywhere on the island! Go to the concert halls, festivals, rondavelles (kiosks) or kabars (parties) to let yourself be invaded by the Creole rhythms.

The Classic Creole picnic

Picnicking is a tradition in Réunion, a need to recharge one’s batteries. Throughout the year, whatever the season, at weekends or during the school holidays, the people of Réunion share this convivial moment and take advantage of the many picnic and leisure areas on the island.

With family, friends or lovers, families settle down in the Hauts, in the Bas, in the heart of the town, near a waterfall, a river, facing the ocean, with their feet in the water, in the undergrowth, in the shade of the filaos, the coconut trees, in an unusual place, on wooded, landscaped, grassy and shaded leisure areas, often with games installed for the children.

On holiday in Reunion Island, you will not fail to observe the picnickers on the areas. No sandwiches, salads, sausages or cheese, the Reunionese picnic is a real institution, a Creole way of life! On the menu, there is always rice, curries cooked on wood fires in pots, rougails, and many other delicacies, an authentic experience.

This change of scenery is also an opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities near the picnic areas: cycling, walking, children’s games, bowling, swimming, white water rafting…

Local Cuisines and Drinks

Infused rums, beers, wines, mineral water and lemonade: Reunion offers a wide variety of local specialties, both alcoholic and soft drinks. Pace your holiday, have a good time in the evening, enjoy a cocktail by the ocean: you’ll undoubtedly find the perfect moment to sample all the island’s specialties !

Reunionese Rums

Unmissable both in shops and in caz’ (homes), the local rum is known as ‘Rhum Charrette’ due to its label featuring a cart (charrette) pulled by an ox and loaded with sugar canes. It is sold both in glass bottles and plastic flasks known as piles plates (literally, ‘flat batteries’). Rum is made either from sugarcane juice (for ‘rhum agricole’ and aged rum) or from molasses (the residue from refining sugarcane) for traditional rum. It is closed tied to the island’s history, including its darkest moments, as the sugarcane industry developed due to slavery. A visit to a refinery or distillery is essential to understand this past, and there is no shortage of options: the largest European sugarcane refinery is in in Saint-Louis: the Sucrerie du Gol (visit the refinery and taste its sirops la cuite – ‘cooked syrups’). In Saint-Pierre, the Saga du Rhum, the result of a collaboration between the island’s three distilleries, is located in the Isautier distillery, founded in 1845. In Saint-Benoît, the Distillerie la Rivière du Mât introduces visitors to the production of traditional white rums, aged rums and rhums agricoles. Finally, the Sucrerie de Bois Rouge and the Savanna distillery, located in Saint-André, both in the east, present the complete cycle from sugarcane to rum.

The local specialty infused rum

Of course, rum can be enjoyed neat (in moderation – Rhum Charrette is 49°) or in punch (with the addition of fruit juice and spices) or cocktails. But the island’s local speciality is ‘rhum arrangé’ – infused rum – for which there are as many recipes as there are inhabitants! In fact, you can infuse rum by macerating fruits, spices (e.g. cinnamon sticks or vanilla), herbs, faham (a variety of wild orchid), etc. in it in a multitude of combinations. In markets, you can also find bags containing everything you need to make your own rum. Finally, if a bar offers café-vanille on its menu, note that this is in fact a coffee-liqueur-flavoured punch!

Island beer

Wherever you are on the island, it’s difficult to escape the frescoes painted in the colours of the local beer on the façades of cafés and restaurants. Bourbon beer is brewed locally. Its symbol is a dodo, a large turkey-like bird that once inhabited the islands of the Indian Ocean and is now extinct. To capture a little of the Creole soul, nothing beats enjoying these Péi (local) beers with some chilli sweets or samosas. Since 2011, the dodo beer has even offered a lychee-flavoured version: the ‘Metiss’.

Wine, sparkling water and lemonade

Reunion also makes its own wines. The introduction of new grape varieties (Malbec among others) on the slopes of the Cirque de Cilaos and the installation of modern wineries have led to the birth of reds, rosés and whites that can hold their own against French wines from the mainland. In private homes in Cilaos, you may also come across vin qui rend fou (‘wine that sends you mad’)! This, in fact, is wine made from the Isabelle grape variety, which was banned in mainland France in 1935 (the ban was lifted in 2003) but that has always been grown in Reunion. Cilaos is known not only for its wines: Cilaos, a sparkling water obtained from one of the cirque thermal springs is found on many tables on the island. Many people also enjoy drinking Cot, a not-to-be-missed lemonade!

Diverse cuisine with spicy flavours

Reunion cuisine is a reflection of the island’s population: diverse. It finds its origins in the culinary traditions of the different ethnic groups that have settled in Reunion. From the French to the Chinese, passing through the Malagasy, the Mauritians, the Indians and the East Africans.

The basics of Reunionese cuisine

Reunionese cuisine is very colourful on account of the large number of spices that embellish the food. Livened up by the use of chilli, it can also have a sweet and subtle character thanks to its Madagascan and Indian inspiration. The most well known Reunionese dishes are without doubt carri (Reunionese curry), sausage rougail (tomato-based sausage dish), and massalé (Reunionese masala dish). Reunionese cuisine also includes a number of fried dishes, mainly enjoyed as an appetizer or dessert. And of course, no meal is complete unless accompanied with punch and ‘rhum arrangé’ (mulled rum) or tamarind syrup…

What does reunionese cuisine taste like?

Reunionese cuisine, like any world cuisine, has its own codes of practice. The appetizer holds an important place within the Reunionese culinary tradition. Samosas, bouchons (meat-based appetizers wrapped in pastry) and bonbons piments (miniature spiced doughnuts) are enjoyed as a means of whetting the appetite.

Main courses – generally fish, pork or poultry-based – are accompanied by rice, grains, brèdes (amaranth greens), achards (spicy vegetable relish) or tomato rougail (typical Creole sauce). In all of these dishes, spices such as ginger, saffron (or turmeric) play a leading role.
As for sweets, these are generally enjoyed in the afternoon, rather than as a dessert following a meal. Usually in the form of fritters or flour-based cakes, these are eaten as a treat during a tea break. To round off a meal, delicious seasonal fruits are the choice of preference, something of which there is no shortage on Reunion Island.

If you have to wait a while before tasting this authentic and colourful cuisine, why not discover the dishes by looking at our pictures…

Things to buy

Bourbon vanilla, the best of the world

As the most demanding palates know, vanilla is highly appreciated and can be used in an infinite number of ways. Thanks to the tropical climate, which is a real breeding ground for this spice, the production of Bourbon vanilla is an integral part of life in Reunion.

The history of Bourbon vanilla from Reunion Island

The origins of vanilla and its use date back to the 16th century, when the plant was first discovered by the Spanish conquerors in South America. When it was imported into Europe a century later, it was an instant success! The taste of vanilla is highly sought after, to flavour all kinds of dishes!

Where does the name “Bourbon” vanilla come from?

Thanks to the tropical climate, the islands of the Indian Ocean quickly became the Mecca of vanilla plantations. With 1,200 tonnes produced in the 1930s, Reunion Island, formerly known as Bourbon Island, alone produced three quarters of the world’s output! The vanilla then became known as Bourbon vanilla, in homage to its origin.

Rum : Ofcourse the local rum  also known as ‘Rhum Charrette’

Local handcraft :  Artisanal craft shop all over selling local products

Festival Attraction

Reunion Island is a land of diversity that is reputed across the world for its mixed culture and the harmonious rapport between its peoples. Here in the bewitching heart of nature, populations, traditions and spirituality unite. This mix can be seen and felt throughout the island’s history and in many aspects of the local way of life. It is a melting pot which has left a legacy of festivals and cults now deep-rooted in Reunion’s culture and very much part of the islanders’ lives throughout the year.

Cavadee , Fire Walking, Chinese New Year,  Tamil New Year,  Deepavali are few of the main festivals

Things the guidebooks don’t mention

A powerful island in terms of energy

Reunion is a powerful island in terms of energy. The Piton de La Fournaise, ranked among the top 5 most active volcanoes in the world, erupts 3 to 5 times a year.

Reunion’s volcano is directly connected to the centre of the earth, so that with each eruption the energy from the heart of the earth is expelled into the atmosphere we breathe. After spending several days on the island, visitors feel a sense of well-being, an incomparable boost of energy.

In my humble opinion, the exceptional way of living together that reigns on Reunion Island is partly linked to this powerful energy in which we live on a daily basis.

Kumari Kandam or Lemuria: the lost continent

Cosmographic myth of this continent which would have been the cradle of all civilisation. Unfortunately, following a cosmic catastrophe, Lemuria (kumari Kandam) disappeared into the deep waters like Atlantis. Today, only Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles are believed to be the remains of this lost continent.

The lost continent of Lemuria is also linked to the legend of Kumari Kandam by speakers of the Tamil language.

A legend also tells that a site in the centre of Reunion Island is the point of origin of all human life, and is also considered to be the navel of the world, the centre of the universe. In this place live “the Silent Ones” They have been walking in its forest “since time immemorial”, long before the arrival of the first inhabitants on the island. Even if their territory is immense, this site, which is kept secret, is for them a sacred place that they call the centre of the Universe….

3 – The Vortex of Etang Salé

Located on the beach of the Etang Salé, this vortex is said to be an energetic emanation of sorts, vibrating at such a frequency that the numerous visitors who regularly visit it identify it as “feminine, gentle, enveloping, regenerating”… The descriptions are legion.

Many people come here to recharge their batteries or to participate in meditation, prayer or healing circles. The history of this vortex is also linked to the lost continent known as Lemuria.


Stephane Bonneau is originally from Metropolitan France and arrived in Reunion Island at the age of 22 for a period of 1 year. 37 years later he is still there 🙂 Reunion Island offers an unparalleled quality of life in terms of climate, culture, outdoor activities, energy and the unparalleled way of living together that reigns here between the different populations. Since a very young age, he has always dreamed of travelling and that led him to working in tourism, occupying the position of international market manager. He loves discovering different cultures, meeting the locals and sharing their lives and customs.  Despite travelling all over the world, he always waits to get back home… to Reunion Island.


The Journey of Tintin

By Srinivas Krishnan

There are huge fans of Tintin and then there is me. I have read and re-read the comics multiple times, and still, it feels as if I am going on a new adventure every time I turn the page. Remarkably, Herge – the Belgian creator of Tintin – never left his native country while conceiving many of the Tintin adventures around the world.

He and his team scoured a staggering variety of books, newspapers and other print publications as research for the comics and the characters. Many of the characters in Tintin are inspired by real-life people, as well as cars, planes, landscapes, buildings, situations, etc.


Herge also pioneered the style of drawing called ‘ligne claire’ or clear line which has had a huge impact on modern art and graphic design while it influenced countless artists. To me, it’s Herge’s terrific characterisation is what stands apart, and yes, Captain Haddock is my favourite character.

As can be expected, I have all the comics, but a lot of memorabilia and stuff too, related to Tintin – including scale models of cars and planes, posters and books as well as four wrist-watches.

One of the most memorable Tintin-related experiences has been my visit to Cheverny castle in France, which is more famous as Marlinspike Hall! So yes, Tintin occupies a significant part of my life, and so he and his friends accompany me when I travel too. After all, he’s a globe-trotting reporter, isn’t he?

Insiders View on Antarctica

By Ute Hohn-Bowen

What makes Antarctica a good travel destination?

Antarctica is the last unspoilt, pristine continent and you will encounter amazing landscape and abundant wildlife.

Tell us something that every traveller should know when travelling to Antarctica?

You can only travel between November and March.

What is the Antarctic landscape like?

Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. More than 98% of Antarctica is covered with ice. The land is covered with ice and snow but it is also incredibly colourful; the whites, blues and greens of the ice and colours in plants and wildlife. Only cold-adapted organisms survive in Antarctica, including many types of algae, animals, bacteria, fungi and plants.

Which are the most surreal sights to visit when in Antarctica?

Antarctica has been described as “hauntingly beautiful” – from glistening inlets and floating ice sculptures to natural hot springs – it is simply stunning. Long days in December create longer daylight hours and photographs can be taken at midnight!

Which is the most aspiring experience one has when on a cruise to Antarctica?

Our cruises to Antarctica operate during the austral summer, early November to late March and all the different months have unique characteristics.

November is the courting season for penguins and seabirds and the spring ice is breaking up, creating beautiful sculptured shapes.

In December and January, the first seal pups and penguin chicks are born, whales are starting to appear more frequently, and the days are at their longest.

By February and March whale sighting is at its best and the penguin chicks are beginning to fledge, building up their strength for the long winter ahead.

 How to prepare for a perfect voyage to Antarctica?

Arrive in Ushuaia a day or two early so that you do not miss embarkation and familiarise yourself with IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) visitor guidelines in order to continue the protection of Antarctica and it’s wildlife.

Any non-clothing essentials that one needs to carry when they travel to Antarctica?

A camera! You will undoubtedly want to capture some of the amazing sights you see and wildlife you encounter.

The things guidebooks will not tell anyone about Antarctica.

If you were to work in Antarctica during winter, you would have to get your wisdom teeth and your appendix removed beforehand!

According to you what is the best thing about Antarctica?

The whole package – pristine landscapes, stunning wildlife and incredible history.

Check out our latest package on Antarctica

Kailash Manasarovar: The Centre of the Universe

By Sunita Vazirani

It is believed that the most fortunate alone get an opportunity to journey to Kailash-Manasarovar, the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Considered sacred by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and the followers of an ancient, indigenous religion called Bon, the 21778-feet high Mount Kailash is located roughly a 100 km from the India-Nepal-Tibet tri-border. For Hindus, Kailash is the seat of Shiva, from where the sacred river Ganges descends from heaven. In Buddhism, Kailash is the mystic image of Meru, the great mountain at the center of the universe. It is believed that a single parikrama of Mount Kailash washes away the sins of a lifetime, while 108 parikramas will achieve salvation/nirvana.

The yatra is not only considered among the most sacred, but also one of the toughest. I was blessed to have undertaken this pilgrimage – an experience of a lifetime.

Traveling with a couple of friends, I took the route through Kathmandu instead of the one via Uttaranchal. The journey from Nepal is routed straight to Tibet and does not entail extensive trekking. In Tibet, travel is undertaken in Land Cruisers, with trekking limited to the three days of the Kailash parikrama/ kora.

Tibet is a fascinating land steeped in religion and tradition. Its remoteness strikes you immediately on crossing the border. One rarely encounters people. The highest plateau in the world, Tibet can be chillingly cold and oppressively hot on the same day. Sunlight is intense and scorching at this altitude, under clear skies and thin air. Add to this the dust and swirling cold winds, and the going gets difficult. As they say, when in Tibet, expect the worst and hope for the best.

Our trip began with a bus journey from Kathmandu to the Nepal-China border at Kodari. We switched to Land Cruisers for the Tibet’s leg, driving through the most breathtaking terrain, with solitude as company. The Tibetan plateau stretches to the horizon and offers amazing sights of arid land, streams, lakes, rivers, and mountains, all vying for attention. Struggling with altitude sickness, we worked our cameras overtime to capture nature at her most awe-inspiring.

The name Manasarovar derives from the Sanskrit word manas (mind) and legend has it that the lake was first created in the mind of Lord Brahma, after which it manifested on Earth. Surrounded by majestic mountains including the Gurla-Mandata range and Mount Kailash, the lake is a tranquil blue against a strikingly blue sky. We settled into tents pitched nearby.

It is believed that the Gods come down to bathe in the lake in the predawn hours. We rose early and headed for the shore in anticipation. With no visible terrestrial light, the sky blazed in all its starry glory. At some point, flashes of light appeared in the sky, slowly at first, then with increasing frequency, descending to the surface of the lake – as if a galaxy of stars had come down for a dip. It was an incredible sight!

Later in the morning, we took a dip in the sacred waters before embarking on a jeep parikrama. The lake has different hues; rich turquoise at some places, a deep peacock blue elsewhere. We then headed to Darchen, the base camp for the Kailash kora.

In the normal course, it takes three days to perform the 55-km kora. Tibetans do it anti clockwise, in the belief that you could meet the Gods, who do the kora clockwise. The first day entailed a 15-km, fairly easy trek to our campsite. To our right, the west face of Kailash loomed almost overhead, gazing down on the valley. And to the left flowed the Brahmaputra; a narrow stream at that point. The mountains stretched on either side, sometimes a little grassy, mostly brown, and slate black at times.

The second day of the kora was the toughest, when – at 19500 feet – Dolma La, had to be crossed. Negotiating the steep inclines and boulder-strewn stretches, progress was slow. Shivasthal lay on the way. Tibetans consider this place sacred and believe that if you leave behind some of your old belongings here, you actually cast off your sins. Each step was tough; however, all was forgotten on reaching the pass.

An assembly of stones adorned by colorful prayer flags, chortens are Buddhist shrines and a familiar sight in Tibet, particularly at passes. There was one at Dolma La too. As a mark of respect and to pray for a safe passage, drivers drive around them before bringing their vehicle to a halt. While crossing Dolma La, we got a view of Gauri Kund pond. It is believed that Parvati performed penance for the hand of Lord Shiva, by standing in this pond for six months.

The descent after Domla La is steep and strewn with large boulders. The harsh conditions were aggravated by a hailstorm, making progress challenging.

The third day was an even-paced walk with some strenuous climbs and descents towards the end. But there were some wonderful sights, including one of Rakshas Tal. Located west of Mansarovar but not considered sacred, pilgrims do not bathe in it, nor drink its waters. It is believed that Ravana, the king of Lanka performed penance here to please Lord Shiva.

Our pilgrimage had drawn to a close. Another four days of travel brought us back to Kathmandu. Altitude-related sickness, sleeplessness, loss of appetite and breathlessness had been but a small price for the transformation we had undergone. Tibet had changed us. For a lifetime, or more!

An Insiders View on Colombia

By Carolina Niño

What makes Colombia a good travel destination?

Colombia is an amazing travel destination because of the biodiversity of its culture, it’s beautiful landscapes, friendly locals and more, which will leave tourists spellbound. The experience is overwhelming and always different among the diverse regions in terms of gastronomy, activities and local experience.

Tell us something that every traveler should know when traveling to Colombia?

Once you have decided to visit Colombia it is important to take into account certain items for having the best experience as possible while visiting us.  What to wear depends on the weather of the place you’re visiting. Colombia does not have seasons and the weather may vary, depending on the sea level. (For example, the temperature in Bogotá might be in 14 – 18 ºC while at Cartagena it might be 32 ºC)

Any essentials that one needs to carry when they traveling to Colombia?

  • One copy of your passport ID.
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Clothes for the cold and hot climate
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Sunblock
  • Sunscreen and a hat or cap
  • Insect repellent
  • Personal medicines and hygiene products (preferably biodegradable).

Which are the most surreal places to visit when in Colombia?

Well, that depends on the experience you want to have here. Colombia’s extensive beauty ranges from the sea of seven colors to its incredible deserts, architectural richness in buildings and it’s variant flora and fauna. There are special tours that will get you acquainted with the history and culture of cities like Medellin or Cartagena.

Can you tell us a little about the life of the locals in Colombia?

The locals are very friendly and welcoming and are always eager to share their culture with visitors. They are proud of their history and tend to make the best out of every situation. In certain parts of the country, the locals follow their traditional customs with pride and sincerity.

What are the local delicacies/drinks which one must try and wherein Colombia?

The most common drink in Colombia is aguardiente. It is a local, familiar drink based on anise, not so expensive and can be found almost anywhere in the country. It has different brands depending on the region you are in. Also, there are other drinks like chicha, canelazo, sabajón among others.

Where can one get vegetarian food in Colombia?

Vegetarian food is now getting popular and as it gains even more popularity, you will find restaurants, mostly in cities, that will offer it. It is advisable to request for vegetarian food in advance.

What is a must try dish when in Colombia?

If you crave seafood, then north Colombia is the place for you. You can try the Patacón, which is a dish made up of different types of fish with coconut rice and a type of mashed banana. There are also different dishes like the Bandeja Paisa(which is very common, that includes meat, rice, beans, a fried egg, banana smashed and more). There is also the arepas, one of the meals that represent us. It is prepared using ground maize dough. In the capital city, Bogota, the main dish is Ajiaco, a soup made of three different types of potatoes.

Can you please list the top 3 Indian restaurants in Colombia?

What are the things which one must buy when in Colombia?

Souvenirs are a must-buy in Colombia. Coffee and jewelry made off emeralds are also quite popular.

Which are the most romantic places to visit in Colombia?

Bogotá, Villa de Leyva, Providencia, Cartagena and Barú.

What are the local festivals which one must visit when in Colombia?

Colombia has festivals celebrated all over. The most important ones, however, are the Barranquilla Carnival held in March celebrated in Barranquilla,  and the Flower festival in August in Medellin.

The things guidebooks will not tell anyone about Colombia?

The guidebooks won’y tell you how easy it is to interact with locals in the country as everybody is very welcoming.

According to you what is the best thing about Colombia?

The sheer diversity of this place will give you a new and completely different experience at each new destination. There is so much beauty to be discovered. People are very charming and gentle. It’s not unusual to feel Colombian once you’ve spent some time here.

Check out our latest package on Colombia

An Insiders View on Bologna, Italy

By Mattia Cipriano

Aerial cityscape view from the tower on Bologna old town center with Maggiore square in Italy

What makes Bologna a good travel destination?

Bologna is a fantastic travel destination for infinite reasons. It has an enviable position on the map because it’s very central and it’s a good point to travel to and from other places in Italy. Its historical heritage is immense (just think that the University of Bologna is the most ancient in the world!) and it’s clearly visible in its city centre where the ancient part, dotted with medieval towers, Renaissance buildings and marvellous statues and monuments such as Gianbologna’s Neptune, is matched with the porticoes which give elegance to its streets. Food is spectacular because the region of Bologna, namely Emilia Romagna, has great culinary tradition and boasts finest products (DOP Balsamic Vinegar, Parmigiano cheese, cold cuts, etc.) and recipes famous all over the world such as Tortellini pasta or Bolognese Ragù. Last but not least, the area between Bologna and Modena is known as The Italian Motor Valley where all the greatest Italian supercar brands (Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, Ducati, etc.) were born.

Tell us something that every traveller should know when travelling to Bologna?

Sometimes the best way of exploring Bologna is to follow your senses. If smell something great while walking, just follow your nose, if you see a red brick building standing out in the middle of modern palaces, go check it out and so on. Bologna is a city of discoveries, you never know what’s behind the next corner.

Any essentials that one needs to carry when they travelling to Bologna?

Comfortable walking shoes and very good appetite are the only things you should carry with you!

Which are the most surreal places to visit when in Bologna?

Probably the top of its towers from which you can get the most spectacular view and also the ancient University is a really surreal and beautiful place to discover

Can you tell us a little about the life of the locals in Bologna?

The locals are very sociable people. The ones you might expect to find in a typical trattoria and share a story and bottle of wine with.

What are the local delicacies/drinks which one must try and wherein Bologna?

Handmade Tortellini (egg pasta stuffed with meat).
Ragù Alla Bolognese (meat and tomato sauce for pasta)
Tigelle (fried panini stuffed with cheese and cold cuts) which are perfect for small breaks
Original Lasagne (layers of flat pasta alternated with ragù and besciamella and oven cooked).
Lambrusco wine (typical from this area, Lambrusco is the top-selling wine in Italy)

Where can one get vegetarian food in Bologna?

The Emilian cuisine is not typically vegetarian, but since Bologna has become an international city, almost all the restaurants have vegetarian alternatives including even revisited recipes such as “Vegetarian Lasagne”. Handmade pasta and a great variety of typical cheese are definitely a more than valid alternative to the traditional meat-based cuisine.

What is a must try dish when in Bologna?

Above all, probably the original Lasagne is something you shouldn’t miss.

Can you please list the top 3 Indian restaurants in Bologna?

Taj Mahal, Ristorante India and Agra (the best Indian takeaway in Bologna)

What are the things which one must buy when in Bologna?

Since Bologna is world renowned for its food, a lot of typical food shops are prepared for shipping so food is probably the main thing. Apart from that, typical gifts are the ones related to supercars so we suggest you go for a trip to one of the Supercar factories and museums where you will be able to find gadgets which are perfect gifts for your family and friends.

Which are the most romantic places to visit in Bologna?

Either the small window in Via Piella facing on the Moline Canal or a panoramic spot such as one of the towers or San Michele in Bosco.

What are the local festivals which one must visit when in Bologna?

Whenever you go to Bologna there’s always a festival or fair. Most of them are related to seasonal food and those are definitely recommended!

The things guidebooks will not tell anyone about Bologna?

Below the crowded streets of Bologna, there’s a net of canals which are unfortunately closed to the public but, speaking with the right guide, you can build an interesting walking tour including unexpected views over Venice-like canals

According to you what is the best thing about Bologna?

Amazing food in the elegant and magnificent framework of the city centre.

Visit Kailash Manasarovar

It is said that faith can move mountains. What if the mountain itself is faith?

For millennia, Mount Kailash has been venerated as an extraordinary peak, with divinity attributed to it. For Hindus, it’s revered as the very abode of the powerful Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati. It is also believed to be the pillar of the world, reaching up to the heavens. At 22,022 feet above mean sea level, it indeed seems so. Mount Kailash also holds a special place for Jains, Buddhists and the people belonging to the indigenous Tibetan religion, Bon. All these religions believe that a parikrama or the ritual circumambulation of Mount Kailash brings good fortune to the one who does it. From its location in modern-day Tibet, Mount Kailash radiates divinity and spirituality that guides devotees from all over the world to visit it and bask in its majesty.

At the base of Mount Kailash is the presence of the holy lake, Manasarovar. At 14,950 feet above mean sea level, Manasarovar is the highest freshwater lake in the world. The geographical significance apart, Lake Manasarovar is also considered extremely holy. A dip in this water is supposed to wipe off all the sins of your previous lives. Manasarovar feeds another nearby salt-water lake called Rakshastal. According to Hindu belief, Ravana – the lord of the demons – performed a tough penance on the foothills of Mount Kailash to propitiate Lord Shiva, which gave rise to this lake named after him. Both these lakes are considered opposites: fresh versus salty, brightness versus darkness, life-giving versus lack of life and calm versus choppy. This is also a special spot geologically. Lake Manasarovar is close to the sources of four great rivers, the Brahmaputra, Ghaghara, Sindhu and Sutlej.

Thus, both spiritually and geologically, Kailash Manasarovar is a rather extraordinary place in this wonderful planet of ours, and you have to be blessed and privileged to go on this physical and mental journey to experience it. However, as you would expect, Kailash Manasarovar is located in an inhospitable, remote terrain. It’s not an easy journey to undertake and you need to be reasonably fit, both mentally and physically. But if you think the call has come from the top of Mount Kailash, asking you to visit His abode, give The Wanderers a call.


Why travel with us? Many solid reasons. We have been promoting trips to Kailash Manasarovar since 1998, at a time when one had to rough it out – camping in the outdoors, fording streams and rivers and traversing rough terrain without any sign of tarmac. Since we have been at it for two decades now, we know the lie of the land and have warm, trustworthy relationships with the people who partner with us locally. Needless to say, all those who have travelled with us in these 20 years have put in a good word for us and recommended us to others to undertake this very special journey with The Wanderers.

With our vast experience, we are your best advisors, telling you upfront what to expect if you have ‘received the call’ and made up your mind. As mentioned earlier, it’s not an easy trip to take to this remote, high-altitude terrain and you need to be prepared to head out there. We make you go through extensive briefing to prep you up mentally and physically to go to Kailash Manasarovar and return home blessed.

Of course, our objective is to also make sure you are comfortable and safe throughout the trip. Hence we use the best quality hotels and stay options available in Nyalam, Saga and Darchen. We are also equipped with facilities like oxygen cylinders, keep the availability of medical support through most of the trip and we supply you with duffel bags, day backpacks and (returnable) down jackets for your use. There is also The Wanderers’ legendary attention to detail and personalisation options, which sets us apart.

We offer four route options, depending on your budget and time:
1. Overland ex-Kathmandu
2. Helitour ex-Kathmandu
3. Helitour ex-Lucknow
4. Overland ex-Kathmandu via Lhasa

All options work well and there is no difference in our quality of service. The ideal time to visit Kailash Manasarovar is between May and September. Though it is difficult, elderly persons of even 70 years of age have travelled with us in comfort and ease. We even customise packages for private groups.

Are you ready then to take the call?

To check out our Kailash Manasarovar Package click here


Insiders View on Galapagos Islands

By Charles Cumella

What makes Galapagos Islands a good travel destination?

Galapagos Islands is an archipelago of 19 islands. It is a spectacular paradise of sight, sound, and activity. Each island offers something special, from plush white sands to exotic birds to deep lava tunnels. It is marvelous.
There’s an other-worldliness about these islands. It’s the unofficial animal kingdom of South America, and its placidity is challenged only by the peculiar call of the blue-footed booby, the screech of a hawk, or the crashing waves as sea lions cut through shimmering azure waters. The Galapagos Islands capture a unique melange of native and modern, and there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Any essentials that one needs to carry when they are travelling to the Galapagos Islands?

Passengers should always carry a camera, sunblock, sunglasses, low boots are always essential while doing the hikes around the islands, and of course, the disposition to explore and have a great time.

Which are the most surreal places to visit when in Galapagos Islands?

The most surreal places to visit on the islands would have to be: • Española Island: This island is located on the south-eastern part of the archipelago. It has an overwhelming amount of wildlife, such as the Waved Albatross and a large group of Galapagos tortoises, which represent a success story for the conservation efforts on the islands. It also has a beautiful coastline lined with amazing cliffs.

• Fernandina Island: One of the newest islands in the archipelago, it is located on the Western side of Isabela. It is also the most volcanically active island and has amazing volcanic landscapes that will impress even the most experienced travellers. This island is also home to a large colony of Galapagos penguin and has a special sub-species of Marine Iguana which does not reside at low elevations.

• Genovesa Island: This one of the Northernmost islands, and is also referred to as the “Bird Island” due to its great variety of bird species, including the Nazca, Red Footed and Blue Footed Boobie, Great Frigatebirds, among others; all in all, a birder’s paradise.

Can you tell us a little about the life of the locals?

Local life on the islands is a relaxing one, human beings always interacting with the wildlife that surrounds them has made up a different dynamic; people and animals coexisting greatly on the archipelago. The lifeblood of the islands, of course, is fishing, this can only be done in specific areas, and the islands have some of the best fresh fish in the world!

What are the local delicacies/drinks which one must try and where in Galapagos Islands?

Galapagos always has a wide array of seafood, fish, lobster, etc. But there is one specific restaurant that uses only local ingredients for their meals, and this is the ANKER restaurant. They like to understand the ecosystem, local community and the products from the island to develop their culinary experience. They invite you to experience and taste Galápagos through their tasting menu.


Where should one go to get the best of the night life in Galapagos Islands?

The best nightlife on the islands must be in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, It may not be the capital city of the islands (the capital is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal), but it has the highest density of young people and restaurants and bars to accommodate anyone.

What are things which one must buy when in Galapagos Islands?

Like in every city in Ecuador, there are many artisans and they dedicate their lives to making handicrafts and trinkets that will make for great souvenirs. There are also many articles of clothing that will help tell everyone back home that you were on the enchanted islands.

Which is the most romantic places to visit in the Galapagos Islands?

The most romantic spots on the islands are:
• Las Grietas, volcanic crevices formed millions of years ago, that has a beautiful panoramic view of Academy Bay.
• Concha Perla, located on Isabela, it is a beautiful turquoise portion of water where many people do snorkelling, but you can also enjoy a romantic walk through a path surrounded by trees.
• Alemanes beach, located on Santa Cruz, very close to Puerto Ayora. It is a secluded beach that has a beautiful view of the bay at sunset, perfect for picnics.

What are the local festivals which one must visit when in Galapagos Islands?

One of the most frequent events on the Galapagos Islands happens in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. Every Friday at Pelican Bay there is a cultural festival with local food and typical dance shows. Since Galapagos inhabitants are from all over Ecuador, the food, music and dance represent a mixture of the traditions present across the country.
On Sundays, a traditional barbecue is offered at the Guayabillos farm in the Highlands of Santa Cruz. Every local will recommend this place for Sunday’s lunch.

Now, there’s a festival that only happens between the last two weeks of November in Santa Cruz, the Santa Rosa’s Festival in which a local queen is chosen to represent the small town in the Highlands of Santa Cruz. During this festivity, you can find all sorts of local food and also toreros. This election is very important because the selected queen will be competing against the other small town queens of Santa Cruz in February during the island’s queen election that happens during Carnival.

The things guidebooks will not tell anyone about the Galapagos Islands?

Life on the Galapagos is very distinct to anywhere else on the planet, the people there love the islands and are very focused on keeping everything as pristine as possible and live their life as pleasantly as possible.

According to you what is the best thing about the Galapagos Islands?

The best thing on the Galapagos is the rest and relaxation you can have while exploring fantastic locales and appreciating nature in a way that isn’t possible anywhere else in the world.

Check out our latest package on the Galapagos.

An Insiders view on Amazon, Ecuador

By Charles Cumella 

Ecuador is an amazing place, full of natural and man-made wonders. Ecuador has some of the most unique landscapes in the world, including the Highland region (Sierra), the Coastal region (Costa), and the Galapagos. But there’s no way to forget the Amazon region (Amazonia), and its enormous amount of fauna and flora. There are a few national parks and protected areas in Ecuador’s Amazon region, including the Cuyabeno Wildlife reserve, the Yasuni National Park, and the Limoncocha Biological Reserve. There are 2 species of animals discovered every day in the Ecuadorian Amazon, this demonstrates that Ecuador is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world!

What makes Amazon in Ecuador a good travel destination?  

The Amazon is an amazing travel destination because of all of the flora and fauna that can be found there, the passengers will be amazed of everything they can see; from 10-foot snakes to dolphins in the middle of a river.

Tell us something that every traveller should know when travelling to the Amazon?

Every  person that travels to the Ecuadorian Amazon should know that they are in for a huge surprise with everything they’ll see, and that they’ll have one of the most relaxing and impacting trips of their lives.

Any essentials that one needs to carry when they travelling to Amazon?

Insect repellent, sun block, sunglasses, light clothing and water resistant ponchos are all indispensable things to have with you in the Amazon. Also indispensable, is the desire to learn about the ecosystem and communities that call this place home.

Which are the most surreal places to visit when in Amazon?

The Cuyabeno is one of the most surreal places to visit in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It has the highest amount of flora and fauna in the Ecuadorian Amazon, having 12.000 species of plants, and 320 species of animals. It’s a wildlife lover’s dream!

Can you tell us a little about the life of the locals?

The local communities that call the Ecuadorian Amazon home are very diverse, some like the Siona community in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, are very used to visitors and even welcome tourists to partake in their daily lives. Others, like the Taromenani tribe located in the Yasuni National Park, do not welcome visitors and are very violent. The communities are very different and very comfortable living out of our “normal” society.

What are the local delicacies/drinks which one must try and where Amazon?                                

The Ecuadorian Amazon has many strange local delicacies, one of the most polarizing ones is the Chontacuro grubs, these are large insect larvae that live in trees, these are then grilled and served. The “chicha de jora” is a drink you will most likely find in the Amazon, it is a fermented corn flour drink that the locals drink like fruit juice, but once it is sufficiently fermented, it becomes an alcoholic beverage.
Yucca is a type of root vegetable used as a base in almost every local food and is grown everywhere in the area.

What are things which one must buy when in Amazon?

The best things to buy in the Amazon are souvenirs, supporting the local communities, such as things made with Tagua, a special seed used for manufacturing jewelry and others.

Which are the most romantic places to visit in Amazon?

Cuyabeno is the most romantic place in the Amazon, it has white and black water lakes which is an amazing place to enjoy a beautiful sunset with your loved one.

What are the local festivals which one must visit when in Amazon?

In Archidona, there is the festival of Chonta, which is a tradition in order to celebrate the region’s success over the invading Spanish forces. This is held during April.

The things guidebooks will not tell anyone about Amazon?

Sadly, there is a lot of oil exploitation in the Ecuadorian Amazon region. This is something that may not be in many guidebooks but it is also a necessary insight into local life in the area.

According to you what is the best thing about Amazon?

For me, the best thing in the Amazon is the huge amount of wildlife and the rest and relaxation you can have while there. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Check out our latest package on the Amazon.