Get your adrenalin flowing with TTN's top picks, which include an exhilarating Kenyan safari, skiing in Solvenia and some high adventure in Oman
We understand that bragging rights tops the list of reasons why people want to explore outside of the regular activities on a holiday. How the vacation is filled with experiences that can be captured and shared readily on social circles can be an important factor in going ahead with proposed itineraries. What’s more, word of mouth and peer recommendations are the most dominating factor for choosing activities while planning holidays. According to YouGov’s Travel Oracle, the annual syndicated online study of consumer habits and attitudes towards travel and tourism across the Middle East and North Africa, ‘discovery’ and ‘unique experiences’ are key components of luxury travel, and ‘nature holidays’ ranks alongside ‘shopping’ on the wish list of travellers.
At TTN, we get invited to a wide range of exhilarating experiences across the globe from Ireland to Thailand, to new developments in our own region. Some of these are for the outright thrill-seeker, some others are perfect for family groups. Many of these activities are seasonal, adding that extra bit of exclusivity to it. So there, we have put together a tantalising collection of contrasting experiences that can easily become the talking point of any holiday plan.
KENYA – MARA ENGAI
Around the romantic theme, since Valentine’s Day is round the corner, the good folks at Mara Engai Wilderness Lodge have updated us with their special romantic package, starting at $400 per couple, in addition to room rate. What they are offering is authentic experiences of the Masai Mara ecosystem. Some of our favourites are: special five-course candlelight bush dinner, with private cultural night out featuring a show by Masai dancers. An unforgettable nature walk with guides who are not only well-trained in guest relations, but know the place inside out. It means, you get to explore like a local!
A personal favourite adventure experience has been reported in these pages before, but such is the thrill on offer that it is worth a second mention. Unlike any other game drive vehicle, the Mara Engai offers specially adapted 6×6 Pinzgauer beastmobiles that are highly agile and comfortable. Game viewing on these vintage trucks are unforgettable. Not just because of the superior elevation and all round open view, but also because of the adept drivers who take you to territories only a 6x6 can access. If nature and adventure is on the cards, Mara Engai should make for a perfect family outing.
SLOVENIA – SKIING
Our proactive colleagues who are regular at trade exhibitions will be familiar with the adventure and nature travel offerings of Slovenia, such has been the buzz around the country’s tourism marketing, specially that it is the ‘greenest’ destination in all of Europe. But a timely update from the tourism board, deserves a special mention, after all, the snow cover will not last the year.
Did you know that Slovenia offers 300km of snow covered slopes? Also, the country offers over 40 modern ski centres that can accommodate ski-enthusiasts of all levels, from beginners and children to experts. Family groups from the GCC need not fret over ski training and language barriers as numerous ski schools and ski instructors, speaking different languages, ensure that the whole family enjoys a memorable experience.
Approximately 8 hours away from the Gulf, Slovenia is a country of small ski resorts offering pleasant and homely atmosphere. An hour’s drive from Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, the Krvavec Ski Centre offers more than 30 km of groomed wonderful views of the Ljubljana basin. Another skiing gem is the Kranjska Gora, which is ranked amongst top 50 ski destinations in the world.
THAILAND – RIVER CRUISE
Along with the name Anantara comes the pedigree that is well accepted as a hallmark in luxury experiences. But there’s more on offer around the Valentine theme, going by the decadent and adventure aspects of the packages. While the river cruises are not comparable to the sedate dinner extravaganza, the culture show in an open environment, set to the backdrop of the river makes for a heady cultural immersion. Here are the top picks of the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort-designed Valentine specials.
Private Anantara Dream Overnight Cruise is an overnight boat trip for an exclusive experience. Featuring, personalised timings, onboard spa, and a five-course western candle light dinner. From $2,203 per couple and exclusive to two couples only.
Manohra Love Boat Dinner Cruise goes down the River of Kings, with stunning views of the illuminated Temple of Dawn and Grand Palace. A delectable five-course Thai set menu served alongside live entertainment. From $280 per couple and exclusive to 15 couples only.
Riverside Terrace Choco Extravaganza is a chocolate-themed evening, an open-air riverside spectacular featuring mythical Thai dance performances, international flavours at a buffet-style dinner of open show kitchens and live cooking stations, and extravagant chocolate presentations. From $84 per person.
IRELAND – TRAIN TRAIL
Ireland is on the right track, listening to the needs of the GCC traveller and doing whatever it can to woo them. To start with, they are going beyond the immediate attractions of the Game of Thrones and Star Wars movie trail and looking at a diverse set of offerings in luxury and adventure.
Marking a new era in luxury rail travel, Belmond Grand Hibernian is the first luxury sleeper train to travel throughout the island, covering 2,217 km. Guests can now book the six-night itinerary for 2017 that features a private visit of Blarney Castle. The Belmond Grand Hibernian passes through Killarney and its National Park for a boat tour of the spectacular Lough Leane. As the train heads north, a walking tour of the creative city of Galway is followed by a full day visit to Ashford Castle for a lunch and walk around the property’s stunning grounds. The train journey includes a stop in Northern Ireland and Belfast for a visit of the award-winning Titanic Experience, as well as a stop in the South of the Island, in the Viking port of Waterford.
OMAN – VIA FERRATA
By now, every travel consultant has Oman’s Jabal Akhdar tourism portfolio high up the recommendation chart, but are you aware of the latest attraction that can easily be the choice of adventure seekers in the region.
Alila Jabal Akhdar at 2,000m above sea level is home to some dramatic views from its Hajjar mountain perch. But now this advantage will translate to thrilling experiences with the newly launched Via-Ferrata, a protected climbing route. With Omani guides and instructors at hand, and with a choice of experiences in terms of how challenging the trek can be, this comes as a perfect adventure getaway at the highest Via Ferrata in the Middle East.
For those that love to live on the edge, literally, the Via Ferrata Cave Affiar is what they can enjoy. According to the resident guide’s description, 'Guests will cross an exposed 20-metre high rope, walking over a cave mouth, traversing along the side of the canyon and ascending into a steep gully.' The new Via Ferrata Cave experience starts from $90 per person for a two-hour experience. Caution: It is level 5 and requires a degree of fitness. A more relaxed trek, takes guests to a mountain village that is hidden within a cave. The level 2 Adventure Trek starts from $78 per person for a 1.5-hour experience.
By Andy Pearson
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