The Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador in South America, is where evolutionary science was born, after Charles Darwin observed how the fittest of the species survived in inimical conditions. And now travel outfitters Abercrombie and Kent (A&K) promise to take you up close to Lonesome George, the world’s last known Pinta Island tortoise, sea lions and iguana, penguins and frigate birds.
Tourism at the Unesco World Heritage Site is monitored closely because of the danger posed by foreign elements—it was uninhabited till the 17th century, but many native species have already become extinct since thanks to “imported” rats, goats and feral cats. A&K promises your visit will have minimal impact on the environment. In the six days you will spend anchored off the island in MV Eclipse, you’ll have your meals on board but remain free to explore the archipelago and landmark sites such as Pinnacle Rock and Punta Suarez, where you’ll find Galapagos’ weird and wonderful wildlife regarding you with as much curiosity as you regard them. Shutterbugs would be advised to sign up for the 10-day trip starting 18 November, which will have award-winning wildlife photographer Jonathan R. Green guiding a special photo safari.
Seeing blue: Among the many highlights of Galapagos’ wildlife is the adorable blue-footed Booby. Photo: Thinkstock
The trip costs $500 less than other similar trips, with stateroom accommodation going for $6,195 (around Rs2.9 lakh) per person for double occupancy, for the cruise and internal airfare (Quito-Galapagos-Quito), if you book by 30 September. Log on to www.abercrombiekent.com for details.
What with hordes of foreign tourists landing in Goa and Manali, chartered flights have got something of a bad name in India. That may be changing, as MakeMyTrip’s third “group” scheme takes off. This time, after Ladakh and the Maldives, the destination is Andaman islands, says Keyur Joshi, co-founder and COO of MakeMyTrip, adding that they ferried 7,000 tourists to Leh in summer. With the first flight taking off on 9 October, the package includes return economy fares on Kingfisher Airlines, seven nights’ accommodation in standard rooms in three-star hotels in Port Blair and Havelock Island, snorkelling off Elephant Beach, luxury cruise boat transfers, the regular sightseeing (Cellular Jail, Naval Maritime Museum, et al), a 2-hour harbour cruise, and umpteen hours of sun, sea and sand. On a twin-sharing basis, the seven-night/eight-day package costs Rs25,999 per person, ex-Bangalore. Residents of other cities will need to fly to Bangalore and spend a night there to make the trip. For costs for residents of other cities (Delhi/Ahmedabad, Mumbai/Pune/Hyderabad and Kolkata/Chennai), log on to www.makemytrip.com
Andaman calm: The post-monsoon period is the best time to visit. Photo: Thinkstock
The month of fasting-feasting may be over for Muslims, but a long season of excesses stretches ahead. This is when you should be making a note of Our Native Village, a 100% eco-resort located about 40km from Bangalore. Kitted out with 24 rooms, two spas, a restaurant and an all-natural swimming pool, this is where you need to head to reconnect with your innermost self. Okay, so you may not buy all that they say about past life regression therapy and rebirthing breath, but their 21-day holistic health package may be just what you need to reverse lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol, allergies, obesity and auto-immune diseases. Using a healing foods diet, Ayurvedic therapies, acupressure techniques, naturopathy, sound healing, meditation, yoga and pranayam, the protocol promises to send you away healthier, fitter and whole.
Escape: This resort’s a good place to detox.
You need to stay at the village for all 21 days of the programme—no short cuts there—with each day costing Rs9,000, inclusive of stay, food, consultancies and therapies. For details, log on to www.ournativevillage.com
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