The Jim Corbett National Park has reopened its gates to day trippers for the post-monsoon season and will allow overnight campers from 15 November. Loyalists swear by the 11 forest resthouses located inside the park, especially the one in Dhikala—the century-old building offers the most stunning views over the Patli Dun valley, with the Kanda ridge in the background. Rooms cost between Rs600 and Rs1,300, plus Rs250 for housekeeping charges. Call 05947-251489 for bookings.
But if you can’t wait till the park sanctions overnight stays, one of the numerous hotels and resorts on the park’s fringes will have to do. With park authorities expecting a 26% increase in visitors over the last year, hoteliers have an array of special offers. At the Hideaway River Lodge (www.leisurehotels.co.in), located on the Ramganga, deluxe tent deals for two nights come for Rs30,000 (Rs34,000 for superior tents), inclusive of all meals, four-wheel drive transfers, jeep and elephant safaris in the company of a naturalist, all entrance fees (with taxes), bonfires and barbeques. If you want to have a go at netting the mighty mahseer (on a catch-and-release basis), it costs an extra Rs1,500.
Catch of the day: Tackle big fish in the waters around the Andamans
At Tiger Camp ( www.tiger-camp.com ), rooms come for upwards of Rs6,888 (everything else extra) to Rs8,222 (including all meals) for a couple for two nights, three days. Safari, elephant rides costs are additional.
You know that picture you nurtured in your head ever since you read Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea ? Of the ocean and a giant fish, and pitting your wits against creatures of the wild? Well, you can now reel out the lines and draw in the nets. Monster Fishing (www.theandamans.com) introduce themselves as a bunch of guys who love to fish and will be more than happy to take you along when they go exploring the waters off the Andaman archipelago. They use two spanking-new sport fishers which come with an air-conditioned saloon, a toilet and on-board cooking facilities. The Liv-Ashore package (Rs67,000-76,000 per day for four people) allows you to stay on the islands in three-star accommodation, while Liv-Aboard (Rs60,000-70,000 per day for four people) offers air-conditioned accommodation on board a 35ft boat and access to all those remote spots where the fishing’s great but the going isn’t. What’s more, if you’ve never fished before and don’t have the requisite gear, they’ll fit you out as well with the best equipment available today. They calculate their prices in euros, so do keep a watch on conversion rates.
For hard core anglers, the Monsters customize packages off Barren Island (yes, the same one that actually has an active volcano) and near drop-offs that run 1km deep. Call +91-9845015472 or +91-9434263640 for details.
Where there’s a wheel
You might think low-cost airlines are the greatest thing to happen to travel since Marco Polo, but in a global survey conducted by Budget Travel ( www.budgettravel.com) on the Top 10 travel innovations over the past 10 years, they were pipped to the first spot by the ubiquitous strolley. Turns out respondents say these cases on wheels—manufactured now by every self-respecting luggage company and available in every conceivable shape and size—underwent a major design evolution by dropping two wheels and the strap and adopting a retractable handle. Replacing two wheels with flat support made for greater stability, a boon, obviously, for people on the move.
Most of the other top-rated innovations are offshoots of the technology boom. Think back to the days of queuing up for railway reservations or paying an agent for airline tickets—and it’s no surprise that online booking makes the No. 2 spot. Online maps and flight check-ins also figure, as does worldwide ATM and Internet access, GPS navigation, cellphones and digital photography. The single “brand” to have a place on the list is TripAdvisor. For all the technological leaps, it seems we still trust people most.
For all luxury junkies out there, here’s a deal to thrill. Oberoi Hotels and Resorts has a package going for its Vilas properties in Rajasthan and Agra. Valid from 16 November to 19 December, it offers a two-night stay for two, breakfast, dinner and return transfers to the nearest railway station or airport for Rs65,000 plus taxes (Rs72,000 plus taxes for luxury tents). Enjoy your breakfast ahead of a jungle expedition in Ranthambore and your dinner gazing at the moon-washed Taj Mahal. In between, make sure to pack in a couple of appointments at the spas run by therapists trained at the Spa Academy, Phuket. The participating hotels are Amarvilas (Agra), Udaivilas (Udaipur), Rajvilas (Jaipur) and Vanyavilas(Ranthambore). For more details on the Exotic Vacations package, log on to www.oberoihotels.com , or call 011-23890606, 1-800-11-2030 (toll free).
Why don’t you… visit France with a difference?
Imagine a France that’s not on the continent. Like the British, the French, too, were great colonizers and in the 21st century the upshot is a bunch of islands scattered across the globe, with exotic names such as Réunion, Guadeloupe, Wallis and Futuna, all integral parts of the French republic.
Lap of luxury: French islands such as Mayotte provide an experience that combines activity and comfort.
Accessible around the year, the Lesser Antilles island of Martinique is washed by the Atlantic to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west. When you can tear yourself away from sporting activities, soak in the Creole culture via food, music and dance.
At the other end of the world, New Caledonia in the South Pacific—in the news recently over French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposal to station troops there—boasts of a 1,600km coral reef, virginal coastlines and an extraordinary mélange of endangered birds, animals and vegetation.
If you don’t want to travel so far (not even to Réunion and Mayotte in the Indian Ocean), well, there’s always Puducherry for your rue-fix.
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3 things to do in | Amsterdam
a) Have a beer at Café de Magere Brug:And don’t forget to order ‘bitterballen’ , a local delicacy of pureed and deep-fried mystery meat (usually beef), with your Amstel beer. The café, located at Amstel 81, is perched at one end of the Magere Brug (literally, skinny bridge) and has breathtaking views of the Amstel river. The bridge is also affectionately known as the ‘kissing bridge’ among locals as the sides of the bridge appear to kiss when it opens many times a day to allow ships to pass. The bridge is decorated with 1,200 light bulbs that are turned on in the evening, so dusk is the best time to be here.
b) Dine at Supperclub: For a serious night on the town, you can’t go wrong with the Supperclub, a destination for 360-degree entertainment, on Jonge Roelensteeg 21. Enjoy drinks, food, music and Cirque du Soleil-esque live entertainment while lounging on a bed—something that comes far easier to us Indians than it does to other cultures. This restaurant/lounge/club is notorious for slipping in a nude poetry reading or two and is definitely not for the faint of heart. Be sure to reserve in advance.
Easy rider: Earn your entrecôte steak by first touring Vondelpark on a rented bicycle.
c) Spend a perfect day: Rent a Mac bike at Leideseplein, the very hip hub of town, and cycle a short distance south to Vondelpark, a 120-acre public space with its own open air theatre, play area, ponds and statues. Spend the day cycling, skating or playing football and usher in the evening with an aperitif at the Vondelpark film museum café. End the day with dinner at L’Entrecôte et les Dames, Van Baerlestraat 47, and choose from entrecôte (a premium cut of beef) or fish—it’s all they’ve got on the fixed price menu, which includes seconds!
As told to Nayantara Kilachand