Enjoy The Best of Natural Splendours in Goa

Situated on the western coast of India, Goa is a state that stretches along the Arabian Sea. When most people think of the place, one of the first things that come to mind is its history as a Portuguese colony. The Portuguese arrived through the Arabian Sea and dropped the anchors here for the first time in the 16th century. It served as a strategic location in their pursuit of securing the spice route. The echoes of the colonial past of the state still seem to linger through 16th-century churches and cathedrals, old houses with Portuguese architecture, forts and spice plantations. Explore more of such places while spending holidays with Goa packages.

Over the years, Goa has earned a reputation for being one of the most vibrant places on planet earth. With pristine beaches, vibrant nightlife, Konkani culture, laid-back lifestyle and an array of activities, it lures thousands of globetrotters every year to avail Goa travel packages.

The state is relatively small, but it can be divided into two categories for your convenience – South Goa and North Goa. North Goa is the main tourist hub and the place where all the action takes place. From loud rave parties at Candolim to the hip flea markets of Anjuna, this is a perfect destination for party people. South Goa comprises less-explored beaches like Palolem, Agonda and Benaulim. An ideal place for backpackers, the southern part of the state provides quiet time and an ideal setting to enjoy relaxed evenings.

A large number of music and dance festivals, hundreds of beachside shacks and dusk-to-dawn events make it the party capital of India. There are some places that you must visit to experience the best of natural splendours of Goa.

Dudhsagar Falls

The magnificent waterfall, situated near the Goa-Karnataka state border, is undoubtedly the most impressive one to gush down the hills of the Goan land. With a height of approximately 600 metres, Dudhsagar is among the highest waterfalls in the country. If you see this natural spectacle from a distance, it looks like many streams of milk, flowing through the verdant forest. In a state, where the landscape is dominated by the open sea and sandy beaches, a visit to this waterfall is indeed a rejuvenating experience.

Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Away from all the noise and hustle-bustle of tourists, Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is situated on Chorao Island. Named after a famous Indian ornithologist, this protected territory is a paradise for birdwatchers. Covering an area of approximately 1.8 sq km, it comprises mangrove swamps and the Mandovi River, flowing through. You can spot a variety of coastal birds along with jackals and crocodiles here.

Boat Cruise

If you are on a romantic getaway in Goa, then a boat cruise is one of the must-try activities. Cruising on a luxury boat in the Arabian Sea under the natural canopy of twinkling stars or the shining sun is sure to overwhelm you and your special someone.

The Elusive Tigress

It was around 6:00 AM. The excitement has started building up, slowly. Yes we are just entering into the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve.

Understandably so. Because, of all the Tiger reserves in India, the probability of sighting the striped cat is maximum here, we were told. But will we sight one?

As we get underway the welcome arch, and take the gravelled path, all our senses are focussed on the big cat – will we hear a roar, will we find it hidden behind those bushes… did we see a movement behind the tiger grass..?

The gravelled road gives way to muddy track, and we are now in front of a natural arch – an age old banyan tree. This is the favourite haunt of ‘..’, the guide speaks of a young adult. Here all tigers have a number, and the favourite ones have a name. Seems the young adult had some other pressing business and didn’t wait for us!

When we cross the arch of the banyan tree, the terrain changes abruptly, and so does the vegetation. And our first stop is a huge tree, atop which sits dozens of langurs, a monkey species. Very uncharacteristic of them, they are minding their own business, and not at all noisy. Then from nowhere comes a single high decibel shrill from the treetop, and suddenly the jungle is alive. The Langurs move higher on the trees, playful kids were picked up by the mother langurs to safety, spotted deers, so far not spotted by us run helter skelter… Our guide whispers ‘ call given.. he is somewhere here’. Our saucer eyed wait didn’t fructify. The deers have started munching their breakfast, and langur kids have started playing again.

We move on. The majestic Ranthambhore fort on one side, and tiger grass on the other side giving us company. We stop on the banks of a lake. The island in the middle houses a ruin. May be, the ruin houses a tiger, we whispered.

Parrots were seen feeding from the damp shore. A fearless Treepie came and sat on a kid’s palm, Kingfishers sat on branches, gazing deep into the water, while egrets and cranes were busy fishing. A family of wild boars came to quench their thirst, unmindful of the human intruders. The time for the tiger hasn’t come yet.

We moved on to another water hole. Spotted deers were grazing around, and until our guide pointed out, we didn’t notice the crocodiles dozing on the banks. What a coexistence..

Next we stopped to see a playful fight between a pair of Sambar deers. From quite a distance, their locking horns seemed graceful and sounded rhythmic. Watching it was a Nilgai. Such a fascinating animal,the Nilgai, it looks like a horse and deer bundled in one, and well camouflaged behind its habitat.

A tigress and her two cubs were sighted in the adjacent zone, we were told. But, we weren’t lucky,so far.

It is already an hour and a half. Time to get back.

Maybe we will see one on our way back, the guide tries to soothe us.

The disappointment of not able to sight a tiger, where you are sure of seeing one is written all over our face.

A red giant of a mountain stands there with all majesty. The ages old gum tree(s) with their white trunks and wide green leaves greets the sun’s first rays. The ruin looks at its reflection in the lake, thinks about its glorious past. Peacocks dance happily, to no one’s tunes.

None of these mesmerizing sights impress us. ‘The Elusive Tigeress’ weighs heavily on all our minds.

“The Tigress could have been near us, at many places. It only didn’t choose to show herself to us”, was our guide’s parting note.

The well mannered little kid is all a happy Twitter now. She was chirping “The Tree pie ate my chocolate pie.”

Secret of Kenya’s Rise to Fame As a Travel Destination

If I remember correctly, it was not Kenya, rather Uganda which was singled out initially as being the “Hidden Gem of Africa” as described by Sir Winston Churchill during the late 1930s. It also looked like a very attractive destination for the safari lovers into the wild African jungles. It created interest amongst the Britishers and many Europeans who started visiting the country, looking for the untamed Africa experience. But ultimately it was not Uganda but Kenya which beat others and rose to popularity in being the ultimate Safari Lover’s paradise. Among many other reasons, one stellar reason is that Kenya holds a stable government, in fact is one of the most stable governments in Africa. The government had understood the benefits of developing the Tourism Industry long back and had made public sector investments to cater to this growing need of the economy. English, as a foreign language, is well spoken throughout the tourist destinations of the country and most people attached to the travel industry.

Kenya also offers to its visitors a better infrastructure as far as roads, connectivity, security hotels, food, entertainment is concerned. I am not saying the roads are great, neither world-class, but they allow decent motoring possibility and you can reach Nairobi to Mara in about 5 hours which is good going by African standards.

The other reason which also has an equal share in Kenya’s rise to popularity is two tales of love and compassion, tales which surpassed boundaries and appealed to people from all backgrounds. Tales told by two expatriates who came to live in Kenya, spoke of their fantastic experiences, the support from local natives, the attractions of an untamed country, and the adventure of their lives. Ultimately these two tales were converted into Hollywood blockbuster movies, going ahead to win a number of Oscars and many prizes and accolades. The movies were also later shot in Kenya and the world came to see the visions of a wild grassland, teeming with wild animals and patrolled by red-cloth draped, spear wielding sinewy framed Masais. It is not only that the location and locales used while shooting these two multi-Oscar winning movies happened to be Kenya, but that the stories were inherently Kenyan biographies of its wildlife, nature, and its people.

During the early twentieth century, artist and environmental conservationist Joy Adamson came to live in Kenya with her husband George Adamson. It was here that she met Elsa, a lion cub and brought her home when Elsa’s mother was accidentally killed by her husband George near their Lake Naivasha estate. She grew Elsa up as a member of her family, and wrote down her memoirs. She later published her experience as a book titled “Born Free” which became famous and established her as an author. She later followed it up with a sequel, “Living Free”, on the later years of her life with Elsa. Her story has been translated into 32 languages. Both of these books have been later made into Hollywood movies.

Her living quarters and the estate have now been converted into a WWF Conservation Center. A portion of the house has been preserved with her books, paintings, handiwork, pictures and all kinds of memorabilia. We had stayed here, at ElsaMere Camp, Lake Naivasha during our family travel to Kenya in November 2011. A section of the center also houses a few isolated units which serves as a resort and contributes to the foundation’s causes.

The other book written on Kenya which elevated this country to a prominent spot in international travel fixtures is the autobiography by Karen Blixen. Karen was an established Danish author and she also moved to Kenya in the early twentieth century and established a coffee plantation with her husband. She later met her love and this forms the crux of the book “Out of Africa”. This book has also been made into a movie, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and went on to bag a number of Oscars. There is a street named dedicated to the author, called Karen Blixen Avenue, in upmarket Nairobi and her residential villa has been converted into a museum. This is now a major tourist attraction of the city. The Movie “Out of Africa” was filmed at Crescent Island, which lies to the north-east corner of lake Naivasha. More details about Karen Blixen here These two movies Born Free and Out of Africa have significant contributions to promoting Tourism in Kenya.

I am an IT Consultant and Business Analyst. I have a lot of interests which includes Travelling, watching movies, listening to music, photography and Reading, which is a serious pastime. I have recently started a Blog on travel.

Stunning Spitsbergen: Polar Bear Tours and Northern Lights

Spitsbergen, the main island in the Svalbard archipelago, is arguably Norway’s most spectacular destination. Halfway between the North Pole and mainland Norway, this island is well within the ‘High Arctic’: temperatures never reach over 6ÂșC and the sun doesn’t set for four months in the summer. Nevertheless, the North Atlantic Current regulates Spitsbergen’s temperatures, making it a lot warmer than areas of similar latitude in Canada or Russia, and allowing it distinctive seasons.

Bear Tours and Glacier Walls

Spitsbergen has a huge variety of flora and fauna, as well as six national parks for wildlife enthusiasts to explore. There are only four mammalian species, aside from humans, that inhabit the island: the Arctic Fox, the Southern Vole, the Svalbard Reindeer, and the top predator, the Polar Bear. Tours with dedicated wildlife specialists will allow you the opportunity to encounter Spitsbergen’s pride and joy up close and personal. Not only will bear tours safely afford you the experience of the sight of a Polar Bear proximate enough to get your adrenaline pumping, the cruise boats will also take you alongside magnificent fjords and offer you breathtaking views of glacier walls.

Ghost Towns from Centuries Past

If you’d also like to explore some manmade landmarks alongside the excitement of bear tours, you can visit a couple of Spitsbergen’s ghost towns. These remote mining towns and early whaling stations are now abandoned, but they were the island’s first settlements back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In fact, it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that a number of permanent communities were established.

Many Other Exciting Activities

A trip to Spitsbergen will also grant you the opportunity to go dogsledding, experience ice caving, join a snowmobile safari, and, of course, witness the incredible Northern Lights at certain times of the year. Spitsbergen has plenty of comfortable and affordable accommodation, such as houses and hotels, if you should decide to extend your wildlife-watching holiday to explore the area further.

When to Go?

The best time of year to visit completely depends on your personal preferences and what your must-dos are for the trip. March is Spitsbergen’s high season: the daylight has a particular blue-ish hue that will catch those who have not been this far north beforehand and the nights are a perfect opportunity to try and catch the Northern Lights.

If you wait until May, though, you will experience the striking midnight sun: it will be light 24 hours a day, giving you the opportunity to partake in adventures that would be impossible if the island were covered by darkness. Spring also beckons the birds back to Spitsbergen, making the atmosphere that much livelier.

During autumn, Spitsbergen turns dark at nighttime once again, and you’ll have the opportunity to observe the Northern Lights, and experience a colder climate. There is a blues music festival in the island in October, and dedicated bear tours are a wonderful way to encounter the island’s most majestic wildlife on the prowl.

Finally, the polar nights arrive and the main towns in Spitsbergen are transformed into a spectacular winter wonderland. You can enjoy traditional Norwegian cuisine in local restaurants and take the opportunity for some Christmas shopping.

Spitsbergen is a gorgeous destination all year-round, and makes for an outstanding destination for wildlife watching no matter what the season.