KIWI ICONS

THE ALL BLACKS

The All Blacks represent New Zealand in rugby union, which is regarded as the country’s national sport. In addition to winning the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, they are also the leading points scorer of all time and the only international rugby team with a winning record against every test nation they have ever played. Only 5 of the top 20 ranked rugby union test nations have ever beaten New Zealand in over 100 years of international competition.

BUNGY JUMPING


Commercial bungy jumping began in 1988 at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy at Queenstown, New Zealand by entrepreneur and daredevil, A. J. Hackett. After making his first jump from Auckland’s Greenhithe Bridge in 1986, Hackett performed a number of jumps from bridges and other structures (including the Eiffel Tower), building public interest in the sport, which eventually lead to opening the world’s first permanent commercial bungy site. Hackett remains one of the largest commercial bungy operators with jump sites in several countries.

KIWI


Kiwi are flightless birds endemic to New Zealand. The kiwi as a symbol first appeared in the late 19th century in New Zealand regimental badges. Along with the Silver Fern, it has since become a well-known national symbol for New Zealand and its people.

Māori traditionally believe that kiwi are under the protection of Tane Mahuta, god of the forest. Although Kiwi feathers are particularly important to Māori, as they are used for ceremonial cloaks, Māori no longer hunt kiwi, but consider themselves their guardians.

SILVER FERN


The silver fern (ponga in M¯aori) isa species of medium-sized tree fern endemic to New Zealand. The New Zealand fern brand represents a land apart, where geographic isolation forged both a land of spectacular beauty and an independent spirit you would expect from the youngest country on Earth.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, along with Tourism New Zealand and their New Zealand brand partners use this recognisable mark to denote premium New Zealand products around the world.

INNOVATION


New Zealand company HamiltonJet pioneered the development of the modern waterjet system, allowing patrol boats, ferries, crew boats, fire boats, landing barges and pleasure craft to operate at high-speed.

Number 8 wire is a gauge of wire on the American wire gauge that has become a part of the cultural fabric of New Zealand. The conversion of New Zealand wilderness into farms created the need for many fences. The preferred wire was the Number 8 gauge, but it was often used inventively and practically for applications other than for fencing. Number 8 wire represents “Kiwi ingenuity” – a quality that was born out of isolation and lack of infrastructure in New Zealand’s early history.

New Zealand has since gained a reputation as a nation of resourceful and creative inventors. Over the years, Kiwis have been responsible for the creation of some groundbreaking inventions and the development of many techniques and practices such as the energy efficient Wellington Motor, the tranquiliser dart gun, the electric fence, the jet-proppelled boat and of course the great strides in nuclear physics, mountaineering and adventure tourism

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How To Explore Places Like Never Before: Buenos Aires

My first major exposure to Argentina was when the President of Argentina, H.E. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner,  lead a high level delegation to India in October last year. I was assigned to do a special feature on Argentina to coincide with the State-visit of the President. It was at this time I discovered that Argentina, the eighth largest nation in the world, has lots to offer in terms of tourism opportunities.

This August I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of this wonderful country and truly Argentina has all that it takes to get a complete holiday experience in one destination.

South African Airways – a member of Star Alliance – offers the shortest connection to Argentina via Johannesburg and I had the opportunity to experience the exceptional service in Business Class with their award-winning lie flat bed and excellent hospitality. We were well taken care of by Molefi Molefe, a Steward who ensured that we were well looked after on this Airbus 340-200 series flight.

On my arrival, I had to change the dollars into Argentine Pesos and the best place to do that is the Banco de la Nacion Argentina at the airport.  It took us one hour to reach the Panamericano Hotel from the airport which is located on Avenue 9 de Julio and has the famous Obelisk which dominates the avenue.

The Obelisk, which is 67 metres high, divides the Corrientes Avenue and is surrounded by a small green park – Plaza de la Republica which represents the progressive spirit of the people of Argentina.  The Plaza is a vast square and dissects the three arterial roads – Ninth of July Avenue, Corrientes Avenue and Diagonal Avenue and is located in the San Nicolas quarter.

It is a rare sight to see a 12-lane street in the middle of the city centre, six lanes each for either direction of vehicular traffic. The Plaza was inaugurated in 1937 and is also known as the most important porteño or meeting point when the country celebrates major sporting triumphs. The Plaza which was originally a circular esplanade was enlarged to its current dimensions in 1962 and the Corrientes Avenue was rerouted through the plaza later in 1971. It is around the Obelisk that you will find the vehicular traffic heading into the city’s financial district.

Buenos Aires, along with its suburbs known as Greater Buenos Aires, makes up almost a third of the total population of Argentina which stands at around 39 million. Buenos Aires is truly a year round destination and one can easily spend days exploring this city which is also South America’s second largest city only after Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Located on the western shore of Rio de la Plata estuary, Buenos Aires is considered as an Alpha World city and the people are referred to as porteños or people of the port.  During the great immigration wave in 1880s, people of Italian, Spanish and French descent migrated to Buenos Aires and therefore the city has a great European influence and is indeed one of the most beautiful metropolises of the Southern Hemisphere.

On our arrival, I had the opportunity to stroll along Lavalle Street which was adjoining my hotel. This shopping street leads into the Florida Street near San Martin Square where you will find a wide variety of shopping – from leather goods to jewellery, books and souvenirs as well as some fine boutique shops.

The San Martin Square which is walking distance from San Telmo, one of the oldest districts of Buenos Aires and which is a must-visit for its cafes, tango parlours and antique shops in the cobblestone streets which offers unique entertainment with artists and dance performances. If you are in Buenos Aires on a Sunday, you must visit the San Telmo market known for its bohemian charms.  This quaint and funky neighbourhood comes to life every Sunday with its Antique Fair in Plaza Dorrego stretching down the cobblestone Calle Defensa or Defense Street.  From musicians to artists, from full-scale Tango orchestras to solitary singers, San Telmo is the place to spend your Sunday in Buenos Aires and be entertained – be it by human statues painted in gold or a frozen man and woman caught in a storm with blowing jacket or inverted umbrella which makes it a thoroughly entertaining experience.

Here are 10 other must-do activities for visitors in Buenos  Aires:

1.  Visit Plaza de Mayo:

Plaza de Mayo

The main square in downtown Buenos Aires, a focal point of political life of Buenos  Aires and Argentina. On one side you will find the  public administration office from early 20th Century. The Casa Rosado located on the eastern side of the square is the Presidential Office of Colonial Times. Go back in time and visualize President Peron saluting the people from the balcony of Casa Rosada. Close to Casa Rosado is the monument of Manuel Belgrano on horseback. Manuel Belgrano took part in the Argentine Wars of Independence and also created the Flag of Argentina and is regarded as one of the Liberatodores  or Principal Leader of the Latin American War of Independence from Spain.

Casa Rosada

On the northern side of the square is the Metropolitan Cathedral, to the west is the Cabildo – an imperial colonial building and a town hall of earlier times. Nearby is one of the oldest subways of South America –Peru which still has the original look which dates back  to the beginning of the 20th Century with wooden  wagons. A ride from Peru station is an experience. This subway  was inaugurated in 1913 as the first in Latin America.

Metropolitan Cathedral

2.            Visit Recoleta –

also known as “little France” or la Pequeña Francia. This traditional upscale district combines Parisian architecture with trendy high rise elegant buildings and a variety of cultural venues. Visit the Loisuites hotel and you get a bird’s-eye-view of the Recoleta Cemetery from the higher floors of this wonderful boutique property.

Recoleta Cemetery

A visit to the Recoleta    Cemetery is definitely recommended as it is the most    relevant historical and artistic monument in the country and was created in 1822. It contains the graves of some of the important Argentineans including Eva Peron and some of the past Presidents of Argentina. The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums    decorated with statues and various architectural styles.  A walk around Recoleta will take you to some fine cafés and restaurants and maybe on a cold day you could even sip a Mate – a drink prepared from dried    leaves of yerba mate along with hot water which can be      sipped with a bombilla or a metal straw from a shared    hollow calabash gourd which is similar to a bowl  made of dried pumpkin. You can pick up a calabash gourd with a bombilla as an important Argentine souvenir.

Grave of Eva Peron

3.            Living la vida Boca –


Spend an afternoon at the Boca district and visit the most important football stadium in     Buenos Aires – La Bombonera, the home of the Boca Juniors including the famous iconic Diego Maradona. The   old port district of Boca still retains its 19th Century ambience and a strong European flavour thanks to the early Italian settlers from the city of Genoa. Colourful houses, pedestrian streets – especially the Caminito where tango artists perform on the streets – is an excellent outing to also pick up a few tango-related memorabilia.

4.            Sip a coffee and try Alfajores or Dulce de Leche at the Havanna –


Havanna is to Argentineans what Starbucks is to the U.S.  Your trip to Buenos Aires is incomplete without visiting Havanna especially in the district of Puerto Madero – the old port now converted into a famous restaurant district and somewhat reminiscent of Hamburg.  This 1880 era dockland is now converted as the newest neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Havanna, besides serving some fine coffee is one of the most popular alfajor vendors in Argentina. Alfajores are light, round cookies filled with dulce de leche – milk caramel in Spanish and the traditional local sweet made of thick jam and caramel candy. Indulge in dulce de leche without worrying about the calories along with a cappuccino con dulce de leche and a few alfajores to go. There are over 50 Havanna stores and cafés across the city and you have no reason not to spend a couple of hours for a coffee, a light meal or over indulgence of fine tempting desserts.

5.            Tango and Theatre –


The Teatro Colón or Colombus   Theatre located close to the Obelisk is amongst the top  5 opera houses in the world and a must-visit attraction.  The theatre which opened in 1908 was closed for refurbishment from October 2006 to May 2010 and is    recently reopened and should be on your agenda whilst visiting Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires is the birth place of Tango and Piazzolla is one of the fine places in the Guemes Gallery where  you can experience the vibrancy of soulful music combined with modern tango and feel the spirit of the city created by the famous Astor Piazzolla. A dinner followed by an exhilarating 90-minute Tango song and dance presentation is a wonderful way to spend an evening in Buenos Aires. Other options would be to visit one of the Parrillas or charcoal grill places to try out a barbecue. La Estancia Del Gaucho on Lavalle street or Las Cabritas at Soldado de la Independencia     is a good place to order a Parillada or Asado, grilled meats or grilled beef which can be shared by two or more along with a glass of Trapiche – one of Argentine’s fine Malbec wines with produce from Altamira, Uco Valley, the premium area where Malbec is grown in Argentina.

6.            Shop at Avenida Santa Fe or the Galerías Pacífico –

Avenida Santa Fe

Avenida Santa Fe is indeed one of the well known places for shopping in Buenos Aires and stretches from Plaza San Martin to Belgrano offering a corridor of hustle, bustle and retail therapy with well known  boutique brands in one of the most important shopping districts of the city.

Galerias Pacifico

There is also Galerias Pacifico or the Pacific Gallery located at the intersection of Florida Street and Cordoba Avenue. This is one of the most elegant shopping malls with concreted domes, renovated in 1990, and houses with a shopping mall, the Jorge Luis  Borges Cultural Centre and Julia Boca Dance school. The dome is decorated with murals by famous Argentine painters and the large central cupola was   constructed and decorated with 12 frescos by artists including Manuel Colmeiro, Antonio Berni , Demetrio Urruchúa and others. These frescos are some of the most important in Buenos Aires.

7.            Flowering Art –


Floralis Genérica is a unique sculpture    made of metal and is the gift to the city by the architect Eduardo Catalano. The Arte en Flor or Flowering Art is located in the centre of a park surrounded by wooden boundaries and represents a large flower with an aluminum skeleton of reinforced concrete and is supposedly 20 metres high. The flower which opens to the sky has six petals and is located at the United Nations Plaza and weighs 18 tons.

8.            Night out in Palermo or a visit to the Cathedral of Polo –


Palermo is a trendy neighborhood filled with restaurants, shops and clubs called boliches. Located in the northeast part of the city, Palermo borders other important districts such as Belgrano, Recoleta, Rio del Plata river and is the largest neighbourhood in Buenos    Aires. It is further subdivided into Alto Palermo – the  main shopping area and transport hub around Santa Fe Avenue, Villa Freud – a residential area, Palermo Viejo or old Palermo which reflects an old Spanish style architecture and where well known figures such as   Jorge Luis Borges and Che Guevara once lived.

Bars around Plaza Serrano

Then there is the Palermo Soho area or Plaza Serrano  which is a chic fashion district with plenty of bars and street culture and has a bohemian feel to the region. Palermo Hollywood as well has a high concentration of restaurants, clubs, cafes and active night life and finally Palermo Chico which is an up-market area and houses the National Museum of Decorative Arts. The Barrio Parque area in Palermo is home to the rich and famous    and MALBA – the Museum of Latin America Art is located in the vicinity. Las Cañitas is an up-market area too and is located next to Campo Argentino de Polo – the Cathedral of Polo, a multi-purpose stadium used for polo, field hockey and has also hosted the World Hockey Cup in 1978. The stadium which holds 30000 spectators is also home to the Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo – the most important polo event in the world, a venue for the 1950 Olympic Games and at      times is also used for concerts performed by Shakira, Carlos Santana and for public events too.

The Cathedral of Polo

National Museum of Decorative Arts

9.            Browse through at El Ateneo Grand Splendid –

El Ateneo Grand Splendid

This amazing building on Santa Fe Avenue was designed by well known architects Peró and Torres and originally opened as a theatre during the 20th Century  with a seating capacity for over a 1000 spectators. This theatre was later converted into a cinema and the first sound films were presented in Argentina here in 1929. Subsequently in the 21st Century, this iconic building was converted into a 2000-square metre book and music shop and over 700000 books were sold in 2007. The cinema seating was replaced by massive book  shelves and over a million people walk through this amazing book store every year. An English newspaper,  the Guardian, placed El Ateneo as number two in the list of world’s top ten best bookshops and is a must-visit attraction for reading enthusiasts.

10.          Take an open bus or underground walking tour to explore more –

Open Air Bus

For those who are short on time, you can take an open bus tour covering the highlights of the city of Buenos Aires in less than 3 hours. A 2-day pass can take you through the major districts which can be further explored on foot. From La Manzana de las Luces you can walk through tunnels which were built in the 17th and 18th Centuries and formed a network linking churches and public buildings. This historic block is surrounded by Bolivar Street, Moreno, Avenida Julia de Roca and the subway of Peru from where you could take these walking tours which take you through the Cabildo, the Cathedral with the Church of San Ignacio, Santo Domingo, San Juan, old Irish convents and neighbouring buildings.

You need more than one visit to experience the various dimensions of Buenos Aires – be it culture, art, tango, football, night life, shopping, notable streets, neighbourhoods, parks or landmarks.  It was impossible for me to cover most of these experiences during my 2-day stay in Buenos Aires. However, those   who plan to visit the country of glaciers, deserts, waterfalls and more will need little encouragement to take a short stop in Buenos Aires – truly a city with varied and diverse experiences.

Interested in planning a holiday to Argentina?

Email a Destination Expert at info@opportunitiestoday.co.in and read about what more Argentina has to offer in a forthcoming issue.

PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR OF EGYPT – 6 Nights / 7 Days



Day 1

On arrival at Cairo Airport you will be met and assisted by our representative through customs and passport formalities. Transfer to the hotel.

You have the rest of day free for relaxation.

In the evening you will be transferred to the railway station to board the overnight sleeper train to Aswan.

Dinner will be provided on board.

Photography lessons – Introduction session

Day 2


After a nice breakfast on the train you arrive at Aswan. You will be transferred to the Nile Cruise boat for embarkation. In the afternoon, we offer you a felucca trip to enjoy magnificent views of the Nile, flowing through amber desert and granite rocks, around emerald islands covered in palm groves and tropical plants.

Dinner and overnight on board. Meals (B/L/D)

Photography lessons – Understanding Light, Color systems and how the camera perceives color,

Depth of Field introduction – Assignment 1

Day 3

Philac Temple, High Dam and Temple of Kom Ombo

Philac Temple

In the morning after breakfast the first stop will be at Philae Temple followed by visit to the High Dam which contains circa 18 times the material used in the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

High Dam

Back to the boat. Sail to Kom Ombo. In the afternoon, visit the unusual Temple of Kom Ombo. One side of the temple is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world. The other side is dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris, also known as Horus the Elder. Later sail to Edfu. Dinner and overnight on board.

Temple of Kom Ombo

Meals (B/L/D)

Photography lessons – Understanding your camera and DSLR controls, understanding modes like Shutter and Aperture priority, focus systems etc and Exposure

Assignment 2 and Assignment 1 review

Day 4

Temple of Horus at Edfu


Today after breakfast you will visit Edfu Temple. Of all the temples in Egypt, the Temple of Horus at Edfu is the most completely preserved. Sail to Esna, cross the lock and sail to Luxor. Dinner and overnight on board in Luxor. Meals (B/L/D)

Photography lessons –

Advanced Shutters and Apertures

Day 5

Valley of the Kings


Today your tour in Luxor will start with the Valley of the Kings. In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tut Ankh Amun,one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. On the West Bank, you will also visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut and see the Colossi of Memnon. Then, you will cross the Nile and visit Karnak Temple on the East Bank. The last stop will be at Luxor Temple. Transfer to the hotel in Luxor. In the evening transferred to Luxor railway station to board the sleeper train to Cairo. Overnight on board.

Meals (B/D)

Photography lessons – How to shoot amazing travel images, resolution, RAW files and Introduction to Post Processing

Assignment 3 and Assignment 2 review

Day 6


Today after a good breakfast onboard you get back to Cairo to visit the only surviving wonder of the Ancient World: the Great Pyramids of Giza. Beside the Pyramids, you will have the chance to see the famous Sphinx and visit the Valley Temple in Giza Necropolis. The next stop will be at the Egyptian Museum where you will find -without doubt- the greatest collection of Egyptian antiquities. It has more than 120000 items on display, with many more hundreds of thousands in its basement storerooms. One of the most famous collections housed by the Egyptian Museum is Tut Ankh Amun Treasures. The tour will end in the famous Khan el Khalili Bazaar which is for many, the most entertaining part of Cairo. Overnight at the hotel in Cairo.

Meals (B)

Photography lessons – Advanced photography techniques and how to shoot portraits

Assignment 4 and Assignment 3 review

Day 7


Today you say good bye to Egypt. Breakfast will be provided to you at the hotel. Check-out by maximum noon. You have the rest of day free for leisure / shopping. In the evening you will be transferred to Cairo Airport for your final departure. Meals (B)

Photography lessons – Color Corrections and editing portraits

Assignment 4 and Assignment 3 review

Inclusions

*  Airfare and Visa

*             01 night hotel accommodation in Cairo  on BB basis.

*             02 nights sleeper train Cairo – Aswan & Luxor – Cairo on HB basis.

*             03 nights cruising trip Aswan – Luxor with our Nile Cruises 5

*             or similar on FB basis with sightseeing ashore according to the under-mentioned program.

*             01 day use at the hotel in Cairo on bed   only basis.

*             Full day visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, the Valley Temple, the Egyptian Museum and Khan El Khalili Bazaar.

*             Airport / railway station transfers.

*             Private English speaking guide.

*             Present taxes and entrance fees for the               included sightseeing. In case raised by   the authorities, we reserve the right to         charge you the difference.

Exclusions

*             Any increase in the sleeper train rate.

*             Visit to any of Giza Pyramids from inside.

*             Visit to the mummies rooms at the Egyptian Museum.

*             Visit to Tut Ankh Amun Tomb in Luxor.

*             The fees for the tripods.

*             Any meals or services not mentioned among the inclusions.

*             Water/beverages with lunches and dinners not covered in inclusions

*             Tips.

TOTAL COST: Rs 69500

Note: USD 1 = INR 47

*Please Note: A minimum of 10 people are required to conduct this trip. In case we don’t get the required amount of people, prices are subject to change.

IMPORTANT

There are no permissions required for shooting pictures with still cameras at the tourist sites. This applies to all open air tourist sites like the temples, the Pyramids from the outside, Shooting inside the Egyptian Museum is not allowed. The same goes if any of the group members would like to visit any of Giza Pyramids from inside (which is not included in the itinerary). Also the cameras are not allowed at the Valley of the Kings.4On the other hand, please note that there are fees to be paid for tripods which are not included in the package rate. So if any of the photographers will be holding a tripod, he will pay a fee for the tripod on the spot. The fee of the tripod is different from one site to the other, but it is around USD 7 per tripod.

TRAVEL AGENTS are invited to book this tour for their clients.

Wild Africa – From Kenya to Cape Town – 17 Nights / 18 Days


Day 1: Nairobi – Ark

On arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, clear Immigration /customs ,met by our representative person.  Proceed for Lunch at Aberdare Country Club. You will be requested to leave your main luggage in the Country club and carry a small overnight bag . Afternoon transfer in special club vehicle to the Ark Lodge, which is ideally located in the Aberdare National Park and overlooking a water-hole. You can watch a host of wild animals visiting the waterhole. This evening, enjoy a delicious dinner. Spend the night at the Lodge viewing various animals as they come to visit the waterhole and saltlicks. Dinner and overnight at the Ark Lodge.

Ark Lodge is in the heart of the Aberdare  National Park. Its unique tree lodge with a veranda that overlooks a floodlit waterhole.

Day 2: Ark – Sweetwaters

Breakfast at the lodge. Morning transfer to Aberdare country club with drive  to Sweetwaters Game Sanctuary via the Equator crossing . Sweetwaters Tented Camp is a sheltered oasis, clustered around a waterhole and set in the pristine calm of its own private reserve, one of only four private game reserves in Kenya.

Lunch at the camp. Afternoon game drives – cum – visit to the rescued chimpanzees’- and black rhino’s sanctuaries. The beautiful Sweetwaters Tented Camp lies in the heart of this privately owned 24000 acre ranch with magnificent views across the wildlife- studded plains to the snowcapped peaks of Mount Kenya. A visit to Sweetwaters Sanctuary would not be complete without a visit to see Morani, the tame black/blind rhinoceros on the property. There is also a 200-acre chimpanzee sanctuary.

Dinner and overnight at the  Serena Sweetwaters Tented Camp

Day 3: Sweetwaters – Lake Nakuru National Park


Depart after breakfast, drive via Thomson Falls to Lake Nakuru National Park arriving in time for lunch at your Lodge. Relax briefly before departing for an afternoon game drive.

Lake Nakuru’s claim to fame is anchored on its flamingos and the over 400 species of birds found here. The lake itself is a soda lake on the floor of the rift valley.

The sight of millions of flamingos is quite spectacular. From a distance, the lake appears ringed in pink. The lake has also earned a reputation as an important haven for endangered species, particularly the Rothschild Giraffe, the Black Rhino and white Rhino. Lions, Waterbuck, Buffalo and Baboons are all resident here.

Dinner and overnight at Lake Nakuru Lodge or similar.


Day 4:  Lake Nakuru National Park – Mara Game Reserve


Breakfast at the lodge, then drive out of the Great Rift Valley to arrive in Masai Mara in time for lunch. The Mara offers wildlife in variety and abundance that it is difficult to believe; over 450 species of animals have been recorded here. You will easily see Lions, Rhinos, Hippos, Crocodiles, Giraffe, Wildebeests, Zebras, Buffalo, Warthogs, Hyenas, and Jackals, Buffalo, and a variety of antelopes. It is in the Mara that the most spectacular event of natural wonder takes place. This is the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra from the Serengeti (Tanzania) in search for water and pasture. Behind their heels are predators of the savanna – Lion, Cheetah, Jackals, Hyena and Vultures. Depart for an afternoon game drive until dusk.

Dinner and overnight at the Mara Sopa Lodge.

Day 5: Explore Mara Game Reserve


You spend a day in the Masai Mara on early morning and afternoon game drives. The trees in the distance might turn out to be a family of Giraffes. Those clumps of bushes might turn out to be a pride of Lions, and the rock that moves a Rhino lumbering out of your way. With diligence and some luck, you may encounter a family of Cheetahs, or a herd of Elephants crossing infront of you. Large animals are not the only entertainment – a family of warthogs may amuse you, running as fast as their little legs will carry them, until they forget why they are rushing and stop to re-group.

All meals and overnight at the Mara Sopa Lodge.

Day 6: Mara Game Reserve – Nairobi

After breakfast at the lodge, morning drive to Nairobi.  Check-in at the hotel.  Afternoon tour of Nairobi city (Nairobi’s ancient landmark building –parliament building /Kenyatta International conference Center  / Look  out  point where a spectacular city view of Nairobi /giraffe center. Carnivore Dinner. Overnight at Intercontinental Hotel.

Day 7: Nairobi – Johannesburg – Sun City


Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport for your outbound flight.

Upon arrival into Johannesburg, you will be met by our representative and transferred to Sun City.

Known as Africa’s Kingdom of Pleasure, in the hills of the Pilansberg lies Sun City.  This resort offers everything from superb accommodation in four very different hotels as well as sizzling entertainment, casinos, extensive sporting facilities including the world famous Gary Player and Lost City Golf courses. Leisure facilities include a Water World offering a full range of water sports and the Valley of Waves, Africa’s only sub tropical water adventure park, boasting an 8.5 million-litre wave pool with 2-metre waves (The Valley of the waves closes each winter for maintenance- please check with us for the exact dates) For the eco minded the Gardens at Sun City have been declared National Botanical gardens and the adjacent Pilansberg National Park, South Africa’s third largest game reserve, boast the sought after ‘big five’ in a malaria free region.

Overnight: The Palace – Standard Luxury Room

Day 8: Sun City – Johannesburg

This morning you will depart early at 0800 from Sun City to Johannesburg, via a

Private Half Day Tour:

Begin with the Apartheid Museum opened in 2001 and is acknowledged as the pre-eminent museum in the world dealing with 20th Century South Africa, at the heart of which is the apartheid story.

For anyone wanting to understand and experience what apartheid South Africa was really like, a visit to the Apartheid Museum is fundamental. The museum is a beacon of hope showing the world how South Africa is coming to terms with its oppressive past and working towards a future that all South Africans can call their own.

In the afternoon, a wonderful opportunity to descend into a vast gold mine at Gold Reef City, named after the richness upon which the city of Johannesburg was built. Watch a gold pour, see the miners carry out their traditional tribal and gum boot dancing, learn a bit of their specially devised mine language – still used today to cover the many and diverse tribes who worked here. Stroll through the theme park reflecting the life of the mining town at the turn of the last century. There is plenty to do for young and old but remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. Your evening is spent at leisure.

Overnight:– Davinci Hotel & Suites – Standard Room

Day 9:  Johannesburg – Livingstone

This morning at 0800 you will be transferred to OR Tambo Airport for your flight to Victoria Falls, Livingstone, Zambia. Upon arrival in Livingstone, you will be met by a representative, who will transfer you to your hotel. This afternoon you will enjoy a sunset cruise (included in the cost, but no meals)

Overnight: Royal Livingstone Hotel – Standard Room

Day 10 : Livingstone


You will be collected from the hotel and taken on a guided tour of the famous Victoria Falls – a World Heritage Site. Thereafter you are free to explore further on your own, there are many other options available – book and pay for these locally. Adrenaline junkies can enjoy exhilarating Victoria Falls Adventure Activities including bungy jumping, kayaking, white water rafting, abseiling, river boarding, jet boating and helicopter flips.. For the less adventurous are also catered for with tours and safaris and activities such as game drives, river cruises,Elephant safaris, fishing safaris and cultural tours.
Overnight: Royal Livingstone Hotel – Standard Room

Day  11: Livingstone – Johannesburg – Port Elizabeth

This morning you will have your transfer to Livingstone Airport for your flight to Johannesburg (flight not included). There is a departure tax payable at Livingstone Airport US$25 (currently) per person (payable in cash)

Upon arrival in Johannesburg, you will be met by our representative and escorted to your onwards flight to Port Elizabeth (flight not included). Upon arrival in Port Elizabeth, you will be met by our representative and transfered to the hotel in Port Elizabeth  for the evening

Overnight: Radisson Blu PLZ – Standard Room(B)

Day 12: Garden Route – Port Elizabeth – Knysna


Today you will begin your Private Garden Route Experience. Depart Port Elizabeth for Plettenberg Bay, travelling via the coastline to the Tsitsikamma National Park. Tsitsikamma originates from the Khoi-Khoi language used by the local Inqwa Tribe that lived in the area some 1700 years ago meaning “a place of many/sparkling/abundant water”. In the afternoon travel to Knysna / Sedgefield for your overnight stay (No Entrance Fees Included, for clients own account)

Overnight: Lake Pleasant Living – 1 Bedroom Suite (B)

Day 13 : Garden Route – Knysna – Oudtshoorn


After breakfast, you will have the morning at leisure to explore the vibrant coastal town of Knysna, before continuing on to Oudtshoorn where your first stop will be at an Ostrich Farm, where you can enjoy an informative tour, where you will learn about the eggs, incubators and chicks (in season) and feed the ostriches by hand. Also enjoy the spectacular Cango Caves. Dinner and overnight in Oudtshoorn.

Overnight: Rosenhof Country House  – Standard Room (B)

Day 14: Garden Route – Cape Town


After an EARLY breakfast, depart at 0800 towards Cape Town, via Hermanus to Whale watch from the Look out Point or Hermanus Whale Watching. Meet at our booking office, ‘the Whale Shack’, 30 minutes  prior to departure. Once all seated we depart from the Hermanus harbour to visit the whales and other marine creatures along the way. A qualified whale specialist guide is on board to relate interesting facts and answer any questions en route.

After that stop at the Winelands if time permits. Hamilton Russell Vineyards – the most southerly wine estate in Africa and the closest to the sea – is located in the cool, maritime Walker Bay district, in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, behind the old fishing village of Hermanus. The estate specializes in producing highly individual, terroir driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are widely regarded as the best in South Africa and among the best in the New World. The evening is spent at leisure to explore the Mother City – Cape town.

Overnight: Table Bay Hotel – Standard Luxury Room

Day 15: Full Day City Tour + Robben Island


This morning you will be collected at 0830 for your Private Full Day Tour. We start the excursion with an ascent up Table Mountain by cable car – weather permitting (the cost of the cable car ticket is NOT included). After this visit the City centre. See the Company Gardens the Castle of Good Hope and the Malay Quarter. And lastly call at the vibrant Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Enjoy a quick lunch (Not included) Depart on the ferry from the V&A Waterfront for a guided tour of Robben Island and the prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated.

Castle of Good Hope

Robin Island Prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated

Note: Robben Island visit is included in the cost, but weather permitting and subject to availability. The evening is spent at leisure with a vehicle at your disposal to enjoy Capetown by Night.

Overnight:– Table Bay Hotel – Standard Luxury Room

Day 16: Full Day Cape Peninsula Tour

Cape of Good Hope

This morning you will be collected for your Full Day Private Tour. Travel along the Atlantic coastline via the scenic drives of Oudekraal to the fishing village of Hout Bay. Join a boat cruise to seal island. Crossing over the mountain at Constantia Nek, travel to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Have the option of using the funicular to the main viewing site at Cape Point. We then leave the reserve and continue along the False Bay Coastline to lunch (cost not included) and then we visit the penguin colony at Boulders Beach.

Overnight: Table Bay Hotel – Standard Luxury Room

Day 17 : Full Day Private Tour

Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve

This morning you will be collected for your Full Day Private Tour. Visit the following sights:  Winelands in the morning, De Rust Estate – home of Paul Cluver Wines – is located in the cool-climate Elgin Valley and forms part of a world heritage site called The Kogelberg Biosphere. De Rust Estate is part of the world’s first wine and bio-diversity route which stretches around the Groenland Mountain; a mentor of the Thandi black economic empowerment wine-producing project and a provider of eco-tourism adventures. Kirstenbosch in the afternoon. Whether for a casual stroll, a more stenuous walk or a lazy picnic, the gardens are a must-see when visiting Cape Town. In the late afternoon, you will be transferred to Cape Town Airport for a flight to Johannesburg. Upon arrival in Johannesburg you will be met by our representative and escorted to the Complimentary Shuttle Bus for the Hotel.

Overnight: D’Oreale Grand – Standard Room

Day 18 : Johannesburg – Departure

This morning you will be transferred the Complimentary Shuttle Bus to Johannesburg Airport for your onwards flight home.

INCLUSIONS

Kenya portion:

*             1-night accommodation at Ark Lodge on F/B

*             1-night accommodation at Sweetwaters camp on F/B

*             1-night accommodation at Lake Nakuru Lodge on F/B

*             2-night accommodation at Mara Sopa Lodge on F/B

*             1-night accommodation at Intercontinental Hotel on B/B

*             Additional meals as specified in the itinerary

*             Transportation in an exclusive 4 x 4 vehicle in Kenya

*             Services of an experienced safari driver-guide

*             Complimentary mineral water only while on safari.

South Africa and Zambia (Victoria Falls) portion:

*             11-night accommodation with breakfast

*             Entrance fees to sights as per itinerary

*             Transport in a Luxury Vehicle with English Speaking Driver – Guide

EXCLUSIONS:

*             All Meals not specified as per above itinerary

*             All Drinks

*             Porterage at Airport and Hotels

*             Items of a personal nature (i.e. internet, curio, laundry, beverages, etc.) unless specifically quoted for above

*             Tips and gratuities

*             Excess baggage fees and airport departure taxes

*             Visa and passport fees

*             Anything not specifically quoted for in the “includes” above

*             Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)

*             Value Added Tax (VAT) 14%

*             Tourism Levy

*             Airport Surcharges

*             24 Hour Free Roadside Assistance

*             Companion Manual, including Area Maps

COST

TOUR: USD 4805 @ INR 47.00 (CURRENT EXCHANGE RATE)

with Private Guide = INR 225835 per person

AIR FARE: BUSINESS CLASS FOR SECTOR BOM/NAIROBI/JOHANNESBURG/NAIROBI/BOM in C CLASS

+ INTERNAL SECTOR (ECONOMY): Approximately INR 99000

VISA: ZAMBIA + SOUTH AFRICA = INR 4755

TOTAL COST: INR 329590*

Notes: Rates are strictly subject to availability of services at the time of booking.

* Rates are subject to increase due to unforeseen changes in fuel and any government imposed taxes. E. & O.E  4 Rates are subject to fluctuations in exchange rates. 4 All outdoor activities are weather permitting 4 Gold Reef City is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays  4 Kindly note that the Gary Player Golf Course is closed on Mondays and the Lost City Golf Course is closed on Tuesdays for routine maintenance. 4 Smoking is not allowed on the vehicles.  Comfort stops will be made en route. 4Credit card payments attract a 5% service fee.

Contact: T: +91(022) 22828208/ 22812593  M: 9833128208

Email : namastesouthafrica@gmail.com       Website: www.namastesouthafrica.com

Travel Agents can enquire with NAMASTE SOUTH AFRICA for unique AFRICAN programmes.

8 Hobbies. One Destination. Namibia.

ANGLING

Rock and surf angling is still the most popular sport along the Namibian beaches.  Thousands of anglers from all over Southern Africa visit the area between Walvis Bay and Henties Bay every year from February to April to partake in this popular sport.  With the growing popularity of shark angling, Namibia is one of the few countries in the world following a national action plan for the conservation of shark species. Tour guides in Coastal Towns are excellently equipped to take groups of anglers on excursions to the best spots for responsible shark angling.

ASTRONOMY

Namibia, especially the Khomas Hochland/Gamsberg area west of Windhoek, has the third clearest and least light-polluted sky in the world.  Many visitors  come from the northern hemisphere, hence the southern hemisphere’s new array of constellations and stars are a breath taking experience. Many lodges and tour operators have their own telescopes and provide their guests with a layman’s introduction to astrology. There is an impressive collection of telescopes and other equipment at the guest farm, Hakos, maintained by the German-based International Amateur Observatory. The Capella Observatory, near Windhoek, has a 24″ reflector – one of the largest amateur telescopes in Africa.

BIRD-WATCHING

Most bird species favour specific habitats above others and thus Namibia is blessed with a variety of bird-watching destinations where the keen watchers can satisfy their interests by sighting and recording new species. Some major bird-watching locations include Etosha National Park, Waterberg Plateau, the Caprivi and northern river systems, as well as locations along the coast such as Sandwich Harbour and Walvis Bay lagoon. The Namib Desert offers great opportunities for sighting rare endemics like the Herero Chat and Dune Lark.

DUNE & SANDBOARDING

The Namib Desert, the oldest in the world, is reputed to house some of the largest sand dunes on the planet. Dune and Sandboarding are predominantly offered at Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, where numerous operators provide boarding activities or equipment hire. You can conquer these constantly shifting and towering mountains by zooming down their sheer faces on a traditional Swakopmund sandboard or carve up the dune with style and skill on a snowboard adapted for sand.

FLYING

Namibia has extensive airstrips across the country providing an extensive air transport system. Novice pilots have various options: craft can be hired or flown in and recreational flying is possible at various locations. The popular location for flying in Namibia is at Bitterwasser Lodge, which is situated between Uhlenhorst and Hoachanas on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. The Bitterwasser saltpan with its diameter of three kilometers is used as a runway system. As one of the world’s leading soaring centers, Bitterwasser offers scenic flights with a glider, micro-light or motorized planes and hot air ballooning.

GEOLOGY

Namibia’s varied geology encompasses rocks of Archaen to Phanerozoic age, thus covering more than 2600 million years of history. Nearly half of the country’s surface area is bedrock exposure, while the remainder is covered by young surface deposits of the Kalahari and Namib Deserts.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Namibia offers the finest photographic opportunities. This land of contrast and beauty is ideally suited to the professional and amateur alike. Whether the passion is for images of people, nature or landscapes, Namibia has it all and more. Namibia features a wide range of photo subjects and the superb weather provides excellent light variations. This ensures the visitor can exercise creative styles or simply record the unique beauty of the land, its inhabitants and its abundant nature. Photographic safaris allow visitors to spend more time in certain areas such as desert landscapes or wildlife in Etosha and Kaokoland.

HIKING

For the discerning hiker, Namibia offers largely untouched scenery, majestic plateau mountains, extinct volcanoes, gentle dunes, coarse gravel plains, deep canyons and rugged mountain ranges. Whether you enjoy hiking, mountaineering, free-climbing or simply walking – you will find the perfect spot to do so. Namibia boasts two of the most famous and most challenging trails in southern Africa: the Fish River Hiking Trail through the winding gorge of the Fish River Canyon and the Naukluft Hiking Trail in the rugged solitude of the Naukluft Mountains. Even running enthusiasts will not be disappointed as there is an annual Bush Marathon.

5 Steps to be a Gorilla Tracker in Uganda

With its abundance of magnificent natural scenery, Uganda is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. It offers world-class white water rafting at the source of the Nile and some of the region’s more peaceful national parks, where wildlife viewing does not involve long waits. Take your pick from the highest mountain range in Africa, the Rwenzori Mountains; one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world, Murchison Falls; or perhaps the highest primate density in the world, in Kabale Forest National park – Uganda has all this and more.

Uganda is home to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. There is only one mountain gorilla for every ten million people on Earth. Tracking gorillas is an intensive experience that may require endurance but gives one a reward of the most interesting encounters with nature.

In most parks, a few gorilla families have been habituated so as your guide leads you through the trails of thick forest canopies, they can update you on the life histories and family stories of the various groups of gorillas.

Habituating a gorilla means getting them used to humans, for tourism and research purposes. This process takes between 2 to 3 years to accomplish. The national park field staff are trained to endure a game of patience as they watch gorilla families from afar. The skeptical animals will look at them with suspicion at first until rapport is established to a point where a gorilla family will stand within five metres  of human presence. It is only after this habituation exercise that tourists are allowed to see the gorillas. Groups of gorillas are continuously monitored and since they are now fearless of human intrusion, they have to be protected for their own safety.

1. Know the Geography

Situated in eastern Africa, Uganda is mostly a plateau – a compact country occupying an area of 236580 square kilometres, roughly the size of Great Britain. It lies astride the Equator and has a mild climate with copious rainfall that is experienced three times a year.

2. Know When to Visit

Uganda is situated astride the Equator, so the country enjoys a tropical climate with very little temperature variation throughout the year. The main factor that determines your visit will be the rainfall patterns. In the southern part of the country, April is the rainiest

month. The rains stretch upto May, with another wet season in October and November. And although the dry months are good for bird-watching, do not forget the fact that the wet months are more productive since breeding takes place during those months.

3. Know the Weather

The country is known for its sunny and rainy weather which often does not require warm clothing except on some chilly nights in the mountainous areas in western and eastern Uganda. It is mostly sunny throughout the year, especially in the central region. Rainfall comes in torrents when delayed,especially when the expected patterns are delayed for some months.

Distinctive wet and dry seasons are typical of most Ugandan areas. For example, in the southern half of Uganda there is rainfall from March to May and  September to November. The rest of the periods are dry. There is a well-distributed rainfall pattern around the Lake Victoria Crescent, with storms and unpredictable rains falling during seasons when there is no rain elsewhere in Uganda.

Areas such as Karamoja in the northeast are dry due to the dry winds blowing in from Somalia. There is very little variation in the weather in Uganda except for the mountain areas. The copious rains and bright sunshine are most responsible for successful rain-fed agriculture where grains,fruits and vegetables grow in abundance.

4. Know How to Camp

When camping in Uganda, there are some guidelines which may prove useful to you:

• Take along a First Aid kit with the usual essentials, sterile needles and syringes.

• Be aware of any environmental impact your visit may cause. You may use fuel wood for charcoal grilling your food as long as you do not start fires. Kerosene may also be used in cooking, but make sure that all the litter that is going to be left behind is properly buried.

Uganda suffers from a major environmental problem caused by polythene materials. Minimise use of them since they are non-biodegradable.

• A good water purifying system is useful. In case you have tablets, they will be handy. Otherwise, Uganda’s river and lake water is fresh enough to be boiled.

• Park regulations insist that you drive in before 1800 hours. Driving at night is prohibited.

• Uganda is a land of hospitable and courteous people, so be considerate of other people by, for example, avoiding the playing of loud music.

• When walking through any area, use the existing  trails. Otherwise you encourage the widening of paths which can destroy the fragile environment.

5. Know Where to Track


Visitors come to Uganda to watch gorillas which are found in southwestern Uganda in two of only four parks in the world where the gentle creatures live. One park is Mghahinga, where chances of seeing  mountain gorillas is tricky but assured. The second is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where you will surely see a gorilla family during its morning nap or late afternoon siesta after a good meal. Gorilla watching permits are expensive and there are queues to follow. If you want to track the gentle giants, you have to wait in order to be put on the manifest of those who have been permitted. You could be eliminated from the list on a slight suspicion of illness like flu because gorillas are easily susceptible to human diseases to which they have no immunity.

Epic History, Vibrant Culture and 13 Months of Sunshine*

ETHIOPIA’S uniqueness makes it a fascinating destination for every kind of traveller. It has been an independent nation since ancient times, being one of the oldest countries in the world. A monarchy for most of its history, the Ethiopian dynasty traces its roots to the 2nd Century BC. Ethiopia is also one of the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists today, having yielded some of humanity’s oldest traces.

The country is a land of natural contrasts, with spectacular waterfalls and volcanic hot springs. Ethiopia has some of Africa’s highest mountains as well as some of the world’s lowest points below sea level.

Ethiopia has the most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa and the country is famous for its Olympic distance athletes, rock-hewn churches and as the origin of the coffee bean.

* There are 13 months in the Ethiopian Calendar. Twelve months have 30 days each and the thirteenth month has only five or six. A seven-to-eight-year gap between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars results from alternate calculations in determining the date of the Annunciation of Jesus. The current year according to the Ethiopian calendar is 2002, which began on 11 September 2009 AD of the Gregorian calendar. The year 2003 will begin on 11 September 2010.


HISTORIC  ETHIOPIA


Many people visit Ethiopia because of the remarkable manner in which ancient historical traditions have been preserved. Some of the ceremonies and rituals of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church open a window on the authentic world of the Old Testament. The past comes alive in the fascinating land in the form of strange and beautiful monuments and ruins, built long centuries ago.

AXUM

Axum

Axum is the site of Ethiopia’s most ancient city and is renowned for the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion, where legends say the original Ark of the Covenant is housed.

Axum is also famous for its seven mysterious monolithic stelae (a stone slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes), carved from single pieces of granite and with identical decorations. The largest of them is 33 metres high and weighs over 500 tons. At one point, it was the largest monolith in the world. Axum monolithic stelaes have been registered by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

LALIBELA

Lalibela

Once the thriving capital of a medieval dynasty, Lalibela is internationally renowned for its rock-hewn churches which are sometimes called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Carved out of the rock in which they stand, these towering edifices seem to be of superhuman creation in scale, workmanship and concept.

GONDAR

Gondar

Emperor Fasilides founded Gondar as his capital in 1636. It is the site of numerous castle-like palaces dating from the 17th and 18th Centuries. The city was Ethiopia’s capital until 1855. During the long years when it was a capital, the settlement emerged as one of the largest and most populous cities in the realm. The oldest and the most impressive of Gondar’s many imperial structures is the palace of Emperor Fasilides. There are also numerous other fascinating historical buildings and relics, the most spectacular being Debre Berhan Selassie Church.

YEHA

Temple of the Moon

Located in the administrative region of Tigray and about a 90-minute drive from the ancient city of Axum, Yeha is set amid imposing mountain scenery and is possibly Ethiopia’s oldest major settlement. It is the site of the Ethiopia’s most ancient temple and oldest standing structure, as well as a richly endowed Ethiopian church of more modern times.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL ETHIOPIA


Ethiopia is the earliest known home of humankind. A skeleton of an older human ancestor Australopithecus Afarensis was discovered in 1974 in the Afar region.

Anthropologists have established that the skeleton belonged to a twenty-year-old female that lived 3.5 million years ago. Registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the location of the discovery is called Hadar, situated 160 kilometres northeast of Addis Ababa.

The skeleton is popularly known as Lucy or Dinkinesh. The discovery has completed the missing link between apes and men – paving the way for the search to human origins.

Later, in 1999, Selam (Lucy’s baby) – most complete skeletons, dated to around 3.31 – 3.35 million years old, was found by an Ethiopian scientist, Zeray Alemseged.

NATURAL  ETHIOPIA

Blue Nile Waterfall

From the tops of the rugged Simien Mountains to the depths of the Danakil Depression at 120 metres below sea level, Ethiopia offers a magnificently varied natural landscape.

Afro-Alpine highlands soaring to 4300 metres, moors and mountains, the splendour of the Great Rift Valley, white-water rivers, Savannah teeming with game, giant waterfalls, dense and lush jungle are all just selection from an endless list of natural wonders.

OMO VALLEY

Omo River Valley

Reckoned by enthusiasts to the one of Africa’s premier locations for white-water rafting, the Omo River’s early fury takes it through gorges hundreds of metres deep alongside fish, crocodiles and hippos.

On the final leg of the journey south to Turkana, the Omo forms the border between Kefa and Gamo Gofa provinces. It is here that Ethiopia’s largest nature sanctuary, the Omo National Park – one of the richest in spectacle and game and yet one of the least visited areas in East and Central Africa – is located.

The Mago National Park has been established on the eastern bank of the river; a land of endless, distant horizons. Most easily reached from the town of Jinka, Mago National Park is mainly savannah, with some forested areas around the rivers. It was set up to conserve the large numbers of animals in the area. The parks are extensive wilderness areas and wildlife can be prolific. The birds are also typical of the dry grassland habitat, featuring bustards, hornbills, weavers and starlings.

AWASH NATIONAL PARK

Awash National Park

Lying in the lowlands east of Addis Ababa and striding the Awash River, the Awash National Park is one of the finest reserves in Ethiopia. The dramatic Awash Falls – as the river tumbles into its gorge – is a site not to be missed in the national park. A special attraction is the beautiful clear pools of the hot springs.

Awash National Park, surrounding the dormant volcano of Fentale, is a reserve of arid and semiarid woodland and savannah with forests along the Awash River. Forty-six species of animals have been identified here. The bird life is prolific especially along the river and in amongst the 392 species of native birds recorded.

SOF OMAR

Sof Omar

Sof Omar, not far from the Bale Mountains, is the site of one of the world’s most spectacular and extensive underground caverns. Formed by the Weyib River as it changed its course in the distant past and carved a new channel through limestone foothills, Sof Omar is an extraordinary natural phenomenon of breathtaking beauty. At 15.1 kilometres long, Sof Omar Cave is the longest cave in Ethiopia.

Visitors to Sof Omar make their way far into the bowels of the Earth, beside a subterranean stream, where one can see an extraordinary number of arched portals, high, eroded ceilings and deep, echoing chambers.

SIMIEN MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

Simien Mountains National Park

The Simien Mountain massif is a broad plateau, cut off to the north and west by an enormous single crag over 60 kilometres long. To the south, the tableland slopes gently down to 2200 metres, divided by gorges 1000 metres deep which can take more than two days to cross. Insufficient geological time has elapsed to smooth the contours of the crags and buttresses of hardened basalt.

Within this spectacular splendor live the Walia (Abyssinian) ibex, Simien red fox and Gelada baboon – all endemic to Ethiopia – as well as the Hamadryas baboon, klipspringer and bushbuck. Birds such as the lammergeyer, augur buzzard, Verreaux’s eagle, kestrel and falcon also soar above this mountain retreat.

Twenty kilometers north-east of Gondar, the Simien Mountains National Park covers 179 square kilometres of highland area at an average elevation of 3300 metres. Ras Dashen, at 4620 metres the highest peak in Ethiopia, stands adjacent to the park.

BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

Bale Mountains National Park

The Bale Mountains, with their vast moorlands – the lower reaches covered with St. John’s wort- and their extensive heathland, virgin woodlands, pristine mountain streams and alpine climate remain an untouched and beautiful world. Rising to a height of more than 4000 metres, the range borders Ethiopia’s southern highlands, whose highest peak, Mount Tullu Deemtu, stands at 4377 metres.

The establishment of the 2400-square-kilometre Bale Mountains National Park was crucial to the survival of the mountain nyala, Menelik’s bushbuck and the Simien red fox. This fox is one of the most colorful members of the dog family and more abundant here than anywhere else in Ethiopia. All three endemic animals thrive in this environment, the nyala in particular often being seen in large numbers. The Bale Mountains offer some fine high-altitude horse and foot trekking, and the streams of the park – which become important rivers further downstream – are well-stocked with rainbow and brown trout.

GAMBELA NATIONAL PARK

Boat in River Baro (Gambella)

The Baro River area, accessible by land or air through the western Ethiopian town of Gambela, remains a place of adventure and challenge. Traveling across the endless undulating plains of high grass, visitors can enjoy a sense of achievement in just finding their way. This is Ethiopia’s true tropical zone and here is found all the elements of the African safari, enhanced by a distinctly Ethiopian flavor.

Nile perch weighing 100 kilograms can be caught in the waters of the Baro, snatched from the jaws of the huge crocodiles that thrive along the riverbank. The white-eared kob also haunts the Baro, along with other riverbank residents that include the Nile lechwe, buffalo, giraffe, tiang, waterbuck, roan antelope, zebra, bushbuck, Abyssinian reedbuck, warthog, hartebeest, lion, elephant and hippopotamus.

CULTURAL  ETHIOPIA


Ethiopia has culture and traditions dating back over 3000 years and over 80 different ethnic groups with their own language, culture and traditions. The strong religious setting, celebrations and festivals play an important part in every ones daily life.

HARAR


Harar is located 523 kilometres east of Addis Ababa. The most dominant features of Harar are its strong encircling walls, its rich and exciting market place – probably the most colourful in Ethiopia – its 99 mosques and the fully restored Rimbaud’s House named after the eccentric French poet. Harar has managed to retain its medieval character, charm and glory and is now a fascinating stopover for the traveller.

MEKELE

Emperor Yohannes IV Palace, Mekelle

Mekele is famous for its rock-hewn churches, of which there are approximately 200 in the region. These churches are beautifully decorated and house important religious artefacts.

DEBRE MARKOS


Debre Markos is located 305 kilometres north of Addis Ababa. Here you will find the 19th Century

Church of Markos (St. Mark), with its pale but beautiful paintings depicting scenes of biblical and religious history.

BAHIR DAR

River Blue Nile Fall

Bahir Dar, located 560 kilometres from Addis Ababa, is located on the southern shores of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, with its ancient island monastries and the spectacular Blue Nile Falls. On the island of Dega Estefanos you will find the church of St. Estefanos which has a priceless collection of icons and manuscripts and houses the mummified remains of a number of Ethiopian emperors.

OMO VALLEY

The Lower Valley of the Omo River

The Lower Omo is home to a remarkable mix of small, contrasting ethnic groups not only the Bume and Konso, but also the Gelebe, the Bodi, the Mursi, the Surma, the Arbore, and the Hamer, to name but a few. Lifestyles are as varied as the tribes themselves. Lacking any material, culture and artifacts common to other cultures, these tribes find unique ways in which to express their artistic impulses. Both the Surma and the Karo, for example, are experts at body painting, using clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on each other’s faces, chests, arms, and legs. These designs are created purely for fun and aesthetic effect, each artist vying to outdo their fellows.

ARBAMINCH

Arba Minch

Arbaminch is well known for its large number and variety of wildlife, species endemic birds and natural beauty of the landscape. Drive Southeast of Addis Ababa passing through Debre Zeit and continue driving along the main road of the Great Rift Valley which leads you to the South along the shores of many of the lakes.

Not very far from Arbaminch, in the moutains, live the Omotic Dorze people. They are famous for their houses which are constructed with vertical hard wood poles and woven bamboo. It can be 10 metres high. The house is divided in to a fireplace, cattle place and bedroom.

LANGANO

Sand beach of Langano

Langano is located 200 kilometres south of Addis Ababa. It is a sand beach that attracts many visitors. Along the road to Langano, one can see beautiful landscapes. As you continue driving, the first lake to be seen among the rift valley lakes is Lake Zeway. It is a shelter for a variety of birds and fish. Proceeding further to the South, Lake Abiyata and Lake Shala can be reached. These lakes are breeding places for Flamingos and ideal for bird watching. Nearby is Lake Langano, a resort area and a paradise for holidaymakers. Traditions for most vacationers include setting up tents along the beach, eating (fresh-meat) barbeque.

SODERE

Popular resort area

Sodere is situated 126 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa. It is a very popular resort area with new hotel complexes. The Olympic size pool and physiotherapy centres are frequented by visitors of all ages. The vegetation of Sodere and its vicinity is evergreen, healthy and scenic. Nearby, the Awash River meanders through the forest that forms giant shade trees.