Part of our specialist skill is working with our local contacts to sweep you away from the crowds and experience extraordinary destinations a little differently.
Why not swap your typical safari land-cruiser for a mountain bike, taking you even closer to the flora and fauna of the bush as you explore Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park? Or take a nature trail with an indigenous Veddha chief through Sri Lanka’s Gal Oya jungle, discovering which plants are used in traditional tribal medicine and learning how hunter-gatherers survived in the forest?
Take a look at a selection of our favourite alternative experiences in some of the world’s most exciting destinations. We’ll tailor these especially for you…
Is this your kind of adventure? Then we think you’d also love an exhilarating canoeing trip in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, spotting teeming wildlife on the lush river banks and colourful birdlife swooping overhead.
Whilst the Atacama Desert is the perfect playground for countless adventures such as hiking, climbing, dune-buggying and boarding, there’s no better way to gauge just how magical it is than on a hot air balloon ride. Hover in your private wicker cocoon under the shadow of a traditional air balloon and enjoy a unique vantage point high in the sky. Until recently this perspective was the exclusive joy of soaring Andean Condors. This trip is best enjoyed at sunrise for a colourful spectacle as the morning sunlight creeps across the dunes.
When it comes to Cape Town, there’s so much more than meets the eye. The coastal city is celebrated for its spectacular scenery, amazing restaurants and fine wines, but we encourage our clients to explore beyond Cape Town’s tourist trail for a real insight into local life. Rather than ignoring the realities of the country’s wealth divide, why not brush any pre-conceptions aside and spend a day a little differently, visiting local townships and community projects (in complete security) to learn about another side of life in Cape Town. We work with Uthando South Africa, a charity that operates a number of innovative and inspirational social development projects with a mission to uplift the disadvantaged in South Africa. Far from being tourist attractions, these community visits are designed to educate and inform, and a proportion of your tour will go directly to the charity; a great way of giving back as you get under the skin of the region you’re exploring.
Rest assured, this won’t be a day of doom and gloom! Engaging with locals, discovering their stories and seeing positive development within local townships will prove an uplifting and rewarding experience. Whilst hardship and poverty are still the reality for many, the vibrancy you’ll experience in the streets and the smiling faces of those taking part in community programs from sport competitions to dance shows, gives hope for a brighter future. All Capetonians welcome tourists with open arms and are delighted to share their way of life. If you have a particular interest or area you’re keen to learn more on, we can tailor this experience for you, with specialist guides in a number of fields.
Explore the ancient Arabian region of Salalah, a province showcasing some of Oman’s most breathtaking mountain scenery, and a cultural hot-spot with bustling souks, silk bazaars, fishing ports and white-washed fortresses pouring life into the desert. For a really diverse experience of Oman, we’d suggest combining a stay at a luxurious hotel on an idyllic Indian Ocean beach, with a few nights’ camping in the desert wilderness of the Empty Quarter. What better way to explore beyond the ordinary?
Stay in a true Desert camp, surrounded by enormous sand dunes sweeping up to heights of 200m and being utterly spoiled with a blanket of twinkling stars by night. Highlights of a private exploration through this beautiful region include swimming in pristine desert lagoons, driving through the lost city of Ubar – the ‘Atlantis of the Sands’, and traversing the stunning Moon Mountains and Wadi Aful, thick with wild Frankincense trees. Along with stunning scenery, experience pure desert adventure under the guidance of a local expert.
Recently opened, Gal Oya Eco Lodge brings a fresh, unparalleled experience to travellers looking to veer away from Sri Lanka’s tourist trail and reconnect with nature. Rustic wooden bungalows with floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious verandas offer a relaxing setting immersed in the forest. An experience at Gal Oya completely differs from what you’ll encounter on most safaris in rural Sri Lanka, which focus on big-game spotting. Gal Oya’s mission is geared towards sharing the smaller delights of its wildlife-rich jungle surroundings, allowing guests to discover unchartered wilderness and enjoy remote serenity.
One of the most fascinating experiences we can arrange at the lodge is a ‘walk of discovery’ with the chief of the indigenous Veddha community. He will take you on a walk through the jungles of his ancestors. Learn about local nature as he brings the forest to life by explaining his tribe’s traditional uses of medicinal plants, showing you ancient hunting grounds and cave dwellings, and providing a unique insight into how hunter-gatherers have survived in the wild jungles of Gal Oya.
Over the last few years Portugal has become a hugely popular destination, nowhere more so than Lisbon and the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sintra. The town of Sintra and it’s many beautiful sights, once havens of tranquility are now heavily populated by tourists. Fortunately, we still have some secret escapes up our sleeves to ensure you experience the true charm of Portugal, away from the crowds.
Escape the crowds and stay at the Casa Holstein in the stunning Quinta de São Sebastião, an 18th Century estate located in 15 hectares of peaceful, private parkland within the historical centre of Sintra. Only four minutes’ walk from the palace, the setting is perfect for an atmospheric evening stroll. The Quinta was built in 1780 by the Count of Póvoa, who married his daughter to the Duke of Palmela and has remained in the same family ever since. Lunch with the owners can be arranged, sharing its fascinating history with you, providing a rare insight into the Portuguese way of life and transporting you to a bygone era. Discover the laid back charm and hospitality of the locals as you enjoy the beauty of the estate and its surroundings, from the beautiful family chapel, to the exquisite original frescoes in the dining rooms and stunning french artwork throughout the main house. Sunset cocktails on the terrace with amazing views of the Moorish castle are a must.