5. THE LANDMARK: CHRIST THE REDEEMER, BRAZIL
No one goes to Rio without the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) taking their breath away as the symbol of the city that welcomes all with open arms. The 38m statue came to be in 1931 and is known as one of the “new Seven Wonders of the World”. Almost as mind-blowing as the statue are the views when you make your way up there 360-degree spectacular sweeping visions of Rio de Janeiro.
4. THE TOURS: BATTERED SUITCASE WORLD HERITAGE SIT...
NEW tour operator Battered Suitcase has launched a series of custom-made tours to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and historic cultural destinations across all five continents. Since each trip is tailored to suit the individual travellers’ interests, they are not tied to set tour itineraries and can ‘do it their way’. Founded by a historian with a passion for travel and appreciation of the world’s heritage and its natural wonders, Battered Suitcase say it’s all about well travelled people looking for new and meaningful experiences without compromising on luxury. By combining their specialist knowledge with an understanding of the traveller’s needs, the tour operator creates tailored itineraries covering regions such as Asia and the Indian subcontinent, Australiasia, the Americas, Africa, Europe and Great Britain.
3. THE ADVENTURE: OUTBACK FLOATPLANE ADVENTURES, A...
This one just outside of Darwin is best described as exhilaration central as you join National Geographic’s Outback Wrangler Matt Wright’s team in a tropical jungle full of crocodiles, birdlife and picture-perfect wetlands. It’s a great all round experience as you set off on a floatplane journey into a stunning lagoon and dense shrub, before having a bacon and egg brekky (or BBQ barramundi lunch) on board a floating pontoon. Then the real action begins.
First up is a wild air-boat ride zipping through wetlands through shady palms and mangroves to get your heart racing as native birdlife including Jabiru, eagles and magpie geese dazzle you with a show of their own, and a helicopter ride later gives you a chance to see it all by air including a stop off on a field full of 100-year-old large termite mounds, taking flight above plateaus, floodplains and lagoons while sightings of wild pigs, cattle and giant crocs sunning themselves on the billabong banks will have you constantly nudging your partner in the next seat.
The highlight, however, is the more gentle airboat ride through tropical inlets as driver Matty gives a guided tour. While crocs including babies Speedy and Gonzales and super-sized Sweet Thing are the drawcards, a surprise guest egret by the name of Rose makes a spectacular entrance and landing on Captain Matty’s head and she hangs about for the ride for 10 minutes or so (and a feed of fish, of course).
2. THE RESORT: ALEENTA HUA HIN SPA & RESORT, T...
THIS is the one that spawned the Aleenta brand and boutique luxury beach resorts don’t get much more alluring. This resort and spa has 22 gorgeous suites, most with a private pool, and all within a few steps of the beach; not to mention providing the stunning sunset sea view of the Gulf of Thailand. Set on the pristine and golden sand stretch of Pak Nampran Bay, Aleenta Hua Hin Resort & Spa, Pranburi is a two and a half hour drive south of Bangkok. Sustainable living is Aleenta’s way with a distinct attempt to “limit society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources without devaluing our product”. The practice and general philosophy of ecological living for Aleenta is highly interrelated with the overall principles of sustainable development.
1. THE FESTIVAL: DIWALI, INDIA
An ancient celebration with deep spiritual roots, this Festival of Light is a tradition with a religious foundation, but all who are keen to share in the season of abundance are welcome. Thousands of oil lamps, fireworks, lavish feasts, fragrant flowers and colored sand in the form of lotus blossoms adorn India in this annual homecoming that is Diwali. For Hindus, light represents the triumph of good over evil; although the legends people observe vary by region, Diwali is a time of unity, when that basic underlying message of good besting evil holds for all cultures. As much as the visual interpretation of Diwali is beautiful to see, the spiritual meaning can be quite profound. Diwali also means the awareness of the inner light.