“Does travel have the power to transform a person’s life? I think so – it changed mine.”
When we travel, especially to new places, many of us seek total immersion in these destinations, through deep and rich experiences. “Does this kind of travel have the power to transform a person’s life?” asks Geoffrey Kent, the founder of A&K. “I think so – it changed mine.” It’s in his, and his company’s, DNA. A&K has always believed in the power of experiential travel to change our view of the world, and our lives. Its experts know the places, the people and the perfect adventures – trust them and head off on a trip of a lifetime this year.
Challenge Yourself: Climb Kenya’s Kilimanjaro & Stilt Fish in Sri Lanka
Is there a better way to tap into local culture and trekking traditions than to dive in headfirst? We think not. One suggestion: climb Kilimanjaro, taking the scenic, seven-day Machame route. Be motivated on your trek by rainforests thick with fig trees, immense canyons, volcanic rock and expansive savannah, culminating in spectacular views across the Masai steppe and Mount Meru (and a very comfortable luxury tent). If Chris Moyles can do it, so can you.
For something more serene, but potentially as physically taxing, head to Sri Lanka and try the age-old method of stilt fishing in the sandy town of Weligama on the southern coast. A local fisherman will teach you how to balance on the small crossbar tied to a wooden pole. Rod in hand, cast for herring and small mackerel, while you chat to locals and learn about this ancient tradition. Recuperate at Cape Weligama, a modern clifftop retreat palm-fringed with sweeping ocean views.
Machame Route itinerary, 9 nights, from £6,350; Luxury Sri Lanka itinerary, 15 nights, from £5,195
Walk on the Wild Side: See Polar Bears in Canada & Gorillas in Rwanda
Wildlife tourism helps the places in which some of the world’s most remarkable animals live to protect their natural habitat. There’s no better place to see polar bears, for example, than in the town of Churchill, the ‘Polar Bear Capital of the World', on the edge of Hudson Bay. Trek the remote wintry tundra with an expert guide, scouring the snow for polar bear pacing across gleaming ice. Retire to wooden lodge Dymond Lake Lodge and keep your eyes peeled for more bears – it overlooks the tundra.
Dwelling in rather hotter climes but just as majestic, visit the endangered silverback gorillas in the Virunga foothills. You'll head to Volcanoes National Park accompanied by an expert guide, in a group of just eight, and follow in renowned conservationist Dian Fossey’s footsteps, studying entertaining infants and charismatic silverbacks, some weighing in at more than 150kg, before bedding down at the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge.
Classic Rwanda itinerary, 8 nights, from £6,695; for a tailor-made Canada itinerary, speak to an A&K specialist
Unplug, Reset & Time Out: Escape To Madagascar or The Himalayas
Experts agree that taking time out can lead to a longer life. Whether it’s a dreamy white island or a wilderness retreat, pure escapism comes in many different forms. Unwind at Miavana Madagascar, a luxe retreat in Nosy Ankao, the largest of the five-island archipelago; expect beautiful beaches, crystal lagoons and soft white sand, sumptuously designed villas with bright turquoise accents and private pools. Explore the protected marine area during as many dives as you can fit in, track some lemur (when back on land) then retreat to – where else? - the spa.
For a truly spiritual experience, take yourself to the lamp-lit banks of the holy Ganga River in Rishikesh for Aarti. Listen to hymns sung by saffron-robed gurus, smell the heady scent of incense and watch disciples sway in unison at sunset. Ananda Resort & Spa Dehradun’s forest scenery and palatial architecture in the Himalayan foothills perfectly complement this peaceful setting.
Speak to a specialist for further details about tailor-made trips to Madagascar and the Himalayas
Make a Difference: Visit a Children's Home in Udaipur or a Conservancy in South Australia
Some of the most enriching experiences are the ones that give you the chance to immerse yourself in the culture and conservation of a place that’s far removed, in all senses, from your own home. Head to India, and specifically Rajasthan, to visit Hansraj Children’s Home, championed by A&K Philanthropy and made up of children mostly from tribal belts surrounding Udaipur. Hansraj provides free education, books, meals and clothes, as well as somewhere safe to spend the night. Meet and play games with the children; A&K says “It’s usually the highlight of their days and will most likely be yours.” Plus you’ll reside at the lakeside Leela Palace Udaipur – Luxury London has stayed there and it's very special indeed.
Travel further east and lose yourself (metaphorically) in 24,000 hectares of South Australian outback, staying at Arkaba, a former-sheep-station-turned-stylish-homestead among a vast private conservancy. Its vetted conservation programme is designed to monitor rare wildlife and the surrounding precious landscape; join a field guide to track a collared quoll (nocturnal marsupial) and find out how Arkaba minimises its impact on the land. Come home more knowledgeable about energy-saving tricks and the benefits of ‘buying local’.
South Australia self-drive itinerary, 7 nights, from £4,790; Classic Northern India itinerary, 8 nights, from £2,960
Try Something New: Learn to Surf in Costa Rice & Glamp in the Chilean Desert
The best time to commit to learning a new skill? January. Now. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, where better than the bohemian beach town of Santa Teresa? There certainly won’t be many people to witness your first few wipeouts. World-class waves all year round and warm tropical waters make the spot on Costa Rica’s palm-clad Peninsula de Nicoya a surfer’s paradise. Take a lesson with a surfing pro who can teach you the basics in a fun intro class - full marks if you stand up in lesson one - and stay at Latitude 10, an eco-friendly, jungle-shrouded romantic retreat.
If you’re game for a spot of off-beat adventure, go glamping in the driest desert on the planet, and very best place for stargazing. Arrive at your camp as the sun goes down on the tangerine rockscape and enjoy dinner by a crackling fire with a lunar-like desert backdrop. Learn to distinguish a supernova from a white dwarf while you sip on fine Chilean wine then curl up under a star-filled sky at the renowned Alto Atacama, a desert lodge surrounded by the Cordillera del Sal.
Highlights of Costa Rica itinerary, 11 nights, from £3,875; for the Chile itinerary, speak to an A&K specialist
For more experiences, visit the website: www.abercrombiekent.co.uk
To enquire online: www.abercrombiekent.co.uk/enquiry