Sunday, 27 April 2014

Monday Images - Fantastic Fjords of Norway!

Monday Images. Every weekend, we share some brilliant Images from fellow travellers from different parts of the world. We have liked them. Hope you will too.

Norway - "The land of Midnight sun" is a beautiful country. The country is so picturesque that the landscape looks like a lovely painting. Especially in summer.

The Fjords of Norway is a natural wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage site. A cruise through the Fjords is an unforgettable experience. 

Take a look at the following pictures of Norway. 

Photo Courtesy - Peter Wdek
Photo Courtesy - Scarborough Cruiser
Photo Courtesy - J S McElvery
Picture courtesy - Morten Larsen
Another entry in our bucket list of places to see!

For a mesmerising pictorial tour of Fjords cruise, please click the link below

Norwegian Fjords Cruise in Pictures

Have you visited Norway and its Fjords? Pls share your experience.

If you are planning a trip to Fjords in Norway, click on this link below for more details

Fjords of Norway

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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Skywatch Friday - Hemkund Sahib, Himalayas

The shrine of Hemkund Sahib is one of the holiest shrines for Sikhs. The location and setting of the shrine is so spectacular, you can actually feel the divine when you reach there after an arduous trek. 

We were there two years back as a part of our trek to Valley of Flowers in Indian Himalayas. It was raining when we started the trek and after an arduous trek of 6 KMs wherein you climb from 11000 feet to 15,000 feet. It was a "wow" feeling when we saw the glimpse of the shrine. Soon the clouds enveloped the whole area. We were not fortunate to enjoy the magnificent setting of the shrine as you can see in the picture below. 

Few clouds and their reflection in the pristine waters of the lake adds to the beauty of surroundings on a clear day.
For complete detail of our trek experience to Hemkund Sahib, you may look at the following post in the blog.

Valley of Flowers - Trek to Hemkund Sahib

You may also look at this post on the lovely trek to Valley of Flowers

Trek to Valley of Flowers

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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Wildlife Stories - 4 Wildlife Bloggers You should read!

Summer is good time to go to wildlife sanctuaries. Yes, it will be hot. The forest will be brown. But this is also the best time to spot the animals. Especially the big cats. Elusive they are, otherwise.

We have been wildlife enthusiasts ourselves.  Brought up on staple diet of "Sanctuary Magazine" it is always fun to read an account of adventures by fellow wildlife enthusiasts. These are few "Wildlife bloggers" as we call them. You find many "Wildlife Photographers" but very few "Wildlife Bloggers".

Read them and we are sure your next trip will be either to Nagarahole or Corbett or Kaziranga!

Thomas Anand

Thomas started wildlife photography about 8-9 years back as a hobby (it is still a hobby as he has a day job in one of the IT companies in Bangalore). He tries to capture experiences that he and his wife have had every time they visit a wildlife destination. Both ensure that all their travel destinations revolve around wildlife. The best part of them is presenting their trips in an interesting manner with lovely photographs.

Snow Leopard in Ladakh
Please take a look at their adventures in the blog here

Vijay Cavale

Many of us know that Vijay is a excellent wildlife photographer. He is passionate about it. But he is also an excellent blogger which you will realise after reading one of his stories. He is lucid and provide those tit bits which are very useful for anyone interested in travelling to the destination.

Otter captured in Kaveri, Galibore
Please take a look at his adventures in his blog here

Angad Achappa

Passionate about Wildlife, Angad captures wild animals in his Canon camera and peppers them with nice write up. To Angad, wildlife photography provides is a unique opportunity to capture special moments in time, portraying the uniqueness of even the most common birds and animals around us. 

Slender Loris, Devarayanadurga, Karnataka 
Please take a look at his adventures in his blog here

Kalyan Varma

Acclaimed wildlife photographer, filmmaker, naturalist and explorer specializing in environment, science and ecology in India. Kalyan freelance with many of the world's leading magazines, environmental NGOs and television channels like Nat Geo and BBC. His photographs are a treat for the eyes. See them to believe it. More interesting are his lovely photo essays.

Desert fox pups, Rann of Kutch, Gujarat 
Please take a look at his adventures in his blog here

This an indicative list of bloggers specialising in wildlife we have liked. Passionate to the core, these guys bring a smile to our face when we flip through their stories and see their excellent pictures.

Have you come across anyone similar? Please share it with us.

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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Monday Images - Magic of Mongolia!

Monday Images. Every weekend, we share some brilliant Images from fellow travellers from different parts of the world. We have liked them. Hope you will too.

You must have read about the great Emperor Genghis Khan as a part of your history lessons in the school. If you haven't don't worry.

Mongolia or "The land of blue skies" as it is nicknamed is the land of Genghis Khan. It is a beautiful country. Unexplored, inhabited by simple nomadic people. This is one of the countries on our list as well. If you are lucky to go there, you will come back with some lovely memories like Stefan's pictures show us below. 

You can not but agree that it is a magic out there!

For a full set of lovely pictures of Mongolia by Stefan Schinning, please click the link below

Magic of Mongolia by Stefan

If you plan to visit Mongolia, this site may be helpful.

Visit Mongolia

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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

17 Cool options to beat the heat in South India!

The heat is on. Summer is scorching. There is no sign of Mango showers to bring the mercury down. Even in Bangalore which normally receives its first showers after Holi is yet to get good rain. 

Why not spend few days in the hills and beat the heat?

These are our list of places to beat the heat in summer. Some places where we stayed and came back with happy memories. Some places which comes highly recommended, in our bucket list to stay some day. These places are either Home Stays or small resorts. Not the fancy five star stuff. 

Let us start with those we have cherished our stay and came back with sweet memories.

Red Hills Nature Resort, Red Hills, Ooty

You can't call this a resort. This is more like a large home stay. The location is the king here. Perched on a elevated place with a hill as a backdrop, this place has fantastic view of the Emerald and Avalanche lakes below. If you can get up early, you will be treated to a lovely sunrise.

Rooms - Neat and comes with a fireplace.
Food - Good
Activities - Don't miss the lovely hike to the small hill behind the resort for jaw dropping views of lake district of Ooty.

Take a look this post on this blog - A Quick escape to Red Hills!

Official Website - Red Hills Nature Resort

Destiny Farmstay, Avalanche, Ooty

You will be bowled over by the setting of this place. Especially after the rains when the backwaters of Avalanche dam reaches the resort. A new structure built overlooking the plateau, it gives you a feel of an European ranch.

Room - Spacious and well furnished. Comes with a fireplace.
Food - Good
Activities - You have host of activities in the resort. You can do rappelling, fishing, riding, milking of a cow, small hikes in the forest. Kids would love this place.

Official Website - Destiny Farmstay

Sinnadorai's Bungalows @ Sakleshpur, Valparai and Mango Range

We clubbed all three into one.

Each one though is different and provides for a lovely experience. Kadamane estate in Sakleshpur is a huge British bungalow. Mango Range is a cute bungalow with only three rooms. The Bungalow in Valparai is on a small hillock overlooking the valley. All three bungalows have retained the charm of planter's life left behind by British. Go there. You will not be disappointed.

Rooms - Rooms in all the bungalows are very spacious and nicely done.
Food - It varies from excellent in Valparai to Good in Kadamane and Mango Range.
Activities - Go for small hikes in all the three places. Wildlife watching in Valparai. Tennis and Basketball in Kadamane. Trek to waterfalls in Kadamane. Jeep drive to five acres - an amazing view point - in Kadamane. Mango Range is ideally suited to explore both Ooty and Wayanad.

Please take a look at the following posts on this blog

a) Kaptivated in Kadamane!

b) Valparai - An unexplored wonder!

c) Monsoon experience @ Mango Range

Official Website - Sinnadorai's Bungalows

Villa Retreat, Kodaikanal

A cute little Victorian villa with an outstanding view of the valley. Again the location is the king. Excellent gardens and lovely rooms with magnificent views of the Kodai valley makes this place special.

Rooms - Rooms are generally spacious and neat. You have a wide choice based on tariff.
Food - Excellent
Activities - Nothing much inside the retreat. Many places to visit within the city.

Official Website - Villa Retreat

Thotadhahalli Home Stay, Chikmagalur

This is a real home stay. Small and nice. At the foothills of Mullayanagiri. Prakash and Pallavi are lovely hosts.

Rooms - Spacious and well done rooms. Kids will love the room with mezzanine floor.
Food - Excellent. Check out local Malnad recipes.
Activities - Nothing much in the homestay except for small walk in the estate and a basketball net. Go for a night drive in Jeep with Prakash. If it is a new moon day, you will be surprised by the silence in the estate.

Official Website - Thotadhahalli

Villa Urvinkhan, Chikmagalur

Lot of love has gone into making this place by Sunil and Shwetha. Beautifully located with a lovely pool overlooking the valley, the place is a hidden gem in crowded Chikmagalur.

Rooms - Excellent rooms. Spacious and done aesthetically by Sunil and Shwetha. Each room has a private sit out, a fire place.
Food - Good. 
Activities - You can go for a walk in the estate, fish in the pond, use paddle boat in the pond, swim in the pool. 

Official Website - Villa Urvinkhan

Let us now list out the places in the hills which are on our bucket list. We havent been to these places but have heard from friends and read about them.

Cloud Mountain Bungalow, Meghamalai, Tamil Nadu

This is still an unexplored country. Meghamalai retains its charm of secludedness. Woodbriar is a great example of how British used to live in their tea plantations. We would love to go there after rains, for sure. Woodbriar group also has some lovely bungalows in Munnar and Valparai as well.

Official Website - Woodbriar Bungalows

Camelot Resort, Munnar, Kerala

It is organic and sustainable living here folks. The lovely boutique resort with ten comfortable cottages amidst an organic garden. 

Official Website - Camelot

Camp Noel, Munnar, Kerala

This is straight out of Europe! Location is the king here. Away from the hustle bustle of Munnar town.

Official Website - Camp Noel

Cinnabar, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu

This is what one call an ideal homestay. Only two lovely rooms inside a beautiful house of Bala & Vasu. You can learn about Organic farming, making cheese or if you are outdoor type, Bala will help you to go for a trek in the forests!

Official Website - Cinnabar Farm

Bougainvillea, Ooty, Tamil Nadu

It is good to see more of these heritage bungalows in Ooty available for visitors to the Queen of hill station. Bougainvillea is one of them to explore for sure.

Official Website - Bouganvillea

Fringeford, Wayanad, Kerala

We still wonder how we haven't been here. A secluded beauty in the forests of Wayanad, your only companions here are silence or cries of wild cat! 

Official Website - Fringeford

Old Kent Estate, Coorg, Karnataka

We did not know this till a friend was singing paeans to it. When we looked at their website, we were bowled over at this English bungalow so lovingly maintained. Will go there sometime!

Official Website - Old Kent Estate

Magnolia resorts, Coorg, Karnataka

A boutique resort if you can call it. It is a welcome addition to those who want to spend few days of tranquility in Coorg.

Official Website - Magnolia

Halli Berri Cottages, Chikmagalur, Karnataka

The hills of Coorg and Chikmagalur springs surprises every now and then with new properties coming up. These places are aesthetically beautiful whether they are new construction or restored ones. Halli Berri joins the select list in Chikmagalur. A place to go. You can see why when you look at their website.

Official Website - Halli Berri Cottages

Thippanahalli Homestay, Chikmagalur

Grand old lady of all Homestays in Chikmagalur. You need to book well in advance to get here. We have had that experience of not getting a chance to stay whenever we decided to go there late. We will make it some day!

Official Website - Thippanahalli Homestay

Vanilla County, Vagamon, Kerala

We always knew Vagamon is God's own country. Unexplored region and a biodiversity hotspot. In the midst of this is the heritage bungalow! Nothing else matters. Have to go some day!

Official Website - Vanilla County

These were some of the places we thought we would share with you. Places where you can chill out during this summer. Have you been to any other interesting place in the hills? Please share it here. We would love to hear from you.

If you are planning a hill holiday in South India, you may look at the following post on this blog

Driving Holidays from Bangalore 5 - Hill holiday in Coorg, Wayanad & Ooty

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Monday Images - Sahara, Desert beautiful!

Monday Images. Every weekend, we share some brilliant Images from fellow travellers from different parts of the world. We have liked them. Hope you will too.

From the coldest place on Earth to the hottest.

Yes, we are talking of Sahara desert. The largest stretch of sand on earth is amazingly beautiful. It has its own mountains, oases and its own forests. The rock formations which are formed millions of years ago are natural wonders. You might have read about it and seen lovely pictures in magazines like National Geographic.

When we were browsing through some pictures on Flickr, we were stunned by the beauty of the desert captured by Claudio. An avid traveller, he has shot these mindblowing landscape of the Sahara desert in Algeria.

Have we influenced you enough to alter your winter travel plan and made you head to Sahara?

For more stunning pictures of Sahara by Claudio, please click here. Dont blame us if you are awestruck!

Algeria by Claudio Pettazi

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Friday, 11 April 2014

Skywatch Friday - Hong Kong from the Sky

Hong Kong does not have a London Eye or Singapore Flyer. But what it has is the cable car to Big Buddha or Tian Tan Buddha.

It was in 2008 that I (Poorna) visited Hong Kong second time as part of my work. A bustling metropolis, Hong Kong has its own charms. One of them is the thrilling ride on cable car to Big Buddha. A cable car riding over a distance of 6 KMs gives you fantastic vistas of Hong Kong landscape. 

Fortunately the weather was good.  It was around 11 AM when we travelled in these lovely cable cars enjoying the fantastic vistas of Hong Kong.

Don't miss taking a ride on this cable car and get divine blessings of Tian Tan Buddha while ein Hong Kong.

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