Monthly Archives: April 2017

Are you plan go to in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is blessed with all the essential ingredients for the family trip of a lifetime. Comparatively compact, with a colourful cultural identity, incredible wildlife and food you will never forget, this is the subcontinent at its most manageable. Rough Guides Managing Editor Keith Drew has the lowdown on why this tropical island paradise should be next on your family’s holiday hit list.

 

1. There are ancient kingdoms “ruled” by monkeys

Most children will be able to tackle the climb up Sigiriya, a royal citadel remarkably perched atop a weathered hunk of rock at the centre of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle – though a head for heights is needed for the metal staircase that marks the final push to the summit.

After this, you should be able to fit in another sight before temple fatigue kicks in, so pick the former capital of Polonnaruwa. Fifty-five kilometres to the east, it’s colonised by macaques and enlivened with tales of King Parakramabahu I (and his 300 wives).

Where to stay: The ground-breaking Jetwing Vil Uyana is set in former arable land now returned to paddy-fields, marsh and forests. Large thatched “dwellings” share an infinity pool, but the best thing for kids is the variety of wildlife, including the rare (and ridiculously cute) slender loris.

 

2. You can learn to surf on a laidback beach

The best waves in Sri Lanka crash onto the long expanse of beach that curves around Arugam Bay, a low-key settlement in the southeast of the country. The vibe here is very different to the more popular west coast, and it’s a good place to drop out from a sightseeing itinerary for a few days.

Several surf schools run lessons for children around Arugam Bay and Pottuvil Point further north; Baby Point is an aptly named break to start things off on.

Where to stay: There are lots of rustic choices on the main road through Arugam Bay, but for something a bit more relaxing, head to Kottukal Beach House by Jetwing at Pottuvil Point. It’s a breezy villa with two family rooms in the main house and instant access to an empty stretch of beach.

The greatest view on Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has everything adventurous travellers could want – exquisite, empty beaches fringed by palms, rainforest jungles with monkeys swinging through the trees, a fascinating heritage and warm, welcoming people. But its troubled history of civil war and Ebola means that few visitors actually make it here.

Now fully reconciled and recovered, this beautiful West African country is moving on and it’s time to return – before everyone else does…

 

1. It’s safe and Ebola-free – and it needs tourists back

Sierra Leone has had a rough ride in recent years. First, there was a bitter civil war from 1991 to 2002, leaving more than 50,000 people dead and 2 million displaced. Graphically portrayed in Leonardo DiCaprio’s film Blood Diamonds, the conflict was fuelled by the diamond industry and characterised by extreme violence, kidnappings, child soldiers and horrific human rights abuses.

At the end of the war, Sierra Leone was one of the poorest countries in the world. Peace brought political stability and democracy, a vastly improved economy and a remarkable reconciliation of its people that still stands strong today. By 2014, the country was back on its feet, tourists were returning and the future looked bright.

Then came Ebola. The deadly virus took the lives of nearly 4000 people and the entire country ground to a halt in a state of emergency and fear. In March 2016, the nation celebrated as Sierra Leone was finally declared Ebola-free. Intrepid travellers are slowly returning, drawn by the beaches, islands and jungles of this beautiful country – but it’s the people themselves, their warmth, spirit and sense of fun, that leave such lasting memories.

 

2. Some of the world’s rarest wildlife lives here

Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Moa River, is just 12 square kilometres. But it’s home to around 80 rare and elusive pygmy hippos and an astounding 11 species of primates – one of the highest primate concentrations in the world.

Sierra Leone’s first ecotourism enterprise, the sanctuary’s profits benefit the eight communities that live near the island. Walking trails take you deep into the forests where chimpanzees, red colobus and Diana monkeys cavort in the canopy.

HOW TO ALIVE AND KICKING IN PARIS

Forget about the sleazy tourist traps in Pigalle, there’s only one place to see burlesque in Paris: the Crazy Horse, opened in 1951. Eleanor Aldridge spent the night at the city’s decidedly contemporary cabaret to see for herself.

The room is dark, illuminated only by glowing champagne buckets at the centre of each red velvet booth. Then, to the strains of a sultry Britney Spears cover, the curtains open.

Launching the second half of the show at the Crazy Horse tonight is Undress to Kill, a striptease like no other, designed by Dita Von Teese. The dancer is completely nude, dressed instead in Le Crazy’s signature projections – a backless red dress slowly morphs into an intricate veil of lace as the performer leans in and out of the light.

Every performer has six pairs of made-to-order heels and costumes are handmade, taking up to a week apiece
This is Totally Crazy, the cabaret’s new show for 2017. Modern burlesque meets high fashion; it’s a riot of spectacular lighting, barely-there costumes, beat-perfect choreography and angular fluoro wigs. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

Today, the Crazy Horse is the most famous cabaret in the city. The artistic vision of Andrée Deissenberg, previously of Cirque du Soleil, it’s become a Parisian institution, renowned for its celebration of femininity and beauty. Under the guidance of Creative Director Ali Mahdavi, they aim to glorify “the powerful, dominant, insubordinate female” – essentially women who like to run the show.

Since Andrée took the reins ten years ago, Le Crazy has gone from strength to strength, with Dita Von Teese by no means the most famous collaborator. The last few years have seen famous faces such as Conchita Wurst take to the stage, and the star-studded audience range from Rihanna and John Legend to Cara Delevingne and Jean Paul Gaultier.

THE WORLDs MOST EXTREME LANDSCAPE

The Namib desert is one of the world’s most extreme environments. Covering 81,000 square kilometres, its vastness can only truly be appreciated from above. Here, Lottie Gross flies along the Atlantic coast and over the dunes for a new perspective on this incredible environment.

Our plane was getting lower and lower – so much so that I could see the stripes on the backs of the zebra trotting along the rust-red dunes below us. I shifted nervously in my seat, exchanging glances with my fellow passengers, wondering when we’d ascend again. We weren’t scheduled to land here. There was no airstrip. It was the middle of the Namib desert – one of the most extreme landscapes on Earth.

Images of a stranded, sand-enveloped plane crash – reminiscent of scenes from Flight of the Phoenix, which, incidentally, was shot right here – flickered through my mind.

Just as I was thinking I should tell the pilot, who perhaps hadn’t realised we were getting so low that I could make eye contact with an oryx grazing beneath us, the ground dropped from beneath our aircraft and we sailed happily through the sky and into the Kuiseb Canyon. I breathed a sigh of relief, along with the rest of my flying companions, and the pilot turned to give a wry smile. That was cruel.

The world’s oldest desert is also one of its most extreme. The Namib is a place of towering, deep-orange sand dunes, contrasted by bright-white mineral pans and red, rocky outcrops.

Driving through its barren landscape is an otherworldly experience. The previous day, our vehicle had been the only one for miles around as we drove at sunrise to watch the light reveal a Martian terrain. The black sky turned to pink and then finally to blue; like a curtain being lifted, darkness gave way to views across the stunning Namib-Naukluft National Park.

The rocks dissolved into dramatic mounds of fine, lurid sand – bright orange on one side and black in shadow on the other.

Are you surviving solo travel

Travelling alone can seem daunting from the comfort of home. What happens if you get stranded somewhere? Can you go out at night solo? Won’t it feel weird to eat in a restaurant alone?

All these worries and more (Will I get attacked by bandits? Or my car stuck in a ditch?) plague most travellers before their first solo trip, but quickly evaporate, outweighed by the innumerable benefits. Here, our authors and editors offer their top tips on how to travel alone successfully.

 

1. Know your strengths

Are you a sociable person who wants to be in the middle of everything? You might go crazy if you can’t communicate, so head somewhere you speak the language.

If you’re more of an introvert, forget the language barrier. Vibrant cities are perfect for people watching, especially if they have a fantastic café culture.

 

2. Sleep around

Try a homestay or look for room rentals in an apartment – this gives you an automatic connection with residents when you’re travelling alone. As a solo traveller, you’ll have tons of options to choose from. Even if your landlord doesn’t take you out on the town, you’ll at least scoop up a few local tips.

Hostels are of course ready-made for solo travellers too, but you might wind up spending more time with other tourists than with locals.

 

3. Don’t be afraid of your own company

Being alone for large quantities of time can be daunting – but just roll with it. You might learn to love your own company along the way.

And if you’re feeling particularly social, you can always try to make new friends. Show off your free-agent status by offering to take a family’s photo at a big sight, for instance, or by sitting near a chatty gang at a bar.