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12

Sep 2018

Chile & Peru Combo

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It’s been a long time coming but from August 2018 Latam Airlines began operation of a non-stop flight between Cusco, Peru and Santiago, Chile (flight time 3:25 hr).

This new route creates the perfect opportunity to combine two completely different countries and offer a multi-destination holiday. Santiago, the vibrant capital of Chile, is surrounded by winelands on one side and mountains on the other with skiing 35 miles away from downtown. There are two different mountains offering you plenty of choice (the season is mid-June to mid-Oct).

Cusco, the Inca capital, is the jumping off point for the Sacred Valley and of course the Machu Picchu trek (best seasons May to October).

A Chilean wine weekend, skiing and Machu Picchu all in the same week

Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate

Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate

? That’s a pretty neat trip!

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12

Sep 2018

Day of the Dead

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Halloween is approaching, which means Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is close behind (31st Oct).

 

Day of the Dead

 

The Mexican Day of the Dead festival is a time where revellers are encouraged to pray for lost loved ones, to help them through their journey in the afterlife. In Mexico City the typical snack sold at bakeries and supermarkets during this time is called ‘pan de muerto’ or “bread of the dead,” a puffed, sugar-dusted, orange-flavoured bread – delicious.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead, bread

You can witness Day of the Dead celebrations anywhere in Mexico, but the festivities are particularly colourful in Oaxaca on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Oaxaca
Visitors to Oaxaca during Day of the Dead can visit colourful marketplaces in nearby villages (the Friday market in Ocotlan is outstanding), witness vigils in a variety of cemeteries and take part in night-time carnival-like processions called comparsas. There are also sand tapestry competitions and Day of the Dead altars set up throughout town.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead, flower arrangement

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12

Sep 2018

The Magic of Step Wells

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Horse Riding Holidays, Traveller's Tales / No comments yet

All over north India, particularly in Rajasthan, one encounters Step Wells. They tend to be hidden away and falling in to disrepair, but they’re magical places to discover.

They were built to catch monsoon rainwater: June and July receives a profligate excess of water that has to last through the months of arid dryness. Step wells are huge and the concept is that as the water recedes, access to water level is afforded by the zig-zag maze of stairways. The symmetry is mesmerizing.

The Step Well below is behind a haveli in the centre of Jaipur, but if you didn’t know it was there, you’d never chance upon it. It’s family owned and managed with a dozen charming rooms and an excellent restaurant. The well has been lovingly restored during the past decade and is now back to its original glory. The lovely twist to this tale is that we can arrange private dining within the well itself, a romantic and magical experience.

Explore Rajasthan, India and discover the magic of step well dining

Explore Rajasthan, India and discover the magic of step well dining

 

Note: Only vegetarian meals and non-alcoholic drinks are served at this Step Well, as the owner-family’s centuries old temple is located inside the well itself.

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24

Jul 2018

What’s In a Name?

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

King Mswati III of Swaziland has announced that henceforth the kingdom formerly known as Swaziland will change its name to Eswatini. He said, “The Kingdom of Eswatini meaning “place of the Swati people” reverts to the Swazi language name for the Kingdom. As we are aware, the name Swaziland was inherited from the British. If we are to give true meaning to our independence, time has come to give our country a name of its people. It must be said that this process is long overdue. Therefore, I have the pleasure to present to you, on this historic day, a new name for the kingdom. Our country will now be called Kingdom of Eswatini.

 

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24

Jul 2018

Tiger! Tiger!

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Tiger News from India
WPSI (Wildlife Protection Society of India) has received 4 new “Tiger Conservation and Anti-poaching Awareness Vans” bringing the total to 7. They operate in the villages that fringe the forests of several major parks including Khana  and Bandhavgarh.

The problem: local people often have their lives disrupted by tiger conservation: their cattle are predated upon; fire wood collection is prohibited and access to their local forest banned; and sometimes whole villages are relocated. Great for tiger conservation, inconvenient if you’re one of the locals.

Tiger safari India

Tiger safari India

The campaign was launched in 2011 with the aim of getting local people on-side with tiger conservation. The project uses audio-visual that is taken to villages and screened, in the local language; the film is called ‘The Truth About Tigers’ https://vimeo.com/17468170 . The WPSI team is often accompanied by forest officers and meaningful discussions are held with the villagers to find solutions for their grievances.

The aim of this project is to reduce the antagonism between local people and the Forest Department, and to inform the villagers of government projects that they could benefit from such as compensation and employment schemes. The programme has been successful at reducing corruption, speeding up compensation claims and receiving poaching information. The dramatic increase in tiger numbers bears witness: 2006 there were just 1,411 tigers; 3,891 in 2016. Not too shabby!
nt here.

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24

Jul 2018

Wonderful Whales

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, South America, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /


Peninsula Valdés, Patagonia, Argentina has opened for the 2018 Right Southern Whale-watching season!

From mid-May to December hundreds of whales arrive at Peninsular

Valdes to give birth and mate. This is the place where David Attenborough’s team filmed that amazing sequence of an orca beaching itself to catch a fur seal. A wide range of vessels from zodiacs to a semi-submarine offer daily navigation to get up close and observe these colossal but peaceful animals. Orcas, sea elephants, penguins and many different marine bird species are also resident.

Whale watchers

Whale watchers

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23

May 2018

Cat or Dog?

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, South America, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Recently snapped by a stealth-cam in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle: but is it a cat or dog?

Meet Atelocynus Microtis – or ‘Short-eared Bush Dog’ to his friends and a lot easier to say. These chaps were caught on film in Ecuador last week. They are surely one of the most mysterious, shy and rare canine species in the world and feature on the Red List of species. Although a canine, it stands just 30 cm at the withers and weighs in at 10 pounds, so is really cat-sized. To add to its cat credentials, its primary prey is rodents, and it sports a rather stylish reddish brown fur coat.

 

Napo Wildlife Centre

Short-eared bush dog, Napo Wildlife Centre

Bush Dog inhabits a wide variety of lowland rainforest habitats including the zone around Napo Wildlife Centre and the Swamp Forests. Notably bush dog favours swimming in Amazonian rivers and creeks and this is where most sightings happen. However, likely due to habitat loss, they have adapted to other eco-zones such as foothill forests up to 2,000 m. Their previous known range was easternmost in Brazil, westernmost to Peru, southernmost in Bolivia, and northernmost in Colombia. However, this has recently been expanded as sightings have now been recorded as far away as Central America.

 

Short-eared bush dog, Napo Wildlife Centre

Short-eared bush dog, Napo Wildlife Centre

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01

Mar 2018

Calving Season, Serengeti

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

For many people, the thought of the Great Wildebeest Migration brings to mind images of thunderous river crossings with crocodiles snatching at the heels of wildebeest as they make their way across East Africa’s rivers.

Wildebeest migration, Serengeti safari

Wildebeest, Serengeti

Others may picture the seemingly never-ending line of millions of wildebeest on their great trek. However, the amazingness of the calving season is something that people tend to overlook. Calving takes place between January and February: in Jan/Feb the herds begin making their way to the south of the Serengeti after the rains start falling, and fresh grass begins to grow. The question of how the herds know when, precisely, the rains begin is something many people have pondered and the answer is that we actually do not know! Some say that they can smell the rain, others believe they can sense when the pressure in the air changes; the only thing we know for sure is that where it rains, the herds follow. Within a two to three week time period over half a million wildebeest are born with as many as 8,000 wildebeest being born on a single day!

Emerald season safari Serengeti Tanzania

Herd of Burchell’s Zebra Serengeti

The herds spend the majority of Jan, Feb and March in the Ndutu and Ngorongoro Conservation areas, although not within the crater itself. The soil in this area is rich in nutrients meaning the grass is perfect for young wildebeest to munch on and build up their strength in the first few weeks of their lives.

With the promise of rains from March to May, the young wildebeest are virtually guaranteed fresh grass during their migration all the way up into the central parts of the Serengeti. And it’ll come as no surprise that with all these baby zebra, gazelle and wildebeest stumbling around on wobbly legs, the number of predators in the area reaches a high. However, an easy meal is no guarantee! These mothers have been following this route for thousands of years and know most of the tricks that predators pull. Wildebeest mothers instinctively know to give birth on the shorter grass plains where approaching predators are easier to spot. Other mothers join them and actually form protective barricades around the young and most vulnerable new additions to the herd. Predators have to deal with extremely protective mothers who will do everything in their power to protect their young. If you’re travelling to the Serengeti during this time you’re guaranteed to see action unfolding between mothers, their calves and prowling predators.

Serengeti safari in the emerald season Tanzania

Lioness and cubs, Serengeti, Tanzania

It is not only the herbivores you’ll have the chance to see though, the predators too have co-ordinated their birthing times to coincide with the birth of their prey so their young have the highest chance of survival too. With thousands of baby wildebeest running around it is much easier for a mother lion, cheetah or leopard to find a meal for their hungry cubs as well as give them the opportunity to learn how to hunt for themselves.

All of these factors go to show that the timing and location of the calving season was purposefully selected in order to increase the chances of survival, both for prey and predator. The calving season is truly a remarkable time in East Africa and has so much to offer any safari-goer looking to see something other than the usual river crossing.

And the real winner? This is low season because there will be rain, so lodge prices are half the rack-rates; and air fares are reasonable. This is also known as the ‘emerald season’ because everything is green and fresh; the air is free from dust so the quality of photos is better, particularly panlow lodge prices make this an excellent time to be on safari.oramic shots. The drama of birthing, the interaction of predator and prey and the

Serengeti safari, emerald season Tanzania

Serengeti Elephants

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28

Feb 2018

THe longest cable car in the world

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, South America, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

It’s officially a record

The cable car system that crosses La Paz has been acknowledged as the world’s longest by Guinness World Records. The 30km long cable car system, clean and efficient, consists of 17 stations along five lines, and connects La Paz to El Alto metropolitan area. The electrically powered gondolas have built-in Wi-Fi and unmatched bird’s-eye views of fascinating La Paz below and the Andes Mountains all around. Now’s a great time to cross from Peru and Machu Picchu, across Lake Titicaca and explore La Paz, the highest capital in the world!

Explore La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz: probably not the world’s most beautiful city – but it has an amazing Voodoo Market!!

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28

Feb 2018

The State of Tigers in India

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

There is good news coming from Ranthambore National Park at the beginning of 2018.

Ranthambore has the highest number of tigers in its history with a population is 67, comprising 21 males, 20 females and a total of 26 cubs. Such a high population means you’re virtually guaranteed to spot one on a safari.

The tiger-carrying capacity of the park is being tested with this number of residents and there’s an increasing incidence of tigers straying out of the national park into adjoining areas. The solution is that The Forest Department has relocated three tigers to

other, near-by parks:-

* Mukundara National Park which is near Kota, 100 Km due south of Jaipur in Rajasthan, will receive two tigers.
* Sariska National Park, 60 Km NE of Jaipur, Rajasthan, lost all their tigers in 2005 to poaching. Ranthambore translocated tigresses ST-9 and 10 in 2013. Gradually the reserve population increased and today the tiger population is 13, with 7 females, 2 males and 4 cubs. A new tigresses was translocated in 2018.

Tiger safari India

Tiger B3 (rubbish name!) relaxing in Sal Forest

The habitat in Ranthambore and the other two reserves is similar; semi-arid tracts in the Aravali Hills. To maintain the uniqueness of genetic tiger stock in semi-arid areas the Ranthambore tigers will be a perfect match for the two neighbouring parks.

Magnificent tiger Ranthambore National Park. Tiger safari India

Magnificent tiger Ranthambore National Park

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