Learning the survival skills of the Masai doesn't mean having to leave luxury behind.
Learn bush skills from the Masai, pick a skiing venue or take the Orient Express
Life-changing is often an adjective used to describe ho-hum experiental holidays but days spent training with Masai warriors in Kenya might actually deserve the accolade. Guests dress in the traditional bright red shuka or shawl of the Masai people before venturing out into the bush with their Masai hosts-cum-trainers to try their luck at animal tracking, learning to use traditional weapons such as the bow and arrow, trapping prey and skinning animals. There is a four-day introductory course, a week-long survivor training course and a 12-day "full-training" session, during which you learn how to take care of livestock as well.
The idea behind Bush Adventures is for visitors to gain an understanding of the Masai's traditional, tribal way of life - but despite the fact that there is no electricity at the camp where you'll be staying, guests don't quite rough it. Accommodation is in "luxury" safari tents with hot showers and sit-down toilets. A chef is on hand to dish up three meals a day to keep you going and sundowners are served around the campfire. The camp itself is situated near a Masai homestead in the Il Ngwesi Community Conservancy, in northern Laikipia. The 16,500-hectare conservancy is owned and managed by the Laikipiak Masai.
Fun is promised, possibly sunburn and, best of all, mobile phone coverage is limited so you really do have to switch off from modern-day life. A seven-day trip, departing from the UAE on January 2, staying at the camp costs US$3,000 (Dh11,020) per person, including all food and beverages, and airport transfers but not international flights to Nairobi. To book, call 04 345 9900. For more information about the courses, visit www.bush-adventures.com.
Emirates Holidays has launched its 2009-2010 ski brochure that features 18 resorts and 72 hotels in eight countries, from Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France to Lebanon, the US, Canada and Dubai. Yes, Dubai. Those keen to try the slopes before investing in a ski holiday can buy an hour-long "discovery lesson" at Ski Dubai for US$46 (Dh169), or super skiers can queue to try the world's first indoor black run.
Somewhat further afield, trips to Zell Am See, in Austria, begin at $1,332 (Dh4,896) per person in twin accommodation for seven nights on a half-board basis, including return flights and taxes. Packages to Interlaken in Switzerland start from $1,199 (Dh4,407) per person in twin accommodation, including return flights, seven nights' accommodation, breakfast and taxes. If you don't want to ski but still like a dusting of snow, Innsbruck in Austria is featured in the brochure for the first time, offering visitors the choice of opting for culture and city life. From $1,069 (Dh3,927) per person for three nights' accommodation in twin accommodation at the Hilton Innsbruck, including return fares, breakfast, and taxes. All offers are valid from today, December 5, until April 10, 2010 (www.emirates-holidays.com).
Flydubai's expansion continues apace. Three weeks ago it began daily flights to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum; last week, the low-cost airline launched its first foray into the former Soviet Union, adding Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, to its ever-growing list of destinations; and next week, on December 13, it will be touching down in Bahrain. A return flight to the island costs from $130 (Dh475) including taxes.
And now another yet announcement: from December 15, Kathmandu in Nepal will become its first route to the East. The route will operate four times a week, leaving Dubai airport at 7am and arriving at 12.40pm in Kathmandu. Return fares cost from $267 (Dh980) including taxes. This will be the eleventh destination in flydubai's growing network which includes Beirut, Amman, Damascus and Aleppo, Alexandria, Djibouti and Doha. Flights can be booked online at www.flydubai.com, or via the call centre on 04 301 0800.
Citalia has a promotional offer for travel overnight from London to Venice aboard that grande dame of rail travel, the Orient Express. There is a saving of $828 (Dh3,042) on short breaks travelling out via the train, staying two nights in Venice and returning by air. The total cost of the break, after the discount is $2,698 (Dh9,913) per person. The offer is valid on some 20 specified departure dates from April to October next year but it is limited to five cabins per departure, so early booking is recommended. For details, visit the website at www.citalia.com.