x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Travel Deals: Get outdoors this summer

This summer, swim with humpback whales in Tonga, live like a Maasai in Kenya, enjoy the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands or set off to explore Sri Lanka by bike.

Whale Swim Adventures has a four-day trip to Tonga that offers visitors the opportunity to swim with humpback whales. Getty Images
Whale Swim Adventures has a four-day trip to Tonga that offers visitors the opportunity to swim with humpback whales. Getty Images


The Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific is the base for this paradise islands adventure, a nine-day "swim with the whales" tour by the New Zealand-based travel company Whale Swim Adventures. The trip gives visitors the opportunity to take to the waters with humpback whales - they migrate from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic to the warmer islands of Tonga, staying from early July until late October, before embarking on their 8,000km swim back to Antarctica.

You'll spend six days on the water in the middle of a whale nursery, go snorkelling in the coral reefs and explore nearby caves and islands. From AU$3,815 (Dh14,950) per person for nine days, including accommodation, most meals, transfers to Neiafu, six boat trips, guidance in the water with the whales, training in "whale encounters" and whale spotting, and the services of experienced instructors. International flights are not included. Departure August 14. Visit www.whaleswim.com or call 00 64 09 828 3469.

Sri Lanka

Compact and diverse, Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for a cycling holiday, with jungle reserves, ancient cities and vast tea plantations in the cool highlands to be explored. Travelling along the centuries-old King's Route, the journey begins in the ancient city of Sigiriya, famous for the Dambulla cave temple and the frescoes at Lion's Rock fortress, then on to the ruins of Polunnaruwa and through the foothills of the spice region. Next is Kandy, where you'll explore the Moorish town of Matale (don't forget to stop for freshly ground curry powder), sprawling botanical gardens and elaborate Buddhist temples. Then venture further south into Yala National Park, home to leopards, elephants and an abundance of birdlife, before cycling uphill through the lush tea estates of Nurawa Eliya in the central highlands. Descend 1,000 metres to the famous rock-cut Buddha images of Buduruvagela and, later, visit Kataragama Temple to watch an evening ceremony. The trip ends with a free day on the beaches of Sri Lanka's south coast.

The tour also includes a night in a small family-run guest house, a visit to a spice garden and a day in the fort city of Galle. From £1,019 (Dh6,000) per person for 15 days, including accommodation, most meals, local transport and all activities and entrance and park fees. Daily routes cover about 75km, so a moderate level of fitness is required. Visit www.exodus.co.uk or call 00 44 2086 755550 for details.

Ecuador and the Galapagos

This trip combines the colonial architecture of Quito and the indigenous cultures of the Andean highlands with four days of cruising around the Galapagos Islands on a yacht. Accommodation includes five-star hotels and a hacienda, the base for expeditions into the Andean cloud forests, colourful Indian markets, visits to small towns such as Caymbe, and a stop at a rose farm. The tour costs from US$7,700 (Dh28,200) per person, based on two sharing, and includes accommodation, breakfast and select meals, all internal air transfers and local transport. International flights are not included. Visit www.coxandkingsusa.com or call 00 1 800 999 1758.


Want an "Out of Africa" experience? Sign up with Bush Adventures, a Kenya-based travel company, for a sneak peek at the Maasai way of life in Il Ngwesi, North Kenya. From learning how to defend yourself in the bush to protecting your animals from predators, this comprehensive survivor camp provides one-on-one interaction with the Maasai, with plenty of adventure during the day and rest and relaxation after dusk. Among other things, you will also be taught to handle traditional Maasai weapons, practise wrestling techniques and track animals. You'll also get to dabble in traditional medicine, learning how to make natural remedies for common illnesses (colds, backache) as well as more serious ones, such as malaria. Included in the trip is an overnight camp in the bush with the Maasai.

From US$3,000 (Dh11,000) per person (minimum age is 18 years) for seven days. The price includes accommodation, meals and drinks, overnight camp in the bush, all activities in the programme and park and conservation fees. International flights are not included. Departure on August 24. Visit www.bush-adventures.com or call 00 254 2430 1095.