x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Travel Deals: Tours to take while taking your time

Spend 21 days seeing China, and other upcoming package tours to Kashmir, Nepa and Peru.

A tower on the north-west corner of the Forbidden City in Beijing, just one of the sights included in a 21-day tour of China. Nelson Ching / Bloomberg News
A tower on the north-west corner of the Forbidden City in Beijing, just one of the sights included in a 21-day tour of China. Nelson Ching / Bloomberg News

Nepal

The Himalayan state of Nepal is the setting for this classic "Abode of the Gods" tour from Bales Worldwide. The 12-day trip takes in Kathmandu, and the heritage sites of the old city before flying on to the mountain landscapes around Pokhara for a late afternoon boat trip on Lake Phewa, an area home to leopard, Bengal fox and barking deer, as well as more than 100 species of birds. Day seven takes in the jungles of the Royal Chitwan National Park, situated amongst the subtropical lowlands of the Terai in the southern central region, for an elephant-back safari at the eco-friendly Machan Wildlife Resort.

Covered in Sal forests and grassland, the park is home to some 50 species of mammals including tiger and rhino, and 55 different varieties of reptiles. Expect to see buffalo, sloths, leopards, marsh mugger crocodiles and some of the park's 500 species of birds, including kingfisher, peacock, Indian roller and eagles on Jeep and boat excursions. The real highlight of the holiday - weather permitting - is an hour-long flight over Mount Everest with a guaranteed window seat to ensure the best views of the mighty Himalayas.

The small-group tour costs £1,315 (Dh7,827) per person, land only, including the services of a local guide, air-conditioned transport, entrance fees and tipping, and some meals. Tours depart in October and November; to book, visit www.balesworldwide.com.

 

Kashmir, India

The contested Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is the location of this eight-day Cox & Kings tour which takes in some of the state's most important sights. Starting in Pahalgam, a quiet mountain resort by the River Lidder, there is the chance to enjoy a pony ride or river walk, or simply soak up the peace and quiet and enjoy the clean mountain air. The next day, take in the Awantiswarmi ruins, a ninth-century temple dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu at Awantipora, just outside Srinagar, where you'll check into a houseboat before visiting the temple of Shankaracharya and the famous Mughal Gardens. Here you'll also enjoy a quiet ride on one of the traditional wooden rowing boats known as shikara on Lake Dal. There are also excursions to Sonmarg and Gulmarg before departing for Katra for a day-long 14km-trek to Vaishno Devi Mandir, a shrine.

The tour costs from Dh1,985 per person based on two sharing, on a breakfast-only basis except aboard the houseboat which is inclusive of all meals. Price includes transfers and some sightseeing but does not include international flights. For further information and bookings visit www.coxandkings.ae or call 05 357 2628.

 

China

If time is on your side, enjoy this 21-day tour of China, taking in some of the country's most iconic sights, from the majestic splendour of Beijing to the electric atmosphere of Hong Kong with pandas, rivers and rainforests in between. The trip starts in the capital, taking three days to visit some of its greatest landmarks including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and a walk along a section of the Great Wall; moving on to Xi'an, an ancient imperial capital and home of the Terracotta Warriors, with dinner in the Muslim quarter and a chance to visit the Great Mosque.

The second week takes in the home of spicy Sichuan cuisine, in the region's capital, Chengdu, where you'll visit a giant panda reserve and marvel at the world's largest carved stone Buddha at Leshan - a taster of the next leg of the tour, which takes you to Emei Shan, one of that religion's most famous sites and an area of great natural beauty thanks to its subtropical rainforest. Next, take the time to rest on a five-day cruise of the Yangzi River enjoying the dramatic scenery of the Three Gorges before getting in the saddle in Yangshuo for a bike tour of the idyllic countryside. Hong Kong is the climax of this holiday, providing a serious change of pace with its skyscrapers and bustle. Visit nearby beaches, go shopping or take a tram up Victoria Peak for views over the harbour.

The small-group tour costs from £1,740 (Dh10,357) per person, including accommodation, local transport, and most meals but not including international flights. Intrepid Travel is the tour operator, booked through www.responsibletravel.com. Book by June 30 to receive a 20 per cent discount on trips taken in July; 15 per cent off when departing in August or September; and 10 per cent off when departing from October to December.

 

Peru

Join writer and photographer Peter Frost on a luxury Aracari tour through Peru, taking in Lima, Cusco and Macchu Pichu, from August 15 to 22. Highlights include: lectures by Frost; a ride to the country' s most famous archaeological site on the Harry Bingham Orient-Express train before checking into the Macchu Pichu Sanctuary Lodge with privileged access to the ancient ruins in the morning and evening; demonstrations of folk culture; a tour of the ruins of Ollantaytambo; and, a picnic at the temple ruins of Sacsayhuaman. The eight-day, small-group tour costs US$5,218 (Dh19,165) per person, land only. For more information, visit www.aracari.com or call, 00 511 651 2424.

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