We talk to a couple of savvy travellers in our Escape issue to give us their guide for going off the beaten path. Here are some of their best advice!
Ferhat Nazri – Aziz, Head of Marketing & Public Relations, The Melium Group
Off the beaten path to: Seychelles and Mostar, Bosnia- Herzegovina
My most memorable trips travelling off the beaten path has got to be the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean and my trip to Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina. The fact that tourism is still in its infancy in these places is a big draw. You get to really experience the culture and the way they truly live. I love doing my research on the net and have it all written down in a dedicated Moleskin of which I bring along on these trips. I jot down places to visit, great food, local tips and things to do that are slightly off the beaten track and are less touristy. I love the whole process as it’s exciting for me.
If I could give you some tips on these two destinations, it would be that in the Seychelles it’s pretty easy to move around so you don’t need to rent a car. Avoid the main island of Mahe where the capital is and head to the beautiful island of Praslin and La Digue instead. Three things I would suggest you do when in the Seychelles:
- Swim in the world’s most beautiful beach called Anse Source d’Argent. It is a beautiful place and stay till sunset, trust me, it’s amazing.
- Rent a boat and go island hopping. Do not miss the giant tortoises of Curieuse island across from the island of Praslin. Hike through this exotic island, I had an amazing time! The boulders on the beaches of Curieuse is also stunning.
- Visit The Valle de Mai nature reserve and discover the beautiful palms of the Seychelles.
For Mostar, I suggest you do a day trip from Dubrovnik in Croatia. It takes around 2 hours to cross the border from Croatia to Bosnia Herzegovina. Accommodations are rather limited in Mostar and not much happens after sunset. It is however, perfect as a day trip from Dubrovnik.
A must do is to dive from the famous Stari Most bridge in Mostar and visit the town of Počitelj on the way to Mostar. The mosque in Počitelj is amazing and survived the war.
Clara Goh, Marketing and Communications Director, Southeast Asia FENDI
Off the beaten path to: Central Australia, the South American continent, India, Norway and the Arctic Circle
There have been quite a few random destinations I’ve found myself experiencing in awe, often made possible thanks to good fortune and the magical planning and opportunities made with my amazing mother and good friends. Here are some of these destinations in no particular order:
– Uluru and Kata Juta (Ayers Rock and the Olga’s in Central Australia).
– Cruising all along the South America continent from Rio de Janeiro to Chile, and through the icy Antarctic Peninsula.
– Different experiences in chaotic and addictive India: the incredible palpable energy in Rishikesh at an ashram by the Ganges, the madness of seat-hopping onboard a local train to Delhi, and the heart-stopping first sight of the ethereal gleaming Taj Mahal at dawn.
– Seeking a glimpse of the giant leatherback turtle in Tanjong Jara, Malaysia.
– Sailing on a coastal steamer through the fiords of Norway past the Arctic Circle in search of the Northern Lights, and speeding through icy grounds on a husky sleigh ride at Tromso.
Off the beaten path to: Khartoum in Sudan
To be honest, I’m not even sure what exotic means these days. We live in a globalised world that keeps shrinking as we connect in so many different ways that everywhere seems almost familiar and yet sometimes not. I could say the time-warped heritage towns of Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay or Luang Prabang in Laos, perhaps the charmingly bucolic life in the miniscule village of Kocourov in the Czech Republic. Quite honestly the summer I lived on a boathouse on the Grand Union Canal in not-remotely-exotic London was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. What could be more sweetly strange than living in Central London with swans swimming past your bedroom window, tapping the pane for some tea-time crumbs? Then also, watching a lioness and her cubs at a watering-hole from the safety of my tent-deck on the Madikwe Game Reserve bordering Botswana but then again, that may not be exotic if you’re a Tswana tribesman!
But, if I really had to pick…Khartoum, Sudan does spring to mind. I mean who goes there and what on earth does one do in Khartoum?!
Things to do:
Khartoum isn’t a pretty city by any stretch of the imagination. It’s dusty with apparently zero zoning or town-planning. There’s the odd strangely futuristic structure interspersed between endless charmless carbuncles. But you just need to scratch the surface a little. Draw back the ochre cotton drapes. Explore the local souks; their sights, sounds and smells will assail all your senses. From fresh herbs to woven baskets to carbohydrates deep-frying in lush liquid fat.
Eat at one of earthen-floor shacks along the riverbank. Where fishermen pull ‘Fresh Nile Fish’ out of the waters and deliver their catch straight to the kitchens. Tender white fish served on large communal platters where fingers rip into the accompanying warm bread and dip into sparkling salads.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, traipse across to the Sheep and Camel Market, where you pick your animal and your cuts, then sit on string beds as they cook up your lunch. All washed down with the local concoction of yoghurt and sprite mixed with a corn-based non-alcoholic beer. Yes, really! The absolute highlight on Fridays at dusk is the spectacle of Whirling Dervishes who congregate at the Mosque of Hamid al Nil. They whirl. And chant. And bless you with their frankincense and beads. A swelling throng of men, women and babies ~ all incandescent with rhythm and rocking. There is nothing like it. Then the sun sets and the trance is magically lifted. The faithful pray on mats laid out on bare earth. And then the needy are fed.
*All images credited to Ferhat Nazri, Clara Goh and Shireen Zainudin-Lowe