Three Itineraries for an Inspirational Christmas
Getting every member of your family together is one of the joys of Christmas and New Year, but for many families who are geographically spread across the world, often ‘home’ is not the perfect place for everyone to gather and celebrate. And with the stress of entertaining and cooking eroding enjoyment, increasingly people are choosing to jet away for a spectacular Christmas and New Year break instead.
As such, availability has become an issue. Christmas is the time of year you should not have to compromise, and with this is mind we urge our clients to book well ahead to avoid disappointment.
Planning well ahead ensures that you get the very best out of your precious Christmas holiday. Not only does it mean that those special smaller places to stay will have availability, but also that we can secure our favourite in-demand guides who really bring destinations to life through their depth of knowledge and passion.
Here we have highlighted three inspirational Christmas and New Year trips we have created for clients this year.
AN END OF YEAR EXPLORATION OF ARGENTINE AND CHILEAN PATAGONIA
An exploration down to Chilean and Argentine Patagonia is a truly epic Christmas or New Year trip for active clients. To experience the absolute best of ethereal Patagonia, we favour small, intimate properties which book up quickly around the holidays.
Start by exploring vibrant Buenos Aires with one of our specialist guides who can show you a side of BA so many don’t see. Enjoy an evening spent at secret speakeasy bars or traditional tango clubs which only the locals know about. We can also arrange for an afternoon exploring the capital’s thrilling street food scene, where you can sample the best empanadas in the city and the finest steak – a little more exciting than Christmas leftovers.
Next it is time to delve into Argentine Patagonia. The charming lodge Aguas Arribas, which can only be reached by boat or a stunning three-hour trek, offers the chance for you to be phone and internet free, so that you can truly switch off and enjoy the peaceful and romantic surroundings.
There is a fantastic guided hike from the lodge which takes in sights such as “the enchanted wood”, a beautiful area of tall twisty trees. On this trail, there are several viewpoints with benches so you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea and slice of cake, which the guide will have brought along for you.
So that you can make the most of the exhilarating hiking trails, we recommend another couple of nights at a cosy guest house Hosteria Senderos, which is the perfect starting point for a trek towards the stunning Mount Torre. After a 45-minute climb, you reach a mystical old lagoon, where vegetation has started to re-grow. Wander a little further and you’ll be rewarded with views of stunning glaciers, truly the stuff of fairy tales.
It is now time to cross over into Chilean Patagonia for all-out luxury amongst the breath-taking scenery. After a stunning drive across the border you will be driven to the Awasi Patagonia in the Torres Del Paine National Park, perhaps the most beautiful National Park in the world.
At Awasi, all of the 12 beautifully furnished villas have wooden hot tubs outside and floor to ceiling windows with views over the vast Sarmiento Lake, but most importantly each room comes with its own private guide to help guests navigate the rugged surrounding countryside. The food is also impeccable, with king crab and other boat-fresh Chilean seafood; a welcome indulgence after a day’s exploring.
To see a slightly different side of Chilean Patagonia, we recommend a further two nights at The Singular, which lies an hour’s drive outside of the Torres Del Paine National Park, near Puerto Natales. This quirky hotel is an old converted factory and is reached via a renovated funicular lift that stops just outside the reception. As a contrast to Chile’s modern design hotels, we like the way that The Singular connects you to its history. Days at The Singular can be spent either biking or hiking through the rugged nearby trails or aboard the hotel’s 16-passenger motorboat exploring nearby glaciers.
Now that you have truly explored Patagonia in all its glory we recommend a final night in the city of Santiago, before your flight. Here, we can recommend some of the best restaurants in the city, where you can spend the evening looking back on your spectacular journey.
A FAMILY CHRISTMAS IN KENYA
For a multi-generational, once-in-a-lifetime family Christmas, we heartily recommend a specialist safari in Kenya. With its incredible array of landscapes, unique geographical features, and abundant wildlife it is the perfect choice for first-timers, but also for the seasoned safari-goers among you.
To make the trip extra-special, we can arrange for an exclusive, in-demand guide such as Calvin Cottar to accompany you throughout your time in Kenya. On arrival in Nairobi, you will be met by Calvin and driven to Hemingways, the stunning colonial-style hotel to relax before your safari adventure.
After a good’s night sleep, it is time to begin your journey into the bush. Fly by private charter to Cottar’s airstrip in the Masai Mara. This expanse of grassland is home to an incredibly rich variety of wildlife. The Mara River is the lifeblood of the reserve, and helps to attract the fantastic game that the area is so famous for. The abundant wildlife and gentle rolling grasslands ensure that animals are never out of site. It is also a haven for keen birders. Cottar’s private house has prime position in the Mara, with breath-taking views across the savannah plains.
With a large family you can take the house exclusively, which comes with a staff of 8 and a game drive vehicle so that you can go into the bush whenever you like. When relaxing at the house you can enjoy the swimming pool or complimentary massages. Each day will be tailored to you but guests can enjoy privately guided game drives, night game drives, bush walks and fishing.
On Christmas Day itself, we will arrange extra-special celebrations. In the morning you will be woken up early for a hot air balloon trip over the plains. You will be up in the air as the sun rises to make the most of the wonderful early morning light. This is also the best time for seeing some wildlife which is most active in the cooler part of the day.
After coming back down to earth you will then enjoy a wonderful champagne breakfast on the ground out in the middle of the bush.
You will then be flown by private charter to Segera Retreat in the beautiful Laikipia Plateau for a Christmas BBQ lunch by the pool – which may well be a little more relaxing than dealing with the turkey at home.
Spend the afternoon settling into your new home. Segera is nestled in the foothills of Mount Kenya just 20km north of the Equator. It’s timber and thatched villas are raised on wooden decks with spacious bedrooms, outside lounges with swing beds and decks overlooking the African savannah.
In the evening you will be treated to a full Christmas feast in the stables, which will bring the best parts of celebrating at home to the bush, but without one iota of stress.
The next few days will be spent exploring the area around Segera. Its 50,000 acres are part of an important migratory corridor and are home to a wide array of wildlife from leopards to elephants and endless plains game. Here there is no timetable and days can be spent exactly how you choose. As well as game drives, the more adventurous you can also head off to explore on foot enjoying a bush picnic in a shady spot. The lodge is designed to delight your every interest from game viewing to culinary journeys and taking part in local conservation projects. Alongside this there is also a fantastic wellness centre and SPA where you can relax after exiting days in the bush.
Exhilarating, relaxing, indulgent, but still close to nature, this trip forms the basis of the ultimate family Christmas.
A DIFFERENT DECEMBER IN SRI LANKA
With its rich culture, wonderful cuisine, ancient ruins, lush scenery and golden beaches, Sri Lanka offers great diversity for such a compact country. The teardrop island is a perfect choice for those who want to do something different for the holidays. December is a great time of year to visit the country as you should have warm sunny days.
Begin your journey with a night in Colombo at the luxurious boutique hotel, Tintagel, which is set in a century-old presidential mansion. After you’ve settled in, we can arrange dinner at a fun local restaurant, Botanic, where you can toast to the beginning of your extraordinary holiday.
Next, it is time to begin your journey towards the Cultural Triangle, in the heart of the country, where you can immerse yourself in culture, history and nature. We recommend Ulagalla Resort, which is located in a village in the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura. It is a historic mansion which has been transformed into a place that combines tradition with great comforts. The views of lush paddy fields and reservoirs provide a wonderful feeling of privacy. Each chalet is spacious, comfortable and has a private jacuzzi and decking area. Whilst here, you can enjoy a number of activities including horse riding, kayaking, archery and canoeing.
We can also arrange a trip to Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is for many the highlight of a visit to the Cultural Triangle. built in 5th century AD by King Kasyapa, who murdered his father, Dhatusena, and claimed the thrown for himself, the story of the fortress is draped in mystery and drama and is a fascinating place to explore.
After a rich experience in the cultural triangle, your next destination is the laidback town of Kandy. En route, you will visit a traditional working spice and fruit farm, nestled in a rural village in Matale. At the farm, you will be greeted by the planter who will take you on a scenic walk through the plantations followed by a delicious home cooked lunch.
From there, you will be driven to your hotel, The Kandy House. Set in a spice estate of rolling hills on the edge of the city, it is the perfect base for exploring Kandy: the last capital of the ancient kings’ of Sri Lanka and for trekking in the magnificent Knuckles mountain range.
After two nights in Kandy, it is time to travel to the tea country, via a colourful train. This journey by rail is a thrilling experience. You will be travelling through some of the most beautiful parts of the country, passing local villages, tea plantations and rising higher into the hill country.
Spend a day exploring the stunning local scenery on foot or on mountain bike, taking a picnic with you. Alternatively, you can visit a tea factory with your guide, go white water rafting or spend a day relaxing at your hotel, Tea Trails, Norwood. A luxurious five suite property, it is reminiscent of a 60’s tropical bungalow.
Next it is time to see yet another different side to Sri Lanka with a stay at Yala National Park. See some of the best wildlife in the whole of Sri Lanka and observe wild elephant and a great variety of bird species. One of the places to stay that we recommend is the unspoilt Chena Huts, which is well off the beaten track, but still close to the park entrance.
Your final stop on this diverse winter journey will be the fortress city of Galle, which is full of colonial charm. Your home here will be Amangalla, which combines Amanresorts’ famous service with great history, as the hotel occupies a collection of buildings, some of which are over 400 years old.
While in Galle, you can be taken on a fascinating guided walk through the historic 17th Century Dutch Fort. exploring the intricate maze of narrow cobblestone paved roads lined with colonial period buildings and old merchant houses, where generations of Moorish families still live and work. You can also see the beautiful churches from the same period and the delicate marble-white lighthouse and museums. Of course, you can also choose to explore some of the city’s charming shops.
From the Cultural Triangle and the Tea Country, to Yala National Park and Galle, this journey through Sri Lanka takes in so many different elements of this fascinating country. This type of trip is for those who want to delve into a new culture and experience totally new this Christmas and New Year.