Thursday, 26 August 2010

Kaziranga: Grassland Kingdom (National Geographic Magazine)

100 tigers, 2,000 one-horned rhinos, 1,800 wild buffalo … Kaziranga National Park is India's Grassland Kingdom

By Douglas Chadwick
Photograph by Steve Winter

Fewer than 200 were left in the north Indian state of Assam a century ago. Agriculture had taken over most of the fertile river valleys that the species depends on, and the survivors were under relentless assault by trophy hunters and poachers. Kaziranga was set aside in 1908 primarily to save the rhinos. It held maybe a dozen. But the reserve was expanded over the years, given national park status in 1974, and named a World Heritage site in 1985. During the late 1990s it grew again, doubling in size (although legal issues remain to be settled). Now Asia's premier rhino sanctuary and a reservoir for seeding other reserves, Kaziranga is the key to R. unicornis's future.

Read more on National Geographic Magazine website.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Serbian village celebrates 50th Trumpet Festival

A small village in western Serbia has been taken over by brass players attending the world's biggest trumpet festival.

The annual event takes place in Guca, and this year it is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Travel The Unknown will be running a special tour to Guca during the festival in 2011.

Watch the report on BBC News.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Guardian: Asia's new backpacking hotspots

21 August 2010

Much of South East Asia and India is a backpacker's superhighway, chocka' with travellers. But there are always places to discover off the beaten track.


Meghalaya, North East India

A short flight from Kolkata or a two-hour flight from Delhi lies the city of Guwahati, the gateway to little-known north-east India. Take a shared jeep to Shillong in neighbouring Meghalaya, dubbed the "Scotland of the East". Wander around the scenic hill station, then pack your umbrella and head to Cherrapunjee, officially one of the wettest places on Earth. Spend a day trekking down the valley to the remarkable living root bridges across streams, which the Khasi villagers have made from the roots of trees. Meander through picturesque hillside villages and lush green vegetation. This world straight out of Tolkien is perfectly do-able for people on all budgets.

Rahul Aggarwal, co-founder of adventure tour operator Travel The Unknown (

Read more on The Guardian website.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Lebanese capital gaining in popularity

Reported in Essential Travel (18 Aug '10)

After years of conflict, the Lebanese capital of Beirut is finally beginning to return to normal by attracting tourists again.

The city was known for a long time as the "Paris of the East", and still features a trendy bar scene and intriguing history, explained Travel The Unknown director Rahul Aggarwal.

Recent figures show that its hotels have reported a large rise in revenue per available room, which averaged £96.15 in the year to June 2010.

This is a steep increase over 2007 figures for the same period, which averaged £25.39 - the lowest point in the past five years.

Mr Aggarwal suggested that it was very positive news for a country that has found it difficult to overcome the stigma surrounding its name in recent years.

The expert noted how Lebanon has struggled to convince the world of its legitimacy as a tourist destination until now, thanks to the reputation it had as a warzone.

"Beirut is the arrival point for most travellers visiting the country and many who do visit are amazed to see how cosmopolitan the city is. It was known for a long time as the 'Paris of the East'," the expert added.

Rhino charge at Kaziranga!

Photographer Steve Winter of National Geographic joins an antipoaching patrol in India's Kaziranga National Park hoping to capture images from atop an elephant, but a nearby male rhino has other ideas.

Click here to watch the video.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

East India Company returns after 135 year absence!

An Indian entrepreneur is relaunching the famous East India Company with the opening of a luxury food store in London on Saturday. The event takes place on the same day that - more than 135 years ago - the company was dissolved.

At the height of its power, the East India Company controlled large parts of India with its own armed forces. But it was disbanded after soldiers of the company's own army rose in revolt against the British in 1857.
Read more on BBC.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Ladakh Flood Disaster

Ladakh - one of the most beautiful and remote parts of India, nestled in the Himalayas - has been hit by freak flash floods. Leh, the capital, has been declared a disaster zone and many villages have been wiped out by flood water and landslides. The situation is still critical with almost 200 dead and many still missing.

We are pleased to say that none of our group or support team were injured and we were able to put them on the first flight to Delhi as soon as flights had resumed. We have currently suspended our tours here until the region is safe to return to. The Ladakhis are strong, honest and humble people, and we wish them a speedy recovery from this horrific natural disaster. We will be sending a link shortly for donations to a NGO helping with relief work.

Click here to read the latest from BBC.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Former soldier completes Amazon trek

A Leicestershire man has completed a 4,000-mile (6,400 km) trek along the length of the Amazon.

Former soldier Ed Stafford dodged vipers, electric eels, and was wrongly accused of murder during his epic journey, which began in April 2008.

The 34-year-old, of Mowsley, walked from Peru to the coast of Brazil.

A spokeswoman for Mr Stafford said he had become the first person to have walked the entire length of the South American river.

Read more on BBC here.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

A new Colombia as Uribe bows out: bequeathing a different country

President Alvaro Uribe may go down as one of Colombia's greatest presidents, with his policies for tackling guerrillas and drug-traffickers now a permanent fixture in the country.

"We were on the point of being a failed state," said Maria Victoria Llorente of the think tank Fundacion Ideas para La Paz."There was only one item on the political agenda and that was the rebels and security. He was the man for the job."

More from BBC News

Monday, 2 August 2010

Cheetah to run again in India!

India will be the only country in the world to host 6 of the world's 8 largest cats ...

The cheetah, eradicated in India by hunting nearly a century ago, will run again in the country, as three sites are earmarked for its reintroduction.

The government has approved wildlife groups' recommendations of two sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh and an area in Rajasthan as potential homes.

The government will spend 30m rupees ($0.6m; £0.4m) to restore these sites before the animals are imported.

The plan is to import the cats from Africa, Iran and the Middle East.

Kuno Palpur and Nauradehi wildlife sanctuaries in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and Shahgarh area in Jaisalmer, in the northern state of Rajasthan, have been selected as the sites to house the animals.

Read rest of article here on BBC.