Luxury Travel to Ladakh with Black Tomato

Where to book in February 2020

Congratulations on surviving Dry January. Now it’s time to celebrate – with a little bit of travel.

Each month, we suggest an edit of our favourite on-trend destinations; places to book now regardless of whether you want to travel this week or months into the future. With each selection, we aim to keep things as diverse as possible; offering everything from laid-back tranquillity to hyperactive antics across the globe. With each destination, the actual contents are entirely up to you. Our Travel Experts are always on hand to discuss your travel needs, dreams and desires – crafting an itinerary that suits you (and your travelling companions) down to a ‘t’.

And so, in no particular order of importance (and with a huge shout out to our Travel Experts for making the recommendations), here is February’s edition of ‘Where to book now.’

Head to Italy to experience first hand the historic Regatta of the Maritime Republics

Yes, we’re forever going on about Italy – but you can take that as a measure of how much we adore it. While you can travel around the year, we’re big fans of an April – May trip through Tuscany and on to the Amalfi coast. For those who want to head out later in the year still, the summer crowds have all but departed by September (though there’s still plenty of warmth to be found).

This particular trip is high-end, intricately planned and designed to make the best of the April – May period; a time when visitor numbers are lower and the sights, sounds and smells are at their best. For those who’re keen to travel a little later, June offers up the Regatta of the Maritime Republics. This historic race (or palio) is a competition of eight-oared galleons held between crews from the cities of Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice. Held in a different city each year, 2020 is the turn of Amalfi. Running since 1956, this is a true slice of historic Italian culture – and a great opportunity to cheer on the ‘winged horse’ of Amalfi, the team’s figurehead. And never fear; we’ll make sure your hotel room is arranged and reservations for an exceptionally authentic restaurant are in the books (because you’ll need some time to dissect the relative strengths of each team’s ‘oar game’ in excruciating detail after the race has passed).

But why ‘do’ Italy with us? Because we’ve tried and tested each and every hotel; have close, personal relationships with the region’s best guides and local experts; and will arrange and plan every little detail – from transfers to lunch arrangements.

Read more: Our 10 night, Tuscany and Amalfi coast itinerary

Autumnal colours and a new menu as Japan finishes the harvest

October and November in Japan bring with them a beautiful blanket of autumnal Japanese foliage. This trip has been built around the annual harvest period, with an emphasis on tradition, authenticity and eating. We’ll arrange for restaurants with tasting menus and local delicacies that draw on seasonal ingredients while hooking you up with guided expert tours through the country’s many festivals.

But why ‘do’ Japan with us? We’ll offer you an exceptionally rare, guided tour around the famous Japanese Sword Museum; go behind-the-scenes at a legendary Sumo stable in Tokyo’s Ryogoku district; and arrange for a truly authentic Kyoto Geisha tea ceremony.

Read more: 12 nights of unique customs and timeless traditions

Embark on a passage to India’s Himalayan hideout, Ladakh

Both Summer and Autumn are extremely pleasant times of the year in the Himalayan foothills. Luxurious camps offer an opportunity to reconnect with your spiritual side and to immerse yourself in local communities, before embarking on a rejuvenating nomadic journey into the heart of the Himalayas. A perfect way to log off and disconnect, even if for a little while. For the final part of your itinerary, we’ll be driven to Shey and its Shakti village house on the banks of the Indus River. Here, you’ll enjoy a magnificent palace and views of the surrounding mountains from your private terrace. Enjoy a tour around the village, hearing interesting facts and local tales. Then, in the evening, a Buddhist monk will come by and share stories with you about the Buddhist way of life.

But why ‘do’ India with us? Accessing this hill-bound area – and the spiritual and nomadic communities who call it home – can pose a challenge to independent travellers. We’ve made the right inroads and preparations to ensure you have a deeply fulfilling and authentic time, punctuated with stays at some of the region’s most spectacular hotels (such as the enviable Imperial in Delhi).

Read more: A 12-night spiritual adventure into the ancient Buddhist Kingdom of Ladakh

Indus river winter

Soak up Thai New Year with an epic water fight

In April, Thailand celebrates the Songkran Water Festival – or Thai New Year. Songkran is the country’s most famous celebration and an important date in the Buddhist calendar. Meaning ‘passing’ or ‘approaching’ in Sanskrit, the festival’s most important element is the ritual throwing of water. Travellers should definitely prepare to get splashed, with crowds of people roaming around and (in a very jovial way) chucking water at each other (even using water pistols and buckets). Buddhists visit temples throughout Songkran, pouring water on Buddha images and on the hands of Buddhist monks as a mark of respect. Not only is it huge fun, but it’s also an incredibly immersive cultural experience – making it perfect for families.

But why ‘do’ Thailand with us? April can be an incredibly busy time of year because of the festivities. We’ll ensure you have your rooms and reservations guaranteed while offering a way to dry off the celebrations with a tropical island retreat of Trisara. Oh, this also happens to be one of the world’s best diving locations. There’s no escaping the water, it seems.

Read more: From Bangkok to Chang Mai and onto Phuket in 12 adventurous days

A sun-rise tour of Indonesia’s sacred Borobudur temples

Java, Bali and Lombok. They evoke such fascinating images, don’t they? With 17,000 total islands in Indonesia,* these three gems offer enough to last you a lifetime. But let’s try a couple of weeks instead. The real and genuine highlight has to be Borobudur temple – with a visit in the off-season guaranteeing easy evasion of the crowds (April – May and June – September are great for this). This particular temple is truly something to behold. Located on Java, it remains the world’s largest Buddhist monument – situated on a majestic, lush hilltop with a view over distant hills. With construction dating back to the 9th century and the region of the Syailendra dynasty the temple’s design utilizes Gupta architectural styles which evidence influences from distant India, though the temple is still a uniquely Indonesian cultural landmark. Covering some 123 x 123 meters, the temple is a true marvel of design – featuring some 504 statues and 2,672 decorative relief panels. No other temple can even match this. During the 1970s the Indonesian Government and UNESCO worked together to restore Borobudur to its former majesty. What better way to celebrate centuries of patient design, worship and love than to travel there this year?

But why ‘do’ Indonesia with us? The temple of Borobudur has much to tell us. We’ll arrange for a private guided viewing in time to catch the sun rising over the distant hills. Afterwards, you’ll saddle up and ride through the sleepy surrounding villages.

Read more: Ultimate Indonesia, 12 nights, 3 islands, one amazing adventure

Stand face to face with wild mountain gorilla’s

With Rwanda’s dry season falling between June – September, the summer months offer the perfect opportunity to take a Diane Fossey-inspired trek into the country’s stunning national parks – searching for the mountain gorillas who call this otherworldly place home. Scarce gorilla permits mean that early booking is a must. We’ll handle all of the logistics and details on your behalf while offering you a chance to spend time with the conservation teams who are doing so much to raise these amazing creature’s numbers higher.

But why ‘do’ Rwanda with us? To give your gorilla trek that added dimension, we’ll also arrange for you to go in the company of a local gorilla doctor, working as part of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, who can share their knowledge on gorilla behaviours and conservation.

Read more: An 8-day trip to meet the ancestors.

An adrenaline-packed summer in Costa Rica

Our Travel Experts are big on Costa Rica as the “perfect summer holiday destination” (their words, promise). Action-packed and as wild as you please, we’ll arrange a city to jungle adventure that takes in everything from the country’s charming, addictive capital San Jose before leading you through coffee and banana plantations (you can smell them from here) while setting up some surprises for the true adrenaline-junkies among you. This will including expeditions across the country’s volcano region, Arenal; canyoning adventures; and rainforest hikes. We’ll also set up a huge zip-line experience across Lake Arenal and Arenal volcano. For a bit of indulgence, we’ll pack you off head to the spa which sits high above the rainforest, where treatments are accompanied by the sounds of tropical bird song and calming water.

But why ‘do’ Costa Rica with us? Because we’ll set you up with rare rooms at Pacuare Lodge, a luxury retreat hidden away in a steep river gorge in the Talamanca Mountains. The best part? It’s only reachable by river raft.

Find out more: From the jungle to the beach in 12 days


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