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Travel: a ride to Nepal’s Upper Mustang

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I’m on a six-lane highway from Pokhara, Nepal, and the Royal Enfield Himalayan I’m driving harmonises with the smooth tarmac. My passengers and I rush along at 70 km/h and I even have time to look at the cotton clouds in the blue sky. “It’s easy and hassle free,” I think. “At this rate I’ll be in Kalopani in less than three hours – 125 km away and at the overnight stop.”

Little did I know that we wouldn’t stay on the fast Pokhara-Balung Highway the whole way. About 68 km further, at Maldhunga, there is a fork. I look longingly to the left, where the same silky black ribbon continues. My path takes me to the right, along the Maldhunga-Beni ‘road’, with a surface that looks more like the jute twine used to tie bamboo scaffolding.

It’s late May and I’m in Nepal on a drive to Upper Mustang where Tibetan Buddhist culture and tradition is still practiced. The region was isolated for decades and getting there is still not for the faint of heart.

If I’ve ridden 5km, I’m way out of my comfort zone. The road is a rock-strewn mud track, and last week’s rain has left puddles that soak my shoes. The town of Beni is only 16 km from the fork in the road, but it takes me almost two hours to get there. This excuse of a road runs along the Kali Gandaki river. At Beni I cross a bridge and hit slush. It grabs the front wheel and the next thing I know I’m lying face down in the mush. I get my bike out of the mud and keep going. Over the next few kilometers, clumps of mud fly from the handlebars onto my helmet.

The road rises high above the river and meanders along the mountainsides. The scenery is spectacular but I have a lot of work to keep the bike upright as there is gravel, loamy mud, water crossings and sometimes the risk of landslides. I find the Himalaya balances best when I’m standing on the footpegs and shooting it over irregularities. My whole world right now is the motorcycle and the road ahead. It has a meditative effect in a strangely pleasant way.

The Tiji Festival is a three-day celebration.

The Tiji Festival is a three-day celebration.
(Rishad Sam Mehta)

When I reach the Kalopani guesthouse, my fellow passengers say that I look wiped out. But actually I feel calm and relaxed. It took me six hours to get there and each hour challenged my skills and wits. The views of Kalopani are said to be spectacular, with Annapurna peak dominating the skyline, but the dark clouds block the view.

The next morning it’s raining and I brace myself for a tougher ride as the wet gravel is slippery from the slush. We stop at Marpha where the locals sell petrol in barrels. The price is Nepalese 200 per liter. This means translated 125; the measure of a liter is an empty water bottle. After five bottles have emptied into my tank, I continue.

Kagbeni, 20 km from Marpha and past Jomsom, is the end of the road according to Google Maps. In less than 48 hours I rode from Pokhara, which is at 2,697 feet, to Jomsom at 9,000 feet. But Google Maps was wrong – there is a track that leads towards Lo Manthang in the Upper Mustang region.

It is a barely navigable route that runs high above the Kali Gandaki River alongside the highest gorge in the world. I stay as close to the mountain as possible. But sometimes the corners are so tricky and the mud so treacherous that the bike inevitably slides towards the edge.

Kagbeni is the gateway to the Upper Mustang region and the landscape changes abruptly. Until I drive to Chhusang, 10 km from Kagbeni, and stop at a dhaba At lunch I notice that the rain has gone. Likewise the vegetation. We are now in a rain shadow area. The landscape is rocky and barren, formed in the Ice Age and is still being minutely sculpted by wind erosion. It is reminiscent of Zanskar in Ladakh.

We are still about 30 km from Lo Manthang, the former capital of the ancient kingdom of Lo. The ride gets more challenging as I ride through what is commonly called quit, very fine sand. I can’t take my eyes off the road for even a moment. But the scenery is so stunning that I often park the bike to admire it and take a few photos before heading out again.

Get a grip quit takes some time, and by the time I see the walled city of Lo Manthang in the distance, I’ve figured out the technique. You’ll need to keep the throttle steady and ride with a relaxed grip on the handlebars to weave the bike through the fine sand.

We spend three days in Lo Manthang. The three-day Tiji Spring Festival, usually held from May to June depending on the Buddhist calendar, takes place. Also known as “The Liberation of the Demons”, it is the story of a deity, Dorje Jono, who wages war against his father (a demon) to save the kingdom of Mustang from annihilation. The father wreaks havoc on Mustang by causing water shortages – the most precious resource in this arid land. Dorje Jono finally succeeds.

Featuring a variety of plays, colorful costumes, music and dance, this re-enactment has attracted travellers. We spend time downtown, where there are a number of cafes serving cappuccinos and americanos, and restaurants serving steamed or stir-fried momos and chilli beef with fiery red chutney.

There are souvenir and artifact shops; The fossil camps are the most fascinating for me. The region around Kagbeni was a sea before continental drift and collision millions of years ago crumpled it into a mountain range, so there are rocks with ammonites to be found. Ammonites are shelled cephalopods that became extinct about 66 million years ago.

On the way to Lo Manthang.

On the way to Lo Manthang.
(Rishad Sam Mehta)

As we head back after three nights in Lo, I feel refreshed and more confident on the bike. The return trip is divided into small sections, so what I did in two days I’ll do in four. The first overnight stay is in Samar, a small village with charming private accommodation just 40 km from Lo. Samar remains the nicest place we stayed at on the entire trip. There I get my first glimpse of the majestic Annapurna.

The next night stop is Marpha, 55 km from Samar. Between Samar and Marpha we drive through Kagbeni again and this time it is stress free because it doesn’t rain and we have plenty of time. We stop at Yakdonalds – no typo – named for its yak meat burgers. They are delicious and the Happy Meal comes with healthy sea buckthorn juice.

Two days later we reach Pokhara after traveling about 650 km. There is a sense of gratitude for a great ride and anticipation because Pokhara, the city where everyone and everyone returns after tough hikes or scaling snowy peaks, really knows how to throw a party. Now that the riding is over, I look forward to live performances by local talent, soul-satisfying food and fine Nepalese whisky.

How to get there: There were always footprints for Upper Mustang and Lo Manthang. The only way to get there used to be by hiking from Pokhara. Then came the navigable roads to Jomsom; now there are flights from Pokhara to Jomsom. From there, it’s another five-day trek to Lo Manthang if you choose to walk.

Road construction is underway and the asphalt is slowly and steadily creeping closer to Lo Manthang. Currently, the road behind Jomsom is almost impassable and only suitable for 4×4 vehicles.

How to proceed: Wild Adventures Nepal (wildadventurenepal.com) organizes guided tours. Royal Enfield can organize trips to Mustang for a fee, including motorbike and logistics.

Costs: Upper Mustang, beyond Kagbeni, costs $500 (approx 40,000) for 10 days and $50 per day thereafter.

Rishad Saam Mehta is a travel writer and photographer.

Also read: Travel: Rest and restart at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary



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How to make the most of your travel advertising post-Covid: Best Media Info

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How to make the most of your travel advertising post-Covid


You can’t stop looking at those conference announcements, but if you’re anything like your travel agency’s marketing team, you don’t know what to think. You want to know what it all means, but that can be difficult when all the industry jargon and buzzwords are flying around. Fortunately, we’re here to break it down for you in our guide to making the most of your post-Covid travel promotion.

Reassure customers with your message

messaging is important to assure customers that you will do everything you can to satisfy them. For example, a sample message might look like this: We want you, our valued customer, to have confidence in our business and in what we do. We take every possible measure to ensure you travel safely when you travel with us. Our customers are our priority and we will continue to take care of them by providing informative updates on the matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do for you.

Get creative with your channels

Tours and safaris are a big deal, with destinations like Africa, Asia and South America being a mainstay. But recently, self-drive tours have caught on in Europe and North America. Self drive tours in Iceland offer people the opportunity to explore countries like Iceland on their own terms. With a few designated highways or scenic routes, you can decide which area best suits your needs.

Leverage user-generated content

If you andSer Generated Contentconsider these four tips:

  • Define your niche – who is your typical traveller?
  • Establish a consistent content creation schedule – when do you publish new blog posts?
  • Leverage partnerships with influencers and experts in your industry – what do they have that you don’t have?
  • Interact with customers on social media – how can you address them with your brand’s voice?

Take advantage of offers and discounts

Post Covid, many travel agents are looking for ways to get back on their feet. One way you can use this time as an advantage is by using it Offers and discounts offered in the travel industry. For example, you can take advantage of Groupon’s vacation deals or Airbnb’s weekly deals. This makes your company more attractive and up-to-date in a competitive market. It can also attract new customers because they know they won’t have to pay full price. You can also offer your own discount or deal via social media like Facebook or Twitter promotions for 10% off purchases within the next two weeks.

Invest in SEO

Investing in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can help you get more exposure to your website so more people can find you when they search for a travel company. First, make sure your site is mobile-responsive and can be easily crawled by Google. Next, create compelling content that includes a variety of keywords and links to other pages on your site. That way, Google knows what your site is about and can rank you higher in search results.

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Finest Luxury Resorts With Outstanding Hospitality In Dubai

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One of the largest cities in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is home to some of the largest buildings ever created. New structures are added to the city almost daily, changing its appearance. It is very amazing to see how an abandoned area has developed with an abundance of huge bricks. The city has gained a reputation as a center for conducting business as well as a popular holiday destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. How else do you want to describe this metropolis if you have several names to name it? It’s a retail mecca, a honeymoon destination, a day trip destination and an entertainment hotspot, and it has an unforgettable nightlife. Known for the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Islands, its history and tranquil sand dunes, the city of Dubai attracts visitors from all over the world looking to experience its unique culture and way of life.

All of the world’s most prominent luxury hotel chains have facilities in Dubai, some of which own multiple properties. Palm Jumeirah is home to many opulent beach resorts that offer luxurious accommodations, a variety of dining options, and a plethora of water and beach activities. If you want to add something extra special to your vacation, book a trip to one of these luxurious resorts in Dubai. These resorts offer the ideal retreat from the monotonous routine of our everyday life by offering you a truly royal experience that represents the city’s upscale ambience. Here you can partake in a variety of activities, including snapping photos that will drive your Instagram followers crazy, enjoying exquisite meals, and embarking on exotic adventures.

Dubai’s best resorts with outstanding hospitality

  • Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah: The Burj Al Arab, one of the most luxurious 5 star hotels Dubai hotels, is considered the most opulent hotel in the world and is also considered the only 7-star hotel in the world. Not only known for its stunning, sailing-inspired design, the opulent resort is also located near Jumeirah Beach on a small peninsula just offshore. The massive structure contains 201 duplex apartments and the tallest atrium in the world. Each of these lavishly appointed suites features a private butler, Hermes bath products, a Jacuzzi and a choice of 9 pillow types.

Image resource: unsplash.com

  • Atlantis, the palm tree: Possibly the largest beachfront resort in the world, the gargantuan Atlantis, The Palm sits at the top of the Palm Jumeirah project and overlooks the Arabian Gulf from its recognizable central open space. It resembles a huge brown palace that acts as a gateway to Dubai. With options like Signature Suites, which have glass-walled underwater suites that look through one of the resort’s aquariums, the accommodations here are absolutely amazing. The renowned Royal Bridge Suite, one of the finest and most opulent in Dubai, sits above the hotel’s vast open space.
  • Four Seasons Resort, Jumeirah Beach: On Jumeirah Beach on the Arabian Gulf, the sumptuous Four Seasons Resort Dubai offers a true five-star experience. Some of the hotel’s rooms and suites, located near Jumeirah Beach, have views of the ocean and some of the city skyline, while other rooms have views of the resort itself. Each has a furnished balcony and luxurious marble bathrooms that feel like they’re at the spa. Families can enjoy a variety of services and activities at the resort, and the free Children for All Seasons program offers all-day supervised activities. In addition, families staying at the resort receive four passes to Dubai’s amusement and theme parks.
  • Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah: The Waldorf Dubai is located in the middle right of the Palm Jumeirah. All suites and most guest rooms offer sea views and some suites overlook the Arabian Gulf while others offer views over the water of Jumeirah Beach Residence or the downtown Dubai skyline. The suites and rooms are huge, larger than most Palm hotels, and the marble bathrooms are just as large. The Waldorf’s extensive, 200-metre-long private beach offers a variety of opportunities for relaxation and water fun.
  • Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai: This opulent beach resort is located in Jumeira, a recently built beach resort just north of the Jumeirah Beach Due to its location on a peninsula, you have a view of the sea and the skyline of Dubai on the opposite side. Modern and opulent, rooms and suites have amenities like spa-like marble bathrooms and oak-paneled entrances. Some of them have furnished balconies from which you can enjoy views of the sea or the Burj Khalifa.
  • Bulgari Resort Dubai: The Bulgari Resort in Dubai is the ideal place to stay if you are looking for a seaside resort with a yacht club. The resort is located in the newly created Jumeira Bay area, close to Jumeirah Beach, on Jumeira Bay Island. The resort is the pinnacle of luxury and one of only a handful owned by Italian jeweler “Bulgari” in the world. There’s no need to queue in a lobby, as the experience begins with in-room check-in. There are rooms, suites, and villas, ranging from opulent hotel rooms to villas that resemble mansions. Villas have features like outdoor hot tubs and private pools.
  • Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai: This resort is exceptional if you are looking for first class accommodation. The rooms offer a clear and beautiful view of the Arabian Gulf as the hotel is close to the beach. The lush grassland and white sands of the beach are the ideal complement to this award-winning hotel. Your heart and mind will settle just by strolling through its expanse. With 13 on-site restaurants, they have a full range of amenities to meet your every need. They offer a wide range of cuisines including Mexican, Italian, Continental and Arabic. You will love the food and the courteous service. At its secluded beach, you can also take part in some water sports, including kayaking, water skiing, banana boat trips, etc.

In addition to the above resorts, there are several resorts in the city where families can enjoy themselves. That concludes our list of top resorts in Dubai. In addition, Dubai has some desert resorts that represent an opulent version of a nomadic lifestyle. So choose your preferred option, make your reservation and catch the next flight to Dubai.



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The LLM Readers’ Travel Awards hits another successful year, the results are in

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bigstock-Luxury-Bora-Bora-resort-hotel--303797701


After a difficult few years for the travel and hospitality industry, 2022 has seen a resurgence in the search for luxury destinations abroad, and with renewed vigor for travel on home soil, it seems avid travelers are once again enjoying the best of both worlds.

As another year comes to an end with a bang, we at LLM are celebrating another successful awards season. 2022 marks our fifth year of highlighting the best in travel, from the best hotels around the world to premium airlines, cruise lines, destinations and tour operators.

With the sole aim of showcasing the best in their industry and providing positive publicity for those businesses and destinations, we can safely say we’ve achieved this again. Our readers love to dream and travel, and they voted by the thousands – (more than 31,000) – to give their opinion from the carefully curated shortlist of options.

View of the Burj Al Arab Hotel from Jumeirah Beach
2022 marks our fifth year of highlighting the best in travel, from the best hotels around the world to premium airlines, cruise lines, destinations and tour operators. Credit: Checco/Bigstock.com

So the results are in and this year we can safely say that the winners of each category deserved their place. You will find the full list of winners here, but we’ve rounded up some of the standout winners below. As our Editor-in-Chief Nick Gibbens commented, “We are thrilled to be able to re-launch our awards and recognize the best of the best in the industry. Hopefully, these results will encourage travelers to seek out these premium picks for their next luxury vacation.

“Our discerning and dedicated readers have spoken, and we are immensely grateful to everyone who took it upon themselves to lend their support behind each and every one of our shortlisted hotels, destinations, cruise lines, airlines, airports, tour operators and… Throw travel sites .

“The travel industry is big and employs so many people who work tirelessly to promote destinations and provide the very best service and experiences for those who love to travel, explore and relax in a variety of exquisite settings. Hopefully we can give back to those in the industry, albeit in a small way, and send our support out there as well.

“Thank you to those who took the time to apply, to those who voted, to our award contributors, and we wish everyone in the industry the very best, especially those who are just starting out or have recently made theirs doors have opened again.”

Luxury resort vacation destination idyllic overater bungalow villa woman relaxing by infinity pool
Our readers love to dream and travel, and they voted by the thousands – (more than 31,000) – to give their opinion from the carefully curated shortlist of options

So who were the standout winners?

In the UK, Linthwaite House in the Lake District has set a record in three categories in the Best UK Hotels category, winning Best Hotel for Food, Best Hotel for Wine and Best Hotel for Golf for the second year running “ Excellent, proving that this luxurious Windermere retreat really is a favorite for our readers.

The famous Hotel DUKES London beat 23 others for the Best Boutique Hotel in the UK, while the Francis Hotel in Bath took first place in both Best City Hotel and Best Hotel for Business categories. The Culloden Estate and Spa in Belfast was voted the best spa/wellness hotel in the UK and firm favorite Ellenborough Park in Cheltenham topped the list for best family hotel after winning the romance category last year.

Best Tour Operator and Best Specialist Tour Operator were won by The Luxury Travel Book and Emirates is back at the top of the list of best airlines, having won in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and being knocked out to second place by British Airways last year. Royal Caribbean tops ‘Best Ocean Cruise Line’ list for the third year running and ‘Best UK City’, Bath has ousted London at the top spot for the second year running.

Heading overseas and in the largest category – Best Hotel in Europe (outside the UK) – the Amada Colossos Resort in Rhodes, Greece was awarded, the As Janelas Verdes Hotel in Portugal’s capital Lisbon took second place and the Burgenstock Hotel and Resort, Lake Lucerne in Switzerland in third place.

Thailand certainly boasts some top hotels, with Akyra Manor Chiang Mai and Aleenta Hua Hin-Pranburi Resort and Spa taking first and second place respectively in the Best Hotel in Asia category. It was the Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa in Mahe that took the top spot in the Best Hotel in Africa category, narrowly beating South Africa’s Earth Lodge in the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve.

The NH Collection New York Madison Avenue was named Best Hotel in North America, while the Hitlon Barra in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was named Best Hotel in South America. Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia won the Caribbean category and Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa in Tahiti won for Oceania.

The Amalfi Coast in Italy was the winner for Best Honeymoon Destination, while Verbier in Switzerland was named Best Ski Resort and Barcelona in Spain was voted Best City for the third consecutive year.

Hopefully you will agree that this has been another great year for the awards and we look forward to visiting and utilizing the services of the above distinguished winners.

Click here for the full list of winners.

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