From white sandy beaches to freshwater lakes to small islands, Nellore district plays home to multiple water bodies and has pioneered eco-tourism in the state.
► Visit the missile launch pad of Sriharikota and combine it with a visit to the famous lagoon of Pulicat that serves as a magnet for various birds that flock here from as far as Siberia.
► Fish, sail, or just sunbathe on the long stretch of clean and beautiful beaches of Nellore. Add Tupilipalem beach to the top of your list.
Hotel Yesh Park
► Hotel Yesh Park is centrally-located with all basic amenities and comfortable rooms.
The second largest brackish lake in India, Pulicat, is a blessing for serious birdwatchers. Birds tike Flamingo, Pelicans, Grey Herons, and crocodiles crowd the sanctuary. One can go for bird safari tours, camp by the lake side, or engage in water sports.
One of India’s oldest harbour towns replete with calm beaches is today an IT hub and home to leading restaurants serving international as well as coastal Andhra fares.
► Satisfy your curiosity of being in a Russian submarine by visiting the Submarine Museum of Vizag.
► A three-hour drive from the city, the coffee plantations of Araku Valley will leave you spellbound with its picturesque scenery.
► Four Points by Sheraton Vizag offers warm hospitality and great South Indian cuisine.
► Opt for a sea-facing executive suite at The Gateway Hotel Beach Road Visakhapatnam.
The French colony of Puducherry is home to some of the most hip cafes in the country, undisturbed beaches, and the experiential township of Auroville.
► Be it a film festival, coffee roasting class, water therapy, or yoga, the township of Auroville has something for everyone.
► Take a walk around the only sea facing French quarters of Puducherry that reeks of its historical past.
Temple Tree Retreat
► French architecture and luxurious setting of La Villa give a break from cookie-cutter stays.
► Stay at Temple Tree Retreat to be closer to all the action at Aurovilte.
“For a heritage experience, Earth Cafe located at Palais du Mahe, offers artisan hand-pulled espressos and home-baked cakes. Dreamer’s Cafe in Auroville brews great South Indian coffees along with Italian affogato and healthy smoothies.”
A significant seaside town during the centuries of colonisation, Thalassery is the land of three Cs: Circus, Cakes, and Cricket as all these three found its entry to India, here.
► Drive your car onto the sands of Muzhappilangad drive-in beach, voted by BBC as one of the world’s top six beaches.
► Go hunting for speciality oysters all across the town, from the beach to the bus station.
► Ayisha Manzil Homestay was built in 1900 in traditional Kerala style-architecture. The bungalow has deluxe rooms, a pool overlooking the sea, and serves delicious Mopilah dishes.
► SwaSwara Resort overlooks the Om Beach and it is one of the best wellness properties along the Konkan coast.
A temple town till the late 90s, Gokarna is fast becoming the go-to beach destination for travellers who are looking for a quieter version of Goa. The Hindu pilgrim town, away from the coast, has ancient temples: the Dravidian-style Mahabaleshwar Temple, the Maha Ganapati Temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha, and Bhadrakali Temple, a shrine to Goddess Uma, the protector of Gokarna are the most popular sites.
- Complete one of India’s only beach treks from Paradise Beach to Om Beach via Half-Moon beach and Kudle Beach, with Thrillophilia.
- Try adventure activities on Om Beach including jet-skiing and dolphin spotting.
- Swa Swara Resort overlooks the Om Beach and it is one of the best wellness properties along the Konkan coast.
The small fishing town of Malvan has everything you want from a coastal holiday—beaches, water sports, medieval forts, and most importantly, excellent seafood.
► Take a ferry from Malvan to the famous Sindhudurg Fort built by Chattrapathi Shivaji.
► Scuba dive or snorkel in the Malvan waters and experience under-water life of the Arabian sea.
► Stay with the Samant family in a cottage surrounded by spice, coconut, banana, and beetle nut plantation at Maachli. Go to a heritage village, learn the nuances of Konkani cuisine, take farming lessons, or simply appreciate nature at this eco-friendly homestay.
A colony of merchants, Surat was once known for its silk weaving and brocade fabrics. Even today, you can visit its bazaars and buy silk saris and embroideries. The city is also famous for its diamonds: Surat is the world’s largest diamond processing cluster. A makeover is on the cards for the city to transform it into a smart city with automatic fare collection system, intelligent traffic control, solar street lighting, and a skywalk.
► Get spooked on the haunted Dumas Beach known for its unique black sand.
► Download the Heritage Walk app and discover historic monuments, Hindu and Jain temples, and heritage homes in the city.
► On the banks of Tapti, The Gateway Hotel Athwalines is a great option—the highlights include river-view Gateway Suite, multiple dining options, and a spa.
► Stay in one of the 170 rooms of The Grand Bhagwati which is designed for an urban traveller.
Located 335 kilometres from Mumbai, Ratnagiri has hills on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other. Close to town, there are undisturbed and underrated beaches such as Velas, Diveagar, and Guhagar that offer an insight into the Konkan lifestyle.
► Home to the famous Alphonso mango, Ratnagiri is the perfect spot if you want to indulge in mango picking, and of course, eat them fresh from the tree.
► Try Konkan-style fish curry and balance its spicy flavours with sol kadi, a pink-coloured drink. Local snacks such as ambapoli and phanaspoli are must-try.
► Blue Ocean Resort & Spa offers a classic beach resort experience with comfortable rooms.
► Set amidst coconut and mango plantations, Atithi Parinay Homestay is an example of Indian hospitality. Stay here for its traditional food and outstanding location.
An erstwhile Portuguese territory, Diu is connected by a lattice of bridges and ferries to Gujarat on the mainland. It has a distinct Mediterranean-meets-Kutch look where houses are painted sunshine yellow, creamy white and powder blue under a scorching sun and clear sky. With a Union Territory status, it is a refuge for travellers to get a real drink as its neighbour is a dry state. Some call it Little Goa, and some call it Gujarat’s Ibiza. But it’s actually a charming and quiet island with clean beaches and delicious food. Wander at the old Portuguese churches and dine on fabulous seafood including rockfish, calamari and prawns.
Azzaro Resort and Spa
► Rent a bike and drive to the quiet beaches of Goghla or Ngao and explore the Naida Caves.
► Plan a day trip to the Gir National Park to spot the endangered Asiatic lion from an open-roof jeep.
► Azzaro Resort and Spa offers 40 rooms and suites, a bar, and a spa.
► Close to the Gir National Park, The Fern is an eco-friendly resort with two restaurants, a spa, and simply decorated cottages and villas that bring you closer to nature.
At least 30 per cent of safari-guide training is about learning to evade death and acute suffering, both for I you and your guests. Encounter the Mozambique spitting cobra, for instance, as I did in our camp kitchen one morning, and you risk being hit by a shot of venom that can blind you from eight feet away.
Once you’ve got a grip on how to avoid this and countless other potentially lethal species, the process is exhilarating, and at times extremely challenging— something I discovered during a stint at Eco Training, a professional guide school near South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Over four weeks, the school’s instructors taught me and 18 other aspiring guides to identify 90 bird calls, 12 frog calls, and 60 trees. We learned to locate the constellations, dug around in different types of soil, and squished a whole lot of dung between our fingers.
We were taught a trick called ‘kudu ears,’ which involves cupping your ears to mimic the giant-eared antelope. This allowed us to catch the faint rumble of an elephant in a thicket, and save our guests from being trampled. Within days, we were looking in entirely new ways at the bush, the tracks, the scat, scanning the mall with the beady eye of an African fish eagle. Then we came to the important stuff, like how to keep guests entertained when you’ve seen nothing but impalas for the past hour. “Know your arthropods,” advised David Havemann, our stern South African instructor, who could spin the life cycle of a fig wasp into a drama worthy of Game of Thrones.
But for many of us would-be guides, the biggest challenge was graduating from the obsession with the Big Five most people arrive on safari with. Our goal? To have guests feel as inspired by insects, birds, and grass as by a group of playful lion cubs, and leave the bush, as I did, overcome by the profound, symbiotic beauty of it all.