Discover Habarana’s Hidden Gems

Habarana, a charming town nestled amidst Sri Lanka’s north-central province, is often overshadowed by its more prominent neighbours. However, beneath its unassuming facade lies a treasure trove of cultural wonders, wildlife havens, and ancient ruins waiting to be explored. This haven for history buffs and nature enthusiasts offers a captivating glimpse into Sri Lanka’s rich heritage and breathtaking biodiversity.

Dambulla Cave Temple: A Sanctuary Carved in Time

Delve into a bygone era at the Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This magnificent complex houses over 150 Buddha statues, intricate frescoes, and cave paintings dating back to the 1st century BC. Walk through the cool caverns, marvel at the artistic mastery, and lose yourself in the serenity of this sacred space.

Minneriya National Park: Witnessing the Gathering of Giants

Embark on a thrilling safari adventure at Minneriya National Park, renowned for its breathtaking elephant gatherings. Witness herds of hundreds of Asian elephants converging on the park’s vast reservoir, a spectacle that will leave you awestruck. Keep your eyes peeled for other fascinating wildlife, including leopards, sloth bears, and a diverse array of birdlife. When in Habarana, attractions such as this are a must-visit!

Habarana Lake: A Tranquil Escape

Seek serenity amidst the lush landscapes surrounding Habarana Lake, located near Habarana Village By Cinnamon. Take a leisurely boat ride on the calm waters, absorbing the beauty of the surrounding hills and vibrant birdlife. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the lake’s shores, or simply relax and soak in the tranquility of this idyllic haven.

Ritigala Forest Monastery: A Hidden Gem in the Jungle

Uncover the secrets of Ritigala Forest Monastery, an ancient monastic complex nestled amidst the verdant jungles. Hike through the dense foliage, explore the ruins of monasteries and stupas, and marvel at the breathtaking views from the summit. This hidden gem offers a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s rich monastic history and provides a serene escape from the modern world.

Pidurangala Rock: A Challenging Climb with Breathtaking Rewards

Pidurangala Rock – Image via Flickr

Challenge your adventurous spirit by climbing Pidurangala Rock, a smaller yet equally captivating neighbor to Sigiriya Rock. The ascent may be a little strenuous, but the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and the ancient Sigiriya Fortress make it all worthwhile. Explore the remnants of cave dwellings and monasteries at the summit, and experience the thrill of conquering this natural landmark.

Discover the Ancient Al Hoota Cave in Oman

Oman boasts a rich collection of historical and natural wonders, and the Al Hoota Cave stands out as a truly unique attraction. Delve into the depths of this ancient cavern and embark on a captivating adventure millions of years in the making!

Planning Your Expedition

Located in Al Hamra, at the foot of Oman’s majestic mountain, Jabal Shams, the Al Hoota Cave awaits exploration. You can easily plan an excursion here from Muscat, the capital city, where you can stay at properties of international hospitality brands such as Oman Hotels. The journey is roughly two hours and you can choose between travelling by bus, rented car or taxi. Alternatively, organised tours take care of transportation, allowing you to fully focus on the magic of the cave.

A Geological Marvel 

Al Hoota Cave is said to be over two million years old and is easily one of the most fascinating places to visit in Oman. It also holds the distinction of being the first and only show cave in the entire Arabian Peninsula. Stretching an impressive 4.5 km in length, only a manageable 500-metre section is accessible to visitors. This section, however, is enough to leave you awestruck by the natural processes, honed over millennia, that have sculpted the cave’s interior.

Gaze upwards at the awe-inspiring stalactites clinging to the ceiling, and marvel at the stalagmites reaching skyward from the cavern floor. To add to the sense of adventure, your exploration begins with a ride on the nation’s first electric train, transporting you from the visitor centre to this subterranean wonderland.

A Haven for Unique Wildlife

Al Hoota Cave
Image via Wikimedia Commons – Nur Çağlar, Gilindire mağarası, CC BY-SA 4.0

Beyond its geological marvels, Al Hoota Cave boasts a fascinating ecosystem, nurtured by its four serene lakes. The star residents here are undoubtedly the rare blind fish species called Garra Barreimiae. Known locally as ‘Bu Naseh,’ these remarkable creatures have adapted to their lightless environment, evolving to possess no sight at all. The cave’s diverse fauna also includes Arabian toads, mouse-tailed bats, water beetles, wadi racer snakes, scorpions and more.

Other Highlights that Await

Your Al Hoota Cave experience extends beyond the wonders hidden beneath the earth’s surface. The visitor centre houses a captivating exhibition of geological wonders including varied types of rocks and corals. Interactive displays unravel the story of the cave’s formation and the fascinating evolution of the blind fish. Animal exhibits provide further insights into the cave’s unique residents. After your exploration, browse the gift shop for a memento, or grab a delicious bite to eat at one of the on-site restaurants.

Exploring the Enigmatic Threads of Melbourne’s Captivating Past

Melbourne is a city that wears its history on its sleeve. From the grand Victorian architecture lining its streets to the hidden laneways whispering tales of a bygone era, Melbourne’s past is as captivating as it is complex. Delve into some of the enigmatic threads that weave together the story of this vibrant metropolis.

Gold Rush Glory

In the mid-19th century, Melbourne boomed as a result of the Victorian gold rush. Grand buildings like the Parliament House and the Royal Exhibition Building were constructed during this period, reflecting the city’s newfound wealth and ambition. This era also saw a surge in immigration, with people flocking from all over the world to seek their fortune. The city’s population exploded, and the need for accommodation grew rapidly. This led to the development of boarding houses and shared living arrangements, which in a way, can be seen as a precursor to the modern concept of coliving in Melbourne. Today, coliving spaces offered by properties such as lyf Collingwood Melbourne offer a vibrant and social living option for young professionals and newcomers to the city, echoing the collaborative spirit of those early gold rush days.

From Humble Beginnings

Step into the cobbled bluestone lanes of Melbourne and you’ll be transported back in time. These laneways were once bustling with horse-drawn carts and overflowing with goods from all corners of the globe. Today, they offer a haven for trendy cafes, art galleries, and hidden bars, each with its own unique story to tell.

Aboriginal Heritage

Melbourne’s story extends far beyond European settlement. The city is situated on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people, whose rich culture and connection to the land are slowly being unveiled. Explore the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens for a glimpse into Aboriginal plant use, or visit the Koorie Heritage Trust to learn more about the city’s indigenous history.

A City of Many Stories

Melbourne – Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

Melbourne’s multicultural character is a defining feature. From the vibrant cafes of Lygon Street’s Italian precinct to the bustling Chinatown, Melbourne’s neighbourhoods offer a chance to explore the cultures that call this city home.

Visiting Penang Kek Lok Si Temple From George Town

One of Southeast Asia largest temples, Kek Lok Si Temple is located just outside George Town. A token of Penang’s cultural and historical significance, the temple is a must-visit for anyone visiting the island. This guide covers everything you need to know for a memorable visit.

Location

Perched atop a hill, Kek Lok Si Temple is in Air Itam, a suburb of Penang. The temple’s isolated location adds to its mysterious allure and offers a peaceful escape from everyday life.

Getting Here

The temple is located just 20 minutes from Citadines Connect Georgetown Penang, which is a hotel in Penang, Georgetown, so getting here is quite easy. You can take the bus or a taxi. Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive here yourself.

Significance

Image via Wikimedia Commons – Balou46, MY-penang-george-kek-lok-si-tempel-garten-1, CC BY-SA 3.0

The temple is a symbol of the harmonious existence of different Buddhist sects and Chinese rituals. It’s an epicentre of Buddhist and Chinese rituals, attracting pilgrims and devotees from around the world.

What to See

Kek Lok Si Temple features several highlights you should not miss. They include Pagoda of Rama VI, The Avalokiteshvara Hall and the Buddha Pavilion, The Statue of Kuan Yin, and Liberation Pond. Plus, there are several gardens, ponds, and scenic viewpoints.

Top 5 Water Sports in Maldives for Every Thrill-Seeker

The Maldives isn’t all about overwater villas and luxurious relaxation (although there’s plenty of that too). This tropical paradise boasts some of the world’s most incredible waters, making it a haven for thrill-seekers and water sports enthusiasts. So, ditch the deckchair and get ready for an adrenaline rush with these top 5 activities!

Scuba Diving

Imagine swimming alongside majestic manta rays, spotting a giant sea turtle, or coming face-to-face with reef sharks. In the Maldives Islands, diving provides unforgettable escapades! Look to stay at resorts in key destinations like the South Male Atoll with a PADI-certified dive centre offering training and certification for beginners and pros; apart from the marine life, you even get the chance to explore shipwrecks like the famous Bolifushi Wreck.

Snorkelling

Don’t fancy the commitment of a full scuba session? No worries! Underwater marvels can be encountered near the surface making snorkelling an ideal activity for the whole family to enjoy especially at resorts like OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI. Such properties feature thriving house reefs teeming with fish and coral as well as offer complimentary snorkelling gear to use for fun adventures throughout the day; you will soon be coming across Nemo, Dory, and more!

Jet Skiing

If you crave the exhilarating rush of wind in your hair and the spray of the ocean on your face, jet skiing is the ultimate Maldivian thrill ride! Many resorts offer jet ski rentals, allowing you to explore the coastline at your own pace. Picture yourself carving through the turquoise waters, the sun warming your back as you leave a trail of white foam in your wake. The open ocean becomes your playground, with endless possibilities for exploration and high-octane fun.

Flyboarding

Flyboarding
Image via Wikimedia Commons – Jonathan Palombo, Maldives (16052814008), CC BY 2.0

Ever dreamt of soaring through the air like Iron Man? Well, flyboarding might be the closest you can get in real life! This cutting-edge water sport utilises a powerful water jet stream to propel you high above the ocean’s surface. It takes some practice to master, but the sense of accomplishment when you finally take flight is unmatched. Imagine the exhilaration of also diving headfirst into the water and then erupting skywards, propelled by a powerful jet stream.

Banana Boat Rides

Looking for a water sport that’s perfect for a group giggle? Look no further than the classic banana boat ride. This yellow (it can be other colours too) inflatable is towed behind a speedboat, promising a wild ride with plenty of laughter (and maybe a few screams!). Hold on tight as the banana boat bounces, dips, and swerves across the waves, and prepare to get soaked. So, grab your crew, climb aboard, and get ready for a wet and wild adventure!

The Hiking Trails around Kandy

Nestled amidst the lush, emerald-green landscapes of Sri Lanka, Kandy emerges as a captivating destination for hiking enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in nature’s embrace. With its rich cultural heritage and breathtaking vistas, Kandy offers a myriad of hiking trails that cater to both seasoned trekkers and leisurely explorers alike. From verdant tea plantations to mist-shrouded mountains, each trail promises an unforgettable journey through the island’s diverse terrain.

The Knuckles Range

With its diverse mountain ranges, including the challenging Knuckles Mountain Range, hikers can expect mesmerizing summit views and encounters with rich biodiversity. The Knuckles, named for their knuckle-like appearance, boast thirty-four peaks and offer various trails suitable for different skill levels. With lush forests, streams, and waterfalls, this World Heritage conservation area promises an unforgettable experience. If you choose to stay in a hotel in Kandy, make sure to consider such places as the Hotel Topaz to enhance your stay.

Riverston and Pitawala

Located within the Knuckles Mountain Range, Pitawala Pathana and Riverston Peak offer breathtaking panoramic views of nature’s beauty. Pitawala Pathana, a 24-acre grassy plain, culminates in a dramatic cliff known as ‘mini world’s end,’ accessible via designated nature trails. Endemic wildlife, such as the Kirthisinghe’s rock frog, inhabits this region, adding to its allure. The drive to these treks offers picturesque views of the Knuckles ridges and passes three natural water streams along the way.

Sigiriya and Pidurangala

Pidurangala – Image via Flickr

Fondly dubbed the ‘palace in the clouds,’ Sigiriya Rock, or the Lion Rock Fortress, stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a marvel of Sri Lanka’s historical and cultural legacy, acclaimed as the 8th wonder of the world. Rising 200 meters, this sheer rock formation, once a volcanic plug and ancient fortress, showcases the kingdom’s agricultural advancements, technical prowess, and architectural mastery. Adjacent to Sigiriya is Pidurangala Mountain, offering unparalleled views of the fortress in a serene, less-explored setting.

Rathna Ella, Hasalaka

Rathna Ella, situated in Hasalaka within the Kandy District, is a stunning waterfall boasting a height of 111 meters, making it the tallest in the Kandy region and the 9th tallest in Sri Lanka. Also known as ‘Navarathne Ella,’ this majestic cascade originates from the Knuckles Mountain Range, surrounded by lush vegetation nurtured by nearby paddy cultivation villages. Serving as a vital water source for irrigation, it supports the livelihoods of approximately 200 farmers.

A Guide to Luxury Family Safari Retreats in Tanzania’s Wild Heart

Visiting Tanzania and going on a safari is something that is on many bucket lists. Therefore, if visiting with family, make sure to plan out everything in order to have a fabulous time.

When to Go

If one wishes to go on a variety of tours in Tanzania, the best time to visit for a variety of wildlife tours is during the dry season, which stretches from June to October. During this period, animals congregate around waterholes as water sources dwindle, making them easier to spot. The peak season for crowds falls between August and October, with September being the busiest month.

Luxury Safaris

When it comes to experiencing Tanzania’s wildlife with your family, luxury safaris offer unparalleled comfort and personalized experiences.  Imagine private game drives led by expert guides, catered meals enjoyed amidst breathtaking scenery and luxurious accommodations designed with families in mind. The likes of SkySafari can help curate an unforgettable Tanzanian adventure for you and your loved ones, ensuring a blend of wildlife encounters, relaxation, and memories that will last a lifetime.

How Much to Budget

Hot Air Balloon Rides
Hot Air Balloon Rides – Photo by sutirta budiman on Unsplash

Luxury family safaris in Tanzania can vary greatly in cost depending on the specific experiences you choose. While the ultimate luxury safari with private chefs, hot air balloon rides, and helicopter tours could have an unlimited budget, a more realistic starting point for high-end accommodations and experiences is around USD 1,500 per person, per night.

Where to Stay

Luxury safari retreats are scattered across Tanzania’s national parks. Consider opulent lodges with private balconies or intimate tented camps for a truly immersive experience.

Discovering Wildlife Wonderland

The gorgeous Minneriya National Park beckons nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers with its breathtaking landscapes and diverse fauna. From majestic elephants to exotic birdlife, here’s everything you need to know about exploring this hidden gem.

Elephant Gathering

Experience the awe-inspiring sight of the famous Elephant Gathering, where hundreds of Asian elephants congregate around the lush Minneriya Tank during the dry season. Witness these gentle giants from above with Cinnamon Air as they bathe, graze, and interact in their natural habitat.

Jeep Safaris

An exhilarating jeep safari adventure through the verdant terrain of the Minneriya National Park is your chance to become one with nature. Traverse rugged trails and dense forests as you search for elusive leopards, sloth bears, and other elusive wildlife species.

Birdwatching Bliss

Birdwatching
Image via Wikimedia Commons – Harshadewa Ariyasinghe, Sri Lanka, Minneriya National Park, CC BY-SA 2.0

Minneriya is a paradise for birdwatchers, boasting over 170 species of avian inhabitants. Keep your binoculars handy to spot colourful kingfishers, stately herons, and majestic eagles soaring overhead.

Nature Walks

Immerse yourself in the park’s serene ambience with guided nature walks led by experienced naturalists. Explore hidden trails, learn about the park’s flora and fauna, and enjoy close encounters with wildlife in their natural habitat.

Cultural Excursions

Combine your wildlife adventure with a visit to nearby cultural attractions such as the ancient city of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Discover the rich history and cultural heritage of the region while exploring ancient ruins and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Exploring Marrakech

Marrakech, a city steeped in history and adorned with incredible colours, beckons travellers to immerse themselves in its enchanting blend of tradition and modernity. Here’s a diary of must-see attractions that transform your journey into an unforgettable adventure.

Jardin Majorelle

Jardin Majorelle is a botanical masterpiece that captivates with its cobalt blue walls, exotic plant species, and tranquil fountains. Strolling through this enchanting garden, you will discover a serene retreat amidst the lively streets of Marrakech.

Jemaa el Fna

As the sun sets, Jemaa el Fna comes alive with an irresistible energy. This bustling square is a sensory feast, offering everything from aromatic street food to mesmerizing street performances, representing everything beautiful about Marrakech. Things to do here include basking in the electric atmosphere that immerses you in the heart of Moroccan culture.

Medina Souks

Navigating the labyrinthine alleys of the Medina, you can find yourself in a shopper’s haven. The souks, brimming with colourful textiles, intricate ceramics, and aromatic spices, invite you to haggle and indulge in the art of bargaining.

Bahia Palace

Stepping into the opulent Bahia Palace felt like entering a time capsule of grandeur. The intricately designed courtyards, mosaic-tiled walls, and lush gardens showcase the architectural prowess of Moroccan craftsmanship. Take a short journey from your stay at La Maison Arabe Marrakech to spend some time in the glorious past.

Koutoubia Mosque

Koutoubia Mosque
Koutoubia Mosque – Image via Flickr

The towering minaret of Koutoubia Mosque dominates the city skyline, serving as a timeless symbol of Marrakech. Its elegant architecture and serene surroundings create a perfect backdrop for contemplation and photography.

A Day Trip to the Knuckles Mountain Range 

Embark on a day trip to the Knuckles Mountain Range, a hidden gem in the heart of Sri Lanka. This rugged landscape promises a day filled with nature’s wonders and breathtaking views.

Scenic Drive through Knuckles Pass

Begin your journey with a scenic drive through Knuckles Pass, surrounded by lush greenery and mist-kissed mountains. The winding roads offer glimpses of hidden valleys and cascading waterfalls, setting the tone for a day of exploration.

Hike to Mini World’s End

Mini World's End
Mini World’s End – Image via Flickr

Lace up your hiking boots and trek to Mini World’s End, a vantage point that rewards you with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. The moderate hike is a perfect blend of challenge and tranquillity, providing an intimate experience with nature.

Visit Corbett’s Gap

Make a stop at Corbett’s Gap, which is just a 21-minute car drive from Wild Glamping Knuckles. It is an open grassy area offering unobstructed views of the Knuckles range. The cool breeze and scenic beauty make it an ideal spot for a picnic or simply to pause and absorb the natural serenity that envelops the mountains.

Explore Pitawala Pathana

Conclude your day at Pitawala Pathana, a vast plain atop the Knuckles Range. The grass-covered plateau provides an ideal setting for relaxation and photography. Take a leisurely stroll and absorb the tranquillity of this unique landscape before heading back. After a day well spent in the embrace of nature, head back to one of the hotels near Knuckles Mountain Range for some much-deserved rest.