As great as our fair country is for top-notch summer getaways, if you look beyond the border, you'll find a plethora of exciting places to visit. Every year throws up its favourites, like South Africa this year, which is hosting the Football World Cup; and Cyprus. Then, there are perennial favourites like Switzerland. So, in consultation with Cox & Kings, we bring you these extensive packages with full itineraries. Enjoy!
In the past decade, this beautiful country in the Pacific Ocean has received much attention as the spectacular locale of The Lord of the Rings, but it has always been a country of stunning natural beauty.
Where: Start off in Auckland, the City of Sails, and enjoy a guided walk through the roughly two million years old Waitomo Cave System and its limestone formations. Take a boat trip through the Glow Worm Grotto where you glide beneath the lights of thousands of glow worms, who live on the cave ceiling. Visit other sites like the Rangiriri, which is a historic Maori battle ground; Ngaruawahia, the home of the Maori Queen, and Waikato River.
In nearby Rotorua, enjoy the Grand Rotorua Experience Tour, which takes in the boiling mud pools and mighty geysers at the Te Puia Thermal Reserve and demonstrations of carving and weaving at the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Visit the Paradise Valley Springs, which is an award-winning Trout and Wildlife Park. Ride the Skyline Gondola for spectacular views over Lake Rotorua.
In Queenstown, travel to the spectacular fjord of Milford Sound. Discover ancient forests, stunning waterfalls and towering mountain peaks of the Fiordland National Park, which is a World Heritage site. The Milford Sound Red Boat takes you on a cruise of the fjord, a place of pristine scenery, towering peaks rising from the Sound, waterfalls and marine, and bird life. Sail past the Mitre Peak and Bowen Falls.
At the Glacier Region, travel north to Greymouth and board the famous Tranz alpine train. It ascends through lush forests past the Alpine village of Arthur's Pass before crossing over into the spectacular Southern Alps. Travel over the fertile Canterbury plains and arrive in the “Garden city” of Christchurch.
How Much: You can get an eight night/seven-day all-inclusive package from Cox & Kings for Rs 95,646 per person on a twin-sharing basis. For more information, visit www.coxandkings.co.in .
The Golden Cape is a wonderland of myriad cultures and vibrant geography. From deserts to mountains to game reserves, the southernmost country of Africa has it all. This summer, it also plays host to the Football World Cup (June 11-July 11, 2010).
Where: You start out in Cape Town, South Africa's largest city, under the massive Table Mountain. Tour the ruggedly beautiful Cape Peninsula and take a cruise around the Cape of Good Hope and visit Chapman's Peak, whose west face falls sharply for hundreds of metres into the Atlantic Ocean.
Visit the Boulder's Beach and its penguin colony. Take the Wineyard Tour through South Africa's famous rolling vineyards for a sampling of premier new world wines. Tour the Grand Constantia and Kirstenbosch Gardens and marvel at the architectural delights of Stellenbosch. Drive over the Helshoogte Pass to the beautiful village of Franschhoek and onwards to the old Dutch town of Paarl, where you savour the architecture over glasses of wine.
Drive down the Garden Route to Knysna for a sunset cruise in the Knysna Lagoon. Then, visit an Ostrich Farm (you can even get to ride one) near Oudtshoom. Tour the Cango Caves, which house some spectacular limestone formations, and hope to catch a glimpse of the elusive cheetah at the Cango Wildlife Ranch.
End your tour with a three-hour drive through the Kwantu Game Reserve and see such big game staples like lions, rhinos, elephants, buffaloes and other animals like hippos and bushbucks.
How Much: You can get an eightnight/seven-day all-inclusive package from Cox & Kings for Rs 1,05,386 per person on a twin-sharing basis. For more information, visit www.coxandkings.co.in
An island with a rich past and a happy and affluent present, Cyprus is this year's hot pick by many travel surveys the world over. A melting pot of cultures steeped in rich myths and a vibrant history on the Mediterranean Sea, it is the place to visit this year.
Where: Start off at Larnaca, and drive to the palm promenade and visit the nearby St Lazarus Cathedral built by the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI in the 9th Century A.D. You can also visit the spectacular ruins of the ancient city state of Kition. Take a tour of the Hala Sultan Tekke and admire the fine 6th Century Byzantine mosaics.
Next to Troodos, where you can visit the Archaeological Museum, with its large collection of Cypriot antiquities, as well as the St John's Cathedral and the Makarios Byzantine Museum. Drive to the Green Heart of Cyprus and the Kykko Monastery, Cyprus' largest monastery. Discover the Kakopetria neighbourhood, with its old houses and winding alleys. Stroll along the Nature Trail to the Caledonia Falls for some stunning views of the island.
In the city of Paphos, see the beautiful medieval frescoes at the 12th Century monastery of St Neophytos. A scenic drive with views of the Mediterranean takes you to the small town of Polis and the fishing centre of Latchi. Visit the famous Baths of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of Beauty, and the nearby beach.
Next, at Limassol, visit places from Greek mythology in the Tombs of the Kings, the House of Dionysus and the Villa of Theseus. Along the way is the famed birthplace of Aphrodite—the Petra Tou Romiou.
Check out the ancient Graeco-Roman Amphitheatre at Episkopi. Also visit the ancient bath houses and the castles of Kolossi and Limassol.
How Much: You can get an eightnight/seven-day all-inclusive package from Cox & Kings for Rs 25,762 per person on a twin-sharing basis. For more information, visit www.coxandkings.co.in
Starting sometime in the 1960s, Switzerland became the numero uno destination for the well-heeled Indian tourist, and 40-odd years later, it still enjoys pride of place among those planning a trip abroad. Where: Start off at the famed Alpine skiing and mountaineering resort town of Zermatt. Some of the tallest peaks of the Swiss Alps lie in this region. Take the quaint cog railway up the Gornergrat Mountain and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding valleys as well as of the Matterhorn, the most beautiful peak in the Alps.
On to Interlaken, the famous tourist centre, north of Zermatt, where you can take a cable car to Schilthorn for some great views of the 200-odd peaks that are visible from the summit. Dine at the unique revolving restaurant of Piz Gloria at a height of 3,000 metres. On to Luceme, visit the snow and glacier wonderland of Mt Titlis and the Engelberg Valley. Take the Rotair—the world's first rotating cable car—for some magnificent 360-degree views.
How Much: You can get an eightnight/seven-day all-inclusive package from Cox & Kings for Rs 35,307 per person on a twin-sharing basis. For more information, visit www.coxandkings.co.in