The New Frontiers

For travellers seeking unique experiences, here are some novel trends that are likely to pick up in 2011.

Namrata Dadwal        Print Edition: January 2011

For travellers seeking unique experiences, here are some novel trends that are likely to pick up in 2011.

Art Tours

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci had subtly painted numbers and symbols in his beloved Mona Lisa? If you don't want to miss such fascinating facts on artwork, sign up for an art tour, where an escorting director will point out the nuances in each masterpiece.

Though art tours are popular in Europe, especially Paris, they have now started in other countries, such as Japan, as well. These tours take you beyond the routine rounds of museums to leading galleries, private collections and interactive sessions with artists, collectors and curators.

Some of these even arrange visits to private gardens and libraries (artsandtravel.com). These tours are a bit more expensive than the regular ones, with the 9-day Paris tour by Walking Softly (walkingsoftly.com) costing $3,495 (Rs 1.6 lakh), which includes transportation, stay and meals.

In India, Japa Arts (japaarts.in) designs customised itineraries for cities such as Kolkata and Mumbai. The Holiday Art Tour (art-holiday.com) in Udaipur has a 7-day programme, where amateurs can learn wood carving, etc.

Bootcamps

Holidays are no longer about soaking the sun, gorging on food and putting on pounds. Health-conscious people are taking a break from work to attend extreme fitness camps. So be prepared to get up with the first ray of the sun and follow a 10-hour exercise regimen each day.

You get to participate in a range of activities designed to make you lose weight and improve strength and stamina, while the menu is specially designed by a nutrionist. These include cardio boxing, military circuits, aqua aerobics, mountain biking, zumba, etc.

Wild Fitness (wildfitness. com) has bootcamps in Kenya and Crete. A 9-day tour costs upwards of 1,950 pounds (Rs 1.37 lakh) and includes accommodation, all meals and snacks, transportation and passes to parks and reserves.

A 10-day camp in Mozambique by Pure Escapes (pureescapes.com) will cost you 840 pounds (Rs 58,880), while an 8-day trip by Holiday Bootcamp (holidaybootcamp. net) in Spain comes for 925 pounds (Rs 64,750).

Forbidden Lands

Been there, done that? If you're a jaded wanderer, sign up for the thrill of visiting regions that have been, till recently, off the tourist map.

Among the places that are cautiously welcoming tourists now are Iraq and the nuclear disaster site of Chernobyl in Ukraine. Babel Tours (babel-tours.com) organises visits to prominent Iraqi destinations, such as Babylon, religious shrines in Najaf (in picture) and Karbala, the Garden of Eden and the ancient sites of Mesopotamia.

You can also log on to bestway.com and hinterlandtravel. com. A seven-day tour costs upwards of 1,500 euros (Rs 90,000). If danger enthralls you, hop on to a day tour of Chernobyl, where the Ukrainian government plans to conduct tours.

Meanwhile, you can sign up for those organised by private operators such as kievtours.com, tourkiev.com and tour2chernobyl.com. For $160 (Rs 7,200) a guide will pick you up from Kiev and take you on a 9-hour trip to see the nuclear reactor and the ghost town of Pripyat.

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