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August 5, 2011 10:09 pm
Brazzaville The Republic of Congo could emerge as an unlikely new entrant to lists of next year’s “hottest destinations”, thanks to two luxury safari camps under construction deep in the jungle. For many outsiders, the country will be better known for the civil war of the late 1990s than for its tourist attractions but it is now being rebranded as the “Heart of Diversity”. Having completed a two-year feasibility study, South African-based tour operator Wilderness Safaris is building two camps in the 3.3m acre Odzala-Kokoua National Park. They will be suspended three to four metres above the ground in the mid-canopy and based on the architecture of the area’s Pygmy tribes. Visitors will be able to see huge flocks of African Grey Parrots, as well as forest buffalo, colobus monkeys and possibly elephant, hyena and leopard. The main attraction, however, will be the chance to track western lowland gorillas alongside wildlife researchers. www.wilderness-safaris.com
JodhpurThe desert city of Jodhpur will host a festival of polo this winter, based at the Maharaja of Jodhpur’s private polo club. Highlights of the event, on December 10 and 11, include an elephant polo match and a reception at the 17th-century Mehrangarh Fort. Luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent is offering a range of packages: a five-night trip, including two nights at the Imperial in Delhi and three at the lavish Umaid Bhawan Palace, with domestic flights and private transfers, costs from £3,700. www.abercrombiekent.co.uk
Rovinj The first Croatian member of the Design Hotels group has opened in the resort of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula. Despite its stunning coastline, Croatia has long suffered a reputation for poor hotels, some of which are large, soulless, resort hotels built during the communist era. Rather than attempt to purge that heritage, the designers of the new Hotel Lone took the bold step of setting out to create what they call a “contemporary expression” of the 1970s resort hotel, with 248 rooms, sea-facing balconies and huge lobbies. The resulting building looks like a modernist cruise ship floating above the trees of the Golden Cape Forest Park. If the architecture gets too much, the Venetian buildings of Rovinj’s old town are a short walk away. Doubles from €102. www.designhotels.com/lone
London Crystal, the UK’s biggest ski company, will this winter offer trips to Russia for the first time. The group is hoping to capitalise on interest in the Sochi region ahead of the Winter Olympics, which will take place there in 2014. The region is currently enjoying huge investment as it gears up for the Games – as recently as 2005 the road between the airport and the ski resort was unsurfaced in places, and there were only a couple of ancient lifts. Now a new road and tunnel system has cut transfer times to less than an hour, and three separate ski areas are under construction. The number of pistes remains limited compared to Alpine destinations and prices are high but the area has an excellent record of powder snow. www.crystalski.co.uk
Flanders Geraint Thomas, the Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist who was the highest-placed Briton in last month’s Tour de France, is to lead a three-day cycling holiday in Belgium. The trip, from August 17-20, is based in Kortrijk and participants will ride between 45 and 60 miles a day over the famous cobbled roads and hills used in the Ronde van Vlaanderen (the Tour of Flanders). It costs £869 per person. www.thomsonsport.com
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