After a lovely couple of days in Tayrona National Park, where we explored the thick rainforest and wandered on endless deserted beaches, we headed along the coast to one of the county's most special tourist highlights.
Colombia is the third largest producer of coffee in the world, sitting just behind Brazil and Vietnam. However, if you are talking quality rather than quantity, most people here will tell you Colombia is number one.
The tragic events in Tajikistan last week, where American round-the-world cyclists Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan were run down by terrorists claiming allegiance to so-called Islamic State, has got me thinking. Although it may sound surprising, I don’t find Jay and Lauren’s travels particularly unusual. But their tragic end, I did.
The last time I was in Esfahan was May 8th 1997. And now I am back again, exactly 21 years later. Has it changed?... 'Half the world', was how one French traveller described the city when passing through in the 16th century, and for good reason.
Among the well-informed travelling community, the people of Iran have a reputation as one of the most friendly, hospitable and cultured peoples of the world. And within less than a day in this fascinating country, I had already had first hand experience of these famed characteristics.
One of the most interesting aspects of travelling around Madagascar is enjoying the dramatic landscapes the country has to offer. With magmatic volcanic rock predominant in the north, granite running down the centre and east and limestone prevalent in the southwest, the country is a veritable cornucopia of differing topographies, all of which offer wonderful walking locations.
If you are going to be away for Christmas you might as well do something completely different, this year we certainly did that. As per the French tradition celebrations started on Christmas Eve. Staying at a lovely lodge right on the beach, we had a special dinner of lobster and turkey washed down with champagne. We pulled crackers we had brought from the UK and wore silly paper hats. Sitting on a terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean was pretty memorable but it was Christmas Day that was really special.
Travelling in any new country is exciting and arriving into Madagascar was no exception. That said, my first observations of the world’s fourth largest island were somewhat confused. In some ways this intriguing country is totally African but in others it is very much Asian. The red earth, the brightly painted shops that line the streets and the flowering flame trees are unmistakably Africa but the terraced paddy fields, the bullock carts, the auto-rickshaws and the people, most of whom are descended from intrepid Malay boatpeople that started to arrive here two thousand years ago, all put you in mind of Asia.
Few things get the world’s travel press excited like the opening of a smart, new hotel in an exotic paradise where previously there were none. When the Taj Group announced that is was going to open a new property on the Andaman Islands, journalists were abuzz; at least three contacted me asking if we’d be able to offer them a trip. With great publicity guaranteed, I thought I’d better go and see for myself what all the fuss was about… a tough job as they say, but someone has to do it.