Dear Friends, Guests, Patrons and Partners in Travel,
I hope this message finds you in the best of health and spirits.
Much pride we share with our partners, friends and colleagues who continue to brave and strive to enrich themselves and others throughout this down time, in ways more than imaginable. We have seen the most wonderful and informational webinars being conducted.
The truth of the matter just remains so, that what has affected this world so gravely, is not something that will disappear overnight. So it is for us to be our bravest and most cautious and move ahead with our lives regardless and let the world heal alongside, simultaneously. It is the itch, the very call of the traveler in us all, beckoning us to explore the vistas like never before - no, like it always has.
We hope on this note, with our own respective bearings in life, we all are somehow able to find that joy once more, to courageously take on our precious voyages. To find those secret spaces of heaven, the ones that become our memories to cherish and to derive much solace from eternally.
Here’s wishing you all the very best, always.
COVID 19: India fights back with recovery rate at 77.23 per cent
While India has been reporting a massive surge in its coronavirus cases, the number of recoveries also continues to see a surge and has pushed India’s recovery rate of covid patients to nearly 77.23 per cent. Out of the total 42.04 lac coronavirus cases in the country, 32.5 lac have recovered. India’s recovery rate currently ranks ninth in the top 15 countries.
Presently, there are 8.82 lac active cases of the virus in India which comprises 20.98 per cent of the total caseload. The coronavirus case fatality rate has declined to 1.44 percent, while the recovery rate has risen to 77.23 per cent.
Expressing confidence over India's efforts in developing a coronavirus vaccine, the Health Minister said that the Indian scientists are working very hard to develop a vaccine and provide it to the world. "Out of the three vaccine candidates, one has entered the third phase of trials. We are confident that within this year we will have an effective vaccine to save the people," he said.
Eco-tourism centres in Kerala set to welcome travelers again
Just like the network of soothing emerald backwaters meandering through ‘God’s own country’ - Kerala, the state also has Eco-tourism centres spread across its various districts that take care of its ecological well-being. These centres aim to improve and sustain healthy living conditions through conservation of biodiversity, protection of environment, soil, water etc through scientific and responsible methods. They also work towards the empowerment of forest tribes, women and other weaker sections of the society. These centres that have been closed since March 10 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and reopened for visitors on August 19. All the eco-tourism centres under the Forest Department will be open, maintaining all protocols and guidelines.
The decision has been taken considering the negative impact of the five-month-long closure on communities, which depend and sustain on the eco-tourism activities around the forest areas in the state. The Forest Department estimates that the closure of the eco-tourism destinations has had a direct impact on the livelihood of around 2,000 people and 70,000 families living around these destinations.
As per a statement by the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State, the permission will be given on the basis of the Unlock 3 relaxations and guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Children below the age of 10 and adults above the age of 65 will not be allowed inside the parks.
There will be thermal checks before permitting people into the eco-tourism centres. Strict sanitation protocols will be implemented for safari vehicles and trekkers. Only small groups will be allowed. Tickets have to be obtained online and no counter sale of entry passes will be available.
Travelling from Delhi to London? Hop on this bus!
A private tourist company is pioneering the ultimate road-trip - a concourse of over a thousand different cultures through 18 different countries, topographies and history enjoyed from the seat of a bus! The tourist company ‘Adventures Overland’ has announced a bus service from Delhi to London where the travelers will cover 18 countries and 20,000 km in 70 days. It will be the "first-ever hop-on/hop-off bus service between Delhi and London", named "Bus to London". Deemed to be the world’s longest bus route, the overland service is set to launch in 2021.
People taking this tour will travel through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France. Tours like these bring about the most exciting attribute and prospect that the world of tourism has to offer - showing people that the world even though so massive - can be brought together closer.
The bus is a special 20-seater luxury coach and will be equipped with business class seats, making sure the long journey ensures comfort and amenities par none. Apart from the 20 passengers, there will be a driver, an assistant driver, a guide and a helper. The guide will change at regular intervals during the trip. The company will also take care of the hotel stay, visa arrangements of the passengers.
The trip will be divided into four categories and passengers can choose different destinations according to their liking and convenience while they will have to pay as per the particular package. However, if they avail of the whole trip from Delhi to London it will cost them INR 15 lakh per person or USD 20,000 (approximately).
34 sites in India declared as National Geological Monuments
The Indian subcontinent has always been one of the richest and most exciting case studies across myriad disciplines - whether it’s arts, history, literature, music, culture, architecture or food. In addition to that, its history exhibits imprints of varied geological processes through the ages and is a storehouse of some of the most interesting geological features. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has already enlisted some of those locales as National Geological Monuments.
GSI is trying to provide these locations their due place in India’s tourist map so that it becomes truly enriched by the inclusion of these geological monuments. This initiative by GSI will also provide visitors in the country and abroad to get an insight into the real geological past of India. How the Indian subcontinent was formed, the orogeny and the paleoenvironment together with the exotic collection of India’s flora and fauna.
GSI has undertaken the responsibility of protection and promotion of such features and has declared 34 such sites, located in different parts of the country, as National Geological Monuments. Some of them are:
Fossil Wood Parks (Akal Fossil Wood Park, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan)
Akal Fossil Wood Park, Jaisalmer District is a wonder for the tourists keen to explore the great Thar desert. The petrified wood carries signature of the luxuriant forests in a warm and humid climate, bordering the sea dated 180 million years ago. The 21-hectare Fossil Park contains about a dozen fossil wood logs lying horizontal in random orientation. The fossils are of petrophyllum, ptyllophyllum, equisetitis species and dicotyledonous wood and gastropod shells of Lower Jurassic period.
Lonar Lake (Buldana District, Maharashtra)
During the Cretaceous age, a large meteorite collided with the Indian peninsula and its impact created a circular crater on Deccan Basaltic rocks. This crater is now a lake called Lonar lake in Maharashtra’s Buldana District. When a meteorite wandering in space enters Earth’s atmosphere, surviving the heat of ionosphere, the hypervelocity of this large object impacts Earth and thereby creating craters. There are around 130 terrestrial craters which are recognized. Their size ranges up to several hundred kilometers in diameter. Maharashtra’s Lonar Crater has an average diameter of 1,710 meters. The average rim height of this crater is about 40 meter with its depth around 230-245 meters. The circular depression has a saline water lake in its central portion. The crater is located just south west of Lonar town. This town is linked to Mehkar and Buldana by road. Lonar is located 90 km South East of Buldana. The nearest railway station is at Parbhani which is 100 km South South East of Lonar.
Siwalik Fossil Park (Saketi, Sirmur District, Himachal Pradesh)
Siwalik Fossil Park, Saketi, Sirmur District, Himachal Pradesh contains rich collection of 2.5 million years old vertebrate fossils from Siwaliks. It covers an area of about 1.5 sq. km at Saketi, in the Markanda valley of Sirmur district, H.P. and was built to check indiscriminate destruction of fossil bones. Some of these fossils are in possession of the British Museum, London, American Museum of Natural History, New York, Indian Museum, Calcutta and elsewhere. The park displays life-size fiberglass models of six of the prehistoric animals that lived in the area 1 to 1.5 million years ago. The animals exhibited are the giant land tortoise, gharial, four horned giraffe, sabre-toothed tiger, large tusked elephant and the hipopolamid. A large and rare collection of vertebrate fossils recovered from Siwalik hills in Saketi and adjacent areas has been displayed in a field museum in the park.
Rock Monuments (Peninsular Gneiss National Monument at Lalbagh, Bengaluru)
Lalbagh is one of the most celebrated botanical gardens in the city of Bengaluru. The monument is located in the southern part of Bangalore the capital city of Karnataka state, India and is easily approachable by road. Gneisses and related granitoids constitute one of the most abundant rocktypes exposed on earth. The Lalbagh hill is composed of dark biolite gneiss of granitic to granodioritic composition containing streaks of biolite. Vestiges of older rocks are seen in the form of enclaves within the gneiss. The quarries of Lalbagh are of great importance for researches on earth sciences towards evolution of the terrain.
Columnar Basaltic Lava, Coconut Island (St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi District, Karnataka)
The site displays majestic array of multi-faced columns developed in the basalts of Deccan Trap. These marvelous structures, called Columnar Joints in geological parlance are nature’s exquisite handiwork. The geometrical form of the rock mosaic resembles the work of an expert sculptor. The Deccan Trap, evolved due to vast outpouring of hot molten basaltic lava in the western part of India during Cretaceous’ Eocene time (about 60 million years ago) now present as flat topped hills and step like terraces.
India to add more destinations for ‘air bubbles’ as international flights resume
Industries are gradually beginning to move on to various phases of unlock, after having been severely impacted by the global shut-down. In an effort to slowly normalize international travel, flights between air-bubbles to and from the USA, UK, France, Germany, UAE, Qatar and Maldives have already resumed in August. In addition to those air-bubbles, India will now be negotiating with Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.
Air bubbles have also been proposed with India’s neighbors Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal & Bhutan. Going forward, the government will consider such arrangements with other countries.
The ongoing negotiations are a vital step towards helping stranded Indians and nationals of the countries with which the arrangement is being worked out. So far, the ‘Vande Bharat’ Mission, has ferried more than a million citizens back to India and nearly 1,49,000 passengers have flown out of the country.
Meghalaya to attract high-value tourists with luxury campsites around its nature and adventure hot-spots
The abode of clouds - Meghalaya is a treasure chest for some of the most stunning jewels that nature has to offer. Like the traditional and vibrant ornaments adorned by its beautiful tribes, the state too is adorned with waterfalls, an extensive network of caves, cave pools, magical forests, mountains, monoliths, lakes and so much more. Widening the north eastern state’s true potential in tourism, its local agencies will be setting up luxury camping sites (or popularly known as glamping) around its famous caves and waterfalls to attract high-value tourists.
The Tourism Director was quoted as saying that Meghalaya is a perfect destination for ecotourism and adventure tourism lovers. Its lesser known marvels of nature have much joy and surprises to bring to people. For instance, the Cave system of the state is quite intricate and famous, being home to a total of 980 caves, the longest one being as long as 24km. One such cave is, Krem Puri, which at 25,042 metres is acknowledged as the longest sandstone cave in the world. It is also the same place where the world’s largest cave fish was discovered in March 2019.
The living root bridges are equally well known and attract a lot of nature lovers. The Shnongpdeng area is known for water sports activities like whitewater rafting, scuba diving and snorkeling. The state will set up infrastructure and enhance capacity in terms of hospitality, guided tours, so that tourists stay longer in Meghalaya and spend more while enjoying nature and local experiences. He said that there are many destinations which are ideal for high end glamping. Glamping sites can be developed in quick time and they are eco-friendly as well, he said.
The Guwahati - Shillong highway is quite good and the overall driving experience for self-drive tours can be quite exciting on the panoramic route. There is a direct flight to Shillong from Kolkata for a year now and a direct link from Delhi to Shillong is in the anvil from September.
Nepal Opens Mt. Everest after nearly 5 months
Beckoning climbers around the world to challenge its Olympian zeniths once more, Nepal has reopened Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks from Thursday, July 30 after a nearly 5-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All spring season expeditions that usually last from March to May were suspended in the wake of the pandemic. The government had halted the issuance of climbing permits for expeditions and cancelled issued permits for the spring season 2020 on March 13.
An expedition to Everest usually takes 45 to 90 days, a short climbing window, depending on favorable weather, and generally falls after mid-May. The mountains are now open for mountaineers and the department started issuing climbing permits from July 31. The country has opened 414 peaks for mountaineering purposes. In line with the relaxation on economic activities, the government has allowed hotels, restaurants, trekking and mountaineering services to resume operations. Nepal bags more than $4 million as royalty from climbers annually.
The directorate of tourism collects $5,500 as climbing permit fee for Mount Everest’s normal route and $5,000 for the other route during autumn. As the country is gearing up to resume international flights, it is expecting tourists for the autumn season. The Himalayan nation has so far reported 46,251 coronavirus cases, with 289 deaths.
International flights to and from Nepal resumed from September 1, 2020.