New York, NY, May 2013
Africa has long been a far-off land of mystery, exoticism, and wild beauty. Elephants milling about the water source, gazelles leaping with otherworldly grace above the arid bush, and the megacosm of acacia trees and swaying long grass are scenes which overwhelm the mind and dazzle us all with the spirited secrets we hope lie hidden within this massive land’s deep heart. To discover on one’s own would be a monumental, even Sisyphean task. Thankfully, the African experts at Jacada Travel have put together a swoon-worthy offering of an African holiday.
The Super-Luxe African Explorer package is a holistic trip designed specifically with local guidance, replete with privileged exploits, private helicopter safaris, balloon flights over the pristine vineyards and countless other captivating adventures to keep the restless soul satisfied. For the intrepid African sojourner, traverse the picturesque northern Madikwe Game Reserve, unearth the utopian charm of Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipeligo, and seek extreme relaxation amidst the stylish floating chalets of the Zulu Camp at the private Shambala Reserve.
Our journey begins in Cape Town, South Africa, the seat of national Parliament, and home to Table Mountain and Cape Point. Having just received the honor of being named the World Design Capital for 2014, Cape Town remains Africa’s largest tourist destination and a must-see for visitors to the region. With the Ellerman House as home base, you’re free to explore the windswept coastline and gawk at the awe-inspiring topography; sensual and lush meeting in stark contrast an arid, mountainous skyline. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town is steeped in history and gently bustles against a backdrop of stunning colonial architecture and mindblowing panoramic vistas; a virtual theatrical production awash in exquisite color. Day-long excursions to the Cape of Good Hope and the musically listing hills of wine country indulge those looking for discoveries outside the city limits, while the green hills and looming mountains are ever-present, nurturing comforting reminders of the city’s welcoming warmth.
Moving on from Cape Town, Jacada arranges a helicopter ride up the coast and inland, and we arrive at La Residence in South African wine county, an enchanting land dotted with spectacular vineyards, cellars, and enough wine tastings to entice even the most discerning tippler. The area is home to world-renowned restaurants and soaked in provincial charm. Nestled between rugged mountains, the near-precisely Mediterranean climate and various soils combine to produce unequaled growing conditions. Wine production in the region dates back as early as 1688, as the French Huguenots settled the Cape and brought with them their immutable legacy of viniculture. The verdant countryside plays host to all manner of fresh produce and as a result, is home to many of Africa’s top gastronomic hotspots.
Jacada continues the luxury accomodations as a private flight takes us northward still to Madikwe, a game reserve in South Africa’s northwest. Here reside the “Magnificent Seven,” wildlife’s majestic lords. Elephants, rhinoceros, and buffalo impose their massive breadth while cheetahs, leopards, and African lions languidly search for sustenance and shade. Cape Hunting Dogs, with their singularly vivid, almost-painted fur, are one of the last wild and endangered canine species. Bordering the Kalahari Desert and Botswana at South Africa’s northwestern tip, the sandveld terrain of varying habitats provide setting for a variety of customizable activities: game drives, bush tracking expeditions, star gazing, culinary classes, fishing, and also spa treatments and a round of golf. All easily managed by Jacada’s experienced guides, the choice accomodations of the Molori Lodge serves as a sumptuous home base, blending seamlessly into the lush, expansive landscape.
With 300 types of birds and over 60 mammal species, the Madikwe Game Reserve is close to Johannesburg and malaria-free, a critical factor in some less-cultivated outlying areas of the continent. After indulging in a multitude of native wildlife, one could believe it impossible to top the natural beauty of the reserve. But Jacada Travel has arranged another flight from a private airfield- this time to Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipeligo and the stylish Azura boutique hotel. A tranquil retreat on the Indian Ocean, turquoise waters gracefully lap the white sand. Azura’s contemporary aesthetic appeals to the most jaded traveler, with thatched roofing and fresh air to the open sea, colored in aquamarine shades, clear to the milky, sandy bottom. Colorful fish manifest against alien-like reef formations. “Set just off of the Southern shores of Mozambique in the warm Indian Ocean, the Barazuto Archipelago is a protected national park with just a handful of luxury lodges,” says Alex Malcolm, founder of Jacada Travel. “It’s a wonderful place to relax and unwind, far away from the stresses of civilization.”
Nothing de-stresses quite like a secluded luxurious picnic.
Of course, if you prefer sailing native vessels, fishing, or snorkeling the reefs, four days allows a complete detoxification from the addiction to information in modern society. Endless sunshine and temperate waters make for an ideal intoxication of pure air, sunny climes, and good vibes. As some things inevitably must come to an end, a morning sunrise will bring another helicoptered journey back to the mainland and again via private aircraft on to the Shambala Game Reserve. This though, unlike the previous excursions, is an Air Safari.
Arresting views of the uniquely dynamic country are breathtaking; from the lush valleys to the Limpopo Province’s massive forest-covered kopjes (granite, rock hills) bearded in fauna, to the network of national parks. It’s close to Johannesburg, and the region borders Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to the North, making it the gateway to the rest of Africa. With some of the best horseriding in the country, Limpopo, featuring the Waterburg and Marakele reserves, facilitates multitudes of outdoor activities and experiences.
Throughout the Super-Luxe Africa journey, Jacada’s masterful taste infused drastic, unfathomable moments with chic, boutique hotels bred for comfort and style. There is a palpable sense of beauty in the seamless blending of accommodation and environment. Each of the lodgings, from the Ellerman House in Cape Town to La Residence in Wine Country, the incredible Molori Resort in the Madikwe Game Reserve, the nirvana of the Azura, the boutique hotel gem resting at the foot of turquoise tides, and the Shambala Resort in the Limpopo Region, each were marvels to themselves.
It would be difficult to see the astounding mixture of culture, nature, cascading waterfalls and tumbling river passes, vibrant colorful architecture and stark, rocky heights anywhere else on Earth. Africa bares it’s soul to the audacious habitué, if only for a while.
New York, NY, March 2013
Latin America offers an array of food varieties and flavors, ranging from the benign to the bold. From savory spices to home grown palates, the Western Hemisphere’s Spanish-speaking world incorporates the intensity and soul of the culture. With restaurants like Ceviche, Sushi Samba, and Bodega Negra popping up in NYC and London, it’s clear that the gastronomic flavors of South America have made their impact on the global culinary scene.
Jacada Travel (www.jacadatravel.com) has just announced the latest addition to their expanding portfolio, the Jacada Travel Gourmet Series – Six once-in-a-lifetime guided food-focused adventures featuring exciting experiences such as cooking classes in South America’s culinary capital and a private dinner at home with a South American chef high in the wine region. Ideal for foodies and adventurous spirits alike, travelers will enjoy plate after plate of some of the best food in the world. With summer’s soft warmth soothing the climes and fresh air swirling gently above, there’s no better time to indulge in a trip created to appeal to all of your senses- especially those culinary.
Jacada’s travel designers, who have all spent an extensive amount of time living the experience firsthand, making local contacts and discovering secret jewels, are able to customize all or parts of these dream trips to accommodate every individual traveler’s taste and pace. So whether you prefer the classic ceviche of Peru, haute cuisine of Buenos Aires, wine from Chile’s enchanting Central Valley or Mendoza, Argentina, there’s a trip to suit every palate and an indigenous culture whose spirit will stay with you for months, an everyday reminder of a robust, congenial people with a rich heritage of vivid consumption of life.
Beneath its physical beauty, South America is a veritable feast for the senses and a gastronome’s paradise. Music and dancing are innate; the place as a whole seems to bounce to a beat. Its capital cities are crammed with sophisticated gastronomy, featuring emerging art galleries and cosmopolitan nightlife, world-class restaurants manned by award-winning chefs and countryside retreats, New World wine valleys laden with traditional bodegas and modernist vineyards that serve gourmet cuisine to accompany rich vintage wines. The diversity of the landscape is reflected in the traditions of its people.
This trip, hand-crafted by Jacada’s senior travel designer George, aims to satisfy the most discerning of gourmand travellers looking to taste their way through South America. From the established brasseries of Buenos Aires, the bodegas of Mendoza, the vineyards of Chile, and to the stellar tables of world-famous chefs in Latin America’s gastronomic capital, Lima, to conclude in the city that always leaves its visitors wanting more: Rio de Janeiro.
The Purple Land reveals itself to the courageous visitor; enchanting, discerning, sensuous city- and landscapes dancing seamlessly with buoyant locals to bossa nova beats and a samba undertone. It’s an experience to cherish, every moment all that you wish to make of it.
Starting in Buenos Aires and ending in Rio de Janeiro, Jacada Travel provides a priceless excursion through all of South America’s gourmand attractions.
Buenos Aires (3 nights): Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America, is undoubtedly one of the most exciting cities in South America, both culturally and culinarily. Alongside a resurgent architectural and artistic atmosphere, a culinary scene has emerged that captures the essence of classic Argentinian flair; cafes that bustle after dark, tango salons, hip new restaurants and nightclubs in Recoleta and Palermo. The attractions of Buenos Aires will surely supply an ample amount of inspiration, and stylish locals entice in singular garb.
Mendoza, Argentina (3 nights): Mendoza, known for its lush wines and picturesque views is already a must-see amongst the wine set. Although constant sunshine and a consistent water supply from the nearby Andes set perfect conditions for wine growing, there is much to see and do outside of the vineyard culture; rafting Andes mountain run-off and spectacular restaurant visits round out a trip to the region. Three nights are enough for the visitor to immerse themselves in the vibrant natural settings and come away with a true sense of the Mendoza way of life.
Wine Region, Chile (3 nights): The Calchagua Valley, a Chilean treasure, has become one of the most important wine regions on Earth- even rivaling Napa Valley in quality wine production. The ground is a tableau of swaying poplars and combed vineyards. Explore the wineries while enjoying aesthetically pleasing, steep hillsides- the same hills that enable the robust harvests and provide the scenic nirvana. Several small towns including San Fernando, founded in 1742, color the region with their vast history of artisanal wine-making methods.
Lima, Peru (2 nights): Lima, Peru, is the cultural center of the mid-western coast and ranks as the fourth largest city in the Americas. An impassible stop for any Peruvian sojourn, Lima delights with numerous bistros and cultural attractions. Explore the colonial Spanish buildings, or wander streets in search of local social culture. It’s oceanside locale and subtropical climate entices the weary South American traveler to relax and appreciate the vast diversity of the Peruvian past, beckoning dreams of lost civilizations. It’s no small wonder that Lima, with its spirited, complicated past, is home to one of the oldest universities in the world- an immutable symbol of the land’s quest for more.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (3 nights): Amidst one of the most singular topographies in the world, Rio de Janeiro is a thrilling cosmopolitan city aside pristine, arching coastlines and golden, sandy beaches. In a city with so much natural diversity, a colorful culture bustles with an innate energy, style, and sophistication. Samba music echoes through the streets and off the mountainsides to serenade the whole of Rio with a sensual soundtrack. In addition to the dynamic musicality, Cariocas exhibit an habitual hospitality, characteristically charming and vivid. Though so much iconic imagery defines Rio, the intrepid visitor can still find some hidden gems, whether intimate samba dancefloors or small, independent bars, waiting to take your breath away with moist, sensual rhythms and an indigenous patronage exhibiting typically stunning good looks.
Not for the weak of heart, the wild Spanish fiesta of San Fermin is most widely recognized for the infamous Running of the Bulls. Tradition dates back to 14th-century Pamplona, and over time it has evolved into a daring weeklong fête where thousands of people run sometimes fervently, feverishly, and more often than not- as if for their very lives- afront of 15 charging bulls.
Not ready to put your life in danger? No worries. Fireworks, gigantes y cabezudos, contests, dancing and spirited locals will liven up even the most weary and jaded of world travelers.
The thought of traversing this overwhelming attack on the senses can be wrought with anxiety and an intense desire to absorb the Spanish culture and the festival’s very essence- and private-guided tour outfit Kensington Tours (www.kensingtontours.com) is offering just the itinerary for the courageously willing. The 10 day tour begins in Madrid, home to Spanish government and the monarchy.
Madrid is Europe’s third largest metropolitan area, behind only London and Paris, and operates as the cultural, economic, and political hub of Spain. Though ruins date as far back as prehistoric times, an established settlement at present-day Madrid dates back to the Muslim Age, around the second half of the 9th Century. Conquered by the Christians in 1085 AD, Madrid was integrated into the kingdom of Castile. Today the town largely maintains it’s original character, as many historic neighborhoods have been preserved through conscientious observance and protection, ensuring that visitors will have the opportunity to soak in the authenticity that Madrid’s city center has, through conservatorship, rendered available for centuries.
Kensington’s “Hemingway’s Spain” tour is fueled by the lore that for decades has followed one of literature’s seminal Giants. Ernest Hemingway called Madrid home during his time as a journalist in Europe, regularly attending the festivals and bullfights, fascinated with the brutality, the beauty, and the brilliant foray between man and beast. Regarding it with reverence, Hemingway utilized the symbolism of bullfighting; the innate need for a culture with “an interest in death”, and his own fixation on the line between life and mortality (likely brought on by wartime experiences), and moreover, the entire spectacle of the bullfight- Hemingway regarded them not as sport but drama: an anachronistic tragedy for bull and likewise, a triumph for man. However, it is bullfight as indicative of Europe’s savagery in the early 20th Century that beguiled the writer most, while Madrid, Pamplona, and a host of other Spanish towns, their arid beauty, and the rugged landscape of the Iberian peninsula set the stage for his epic storytelling.
True to Hemingway’s famous sojourns and destined to delight, Kensington Tours ensures that guests experience Spain the way Papa did. Spread over ten days, the lucky traveler begins their stay in Madrid, a city described by the author himself in one of his more famous works, Death in the Afternoon, as the most Spanish city of all, the most agreeable to live in, with the best climate in the world. A private guide versed in the history of the Spanish Civil War, the very time Hemingway spent in Madrid, accompanies guests on a walking tour, deftly painting and illuminating backdrops seen repeatedly in the writer’s novels. Amongst Hemingway’s favorite restaurants, Restaurante Botin (Cuchilleros, 17) stands alone- the city’s oldest restaurant features prominently in Fiesta, serving as the setting for the opening scene.
Bullfighting is on the menu as well, and guests have the option to experience one firsthand, guided by a former picador who excitedly explains the Spanish passion- describing the rituals and various aspects of bullfighting, giving a wider appreciation to the willing spectator. Designed by Jose Espeliu, the bullring of Madrid is a fascinating sight to behold, and when in the competent guidance of the former picadors, aficionados and amateurs alike can gain unrepeatable access to the facilities.
Although the bullfights are a large part of even contemporary Spanish culture, Roman monuments just outside of Madrid are just as engaging and irresistible. At Segovia, an hour’s drive outside the city, witness alongside a local guide the ruins of the great Aqueduct. Built by Emperor Augustus, the Aqueduct stretched for 10 miles, though only a fraction of it remains visible today. Nearby, Kensington’s tour continues to the gravesite of General Francisco Franco, the Santa Cruz basilica in El Escorial, returning to Madrid at day’s end.
Royal history and artifacts are central to Madrid’s long history, specifically in the last century. Kensington’s educated guides continue to lead your visit to the Royal Palace, built during the 18th Century, and featuring some of the most beautiful works of art still owned by the Spanish monarchy. “Monumental” hardly describes the palace, as ornate and detailed workmanship visually serenade the on-looker with awe-inspiring craftsmanship, rooms full of artistic treasures, and stunning preservation.
From Madrid, Kensington arranges for train transfer to Pamplona, home of the infamous Festival of San Fermin and the Running of the Bulls. Hemingway loved traveling to Pamplona, where he researched his manifesto on bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon, and later, The Sun Also Rises. Mingle with locals and visitors as the town fills to the brim with people from all over the world as they descend upon Pamplona’s streets, eager to run with the bulls or avoid them, respectfully in equity.
The festival of San Fermin begins at High Noon, the 6th of July, under skies bursting with chupinazo (a pyrotechnic rocket launch and show worth it’s considerable reputation). Eight o’clock AM begins the running of the bulls on July 7, a tradition dating back centuries, most likely induced by the local Medieval festivals held at the onset of Summer, where cattle and crops were brought to showcase local wares and artisanship. While the festival continues for one week, the world-famous single-day Procession takes place on the first full day of the festivities, July 7, as a 15th Century statue of Saint Fermin, accompanied by dancers, revelers, and politicians, floats through the town amidst a sea of gigantes (large paper-mache puppets controlled from within), a rose offering to Saint Fermin, and ancient traditional dancing, impregnating the lovely indigenous streets, pulsating to celebratory rhythms, with a sensation of the fervor and melodramatic hysteria which charms just as the very infectious melodies.
From Pamplona and the fascinating festival we head next to San Sebastian, on the Spanish Northern coast. Along the way you’ll stop at fantastic vineyards in the Roja Region, exploring ultra-modern facilities and family run establishments, alike. Upon arrival at San Sebastian, guests will stay at the Villa Soro, a charming 25 bedroom hotel within a renovated 19th Century villa, declared an Historial Heritage Building of San Sebastian. Tranquility, warmth, and courtesy define the upscale service, and the offering of a harmonious balance between the warm, familiar atmosphere of a home hundreds of years old and the services provided by Kensington’s luxury accomodations.
Every neighborhood of San Sebastian offers a plethora of establishments; from gastronomic treasures to the beautiful fisherman’s area of La Concha Beach, where the old casino functions as City Hall and witnesses a splendid promenade from which to view the breathtaking sunsets over the water. The best way to explore San Sebastian is through it’s food- to really embrace the culinary delights of the region is to understand the very way of life. Stunning wines and endless tapas set the stage for a relaxing, enjoyable stay.
From San Sebastian, move along the Basque coast to St. Jean de Luz, an important stop on a pilgrimage trail called St. James’ Way. Nearby one can also find the Balenciaga Museum, an important homage to one of greatest Spanish artisans, couturier Cristobal Balenciaga. His designs, including exotic fur linings and supple fabrication, feature front and center at the museum, opened in 2011.
At San Sebastian, our journey ends, having seen a great deal of the sights, sounds, and tastes of Spanish history. Through all of your senses, you have the opportunity to drink in the ambiance, discern local palates, and view the world through the very same lens as Ernest Hemingway must have done, less than a hundred years ago. With the Spanish culture, seeing and doing are the only ways to truly appreciate the complexity, the sincerity, and the joie de vivre of the Spanish people- their tragedy and comedy writ large on the walls of their cultural fresco.