Entries by Steppes Travel

Naturally New Zealand

In the higher reaches of New Zealand’s South Island, you’ll discover a thrilling range of wildlife experiences, culinary delicacies and cultural insights, all wrapped in the stunning natural environment for which the country is so renowned. The ferry journey from Wellington at the foot of the North Island takes you across the Cook Strait and […]

An Adventurer’s Insight – Q & A with Liz Bonnin

Liz Bonnin is a biochemist, wild animal biologist and television presenter.  She presented the spectacular three-part BBC One series Galapagos that aired earlier this year. Her other recent presenting credits include Wild Alaska Live and Stargazing Live. She is an ambassador for the Galapagos Conservation Trust and will be leading our Galapagos Islands Cruise wildlife […]

The benefits of booking with a tour operator

There are many benefits from booking with a tour operator – from the expertise of our team that gives you a better itinerary and saves you time to the expertise on the ground which gives you greater insight into the country to which you are travelling and that you know has been vetted by us […]

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The Problems of Overcapacity

I recently attended an excellent adventure travel conference in which I and my fellow tour operators were asked for our thoughts on four key issues facing the industry: currency, terrorism, Trump and over capacity. We were asked to list them in order of the threat we felt they posed to our respective businesses. I was […]

Joe versus the Thames Path

From Saturday 20th May until Friday 26th May I will attempt to run the 184 mile Thames Path from the river’s source in Gloucestershire (around 5 miles from the Steppes Travel office) to the Thames Barrier in east London. I will be running the equivalent of seven marathons in seven days to raise money for […]

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Pre-Inca Civilisations with Hugh Thomson

In a most engaging talk by Hugh Thomson last night, I learned so much about Peru and in particular its ancient civilisations. More than I have from any guidebook. That is the beauty and benefit of knowledge, of real insight. But more than just that, of real expertise clearly and concisely explained. Of a picture […]

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Namibia – A Journey in Photos

Namibia is remarkable not just for its beautiful desert landscapes, which contrast wonderfully with the endless blue skies, but also for the array of wildlife that thrives in these arid conditions. In combination with the photogenic Namibian people, this makes for fantastic photography. This was the demonstrated during Brian Helsdon’s recent trip to Namibia, which […]

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The Year of the Rooster

On the 28th January it is Chinese New Year and 2017 is the year of the rooster. The words China and Rooster are inextricably linked in my mind with Paul Theroux’s classic ‘Riding the Iron Rooster’ about travelling around China in the 1980s. Travelling throughout China in the 1990s and leading groups across this most […]

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Beyond the Clouds

China’s image is tainted by media reports of pollution. Whilst this might be true of certain cities and highly populous regions it is not a fair reflection on the country as a whole. At just under 10 million square kilometres, China is the fourth largest country in the word and forty times the size of […]

Celebrating New Year

Paul has just returned from holiday in Georgia where he was somewhat taken aback by Georgian New Year Celebrations and their powerful and perturbing predilection for pyrotechnics. Even Nina, his Georgian fairer half, held a firework in her hand as it burst into flame with repeated loud bangs. New Zealand was one of the first […]

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The Wonders and Wilderness of Chile

As welcome signs go they don’t come much bigger or more impressive than the Andes Mountains, appearing out of nowhere, rugged and gnarly as though they have been squeezed out of the flat Pampas surrounding them. Although I have been lucky enough to visit Chile before, the sight of the Andes never fails to excite. […]

Walking the Americas

Levison Wood returns to our screens with a new series on Sun 08 Jan, 8pm. This time Levison is trekking 1800 miles from Mexico to Colombia, initially exploring the diverse range of landscapes found in Central America before attempting to cross the Darien Gap into Colombia and South America. Along the way Levison meets a fascinating array […]

Hot Property 2017

Our list of where to stay in 2017. From city hotels and beach properties to safari lodges and eco escapes, these are the Steppes team’s picks for the year ahead. Matetsi River Lodge – Zimbabwe Brilliantly balanced in its inception. The new offering from &Beyond has exceptional guides and the type of service we have […]

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Flavours of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan cuisine is very distinctive, an exotic blend of tastes and aromas enriched by ethnic diversity and centuries of interaction with outside settlers. From early Arab traders to the European colonisers, Sri Lankan food has a wide range of international influences and is rich in flavour and variety. From rice and curry – a […]

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Why should you travel to Peru with us?

A note from our Peruvian partners on why you should travel to Peru with Steppes Travel.  Whisper it quietly but beyond Machu Picchu lies another Peru. One that our Peruvian ground agent love to discover and share. Yes Machu Picchu is worth flying across the globe to see. Yes Machu Picchu really is a wonder of […]

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Steppes Big 5: Reasons to travel to Oman

What do you want from your next holiday? If you want something a little adventurous, exotic, unusual, historic and geographically beautiful, Oman probably offers the holy grail in ‘soul-satisfying’ holiday destinations. Without a doubt there is plenty that this small, gentle, laid-back country offers but here are Steppes’s Big 5 reasons to go to Oman. […]

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Why Visit Bhutan?

Bhutan is a land of breath-taking, far reaching, mountain views, terraced farmland, dramatic river valleys and glittering streams, of people who are never in a hurry but are full of life, of unique architecture and impressive and colourful Dzongs. I can confidently say that anyone who visits this incredible land cannot fail to be affected […]

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India: Village Wildlife Guardians prevent tiger poaching

With the astonishing success of the Village Wildlife Guardians programme in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in India, this year the project is being introduced in Kanha National Park with sponsorship from Steppes Travel.   In December 2014, TOFTigers, in partnership with Tigerwatch and the Field Director of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in India, launched a project to recruit […]

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An early triumph for Iceland at Euro 2016

Despite not being able to boast any Icelandic heritage my heart was swelling with pride last night as the Iceland players, staff, and supporters sang their national anthem at the opening game of their Euro 2016 campaign. The sound was immense and the passion and patriotism palpable. The sense of humour, calmness and happiness of […]

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Mud, Sweat and Tears: Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

I woke early with feelings of trepidation, anxiety (Would I be able to do the climb?), nerves and much excitement. I was going in search of mountain gorillas, in Uganda, following in the footsteps of the great Sir David Attenborough. It was a mild morning, although the sky looked rather cloudy. With waterproofs packed, carrying […]

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Leading Ladies: One of our own – Q & A with Zara Fleming

Zara Fleming is an independent art consultant, researcher and exhibition curator who has specialist knowledge of Buddhist art. She first visited Bhutan in 1976 and has been returning ever since. She has been responsible for the Tibetan and Nepalese collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and Assistant Projects Director in Europe for the Orient Foundation.  We asked […]

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The Gardens of India – Steppes Top 5

If there was ever an opportunity to experience India’s aesthetic richness it is to explore one of its historic and gardens. Emperors and dynasties have created some extraordinarily beautiful gardens from grand Mughal style terrace lawns to botanical gardens with diverse and rare flora. Step into one these gardens for a moment of contemplation and […]

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A Sketchbook Journey to Morocco

Maxine is a full-time, independent artist based in Gloucestershire, teaches and lectures at home and abroad and exhibits widely. She is an elected Academician at the Royal West of England Academy. Maxine will help you capture the immediacy of the sights around you with simple, telling sketches. She will offer tips on rapid line drawing, colour […]

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Grootbos: Safari through the Cape Floral Kingdom

“It’s like driving through a painting.” I whispered to myself. I was on a 4×4 safari of Grootbos, an Afrikaans word literally meaning Big Bush in reference to the Milkwood Forests of the region. Nestled between the mountain and the sea, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is 2,500 hectares of wilderness showcasing the flora of the […]

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Food for thought in China

That night we ate at a local restaurant, a table on the pavement; bones strewn around, watching the world go by. Chinese cooking is justifiably famous around the world and back at home it is no different with food being a national obsession, as evidenced by the common greeting “Have you eaten?”. According to various […]

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Royal Steppes to India

The royal tour of India  and Bhutan is in full swing. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have played cricket in Mumbai, mingled with Bollywood stars at a fundraising gala and visited a charity for vulnerable children in Delhi. The sublime beauty of the Taj Mahal awaits before they travel on to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder. You too […]

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Steppes Big 5: Antarctica Activities

The journey to the Great White Continent is certainly no mean feat. However, to really enhance your experience whilst you are there we recommend you take part in the following activities. 1. Kayaking Paddling a kayak in polar waters gives a completely different perspective. Curious penguins often porpoise alongside, occasionally seals or even whales dive close […]

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Leading Ladies: One of our own – Q & A with Sue Flood

Sue Flood was an Associate Producer on the award winning BBC series ‘The Blue Planet’ and is a photographer, author, wildlife filmmaker and conservationist. Her travel and photography highlights include diving with humpback whales in the South Pacific, face to face encounters with leopard seals in the Antarctic, filming of polar bears in the Arctic […]

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The Birth of a Nation

The population of China, currently estimated at 1.2 billion, is bigger than the combined populations of the US, Europe and Russia. Although demographers argue that India will overtake China within the next thirty years, currently it remains the largest in the world. Historically too, it has had one of the largest populations in the world. […]

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Guatemala – A land of colour

“I will wear any brand of clothing but Banana Republic,” quipped my guide. Whilst it was typical of his sense of humour there was also a serious point to his joke. A quiet reference to the way in which his country has been stereotyped over the years. Yes, Guatemala was embroiled in a civil war […]

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Antigua – A city saved by earthquakes

Cradled by the soaring peaks of the volcanoes Agua and Fuego, Antigua is among the finest examples of the colonial architecture in the Americas. Built by the Spanish in 1543, when it went by the name of Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemala, for centuries Antigua was Central America’s most powerful city, something […]

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Be inspired by James Bond on your next holiday

The new Bond film Spectre premieres in London on 26th October. Shot in London, Rome and Mexico – notably with opening scenes featuring the Day of the Dead festival  in Mexico City – we are inspired this month to take a world tour in the footsteps of 007  film locations past. We hope you are shaken and stirred by our choices. How many have you […]

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Southeastern Promises: Big 5 to See & Do on your Thailand Holiday

I spent two months this summer exploring Thailand, as part of an extended journey around Asia. Whilst there I fell in love with the beautiful landscape, charismatic locals and delectable cuisine; here are my favourite places that I visited. Bangkok The capital of Thailand and most people’s entry point, Bangkok is chaotic, humid and exhilarating, but has […]

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An insight into a Chad holiday

Chad is a definite contender for those looking for a safari destination without the crowds. With the reintroduction of the rhino later this year, Chad will be the closest country to Europe that has the Big Five. Aside from its elephants and lions, it has big populations of giraffe and buffalo, a great variety of […]

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Chad Holidays – Horse racing in N’Djamena

Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. If that was not bad enough, it is blighted by the fact that it is surrounded by Libya, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. And thus, N’Djamena, its capital, is one of the least likely settings for a hippodrome and further more […]

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Gallery: Botswana Okavango Delta

Our Steppes client Lindsey Munro has kindly shared some of her images of her holiday to Botswana, exploring the Okavango Delta. Activities are as varied as the landscape in Botswana and the ultimate way to take everything in is by helicopter safari, which is exactly what Lindsey and her friends did, arranged by Botswana Travel Expert Bridget […]

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DRC – Gorilla Trekking in Kahuzi Biega

Straight away I am struck by the flamboyance of the women’s clothing, the eccentricity of the buildings and the demonstrative hand gestures of the people. The land of personality. I am in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in particular the lakeside town of Bukavu on the southern edge of Lake Kivu. There is a profusion […]

Big 5 Bear Facts

To celebrate Bear Appreciation Week, we bring you our favourite 5 bear facts. We’ve even added some jokes that make us giggle. Share your facts with us on Twitter or Facebook or test us on our bear knowledge. 1. Grizzly bears give birth in their sleep and can run up to 35 mph (not whilst asleep). […]

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An Iran Holiday – A Different Story

The American chef Anthony Bourdain recently travelled to Iran to shoot an episode for his CNN travel show “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”. The Islamic Republic surprised him in every way, and he describes the country as “extraordinary, heartbreaking, confusing, inspiring and very, very different than the Iran I expected. Iran is different, and Bourdain’s was […]

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Nyiragongo in The DRC – Climbing the Mountain of Fire

The volcanoes of the Virunga Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo are without doubt one of its best known features, indeed Virungas is a Kinyarwanda word that means volcanoes. Chief among the Virunga volcanoes is Nyiragongo, not on account of its height – that mantle goes to Karisimbi and its 4,507 metres – but […]

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Steppes Beyond | India: Tigers & Snakes

The tiger experts at Steppes Travel have years of experience in planning private safaris in India and know how to deal with frustrating Indian bureaucracy to ensure everything runs smoothly. We will plan your itinerary to avoid weekends and Indian public holidays where possible, but most importantly, we will create an Indian wildlife holiday that […]

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Guiding Lights: Aziza Mbwana

Aziza Mbwana has just been promoted to Assistant Head Ranger at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. She is the only woman working in Tanzania as a Ranger at the moment. With International Women’s Day around the corner we celebrate her dedication over the years, ensuring guests share in her passion for nature and fellow Rangers learn from her mentoring them. […]

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Film Review | Into The Wild

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon for each day to have a new and different sun” – Christopher McCandless, 1992.  Into the […]

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Dreaming of the Datai

Nestled in an ancient rainforest and metres away from one of the top 10 beaches in the world, is the Datai Hotel on the north coast of Langkawi. This was to be my final stop on my two week trip around Malaysia. On the 40 minute drive from Langkawi airport in the south west of […]

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Gallery: Wildlife of Chad

Chad is the nearest country to Europe that has the Big Five. Well it soon will be with the reintroduction of rhino later this year. Aside from its elephants and lions, it has big populations of giraffe and buffalo, a great variety of smaller cats and a highlight is the birdlife of Zakouma. It is […]

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Town Mongol and Country Mongol

“When did you last see your grandparents?” “Many, many months ago.” I look surprised. “But Boya, you have a young baby daughter? Do they not want to see her?” Boya, my Mongolian guide, replied somewhat defensively, “But I speak to her (his grandmother) every week.” He added apropos nothing, “She has wisdom.” I had just […]

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Gallery: A glimpse of Mongolia

Mongolia has a sense of space, tradition and laughter that cannot be found elsewhere. Travel west to the Altai mountains and the Kazakh eagle hunters who hunt on horseback in the winter. Few travel experiences can compare to riding on horseback in their company. Below is just a glimpse of what you can experience.

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Video: Kazakh Golden Eagle Hunters

Mongolia is not the exclusive preserve of the horseman, but if you want to experience the true essence of the country, it certainly helps. Over 70% of the population remain nomadic and as you ride across the flat open steppe you will still encounter isolated family ger (yurt) encampments whose occupants will inevitably offer you […]

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Eagle Hunters of Mongolia

Ulgii is a nondescript town of 35,000 in the far west of Mongolia. It was a three and a half hour flight from Ulaanbaatar on which I was the only westerner. My presence caused no raising of eyebrows nor did that of a Kazakh eagle hunter who looked noble in his long chapan (great coat) […]

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Unexpected Iran

“Only one thing is predictable on an Iran holiday – and that is that nothing is predictable,” quipped my guide. It was an offhand remark but one that was to ring true throughout my short stay in this wonderful land of the unexpected. Nothing was to be as straightforward as it seemed. Given the natural resources […]

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Georgian Hospitality

“If one tried to describe Georgia using one single word, the right word would definitely be hospitality”. – John Steinbeck People usually choose countries to visit according to their interests; some are fascinated by mountains, some by remote villages, some by arts and architecture, some by delicious cuisine and great wine or by song and dance traditions. Meanwhile, […]

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The Jewels of Ancient Persia

All I needed was half an hour. Think vast, whole families, sets – not lonely individual items. Dazzling to the eye, cool to touch, flawless. A stunning collection, each piece with its own individual story to tell. Priceless. There remained but one important question; how to quietly switch the alarms off. A visit to the […]

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Discover Zimbabwe

It’s hard to sum up Zimbabwe, especially its scenery, for it changes and inspires at every turn. In this beautiful country, the landscapes are dramatic, the people warm and the wildlife easily matches its neighbours. Guiding is key on any holiday but especially on safari – Zimbabwe is home to some of the most qualified […]

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Wonders of the Monsoon

The recent screening of Deluge on BBC2 captured some stunning scenes of Kaziranga National Park, India in the full flow of the monsoon rains. With rivers bursting banks, elephants are filmed in their yearly plight to escape rising waters and flee to the hills. The screening of this episode put Kaziranga firmly on the map. […]

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Space Travel – A Puna Experience

For western travellers used to concrete and the clutter of consumerism, space is a commodity worth travelling for. The emptiness of a desert or a savannah reawakens a part of the brain that hundreds of years ago looked on such open spaces and thought “what if?” I am travelling across the puna in North West […]

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The Jewels of St Petersburg

Having just come back from the Third International Faberge Symposium, held this week at the newly opened Faberge Museum – I feel in a better position to give you more detail about the trip to St Petersburg in February 2015. Russia may be suffering a bout of bad press, but St Petersburg is thriving. In December the […]

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Tibet, Tibet

“I like Chinese tourists.” I turned round to Dorje, my Tibetan guide, in surprise, “Because they are good for business?” “They go back.” Dorje’s acerbic comment cut to the core of the problems facing Lhasa and Tibet as a whole. The present invasion of Han Chinese being more far reaching than that of 1959 which caused the […]

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Skin Deep – Papua New Guinea

“He is a great cutter.” I stare at him. Is it my imagination or are his features crocodilian? “What makes a good cutter?” “He has twenty-five years’ experience. He can cut quickly.” Looking at the number of vivid welts across the bodies of the young men in the tambaran it was obvious that speed was […]

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Removing the blinkers

Kenya’s flag is divided into three colours – black, red and green embossed with a Maasai shield and spears. Each stripe represents a part of this evolving country and its worth remembering that the flag is not divided into 1 third safari scene, 1 third beach and 1 third unrest which might more accurately portray […]

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Galapagos Islands – Eminently curious

The natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention. – Charles Darwin, Journal of Researches I’m eating breakfast overlooking a small port. Sea lions are playing noisily in front of me; barking at each other, splashing on and off the pontoon. One of Darwin’s iconic finches keeps cheekily returning to my […]

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Galloping through Ulaanbaatar

Try changing gear before arriving in Ulaanbaatar, and adjusting your expectations. This is a country where anything can – and often does – change. Mongolia is as beautiful as it is remote and still largely untouched by tourism. The few people who live outside Ulaanbaatar are welcoming and friendly. We came across a Nomadic ger […]

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Bush-whacking in Alaska

“Hey bear, hey bear” went the thankfully unanswered call of our guide as we picked our way through the thick forest. I was “bush-whacking” on an uninhabited island in south-east Alaska, one of a choice of active excursions available during my time on the Safari Endeavour boat. Bush-whacking involves being dropped off by skiff onto […]

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Snakecatchers of India

Love them or hate them (and let’s face it there is no in-between) one cannot deny that snakes are fascinating creatures and make for the most challenging yet inspiring photographic subjects. This Summer I travelled along with Chris Haslam to discover some of India’s most mesmerising snakes. A journey, which even for a snake enthusiast, got […]

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A weekend in Moscow

From the ancient Cathedrals of Red Square to the secrets of the Kremlin and ghosts of Lubyanka, Moscow is a city with an ancient and enthralling history. I was determined to see as much as possible whilst there. By chance our lecturer Dr William Taylor was in Moscow at the same time and magically organised […]

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Mighty Mombacho

Flying over Nicaragua, it’s easy to see why locals refer to it as the ‘land of volcanoes’. After all, this is the Pacific Ring of Fire. Luckily, the majority of these majestic cones currently lie dormant, so make for a dramatic landscape and some incredibly scenic walks. The mighty Mombacho was our volcano of choice. […]

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Rio Perdido – A must visit

Brightly-coloured birds, lush rainforest and richly roasted coffee. Each of these images of Costa Rica was realised within my first few days in the country but what I hadn’t expected was to find a whole lot more. It’s fair to say that Costa Rica is the most developed for tourism of the Central American countries […]

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Beyond the Tigers of Tadoba

“It is not just about the tigers though” he added, keen to point out that Tadoba Andhari National Park is no one trick pony. “We have leopard, sloth bear and Indian wild dog in Tadoba…the dogs were here only yesterday afternoon”. As we enjoyed a simple lunch of vegetable Thali, Tiger Trails’ owner A.D. exuded […]

Faces of Papua New Guinea

”Wherever we stopped people came forward to shake hands. They smiled. There was a warmth, openness and welcome. It is a friendliness that challenges the aggressive stereotypes that prejudice preconceptions of the peoples of Papua. Above all they spoke English, allowing for engagement, a reciprocity that is all too rare in travel today. There was […]

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Delhi – A different perspective

Viewed by many just as an entry point to northern India, I feel Delhi is given rather short shrift. With 25 million people calling Delhi home it is the world’s fourth most populous city – a sprawling giant continuously inhabited since the 6th century BC. It is the world’s most polluted city but ever-proud Delhiites […]