Extraordinary Original Travel Experiences
Based in South West London, Original Travel are our go-to travel company who take a thoughtful but savvy approach to creating your perfect tailor-made holiday. The team use personal insights and inside knowledge of over 90 destinations worldwide to create unforgettable trips.
In celebration of their 15th birthday this year, they have looked back at all of the fabulous places they have visited and some extraordinary experiences along the way. This then got them thinking: what are the most amazing things you can do on this glorious planet?
They have published THE LIST, a gigantic black book of 90 (yes, NINETY) of the most life-affirming, spiritually uplifting, adrenaline inducing and downright fun things you can do with your clothes on (and some with them off). We’ve caught up with their co-founder, Tom Barber, who’s given us a taster of some of these experiences to tick off your travel list.
Fly camping in the Selous, Tanzania
Fly camping is a distillation of all the best elements of a luxury safari; excellent service from a small dedicated crew, delicious food and, most importantly, unforgettable wildlife experiences all enjoyed in complete seclusion.
Explore Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve – famed for its plentiful game, including wild dogs – on foot with an expert guide while the advance team pitch your fly camp, consisting of a comfy bedroll, mozzie net and bush bathroom complete with a bucket shower. Spend a light pollution-free night out under the stars, with the distant howl of hyenas lulling you to sleep.
Any stay in Japan is rewarding on many levels, but for the ultimate insight into the Japanese way of life, stay in a ryokan, or traditional inn. These elegant boutique hotels, some with their own onsen hot springs, are oases of calm where the rooms come complete with tatami floors, rice paper walls and futon beds. It takes a while to work out the etiquette (no shoes – slippers and yakata robes provided) but once you get the hang of it, this is a deeply civilised way to learn more about Japan.
Best of all are the kaiseki dinners, served in your room. Expect multiple elaborately-prepared courses, some of which you may have trouble identifying (e.g. kombu, or kelp seaweed) but all of which are delicious.
Cajun cuisine, the birthplace of the blues, jazz, swamps, alligators, Elvis, cotton farms and the Great Smoky Mountains. Where else but the great American Deep South? Experience a thick slab of southern American culture whilst self-driving through New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville and beyond. Paint the town red dancing to live music in New Orleans, marvel at cotton plantations in Natchez and cruise along the mighty Mississippi River in Memphis. Then, it’s on to Nashville – home of country and western music – before hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Finish off in Atlanta for a final dash of southern comfort, and you’ve got yourself one epic US road trip.
Cookery classes in Bologna, Italy
The locals like to say that a Bolognese innkeeper caught a glimpse of Venus in her bedroom and dashed to his kitchen to create a dish inspired by her beauty, in the process contributing tortellini in brodo to the world. We’re not sure how accurate that story is, but Bologna – the food capital of Italy, which is saying something – is surely the best place to learn how to make it, along with rich ragùs, carnival sfrappole (sweet fried pastries), and all manner of other delectable dishes.
The southern hemisphere winter solstice hails the festival dedicated to the Inca Sun god, Inti. Learn how, in less faint-hearted times, up to 200 llamas were offed in an orgy of sacrifice and worship when the head honchos of the Inca Empire would gather and nod approvingly at a parade of cloth-bound mummies that were exhumed from local temples. Thankfully, it has all calmed down a little these days but it’s still a truly exceptional and thoroughly authentic celebration of the sun, complete with coca leaf reading, regal parades and – mercifully – only one poor llama meeting its maker.
You can order your complimentary copy of THE LIST here. Well, that’s your next ten year’s holiday plans sorted.
Travel Contributors: Original Travel
Photo Credits: Sand Rivers Selous, Original Travel