Holiday seekers have taken the act of photography to an entirely new level thanks to social media and smart phones that make it easy to click and post/share pictures. Now adventure enthusiasts looking for an adrenalin rush can sign up for a Drone Experience, exploring some of the world’s most remote and iconic corners with their very own drones. This will ensure they get better quality, higher resolution, professionally shot photographs that capture their unique travel moments from a perspective that were not accessible until very recently.
Travel companies have responded to this trend by hiring and grooming a network of cameramen and photographers who are specially trained to make such pictures and capture some of the most incredible destinations from a new perspective and height.
Companies like Black Tomato, a UK and US based award-winning luxury, bespoke travel company delivers imaginative and cutting-edge travel experiences around the world with the recently launched “Drone the world” service, a first of its kind. The company has on its panel a network of professional drone cameramen and artistic directors who have worked across various blockbuster films such as Star Wars, James Bond and award winning documentaries for the BBC and National Geographic.
An expert drone cameraman also doubles up as a guide and shows the guests the world from a whole new vantage point. These drone photographers will use aerial photography and expert equipment to give visuals that will do complete justice to the customised itineraries that will be rolled out customised to the guest’s requirements. World Travel Magazine, in consultation with Black Tomato has handpicked 10 destinations that lend themselves perfectly to a drone experience.
Myanmar offers the advantage of old world charm, beautiful temples and diverse landscapes that can be enjoyed on the mainland with just as many awe inspiring visuals and experiences awaiting on Mergui Archipelago. Deserted island exploration, crystal clear waters and fascinating indigenous communities can be seen in the 800 plus incredibly beautiful islands.
From Kawthaung Airport you are escorted to the yacht that takes you to the picturesque beach of Hasting Island. From here, head out to Lampi Island which is the largest island in the entire region with a rich marine and land-based wildlife on the coast which also has towering limestone caves. Visits to nearby villages can be arranged where you interact withMoken sea nomads, the elusive traditional inhabitantsof the island.
Next pit stop on the cruise is Pila Island where you can explore the adjoining jungles and creeks encountering exotic wildlife, birds and wildcats. The area is a diver’s paradise too. From here head towards the archipelago’s Mid Group and Frost and Potter Islands where you can sail, be on the beach or just spend time on the deck. A final halt at Zadetkyi Island calls for a barbeque on the beach and watching the sunset across Myanmar’s horizon, before heading back to Kawthaung completes the magical trip which surely the drone photographer has done justice to.
An expedition to the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ is a vacation that is far removed from the usual holidays that city dwellers end up taking. An intimate experience of raw nature and wilderness seen only in pictures and pages of National Geographic, being a part of this landscape is a once in a lifetime experience.
The trip brings you upfront with remote wilderness filled with authentic arctic activities that include camping on ice with survival experts. This spectacular, dramatic and untouched Arctic wilderness on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard is one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas. The frozen landscape offers the perfect opportunity for aspiring polar explorers to test their limits.
From dog-sledding to ice-climbing, chasing icebergs to awe-inspiring views, few other trips can match the sense of adventure and isolation. Set far above the Arctic Circle, it is ideal for someone wanting to experience polar exploration and camp in complete arctic wilderness, a feat only a handful of people accomplish each year.
This culturally immersive 10- night trip around Laos and Cambodia will familiarize you with the cultures and practices of this ancient land. Expert guides will provide background information and accompany you on a visit to the Laos capital city Luang Prabang where you will discover the famous Buddhist tradition of offering alms, take a cooking class, be educated on the history surrounding ancient buildings and head out on beautiful night cruise along the river.
Siem Reap is the next stop which will give you a perfect chance to visit the iconic site of Angkor Wat and learn about some of the secrets of the ruins. A traditional Khmer Scholar will be with you making the visit insightful. After exploring the depths of the temple and uncovering the terrace of Elephants where the King used to welcome back his victorious army, visit the Phare Circus which blends traditional and modern theatre, music, dance, acrobatics and juggling.
The final leg of the journey will be in the south to the gulf of Thailand where you will spend a few nights in Song Saa, a secluded luxury private island located in the middle of the ocean, flanked by tropical jungle paradise and pristine beaches.
A country of great contrasts, Namibia’s lunar like landscapes and desert-adapted wildlife contribute to making it a paradise for wildlife watchers. A 7 night luxury holiday provides ample scope to discover towering sand dunes and sleeping under the stars at Kulala Desert Lodge.
The red sand sea of Sossusvlei and the hike to the biggest dune in the world – followed by a drive to the Deadvlei, an enormous clay pan flanked by mammoth sand dunes will test your strength and stamina but will be well worth it. Take a hot air balloon ride over Sossusvlei, giving you the opportunity to marvel at the scenery from the clouds. The following morning fly in a private light aircraft over the desert to the secret hideaway of Desert Rhino Camp to track the endangered black rhino with local conservationists before going to Skeleton Coast where you will take exhilarating game drives with desert-adapted lion researchers.
From here you will be whisked off by 4×4 to explore the dune fields at Little Oasis, visit the seal colony, and enjoy lunch at the rusted remains of the Suiderkus shipwreck before taking a return flight back to camp. Finally, do not leave Namibia before taking a final night-walk in the camps surrounding the area.
Here is a dream vacation that promises mesmerising views and adventures that cannot possibly be experienced anywhere else on the globe. Fluorescent blue glaciers, temperamental volcanoes, majestic waterfalls, geothermal geysers and hot springs go into making the perfect Iceland tour.
Checking into Hotel Ranga, an hour away from Reykjavik would be the first stop. Surrounded by miles of scenic grassland with Mt. Helka majestically towering in the distance, the agenda for the day is to hike blue-iced glaciers by strapping on crampons, grab ice picks and head for a vertical climb under the watchful eye of an expert guide. This is followed by a jeep ride to Eyjafjallajokull glacier volcano and to the nature reserves of Thorsmork and Godaland where waterfalls are seen and rivers gush between glaciers and valleys surrounded by canyons and rock formations.
After a session of snorkelling in between slowly separating tectonic plates, head back to the city where ultra-hip boutique hotels, seafood restaurants, artsy cafes and music concerts are easily available. Following morning, take a super jeep and halt at the renowned sites that mark the Golden Circle. Enjoy whale watching with Minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and humpback whales along with sea birds such as gannets, puffins, guillemots, cormorants, gulls, kittiwakes, and Arctic terns. End the trip with a dip in the geothermal, mineral rich waters of the Blue Lagoon.
This is one of the best nomadic experiences you can ever have. Stay in ger camps with local nomadic families in the remote Bayan-Olgiy region that borders Russia and Kazakhstan. Embark on a hunting expedition of majestic birds on horseback the way it was done in ancient times
Start the trip with exploring Ulaanbaatar and its many monastery temples and communist planned courtyards and modern skyscrapers. Fly into Ulgii which is a predominant Kazakh city before driving east to Altantsogts, stopping at Oni mountain to see nests where eagles lay their eggs before joining an experienced Eagle Hunter who will be your instructor in the nomadic way of life. Take lessons on eagle hunting and set off on a route that has snow capped mountains and breath-taking glaciers in the background.
Keep your eyes peeled as eagles soar to monumental heights before swooping down to catch rabbits or foxes. For a deeper insight into these communities meet a shaman who will give you an idea of local rituals and then head back to Ulgii and Ulannbaatar on horseback or foot.
This 11-night trip will take you across the ruggedly beautiful and zen-like island of Java, which by far is one of the most peaceful spots in the world.
Enroute, stop at the idyllic private island and indulge in total luxury and relaxation. A sunrise tour will take you around the island familiarising you with its ancient history. See a most majestic sunrise from atop the mountain through the volcanoes in the distance. A tour of a Batik Factory will demonstrate manufacturing of traditional outfits that have been marketed for generations. Move to the untouched, powdery sands of the Karimunjawa Archipelago where you can indulge in some serious beach fun at the luxury Kura Kura resort.
The inland Bali and dramatic highlands of Ubud make for some great pictures, which we are sure your drone photographer is busy capturing while you plan the next stop at the stunning Hanging Gardens Resort. Located in a mountain valley, the villa is perched high on the edge of the hillside, providing a luxurious stay experience. A must do is taking a dip in the infinity edged swimming pool that provide a divine view overlooking the confluence of two tributaries of the Wos River.
Immerse yourself in the spiritual side of South East Asia on a 15 night luxury holiday that includes Thailand and Laos. After landing in Bangkok, take a flight to Chiang Mai, a city stepped in history and Buddhist beliefs.
Some of the best Thai food can be sampled here and there are opportunities to sign up for cooking lessons. Driving
along misty hills of Chiang Rai, reach Katiliya resort and spa where you soak in the most divine Thai massages before taking a dip in the palm lined pool. Drive to nearby mountains for unparalleled views of terraced tea and rice plantations, coffee fields and interactions with Karaen tribe villages
The remote Anantara Golden Triangle is next for your date with elephants. What makes the trip different is the luxury overnight cruise to Laos where you first halt at the historical capital of Luang Prabang. Visits to Pako Ou Caves, followed by temples is done on a traditional long tail boat up Mekong River, past natural limestone formations and fishing villages before arriving at the sacred Tham Ting and Tham Teung caves. Walk in the town of Luang Prabang and observe saffronrobed monks moving silently through ancient temples. Round off the trip with some time on the beach taking yoga lessons.
An 11-night luxury safari holiday will take you to Botswana and Zambia to see some of the best game viewing in Africa. Jeep rides, helicopter flights and island detours are part of this amazing trip.
Starting with the Sanctuary Baines’ Camp airstrip, spend the first few days at a luxury lodge observing nocturnal animals like leopards and African wild cats. From here you fly to a private airstrip on Chief’s Island before moving to Chief’s Camp. Game drives in an open 4×4 will show majestic lions roaming the plains hunting for native zebra and antelope. Next day, brace yourself for a chopper ride heading west towards the permanent delta for awe inspiring views before taking a boat or car to Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge which sits in the heart of Chobe National Park.
Home to over 50,000 Kalahari elephants spot the members of the Big Five as they flock to the Savute Channel by the decks of the lodge. Take a walking safari or game drive and end with dinner on the Boma and gaze at the stars with the lodge’s high powered telescope. Spent the last few days of the safari in dreamy idylls of Zambia, taking canoe trips to spot the water dwelling wildlife or relax on a sumptuous jetty. Also recommended is a day trip to Victoria Falls and Livingstone Island which are just 15km downstream.
More information on BlackTomato can be found here.
© This article was first published in Sept-Oct 2016 edition of World Travel Magazine.