Do you tire of seeing cityscapes and crowded streets full of tourists? Too many cars and too many obstructions to the starry night sky? Do you dream of feeling the fresh, cold air on your face and snow atop mountain peaks? Do you crave a full sensory immersion as you are transported into a different world? Imagine if you could go to the locations that David Attenborough’s nature documentaries were filmed. Not only can you soak yourself in nature, the mountains, African safari and the Arctic would take you out of your city and its comforts into parts of the world that most can access only through their television screens. Nature is an ongoing travel trend which people are willing to venture into, to find new and exotic holiday escapades, away from the crowds.
The easiest way to avoid overcrowded tourist spots is to go to places where most would not normally tread. Try climbing a mountain. Or two.
While the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, is already swarming with mountaineers, there are two mountains which bear familiar names that suffer no such indignity while providing the adventurous traveller a whole new holiday experience.
Since 2017, Ong Tze Boon, son of the late Singapore President Ong Teng Cheong, has worked to get Singaporeans to conquer the summits of two mountains named after his late parents – the Ong Teng Cheong peak (4,743m) in Kazakhstan and the Ong Siew May peak (4,451m) in Kyrgyzstan, which are within close vicinity to each other in the Tien Shan mountain range.
These two mountains are the first in the world to be named after foreign dignitaries.
For people who want to turn a holiday into a physical adventure, Incredible Journeys offers an annual trip to these two peaks from August 2 to 12 every year. Prior to the trip, there will be a 12-week long physical programme which must be strictly followed in order to attempt the summit. The intensive training will lead to weight loss, an increase in stamina and physical fitness and prepare you for the climb up both peaks. While reaching the summit is usually seen as the ultimate achievement, Ong said that the journey and the drive to climb is the ultimate prize. He said: “The experience will change you. You will suddenly see that there is an aspect in you that gets the beauty and the inner secret child in you that will appreciate beyond the usual merits of financial gain.”
Climbing mountains offers a rare chance to view of Earth’s beauty from above. Safety is always considered on the trip, with the organisers making sure participants get the right training for the use of harnesses and climbing equipment. And while there will be plenty of time to acclimatise for the climb, precautions are well taken, from medication for acute mountain sickness to high-altitude emergency medical equipment, even extrication by helicopter in the event of an extreme emergency.
The organisers will also advise participants on the right insurance coverage to purchase, and the location of each climber during the trip will be tracked and shown on the organiser’s website as well.
The journey – from Singapore to Almaty Airport in Kazakhstan to the mountains and back home, along with airport taxes, personal winter gear and clothes, insurance, Kazakhstan visa application fees and tips will set you back a minimum of $5,200, according to Ong. A small price to pay, if you consider that the expedition would, as Ong says, afford you the opportunity to “discover a different you”.
If climbing a mountain isn’t your cup of tea and you yearn to see the treasures of the icy north, you might consider a trip to the land of the Vikings.
Opt for a 10-day tour to Norway to experience the pristine beauty of the Arctic without facing the dangers that the early explorers had to contend with. You will be able to see the aurora borealis (northern lights) and ride snowmobiles at Tromso. If you wish to experience the thrill and adventure faced by the early polar explorers, the tour package offers you a chance to ride on a sledge pulled by huskies at the second destination on your Norway trip, Longyearbyen.
You won’t be sleeping in igloos, though, as the comfort luxury of hotels awaits. This will be the perfect chance to explore Norway and experience the climate of the North Pole with luxury and convenience. If you seek the polar opposite of Singapore’s climate, book EU Holiday’s 10D7N Svalbard North Pole with Tromso, Norway travel package to experience life at the extreme end of the Earth. This tour package is available from $4,588 per person and is available from November to March every year.
If snow-capped mountains or the frozen tundra gives you a chill rather than a thrill, how about heading to Africa? If you have ever dreamt of viewing the migration of wilderbeest across the plains of Africa in real life and not through the lens of National Geographic, then Tanzania and Kenya are where you should go.
Aside from seeing game sanctuaries, Serengeti in Tanzania and Mara in Kenya will give you two opportunities to view the magnificent beasts as they move across the savannah and lush plains. You will also be treated to tours of Nairobi in Kenya and Arusha in Tanzania, as well as immerse in a village cultural tour in each country. At Kenya’s Lake Naivasha, unwind as you watch a variety of wildlife while on a boat on the lake’s crystal clear waters. Hippopotamuses and birds such as flamingos are commonly seen and heard on your serene boat ride. From there, you can take a boat ride to Crescent Island, a game sanctuary where you can live out your fantasies as a nature photographer, up close with various species of antelopes, zebras and the waterbuck giraffes.
Don’t forget to check out the Nairobi Giraffe Centre to feed, touch and interact with giraffes. You might even catch a sight of warthogs in the mud at the Giraffe Centre. If you seek your own African adventure, EU Holiday’s 12D9N Great Migration Tanzania & Kenya tour is available from April to October, from $5,988 onwards per person.
Whether it is the mountains, the Arctic or Africa, this is simply a glimpse of the options for travel destinations. Test your physical limits in the mountains for an unforgettable view and experience. Bask in the pristine and vast Arctic landscape. Enjoy the African safaris and wildlife. Treat yourselves and your family to a unique trip into the world behind your television screens. Make your foray to the less travelled nature tourist destinations as an explorer of the new age of globalization.