Women-Only India Travel Club Breaks With Tradition

Flickr photo by rajkumar1220

Historically, the idea of independent travel was not an option for Indian women. They typically stayed at home, cared for by a husband or a father figure. But with more female opportunities in education and employment, the role of India’s women is changing. Say hello to Indian travel clubs.

Traditional travel groups for Indian women included widows, abandoned wives and the elderly. But even those women traveled with a male chaperone, mostly to religious sites. Today’s Indian travel for women includes trips around the world, from the the Taj Mahal to the Antarctic.

“In a typical Indian family holiday women end up in a role-playing mode of being a mother, wife, daughter and are often unable to experience a destination as an individual,” says Piya Bose, owner of Mumbai-based women’s travel group, GOTG (Girls on the Go) in an Aljazeera article.As the number of urban, educated Indian women grows, so have the number of travel clubs enabling them to see the world on their own.

With offices in both New Delhi in North India and Bangalore in South India, Women On Wanderlust (WOW) is another travel club, this one founded by travel writer Sumitra Senapathy who promotes the advantages of group travel. “They can come in solo but travel with the security that a group provides”, says Senapathy.

India Travel Guide

Antarctica Continues To Heat Up, As A Cruise Destination

Crystal Cruises

Antarctica is the southern most continent on Earth and can reach temperatures as low as −129°F (−89°C). But to cruise travelers, the home of the South Pole is one of the hottest new destinations around and cruise lines are sending them there in ever-increasing numbers. Once seen as a place of treks for hearty explorers, burly men of substance and adventure travelers, luxury cruise lines are finding Antarctica a popular choice, offering a variety of itineraries.

In ‘Antarctica For Sissies? Hardly, As Luxury Cruise Line Turns New Page‘ Gadling reported luxury line Seabourn refitting Seabourn Quest to make 21- to 24-night expedition sailings later this year. The 450-passenger ship will sail from Buenos Aires, Argentina, stopping by Montevideo, Uruguay, then the Falkland Islands before spending five days in Antarctica, running Zodiac landings to a variety of ridiculously amazing places.

Now, Crystal Cruises is sailing to Antarctica for a Christmas/New Year’s cruise beginning December 21, 2013. The Buenos Aires-Valparaíso voyage aboard 922-passenger Crystal Symphony sails through Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Falkland Islands, Drake Passage, Cape Horn, and the Chilean Fjords, going ashore on the Antarctic continent multiple times.Unique to the Crystal version of Antarctica, passengers can fly, hike, and zodiac over and on the icy continent and overnight at the Chilean Eduardo Frei Antarctic Base (INACH). Neither are cheap rides though, prices start at $7,450 per person.

Ice Melting in Antarctica From Underneath

Ski To The South Pole Just Like Prince Harry!

Skiing the last degree to the South PoleYesterday, we told you that Britain’s Prince Harry is planning on joining an expedition to the South Pole later this year in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the Walking with the Wounded program. The adventurous Prince will take part in a cross-country skiing race that will cover 335 kilometers (208 miles) in approximately 16 days, crossing the final three degrees of latitude before reaching 90°S. This will be a grand adventure to say the least, but did you know that you could go on a similar expedition yourself? That is, provided you are physically fit and have plenty of cash.

There are a number of adventure travel companies that offer what is known as a “last degree” journey to the South Pole. Those taking part in such a trip will spend their days skiing across the frozen expanse of the Antarctic Plateau and their nights in a winter camp on the frozen continent. Most itineraries cover about 60 miles in ten days, with the trip culminating with their arrival at the southern-most point on the planet.

Participants on a last degree expedition will need to be in excellent shape as they will be skiing over very tough terrain while pulling a sled filled with gear behind them at all times. They’ll also have to be capable of enduring cold weather, unexpected storms and harrowing whiteout conditions, which can arise unexpectedly. This is certainly not a trip for someone who prefers to take it easy on their vacations, as this type of expedition will push travelers to their physical limits.This isn’t a trip for someone with a small bank account either. A last degree journey to the South Pole will set you back approximately $58,000. Yes, you read that right – $58,000. That cost includes transportation to your starting point in Antarctica and a pick-up at the Pole, as well as guides, meals, support staff and everything you’ll need while out on the ice. International airfare to and from Punta Arenas, Chile, the usual starting point for an Antarctic adventure, is not included.

If you have the cash and the adventurous spirit required to undertake this type of journey, some of the companies that provide a last degree expedition to the South Pole include Adventure Network International, the Adventure Consultants, Abercrombie & Kent and Alpine Ascents. Personally, I’d love to do this trip, but unfortunately I only have one of the two requirements. Can you guess which one?

[Photo Credit: Adventure Network International]

Britain’s Prince Harry Racing To The South Pole In November

Prince Harry annoucing his expedition to the South PoleWe’ve known for sometime that Britain’s Prince Harry has an adventurous streak in him, and I’m not just talking about those questionable photos that emerged from his now infamous trip to Las Vegas last year. In April of 2011, he joined an expedition that skied to the North Pole, although he was forced to depart early in order to be home in time for his brother’s impending wedding. Last week it was announced that the Prince will once again set off for the colder regions of the planet as he now intends to join one of three teams that will be racing to the South Pole.

Dubbed the South Pole Allied Challenge 2013, this race will pit three teams against one another on a 335-kilometer (208-mile) journey that will cross the final three degrees of latitude to the Pole. Those teams will include a group from the U.K., another from the U.S. and a third combined squad from the Commonwealth nations of Australia and Canada. Each team will attempt to be the first to ski to the South Pole while battling high winds, whiteout conditions and temperatures that are expected to routinely fall below -30°F.

As with his previous arctic endeavor from a couple of years back, Harry’s new expedition is also taking place in conjunction with the Walking with the Wounded foundation. That organization was created to support men and women who have been injured in the line of duty while serving their country. The Walking with the Wounded program helps those soldiers to prepare for a return to civilian life after their tour of duty has ended. Harry has taken a particular interest in the program and has served as its patron for several years. The teams racing in the Allied Challenge will largely be made up of soldiers who have recovered from serious injury.

The teams will all gather in Antarctica in late November and begin the race shortly there after. It is expected to take approximately 16 days for them to reach the finish line at 90°S with the entire Allied Challenge wrapping up sometime around December 17 of this year.

[Photo Credit: Getty]

Antarctica For Sissies? Hardly, As Luxury Cruise Line Turns New Page

Antarctica

Antarctica draws the dreams of many and the visits of just a few. Located so very far from civilization, travel to Antarctica is the stuff of hearty explorers, burly men of substance and adventure travelers. Luxury cruise ships and their pampered passengers? Not so much. Until now.

Seabourn has a fleet of small ships that travel around the world to amazing locations in opulent luxury, something we rarely talk about here.

After all, does ultra-luxury cruising really qualify as “travel” anyway?

Probably so when it’s a 21-night expedition sailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, stopping by Montevideo, Uruguay, then the Falkland Islands before spending five days in Antarctica, running Zodiac landings to a variety of ridiculously amazing places.

OK, maybe that’s sort of traveling.

Antarctica
Agreed, but that’s before continuing on to Ushuaia, Argentina, followed by scenic cruising in the Beagle Channel, then on through Glacier Alley and the Cockburn Channel before a stop in Punta Arenas, Chile, which of course you need before passing through the Straight of Magellan followed by scenic cruising in Canal Sarmiento where the ship passes by the Amalia Glacier followed by a day in the Chilean Fjords.

Do I have your attention yet? No? Let’s press on.


Up next is a day in Puerto Chacabuco, Chile, then on to Puerto Montt, Chile, for the day just before a day spent scenic cruising Reloncavi Sound. Finally, those left standing will spend a day at sea before disembarking in Valparaiso (Santiago), Chile.

AntarcticaSound like a bucket-list adventure? Operationally, it’s no big deal for Seabourn. Their small yacht-like ships run itineraries from just a few days to a year-long, around-the-world voyage and have had almost all the luxury cruise travel bases covered.

Now, adding to its destination-focused roster of itineraries, Seabourn is heading south. But make no mistake about it; they are prepared.

Antarctic sailings have traditionally been the exclusive domain of expedition ships for good reason. Fortified ship hulls are extra thick and ice rated, a designation that provides an extra measure of safety in what can be brutal sea conditions. This is not a part of the world where luxury liners float around with passengers lining the decks sipping umbrella drinks to be sure, and that’s not what Seabourn has in store for those they take to the white continent.

AntarcticaTo customize Seabourn Quest for these adventures, they transformed the marina built into the ship, normally used by passengers for complimentary water sports, to house and launch multiple Zodiacs.

Who is going on these voyages? Seabourn past-passengers who have been asking for it along with first-timers who want to knock Antarctica “off their bucket list,” Seabourn’s John Delaney told Gadling, as excited about the new itineraries as a kid on Christmas Eve. “It’s the one continent we did not sail to,” explained Delaney.

Each Seabourn sailing to Antarctica and Patagonia includes five days of zodiac landings and expeditions to selected Antarctic locations. As a bonus, Seabourn Quest‘s small size will enable the ship to get closer to land, offering unprecedented wildlife viewing and the photo opportunities associated with Antarctic expedition cruising … with a twist.

AntarcticaAlso on board, will be an expedition team that makes up a who’s who of naturalists, scientists, and political and historical experts with decades of Antarctic experience, including experts in wildlife and exploration – adventure travelers who have been there and done that.

Each night, they will choose from hundreds of landing areas for the following day, to bring ships up close and ensure that zodiac landings can happen, based on decades of experience.

Award-winning photographers will also be on board to offer digital photography coaching, helping guests capture exciting wildlife images while sharing their knowledge, guidance and passion for Antarctica.

Three 21-day sailings, like the one detailed above, are planned. They are filling up fast and look to be a staple on the Seabourn roster of itineraries in future years as well.

An even longer, 24-day sailing does all of the above plus a stop at South Georgia Island, arguably “as interesting if not more so than Antarctica itself,” added Delaney.

The Seabourn plan promises to be far more than a fancy ship with some extra safety measures slapped on for show too, although they will be running the only all-suite ship in the area. Each passenger will receive an expedition-grade parka (emblazoned with the Seabourn logo) and a backpack. In addition, for those who need the right gear, passengers will have access to an experienced outfitter via the Seabourn website.

So what will it cost to come along?

Prices start at $14,999 per person, a bit over $700 per person, per day.
Yes, you could buy a car for that.
Sissies would buy the car.




[Image credit - Seabourn]