If there were ever a place that comes close to the paradise that was the Garden of Eden, it is the magnificent state of Kerala, India, during the monsoon! The flora, greenery, and wildlife that blossoms during this season consistently redefines the word ‘lush’ and presents visitors with vistas that are assured to bewilder and amaze you. No place in Kerala encapsulates this more than Munnar and it’s otherworldly, dazzling purple and blue Neelakurinji flowers!

Courtesy Kerala Tourism

Starting from the middle of this month and carrying all the way over to October, the hills of Munnar will be covered in row after row of these ethereal flowers. The blooming of the Neelakurinji flowers is a phenomenon that occurs only once every 12 years and sees hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to Munnar to take in a rare sight that most people would only get to see a handful of times, in their life. This quaint Kerala town will be blanketed in seemingly endless swaths of blueish-purple flowers, transforming into something that would not look out of place in a science fiction movie!

Courtesy Kerala Tourism

The flower itself usually grows at altitudes of 1300 to 2400 meters and it is typically about 30-60 centimeters tall, although it has in certain instances been known to grow beyond 180 centimeters. While botanists officially call it ‘Strobilanthes Kunthianus’, the local name ‘Neelakurinji’ loosely translates to ‘blue flower’. It also has over 40 different varieties, with each one displaying a spellbinding shade of blue, purple, or something that stands delightfully in-between. There are roughly 450 different species of Strobilanthes in the world and a whopping 146 of these are found in India!!

Courtesy Kerala Tourism

It is estimated that over one million travelers from all over the globe will make the journey to Eravikulam National Park, which is currently the core habitat of the Neelakurinji flower, in order to witness this majestic, all too fleeting phenomenon!

Courtesy Kerala Tourism

The Kerala government plans to implement a number of measures so as to ensure that the sudden influx of travelers do nothing to damage the delicate ecosystem that exists in Munnar. A number of NGO’s, including the ‘Save Kurinji Campaign Council’ are also working in tandem to this end. Besides augmenting the already scenic beauty of the Munnar hills, the Neelakurinji flower also serves as food and sustenance for numerous insects, honeybees, and butterflies.

Courtesy Kerala Tourism

The flower can be witnessed between the months of July and October 2018, at the Eravikulam National Park, Kerala. The park is a five-hour drive from Kochi and has visiting hours from 7:30 am – 4:00 pm with a Rs. 120 entry fee for Indian nationals.

Courtesy Kerala Tourism

More spectacular images of the flowers blooming from years past can also be viewed on the Kerala Tourism Department’s official website!

Slovenia

How can you not fall in love with a country that has the word ‘love’ in it! Slovenia – a hidden gem of Eastern Europe, is still fresh and untouched, and draws backpackers to its shores due to its affordability. Though small, it has everything you can ask for. A green country that strives hard to keep it so, an adventurer’s delight, a foodie’s haven, and the charming Lake Bled! Do you still need more reasons to love Slovenia? Well, here are top 10 reasons to travel to this fairy-tale nation.

1. It’s so green 💚

Slovenia
Alpine Logarska Valley

After reading this most of the other cities in the world will turn green with envy! Slovenia was named the European Green Capital in the year 2016; it was also declared the world’s first green country. Slovenians take pride in keeping their country clean and green. There are methane-powered buses, electric boats, and electric bicycles with plenty of biking lanes and tracks. The country believe in zero waste policy for sustainable living – in every term, it’s an environment-friendly country! No matter where you are in Slovenia, you are always surrounded by greenery – isn’t this a reason enough to love Slovenia?

2. It’s capital city, Ljubljana

Ljubljana

The literal translation of Ljubljana is ‘the loved one’ – no wonder it’s easy to fall in love with this small yet strikingly beautiful city. One of Europe’s smallest capital cities, Ljubljana is also one of the greenest and most livable cities. The summers are filled with festivals; cafes and pubs brims with locals and tourists alike. A bicycle-friendly city, it’s a pleasure to roam around the capital on a bicycle. There are dozens of Roman ruins, museums, and parks to keep you on your toes throughout the day.

3. Adventure junkies’ paradise

Slovenia
Rafting in the emerald waters of Soča river

Slovenia is ‘the’ destination for those looking for some adrenaline rush. Bungee jump from the Solkan Bridge, whitewater rafting or kayaking down the Soča River, or try ziplining in Planica – the thrill you experience will be worth your every penny! The ones who are not very adventurous can go for the long- distance hikes in the picturesque Julian Alps or hike to the equally stunning Virje waterfall.

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4. The surreal Lake Bled

Lake Bled

It’s like you have landed in paradise, such is the feeling once you visit the town of Bled. The town is known for its beauty with picture-perfect settings of Lake Bled and the stunning Julian Alps in the background. Visit the island on a wooden traditional boat – pletnas, and climb 99 steps to reach the Assumption of Mary Church. Take a stroll around the lake or just sit by the lake shore to soak in the surreal views. The 12th century Bled Castle is another terrific highlight of the town and makes for a fairy tale wedding venue.

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5. Dragons, castles, and folklore

Slovenia
Predjama Castle

You will not run short of fairy tales or stories on dragons and mythical creatures if you happen to be in Slovenia. There is a famous folktale and a legend about a ferocious dragon that lived in Ljubljana, who was killed by a prince, hence the emblem of Ljubljana bears a dragon. The iconic Dragon Bridge also bears four dragon statues. The stunning Lake Bled also has stories of fairies attached to it. And, of course not to forget the Pedjama Castle, a Renaissance fortress which is the largest in the world to be built into a cave – one of the most visited tourist attractions of Slovenia.

6. Wine, wine, and more wine

Slovenia
Herzerl Strasse, vineyard in Spicnik

Fall in love with wine all over again in Slovenia! Harvested in the Mediterranean climate of Slovenia, the wine produced here is no less in comparison to that of Italy or France. Slovenians have been producing wine since the Illyrian and Celtic times and it’s an integral part of their tradition. Choose wine from the variety of family-owned vineyards or take a tour of the wineries – a great way to spend some time in the countryside. Be a part of the Old Vine Festival held between September and November in Maribor and enjoy the finest of wines.

7. It’s way cheaper than its neighbours

Slovenia
Ski center of Vogel

Slovenia is value for money. It is way cheaper than its neighbours – Italy, Croatia, Hungary, and Austria. The alpine resort of Kranjska Gora and the ski resort of Vogel in the Julian Alps is much more reasonable than the ski resorts of Switzerland and will not burn a hole in your pocket. Backpackers prefer Slovenia over the other European nations as the accommodation, food, and the cafes are cheap and affordable  – one of the major reasons to love Slovenia.

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8. Tourist loving locals

locals

The locals of Slovenia are extremely friendly and hospitable. They are more than happy to introduce the tourists to their culture, food, traditions, and help you with sightseeing as well. The locals are very sporty and competitive, don’t be surprised if they ask you for a sprint race. Try to find yourself an accommodation in a traditional farmhouse in the countryside to enjoy and experience the life of a Slovenian. The locals do speak English, so you will not face any problem in communicating with them.

9. The food is awesome

Gibanica

Come summer and you will find the locals flocking the main squares; best restaurants bring out their street version of their popular dishes. Slovenians love their food and are passionate about it; the locals are always game to show their culinary skills to their visitors. There are culinary schools that will help you master the Slovenian art of cooking in no time. Most of the food is made from the local ingredients, using  fresh produce from the farms. The country boasts of over 170 local dishes; don’t forget to try the traditional dessert, Potica, it has about 80 different fillings – who is hungry?

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10. It’s not so crowded!

Slovenia

Unlike its Italian neighbour, Slovenia receives less tourists – which means you can roam around the county without having to deal with the noisy crowd. There can be times when you will not see a soul on the streets, especially on weekends, as the locals are busy indulging in outdoor activities. You can enjoy the Mediterranean weather and eat delectable food sitting by the river or enjoy a glass of wine, or soak up some sun by the sea – sans tourists! As the nation is getting more spotlight, the traffic of visitors is slowly increasing, so make sure to head to Slovenia before everyone else does! We are sure you will fall in love with this little-known paradise!

Top places to visit in August
Top places to visit in August

Want to squeeze in one last vacation before the bitter winter sets in and almost all destinations get ‘touristy’? If yes, there is no better time than the month of August! The climate is still balmy, the trees green, and plenty of discounts, providing a travel enthusiast the right kind of environment for some last-minute summer fun.

Enlisted are top 5 places to visit in August. Have a look at them and choose one for your next holiday!

1. Berlin, Germany

shutterstock_530420983-Berliner

Avg. Temperature: 21 Degrees Celsius to 24 Degrees Celsius

Why?

Food, festivals and freaking discounts: what else would be a better motivation to visit this gem of a country? While most of the European countries are jam-packed during summers, Germany for some mysterious reason offers the lowest accommodation rates.

Things to do in Germany in August: Hamburger Dom (27 Jul 2018 – 26 Aug 2018), Miniatur Wunderland, Cologne Cathedral, Europa-Park, Mercedes-Benz Museum, Neuschwanstein Castle etc.

Check out our Cheap Germany packages here!

2. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

shutterstock_263605307-Galapagos

Avg. Temperature: 23 Degrees Celsius

Why?

Are you a nature enthusiast? Do you fancy a longish cruise that gives you glimpse of the biodiversity of this gorgeous Island, while you enjoy the cool summer breeze? The Galapagos Islands are where you need to head to!

Things to do in the Galapagos Islands in August: Galapagos Beach at Tortuga Bay, Los Tuneles, Reserva El Chato, Puerto Chino Beach, Concha de Perla etc.

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands

shutterstock_345405935-Amsterdam

Avg. Temperature: 21 Degrees Celsius

Why?

August is officially Amsterdam’s fun month. Right from the old city, to cafes, museums, and shopping arenas, everything is loud and provides enough merriment for you to last this winter.  It only helps that the whole month is dotted with a variety of events, and keeps you on your toes.

Things to do in Amsterdam in August: Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, Vondelpark, and more!

Check out our Cheap Netherlands packages here!

4. Bali, Indonesia

shutterstock_534195154-uluwatu-cliff

Avg. Temperature: 23 Degrees Celsius

Why?

Gone are the days when Bali was branded as a hippy getaway.  Slowly but surely, it has graduated to a serious, serene getaway that appeals to almost all types of travelers. From spiritual seekers to backpackers to people travelling with family – they will find this city cool, sophisticated, and appealing – all at the same time!

Things to do in Bali in August: Tegallalang Rice Terraces, Ubud Monkey Forest, Ubud Art Market, Kintamani and Mount Batur, Bali Safari and Marine Park etc.

Check out our cheap Bali packages here!

5. Westman Islands, Iceland

shutterstock_157181360-Westman

Avg. Temperature – 20 Degree Celsius.

Why?

Make the most of 20 hours of sunlight, rolling green landscapes, active volcanoes, glacier-cut fjords, deep valleys, black sand beaches, and thriving rivers, as you visit Iceland during the month of August.

Things to do in Iceland in August: Whale watching tours, the Reykjavik Bar Crawl, the Icelandic Culture Night, etc.

    Check out top places to visit in Montenegro!

Also, know top places to visit in Malaysia!

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek and his walking companion, Alex Moen, climbing the steppes in the Mangystau region of Kazakhstan. You can follow the Out of Eden Walk in real-time online at http://outofedenwalk.nationalgeographic.com/ Picture courtesy - ©John Stanmeyer

If you are reading this, chances are you have traveled yourself, and as each trip of yours came to a close you may have wished for your trip to go longer, just a few more days before you head back to work. Today’s story is about a man, who has been travelling around the world for the last 5 years and is planning to travel for even longer! But his story is not meant to give you pangs of jealousy and bouts of ‘so lucky, I wish I could do that’, it’s meant for something else altogether, something very special and deeply meaningful.

Paul posing in a 900 year old fort located in the Silk Road.

Paul Salopek – a two-time Pulitzer award-winning journalist (Pulitzer is like the Noble prize in Journalism) wants to broadcast the perspective of local people (villagers, traders, farmers, and more) he encounters on his walk across the world. Traditionally, these voices have been massively under-represented by global media and he wants to change that, by covering the biggest topics of our times like climate change, mass migration and more through their eyes. In this truly remarkable pursuit and journey, Paul is retracing the global migration journey undertaken by our ancient elders, starting from Ethiopia (present day Eden) and ending at South America. Safe to say that a journey like this, that stretches across 21,000 miles across the entire world, has never been undertaken before.

The map of the entire trip for Out of Eden walk! © National Georgraphic © RYAN MORRIS, NGM STAFF © https://www.nationalgeographic.org/projects/out-of-eden-walk/

Paul who started his journey in Herto Bouri, Ethopia has walked across Kazakhstan with a donkey, taken refuge in a cargo ship to escape civil war, met Bedouin nomads of Saudi Arabia, and hiked across the oldest farmed landscapes in the world in Turkey. He has already covered 16 countries and is currently walking across India.

Paul sometimes wakes up to incredible views like these. This was captured by Paul himself in the beautiful Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan.

Paul really wants to stress on the importance of slowness of his walking journey. ‘By slowing down to walking speed, I hope to rediscover the physical world as the first wandering humans had, one step at a time, exploring it through their skins. The walk’s journalism is a hybrid. It embraces the latest technology (the laptop, the GPS, the satellite phone.) But its frame of reference hasn’t changed since the days of the wandering bard. This project intends to render current events as a form of pilgrimage, as the story of a quest, perhaps the oldest genre in history. The trail demands patience’ says Paul.

As Paul walks across the world, he encounters every kind of visual on offer, including kids jumping in joy after swimming Picture courtesy – ©John Stanmeyer

A surprising outcome of the walk, is its use as an educational tool in classrooms and newsrooms across the world, where the value of slow journalism is being taught.

10 Reasons to visit England - London

England, one of the most visited countries in the world, boasts of a rich history, culture and traditions that have defined the world for the last couple of centuries. This island nation is strewn with historic castles, Roman ruins, mysterious Celtic and Nordic and pre-historic sites. Its lyrical landscapes featuring windswept beaches, scenic lakes and mountains and charming villages have served as inspiration for legendary writers and authors.

The quaint medieval towns of Oxford, Cambridge and York will transport you to a bygone era. And then there are modern cities like London, Manchester, and Liverpool with their cool street art, buzzing nightlife, unlimited avenues for entertainment, dining, and happening art scene. England is also blessed with typical English traditions, a rich treasure trove of artworks and a delicious culinary scene featuring top Michelin starred restaurants and Asian restaurants.

If England is on your mind and you’re wondering for specific reasons to visit the country, we’ll give you ten!

Check out 10 Amazing Reasons to Visit England!

1. Rich history and heritage

10 Reasons to visit England - Corfe Castle
Sunrise over Corfe Castle, Dorset County, England

Every nook and corner of England is dotted with medieval towns, historic monuments, Norman castles and classic palaces, pre-historic sites, Roman and Nordic ruins and World War relics. England also has its fair share of historic tales of the Norman Invasion, 100 years’ War, the English Civil War, the Battle of Waterloo, the Great Fire of London, bombing of London and many more interesting tales like the unexplained murders by Jack the Ripper. Charming and typically English towns like Oxford, Cambridge, and York are reminiscent of the English Renaissance and Victorian ascendency.

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2. Vibrant, cosmopolitan cities

10 Reasons to visit England - York
Town of York, England

We all know about London. The city had dominated the world for two centuries and continues to be a key global city for its politics, economics, culture, sports, and food. Apart from London, cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham are culturally diverse and cosmopolitan with enough attractions and activities to keep visitors interested and coming back for more!

READ MORE: Football, Food And Films: London’s Must Have Experiences!

3. Stunning British coastline

10 Reasons to visit England - Jurassic Coast, Dorset, England
Poetic sunset over Jurassic Coast, Dorset County, England

The British coastline is raw, untamed, and blessed with vast wilderness. Craggy cliffs and secluded coves are intersected by pristine beaches. The white cliffs of Dover, the scenic beaches of Cornwall, the vast windswept and raw beauty of other British sea-side towns and counties like Tynemouth, Suffolk, Devon, Brighton, Kent, and Dorset. Visit any of these places to witness the stunning coastline, the breath-taking skies and laze by the sea!

READ MORE: 10 Classic French Pastries And Desserts That You Must Try When In France

4. Lakes, hills, and valleys

10 Reasons to visit England - Lake Buttermere, Lake District, Cumbria, England
wooden bench with a view of Lake Buttermere, Lake District, Cumbria, England

The Lake District of England that has 19 lakes such as Windermere, Ullswater, and Buttermere, has inspired many poets, artists, and writers, including the highly revered English poet, William Wordsworth. The sparkling blue waters of lakes surrounded by green valleys and hills are among the key highlights of England tourism. The fabled beauty of Lake District draws millions of tourists and locals to its lakes, hills and valleys dotted with forests.

READ MORE: Chocolates, Waffles And Fries: Indulge In Belgium’s Food And Desserts!

5. Peaceful English countryside

10 Reasons to visit England - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire, England
Beautiful Forest of Bowland, Lancashire, England

The English countryside paints a pretty picture – green rolling hills dotted with picturesque English villages, gardens and farms stretching all the way to the horizon! The lush green English countryside is ideal for relaxation and solitude. Old-fashioned English villages with their quirky traditions, pretty cottages and gardens, farmer’s markets, and amazing local festivals – what’s not to love? Head to counties like Cheshire, Lancashire, Cotswolds, Dorset, and Essex for long country walks and enjoy the peace and quiet of the beautiful English countryside.

READ MORE: 10 Must Visit Fairy Tale Castles Of Germany!

6. Seasons, colours, and landscapes

10 Reasons to visit England - Cotswold Village, Broadway, Worcestershire, England
Snowed village of Cotswold, Worcestershire, England

Weather discussion is one of the key pastimes of English gentry, but when it comes to seasons, England’s beautiful landscapes change colours and character. The summer months are bright, lush green with clear blue skies. Autumn months add shades of red, ochre, yellow and orange amidst deep blue skies. Winters are all about grey clouds, snow storms and shades of white and grey while spring brings forth the vibrant hues of flowers.

READ MORE: Van Gogh, Windmills And Tulips: Explore Netherlands Through Its Museums!

7. Cricket, football, and sports

10 Reasons to visit England - Lord's Cricket Ground, London
Lord’s – The Home of Cricket

When it comes to sports, England is the best place to catch some of the greatest sporting events and top players. The English Premier League is one of the most actively followed football leagues globally. Clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea have huge fan following. Football originated as the working-class game in the 19th century and has become the most popular sports in the country. Cricket, the national sport of England, has a rich history and tradition as well. England’s Ashes tales are very well documented and celebrated. England is also going to be the host of 2019 Cricket World Cup! Wimbledon, the greatest grass court Grand Slam is another annual event that draws top tennis players to London in July.

READ MORE: Top 10 Stunning Places To Visit In Canada

8. Delicious food and drinks

10 Reasons to visit England - Afternoon Tea
British tradition of Afternoon Tea

England may not have the cuisine to compete with the French, Spanish or Italian fare, but it can boast of a diverse culinary culture, the legacy of a rich history. Starting from the humble fish and chips to delicious chicken curries, the English cuisine has evolved a lot down the years. Today, visitors can savour culinary specialities from a wide range of Michelin starred restaurants, Asian community restaurants, food markets, and traditional English establishments. Don’t forget to indulge in the quintessential British practice of the “Afternoon Tea”, because across the country, “at half past three, everything stops for tea”. Relish some finely brewed tea along with scones, clotted cream, sandwiches and pastries!

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9. Destination for art lovers

10 Reasons to visit England - The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square, London
The National Gallery of London

England is a delightful destination for art lovers. Its museums document the country’s rich collection of modern and contemporary arts along with several historic paintings and sculptures. Tate Modern, is among the richest museums in the world when it comes to contemporary arts while the National Gallery boast of rich artworks by renowned masters like Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and many more. London is also home to some cool street art, art boutiques and galleries and several year-round exhibitions of art.

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10. Weird English traditions

10 Reasons to visit England - Morris Dancing, England
Morris Dance, One of the most peculiar traditions of England

England has some of the most peculiar traditions on the planet. These traditions have entered the part of British folklore, culture, and customs. The annual Cheese Rolling in the Cotswolds is one such event where brave men and women tumble down a steep hillside while chasing a wheel of cheese. Then there is the annual event of Morris Dancing, where men dressed in white, dance with bells strapped to their knees and with flowers on their hats. The English eccentricity of quirky traditions includes Wife Carrying races, Tar Barrel racing, Pancake Flipping race and many more.

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