Should it be Peru, Jaffna or the Northern Lights? Bangaloreans are heading to new destinations this summer, observes Asha Chowdary

Bangaloreans, have adventure on their mind and are looking out for exciting ways to spend the summer vacations. Whether it is soaking in the freshness of an Amazonian rain forest, following the Hobbit Trail in New Zealand or cooking up a storm of paella in Valencia, there are plenty of new holiday spots to explore and avid travellers in the city are doing just that.

Says Syed Faheem, head of the travel division, Kirloskar Group, "Peru is a hot destination this year for its tropical climate and the rainforests." The Machu Picchu is one of Peru’s most popular and lucrative tourist sites. Finland, with its many lakes, reindeer sleigh rides, beautiful summers in Helsinki and the sight of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, is a country of contrasts and colours. "People also love the fact that it is quite economical to visit this country," says Faheem, adding, “There has been a 35 per cent increase in the number of tourists visiting Finland.

Suchitra Kaul Misra, a Bangalorean plans to go to Alaska on a cruise this year. "Over the years, we have explored all sorts of holiday spots. In India itself, the mountains, deserts, beaches, temples offer an incredible range. There comes a time when you want to explore new frontiers and also enjoy a holiday where you can relax in style."

For Suchitra, a cruise seemed the best way to see several exotic destinations without having to haul luggage to a new hotel every night. "Ocean cruising is leisure travel with a different tourist appeal and some may even be an experience in transition. With global warming and environmental changes, the Alaskan glaciers are receding every year. Many are on the verge of disappearing altogether. Alaskan animals are on the endangered list too. To minimize the impact on Alaska’s natural environment, the number of cruise ships and sailing period is restricted. So the most compelling reason to go to these special places is that their awe-inspiring experience may not be there for long."

"Also, Alaska has always been on my must-see list of travel goals. As I am from Kashmir, I love pristine mountains and I am told that the views all along the cruise coastline are more beautiful than I can imagine," she adds.

Alaska is on top of the charts of many Bangaloreans who want to enjoy the spectacular views of snow capped mountains, glaciers, cascading waterfalls and the northern lights. Another Bangalorean traveller, Sonal Asgotraa visited Antarctica recently and found it to be a wonderful place. "Forever associated with stories of exploration, courage and heroism, Antarctica has captured the imagination for different reasons. The continent re-defined my perspective of the earth as I knew it. Profoundly silent and frozen in time, the place is breathtakingly beautiful. Tourism activities, if any, should be managed very responsibly since Antarctica is extremely fragile, pristine and endangered."

Sonal’s journey to the bottom of earth began as a team member of the International Antarctic Expedition and it proved to an adventure to remember. "Cruising under the ever-sunlit skies of the Antarctic, every moment was more surreal than the last. One of the highlights of the trip was to camp on the Antarctic ice. Lying in our sleeping bags under a spectacular star-studded sky and the Milky Way radiating in all its glory, the clarity of the night was unlike anything that we had ever seen before."

Another highlight her trip was to witness the effects of climate change first-hand. Watching radically receded glaciers, retreated ice cover and broken off icebergs was both worrisome and appalling. There were some scary moments, but everything added to the sense of adventure which Sonal loves. "Sailing to Antarctica involves negotiating a rough ride through the waves of terror, the most treacherous stretch of sea, Drake Passage. The open ocean between the tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula is renowned for its fierce, unforgiving, and fickle nature. Our vessel was being consistently hit by waves as high as eight meters that had the entire crew staggering across the ship deck.I can now emphatically say that this was a voyage of a million lifetimes."

According to Kavita Amarnath, travel professional, many Bangalore travellers are also choosing trips to North India, instead of Europe. "Himachal Pradesh and Kulu Manali are very popular. Tourists who have children with them look for places where there are activities for the kids but they want to enjoy the beauty of scenic places too."

Adds Faheem, "Jaffna in Sri Lanka is also very popular among Bangaloreans now because it has many undiscovered and unexplored regions. Destinations like Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are also in demand now."

Why do travellers now love the new and the unknown? Says Sonal, "The best thing about doing something adventurous is the richness of experience and the perspective that it brings to our lives. So often, we get so caught up in the madness of the mundane, that things that are really important get neglected. I strongly advocate bringing an adventurous streak into your life not just to widen horizons and enrich perceptions but also to know first-hand the vagaries of nature. As they say, ‘We travel, initially, to lose ourselves and we travel, next, to find ourselves’. In that sense exploring new places guides us toward a better balance of wisdom and compassion -- of seeing the world clearly and yet feeling it truly. For seeing without feeling can obviously be uncaring; while feeling without seeing can be blind."

Suchitra adds, "The best thing about doing new stuff is the opportunity it gives us to expand our horizons. Nowadays we are fortunate to have such an abundance of choices in adventure holidays that we can choose from."