If you’ve ever been to India, the words train ride and luxury are oxymoronic. Indeed, train rides in India are more akin to third-world suffering than just about any train ride in the world. They’re hot, sweaty, laced with people and toilets flush directly onto the tracks… even at the station. But get that smell out of your head, ‘cause Indian tracks will now experience rolling decadence unseen since the age of Indian Royalty – Maharaja.
Romantics have often said that India is best explored by train, and now it’s true. Welcome aboard the The Indian Maharaja, a new private luxury railcar offering cinematically lavish tours of northern India. Well-appointed understates the plush interiors and extravagant cuisine of this memorable journey machine. Welcome aboard! It’s pulling out of station as you read this, most likely flush with a flock of hip travelers like you who know a good thing when they see it.
Specifically, an on-board spa and enough wine to keep you sated for the duration of your tour across northern India’s finest attractions. Outside your climate-controlled, rolling hotel room, lays an unpredictable vista of beauty, history and even a few unusually friendly tigers, courtesy of Ranthambore National Park.
Red sandstone ghost towns, 10th century fortresses and endless subcontinent picturesque glory are a few of the marvels you’ll roll through on this week-long odyssey of Orient-Express enormity. It’s a mesmerizing tour of the vast expanse of Maharashtra, covering Mumbai, Aurangabad, Udaipur, Sawai Modhopur, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi.
In fact, this pimp ride offers everything you expect from a continental hotel, yet it’s all miraculously suspended above rails and set loose on the subcontinent. That means you’ll be able to take in a steam bath, get a quick rubdown courtesy of the onboard masseuse, or (in case of emergency) send a few emails without stepping off the train.
And, more importantly, you’ll be bedding down in a bona fide hotel room instead of a sleeper car, decked out with a full bed, a minibar and a butler to bring you whatever you can’t find in the room….
Which is endless considering the environment. None to fret –exotic daytrips off tracks entice, including one that lets you tackle the countryside while riding a camel.
Don’t stare it in the mouth.
The Indian Maharaja, departing Nov 18, 877-904-6342
In Spanish, “El Salvador” means “the savior;” in tourist English it means “tourist danger” and that’s exactly why you want to go and why you want to avoid thinking like a tourist.
Instead, think like a traveler, pack a compass and liftoff from the banal into a world of Mayan-soaked culture, rainforest-laced hikes and cabana-friendly coastline.
If countries waxed and waned like moons, El Salvador would be reaching a two-decade full moon. In 20 years, war ended, the Pope visited, a democracy and currency stabilized, a UNESCO World Heritage Site was named, the 2002 Central American & Caribbean Sports Games were hosted and El Salvador beat Mexico in the World Cup qualifiers. Viva El Salvador!
And all of this without a tourism ministry, infrastructure or e-brochure! Feeling anxious? Don’t. The raw state of this democracy is exactly what makes the appeal so rich. Ten years from now, tourists will flock to another bland Costa Rica. But now, the flavors, sights and experiences in El Salvador are pure and vibrant. Taste the nectar.
El Salvador is the smallest but most densely populated country in Central America. A tropical climate prevails, but most of the interior is covered by volcanic mountains and a fertile central plateau. Located between Guatemala and Honduras, it boasts 200 miles of striking Pacific coastline.
Surfers have been coming for years. Breaks dot the western coastline facing the Southern swell which wraps around lush point breaks in dreamy sets. Most stay in small villages like Sunzal and El Tunco which host bungalows overlooking the serenity for less than $20 a night.
Adventure lovers seek out rain forest treks beneath lush canopy, alive with fragrant smells and vivid colors. Volcanic mountain areas offer inspiring vistas and geology. Culture is close at hand (including fertile coffee plantations) with notable architectural and Mayan ruins.
As for cities, the capitol city of San Salvador isn’t the most appealing – it’s stricken with poverty and gridlock. Nearby Santa Ana is more attractive, surrounded by coffee plantations and sugarcane fields—travel to the Mayan ruin of Tazumal, erstwhile setting of human sacrifice! A couple hours north, La Palma offers cool weather and beautiful views.
Reputation for crime and violence deters most from El Salvador, but travelers who explore this country are enthralled by the beauty and soothed by the warm and intelligent people. Be one of them.
When to go: El Salvador’s rainy season is between May and November and its dry season is between December and April. Even in rainy season, sunny days are the norm.
Getting around: El Salvador is tiny, but not so easy to get around. The public bus system is inexpensive, but crowded – not ideal for luxury travelers. Renting a car is a popular choice (especially travelers with surf boards), or hiring a driver with a minivan.
Money: Prices in El Salvador are extremely low—no more than $3 USD for your average meal. The US dollar is used as legal tender, which makes things quite easy.
Safety: Most travelers leave without incident, however street crime is a problem in El Salvador. Resist wearing your best jewelry and walk in a group at night in cities to avoid incident.