Sometimes when you go on a journey to find something, the search can be just as rewarding as the ultimate find. This was the case when I ventured out into the West Bengali Sunderbans in the hope of spotting the elusive tiger.
I boarded the “Jungle Boat” as the sun rose one morning and it was a little surreal – the silence, the early morning nip in the air, the orange hues of the sun, now high in the sky, beginning to evaporate the remnant greys of the diminishing night – it was exciting.
The boat made its way slowly, stealthily into the serenity of river passing lush mangroves. We saw troops of monkeys frolicking by the river edge while egrets wondered nonchalantly amid them. Throughout the day all sorts of birds came out to loiter on the mudflaps, flying overhead or were perched on branches. Colourful Kingfishers stood out against the greens and browns of the vegetation.
There was excitement when our guide spotted tiger footprints in the silt. We followed them but these led back into the mangroves where no human is allowed to tread.
Wild boar turned up every now and again munching on something or other and deer looking on in surprise. Fishing boats and those carrying hay stacks passed by as if it was just another day in the office.
But the headliner stayed evasive and even when spotting a tiger remains a promise it was a superb day out on the river.
This summer I travelled to Grindelwald, an alpine resort in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland. It is a little known gem for outdoor enthusiasts during the summer months, with the added bonus of cosy bars and restaurants that serve up traditional fare such as fondue and schnitzel. The village is picturesque but it is the surrounding snow-topped mountains that, for me, set it apart as a truly stunning destination.
On my first day there I took the gondola to Mannlichen, which looks over the Lauterbrunnen valley. I enjoyed whizzing down the mountain on a summer gemel – a three-wheeled gravity powered cart that takes you on a winding path past cheerful cows and acres of greenery. Another popular area is Grindelwald First, a minor summit that offers loads of fun activities including mountain carting, zip lines and a vertigo-inducing cliff walk.
The highlight of my trip was my visit to the Grindelwald Glacier Canyon, the home of the Interlaken Canyon Swing. This involves harnessing up and jumping off the edge of vertical rock face and falling 70m towards the roaring Lütschine River. I travelled at speeds of almost 120kph (70mph) and after catching my breath, took great pleasure in marvelling at the amazing scenery as I swung back and forth above the river. This was by the far the scariest thing I have every done and I loved every second of it.