Mecca is only accessible by Muslims, who often describe the moment they first lay eyes on the city's sacred Kaaba as an overwhelmingly emotional experience. For those living outside the Kingdom, a visit to Mecca – generally spelt 'Makkah' by Muslims and in Saudi Arabia – is a lifelong dream. Coming here to perform the hajj pilgrimage is a religious obligation for all Muslims who are financially and physically able to do so.
Welcome to one of the world’s ultimate outdoor playgrounds, bursting with opportunities for adventure amid diverse and inspiring landscapes. Walk on the Wild Side With just a million people scattered across 151,215 sq km, the South Island has a population density even lower than Tasmania in Australia. Filling the gaps are the sublime forests, mountains, lakes, beaches and fiords that have made New Zealand’s ‘Mainland’ one of the best hiking destinations on the planet. Tackle one of the South Island’s six Great Walks, such as the world-famous Heaphy, Routeburn or Milford Tracks, or choose from one of countless other options ranging from 15-minute nature trails to multiday, backcountry epics. DOC's track and hut network makes it easy to find a way in. Meet the Locals Prepare to meet the South Island’s idiosyncratic wildlife: whales, fur seals, dolphins and penguins all frequent the coastal waters around Kaikoura, partnered by an armada of pelagic bird species including petrels and albatrosses. Endangered Hector’s dolphins cavort in Akaroa Harbour and the Catlins, while the Otago Peninsula has penguins, royal albatrosses and sea lions. Further south, remote and wild Stewart Island boasts a healthy population of NZ’s iconic but shy kiwi. Two special parrots – the kaka and the kea – are totally unmistakable as they flap and squawk, with the latter inclined to chew car aerials and unattended hiking boots. Action Aplenty Hiking (known as 'tramping' here) may be the South Island's classic adventure, but there are far racier ways to immerse yourself in its landscapes. Raft down the tumbling Buller or Rangitata Rivers, or kayak around the coves of the Marlborough Sounds, Abel Tasman or Fiordland. Scare yourself silly with Queenstown’s gravity-defying menu of bungy, paragliding or skydiving, or mount a mountain bike to wheel through the stunning scenery along the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. During winter, go snow crazy on the ski fields around Wanaka, Queenstown or Mt Hutt.
Journey on to the most remarkable ones with these selected pitstops of Amman - Petra, Baitulmaqdes and much more!
Istanbul's strategic location has attracted many marauding armies over the centuries. The Greeks, Romans and Venetians took turns ruling before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay – physical reminders of their various tenures are found across the city. The fact that the city straddles two continents wasn't its only drawcard – it was the final stage on the legendary Silk Road linking Asia with Europe, and many merchants who came here liked it so much that they, too, decided to stay. In so doing, they gave the city a cultural diversity that it retains to this day.
Gain a deeper understanding of the tumultuous pasts of Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and admire their wealth of ancient treasures which serve as a testament to their history under oppressive rule
Just 8 miles apart, Spain and Morocco may be coastal neighbors, but they're worlds apart -- now's your chance to explore them both.
Gear up for contrasting but complementary experiences on this trip, which juxtaposes the sights, tastes and smells of relaxing Hokkaido with the cool urban, neon-lit buzz of sleek and efficient Tokyo.
The Mother City, home to soaring Table Mountain, golden beaches and bountiful vineyards, is an old pro at capturing people’s hearts. Proudly Multicultural Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and traditional African beliefs coexist peacefully in this proudly multicultural city. Given South Africa’s troubled history, such harmony has been hard-won and remains fragile: nearly everyone has a fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking story to tell. It’s a city of determined pioneers – from the Afrikaner descendants of the original Dutch colonists and the majority coloured community to the descendants of European Jewish immigrants and more recent Xhosa (isiXhosa) migrants from the Eastern Cape. They all bring unique flavours to Cape Town’s rich creole melting pot.
Fashion- and technology-forward but also deeply traditional, this dynamic city mashes up temples, palaces, cutting-edge design and mountain trails, all to a nonstop K-Pop beat. Historical Fragments Gaze down on this sprawling metropolis of around 10 million people from atop any of Seoul’s four guardian mountains and you’ll sense the powerful pungsu-jiri (feng shui) that has long nurtured and protected the city. History clings tenaciously to the ‘Miracle on the Han’, a phoenix arisen from the ashes of the Korean War just over 60 years ago. So while Seoul has its eye clearly on the future, you'll also encounter fascinating fragments of the past in World Heritage–listed sites such as Jongmyo shrine, the alleys between the graceful hanok (traditional wooden homes) that cluster in Bukchon, and striding along the magnificent city walls.
China. The name alone makes you want to get packing. It's going places, so jump aboard, go along for the ride and see where it's headed.
The heart of the nation, Java is a complex island of great antiquity: this, after all, is where ancient Java Man stood upright and walked abroad. As such the island, home today to 140 million people and the most populated island on earth, is defined primarily by people.
Hanoi is undergoing a rapid transformation. You can dine on the wild and wonderful at every corner, sample market wares, uncover an evolving arts scene, then sleep soundly in a little luxury for very little cost. Meet the people, delve into the past and witness the awakening of a Hanoi on the move.