Eid holidays: From rainforest treks to skiing, pick your break

Summer holidays combined with the Eid Al Fitr break can swing the way of two extremes: either you have already fled the coop for cooler climes way back when and shouldn’t be affected or you have focused all your energies to take that one week break after Ramadan ends for a world-class experience that makes up for the weeks spent here in the heat and humidity.

With the first day of Eid possibly falling on Tuesday, July 29, many residents have combined the two weekends for a nine-day break before the regular work hours bog them down once again.

Whether a short, three-day affair or a longer vacation that awaits, Emirates 24|7 thinks out of the box to bring you a summer adventure you are likely to forget.

Rainforest trek with Orang-utans
Borneo, Malaysia
Approx. budget: Dh8,500

A tropical adventure, endangered wildlife and a luscious green carpet of rainforests awaits in the serenity of Borneo.

As the world’s third largest island, parts of the wilderness that Borneo offers is shared between Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia.

While Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, covers around 73 per cent of the island, the northern edge is held by Malaysia in the form of Sabah and Sarawak; Brunei is firmly wedged in between.

For wildlife enthusiasts, Borneo almost always makes the bucket list, being one of the only two places on Earth where endangered orang-utans still roam in the wild – Sumatra being the other.

A trip to Borneo would be incomplete without visiting the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre in East Sabah; but if you fancy chancing on them in the wild, then hop aboard for a trek down the Kinabatangan River – who knows, you may even spot pythons, crocodiles and elephants.

Those who don’t mind sweating it out in the Equatorial climes, then here’s your chance to embark on a rainforest trek or even attempt the imposing Mount Kinabalu, towering at 13,435 feet.

However, Borneo is not just a big sweat fest for those looking to dabble in just a bit of adventure. Serving up some of the most pristine beaches and world-class diving at Sipidan, you can spend many a day just whiling away at the world’s end.

While Borneo ground travel can be done on the cheap, a permit for Sipidan or a trek up Mount Kinabalu can set you back up to Dh1,500.

How to get there: You can either fly direct to Kuala Lumpur and catch a connection to Kota Kinabalu or fly via Hong Kong or Singapore.

Flights: Eid break fares on Etihad and Air Asia from July 26-Aug 2 is priced at Dh4,141; Cathay Pacific with a night’s stay in Hong Kong is Dh3,604, plus hotel fare.

The Great Migration
Budget: Dh6,000

It’s time to escape the bright lights of Dubai and take a few days to be close to nature with the thunderous vista of the wildebeest migration unfolding in front of your very eyes.

Chances of seeing the big five – the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros – on day one itself are much higher as the migrating animals move from Tanzania’s Serengeti to the plains of the Masai Mara.

Those looking for a more relaxed pace can also bask in the breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro by spending a day in Amboseli, which has the highest population of Elephants in Kenya.

With more time on your hands, make way to the crystal clear waters of Lake Nakuru, home to a stunning vista of pink flamingoes. While the avian population there has diminished considerably, you will still find a considerable flock to take your breath away.

How to get there: Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia and Kenya Airways fly direct to Nairobi with

Flights: Prices start at Dh1,480 for the Eid break on Air Arabia, from July 25-Aug 1; Lush Escapes and Groupon is offering flights, plus accommodations and amenities with meals, safari adventure for Dh3,689 for Amboseli and Dh4,759 for Masai Mara for three nights

Ziplining, skiing with the Swiss
Zermatt, Switzerland
Budget: Dh6,000

The home of the imposing 4,478m-high Matterhorn, one of the world’s most famous mountains, remains a focal point and a centre of activity in the car-free town of Zermatt.

Zermatt, which is located in the Valais Canton at an altitude of 1,600m, also serves up one of the few Swiss slopes that offers summertime skiing.

Spend a day soaking up the pristine air around you while exploring over 400km of walking trails when not hitting the slopes.

Step aboard the Gornergrat mountain railway to soak in the breathtaking vista, furthering your journey to hop aboard the Klein Matterhorn cablecar for a chilly frolic in the snow.

Once the mountain air has given you the escape you need, head back down to the lower altitude for a few hours of family fun at the Forest Fun Park, where you zipline the afternoon away amidst one of the world’s highest, racing through treetops and putting every obstacle course to the test.

Those wondering, Zermatt is not all about adventure thrill rides and skiing spectacles. The town also offers great shopping, luxurious five-star hotels, world-class spas and high class traditional cuisine.

How to get there:
Most major carriers fly to Zurich. Two train switches and a few hours later you will find yourself in Zermatt.

Flights: The Eid week has Swiss Air offering flights averaging Dh3,000.

Old-world Charm
St Petersburg, Russia
Budget: Dh9,000

Often described as one of the most picturesque cities in the world, St Petersburg serves up a heady mix of old world charm, a lavish history, breathtaking architecture and rich culture that’s seeped in art and music.

As the world’s most northern city, St Petersburg is one of the few places where you can experience the White Nights phenomenon in the summer – the city is at such high latitude that the sun does not descend below the horizon enough for the sky to grow dark.

Walking through St Petersburg’s streets, you will witness history itself unfold amidst a sea of palaces and museums, broad avenues and winding canals.

While you spend a day exploring the Winter Palace, another will unfold at the Hermitage, St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Mariinsky Theatre.

As Russia’s cultural capital, St. Petersburg leaves no stone unturned, reflecting the joys and the tragedies of some of the world’s notable leaders, artisans and writers in its very essence.

How do I get there: Emirates flies direct to St Petersburg

Flights: Eid week, from July 28-Aug 1, airfare is Dh3,200

Step back in time in Angkor Wat
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Budget: Dh5,000

The majestic masterpiece of the Angkor Wat temple has made it one of the premier destinations for global travellers annually; but no picture can do justice to the imposing complex especially when the first rays of the sun light up the vista in a breathtaking canopy.

A UN World Heritage Site, the Angkor Wat complex comprises hundreds of structures from the 9th to the 14th century that narrates the epic tale of the rise and fall of the Khmer empire.

But Cambodia is not just confined to the magic of the Angkor Wat. Flying in and out of Siem Reap will reap its own intricate moments.

Siem Reap, which literally means the ‘Defeat of Siam’, is a tourist paradise, with offers old world charm in the bustling streets of Psah Chas, with a marriage of modernisation, complete with a large concentration of restaurants and shops.

A week alongside the Cambodian hospitality and offerings may not be enough but will leave a lasting spiritual memory to cherish always.

How do I get there: Qatar Airways flies into Cambodia via Doha; all other major carriers fly into neighbouring gateway cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Bangkok or Singapore to catch connections.

Flights: Eid week sees Singapore Air fly there for Dh3,250 with a layover in Singapore.

 Images courtesy tourism boards of respective countries


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