|Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort||Bel Ombre||7 nights||FI|
|Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina||Dubai||5 nights||B&B|
Sandwiched between forest-clad mountains and an exquisite turquoise lagoon on the southwest coast of the island of Mauritius, Bel Ombre is a small tourist village known for its pristine white sand beaches and spectacular natural scenery. While there are a few luxury resorts strung along the coastline, the area remains mostly undeveloped with the Frédérica Nature Reserve and the Black River Gorges National Park right on its doorstep. This unspoiled natural wilderness provides an ideal environment for an array of outdoor activities including hiking, mountain-biking, 4x4 safaris, quad biking, golf, swimming and kiteboarding. Notable attractions in the area include the beautiful Rochester Falls, the cliff top viewpoint at Gris Gris, and the Vanilla Crocodile and Tortoise Park.
Set in the United Arab Emirates, the luxurious city of Dubai is synonymous with size and pushing the limits – first, largest, tallest. Aside from this, the pull of Dubai is a dreamy world of attractions and unheard of luxuries; shopping centres, nightlife and cutting-edge hotels. Famous constructions include Burj Khalifa, The Palm, Burj Al Arab, The World Island. Although Dubai strictly safeguards its traditional practices, it allows space for other religions to breathe, a rare quality amongst the conservative Arab world. The combination of all this means Dubai has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis, a global city and a travel, business and cultural hub of the Middle East.
Located off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, the idyllic island of Mauritius is a remarkably romantic holiday destination. Renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, gorgeous powder-white sand beaches and a wonderful tropical climate, most visitors spend their days relaxing on beaches or in one of the many luxurious holiday resorts fringing them, but there is much more to this little island than merely cocktails and coconuts. Those who venture inland will discover lush, jungle-clad mountains, glistening blue lagoons, impressive rivers and waterfalls, extinct volcanic craters, charming little ramshackle towns and villages, and some fabulously friendly locals. Must-see attractions include: the bustling capital of Port Louis with its lively local markets; the remarkable 85 metre-high Chamarel Waterfall; and Eureka, a historic plantation mansion turned museum offering visitors a glimpse into the island's colonial past.
The currency in Mauritius is the Mauritian rupee - MUR or rs, which is divided into 100 cents
Do not change money in your home country as you are likely to get a lower exchange rate. The rate in Mauritius is much better. When you arrive at the airport in Mauritius you will see a host of exchange bureaus at the arrival halls. Just bring your own currency and change it over there for a better deal. If you do not manage to change at the arrival halls there are branches of Thomas Cook and Shibani Finance in the popular tourist areas of Grand Baie and Flic en Flac.
Banks are open from Monday to Friday 09h15 to 15h15 and Saturday from 09h1 to 11h15 (Some banks only).
Credit cards are normally accepted by banks and most hotels, restaurants and tourist shops.
One major highway runs north to south, otherwise a good network of paved, if sometimes narrow, roads cover the island. There are numerous car hire firms include major international and independent firms. People in Mauritius drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Taxis are regulated and metered and linked to provinces or hotels, printed on a yellow panel on the drivers' door. Bus and taxi services are best used in urban areas. Bicycles and motorbikes are also available for hire.
Men can usually spend most of the time in short trousers unless you want to enter a hotel for the evening, in this case long trousers are required. Additionally the maid in the house washes and returns clothes by the next day so that you do not need to take much with you. Do not overload your suitcase with unnecessary clothes. Leave some room for any shopping that you do on Mauritius.
Mauritius has a well advanced textile industry so that instead of taking all your holiday clothes with you might consider buying them locally on the local market. The shops are full of ready to wear polo shirts, T-shirts, shorts, shirts, trousers, pullovers, dresses and beachwear at low prices.
Disposable nappies for babies cost about 2 times the price on Mauritius as they do in Europe. We recommend either taking enough with you or taking nappies which the maid can wash.
Mauritius is a paradise for the senses, not only for the eyes with its beautiful landscape but also for the palate. Featuring culinary traditions from France, India, China and Africa, the best-known and appreciated cuisines in the world, have been passed on through generations.
Depending on the region, rice or a variety of flatbread called chapattis or roti, called farata (paratha) by the local people, is eaten with curries. The extensive use of spices like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and herbs like thyme, basil, and curry leaves are the common ingredients that provide some powerful, yet subtle, savour.
You can buy many snacks on the streets of Mauritius. Mauritians have a sweet tooth and make many types of 'gateaux', as they are called. The cakes vary and you can find cakes very much like those in France and others similar to Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Rasgulla among many others.
Mauritius produces a wide range of cane rum. Don't forget the coconut water with a dash of lime and a splash of local rum over ice. The local beer Phoenix and is usually served very cold.
The local water is relatively clean and the Mauritians drink it. You need therefore have no fear if you use it for cleaning your teeth etc. However, it is better you boil the water before drinking it or buy bottled water which is freely available in the local shops or at hotels and resorts.
Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adapter plug should be brought for your electrical appliances - such adapters are also available at major airports.
The hottest time of the year on Mauritius is December / March when you can expect temperatures of 30 degrees C (approx. 90 F) but with less humidity. There is always a breeze from the ocean however so that most people will find it pleasant. Cyclones (tropical storms) can also occurr during this period.
For those people who do not enjoy warm weather or want a more active holiday, we recommend going in July/August when the temperature is 24-26 C. On the coast the temperature can go down to 16-18 C during the night so that we recommend taking a pullover.
As you can see the variation of temperature on Mauritius is small such that enjoyable holidays can be spent there at any time of the year. Although the weather is normally sunny it does rain. The rain showers are normally short and are a pleasant change from the sun.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, extends along part of the Gulf of Oman and the southern coast of the Persian Gulf. From glittering first-world cities to rich cultural history and breathtaking nature, the UAE provides something for every type of traveller. Chic, fast-paced Dubai provides every modern (and futuristic) comfort; Abu Dhabi is a capital of culture with its galleries, museums and traditional food; and Ajman and Fujairah offer incredible swimming, diving and watersports in their clear, warm waters. The country boasts many world records: the world’s fastest roller coaster, the tower with the greatest lean, and the largest cluster of 21st-century cultural buildings. The green Mangrove National Park, sprawling orange Dubai desert, and dramatic cliff faces of the Snoopy Islands plunging into turquoise water are only a few of the spectacular natural wonders of this abundant country.
The UAE dirham (AED) is divided into 100 fils. Coins are in 5, 10, 25 and 50 fils and AED1. Notes are in denominations of AED5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000. $1 = AED3.6727 and currently £1 = AED5.9465.
It’s wise to have some local currency when you arrive to cover small purchases and taxi fares, although you might well be met at the airport by your sponsor’s staff or your new colleagues.
Currency exchanges and banking facilities are available at most major airports and many are open 24 hours a day. Exchange rates, however, are unlikely to be favourable at these outlets. More competitive rates can be obtained from city-centre financial establishments. You should avoid changing money at your hotel, as hotel rates are probably the worst on offer.
The main hub for air transport in the United Arab Emirates is Dubai airport, which is served by several major airlines, most notably Dubai-based Emirates. Direct flights connect Dubai to Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town , London,Sydney, Melbourne, Karachi, Tehran, Riyadh, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hong Kong, Paris, Zurich, Frankfurt, Houston, Milan,Madrid, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, São Paulo and many other major cities in Europe,Asia, Australia, North America and Africa.
After Dubai, the airport at Abu Dhabi has the next best international connections. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways now offers direct flights from New York, Toronto and many other airports in Europe and Asia.
Other major airlines serving Abu Dhabi include British Airways from London-Heathrow, KLM from Amsterdam, Lufthansa from Frankfurt and Singapore Airlines from Singapore and Jeddah.
For low-cost flights, Air Arabia has set up a hub at Sharjah airport (which is very close to Dubai), and flies there from many cities in the Middle East and India.
There is road access to the United Arab Emirates from Saudi Arabia in the south and Oman in the east. All highways in the UAE are in excellent condition, but there is a huge amount of traffic between Sharjah and Dubai, as well as a 4 AED charge to cross the Salik toll gate. A prepaid Salik Tag is required for this.
There is a large network of dhows which transport goods throughout the Gulf and India. It may be possible to buy passage on one of these boats. They call at all coastal cities in the UAE, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Public transportation within most cities remains rudimentary. Dubai is building extensive Metro, monorail and tram networks, and has invested heavily in the local bus network in recent years. The other emirates offer very little public transportation. Abu Dhabi has a network of city buses that cost Dh2 per trip and are fairly reliable, but can be overcrowded for male passengers. Intercity bus services are fast, comfortable and reasonably frequent.
In the cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, taxis are widely available. They are relatively cheap in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. A ride to anywhere within the city of Abu Dhabi will cost approximately US$10, as they charge solely by distance traveled. A night surcharge of US$3 may be added after 10PM, depending on your driver.
The legal driving age in the United Arab Emirates is 18. The UAE has a modern road system. Renting a car or driving in the UAE requires an international driver's license, which is simply a translation of your standard license and can be acquired at a local automobile association. If you have UAE residency status, you must obtain a local driver's license. This can be a simple process that must be completed and can be done in 20 min but only if you are from a specific list of countries (predominantly Western). If you are from an Asian country, you currently have to undergo 40 classes at a local driving school and get through a pretty tough license exam. This is changing, though, and it may apply to all nationalities soon.
Car rentals are slightly cheaper than in the US There is a flat fee per day for renting a car, based upon the car's size. Petrol (gasoline) is, by US and European standards, inexpensive. The road system is based along European standards, with many roundabouts and highly channeled traffic. But the signs are readily understandable and are, in most places, clear and coherent. Drivers in the UAE, particularly in the urban areas, tend to be highly aggressive and often use tactics that range from the stupid to the disastrous. This may perhaps stem from the traffic, which can be extremely congested in the urban areas, or from other factors.
People in the UAE drive extremely fast, and some are completely reckless: overtaking by the right is the rule, speed limits are ignored by many, even heavy trucks. Last-second lane change seems to be a national sport. The UAE has the third-highest death rate from traffic accidents in the world (just behind Saudi and Oman).
Be especially careful when you spot a tinted-window SUV at night: the black windows make the driver not see you and change lanes. Theoretically forbidden, tinting windows is widespread among young Arabs and is generally associated with poor driving skills and fast driving.
There are now some good local city maps, particularly for Dubai (the Explorer series of books). Be aware that construction is on-going, sometimes rapidly changing the road networks, so maps capture only a "point in time." Sharjah remains poorly mapped. A website offered the first decent online maps of the UAE. Google Earth does offer solid satellite pictures but at a level of detail good mainly for broad reference purposes. The lack of good maps or signage makes the use of a compass or GPS sometimes useful if you want to get off the highway.
Desert safaris or "wadi bashing" are good attractions in the vicinity of Dubai, but great care needs to be taken while choosing a hired vehicle; it should be a four wheel drive. Desert safaris are also generally pre-designed with travel agents and can give you good deal as well on quantity.
Layering is your best bet; wear light clothing outside and bring a jumper or sweatshirt for the heavily air-conditioned buildings around the cities. During November to March, warmer clothes are advised for the evenings. A hat and high factor sun block is also advisable - a day on the beach in the strong summer sun is an easy recipe for sunstroke and sunburn. If visiting during the summer, make like the residents and visit the beaches early in the morning and later in the evening.
Please note: Dubai and the UAE have varying degrees of tolerance to clothing styles from around the world and how to dress in the UAE. There are legal guidelines as to what is not acceptable, especially in Sharjah which has its own decency laws, but in general, residents, visitors, and tourists can mostly wear what they like within reason.
In general, most ‘normal’ clothing is tolerated as long as it is not too revealing, however, to be respectful of the UAE culture, it is better to cover knees and shoulders and everything in between.
General medical care in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah is quite good, with clinics for general and specialized care widely available, including some which are now open 24 h. Hospitals in the major centers are well-equipped to deal with any medical emergencies. There is an ambulance system in all major population centres; however, coverage can be patchy in the more remote areas. Ambulances are designed for transportation rather than providing care as first responders, so don't expect top-flight on-site care.
The main government hospital in Abu Dhabi is one of the best in the Middle East; as is the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, now managed by Cleveland Clinic.
In Dubai, the government hospitals are Rashid hospital, which has a new Trauma Centre and Dubai Hospital which are very good. Welcare Hospital American Hospital Zulekha Hospital NMC Hospital, and Belhoul Hospital in the private sector all have a good reputation. The country is free of malaria and prophylaxis is not needed. In Sharjah, the Kuwaiti (Goverrnment) Hospital accepts expatriates. The private hospitals in Sharjah are the Zahra hospital, Zulekha Hospital and Central Private Hospital. Prices including healthcare are generally cheaper in Sharjah and although all hospitals meet the Ministry of Health standards the Central Private Hospital and Zulekha Hospitals are considered more affordable.
Al Ain is served by a number of modern hospitals and care centers: Tawam Hospital, now managed by Johns Hopkins, and host to the UAE University Faculty of Medicine and Health Science; Al Ain Hospital (also called Al Jimi Hospital as it is in the district of Al Jimi), now managed by the Vienna Medical University; and the private Oasis Hospital, previously known as Kennedy Hospital, which was founded and run by Christian missionaries, and which was the first hospital in the city.
The water is safe to drink in the UAE, although most people prefer bottled water for its taste. The food is clean and in most restaurants is served to Western standards, particularly in tourist areas; however, hygeine can be an issue in some establishments outside, particularly roadside stalls. That said, food poisoning does happen, so use your common sense!
The heat in summer can reach 50°C (122°F), so avoid outdoors activity at the height of the day and watch out for signs of heat stroke. Be sure to drink lots of water as dehydration happens easily in such heat. If travelling off road (most of the country is desert), ensure you carry sufficient water to allow you to walk to the road should vehicles become bogged.
Although the UAE is somewhat more accommodating to handicapped travellers than other countries in the Mideast, it would nonetheless be a difficult country to navigate in a wheelchair. Curbs are high and there are few, if any, ramps or other accommodations.
Dubai and, to a lesser extent, Abu Dhabi offer a vast spread of food from most of the world's major cuisines. By Western standards most restaurants are quite affordable although it is easy to find extremely expensive food too. Most upper-end restaurants are located in hotels.
Due to the large expat populations, Indian and Pakistani restaurants abound, offering affordable and succulent choices. Also popular are Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian cuisine restaurants.
A popular favorite is grilled chicken, available at most of the open-air cafeterias by the roadside which can be relished with other accompaniments like Khubz (Arabic Bread), hummus, etc., and the most popular rice dish is Biriyani, with grilled chicken or fish or lamb. Traditional Shawarma and falafel sandwiches are readily available and are quite cheap and delicious.
Very few traditional Emirati dishes are served at restaurants; and the closest is the Mendi-style cuisine of Yemen, in which platters of fragrant rice are topped with lamb, chicken or fish that has been slow-roasted in a pit
The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 21.
Dubai has a burgeoning nightlife scene and even formerly straitlaced Abu Dhabi has loosened up and tried to catch up. Alcohol is available in alcohol stores, 5-star hotel restaurants and bars in all emirates except Sharjah, where you can only drink in your home or in an expat hangout called the Sharjah Wanderers. As a tourist, you are permitted to buy alcohol in bars and restaurants to drink there. If you are a resident, you're supposed to have a alcohol license (never asked for in bars) which also allows you to buy alcohol at alcohol stores (they do check).
During Ramadan, no alcohol is served during daylight (fasting) hours. Dubai and Abu Dhabi permit bars to serve alcohol at night, but bands stop playing, background music is off or quiet, no dancing is allowed and nightclubs are usually closed. On certain holy days in the Islamic calendar, no alcohol is served publicly in any of the UAE.
Do not under any circumstance drink and drive in the UAE. If by chance you are in an accident, this becomes a card for going directly to jail — especially during Ramadan. Taxis are widely available if you have been drinking and are a much safer and wiser option given the insane driving habits in the region.
For the most part, electrical sockets (outlets) in the United Arab Emirates (Al-Imārāt al-‘Arabīya al-Muttaḥida) are one of three types: the "Type C" European CEE 7/16 Europlug, the "Type G" British BS-1363 or the "Type D" Indian 5 amp BS-546. It's just anybody's guess as to which of the three types will be installed at any given specific location. If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all three types.
The country is extraordinarily dry, getting only a few days of rain a year. Despite that, Emiratis use water at an alarming rate: there are broad swaths of grass in the major public parks, for example, and landscaping can be extensive in the resorts or other public places. The majority of this water comes from desalinisation. Visitors do not pay for their water use. The weather from late October through mid-March is quite pleasant, with high temperatures ranging from around 27 °C (85 °F) to lows around 15°C (63 °F). It is almost always sunny. Rain can happen between November and February, and can cause road hazards when it does. In the summer, the temperatures soar and humidity is close to unbearable — it is widely suspected that the officially reported temperatures are "tweaked" to cut off the true summer highs, which can reach 50 °C (122 °F), or even higher!