Encounters Spring 2013
From the blue waters of the Maldives to the natural bounties of Mozambique, SCMP's regional travel magazine, Encounters, takes readers on rich journeys that are up-close and personal.
It's the year to visit Amsterdam as the city celebrates a host of milestones, with the 400th anniversary of the Canal Ring, a Unesco World Heritage Site, leading the way. Canal cruises are a major tourist attraction in the city, known as the Venice of the North as the waterways stretch for 100km. Amsterdam, a major cultural hub with more than 50 museums and theatres, is marking 125 years of the Concertgebouw by beaming live performances at points throughout the city and by taking its orchestra on a world tour. Both the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum are reopening to the public next month and May, respectively, while the Artis Zoo celebrates 175 years. For details of other milestones and celebratory events, go to www.iamsterdam.com
Plain sailing in the Galapagos
A tour of the Galapagos Islands in a spacious suite with butler service on a luxury mega-yacht is what the newly acquired and refurbished Silver Galapagos offers from late September. Offering natural education programmes from experienced and certified expedition teams, the Silver Galapagos sails from Baltra Island each Saturday. It traces a southern and eastern course, visiting islands such as Santiago, Isabela and San Cristobal. Another route goes on a northeast central and southeast course visiting Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Seymour Norte, San Cristobal, Espanola and Plazas Sur. Travellers will discover wildlife such as giant tortoises, blue and red-footed boobies, colourful marine iguanas, penguins and Charles Darwin's famous finches. Travellers can also swim and snorkel in the clear waters and witness the unique ecosystems, hike through mangrove forests and volcanic fields, visit caves and explore lava tunnels.
Adding to its list of attractions, the northern English county of Yorkshire is vying for the title of Europe's sculpture capital. Spearheaded by the Henry Moore Institute, the newly opened Hepworth Wakefield (Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth were both born in Yorkshire), Leeds Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the project offers visitors free entry to exhibitions showcasing 200 of the world's best artists. The four galleries, known as the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, are within 30 minutes' drive of each other and already attract 1 million visitors a year. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the biggest of its kind in Europe, attracted more than 350,000 visitors last year. Leeds Art Gallery is also the world's leading centre for the study of sculpture.