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Meet the team - Middle East

Cox & Kings’ travel consultants have travelled extensively within their regions, to ensure they have experienced the country first-hand, and can pass this knowledge on to our passengers.

Contact the team to discover the most fitting destination for you, the best riad in Morocco and which cruise to choose in Egypt.

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Ben

Born and raised in Nepal, I developed a thirst for exploration from a young age. I was fortunate to grow up with parents who loved travelling and had the patience to take their three children. After finishing higher education in England, I embarked on a solo trip for the first time to India. Having travelled across Europe, parts of Africa, North America and Indochina, I have witnessed many incredible experiences, but it’s the Indian Subcontinent that enthrals me. With a wide array of landscapes, mesmerising colours and charisma, India has a way of luring you in. Nepal not only has picturesque landscapes but also has the kindest and most humble locals. While Sri Lanka is a small country, it has a fascinating culture and history, a variety of wildlife, stunning scenery and beaches, as well as a mouth-watering cuisine. It is a pleasure to help people experience an area of the world that has created so many unforgettable memories for me.

My Insiders Tip

The majority of people that travel to India for the first time will visit the Taj Mahal, most of whom will witness the sun rise over the Taj Mahal. However, for me, the best place to witness the grandeur of the Taj Mahal is at sunset from Mehtab Bagh. The Persian garden, built by Emperor Babur, is on the opposite bank of the Yumana river to the Taj Mahal and provides beautiful, unobstructed views at sunset. Another tip is to taste the local cuisine, whether it’s a thali – an assortment of curries and lentils – or a chaat – a savoury snack, such as puffed rice. I highly recommend going on a street food tour as well as joining a local cooking class.

Favourite Experience

With so many memories that stand out, it’s impossible to choose just one. However, a lasting memory is walking through the Annapurna range, past tiered paddy fields and shepherds, across swing bridges, all the while keeping an eye out for the birdlife – the crested serpent eagle and steppe eagle in particular. As you walk through remote villages, which are only accessible by walking, the locals are incredibly warm and welcoming. After a day’s walking, you can relax at the Ker & Downey lodges that overlook the Himalaya.

My Favourite Place

I may be biased, but my place of birth, Pokhara, has to be my favourite place. Although it may lack the historical sites of Kathmandu, Pokhara has unrivalled surroundings and friendly locals. Pokhara is where all the treks in the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri range start and end, and the town’s relaxed and friendly reputation precedes itself. If you don’t have time for a multiday trek, you can walk to the village of Sarangkot, where there are beautiful views over the valley and the lake, with the mountains in the backdrop. With plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars, Lakeside Road overlooks Phewa lake and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

My Favourite Hotel

Just 600 metres from the Taj Mahal is the palatial Oberoi Amarvilas. You can even see uninterrupted views of the celebrated monument of love from the comfort of your sumptuous bedroom. Each room has a stylish yet elegant decor with teak floors, silk cushions and a private balcony. Renowned for their attention to detail and impeccable service, the Oberoi staff will always go the extra mile and the restaurant serves mouthwatering international and speciality Indian cuisine. Guests can take a golf buggy to the Taj Mahal or have a candlelit dinner looking over it.

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Discover Middle East

Ancient and revered sites, splendid Islamic architecture, desert landscapes and labyrinthine souks await.… Read more
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Galina

Born and raised in a small town in north -west Bulgaria, I was eager to travel and broaden my horizons. At first, I travelled to explore different countries and cultures, but the more I saw, the more I was desperate to see. My first insight into the Middle East was in the UAE, discovering Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The enormous Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi was absolutely stunning, even more so when lit up at night. My love for the Middle East grew thanks to their warm hospitality, mesmerizingly beautiful architecture, intriguing history and instrumental music that uses strings, percussion and winds. When I visit, I eat home cooked tagines, hagglein markets for quirky souvenirs and colourful items of clothing, admire the towering minarets and follow the sound of the darbuka also known as a goblet drum it is often used in the Middle East and northern Africa.

My Insiders Tip

When you travel to the Middle East, forget visiting shopping centres. The life and soul of these cities is in the vibrant, colourful souks. You can buy anything from spices, rugs and gold to perfumes. At first it can be daunting to haggle in a souk, but confidence is crucial. It’s their culture and part of the experience of being in a Middle Eastern souk. The sellers will start high and you must start low, eventually agreeing on a fair price in the middle that you’re happy with. If you’re not happy, walk away. You should never feel pressured into buying anything. If you are not sure what a fair price is, it’s worth doing some research before hand or asking your guide.

Favourite Experience

When people visit Egypt they have their mind set on seeing the Tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kingsor the Pyramids of Giza. But many people miss out the Pyramid of Djoser also known as the step pyramid in Saqqara. Thought to have been builtaround 4,700 years ago, it still retains its impressive stepped structure. Inside, the wall carvings offer you a picture into what life was like over 3,000 years ago. There are also far less visitors to the step pyramid than some of the other sites so you can enjoy walking around at your own pace.

My Favourite Place

It has to be the green terraces and steep gorges of the Jebal Akhdar, part of the Al Hajar mountain range in Oman. Jebal Shams, which translates as the Mountain of the Sun, is suitably named as it’s the highest peak in Oman at 3,028m. From the top of the mountain, you can look down into Wadi Ghul nick named Oman’s Grand Canyon although not advisable for those with vertigo as you can see 1km straight down. My favourite time to visit is during early spring when the rose season is in full swing and the hill sides are dotted with pink and white. The smell is fresh and fragrant. As you walk through the wadis, you will see fig and olive groves, pomegranate trees, abandoned village sand numerous bird species, including Egyptian and lappet faced vultures. For those wanting to relax in the tranquil surroundings, both the Alila and Anantara hotels offer incredible views from their terraces and infinity pools.

My Favourite Hotel

The luxurious St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resortin Abu Dhabi is set on a beautiful natural beach. In the mornings, you can often see an dangered Hawksbill sea turtles nesting on the beach and dolphins diving through the waves. With five restaurants and a beach bar, you won’t be short of choice: Mediterranean, Asian and international cuisine are all on offer. This hotel is an ideal place to relax after a holiday in Oman or in the UAE, with three swimming pools and the tranquil Iridium spa.

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See desert kingdoms come alive in the Middle East brochure – order yours here. Order Now >

Discover Middle East

Ancient and revered sites, splendid Islamic architecture, desert landscapes and labyrinthine souks await.… Read more
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Leah

I have always enjoyed discovering new places on my travels. Romania recently surprised me with the contrast between the picturesque Transylvanian countryside and cosmopolitan Bucharest, it’s such an underrated country. I have spent many summers in Greece, enjoying the good weather, delicious food and the intriguing ancient history. Athens holds a special place in my heart, once such a powerful city full of history and legend. Dating back to the mid-5th century, the Acropolis still reigns above the modern sprawl and represents centuries of history. I have experienced the vast wilderness of the Arctic where I saw polar bears, walked through the Al Hajar mountains in Oman and spotted orca and humpback whales off Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

My Insiders Tip

My most recent discovery is Switzerland’s public transport system – it is so easy. I travelled around nearly all of the country in a few days and found the trains and transport network so simple to navigate. The trains run on time and have the platforms advised well in advance, coupled with the beautiful scenery, this makes travelling by train a great pleasure. The Swiss rail pass will give you unlimited access to more or less all transport networks in the country: the major train lines, bus networks and some boats and cable cars too. For the few routes it does not cover, such as the Glacier Express, one of the world’s great rail journeys, it still provides 50% off the standard price.

Favourite Experience

One of the best experiences I have been lucky enough to have is sleeping in an Ice Hotel in Norway. It was a rather surreal experience and though it took me a while to nod off, it was one of the best night’s sleep of my life. It was not cold at all, just very fresh (outside the sleeping bag) and so quiet – compared to living in London the silence was eerie.

My Favourite Place

Oman is full of natural wonders and spectacular hotels. With a reliably warm climate, it is the perfect destination during our winter months. From October through to April the temperature ranges between 20 and 30 degrees. In Oman, you can see so much in a relatively short space of time, from the turtle’s nesting beaches to the extensive desert and the dramatic Al Hajar mountains. After a week exploring this beautiful country, I enjoyed relaxing at Muscat’s Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa in between visits to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Al Alam Palace.

My Favourite Hotel

The Museum Hotel in Cappadocia is probably my favourite hotel. It is housed in a charming cave cut into the original rock face, with rooms so beautifully designed it is hard to believe you are actually sleeping inside rock. As the name suggests, the hotel is also a museum and displays local artefacts throughout the public areas as well as the rooms, which makes this hotel so fascinating and unique. I also fell in love with the small infinity pool that overlooks Goreme Valley, a perfect place for a swim and quiet reflection.

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See desert kingdoms come alive in the Middle East brochure – order yours here. Order Now >

Discover Middle East

Ancient and revered sites, splendid Islamic architecture, desert landscapes and labyrinthine souks await.… Read more
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Lydia

Growing up in the heart of the countryside in Surrey, I love being outdoors and exploring. My career in travel began working for P&O and Cunard cruises, during which time I managed to see some incredible countries including Montenegro, Corsica and the Caribbean. Since then I have used my travel experience to create tailor-made holidays. For me, travel is learning about different cultures and ways of life. I love sharing my knowledge and passion about Europe with clients, helping to inspire and organise their travel itineraries that are full of special moments.

My Insiders Tip

If you are visiting Paris, you must visit the Palace of Versailles. Until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, the impressive baroque palace was the royal residence. Just 20 kilometres from Paris, you can get a train from either Gare d’Austerlitz or Saint Lazare train station, taking approximately an hour. If you are travelling during the peak summer months, I recommend prebooking your ticket as the queue can be quite long. The perfectly manicured gardens are one of the main attractions of the palace, as well as the grounds that cover approximately 8 sq km, so make sure you wear comfortable footwear. The interiors are extremely opulent with over 60,000 works, the pièce de résistance being the Hall of Mirrors and the King’s state apartments

Favourite Experience

One of my favourite experiences has to be sailing around Italy in August when I was working on cruise ships. Sailing overnight from Corfu to Genoa, the captain announced that we would pass Sicily, and an active Mount Etna, at around three o’clock in the morning. The thought of seeing an active volcano was exciting; while I waited I saw more stars than I have ever seen before, as well as shooting stars! As we sailed past Mount Etna it had erupted, and luminous orange lava was visible trailing down the side. It was definitely something worth staying awake for!

My Favourite Place

Anywhere in the mountains – it’s where I feel most relaxed. An added bonus if they’re covered in snow, as it adds to the magic. We are so lucky to have the Alps on our doorstep, and there are some incredible walks through the mountains in Switzerland. The dramatic scenery makes a tiring walk worth the effort, after which you can relax in one of the many outdoor thermal spas. The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is a great place to start. Don’t miss the sunsets with the mountains in the backdrop!

My Favourite Hotel

One of my favourite hotels has to be the Gstaad Palace. This palatial hotel has views across the whole town and is family run – one of only a few left in the country. The rooms are extremely chic and elegant, with a Swiss alpine influence. In the hotel’s gourmet restaurant you can watch the chefs as they prepare your meals in front of you and you can choose an accompanying wine from the cellar. The hotel has a wellness centre, swimming pool and sitting room with inviting arm chairs in front of a large fireplace, which is the perfect place to warm up on a winter’s day.

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See desert kingdoms come alive in the Middle East brochure – order yours here. Order Now >

Discover Middle East

Ancient and revered sites, splendid Islamic architecture, desert landscapes and labyrinthine souks await.… Read more
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Shameem

My family come from Johannesburg so from an early age my school holidays were spent in South Africa. We would have big get togethers in the green spaces of the city with a braii (barbecue) at the weekends. I have travelled all around the country, from the stunning city of Cape Town to the wild beaches of KwaZulu-Natal and the amazing wildlife of the renowned Kruger National Park. I love that with each visit there is something new to discover. India has also always been an intrigue to me as my ancestors came from the state of Gujarat around 1900 before migrating to South Africa. My first memory of India is a visit to the Taj Mahal, a spectacular sight that my mother and I had always wanted to see. The forts and palaces of Agra and Jaipur are also incomparable to anywhere else that I’ve been.

 

My Insiders Tip

Instead of flying from Johannesburg to Mpumalanga, a four-hour drive will take you through some stunning scenery, passing dozens of nature reserves, lakes and dams. Stop midway at Dullstroom, one of the oldest towns in South Africa, to enjoy a light lunch in a quaint deli serving traditional homemade bakes such as milk tart and koeksisters. Then drive up to the Drakensberg Plateau through Long Tom Pass, named after a large silver cannon. Used by the Boer army, it was the bane of the British generals and their brigades. The pass is the highest road over the Mpumalanga Drakensberg and the most stunning part of the road trip.

Favourite Experience

One of my favourite animals is the elephant so it’s always been a thrill to see these magnificent creatures in the wild. My most memorable encounter was at Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe while on a relaxing sunset cruise along the Zambezi River. I had never realised that elephants could swim so I was amazed to see a family making their way from the banks of the river on the Zimbabwean side across to the Zambian side. It was surprising to see how swiftly they move through the water using their trunks like a snorkel.

My Favourite Place

There are so many places that I love in South Africa, each offering a different experience, which makes it hard to pick a favourite. For adventure, head to the rainforests and mountain ranges of the Garden Route or the canyons and valleys of Mpumalanga. You are spoilt for choice for wildlife viewing experiences with the Big Five at home in Kruger National Park, Madikwe, northern KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. For urban exploration, look no further than Cape Town, a beautiful city set against the backdrop of Table Mountain. Finally, for unspoilt beaches and a dramatic coastline, the golden sands of the Dolphin Coast are the answer.

My Favourite Hotel

This has to be Wolwedans Dunes Lodge in the NamibRand, a private nature reserve in the Namib desert in south-west Namibia. The Wolwedans Collection has six different lodges and camps across the reserve, each offering a different level of comfort in a slightly different setting. The Dunes Lodge offers the perfect combination of comfort with the atmosphere of a camp. The beautifully appointed chalets feature canvas sides, opening up to fantastic views of the surrounding dunes. By day I appreciated the magnificent landscapes of red sand dunes, golden grasses and rugged mountain ranges. Our local guide was a San Bushman and could tell us in detail how the local tribes lived in this harsh environment. By night I marvelled at the starry skies from the comfort of my bed.

Order a Brochure Online

See desert kingdoms come alive in the Middle East brochure – order yours here. Order Now >

Discover Middle East

Ancient and revered sites, splendid Islamic architecture, desert landscapes and labyrinthine souks await.… Read more