THE BEST PLACES YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF
Scouting Report 2007
We asked 10 people who explore for a living to reveal the places they've recently "discovered"--in other words, the best places you've never heard of (and, frankly, neither had we). Go now, before the rest of the world catches up.
Vanessa Berlowitz: A producer of the series Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel (discovery.com), now working on its sequel
Vanessa Berlowitz, a wildlife film producer who worked on the BBC's series Planet Earth (which aired in the United States on the Discovery Channel), is constantly on the move. "My travel is focused around trying to find the correct animal doing the right thing at the right time," she explains. In the past year, she's been to South Georgia, a small island near Antarctica; Svalbard, in the Norwegian Arctic; and twice to Pakistan. When researching the migration of demoiselle cranes for Planet Earth, Berlowitz discovered that Jomsom, Nepal, was an ideal spot to watch the birds in flight.
At an elevation of 9,000 feet, the Himalayan town has spectacular views of the Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges and is a popular departure point for treks. During the first two weeks of October, however, there's no need to venture far to get prime wildlife viewing: "From the center of town, you can see and hear large groups of demoiselle cranes flying overhead," says Berlowitz. "If you walk for about an hour and a half up the valley on a very easy trekking path, cross a bridge to the other side of the gorge, and wait for the thermal winds to pick up, you'll see golden eagles dive-bombing the cranes as they take off."
The Hotel Om's Home guesthouse in Jomsom has clean, simply furnished rooms and good food. "There are great Nepalese curries with lots of organic vegetables," says Berlowitz, "and Tibetan-style dishes like yak-meat ravioli-type dumplings that are delicious."
How to get there: Round-trip flights from Kathmandu to Jomsom (via Pokhara), $290; Hotel Om's Home, 011-977/69-44-00-42, rooms from $26 and meals from $6; NepalNature.com runs two-week naturalist-guided migration tours with lodging, all local transportation, and meals from $1,199.