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Top 8 things to do in Jaipur, India

Few people are aware of a city which is quintessentially Indian, Jaipur. The capital and the largest city of the state of Rajasthan, its also known as the Pink City of India, and it offers visitors a wealth of architectural, cultural and foodie delights. Jaipur earned its moniker the Pink City because it was built, literally, on the bedrock of pink sandstone which changes shade depending on the suns position in the sky. There are innumerable ways to familiarise yourself with this wonderful city. Options abound.

1. The Pink City

Jaipurcertainlyis pink. Even the unforgiving midday sun casts a rich red hue as it heats the stone. Not surprisingly, the city takes on a stunning beauty at sunrise and sunset. Its at this time of day that you should give yourself over to navigating the streets, experiencing the history, while weaving past the inhabitants, the rickshaws and tuk tuks, the motorbikes (Bajaj bikes most likely), the sacred cows, the not-so-sacred pigs and the occasional monkey.

2. The Palace of the Winds

The Hawa Mahalis an architectural marvel, a fanciful blend of red sandstone shaped like a honeycomb pyramid. Intricately decorated, each window jharokha ornamented with elaborate latticework. The high screen wall was created so that ladies of the court could observe street festivals and yet remain unseen by the revellers.

3. Indulge in the city palace

Not so much a palace as a series of magnificent residences, the city palace has a history dating back to 1729. It comprises of the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces which incorporate courtyards, gardens and other buildings. I particularly enjoyed the Armoury, marvelling in every detail of the ceremonial weapons craftsmanship, as well as the Mubarak Mahal, the ‘Auspicious Palace', which is an unsurpassed fusion of the Islamic, Rajput and European architectural styles.

4. Dinner with members of the royal family

Experience Travel Group can arrange a dinner with descendents of a royal family for you. The Sai Niwas prepare a splendid meal for guests to enjoy and theres even a cooking lesson beforehand, so you can learn how to create traditional family cuisine yourself. Enjoy mouth-watering food while all the while discussing the citys rich history and the vagaries of modern life.

5. Relax on aheritage walk

Explore Jaipurs old town with an expert local guide and discover delicious street food, beautiful craft shops and antique stores. Its an illuminating chance to experience the way of life in this bustling city and get a better understand of how its history has shaped the culture today.

6. Exploring the historyof Jaipur

TheAlbert Hallwas built, unsurprisingly, during colonial times. It is an impressive example of colonial architecture, fusing European, Indian and Islamic styles into one. Within its elaborate walls youll find the story of the city.

7. Sunrise in Jaipur

A morning cycle is a great way to experience a city. It allows for an unmatched perspective, just as the city and its inhabitants awake. We stopped off at street food stalls regularly, whether for a refreshing lassi or sweet chai with the locals, or a tactical break at a tiny bakery for sweet treats and an energy boost. We also visited a lively and colourful market with a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna; it was a fantastic, immersive experience.

8. The indomitable hill forts

Joined by a local guide, you can journey out to rural hill forts near Jaipur. Travelling from village to village, youll visit beautiful Hindu temples along the way as well as meet Rajasthani farmers and hear of their lives. I met one who was worried that a leopard someone had supposedly spotted could endanger his oxen! Finish up at Kuntil Garh Fort, a property frozen in time with beautiful views of the countless forts that characterise Rajasthan.

Sam Clark is CEO at Experience Travel Group.

If you would like to be a guest blogger onA Luxury Travel Blogin order to raise your profile, pleasecontact us.

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Where to enjoy an al fresco coffee in Africa

If you're planning an African safari and are also a coffee lover, then you already know that several safari destinations are also coffee exporters, such as Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and even Zambia. We try to frequent new coffee shops on every visit to Africa and have compiled a list of our current favorite haunts based on quality of coffee and the tranquil, al fresco environment.

We've selected our top pick for each city or town and, in no particular order, have listed them below.

Inzora Rooftop Cafe, Kigali, Rwanda

This coffee shop is located inside a bookshop, so if you dont wish to enjoy your java on the rooftop, you can sip coffee and peruse their great selection of books, many of which focus on Rwanda.

We love that the coffee is grown, picked and processed by womens coops in Rwanda. The coffee is good and the views from the rooftop area are gorgeous. The wifi isn't strong on the rooftop which, in our book, is an added bonus.

Prunes, Kampala, Uganda

Designed by Parisian architects, Prunes offers a funky, modern interior to complement its lovely outdoor seating options.

And, if you're after more than a cup of joe, this is an excellent spot for lunch or dinner.

The Mulberry, Arusha, Tanzania

Despite its central location, only five minutes on foot from the clock tower, The Mulberry's outdoor seating is so peaceful, you'd swear you were somewhere on the outskirts of town. This venue is perfect for those who wish to sit back and take in some of their natural surroundings whilst enjoying their cappuccino.

Their website claims that they even have the odd hedgehog in their garden area, but we've only been privy to birds and monkeys. Still, not many cafes can claim that.

The River Cafe, Nairobi, Kenya

This cafe is nestled inside Karura Forest and you truly feel as though you are nowhere near a major city. The wifi is strong here, too, if you're looking for a place where you can linger and catch up on whats been happening while you've been in the bush.

It is pricey, though, as this is also a tourist spot.

Taste by Rootz, Lusaka, Zambia

This trendy cafe offers a funky, fun interior for those wishing to escape the heat. But, for us, the real lure is the lovely, tranquil gardens.

It's too easy to spend several hours here, lingering over a good cup of coffee and enjoying a very healthy meal.

The Cottage Cafe, Harare, Zimbabwe

The Cottage Cafe has a spacious garden section with a play area for little ones. The wifi is strong here, too.

There's often something local happening at The Cottage Cafe, so dont be surprised if, when you turn up, they've got baby clothes for sale, hanging up randomly around the garden area, or local artists showcasing their latest works. This is a good spot if you're seeking a bit of company with your coffee.

Vintage Coffee Shop, Windhoek, Namibia

Last but not least on our list of al fresco coffee shops is the Vintage Coffee Shop. Aptly named, the Vintage Coffee Shop sells a wide array of vintage items, such as tableware, clothing and furniture.

The outdoor seating has comfy, push chairs, perfect for tucking in to a good book while enjoying your coffee.

Javier Luque is a Co-Founder and Director ofYour African Safari.

If you would like to be a guest blogger onA Luxury Travel Blogin order to raise your profile, pleasecontact us.

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