Long Weekends 2021: Take Travel A Notch Higher With Exciting New Experiences

As we wait on the cusp of yet another year, there are bound to be plenty of new resolutions and bucket lists to check off, especially after all the missed opportunities from 2020. For travelers, 2021 brings with it a new hope to #DiscoverMore. However, you might have to acknowledge that your escapades will still not be the same. For instance, international travel could still be risky, and you may have to keep it on hold. But this just means more time to explore places closer to home.

If you don’t know how to make future travel plans interesting, here’s a tip – make 2021 a year for chasing experiences rather than chasing destinations. This means more road trips, chasing local experiences and finding hidden gems where you never expected. And there are tons of long weekends in the new year to help you out. So, fill up your tank, check your mirrors and mark your calendars to live your travel dreams, one long weekend at a time with these great ideas.

Chill In An Igloo

New Year weekend

Date: 1st to 3rd January

Duration: 3 days

Whether it is movies like Ice Age or a documentary on Alaska, visuals of snowcapped mountains have probably left you fantasising about living in an igloo. So, why not start the new year by turning this dream into reality? And the best part is that you don’t have to travel to the Arctic to do it.

In Sethan village in Himachal Pradesh, you can experience staying in an igloo. Blanketed with a thick coat of snow each year, over 7ft to be precise, Sethan village offers a winter holiday like no other. Snowboarding, skiing and marshmallow roasting at a bonfire, make this snowy escapade practically perfect. You can also find igloo camps in Manali. So, book your frosty lodging online and begin your new year at this heavenly abode.

Experience Underwater Bliss

Republic Day Weekend

Date: 23rd to 26th January

Duration: 4 days

Scuba diving is an activity often found on most people’s bucket list. If it’s on yours too, it’s time to stop putting it off. Head to Malvan, Maharashtra, which is popular among beach enthusiasts and for all the right reasons. The crystal clear waters of the Malvan coast hold vibrant corals and majestic aquatic life that will leave you spellbound. You might even be able to go scuba diving on a private beach here. But if you cannot make it to Malvan, other pristine beaches in India for scuba diving include Netrani Island in Karnataka, Kovalam in Kerala and Dwaraka in Gujrat.

With your cool and compact Ford Figo that is ready for all your travel adventures, you can be as flexible as you want. So skip those Monday office blues, extend your weekend till Tuesday (26th Jan) and experience the tranquillity of azure waters.

Culture Walk

Mahashivratri Weekend

Date: 11th to 14th March

Duration: 4 days

You’ve probably heard or even participated in heritage walks that offer the chance to delve deep into the architecture and culture of a region. But beyond these elements are several undiscovered gems. For instance, on a typography walk, you can unearth the history of a place by scouting through the fonts, designs and language. In West Delhi, walls of South Asia’s largest penitentiary Tihar Jail, adorn beautiful murals, art & poetry. The murals and poetry tell riveting stories of life of solitude, trapped in the confines of the prison. When you visit, you can also buy some baked goods or buy a hearty meal at Tihar Haat, which sells a variety of confections made by inmates. You can even buy some sturdy furniture at another shop run by inmates for a steal.

Another popular destination for a midnight culture walk is Calcutta. Far removed from the buzz of daytime, you can walk past the Eden Gardens, stroll in Lal Bazaar and admire the Howrah Bridge in its night-time glory. Similarly, you can go on craft walks in Kashmir, and street art walks in Mumbai. So, slip into a comfy pair of shoes and immerse yourself in a kaleidoscope of cultures on this long weekend.

Trip To A Vineyard

Holi Weekend

Date: 27th to 29th March

Duration: 3 days

What’s better than one long weekend? A month with two long weekends! And this Holi weekend, leave a red stain on your lips with a visit to a gorgeous, expansive vineyard. Strolling through the lush landscape, dotted with flowers, with a glass of wine, seems like a scene out of a countryside music video. But that’s exactly what Nashik offers! Here you can swirl, smell and sip the finest wines from India’s very own Napa Valley while brushing up your knowledge of winemaking. Daily tours commence with the process of plucking grapes and end in the tasting room, and wine enthusiasts can also try their hands, err feet at grape stomping. With a host of extravagant resorts in the vicinity, you can end the night with a scrumptious meal, paired with the finest red or white.

If you live down south, the vineyards near Doddabalapur or Chennapatna are just as gorgeous and have plenty to offer. And the drive in your Ford Aspire will make the journey pleasant with its touch screen infotainment system. With it, you can keep your eyes on the road while enjoying music, audiobooks or podcasts.

Stay In A Treehouse

Good Friday Weekend

Date: 2nd to 4th April

Duration: 3 days

Once a childhood fantasy, staying in a treehouse has emerged as a popular staycation spot for a quick and relaxing break. The country is buzzing with mesmerizing options in every direction – Lonavla, Bandhavgarh, Jibhi, Thekkady, Dandeli and Chikkamanglur, Kullu. Embracing a rustic charm, these treehouses are surrounded by thick foliage and sit atop trees. So, meander into the rainforests or indulge in some bird watching to shrug off the fatigue of the daily hustle and awaken your senses to the wonders of these ecological treasures.

Nestled in mother nature’s arms, you can enjoy panoramic views of the lush hills and green fields. And your Ford Endeavour will make the journey there safe and comfortable with its Terrain Management System and Electric Locking Rear Differential, which boosts grip and traction on all surfaces, even if slippery or rugged.

Ecotourism Experience

Eid Ul Fitr Weekend

Date: 13th to 16th May

Duration: 4 days

In the last few years, travellers have moved beyond mere recreational pursuits and are adopting a holistic approach when exploring new places. Ecotourism – the new buzz word in travel – aims to promote ethical travel choices that are mindful and sensitive towards nature’s needs. With its rich biodiversity, Wayanad is popular amongst eco-tourists and nature lovers alike. Muthanga and Tholpetty forests in the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary are perfect for nature photography without filters or edits. And with frequent sightings of diverse wildlife such as tigers, leopards, guars and several rare species of reptiles and birds, you can witness the animal kingdom in all its glory. You can also indulge in adrenaline-filled activities such as mountaineering, hiking and camping.

Other ecotourism destinations that you can explore in India are Mawlynnong Village in Meghalaya, Lahaul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, Ranathombore in Rajasthan and Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh. So, extend your weekend plans by skipping work on Thursday and go the extra mile to savour the bounties of nature. To make your drive more enjoyable, turn on the Automatic Climate Control in your Ford Freestyle and remain comfortable throughout the journey. With Active Rollover Protection (ARP) and a powerful engine, this compact utility vehicle will help you conquer any terrain with ease.

Visit A Gravity-Defying Waterfall

Eid al-Adha Weekend

Date: 17th to 20th July

Duration: 4 days

Believe it or not, there’s a waterfall in Naneghat, Maharashtra that needs no camera tricks to evoke a jaw-dropping reaction. One of the many troves in the Western Ghats, this cascading waterfall flows upward due to the high speed and pressure of water during the monsoon season. With the lush, beautiful surroundings washed in hues of bright green, this truly is a sight to see with your eyes. Avid trekkers can get a little more action as a visit here offers the chance to cover the majestic Naneghat mountain range on foot and soak in the serene views.

However, if you aren’t anywhere near Maharashtra, you can still bask in the glory (and spray) of other mesmerising waterfalls in India at this time of the year. Some that you can consider include Bhagsu Waterfalls in Himachal Pradesh, Soochippara Falls in Kerala, Elephant Falls in Shillong and Nohkalikai Falls in Cherrapunji.

A Slice Of Cultural Exchange

Janmashtami Weekend

Date: 28th to 30th August

Duration: 3 days

Exploring new cultures is easily one of the best parts of travel, especially in India, since there is so much to discover. Studded with picturesque sites for hiking and camping, Uttara Karnataka has plenty to offer in terms of a conventional vacation. Still, if you’re on the lookout for something rather extraordinary, try meeting and greeting members of the Siddi community. A small ethnic group of African descendants, the Siddis have been residing in India for the last four centuries and have their own identity, language and food habits – a culture that you seldom find in textbook pages. It’s rightly said that your travels reward you with a new pair of eyes that teach you as much about the world as it does about yourself. So, save this weekend to embark on a cultural voyage to meet new people but also to find yourself through others’ eyes.

Farmhouse Stay In Leh

Mahanavami, Dussehra and Eid-e-Milad Weekend

Date: 14th to 19th October

Duration: 6 days

Beyond the snow-covered peaks, past the travellers that throng the touristy attractions of Leh, lies an opportunity to experience the authentic charm and warmth of Ladakhi culture. Situated a small drive away from Leh, the Phyang and Phey villages are inhabited and run entirely by women and offer farm stays that welcome volunteers and travellers from across the globe. The farm stay will immerse you in Ladakhi hospitality by having you stay in a local’s home and sharing home-cooked meals. If you enrol as a volunteer, you can work in the fields, go on hikes and explore the village with these Ladakhi locals. A week-long stay here will not only push you out of your comfort zone but introduce you to a world that you never experienced before.

A drive here in your Ford EcoSport is sure to make the trip memorable. With its Hill Launch Assist and Hill Descent Control, conquering tricky twists and turns and manoeuvring your way around steep climbs will be a breeze. Its high ground clearance is perfect for highway roads and rocky terrains, and its automatic climate control will ensure you don’t break a sweat on your drive here.

Watch The Sea Shimmer 

Diwali Weekend

Date: 5th to 7th November

Duration: 3 days

The night kayaking adventure on Havelock island, Andaman is one of the most surreal experiences you’ll ever have. When you head out to the sea after sunset, you can witness the ocean sparkling in a blue-tinted glow; the bioluminescence phenomenon. Due to less pollution from the shore, Havelock Island displays a stunning spectacle of this natural wonder when the moon is at its lowest phase. This thrilling phenomenon only lasts 3 hours, but the sight of silver water against the twinkling night sky will remain with you for a lifetime. So, prepare to be left breathless as you float on streaks of silver while gazing at the stars and celebrate the festival of lights a bit differently.

If you do want to witness this gorgeous spectacle closer to home, some other places known for the bioluminescence phenomenon are Bhimashankar forest in Maharashtra, Shashithulu beach in Karnataka and the Kumbalangini backwaters of Kerala.

Tribes Of Nagaland

Christmas Weekend

Date: 24th to 26th December

Duration: 3 days

Perched atop the hills of Nagaland, sits the Longwa village which offers much more than incredible views of the green valley below. Home to the last surviving headhunters of Mon, meeting the Konyak tribe is like looking through time. Known in the past as fierce warriors, you’ll be left fascinated by their extensive body tattoos, ear piercings and tribal jewellery. You can meander in the hamlet and walk past the church and even attend a Sunday service. As Longwa borders Myanmar, you can get a closer look at the neighbouring country’s lush plains. If you find yourself scouting for an offbeat travel experience, this definitely tops the list. It might also do you good to hire a local guide to show you around and tell you important details about the place and its history.

Uncovering untouched places and indulging in experiences you haven’t before can help you create exciting stories for a lifetime. And that’s exactly what you can do to make your travel diaries more interesting and colourful than before. So, refer to this list anytime you want to plan a fun getaway and hit the road in your Ford with renewed vigour and excitement for a year full of wonderful travel opportunities.