If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that no – we don’t have all the time in the world. The start of the new decade was like any other year – families parted ways after Christmas celebrations and travelled home, adventurers looked ahead to all their exciting holiday plans and many were busy assessing how many trips they could squeeze out of annual leave. Those with constant itchy feet looked back on 2019’s adventures and wondered what was next. Unfortunately, the universe had alternative plans and instead of snorkelling in Mexico, we were sent to the confinement of our own homes. But it’s not all doom and gloom! What this crisis has given us is time. Time to reflect on how privileged we are, time to assess our priorities and time to make plans for what will truly make us happy. And if you are anything like us – that’s travel! So if you have a bucket list of destinations waiting to be ticked off, scrapbooks of inspirational photos that you want to add too or an experience that you have been longing for – now is the time to start planning. We love big adventures, and we understand that part of the fun is planning for your trip of a lifetime! So whatever your taste, we have compiled some of our favourite destinations below that will get any dreamer hitting the book button.
For the keen hikers:
Explore the “End of the World”
There’s something incredibly wild and untamed about the wilderness of Patagonia. The ever-changing weather, the rugged mountainscapes, the roaming guanacos and the odd sneaky puma. The magical blue lakes nestled neatly in the peaks. The crashing glaciers showing first hand the globe’s constant movement and the wide-eyed spectators waiting eagerly to witness it. It’s everything you would expect from mother nature’s finest work and then some. Patagonia is the ultimate adventure for anyone who loves hiking, walking, photography, nature and wildlife.
The region spans the southern sections of both Chile and Argentina. Most adventurers will fly into Santiago before connecting to Punta Arenas, the capital city of the Magallanes province and gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. This is where some of the most exhilarating hikes in Patagonia await you, from the 4 day W-trek to the hike to the base of the towers.
In Argentina, experience a slice of the polar world as you witness the impressive Perito Moreno glacier in El Calafate. The huge mass of ice is the third largest reserve of freshwater in the world and spans 250 kilometres squared.
Walk in the footsteps of the Incas
The challenge of walking the Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu is a feat taken on by the most adventurous of travellers each year. The Incas were an organised civilisation who built many different networks and paths through the Andes called the Qhapaq Ñan. The most popular of these routes is now known as the Inca Trail. The three day trek passes some of the most incredible scenery in Peru, from ancient Inca ruins to verdant mountains and grazing llamas. Expect to throw yourself into the remote nature of the journey as you camp along points on the trail, saying goodbye to electricity and WI-FI and just enjoying the tranquillity of the Andes. Of course the jewel at the end of the journey – Machu Picchu – is what makes the whole adventure worth it. As you trek to the sun-gate in time for sunrise, see the mystical mountain appear before your eyes.
Hike to the Lost City
La Ciudad Perdida, or the Lost City, is a mystical experience you’ll never forget. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia, the trek offers some of the best views of the lush Colombian landscape as well as opportunities to interact with indigenous communities that live in the area. Far from the noise of Colombia’s boisterous cities, the journey to the Lost City is the perfect chance to disconnect and fully immerse yourself in the sounds of the jungle. The adventure takes place within Teyuna National Park, therefore it’s important to book with a registered travel company who can provide the permits and professional guides for your own safety. Overall the trip takes 4 days and is suitable for anyone with a decent fitness level – the hardest part is the final 1200 steps built by the Tayronas which you will need to ascend to reach the Lost City.
For the landscape lovers:
Sleep under the stars in Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is a beautiful valley of sandstone and granite rocks located in southern Jordan. The landscape encompasses dusty hues of red, orange and brown formations as well as fascinating petroglyphs showing the work of humans who inhabited the area since prehistoric times. The arid and untamed scenery has been the setting of many desert films including the Star Wars franchise, The Martian and the 1962 classic, Lawrence of Arabia. Unique camping retreats are peppered throughout the desert and offer a fantastic experience of sleeping in the heart of it all. The remote location means no light pollution exists and looking up at the glimmering night sky you’ll see a fantastic array of colours and stars reaching far across the horizon.
Visit the breathtaking Uyuni Salt Flats
Salar de Uyuni, also known as the Uyuni Salt Flats of Bolivia are an extraordinary experience that you won’t find elsewhere in the world. Reigning as the world’s largest salt flat, it encompasses over 4,000 square miles of salt crust which has formed over millions of years on what was once considered to be several prehistoric lakes. After a burst of rainfall, a thin layer of water rests on the open landscape creating what can only be described as a gigantic mirror. The seemingly infinite horizons create a magical atmosphere that can’t quite be imagined until you place yourself in the midst of the open landscape and look around at the vast space that surrounds you.
Admire the “out of this world” Valle de la Luna in Chile
If you’ve ever wanted to experience a different planet, the Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) landscape in Chile might just be the closest thing. The unique area is located in the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth where it’s thought that some areas have received no rainfall in hundreds of years! The landscape is a result of millions of years of unforgiving weather, creating unique sand and rock formations that have been artistically carved by the wind. The impressive canvas is somewhat similar to the surface of the moon, forming an otherworldly experience for those lucky enough to visit. In fact, a prototype for the Mars rover was tested on the terrain because of its incredibly dry and hostile environment.
On a clear day, with the vibrant blue sky looking over the orange and red hued rocks and sand dunes, you’ll momentarily forget which planet you are in fact on.
For the wildlife enthusiasts:
Journey through Costa Rica
Do you dream of strolling through lush tropical jungles, with colourful parrots soaring above and monkeys swinging from branch to branch? Are you desperate to see sloths in the wild? Then Costa Rica is your perfect holiday destination. Costa Rica’s impressive efforts towards conservation and the environment go almost unrivalled, in fact the small country is home to around 5% of the entire world’s biodiversity. On top of this, 25% of the country’s land is protected in either national parks, forest reserves or biospheres. This provides a mecca for the wildlife that call Costa Rica home, and it’s wildly considered the best destination for guaranteed animal encounters year round. Highlights include zip-lining through the jungle, walking above the clouds on canopy walkways and cruising along rivers in search of the creatures that live here in abundance.
Cruise around the Galapagos Islands
Not many places can compete with the islands that inspired Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Located in the Pacific Ocean, just over 500 miles off the mainland coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are a treasure trove of fascinating wildlife and landscapes. Various endemic species call the islands home, including the blue-footed booby, Galapagos land iguana and the Galapagos tortoise. In fact tortoises are one of the most iconic animals to be found on the island – after all the islands were named after the impressive giant tortoises that roamed here. The most popular way to experience the Galapagos is by boat. Comfortable cabins and cruising overnight means that you can visit a new island each day and see the best of this very special corner of the world. Expect island walks to learn about the unusual terrain, witnessing an abundance of incredible animals and snorkelling in some of the most marine packed waters in the world.
Tick off the best African Safaris
An African safari is undoubtedly one of the best and most authentic experiences for animal lovers. The untamed and wild plains of Africa are home to some of the globe’s most impressive animals, including the Big Five – the lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant and cape buffalo. Only on the mother continent can you see lions prowl along the horizon in search of prey, elephants frolic on the shores of rivers and giraffes munch on treetops while overlooking the vast landscape. The beauty of a game drive in the wild is the unknown – will you see the start of the Great Migration as the first wildebeest make the dramatic journey across the river? Or will you watch as lurking crocodiles wait to attempt the take down of crossing mammals over twice their size. The wilds of Africa are unforgiving, sometimes saddening and other times fascinating. But one thing’s for sure – you’ll never forget your first safari.
Get up close to wild Mountain Gorillas
The wild mountain gorillas of Uganda roam freely amongst the thick foliage of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and getting to see them peacefully in their home really is a once in a lifetime experience. Around 400 gorillas live in the forest, which makes up for just under half of the world’s population. Thanks to recent conservation efforts, the WWF has announced the numbers of gorillas in the wild has increased to around 1000. Walking through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is part of the adventure itself, with the park housing some 120 species of mammals, over 300 species of birds and around 200 species of butterflies. Keep your eyes and ears peeled and you never know what fantastic wildlife encounter you’ll come across. The walk to see the gorillas can take another from one to eight hours. Local trackers will pinpoint the last known location of the gorillas and use their unique skills to reach their current location, however due to the movement of the animals this can take quite some time. It’s hard to describe the sense of awe that rushes through you as you first set your eyes on these magnificent beasts.