What are some of the top travel destinations from around the world? With the new year upon us, it’s time to start planning where to travel in 2014! With hundreds of destinations to choose from, we’ve put together our Top 10 recommendations to help inspire your travel wishlist for 2014:
1. South Africa
A country that offers something for every type of traveller, we’re not lying when we say that South Africa really has it all. Whether you seek adventure, adrenaline, romance, food and wine indulgence, or something family-friendly, we promise you won’t be disappointed. South Africa’s tourism market is expected to continue to strengthen in 2014 with improved infrastructure across the industry playing its part in improving travellers’ experiences. Cape Town’s importance to Mandela, will no doubt draw many visitors in the wake of his death.
Domestic travel within South Africa will now be even easier especially around the Kruger region, with the planned re-opening of the Skukuza Airport in the Kruger National Park in May 2014. South Africa is also becoming a foodie hotspot; growing its reputation for great local cuisine and world-class wines.
Insider Tip: Known for its “Big Five” – you can also experience ‘The Marine Big 5’ down the coast in Gansbaai where cage diving with great white sharks is growing in popularity.
All eyes are on the host of this year’s World Cup in Rio which is slated to host the FIFA World Cup this year, and the Summer Olympics in 2016— making it the first South American City ever to host the summer games. As a city already known to throw the biggest party of the year (its iconic week-long Carnaval) everyone is definitely focused on this vibrant country ready to take the world stage. Brazil is also the perfect destination for voluntourism, and as that holiday type itself surges in popularity, so too will the popularity of Brazil and, particularly, projects in the Amazon jungle. As the largest country in South America, you know Brazil is jam-packed with things to see and do. To get an authentic feel, explore the white sands of Copacabana and Ipanema, head to the Amazon and immerse yourself in Sao Paulo’s cosmopolitan culture.
Insider Tip: Brazil’s true colours shine during the vibrant annual Carnaval, so if the timing works for your travel plans jump at the chance to head to the Carnival Capital of the World, Rio de Janeiro during February – March.
3. Costa Rica
Budget conscious travellers can expand their horizons with more affordable airfare pricing making South America and Central America all much more viable holiday options. Costa Rica is one of the 20 richest countries in biodiversity and eco-conscious travellers will delight in exploring the rainforests, active volcanoes, thermal hot springs, beautiful beach and a thriving marine surface. From canopy tours to diving and white water rafting, Costa Ricans know how to show off their assets and travellers with a passion for Mother Nature will find this place a wonder to behold.
Insider Tip: 30kms from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital lies the most active of all Costa Rica volcanoes. Irazu is a colossal giant and on a clear day both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are visible from its peak.
4. New Zealand
Want to see Hobbiton for yourself? Middle-earth is closer than you think! With direct flights from Vancouver, companies like Air New Zealand have made it even easier for us to visit this beautiful country.
With its snow-capped mountains, sparkling blue oceans and bustling modern cities, New Zealand entices visitors with some of the most diverse landscapes in the Southern Hemisphere. Although it’s only been 3 years since the two large earthquakes devastated Christchurch, the city is experiencing a rebirth and is welcoming back visitors again with programs like Gap Filler aiming to activate vacant sites with creative projects and urban regeneration:
Be sure to sign up for the Milford Track – one of the country’s most impressive trails. The four day 53.5 kilometre trail begins at Glade Wharf on Lake Te Anau and finishes at Sandfly Point, not far from the Milford Sound village. The trek is regulated so it’s best to book early and while it’s still possible to walk in winter, as most adventurers enjoy the warmer months.
Insider Tip: If you’re a movie buff, be sure to check out our Hobbit movie themed packages which include your flight, accommodations and fully guided tour through the movie sets of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.
With its many glaciers, thermal hot springs, spectacular geysers, active volcanoes, stunning waterfalls and snow-capped mountains, Iceland is indeed the original ‘land of fire and ice’. Known for its epic views of the Northern Lights, NASA expects it to reach the vibrant peak of an 11-year solar cycle in December 2014. And of course, your trip isn’t complete without visiting one of their most popular attractions in the country, the Blue Lagoon. This country was also recently featured in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stiller.
Insider Tip: One of the best ways to experience Iceland is by taking a road trip. We recommend doing the Road Trip to Vik which is full of hidden gems and allows you to travel on your own time.
Situated off the coast of mainland China, the mountainous island of Taiwan offers picture-perfect vistas and natural attractions. Taiwan is one of those places that will capture your heart and leave a lasting impression. Old and new live in harmony and visitors will be enthralled as much by the bustling metropolis of Taipei as with the array of natural attractions throughout this relatively small island. If we still haven’t sold you on this hidden gem, here are five reasons why you’ll fall in love with Taiwan.
Insider Tip: Be sure to visit Sun Moon Lake which offers breathtaking views, outdoor adventure and sweet serenity. The whole lake has a pathway system so you are able to walk to the cable cars and bike along the lake at sunset.
Nicaragua has an entire geographical world within its borders. The country is positioned between Costa Rica to the south, and Honduras to the north. It is bordered by oceans on two sides; the Atlantic Caribbean which stretches along its eastern shores and the Pacific to the west.
Insider Tip: Millions of sea turtles are born in the sandy western beaches but they are also some of the most endangered. Check out some of the volunteer programs like the Hawksbill Sea Turtle Project. There truly isn’t a more rewarding sea turtle conservation program opportunity than this!
Famed home of the Galapagos, the mainland of Ecuador still has lots to offer as well. One of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, there’s a new way to see it with the recently refurbished Tren Crucero trains. This route starts in Quito and travels through the Andes, over snow-capped mountains, past volcanoes and through the countryside arriving in Guayaquil.
Insider Tip: For a truly local experience, try a local living experience in the Amazon Jungle where you get to live with the Quichua family for four nights. You’ll learn about medicinal plants, experience a shaman ceremony, and visit a local school. Most importantly, you’ll befriend people few outsiders have the honour to even meet.
This iconic Inca Trail follows in the footsteps of Incas through the Andes mountain range and takes four days to complete. On the final day there’s an early morning ascent to catch the sunrise over Machu Picchu. Along the way you’ll hike through mesmerising cloud forests and admire the ruins of Phuyupatamarka and Intipata.
Insider Tip: It’s best to acclimatise to the altitude by chilling in the beautiful city of Cusco for a couple days before starting the trek. If a trek through Peru is on your bucket list, you’ll have to sign up with a tour company – the Government regulates the amount of trekkers at any one time.
Imagine a land hidden from the world for centuries; a pristine natural environment free of pollution and crime. Tucked away in the Eastern Himalayas between India and China, Bhutan offers travellers a beautiful blend of ancient Asian civilization with a touch of Himalayan adventure.
In 1971 the King famously coined the term Gross National Happiness and it’s been used in Bhutan ever since as a philosophical measurement of economic development instead of Gross Domestic Product. If the old King’s views on economic progression are anything to go by, you know you’ll be greeted with friendly faces and a positive outlook on life in Bhutan. Drukair is Bhutan’s national airline and is the only airline to operate flights in and out of the country. However, three land border crossings and easy access from Bangkok, Nepal, Singapore and India ensure Bhutan is easily accessible for most travellers.
Insider Tip: Bhutan’s geographic location and unique climatic variations make it one of the world’s last remaining biodiversity hotspots. Conservation is key and there are a number of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries showcasing endangered animals, birds and plants to raise awareness.
What’s on your travel wish list for 2014? Let us know in the comments below!
Ready to start planning your 2014 travels? Contact any one of our Travel Consultants across Canada 24/7 by calling 1-877-967-5302 or connecting with us online.