You’d think after millennia of people traveling, not to mention how quickly the world has shrunk with access to the Internet, that we would have seen it all.
But here are four beautiful and intriguing highlights from places that might not be as familiar. If you’d like a full list from National Geographic of the best trips for 2018 – some familiar, some not – check it out here.
If you’re craving a break from busy-ness and noise, Haida Gwaii will give you the silence you’re longing for. A 180-mile-long archipelago off the coast of British Columbia is the ultimate getaway for nature lovers. May-September is the summer season, with more tourist services available, and a greater chance of seeing spectacular wildlife like the Orca migration. But if you’re into surfing, try October-May for the best waves.
To get a feel for what life was like for the Vikings, hop a ferry from Denmark or Iceland and check out the Faroe Islands. Located about 400 miles off the coast of Northern Europe and accessible by flights and ferries year-round, the Faroe Islands are ringed with dramatic green cliffs that plunge into the ocean, sparkling bays, and breathtaking Nordic scenery. In the city of Gjógv, stay in an authentic sod-roofed hotel and take hikes up into the mountains with a spectacular view of the gorge below. Go in July or August for mild temps and long days.
A hidden travel gem lies in the Western Baltics, which is already a somewhat-unknown region that is brimming with breathtaking scenery and a proud cultural heritage. The Via Dinarica is a year-round adventurer’s wonderland. Love gorgeous summer hikes and biking tours? May-September, this trail stretches through 1,200 miles of varied terrain and eight different countries. If you’re into skiing and snowshoeing, hit the Via Dinarica from January to mid-March for a pristine wonderland. Stay in remote mountain shelters, or immerse yourself in centuries-old tradition by staying with local host families.
We see a lot of Japan’s bustling cities, its towering skyscrapers, its industry, its bright lights. But if you’re interested in reclining into the contemplative heart of Japan, seek out Koyasan, a pristine monastic complex two hours south of Osaka by train and the seat of Japanese Shingon Buddhism. Many temples here offer guest rooms, and you can get a feel for what monastic life is like in the lush, misty mountain interior. Savor the simple flavors of clean Buddhist eating, take in morning rituals, or hike by lantern and moonlight along winding green mountain paths. After the intense and amazing sensory experiences that the large urban areas of Japan provide, Koyasan really is the perfect retreat into silence, simplicity, and mystery.
One of the many reasons I love what I do as a travel agent is that there is just so much to see, to take in, and to learn. We all have the amazing opportunity to launch out into new places, to find some new adventure that will change us forever — and I love getting to be a part of that process.
If you’re feeling that pull to places that are new to you, contact me today and let’s start planning your next adventure!
Expedition cruising is a new type of holiday. It’s growing in popularity, but what is it?
Expedition cruising is an adventure. It’s not cabaret and cocktails by the pool. It’s a voyage of explorational that enables you to experience some of the world’s remote locations. Vessels take less than 100 passengers. The experience is intimate and real. It’s boots and wet weather gear, not glitz and sparkle. Itineraries are active, inclusive, and educational. Expect to get up close and personal with nature.
Expedition cruising is not for everyone. Is it for you?
Where can I go?
There are some amazing destinations to choose from. Here are three ideas to get your juices flowing.
Alaska is home to humpback whales, harbor seals, bears, bald eagles, sea otters, puffins, sea lions, orcas, and salmon.
Alaska is so vast and magnificent that the scenery will make you feel small as you view it from the bow of your boat. The glaciers you’ll cruise past are ethereal, and the mountains will dwarf your vessel as it passes through narrow channels in a never-ending scrolling vista of natural beauty.
The captain and crew are always on the lookout for wildlife, and you’re invited to keep a keen eye out for the tell-tale signs of whales.
Hikes into the forest are tailored to suit fitness levels and are accompanied by knowledgeable guides who aim to deepen your understanding of this natural habitat.
You’ll use the zodiac to explore and to access places the main vessel can’t. Kayak trips treat you to a waterline experience that’s hard to beat. Peacefully paddle past nesting birds and enjoy the thrill of eyeballing sea lions and harbor seals.
Giant tortoise, sea turtles, sea lions, a raft of migratory and endemic birds, iguanas, and penguins can be seen on The Galapagos.
The Galapagos is the location famed for Charles Darwin’s insight that sparked his theory of evolution. Wildlife evolved here in isolation. Today, it remains the only place in the world to see some species. Darwin’s famed finches’ number among these endemic species you’ll see.
Nearly all of the area is protected, which has preserved this unique environment. The wildlife has no fear of humans, so your wildlife encounters are substantially different from any other location, anywhere in the world.
Your vessel is your base that moves between islands to allow you to hike, snorkel, kayak, and paddleboard at a variety of different locations. If you’re a scuba diver, look for itineraries that have the option for a dive; you won’t regret it.
Penguins. Penguins. Penguins. The variety of species and scale of their colonies in the region is hard to overstate. They are truly fascinating, and their behavior is entertaining beyond measure.
Leopard seals take on the role of a villain against the penguin’s capering. They’re the apex predator to be found lounging on ice floes. Cruising past them on a zodiac is thrilling. Crabeater and fur seals grace the water too.
Whales are a common sight, and the captain and crew are always on the lookout for fin, humpback, minke, sperm, and killer whales.
The Antarctic is remote and wild, and these expeditions are designed to immerse you in their beauty. Zodiac trips take you alongside glaciers. Kayak tours allow you to experience the deepest silence, and you can wander amongst penguins with your camera. Some trips allow you to explore by ski or snowshoe too.
Am I Fit Enough For An Expedition Cruise?
You don’t have to be a marathon runner or even a runner at all, but to get the most out of this type of holiday, it does help if you are relatively active.
You will need to be comfortable with getting in and out of a Zodiac, and understand that shore landings often involve wading through knee-deep water and squelching through mud. You might find this more fun than you expect.
Many guests on these trips will be taking part in activities new to them, and you will be under the instruction of an experienced leader. If you’re open to new experiences and have a positive attitude, it will go along way towards your enjoyment. Your sense of achievement will keep you smiling long after the holiday has passed.
Where a strenuous hike is offered, there’s usually a less challenging activity as an option too, and know that nothing is compulsory.
All that said, if you are unsure, speak to the company you’re considering traveling with. They have the experience to be able to guide you. If you do have medical conditions that you’re worried will affect your enjoyment or even restrict you, speak to your physician. Someone familiar with your medical history is much better qualified to determine what’s suitable.
If you’re reading this with the knowing smile of someone who’s already experienced an expedition cruise, tell us what your favorite bit was. It might give someone else that last push towards an unforgettable experience.
Amazing Travel Teams
We are member of Absolutely Amazing Travel team. We love to travel and share our stories to help our clients to fulfill their vacation dreams come true.