50 New Trips for The Next Year

Stumped for ideas for your next year getaway? We’ve scoured the brochures and trawled the web to find the top new trips sure to give you wanderlust…

TANZANIA

Feel the Serengeti under your feet rather than eyeing it from the back of a 4WD on Mountain Kingdoms’ Serengeti Walking Safari in Style tour. Warm up first with game drives out to Ngorongoro Crater – where you can walk to a Maasai village – and Arusha National Park, where you can clamber the slopes of Mount Meru.

Also pay a visit to Manyara NP, famed for its tree-climbing lions, before spending three days in a private wilderness area in the Serengeti, wandering its acacia-strewn wild tracks in the company of guides, negotiating grassy plains and enjoying its wildlife – all without the usual convoys of 4WDs.

SWEDEN

Discover your inner hermit on Discover the World’s Kolarbyn Eco-lodge Wildlife Adventure, a back-to-basics wild stay in an old coal burner but that has been dubbed ‘Sweden’s most primitive hotel’. Survive without electricity and showers, and cook your own meals over an open fire in between making trips into the frozen forests and nearby lakes to spy on beavers and moose.

Later, pitch camp in wolf country and prepare to feel your spine tingle as you listen out for their howls by night and track their paw prints through the leaflitter by day.

CANADA & GREENLAND

Such was the difficulty in exploring the frozen expanse of Baffin Bay that the areawas only able to be fully mapped relatively recently. It remains a breathtaking adventure though and a jumping off point for delving deep into almost virgin Arctic on Hurtigruten’s Crossing Baffin Baycruise.

Start in St John’s, Canada, before heading out to spot whales, explore r,000-year- old viking settlements and trek the wildlife-dense Baffin Island en route to Greenland. See icebergs calve into limpid blue waters, kayak volcanic islands and wander an Arctic village -just don’t forget your thermals!

MEXICO

One of the more remarkable sights in the insect world is the migration of millions of monarch butterflies, which flutter to the reserves of Michoacin to hibernate. Witness this and other great wildlife moments on The Travelling Naturalists’ Butterfly, Whale &Bird Migration tour across Mexico, as you journey north to Baja California in the company of birding and photography experts John Muddeman and Greg Homel.

Visit Magdalena Bay to spy grey whales calving in its waters, then head to the mangroves of San Blas to spot migrating birds. Finish with more bird- and whale-watching around Puerto Vallarta, as humpbacks gather en masse.

 

RWANDA & THE DRC

The gorillas of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are fixtures on the critically endangered list, making every trip to see them a genuine rare gem. On Steppes Travel’s Gorillas, Conservation and Communities tour, see how the International Gorilla Conservation Programme is working to save these primates with the help of local villages.

Hike the forests of the DRC’s Kahuzi-Biega NP to spot local Grauer’s gorillas before trekking to meet their mountain cousins – still teetering on the edge of extinction – in the Virunga Massif, in the company of experienced conservationist Thalia Liokatis.

KENYA

Take a journey into three of Kenya’s great wildernesses, spotting endemic species only seen in the arid northern reaches of the country. Tracks Safaris’ Luxury Rhino Conservation Safari sees you set out on game drives across Samburu National Reserve for sightings of rare Grevy zebra and scores of elephants, which gather in large herds here.

But the big lure is the new, plush Saruni Rhino camp in the Sera Community Conservancy, where you can track the endangered black rhino that were only reintroduced some 30 years ago. Finish in Mara Conservancy, with local Maasai guiding you across their lands in between bush dinners and hippo-spotting by the river.

THAILAND

So often, all we see of the battle to OFF protect the world’s most endangered species are sad headlines. Glimpse the positive side of the fight on World Expeditions’ Wild Animal Encounters in Thailand trip.

Run in conjunction with NGO World Animal Protection, journey through the national parks of Thailand and spend time at its rescue centres to learn about the plight of local tigers and elephants. Then travel by 4WD deep into the jungle to spot these creatures in the wild alongside guars, gibbons, barking deer and flying foxes. Finish among the idyllic Surin Islands, snorkelling with sea turtles in the limpid waters o f the Andaman Archipelago.

 

BRAZIL

Journey to remote parts ofthe Brazilian wetlands in search of big cats on Tell Tale Travel’s Jaguars, the Pantanal & Iguagu Falls tour. Perfect for solo travellers (there’s no single supplement), travel with a guide from Cuiaba and forge deep into the Pantanal, where walking safaris take you past lakes filled with caiman, parakeets and web-footed marsh deer, before striking out by boat for sightings of giant river otters (up to two metres in length) and the Pantanal’s elusive jaguars.

Grab a taste of life as a cowboy on a horse trek through the Transpantaneira, then finish in Foz do lguacu with trips to its famous Iguacu falls.

 

MEXICO

Snorkel with whale sharks in the Sea of Cortes, scan the horizon for blue whales in the waves off Loreto, and maybe glimpse birthing grey whales in the waters of Magdalena Bay.

Last Frontiers’ Mexico Whale Adventure sees you self-drive the wilds of Baja California peninsula, swimming with sea lions on the pretty Isla Espiritu Santo island before flying north for more wild rendezvous, culminating in a hike across the remote Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve to Los Cabos, where trip s to see humpbacks plunging the depths of the Pacific crown the trip in style.

USA

Skip across the Pacific Northwest in search of the perfect spot to catch 2017’s solar eclipse, exploring the wilds along the way. Chapters Holiday’s Chasing the US Great Solar Eclipse trip sees you set off from San Francisco for the giant redwoods and beaches that stitch the Californian coast, before heading north to Oregon for front row seats to the sun’s disappearing act.

Following that, there are detours to the hip music bars and food trucks of Portland and treks up Washington’s Mount St Helens as you breathe lungfuls of lush, pine-scented air, finishing up in Seattle.

INDIA

Roam northern India in the company of musicologist Georgie Pope and anthropologist Gopal Singh on Songlines Music Travel’s Rajasthan Musical Adventure.

It’s a chance to not only explore the culture behind the sounds of the region, but also catch local and international artists live at this year’s Rajasthan International Folk Festival, which boasts afresh new line up for 2017. Add to that trips to temples, shrines and local forts, a camel safari, and spending a night in a desert camp as you soak up the stories and history of Rajasthan.

CHILE

As the solar eclipse looms, catch the great event 1,600m above sea level on Journey Latin America’s Highlights of Chile with the Solar Eclipse trip.

A whistle-stop tour of Chile’s big hitters whisks you from the wineries outside Santiago to the icy Patagonian pinnacles of Torres del Paine NP, with hikes out to the creaking glaciers of the French Valley.

Then make for high ground and the Fraile Ski Resort (near Coyhaique) before flying north to the arid desert and dark skies of the Atacama, spying flamingos clustered around crystal lagoons and star-spotting in this famous dark-sky reserve.

GUYANA

Guyana is among the least-visited nations in South America so any visit feels a little intrepid. Add to that a self-drive and you’ve got all the makings of a proper adventure.

Geodyssey’s s Rough Road to Rupununi tour does just that, giving you the keys to a 4WD to explore this former British colony. From its gothic-colonial capital Georgetown to Kaieteur Falls, the highest single-drop waterfall in the world, prepare fora bumpy but exhilarating ride.

When not behind the wheel, you’ll trek to Amerindian villages, hunt the savannah for giant anteaters, and scour the waters of the Yupakari for black caiman on night-time boat trips.

TAJIKISTAN

Travel Central Asia in unusually high-style on a plush overland adventure across Tajikistan with Edge Expedition’s Luxury in the Wild Heart of Asia tour.

Zoom the epic Pamir Highway on two- and four-wheeled expeditions, turning east along the Wakhan Corridor that runs the border of Pakistan. Explore hidden valleys, Zoroastrian ruins and mountain passes along the way, discovering more about the Silk Road and local Tajik and Pamir culture.

Talks by historians and astronomers en route offer some background, as you end your days leisurely wallowing in hot springs and sipping G&Ts by your lakeside yurt.

CHINA

The lesser visited south of China is a different world to the rest of this vast nation – not least its food, which goes up about a dozen spice levels.

But it’s the incredible landscape that leaves an impression, as you’ll discover with On The Go Tours’ South China Discovery trip. As you skim through the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi, you’ll coo at pandas in Chengdu’s breeding centre, hike the rises of Tiger Leaping Gorge and wander the rice terraces of the Dragon’s Backbone, passing the local minority people on the way.

LAOS

Somehow, few travellers in Laos make it to the fertile Bolaven Plateau, just one of the paths-less-travelled you get to tread on Bamboo Travel’s Adventures in Laos, which begins in Luang Prabang with boat trips out to villages only reachable by water.

Follow this with a visit to the caves of Nong Khiaw, where locals sheltered during US bombing raids during the Vietnam War, then trek the lesser-trod jungles and plateaus is of Dong Hua Sao National Protected Area in the deep south.

Finish amid the 4,000 islands of Si Phan Don, riding bikes to waterfalls and rafting its cool waters.

ABKHAZIA

lf you’ve not heard of Abkhazia, don’t take it too badly. This tiny breakaway state tore away from Georgia in 1999 but has still to achieve widespread international recognition. Either way, it’s virgin territory for most, which is what makes Regent Holidays’ Pioneering Abkhazia Small Group Tour so interesting.

Head deep into the forgotten Caucasus, exploring crumbling Soviet-era architecture and remote mountainous landcrapes along the Black Sea coast, crossing its border on foot to visit one of Stalin’s dachas (summer houses) as well as dropping in on the ‘capital’, Sokhumi.

RUSSIA

Cruise the Arctic north-west Sail virgin waters on an expedition cruise to Russia’s Arctic west with Wildfoot Travel’s North East Passage Westbound trip.

Normally hidden beneath thick layers of ice, summer sees its Arctic seas thaw, whereupon this old Soviet supply route from Anadyr now opens up to intrepid voyagers. Make landfall on Wrangel island, an icy Galapagos where the bones of old woolly mammoth still dot the landscape and polar bears roam in large numbers.

Drop in on the reindeer herders of Ayon Island and explore the wildlife-rich islands of Franz Josef Landas you continue on past calving glaciers to Murmansk – the final frozen frontier on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

PAKISTAN

Delve deep into the northern fingertips of Pakistan, fording the less-travelled roads of this mountainous region on Oasis Overland’s Karakoram Highlights.

Taking an open-top Jeep from Islamabad up the Karakoram Highway, weaving between the 2000m-high cloud-covered peaks of the Himalaya and Hindu Kush range. Pit stops include trekking to Nanga Parbat base camp (4,300m), hiking Passau Glacier and exploring one of the world’s highest plateaus: the Deosai Plains – its largely treeless scrub providing front-row seats to the silent majesty of the Himalayan ridges that serrate its borders.

CHILE

With the new direct flights (British Airways) from the UK to Santiago, it’s now just 14.5 hours to Chile’s capital.

However, not all visitors will find their way to the far reaches of Chilean Patagonia, where trawl can still be difficult in places. As such, Audley Travel’s Chiloe Island trip offers a welcome respite, exploring an island that was once the final retreat of the native Mapuche Indians.

To this day, it still feels very much removed from the rest of the country – a land of myth and legends, lakes and forests. Along the way, stop in the wilds of Torres del Paine NP and the Atacama, where new early-morning hot-air balloon flights put a different perspective on this beautiful arid land.

COLOMBIA

Hit the road in Colombia in its rarely seen southern reaches now that the FCO’s travel restrictions have been (marginally) relaxed.

Amakuna’s chauffeur-driven Road Trip hurtles through the departments of Huila and Cauca, pit-stopping in the colonial-era `White City` of Popayan as well as UNESCO-listed San Agustin, which boasts the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America.

Then drive on to pre-Columbian tombs and the seemingly infinite Tatacoa desert, before spending the night in a bio egg’ – an open-top capsule woven out of wicker – in the Bethel Bio Hotel, counting the stars.

SOUTH SULAWESI, INDONESIA

Spread across some 18,000 islands, Indonesia is not a country for travel completists. Case in point: Selective Asia’s South Sulawesi trip, which delves into a province usually ignored by all but the diving community. Explore mountains puddled with rice paddies, crumbling Dutch colonial architecture and vibrant communities, stopping in easy-going capital Makassar for markets and home-cooking classes before canoeing the Walenna River to the floating houses and fishing village of Tempe Lake.

End in Toraja, amid villages that dwindle under towering peaks, and where, if you arrive in the right month, you may witness one of its elaborate multi-million-dollar funeral ceremonies.

MELANESIA, MICRONESIA & POLYNESIA

Combine the least-visited nations on Earth while covering a vast amount of the Pacific, as you skim through Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia on Undiscovered Destinations’ Pacific Explorer tour.

Start out in Fiji before making for the crater lakes and blue lagoons of Wallis & Futuna. From there, plough on to the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Kosrae and even Kiribati, an idyllic but rarely visited archipelago of some 100,000 people that many predict will be submerged in less than 30 years.

It’s a fate facing many of the islands on this trip, so see them while you can. And along the way, explore 14th-century ruins, Second World War internment camps and submerged caves, before climaxing with treks into the lush, wildlife-rich rainforest interior of Samoa.

SRI LANKA

With the travails of the British pound making travel ever more expensive, redress the balance on Fleewinter’s Budget Beating Family Tour to Sri Lanka.

Staying in `family rooms` (all together) helps lower costs as you make the most of the Teardrop Isle’s historical and natural sights, kayaking with swimming elephants in Gal Oya NP, trekking tea fields and the hill country around Kandy, and wandering waterfalls around the hill station of Ella Wave goodbye from the south coast, exploring the 16th-century walled fort of Galle and visiting a turtle hatchery and the golden bays of Thalpe and Dickwella – because golden sands and sea views come free.

 

MALDIVES

Peer behind the golden sands and resorts of South-East Asia’s idyllic atoll on All Points East’s Hidden Maldives trip to discover more about local life here.

Spend time with NGO Save the Beach to see how local initiatives are helping battle rising sea levels, while there are plenty of opportunities to mingle with locals on trips to markets, mosques, fishing villages and tea shops in capital Male.

Meanwhile, reef snorkelling around the islands brings you closer to the incredible marine life offshore, swimming with hawksbill turtles, whale sharks and manta rays off its powder-white beaches.

MALTA

With 7,000 years of civilisation at its fingertips, it’s little surprise that Valletta has got the nod for European Capital of Culture 2018. Get one step ahead of the scenesters with Battered Suitcases’s newly revamped Malta and Gozo trip.

Pick and choose an itinerary of the country’s cultural big-hitters, whether wandering its tiny UNESCO-listed capital, established by the Knights of St John, or exploring the Megalithic Temples on Gozo island, or even scrabbling the medieval catacombs beneath Mdina- tick off the sights at your leisure.

VIETNAM

Expand your knowledge and your waistline on Collette’s Taste of Vietnam tout; soaking up a soupcon of local culture in the process.

From Ho Chi Minh City, explore the Cu Chi Minh maze of underground passages dug by the Viet Cong before heading to rural Ky Sona to learn about culinary traditions and taking a cookery class in tranquil Hoi An.

Satisfy your aesthetic palate with trips along the Perfume River, overnighting on a junk boat in Halong Bay and travelling the vertiginous Van Hai Pass, stopping en route to sample the local markets and flavours that define the cuisine of each region. Delicious.

SOUTH KOREA

Grab some ‘Seoul’ food on Intrepid Travel’s Real Food Adventure in South Korea From browsing barbecue joints to honing your own cooking skills in the country’s culinary capital of Jeonju, the waistline onslaught doesn’t stop – even when you spend a night in a Buddhist monastery, you’ll get to ponder the simple delights of a traditional temple meal.

As well as village visits and soju liquor sampling, discover Busan’s craft beer revolution alongside street food tours, farm visits and, yes, even more cooking. Leave your belts at home.

JAPAN

Most travellers are familiar with Europe’s pilgrim trails (from St Cuthbert’s Way to the Camino de Santiago), far fewer know of the ancient walks of Japan. Translndus’ Sacred Trails follows easily the most famous: the UNESCO-listed Kumano Kodo, where tekkersaiss- cross the Kii peninsula on a 1,000-year-old route connecting Shinto and Buddhist shrines, cedar forests, soaring mountains and traditional ryokan inns.

Expect plenty of uphill walking, while the trip is also bookended by visits to Kyoto and Nara – the latter boasting a wild deer park in its city centre.

ROMANIA

The hiking trails of Eastern Europe are still undiscovered country for many, and while cheap short-haul flights have opened up Bucharest to many a short break (and stag do), few venture into the traditional communities, monasteries and hills further afield.

Thus Tucan Travel’s Hike Romania trip ticks a fair few cultural boxes, as you set off on an overnight train from the capital to Bucovina.

Trek through woodland and fields to reach picturesque monasteries famed for their `egg painting` techniques, before continuing on to Maramureş, where wooden churches, long villages, forests and dazzling frescoes await.

SPAIN

Eat your fill on Pura Aventura’s Basque Cultural Adventure as you begin your culinary journey in Guernica, 80 years after it was decimated by the German Luftwaffe.

Today, the busy town is the heart of the region’s celebrated cooking scene, its markets humming with visitors and local produce. Sate your hunger before setting off on a self-drive through the region, sampling local ldiazabal cheese on a shepherd’s walk, meeting the harvesters of the salt pans and learning how to create authentic Basque pintxo (tapas) in historic Pamplona.

End in the gastronomy capital of Spain – your belly purring in the dining clubs of San Sebastian.

EGYPT

Once famed for its queues and tour buses, recent events have made Egypt synonymous with the negative headlines that have kept visitors away.

But with flights restarting and FCO advice not extending to the Luxor Valley, G Adventures’ revamped Highlights of Egypt trip offers a chance to explore a country not packed to the gills with tourists.

It also squeezes trips to Alexandria and the Siwa Oasis into a tour that already racks up the bucket-list ticks – trotting into the Valley of the Kings on a donkey, gliding the Nile on a traditional felucca sailing boat and wandering the Pyramids of Giza and Abu Simbel. Count us in.

TANZANIA

Gear up for a challenging pedal across the mountainous south-west of Tanzania with Explore’s Cycle Tanzania – Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro adventure.

Rattle along dirt trails and tarmac alike, taking in eye-filling views of Mounts Kilimanjaro and Meru and detouring through Maasai land and villages, resting up with a trio of game drives through Tarangire, Manyana and Ngorongoro Crater National Parks to spy lions, rhino, buffalo and elephants in the wild.

But the real joy is in seeing the landscape change over the 216km.

NEW ZEALAND

`The land of the long white cloud` is home to some of the finest short treks around, including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – regularly voted the world’s top day walk.

Silver Fern Holidays’ self-drive Easy Walks in New Zealand sees you not only padding the Tongariro but also the option of trying its new rival: the Pouakai Crossing in nearby Egmont National Park.

You’ll also trek glow-worm caves, explore the forest-fringed bays of Abel Tasman Park before heading to the South Island; there you’ll explore gold-rush villages in the shadow of Mount Cook and hike to the top of Christ church’s Port Hills, as the Canterbury Plains sweeps languidly below.

ARGENTINA

Ride and splash through Argentina’s lesser-roamed north-east on four hooves, trekking the waterlogged Iberia reserve on Abercrombie & Kent’s Horseback Swimming in the Wetlands tour.

From provincial capital Concepcion, strike out for the tiny village of Paraje Carambola before mounting up and heading into the world’s second-largest wetlands (30,000 sq km). Spot caiman and capybara while paddling through marshes and lagoons patrolled by howler monkeys and huge jabiru stork, drying off overnight at estancias (ranches) along the way.

NORWAY

Push the compass as fax as it gets on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the most northerly settled outpost in the Svalbard archipelago – and in turn, the world.

Best Served Scandinavia’s Adventure Week at Nordenskiold Lodge sees you travel as far as wheels can take you on the island, bedding down on a remote blue glacier.

From here, set out on glacier hikes, kayaking trips and guided nature tours that seek to reveal how this incredible frozen ecosystem functions, before returning you to the warm embrace of the hot-tubs back at the lodge.

FINLAND

Surf the snow on the back of a husky-pulled sled as you learn to mush with the best o f them on Artisan Travel’s Wilderness Husky Safari. From a base in Finland’s lvalo, first head to the Kamisak Husky Farm to learn how to harness your dogs and get to know them, before three days of hurtling through the forested fells and snow-dusted valleys of north-eastern Lapland.

Cover up to 45km a day and sleep in remote cabins at night, discovering how to take care of your new ‘best friends’/ transport along the way.

NEPAL

A bucket-list check for manya cyclist, heli-biking is hitching a lift up a mountain (in a chopper no less) then rattling down it at speed.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, but offers the chance to pedal places few others have. Hence the appeal of Lost Earth Adventures’ Heli Biking Nepal trip, which sees you whirl your way to the top of Thorong La Pass in the Annapurna range (at a height of 5,400m), before attempting the longest mountain bike descent on Earth.

The journey is spread over three days, finally wheeling into the lakeside town of Pokhara for a much needed rest.

FINLAND

Fat bikes (essentially bicycles fitted with large all-terrain tyres) have taken cyclists across surfarces they could never have pedaled before, from sandy deserts to frozen tundra.

It’s the latter that factors here, as you wheel across snow-dusted forests and Ells in northern Finland’s Oulanka NP on Exodus Travel’s Fat Biking in Finland trip. Cover between 5km and 25km a day, keeping an eye out for wandering elk and reindeer, pausing in cosy lodges en route, where you’ll get the chance to catch the northern lights dancing across the ink-black Arctic sky.

SWITZERLAND

Swap huts for hot-tubs on Ramblers OFF Walking Holidays’ Haute Route Hotel Trek, which gives the tough trail from Chamonix Valley to Zermat a swishy update.

Your luggage is taken care of while the majority of the route stops in hotels en route – although the two-night trek from La Chable to Arolla still of Ersa taste of old-school mountain-hut living. In between, you cross 3,000m passes and scrabble over glaciers, covering up to 20km a day and bagging views of some of Europe’s highest peaks.

UK & IRELAND

Follow the wheeling routes used in the Tour de France and Giro D’Italia as you cycle the home nations – the only guided tour to do so.

Wilderness Scotland’s Five Countries Tour sees you cover 800km over 12 days, beginning in the Yorkshire Dales NP before heading to Snowdonia and hopping the Irish Sea. Pit-stop in Dublin, then continue onto the Antrim coast, finishing up in Scotland by pumping your thighs through Dumfries & Galloway en route to Keir Mill, where the pedal bicycle was invented way back in 1939.

CROATIA

Croatia’s coastline has long been one of Europe’s most dazzling drives, but for an alternative view, try exploring its medieval buildings, waterfalls and walled cities from the deck of a traditional Turkish-built gulet (wooden sailing boat).

Peter Sommer Travels’ Cruising the Dalmatian Coast sees you set out from Sibenik in the company of archeologist Dr Helena Tomas. Uncover the curious history o f medieval city Trogir, explore the hilltop fortresses and islets of the Kornati archipelago and wander the Roman and Venetian town of Zadar, pit-stopping in sun-kissed, isolated bays along the way. Bliss.

CANADA

Wildlife Worldwide’s Walking with Bears & Whale Watching tour sees you join up with ‘bear whisperer’ Gary Zorn, as you get up close and personal with Canada’s grizzlies deep in the boreal forests of Vancouver Island.

Photograph them feasting on salmon while you get the direct benefit of Gary’s 30 years of studying them in the wild. Then swap land for sea as you fly to Tofino and sail the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound, where humpbacks, sea lions and resident bald eagles roam free and bears wander the forested shoreline.

Finish by exploring the trails of Pacific Rim NP, deep amid the isolated forests of this incredible slice of wild Canada.

NAMIBIA

See the stars from a new angle on ATI Holidays’ Adventures Under the Namibian Night Skies trip. Set off from Windhoek for the red dunes of the Kalahari, trekking tree-speckled savannah under the gaze of oryx and giraffe.

Strike out under the ink-black canvas of the NamibRand, hiking the dark-sky reserve in the company of NASA-accredited astronomer Rob Johnstone, as he narrates the stars. During daylight, ride the open plains of the Sossusvlei on horseback, trotting between a red sand sea and the rugged Naukluft Mountains, and visit in the private nature reserve of Wustenquell.

IRAN

With British Airways having resumed flights to Tehran, chances are the new wave of visitors will be on their way – so get ahead of the pack.

Voyages Jules Verve’s Return to Persepolis tour sees travellers retrace Iran’s long, complex heritage. Visit Pasargadae and Persepolis (both founded by ancient Persian kings) to wander tombs and cultural sites then head to Iran’s ancient capital of Isfahan, pausing at the mosques and palaces of the Safavid period that saw it become the heart of the country, before moving on to compare its modern equivalent, Tehran.

INDONESIA

Experience Bali minus the hordes on Adventure’s Paradise Trails of Bali and Lombok tour. Here you’ll meander out of the mainstream on the ever-popular paradise island, wandering its rice terraces, enjoying sunrise from the summit of Pergasingan Hill and hiking the steep ascent up Mount Rinjani on Lombok, Indonesia’s second-highest volcano.

Throw in trips to the `Mothertemple` (aka Besakih) and time spent snorkelling the coral reefs of the Gill Islands and contemplate where all the crowds went.

DENMARK, SWEDEN & NORWAY

Take off on a three-week rail adventure from London’s St Pancras to explore Nordic classics such as fjords, Arctic landscapes and Swedish Lapland on Planet Rail’s Grand Arctic Explorer trip.

Ride the Ofoten Railway to Narvik, one of the most northerly lines in the world and skim through frozen peaks and passes, then rattle to the UNESCO- listed Geirangerfjord on the Rauma Railway, pausing only to cruise its beautiful, frigid waters.

Pit stop in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Trondheim to wander colourful ports and ancient streets, before chugging into Lapland’s Arctic wild.

AZERBAIJAN, ARMENIA & GEORGIA

Explore these former Soviet states OFF with Travel the Unknown’s Best of the Caucasus trip. Sample local wines and learn to cook Georgian-style, then descend into the 3,000-year-old Uplist sikhe, an ancient cave town and fortress hewn from a rocky massif in eastern Georgia some 3,000 years ago.

Wander the bazaars of Baku before hopping borders fora trip to the geological wonder o f Armenia’s Garni, its canyon lined with the basalt columns that saw it christened the `Symphony of the Stones`.

THE ‘STANS

Delve into the origins of Central Asia by tracking the ancient East-to-West trade route upon which so many of its modern cities were founded.

Wild Frontiers’ epic 28-day The Five ‘Stans of Central Asia trip offers an exhaustive insight into this rarely visited region, skimming Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

See the bizarre white-marble city of Ashgabat, soak up the architecture of the Silk Road cities – the wealth of which fuelled some incredible buildings – and explore the Tian Shan mountains, an epic corridor that once shook with merchant caravans.

PERU

Wend the Andean highlands on the only sleeper train in Latin America with Llama Travel. Their Andes & Luxury Sleeper Train trip traipses the colonial city of Cusco, explores iconic valleys and ruins on a visit to Machu Picchu and reveals how the ancient Inca transformed the land.

Then board the luxury sleeper for the three-day journey to Arequipa, stopping at the waters of Lake Titicaca, exploring Taquile Island where Taquilenos have preserved their way of life for centuries, and stopping overnight in Colca Canyon for a rejuvenating dip in its hot springs.