Are you wondering which places to visit in 2016? – Here are a few Off-the-Radar & Classic Travel Experiences to Consider in the New Year.

If you’re seeking travel inspiration for the year ahead, we’ve got some ideas for you. Our travel specialists dug deeper in 2015 and are now looking ahead to seek out the most thrilling and captivating travel experiences and destinations out there in 2016. Below is our short list of travel experiences to consider, from fresh takes on classic destinations to completely new and off-the-radar experiences. Let’s start with my favourite..

 

The Africa of Your Dreams: Botswana

The landlocked country of Botswana is the quintessential Africa you dream of as a child, packed with wildlife, picture-perfect landscapes, and thrilling local culture. In 2014, the Okavango Delta has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Image: Botswana 1 & 2

Botswana 1 (1)

Botswana 1 (2)

Luxury travel in Botswana conjures up images of floating along the Okavango Delta’s lily-lined waterways in a traditional mokoro, up close encounters with Africa’s most iconic predators, and the other-worldly landscape of the Makgadikgadi Pans–one of the only places on earth where the curvature of the earth can be seen. Located just north of South Africa, Botswana is largely covered by the Kalahari desert, but unlike the arid regions of many parts of Africa, the Okavango Delta and Chobe River provide a year-round water supply that attracts the great herds of the majestic creatures Africa is known for. Botswana tours through the Moremi Game Reserve provide you with the rare opportunity for heart-pounding wildlife encounters, and Chobe National Park provides unbeatable views of some of Africa’s largest herds of elephants.

But, your luxury Botswana vacation will feature more than just extraordinary glimpses of wildlife without the crowds. Travel in Botswana has received a lot of attention for the destination’s extensive conservation efforts; tours are both breath-taking and sustainable, and the guides and lodges exemplify African luxury at its finest.

South Korea: The un-explored

South Korea is a dazzling country that offers visitors a colourful assortment of regions to explore. From rural mountain towns to busy urban streets lined with world-class museums, restaurants, and shops, there are many options for luxury travel in South Korea. Whether walking the streets of the global powerhouse of Seoul or hiking the sublime peaks that rise majestically from the mists around Mt. Seorak, South Korea tours are sure to leave you infatuated with a country too often overlooked by Western travelers.

Image: South Korea

South Korea 1

In South Korea you can experience the best of the local culinary scene, to the Buddhist temples of Gyeongju, to the romantic subtropical island of Jeju. Enjoy some urban sophistication or add adventure to your luxury South Korea vacation with a picturesque hiking trail or sailing voyage. We are particularly excited about a stay at the Park Hyatt Seoul‘s stunning property in the Gangnam area, whose bathroom was voted one of the world’s sexiest! Reason enough to have a layover there!

Image: Park Hyatt

Park Hyatt

India Beckons in 2016

From the foothills of the Himalayas to the lush tropics of the south, luxury travel in India is the ultimate experience for many travelers. The richness and variety of possible experiences make it one of the world’s most alluring destinations, and an excellent choice from honeymooners to historians. Absolute Travel’s team of luxury travel specialists are proud to offer a unique series of itineraries, highlighting the arts, cuisine, wildlife, history, style and spirituality of India.

Image: Temple Yoga

Temple Yoga

Travelers can learn why Varanasi is the heart of this incredibly spiritual country, and float along the lifeblood of the city—the holy river Ganges—to better understand the extraordinary rituals that take place daily on its banks.

Image: Bathing in the holy Ganga

Bathing in the holy Ganga

In the northern Himalayan foothills, you can take time to focus inward at one of the world’s most renowned wellness retreats and appreciate the healing energy of this remote region. We also recommend heading to the jungle for the ultimate safari experience — to witness a tiger in the wild. Foodies: We’ve visited home kitchens, street side stalls, and royal palaces to learn the techniques of northern and southern cooking traditions, and we love introducing you to the families, chefs, and locals behind the naan, biryani, curries and chutneys!

Image: Tented luxury accommodation at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Tented luxury aco at Ranthambore

While you may find yourself overwhelmed by the dazzling range of experiences possible for private travel in India, we are here to help you build a customized India tour that showcases the many sides of this incredible country. Whether you’re interested in the region’s culture, history, food, luxury hotels or all of the above, our team is happy to design an experience filled tour of India you will never forget.

Sri Lanka’s Wild Side

Whether exploring the brilliant emerald green tea country, strolling the narrow streets and colonial heritage of Galle, or kicking back on the southern coast’s palm-fringed beaches, Sri Lanka tours leave visitors wishing they had just a few more days to enjoy this beautiful land. Now we have another reason for you to extend your visit—the wildlife.

Image: Leopard – Yala National Park

Leopard

Despite its small size, Sri Lanka is home to other notable wildlife and luxury wildlife tours are on our radar in 2016. Elusive leopards, wild elephants, boar, sloth bears, and a dazzling bird life from peacocks to hornbills roam this surprisingly diverse island. We actually can’t think of another country that has the variety of experiences that Sri Lanka does; from the glistening Indian Ocean where sea turtles glide through the waters to emerald-green hillsides and leopard-packed national parks, the range of climates and countryside make Sri Lanka a perfect destination. Many people are able to enjoy their Sri Lanka safari in privacy–with virtually no other travelers in sight–pretty much unheard of if you’ve been on a luxury safari in Africa. Don’t miss a game drive at night, when you’re more likely chance to see the elusive nocturnal leopards. After all, this beautiful island is actually home to the largest population of leopards in all of Asia.

Image: The Blue Whale

Blue Whale

And although Sri Lanka’s coasts are on the map for excellent surfing opportunities, there’s another reason we’re captivated by the deep blue waters: whale watching in Sri Lanka means witnessing the blue whale, the largest mammal on earth. With so little known about these commanding animals, seeing them in the wild is truly a privilege we wouldn’t miss. Learn more about our Sri Lanka tours here.

Discover the New Burma

Myanmar has had our attention for years, and it remains at the top of our list in 2016 for its unwavering sense of place, magnificent cultural treasures, charming hotels, and the warmest people we know. Now that the ban on travel has been lifted, the time to go is now—before the rest of the world discovers what they’ve been missing. Even with the addition of more visitors, Burma still transports us to another time. This Southeast Asian gem has an uncanny ability to slow us down and encourage us to be present. We are drawn to Myanmar for the authenticity of the region and the character of its people—locals who can finally share their wondrous home with the rest of the world.

Image: Traditional form of stick fishing

Traditional stick fishing in Burma

We want our clients to discover the Myanmar that lives beyond the headlines and glossy magazines: Buddhist pilgrims gathering at the country’s many pagodas; the magnificent remains of Bagan’s golden age; colorful Irrawaddy River cruises, and the solitude of Inle Lake. Myanmar is one of our favorite destinations, and our luxury travel specialists’ rich knowledge of its highlights and lesser-known experiences and longstanding relationships with the Burmese people make our Burma tours unparalleled.

Exciting Vietnam

 Throughout the country, travelers relish in this country of contrasts: stunning rice paddy landscapes sit alongside chaotic cities, BMWs next to motorbikes, superb restaurants near locals slurping pho street side, and women wearing conical hats navigating bicycles around every bend.

Image: Fisher women

Fisher women

Travelers who have had the luxury to travel in Vietnam can tell you that it has a range of activities for the inquisitive traveler: whether you’re a foodie, historian, honeymooner, or seeking a wild adventure, Vietnam has the perfect trip for everyone.

Image: Local Market

Local Market

The natural and man-made riches in Vietnam are awe-inspiring. One glimpse at Halong Bay will have you captivated by Vietnam, and tours past the limestone spears that jut from its waters like alien sea creatures will fill you with a mythological sense of awe. In the countryside, exquisite temples, pagodas, and tombs dot the landscape to further affirm the magical luxury of travel in Vietnam. Tours of the cities of Saigon and Hanoi bring the country to focus and allow you to see the two faces of a country that is influenced by both modernity and ancient customs. Feel the excitement of the country’s urban spirit or enjoy a more leisurely luxury Vietnam vacation, focused on the exquisite wonders of the country’s verdant jungle coastline. Sublime landscapes, beautiful art, colorful markets, and fascinating people are never hard to find in this Southeast Asian paradise, and Absolute Travel’s options for luxury travel in Vietnam give you the best of it all.

What Else Does the Land Down Under Have to Offer?

 The land “Down Under” offers travelers a rich artistic and cultural history, a thriving culinary scene, urban landscapes that buzz with activity, and countryside that ranges from rugged outback to lush tropical rainforest. The options for luxury travel in Australia are diverse, but all exude the laidback easiness that Australia tours are known for.

Image: Chopper ride on the Great Ocean Road

Chopper Ride

We invite you to explore all sides of this South Pacific gem, from scuba diving in the iconic Great Barrier Reef and romantic evenings at the iconic Sydney Opera House to ultra-luxe adventures in the remote outback. Many adventurous travelers are looking beyond Australia’s east coast to see what else the land down under has to offer. One possibility is diving with whale sharks on the western coast—one of our favourite wildlife encounters.

Or how about discovering the ancient landscape of Australia’s Flinders Ranges on a walking safari, where you can witness 600 million years of geological history that is echoed through salt lakes, pastoral legends, and magnificent native cypress trees? We’re just as excited about introducing travelers to Australia’s lesser-known areas while they are still relatively off the radar.

Image: Flinders Ranges

Flinders Ranges

Morocco: Exotic & Close

The appeal of Morocco is in its humming bazaars, diverse landscapes, mouth-watering cuisine and the fact that it is just so easy to get to. On a Morocco vacation, shop Marrakech’s labyrinth of souks with the experts, explore the bohemian coastal city of Essaouira, and go back in time in medieval Fes, the spiritual capital of Morocco.

Image: Sand dunes

Sand Dunes

We can already picture you exploring the Atlas Mountains, riding camelback through the Erg Chebbi’s majestic sand dunes that seem never ending and discovering the Djemaa el Fna, where you can find everything under the sun, from fairy-tale lanterns, antique indigenous furniture, embroidered slippers, and any color olive you can dream up.

So happy traveling in 2016!