It’s that time of year again when Abercrombie & Kent‘s experts gaze into their crystal ball to predict the destinations and experiences for which discerning travellers will want to dust off their passports. Whether it’s hard-core adventure, a cultural exchange, a far-flung expedition cruise or an unforgettable wildlife encounter, A&K’s 2017 Hot List has something for first time and seasoned travellers alike.
“Staying ahead of the game and forecasting the new destinations and immersive engagements which our guests seek is what we do best”, says A&K Regional Managing Director Sujata Raman. “Our on-the-ground specialists have been busy identifying unique places around the globe where A&K delivers memorable experiences in seamless style and here is the result.”
With a new office opening in Rio, A&K is ready to show off the destination, and why not? From the thundering cascades of Iguazu to the endless Atlantic beaches; the party vibe of Rio to the cobbled streets and pastel-coloured buildings of Salvador, Brazil is a world in one country. Nature-lovers will be mesmerised in equal measure by the Amazon and the lesser-known wetland ecosystem of the Pantanal. Foodies will relish the country’s diverse cuisine while the wealth of colonial and modernist architecture will dazzle the inquisitive traveller. Whether a special celebration, family gathering or honeymoon, there is something for everyone on a journey to Brazil.
With newly relaxed regulations welcoming travellers, this Caribbean island nation is emerging as one of the region’s hottest destinations and it’s easy to see why. Cigars, music, dance and Hemingway are just some of the reasons and A&K guests experience them all and more. In Havana, transport is arranged in an authentic 1950s vintage car and there’s dinner in one of the city’s most celebrated paladares. The local arts scene is alive and well with avant-garde theatre, music, dance and gallery visits encouraged while the old haunts of Hemingway are a must. Further afield there are visits to tobacco and sugar plantations as well as the beaches and colonial towns of the south.
Visually arresting, Iceland is northern Europe’s most talked-about destination and it has year-round appeal. In the summer months, travellers will marvel at the Midnight Sun while winter delivers the extraordinary Northern Lights. Raw landscapes are what Iceland does best with dramatic fjords, thermal fields, mountains, volcanoes, geysers and waterfalls at every turn. The charming capital Reykjavik with its pastel-coloured buildings is easy to explore on foot and boasts an incredible paddock to plate food scene while active travellers will be spoilt for choice with everything from ice walks and glacier hikes to riding Icelandic horses, quad biking, snow mobiling and whale watching.
One of the most cultured nations on earth, Iran is full of surprises. Its people are warm and welcoming and its monuments dazzling. With 5000 years of history, the country has seen empires and conquerors come and go. Ancient civilisations have left their mark with ruined cities like Persepolis and Pasargadae that A&K travellers have the unique opportunity of exploring. The cities are vibrant with atmospheric teahouses, bustling bazaars, a rich textile heritage and a flavoursome cuisine. It’s a destination full of surprises.
Hidden away in the north eastern corner of India, Ladakh is a sanctuary of Buddhist tradition with a history and culture more closely aligned to Tibet than India. Cradled between the world’s two highest mountain ranges, the Himalaya and the Karakorum, Ladakh has historically found itself at the crossroads of ancient trade routes. Its landscapes are breathtaking with high altitude deserts, vast valleys, jagged mountains, steep passes and the Indus River at its backbone. Prayer flags, centuries old monasteries and extraordinary wildlife make this a rewarding destination for the intrepid traveller while its colourful festivals are a highlight.
The Northwest Passage
For centuries a sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific eluded sailors, traders and explorers. Since the end of the 15th century, many of the world’s most famous maritime legends tried and failed until Roald Amundsen in 1905 made the first successful navigation. Today a lucky few can sail this legendary route on A&K’s expedition from Greenland to the Canadian Arctic to the Bering Sea and ending in Alaska. Along the way visits are made to historic and remote islands, fjords and harbours, meeting local Inuit communities and taking in moving stories of voyages won and lives lost. Space on A&K’s 2017 journey is very limited and registrations are open for 2018 departure.
The Ryukyu Islands
Japan and cruising don’t normally go together but for travellers seeking something entirely different, A&K has put together a unique cruise journey which island hops from Osaka through the East China Sea to the rarely visited Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan. Comprising some 55 islands, including Okinawa, the Ryukyu Island chain boasts coral reefs, black pearl cultivation, world-class diving as well as breathtaking scenery and pristine wilderness. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites spanning ancient forests, Buddhist temples and castles plus unique ports and secluded areas only accessible by small ship. A&K’s exclusive charter of L’Austral explores the marine highlights of this little visited region, pristine beaches, volcanic islands, charming markets and artisan workshops with extraordinary insider insight from the award-winning Expedition Team.
The ancient Silk Road was a network of overland trade routes that linked China with the Mediterranean. For thousands of years, merchants made the journey with caravans of camels loaded with rubies, jade, metals, amber, musk and, of course, silk. In September 2017, modern-day globetrotters can make the epic trek with A&K from Beijing to Tashkent through the vast hinterland of Asia to the cities of Urumqi, Turfan and Kashgar and on into the mountains and deserts of Central Asia. Some of the oldest cities in the world are visited including legendary Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva – names that have captured the imagination for centuries.
Tasmania’s newest wilderness retreat is a converted hydroelectric station and shore residence on stunning Lake St Clair. The property features a shore house and a converted 1940s hydroelectric pump set 250 metres out in the lake with a total of 18 guest suites and public areas. This is an adults-only retreat so no excuses needed to leave the children at home. Each suite is stocked with local food and wines for picnics and use of bicycles for exploring the area. Some of Tasmania’s finest walks are right on the doorstep and it’s only 2.5 hours from Hobart.
For a safari experience like no other, Zambia hits the mark. This is wild Africa at its best and the animals are the star attraction. Where other African destinations attract greater numbers of visitors, Zambia has remained blissfully untouched with low-density lodgings and entry limits. The walking safari was pioneered here and the extraordinary South Luangwa National Park with its diverse vegetation and wildlife is the perfect place to do it. Sightings of big game are incomparable and the camps, like Sanctuary Puku Ridge, intimate and atmospheric. The Lower Zambezi is an exciting contrast with some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery and wildlife to match. Canoeing downriver past pods of hippos and elephants wallowing is one of life’s great adventures. In short, there are few experiences more exciting than a safari in Zambia.