It’s one of the most thrilling travel experiences on Earth: hike high into the forests of Rwanda and Uganda for an intimate encounter with mountain gorillas. Combine the trip into the Volcanoes National Park with a visit to Nyungwe Forest National Park, home to chimps and Colobus Monkeys, then kick back on Tanzania’s beaches.
Nowhere within a four-hour flight of the UK is as exotic and alluring as Morocco. The highlight is Marrakech, with its swirling souks, ornate palaces, elegant back street restaurants and stylish riads, but you won’t want to miss the soaring Atlas Mountains nor the majestic kasbahs of the south.
There are plenty of gorgeous hotels on the beaches of St Lucia where you’ll be tempted to stay put. But don’t get too comfortable – this is a spectacular island crying out to be explored, from its glistening forests and volcanic peaks to its sleepy fishing villages and colonial plantation houses.
Two of the Mediterranean’s smallest islands, Malta and Gozo punch well above their weight. Aside from sea and sunshine, vibrant Malta is jam-packed with history from megalithic temples to the Knights of Saint John, its skyline dotted with grand churches and golden walled cities. Gozo, Malta’s little sister, offers tranquillity, rural beauty and top diving.
Borneo boasts sandy beaches, luscious scenery and luxury hotels, but what distinguishes this huge island from its Asian neighbours is the abundant wildlife. Most famous are the orangutans, easily inspected in Sabah’s Sepilok sanctuary, along with Probiscus monkeys, turtles and exotic birds. For adventure, climb Mount Kinabalu or stay in a village longhouse.
A visit to India is an unforgettable experience – the swirling energy, the intense colours, the culture, the history, the sheer life-affirming exuberance of the place. Enjoy a private tour of Rajasthan in the North in your own chauffeur-driven car, or explore the glorious landscapes and beaches of Kerala.
Dotted off the coast of West Africa, the 10 islands of Cape Verde are as varied and fascinating as they are beautiful. With tropical beaches, lush mountains, year-round sunshine and direct 6-hour flights from the UK, they offer high standards at a fraction of the price of many African destinations.
From the pyramids at Giza to the Valley of the Kings, from the fascinating whirl of Cairo to the warm waters of the Red Sea, Egypt is one of the world’s greatest tourist destinations, and superb value. Don’t expect to see it all in one visit. It’s usually better to tick off a few cultural treasures then spend a few days lazing on a beach.
Vietnam is a hot winter sun destination, but to get the most out of this fascinating and beautiful country, take a tour, with interludes on the beaches as opposed to full-time loafing. Temples, sampans, hill tribe villages, historic ports and breathtaking mountain scenery contrast with chic boutiques, fancy restaurants and stylish beach hotels.
It’s amazing to think that only 30 years ago Cambodia was torn apart by civil war and genocide. Today it’s one of Asia’s most exciting destinations, from the jungle-clad temple complex of Angkor to the vibrant capital, Phnom Penh. Throw in sensational food, great hotels and world-class beaches for an unmissable travel experience.
Just four hours from the UK, Lanzarote ranks among the prettiest of the Canary Islands, with low-key resorts, sandy beaches, dramatic volcanic landscapes and a wonderful year-round climate. It’s easy and fun to explore and offers a wide selection of villas with private pools, making it an ideal choice for families, couples and groups of friends.
When Brits started going abroad on package holidays it was to the Alpine lakes, following the 19th Century ‘grand tourists’. Today, Italy’s Como, Maggiore, Garda and tiny Iseo are ideal family destinations, with boating, beaches, cable car rides to mountain highs and footpaths to explore, plus easy access to Verona, Padua and Milan.
Namibia is Africa at its most starkly beautiful. Think vast sand dunes, endless deserts and the shipwreck-strewn Skeleton Coast and velvety night skies. You can sleep under the stars or in superb lodges, while in the game parks you can track rhino, leopard and cheetah. Namibia is clean and safe and from the UK there’s no jetlag.
Brazil offers beach life in the raw: endless stretches of sand, blazing sunshine, a seductive samba soundtrack and a copious supply of caipirinhas. There are chic retreats, trailblazing eco-hotels, rustic fishing villages, turtle sanctuaries and canoe trips through mangrove swamps. The vibe is easy-going and the time difference is just three hours.
Head to Iceland where the summer sun barely sets and the collapse of the local currency has sent prices tumbling. Linger in the capital, Reykjavik, for a couple of days then embark on an action-packed road trip taking in volcanic craters, lakes, waterfalls, geysers, black sand beaches and seal and puffin colonies.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 it brought tragedy to the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The volcano also served to freeze in time a fascinating period of Roman history. Visit the scene in the company of an expert archaeologist to discover the most complete insight into everyday life in Ancient Rome.
Grand Cayman is sophisticated, polished and safe – in every sense of the word – with classy hotels, top restaurants and dreamy Seven Mile Beach. There’s also plenty to explore with pristine reefs, stingray encounters, submarine trips, botanical parks and island-hopping excursions to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Perfect with or without the kids.
Beijing’s Olympic legacy goes way beyond the Bird’s Nest stadium. Stylish hotels, gleaming new airports and improved road and rail infrastructure mean there has never been a better time to witness the dizzying mix of old and new in the Chinese capital, along with the superstar cities of Shanghai and Xian.
A voyage aboard one of the three Star Clipper ships is a vastly different experience to a conventional cruise. Modelled on historic sailing vessels, they fly great clouds of billowing sails and offer passengers a timeless adventure as they explore the world’s most beautiful oceans and islands.
Ask most people to name an Indonesian island and you’ll probably get Bali, possibly Lombok. But Indonesia is a nation of 17,000 islands, each with its own distinctive show of both nature and culture. In these days of global travel, names like Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Komodo still evoke an enormous sense of adventure.
You’ll find exclusive hotels throughout the Caribbean but Barbados has the lion’s share, most of them bang on the narrow sandy beach in the west, hence the nickname: the Platinum coast. If you tire of sybaritic living you can emerge from your luxurious cocoon for a spot of golf, or dinner at a fancy restaurant.
Draw up a list of all the wonderful reasons for going to Italy – Blue Flag beaches, medieval hill towns, historic palaces, nights at the opera and galleries full of Renaissance masterpieces – and you’ll find them in abundance in Le Marche, the barely-known back garden of Italy, sandwiched between the Apennines and the Adriatic.