After several years of challenging travel restrictions and countries closing their borders to visitors for long periods, the world is now emerging into a new era of travel. Our newly regained freedom to explore distant lands, interact with vibrant cultures and live life to the fullest drives the top travel trends I’ve witnessed in travel planning this year.
It is always interesting to observe travel trends wax and wane as the world changes and new opportunities arise. Having been in the luxury travel industry for over 35 years, I have seen a fair few changes to the way that discerning travellers wish to spend their precious vacation time! For those travelling this year and beyond, the top requirements and interests seem to be:
Why Tanzania? This is an easy question to answer! Many people are aiming to tick ‘African safari’ off their travel bucket lists list year, and Tanzania undoubtedly offers one of the most extraordinary wildlife safaris in the world.
The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, so vividly documented by Sir David Attenborough, comprises two million wildebeest and zebra amassing in the plains during their calving period. This can be seen between the end of December though to early March and is considered Africa’s greatest wildlife phenomenon.
The northern Serengeti gets the overspill of the wildebeest migration from the Masai Mara in Kenya between July and early September and if one is truly lucky, one can also see them in the Grumeti region of the western corridor of the Serengeti in June.
The Serengeti is not the extent of Tanzania’s offerings, though!
For me, Japan’s most standout feature is its extraordinary amalgamation of ancient traditions and avantgarde modernity, and how these two opposing worlds are made to coexist in perfect harmony. Few places in the world are as transformational, immersive and surreal as Japan, and whether you are a solo traveller, a young family with kids or an avid adventurer, you will find Japan’s diversity utterly exhilarating.
There are many reasons why Japan remains one of the favourite bucket list destinations: perhaps it is the thrill of skiing on the best powder on earth, or seeing the drift ice covering the entire Sea of Okhotsk, or cycling through the stunning coastal routes and hiking in mystical mountains full of ancient pilgrimage routes and centuries old forests; or the exoticism of historic ryokans, serene temple lodgings and quaint local guesthouses?
Perhaps it is the overwhelming beauty of Japanese landscapes and scenery; or the lure of exploring dazzling cities full of cutting-edge technology and super quirky fashion, design and architecture trends; or the insanely refined and innovative cuisine; or the excitement of wonderfully unique experiences such as sumo wrestling, geisha entertainment, Noh and Kabuki theatre, Zen meditation or the art of forest bathing.
If you are an art aficionado, you can dabble in superb traditional crafts such as block printing and pottery as well as visit some of the finest contemporary art and design museums, galleries and installations in the world.
Nowhere has quite the array of national parks and dedication to renewable energy as Costa Rica. Travel to this region has become synonymous with extravagant biodiversity, sustainable lodging and community-enhancing tourism. One of the most incredible regions is Arenal where there are fabulous hiking trails in the national park and exhilarating white water rafting. There is a vast array of water sports on offer here, as well as magnificent waterfalls.
There is something here for artists and foodies here too; visit the artisans of Guanacaste, or visit people running urban farms. Eat fabulously fresh food at amazing restaurants.
My favourite places to stay include:
With two years that have passed since many family members have managed to be together, private travel is ever increasing, with huge demand for private villas, private tented camps and luxury private mobiles. This also extends to private yachts, private islands and of course private aircraft charters.
The time spent with loved ones is precious and the reason so many choose this option. But quite aside from allowing your small group exclusivity, it also allows for complete privacy and ultimately flexibility to do exactly as you wish, which is the key to success of any vacation.
I have also noticed an upswing in interest for expeditions. With quite a few people having had more time to reflect on the important things in life, and the urgency to do them before time runs out, travellers are now turning to their bucket lists with greater intent.
There is enormous potential, both for “full expeditions” (e.g. to the Polar regions) and also for what might perhaps be termed “soft expeditions” to, perhaps, the more remote parts of countries that are already well in the normal spotlight. Such latter locations might include, as example, northern Kenya, parts of Tanzania or, indeed, less obvious countries such as Chad, Mongolia or even parts of India.
Expeditions of any nature will normally be driven by a long-held “absolute life ambition”. Examples of individual ideas might include:
The Explorations Company’s recent corporate expedition for Royal Enfield was one such first, allowing the Pole to be reached on motorbike. The journey fulfilled ambitions of exploring this pristine, stunning region, in a completely uncommercial and more challenging manner, with very light ‘footprint’.
Another exciting expedition might be to travel from Cairo to Cape Town, by Land Rover. This mammoth journey would take three months if one factors in spending time in the most beautiful regions this continent has to offer on the way, and allows one to explore regions rarely traversed by vehicle!
Images by kind courtesy of Singita Serengeti House, Wayo Safaris Tanzania, Kichaka Expeditions, The Real Japan, JNTO, Pacuare Lodge Costa Rica. Camels in desert image copyright to Brain Meier.