Wanderlust Travel Hot List 2020
Wanderlust Travel Magazine|December 2019/January 2020
Wanderlust Travel Hot List 2020

KENYA

WHY IT’S HOT: IT’S TIME TO REDISCOVER CLASSIC AFRICA.

We say: For many, Kenya IS Africa: its acacia-dotted savannahs, teeming game parks, Rift Valley lakes and remote rusticluxe camps are the classic image of the continent. Security concerns following a spate of terrorist attacks have deterred some travellers in the past few years. But while the FCO urges against visits to specific areas of the country, many places are still on-limits, including the premier safari destinations – elephant-roamed Amboseli, mountainous Aberdare, uncrowded Laikipia, the matchless Masai Mara – as well as dazzling Indian Ocean resorts such as Mombasa, Watamu and Diani.

Tourist numbers are starting to increase – international arrivals in 2019 are predicted to be around 5% up on the previous year – but this still remains a great time to rediscover Kenya’s iconic wilderness without quite so many other people.

Don’t miss: Visit Ol Pejeta Conservancy for the chance to see two of the world’s only remaining northern white rhinos. Ol Pejeta is also a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino; after receiving four of the creatures in 1989, it set the target of housing 120 by 2020 – an aim already surpassed by late 2019, with 134 black rhinos now living on site.

NAMIBIA

WHY IT’S HOT: SHINING LIGHT OF COMMUNITY CONSERVATION IS FAB AT 30.

We say: Namibia is ageing extremely well. As the country gears up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its independence from South Africa in 2020 – a big-budget affair that will culminate in a grand event in Windhoek on 21 March – it continues to offer an ever-more sustainable and responsible travel experience.

Namibia has long been a pioneer of community-driven ecotourism; communal conservancies, where local people are empowered to manage and protect their environment, comprise 20% of the country. Summer 2019 saw the launch of a dedicated community conservation and tourism website (conservationtourism. com.na) to highlight the wealth of cultural, activity and wildlife-focused adventures available within these areas, from mountain hikes to tracking trips with the San people.

These also include exceptional safaris – Namibia is the only country where elephant and lion numbers are increasing, and is home to Africa’s largest population of free-roaming black rhino. Many conservancies provide buffers to the national parks.

Don’t miss: Planning a self-drive Namibia trip? Visit tosco.org, a non-profit organisation connecting the tourism industry to local people and conservation organisations, which can help you offset your vehicle’s carbon emissions via tree-planting schemes.

NICARAGUA

WHY IT’S HOT: THE ‘NEW COSTA RICA’ IS BACK IN BUSINESS.

We say: Wracked by political unrest, Nicaragua had a torrid 2018. But earlier in 2019 the FCO lifted its no-go advice for the country and, slowly but surely, tour operators and travellers are returning to what many consider the unsung star of Central America. Costa Rica might grab the headlines, but neighbouring Nicaragua is also a paradise for nature lovers, with a diverse mix of the same good stuff – puffing volcanoes, pristine beaches, lakes and lagoons, canopy zip lines and jungles exploding with wild creatures – just without the hordes of other people.

Nicaragua is also far less commercialised (though infrastructure is improving) and comes without Costa Rica’s steepish price tag – expect to pay around a third less for food, accommodation and activities here. Must-sees include the graceful colonial cities of Granada and León, peaceful Ometepe Island, the empty Caribbean lapped Corn Islands and the historic fortress of El Castillo.

Don’t miss: Explore the rainforest, lagoons and wetlands of Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge, close to the Costa Rican border, to look for turtles, caiman, howler and spider monkeys and an array of tropical birds.

HOKKAIDO, JAPAN

WHY IT’S HOT: EXPLORE THE BUZZY BUT LESS BUSY NORTH.

We say: With the Rugby World Cup over and the Olympics on the horizon, there’s a palpable buzz around Japan right now. Tokyo will be the focus in 2020, but to enjoy the energy without the crowds, look a little further afield to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost isle. Wild and remote, Hokkaido reveals a completely different side to the country – here, as well as Japanese classics such as volcanic onsen and excellent noodles, you’ll find a range of unspoilt national parks, fragrant lavender farms, brilliant birdwatching and world-class skiing – Finnair’s new direct flight from Helsinki to Sapporo (running 15 December 2019 to 27 March 2020) will provide easier access from Europe to the slopes.

Also, the new Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park is set to open in April 2020, highlighting the culture of Hokkaido’s Ainu, who Japan only officially recognised as an indigenous people in 2019. The museum, by Lake Poroto, will provide insight into the culture of this long-ignored group via exhibitions and more experiential displays, including carving workshops, dance performances and Ainu food tastings.

Don’t miss: Japan’s Royal Express sightseeing train (which usually runs south of Tokyo) will be shipped up to Hokkaido in 2020 for a limited number of luxe runs between Sapporo and east Hokkaido during the late-spring/summer.

PATAGONIA

WHY IT’S HOT: CELEBRATE THE 500 TH ANNIVERSARY OF THIS END-OF-THE-WORLD WILDERNESS.

We say: In 1520, en route to completing the first circumnavigation of the globe, Ferdinand Magellan and his Armada de Molucca discovered the stretch of water that slices through the southern tip of South America, linking the Atlantic and Pacific – the strait that now bears the explorer’s name. Magellan found it a fierce, untamed place. And it remains so to this day, even if the ‘Pathagoni’ – the indigenous tribe of reported giants after which he named it – no longer exist. This is a landscape of calving glaciers, snow-spattered mountains, wild steppe and shores a-waddle with penguins; one of the planet’s most alluring, enduring wildernesses.

This anniversary year, take a cruise in Magellan’s wake, maybe through the riddle of channels in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Trips runs from Chile’s Punta Arenas (where the Nao Victoria Museum is home to a replica of one of the carracks of Magellan’s fleet) to Ushuaia, via Cape Horn.

Don’t miss: Pop to northern Patagonia (the area around San Martín de los Andes and San Carlos de Bariloche), which will be one of the best places to see the total solar eclipse on 14 December. Tie it in with a view of the Geminids meteor shower, which peaks at the same time.

CANADA

WHY IT’S HOT: A WEALTH OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR INDIGENOUS EXPERIENCES.

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