Where to go in 2019
We believe an important part of travel is being in the right place at the right time, so we've racked our brains for the destinations that have something new and exciting to offer in 2019. This is where we think should be top of your bucket list right now...
Costa Rica is often referred to as the green jewel of Central America, not only for its misty cloud forests and jungle-fringed coastline, but for its exceptional eco credentials too. As we become increasingly aware of our environmental responsibility and the need to reduce our carbon footprint, Costa Rica has emerged as a beacon of sustainable tourism, and for this reason we’re tipping it as the hottest destination for 2019. Thanks to its unique biodiversity, the country is home to 5% of all the world’s species. Safeguarding this natural idyll has always been high on the agenda, and over 25% of the country is protected in national parks and reserves. Choose Costa Rica as your holiday destination for 2019 and enjoy the endless adventure activities and picture-perfect beaches, while resting assured you’ll leave only your footprints in the sand and not a large environmental burden.
With the countdown now well underway for the Rugby World Cup which kicks off in September, Japan’s popularity is set to soar. Matches will be played throughout the country, including Tokyo and Osaka, meaning fans can explore this compelling destination in depth while watching the world’s greatest rugby players in action. We still have space at some of our preferred properties for match dates, but you will need to act fast to secure availability (there are still tickets left for some of the matches too, with the remaining ones going on sale again from 19th January). Even if you’re not a rugby fan, Japan is an enticing destination offering traditional ryokan accommodation, wonderful food, stunning scenery, fast-paced neon-lit cities and fascinating geisha culture. What’s more, we have just launched a Small Group Tour to Japan, with the first two departures scheduled for 2019.
One of the most diverse countries on the African continent, South Africa will always be a popular destination for travellers, but this year we’re tipping two of the country’s less-visited regions as the hottest new destinations – the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Both offer a more authentic and untouched South African adventure. We’re thrilled that Wanderlust Travel Magazine have chosen our Off-the-beaten-track South Africa itinerary as one of their top new trips for 2019, which explores the rugged beauty of the Northern Cape with its open savannahs, rolling dunes and beautiful wild flowers. In contrast to the rich red Kalahari sands of the Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal is characterised by its rolling green hills and historic battlefields, and with the new British Airways flight from London to Durban which launched in October, this fascinating region is more accessible than ever before.
Once a haven for backpackers, Colombia has shaken off its edgy reputation and is now Latin America’s fastest growing destination for luxury tourism. We recently sent two members of our team out on an extensive exploration, taking in parts of the country that are only just opening up to tourism. Having added lots of new areas, accommodation and experiences to our portfolio, for those interested in off-the-beaten-track destinations, it is hard to think of a better option. Proud of their emerging tourism industry, Colombians are friendly and eager to help you experience the glorious scenery, history and culture of their nation. Alongside the colourful colonial streets of Cartagena and lush rolling hills of the Coffee Triangle, our more unusual opportunities include a stay in an eco-lodge exploring the secluded beaches of Nuqui, or a few days in a deluxe safari-style camp amid the cowboy country and culture of Los Llanos.
Although Ethiopia has been casting a spell on foreign travellers since the days of the Crusaders, it is a country that is often overlooked by modern travellers. However, we’re tipping Ethiopia as one of 2019’s hottest destinations and have totally refreshed our portfolio to this off-the-beaten-track destination. Highlights include the rock-hewn 12th century churches at Lalibela and stunning scenery of the Simien Mountains and Blue Nile Falls, while wildlife lovers will enjoy going in search of the rare gelada baboon and Ethiopian wolves. The only African country to escape European colonialism, Ethiopia enjoys a rich cultural identity and is home to over 80 ethnic groups, who each celebrate with their own fabulous festivals. Let us help you explore all this captivating country has to offer in 2019, before the crowds descend.
CanadaAlways popular for its spectacular scenery, wonderful wildlife and endless potential for outdoor adventure, we think Canada’s star is set to soar. With a growing demand for ‘digital detoxes’ and travellers looking to trade in their gadgetry for the natural world, we think Canada is the ideal environment to do just that. For lovers of the great outdoors, the mountains, lakes and coastline are the perfect place to hike, bike, climb, raft and kayak, while wildlife lovers can enjoy world-class whale-watching and the thrill of venturing into the wilderness of the Great Bear Rainforest. Whether you take to the open road or ride the Rocky Mountaineer, Canada offers the perfect conditions to unplug and reconnect to nature. What’s more, we recently completely relaunched this destination, with new and improved itineraries, hand-picked hotels and two brand new specialists ready to blow you away with everything Canada has to offer.
It's little more than 40 years since Bhutan first opened its borders to foreign visitors. Since then, the country has kept hold of its mysterious allure by welcoming only a limited number of tourists each year, and invariably sweeping them off their feet with its enigmatic charm and staggering beauty. If there wasn’t already reason enough for Bhutan to be on your bucket list, this enticing destination is about to become yet more appealing, with the opening of three Six Senses properties in March (and two more to follow in the autumn). From the pure grandeur of Six Senses Thimphu in Bhutan’s capital (reminiscent of a traditional palace), to the unrivalled views of Six Senses Paro (overlooking the Paro Valley at an altitude of 2,675 metres), each property offers something fabulously unique and incredibly exciting. With spectacular Himalayan scenery, vibrant festivals, and a plethora of dramatic monasteries, Bhutan is a truly fascinating kingdom waiting to be explored.
Thanks to its improving political stability, the renaissance of tourism in Zimbabwe is now well under way and has recently been given a further boost by Sir David Attenborough’s marvellous documentary series Dynasties, featuring the rare and endangered painted wolves of Mana Pools. Often known as African wild dogs, Mana Pools is one of the best spots for sightings of these incredible hunting dogs (our Africa Specialist Matt was lucky enough to spend two magical hours in their presence on a recent trip), although they are also found in the country’s largest game reserve, Hwange National Park. Zimbabwe is undoubtedly a great choice for safari veterans looking to break new ground, or even first timers who want to escape the crowds. Offering excellent value for money, some of the best guides in Africa and a whole host of new camps due to open this year, we recommend visiting now before word spreads and prices rise.