Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travelers!
I spent last week attending a virtual travel conference which was very inspiring! Bottom line – travel is coming back full force in 2021, and I’m excited to share that I have trips for industry insider experiences in Ireland and East Africa next fall. Ireland will be a 5-star, guided tour staying in castles (how cool is that?!), and the Safari will include Cape Town, Zimbabwe, and Victoria Falls. Did you know that there are numerous types of Safaris? This newsletter will cover some of the best ones, and a future newsletter will review tips for selecting the safari experience that’s right for you. If you’d rather not wait, reach out to me now as typically these bucket list trips are planned at least one year in advance!
As mentioned last week, recent research shows that just making travel plans can boost our spirits, energy, and well-being,” so I’m dedicating the month of October to boost your happiness, energy, and well-being by highlighting 21 global destinations for travel in 2021 (and beyond). If you feel motivated to plan your next bucket list trip, then I will have succeeded!
- We covered Central & South America (Costa Rica, Galapagos Islands, Argentina, and Chile) and Europe (Croatia, Denmark, Portugal, and Switzerland) over the last two weeks. Last week we headed to ASIA & ASIA PACIFIC (Australia, Japan, Jordan, and Thailand).
- This final week, we will find ourselves in Africa to finish out the month of October!!
DON’T HAVE FOMO: in the spirit of making sure that your happiness is boosted, I’m offering a chance to win a travel-themed prize for everyone who requests a free consultation and mentions ’21 in 2021’, by November 1st, 2020. Note – the consultation doesn’t have to be for a highlighted destination or have to be for travel next year but can be anywhere that you want to travel in the future (hopefully the newsletters will inspire you to identify your next best vacation destination!).
Without further ado, we begin our happiness boosting by highlighting five places in Africa (focusing on WOW experiences), in our countdown to 21 destinations, that I know you will love based on my own experiences and those of my clients. See if you agree with the choices! Read on for the scoop and the grand finale of this series…
17 – MOROCCO
Morocco is a country of exotic sights and wonders with mountain, beach, and desert experiences for every level of adventurer! Morocco is about the same size as California and located in northwest Africa with 1,200 miles of coastline along the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Below are three cool experiences you can have in Morocco:
Mint Tea with Mountain Berbers
Break homemade bread with a traditional Berber family in the Atlas Mountains. From the base of 13,671-foot-high Djebel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, you’ll ride mules to a remote village, where Mohamed will welcome you to his clan’s humble home for a genuine Berber breakfast with fresh-brewed mint tea.
Lunch Amidst the Saharan Dunes
Escape the buzzing charm of Marrakech for the vast silence of the Sahara Desert. A private jet whisks you high above the Atlas Mountains, landing in Errachidia for a four-by-four excursion to the nearby village of Rissani. There, you’ll explore a traditional Moroccan market before entering the Saharan wilderness on camelback
Heli-Skiing in the High Atlas
Go extreme on a heli-ski fantasy in the High Atlas Mountains. Grab your boots and board a chopper for the dramatic ride to the highest ski resort in Africa; landing at more than 10,000 feet, you’ll find the perfect terrain of untouched slopes.
As I mentioned last week, Egypt is at the top of my list for when travel reopens! I’ve always dreamed of seeing the pyramids and ancient artifacts with my own two eyes. Top experiences in Egypt include:
The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM)
GEM will be open in 2021 to much fanfare as the largest private archeological museum in the world. The entire contents of King Tutankhamun’s tomb will be on spectacular display. Be sure to visit through a travel supplier that will ensure you will avoid crowds with private tours and access.
Nile River Cruise
Experience Egypt in a floating boutique hotel. Uniworld’s Splendors of Egypt & The Nile is a combination land and river experience over 12 unforgettable days on their brand-new S.S. Sphinx ship filled with Egyptian artwork, fabrics, and hand-carved furnishings. You and up to only 84 other guests will visit UNESCO world heritage sites with an experienced Egyptologist which ensures an in-depth learning experience.
Abu Simbel Temples
Plan your visit in late February or October for an extra-special experience. The Temple of Abu Simbel was constructed so that the sun’s rays would line up perfectly two days per year (22nd of both months) and flood the inner sanctums of the temple with light.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: If you’d like more information on Egypt, check out this Virtuoso article from September 2019: https://bit.ly/3mtcmzu
19- SOUTH AFRICA
Everyone who aspires to travel to Africa needs to spend time in South Africa. It checks many boxes: exotic wildlife, natural scenery, stunning coasts, adventure experiences, cultural immersion, vibrant city life, and unique wine/food experiences. It’s the southernmost country in Africa has three capitals, one being Cape Town.
World Class Vineyards
Our partners at andBeyond will take you to charming towns, villages, and exquisite estates of the Cape Winelands like Franschhoek, meaning French quarter, which is only 54 miles from Cape Town. Arguably the most beautiful wine valley in the world, it is the food and wine capital of the country. Check into Virtuoso network and Sir Richard Branson’s vineyard property, Mont Rochelle, for the ultimate experience. Biking and hiking tours allow you to balance out all the delicious eating and drinking.
Safaris aren’t just for wildlife viewing. Did you know you can do a golf safari in South Africa? Of course, most people want to see the Big Five – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and African buffalos. Kruger National Park is home to the Big Five as well as over 500 bird species, 100 reptiles, nearly 150 mammals, multiple archaeological sites, and a stunning diversity of trees and flowers.
Where you sleep is a key decision! There are many options for Safari Camps (we can help you select the best one for you) including multi-level treehouses. Coming soon is the opening of The Kruger Shalati: The Train on the Bridge – this new luxury hotel is an old carriage train on the bridge over the Sabi River. The large windows allow guests to spy crocodiles, hippos, buffalos, and elephants.
20 – KENYA
Ever dream of having breakfast with giraffes or sharing a life-changing experience helping a local school or community? Kenya, in coastal East Africa, is the place where you can have both extraordinary experiences.
Giraffe Manor in Nairobi is one of the most famously photographed hotels in the world for good reason. Giraffes visit the hotel in the morning and evening allowing guests up-close experiences that are simply unforgettable! Once a 1930s hunting lodge, Giraffe Manor is involved in many critical conservation projects. Another option is Virtuoso’s Best of the Best resort, Mahali Mzuri, Sir Richard Branson’s safari camp. Each of the 12 luxury tented suites is on a raised platform and includes a spacious bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, sitting area, and deck overlooking the pristine landscape. The camp is in the path of the Great Migration – on a typical game drive, you’ll spot wildebeests, elephants, zebras, lions, buffalo, topi, hippopotamuses, and more! The impressive dining options include a wide selection of African and international dishes served in the main dining tent or out in the bush.
ME to WE
ME to WE goes beyond voluntourism. ME to WE experiences allow travelers to gain an unprecedented understanding of a country and its culture by working alongside the native people to build classrooms and clean water systems. In the end, they’ve expanded how they see the world and become part of a story of transformation – a life-altering experience! In Kenya, travelers learn traditional beading techniques with mamas and take nature walks with Maasai warriors.
Photography Safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve
Picture this: the Kenyan section of the Serengeti, the Massai Mara, has the largest population of lions in Kenya and is also home to families of giraffes, Cape buffalo, elephants, zebras, cheetahs leopards, hyenas, topi, hippos, gazelle, and black rhinos. Meet with Maasai elders and native people in their villages and learn how they have lived for centuries. Snap pics of the majestic landscapes at sunrise and sunset. In short, a photographer’s dream.
21 – UGANDA
Ever consider a gorilla or chimpanzee trek or spying tree-climbing lions? West of Kenya in East Africa, Uganda, and neighboring Rwanda are home to these amazing creatures. Fun fact – Uganda is nine times bigger than Rwanda and known as the “Pearl of Africa.” National Geographic Expeditions escorted Great Apes tour is the ultimate experience and includes:
Kibale National Park, Uganda
Kibale Chimpanzee Project searches for chimpanzees in Kibale National Park. Find other primates in the Bigodi Weland Sanctuary, including black-and-white colobus, red-tailed, and blue monkeys; and the rare l’Hoest’s monkey.
Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
How about a ride in a hot air balloon to look for elephants, lions, and Ugandan kobs? Add on an afternoon wildlife cruise on the 20-mile-long Kazinga Channel and venture into the Ishasha section for the tree-climbing lions.
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Cross into Rwanda and settle into your private villa overlooking the surrounding volcanoes and lakes. Meet experts at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center to learn about ongoing conservation efforts. Spend the next day tracking mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, where National Geographic grantee Dian Fossey researched gorillas for 18 years.
That wraps our 21 destinations for 2021! Are you ready to learn more about any of these African destinations? Send me an email or give me a call. Now is the perfect time to begin planning for next year and beyond. And of course, experiences make the best holiday gifts! 🎁
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: We work with Virtuoso network suppliers to create custom itineraries for our clients. With so much to do in Africa, it’s important to prioritize and get behind the scenes access to the most popular activities comfortably. Yes, that rule applies to most bucket list destinations with much to do and see and so little time 😊.
Wishing you and your family continued good health,