Whilst 2020 wasn’t the year for travel, there’s still plenty of time to dream about the incredible once-in-a-lifetime trips that we’ll take in 2021. From epic four-wheel desert safaris to see the big five in Namibia to witnessing humpback whales in their natural habitat in the Dominican Republic, LOTUS has rounded up eight of the best bucket-list trips to make up for the lack of travel this year.
NAMIBIA FOR A FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE DESERT SAFARI TO SEE THE BIG FIVE
Nothing trumps a bucket list trip like a desert safari through Namibia. Enjoy an adventurous camping safari far off the normal tourist route in the remote and isolated regions of northwest Namibia. With 11 nights in the luxury of full-service camping and one night in a hotel, this trip is ideal for off-the-grid travel. Guests will have the opportunity to visit the Twyfelfontein, an area that has the highest concentration of San Bushman engravings in Africa, before making their way to Palmwag Concession. There are few places on Earth that offer such a great opportunity for wildlife viewing without the crowds that are found at the better-known safari destinations. Finally, explorers will venture to the infamous Etosha National Park, where the wildlife outnumbers people. There is the chance to discover desert elephants, lion, leopard, zebra, giraffe and more, in a specially designed 4WD Safari vehicle.
Exodus Travels (exodus.co.uk) has a 14-night Namibia 4WD Desert Safari holiday from £3,949 per person, including B&B accommodation, international flights from London, meals as per the itinerary, all internal transport and transfers and activities as listed in the itinerary.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FOR THE WORLD’S GREATEST WHALE WATCHING SPOT
Every year Samaná on the north east coast of the Dominican Republic welcomes its chief seasonal attraction: a large number of humpback whales. They return to court, mate and birth in the Atlantic waters off Samaná Bay. The destination is home to several well-regulated whale-watching operations, including one run by the pioneering marine-mammal specialist, Kim Beddall, a Canadian who sought to have the area officially declared a Marine Mammal Sanctuary in 1986. During the season tours run daily ensuring that visitors don’t miss out on this bucket list attraction. For those who want more spotting opportunities, head to Punta Balandra, on the road from Samaná City to Las Galeras, where the 40-ton whales will be in full view.
Close to the action, the Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado hotel occupies a tiny paradise island right in Samana Bay. As well as whale watching literally from the beach, many of the organised boat tours pick up guests directly from the hotel pier. A seven-night all-inclusive stay is priced from £2,551 per person. Excludes flights. For more information:
TAKE A ROAD TRIP THROUGH MEXICO’S ‘MAGICAL’ TOWNS
Fly to Mexico City and head west to the quieter lesser-known region of Riviera Nayarit on the Pacific coast. Travellers can enjoy a leisurely self-drive from the UNESCO heritage city of Guanajuato to the Pacific beaches of Punta Mita. From exploring some of the most authentic villages, ideal for those who want to get immersed in the history of ancient Mexico’s rich heritage to relaxing at the golden sands and crystal-clear water beaches in the exclusive peninsula of Punta de Mita.
Once in Punta de Mita, the most exclusive peninsula of the Riviera Nayarit, 200 miles of pristine Pacific coastline await intrepid visitors. Travellers can explore some of the most famous ‘magical’ towns of Mexico, known for their enchanting beauty, architecture and centuries-old culture. First up is Sayulita, the trendiest boho-chic beach paradise with cobblestone streets sprinkled with art galleries that ooze colour round every corner. Drive further up north to Mexcaltitán – best known as “Mexican Venice”, thanks to the many canals that crisscross through it. A place shrouded in mystical and Aztec magical history considered by many historians to be the birthplace of modern-day Mexico.
Scott Dunn (scottdunn.com) offers a two-week adventure journey from Mexico City to the Pacific Coast starting from £6,100 per person including flights and a perfect combination of stylish boutique properties throughout, ending with a stay at the luxurious Four Seasons in Punta Mita. The itinerary can be tailored to requirements and budget.
MALDIVES FOR A DEEP DIVE INTO PARADISE
It is easy to see why the Maldives has made the cut for top bucket list escapes. Every island looks like a postcard, with perfectly primed palm trees and crystal-clear waters washing up to the white sandy beaches. With its gorgeous weather year-round, this destination forces travellers to disconnect from the world, reconnect with tranquillity and lavish in luxury. Not to mention, the exotic marine life of the Indian Ocean is like no other. From turtle snorkelling to dolphin spotting and discovering shipwrecks, there are so many bucket list adventures to be had in the ultimate bucket list destination.
Sovereign Luxury Travel offers a seven-night all-inclusive stay staying at the five-star Atmosphere Kanifushiin the Maldives from £2,745 per person. The price includes complimentary speedboat transfers, complimentary airport lounge access and return flights from London Gatwick.
BERMUDA FOR UNBEATABLE FLORA AND FAUNA, HISTORY AND DISCOVERY
The quintessential island paradise of Bermuda, a sub-tropical gem, seemingly adrift in the North Atlantic Ocean, seems to always be forgotten off the bucket list. Warmed year-round by the temperate Gulf Stream, Bermuda is a tiny treasure trove packed with history and natural beauty. Famed for its stunning turquoise waters in a whole rainbow of blues, incredible pink sands and coral reefs home to hundreds of colourful fish, Bermuda is a beach-lover’s heaven. Beyond the postcard-worthy bays, the islands offer a lush interior alive with a multitude of birds and flowers, making it perfect to explore on foot. From hidden sea grottoes to panoramic forts, lush flower-speckled fields to the sun-kissed sands of the South Shore Trail, the kaleidoscope of colour is unforgettable and the diversity of flora and fauna unbeatable.
Headwater (headwater.com) has a seven-night Islands of Bermuda Walk self-guided holiday from £2,259 per person. The price includes B&B accommodation, route directions and maps, a seven-day travel pass, allowing unlimited access to the bus and ferry networks, and return flights from London Gatwick.
ALL-INCLUSIVE LUXURY BEACH BREAK IN BARBADOS
Escape the UK winter and head to Barbados to while away the hours upon the unspoilt white sands of Maxwell Beach or next to one of the five pools & whirlpools at Sandals Barbados on this luxury all-inclusive holiday. If you’re looking for some activities, a number of water and land sports are included in the price such as boogie boarding and scuba diving (for certified divers). There is also a spa on site for guests to pamper themselves with a treatment or two at an extra charge.
HolidayPirates (holidaypirates.com) has a seven-night all-inclusive holiday at the Sandals Barbados priced from £2,325 per person on selected dates in January and February. Price includes flights from London and return transfers.
EXPERIENCE QUITO CULTURE IN THE HEART OF ECUADOR
Illa Experience Hotel is the first Experience Hotel in South America allowing guests the opportunity to experience the cultural heart of Quito and its traditions by interacting with its people. The luxurious boutique hotel is situated in the Historic District of Quito the capital of Ecuador, in a Patrimonial house originally from the 17th Century. For generations, San Marcos has been home to artists, writers and musicians and there’s plenty of opportunities to see them in action. From visiting the workshop of a local artisan and watch as he hand-carves traditional wooden toys to trying your hand at watercolour painting in one of the neighbourhood’s many art studios – the capital’s present-day charm owes much to the tight-knit community of residents.
Bidroom (Bidroom.com is an online travel club that offers exclusive hotel deals at up to 25% less than on other online travel platforms. Bidroom offers seven nights at Illa Experience Hotel, Ecuador in a Double Deluxe or Twin Room. The price is from £1,270 per couple, saving up to £134 based on two adults sharing. Based on May 2021 departures.
PURE PATAGONIA: EXPLORE EARTH’S LAST GREAT WILDERNESS
Patagonia is Earth’s last great wilderness, a dramatic landscape comprising of the Andes Mountains, lakes, fjords, and glacier in the west and deserts, tablelands and steppes to the east. Exploring this untamed wilderness and discovering its awe-inspiring beauty is a true bucket-list item. Latin Routes has unveiled a new 17-day tour titled ‘Pure Patagonia’ visiting both Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. Highlights include the stunning Argentine lake district of Bariloche, Puerto Vara, Puerto Natales and the iconic Torre del Paine National Park.
The 17-day tour is priced from £3,799 per person and includes internal transport, accommodation, some meals and an expert guide. Departures begin in November 2020. www.latinroutes.co.uk / www.lata.travel