The 2016 bucket list

 

As the mercury dips in London – albeit much less than expected for the festive season – and the city winds down for Christmas, certain destinations around the world are really hotting up. Those in the know – namely the team of travel experts at Original Travel – have kept their fingers on the pulse all year and have rounded-up a list of the very hottest of hotspots for 2016.

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Kenya has struggled somewhat in 2015, and this has played out rather well for its southerly neighbour. Tanzania will see a smattering of exciting new openings in 2016, including Nomad Ngorongoro (opening June 2016), the Nomad group’s first camp in the Ngorongoro Crater, and Asilia’s Highlands Ngorongoro (opening March 2016), located on the slopes of the (extinct!) Olmoti volcano. In addition, the country will see an annular eclipse on 1 September, with the Katavi and Mahale Mountains National Parks amongst the best places in Africa to watch.

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Cambodia’s star has been in the ascendance for a while now, and 2016 will see the country’s comeback continue apace. Alila’s Koh Rosseu resort (opening July 2016) and the Akaryn Retreat (opening June 2016) will both follow the lead of the pioneer resort Song Saa, who first put the remote Koh Rong Archipelago on the luxury travel radar back in 2012. Back on the mainland, Phum Baiting launches formally at the beginning of the year, nestled in rice paddies within easy reach of the spectacular Temples of Angkor. Scenic Cruises new 5-star Scenic Spirit boat will ply the waters of the mighty Mekong from early 2016. For those seeking culture, expert guide Dr Damien Evans will begin leading helicopter flights over the ruins of Angkor, whilst new birdwatching tours and kayaking trips on Tonle Sap Lake are also on the agenda.

Phum Baitang

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The youngest country on earth, Iceland is still growing both geographically and as a travel destination. Thrice weekly direct BA flights from London to Reykjavic launched late in 2015 have really helped to open the country up as the ideal adventurous weekend break. The renowned Eleven Experience will be opening their long-awaited Holkna Experience on the north coast, based around a luxury fishing lodge on one of the island’s finest salmon rivers, reached by helicopter flights from Reykjavic. On the activities front, Iceland is brimming with opportunities, from chasing the northern lights on private flights to private ice tours, paragliding and three-day summertime ATV tours into the wilderness.

Snow-scooters at Langjškull Credit line: Icelandic Tourist Board / Photo: www.adventure.is

Icelandic Tourist Board &  www.adventure.is

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The ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka, is sky-rocketing in popularity as the nation continues to recover from the ravages of civil war and tsunami to reinvent itself as the ultimate luxury destination. December 2015 saw the opening of the island’s first sustainable design hotel, Tri, on the banks of Lake Koggala. Come 2016, February will see the 10th anniversary of the beloved Tea Trails resort, celebrated with the opening of the resort’s fifth bungalow – Dunkeld. Resplendent Ceylon will also be welcoming their third property – Wild Coast Tented Camp – towards the end of the year, comprising 28 luxurious tented suites on a beautiful beach on the fringe of wildlife-lovers’ paradise, Yala National Park.

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Yala National Park

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Iran – long abandoned by all but the most intrepid explorers – is coming in from the cold and rapidly shaping up to be one of the most popular destinations for 2016. The British Embassy has reopened in Tehran, heralding the start of a new era for travellers and Original Travel and sister company Simoon are already bursting at the seams with enquiries for their tailor-made itineraries and expert-led tours. There are at least two departures arranged for 2016, in spring and autumn, led by Simoon’s founder, Amelia Stewart.

Tower and fort of Bam, Iran by Charlie Phillips

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BA’s new twice weekly direct flights from Gatwick to Lima (rising to thrice weekly during the summer months) will make it much easier for Paddington Bear to visit his beloved Peru. Mountain Lodges of Peru has a new cultural programme launching in 2016 which allows guests to choose their own adventures each day, based around a trail to their recently opened lodges in Lamay, Huacahuasi and Patacancha (opening Autumn 2016). These will serve as deluxe basecamps for those completing the journey to Machu Picchu. Elsewhere, the explora group will open a new property in the Sacred Valley in August, and in Lima guests will have the opportunity to trace half a millennia of history in the oldest continually inhabited house in the Americas.

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Disregarding the glitz, glamour and excessive use of rhinestones that will comprise the Eurovision Song Contest finals in Stockholm, Sweden has a huge amount to offer in 2016. Gothenburg will be in the spotlight with the 10th anniversary of Way Out West Festival, plus the new Ingrid Bergman biopic, located in the city’s namesake Archipelago. The islands are also home to Fjällbacka – the idyllic waterfront town that provides the setting for literary heavyweight Camilla Lackberg’s new book, The Ice Child, set for release in March 2016.

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‘The Jewel of the Middle East’ has avoided the turmoil which has rocked many other nations in the region, making Oman a firm favourite with families and independent travellers alike. The success of the Alila Jebel Akhdar in the Hajar Mountains above Nizwa has prompted the group to open a new property – Alila Salalah – in late 2016 in the eponymous southern capital, the gateway to the ‘sand sea’ of the Empty Quarter. And if the sincerest form of flattery is imitation, then Alila should be chuffed that the Anantara group are following the formula, opening their own properties in both Salalah (in August 2016) and on Jabal Akhdar (early 2016).

Wahiba Sands lr

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Sound like your dream bucket list? Give the guys at Original Travel a ring – www.originaltravel.co.uk / 020 3582 4990

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