Now that Christmas is over, the last mince pie has been polished off and the ever-present cheeseboard has left us roughly the same shape as a fine wheel of cheddar, thoughts naturally start to turn to New Year’s resolutions. This year, forget the New Year rat race through the gym and dry January boredom – make a resolution you actually want to keep: finally taking the trip of your dreams. Here at BIRD, we’ve rounded up our ultimate 2017 travel bucket list, to give you some inspiration along your way.
Recently named as one of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Countries to visit for 2017, Colombia is set to become one of next year’s most popular holiday destinations. 2017 marks both the 50th annual Vallenato Legend festival – a four-day extravaganza of traditional Vallenato folk music – and the 50th anniversary of 100 Years of Solitude, the magnum opus of famed Colombian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Whether you’re a culture buff wanting to follow in the footsteps of Garcia Marquez or revel in the gastronomic highlights of Bogota and Medellin, or an intrepid explorer hoping to trek to Colombia’s Lost city – 650 years older than Machu Picchu – luxury tour operator Amakuna offer trips that will be sure to delight whatever your expectations. Today, this vibrant country is a far cry from that of the one depicted in Netflix favourite Narcos, thanks to the recent ceasefire with the FARC rebels – though, if you’re still interested, place yourself into the action by taking a tour around La Catedral, the drug lord’s infamous prison home.
This year Planet Earth II showed us life on some of the most fascinating and exciting places on the planet, and provided perhaps one of the most iconic moments of 2016 (receiving marginally fewer column inches than Brexit and the US election…): young Galapagos marine iguanas being chased by a nest of hungry racer snakes. For 2017, pioneers of Galapagos travel,Metropolitan Touring, are offering a new ‘island hopping’ exploration tour around the islands, perfect for those wanting to get a shot of the action themselves. Ideal for wildlife enthusiasts, the tour takes travellers around two of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela and Santa Cruz, where you’ll have the chance to meet the famed marine iguanas themselves, as well as Galapagos penguins, marine birds and one of the Galapagos’ most well renowned inhabitants, the giant tortoise. The tour is entirely land based, with accommodation provided at two of the archipelago’s best hotels, and so everyone can truly enjoy this trip, even if you don’t have your sea legs.
2017 marks 150 years since Sri Lanka’s first ever tea bush was planted, triggering a national – and global – obsession. And what better way to mark the momentous occasion than visiting Sri Lanka’s first tea bungalow resort, Tea Trails, run by the Fernando family behind Dilmah tea, the country’s only entirely home grown and managed tea brand. The holiday of a lifetime for the tea-obsessed Briton, this trip offers you the chance to trace the journey of the iconic drink from leaf to cup. Here you’ll visit the tea plantations with Dilmah’s resident tea planter, enjoy a bespoke tea mixology masterclass, and meet the founder of Dilmah, Merrill J Fernando for a private tea tasting session. There’s also the opportunity to visit Tea Trails’ seafront sister resort, Cape Weligama, for a ‘tea and sea’ experience, where you’ll be able to indulge in tea based spa treatments.
Peru & Bolivia
May 2016 saw Peru welcome a new direct flight from London Gatwick to Lima, opening up the country to a new generation of travellers. The developments look set to continue apace next year, and boutique tour operator Aracari has been working hard to perfect the very best offerings. For the intrepid explorers among us, from early 2017 the ruins of Kuelap – the world’s biggest stone pre-Columbian city which is three times older than Machu Picchu – will soon be made infinitely easier to access with the arrival of a swish new cable car. Meanwhile, just across the border in Bolivia, adrenaline junkies can get their fix with a brand-new paragliding experience, soaring high above the endless vistas of the Uyuni salt flats. Or, if you like things a little slower paced, then Aracari’s exclusive new winery tour could be just the ticket. From January, South America’s oldest and most iconic winery, Tacama will be opening its doors for the very first time, where you’ll be able to indulge in as much Peruvian pisco as your heart desires, before resting your (hopefully not too sore) heads for the night in the spectacular family hacienda.