I am a huge adventure travel fan and with so many options around the world it can be overwhelming. I want to make it easier for adrenaline junkies and explorers to choose their next trip with some very special locations for 2016.
Whether hanging out with mountain gorillas in the Rwandan jungles, climbing the glaciers of Greenland with a climate change scientist, sipping yak butter tea with nomads in Mongolia, or experiencing the creepy locations from the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones”, a group of travel experts and tour operators have helped contribute to my top ten list of travel adventures for 2016.
Patagonia – Join renowned South American photographer and nature documentary filmmaker Ossian Lindholm on a Patagonian hiking and photo tour that blends Chiloe Island and Torres Del Paine National Park. Evenings are spent at the award winning EcoCamp Patagonia in its sustainable, comfortable, geodesic Suite Domes, the region’s first fully sustainable accommodation south of the Amazon. The new Patagonia Park has transformed a cattle ranch in Chile’s Aysen region into a land of glaciated peaks and wildlife. This journey ranks among the most coveted photo tour destinations in the world. Ciclismo Classico director Lauren Hefferon says it is among the most beautiful and inspiring places she has been to in her 30 years of world travel experiences.
Mongolia – Mongolia’s endless grassland and desert steppe make a dramatic backdrop for the tiny round gers of lone nomadic families. Buddhist monasteries mark the vague tracks across the steppe and the annual festival, Naadam, still showcases nomadic skills. In Siberia, take to the waters of great Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake on earth, and ride a section of the fabled Trans-Siberian Railway or sip tea in the doorway of a traditional nomadic ger as you watch the sun set over the vast expanse of the Gobi Desert.
Iceland – The scenery is dramatic, beautiful, nearly absent of trees, and littered with volcanic lava. The visual splendor of the island can be enjoyed on foot, vehicle, bike, boat, or horse. Iceland boasts amazing brown trout and char fishing and is a mecca for salmon fishermen. It is as famous for its gastronomic delights, too. Add to that an Icelandair Stopover promotion that lets travelers spend up to seven nights in Reykjavik en route to their final destination at no additional airfare. Iceland-based low-cost carrier WOW Airlines also continues to expand in North America.
Greenland – Greenland offers fantastic landscapes of pristine beauty, exotic, arctic wildlife and abundant northern lights. The spring provides a taste of the beauty of Greenland during a time of the year when the snow and sea ice are still thick enough for dog sledding and the saltwater fish are biting. Late April is dark enough at night to see the magnificent Northern Lights, and this time of year is also one of the best to see the magnificent wild musk-ox herd near Kangerlussuaq. March 2016 will welcome the international Arctic Winter Games to capital Nuuk, along with a song, food and dance festival.
Cuba– For the first time since its 1972 inception, Central Holidays, the premier tour operator specializing in travel throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, is expanding its destination expertise with the launch of five dynamic people-to-people itineraries in Cuba: Afro Cubanismo, A Taste of Havana, The City & The Sea, and Hola Cuba. Designed for travelers with a zest for exploration, Central Holidays’ five- to nine-night programs immerse guests in Cuba’s culture while shedding light on its history, art, religious, and music scenes
Wales & Ireland Game of Thrones Adventure– Embark on a journey that transcends worlds and time as you explore the lands of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Tenon Tours’ self-drive explores the many historic sites that served as inspiration for the adventures of George R. R. Martin’s complex world of Westeros. Visitors looking for a shorter jaunt can enjoy a city break with Tenon Tours in Cardiff or Llandudo that offers exciting day excursions to the new Bounce Below (the world’s first underground trampoline park in a former slate mine) and Zip World (the longest and fastest zip line in the northern hemisphere) attractions near Llandudno, or a trip into a formerly working coal mind at the UNESCO World Heritage National Coal Museum outside of Cardiff.
Rwanda – Encounter some of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world by trekking into the lush forests of Rwanda, home to hundreds of species of birds and numerous waterfalls. Explore Kigali, one of Africa’s cleanest, safest, and most progressive cities, and visit the important genocide memorial. Track chimpanzees and the beautiful golden monkey, and keep an eye out for elephants and buffalo. Enjoy a boat ride on the massive Lake Kivu, spend time relaxing on the beach, and enjoy some of the world’s best coffee.
Georgia – The little country of Georgia is a gorgeous place boasting fabulous food, music and mountains. Its warm Mediterranean climate, deep black soil, saw-toothed mountains and Black Sea coast combine to make a Garden of Eden, overflowing with wine and rich in culinary flair – everything you could wish for in a destination. Explore the archaeological sites of Vani, which has yielded hundreds of gorgeous golden artifacts and 9th century Dmanisi, where four 1.7 million-year-old H. erectus skulls were discovered. Cheap flights, new routes, and improved infrastructure confirm Georgia as a top destination for 2016.
Antarctica – See it before it’s gone. Explore the wildlife-rich shores and waters of remote Antarctica on a small ship cruise. Guests will encounter colossal icebergs and ice landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. Hardy adventurers or those with a yearning for history can camp out on the ice and feel the thrill and audacity of early explorers who attempted to conquer this continent. The abundance of wildlife is truly extraordinary, including five seal species, massive penguin rookeries of Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstraps, as well as a profusion of seabirds from albatross to skuas. Interest in Antarctica is set to swell.
Romania + Bulgaria – Explore the complex history and fascinating culture of Bulgaria and Romania, two Balkan countries whose rugged terrain and consequent isolation have helped preserve their heritage. Discover the luminous frescoes of the painted monasteries, breathe in the fragrance of the Valley of the Roses, and spend an afternoon visiting with villagers in a tiny Transylvanian town. Discover the Romanian origins of the Dracula story in the medieval towns of Sighisoara and Bran, whose castle embodies the Gothic image of a Transylvanian vampire castle.
The following suggested tour operators will help organize the best experience possible when exploring undiscovered locales.
Gondwana EcoTours – Gondwana Ecotours shows you your destination in a unique, exciting and responsible fashion. We are committed to providing sustainable travel — maintaining an environmental and cultural focus while providing the vacation of a lifetime! Tour the Amazon Rainforest with indigenous guides, Encounter some of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the wild & contribute to their preservation, Safari in Tanzania and visit with the Maasai people,Explore Machu Picchu without the crowds… hike with grizzlies in Alaska. http://gondwanaecotours.com
Ciclismo Classico – At Ciclismo Classico, the pioneers in bicycle travel since 1989, creating an active experience that sparks your passion is our sole mission. Like chefs who intuitively know, love and seek out delicious flavors to blend into a succulent dish, our Ciclismo Classico itinerary-dream-team combines an insatiable love of cycling, travel and culture with a rich imagination for creating one-of-a-kind, two-wheeled and photography tours. http://ciclismoclassico.com/
Frontiers International Travel – Frontiers is a full-service travel company that specializes in light-tackle fishing, quality bird shooting, wildlife photographic safaris, and Elegant Journeys throughout the world. Since 1969 they have helped avid travelers and discriminating sportsmen discover the finest resources available. http://www.frontierstravel.com/
MIR Corporation – MIR Corporation, whose name means “peace” and “world” in Russian, has specialized in Russia (and neighboring countries) since 1986. Offering scheduled and custom journeys to Russia, along the Trans-Siberian and across the Silk Route, MIR’s Seattle-based experts design imaginative trips that take travelers far from the familiar, and work closely with local affiliates in Western Russia, Siberia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan to carry them out. MIR has twice been named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth,” and is a preferred operator for museum, alumni and special interest organizations across the country. http://www.mircorp.com
Big Chill Adventures – Big Chill Adventures was started by Sarah Aciego, a professor of Glaciology at the University of Michigan, and Mindy Cambiar, a photographer from New Hampshire. Professor Aciego has led multiple scientific expeditions to Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska and the Canadian Rockies, and her research has resulted in 20+ publications on ice and climate. Mindy Cambiar is a graduate of the Rocky Mountain School of Photography’s Summer and Advanced Intensive Programs and Professional Studies Program and published photographer. Their work together has documented the interaction of scientists and their environment on these expeditions. Their specialized expertise and intimate knowledge of some of the most beautiful, and forbidding, landscapes provide an opportunity for an extraordinary Greenland experience. http://bigchilladventure.com
Adventure Life – Adventure Life is a company of travelers with a passion for sharing the world with others. Our travel experience runs deep, from years volunteering in rural Africa and Central America, to research trips in Asia, studying in Europe, guiding in the Rockies, and just bouncing around every corner of the world. This deep experience is the reason behind our pioneering approach to travel and award winning itineraries. http://adventure-life.com