AFAR's Where to Go in 2016
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Wednesday, December 02, 2015
By Greg Sullivan & AFAR Media
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This time of year brings on mulling over wish lists, goals and how to turn dreams into reality. Adding fodder to those musings on the travel front is AFAR Media's Where to Go list for 2016.

What AFAR Media's Co-founder Greg Sullivan says about the list: "At AFAR, we believe the number of stamps in your passport does not determine your status as a traveler. What matters is the depth of experiences you have while traveling the world—and what they do to transform you as a global citizen."

Without further ado, here are AFAR's top 10 destinations you should start packing for...


Utah's Arches National Park -- Photo by Alex Palomino

 

1.       American Southwest:  There’s no better place to celebrate the National Parks centennial than in the American southwest. Home to Arches, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Capitol Reef National Parks—most of which will roll out special programming to celebrate the big anniversary—the region is made for an early spring road trip that weaves in stops at such growing cities as Flagstaff.

 

Nyatapola Temple image courtesy of Nepal Tourism Board

 

2.       Nepal: Tourism is more important than ever for the country as it recovers from the devastating earthquake in April that claimed 9,000 lives and affected millions of others. Travel dipped by 50 percent following the quake. Intrepid Travel, one of the country’s largest tour operators, recently collaborated with the Nepalese government and a team of experts to assess the damage. The conclusion: This landscape of snowy Himalayan peaks and jungle-covered plains is secure and ready for visitors to return. And your dollars will likely directly fund relief efforts.

 

Pumphouse Point image courtesy of Pumphouse Point

 

3.       Tasmania: Tasmania is heating up amidst an emerging tourism infrastructure and top hoteliers from around the world are taking note. The area will see new cruise lines and hiking trails in 2016, such as the new Three Capes Track, a 28 mile hike that takes four days to hike and a new Tasmania cruise from Coral Expeditions.

 

Image courtesy of AFAR Media

 

4.       Cuba: With the recent ease in American travel restrictions to Cuba, 2016 marks the perfect time to visit the island—especially as tourism is likely to greatly change the country in the years ahead. A new weekend tour from Insight Cuba will also roll out in January, making it even easier for Americans to get a taste of the island without taking too many vacation days.

 

Rua Augusta image courtesy of Turismo de Portugal

 

5.       Portugal: Portugal is heating up as a cultural hub. Foodies are flocking to the capital city of Lisbon, which is radiating with exciting new culinary experiences. In addition, the city is getting a swanky new port hub to support the building river cruise traffic. Porto has quickly emerged as a top art scene and the central coast 200-mile stretch between the two cities is becoming loved by beachcombers. Locals and newcomers alike are breathing new life into Portugal’s smaller villages (mostly via hotels, possibly even an Aman in the next year and a half). With these experiences, Portugal truly has something for everyone.

 

Bahi¦üa de San Juan del Sur image courtesy of Nicaragua Tourism Board

 

6.       Granada, Nicaragua: Granada is quickly becoming the Portland of Nicaragua, with coffee tourism on the rise and new cafes popping up throughout the area. In addition, travelers can take advantage of easy outdoorsy half-day trips, like Las Islets in Lake Nicaragua or the Mombacho Volcano.

 

Altai Mountain Image courtesy of Mongolica.org

 

7.       Mongolia: Until recently, Mongolia really required “roughing it.” There was no luxury hotel in the fascinating East-meets-West capital of Ulaanbaatar, let alone in the wild big-sky country beyond. Now, however, a Shangri-La opened in the capital, the country’s wilderness lodges have upped their comforts, and expert outfitters like Nomadic Expeditions arrange trips that don’t sacrifice luxury for authenticity.

 

Asilia Namiri Plains (Tanveer Badal) image courtesy of East Africa Tourism Platform

 

8.       East Africa: The Safari landscape is heating up in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. In Tanzania, a new fleet of tented safari camps means you can get closer to nature than ever before—without sacrificing luxury. And with a new airport, a stable political climate, and new resorts, Zimbabwe has emerged as a safari destination to be reckoned with.

 

Guadalupe Parish image courtesy of Visit Los Cabos

 

9.       Cabo: As it rebuilds following last year’s Hurricane Odile, Cabo is shedding its party reputation and reinventing itself as a luxury destination. In the last year, the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula has seen an abundance of development, including the arrival of many top name resorts and luxurious new offerings, like Esperanza, One & Only Palmilla, or Las Ventanas. The food is also just as good, thanks to celebrity chef migrations, including Enrique Olvera at Manta.

Valentia Island image courtesy of Tourism Ireland

 

10. Ireland: Rounding out list, Ireland is a top destination to visit in 2016 as the country has recently launched a number of travel services that allow its diversity of scenery and terrain to be seen by land, sea and air. The first luxury rail, the Belmond Grand Hibernian, launched in the fall of this year and Linblad will roll out an Ireland boat tour in the months ahead. In addition, award-winning travel company, Black Tomato enables travelers to fly West of Ireland over the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

 

Inspired by the list, I'm ready to start with Tasmania and go from there. Not sure which destination fits in best with your vacation time? AFAR's annual Where To Go issue "provides an overview of where people should visit based on the number of vacation days needed, including long weekend getaways, 10-day trips and grand tours." To learn more visit http://www.afar.com/magazine/the-top-10-destinations-on-our-2016-travel-list.

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