The New York Times Travel Section recently released its Top 52 Destinations for 2014. I have no idea why they chose 52 (1 per week?). I though you Imprint travelers might be interested to hear some of the choices. Topping the list – Capetown, South Africa. We spend four days in the amazing city on our Southern Safaris African tours this year! Number 6 on the list was Namibia. We offer an optional 8-day Namibia extension to Southern Safaris. There are still a few seats available on our August 8 departure and we plan to offer the tour again in April 2015. Coming in at number 8 is Quang Binh in Vietnam. You guessed it, we’ll visit this stunning region on our new Vibrant Vietnam tour – maiden voyage is Jan. 19, 2015. Also making the list were the Mekong River and Siem Reap. A village homestay in the Mekong Delta highlights our Vietnam foray and Siem Reap, gateway to Angkor Wat, is the destination for our optional Cambodian extension. It feels like our travel instincts are pretty finely tuned and we’re proud of all of our destinations.
Number 1 Capetown has been garnering lots of traveling attention and visitor praise since South Africa hosted the 2010 Soccer World Cup. But even before that Capetown had a reputation as a beautiful city surrounded by water and watched over by signature Table Mountain. Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid hero, was closely associated with Capetown. For 18 years he was an inmate of Robben Island Prison and, when released, made his first public speech here.
Always a special melting pot of creativity with its varied cuisine, colorful houses, and famous music scene, the city is putting a new foot forward as the World Design Capital in 2014. On Imprint’s Southern Safaris tour we’ll explore the city and enjoy two full-day excursions – one to rugged Cape Point, the southernmost point of Africa, and one to the Cape’s famous wine country. We won’t miss the famous cable car to the top of Table Mountain or a visit to Robben Island, now a national monument.
Number 6 Namibia has been receiving lots of praise and attention in the travel world in recent years. The country has been honored for its visionary approach to responsible and ecologically friendly tourism development (Gift to the Earth Award from the World Wildlife Fund). Just last year the stunning Namib Sand Sea joined Unesco’s World Heritage list.
A stark contrast to the stereotypical African safari experience, this desert state offers vast stretches of Atlantic beaches, the world’s highest sand dunes (and they’re red!), and the second largest canyon in the world. The Namib-Naukluft National Park not only sports the aforementioned dunes at Sossusvlei but is one of the least light-polluted places remaining on the globe. Perfect for star gazing. We are visiting all those sights plus canoeing on the scenic Orange River.
Number 8 Quang Binh province is one of those spectacular bits of nature one has to see to believe. The karst-studded landscape is the oldest in Asia. Laced with caves and underground rivers, this is a spelunker’s paradise. On our Vietnam tour we’ll visit Phong Nha Cave. The approach is half the pleasure as we take a Son river journey past towering jungle-draped karsts, water buffalo, and emerald rice patties. At the gaping cave entrance we trade motors for oars and paddle silently through a kilometer of the massive cave, floating through cavern after cavern.
Two other destinations that made the Times’ list highlight our Asian adventure – the MekongRiver and Siem Reap. We always attempt to make genuine cultural connections on our tours and in Vietnam we are spending a night in a Mekong Delta village. We’ll visit a floating market, experience life on the water, hike our tiny island, and enjoy home-cooked meals and cultural exchange with our village hosts.
Siem Reap is the burgeoning gateway to mighty Angkor Wat, the mother of all Southeast Asian sights. In addition to seeing the must-see sights of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Banteay Sri, and overgrown Ta Prohm we make sure there is the opportunity to visit lesser known temples and distant gems like Kbal Spean.
The world is full of wonders. This has just been about 5 of them. Get out and see some for yourself. And as always, when you do, Travel with Intent.