Most of us have had those deep and inspiring moments where we sit back and ponder over which destinations should be on our ultimate bucket list. Seven destinations which are accessible to all, ranging from majestic Cambodian temples steeped in religious significance to the hustle of the souks in the heart of Marrakech. Enjoy!
With the recent thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba, many are predicting major change in the culture of the country in the years ahead. So, now’s the time to experience the country’s unique way of life – which has barely changed since the revolution of the 1950s.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Havana wears its fascinating history on its sleeve. With old Chevrolets and Buicks cruising through the grand boulevards and side streets of the city – which ranges architecturally from sixteenth-century Spanish colonial to brutalist modernism and almost everything in between.
Combine this with world-renowned Cuban music played on virtually every corner of the city and it’s hard to imagine a more enchanting place to be.
2. Marrakech, Morocco
The souks of the city’s Medina District are not to be missed. Don’t be afraid to haggle, or to get lost in the tight streets – being captured by the maze-like layout of the markets is exhilarating, as you stumble across North African jewels hidden away behind the embroideries and tapestries draped around every avenue in Marrakech.
If you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the souks, take a trip to the Beldi Country Club where you’ll find a place of complete serenity that couldn’t be more of a contrast from the hectic city. Relax by the pool – an oasis in the heat of the desert sun – or potter around the flower gardens dotted around the grounds.
Back in the heart of Marrakech, you’ll be woken in the early dawn each morning by the call to prayer from the Koutoubia Mosque. Even if you don’t appreciate it too much at the time, it is a part of the inimitable atmosphere of the city and something that we promise will be a fond memory.
2. The Whitsundays, Australia
While not the largest of the 74 islands, the most populated and commonly visited is Hamilton Island. It is home to resorts that cater for honeymoons that dreams are made of – the perfect getaway from mainland Australia for any couple looking for a retreat.
Whitehaven Beach, a seven kilometre stretch of pristine white sand on neighbouring Whitsunday Island, is the epitome of a tropical paradise. Venturing to nearby Tongue Point will allow you to see a panoramic view of the magnificent beach and the crystal clear waters beyond. As the Whitsundays are the closest point to the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland, it is the perfect place for a scuba diving experience.
4. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Situated in the heart of the Julian Alps, Lake Bled defines tranquillity. The striking Bled Castle perches on a clifftop overlooking the lake, in which a small church sits on its own small island, creating a location fit for a fairy tale. Quaint alpine cafes allow you to sit and take in the view, or you can hire a rowing boat and explore the picturesque waters close-up.
To truly feel at one with nature, climb up Velika Osojnica which offers spectacular views. Working your way through the different paths to explore the gorges and waterfalls situated around the lake, you’ll discover why this is one of the great hidden gems of European travel.
5. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The annual migration of over 1.5 million wildebeest, as well as other animals such as zebras and gazelles over the savannah of the Serengeti ecosystem, is a truly remarkable phenomenon. Stretching over 5,700 square miles of north-west Tanzania, this national park offers the chance to get up-close and personal with the wildlife. In constant battle, the predator and prey take part in one of the greatest natural performances – as stalking cheetahs lurk in the grassland while lions flaunt their authority.
To observe the wildebeest migration, visit between December and July. However, if you are more inclined to see the predators, then June to October is the best time.
6. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
It is no coincidence that the temple dedicated to the preserver and protector of the universe in the Hindu faith – Vishnu – is Cambodia’s most well conserved ancient site. Being a place of worship from the 12th century, Angkor Wat personifies the dedication and determination of the people under the Khmer empire which dominated southeast Asia for over 600 years.
The best way to see these religious monuments is by renting a Tuk Tuk for the day – it’s much easier to get around this way and your driver will wait as you explore each temple. Try and time your trip so that the sun sets while you are there – the temples turn to silhouettes against the backdrop of the scarlet sky. The Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Preah Khan temples must all be visited on your trip here – not forgetting the Srah Srang and the Elephant Terrace both of which attract huge crowds during peak times.
7. Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
On a clear day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, make your way to the top of Corcovado Mountain and marvel at this stylish conception of Christ – which keeps watch over the city from a vantage point that offers stunning views. A popular destination for holiday-makers and backpackers alike, the easiest way to reach it is to take the rack-and-pinion train from the heart of the city – which winds its way up steeply through tropical vegetation.
Join in the craze and purchase a selfie stick – an investment which proves a great deal of fun for taking snaps of the marvellous city that is Rio.
Published 11th November 2015