A list of the top countries to travel to in 2019, from the deserts of Africa to the sprawling beaches of Oman.
Marketing & Commerical
18 Dec 2018
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WHY VISIT: Tea plantations, Ancient temples and Whale watching
No matter whether you want a holiday consisting of wildlife, culture, history or beaches, Sri Lanka has something for everyone. Steeped in history, there are countless temples and palaces to explore, along with the famous Cultural Triangle whereas towns such as Kandy are good locations to take in some of this country's amazing heritage. Southern Sri Lanka contains miles and miles of sprawling golden beaches, the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. Alternatively, you can head North, to the lush green tea plantations and witness the tea pickers at work or explore the surrounding countryside on foot. It is not just Africa that has a Big Five, Sri Lanka has it's own too, including elephants,leopards and sloth bears, which can be seen in the country's numerous national parks. The other two members of the Big Five are blue whales and sperm whales, both of which can be seen on an unforgettable whale watching trip. The happy and friendly personality of the Sri Lankan people will be the icing on the cake.
WHY VISIT: Victoria Falls, San Rock Art, and the world's largest man-made lake
Zimbabwe is a country filled with countless experiences and opportunities, and everyone who visits is guaranteed to leave with memories of a lifetime. Home to the world famous Victoria Falls, there is plenty of opportunity to visit this natural wonder and engage in high-adrenaline sports, such as white water rafting, bungee jumping or zip lining over the Zambezi river. Alternatively, you can go on safari at one of the country's numerous game reserves, including Mana Pools and Hwange. Spend a few nights aboard the MV Matusadona on a water-based safari on Lake Kariba, the largest man-made lake in the world. For a cultural experience, you can visit the Great Zimbabwe ruins or check out some Sans Rock art sites, some of which have been there for over two thousand years. A visit to the Eastern Highlands is the perfect addition to any holiday in Zimbabwe, with its picturesque rolling hillsides and mountains, reminiscent of the Scottish highlands, and a variety of activities such as hiking, horseback riding and golfing to name just a few.
WHY VISIT: Golden Beaches, the Masai Tribe and the Great Migration
Home of the big five, and containing over fifty game reserves and national parks, it's not hard to see why Kenya is one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa. Perhaps the biggest wildlife spectacle of all in this country is the wildebeest migration. Every year, 1.5 million wildebeest, along with zebra and various species of antelope, make the journey from Kenya to the better grazing areas in Tanzania. It is the greatest wildlife migration on earth and something that shouldn't be missed. There is also the amazing opportunity to meet the Masai tribe, watch their tribal dances and visit their communities to learn more about their way of life. Kenya's white, sandy beaches are perfect for a relaxing break after your safari with lovely coastal towns and villages such as Watamu and Malindi to stay in. There is the opportunity to embark on ocean based activities such as snorkelling, surfing and deep fishing.
WHY VISIT: Dense Forests, Baby turtles and Beautiful Beaches
Located just off the west coast of Africa, Sao Tome and Principe is the continent's second smallest country. The islands offer beautiful, sprawling beaches that are perfect for sunbathing. Since Sao Tome and Principe is still off the beaten track in terms of tourists, these beaches are wonderfully uncrowded. Between November and March, you'll have the opportunity to see a range of turtles come to the beaches to nest and lay their eggs in the sand. During this period, you can also watch baby turtles hatching and making their way to the sea. The islands are also home to large swathes of forest which are home to various birds and small mammals, some of which are extremely rare. Obo National Park covers a substantial amount of Sao Tome, and it is here where you may be lucky enough to see the West African Manatee.
WHY VISIT: Tigers, Fairy tale forts and the Himalayas
Filled with colourful cities, cultural sights, sprawling jungles and fairy tale forts and palaces, as well as being the home of the Himalayas, India is definitely one of the top places to go in 2019. You can visit the Taj Mahal in Agra and explore cultural cities such as Delhi and Jaipur or soak up the sun on one of India's beaches in Goa or Kerala. The stunning Himalayas are just waiting to be explored, and there are plenty of amazing experiences to be had at one of India's numerous festivals. One of the first things that pops into most people's minds when they think of India is tigers, and there are plenty of opportunities to see wild tigers in India. The country contains several National Parks, all teeming with a wide range of wildlife. The best places to see tigers are Bandhavgarh National Park and Ranthambore National Park, although other reserves such as Dudhwa and Kanha National Reserve also enjoy very regular sightings.
WHY VISIT: Stunning scenery, Fascinating people and Endemic Wildlife
A landlocked country in East Africa, Ethiopia is a wonderful holiday destination. Stunning landscapes are the norm here, from the Simien Mountains to the Rift Valley and the Danakil Depression, which houses a massive 25% of Africa's active volcanoes. Ethiopia's people are as diverse as the landscapes, with 80 different ethnic groups, including the Southern Nations and People's region. The Omo valley is home to indigenous people who have yet to be influenced by the Western world and it's also a place where you can embark on safaris. There are 57 bird and mammal species endemic to Ethiopia, including the Simien wolf and the blue-winged goose, as well as cheetahs, hyenas and bush elephants to name a few. The country's rugged terrain is ideal for walking enthusiasts, with guided treks available in the Bale and Simien mountains. You can also visit some of the ancient and impressive churches that were hewn out of rock hundreds of years ago, some of which are still active.
Rwanda is a beautiful, land-locked country in East Africa. While small, it contains a wide variety of habitats and ecosystems, including volcanoes, savannahs, woodlands, lakes and forests. Despite the genocide that took place in 1994, Rwanda is now a very safe and peaceful country to visit, with a government that promotes harmony. It's capital, Kigali is one of the most clean and orderly cities in Africa. The main activity for tourists is the country's lowland mountain gorilla treks. Experienced guides will take you through the forest to the gorillas, where you will remain for an hour in close proximity to these incredible animals, watching their behaviour and taking photographs. While expensive, this excursion is definitely worth every penny, and will be an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. Other activities include going on cycling excursions using electric bikes, which are designed to lend a helping hand to the rider, meaning that anyone can easily take part in these activities, even those who have never sat on a bike before. Alternatively, you can go kayaking on Lake Kivu or take part in a tour around Kigali, learning about the events of the civil war in 1994, an historical experience that should not be missed.
WHY VISIT: Deserts, the Skeleton Coast and Elephants
Home to the world's highest sand dunes, the Skeleton Coast, the Namib desert, Etosha National Park and the second largest canyon in the world, Namibia is a wonderful holiday destination for the adventurous traveller. With a good road network, this southern African country is an ideal location for travellers wanting to self drive, with all of Namibia's main areas of interest easily accessible. You can explore the impressive, world famous sand dunes, or visit Fish River Canyon. Alternatively, you can see the big five on an desert safari, along with other animals such as hyenas and giraffes. Namibia has a high population of desert-adapted elephants and is also home to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. A visit to the Skeleton Coast should definitely not be missed off any Namibia holiday itinerary. A spectacular stretch of coastline, and looking at the wild seas and jagged rocks, it is easy to see why this particular area has been responsible for wrecking thousands of vessels over the decades. Some of which can still be seen and explored today.
With lush valleys, sprawling savannahs and plains, mountains and cosmopolitan cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa has something for everyone, with the option of self-driving holidays or guided tours. Home to 300 game reserves and national parks, including the world famous Kruger National Park, South Africa is one of the continent's most popular safari destinations. There is plenty of opportunity to spot the Big Five, along with other animals such as giraffe, cheetahs and hyena. Penguins and whales can also be seen on the southern coast. Alternatively, you can explore one of Africa's cities and take in some of the history and culture. Cape Town's beaches are a good place to go to relax and soak up some sun. South Africa gives the option of travelling around the country via rail, on trains such as the Blue Train (one of the most luxurious trains in the world) and the Shongololo express.
Situated on the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is the oldest independent Arab State. Filled with deserts, mountains and fjords, it is a wonderful place to explore. You can spend some time in Muscat, Oman's Capital, quite a contrast to Dubai and Abu Dhabi with its low rise buildings. Explore the markets and boutique shops, or wander around the city and take in the unique architecture, with its Islamic-Contemporary style. The gulf of Oman offers the opportunity to do some warm water diving, and from January to March you may have the chance to see whale sharks. The Musandam Peninsula gives the feeling of being in the Scandinavian fjords, while the surrounding ancient forts and castles provide the opportunity to take in some of the country's history.