“A&K’s network of travel experts is the most extensive in the world with over 55 offices in more than 30 countries and 2,500 staff who live and breathe luxury travel. Collectively, they have singled out these unusual and unique destinations which every discerning adventurer will want to know about,” Regional Managing Director Asia/Australasia, Sujata Raman said.
So, where should you jet off to in 2020? Drumroll, please…
With an economy based on oil, Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus may seem an unlikely place to venture to, but this energy-rich nation on the Caspian Sea is full of surprises. Located on the divide between Europe and Asia it has a 5,000-year-old history and a heritage variously influenced by the Russian, Turkish and Persian empires.
A stroll through its cosmopolitan capital Baku is a striking contrast of old and new where locals play chess in cobblestone laneways against a backdrop of the city’s famous futuristic flame towers.
Voodoo is still widely practiced throughout the country and travellers can witness colourful voodoo ceremonies where feverish drumming and highly charged dancing by costumed fetish priests provide a bewitching encounter. Fishermen in remote villages still practice age-old techniques and the slave coast is a haunting reminder of a dark past.
Move over, Iceland, 2020 is all about the land of lakes, mountains and forests that is Finland. Dramatic year-round, this country in Europe’s far north also has a vigorous sauna culture, so luxury travellers and spa enthusiasts will be utterly content.
You’ll get to experience that novel experience of witnessing 24 hours of daylight in the summer months, and perhaps less appealing – unfathomably long winter nights.
Although, winter is when the Northern Lights are at their most dazzling, so you’d be silly to rule the chilly season out. The vibrant capital Helsinki is a harbourside showcase of modern architecture and design with world beating museums and galleries, architectural masterpieces and an 18th century sea fortress. Ticks all the boxes, really.
Suomenlinna Maritime fortress on the Islands in the harbour of Helsinki
Remote, unspoiled and worlds away from the chaos and overtourism of Bali, the crystal-clear waters of Eastern Indonesia harbour some of the world’s finest marine life and underwater treasures. Hordes of volcanic islands spread across the aqua blue waters of the Flores and Banda Seas play host to some of the most spectacular coastal terrain on Earth and soft sandy beaches to match.
Explore the Komodo National Park, the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat where world class diving and snorkelling reveals brilliant coral gardens, vibrant tropical fish, sea turtles, reef sharks and manta rays while on land the prehistoric Komodo dragon hunts its prey amidst dry savannah.
If you’ve been to Bali more than once, this part of Indonesia deserves your attention. It made Luxury Travel‘s 2019 list of the best new places to visit, and we promise you won’t be disappointed.
Padar Island in Indonesia – one of the three islands that make up the Komodo National Park.
Another country to make it to our list of top places to see in 2019, Middle Eastern hospitality doesn’t come much better than what you’ll find in Jordan. Add to that some of the world’s most famous archaeological sites and it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the region’s star attractions. In a country with a 4,000-year-old history and biblical references aplenty there’s no shortage of attractions.
At the top of the list, with undisputed celebrity status and worthy World Heritage recognition, is Petra but there’s much more once you delve deeper – crusader castles, mineral-laden waters, ancient Roman ruins, dramatic desert landscapes and a vibrant cuisine.
A&K’s 7-day private journey Highlights of Jordan is priced from $ $5,195 per person.
‘Camels in the desert’, Jordan, Photo by @jonagrey
Yep, we predicted this one too, and for good reason. Heavily influenced by the many civilisations which have contested and ruled its sun-filled archipelago, Malta and Gozo, its sister island, together claim over 6,500 years of history with one of the world’s greatest concentrations of historical sights.
Each conquering power has left its mark from Arabic town names to British food, Greek superstitions and Roman Catholicism. A few days here will reveal a lavish architectural legacy, splendid Baroque churches, a flourishing food scene and rich agricultural traditions.
Another African beauty to top our 2019 must-visit list and one of the least densely populated countries on Earth, Namibia is a vast landscape of shimmering salt pans, red dunes, glittering oceans and haunting coastlines where the sunsets are unforgettable and the desert-adapted wildlife abundant.
It’s about time this colourful Asian nation got a look-in. A relative newcomer to the luxury travel scene, South Korea is a surprise package known as much for its street food and high-speed internet as it is for its heavily militarised border. Hip and edgy, the capital Seoul is a dynamic city where new meets old and pop culture is alive and well.
It has first-rate museums, absorbing local customs, flavoursome culinary delights and scenery throughout the country is utterly picturesque.
Tasmania is known for its walking adventures and this is one of the newest. Aboriginal owned and operated, the four-day Wukalina Walk reveals the breathtaking Bay of Fires region in the state’s northeast from the unique palawa (Tasmanian aboriginal) perspective.
Hiking in the footsteps of their traditional people, palawa guides and elders relate first-hand the palawa creation story, allowing guests to participate in cultural practices that have been passed down for hundreds of generations. Nights are comfortably spent in bespoke palawa-inspired domed huts and the meticulously renovated Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage at larapuna (Bay of Fires).
Bay of Fires, Tasmania
Off the radar for many years, Zimbabwe is back with a flourish and in recognition A&K has opened its 11th African office there. The country has some of the continent’s most impressive national parks where its iconic species roam and a top-notch selection of small-scale luxury safari camps and lodges.
It boasts one of the world’s great rivers, breathtaking landscapes from acacia woodlands and riverine plains to primeval escarpments and granite-studded hills and it’s home to the largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls.