Each year, excitement levels are high when Lonely Planet release their best in travel lists and this year their brand-new Ultimate Travel List is no exception.
According to Lonely Planet, the full list includes the “500 most thrilling, memorable, downright interesting places on this planet ranked in order of their brilliance”.
And, since we love hooking people up with epic travels around the world, we’re unpacking the top experiences from Lonely Planet’s list, so when it’s safe to hit the road again we can help you get there.
1. Explore Petra in Jordan
The UNESCO world heritage listed Petra might be known to the masses thanks to Indiana Jones, but as anyone who has explored this ancient city will tell you, there’s so much more to it than the famous Treasury façade. For many people who have been stuck at home this year, the opportunity to stretch your legs on Petra’s trails of varying steepness will be a welcome challenge. From the towering Monastery building, to the winding walk down the Siq, or taking in the spectacular views from the High Place of Sacrifice, your local guide will be able to fill you in on the rich history of the city and the biblical Nabateans who called Petra home.
2. Visit the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador
Since Charles Darwin’s explorations, the bio-diverse archipelago of the Galapagos Islands has attracted nature-loving explorers from every corner of the globe. Travel trends for 2021 are already suggesting that people are craving a connection with nature and the wide-open spaces of wilderness areas. Spend time searching for famed blue-footed boobies, Galapagos Giant Tortoises, sea lions, spiky iguanas and more. Ecotourism is a big part of the identity of the 17 islands that make up the national park, so much so that the airport is made from mostly recycled materials and runs on wind and solar power.
3. Learn about First Nations culture in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
While it might be awhile before foreigners can travel to Australia again, when you can, you should absolutely visit the country’s cultural heartland: Uluru (or if you’re based in Australia, head there even sooner!). The iconic rock is sacred to the First Nations community in the area, the Aṉangu people, which is why Intrepid were among the first travel companies to ban climbing. And really, there are endless better ways to spend your time in the Red Centre, including learning about the ancient rock art from a First Nations guide, finding the perfect water hole to swim in, or watching the golden sun set over the vibrant red horizon.
4. Embrace slow travel in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
After months of video calls it’s not surprising that people are looking to unplug and unwind, making the remote Okavango Delta in Botswana a dream destination. Spend time cruising the canals in a traditional mokoro, a dugout canoe steered by a friendly local ‘poler’ for the true Okavango waterways experience. This is the perfect vantage point to keep an eye out for Africa’s Big Five, as well as the abundance of birdlife and other spectacular scenery.
5. Get active at Lake Bled in Slovenia
The town of Bled is located on the lake of the same name and offers travellers who are up for an active adventure a wealth of opportunity. If you prefer a water-based activity, rafting, canoeing or a boat ride out to the island in the middle of Lake Bled might be for you. Once on the island, you should take the chance to climb up the 99 steps to St Mary’s Church for incredible views of the surrounding countryside. If you prefer to stay on dry land the whole time, cycling around the lake or heading to the nearby Vintgar Gorge to hike in the natural canyon are both great options.
6. Take the jungle boardwalk on the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls straddle the border between Brazil and Argentina and while it’s worth seeing Mother Nature’s impressive work of art from both perspectives, the jungle boardwalk on the Argentinian side is a memorable experience. With the guidance of your local leader, take a stroll along the bridge walkway to the balcony of the Devil’s Throat, then keep going for about 45 minutes for views of the Two Sisters, Bosetti, Adam and Eve, Bernabe Mendez, Mbigua and San Marting falls from above, before continuing on to catch them from below.
7. Reconnect and unwind at Angkor in Cambodia
After the year we’ve been having, it’s safe to say most of us could use a little more zen in our lives, which is exactly what a visit to Cambodia’s Angkor will offer. Spend some time exploring the region’s most famous Hindu temple complex, Angkor Wat, with a knowledgeable local guide who will share stories of ancient civilisations and god-kings, before heading further afield to see some of the other 1000 or so temples in the area. And don’t discount the tranquility that a few moments of quiet contemplation over a stunning sunrise with a view of Angkor Wat can bring to your day…
8. Discover the otherworldly Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia
It may sound like a cliché, but there’s truly something otherworldly about Salar de Uyuni, the world’s biggest salt lake. In the dry season, the limitless, cracked landscape feels like a desert on another planet – one where you can even walk out to the cactus-filled lake islands. And in the wet season, it’s transformed into a vast mirror with no horizon. Keep an eye out for flamingos and make sure your phone or camera are fully charged – the photo opportunities are as endless as the landscape appears to be.
9. Challenge yourself to Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit
While she might not be as famous as her eastern neighbour, Everest, Annapurna’s trekking trails offer beauty and adventure in spades. Completing the Circuit takes 11 trekking days (plus a few days at either end for altitude acclimitisation and recovery), and you’ll hit altitudes of almost 5500 m (18,044 ft) at the peak. But, aside from the challenge of the hike, you’ll be treated to views of flame-red rhododendron forests, towering oaks and ice-covered alpine rivers, as well as the interactions with the friendly villagers you encounter along the way.
So, where to first? Find your perfect future adventure.
Hero image by Stephen Parry.