By Andrés Muñoz
Many people had planned trips and adventures in 2020 to satisfy their travelling needs but were instead grounded with lockdowns and social distancing. Flights and reservations were cancelled, and the only place the word “wanderlust” appeared was on Pinterest boards.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines rolling out globally over the coming months. So start planning, and maybe this list of five destinations might inspire you to explore once the pandemic madness is over!
Egypt’s capital is home to more than the Great Pyramids. Explore the Khan el-Khalili, a classic grand bazaar where you’ll find thousands of items that reflect the core of Egyptian culture. Don’t forget to haggle to negotiate a good price! Enjoy people-watching at a coffee shop with a ubiquitous shisha pipe or take a short walk to the Al-Hussein Mosque, one of Egypt’s holiest places. Oh, and Cairo’s street food is second to none. Yum!
Visit Zamalek, an island with boutique shops, jazz musicians at night, and wonderful places to eat and smoke shisha such as Sequoia. Its classic architecture and residential vibe make it an attractive part of the city for expats and locals alike.
Start your adventure in Playa Hermosa, a gorgeous beach in the northwest overlooking the Gulf of Papagayo. The sand is black due to its proximity to several volcanoes. Choose from one of the many beach bars and enjoy a margarita while contemplating some of the most epic sunsets you’ll ever see.
North of the capital, San José, take a hiking tour and witness the wildlife at La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park. Founded in 2000, the park is dedicated to the ethical care of animals that cannot return to the wild. No animals were taken from their natural habitat but were instead confiscated by the Wildlife Ministry from illegal owners. The kindness shown to the animals here is reflected in their willingness to engage with visitors, unlike the lethargic animals you sadly see in many normal zoos.
The South Pacific island of Tahiti has always been an idyllic destination. It remains quite secluded, with the number of yearly visitors to the island (200,000) equivalent to 2% of Hawaii’s (10,400,000). Tahitians are very kind and live by the words “aita pea pea”, meaning “not to worry”.
Initially known for its romantic appeal, there are many things to do even when travelling solo. Try hiking on the southeastern peninsula of the island, Tahiti Iti, and catch amazing waves in its southern section, Teahupoo. If you like diving, there are several diving tours available. One in particular on the northwestern part of Faa’a, lets you explore a sunken cargo ship and a scuttled World War II aircraft. You might also want to visit the nearby island of Bora Bora for more fantastic diving experiences.
Like the cold? The Scandinavian tundra is an ideal destination, but fair warning: once you get a taste, you’ll be dying to return.
Svalbard is an archipelago between Norway and the North Pole. One of the world’s northernmost inhabited islands, it’s a remote place filled with glaciers and polar bears— perfect for experiencing a wide array of winter activities such as dog sledging and snowmobile expeditions. It’s also an ideal place to view the Northern Lights, as Svalbard is so far North it has 100 days of complete darkness every year.
You can also visit the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. Founded in 1990 and rebuilt every year, the place is carved from ice blocks and opens its doors from December to April. From glasses to chairs, everything is sculpted from ice. Guests are given special clothes and polar-grade sleeping bags to keep them comfortable in the average temperatures of -5º C. It may be the “coolest” hotel you ever stay in. (Sorry!)
Located in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, this Moroccan city is on most traveller’s checklists. Similar to Cairo’s Khalil el-Khalili, the Djemaa El-Fna square is an epicentre of bustling activity, its nights filled with musicians, salesmen and performers of all kinds.
We suggest using Marrakesh as a base to explore the surrounding cities, mainly the mountain town of Amizmiz and the Oukaïmeden winter ski resort (yes, skiing in Africa!). The Amizmiz Weekly Market is held on Tuesdays, and tours are offered to visit surrounding local villages. Another place to visit is the Erg Chebbi, where you can camp, trek through, and explore the desert, with the local guides telling you stories under the starry sky.
There you go, five magical places to discover once the travel restrictions are lifted. Before you book anything, make sure to review the travel restrictions of your chosen destination. Happy (future) travels!