List Words : Wanderlust team | 25 January

12 trips to 2017’s new frontiers

New flights, reopened borders, easier access. Get to the planet's freshest destinations first with these exciting trips, including holidays in China, Chile, Guyana and Sri Lanka...

Click HERE for the full Top 50 Trips 2017 list

1: Take the road not travelled in Guyana

Kaieteur Falls (Dreamstime)

Guyana is among the least-visited nations in South America, so any visit feels a little intrepid. Add to that a self-drive and you’ve got all the makings of a proper adventure. 

Geodyssey’s Rough Road to Rupununi tour does just that, giving you the keys to a 4WD to explore this former British colony. From its gothic-colonial capital Georgetown to Kaieteur Falls, the highest single-drop waterfall in the world, prepare for a bumpy but exhilarating ride. 

When not behind the wheel, you’ll trek to Amerindian villages, hunt the savannah for giant anteaters, and scour the waters of the Yupakari for black caiman on night-time boat trips.

Who: Geodyssey

When: Flexible dates; best time: Feb–Apr & Oct–Dec 2017

How long: 13 nights

How much: From £5,495 (excl intl flights)



2: Road-trip Tajikistan’s Pamir the posh way

Fedchenko glacier in Tajikistan (Dreamstime)

Travel Central Asia in unusually high-style on a plush overland adventure across Tajikistan with Edge Expedition’s Luxury in the Wild Heart of Asia tour. Zoom the epic Pamir Highway on two- and four-wheeled expeditions, turning east along the Wakhan Corridor that runs the border of Pakistan

Explore hidden valleys, Zoroastrian ruins and mountain passes along the way, discovering more about the Silk Road and local Tajik and Pamir culture. Talks by historians and astronomers en route offer some background, as you end your days leisurely wallowing in hot springs and sipping G&Ts by your lakeside yurt.

Who: Edge Expeditions

When: 21 Aug 2017

How long: 14 nights

How much: From £9,495 (excl intl flights)



3: Try some Chinese southern comfort

The Giant Buddha in Leshan (Dreamstime)

The lesser visited south of China is a different world to the rest of this vast nation, not least its food, which goes up about a dozen spice levels. But it’s the incredible landscape that leaves an impression, as you’ll discover with On The Go Tours’ South China Discovery trip. 

As you skim through the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi, you’ll coo at pandas in Chengdu’s breeding centre, hike the rises of Tiger Leaping Gorge and wander the rice terraces of the Dragon’s Backbone, passing the local minority people on the way.

Who: On The Go Tours

When: 8 & 22 Apr, 20 May, 17 Jun, 9 & 23 Sept, 7 Oct, 4 & 18 Nov 2017

How long: 11 nights

How much: From £2,405 (excl intl flights)



4: Venture into offbeat Laos

Local Alak woman in Bolaven village (Dreamstime)

Somehow, few travellers in Laos make it to the fertile Bolaven Plateau, just one of the paths-less-travelled you get to tread on Bamboo Travel’s Adventures in Laos, which begins in Luang Prabang with boat trips out to villages only reachable by water. 

Follow this with a visit to the caves of Nong Khiaw, where locals sheltered during US bombing raids during the Vietnam War, then trek the lesser-trod jungles and plateaus of Dong Hua Sao National Protected Area in the deep south. Finish amid the 4,000 islands of Si Phan Don, riding bikes to waterfalls and rafting its cool waters.

Who: Bamboo Travel

When: Flexible dates; best time: May–Nov 2017

How long: 12 nights

How much: From £2,650 (incl flights)



5: Visit an unofficial state

Monastery in New Athos (Dreamstime)

If you’ve not heard of Abkhazia, don’t take it too badly. This tiny breakaway state tore away from Georgia in 1999 but has still to achieve widespread international recognition. Either way, it’s virgin territory for most, which is what makes Regent Holidays’ Pioneering Abkhazia small group tour so interesting.

Head deep into the forgotten Caucasus, exploring crumbling Soviet-era architecture and remote mountainous landscapes along the Black Sea coast, crossing its border on foot to visit one of Stalin’s dachas (summer houses), as well as dropping in on the ‘capital’, Sokhumi.

Who: Regent Holidays

When: 18 May 2017

How long: 11 nights

How much: From £2,750 (incl flights)



6: Cruise Russia’s Arctic north-west

Float celebrating the North East Passage, Murmansk (Dreamstime)

Sail virgin waters on an expedition cruise to Russia’s Arctic west with Wildfoot Travel’s North East Passage Westbound trip. Normally hidden beneath thick layers of ice, summer sees its Arctic seas thaw, whereupon this old Soviet supply route from Anadyr now opens up to intrepid voyagers. 

Make landfall on Wrangel Island, an icy Galápagos, where the bones of old woolly mammoth still dot the landscape and polar bears roam in large numbers. Drop in on the reindeer herders of Ayon Island and explore the wildlife-rich islands of Franz Josef Land as you continue on past calving glaciers to Murmansk, the final frozen frontier on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

Who: Wildfoot Travel

When: 31 Jul 2017

How long: 27 nights

How much: From £17,333 (excl intl flights)



7: Go offroad in Pakistan

The valley in Karimabad valley (Dreamstime)

Delve deep into the northern fingertips of Pakistan, fording the less-travelled roads of this mountainous region on Oasis Overland’s Karakoram Highlights. Taking an open-top jeep from Islamabad up the Karakoram Highway, you'll weave between the 7,000m-high cloud-covered peaks of the Himalaya and Hindu Kush range. 

Pit stops include trekking to Nanga Parbat base camp (4,300m), hiking Passau Glacier and exploring one of the world’s highest plateaus: the Deosai Plains, its largely treeless scrub providing front-row seats to the silent majesty of the Himalayan ridges that serrate its borders.

Who: Oasis Overland

When: 17 Jun, 8 & 29 Jul, 19Aug, 9 & 30 Sept 2017

How long: 14 nights

How much: From £1,785 (excl intl flights)



8: Explore Chile’s Lake District

Torres del Paine NP (Dreamstime)

With the new direct flights from British Airways from the UK to Santiago, it’s now just 14.5 hours to Chile’s capital. However, not all visitors will find their way to the far reaches of Chilean Patagonia, where travel can still be difficult in places. As such, Audley Travel’s Chiloé Island trip offers a welcome respite, exploring an island that was once the final retreat of the native Mapuche Indians. 

To this day, it still feels very much removed from the rest of the country, a land of myth and legends, lakes and forests. Along the way, stop in the wilds of Torres del Paine NP and the Atacama, where new early-morning hot air balloon flights put a different perspective on this beautiful arid land.

Who: Audley Travel

When: Year round

How long: 13 nights

How much: From £5,085 (incl flights)



9: Explore the little-seen south of Colombia

Ancient statue in San Augustin (Dreamstime)

Hit the road in Colombia in its rarely seen southern reaches now that the FCO’s travel restrictions have been (marginally) relaxed. Amakuna’s chauffeur-driven Road Trip hurtles through the departments of Huila and Cauca, pit-stopping in the colonial-era ‘White City’ of Popayan, as well as UNESCO- listed San Agustin, which boasts the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America. 

Then drive on to pre-Columbian tombs and the seemingly infinite Tatacoa desert, before spending the night in a ‘bio egg’, an open-top capsule woven out of wicker, in the Bethel Bio Hotel, where you can count the stars.

Who: Amakuna

When: Year round

How long: Seven nights

How much: From £2,950 (excl intl flights)



10: Explore the ignored

Traditional burial site in Tana Toraja (Dreamstime)

Spread across some 18,000 islands, Indonesia is not a country that everyone has explored in detail. Case in point: Selective Asia’s South Sulawesi trip, which delves into a province usually ignored by all but the diving community. 

Explore mountains puddled with rice paddies, crumbling Dutch colonial architecture and vibrant communities, stopping in easy-going capital Makassar for markets and home-cooking classes before canoeing the Walenna River to the oating houses and shing village of Tempe Lake. End in Toraja, amid villages that dwindle under towering peaks, and where, if you arrive in the right month, you may witness one of its elaborate multi-million-dollar funeral ceremonies.

Who: Selective Asia

When: Year round

How long: Seven nights

How much: From £687 (excl intl flights)



11: Explore the forgotten Pacific

Pacific Island dancers (Dreamstime)

Combine the least-visited nations on Earth, while covering a vast amount of the Pacific, as you skim through Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia on Undiscovered Destinations’ Pacific Explorer tour. Start out in Fiji before making for the crater lakes and blue lagoons of Wallis & Futuna. 

From there, plough on to the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Kosrae and even Kiribati, an idyllic but rarely visited archipelago of some 100,000 people that many predict will be submerged in less than 30 years. It’s a fate facing many of the islands on this trip, so see them while you can. Along the way, explore 14th-century ruins, Second World War internment camps and submerged caves, before climaxing with treks into the lush, wildlife-rich rainforest interior of Samoa.

Who: Undiscovered Destinations

When: 20 Jul 2017 & 19 Jul, 4 Oct 2018

How long: 26 nights

How much: From £9,750 (excl intl flights)



12: Bag a budget Sri Lanka trip

Stilt fishing in Sri Lanka (Dreamstime)

With the travails of the British pound making travel ever more expensive, redress the balance on Fleewinter’s Budget Beating Family Tour to Sri Lanka. Staying in ‘family rooms’ (all together) helps lower costs as you make the most of the Teardrop Isle’s historical and natural sights, kayaking with swimming elephants in Gal Oya NP, trekking tea fields and the hill country around Kandy, and wandering waterfalls around the hill station of Ella. 

Wave goodbye from the south coast, exploring the 16th-century walled fort of Galle and visiting a turtle hatchery and the golden bays of Thalpe and Dickwella, because golden sands and sea views come free.

Who: Fleewinter

When: Flexible dates, Feb–Dec 2017

How long: 14 nights

How much: From £970 (excl intl flights)

 

More Top Trips for 2017

9 extraordinary wildlife encounters you’ll want to book now

6 great journeys to take in 2017

2017’s best trips for festivals and events

2017’s best trips for culture seekers

2017’s best active adventure trips

2017’s best learning trips

 

Main image: On the Silk Road to China (Dreamstime)