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The 7 best trips to YOUR favourite emerging destinations

You rated them as the best emerging travel destinations in the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards 2020. When it's the right time to visit, these are the top tours to take...

Jameh Mosque, Iran (Shutterstock)

1. Stay with nomads in the wilds of Kyrgyzstan

A horse grazing at Song Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan (Shutterstock)

A horse grazing at Song Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan (Shutterstock)

What better way to commune with the incredible landscapes of Kyrgyzstan than by staying in yurts in its alpine heart with YellowWood Adventures.

Wanderlust readers’ voted Kyrgyzstan their favourite emerging destination, and you’ll quickly understand why as you explore the area around its three most beautiful alpine lakes. You’ll stay in yurts beside Issyk-Kul, watch the local eagle hunters or ride horses deep in the Tian Shan Mountains.

Surrounded by mountains - and staying with nomad herders, as they graze their livestock on vast meadows - you’ll experience tranquility like nowhere else in the world. Plus, you'll get to sample Kyrgyzstan's hearty cuisine. 

Trip: Kyrgyzstan Nomad Adventure

Who: YellowWood Adventures

Type: Small group

When: Jun

How long: Eight days

How much: From £1,449 (exc. flights)

2. Discover the colour, charisma and culture of Iran

Jameh Mosque in Isfahan, Iran (Shutterstock)

Jameh Mosque in Isfahan, Iran (Shutterstock)

Join Peregrine for a two-week foray into Iran, one of the world’s most fascinating and lesser-visited countries.

Mysterious and unknown, Iran has always been alluring to the most adventurous of travellers. From breathtaking mosques, stepped hillside villages, cleverly-designed wind towers (badgirs) and bazaars full of colour and aroma, you’ll experience all of its charms on this trip.

A special dinner with a Zoroastrian family, dining in a garden of pomegranate and tamarind trees in Nartitee, is an undoubted highlight. And your local guide will help you uncover the layers of Iran’s chequered history, take you to the key sites, and help you find the bazaars and restaurants only locals know about.

Trip: Ancient Persia In Depth

Who: Peregrine

Type: Small group

When: Mar to May & Aug to Nov

How long: 13 days

How much: From £2,285 (exc. flights)

3. Meet Uganda’s wildlife superstars

A mountain gorilla walking through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda (Shutterstock)

A mountain gorilla walking through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda (Shutterstock)

This small wildlife-watching tour with Wildlife Worldwide has been designed to maximise opportunities to admire Uganda's remarkable fauna, track gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and chimpanzees at Kibale National Park.

Uganda won bronze in the Emerging Destinations category of the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards 2020, partly because it has almost everything you could want in a wildlife destination. 

Its habitats vary considerably between the extremes of the misty, undulating montane forest and the wide open plains of the savannah, meaning the wildlife is abundant and diverse.

There are gorillas and chimps (of course), as well as tree-climbing lions at Ishasha and white rhino in Ziwa. What more could a wildlife enthusiast ask for?

Trip: Uganda’s Unforgettable Wildlife

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Small group

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 12 days

How much: £4,395 (exc. flights)

4. Experience the high-altitude highlights of Bolivia

Incredible reflections at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia (Shutterstock)

Incredible reflections at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia (Shutterstock)

Explore the best of Bolivia on this adventure through lively cities, otherworldy scenery and colourful market towns.

From the high altitude thrills of bustling La Paz, through the history of Potosi, and on to the surreal salt flats of Salar de Uyuni - there's a vibrant mix of adventures and activities that deliver both excitement and intrigue. 

Highlights include the bustling markets in La Paz, the moon-like landscapes of Valle de la Luna and the white-washed splendour of Sucre. The 4x4 ride through the salty scenery of the Salar de Uyuni lives up to the hype, as one of South America's natural wonders, too.

Trip: Bolivia Highlights

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Regular departures throughout the year

How long: 13 days

How much: From £1,185 (exc. flights)

5. Go wild in Tajikistan

A lake in the Fan Mountains, Tajikistan (Shutterstock)

A lake in the Fan Mountains, Tajikistan (Shutterstock)

Tajikistan is ideal for an outdoor adventure, and you’ll experience all of its wild and rugged charms on this Silk Road adventure with Dragoman.

You’ll travel across high mountain passes to remote villages and traditional communities, and get a taste of the semi-nomadic lives of the local people and striking mountain landscape they call home.

You'll experience the country's two mountain ranges: the Pamir and Fann Mountains, where you’ll trek and wild camp by the beautiful and iridescent Bibijan and Alaudin Lakes.

In towns like Osh and Khorog, you’ll explore well-stocked markets and bazaars, marvelling at the range of spices and merchandise on offer.

Trip: Tajikistan Explorer

Who: Dragoman

Type: Overland

When: Jun & Aug

How long: 17 days

How much: From £2,050 + US$400 kitty (exc. flights)

6. Travel the Silk Road in style

Sunset in Samarkand (Shutterstock)

Sunset in Samarkand (Shutterstock)

The Silk Road countries of Central Asia have certainly captured the imagination of our readers, and what better way to experience their majesty than aboard the Orient Silk Road Express with Regent Holidays?

Travelling across four countries, passing mountains and taking in some of the most important cities on the legendary Silk Road, this luxurious train trip gives you a unique insight in to Central Asia's gems.

With no internal flights, no long bus rides on dusty roads and no hauling your luggage from city to city, you can sit back and let the magic of the Silk Road wash over you. From Almaty in Kazakhstan to blue-tiled Uzbekistan, through to the spectacular mountain scenery of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan - breathtaking landscapes and centuries-old cities are seemingly never-ending. 

The carriages on this privately chartered train have up to nine compartments, each sleeping either two or four travellers. All you have to do is choose from Habibi, Ali Baba, Aladdin or Kalif class, and watch the scenery roll gently by.

Trip: Silk Road Landscapes By Private Train

Who: Regent Holidays

Type: Tailor-made

When: Sep

How long: 16 days

How much: From £5,195 (exc. flights)

7. Explore two winners in one: Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

What does the Pamir Highway have in store? (Shutterstock)

What does the Pamir Highway have in store? (Shutterstock)

Here’s your chance to visit two of Reader Travel Award winners in one: an epic adventure through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with Undiscovered Destinations.

It’s a journey that will take you through the mountainous heart of Central Asia, along the legendary Pamir Highway, between Dushanbe and Bishkek. You’ll explore ancient Silk Road forts, stay as guests in some of the most remote communities on the planet, and hike amidst stunning scenery.

This is an incredible adventure in a wild and untamed land that will find its way into your soul and never leave.

Trip: Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan: Along The Pamir Highway

Who: Undiscovered Destinations

Type: Small group

When: Jul

How long: 16 days

How much: From £2,445 (exc. flights)

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