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10 trips to YOUR top countries, rated in the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards 2020

You named them your top countries in our Reader Travel Awards 2020, and these sensational trips are set to show off their best sides: vast Namibian landscapes, rural Vietnam and NZ's winding roads...

Boys riding on a wooden bridge in Vietnam (Shutterstock)

1. Experience the best of Namibia, your gold winner

Damaraland in Namibia (Shutterstock)

Damaraland in Namibia (Shutterstock)

Wild oceans, vast deserts, towering dunes and incredible wildlife – Namibia is jam-packed with once-in-a-lifetime adventures. If you want to experience them all, then this 15-day trip through the country’s classic sights with Peregrine is for you.

Travelling down the coast from Windhoek, you’ll drop by Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s premier game-viewing destinations, and Damaraland, an otherworldly place of rock sculptures, petrified forest and ancient rock paintings. The iconic dunes of Sossusvlei are next, including an unforgettable climb up Dune 45.

After a night in unique accommodation among granite boulders of Fish River Canyon, you’ll drift down the Orange River in a canoe, reminiscing about all the incredible sights you’ve seen.

Trip: Classic Namibia

Who: Peregrine

Type: Small group

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: From £3,855 (exc. flights)

2. Walk the line in Peru, your silver winner

A pack of llama in Cordillera Vilcanota (Shutterstock)

A pack of llama in Cordillera Vilcanota (Shutterstock)

Walk the line dividing the highland empire of the Incas from the steamy jungles of the Amazon on this breathtaking trek through the Vilcanota range with Journey Latin America.

The five-day trek will take you below the north face of Ausangate, the highest snow-draped mountain in the region. En route, you'll cross three high-altitude passes – with views of gigantic glaciers, icy lakes and jagged peaks – and pass by isolated farmsteads and traditional indigenous villages where you’ll stay in remote, but comfortable lodges.

Trip: Active Peru: The Ausangate Trek

Who: Journey Latin America

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible dates throughout the year

How long: 11 days

How much: From £2,351 (exc. flights)

3. Relax into Laos, your bronze winner

Monks receiving alms in Luang Prabang (Shutterstock)

Monks receiving alms in Luang Prabang (Shutterstock)

Experience the very best of Laos on this tailor made adventure from the hills of the north to the sleepy capital, Vientiane, with Holiday Architects.

Starting with some of the best trekking in South-East Asia in the country’s little visited northern provinces, you’ll down the mighty Mekong to the sleepy colonial ambience of Luang Prabang, a town Wanderlust readers have always rated highly. The food here is excellent, which may explain Luang Prabang’s enduring popularity.

Your journey ends in Vientiane, after an to get up-close to the dramatic limestone karst mountains nearby.

Trip: Essential Laos

Who: Holiday Architects

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 11 days

How much: From £2,500 (inc. flights)

4. Take a road trip, kiwi-style

Winding road along Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook National Park (Shutterstock)

Winding road along Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook National Park (Shutterstock)

Hit the road for a breathtakingly beautiful 15-night self-drive adventure through both of NZ’s islands with New Zealand Sky.

Beginning in Auckland and ending in Christchurch, you’ll be dazzled by the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, the awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Cook National Park, and the bounteous vineyards of the Marlborough region.

There are plenty of activities to entice you out of your vehicle, including whale watching in Kaikoura, adventure activities in Queenstown, and an unforgettable ride on the TranzAlpine train.

Trip: North To South Explorer Self-Drive

Who: New Zealand Sky

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 16 days

How much: From £3,299 (inc. flights)

5. In the pink in Japan

Himeji Castle during cherry blossom season (Shutterstock)

Himeji Castle during cherry blossom season (Shutterstock)

Eagerly awaited by both locals and visitors alike, Japan’s cherry blossom season is when the country is at its most beguiling. With the season lasting but a month or two every spring, this tailor-made itinerary ensures that you see the blossoms at their best in Tokyo, Hakone, Mount Fuji and Kyoto. 

Tokyo’s Ueno Park is one of the most popular places for hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) in the capital. Shinjuku Park also has hundreds of cherry blossom trees, and from Asakusa you can take a boat trip down the Sumida river which is lined with sakura (cherry blossom).

From Tokyo, you’ll venture out to other cherry blossom hot spots. Kamikura, only an hour from Tokyo, offers the chance to see the bronze dai-butsu (Giant Buddha), framed by sakura. The national park in Hakone is criss-crossed with steep mountains and tumbling rivers, all doused in cherry blossom pink. It also offers you best chance to photograph shy Mount Fuji, with a bloom or two in frame. Finally, Kyoto, the ancient capital – already beautiful – looks extra radiant covered in cherry blossoms.

Trip: Japan Blossom Season

Who: Wexas Travel

Type: Tailor-made

When: Mar to Apr

How long: 10 days

How much: £3,450 (inc. flights)

6. Witness a wildlife bonanza in Tanzania

Cheetahs watching prey in Serengeti National Park (Shutterstock)

Cheetahs watching prey in Serengeti National Park (Shutterstock)

Witness Africa’s most diverse wildlife hot spot on this eight-day trip through the Serengeti National Park with Intrepid.

The abundance of wildlife in the Serengeti is staggering. Stretching north to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west, the park has the highest concentration of large mammals on the planet - including 2,500 lions.

You’ll visit remote communities and camp in little-visited parts of the park, so a sense of adventure is a must. You’ll also travel through the Ngorongoro Crater, a chance to spot the endangered black rhinoceros.

Trip: Serengeti Trail

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: Eight days

How much: From £1,009 (exc. flights)

7. Meet Canada’s incredible grizzly bears

A grizzly bear in Canada (Shutterstock)

A grizzly bear in Canada (Shutterstock)

Hungry after their winter hibernation, grizzly bears descend on Glendale Cove on Knight Inlet to feast upon the sedge grasses, mussels and barnacles that thrive here. Using the renowned Knight Inlet Lodge as your base, you will encounter these majestic animals at close range, from both boat and land.

The setting is unmatched. Knight Inlet is a spectacular fjord carved by glaciers in British Columbia's coastal mountains, a sight you’ll truly appreciate as you arrive by seaplane. An experienced naturalist is on hand to guide your encounters with the bears. 

A visit in autumn will be rewarded with one of nature’s greatest spectacles, when the bears feed on salmon as they return to the Glendale River for spawning.

Trip: Grizzly Bear Adventure at Knight Inlet

Who: Discover The World

When: May to Oct

How long: Two nights

How much: From £1,038 (exc. flights)

8. Take a classic Kenyan safari

Wildebeest during the Great Migration (Shutterstock)

Wildebeest during the Great Migration (Shutterstock)

Kenya is classic safari country, a nation of vast grasslands and acacia trees that inspired both Out of Africa and Born Free. This is your chance to write your own Kenyan safari tale.

Whether you're exploring Lake Nakuru National Park – the best small park in East Africa – or the iconic Masai Mara, memorable wildlife viewing is guaranteed. 

Time your visit to the Mara right and you’ll witness one of the greatest sights of the natural world: millions of wildebeest and zebras crossing a crocodile-infested river on their epic migration through the savannah.

Trip: Classic Kenya Safari: Premium

Who: Exodus

Type: Small group

When: Jul to Mar

How long: Seven days

How much: £1,949 (exc. flights)

9. Cycle through Vietnam’s rural heart

Boys riding on a wooden bridge in Vietnam (Shutterstock)

Boys riding on a wooden bridge in Vietnam (Shutterstock)

Ride through the heart of rural Vietnam as you follow the Ho Chi Minh Highway from Hanoi to Hue on this 10-day cycle tour with KE Adventure Travel.

It’s a journey in tune with the slower pace of life in this part of Vietnam, and one that will bring you into contact with local ethnic groups like the Hmong and Dao. The landscape is varied and spectacular, from the incredible karst landscapes of the Truong Son Mountains to the riverside city of Hue, Vietnam’s UNESCO-listed Imperial City.

Passing through jungle, farmland and numerous traditional villages, this is a journey guaranteed to put you in contact with authentic Vietnam.

Trip: Hanoi to Hue on the Ho Chi Minh Highway

Who: KE Adventure Travel

Type: Small group

When: Nov to Jan, Mar to Apr & Sep to Dec

How long: 11 days

How much: From £1,925 (exc. flights)

10. Search for tigers in India

A tiger in India (Shutterstock)

A tiger in India (Shutterstock)

Go in search of India’s tigers and leopards in style. Staying in two of India’s finest safari lodges, Banjaar Tola and Mahua Kothi, you’ll venture into Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks with expert guides in search of these magnificent big cats.

Other creatures abound here, too. Kanha National Park is home to sloth bears, spotted deer, chital, wild pig, black buck and the endangered ant-eating pangolin. There’s an incredible array of birds too, with over 200 species recorded. Tick them off and compare notes in your elegant tented suite or while sipping G&Ts beside the beautifully situated outdoor pool.

Trip: Tigers of Madhya Pradesh

Who: Wexas Travel

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 10 days

How much: From £3,995 (inc. flights)

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