Is travel one of your resolutions this New Year? Audley, a luxury brand which specializes in completely tailor-made journeys around the world, may be the key to satiating your renewed globetrotting gusto.
Whether you have a Bucket List or want to hit up all of the latest top spots taking over your social feeds, there should definitely be some method to your wanderlust madness. Based on traveler trends, special events, improved transportation and infrastructure — and new ways to experience old favorites — Audley’s 2018 list is a month-by-month look at where to go this year, when, and why.
Here’s where Audley suggests to go every month in 2018 to ensure that you make the most out of those New Year’s international intentions:
January: Wild Elephant Sightings in Thailand!
January is when Thailand is at its coolest and driest. It’s also when the chances of seeing an elephant are higher, as they are actively out and on the hunt for water. Should you venture off the beaten track to Kui Buri National Park, Audley suggests you’ll have the best chance to see wild elephants in Thailand and gain some exclusive insight into how they still survive. Available tours there also support the community through the employment of locals and funding for essential community projects.
February: Support Gorilla Conservation in Rwanda!
Move over Botswana; Rwanda is sweeping in as Africa’s luxury destination! Not one, but two One & Only properties, as well as a high end Wilderness Safari Lodge, have already helped the country attract the cream of the traveling crop. But maybe you’ve heard about an increase in the gorilla permit cost? Audley explains that news of doubling gorilla trekking permit fees in 2017 made some rethink Rwanda as a vacation destination, but this may actually be great news for you. Fewer, higher paying travelers ensures sustainability of conservation initiatives… and a greatly enhanced visitor experience.
March: Bask in the Southern Beaches of Tasmania!
March is in like a … Tasmanian devilish delight. Head here this month for the best multi-day hiking tours and scenery in Australia. Stay in style while learning about the history of the former-penitentiary island at the MACq 01, a new 5 star hotel where each room tells a story about a certain characteristic that impacted Hobart history. What’s more, Tasmania is a manageable self-drive vacation destination that offers wildlife, scenery, great food and drink at your own pace. And March is the ideal time to visit and spend some time at the beaches when island temperatures are at their warmest.
April: Experience a Blossoming Bhutan!
April in Bhutan is ideal: dry with a gradually increasing temperature. In late Spring, you’ll be stunned with a flood of color in the valleys as the famed rhododendrons commence their spectacular bloom. And just in time for your visit, five new Six Senses properties are opening to offer more world-class service and thoughtful immersion in the local culture. Plus, Bhutan is a great base for a multi-point trip in the region!
May: Take in the Rural Countryside in Yunnan, China!
New direct flights are being added between the US and China all the time, driving prices as low as $450 round trip on several low cost carriers, so you’ll have more funding for your explorations! Yunnan Province, in the South West corner of China, is a great place to start. An escape from the nation’s big modern cities, the province offers a truly Chinese experience, with unique culture, scenic vistas, and a glimpse at Chinese rural life. Yunnan is actually a year-round destination, but the area is most beautiful when its colorful flowers are in full bloom in May. Audley tempts you to make the most out of your trip by staying in the small village of Xihou just outside of Dali. Here, you can visit the local market, hike through a nearby tea plantation, learn the traditional Zhoucheng Tie-Dye craft, and stay in a traditional Bai style courtyard hotel.
June: Walk Through History in Belfast, Ireland!
2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Belfast Peace agreement, which ended 30 years of political conflict. Audley recommends you learn about The Troubles on a black cab tour of the city, led by a local cabbie who can share first-hand accounts of life in Belfast during this period. But after your ride through history, take time on June’s long days to marvel at Belfast’s present by soaking up the city’s vibrant atmosphere and burgeoning food and drink scene. Fan of Game of Thrones? Visit a filming location as you anxiously await Season 8. And definitely explore the mythical Giant’s Causeway, 40,000 or so of towering hexagonal basalt columns that have long inspired Celtic folklore.
July: Visit High Altitude Monasteries in Ladakh, India!
Audley tells us Ladakh, India is an ideal destination for July, with warm weather and little rain to accompany the Himalayan scenery. Its India travel specialists recommend spending time in Leh where it is easy to immerse yourself in the Tibetan Buddhist culture by exploring the many monasteries dotting the area’s lakes and high-altitude deserts. Getting to the monasteries is just part of the adventure! During the summer vacation months, Ladekh is one of the only areas in India that escapes monsoon rains, making it an ideal place to explore in July. Audley recommends staying at the 5-star hotel The Ultimate Traveling Camp, which offers multiple luxury camps that guests can alternate between.
August: Seek Elusive Jaguar sightings in Brazil!
This year, Brazil begins issuing e-visas for U.S. and Canadian citizens, so say goodbye to pre-scheduled appointments and inconvenient embassy visits. Your quick online application can be processed in about 72 hours! Audley suggests you take advantage of this newfound ease and head to Pantanal, the Amazonian wetland located in south Brazil. Jaguar sightings are becoming more prevalent, an over 90% likelihood, especially in August. And a new property, Villa Amazonia, a sister property of Anavilhanas Lodge, opened in the historic district of Manaus just last year, which is proving to be a hit with discerning travelers.
September: Find Hidden Architectural Gems in Northern Peru!
Talk about a destination to watch this year! A new direct flight within Peru’s borders links Cuzco in the south to the northern city of Trujillo, allowing travelers to see so many of the key spots easily within one trip. September is a great time to visit Peru since it experiences little rainfall during the summer and fall months and there are also fewer crowds. Audley’s top tips for Peru in 2018 include visiting Keulap, a lesser known pre-Incan fortress with monumental aspects rivaled in size and grandeur only by Machu Pico. Located where the mountains meet the jungle, Keulap sits in the midst of pristine cloud forest adjacent to the start of the Amazon rainforest. The structures constructed by the Chachapoyas civilization are hundreds of round stone houses, formed from millions of cubic feet of stone. The impressive structure, which wasn’t rediscovered until 1843, is estimated to have taken over 200 years to complete, and is now easily accessible by a recently completed cable car — meaning the site will soon be on the radar of international visitors. Get there soon before it’s on everyone’s travel list!
October: Island Hop in Indonesia!
Audley’s Southeast Asia specialists are anticipating a boom in popularity in Eastern Bali in 2018 and suggest travelers should opt for multi-day tours in Sideman and De Klumpu focused on responsible travel and traditional local life. These combine perfectly with the coastal town of Candidasa where Audley proposes a choice of luxury accommodations and great touring. Visitors might also like to stay in pure luxury at the conclusion of their island hopping at the new Bawah Island – and exciting private escape for the seriously wealthy in a remote corner of Indonesia that recently opened with just 35 eco luxe rooms.
November: Safari Like Never Before in Tanzania!
Western Tanzania is a great choice for the more experienced safari traveler. Katavi National Park has only three camps – meaning it’s basically just you and the wilderness. For the best chimpanzee trekking experience on earth, Audley likes Mahale Mountains National Park, a dense jungle cradled by Lake Tanganyika – which easily rivals Uganda’s Impenetrable Forest. Adding to its intrigue, the region’s habituated chimpanzee population has been studded by researchers since the ’50s. Short rains in November mean superb birdwatching and great value accommodation. In November, Tanzania plays backdrop to one of the great wildlife spectacles: the annual migration of over two million wildebeests from the Serengeti plains to the grasslands of the Masai Mara.
December: Journey to the End of the World in Patagonia!
The 200 berth Ventus Australis launches this year, and is scheduled to sail itineraries between Ushuaia in Argentina and Punta Arenas in Chile via Cape Horn. The modern expedition cruise ship will make clients to the ‘uttermost end of the Earth’ and allow them to explore places that less than a thousand people visit each year. Crusiing in December promises warmer temperatures as well as less wind, making it easier to warm up at the end of a full day. The Fjords of Tierra del Fuego expedition follows the fjords of the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego showcasing the stunning, natural beauty of Patagonia and includes visits to wildlife rich Ainsworth Bay, Pia Glacier and Glacier Alley, as well as mystical Wulaia Bay and the legendary Cape Horn. Patagonia Explorer calls at Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay before continuing its cruise down the Beagle Channel. It will visit several glaciers that guard the southern flank of the Fuegian Archipelago, before entering the legendary Strait of Magellan and finally calling at Isla Magdalena’s penguin colony.