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From new flights opening new routes to key historic anniversaries and from notable one off events to long-awaited film releases, World Expeditions chooses their top trips for 2012…
WHY: In 2012 Jordan celebrates the 200-year anniversary since the western world ‘discovered’ Petra, one of the most iconic monuments in the globe, thanks to Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.
BOOK IT: World Expeditions’ Jordan Explorer (8 days) is a compact itinerary blending Jordan’s overwhelming array of historical sites and geographical features. Departs throughout the year, from £950 per person.
WHY: Getting to Salar de Uyuni, the world’s biggest salt flat in the south-west corner of Bolivia, has just become easier, with the launch of new flights that have turned the 12-hour bus ride into a one-hour journey.
BOOK IT: A captivating journey in South America, Best of Bolivia and Peru (19 days) with World Expeditions takes in the varied highlights of the two neighbouring countries. Departs throughout the year, from £1,990 per person.
WHY: 21 December 2012 is the last day on the Mayan Long Count calendar. The end of the world may not come, as some believe, but coincidentally on that date we will enter into ‘The Age of Aquarius’, when the planets line up for the first time in 450 years!
BOOK IT: Highlights to Mexico and Guatemala with World Expeditions (16 days) traces the main archaeological and cultural attractions of Central America, such as the huge Sun and Moon pyramids at Teotihuacan. Departs on 1 January with further departures scheduled for 2012, from £2,190 per person.
WHY: Both British Airways and BMI launched new flights to Morocco this year, heating up the competition with Easyjet and Ryanair and making the North-western African country more accessible than ever before.
BOOK IT: Exclusive with World Expeditions, Morocco Cuisine and Culture (15 days) is a very special gourmet tour of Morocco, escorted by renowned food expert Meera Freeman. Departs on 15 April 2012, from £4,590 per person.
5. MUSTANG, THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
WHY: March 2012 will see 20 years since the ‘forbidden kingdom’ of Mustang opened to the outside world; however, tourism is still limited and heavily regulated, with foreigners having to obtain a special permit to enter.
BOOK IT: Explore with World Expeditions The Kingdom of Mustang (16 days), which preserves some of the last vestiges of traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture. Departs on 1 April, 17 April and 21 September, from £1,990 per person.
WHY: With 80,000 British tourists visiting Vietnam every year, it is a wonder how the two countries were not connected directly… until now, that is! Launching this month by Vietnam Airlines, the flights will link London with Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam’s bustling capital, Hanoi.
BOOK IT: Interact with Vietnam’s northern ethnic minorities, explore national parks and kayak in the dramatic Halong Bay with World Expeditions’ Bike, Hike and Kayak Northern Vietnam (11 days). Departs throughout the year, from £1,090 per person.
7. THE FALKLAND ISLANDS
WHY: Meryl Streep stars as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady (coming out in January), revisiting key events of the recent British history, such as the Falklands War, 30 years since the conflict took place in 1982.
BOOK IT: Discover black-browed albatross sharing their colony with sturdy rockhopper penguins with World Expeditions’ South Atlantic Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula cruise (19 days). Departs on 10 January and 3 November, from $10,750 (£6,925) per person.
8. COSTA RICA
WHY: With foreign visitors doubling in just a decade, it is no surprise that Costa Rica has outgrown some of its airport facilities – but a new US$40 million terminal at Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, the country’s second busiest airport, promises to change all this!
BOOK IT: Cross Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean with World Expeditions’ 18-day Costa Rica Traverse. Departs throughout the year, from £1,990 per person.
WHY: Will they or won’t they? One year on since the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami and Japan is seriously thinking of offering tourists 10,000 free flights in a bid to boost the country’s tourism industry…
BOOK IT: Backroads of Japan (15 days) is World Expeditions’ most popular trip in ‘the Land of the Rising Sun’. Departs on 24 March, 19 May, 6 October and 10 November, from £2,890 per person.
10. NEW ZEALAND
WHY: From the dramatic earthquake at Christchurch to the Rugby World Cup, New Zealand has been in the spotlight throughout this year – and this is expected to continue in 2012 too, with the eagerly awaited release of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit at the end of the year.
BOOK IT: Explore the natural elements of New Zealand on World Expeditions’ luxury 13-day Aotearoa – The Natural Elements small ship cruise. Departs on 16 February, from £3,790 per person (main deck twin share).
11. ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT TREK – 35TH ANNIVERSARY
WHY: Since it opened in 1977 the Annapurna Circuit Trek has become renowned as one of the most spectacular and complete treks in the world. If you are up for a challenge, the next Annapurna 100, Nepal’s original ultra-trail race, takes place on 1 January 2012.
BOOK IT: World Expeditions offers a different take for this classic route, the 16-day Annapurna Mountain Bike. Departs on 30 March, 13 April, 5 October and 19 October, from £1,450 per person.
WHY: It is rapidly changing but you still have a chance to experience the authentic Cuba – still considered by many the Caribbean’s hidden gem!
BOOK IT: Discover Cuba’s contrasting beauty and immerse yourself into the island’s vibrant culture with World Expeditions’ Cuba Adventure (12 days). Departs throughout the year, from £1,390 per person.