Here at Jacada, our bucket list grows day-in day-out. With the arrival of a new year just around the corner, we’re getting excited about some of the world’s up and coming destinations.
We asked our expert travel designers where they’d send their nearest and dearest next year, and this is what they came up with.
From off-the-grid national parks in Rwanda to all-round vacations in Sri Lanka, this is our list of the best places to travel in 2020.
Kigali & Akagera National Park, Rwanda
Rwanda is making its mark on the luxury tourist trail, with opportunities beyond gorilla trekking catering to the diverse needs of different travellers. From new eco-friendly hotels opening in Kigali to revitalised national parks, Rwanda is sure to be one of 2020’s hottest new destinations. Our favourite new addition to Rwanda’s portfolio though is Akagera National Park. Here, savannah, woodland, wetland and lakes come together to create a truly awe-inspiring landscape. Although gorillas can’t be spotted here, you’ll be rewarded with chances to spot the Big Five. Visiting this park is a great way to support conservation efforts too, as the local authority has reduced poaching to an all-time low and introduced 18 eastern black rhinos back into the park.
In Kigali, one of Africa’s cleanest and safest cities, there’s plenty of opportunity to go beyond wildlife. From local women’s cooperatives making incredible jewellery to weaving in and out of Rwanda’s iconic milk bars, Kigali offers an unrivalled insight into this country’s African heritage. One of our favourite properties to stay in whilst there is The Retreat, Rwanda’s first solar-powered hotel. Every material used across the hotel is sustainably sourced, and the property runs a fantastic programme of community-led excursions. For those seeking an alternative African experience, Rwanda is a must-visit for 2020.
Morocco is an intoxicating fusion of vibrant medinas, breathtaking mountains and awe-inspiring deserts; it should be on everyone’s travel lists. 2020 is an exciting year for Morocco’s cosmopolitan city Casablanca, as a new direct flight route is opening, connecting Philadelphia straight to this vibrant metropolis. Casablanca is one of those cities that lets you really get under the skin of a destination, and it’s the perfect place to explore Morocco like a local. Architecture buffs will feel at home, with Moorish structures and French colonial buildings blending seamlessly into one another amongst the city streets.
The city’s culture doesn’t stop at architecture though. From graffiti exhibitions at La Villa des Arts to jewellery displays at Le Musée de La Fondation, Casablanca is bursting with contemporary arts and culture. Casablanca’s food scene is perhaps what sets it apart from Marrakech the most. Endless new restaurants are appearing alongside the city’s traditional souks, offering a delicious high-end dining experience to anyone who visits. The city’s seaside boulevard, La Corniche, is awash with high-end eateries and is wonderfully reminiscent of the French Riviera.
Unmistakably Australian, South Australia is a vast expanse of wild Outback, charming wine valleys and pristine beaches. This Australian state has something to suit every type of traveller, from big cities to sweeping foothills. In Adelaide, Victorian architecture brings a regal feel to the capital’s streets and the waves of Glenelg Beach are ideal for surfing enthusiasts. For wine lovers, the Barossa Valley offers lush green valleys and bountiful vineyards. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, the neighbouring Flinders Ranges are characterised by remarkable mountains, expansive wilderness and incredible Aboriginal culture.
Within such a picturesque setting, it’s no surprise that local lodges are doing their bit for conservation too. One of our favourites is Arkaba, an exclusive outback refuge dedicated to conservation. Set amongst 60,000 acres of private wildlife conservancy and with limited to no phone access, Arkaba is the perfect place to immerse yourself in your surroundings. Guests here can spend their time spotting local wildlife, lounging on the verandah or helping out with one of the lodge’s many conservation projects. With new luxury lodge Sequoia set to join Arkaba in September 2020, South Australia is becoming one of the best places in the world to reconnect with nature.
Widely known for its vast expanse of unspoiled wilderness and diverse landscapes, Tasmania hosts fascinating endemic species that draw wildlife enthusiasts from far and wide. Home to 19 national parks, the wildlife on offer here is extremely diverse and ranges from sea life to the iconic Tasmanian devil. This independent island is also great for eco-conscious travellers, with the majority of properties designed with the local environment in mind.
Over half of Tasmania is a designated national park, a truly impressive statistic given that the state covers an astonishing 334 different land masses. With so much wilderness, there’s a myriad of ways you can immerse yourself in the expansive landscapes. Whether hiking, mountain biking or kayaking is your preferred mode of transport, Tasmania is filled with opportunities for adventure. Beyond adventure, Tasmania offers a wealth of opportunities to learn about the island’s rich heritage. Hobart, the state capital, was founded in 1804 and is the epitome of ‘old meets new.’ One of our favourite places to mingle with the locals is Salamanca Market, where you’ll find local produce, artisan crafts and incredible antiques.
Often overlooked, Laos offers the charms of Asia without the tourist crowds. Ancient Buddhist temples sit pretty alongside elegant classical buildings, against a stunning backdrop of breathtaking natural beauty. Laos is perfect for adventurers, with opportunities to kayak up the Mekong river and trek to spectacular waterfalls just some of the incredible experiences on offer. Heading out on a jungle trek is a sure-fire way of falling in love with this overlooked Asian wonder, but the country’s sleepy cities are also worth a visit. Sleepy Vientiane delights with colonial-era mansions and fiery sunsets, whilst Luang Prabang’s gilded Buddhist temples are the perfect place to find calm.
For a unique perspective of Laos’ capital Luang Prabang, rise early to witness hundreds of monks during their early morning devotions. Then, head to the UNESCO-protected city centre to visit royal temples and palaces. Despite its long-standing Buddhist heritage, there’s more to this ancient city than just temples. We recommend paying a visit to the bookstore Big Brother Mouse Project in the heart of the city, where all funds are put towards providing educational projects in disadvantaged communities with books.
What’s not to love about Sri Lanka? Incredible cuisine, fascinating heritage, beautiful coastline and friendly locals make this island an all-round destination. If you’re interested in finding out more about the island’s Buddhist heritage, head to the ancient city of Kandy, which is filled with ornate temples. Journey through the Cultural Triangle & climb Sigiriya for sweeping views over the laid-back countryside, or learn about the ancient tea traditions in Tea Country.
Once you’ve soaked up a wealth of knowledge, kick back and relax along the beautiful coastline. Before you hit the beach though, don’t forget to sneak a peek of some native wildlife in one of the country’s many national parks. With friendly locals keen to introduce you to the wonders of the country in every city, the wonderful people of Sri Lanka are sure to make a lasting impression. Whether you’re a foodie, wildlife lover or simply want to indulge in a spot of relaxation, Sri Lanka is a must-visit in 2020.
Sicily is far from an unpopular destination, but there are still ways of discovering the island’s little known gems. In Palermo, Arabesque architecture meets Byzantine mosaics, creating a simply wonderful city to stroll through. Sicily’s largest city, the gentle buzz of Palermo’s streets is distinctively Italian. Citrus-filled cloisters, baroque churches and artisan side streets are the perfect places to get lost in. You’re sure to remember Palermo for years to come, and even more so if you stay in Rocco Forte’s Villa Igiea hotel. This grand hotel is opening in mid-2020, with the iconic palazzo’s views set to satisfy even the most discerning of travellers.
For those looking to get in touch with Sicily’s history, head to Syracuse. Home to the ancient cities of Archimedes, Selinunte and Agrigento, Syracuse provides a fascinating window into how the Ancient Greeks lived on the island. With endless facades of gold, this city becomes mesmerising at sunrise and sunset. Once the largest city of the ancient world, today Syracuse is a laid-back spot in which to get off the normal tourist trail. One of this city’s most stunning hotels, Des Etrangers, is set to reopen midway through 2020 too, so there’s no better time to visit this Italian island.
A great year-round destination, the United Kingdom is a perennial on ‘where to visit’ lists. That doesn’t mean it’s any less worthy of its place on ours though. Historic cities, picturesque villages, majestic country houses and years of heritage and culture make this island a truly diverse place to visit. From discovering Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon to hiking through the Scottish Highlands, the UK has it all.
With 2020 marking 120 years of The National Trust, it’s the perfect time to explore the United Kingdom’s countryside cottages and stately homes. In royal Berkshire, stay at the iconic Cliveden House. Built in 1666 by the Duke of Buckingham, this historic Grade I-listed building is set amongst 376 acres of verdant National Trust Grounds. In Scotland, head to National Trust protected Dunkeld village, whose brightly coloured houses were originally built in the early 1700s and recently restored to provide homes for local people.
Chile is synonymous with impressive dramatic landscapes, and the incredible Aisen Region is no different. A fusion of dense evergreen forest, sparkling lakes and expansive ice fields, journeying to Aisen feels like journeying to the world’s end. Perfect for thrill-seekers, this untouched natural landscape has barely been touched by human presence.
Despite being the third largest region in Chile, this hidden wilderness is the country’s least populated area. Many of the hotels here are only accessible via foot or boat, so adventure travellers will feel at home. The secluded nature of the region’s properties also means that you’re guaranteed privacy, no matter what time of year you’re visiting. There’s plenty of ways to explore the area’s natural beauty, but one of the best is from a boat. On a boat, kayaking or canoeing trip from your hotel, you’ll be able to witness the area’s diverse wildlife and bask in the glory of simply being in such untouched wilderness.
North East Brazil
Often overlooked by holidaymakers, North East Brazil is perhaps one of the country’s most stunning regions. The region has not yet been spoiled by tourism, and its year-round sunshine means it’s great to visit at any time of year. From cities steeped in heritage to untouched landscapes ripe for trekking, there’s something for everyone here. This undiscovered paradise is almost like a country in itself, and it even has its very own cuisine.
One of the region’s major cities, Salvador da Bahia, is the capital of Afro-Brazilian culture. African drumming can be heard as soon as you step foot in the city, and the colourful buildings lining the streets add to the overall vibrancy. The city centre is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, paying homage to the fact that the city was the first slave market in the New World. After you’ve delved into the region’s heritage, trek through Chapada Diamantina National Park or simply relax on the turquoise shores of Morro de São Paulo.