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Jacada Picks: Our Travel Designers’ Top Destinations

Here at Jacada, we’ve all got that unrelenting wanderlust, but each one of us has our favourite destination where unforgettable memories were made. Here are the Jacada Travel Designers’ top travel picks.

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Torres del Paine, CHILE

“For me, there is nowhere as dramatic as Patagonia. The crunching glaciers, vast swathes of land and giddying peaks all combine to create a truly humbling landscape; one that is best explored with a pair of hiking boots. My happiest memories are hiking the western trails of Torres del Paine, in southern Chile. In front of the three-pronged Grey Glacier, I decided I had to help others explore this part of the world.”

George Warren, Director of Travel Design

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The Puna, ARGENTINA

“As a fairly seasoned traveller, it’s hard for me to find places that make me feel that same sense of wonder and discovery that I felt the first time I set foot abroad. But this relatively unknown corner of Argentina took me by surprise, when I visited it last year.  The geological and scenic diversity of the Puna merits a photo at every turn; vast reflective salt flats, giant meringue-shaped pumice stones, volcanic mountains every colour of the rainbow, with vicuña, guanaco and flamingo encounters along the way. And the best thing is, you’re likely to have it all to yourself; at least until everyone else finds out about it.”

Ciara Owens, Senior Latin America Travel Designer

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Mnemba Island, ZANZIBAR

“Sugar-white sandy beaches, turquoise blue seas, and gin clear visibility for diving, combined with immaculate yet discrete service and a ‘no news, no shoes’ vibe, makes private Mnemba Island in Zanzibar my favourite destination to relax, unwind, spend quality time with my family and enjoy world-class diving.”

Jonny Humphreys, Africa Travel Designer

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Mana Pools, ZIMBABWE

“When I was working in the townships of South Africa, I met an Afrikaans chap who loved the bush as much as I did. He wanted me to help plan an overland trip to Mana Pools, where he’d always wanted to go, and the stories got me excited; a few weeks later we were wangling our way across the Beitbridge border. I had also recruited a friend and his family, so we all made our way up Zimbabwe, stopping at the incredibly wild Hwange National Park and to swim in the Chinhoyi Caves along the way. Mana Pools is like a scene from Jurassic Park. When you stop at the top of the Zambezi escarpment and look out over the Lower Zambezi area, you really get the feeling that this is Africa the way it always was. Elephants walking between the tents, being attacked by a hippo in the river – and surviving due to the ranger shooting the water around me – and chasing honey badgers through the camp, made that trip my best safari yet.”

Byron Thomas, Head of Africa Safari Design 

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Oaxaca, MEXICO

“I could actually picture myself living in Oaxaca. I love the city’s beauty and charm, with so many plazas to explore. One of my favourite memories is of getting up early one morning and heading to the food market where the day was already in full swing with lots of hot chocolate going round. While I was there, it felt like I was in Mexico‘s creative heart, where you can find pockets of artistic energy everywhere, from intricate recipes to the beautiful architecture, and of course the local handicrafts. The city’s people have kept their ancient traditions, and indigenous communities are encouraged to retain their way of life; a sign that the state is proud of this heritage. The mountainous backdrop is enticing too, and you can explore it by hiking in the nearby cloud forest. I would love to return to Oaxaca to see even more, and to try more of the excellent food that the region takes so much pride in.”

Jen Richt, Travel Designer

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Okavango Delta, BOTSWANA

“The absolute remoteness of Botswana‘s Okavango Delta is overwhelmingly wonderful. In a pristine water camp, you forget all your urban stresses and unwind as you tune in to the environment, with its animal calls, birdsong and occasionally, total silence. Wildlife is king here, and with very few people the game drives are highly rewarding; the animals seem fearless, so it’s possible to get up close for some epic photographs. In the Moremi area, I’ve witnessed incredible lion action; most notably, a pride of seven engaging with a 60-strong buffalo herd, trying to reach their young calves that were in the middle. This went on for over three hours, until the sun went down in a typically dramatic fashion. Being able to safari by both land and water is simply wonderful, and there are some of the best guides I’ve ever experienced. Once you’ve seen the game that you came for, you can enjoy being in a motor-boat, powering down hippo channels, and stopping to look at the tiny, colourful frogs and incredible birdlife. The Delta is full of wonderful surprises, so it’s easy to see how it’s achieved world heritage status. I can’t wait to go back.”

Tessa van der Walt, Senior Safari Designer

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Easter Island, CHILE

“I like the mystery of Easter Island, with its  unique culture and the history of the Rapa Nui people. I am fascinated by the tales of the short ears and long ears tribes, and the Birdman, as well as the wooden Rongorongo; an early form of writing. It’s interesting that the people there were able to find the material and the workshop to create the body, hat-like pukao, and eyes of the island’s Moai statues. You can even see how they create the Moai step-by-step. In my opinion, this is the most unique place in the world.”

Jobi Chan, Expert Travel Designer 

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Choco Andean Cloud Forest, ECUADOR

Ecuador really does have everything and I love the entire country, but my favourite place is the Choco Andean Cloud Forest; about a three-hour drive from Quito. The forest is home to my favorite bird, the stunning hummingbird, and at Mashpi Lodge you can watch the birds at dawn with an expert guide, while enjoying a hot drink on the roof of the lodge. The wildlife is abundant here from tarantulas to butterflies, and the changing light and cloud cover throughout the day is really unique, making time here very special. Unfortunately the forest has declined due to logging, but we are really lucky to still have it.”

Emily Opie, Latin America Travel Designer

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Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA

Phnom Penh often gets overlooked by visitors to Cambodia in favour of Siem Reap and the iconic temples of Angkor. However, the capital was a real highlight for me on my travels through this incredible country. Learning about Cambodia’s harrowing recent history under the Khmer Rouge dictatorship was incredibly moving, but this sense of sadness contrasted sharply with the people I met during my time in this wonderful city. I was struck by how friendly, engaging and positive they were, and I was made to feel more welcome here than anywhere else I’ve visited. The city’s vibrant riverside and narrow backstreets are packed with bustling markets and tiny restaurants and bars, and the intriguing mix of traditional Khmer buildings and crumbling French colonial architecture gives the city a unique charm. I always encourage people to go to Phnom Penh, as I’m certain they will fall in love with it, just as I did.”

Rachel Beck, South East Asia Travel Designer

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Bagan, MYANMAR

Myanmar is a country in the process of an extraordinary transformation, with people who retain their religious beliefs in a charming and engaging way. Their temples are almost like little neighbourhoods, and Buddhists go to these temples not only to worship, but also for afternoon naps and casual gatherings. On a hot day, it would be easy to spend a whole afternoon there, just watching locals as they share food, while enjoying the cool breezes that pass through and the shade cast by the temples’ eaves. Bagan is exceptionally beautiful and it’s the first place Aung San Suu Kyi went after her release in 2011. Even though I had seen Bagan many times in pictures before my visit, when I came face-to-face with the silhouettes of hundreds of temples, I was stunned by the beauty, which is powerful yet peaceful.”

Kit Wong, Expert Travel Designer

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The Antarctic

“Every time I go through my Antarctica photos, I’m surprised, thinking ‘Wow, I’ve been there?’ We began our Antarctica exploration on a foggy day, paddling our kayaks through icebergs shrouded by mystical vapor, and on a day at Neko Harbour, I simply sat back, in awe of the mirrored crushed ice and mini icebergs on the glassy water’s surface. It was pristine. Kayaking in the Antarctic was absolutely magical.”

Joyce Choi, Expert Travel Designer