Given the mind-boggling list of hot travel destinations we've seen so far this year, deciding on the perfect place now feels a lot like pulling teeth. After all, we only have x amount of leave dates and x amount of travel funds to spare.
Our golden tip? Pick out a travel experience that floats your boat, and live out the rest of your holiday there. Thanks to the resourceful chaps from Bannikin Asia, a Hong Kong and Toronto-based travel and tourism consultancy, here's a nifty list (in no particular order) of the top 10 experiences no traveller should miss out on in 2018. From sailing on an arctic safari to circumnavigating the entire island of Cuba, you're bound to find your personal sweet spot.
1. Travel the Archipelago of the Azores
This small island group off the coast of Portugal is definitely the next it destination of 2018. Due to its well-preserved and wide range of biodiversity, the Azores has become a prime spot for whale and dolphin watching, scuba diving, and geotourism. Nature and adventure lovers will be thrilled to swim with dolphins, abseil in nature or explore the island on a jeep safari.
To know more, visit Futurismo.
2. Sail on an Arctic safari
If you thought safaris only existed in Africa, well, a whole other spectrum exists at the ends of the earth. Discover the natural wilderness of the Arctic circle aboard the 'Ocean Endeavour', and keep your eyes peeled for polar bears, whales, caribou and walrus amongst glaciers and icy seas. Here's where you can discover Greenland, which is home to the Jakobshavn Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a majority source of massive icebergs in the North Atlantic.
To know more, visit Adventure Canada.
3. Cycle through the deserts of Petra
The best way for any seasoned traveller to explore a new place? By bike. Make that The Kingdom of Jordan, and this will be a trip for the history books. Cycle to the city of Mt Nebo, supposedly the resting place of Moses, to witness a vast and spectacular landscape. Last but not least, take your escapade up a notch by spending the night under the stars with the Bedouin people, in Wadi Rum.
For more information, visit Exodus Travels.
4. Explore the coast of Scotland by yacht
All aboard the Eda Frandsen, a classic and beautifully converted 70-year old Gaff Cutter, and take in the spectacular views of coastal Scotland. From the remote peninsula of Knoydart, to the Isles of Skye and Rum with their dramatic rocky ridges, you'll be enthralled to discover that every inch of the landscape is picturesque. With a backdrop of the islands' fascinating history and culture, and an experienced skipper on-board, this maritime adventure makes for a life-changing encounter of the deepest kind.
Visit Wilderness Scotland for more.
5. Discover the hidden valleys of Dolpa
Nepal has seen a revival in the last few years, with new and lesser-known treks becoming increasingly popular. For instance, a trek through the hidden valleys of Dolpa features the icy turquoise waters of Phoksundo Lake, yak caravans crossing high-Himalayan passes, and some of the highest settlements on earth like the Dho-Tarap valley. These valleys were not opened until 1989, so trekking through would be one for the bucket list.
To know more, visit Naturally Nepal.
6. Hike the Ring of Kerry mountains
No doubt, the best way to see the beauty of Ireland is by foot. Kerry's scenery and soaring mountains make the perfect backdrop for an exhilarating hiking trip. Through this off the beaten track, summit two of Ireland's highest peaks, and hike through spectacular landscapes such as Killarney National Park, the wildest sections of the Kerry Way, and the rugged Dingle Peninsula. Not for the faint hearted; make sure your fitness levels are up to speed for this journey.
To know more, visit Wilderness Ireland.
7. Explore the rhino conservation site of Lewa
Lewa has one of the most beautiful landscapes in Kenya. Besides being famed for its variety of wild animals, and luxury award winning lodges such as Arijuju, it's also home to a successful rhino conservation site. Every guest that visits the site contributes to this conservation with a fee that is already included in their nightly accommodation rate. Guests can also see the conservation in action by participating in 'behind the scenes' activities, such as heading out with the dog teams that track poachers, or even joining a 'rhino notching' where a rhino gets tagged so the team can keep track of him. Talk about travelling for a good cause!
For more information, visit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
8. Circumnavigate the entire island of Cuba
Discover the entire soulful island of Cuba aboard the comfort of a cruise liner. A pit stop beckons at the legendary city of Havana, birthplace of salsa music, and mojitos. Don't forget to stop for a picture with a vintage Cadillac on the street. And be sure to explore the city of Cinfuegos, which is the architectural jewel of Cuba, and home to some of the best food the island has to offer.
To know more, visit Celestyal Cruises.
9. Stay a week in an Amazonian jungle lodge
The Tambopata Research Center in Peru is the most remote jungle lodge in the Amazon. Human sightings nearby are so rare, that it is much more common to see monkeys, macaws and the odd Jaguar. The centre's remote location makes it perfect for explorations of Amazonian nature and wildlife. All of its rooms have authentic Ese-Eja décor which have been crafted by artists from the local community of Infierno, and feature an open verandah to immerse yourself with the rainforest as a stunning backdrop. Unfortunately, it does take eight hours to get there by boat from Puerto Maldonado. But then again, all the best places are usually the hardest to get to.
To know more, visit Rainforest Expeditions.
10. Travel the Atacama Region in Chile
Desert chasers and history buffs should take a journey through the Atacama, a landscape of sand dunes, dried river basins and rich red rock formations. A must do is a hike through this formidable terrain before feasting your eyes on a spectacular sunset in Moon Valley. Then manifest your inner Indiana Jones and explore the archaeological site of Yerbas Buenas. It is home to ancient petroglyphs which date back approximately 10,000 years, an ancient relic of the Atacameno people.
To know more, visit Enchanted Adventures.