Where to travel in 2020: Israel, Yunnan, Uganda, Myanmar, Caucasus, and more
Up and coming
With a spectrum of airlines and shared homes via Airbnb being readily available to all, travel has never been more accessible. As a result, we as frequent flyers have been desensitised to the beauty of popular destinations like Bali and Mykonos. For 2020, we look to luxury travel operator Scott Dunn for some much-needed inspo — here's a list of ten under-the-radar destinations around the world.
There are now more flight connections between Asia and Israel than ever, and with the increased sophistication of Asian travellers, Scott Dunn has seen a 60% increase for bookings to Israel. With more interest from travellers wanting to delve beyond the footsteps of Jesus to visit Israel's more remote locations, Scott Dunn introduces the Negev Desert. As a compelling destination of breathtaking scenery, next year sees the opening of Six Senses Shaharut in the Arava Valley — the new lodge is nestled into a dramatic cliff providing unprecedented clarity of the Negev's famed night sky. Combined with a visit to the Israeli side of the Dead Sea, Scott Dunn can arrange for guests to experience the newly opened Milos Dead Sea Hotel, a member of 'The Leading Hotels of the World'. This Mykonos-inspired design hotel is the perfect place to relax after exploring Israel's history, culture and diverse landscapes. Completing the itinerary, guests are invited to partake in a range of exclusive activities, from discovering the secrets of Negev winemaking to journeying in a hot air balloon high above the expansive rocky scenery before landing in the renowned Ramon Crater for a picnic breakfast.
Colombia is emerging as a popular destination for guests seeking fascinating cultural encounters paired with off-the-beaten-track adventures. As one of the most undiscovered countries in Latin America, Colombia hosts a collection of new hotels for 2020, including the Four Seasons in the Caribbean city of Cartagena and the new tented Corocora Camp on the plains of Los Llanos. Tailored for guests seeking a wild adventure, Scott Dunn can curate journeys to this remote luxury haven where travellers will experience the culture of the Llaneros and witness the traditional herdsmen or cowboys of the region. Alternatively, Scott Dunn can arrange for guests to explore Colombia by either helicopter, speedboat, plane or car, visiting majestic cities like Bogota and Cartagena or the Sierra Nevada mountains, located at the edge of the breathtaking Tayrona National Park.
With exciting new lodges and luxury circuits set to open in 2020, Scott Dunn anticipates that Uganda will become an emerging wildlife destination for discerning travellers. Uganda is famously known for its varied landscapes and its dense forests, home to the endangered mountain gorillas, and Scott Dunn curates itineraries to see this rugged wilderness. The country's Gorilla trekking permits are at a lower price point than neighbouring Rwanda, and Uganda offers guests a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience Gorilla habituation within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park — where travellers can journey through the dense National Park and spend up to four hours watching the magnificent Gorilla families.
Move aside, San Sebastian! As a region famously known for its timeless history, unique culture and spectacular churches, Scott Dunn highlights the Caucasus as the new go-to foodie destination for 2020. Having seen a 90% increase in the number of enquiries for the Caucasus, Scott Dunn has created a brand-new itinerary inviting gourmands to travel across the mighty mountain ranges, to sample the world's first wine civilisation in the Georgian valleys, and enjoy Azerbaijan's rare black caviar in Baku. Scott Dunn brings guests on a gastronomic journey to try the region's most prized local delicacies, including Armenia's lavash — on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list — and try their hand at making the famous Khinkali dumplings in a cooking lesson conducted by top chefs. Guests will discover the culture and history of this area, with a visit to the recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shaki Khan Palace in Azerbaijan and indulge with a stay at the historic Tsindali Estate, a legacy of the renowned poet Prince Alexander Chavchavadze.
With governments now advising that travel can once again resume, Sri Lanka remains a leading, all-encompassing destination for experiential travel. A range of hotel openings across the country means that the time is ripe for guests to indulge in all that Sri Lanka has to offer while staying in the country's most beautiful luxury hotels. Scott Dunn's portfolio will include the new Alila, a short distance from the famed Ahangama Beach and along the coast from the colonial port of Galle with the World Heritage-listed Galle Fort and the new Teardrop Hotel's Pekoe House in Kandy. Set to open soon, Pekoe House is a renovated historic property that will demonstrate genuine Sri Lankan hospitality and local cuisine while also showcasing its colonial past. For guests looking for a more active excursion, Scott Dunn invites adventurers to explore the surf hotspot of Hikkaduwa which will welcome the much anticipated Haritha Villas and Spa, perched upon a hill with a series of nine stylish private villas hidden amidst the natural surroundings. For those seeking a more remote itinerary, head to the East Coast, Sri Lanka's greatest undiscovered secret with its exotic bright beaches for a return to nature at the authentic Karpaha Sands — comprised of 17 luxurious tents amongst a tropical setting.
Once shrouded in mystery, Myanmar has recently been thrown into the limelight thanks to Bagan being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Uncovering more of Myanmar's secrets, Scott Dunn introduces the little-known Mergui Archipelago, a largely deserted and unspoiled destination that offers guests a complete escape from the outside world. The stunning archipelago is home to over 800 islands, breathtaking beaches, crystal clear waters and a vibrant ecosystem — both onshore and offshore making for unrivalled diving experiences to rarely visited dive sites. The first hotel to open on the archipelago, Wa Ale is a do-no-harm eco-resort with a heart of green. Accessed from Myanmar or Thailand, the resort offers a perfect retreat at the end of a trip through either country. With an array of activities, guests can explore the vibrant reefs of the Andaman sea or hit the jungle with resident naturalists to spot green and leatherback turtles, pangolins and hornbills. To top it off, Wa Ale donates 20% of the resorts revenues towards safeguarding the Lampi Marine National Park and local community.
With guests requesting recommendations beyond Santorini and Mykonos, Scott Dunn has recently launched journeys to the islands of Naxos, Milos, Paros and Sifnos for a more authentic experience of Greece, visiting secluded bays and beaches, exploring traditional villages and sampling the local cuisine which many of these islands are known for. Scott Dunn is one of just a few travel companies that curate itineraries on these hidden islands and organises exclusive experiences such as a private gastronomical tour of Naxos with a local guide to discover the flavours of the island, off-road 4x4 explorations of Milos' untouched beaches and ancient chapels, as well speed boat trips to explore uninhabited islands such as Polyaigos — known as 'the island of many goats' as the only inhabitants alongside the rare Mediterranean monk seal.
With a level of uncertainty surrounding restrictions to Komodo Island in 2020 and guests increasingly wanting to escape the crowds at touristy hotspots like Pink Beach, Scott Dunn is offering alternative trips to under-the-radar destinations within the archipelago. These include custom itineraries to lesser-known destinations, such as the Spice Islands with SeaTrek and new boat trips to Raja Ampat with Aqua Blu, launching in November 2019. Scott Dunn can also arrange for an unique experience delving deeper into this area while on-board luxury yacht Rascal. Adding a new dimension to luxury cruising in Indonesia, guests will have exclusive access to discover the country's unchartered waters accompanied by a team of local experts and scientists. Guests will gain incredible insights into the marine biodiversity and the conservation work being done to preserve the fragile eco-systems by assisting with ocean survey and tagging manta rays.
Known as one of the world's greatest destinations, and Scott Dunn's number one booked destination for 2019 (to date), China is often associated with its major cities and well-known historical sites. However, for 2020 Scott Dunn is shining the spotlight on rural China with itineraries that showcase all it has to offer. Scott Dunn has recently launched Nyingchi — nicknamed 'the Switzerland of Tibet', it's known for picturesque springtime scenes of peach blossoms and as the gateway to Eastern Tibet. For a chance to escape city life, Scott Dunn allows guests to reconnect with the great outdoors and be fully immersed in the country's picturesque landscape through a new partnership with Caravan Liotard for 2020. The camp is inspired by the French writer Constantin de Slizewicz and the traditions of the Tibetan caravans along the historic Tea Horse Road, and elegant bell tents invite travellers to indulge in the simplicity and beauty of the surrounding countryside. The Hidden Valley Resort is a unique new glamping resort built on a former Tibetan residence, giving guests the chance to experience the true essence of Tibetan life with an adventure through the remote Yunnan regions in search of the real Shangri-La. Scott Dunn is also in the process of launching a selection of carefully-curated stylish havens including Tsingpu Tulou Retreat, which is nestled in a 700-year-old Taxia village within the historic Tulou Area, a region that will be featured in the highly anticipated Disney Mulan live-remake, set to be on screens in March 2020.
Think a visit to Finnish Lapland is complete once you've seen the Northern Lights? Think again. Scott Dunn takes guests off-the-grid to locations like Inari, in northern Finnish Lapland. This remote destination allows guests to truly explore the pristine winter wilderness, experience Sami culture with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or a husky safari. Incidentally, it is one of the best spots in the world to witness the Northern Lights, so first-time visitors won't miss out. In Swedish Lapland, Scott Dunn will soon introduce guests to the highly anticipated Arctic Bath hotel, due to open in February 2020. Set within an extraordinary timber structure which floats in the middle of the Lule River, guests will experience Arctic Wellness rituals with a giant ice-bath alongside other tailor-made activities.