12 top travel destinations to see in 2013 – Part 1

As 2012 winds to a close we take a look at our pick of places to visit in 2013. Where do you think 2013 will take you?

1. Southern Africa

Drakensberg, South Africa

Drakensberg, South Africa

An enormous region with a diversity that’s hard to match, Southern Africa is definitely way up there on our list of places to go in 2013. If you’re looking for adventure you’re sure to find it here, with enormous nature reserves for fans of game-viewing and safaris, the lofty peaks of the Drakensberg, the vast Namib desert, stunning Cape coastline and more. Africa really does have something for everyone!

Top Tip: Watch whales in Hermanus from June to December, with peak times for spotting whales between August and October.

Look out for our new Africa brochure coming soon! Pre-order yours now.

2. China

The Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden City, Beijing

As one of the world’s leading economies, China is constantly evolving and developing. But it isn’t just its modern and vibrant cities that hold our attention – the ancient traditions and customs of the Chinese empire are fascinating too. With relics like The Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an, the Longmen Grottoes and ancient temples and palaces glaore, there’s certainly no shortage of things to do and see in China. And let’s not forget about their amazing cuisine! Each region in China has its own culinary styles and traditions, so take the opportunity to try interesting new flavours.

Top Tip: January is when the Harbin Ice Festival kicks off, with highly skilled ice sculptors from across the world transforming the landscape into a real winter wonderland.

Our new China & Southeast Asia brochure is out now – click here to order yours.

3. India

Goa, India

Goa, India

An enormous country blessed with a rich and varied culture, India remains one of the most interesting and fulfilling places to travel to. This is a land of temples, holy places, strange and exotic festivals, the world famous Taj Mahal (of course), sky-scraping mountains in the North, stunning beaches, tranquil backwaters, deserts and vibrant modern cities to explore. Whatever your thoughts on India, you’ll definitely come away changed. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson: ‘Buy the ticket, take the ride.’

Top Tip: India is certainly not short of festivals, but stand-out events include Holi Festival in March and the famous Diwali Festival of Lights in November. See more here.

4. South America

machu_picchuThe distinctive ruins of Machu Picchu are not unfamiliar to travellers the world over, who – if they haven’t actually seen them in person – have certainly seen them emblazoned across the covers of travel magazines and posters everywhere. South America is home to astounding natural wonders, like the incredible Andes mountains, the vast Amazon rainforest and magnificent beaches. But there are cultural wonders too – from the relics of ancient civilisations to the remnants of colonial times. The real challenge is knowing where exactly to begin!

Top Tip: Inti Raymi Festival kicks off in Cuzco, Peru during the winter solstice in mid-June.

5. Sri Lanka

Buddha in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Buddha in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Having just returned from Sri Lanka myself, I’m still riding on the coattails of an epic break, and I have nothing bad to say about Sri Lanka. Though small, Sri Lanka’s position in the path of the age-old spice trade forged a richness of culture that is hard to match anywhere else. Vibrant but calm, this little island is on the way up – and seems ready to welcome the world’s visitors. For such a small area there really is a wealth of cultural attractions to explore, with buildings of the ancient Sri Lankan kingdoms dating back literally thousands of years. Meditate in an ancient temple, relax on the beach, marvel at the lush, green landscape. And then head inland and into the cool misty highlands, where the world’s finest tea is still grown. I fell in love with the place – read more about my adventures into Sri Lankan hill country here.

Top Tip: The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy hosts the annual Kandy Festival, when a replica of the revered Buddhist relic is paraded through the streets to the sound of beating drums and singing. Look out for festivals around the time of full moon!

6. Turkey



A land of stunning beaches, soaring mountains, one of the world’s greatest cities and delicious cuisine, Turkey has more to offer than most countries. Representing a confluence of world culture and religion, Istanbul is the perfect place to start, with historic buildings signifying the growth and development of this great city from ancient times. Then pay your respects to the fallen at Gallipoli; the site of one of World War 1’s bloodiest battles, marvel at the Aegean coastline, explore the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, see the Roman ruins of Ephesus, and head east to discover more of Turkey’s fascinating hinterland, retracing the footsteps of the ancients along the Silk Road.

Top Tip: The famous Whirling Dervishes of Konya hold the annual Mevlana Festival every December, but you can also catch the annual Oil Wrestling Championships in Edirne around the end of June.

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