We love this time of year - we get to look back at the past year and look at trends and possibilities for the upcoming year. One of the things we do is look at the ten best countries for adventure travel, a mix of destinations that have garnered a lot of interest of late as well as countries we feel are about to become popular.
Here is our line-up for the best countries to travel to for adventure in 2019
History is writ large in Portugal. From its maritime past which fuelled the wealth of Lisbon and Porto, to the walled towns situated on dramatic hills guarding its borders, to its traditional values living strong in a country that has also embraced the future.Visitors are struck by the friendliness of its people and the affordable food and wine but above all by the sheer diversity of this small nation. Sublime sandy beaches, lush river valleys, rugged mountains and steeply terraced vineyards; pretty stone-built mountain-top villages, cobble-stoned streets, palaces and castles; touring wine estates to walking and cycling: you find it all in Portugal.
Romania is a country with a huge diversity of wildlife and cultures and a way of life that seemingly has change little since the Middle Ages. Transylvania's castles balance precariously on stony outcrops lording it over picturesque Saxon villages with fortified churches. Hiking trails lead through meadows and forests teeming with wildlife and over hills to isolated hamlets and beautiful monasteries. The marshes of the Danube Delta provide sanctuary to numerous bird and fish species while elsewhere a host of medieval towns sport cobbled walkways and chic cafes. Romania is enigmatic to say the least, Europe's undiscovered jewel. Take me to Romania
There aren't many countries in the world where you can travel from sea to snow-capped summit in a matter of hours. Yet undiscovered Albania is one of them. Only recently emerged from its decennia of slumber behind the Iron Curtain, the golden beaches, high mountains, fortress towns and ancient culture are waiting to be discovered. Ancient Greek and Roman sites that were almost forgotten, crumbling castles, traditional folklore and remote regions where farm-life has not changed in centuries, along with a pristine, rugged and wild landscape, make Albania truly a hidden gem. As us about the best trips in Albania
Turkey, the crossroads of culture and history, You experience it in the bazaars of Istanbul, the city founded by the Romans, cultivated by the Byzantines, conquered by the Ottomans and made cosmopolitan in the modern era. You feel it in the ancient ruins of Ephesus, the Armenian churches in the east and the medieval fortresses along the south coast. You taste it in the olive oil–lathered Aegean vegetables and the spicy Anatolian kebabs. Turkey truly is the place where East meets West and it is making a definite come-back.
As you walk through the Siq to the Treasury at Petra, you cannot help but be in awe. Hand-hewn red sandstone buildings rise up into the clear desert skies, remembering ancient caravans of spice traders travelling far and wide to sell their wares. In the Roman ruins at Jerash and in the crusader castles and Byzantine mosaics along the King’s Highway, history is everywhere in this beautiful land. Travel through canyons and oases, stay with locals among the rock formations of Wadi Rum, and begin to understand why T.E. Lawrence loved this land. Take me to Jordan
Could this be the friendliest country on earth? This country which has seen the likes of Darius the Great, Alexander and Genghis Khan? This land of ancient civilizations, aesthetic beauty and exquisite architecture; where mosques, palaces and mansions stand proud; where history gazes down upon you in the ruins of Persepolis, the bazaars of Shiraz and the palaces of Esfahan; where poetry lives in the gardens of Kashan... Sit down for tea or share a meal in someone's home and let Iran embrace you. Take me to Iran
The ancient Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva conjure up images of unimaginably wealthy oases linked by caravans, of imperial politics and incredible architecture. Beautiful turquoise domes and towering minarets grace the skyline while down below everyday life goes on in markets and cafes from years gone by. With hospitality firmly ingrained into the culture, this is one country you will not want to miss.
Sri Lanka, the Resplendent Isle, the Pearl of the Orient. Splendid temples, ancient ruins, welcoming people and flavourful food are all to be found within this small country. Search for elephants, leopards and water buffaloes, walk among tea plantations and waterfalls to rainforest-covered peaks and take a spectacular train ride through the highlands. Top it all off with some time on the dazzlingly white and often untrod beaches.
One of the most spectacular countries in Africa, Ethiopia sits on either side of the Great Rift Valley. In this, one of the oldest Christian cultures in the world, remote monasteries cling to vertiginous mountains which in turn tumble down steep escarpments into the abyss below. Rock-hewn churches form the stage for soulful spiritual gatherings, while age-old palaces, stelae and ruins speak of a continues human presence, dating back even as far as the earliest humans. Then there are the waterfalls, vast lakes, empty deserts and unique wildlife, along with the peoples of the south whose traditions have survived the onslaught of time mostly intact. Ethiopia is one country you want to add to your bucket list.
Squeezed between the depths of the Pacific and the volcanoes, peaks and glaciers of the Andes, Chile stretches from the driest desert in the north, to the ice fields of the south. In between you will find numerous landscapes from deep fjords and mountain-ringed lakes, to dunes, vineyards, fertile valleys and dark forests. The capital Santiago is cosmopolitan and sophisticated, while out in the Pacific, time has all but forgotten magical Easter Island and its treasure trove of moai. Ask us about our ecolodge in Patagonia, used for multi-day hiking and sightseeing trips in Torres del Paine.