One of the questions I am asked most often, when people hear I have been to over 100 countries, is: "Which country if your favourite to travel to".
I find that one of the hardest questions to answer. Truth be told, there is not one country I did not like, I loved most of them, and I love each of them for different reasons. Here is my pick of the top ten of my favourite travel destinations
France - for food and lifestyle
Whenever I am in Europe I like to spend a week in Provence. A typical day looks like this...
I start the morning early and as the sun warms up the vineyards I walk down to the village bakery to pick up a baguette or pain de campagne for breakfast, which we eat out on the patio. We then go down to the local market (there is always one in a nearby town) and wander between market stalls, enjoying seeing the people discuss the quality of the food on offer with the merchants. We pick up some cheeses here, some meats there and fresh produce everywhere for a picnic lunch. Next, we set off on foot along of the many walking trails, find a picnic spot and enjoy the view, the fresh air and each other's company.
Returning from our walk we'll sit down with a glass of wine before having dinner in one of the many great restaurants. Yes, a lot of what we do in France is around food and enjoying life. What's not to love? Contact us for trips
Italy - for history, culture and sheer variety
Three of my favourite cities in the world are in Italy and at the top of my list is Rome. I have visited four times, spending in total nearly three weeks, and I still keep discovering hidden spots. My other two favourites are Florence and Venice. It is the incredible treasure trove of art that keeps me coming back.
But there is more to Italy than its art. There are so many different landscapes and regions that in the nine trips I have done there I still have more areas to see. I loved the Dolomites and Amalfi for the scenery and hikes, Tuscany for the food and Umbria for its spirituality and landscapes. Still on my list are the Marches, the Alps and Sicily. Contact us for trips
Iceland - for wildness and food
Drive from Keflavik Airport to Reyjavik and you may feel like you have landed in Mordor - black volcanic rock stretches as far as the eye can see. Continue along the south coast and you may get buffeted by storms as you hike the mountains or stop by one of the many waterfalls. Visit canyons gouged out in days by jökulhlaups, walk the multi-coloured valleys of Landmannalaugar, climb a glacier or witness a geyser erupt. Iceland is raw nature and spectacularly beautiful. And not many people would equate Iceland with good food. And while fresh vegetables don't feature high on the list, what you do get is fresh and of the highest quality (lamb, fish) although sometimes off-putting (fermented shark meat smells horrible). Contact us for trips
Ireland - for people, seascapes and food
Ireland is one of those countries everyone wants to travel to but visits often get put on the back-burner. And so it was for me. And then last October I had the chance to visit and I was glad I did. I drove around for a week, then hiked the Ring of Kerry for another. I was bowled over by the friendliness of the people. The seascapes, with the sun glittering off the water after a sudden shower, were phenomenal. And the freshest seafood - salmon, clam chowder - you will ever taste. Contact us for trips
Iran - for hospitality
It started with getting through customs - I had my mandatory insurance fee waived because I was Canadian, received personal priority service at the visa desk and was handed a box of apple juice by immigration. Further on during my trip I was handed a book ("a gift for you") by a lady on the subway and was invited to lunch by complete strangers. The most surreal experience was wading through a crowd of demonstrators (I normally avoid those but they were outside my hotel entrance). When they saw me wade through, the crowd parted and people alternated their cries of "Death to America" with "Welcome to Iran".
Nepal - for mountains
Hiking through the Himalaya in Nepal is an amazing, almost spiritual, experience. Incredible vistas, a well-developed hiking infrastructure and myriad of landscapes all conspire to make the country a nirvana for hikers. Contact us for trips
Botswana - for wildlife and wilderness
Safari in Botswana comes in different forms but the best way to experience the true wilderness of the land by staying in a private game reserve. Only those staying at those reserves are allowed to enjoy game activities there and the numbers of animals are beyong belief. Take a look at this report here or Contact us for trips
South Africa - for variety, activities, landscapes and lifestyle
South Africa has been named a World in one Country, and for good reason. Lions and penguins, traditional African cultures and Western creature comforts, all the Big Five on one morning’s game drive, some of the best food and wine on the planet - all that is South Africa. From metropolitan Cape Town to safaris in the Kruger area, from hiking in the Drakensberg to scenic drives and boat rides along the Garden Route - this is one place you do not want to miss. Contact us for trips
New Zealand - for variety of spectacular scenery
New Zealand is easily one of the most beautiful countries on our planet, if for nothing else but its sheer variety of spectacular scenery. Miles-long beaches and volcanic landscapes are found on North Island, while South Island is typified by fjords, mountains, rolling hills and vineyards. And through it all, miles and miles of hiking trails make for a wonderful way to discover this country. Contact us for trips
Antarctica - for remoteness and wildlife
The first time I came back from Antarctica I felt like I had just visited the moon. And all I could think of was to find a way to go back as soon as I could. It took me twenty years but it was worth the wait as this time I got to go to South Georgia. Both times I had amazing experiences, feeling like I was as far away from civilization as I possibly could be; in a place where wildlife thrived as if no human beings had ever set foot on our planet. Contact us for trips
Over to you
When I look back through this post I see a few themes - food, people and landscapes. How I would like to hear from you.... What is your favourite country to travel to? Email us!