As the year is drawing to a close, and I am look back at my travels over the past twelve months, it is time to make travel plans for 2016! A good friend of mine and I were supposed to travel together this year, but our plans fell through as my travel plans, as so often, changed. When we were talking about possible plans to travel together next year, she asked me ‘What are your Top Five destinations now?’ and it got my thinking: which places are high on my travel wishlist? And to which of those will I travel next year? I’d love to hear what you think of my wishlist, and which places you think I should definitely visit next year – please share your thoughts in the comments below – and also the places that are high on your travel wishlist.So without further ado – my travel wishlist for 2016:
I’m starting with this one, because that’s where I’ll be starting my travels next month, but I don’t think you know how long I’ve been wanting to visit Colombia. It was one of the places I was most excited about to get to when I started traveling in 2010, making my way down from the US through Mexico to Central America. When I arrived in Panama, I could almost see Colombia on the other side of the Darien Gap, but I never managed to get there, as even back then, an unexpected change in plans and a summer in Europe ended my trip through Latin America – at least temporarily. But when I finally set foot on the South American continent, I started in the south, and the furthest north I made it was Peru. So I am ecstatic to finally get there – with a delay of only five years 😉 I can’t wait to explore the Caribbean coast of Colombia, about which I’ve heard great things, the beautiful cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings in Cartagena, and hopefully hike the 5-day trek to the Ciudad Perdida, the forgotten ancient city in the jungle.
I can’t believe that I spent nearly 10 months in South East Asia and never made it to Vietnam. This is something that has to be rectified asap – not only to fill the gap in my travel map, but also because I have heard nothing but good things about the country, which is why I want to finally travel around Vietnam. I am obsessed with Vietnamese food, which is another reason why I’m dying to get to Vietnam, but in addition to the delicious food, I can’t wait to see the breathtaking limestone cliffs in Halong Bay in the north, the white sand dunes in Mui Ne in the south, and everything in between. The country is filled with bustling markets, a coastline of over 2,000 miles lined with beaches, excellent trekking in the mountains of Sapa in the northwest, and I have no doubt that I’ll fall hard for Vietnam when I finally get there.
3 South Africa
I have to be honest here – South Africa was never really on my radar – until a lot of travel bloggers whose blogs I read started to go to South Africa, posting gorgeous photos of the Garden Route that follows the southeastern coast of the country. Many of my friends who have been to South Africa mention Cape Town as one of their absolute favorite cities in the world, and of course I’d love to go on a wildlife safari in the massive Kruger National Park.
Staying on the African continent, Morocco is a country I’ve been wanting to visit ever since watching the indie movie Hideous Kinky with Kate Winslet nearly 20 years ago, in which she travels around Morocco with her two young daughters. Taking the train to Marrakesh, sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert, road tripping through the spectacular Atlas Mountains, and taking in fifty shades of blue in the city of Chefchaouen (take a look for yourself in this beautiful CNN photo essay). If I can make this finally happen in 2016, it would be one of my longest travel dreams come true!
Another spot in the world that appeared on my radar thanks to fellow travel bloggers and travelers who I follow on Instagram. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia look wonderful in photos, and all three capitals, seem like picture perfect with medieval town centers, historic buildings and cobble stone streets. Plus, these three countries are still very cheap to travel in, so I should take advantage of that and visit them while they’re still not on the main tourist trail in Europe.
6 Northern India
When I visited India in 2012, I never made it further north than Goa, which is a shame, since most of India’s most striking provinces and attractions are north of Goa’s pristine beaches. High on my list of places to see: the desert of Rajasthan, the Golden City of Jaisalmer, the Ghats of Varanasi, the tea country around Darjeeling, and the mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Then there’s the Golden City of Jaipur, and the Taj Mahal of course – the list of places I want to see in India is so long that I could spend the better part of the year there and still not see it all!
I was seriously bummed out when I had to cancel my trip to Nepal last month – trekking three weeks through the Himalayas along the stunningly beautiful Annapurna Circuit (check out some pictures in this Washington Post article) was something I’d been looking forward to ever since my five-day trek through Peru’s Andes Mountains in early 2014. If I can make it to Nepal next year, that would definitely be a highlight of my 2016 travels.
Another country that has been on my travel wish list for a long time – and I had actually planned to visit Myanmar this year but then decided to go to the Philippines instead (a decision I do NOT regret at all!). The golden Shwedagon Paya stupa in Yangon, the ancient city of Bagan, Inle Lake, the colorful markets – I hope that I will finally make it to Myanmar next year.
In 2010, I almost went to Cuba, but traveling with my girlfriend at the time who was hesitant about entering the country (we would have gone from Cancun, Mexico) because she was not allowed to travel to Cuba as a U.S. citizen, made us eventually decide against hopping over to Cuba, which is why I still haven’t made it there. I think Cuba is likely to happen next year, and I can’t wait to step back in time in Havana, explore the charming colonial town of Trinidad and enjoy some of the island’s Caribbean beaches
I don’t think there’s any other country as fascinating as Mongolia with its nomadic culture and families still living in yurts, its rugged wilderness with vast steppes and imposing mountain peaks, and big open skies. It’s not necessarily solo female traveler friendly, but luckily it’s high on my friend’s travel wish list too, and it would be an unforgettable travel experience for sure.
Now it’s your turn – which countries are on your travel wishlist for 2016?