Today is ‘Blue Monday’, a day claiming to be the most depressing day of the year. Studies show a high number of folk have already failed their New Year’s resolutions, the warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling is now a distant memory and payday is still AGES away, so it’s just science that we end up feeling miserable.
So here at Gef HQ, we’ve put together a list of the top destinations to visit this year, because if anything is going to ward off the blues today, it’s planning a holiday, right?
Chile is a narrow strip of land situated between the Andes, to the east and the Pacific Ocean, to the west. Bordering Peru, Argentina and Bolivia, Chile is well positioned for exploring South America. But what is there to do in Chile? Well…
Patagonia offers hiking enthusiasts the opportunity to trek around ancient forests, beautiful lakes and icy glaciers and the famous ‘Torres del Paine’ mountains for some top instagrammable-pics #picoftheday.
If you fancy exploring a completely different environment, Chile hosts the bone-dry Atacama desert, the driest place in the world.
How about heading from our small island to another?
Easter Island in Chile has the ancient Moai Statues, these are large face statues carved from volcanic rock. No-one knows where they came from, where the indigenous people went nor what they mean.
If you’re up for a bit of a bustle, why not head to the capital Santiago where you can eat some Michelin Star Food, visit La Moneda and climb cerro San Cristobal for panoramic views of the city.
A short journey from Santiago will take you to the Unesco world heritage city of Valparaiso, located on Chile’s Pacific coastline.
The city is a unique blend of street art, rustic buildings and a very busy fishing port.
South Korea is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, so there really isn’t a better year to visit.
There are two main ski resorts in this area, Alpensia and Yongpyong, where the majority of events will be held. So jump on your ski’s and take in some Olympic action in 2018!
World Heritage Site Changdeokgung is to be known as the most beautiful of Seoul’s five main palaces and is well worth a visit.
Set in a stunning courtyard along beautiful gardens, an idyllic mountain located behind and a tranquil stream in front, you will feel like true royalty here.
If you’re up for something fun and niche, Daecheon beach hosts a nine-day Boryeong Mud Festival every July, attracting locals and tourists alike.
The beach has live music and events during the festival, and you can go for some leisurely swims also if you wish to wash off the mud.
Why is everyone heading to Portugal right now rather than its neighbouring sister Spain? Well it’s quite simple really. Portugal boasts Medieval castles, modern cities, golden beaches and plenty of culture that’s yet to be discovered.
Lisbon is a dainty, sun-kissed city, set against a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. There are seven beautiful hillsides across the cityscape, so head up to the hills and take in the views at the various miradouros points.
Exploring the city is made easy by travelling on the century-old wooden trams and iron funiculars, so if you’re tired of walking, hop on and be transported around.
For something a little different, the ‘Vasco de Gama’ Bridge is Europe’s longest bridge at 10.7 miles long. Named after the famous Portuguese explorer, it would be rude not to pay it a visit!
Next on the list in Portugal is Porto. With a medieval setting and a contemporary feeling, Porto is well accessible for all travellers. The Douro river separates the city in two, downtown Porto being very cultural and rustic, while the seaside suburbs are oozing class with a lively atmosphere.
Eating and drinking in Porto is amazing, with top class chefs offering new-waves of Portuguese cuisine for all food lovers. There are also food markets to discover and wine tastings throughout the city.
If you’re looking for a more relaxing holiday the, Algarve is absolutely beautiful. Portugal’s exquisite coastline promises glorious weather, great restaurants and excellent beaches, perfect for that summer beach break. You could spend a few nights in the one of Portugal’s cities and end your trip here, the buses only take a couple of hours!
Perhaps an unexpected one on the list, however after having recently visited Tanzania for a volunteering program in Mwanza (if you have time, research this gem set on Lake Victoria), the country is full of amazing experiences and incredible, incredible people!
The Serengeti National Park is not usually at the top of people’s bucket lists and nor was it mine, however it most definitely should be. The vast plains of the Serengeti show the true beauty and mystery of where the animals live, hunt and survive on a daily basis. Here you are able to admire almost every single animal you’d expect to see in their natural habitat, particularly the ‘Big 5’.
There are a variety of options in terms of accommodation, from luxurious hotels to basic camping. I did the latter…. tents, no guards, the vast Serengeti and wild animals – let’s just say it added to the excitement…
If you’re travelling to Tanzania, you have to take the ferry or fly to Zanzibar. You can catch transport from Dar es Salaam, but I wouldn’t hang around Dar, there are far more beautiful places to stay and see.
Zanzibar Stone Town is the historic quarter, where you can wander for hours. There’s the House of Wonders, Forodhani Gardens, the night food market, the Old Fort, and a handful of Cathedrals to discover.
After spending a couple of nights in Stone Town, head to one of the beach coastlines. We headed east to ‘Paje’, with a stunning white sand beach stretching for miles that is very popular with windsurfers. Oh, and crack open a Kilimanjaro beer while you’re there!
You can even visit ‘The Rock’, a restaurant based at the shore for a delicious evening meal.
While in ‘Paje’ we stayed at ‘New Teddy’s Place’, a lovely hostel with a great bar, great food and located right on the beach. Forget about shoes, the floor of the room is sand only, so you can walk to the beach barefooted and in the evening, dance the night away at the nightclubs…on the beaches of course! (See you later Outback!)
So there you have it, a brief selection of places you should visit in 2018. Be more adventurous this year, explore somewhere you haven’t already and reap the rewards!
The world has so much to offer! Get discovering Manxies, but do come back…