Abercrombie & Kent founder and LUX contributor Geoffrey Kent forecasts the hottest travel experiences and destinations for the coming year
I believe that human beings collect experiences throughout our lives that both inform our personality as well as that speak to who we are. We each have an ‘experience portfolio’ that reveals what inspires us and what we care about. It reflects our tastes and signals our aspirations. What and where will you experience in 2019?
Explore the extremes of The Arctic
For over 500 years, the Northwest Passage and all its inherent possibilities have fascinated intrepid souls. The changing climate has now made it possible to explore the entire length of the famed sea route, which runs from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Explorers began to search for such a route in the 15th century but it wasn’t until 1906 that Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s expedition managed to navigate the passage. It’s thrilling to retrace the route pioneered by early polar explorers like Henry Hudson, John Franklin, Robert McClure and of course, Amundsen, from Kangerlussuaq in Greenland to Nome in Alaska. Travel through and past islands and sparsely settled lands where many pioneers were forced to overwinter when their ships were trapped by fast-moving ice.
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Which experience will make it into your ‘portfolio’? Perhaps seeing whale and grizzly, black and polar bear, meeting the Ingalikmiut people, or seeing the Northern Lights.
Pencil it into your diary: 26 Aug-18 Sep. Cruise from western Greenland through the Canadian Arctic to the Bering Sea in the company of A&K’s award-winning expedition team. This 24-day Northwest Passage cruise starts at £25,350 per person.
Find yourself in Finland
Or more aptly, lose yourself in Finland. I led a trip above the Arctic Circle in 2018 and all the guests who accompanied me described it as “the trip of a lifetime”. Pictures simply do not do justice to the experience of losing yourself in this country’s vast landscape. Finland is a country in which it’s possible to escape the crowds, especially when you travel off-season. Beyond its vibrant capital, it reveals a very different side of Scandinavia – unspoiled, sweeping and still.
Which experience will make it into your ‘portfolio’? Ice driving, snowmobiling, searching for the aurora borealis, meeting Sami reindeer herders, dog sledding?
Visit the ancient world in Croatia
Croatia and its dramatic Adriatic coastline are delightful. Immerse yourself in Dubrovnik’s old-world charm as you walk the narrow street of the Old Town, surrounded by the historic 16th-century battlements. As we head into the eighth and final season of HBO’s epic fantasy TV programme Game of Thrones, it seems like an apt time to tour some of its filming locations. Dubrovnik has doubled as King’s Landing throughout the entire series and fans will recognise locations galore including St Dominika Street, Stradun, Minceta Tower, Fort St Lawrence and Trsteno Arboretum. Elsewhere Diocletian’s Palace in Split acts as Meereen, Trogir is otherwise known as Qarth and Kastel Gomilica goes by Braavos.
Go gourmet in Peru
Known for its ancient ruins, spectacular scenery and colonial architecture, Peru has added cuisine to its international appeal. Voted ‘best culinary destination’ at the World Travel Awards for the sixth year running, Peru’s vibrant restaurant scene is home to some of the world’s most influential chefs, who all delight in raiding the home larder for indigenous produce. With two of top 10 restaurants in the 2018 San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant list (and three in the top 50), foodies are rightly taking notice of Peru’s gastronomic scene. Legendary super-chef Gastón Acurio, Virgilio Martínez Véliz and Mitsuharu Tsumura’s establishments in Lima and Cusco are a must for visitors. My tip: there is no better way to understand the local cuisine than to see where so many of the indigenous foods are harvested, so be sure not just to stick to the cities. In addition, petrol-heads should note that in 2019, the Dakar Rally will take place in only one country for the first time in its history, with Peru playing sole host.
Discover the wonders of Zimbabwe
There’s never been a better time to visit Zimbabwe. A renewed hope is evident amid a changing political landscape and this spirit of optimism is attracting a fresh wave of tourism. ‘Zim’ is home to five different UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the glorious natural attractions of Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River and Hwange – the country’s largest game reserve. The country is more vibrant than ever with a burst of exciting hotel re-openings to boot – Bumi Hills Safari Lodge on Lake Kariba recently completed a £2.3 million upgrade and Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe’s Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve reopened in May 2018 after a complete refurbishment. I recommend a helicopter flight over Victoria Falls – so breathtaking a sight that when David Livingstone first saw the falls, he proclaimed that they ‘must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”.
Admire the diversity of our world’s wildlife
Experiencing wildlife in its natural habitat is one of travel’s greatest rewards. From the playful lemur to the elusive Bengal tiger, the giant panda and the mountain gorilla, the incredible diversity of the world’s wildlife contributes to the rich tapestry on Earth. As I read reports such as the WWF’s most recent, which states that humanity has wiped out 60 per cent of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles since 1970, my desire to conserve our world’s wildlife is reaffirmed anew.
Every holiday you undertake with us contributes funds to A&K Philanthropy and its excellent animal conservation and local community benefit programmes. It’s a simple and easy way to help protect animals including rhino and leopard, and benefit local communities, while you enrich your life through experiential holidays. I have designed a safari by private jet that makes it possible to visit the world’s most intriguing wildlife in their dramatically varied natural habitats on one remarkable journey in the company of leading conservationists.
Pencil it into your diary: 15 Feb – 10 Mar, 2020. A&K’s 25-day Wildlife Safari: Around the World by Private Jet starts at $139,950 per person.
Discover Abercombie & Kent’s portfolio of luxury travel tours: abercrombiekent.com