So you’ve done Morocco, burned through Bali, and Bhutan is just so yesterday. Take a tour with Caroline Davies of six destinations that are for now – and the future
THE ATACAMA DESERT, Chile
There are few places as serene as a desert at sunrise. The world’s most arid desert, a drive through the Atacama can lead you to volcanoes, salt flats, geysers, natural hot springs, isolated beaches and fertile valleys rich in wildlife. Dotted with colonial towns such as San Pedro de Atacama, the desert is also famed for its clear skies. Combined with the lack of light pollution and radio interference, it is one of the best places in the world for astronomical observation.
Where to stay? Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa. Tucked in a secluded valley alongside the San Pedro river, the lodge’s red sandstone blends into the craggy deep red ridges. And of course, it has its own observatory. altoatacama.com
OK it’s not exactly a discovery, but the German chi-chi classes like to keep this stretch of idyllic sandy haven to themselves. The island sits off Northern Germany in the influence of the Gulf stream, keeping its summer temperatures above those of the mainland. A favourite of the well-to-do, the small island even has its own branch of Hermès and a polo club which hosts beach polo cup games.
Where to stay? Kampen is perhaps the most famous of the 11 villages on the island. Beautiful beaches, broad heaths and a rugged red cliff, the scenery is dramatic and the hotels refined.
KURDISH, IRAQ, Iraq
A trip for adventurers who like their routes untrodden. The region retains a degree of political freedom from Baghdad and surprisingly boasts 5 star luxury hotels and spas – the Marriott, Hilton and Kempinski are all on the way too – as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In fact, the ancient city of Erbil was named 2014’s tourism capital by the Arab Council of Tourism. Castles, churches, monuments and archaeological sites are all key tourist spots, but few sites beat Gali Ali Beg. Also known as ‘the Grand Canyon of the Middle East’, this dramatic lush green ridge provides biblical views as well as rafting and rock climbing.
Where to stay? At present, tourism infrastructure is still in its infancy outside Erbil, so take a tour to see the country fully. ‘Undiscovered Destinations’ provides a good grounding in the harrowing recent history of the country as well as the ancient influences that shaped the region. undiscovered-destination.com
Referred to as the hidden pearl of the Mediterranean, the small state of Montenegro is tucked next to better known Croatia and holds the same beautiful coastline, ready to be explored. Despite the unspoiled mountainous scenery, parts of Montenegro are far from rustic. Porto Montenegro, one of the newest luxury yacht developments on the Mediterranean, houses Versace, Armani, Missoni and Feragamo alongside gleaming mega yachts.
Where to stay? Luštica Bay. After a few days in the noise and the action, retreat to Luštica Bay on the ancient bay of Trašte. No less well catered for, the Bay has a quieter pace than the port and is just a stone’s throw away and holds the country’s first 18- hole golf course. lusticabay.com
Previously closed off by a military regime, Myanmar, (or Burma), remains relatively unaffected by the trappings of a globalised world. Intrepid travellers are beginning to dip their toes into this mysterious country, although don’t expect fast food restaurants, credit card machines or 3G just yet. The release of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2010 and Obama’s visit in 2012 have made for a more optimistic atmosphere in a country steeped in a fascinating if volatile past.
Where to stay? Orient Express, Orcaella Myanmar. From July 2013, Orient Express will launch its newly built luxury river cruise into the heart of Burma down the Ayeyardwady and Chindwin Rivers. With only 25 cabins on its four decks, the cruise is an intimate way to be introduced to the country. orcaella.net
THE NORTHWEST HIGHLANDS, Scotland
A stay in the rugged highlands can inspire novels and symphonies as aristocrats, royalty and artists have known for centuries, and a new generation of travelling classes is discovering for themselves. Drive through twisting valleys and watch your phone signal and worries drain away as the lochs and purple heather appear. The land of countryside pursuits, you can try trekking, fishing, stalking, mountain biking, white water rafting or clay pigeon shooting. Alternatively, a brisk walk and a wee dram from a whiskey distillery can be just as rewarding.
Where to stay? Alladale, Wilderness Reserve. Follow in the gentry’s footsteps and stay in the main sporting lodge at Alladale. Built in 1877 it is protected by a dense forest of Caledonian Scots pine. You can go helicopter fishing, stalking, shooting, hiking, and even hit the beach. With a roaring fire in winter the drawing room has its own baby grand piano which might get you singing, the array of single malt whiskies certainly will. alladale.co.uk