Our writers name 2019's top travel moments and 2020's dream trips

Traveller's wandering writers have spent another year on coaches and cruise ships, up mountains and down canyons, at the summits of glamorous skyscrapers and crammed into hole-in-the-wall backstreet bars. They ought to be jaded, but the world always throws up novel encounters that keep them enthralled and amazed.

This is why they travel, and endure the tedium of airports, restless hotel nights and dodgy meals. The charmless practicalities of travel get forgotten, but the brilliant moments of wonder, exhilaration and happiness remain. They're like junkies looking for another hit, the next amazing thing, the next overwhelming emotion.

Such thrills can never be planned. You can't manufacture your moment of the year. It just pops ups and often, right then, you realise it isn't going to be bettered. Not this year, anyway. Travel brings a kaleidoscope of memories, but one is always the brightest of them all. Like any hit, it's probably elusive and short lived, yet all the more precious for it. The best of life is always impermanent, even fleeting.

We've asked our peripatetic writers to rummage through their ragbag of memories for the year and produce the single moment that stands out. Here's their mosaic of magic.

KATRINA LOBLEY

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

VIENNA, AUSTRIA, 2.10PM, JUNE 21

Belvedere-im-Winter
Austrian National Tourist Office
Popp-Hackner
satdec14cover
TRAVELLER 
Katrina Lobley (klobley@optusnet.com.au)
supplier name
pic supplied by journalist please check for reuse

The Belvedere in winter. Photo: Austrian National Tourist Office

Trailing through the Upper Belvedere, a baroque palace that's become Austria's most visited art museum, I'm expecting a crush in front of Gustav Klimt's masterpiece The Kiss. Not a Mona Lisa-style crazy throng but a crowd nonetheless. So imagine how my heart soars when I glimpse the shimmering lovers through an open doorway, just a handful of voyeurs staring at their passionate yet tender embrace. I stroll right up to the revered canvas to inspect its sparkly gold leaf as well as gold, silver and platinum flecks in the paint. Klimt's brushwork swings wildly from the precise lines of her face and their hands to impressionistic splodges depicting a meadow of flowers. Up close, you realise the work is set behind protective glass (so subtle it's visible only from an extreme side angle). It's said the image represents the fulfilment of life; certainly, my life now feels complete.

Advertisement

2020 DREAM DESTINATION

HOUSE OF ETERNAL RETURN, SANTA FE

Meow Wolf of Santa Fe
satdec14cover
TRAVELLER 
Katrina Lobley (klobley@optusnet.com.au)
Meow Wolf
pic supplied by journalist please check for reuse

Photo: Supplied

New Mexico's capital, Santa Fe, is home to House of Eternal Return – a riddle, wrapped in a full-size Victorian house, inside a former bowling alley. The Meow Wolf collective's trippy art installation is also an immersive storytelling experience. The juggernaut's plans include opening an attraction in Las Vegas's Area 15 experiential mall in 2020. See meowwolf.com

BRIAN JOHNSTON

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

ARCTIC ICE PACK, NORWAY, 10AM, JULY 19

I'm on an Abercrombie & Kent expedition cruise in an Arctic world of pale grey and blue, and our ship has passed 80 degrees north. The mountains of Svalbard are a thin line of snow caps behind us. The sea's semi-solid surface looks like cling film, and then we edge up against pack ice that stretches all the way to the North Pole and beyond. It's ribbed and ragged, otherworldly and mesmerising. The mosaic of ice chunks heaves slowly with the wind and tides, clanking and groaning like a steampunk machine. Pockets of air released from melting, blue-tinted ice hisses and is magnified a million times until it roars like a waterfall. We can sail no further north. I've reached the loneliest place on the Earth, and it's utterly exhilarating. See abercrombiekent.com.au

DREAM TRIP 2020

SICILY

Although I've been to Sicily and written a book about it, I must return. There's so much more here than smouldering Mount Etna and The Godfather. Sicily is crammed with superstition and saints, neglected grandeur, bitter passions and great beauty, making it a fantastic destination for the pensive traveller.

LOUISE SOUTHERDEN

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

ANTALYA, TURKEY, 7PM, OCTOBER 11

A couple of days into a new women's trip, my nine travelling companions and I, all strangers to each other, find ourselves lying naked on a circular marble slab in a hamam on the outskirts of Antalya. There are nervous giggles as we sweat and wait for large non-English-speaking women wearing only black bras and undies to scrub and wash us vigorously with soapy mitts. Then, wrapped in bright orange towels, we're ushered to a suite of vinyl recliners to rest. But as soon as our faces have been painted with olive-green mud masks, a staff member puts on some loud Turkish music and before we know it we're all dancing, linking pinkies and holding on to our towels, laughter creasing our green faces. It's totally unexpected, totally Turkey, and when we emerge into the warm night afterwards, I feel as if I have nine new best friends. See intrepidtravel.com

DREAM TRIP 2020

COASTAL KYUSHU, JAPAN,

The air will be tropically warm. Palm trees will sway in the offshore breeze. Opening the door of my campervan, I'll see perfectly shaped waves wrapping around the headland where I've parked. I'll stretch and walk across the beach, surfboard under my arm, nodding to other surfers just arriving. Ohayo gozaimasu! Good morning, Japan.

GUY WILKINSON

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

MANITOBA, CANADA, 2AM, AUGUST 15

Manitoba Northern Lights
Firepit and Northern Lights Ganglers Lodge
satdec14cover
TRAVELLER 
Guy Wilkinson
supplier ?
pic supplied by journalist please check for reuse

Well worth staying awake for: Manitoba's northern lights. Photo: Supplied

The fire burns low as a frigid wind blows in across the lake. It is 2am in the wilds of Manitoba and somehow, I find myself alone in this pristine slice of wilderness. I'm enjoy a small nip of scotch and allow my thoughts meander. The prospect of a warm cabin beckons when the sky suddenly comes alive with streaks of dancing emerald. I look around, hoping someone might emerge with which to share the moment, but the entire camp is sound asleep. I slot my camera onto its tripod, slow the exposure and snap one of my all-time favourite photos of the northern lights blazing above a row of remote wooden cabins. Nature's show doesn't last much longer than a few minutes, but what it lacks in longevity it makes up for with intensity. Heading back to my cabin, I crawl beneath thick covers and try to sleep but it proves futile. A small price to pay.

DREAM TRIP 2020

JAPAN

I would love to ride the super-efficient high-speed trains throughout Japan, bathe with snow monkeys in alpine hot springs, explore forested shrines, wander the cobbled back alleys of ancient cities and embark on the all-important quest for the perfect ramen. And, of course, a few days embracing the madness and chaos of Tokyo.

STEVE MCKENNA

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

HAMBURG, GERMANY, 7.30PM, NOVEMBER 9

8 November 2019, Godmother Sophia Loren arrives on board MSC Grandiosa to christen her 15th MSC Cruises ship (Ph. credit Ivan Sarfatti) MSC Grandiosa christening/Sophia Loren
satdec14cover
TRAVELLER 
steve mckenna
MSC
pic supplied by journalist please check for reuse

Goddess of the silver screen, Sophia Loren. Photo: Supplied

Music from Verdi's opera La Traviata plays and the crowd – and the anticipation – grows in the glitzy promenade of MSC Grandiosa, as we wait for the godmother to grace us with her presence. I am a few metres away, looking up, when she appears on the balcony: goddess of the silver screen, Sophia Loren, 85 years young, bespectacled and as elegant looking as ever. Collectively spellbound, we point our cameras as she says a few words (this is the 15th MSC cruise ship she's christened) and cuts the ribbon, setting in motion a chain of events that leads to a bottle of champagne being cracked against the vessel's hull. The godmother bids us farewell, giving us one last wave, and leaves us to watch a spectacular fireworks display crackling into the night sky over Hamburg. See msccruises.com.au

DREAM TRIP 2020

ZANZIBAR

I'm going in March and the plan is to get lost and tuck into seafood and spicy delights in the exotic alleys of Stone Town, glimpse rare red colobus monkeys in the tropical Jozani Forest, then chillax on an empty, palm-fringed beach that's so photogenic I'll use it as my laptop screensaver when I return home. See tanzaniatourism.go.tz

ELSPETH CALLENDER

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

HORTON PLAINS NATIONAL PARK, SRI LANKA, 3.55PM, FEBRUARY 25

She was sitting with her back to us and the wind in her face, so had no idea we'd approached and were standing only metres away. For a few seconds, nothing but the warm afternoon air and long grass separated our small hiking group from a wild Sri Lankan leopard resting on hind legs and gently nosing the breeze as though lost in thought. The local guides later said they were surprised at a sighting in broad daylight and so soon after we'd walked into the park where only 23 of these big cats share a vast plateau, in Sri Lanka's central highlands, with boar, deer, toque macaque and many endemic bird species. The highest point of Horton Plains is the country's third highest peak, Kirigalpotta, but leopards prefer the grasslands. Inevitably, we were sensed and spotted and she ducked her head and skulked away to observe us in return. See noroads.com.au

DREAM TRIP 2020

KIRKJUBAEJARKLAUSTUR, SOUTH ICELAND

Alftavatn in the highlands of South Iceland
Alftavatn is the name of the lake but “vatn”, meaning lake in Icelandic, is already embedded in the name.I know Traveller doesn’t pay for images anymore but happy to donate this one. Though if you don’t want to use my name then “supplied” is fine with me. 
TRAVELLER 
Elspeth Callender
supplier ?
pic supplied by journalist please check for reuse

The highlands of South Iceland. Photo: Elspeth Callender

While hiking Laugavegur during the northern summer I promised an old sheep farmer, who was transporting our luggage between trail huts, that I'd return to Iceland in May to help him deliver his lambs. We shook on it. I booked flights. Now I just have to find Kirkjubaejarklaustur village and ask for Thor.

TERRY DURACK

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK, 8.45PM, MAY 9

This isn't how I had planned to turn up to the most famous restaurant in the world, Noma in Christianshavn, Copenhagen's old-hippy neighbourhood. Breathless, hot, sweaty and panicky at being late, I round the last bend of the road on foot, and can see three of the key staff on the road ahead, waving and cheering me on. They usher me down the long garden path past a complex of seven buildings, with separate rooms for meat, fish and fermentation. Instead of having a normal seasonally adjusted menu, Noma runs three distinct and uncompromising seasons every year; seafood in summer, vegetables in spring, and "game and forest" in autumn. I've waited 14  months for the seafood experience, so it's just as well it is spectacular. It is also visceral, hands-on, confronting. Most of the food is raw and in its natural state, from Faroe Island sea urchin to marinated sea shrimp. And The Moment? The Moment comes when I pull the flesh from the shell of a smoked and barbecued Arctic king crab with my hands, and raise the whole thing, juicy, sweet, dripping, to my mouth. For one moment, I feel like a barefoot Viking on a wave-bruised, windswept Nordic beach, reindeer pelt across my chest, knife in hand, and great big grin on my face. See noma.dk

DREAM TRIP 2020

THE BLUE TRAIN AND A SOUTH AFRICAN SAFARI

I am getting increasingly anxious at the realisation that I have never been to South Africa, and may never witness a herd of gazelles drinking at a waterhole, see a lion sleeping on the broad branch of a tree, or watch those adorable meerkats without listening to David Attenborough's voice at the same time. I may never hear the roar of Victoria Fall, or drink a G&T on the luxurious Blue Train as it slithers like a snake from Pretoria to Cape Town. This, I need to fix. See www.bluetrain.co.za

STEVE MEACHAM

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

FAIAL, PORTUGAL, 11.30AM, APRIL 10

Rod Stewart made his Atlantic Crossing in 1975, famously striding (according to the award-winning album cover by Peter Lloyd) in flared trousers and high heels across the world's second largest ocean. My Atlantic crossing, apart from numerous flights, has taken decades longer. However this morning I find myself literally mid-Atlantic. I'm on the island of Faial, westernmost point of the European continental plate, now part of the Portugese Azores and once a volcano bubbling up from the seabed. For centuries, Faial's picturesque capital, Horta, has been a rest stop for pirates, whalers, slave traders, explorers and round-the-world sailors. Sure, the mid-Pacific likes to boast of Hawaii, Fiji or Samoa. But the mid-Atlantic has its own greyer glories. After a walk from my cruise ship along Horta's fascinating esplanade, I venture inside Peter's Cafe Sport, a nautical institution, haunt of schemers and rum-soaked dreamers. See visitazores.com

DREAM TRIP 2020

ANTARCTICA

I've flown over it, written about it and still dream of its Heroic Age. But I've never set foot on Earth's southernmost continent. As a teenager, I bet my best mate: who could visit the most parts of the globe (our pact defined "visit" as "drink a beer")? When I finally visit, I hope the beer is as cold as the emperor penguins are healthy.

ALISON STEWART

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT

CHIAPAS, MEXICO, 8.30PM, MAY 6

istock

The treasures of Palenque. Photo: iStock

The hot Chiapas jungle is eerily still yet furious with life. Huge green mounds alert us to the presence of man-made structures and suddenly they appear – the excavated pyramids and temples of Palenque, once called Lakamha, place of great waters. We enter this magical, World Heritage List Maya city, witness to an ancient erudite culture, one of Mesoamerica's most important archaeological sites, dating from 226BC to AD900. Its treasures, including rare glyphic inscriptions, hold the key to an advanced civilisation. Palenque's ruins, including the Temple of Inscriptions, Temple of the Cross group, Temple XIII (containing the tomb of the Red Queen) and Temple of the Skull and the Palace complex, amount to only a fraction of the unexcavated 1400 structures scattered through 1780 hectares. With annual average rainfall of four metres, untended buildings are quickly consumed. The giant pyramids were once covered with red and blue-painted stucco, glowing like jungle jewels. See intrepidtravel.com/au/

DREAM TRIP 2020

PIENINY AND HIGH TATRA MOUNTAINS, POLAND

Poland - Tatra Mtns
Breathtaking trail in Poland
satdec14cover
TRAVELLER 
Alison Stewart
utracks
pic supplied by journalist please check for reuse

Poland's spectacular Tatra Mountains. Photo: Supplied

My heart's desire is to walk the "home mountains" of my late stepfather who lost his country to Nazi Germany, then the Soviet Union. He never returned but I intend to, in 2020, first to his town of Krakow, and then to the mountains he loved two hours away – the deep gorges and limestone walls of the Pieniny Mountains and the alpine Tatras of the West Carpathians. See utracks.com/Poland

UTE JUNKER

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

MAASAI MARA, KENYA, 11AM, OCTOBER 26

It's the leopard that tips us over the edge. Our morning has already been marked by some spectacular game sightings, but of course, that's what you expect in the Maasai Mara. We have seen herds of elephant, giraffes grazing elegantly on the leaves of acacia trees, and one astonishingly bulky hippo, not submerged in the water like its fellows, but standing pensively on the riverbank. What everyone really wants to encounter, of course, are the big cats, with their predatory power and their feline grace. We have seen plenty of them, including lazy male lions lying in the long grass, recovering after a night on the prowl. When we come across two cheetahs – sitting elegantly on a rock-studded slope, facing in opposite directions as if posing for a portrait – our excitement levels ratchet up even higher. This morning can't get any better, we decide. That's when the radio crackles into life, bearing news of another sighting. Just a few hundred metres away, another car has spotted a leopard. We careen over, eager to catch a glimpse of the shy animal and to make our tally official: it's now a three-cat day. See magicalkenya.com

DREAM TRIP 2020

It's a familiar feeling to anyone who has enjoyed a few high-altitude hikes: the moment when the haze clears and a breathtaking vista is revealed in front of you. One of my anticipated 2020 highlights is a trip to Tibet, where I expect to enjoy plenty of moments of panoramic delight.

SUE WILLIAMS

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, 6PM, JANUARY 9

We're surrounded by a crowd of locals, looking amused, if not a tad incredulous, at our ineptitude. "No, no!" cries one, unable to keep silent any longer. "Do it like this!" He picks up our weighted shuttlecock-like contraption and expertly starts kicking it in the air. Others join in and soon a fully-fledged game of Cambodia's sey – a communal keepy-uppy – is in full flight, with one of the dozen young men every so often kicking it gently towards us to keep us in the action. "Well done!" they shout encouragingly if we even manage to touch it, while they leap acrobatically into the air, heeling it backwards, heading it, and sometimes even somersaulting before a kick. When it finally grows too dark to continue, they line up to shake our hands and thank us. But no, it's us who are grateful. It's been absolutely magical. See tourismcambodia.com

DREAM TRIP 2020

MADA'IN SALEH, SAUDI ARABIA

Now that one of the least-visited countries in the world, and the birthplace of Islam, is issuing visas for tourists, I'd love to explore its first World Heritage Site the first century AD  desert city Mada'in Saleh, allegedly just as magnificent as Jordan's Petra, with splendidly ornate rock tombs. See saudi-archaeology.com

KERRY VAN DER JAGT

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

LUXOR, EGYPT, 10.31AM, OCTOBER 19

Mortuary Temple Of Hatshepsut
satdec14cover
iStock
TRAVELLER 
Kerry van der jagt (kerryvanderjagt@gmail.com)
reuse permitted for print and online

Hatshepsut Temple. Photo: iStock

Walking back from Hatshepsut Temple I spy the tent, its hint of mystery drawing me closer and beckoning me inside. I enter what appears to be a makeshift mortuary; a dim space with rows of tables topped with caskets and covered with white sheets. Before you can say, "curse of the mummy" the covers are whisked away, revealing 30 perfectly preserved wooden coffins, their hieroglyphics as vibrant as when they were sealed 3000 years ago. Discovered just four days earlier, this is one of Egypt's most significant discoveries of its type, and by chance I stumble upon the moment it is revealed at a press conference. While the occasion is surreal enough, it's the warmth of the Egyptian-led excavation team as they beckon me forward, which will stay with me forever. And that's the Egypt of today – proud, welcoming, exciting. See benchafrica.com

DREAM TRIP FOR 2020

SWIMMING WITH HUMPBACKS IN TONGA

They visit in my dreams, these giants of the deep, calling me to come and frolic in the warm Tongan waters. We have secrets to share, they say, and songs to sing, but we also have messages, about the state of our oceans and what you humans must do. See tongaholiday.com

CRAIG TANSLEY

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

TANNA ISLAND, VANUATU, 7AM, MARCH 25

The owner of Rockwater Resort meets me outside my room in his Speedos. We walk down a winding staircase crafted from limestone cliff into the sea. I dog-paddle through a cave, then follow an avenue within a coral garden to deeper water. Here on Tanna's untouched north coast you won't find clearer water. It's a marine sanctuaryand seen by very few. The colours shock me in these coral bleaching times. I swim deeper to a drastic drop-off and a squadron of manta-rays cruise ahead of me. There are reef sharks on patrol, gigantic coral trout and a bottle-nose dolphin who comes in for a gander (there are humpbacks, too, if only I'd waited till August). I surface far from shore just as the rising sun bathes the forest in gold and remember, it's Monday morning. See tanna.travel/en/,rockwaterresort.com

DREAM TRIP 2020

NORTHERN GROUP, COOK ISLANDS

Since I was a kid growing up in Rarotonga (in the southern Cook Islands), I've dreamed of seeing its almost inaccessible Northern Group. Flights are irregular and expensive; it's best to take a supply ship to these seven islands, populated by less than 800 Polynesians, spread across 2 million square kilometres of ocean. See cookislands.travel

JILL DUPLEIX

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

HOBART, TASMANIA, 8.10pm, FEBRUARY 14

I am lying flat on my back, hallucinating, with mad visions of fluorescence washing through my eyelids. Afterwards, I am led down a corridor to a room of blackness, and told to enter, on my own, with nothing to guide me. I make my way into the maze, and fumbling, find a chair to sit on. There is no sound, just my own heartbeat, the rustle of my own clothes. So this is sensory deprivation. Somehow, it doesn't feel empty and barren but full, and rich. I LOVE it. Finally, I fumble and stumble out, and stagger back to my table at Faro, the waterside restaurant at the Museum of Old and New Art, gasping for food, wine, music, people. I feed my senses with a bottle of Moorilla Estate Pinot Noir and a degustation of tapas, from char-grilled padron peppers with jamon iberico to seared Tasmanian scallops with fried cauliflower and fennel flowers. Talk about "dinner and a show". Book dinner at MONA's Faro and you have the option of adding lighting artist James Turrell's Unseen Seen and Weight of Darkness interactive installations as well. See mona.net.au

DREAM TRIP 2020

THE KIMBERLEY, WA

I'm heading for the far north-west of Australia as fast as I can. Instead of flying over it on the way to somewhere else, I dream of landing in the Kimberleys, of immersing myself in the red dust, diving under waterfalls, cruising on crystal waters, having a beer with the locals, fishing for reef fish and living on ripe mangoes, crunchy boab tubers and pearl meat. There is nowhere else in the world I can do all that in one place. see westernaustralia.com

ROB MCFARLAND

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

NIYAMA PRIVATE ISLANDS, MALDIVES, 7AM, MARCH 23

I wake with that tell-tale flutter of excitement I get on my first morning somewhere new. But this place is particularly special. This is the global benchmark for "tropical paradise". I slide open the patio door and step onto the cool, powdery white sand. Padding past my villa's private plunge pool, I weave through a narrow gap in the lush, verdant jungle and emerge to a sweeping arc of deserted beach. In front of me is a tranquil lagoon such a sublime shade of turquoise you'd swear it's been Photoshopped. It's a moment of soul-swelling wonderment. And relief. Before visiting the Maldives, I was worried the reality wouldn't meet the expectations. But the beaches really are that white. And the water genuinely is the colour of mouthwash. By the end of my stay, I've got 2000 photos to prove it. See niyama.com

DREAM TRIP 2020

CARNIVAL IN SALVADOR, BRAZIL

Rio's version might be bigger, bolder and better-known, but Salvador's Carnival, the riotous annual celebration before Easter, is reputedly more authentic and less touristy. With dozens of "blocos" (all-day street parties) to choose from over a six-day period, the only issue is stamina. See visitbrasil.com

DAVID MCGONIGAL

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

ZAMBEZI RIVER, ZIMBABWE, 1PM, JUNE 6

lunch in the Zambezi River
TRAVELLER 
David McGonigal
supplier ?
pic supplied by journalist please check for reuse

Lunch in the Zambezi River. Photo: Supplied

As our boat approaches the exposed sandbank in the middle of the river, a hippo emerges nearby to grunt, yawn and re-submerge. Looking forward we realise that the "fishermen" on the sand are staff from our Sapi Explorers Camp setting a portable table with white linen and crystal glasses for our lunch. Trepidation comes with the tomato salad when your feet are washed by the Zambezi as you dine. Sunning themselves on the same sandbank are several crocodiles and the dining serenade is provided by an invisible army of hippopotami. We are reassured that some waiters carry guns. The meal itself fades from memory because the setting is complete sensory overload.Zambezi means "great river" and eco-tourism operator Great Plains turned it into a great dining experience. See greatplainsconservation.com

DREAM TRIP 2020

MADAGASCAR

John Cleese is the television presenter who introduced me to the lemurs of Madagascar and I want to walk in his footsteps. Cute critters with names such as the fat-tailed dwarf lemur and the white-footed sportive lemur await. The culture of the Malagasy people that merges their south-east Asian and East African heritage fascinates, too. See madaclassic.com

BEN GROUNDWATER

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, 10.30AM, JANUARY 21

Our flight is about to be called. My partner Jess and I have all of our clothes and supplies and essentials packed, we've checked in, we've taken care of everything that can be taken care of, we've got our five-month-old son Angus in his stroller and we're ready to go. Well, as ready as you can be. From here wel fly to Singapore. From there we connect to Spain where we will spend the next 12 months, living in a foreign country, existing in an unknown place. We're filled with excitement and trepidation and a mind-boggling sense of possibility at what taking your first child to live in a foreign land can mean. This could be good or great or a complete disaster. And it's almost time to go.

DREAM TRIP 2020

 This is the one I will be embarking on soon: the challenge of getting my young family back home to Australia, via Rome, Bologna, Istanbul, Beirut and Bangkok, with, we hope, the minimum of tantrums – from all of us.

JULIE MILLER

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT 2019

TRITON BAY, WEST PAPUA, 8.30AM, MARCH 9

Work ethic be damned – a siren is singing her mellifluous aria. I'm scheduled to embark on a two-hour hike through the steamy jungle but our luxury expedition ship, Kudanil Explorer, is moored off a fantasy island, a powder crescent lapped by a diaphanous mermaid's playground, beckoning with irresistible seduction. It's down to the flip of coin; and when the head falls, my tail follows. Grabbing two boards, fellow passenger Harrald and I paddle towards the swaying palms; but by the time we arrive, the Kudanil crew has already transformed our desert island into a private beach club, complete with sunbeds and makeshift bar for our comfort and pleasure. Pina coladas at 9am? Don't mind if I do. But wait, I've forgotten my camera battery, left charging bedside. No worries, madam, we'll fetch that. Minutes later, my battery arrives via drone, wrapped in a cigarette box and dropped literally at my feet. Such sweet indulgence, in paradise found.

DREAM TRIP 2020

PUERTO RICO

Devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, the "forgotten" American colony of Puerto Rico is desperately in need of tourism support as it continues its rise from the rubble. Its salsa rhythm is calling, and with a rich history, beautiful beaches, pristine rainforest and Latino verve, I'm looking forward to contributing towards its recovery.

NINA KARNIKOWSKI

LAKE ATITLAN, GUATEMALA, 4.30 PM, MAY 12

Leaning into my backstrap loom, one end tied around my back and the other around a tree, I push the wooden shuttle through the rose, taupe and cream-coloured cotton threads. I'm sitting on the grass by the shores of Lake Atitlan, surrounded by the 11 women who have taken this five-day weaving workshop with me, and the local Mayan women who have helped guide us through it. We are quiet and focused, full of respect for this ancient artform which Guatemalan women have been mastering since pre-Colombian times, in order to make the flamboyantly coloured clothing they still wear today. My teacher, a tiny woman named Francisca who has been weaving for over 40 years, sits beside me. When I turn and catch her eye, she smiles and nods, like she knows exactly what I'm thinking. That this process is far more difficult than I could ever have imagined, and infinitely more rewarding. See adventureguatemala.com

DREAM TRIP 2020

BHUTAN

With the call to live and travel more sustainability growing louder, I am itching to see how the Bhutanese – who inhabit a carbon negative country, and who eschew GDP in favour of Gross National Happiness – are doing things. Bhutan's luscious new Six Senses lodges provide extra motivation. See sixsenses.com/en/resorts/bhutan

Comments