MondayÂ newslettersÂ always featureÂ top 10 travel listsÂ to inspire.
Today (January 7, 2019): My 2019 trips that I am most excited about.
At the end of the past year, I reflected onÂ my most memorable travel experiences of 2018. But now that 2019 is finally here, itâs time to look forward and share with you 10 great trips that I am planning forÂ the coming year and that I am looking forward toÂ share with you in my Wednesday blog posts (which always feature aÂ flight trip reportsÂ andÂ luxury hotel reviews).
If you haveÂ some tips and suggestions for my upcoming trips, please share them in theÂ comments sectionÂ below!
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10. FLYING BUSINESS CLASS IN AN AVIANCAÂ BOEING 787
In spring 2019, I am going on a short weekend trip to Columbia, to attend the wedding of one my best friends in Cartagena. I had different options to choose from regarding my flight from Europe to Columbia, and in the end, I booked a transatlantic flight in Business Class on a B787 Dreamliner of Avianca from Madrid to Bogota (I could also have flown Iberia or Lufthansa but decided to try Avianca for the purpose of this blog, since I have already covered the Business Class products of Iberia and Lufthansa). Avianca is the flagship carrier of Columbia and the second largest airline in Latin America, after LATAM.Â Avianca is also theÂ world’s second oldest airlineÂ afterÂ KLM, and celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2009, when it was announced that it would merge withÂ TACA. Avianca’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners have 28 seats in Business Class in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout, and the premium product gets excellent reviews on other blogs, so I am looking forward to thisÂ flight. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make nice trip report!
9. ENJOYING ISLAND LIFE IN BORA BORA
The lush stripÂ of land called Bora Bora lies in the South Pacific OceanâsÂ most mesmerizing lagoon and has, as you probably expect, some pretty awesomeÂ beaches. Luxurious bungalows nestled over ridiculously clear waters with Mount Otemanu as a tropical backdropÂ putÂ Bora BoraÂ in the bucket list of many travelers. I am planning a week-long (return) trip to Bora Bora in October, which should be the end of the dry season. I will stay at theÂ St RegisÂ andÂ Four SeasonsÂ resorts, both of them representingÂ the best French Polynesia has to offer in terms of accommodations. I also intendÂ to stay at theÂ The Brando ResortÂ on French Polynesiaâs private island of Tetiaroa â an atoll composed of a dozen small islands surrounding a sparkling lagoon 30 mi (50 km) northeast of Tahiti. It was in this natural wonderland that actor Marlon Brando settled down and finally found his home (hence explaining the name of the resort).Â I will fly to French PolynesiaÂ in Business Class onÂ Air Tahi NuiÂ via Tokyo for just 25 USD and 80,000 milesÂ American Airline miles.Â I am also exploring the possibility of visiting Easter Island on my way back home, sinceÂ LATAM operates direct flights between Tahiti and Easter Island. Easter Island is home not only to monumental statues, calledÂ moai,Â but also to the famous Rapa Nui lodge.
8. FLYING BUSINESS CLASS ONBOARD A KLM A330
Dutch carrierÂ KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is one of my favorite airlines in the world. I love KLM’s super-friendly cabin crew (in their oh-so-recognizable blue cabin attendant uniforms) and the carrier’sÂ attention for design elements – such as Marcel Wanders tableware, theÂ Jan Taminiau amenty kit, and the Delft Blue miniature Dutch houses (filled with gin).Â KLMÂ is currently completing the retrofitting of its A330 aircraft with new World Business Class cabin interiors and seats, created by renowned Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. The Business Class cabins of all KLMâs Boeings 747, 777-200 and 777-300 have already undergone this transformation. KLMâs Boeing 787 Dreamliners already have the new-style World Business Class cabins. KLMâs new World Business Class features full-flat seats, in-seat power, improved privacy, and a brand-new personal entertainment system with an 18â screen, HD quality films and a touchscreen navigation menu in 12 languages. I have booked a Business Class ticket on one of KLM’s A330s for my trip to Rwanda early 2019 (more on that below). I keep my fingers crossed that KLM will have finished the refurbishment of its A330 fleet by the time I am flying them (the old product is underwhelming), so that I can report on the (hopefully great) product.
7. AN EPIC JOURNEY THROUGH NAMIBIA, BOTSWANA, AND ZIMBABWE
In summer 2019, I will follow in the footsteps of Dr Livingstone and brace for one of thÃ©Â ultimate trips that one can make in a lifetime. I will travel from the mightyÂ Victoria Falls in ZimbabweÂ to South Africaâs magnificent Mother City Cape Town, an epic journey that will bring me through the vast wilderness of Namibia and Botswana, covering all of Southern Africaâs highlights. I will hike in the Fish River Canyon, spot wildlife in Etosha National Park, track predators in the Okavango Delta, watch the sun rise over the worldâs highest dunes in Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, and get sprayed by theÂ worldâs largest sheet of falling water at Victoria Falls. I will end my journey in pure chill inÂ my favorite city on earth,Â Cape Town, with its stunning beaches, beautiful mountains,Â invitingÂ vineyards, spectacularÂ drives, and tons of trendy bars and fine dining restaurants. En route, I will stay in some of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife lodges, including the terrific Belmond propertiesÂ and & Beyond safari lodgesÂ in Botswana, as well as some of the ultraluxurious Wilderness SafariÂ camps, such as Mombo CampÂ and Abu Camp in the Okavango Delta, Little KualaÂ in Sossuvlei and the new Hoanib Skeleton Coast lodge in Namibia’sÂ remote area of the Kaokoveld.
6. AMAN TOUR IN INDIA
Stretching from the Himalaya mountains and theÂ Ranthambore jungle to the beaches of Goa and the lush tropical greenery ofÂ Kerala, India is larger than life, with a population that exceeds a billion, 23 official languages and more than a million square miles of land. WithÂ more than 5,000 years of history and an amazing array of natural landscapes, it could truly take a lifetime to experience all that India has to offer.Â And while India inspires, astonishes and enlightens many who tread her soil, deciding where to visit in the country is probably the one thing that causes me headaches and indecision, since India isÂ so vast and varied. Like many first-time visitors, I will focus on the destination of Rajasthan, because of its opulent palace-hotels, ancient forts, and safari drives. I will stay at the two Indian outposts of Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand. Set on a former royal hunting ground, Amanbagh recalls Indiaâs Golden Age of pomp and palaces, while luxe tented camp Aman-i-KhÃ¡s borders the untouched jungle of a tiger preserve, where daily safaris seek out the largest of cats as well as hyenas, crocodiles and chital deer.Â I will also stay at the Oberoi Amarvilas Resort near the iconic Taj Mahal, and the famousÂ Oberoi UdaivilasÂ andÂ Taj Lake PalaceÂ properties in Udaipur.
5. A RETURN VISIT TO THE MALDIVES’ ORIGINAL ISLAND HIDEAWAY: SONEVA FUSHI
Each year, I take a week-long holiday in the Maldives, and this year, I am returning to one of my favorite resorts: Soneva Fushi (so except some more Soneva clips on my Youtube channel).Â Soneva Fushi, the first âRobinson Crusoeâ style hideaway in the Maldives, is set on the privately owned tropical island of Kunfunadhoo in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The island â which is 1,400 m (4,600 ft) long and 400 m (1300 ft) wide â ranks among the largest islands in the Maldives. Apart from the crystal clear waters, white beaches and tropical climate, the islandâs unusually rich vegetation offers a unique natural experience. Massive, multi-bedroom, fairytale-likeÂ luxury villasÂ and private residences are hidden among dense tropical foliage.Â In keeping with the castaway theme, many are built to resemble tree houses. All open to their own private stretch of sugarÂ white sands,Â and mostÂ boast their own private seawater swimming pools. Intuitive service is provided by Mr/Ms Friday butlersÂ who know what you want before you want it.Â A stroll on the islandâs spotless beaches invariably summons up Robinson Crusoe stories.
Contact meÂ to receiveÂ complimentaryÂ Soneva ambassador benefitsÂ at Soneva FushiÂ (e.g. upgrade, resort credit, and a personalized Soneva experience).
4. FLYING IN BUSINESS CLASS ONBOARD AN AIR FRANCE B787 DREAMLINER
In 2016, Air France welcomed its very first Boeing 787. Today, the flagship carrier of France has 7 Dreamliners in its fleet, operating flights toÂ several long-haul destinations, such as Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Bamako (Mali), Bogota (Colombia), Boston (United States), Detroit (United States), Guangzhou (China), Montreal (Canada), Nairobi (Kenya), Male (Maldives) and Osaka (Japan).Â The Boeing 787 features Air France’s most recent Business Class cabins. There are a total of 30 Business Class seats, with a 42-inch (106 cm) pitch, configured in a 1-2-1 layout, with direct aisle access for all passengers. EachÂ Business Class seat converts into a 2 meter (6.5 ft) fully-flat bed, with Air France saying that “everything has been designed to ensure an impeccable quality of sleep, with soft seat cushions, a silky duvet and an XXL feather pillowâ. Each passenger also has a 16-inch (41 cm) wide HD touch screen. I have previously flown with Air France on several occasions before I launched my blog/vlog, so I am happy to fly them again (on the Paris to Male route), enabling me to experience their newest Business Class offering and make a trip report and clip about the experience.
3. A HOLIDAY IN THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND NATION, THE SEYCHELLES
In 2019, I am making a return visit to one of my favorite destinations on earth, the Seychelles,Â an archipelago of legendary beauty in the Indian Ocean, just south of the Equator and east of Kenya. The Seychelles’ 115 coral and granite islands, which are the peaks of a massiveÂ underwater plateau,Â star in countless tropical island fantasies and representÂ one of the worldâs very last frontiers. Once your aircraft descends into the Seychelles International Airport, you know that you have arrived at a place of awe-inspiring scenery,Â withÂ granitic mountain ranges clad inÂ virgin jungleÂ cascading down to hauntingly beautiful, palm fringed, with sandÂ beaches. TheÂ Seychelles beckon travelers to their shores, by offering adventure, romance andÂ luxury resortsÂ in pristine surroundings. IMHO,Â its unrivaled sceneryÂ makes the Seychelles theÂ planetâs best beach destinationÂ (even better than that other famous Indian Ocean destination that I like so much, theÂ Maldives). I have booked a stay at 4 of the Seychelles’ most exclusive hotels: Banyan Tree Seychelles, Four Seasons Seychelles, Maia Luxury Resort, and Raffles Praslin. I will publish trip reports and Youtube clips of each resort after completion of my stay.
2. A TRIP IN THE WORLDâS BEST BUSINESS CLASS, THE QATAR AIRWAY QSUITE
Qatar AirwaysÂ is one ofÂ my favorite carriers for flying Business Class. And the airline â which is still facing difficulties following aÂ severe diplomatic crisis in the Middle EastÂ â took its Business Class product to a new, unprecedented level last year. The so-called âQSuiteâ offers the industryâs first-ever Business Class double bed, with privacy panels that stow away, allowing passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room.Â Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors on the centre four seats allow colleagues, friends or families traveling together to transform their space into a private suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialize together. Each seat is crafted with thoughtful and luxurious details such as hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold finishing, bringing an unprecedented level of luxury, privacy and style to Qatar Airwaysâ Business Class offering. The Qsuites are currently available on the carrier’s newly delivered A350-1000 aircraft; in addition, Qatarâs B777 fleet is retrofitted with QSuites at an estimated rate of one aircraft a month. I have booked myself into a QSuiteÂ for my trip to the Seychelles (Paris to Doha). Letâs just hope that Qatar does no make a last-minute aircraft swap since that would ruin the opportunity to make a nice trip report :). I will publish my trip report in March 2019.
1. TRACKING MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN AFRICAâS NEWEST TRAVEL HOTSPOT, RWANDA
SpottingÂ a wild gorilla in the African jungle is on many peopleâs bucketÂ list and ranks among myÂ favorite wildlife experienceÂ in the world.Â Mountain gorillas are the most majestic, and sadly, rarest apes of allÂ non-human primates.Â Only 700 of these magnificent creatures remain in the world, all of them found in the border area between Rwanda, Uganda and theÂ Democratic Republic of the Congo. A guided gorilla tracking takes anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, and allows you to spend one hour with the apes once you found them. I have previously spotted mountain gorillas in Ugandaâs magnificent Bwindi National Park (more than a decade ago), an awesome adventure inspired by my emotions after seeing the movieÂ Gorillas In The Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey. Early 2019, I am traveling to Rwanda, which is emerging as one of the most exciting new luxury destinations in Africa. I will be staying at two of the countries most exclusive lodges,Â One&Only Nyungwe HouseÂ which is situated on a working tea plantation on the edge of Nyungwe National Park (and the first of two new One&Only resorts to open in Rwanda) and ultraluxeÂ Bisate Lodge, which is managed by Wilderness safaris and comprises onlyÂ six spacious forest villas, offering a luxurious base from which to enjoy an extraordinary gorilla experience. I will publish my Rwanda trip reports in February.
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