2017… a year of change in more ways than one.
It foretells of exploration: expeditions through landscapes of snow and ice, parting the leaves of lush green jungles, roaming the hidden streets of urban cultural gems, and dipping your toes in the turquoise surf of exotic shores.
If that wasn’t enough to rekindle your sense of adventure, read on for the top five destinations set to make waves in 2017.
Previously the stuff of ground-breaking television documentaries, Antarctica now presents itself as one of the top destinations for those in search of going boldly where many have not been before.
One hundred years after Shackleton’s Antarctic crossing, visitors can now marvel at the icy kingdom, this time in less treacherous conditions. Spot killer whales swimming in search of their next feed, watch leopard seals sleeping on icebergs and witness penguins ruling their natural habitat like you’ve never seen them before.
Like many of the world’s great phenomena, this natural wonderland will not be around forever, so if you wish to see something truly unforgettable, it might be time to invest in those snow boots.
A handy app: For a multimedia insight, download Antarctica – Standing on the Bottom of the World (available from the Apple App Store) by Robert Flynn.
Here you’ll discover what it’s really like to visit the icy continent, along with things to consider before you go and what to look forward to ahead of your epic adventure.
The place to be in 2017 – after hosting some pretty big sporting events in last few years the country is on the up.
Visitors can expect a packed itinerary upon arrival, whether capturing beautiful old colonial towns on film or shaking it into the night at the country’s vivacious Carnaval.
São Paulo or “Sampa”, one of the top ten biggest metropolises on earth, is worth investigating for its offerings of arthouse cinema, gourmet bistros and underground clubbing scene.
Head to Rio for some of the world’s most coveted beaches (perhaps you’ll spot the girl from Ipanema) and trek through the jungle that clings to its outskirts for a refreshingly one-of-a-kind hike. Reach the top of Corcovado and not only will you be met by the imposing and iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer – but one of the most magnificent views the world has to offer.
A handy app: Whilst planning your trip, use Nativoo’s free Brazil Travel Guide (available from Google Play) to create itineraries based on your to-do list, and access comprehensive information on the country’s major cities, including Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and São Paulo.
If you’re searching for somewhere on home turf, Leeds in West Yorkshire is a must-visit UK city.
Firmly on the map thanks to the recent popularity of shows such as Downton Abbey, the city is also known famously as the home of M&S and as a giant in textile manufacturing. Leeds offers more than just an abundance of shopping arcades and great restaurants – the quaint towns of Haworth and Hebden Bridge plus the Yorkshire Dales are all within reasonable driving distance.
For history buffs, a visit to the magnificent Kirkstall Abbey will reveal the city in a medieval light, whilst art lovers can admire the greats hanging from the walls of the Leeds Art Gallery, including John Constable and JMW Turner.
Brontë fans can enjoy a lovely, short train ride to Keighley, where they can catch the bus to the beautiful village of Haworth, former home of the literary world’s most celebrated sisters. After conquering a steep hill, visitors can duck into vintage tearooms and bookshops and enjoy a drink in the pub on the way back down, whilst waiting for the bus ride home.
A handy app: Updated on a daily basis, Sarah Vella’s Leeds Offline Travel Guide gives you access to detailed maps with location-based navigation, so you can get from A to B quicker. Discover the latest shopping hot spots, top restaurants and bars, and the best places to stay (if you fancy making a weekend of it). Available from Apple’s App Store.
Whilst Southeast Asia may evoke images of Full Moon parties, beach huts and sipping from a coconut, the popular travel destinations of the noughties have now made way for a new wave of alluring escapes – with Malaysia at the helm.
The neon city of Kuala Lumpur offers an experience of extremes; skyscrapers shadow traditional temples and mosques, and downtown businessmen rub shoulders with traditional street sellers on their daily commute to work.
If getting lost in this illuminated metropolis is not on your agenda, then this multicultural country offers other adventures in abundance – particularly when trekking into the wilds of Borneo.
Visit Sarawak in the northwest, home of Bako National Park, where you can hike through beautiful rainforests whilst discovering many forms of wildlife on your way. Try Semenggoh Nature Reserve for a less touristy chance to mingle with some 25 orang-utans waiting to meet you.
A handy app: Whilst jungle jaunts might be worth planning from home, the Kuala Lumpur Guide & Hotels app (available from Google Play) offers inspiration for when you arrive in the Malaysian capital, from weather updates to an offline currency converter and attractions list – and an ATM locator for when you most need it!
Stieg Larsson, The Bridge, Vikings… just a few things that spring to mind when we think of the Scandinavian jewel of Sweden.
Now there’s all the more reason to experience what this Nordic kingdom has to offer. Start off in super-stylish Stockholm where you’ll enjoy indulging in some of the country’s finest cuisine, including wild boar, moose, and venison with seasonal local produce such as mushrooms and lingonberries.
After feasting here, move onto the university town of Umeå (it was the European Capital of Culture in 2014) in the north to immerse yourself in Swedish culture. Visit the Västerbottens Museum with its historical photography exhibition, the Bildmuséet for modern art, and don’t miss the open-air, living cultural showcase of Friluftsmuséet.
Interesting places to discover nearby include the Älgens Hus (elk farm) where you can sample elk cheeses and the quaint little island of Holmön, accessible by ferry from Norrfjärden.
A handy app: The Sweden and Stockholm offline map app offers adventurers free GPS (handy when going off the beaten track) with a compass and phrase book – if you’re bold enough to ask for directions yourself. Happy exploring! Available from Apple’s App Store.