It’s not often destinations like Poland, Tasmania and Nepal make it to the top of one’s overflowing bucket-list, but the team of travel experts at Trafalgar list them among the hottest non-mainstream destinations to visit in 2019.
Eastern Europe has emerged as great value for South Africans, with destinations like Dubrovnik, Budapest and Prague increasingly popular in recent years. But consider adding Poland to the mix in 2019 if you’re a history and culture buff, says Teresa Richardson, MD South Africa for The Travel Corporation, which counts Trafalgar as one of the brands in its travel portfolio.
Why: Centuries of tradition, turmoil and triumph make Poland the veritable phoenix of Europe. Virtually destroyed during World War II and subjected to decades of Soviet rule, Poland has emerged as a vibrant European country, while retaining its fascinating heritage.
When: March to May
What: Explore the rebuilt centre of Warsaw, the medieval Old Towns of Gdansk, Wroclaw and Kraków, and Auschwitz.
Top tip: Admire the daily display of Poznań’s mechanical fighting goats above the clock on the Town Hall, and learn about the legend that led the goats to be added to the clock.
Only with Trafalgar: Immerse yourself in Toruń’s gingerbread tradition during a visit to the Living Museum of Gingerbread where you’ll get to bake your own creation.
New to Trafalgar in 2019 is Antarctica, a world of white and one of the last remaining wilderness areas. “We’ve included four standalone departures on the Sea Spirit to Antarctica, which in future you would be able to connect to our other trips to Patagonia and South America,” says Lieria Boshoff, Marketing Executive The Travel Corporation.
Why: Dare to tread where few do – the Antarctic is one of those destinations that many think is beyond their grasp. You’ll board an expedition ship and pass the Beagle Channel like Charles Darwin once did, then journey through the swirling convergence of several oceans, heading south to a desolate white wilderness.
When: February or December
What: Slice through the icy waters of Drakes Passage to the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula.
Top tip: Check how many passengers your ship is carrying because in the Antarctic, only 100 people can land on the islands at one time.
Only with Trafalgar: Take a Zodiac excursion to experience this wilderness first hand, watching as the sun glistens on the golden furs of sails lazing on ice floes, sliding down snowy slopes and kayaking through the icy waters in search of marine life.
The adventurer in you will adore a once-in-a-lifetime wilderness experience in Alaska. From the wilds of Denali’s tundra and snow-capped peaks, to Hurricane Gulch and the Kenai Fjords National Park, this destination is certainly for nature lovers, says Bronwyn Strydom, Trafalgar South Africa Marketing Manager.
Why: It seems almost impossible that such scenic natural beauty remains in the 21st century, but in Alaska, you’ll certainly be spoilt for choice and learn why it justifiably earns its nickname “The Great Land”.
When: May to September
What: Highlights along the journey must certainly include Denali National Park, the Tanana River Valley, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Anchorage to gain insights into the heritage of Alaska’s 11 major cultural groups.
Top tip: While keeping your eyes peeled for bear, dahl sheep and moose, don’t forget to look up – there are 169 species of bird in Denali National Park.
- Only with Trafalgar: Board an iconic train journey through Alaska’s wilderness aboard the Alaska Railroad to Anchorage and past such icons as Hurricane Gulch and Indian River Canyon.
Embark on a soul-stirring journey to the spiritual centre of Nepal – an ancient mountain kingdom whose palaces, temples and golden roofs reveal traditions that have remained unchanged for centuries. “This is the perfect addition if you’re travelling to India,” says Jessica Clarke, Marketing Executive The Travel Corporation.
Why: Discover a simpler way of life and reconnect with yourself during your spiritual interlude with Nepal and its devoted locals. Home to the world’s highest peaks, the surrounding nature of Nepal provides a magnificent backdrop for your soulful retreat.
When: October and November
What: Take a city tour through the heard of Kathmandu’s old town and UNESCO-listed Durbar Square. Visit a Tibetan Refugee Camp and admire the beautiful architecture reflected in the local temples and palaces.
Top tip: Be aware of Hindu traditions and rules, especially those that apply to eating and drinking, and touching others.
Only with Trafalgar: Visit the Krishna Temple and Golden Temple in Patan and witness the delicate art of thangka painting, as you visit a painting school to observe students painting religious scenes on cotton and silk.
What could be better than an epic journey along Tasmania’s east coast, with its secluded bays, pink granite mountains and pristine sandy beaches? asks Amanda Hardy, responsible for Public Relations for The Travel Corporation. A particular highlight suggested by Hardy is a cruise of the Freycinet Peninsula and lunch while you’re anchored in beautiful Wineglass Bay.
Why: That a destination as beautiful as Tasmania could ever be regarded as the depths of hell, seems almost incredible. But centuries ago, Tassie’s reputation as a harsh penal colony was world-renowned. Today, its pristine bays, tropical rainforest and friendly cities provide a warm welcome, even when the weather isn’t behaving – which locals will tell you, is often.
When: October and November
What: Visit Bridestowe Lavender Estate in Launceston and Great Oyster Bay, and delve into Tasmania’s convict past at Port Arthur Historic Site.
Top tip: Four seasons in one day – that’s what you’ll need to expect when visiting Tasmania. Make sure you’ve packed appropriately and bring a raincoat along.
Only with Trafalgar: Meet Anne Kernke at Shene Estate for a walking tour of the property’s stunning colonial-era buildings and a morning tea selection of home-baked goodies in her private residence.