GeoEx’s 8 Top Travel Destinations in 2024
We at Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx) are passionate about exploring the world and introducing others to the wonders we find. Every year the company sends virtually all our staff to far-flung corners of the globe with a two-fold mission: to field-test and refine our current offerings, and to discover amazing new places and activities for our travelers. We asked our destination specialists which places they are especially excited to share with travelers in 2024.
Our focus this year is on off-the-beaten-path travel treasures, whether rarely visited countries such as Algeria, Bhutan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, or little-explored regions of more popular destinations, such as Shikoku island in Japan, Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains, and Ladakh in India.
Here are our top 8 travel destinations for 2024:
And here’s why:
Still well off the mainstream tourist path, Algeria offers an exhilarating combination of history, culture, cuisine, and landscape. From its rich artistic traditions and palate-expanding culinary creations to its awe-inspiring deserts and mountains, it’s got everything – except swarms of tourists. An in-depth immersion begins with the historic cities and Mediterranean coastline of the fertile north, then moves on to little-visited UNESCO-listed Roman ruins, ancient caravan routes through the pink-hued dunes and mud-brick towns of the Sahara Desert, olive plantations and vineyards in the foothills of the Tell Atlas range, and mountain villages where traditional Berber culture still thrives. Experienced this way, Algeria will open and enrich even the seasoned traveler’s eyes and mind.
This Buddhist kingdom in the Himalaya has inspiring mountain scenery, pristine landscapes (more than 70 percent of the country is still covered by forest), riveting temples and dzongs (fortress monasteries), vibrant festivals, gorgeous woven textiles, traditional, devout, and friendly people, and comfortable accommodations that range from modest to high end. Equally inspiring is the country’s commitment to sustainable tourism development, as exemplified in the Sustainable Development Fee that all visitors pay; the revenue generated by this visionary fee supports environmental and cultural conservation, sustainable tourism, education, infrastructure, and healthcare. We especially recommend hiking into central Bhutan, through hidden valleys and tiny terraced hamlets, where travelers can experience off-the-beaten-path cultural encounters and deeply personal interactions.
With the addition of luxury lodges and resorts such as Shinta Mani Wild in the Cardamom Mountains and Six Senses Krabey Island in the sea off the southern coast, travelers can now enjoy a true luxury immersion in Cambodia, blending ancient ruins and culture, cuisine and handicrafts, rainforest and jungle, and ending with a sublime beach stay. In the little-visited Cardamom Forest Protected Area, options for hiking, mountain biking, boating, and bird-watching abound. We also recommend boating through lush forest to Tatai village, where visitors can enjoy walking by the river, kayaking through mangroves, and listening to the symphonic sounds of wildlife from a floating lodge. In Angkor, after exploring the glorious temples, venture farther to visit the rarely touristed pre-Angkorian temples at Sambor Prei Kuk.
We believe that travel in India will richly rebound in 2024. The remote riches of Ladakh will now be more readily accessible due to the completion of a road into Zanskar which we are especially excited about. We heartily encourage travelers to explore the verdant valleys, cliff-hanging monasteries, charming villages, and breathtaking Himalayan landscapes here. We’re also excited about the return of the spectacular Hornbill festival in Nagaland, a 10-day celebration of 16 local tribes and their cultures, with music, dance, arts, and a variety of other activities. Other off-the-beaten-path adventures we recommend include watching for Royal Bengal tigers, rhinoceros, and water buffalo on safari in little-touristed Kaziranga National Park, and visiting the hard-to-reach tribal areas in Odisha, where local residents share their disappearing ways of life.
Just beginning to open to tourism, Iraq is a fascinating destination where travelers can dive deeply into ancient and contemporary history, explore off-the-beaten-path local markets and cultural centers, and experience the warmth and hospitality of the Iraqi people. Journeying deep into the heart of the country, marvel at the magnificent, millennia-old architecture of Ur, Uruk, and Ctesiphon, join pilgrims in fervent prayer and devotion in Najaf and Karbala, two of the holiest cities in Islam, and cruise in the serenity of the Mesopotamian Marshes by mashoof boat, learning about the recovery of the fragile ecosystem and unique culture here. Along the way, be sure to make time to explore the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia, including the legendary city of Babylon, and witness the birthplace of some of the world’s earliest inventions and discoveries; as you travel, you’ll be vitally contributing to the regeneration of this war-torn and wonder-filled country.
While Japan is a perennially popular destination, most travelers rarely venture beyond Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. We recommend adventuring far off the beaten tourist path to the unspoiled island of Shikoku, nestled in the Inland Sea between the main island of Honshu and the Pacific Ocean. Shikoku presents another Japan of pristine landscapes, pilgrimage temples, and country kindness. Slow down and savor the fervent spirit that enlivens the 88-temple pilgrims’ route that encircles the island. Explore its rural reaches, from the deeply forested mountains of cedar and pine to the spectacular coastal beaches and crags. Open yourself to enriching encounters with fishermen, farmers, priests, and chefs. Venture to the isolated Iya Valley for unforgettable stays in a renovated 300-year-old thatched-roof farmhouse, and a remote inn with an open-air riverside onsen hot spring bath that can be reached only by cable car.
Saudi Arabia is at the precipice of a profound evolution, and for travelers who want to see the traditional kingdom before it changes, 2024 is the year to go. Venture to sites that few Westerners have observed, such as Shaqra and the heritage village of Ushaiger in the Nejd. Visit the UNESCO-listed ancient palaces at At-Turaif, the vibrant souks and camel market near Riyadh, and the neolithic rock art etched into cliffs near Jubbah. Other highlights include being transported by the evening call to prayer at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, exploring the historic Al Balad quarter of Jeddah, and admiring the ancient sandstone monuments of Hegra.
GeoEx believes that 2024 will be Sri Lanka’s year to shine. Now robustly recovered after a period of internal conflict, Sri Lanka offers an enchanting abundance of riches: delicious and innovative cuisine, remarkable wildlife and biodiversity, layered history, illuminating museums and monuments, and fabulous hotels. With experiences ranging from wandering the resonant ruins of an ancient capital, to hiking the lush, rolling hills of colonial tea estates, to tracking Asian elephants through the jungle, to savoring fiery curries and mingling at an art-filled bazaar, Sri Lanka is an endless surprise.
Ready to start planning your 2024 adventures? Contact our travel experts at 888-570-7108.