Top 10 Destinations for 2020
A culinary movement, a solar eclipse, visa-free entry—there is an abundance of newsworthy events making travel in 2020 extraordinary. Dedicated to scouring the globe, delving into new places, and scouting out events on the horizon, each year we unearth hidden treasures and hot tips for your next adventure. We revisit favorite places, investigate what’s different, and update itineraries to take advantage of new opportunities. Here are our top picks for places you shouldn’t miss in 2020.
Endlessly revealing new experiences and sights, Japan has captured our hearts. Of course, in 2020 there’s the Olympics. But there’s much more to see and do in Japan before or after the Olympics. Every island and prefecture has something unique to offer, much of it rarely seen by the average traveler.
“Get off the beaten path on the little-visited southern island of Shikoku. There you can trace a 9th-century, 88-temple pilgrimage trail that circles the island, bathe in a celebrated 19th-century onsen hot spring spa, and eat the local specialty known as katsuo no tatake (lightly seared fresh bonito that is a little taste of heaven). Stay in a beautifully renovated 300-year-old thatched-roof farmhouse and explore pristine, isolated mountain valleys where old traditions still thrive.”—Don George, GeoEx Trip Leader
With a new peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, now is the time to visit this developing country. We are so excited to finally be launching travel in Eritrea this year. Long on our list, we have worked hard to make the right connections to offer a high-quality trip in a challenging yet highly rewarding destination.
“The dramatic landscapes from inland forest to coastal archipelagoes, wildlife potential including baboons and elephants, and mixture of Art Deco and Arabic architecture are irresistible. We will have staff in the field in 2020 and expect to launch a small group departure by the end of the year.” —Kristina Tuohey, Product Development Team
Truly the ends of the earth, the Arctic Circle is feeling the effects of climate change, creating an urgency to see it now. From tiny tundra wildflowers to massive polar bears, there is much to see among majestic fjords and jagged peaks.
“The simplicity and beauty of this area makes a great backdrop for wildlife and adventure. Arctic Expeditions are humbling; filled with moments so pure and unscripted, it is always a profound experience and a privilege.”—Kim Anderson, Travel Designer
Think you’ve seen Mexico? Think again. We are constantly uncovering new hidden gems here and the cuisine is always evolving. We found a tamale shop in Juarez returning to their roots and making everything from scratch, including the maiz. Let us show you a whole new side of this country.
“Mexico City is on FIRE with amazing new restaurants, art, and basically everything. It’s feeling like the center of the world right now. In the gastronomic scene, there is a trend to recover the traditional cuisine—not just in the fancy restaurants that you’ve heard of like Pujol; there are a lot of chefs that are working with smaller producers of organic crops. You have Xochimilco in the south of the city where they grow organic produce inside of the city on floating islands—as well as cacao, coffee, etc. Mexico City has changed HUGELY in the last 10 years in this regard.”—Jennine Cohen, Travel Designer
This year, Saudi Arabia opened its doors with the launch of a previously-unavailable tourist visa. Take advantage of this new access combined with GeoEx’s experience (we’ve been traveling there for over a decade) to see it before it’s on everyone’s list.
“Change is palpable here—it’s an extraordinarily exciting time to peer inside a destination that has been largely closed to visitors. There’s a spectacular spectrum of diverse attractions, from ancient archeological sites to modern cities, mud-brick forts to verdant forests to red-sand dunes. We can arrange exclusive access to private Saudi homes, museum collections, art galleries, and art collectives. I loved meeting Saudi women, local families, and up-and-coming artisans on my recent trip there.”—Tina Liadis, Travel Designer
With the peso hitting an all-time low you can get more out of your trip, and there is so much to see.
“Mendoza has become the new ‘it’ spot for outdoor lovers and wine enthusiasts. New wineries are opening all the time, and there’s a great new way to see them: wine safaris. Utilizing Africa-style safari vehicles, these roam from winery to winery with stops for open-air picnics en route. Wine-makers are also expanding into craft beer, so the town is also a mecca for microbreweries and artisan beers. Argentina is also a prime viewing spot for the total solar eclipse in 2020. Go there!” —Jennine Cohen, Travel Designer
Conservation is working in South Africa. Singita’s 33,000-acre private concession located inside Kruger’s National Park enjoys continued support and this important work pays off for wildlife and those lucky enough to visit. This sustainable tourism model has come to fruition with a resurgence of diverse wildlife drawn to the area and ongoing support from the lodge and its guests. Newly upgraded, these lodges complete the experience. And the conservation efforts of Luke Bailes at Singita are having a big impact. Our guests are reporting that the wildlife viewing in Singita’s northern Kruger concession is comparable or exceeds what they’ve seen at Sabi Sands.
“Food and wildlife are exciting right now. I just met with chef Peter Tempelhoff, who is always wowing Cape Town with rock star-level cuisine, integrating African and Japanese flavors at Fyn. Your after-dinner address should be at the elegant Ellerman House.”—Kate Doty, Premier Access Travel Designer
We can’t get enough of Ladakh, with its rarely-hiked trails, Tibetan-influenced culture, and the chance of a snow leopard sighting, but it’s the kind, welcoming, and authentic people who have left the strongest impression on us. We are delighted to be launching a small group departure here later this year.
“Ladakh is a truly unique and beautiful place, full of people who can be characterized the same way. Its landscape is absolutely breathtaking, with towering snow-capped peaks, multi-colored hills, and pristine lakes of glacial runoff. The stunning natural landscape is dotted with beautiful mountaintop monasteries and brightened by colorful prayer flags playing with the wind. Gradually, change is happening in this remote corner of the world. Go there now to experience a feeling of complete immersion and escape.” —Sam Hyatt, Travel Designer
Approximately one-third of the world’s remaining rainforest is in Brazil, but that’s far from the only reason you should visit. This year the country stopped requiring visas for US citizens and opened some spectacular new properties, raising the bar for luxury accommodation and dining.
“With no visa now required (it was a complicated one!), Brazil is still very untapped as far as the broad amazingness it offers! The unique and epic terrain, which varies by region (rain forest, jungle, beaches, sand dunes, wine country, etc.), plus the very diverse culture and history, which contributes to the food and architecture, means there is no shortage of possibilities to enjoy (extreme adventure to extreme relaxation and luxury).”—Corinne Edwards, Travel Designer
Previously on everyone’s must-see list, Myanmar has fallen off the travel radar behind troubling headlines. Compared to neighboring Southeast Asian countries, Myanmar feels like a step back in time, where authentic village visits, ancient pagodas, colorful festivals, and tantalizing local food are waiting to be discovered. New luxury hotels and resorts as well as a new cruise invite exploration.
“This is still my favorite place in the world, a hidden gem of temples and wonderful, friendly people. The remote villages seem to take you back in time to the days of the British Empire; then when you walk around the temples of Bagan, you feel like you’ve wandered into a Disney cartoon.”—Vassi Koutsaftis, Trip Leader
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To start planning your adventure to these top 10 travel destinations in 2020 or any of GeoEx’s other far-flung locales, give us a call at 888-570-7108.