Where GeoEx Travel Experts Are Dreaming of Going in 2021 | GeoEx
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Where GeoEx Travel Experts Are Dreaming of Going in 2021

By GeoEx Staff | January 5, 2021

Tombs in the ancient Nabatean town of Hegra, also known as Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia

GeoEx staffers are passionate about planning extraordinary adventures—for themselves as well as for their clients. At the end of every year, we ask our staffers where they’re planning to travel in the new year. Of course, conditions are a bit different from the past few years, so at the end of last year, we asked the question a bit differently: Where are you dreaming of going in 2021? When you’re able to travel widely and worry-free again, what place is on your go-there-right-away bucket list? Why? What inspires you to want to go there and what can’t you wait to experience when you get there? Here’s a sampling of their globe-girdling responses.

Ivory Coast

Scott Montgomery, CEO​ 

A smiling child in Abidjan and local textiles in Ivory Coast

My dream destination for 2021 is Ivory Coast. I heard our amazing trip-leader, Noah, rave about Ivory Coast as we travelled through Ghana, Benin, and Togo together in 2018. Noah had lived in Ivory Coast and spoke about the fascinating villages he had explored there. Noah also believed the arts and crafts were among the very best he had seen anywhere in West Africa. A number of our guests have also visited the Ivory Coast, and everyone has given it great reviews. So Ivory Coast is my current dream destination, and happily, our wonderful Product Development team is busy crafting a new offering for our guests.

Morocco

Lisa Robinson, Legal & Finance Team 

A rammed clay village in Ait-Ben-Haddou, Morocco

Morocco has been high on my list for some time. I’m dying to wander through the colorful bazaars and souks, sample the spicy foods, hike the mountains, and amble along the beaches. This country seems to have a little bit of everything, including history, mystery, and fun!   

Colombia

Jenny Velasco, Marketing Team

Colorful colonial houses in the old town of Cartagena, Colombia

I first visited Colombia back in 2008 as the first stop on a five-month adventure through South America. It defied so many expectations back then, in all good ways. I’m curious to see what’s changed after more than a decade, and I’d love to revisit some of the highlights from that trip—soaking in the tropical Caribbean air and wandering past bougainvillea-draped walls in Cartagena, staring up at lofty wax palms and settling into the slow pace of the Coffee Region, diving into the incredible energy and creativity of Bogotá, and experiencing the unparalleled warmth of Colombians—this time with a toddler in tow. It feels like a marvelous place for her to get that first stamp in her passport.

Algeria & Ladakh

Tina Liadis, Trip Designer

In 2020 we introduced a new trip to Algeria and I’ve since been salivating at the thought of exploring this fascinating destination! The largest country in Africa, Algeria features a diverse landscape with Mediterranean coastline, Saharan desert, and the Tell Atlas Mountains, and has long been a crossroads for the world’s movers and shakers: Phoenicians, Romans, Ottomans, Spanish, and French have all passed through, leaving their cultural imprint. Our trip visits ancient ruins, desert oases, and traditional villages; we’ll sample culinary treasures and meet with local artisans. Take me to the Kasbah!

A woman shares a greeting on Mangyu Gorge road in Ladakh, India

Although I’ve spent time in India, I’ve never made it to Ladakh in the Indian Himalaya. This summer we are offering an in-depth exploration accompanied by one of GeoEx’s most beloved Trip Leaders, Manoj Sharma. Highlights include mingling with monks at important Buddhist monasteries, optional day hikes in the mountains, and spending time with local people to learn about their culture, plus the opportunity to attend a traditional festival!

The Galápagos & Mainland Ecuador

Linda De La Torre, Trip Designer

Fields on slopes of Cotacachi Volcano and a giant tortoise in the Galapagos, Ecuador

I plan to return to the Galápagos to spend more time immersing myself in the natural wonders that once held the curiosity of Charles Darwin. I also plan to explore beyond the Galápagos to an area in mainland Ecuador named by the explorer Alexander Von Humboldt as the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.” The breathtaking scenery, lovely towns that dot the volcanoes, and hiking opportunities along verdant fields and trails are calling my name. 

South Africa, Rwanda & Kenya 

Jessica Silber, Trip Designer

Next year I am thinking about travel a lot differently. For many reasons—environmental, social, personal—I know that wherever I go next, I want to travel slowly. I want to stay put for long enough to choose a favorite coffee shop, or learn the names of the trees in the local language. I’m hearing the same travel philosophy from friends, too. They say, since remote work is an option now, why not connect to Wi-Fi in Tokyo/Mexico City/Istanbul for a couple of weeks, then take a proper vacation to hike the Kumano Kodo/explore Mayan ruins/take a boat around the Aegean coast?

The view from a veranda at Bisate Lodge, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

For me, in the past ten months of pondering international travel, one major experience has emerged as the most desired: safari. The next trip to Africa I take (South Africa, Rwanda, and Kenya are all in the running), I think I’ll spend generous time at just a few wilderness camps, and maybe even skip a game drive or two to journal or draw or relax instead. Future trips might not have quite so many different backdrops for adventure, but without the pressure of constant moving, the scenery I do see will be all the more detailed and enriching.

Mexico & New Zealand

Natalie Crow, Trip Designer 

Mexico is an incredibly diverse country that is close to home. The Mexicans are our neighbors—and we do have so much in common! And, honestly, I am obsessed with tacos. I love speaking Spanish and making connections with the friendly locals—and with Mexico you don’t really have to choose just one theme. Yes, it has beautiful beaches, but it is so much more. The food, the European-like towns and cities, the nature and history—and art. In a perfect world, I’d like to go to Mexico every year, and always to a new place. The next combo would be Mexico City and then Oaxaca, and the Oaxacan coast.

Farmland near Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand

New Zealand was on my list for 2020—so of course, now it’s on my list for 2021. New Zealand has some of my favorite things on the planet—beautiful scenery, hiking, wine, road trips, and luxury lodging. Also, this year I read a historical fiction novel, The Luminaries, which takes place during the New Zealand gold rush. I became transfixed with the characters, and their stories, not too dissimilar to our own history here in California, being a gold rush state. I cannot wait to take a helicopter ride to see some of those vistas described, go on a hike, and end the day with a glass of wine and a fantastic meal.

Central Asia, Albania & Tibet

Vassi Koutsaftis, IT Team & Trip Leader

Smiling girls in Penjakent, Tajikistan and Mount Shishapangma in Tibet

I like remote places—the remoter, the better—so for next year, I’m dreaming of returning to Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Albania. One more great dream: going once again to Tibet and back to the Shishapangma Base Camp, following a secret route I know!

Dubai, South Africa, Zambia & Saudi Arabia

Glenn Ringer, Operations & Purchasing Team

I’m actually planning to take a vacation in April/May 2021 that was rescheduled from 2020. As soon as all three destinations opened up to international travelers, I started plotting the “redo” of my trip. If all goes to plan, I’ll be visiting Dubai, South Africa, and Zambia. Much of the trip spends time in the great outdoors of De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Western Cape of South Africa and Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. I’m very interested to see how this part of the world is handling the pandemic. From all firsthand accounts I’ve heard coming out of Africa, people have been tremendously impressed by the coordinated efforts to keep people safe and healthy.

Qasr Farid tomb at Madain Saleh, now known as Hegra, Saudi Arabia

Later in 2021, I hope to explore Saudi Arabia as it prepares to open back up to the world. Of particular interest is Al Ula, home to 200,000 years of largely unexplored human history and awe-inspiring natural and archeological wonders, including the Nabataean site of Hegra (also known as Mada’in Saleh). 

Bhutan

Sabrina Middleton, Trip Designer & Air Team

Hikers crossing a bridge on the Hidden Highlands trek in Bhutan

Top of my bucket list is Bhutan! I was supposed to go in November 2020 on GeoEx’s Hidden Highlands Trek with Bart Jordans. Now I can only be patient until the country opens for tourism again. In addition to my interest in the culture of Bhutan, part of this trip is a multi-day trek with camping around the base of Gangkhar Puensuum, the highest unclimbed peak in the world. It’s been decades since I’ve seen the Himalaya, so that’s what I am most excited to explore next. I’m fortunate to have been to every continent and I find such serenity in mountains. I’m sure Gangkhar Puensuum will be magical to behold! To prepare for this high-altitude trek, I had a routine of walking the hills near my home daily and taking longer hikes on the weekends. Even though the trip didn’t happen this year, I have continued with the walking, so I’ll be ready for Bhutan whenever I’m able to go there!

Morocco

Carey Johnston, Operations & Purchasing Team

Courtyard of al-Attarine Madrasa in Fes, Morocco

I’m still really looking forward to visiting Morocco, which I had planned to do in 2020. I’m fascinated by Islamic culture and history, with some of my favorite travel experiences having been in Iran, Syria, and Jordan. I find Islamic architecture and design captivating and have always wanted to stay in a traditional riad. Plus, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to explore a good souk!

Trans-Siberian Express

Elizabeth McNeil, Guest Services Team

A ger under blue skies in Mongolia

I’m greatly looking forward to the day when I can embark on the Trans-Siberian Express, which travels through Russia and Mongolia! I love soaking in scenery through train travel, and this trip allows you to cover a lot of terrain in a relatively short amount of time. I can’t wait to take in the colors of Moscow, enjoy a Russian barbecue on the shores of Lake Baikal, and meet with a local Mongolian family in their ger.

Antarctica

Katie Stoyka, Marketing Team

A gentoo penguin grooming itself in Antarctica

Antarctica has been on my list for a long time and after months of working from a small apartment, its wide-open spaces and dramatic scenery are calling to me like never before. It’s been so long since we have crossed borders that we’re pulling out all the stops for the next trip and getting back into travel with a bang!

Kenya

Kim Keating, Sales Team

A couple on a sunset walking safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya

I was wondering if I’d be drawn to big cities next year given the quietness of this year, but so far I’m still craving wide-open spaces. I find myself dreaming about African safaris and feel especially drawn to Kenya. Nothing sounds better than bumping along in an open-air safari vehicle, with the wind in my hair, gazing out onto the Masai Mara. Especially if that game drive concludes with gin and tonic sundowners and an African sunset! 

Mexico & Cuba

Melanie Regino, Guest Services Team

Classic car in a colorful street in old Havana, Cuba

Travel planning next year will be a bit different for several reasons! COVID aside, it will be my first time traveling with not just myself in mind. Whether it’s possible to leave my one-year old at home for any length of time, or go on family-friendly adventures, is the main consideration. I have been itching to instill my wanderlust in the little one, so probably the latter! Morocco was high on my list as I’m driven by food and culture, and it’s still one of my top destinations. But for a first-time flyer, maybe something closer to home like Mexico or Cuba, which still offer fantastic cultural and foodie experiences.

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To start planning your adventure to these travel destinations or any of GeoEx’s other far-flung locales, give us a call at 888-570-7108. We look forward to hearing from you!

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