Wild Frontiers – the award winning adventure travel company – is predicting the Silk Road, and in particular Uzbekistan, to be the hot travel destination of 2019. According to the adventure travel experts there has been a resurgence of interest in the Silk Road, partly through China’s updating of the route through its extraordinary Belt and Road project. What’s more, Uzbekistan has recently introduced an e-visa scheme making the country easier (and cheaper) to visit.
As for the rest of the world, new properties in more off-the-beaten-path destinations, as well as large tourist numbers in many of the “must-sees” are pushing people to explore beyond the main draws of many countries to get more experiential and day to day life experiences. Hand in hand with this goes an interest in food, wine and special interest touring such as art, gardening and giving back!
UZBEKISTAN: THE REVIVAL OF THE SILK ROAD AND STUNNING ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE
Passenger numbers to Uzbekistan are up 40% in 2018 compared to 2017 and Wild Frontiers expects this to continue in 2019. The reasons for this are threefold: Firstly, a number of passengers are travelling to see stunning Islamic architecture in Uzbekistan rather than the less stable Middle East – Uzbekistan’s Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara are littered with turquoise domes, intricately carved mosques, madrassas and forts; secondly, there is a resurgence in interest in the Silk Road thanks partly to China’s revival of the route with its vast one belt one road infrastructure project; and thirdly, in 2018 Uzbekistan introduced a new e-visa scheme, drastically reducing the cost and making it easier for visitors to obtain a visa to visit the country. What’s more, in summer 2018 Uzbekistan Airways increased its service to Tashkent to three flights a week from New York.
JORDAN: WHERE TOURISTS ARE WELCOME
Jordan has remained a relatively safe and stable haven for travellers throughout the recent unrest in the Middle East, and the country is appealing for more visitors, with recent high-profile marketing campaigns from the Jordan Tourist Board. Jordan offers visitors the chance to discover the splendour of Petra at dawn, camp out under the clear desert sky with Bedouin or explore the moonlike landscapes of Wadi Rum. The country has an advanced infrastructure with good quality hotels and roads, as well as direct flights from New York, Chicago and Detroit. Wild Frontiers has seen passenger numbers double in 2018 compared to 2017 and the company expects this to continue into 2019.
Wild Frontiers’ 10-day Jordan: Lost City of Arabia tour takes in the Roman ruins of Jerash, Wadi Rum, Petra and Dana Nature Reserve.
GEORGIA & THE CAUCASUS: THE FOODIE DESTINATION OF THE MOMENT
Georgia – the country not the state – is having a moment, helped by increasing awareness of its fantastic cuisine (the country is also famously the birthplace of wine). The cookbook A Taste of Georgia recently won best food and travel book. Wild Frontiers saw passenger numbers double in 2018 compared to 2017 and it expects similar gains in 2019.
Wild Frontiers offers a huge range of group tours and tailor-made holidays to Georgia, including walking tours, horse riding holidays and cultural journeys. The company’s 9-day From the Winelands to the Caucasus tour is a walking holiday in the heart of the beautiful Caucasus mountain range, which also visits the capital Tbilisi, the Stalin Museum and includes homestays with Georgian families.
Georgia Explorer is a comprehensive 15-day journey with highlights including the cave town of Vardzia, the Svaneti Mountains, a night on the Black Sea at Batumi and visits to monasteries and remote villages as well as a chance to enjoy the country’s delicious food and wine.
VIETNAM: NEW FOODIE EXPERIENCES
While the national parks and incredible caves of Vietnam are a highlight, next year travel to Vietnam is all about the urban jungle! Anthony Bourdain changed how people travel and nowhere makes this more obvious than Vietnam. A decade ago people headed there for rice paddies and Vietnam War history, but now it’s all about the foodie travel. From Saigon street food bought while touring the city on the back of a motorbike, to visiting fishing markets in Hoi An, Vietnam is appealing to the young hip traveler that wants to explore the city vibe. It’s all about local experiences and cooking, and how well those two merge in this country, along with cheap airfare, is making it so hot right now.
The majority of Wild Frontiers travelers head to Southeast Asia on a custom tour, rather than a group experience and with the recent acquisition of Journeys Within Tour Company, Wild Frontiers now boasts the most experienced Southeast Asia planning team working out of their US office. With tours like Backstage Vietnam and Spicy Foodie honeymoon, Vietnam is heating up!
SOUTHERN CAMBODIA: NEW PROPERTIES OPENING UP
For visitors who want to escape the crowds of Angkor Wat, southern Cambodia has a host of new luxurious properties opening at the end of 2018, early 2019. This includes Jaya House River Park– a new 36-room luxury boutique hotel as well as Bill Bensley’s new Shinta Mani Wild, a nature reserve set in the Cardamom mountains. If all this sounds too relaxing then Kampot has become a hot spot to get away from the crowds and have some adventures…this year they hosted their first kite surfing festival, and paddle boarding and hiking are also on the adventure menu.
FRENCH GUIANA: 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE PUBLICATION OF BLOCKBUSTER BOOK PAPILLON
Papillon is rightly considered to be a modern-day classic, telling the tale of a prisoner incarcerated in the French penal colony of Devil’s Island, in French Guiana. 2019 will be the 50th anniversary of its publication. Possibly the last undiscovered corner of South America, French Guiana, along with its neighbours Guyana and Suriname, receive the fewest number of overseas visitors in the continent. Yet intrepid travelers are rewarded with pristine rainforests, high chances of jaguar sightings and, in Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls, one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls. As well as Devil’s Island, where Captain Alfred Dreyfuss was also imprisoned, French Guiana is also home to a European Space Port from where launches regularly happen.
Wild Frontiers offers a 15-day Three Guianas trip which costs $9,163 per person. https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_US/destination/suriname/group-tours/master/2001121/the-three-guianas-guyana-suriname-french-guiana
BULGARIA: PLOVDIV EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE 2019
Recent years have seen Croatia and Albania become hot but now it is the turn of Bulgaria to take the Balkans spotlight. Over the years Bulgaria has been influenced by the Roman, Greek and Ottoman empires and it has a host of ancient ruins to prove it. It also has a scenery of mountains, lakes and a long Black Sea coastline. What’s more the ancient city of Plovdiv will be the European capital of culture in 2019, introducing a host of overseas visitors to its delights. Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe, with a Roman theatre, amazing food and wine and excellent bars and restaurants. Talking of Bulgarian wine, Winston Churchill’s favourite wine came from the area – Melnik.
Wild Frontiers offers a 10-day Walking in Bulgaria tour from $1,813 per person. https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_US/destination/bulgaria/group-tours/master/2001161/walking-in-bulgaria-epic-landscapes-of-ancient-thrace
OMAN: NEW PROPERTIES AND INCREASING TOURIST NUMBERS
Oman goes from strength to strength, with Wild Frontiers reporting passenger numbers doubling in 2018 compared to 2017. Why? Well its attractions are many. There are some superb luxury camps in the country’s desert landscapes (also home to the world’s highest sand dunes); the food is a mouth-watering combination of Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine; and once great maritime traders, the country has a rich history showcased by its forts and castles.
“Oman offers safe adventure opportunities in the Middle East. The country has also invested in a number of campaigns promoting itself along the lines Jordan has been, and is seeing the benefits of that. What’s more, there are a number of first-class hotels in Oman, from the Chedi in Muscat to the Six Senses, the Alila and the Ananatara. We expect Oman to go from strength to strength in 2019.”
Wild Frontiers offers the 11-day Oman Desert Adventure from $3,654 per person https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_US/destination/oman/group-tours/master/2000079/oman-desert-adventure
CHILE & ARGENTINA: THE SITE OF A 2019 FULL SOLAR ECLIPSE
On 2 July 2019 there will be a full solar eclipse visible from Chile and Argentina. The remoteness, lack of light pollution and arid atmosphere on Argentina’s Parque Provincial Ishigualasto make it a perfect place to see the full solar eclipse. Wild Frontiers is offering a tour combining Argentina with Chile’s Atacama Desert – one of the best places in the world for stargazing although outside the full eclipse zone hence the company offering the eclipse in the wilds of Argentina – to coincide with this astronomical event.
Chile & Argentina Solar Eclipse tour is a 15-day group trip costing $7,021 per person. https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_US/destination/chile/group-tours/master/2001152/atacama-to-andes-solar-eclipse-adventure-recce-tour
KYRGYZSTAN: NOMADIC CULTURE AND STUNNING SCENERY
Most people can’t spell it never mind point it out on a map, but Kyrgyzstan is one of Wild Frontiers’ fastest growing destinations. For many people today, travel is about getting as far away from the modern world as possible and enjoying nature. Kyrgyzstan offers the stunning natural beauty of Son Kul Lake and the Mountains of Heaven, combined with a nomadic way of life based around staying in yurts, horse games and clear mountain air. Forget Wi-Fi – this is a place to truly get off the grid and enjoy nature, making it a great destination to unplug from work emails and social media.
The 15-day Kyrgyzstan Explorer takes in the highlights of the country, including Tash Rabat and Son Kul Lake. https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_US/destination/kyrgyzstan/group-tours/master/2000324/kyrgyzstan-explorer