If Brazil owned South American travel last year, Chile takes over for 2017. Slowly, methodically, the continent’s most overlooked wonderland has become arguably its most desirable adventure tourism destination – precisely the gong it picked up at last year’s World Travel Awards.
And why? Because it’s a whopping 2,650 miles long, yet never more than 150 miles wide – and is packed with ecosystems, biodiversity, topographies. It has 36 national parks, some of the most extreme environments on Earth, from deserts to fjords to subpolar islands, and the roads and footpaths and necessary infrastructure to make these accessible.
Non-stop flights to Chile start in 2017
The major novelty for 2017 is a new British Airways flight from Heathrow, non-stop, four times a week. It takes 14 hours and 40 minutes to get there, but it still speeds up and smoothes the journey to Santiago.
The capital is awash with new boutique hotels – Luciano K and Magnolia are the latest – and fine dining, including four restaurants in the influential San Pellegrino Top 50 ranking for 2016. Fourth-placed Boragó was well above any in Buenos Aires.
Chile’s wine tourism scene is the most developed south of Napa, with the Maule Valley opening up to visitors with a smart new five-room boutique hotel at Casa Bouchon.
Santiago CREDIT: ALAMY
Urban pleasures sorted, it’s time to head for extremes: the Atacama Desert in the north, where there are new hot-air balloon flights over the salt lakes; and Patagonia, where escapists can set off on a slow drive along Aysén’s lonely Southern Highway and stay at Parque Patagonia, Chile’s newest, and least overcrowded, protected area. (Chris Moss)
How to go
British Airways flights between London Heathrow and Santiago cost from about £740 return (ba.com); a two-week trip to Chile, including Santiago, self-drive in Aysén, stay at Tierra Atacama, and a balloon flight over the desert, flying from most UK airports in February 2017, costs £5,900 a head with Audley Travel (01993 838600; audleytravel.com). For more information see chile.travel.
It’s a big year in a big country as 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, the moment Canada became a self-governing dominion within the British Empire – a country, in other words. Today, although it plays second fiddle to Russia in terms of size, it’s hard to think of a country more beautiful or more varied – a good reason to visit at any time, let alone a year that promises to be one long, nationwide birthday party.
The big landscapes – the Canadian Rockies – are well known. Less celebrated, perhaps, is the splendour of the scenery elsewhere. Pockets of British Columbia, for example, contain desert (around Osoyoos) and warm-wintered enclaves of vines and olives (the Okanagan). On the west coast the Inside Passage – a labyrinth of fjords and islands – features North America’s finest seascapes. Alberta’s prairies contain eerie badlands (at Drumheller); the autumn colours of New Brunswick’s forests are the equal of anything in New England; and Prince Edward Island contains some of the loveliest pastoral countryside on Earth. And over it all arches the vast, ethereal beauty of the Canadian Arctic, hundreds – thousands – of miles of sublime, windswept nothing.
Big landscapes and big distances, of course, make for big journeys. By road Canada offers, among other great drives, the Icefields Parkway through the heart of the Rockies and the Alaska Highway north towards the Yukon and the old goldfields of the Klondike. By train there’s the epic Trans-Canada route or the shorter but more spectacular trips between Jasper and Prince Rupert or across the tundra from Winnipeg to Churchill on Hudson Bay.
Beyond the landscape are cities worthy of visits in their own right. Vancouver, often rated one of the world’s most liveable cities, and Montreal, a vibrant francophone enclave, are my favourites, but historic Quebec, unsung Victoria and dynamic Toronto are also compelling. (Tim Jepson)
How to go
Audley Travel (01993 838700; audleytravel.com) can tailor-make trips across Canada. A nine-day, self-drive Highlights of Canada’s West tour, taking in Vancouver and the Rockies, costs from £2,040 per person, including flights from a choice of six UK airports. Visit canada.pch.gc.ca for details of “Canada 150” events.
3. Chandigarh, India
What an intriguing mix of innovation and tradition. In northern India the bold, modernist architecture of Chandigarh has been awarded classic status, while just outside this striking city a brand-new hotel celebrates Rajput and Mughal heritage with quite some panache.
One of Le Corbusier’s creations in the Indian city CREDIT: ALAMY
Chandigarh is one of the world’s most remarkable urban creations; a purpose-built city designed by Le Corbusier in the Fifties. After Partition in 1947, India’s state of Punjab needed a new capital – Lahore having been ceded to Pakistan. So prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru commissioned the great Swiss-French exponent of modernism to devise a completely new city expressive of the country’s faith in the future. The result is a masterpiece in concrete – and green spaces too. It’s a very liveable place loved locally for its wide avenues and parks.
In October its government buildings, the Capitol Complex, were among a number of Le Corbusier’s finest works worldwide to join Unesco’s World Heritage list. Pretty much simultaneously, the Oberoi group was adding final details to a new resort of great splendour, which is set on the edge of 8,000-acre Siswan Forest reserve, about half an hour’s drive from the city centre.
Formally opening next month , The Oberoi Sukhvilas offers a modern take on time-honoured Indian palace life. The landscaping is superb, with fountains and reflective pools, courtyards and colonnades. There’s a bar adorned with warrior frescoes, and there are 60 sumptuous bedrooms in a choice of villas, tents or suites. Explore the reserve with an on-hand naturalist then marvel at meticulously planned Chandigarh, from grand, naturally air-conditioned civic buildings to manhole covers etched with maps of the city. (Harriet O’Brien)
How to go
A five-night trip taking in Chandigarh and The Oberoi Sukhvilas (for three nights) and The Oberoi Gurgaon (for two nights) is offered by Ampersand Travel (020 7819 9770; ampersandtravel). The cost from £3,150 a head includes flights to Delhi and then Chandigarh, accommodation with breakfast, and guiding.
For more information see oberoihotels.com; chandigarh.gov.in.
4. Granada, Spain
Spending a few days drifting around Granada is the most sensual of history lessons. The palaces and gardens of the Alhambra, created by the Nasrids, the final dynasty of Islamic Spain, are more rewarding with every visit, each time revealing a few more of the secrets concealed in the intricate architecture.
While you might come to Granada to see Spain’s most-visited monument, it is the little things along the way that seep into your soul: tiled fountains in tiny squares, flowers tumbling over whitewashed walls and forkfuls of tasty tapas in boisterous bars.
From February 4 it will be a lot easier to get to the Andalucian city when easyJet starts a new route from London Gatwick three times a week, adding to the twice-weekly British Airways flight from London City airport.
Flying to Granada also makes a few days skiing in the Sierra Nevada more feasible, as the ski resort is only 29 miles (47 km) from the airport and there is usually snow until April. Walking in the Alpujarras on the southern slopes of the mountains is wonderful in May, when the landscape is covered in flowers.
Granada airport is also a handy gateway to the north east of Andalucia. In the province of Jaén, olive groves carpet the hills and the towns of Úbeda and Baeza contain astounding Renaissance architecture. The airport’s official name is Federico García Lorca Granada-Jaén and devotees of the poet can head straight to his birthplace in Fuente Vaqueros on arrival, a 20-minute drive away, before visiting his summer home, the Huerta de San Vicente in the city itself. (Annie Bennett)
How to go
EasyJet offers return flights to Granada from London Gatwick from £47. A seven-night stay at the stylish three-star Marquis Urban hotel from March 4 costs from £359 per person including flights with easyJet Holidays (0203 499 5232; easyjet.com). British Airways flies from London City Airport from £110 return (0344 493 0787; britishairways.com). More information: granadatur.com; alhambra-patronato.es; spain.info.
5. Hadrian’s Wall, England
Hark! Is that the sound of hooves? There hasn’t been this much action on Hadrian’s Wall since Roman troops tramped up Ermine Street in the second century to build the 73-mile barrier between Bowness and Wallsend.
Today the wall draws walkers and cyclists, who follow its forts and milecastles in their lurching progress over sheer drops, rocky sills and swooping grasslands, from the big skies of Solway Firth to the mouth of the Tyne.
This year it celebrates its 30th anniversary as a Unesco World Heritage Site with Hadrian’s Cavalry, a six-month exhibition involving 10 sites running the length of the wall and into Hadrian’s Wall Country, 10 miles on either side.
Organisationally, this will be eerily similar to Roman battle formation, with its central front and cavalry at the wings. In the middle are Chesters Fort, one of four English Heritage sites, and Vindolanda, famed for its “tablets” or messages written in ink on bark. Chesters will examine the relationship between Roman cavalrymen and their horses, and in July presents a new installation recreating the sound of 500 horses. Vindolanda, which is near the Roman Army Museum by Walltown Crags, will display messages written by soldiers on the tablets.
Out west, the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle will stage an immersive audio-visual experience in its Roman Gallery, so that visitors can pretend to be cavalry based at the wall, skirmishing with tribes to the north.
To the east, Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum in North Shields will focus on training, tactics and dressing a cavalry horse, while two original cavalry helmets are on display in the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle.
Other sites will run a series of events and exhibitions throughout the six months, and on July 1 and 2 mounted re-enactors will stage cavalry manoeuvres at Bitts Park, Carlisle, including the first troop or turma of 30 horses seen in 2,000 years. (Sophie Campbell)
A walking path runs the length of Hadrian’s Wall CREDIT: DAVID HEAD/FOTOLIA
How to go
Hadrian’s Cavalry runs from April 8 to September 10 2017.
Stay at Matfen Hall hotel, which is set in parkland near Corbridge; doubles from £94 a night with breakfast (telegraph.co.uk/tt-matfenhall), or The Angel of Corbridge, in the town itself; doubles from £95 a night with breakfast (telegraph.co.uk/tt-angelofcorbridge). More information: hadrianswallcountry.co.uk/events/hadrians-cavalry-2017.
6. New Zealand
Love rugby? The hottest ticket for this year is New Zealand, which hosts the British and Irish Lions tour in June and early July. The tourists will play three Tests against the All Blacks and seven other games across the country, making the tour a feast for fans and an excuse to explore New Zealand.
For example, en route between Auckland and Whangarei, detour west to Kauri forests. Between Rotorua and Hamilton you’ll find the movie set from Lord of the Rings at Matamata. And the post-quake renaissance of Christchurch continues with the opening of the city’s new Adventure Park (christchurchadventurepark.com), the largest downhill mountain-bike park in the southern hemisphere.
Loathe rugby? New Zealand’s wineries, whales and waterfall-streaked fjords never fail to enchant.
In February, Qatar Airways (qatarairways.com) launches a direct Doha-Auckland route. At 14,539km it’ll be the world’s longest commercial scheduled flight – and, with convenient connections from London, an appealing prelude to a sojourn at New Zealand’s luxe lodges, boosted with openings including Marlborough Lodge among the South Island’s premier wine region (themarlboroughlodge.co.nz) and intimate Helena Bay near Whangarei (helenabay.com). (Paul Bloomfield)
How to go
A wide range of official Lions packages (tours.lionsrugby.com) are available. Steppes Travel (steppestravel.co.uk) also offers a Lions tour, and tailor-makes luxury itineraries – a 21-night package, including flights from London via Doha with Qatar Airways, luxury accommodation including Marlborough Lodge and Helena Bay, transfers and car hire, costs from £7,995 per person.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
European Capital of Culture 2017 though it may be, Denmark’s second city Aarhus will still struggle to steal the limelight from Copenhagen. That’s largely due to the ongoing foodie furore surrounding the capital’s Noma.
Opened by chef René Redzepi in 2003, the restaurant redefined perceptions of Danish cuisine and introducing then-obscure Scandinavian ingredients – from magical-sounding cloudberries to elk tongue – to an international audience. Innumerable awards and a consensus that this was the world’s best restaurant followed, so among gourmets it’s with considerable regret that Redzepi has announced this seminal eatery will close at the end of February.
Copenhagen has rarely looked more appealing
Early 2017 will see epicureans from the world over clamour for a table, but for the many hundreds of thousands who will miss out there’s still ample reason for a visit to the capital.
Redzepi’s legacy is now readily apparent in the abundance of world-class eateries strewn across the city. This year Guide Michelin Nordic Cities awarded 16 Copenhagen restaurants a total of 20 stars – the highest number ever. Chief among them is Geranium, now the country’s only three-star premises, while Redzepi’s many protégées have established outlets of their own.
Star alum Christian Puglisi already offers New Nordic cuisine at Michelin-starred Relae, natural wines at Manfreds and organic pizza at Baest. His Farm of Ideas supersedes all in terms of ambition, however. Opening by the end of 2017 and 40 minutes outside of Copenhagen, this organic farm will provide produce for his city-centre outlets and an immersive culinary centre and school for visitors.
That it was inspired at least in part his time under Redzepi’s tutelage seems clear when one learns of the latter’s next undertaking. While Noma as we know it will disappear forever, its founder plans to open a new restaurant in Copenhagen’s free town of Christiania in autumn. It too will feature its own farm and a “fermentation kitchen” where new cooking techniques can be refined, so fresh-as-can-be produce and unexpected culinary encounters will be a certainty. (John O’Ceallaigh)
How to go
Kirker Holidays (020 7593 2283; www.kirkerholidays.com) offers a three-night break in Copenhagen’s five-star D’Angleterre hotel with dinner at Geranium, from £1,388pp including flights and transfers.
8. New Orleans/Memphis, United States
How to account for the musically joyous, street-happy atmosphere of New Orleans (neworleanscvb.com)? The guide I once had on a tour of the French Quarter had her own theory: “King of France opens the jails of Paris and sends over the worst specimens of humanity to populate the new city. Kind of makes sense, huh?”
On March 27 the home of trad jazz, sidewalk bands, Mardi Gras parades, lacy balconies, beignets, po’boys and heavenly French Creole cooking moves a beat closer to these shores with the start of direct BA flights (ba.com), four times a week, from London Heathrow. Venues such as Preservation Hall (preservationhall.com) or Snug Harbor (snugjazz.com) are a must for jazz fans and on May 26-28 the good ol’ boys of country music are in town for the annual Bayou Country Superfest (bayoucountrysuperfest.com) at the Superdome.
New Orleans: musically joyous and street-happy CREDIT: PEDUTO©1993/PEDUTO
In August, 400 miles north up the Mississippi River, there will be more musical mayhem when the city of Memphis (memphistravel.com) marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. The King’s Graceland home (graceland.com) is currently finalising details of “the largest Elvis Week ever” (August 11-19 – including tribute acts and contests, panel discussions and a candlelit vigil).
On March 2 Graceland is also unveiling a new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis (with sound stage and exhibitions dedicated to his career and his cars). And don’t forget Sun Studio (sunstudio.com – now a museum), where on July 5, 1954 Elvis recorded That’s All Right – and ushered in the rock’n’roll era. As the man said, It’s Now or Never for trips to America’s musical heartlands. (Nigel Richardson)
How to go
Kuoni (0800 140 4801; kuoni.co.uk) offers a 17-night Southern States Experience self-drive tour (including Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans) from £2,495 per person, sharing.
9. Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia
Three times bigger than France and the fourth most sparsely inhabited territory on Earth, Mongolia, with its vast rolling steppes, coruscating upland lakes, tumbling rivers, beautiful green pine forests and shifting dunes of the Gobi offers plenty for the adventurous visitor. Homeland of nomadic warlord par excellence Genghis Khan, this country remains a nation of pastoralist nomads to this day, and ger (yurt) camps dot the length and breadth of this beautiful landscape. Enormous flocks of sheep, goats, dzo (a yak-cattle hybrid) and Bactrian camels graze beneath blue skies, and every other telegraph pole is the perch of a bird of prey – as captured so powerfully in The Eagle Huntress, the much-lauded film of the moment.
Mongolia has always been a byword for remoteness, but it’s surprisingly easy to reach, and will become even more so with the opening of state-of-the-art Nubia (New Ulaan Baatar International Airport), scheduled for January . Mongolia’s pleasant capital city, Ulaan Baatar, home to more than half the nation’s three million inhabitants, boasts plenty of first-rate hotels. The excellent Shangri-La (shangri-la.com/ulaanbaatar) opened in 2015, as did the rival Kempinski Khan Palace (kempinski.com/en/ulaanbaatar/hotel-khan-palace). The best time to visit is for the annual Naadam Festival (naadamfestival.com), held July 9-16 in 2017. Recognised by Unesco, the festival involves a vibrant parade of athletes, monks and musicians. You don’t have to take part in the famous Mongol Rally ( July 16: theadventurists.com/mongol-rally) to enjoy an exciting trip in Mongolia, as many agencies offer trekking, fishing, motorcycling and cultural tours. (Terry Richardson)
How to go
G Adventures (0344 272 2080; gadventures.co.uk) runs a 15-day Naadam Festival Mongolia tour which takes in the festival and Mongolia’s highlights, with accommodation in hotels and tourist ger camps. From £1,899 per person, excluding flights, which cost from £700 per person.
Cuzco, in Peru, used to be backpacker central. It’s a measure of how tourism in the country has changed that, from May, the city will be the starting point for journeys on South America’s “first luxury sleeper train”, the 68-passenger Andean Explorer, run by Belmond, the company that used to be known as Orient-Express Hotels. Since 1999, it has been running a luxury day train, the Hiram Bingham, including gourmet lunch on the way out and dinner on the return between Cuzco and the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
The new train will travel along one of the highest railways on Earth, via the 14,150ft summit at La Raya, to Lake Titicaca and on to the Unesco World Heritage city of Arequipa. En route there will be a chance to see the 11,000ft Colca Canyon, where condors fly below your feet as well as overhead. An alternative trip, among four one and two-night itineraries, traverses the Altiplano from the lake to Cuzco.
The train has 34 cabins – two double, 20 twin and 12 with bunk beds – with decor inspired by Peru’s hand-woven fabrics. The two dining cars will serve menus devised by chefs at Belmond’s Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco and drawing on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Passengers can step outdoors to enjoy the view from the observation car deck or, if the Andean air proves too thin, revive themselves with a coca tea while listening to the pianist in the lounge. (Michael Kerr)
How to go
Through Belmond (0845 0772 222; belmond.com), prices start at $462 (£570) per person sharing, for one night, including meals, open bar and excursions. Several tour operators offer a journey on the train as part of a longer trip. Last Frontiers (01296 653000; lastfrontiers.com) includes a new 14-day “Classic Peru” trip, from £3,420 per person sharing, including flights.