Hello, 2016! The new year is a funny old time. As one second turns to another and we turn the page to a new calendar year, everything apparently starts anew. We decide that this is the moment it all changes: we become healthier people, happier people, better people. I’m as guilty of this as anyone: I’ve jumped on the Dry January bandwagon and joined the hoardes of new year gymgoers in the quest for a healthier lifestyle. I always wondered though: why only now? Why should January have all the fun?
I think one of my resolutions for 2016 is to stop waiting: stop waiting for the new year, the new week or the new day. Stop wishing away hours and days and months waiting for things to happen. In 2016 every day and every moment will be a chance to start anew; a chance to grasp new opportunities and have new adventures.
In honour of this new thinking, I’ve compiled a bucket list of destinations that will be particularly special in 2016. I likely won’t make it to a fraction of these – and the list will continue to expand in my mind on a daily basis – but this seems a good start. Here’s to grabbing hold of new opportunities, visiting new places, and expanding our horizons every day. Happy New Year!
An oldie but a goodie – Sri Lanka is way up there in my all-time favourite destinations. Since the devastation of civil war and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the country has been steadily rebuilding itself. I’ve been lucky enough to visit several times throughout that process, but now the changes are really gathering pace. New hotels and developments are popping up all over the place, and this wonderful, hidden little corner of the world is very much at risk of becoming the world’s worst kept secret. Visit now.
Latin America has leapfrogged the backpacker’s trail of Southeast Asia to become to must-travel destination of every budget traveller’s list over recent years. Swap the white sand beaches of Phuket and Koh Tao for the similarly idyllic islets of Panama’s San Blas archipelago; trade the buzz of ancient Hanoi for the excitement of historic Cartagena or UNESCO-awarded Quito. This vibrant slice of the Americas offers a completely unique collection of countries, from Costa Rica to Colombia; an explosive confluence of cultures and histories. If there’s one new place I’m dying to trek through this year, it’s Latin America.
Ok – bear with me for this one. I know Iran wouldn’t be your first choice for a quick break in the sun, but with increasingly stable international political situation and the government’s relaxed travel guidance, there has never been a better time to discover this fascinating country. From the breathtaking architecture of Esfahan to the bustling markets and bazaars, this is an incredible country to immerse yourself in, and one to watch in 2016.
The Olympics (duh) mean all eyes will be on this South American nation in 2016 – but there’s also so much more to see. Beyond the hectic metropolis of Rio, there are is the vast, lust Amazon rainforest and the endless beaches of Bahia. There is world-class surfing and unparalleled wildlife – this should be on everyones bucket lists. Maybe avoid the Olympic period, though, unless you have money to burn.
I guess I have a bit of a South American fixation at the moment? The Galapagos are a permanent fixation on the bucket lists of a huge proportion of the population, and for good reason. Recently, there’s been a massive focus in the media on 2016’s El Niño phenomenon, with standard Daily Express-style predictions of The Worst Weather Ever and Super Mega Killer Storms. For the most part, El Niño is not a good thing: it brings heavy rain, storms and the possibility of landslides to the entire western seaboard of South America, and terrible droughts and wildfires to the western Pacific, such as Australia. However, El Niño doesn’t automatically cancel out travel to the whole of the Pacific region. The weather phenomenon – caused by a reversal in the oceanic currents and associated atmospheric systems – can actually bring quite favourable conditions to the central Pacific. The Galapagos Islands will see increased rainfall, leading to more lush, green conditions on land, and booming wildlife. The changed oceanic currents will give rise to calmer seas – much better for cruising the archipelago – whilst the crystal clear waters will be perfect for diving. Best of all, the scaremongering will lead to reduced visitor numbers – so it’s just you and the wildlife (and yes, a little rain).
Where’s on your bucket list for 2016? x