Wadi Rum, Jordan
Travel by camel and camp under the stars in the remarkable desert wilderness of Wadi Rum
Described by Lawrence of Arabia as ‘vast, echoing and God-like’, the desert scenery of Wadi Rum has captivated visitors since time immemorial. The largest of Jordan’s valleys, it’s a vast expanse of burnt ochre sand, punctuated with ethereal, prehistoric rock formations. It’s this alien-like natural beauty that earnt it its other name, Valley of the Moon, and led it to serve as a film set for blockbusters including Star Wars, The Martian and the Transformers. Take a tour of this remarkable place guided by the local Bedouins, camping under the stars, hiking enormous sand dunes and riding camels at sunrise. Stay at Memories Aicha Luxury Camp for the ultimate stargazing experience.
Bacalar is famous for its ‘Lake of Seven Colours’, bordered by mangroves and fishermen’s houses
Tipped to be the next Maldives, the town of Bacalar is the place to go at the moment – on account of its lagoon of the same name. Also known as the ‘Lake of Seven Colours’, this extraordinary body of water appears to morph dramatically from turquoise to indigo and various other vibrant hues depending on the depth and the time of day. Bordered by mangroves, a thatched-roof pontoon and small fishermen’s houses, the lake is the perfect place to swim, snorkel, kayak or scuba dive, as well as to sample fresh, local seafood. Stay right on the edge of the lake at Casa Bakal.
Watch the sunrise or sunset over the Kasbah in the ancient fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou
Traditionally seen as the gateway to the Sahara, the city of Ouarzazate is the go-to place for excursions to Erg Chigaga or M’hamid, where red and golden sand dunes reach over 100 metres high. But it’s also a travel destination in its own right. Visit the magical Ait Ben Haddou (a fortified village) and sit on a rooftop in its ancient Kasbah, to watch the sunrise or sunset over dusty pink, earthen buildings. Then embark on a quad biking adventure, racing along dusty roads to the desert oasis of Fint, where families wash clothes by the water’s edge and donkeys roam freely. Ouarzazate has also served as the setting for movies and programmes like Gladiator and Game of Thrones, with studios located all around the city – many of which run tours that are a must for film enthusiasts. After a day out, relax on the terrace at the centrally-located Riad Ouarzazate.
Spend your days on paradisiacal beaches and your evenings at open-air, candelit restaurants in Palomino
A beachside town on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Palomino is ideal if you’re looking for a laid-back tropical escape. Stay in a cabin on the sand just 20 steps from the sea and relish the paradisiacal beaches, spending your days sunbathing or surfing. In the evenings, enjoy dinners accompanied with live music at open-air, candlelit restaurants serving freshly-caught, grilled fish. Travellers keen for a spot of adventure can try tubing on Palomino River, spotting wildlife such as monkeys and toucans along the way. Just five minutes from the beach, Casa del Pavo Real Boutique Hostel has an outdoor pool, garden, restaurant and terrace.
Head to Mestia to hike the snow-capped Caucasus mountains and relish their hypnotic scenery
High up in the snow-capped Caucasus mountains, Mestia is a collection of hamlets that form the capital of Georgia’s remote Svaneti region. The scenery is outstanding, with a mountainous backdrop and medieval villages often shrouded in mist, their defensive towers peeking through the clouds. Hike up the Chaladi Glacier or towards the lakes at the base of Mount Ushba for some of the area’s most hypnotic views. Food-lovers will be intrigued by the local Svan cuisine – a must try is the Kubdari meat pie and Tashmijabi (cheesy mashed potatoes). Put your feet up after a day’s hiking at the perfectly-located Svaneti apartment.