How is it already 2018? Looking back over the last year or so, I can’t quite believe the sheer number of beautiful places I’ve been fortunate enough to experience. As 2017 draws to an end, I thought I would make a list of my favourite destinations this year.
1. Atlantis Dunes, Cape Town, South Africa
You’ll find Atlantis Dunes just 50km drive up the west coast from Cape Town. Purchase an entrance ticket at the office in town before you leave and enter the undulating ‘sandscape’ ready for some off-road adventures. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of Table Mountain in the distance. Take the path less travelled but remember how you got there!
2. Hossa National Park, Finland
Just a few miles from the Russian Border, Finland’s newest National Park is home to nature and wildlife in abundance. Not only was our patience rewarded as we waited to catch a glimpse of wild bears, the formidable midnight sun also made an appearance in an attempt to break the ice which lay upon the surface of Lake Hossa.
3. Positano & Amalfi Coast, Italy
Italy remains one of my favourite destinations in Europe largely due to its diversity in landscapes, from the awe-inspiring snow-capped Dolomites to the historic, serene Sardinian coast. Despite the huge amount of tourists visiting the area, Positano remains one of the most magical, picturesque towns in Italy, one I would recommend visiting in a heartbeat.
4. Oslo, Norway
Oslo is so much more than modern architecture and a beautiful harbour. Home to ‘Tim Wendelboe’, one of the world’s most prestigious coffee shops, there are hidden gems around every corner of the city. We took a few days away and in true Norway style, drove a couple of hours north to find remote lakes, dotted with cosy cabins and canoes.
5. Butha Buthe and Surroundings, Lesotho
Though I have travelled near and far, nowhere filled me with wanderlust like Lesotho. Crossing the border from South Africa, it’s as if travelling back in time. Donkeys and shepherds line the valleys cutting through momentous mountain ranges. In each village we passed through, we were greeted with smiles of affection from the locals. It’s peaceful and unspoilt; I truly hope it stays that way.
6. Durban & Umhlanga, South Africa
Flying over Durban gave us a real perspective of its vastness and beauty. A surfer’s paradise, a hub of culture and home to the greatest ultra-marathon the world has seen, Durban holds a special place in my heart for obvious reasons. With a tropical climate and delicious Indian cuisine, Durban is incomparable to any other city in South Africa.
7. San Francisco, United States
One of the most expensive cities in America, San Francisco had a lot to live up to. For me, there was nothing spectacular about downtown but the neighbourhoods are really worth exploring. A huge variety in culture, class and ethnicity has established an eclectic array of cuisine, where I experienced some of the best Mexican food I have ever tasted.
8. Boca del Toro, Panama
A chain of islands off the Caribbean coast, Boca Del Toro features tropical islands of dreams. Beautiful crystal clear water is broken by white sand beaches, palm trees and coconuts. Whales and dolphins in abundance, Boca del Toro combines relaxation and adventure flawlessly.
As for 2018, I guess we will soon find out…