National Geographic’s global editors have done it again: curated a short list of what they call the most 'amazing journeys' and 'exciting destinations' of 2022.
Looking at travel through five lenses: nature, adventure, sustainability, culture and history, and family, NatGeo’s experts have narrowed a world of travel riches into a list of 25 can’t-miss journeys next year.
Here's a standout entry from each of those five categories that may make you call your expert travel advisor right now:
BEST NATURE TRIPS
You may think of deserts, dunes and dramatic mountains when you picture Namibia, but NatGeo’s editors say this is the next great safari destination (pictured, top).
Several major rivers, a vast wetland as well as Nkasa Rupara National Park, make for ideal wildlife habitat - one that is increasingly accessible to visitors. Don’t miss endangered black rhinos, elephants, buffalos, lions, leopards, hyenas, and river creatures like crocs and hippos and even the 'elusive semiaquatic sitatunga' antelope relative.
Other places to enjoy Nature:
- The world’s largest: Lake Baikal, Russia
- The resurgence of nature following devastating fires in Victoria, Australia
- A newly protected wildlife corridor in Belize
- The night skies in the protected darkness of Northern Minnesota
BEST ADVENTURE TRIPS
Did you need to check a map? Palau is almost as off-the-beaten-track as it’s possible to be. This independent island in the Western Pacific - with Indonesia, Micronesia and the Philippines surrounding it, is a marine adventure paradise - that takes conservation seriously.
As NatGeo points out, on arrival, you’ll get a stamp in your passport that with the 'Palau Pledge' you’ll have to sign that includes the phrase, “the only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away.”
80 percent of Palau’s seas are preserved as a National Marine Sanctuary, which the magazine recognizes as one of the richest marine ecosystems on the planet, which hundreds of species of coral and over 1,300 species of fish, including a mind-boggling range of sharks, honored with their own Shark Week Palau. Visitors can participate in science and conservation efforts in the water.
Other top places for Adventure:
- Climb the Rockies in Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
- Cycle a new bike trail on the Seine River, France
- Explore First Nations backcountry in New Brunswick, Canada
- Trek from the Caribbean to the Pacific in Costa Rica
TOP SUSTAINABLE JOURNEYS
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon/Washington
Close to home and yet worlds apart. The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most scenic river sites in the world. It’s part of the largest National Scenic Area in the U.S., nearly 300,000 acres of breathtaking scenery every way you look.
That includes the spectacle of Mount Hood that forms a backdrop to many views - and contributes to a local eco-system and micro-climate that’s home to some of the most outstanding and up-and-coming New World wines.
A non-profit alliance is helping to ensure visitors wine, dine, and sight-see mindfully through farms, historic hotels, wineries, and other local, small-scale experiences via sustainable travel techniques like wine-tasting bike tours. Their efforts have become a model used by other regions to help structure sustainable tourism that also supports the local economy.
Other top Sustainable trips:
- Trek from the Caribbean to the Pacific in Costa Rica
- A conservation of biodiversity success in Chimanimani, Mozambique
- A transformation from steel production to parks in the Ruhr Valley, Germany
- New green spaces and cultural buzz in Łódź, Poland
TOP CULTURE AND HISTORY HOTSPOTS
Get beyond the other-worldly bustle of Tokyo and Japan’s other mega-cities. Japan’s northern-most island nurtures the best of Japanese traditions, like hot spring resorts and veneration of nature, but in a northern clime that sees deep snows in winter and a culture all its own.
Much of Hokkaido’s unique culture comes from its indigenous people, the Ainu, who are regaining a voice and reclaiming their unique culture from mainstream Japan.
On Hokkaido, the new National Ainu Museum and Park and Kayano Shigeru Nibutani Ainu Museum, preserve and share Ainu culture and sustainable lifestyle with nature. It also helps preserve and share the Ainu language, which is completely unrelated to Japanese or any other living language, and is considered 'critically endangered' by UNESCO.
Other Culture/ History Hotspots:
The Italian Capital of Culture in 2022, Procida Island, Italy
The movement for social change in Atlanta, Georgia
The resurgence of music culture in Tin Pan Alley, London
Taste tea on Jingmai Mountain, China
BEST FAMILY TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
This may be the best way to get your kids interested in the magic of math.
The splendors of 13th century palace-city Alhambra in Granada is considered the Moorish - North African - 'architectural jewel of Europe.'
Geometry comes alive in extraordinary beauty at Alhambra, built by sultans of the last dynasty to occupy southern Spain. The repetition of tiles, mosaics, vaulting and stylized patterns put the real life application of math on full display. So do the immense palace’s water features and structural architecture. Even very young children will never forget the first time they set eyes on Alhambra’s central fountain, with a dozen lions supporting the marble basin on their backs while spitting water from their mouths!
Other top Family trips:
Live the nomadic life in Lycia, Turkey
Learn about the Underground Railroad on the Eastern Shore, Maryland
Cruise storybook castles and medieval history on the Danube River
Dive into an epic marine reserve in Bonaire