This foodie haven in northern Spain famously has a higher number of Michelin stars per square metre than Paris or Lyon, and its restaurants regularly appear in The World’s Best 50 Restaurants list. It’s been named European Capital of Culture for 2016, meaning there’s now even more reason to visit. Talks, exhibitions and events will be held throughout the year, and can be incorporated into a broader trip exploring the Basque region. (See dss2016.eu/en/ for a full programme.)
Pura Aventura (www.pura-aventura.com) is running a new 10-night Basque Foodie Adventure, visiting producers and sampling products from the coast to the highlands. Highlights include a visit to millennia-old saltpans where harvesters collect salt for Michelin-starred chefs, a pintxo (a traditional Basque snack) making class in Pamplona, and a visit to the hallowed San Sebastian supper club, the Gastronomic Society. Prices start from £1,995pp (two sharing) including several meals, guides and excursions. Flights to Bilboa are extra.
Blessed with the highest concentration of biodiversity in the world, this small, peaceful Central American country has always been a favourite with wildlife enthusiasts. Its beaches are also a big draw, rivalling some of the best spots in the Caribbean. Last year, Thomson launched a direct Dreamliner service, and in May 2016 British Airways will begin operating a direct flight to capital San Jose.
Those seeking a relaxing break should consider the newly opened AltaGracia lodge, a short flight from San Jose in the Mountains of Perez Zeledon. Consisting of 50 high end casitas (small Mexican style apartments) set on a former coffee plantation, it’s also home to the largest spa in Central America.
Scott Dunn (www.scottdunn.com; 020 8682 5030) offers six nights at AltaGracia with breakfast from £2,750pp (two sharing) including direct BA flights from Gatwick on May 4, 2016.
In April, Disney’s version of The Jungle Book will hit cinema screens, sparking a surge of interest in Rudyard Kipling’s India. Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Idris Elba and Giancarlo Esposito are all involved in the film, which combines 3D computer-generated animation with live action, but the real star is the Bengal tiger.
Exodus Travels (www.exodus.co.uk) offers a 16-day escorted Land of the Tiger tour exploring classic Kipling country, with various departures between October and April.Bengal tiger safaris are a key focus of the trip, with considerable time spent in three of the key national parks - Pench, Kanha and Bandhavgarh. The trip costs from £2429pp (two sharing), including accommodation, most meals, guides, 15 game drives and flights. British tourists, will also be pleased to know that changes to the Indian visa application process mean its now cheaper and easier to get into the country.
It’s 60 years since naturalist Sir David Attenborough first visited the Great Barrier Reef, and now the world’s largest natural structure is the subject of his latest BBC documentary series. Despite challenges facing the reef, diving and snorkelling here is still a breathtaking experience and one of the key attractions for visitors to Queensland.
Day trips run from Cairns and Port Douglas, but for something really special stay on one of the islands close to the outer reef. Recently reopened following cyclone damage, Lizard Island Resort provides luxury accommodation in the Lizard Island National Park where Attenborough came to film last year.
Bridge & Wickers (www.bridgeandwickers.co.uk, 020 3642 8551) offers three nights at Lizard Island (all inclusive) followed by three nights at Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree National Park and three nights in Port Douglas from £3,785pp (two sharing). Price includes Cathay Pacific flights from Heathrow via Hong Kong, domestic flights and private transfers.
The 2014 World Cup raised Brazil’s profile, and attention will return to the South American country with the 2016 Rio Olympics in August. Now safer than ever before, Rio is arguably one of the world’s most striking cities. Beaches are bordered by jungle-clad mountains, and a lively party spirit reigns year round.
Brazil is vast and distances are big, but for a good overview of the country, Wexas offers a 14-day Best of Brazil itinerary from £4,935pp (two sharing). Visit the Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio; stay at a lodge in the Amazon; explore the colonial streets of Salvador and marvel at the roaring Iguazu Falls. The price includes meals, excursions, transfers and international flights and is valid until December 2016.
If the Olympic Games highlighted the beauty of Brazil then you should have a look at our Brazil destination guide and get inspired.
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