11th December 2019
It's been an eventful year full of twists and turns in the travel world with once difficult-to-arrange visas getting easier in the case of countries like Pakistan and Uzbekistan, new tourist destinations opening up and once little-visited destinations gaining some well-earned, overdue popularity. Which is good news for 2020, which seems set up to be another hugely interesting year for travel!
So, what's next? We've summed up what we predict to be the top 20 hottest destinations for 2020, featuring old favourites and emerging destinations alike. It's time to get inspired for your travels and truly celebrate the new decade...
The HBO TV series Chernobyl was the surprise hit of 2019. See the site in real life and take in the scale of this terrible accident. Our new Undiscovered Europe tour combines three of Eastern Europe’s lesser visited countries – Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus – and includes a visit to the Chernobyl site, as well as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mir and Lviv and the traditional Hutsul people of the Carpathians.
We’ve been running trips to Pakistan since we were founded in 2002, and we have never seen tourism there in a healthier state than it is right now. After a action packed year of the Royal tour, new direct British Airways flights and a convenient e-visa scheme make it look like this country is finally emerging from the travel wilderness.
Visiting Saudi Arabia for leisure purposes has been virtually impossible until now, but the country has just launched a visa regime for tourists. We ask our travellers every year which country they want us to introduce next, and Saudi Arabia always appears near the top of the list. Highlights include the Nabatean site of Mada’in Salah, featuring spectacular rock-cut tombs similar in style to the Nabatean sites at Petra, the Red Sea town of Jeddha, the capital Riyadh and the Hijaz Mountains.
After our successful trip taking in 2019’s total solar eclipse, when we glimpsed the sun disappear over the Argentinian wilderness near Mendoza, we’re excited to be returning to this continent once more for this year’s cosmic event in Patagonia, with another total solar eclipse set to take place in December 2020. Come and join us.
We saw bookings to Mongolia double last year compared with 2018. Why? Well, it seems many visitors are increasingly seeking opportunities to get back in touch with nature and experience wilderness destinations, with Kyrgyzstan also doing well. We'll raise a cup of airag to that!
Georgia has been a popular destination for us for a while now, but it's incredible to think that some people still don't know about this fascinating little country in the Caucasus, famed for its delicious food, welcoming locals and beautiful landscapes. It's slowly gaining popularity so go before the secret is well and truly out there! If you want some inspiration on best places to visit in Georgia, check out our blog below...
The chances of seeing tigers in India’s national parks are the highest they have been in decades. The latest census, released in July 2019, shows tiger numbers have risen from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018 thanks to conservation efforts, so you're more likely than ever to get a glimpse of this beautiful big cat out in its natural habitat.
Following the Arab Spring protests, Jordan and Oman, two of the safest and easiest to travel countries in the Middle East, suffered a huge drop off in visitors. Now, nearly a decade on, passenger numbers to both have finally surpassed pre-Arab Spring levels as the Middle East resurgence continues. Don’t miss out.
Georgia has been the star of the Caucasus in recent years, but travellers are increasingly discovering the delights of one of its neighbours, Armenia. Small enough to explore in a week, this is an ideal destination for both hikers and culture lovers. Check out our Armenia Travel Guide with the wonderful vlogger Eva Zu Beck below to really get a taste of this hidden-gem.
Uzbekistan introduced visa-free travel for up to 30 days for UK passport holders in 2019, making it easier than ever to get a taste of the Silk Road. Uzbekistan features on several of our tours, including Cities of the Silk Road. Think you know your ’Stans? Take our quiz.
In March 2020, Namibia celebrates 30 years of independence from South Africa. The country is one of the best places in Africa for a self-drive holiday, letting you explore some truly wild sights under your own steam. It also offers excellent game viewing, particularly in Etosha National Park, and don’t miss out on seeing one of the world’s natural wonders at the towering sand dunes of Sossusvlei.
Nicaragua has had a tumultuous couple of years, with protests against the government eventually resulting in the UK Foreign Office (FCO) advising against travel to the Central American country. But, after its congress approved an amnesty in June 2019, things have settled down and the FCO’s travel ban was recently lifted. What better time to discover one of Central America’s best-kept secrets?
After 2015’s earthquake, Nepal was not only devastated, with many trails and villages simply wiped from the mountains, it also suffered a catastrophic drop in visitors, on which it relies. Numbers have only recently recovered, but now the government of Nepal is aiming to attract two million visitors in 2020. If anywhere deserves your money, it’s the communities of Nepal.
The Peruvian city of Arequipa was founded on 15 August 1540 by Spanish conquistador Garcí Manuel de Carbajal, meaning the city will celebrate its 480th birthday in 2020. Known as the ‘White City’, owing to the volcanic rock used in much of its buildings, it is famous for its colonial architecture, including the beautiful Santa Catalina Convent, set against a backdrop of the volcano El Misti.
We have introduced a new group tour of Lebanon in response to demand from many of you. Lebanon has often been a victim of geopolitics, owing to its location bordering Syria and Israel. However, the country is going through a period of relative calm, as seen by the UK Foreign Office recently removing its travel ban to the Bekaa Valley, home to the ancient Roman site of Baalbek. Lebanon was also the 100th country Wild Frontiers’ founder Jonny Bealby visited and Mike, our Head of Marketing summed up the best things to see and do in Lebanon following his trip.
Madagascar’s long-awaited airport extension is due to be unveiled in 2020, which will greatly improve connections to a country famed for its unique wildlife but all too often falls off travellers’ radars. And to make things easier, Madagascar even introduced a new e-visa system in 2019. What are you waiting for?
Those who want wilderness and adventure activities such as rafting, hiking and cycling are increasingly looking to Kazakhstan. Despite all this, it remains something of a Silk Road secret, and while Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have been receiving all the attention, more intrepid travellers are discovering the delights of the forgotten ‘Stan.
Montenegro has been receiving a lot of press recently but the whole of the Balkans is on the rise, with our bookings for Albania up 15% for 2020 compared with the previous year. We’re not surprised. Spectacular mountains, canyons and rivers as well as sparkling coastline, Greek and Roman ruins, Ottoman citadels and rural hospitality make it a powerful draw.
In 2020, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) UNESCO celebrates its 75th anniversary. No organisation crops up on travellers’ lips quite so often, and its World Heritage sites are usually the first things you look for when landing in a new country. The Galápagos Islands were among the first batch of inscribed sites on a list that currently now extends to over 1,500 locations across the world, so why not pay it a visit yourself to see why this iconic wildlife destination was so worth protecting.
It may be that the British pound is currently underperforming, but there are currencies doing even worse. One of those is the Argentinian peso. It’s bad news for the local economy, but good news for visitors, and any money you spend will help ease the financial woes of locals. Perhaps combine it with the next solar eclipse.