The best trips for 2022

Our desire to get back out and discover the world is stronger than ever. From an intrepid trip to Antarctica to a go-slow train journey across some of southeast Asia’s most mesmerising landscapes, we’ve picked out our favourite in-the-know trips to plan for 2022, hand in hand with the most respected and trustworthy tour operators out there.

Tahiti with Turquoise

A speck in the turquoise waters between Tahiti and Easter Island, Pitcairn isn't on most people's radars. The only way to get to the smallest and most remote inhabited island in the world is by the sea – but instead of a bells-and-whistles cruise ship, your home for the duration of this trip is Aranui, organised by Turquoise.

This cargo vessel is busy shifting supplies to some of the most far-flung islands on earth but don’t panic: cabins are supremely comfortable, and there’s a restaurant and swimming pool on board. After setting off from French Polynesia’s buzzy capital, the boat trundles into the Tuamotu Archipelago, a group of heavenly coral atolls so flat they’re practically invisible from the sea.

Land at islands ringed by blindingly white sand, renowned for their fly-fishing, pearl farms, jade lagoons and kaleidoscopic marine life, before stopping off at the Gambiers, a former cradle of Catholicism packed full of crumbling churches. From here, it’s on to Pitcairn: the descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers still live here today – and although visitors are sparse, they’re warmly welcomed. Spend a few more days island hopping and snorkelling in gin-clear waters: this is real unchartered territory and you certainly won’t find any hotels or other tourists on this route – but that’s all part of the magic.

Egypt with Pelorus

The year 2022 is a bumper one for Egypt. It marks 100 years since Howard Carter chiselled away at Tutankhamunhm’s tomb and made one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time; 200 years since Jean-Francois Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone and the opening of the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum.

If there was ever a time to celebrate this beguiling country, it’s now. This Pelorus trip begins in Cairo, using the frenetic city as a base for trips to the Pyramids at Giza and an exclusive private viewing of the dazzling treasures on display at the Grand Museum. Take it all in from a unique perspective with a skydive over the desert, then continue to Luxor and the Valley of Kings where you’ll float across this extraordinary open-air museum in a hot air balloon.

Of course, no Egyptian itinerary is complete without a Nile cruise: board the beautiful dahabiya Nour et Nil to drift languidly along the waterways linking Esna to Aswan, Egypt’s most peaceful riverside city. Along the way, stop to wander around ancient villages, duck into colourful bazaars, trek into the mountains and swim out to palm-studded islands. A timeless journey that shines the light on Egypt’s most awe-inspiring wonders.

Antarctica with Abercrombie and Kent

October 2021's COP26 summit was yet another reminder of the climate emergency facing the world. Now, more than ever, we’re being urged to travel responsibly – and this truly epic, once-in-a-lifetime trip from Abercrombie & Kent shines a light on one of the planet’s most fragile ecosystems from climate change ground zero itself.

Departing from Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world) during the austral summer, you’ll set sail on Le Lyrial, a next-generation cruise ship where sustainability initiatives – from the use of the greenest fuel on the market to the deployment of advanced sonar systems – go above and beyond. As you cross the notoriously choppy Drake Passage, you’ll be joined by Dr James McClintock, a professor of polar and marine biology who’s deeply passionate about raising awareness of global warming and heavily involved in the critical scientific research going on to help protect this vulnerable landscape.

Once you reach the Antarctic Sound, it’s time for five days of exhilarating polar exploration as you cruise the South Shetland Islands and the Danco Coast. You’ll head out into this remote and inhospitable environment on daily Zodiac expeditions, gliding past lofty glaciers, getting up close with majestic humpback whales and tracking penguins as they waddle and toboggan across the ice. This is a place like nowhere else on earth – visit now, while you still can.

Israel with Wix Squared

A fascinating land of contrasts and contradictions, history-soaked Israel is well worth adding to any traveller’s list. Wix Squared kicks things off in Jerusalem, where you’ll spend three days dipping in and out of the ancient capital’s most enigmatic landmarks.

Once you’ve had your culture fix, leave the city behind to hike up to the ancient mountaintop fortress of Masada before cooling off in the natural pools at the magnificent Ein Gedi oasis and floating in the Dead Sea. From here, it’s on to Nazareth: while you’re in the area, stop at one of the country’s award-winning wineries, before jumping in an off-road vehicle and cruising up to the Golan Heights. A drive along the fringes of the Syrian border is truly eye-opening and gives a real insight into the fractured geopolitics of the region.

Israel’s 24/7 party city, Tel Aviv, is a total contrast: during your time here, explore the city’s boho neighbourhoods and enjoy the gorgeous pool at the former monastery-turned-design hotel, The Jaffa. The true highlight of this trip comes right at the end, with the final three nights spent at Six Senses Shaharut, a high-on-drama 2021 opening hewn into the cliffs of the Negev Desert. Here, dune boarding, mountain biking and camel trekking are paired with downtime in the mega spa, ensuring you feel fully rested before flying home.

Singapore and Thailand with Trailfinders

You can fly from Singapore to Bangkok in under two hours, but there’s a far more fun way to travel between these two iconic Asian cities: by train with Trailfinders. After two days exploring Singapore’s modern metropolis, board your mahogany-clad carriage on the Eastern and Oriental Express, the fabled slow train best-known for carving a captivating path through the Malaysian and Thai countryside.

While you’re on board, your biggest luxury is time: harking back to the golden age of travel, days are spent gawping at the ever-changing scenery as it unfurls in front of you. Hop off for excursions to Kuala Kangasar, a Malaysian city with an important colonial past, or cross the River Kwai Bridge to learn about the region’s harrowing history.

Rejoin the train for Michelin-qualitysuppers in the damask-curtained dining car as you glide through the moonlit, mist-covered landscape. A few days later, the train rolls into Bangkok – spend time temple-hopping before flying south to Koh Samui and flopping at Belmond Napasai, a peaceful beachside hotel squirrelled away in a corner of the island’s calm north shores.

Sicily with Red Savannah

Whether it’s the picture-perfect mountain towns, splendiferous cities, pristine beaches or endless cultural riches, we’re sucked in by Sicily’s allure time and time again. This Red Savannah whistle-stop tour of the largest Mediterranean island takes visitors from the colourful capital of Palermo down to the sun-drenched south, tapping into the island’s serious foodie credentials en route.

Using Villa Igeia – a beautifully-restored 19th-century palazzo sitting proudly on the Palermo shoreline – as your base, hop on the back of a Vespa to admire the city’s Arab-Norman architecture and make pit stops at the famed food stalls scattered through the streets. From here, head southwest, slicing through the island’s rural heart to reach Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples before continuing on to Noto, a half-day drive along the pretty Ionian coastline.

Spend two days wandering the butter-coloured Baroque streets, broken up with a private cooking lesson with an Italian nonna. Then it’s onto Syracuse, whose historical centre Ortigia – a jumble of authentic trattorias, elegant piazzas and colourful markets – sits a quick hop across the water. The most spectacular spot is saved till last: bed down at a traditional Sicilian farmhouse at the foot of Mount Etna, with views across to the Med on one side and the volcano’s belching craters on the other. Buckle up for a jeep tour across the lunar-like landscape, before venturing down into the foothills to learn about the region’s burgeoning wine scene.

The American South West with Scott Dunn

There are few more epic journeys than the all-American road trip. This Scott Dunn one begins in Las Vegas, where a few days hanging out on the Strip are broken up with a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon: an adrenaline-pumping introduction to one of the country’s most spectacular national parks. Then the real journey commences: pick up your wheels and head along Interstate 15 to reach Zion National Park, an adventure seeker’s nirvana of rock climbing, canyoning and vertiginous hikes, where you’ll be joined by a guide to help you get the most out of this extraordinary landscape.

After a few nights in the park, leave the dusty red-rock country behind and make your way towards the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains, settling into Sundance, Robert Redford’s chic mountain retreat. From here, visit the breathtakingly beautiful neighbouring valleys, perfectly primed for mountain biking, fishing and whitewater rafting.

Then it’s on to Moab, the adventure capital of the southwest, followed by Monument Valley, where you’ll head off-road to explore terrain straight out of a movie set (quite literally – it’s provided the backdrop for some of the best-loved Westerns). Finish up at Amangiri, the undisputed star of the desert wilderness.

Botswana with Black Tomato

It’s no secret that Botswana safaris can be eye-wateringly expensive. But one thing’s for sure: they’re about as exclusive as safaris get. It’s all to do with the country’s low-impact, high-value tourism model – while crowds don’t exist here, epic wildlife-spotting opportunities certainly do.

Land at a remote airstrip on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans to kick off this seven-night Black Tomato getaway – your first base is San Camp, where seven billowing white tents effortlessly blend in with the remains of an ancient lake stretching for thousands of miles across the Kalahari Desert. The Big Five are less prolific here than elsewhere, but this is the place to spot unique species including the elusive brown hyena and the cheeky meerkats that poke their heads out from their burrows.

From here, you’ll set off on an extraordinary quad bike safari, travelling over 500km across the barren landscape and sleeping out under the stars in splendid isolation on Kubu Island. For the second part of the trip, you’ll transfer to the Okavango Delta and stay at the just-opened, ultra-sustainable Xigera Lodge, where the surrounding watery channels of the Moremi Game Reserve provide a stark contrast to the arid wilderness of Makgadikgadi. Here, the cast of wildlife shifts as the seasons change, but you’ll spend most of your time out on the water, keeping your eyes peeled for elephants, hippos and leopards. The ultimate bucket-list safari trip.

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