The year 2018 has begun and you know what that means: “New Year, New Me”! But how about “New Year, New Places” instead? Yes, personal development and growth can be achieved not only in the gym or with a fasting cure, but also through travel. The world is full of wonderful places worth visiting, so here is my personal list of the best and selection for 2018.
The Middle East is full of miracles and Jordan is no exception. You can float in the Dead Sea without physical exertion or take a trip to the desert and Wadi Rum, but Jordan’s most famous destination is the architectural masterpiece of Petra. The building, carved into a rock face, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The building was rediscovered by a Swiss traveller in 1812 and dates back to 312 BC. If you are interested in history and archaeology, Petra should be at the top of your list of travel plans for 2018.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Off the coast of Queensland in Australia lie more than 1,400 miles (or 2,253 kilometres) of the largest coral reef system on our planet. It goes without saying that such a place should be on your must-see list. The World Heritage Site is also known as the ‘Blue Outback’ and is home to thousands of species of fish and molluscs, hundreds of species of birds, sharks, stingrays, and dozens of species of dolphins, whales and harbour porpoises.
I’m already overwhelmed when I list all this – just imagine what it feels like to see it with your own eyes! And don’t worry if you’re afraid of diving or haven’t taken a course yet. You can also enjoy one of the original seven natural wonders of the world while snorkelling and you will certainly not be disappointed.
Kauai, Hawaii, USA
Kauai is considered the most rainy place on earth. The humidity may make your hair curly, but so much rainfall makes this a tropical paradise. Think… Hikes in picturesque surroundings, indigo blue bathing places, wonderful bike tours and fascinating dives through rare ecosystems like colourful coral reefs. For me and obviously for the Huffington Post, the most spectacular and beautiful hiking trail in Hawaii is the Awaawapuhi Trail on Kauai. The trail winds along huge cliffs over the Pacific and offers some of the most breathtaking views in the world.
Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe
If you visit Victoria Falls, you will see two countries at once. The magnificent waterfall is also known as “thundering smoke” and separates Zambia from Zimbabwe. It is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall on the planet, but its height and width combined make it the largest waterfall on earth.
Supposedly the Zimbabwean side is the more picturesque, but why don’t you look at it from both sides and then decide for yourself which one gives more? If you’re looking for a thrill, pay a visit to the Victoria Falls Bridge, which you can either cross by zipline, bungee jump from above, or jump and swing over the Zambezi River. YOLO, right?
Zhangye Danxia, China
When you think about China, the Great Wall and cute pandas probably come to mind first, but that’s just because you haven’t heard of the Rainbow Mountains before. Normally, erosion and weathering are quite long and boring processes, but in this case they have left behind magnificent stripes of different colours on the slopes of Zhangye Danxia. I don’t necessarily assume you’ll meet unicorns there, but exploring the red, green and yellow mountains is also pretty cool.
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
When people are asked about their vision of California, they usually think of sunshine and palm-fringed beaches where famous people cavort. No question about it, the sun-drenched lifestyle on California’s beaches is great, but if you’re open to a look beyond that, up into the Sierra Nevadas mountains, I promise you’ll discover other facets of California that are just as impressive.
One of these places is Yosemite National Park. Flanked on both sides by granite cliffs as high as skyscrapers, whispering waterfalls and endless forests, Yosemite is a mecca for climbing enthusiasts and all those who like hiking and camping.
The North Face brand, founded in San Francisco, has a logo in the shape of the famous Half Dome, a characteristic rock formation of Yosemite. There are hundreds of trails and via ferratas to choose from in the National Park area, so there’s something for every fitness level. The landscape is also ridiculously photogenic. For a taste of the beauty you can expect, just type in Hashtag #yosemite on Instagram.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
I admit that I love nature and hiking, but I just had to accommodate another national park. Hey, it’s 2018, right? One of your New Year’s resolutions is most likely to get fitter and get your body back into shape, so I only have your best interests in mind.
You can thank me later. Be that as it may, what you need to know is that you will encounter more sheep than people in the Magallanes region of Chilean Patagonia. You can also expect to find emerald-green valleys, torrential rivers, bright blue lakes and a world of ice in the form of glaciers and icebergs – the region is magnificent.
But it is also rough and unforgiving and has often been described as one of the most inhospitable regions on earth. Therefore I recommend to plan a visit in January or February. At any other time of year, the weather is most likely too cold, too wet, too windy or simply too uncomfortable to enjoy. But in January or February … believe me, it’s worth it.
For many people, Paris is known to be the “city of love”, but I would give this title to Rome much sooner. In Italian Rome means Roma, which means “Amor” when read backwards, and that is the Spanish word for love. But apart from that, what could be cooler than being called “Eternal City”? Rome is not only one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe, but is also seen as the cradle of Western culture and civilization. There is just so much history here and the corresponding historical buildings!
The Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain (one of my favourite places), the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum and the Vatican! Within a few hours you can see some of the world’s most famous architectural jewels, and after you’ve been to the Vatican, you can also boast at home that you’ve visited the smallest country in the world. You’ll find all this in Rome, and we haven’t even started to rave about the great gelato and the delicious carbohydrates that you’ll eat every few meters.