With 2013 already upon us, it’s time to start planning our travels for the upcoming year. 2012 was an extremely fulfilling year of travels for us as we covered seven continents in just one year and traveled to many places we’d long dreamt of visiting. It was a year that’s hard to beat in terms of travel. In 2013, we hope to travel as much, but at a slower and deeper pace. From our long list of dream destinations, we’ve picked out those that we want to see the most and hopefully become reality this year!
Cuba has always been on our radar, not just for its unique flair and culture, but also for its tinge of authenticity. Having been closed to the outside world for decades, Cuba continues to be one of the few remaining destinations that’s relatively undisturbed by external influences. Now that the embargo is about to be lifted by the US government, we’re worried about the possible impact of tourism. In Havana, we hope to wander through its cobble-stoned paths and along the malécon, feast on Cuban cuisine in the paladares and interact with the locals by staying in casas particulares. Then we’ll head to the beaches in Trinidad, and head inland to Camagüey, and the Afro-Cuba city of Santiago de Cuba.
Flickr photo by VisualStandpoint
We’ve long dreamt of visiting Brazil during the Carnival to join in the world’s biggest street party and explore the country’s wilderness at the same time. On our four-month trip around South America in 2008, we had left Brazil out of the itinerary as we knew such a big and diverse country needed more time to explore just on its own. It’s about time we head back to the continent we love so much. From Rio de Janeiro, we hope to meander along the Brazilian coastline, exploring colonial towns like Paraty, venturing into the Amazon and going kitesurfing on Jericoacoara with Sunvil Traveller. But most of all, we want to venture into the wet, swampy forests of El Pantanal, one of the few places in the world where jaguar sightings are possible. Besides jaguars, Pantanal is also home to a myriad of wildlife like tapirs, otters and howler monkeys.
Flickr photo by Tambako
Trans-Mongolian Train and Mongolia
At the beginning of 2012, we had originally planned to go overland from Asia back to Europe and experience the Trans-Siberian journey, a voyage that’s been on our wish list for many years. We didn’t end up taking the train last year due to time and budget constraints; but this year, we really want to make it happen. Our current Ice Run train journey has gotten us hooked on train travel and we know we’re going to enjoy crossing from Europe to Asia by train. Starting from St Petersburg, we hope to hop on the Trans-Mongolian train, zip through Siberia, see some sights in the region, and end up in Mongolia where we’ll spend time exploring the steppes and getting to know the nomadic locals. Real Russia is the most reliable company for Trans-Mongolian travel and we plan to travel with them on this journey.
Flickr photo by scott.presly
Since we’ll be in Asia at the end of the Trans-Mongolian journey, we want to make use of the opportunity to venture into Central Asia which we’ve read so much about. Places like Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakstan interest us for their mix of cultures and history – in this little known region, we want to visit their majestic mosques, meet locals who are best known for their hospitality, and tread the Silk Road just like the ancient traders used to. We haven’t made very concrete plans but we’re thinking of first heading to Xinjiang, China, then finding our way towards Almaty (Kazakstan), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and then head straight back to Moscow, Russia.
Flickr photo by Adam_Jones
Having been to several countries in Africa, we’ve long been drawn to West Africa for its troubled history and intriguing Voodoo culture. This part of the world can be dangerous especially when traveling on your own, so we’ve been researching to find the best way to explore the region. G Adventures recently launched a West Africa cruise that sails along the entire coast from South Africa, through Congo, Benin, Sierra Leone, and all the way to Dakar. The voyage is on board the MS Expedition, the same ship that I sailed with to Antarctica and Arctic. The trips for 2013 are already fully booked, but I’m hoping to join the cruise in another year’s time.
Flickr photo by babasteve
Are these places on your wish list too? Where do you plan to travel to in 2013?