The nights are drawing in and almost certainly some shop somewhere has put up the Christmas lights so naturally we've decided to bypass all that and start thinking about 2019 instead. We've looked deep into our crystal ball, studied the tea leaves and read the runes (whatever they are) and decided on the very best places to be in the next year...
Lesser-known than its well-known neighbours of Croatia and Greece, this tiny slice of Adriatic coastline now has some incredible new hotels opening in 2019 to rival its startlingly beautiful fjord landscapes. Hotels aside, there is a plethora of experiences that we can organise to get under the skin of Montenegro's wild great outdoors instead of the usual fly and flopping on the Riviera. Venture on a private guided tour of Boka Bay and cycle around the beautiful Bay of Kotor before heading east to kayak through giant water lilies on Skadar Lake, which also happens to be excellent for bird watching and hiking. Heading further inland, the mountainous region of Durmitor National Park is home the deepest gorges and the greatest variety of butterflies in Europe and is a haven for hiking, canyoning in Nevidio Canyon and rafting on the River Tara. Go now before everyone else does.
Experiencing a renaissance in luxury travel, Colombia's breathtaking jungle landscapes and colonial cities deserve more recognition. Away from Cartagena's colourful colonial architecture, visit the local Bazurto food market, home to some of the freshest seafood in the country, and learn about the city's fascinating street food history and culture. Enjoy a hands-on Caribbean cooking class with one of Cartagena's most renowned chefs. And to wash down the grub, we can arrange a tasting session of local aged rums with one of the country's top sommeliers. Escaping city life, transfer to the rainforest via helicopter, taking in aerial views of The Lost City, Tayrona National Park and an indigenous community before arriving at Casa Galavanta, a private property secluded in the heart of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountainous jungle range. Enjoy a digital detox with no internet connection and minimal phone signal, and disconnect from the outside world. Enjoy private yoga sessions on your outdoor deck, with views of the mountains and ocean, participate in handpicking coffee, visit a small traditional Wiwa village, venture out on expert-led nature walks and enjoy a spot of birdwatching in this nature haven.
Egypt is definitely back and remains a firm favourite at Original Travel, in large part thanks to the spectacular Steam Ship Sudan (we'll come onto that later). Opening at the beginning of 2019 is the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum which has been relocated and newly built overlooking the pyramids of Giza. The museum will house over 100,000 ancient Egyptian artefacts, many of which have never previously been shown in public, and includes King Tutankhamun's complete collection of over 50,000 artefacts. Once complete, the museum will be the largest in the world devoted to a single civilisation. After spending time exploring the pyramids and in chaotic Cairo, slow down the pace and head to the Nile for a cruise aboard Steam Ship Sudan. Possibly one of the most memorable boating experiences in the world, the beautifully decorated, authentic 19th century steamer (which inspired Agatha Christie to write Death on the Nile and also starred in the subsequent film) glides down the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, stopping at fascinating archaeological sites, temples and tombs along the way.
25 years after the appalling genocide in 1994, Rwanda is thriving. 2019 sees a whole host of new luxury openings with Singita's Kwitonda Lodge arriving in Volcanoes National Park in August 2019, One and Only's Nyungwe House near Nyungwe National Park just opened this month and Wilderness Safari's recently opened Bisate Lodge adjacent to Volcanoes National Park. Experience bucket-list gorilla and chimpanzee trekking and search for very rare golden moneys in Volcanoes National Park before heading to Nyungwe to search for black and white colobus monkeys, go birdwatching, and explore tea plantations and local villages. And if you're wanting an alternative big game safari destination, Rwanda is now home to all Big Five game since the relocation of 20 black rhinos from South Africa to Akagera National Park. (Who knew?)
Since the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics mean more visitors than ever will be heading to Japan in the near future we reckon it's time to look beyond Honshu and explore some of the other 6,852 islands in the Japanese archipelago. We suggest starting in Kyushu, where bubbling natural onsen hot springs, active volcanoes and some of the country's best street food can be found, as well as three of the rugby world cup stadiums. You'll also find incredible and virtually people-free trekking terrain just off the southern tip of the island on tiny and UNESCO protected Yakushima Island. Here ancient and mystical forests rule the roost and it's a far cry from the in-your-face wackiness that Tokyo offers. Alternatively, for those who manage to snaffle a ticket in the Rugby World Cup ballot and want to stay close to the games, we're running with the sporting theme and keeping our eyes on the numerous off the beaten track cycling routes on Honshu, where guides can help even less adept cyclists explore via pedal power.
2019 marks 250 years since the birth of Alexander Von Humboldt, the 18th century explorer famed for placing Chile (and pretty much the rest of South America) firmly on the map. It seems very fitting, then, that 250 years later the Tomkins Conservation foundation, founded by the North Face and Patagonia clothing brand founders, have reaffirmed Chile's place on the map by setting out to protect Von Humboldt's old haunts with a new 1,740 mile long hiking trail in a noble attempt to improve awareness of conservation. The new Patagonian Route of Parks opens up brand new hiking routes and connects 17 national parks together in one networked route.
For a second-time-Oman trip, we are encouraging you to forget the vast Arabian Desert and opulent Muscat, and instead venture off-the-beaten-track. There's no better place to do so than at the undercover desert camp that has just appeared on our radar. A base for canyoning down wadis with expert adventure guides, and with luxury Bedouin-esque accommodation, it's a dramatic and refreshing difference to the shining marble and chandeliers of Muscat. For a city experience with a difference, our local Concierge will tell you to venture into the coastal fishing city of Seeb - where the Muscat's locals actually live. Explore the markets with a local guide who can share stories of the local culture and history, and show you the best places to sample real local food. Despite temperatures soaring into the 40's in Muscat's summer months, for a deeper cut in Oman, we think a visit to the much cooler (in every sense of the word) Jebel Akhdar Mountains makes for an ideal action-packed family summer break. At this time, the mountains are truly 'green' with ripe fruit along their terraced ridges and it's a great time to conquer the highest via ferrata route in the Middle East.