The assortment of countries below harbours something for every wayward wonderer, as you prepare to rewrite your bucket list - neglecting to dip your toe in as you take this year’s cultural plunge.
Chile is a winding wilderness, flanked by the soaring Andes to the East, the boundless Pacific-Ocean to the West, the dry-windswept planes of the Atacama Desert up north, and the dense wilds of Patagonia down south. From its vibrant capital, Santiago, to its Sinewing mountain and coastline boarders, this country hosts illustrious extremes that will captivate even the most seasoned traveller. Celebrating 200 years of independence in 2018, city festivities will play host to cultural vibrancy amidst a backdrop of spectacular beauty. With new non-stop flights from Melbourne, its never been easier to raise a glass of Pisco sour, and delve into its trove.
From the Saharan dunes that sweep the land, to the arrow tipped High Atlas Mountains that protrude the earth, to the cities abuzz with exciting anticipation, and the ancient hearts of bustling elation found in its bazaars, this country’s lyrical landscapes will leave you lusting for your next splash of spice. A multitude of rustic medinas trickle theatrical displays, as you find yourself exploring cul-de-sacs laden with rich cloths and Saharan jewels. With plenty to explore throughout its chaotic and lively city squares and adjacent exquisite eateries, there is something for every intrepid traveller that seeks Northern Africa.
This expanse of verdant rainforest and cultural exuberance extends far beyond its effervescent shores to capture the imaginations of world travellers. Journey from metropolises drenched in sunlight, to red-rock canyons that etch harsh beauty into the sprawling landscape, and thundering waterfalls that host an elaborate array of life unknown elsewhere. The concoction of iconic species amongst a crawling nightlife scene, makes this destination a must for all living species. So engulf yourself in what Brazil dubs normality, and be swept away by how it is anything but.
With an intricate sprawl of open-air bars, arts venues and restaurants to wet the creative appetite, Ireland harbours a compact playground of age-old European modernity. Quaint cafes weave the streets in Belfast, whilst giant steps bound the sheer shorelines, as libraries ignite ingenuity and Dublin heaves with the Ocean wind. Ravishing beauty serenades this cool, calm countryside, whilst swirls of colour clash heritage and hedonism in its cities, brewing some of Europe’s finest ales, in a cacophony of flavourful culture.
An array of greens and blues engulf this idyllic Indian Ocean isle, with sapphire seas and electric activities, there is excitement for everyone on this celestial paradise. Where the vast blue glides under cabins that dot the coast, and fish dance as you plunge the vivid depths, it would be amiss not to include the ‘star of the Indian Ocean’ on your list. Celebrating 50 years of independence in 2018, there is much afoot within this sapphire settlement, as gleaming reefs collide with a deep blue sky, breathing life into enriched villages that fill the frame of postcards bought in longing.
6. New Zealand
Long before the Hollywood rendition of its jagged landscape, New Zealand’s jarring beauty was attracting wanderlust travellers in search of their next escapade. Its topography brings Tolkien’s majesty to life, as boundless beauty surrounds you with sheer awestruck appreciation of mother nature’s powerful hand. With shimmering lakes and snow tipped peaks this land leads travellers through some of the most spell bounding trails, such as the Great Walks and the famous Milford Sound. So be sure to witness the vast array of clashing splendour that unfolds as you are immersed in its adverse atmosphere.
Prehistoric fortifications crown the Mediterranean, as ancient temples serenade the shoreline, and catacombs provoke historical intrigue. This archipelago’s riches hold a mystical moment for the European Capital of Culture 2018, as a confluence of art festivals, both Baroque and international, influence this classical timepiece. With beaches as spotless as its sky, a lifestyle protected by towering coastal palisades and more than 300 days of annual sunshine, this nation’s culture has been unchanged to the benefit of anyone arriving.
A land whose colour palette is rich with red outback sands and bounded by blue reefs that encircle sophisticated cities swelling with urban mischief. Its prominent spirited culture, born out of proximity to coastal splendour, possesses a penchant for lively day activities, and vibrant night extravagance. Travel to the East coast to embrace the haute-boho lifestyle of Byron that never fails to deliver a resoundingly Australian ‘vibe’. Explore varying aesthetic perspectives on the Australian lifestyle in each of its cities, adorned with their own cultural charm, they each deliver something unique.
The rocky contours of Oman’s Al-Hajar Mountains weave atop serene rivers that rake the wadis’ below, creating natural valley terraces and lush outcrops of wildlife. Velvety damask rose blossoms engulf the senses, as they bloom afoot a pink romantic expanse, viewed best from afore a cocktail menu. While the promise of canyon-view infinity pools, and decadent dining epitomise luxury, there is something for everyone in this cultural recluse, as journeying to the cities commends tumultuous favour for those that wish it. Whether perusing the remote, or journeying to its cities, this ancient mixture of grandeur will capture your curiosity whatever your path.
A land of effervescent diversity - from ancient artistic heritage to colourful landscapes and splendid culinary specialties - India will ignite your passion and shake your senses. India’s dramatic terrain is breathtaking from its north-most fortresses to its southern coastline, with plunging ravines and kaleidoscopic cities, it mixes meditative temperament with cultural frenzy. Here you’ll simmer, sizzle, knead, bake and flip across a deliciously diverse repertoire of dishes, all competing for a flavourful thrill. So expect the unexpected, as India has the capacity to inspire, frazzle, bewilder and perplex all at once, yet just enough to warm your soul.