Fancy a holiday in an icy landscape with stellar displays of the northern lights? Take the kids out of school and head to the Arctic in February for an experience more inspiring than any classroom can offer. Customise a trip with Off the Map Travel to Swedish Lapland with the Arctic Ice Adventure experience. Adventure guides bring you into the Arctic Wilderness to see fantastic icy landscapes, caves and ice formations; experience dog sledding, and hang out in a cosy pre-built igloo (above) as a base. You’ll get to learn the basics of igloo building, go ice fishing to catch dinner, get to taste local cuisine and experience the life and culture of the indigenous Sami people. And of course, go on a hunt for the northern lights. This is available 11-26 February 2017, tagged on to any customise tour of the region.
Adventurers with a penchant for mountainous landscapes should try the Songtsam Circuit (above), in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. Starting from its capital Shangri-la — a key pass on the ancient Tea-Horse trading route and the main gateway into Tibet — it that takes at least 6-9 days to complete, taking you through Shangri-La, Tacheng (Weixi), Cizhong, Meili (Deqin) and Benzilan. Done in relative luxury, you stay in Songtsam Lodges’ six boutique hotels along the circuit, and explorations are done as guided day trips. Transfers between the hotels take place in your own personal vehicle and dedicated driver and guide. The itinerary is packed full of outdoor hikes and drives, and sounds like something from an epic movie. Hike through valleys, primeval forests, up mountains and pass by Tibetan farms and mountain villages; see wild flowers, native wildlife including the snub nose monkey, and experience the culture of the land. The driving time between each hotel ranges from 1.5 hours to 3.5 hours. The circuit covers all major attractions along the ‘Three Rivers in Parallel’ conservation area in Yunnan Province.
If you can bear the long long flight to South America, tailor make a bespoke trip to Chile, like this 12D/11N Best of Chile vacation that takes you to the Atacama Desert, Santiago and Patagonia. Stay in luxury digs set within a walled ancient site and get a taste of the life of a local farmer. Visit his home where he tells you about life and traditions, and accompany him as he brings the lamas out to graze. There’ll be days of hiking, biking and driving through amazing landscapes from salt flats, lakes and ravines; and see ancient cave paintings in the Atacama. Then spend a few days in Santiago for an urban reboot (lots of food, art and culture), then head off to a private reserve in Chilean Patagonia to see guanacos, rheas, foxes, condors and pumas. You’ll stay in luxury at every stop and a private guide will be around to help throughout. Not cheap, but it’s one of those bucket list experiences that you have to do once in a lifetime.
(Photos courtesy of Songstam Lodges, andbeyond travel and Off The Map travel)