Where would you return, if you could spend the day anywhere in the world?
After time out from travel, we’re looking forward to seeing the wider world again, and our specialists are no exception. Here, they share where they’d go and what they’d do on their ideal day. Their recommendations include familiar haunts where they once lived, worked, or studied, sharing their passion from Japanese pottery to birdwatching in the Amazon. They can arrange all of the experiences they talk about for you, on your own trip, ensuring you make the most of every moment.
In search of Kiwis in New Zealand
I’d get transported to Rakiura or Stewart Island, just off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Firstly, I’d nip into South Seas Hotel in Oban, the island’s only town of any size, for a quick drink with the locals — there’s always a quirky story to be had in a small island pub at the end of the world, where the next stop’s Antarctica.
I’d walk over to Observation Point for a nice sweeping view of Oban itself, before jumping on a ferry over to Ulva Island, a predator-free bird sanctuary. Here I’d walk a loop trail or just sit down by a rimu tree, listening to the calls of tuis and bellbirds.
Then I’d head back to Oban and to Churchill Lodge for a dinner of fresh local salmon. After sunset, I’d go out on a private tour in search of kiwis — you use infra-red flashlights to spot the birds without disturbing them. Then, in an ideal world, I’d see the southern lights — after all, Stewart Island’s Māori name, Rakiura, means ‘land of the glowing skies’.
- Follow in Joe’s footsteps on this comprehensive wildlife-themed tour of New Zealand, which also includes whale-watching in Kaikoura and encountering the Otago Peninsula’s yellow-eyed penguins.
Kintsugi pottery and karaoke in Tokyo
There are so many parts of Japan I love, but I’d spend my ideal day in Tokyo. First, I’d head straight to a convenience store to see what seasonal snacks there are — in spring you’ll find cherry-blossom-scented sweets. Then, I’d start with something hands-on, like a kintsugi class, which is the art of mending broken pottery. The bowl I made on my last trip sits proudly on my desk. Lunch would be at one of the quirky cafes in the Harajuku district, where you can watch teenagers parade the latest fashion trends and anime-inspired outfits.
One of the things I miss most from my time living in Japan is the food, so I’d take the same food tour I arrange for my clients. You visit a bunch of genuine hole-in-the-wall eateries and izakaya, atmospheric Japanese pubs, eating lots of small plates along the way. I love yakatori, charcoal-grilled meat and vegetables with a salty-sweet sauce. I’d end the day with a classic Japanese activity: karaoke.
- Experience Tesia’s Tokyo on this 22-day grand tour of Japan, which also includes hiking along the Nakasendo Highway, a stay in a remote temple lodging and a cooking class in Kyoto.
Escape to the jungle in the Peruvian Amazon
I’d use my 24 hours to get as far away from the urban as possible, in a good way — returning to the southern Peruvian Amazon where I used to work as a wildlife guide. I’d stay at the remote Tambopata Research Centre, which is a lodge as well as a cutting-edge scientific facility just opposite the world’s largest macaw claylick.
My hours would be spent observing these birds and generally absorbing myself in the jungle, trying to set eyes on as many species as possible. I’d climb to canopy platforms in search of the harpy eagle, which continues to elude me, and take a trip to a nearby oxbow lake to try spotting giant river otters.
Along with expert guides, I’d sit in a hide looking for toucans and hopefully a hoatzin, a punky, prehistoric-looking bird. Once darkness fell, I’d take a guided night walk to observe frogs, snakes, bats, and the gleaming eyes of caimans skulking in the river.
- Experience the biodiversity of Peru’s southern Amazon like Nik in this two-week Peru tour, which also takes you to Cuzco, the seat of the Incas, after which you’ll hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
On safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta
My experiences of Botswana as a tour guide mostly involved camping. And, while I love a rustic experience, my ideal day would have a touch more luxury.
I’d be woken at the crack of dawn with a pot of coffee at Kanana Camp, to sounds of hyenas whooping. It’s an exclusive lodge in the Okavango Delta, with only seven rooms — your fellow guests are the only other people you’ll see. At dawn, I’d then head off with my driver-guide on an early-morning game drive. It’s possible to off-road in this concession, so if we spot a lion, we can drive across for a closer look.
We’d then stop for coffee as the birds emerge with the morning sun. Then it’s time for a walk to spot the details you might miss on a game drive, like animal prints, insects, and birds. One of the reasons I love this part of Botswana is the variety of ways you can explore, and after lunch, I’d cruise the winding channels of the delta in a traditional mokoro, gliding almost silently along the reed-lined waterways, looking out for elephant passing along the river ahead.
It would then be time for the all-important sundowner — it’s a gin and tonic for me — before spending the night under the stars on a sleep-out deck, with the sounds and smells of the bush around me.
- Experience Philippa’s Botswana on this ten-day tour of Chobe National Park & the Okavango Delta which explores three of the country’s best national parks and concessions.
Moroccan food and a massage in Fez
I’d spend my day in the Fez medina, starting at the Bab Bou Jeloud (the Blue Gate) where I’d have breakfast at Thami's restaurant — I ate their maaqouda (spicy fried potato cakes) all the time when I lived in Morocco. I’ve really missed home-cooked Moroccan meals these past two years, so I’d probably take a tagine cooking class with a local family. You visit all the markets, so I could say hello to old friends, before cooking and eating lunch.
In the afternoon, I’d do some shopping in the souqs and go for a hammam and massage at Riad Laaroussa. For dinner, I’d go to Café Clock for a camel burger and almond milkshake — it’s a cross-cultural hub where I did all my studying while I was at university in the city. In the evening, I’d go to the Ville Nouvelle and join the locals who promenade down the Boulevard Mohammed V, nibbling on local street food like hammas kamoun (chickpeas with cumin).
- Experience Kerry-Ann’s Fez on this cultural tour of northern Morocco that includes Fez, Tangier, and the blue city of Chefchaouen.
Indulging in art and wine in Verona
Shannon, Italy specialist
I actually just came back from Veneto (a region in northern Italy near Venice), where I had a perfect day indulging my love of art, food, and wine. I woke up early for a pre-breakfast walk around Verona to admire the frescoes that adorn exterior of the city’s palaces (in other cities, the artists stayed inside). Then I took a private farm-to-fork tour to meet local artisanal food producers: a wine maker who keeps bees shared samples of honey and wine with me, a shepherd let me taste the Grana Padano cheese he makes from his herd of heirloom sheep, and a traditional rice farmer ate a risotto lunch with me.
From there, I headed to the lesser-visited city of Padua to see Giotto’s frescoes — I fell in love with them when I was studying art in Italy and hadn’t been back in a while, so I wanted to really soak up his early-Renaissance style. I ended the day back with a glass of Amarone wine at my hotel in Verona; the Due Torri Hotel has a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the old town.
- Experience Shannon’s Veneto on this 8-day tour of Northern Italy & the Italian lakes, which also includes time in Milan and on Lake Como.
An early morning swim to late-night cocktails in Bangkok
Give me 24 hours anywhere in the world and I’d head straight to Bangkok. I first went to Thailand more than 20 years ago, and (until the pandemic paused travel) have returned almost every year since — beginning each trip with time in this vibrant, ever-changing city.
I’d make the most of the golden early morning light with a swim, before tackling a massive buffet breakfast (Thai city hotels do this particularly well). The morning would be spent revisiting some of the city’s highlights like the Grand Palace, hopping across the city using sky trains, river taxis, and tuk-tuks, which are as much a part of the experience as the sights themselves.
After a traditional pad-thai lunch, I’d take a boat through the klongs, the city’s hidden canal network. They give you the feeling of being in rural Thailand as you pass waterside temples and market gardens.
The evenings are when Bangkok really comes into its own. I’d start with a street-food tour with one of our guides, who’ll know the best delicacies to sample, before having a drink on Khaosan Road, watching all walks of life pass by. And, if I’m really making the most of the full 24 hours, I’d head to a slick bar in the trendy Silom district.
- Experience Jack’s Bangkok on a classic Thailand tour, which also includes a cooking class in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai and time to relax on Khao Lak’s golden beaches.
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