With a new year of travel approaching, we've put our heads together and come up with ten destinations we think should be on everyone's wish list. How many are on yours?
Ten unmissable destinations
Our specialists select their top ten unmissable destinations, including Jordan, China and the Seychelles. Start planning your trip for 2016 at www.audleytravel.com/us
Petra, Jordan, by Jessica
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and Modern Wonder of the World, the historical and archaeological city of Petra is a must-see site for keen photographers and history enthusiasts alike. My advice for anybody visiting Petra is to make the journey up to the monastery. The 800-step ascent is well worth the effort for the fantastic views across the city that you're rewarded with.
The afternoon is the best time to visit as the light catches the carvings of the architecture beautifully, creating fantastic photo opportunities.
- Take me there: Discover our Classic Jordan trip idea
The Great Wall, China, by Alice
The Great Wall of China is probably one of the world’s most well-known travel icons, and for good reason. Stretching over 6,000 kilometers, there are several sections of the wall open to the public but we would recommend visiting the quietest part at Jinshanling. Though further from Beijing, approximately three hours’ drive, it offers visitors a far more atmospheric and impressive experience.
Visiting early is recommended — it was here at 8am that I witnessed a local couple's marriage proposal.
- Take me there: Discover our Classic China trip idea
Machu Picchu, Peru, by Nik
One of South America’s most famous sights, this magnificent citadel was only revealed to the wider world in 1911. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of Machu Picchu, but with a private local guide you'll be able to uncover the history of the site.
My favorite way to explore is on the 'Mountain Lodges of Peru' trek. We stayed at cozy lodges along the way which really added to the experience. The views along the route are breathtaking.
- Take me there: Discover our Incas Uncovered trip idea
Temples of Angkor, Cambodia, by Eleanor
Built between the 9th and 14th century, the Angkor Temple complex is steeped in history and has seen many kings and occupants pass through its doors over the years. Admittedly, the complex can become very busy at times because of its popularity with visitors, but it is possible to stumble a few minutes from the path to find yourself in complete isolation. We take full advantage of our local guides' knowledge and experience — they know which temples to avoid on given days and times.
One of my favorite memories of Cambodia was sitting in the grounds of Ta Prohm at 5am with just the sound of the monks singing and the birds chirping — it was such a serene and magical experience.
- Take me there: Discover our Treasures of Angkor trip idea
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, by Jo
The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. With a dense population of wildlife and walls 600 meters high, the animals that are resident there do not tend to migrate out. This provides visitors with the potential to see the Big Five in one small area, as well as being home to the incredibly rare and endangered black rhino species.
I was fortunate enough to spot a playful crash of black rhino on my last visit — I would certainly recommend rising early to increase your chances of a sighting.
- Take me there: Discover our Classic Northern Tanzania Safari
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia, by Hannah
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on Earth and a trip to Australia without time spent exploring here, would be incomplete. There are many different ways to experience this natural phenomenon but one of my favorites is with a stay on Haggerstone Island.
The island is completely secluded and has a real Robinson Crusoe feel to it with spectacularly white, powder-soft sand and beautiful turquoise waters. You can swim onto the reef from here and also spend time relaxing on — in my opinion — the best beach in Australia.
- Take me there: Discover our Sydney, Uluru and Great Barrier Reef trip idea
The Golden Temple, India, by Rowena
The Taj Mahal is certainly an unmissable site in India but the often overlooked Golden Temple in Amritsar exudes majesty in equal measure. Draped in 100 kilograms of gold, the sunlight illuminates the sacred shrine during the daytime which is also when you can peek into the kitchen to see the volunteers preparing Thali meals for up to 40,000 visitors.
On my last visit I returned in the evening to watch the ‘Putting to Bed’ ceremony — this is when the Holy Book is paraded through the crowds before being taken to its nightly resting place.
- Take me there: Discover our Western Himalaya Explored trip idea
Galapagos, Ecuador, by Anna
The fearlessness of the animals in the Galapagos provides an incomparable wildlife experience that you’d be hard pushed to match anywhere else in the world. The creatures found under the water are just as incredible as the giant tortoises, iguanas and abundance of birdlife found above ground. From swimming with turtles and sea lions to hammerhead sharks; snorkeling or diving is an absolute must in the Galapagos.
The natural selection on each of the islands is something that fascinates me, a wonderful example is the different shaped beaks of Darwin’s finches which vary between the islands.
- Take me there: Discover our Galapagos Island Hopping Tour or read our guide on cruises in the Galapagos
Orangutans, Malaysian Borneo, by David
One of only two places in the world where you’ll find orangutans in the wild, Malaysian Borneo is the more established option when compared with Indonesia. It gives you the opportunity to see them in a sanctuary environment in Sabah, but also to get off the beaten track and spot them in Danum Valley and along the banks of the Kinabatangan River.
A favorite memory of mine was while traveling from one river lodge to another, when a flash of orange caught my eye. We pulled the boat around and spotted a dominant male majestically sitting in a tree staring back at us.
Bird Island, the Seychelles, by Natalie
A stunning private island in the Seychelles archipelago, Bird Island is surrounded by sandy beaches, backed by coconut palms that shelve gently into turquoise waters. There are plenty of activities available including walking, snorkeling, diving and boat trips. If you weren’t a bird enthusiast before you arrived, you certainly will be by the time you leave.
My favorite thing about staying here is the opportunity to go on a walking tour with the resident naturalist, Robbie. His passion for the wildlife, particularly the hundreds of species of bird that can be found on the island is contagious.
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