From the experts in luxury travel comes the eagerly anticipated Hot List for 2014. If it's a cultural sojourn you're after, a villa stay, a unique wildlife encounter or an active adventure there is something here for first time and seasoned traveller alike.
"Staying ahead of the game is something we pride ourselves on", says Abercrombie & Kent Managing Director Sujata Raman. "Our travel specialists have been out and about experiencing and reviewing new and interesting additions to the luxury travel sphere both here and abroad. The result is the A&K Hot List. Read on for your next travel inspiration."
Antarctica is the stuff of dreams and the quintessential once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Just getting there is an expedition in itself. A&K's chartered ship, MV Le Boreal, heads south from Ushuaia in Argentina crossing the Drake Passage to the wildlife-rich Antarctic Peninsula where penguins in their multitudes, seals, whales and icebergs make up the landscape. There are visits to working research stations and on some journeys a foray to the quaint Falkland Islands and South Georgia, remote British territories in the Atlantic. The season operates during our summer months so why not consider Christmas in the White Continent?
Berkeley River Lodge, WA
Closer to home, the Berkeley River Lodge is the latest in eco luxury to open on Western Australia's Kimberley coast. Perfectly situated overlooking a pristine beach and dramatic red cliffs, access is by floatplane from Kununurra. Designer eco villas decorated in neutral tones feature splashes of colour, timber floors, open air bathrooms, private decks with sun-beds and glorious views - the perfect base for daily adventures. Dining is casual yet tasty with flavoursome menus making use of the finest quality ingredients. There are river and coastal cruises, beach and bush 4WD tours, fishing and guided walks. A heli-picnic or scenic flight to nearby waterfalls, ancient rock art sites and remote gorges is highly recommended.
Located in the south of Chile, Chiloé is the country's second largest island and little known in the world of luxury travel. Positioned on the westernmost edge of the archipelago its landscape is rugged and, outside its two major towns, dwellings are few and far between. Fishing and subsistence farming are the major industries but it's also famous for its handicrafts and unique timber architecture. There are some 150 wooden churches there, many with World Heritage listings, and the colourful palafitos (stilted house over water) are dotted all around the archipelago. The only place to base yourself here is the brilliantly designed Refugia, a new 12-room lodge dramatically positioned on a hilltop, which you'll never want to leave.
Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express
Lovers of iconic rail journeys will relish the addition of the Golden Eagle to A&K's portfolio. Russia's only fully en suite private train, it travels to some of the world's most remote and fascinating regions including Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia and China. The 10,600km Trans-Siberian journey travels for two weeks across Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok through eight time zones taking in incredible landscapes, unique cultures and a fascinating and varied historical context.
Easily accessible to the luxury traveller, the Andhra Pradesh capital Hyderabad has surprising appeal. 400 years of history have left their mark with impressive ancient forts, a rich Mughal heritage alongside futuristic architecture and a thriving IT industry. Its cuisine is amongst the finest in India and there's no more glamorous place to bed down than the lavish Taj Falaknuma Palace. Restored to its former opulence over a ten-year period, the hotel glitters with Venetian chandeliers, grand marble staircases, gurgling fountains and priceless artefacts.
Considered one of travel's final frontiers Madagascar is a country that offers unique cultural appeal, extraordinary landscapes and unique wildlife. Lemurs are the endemic primates of Madagascar with some 100 different species in existence. The Andasibe and Mantadia National Parks are two of the best for seeing the different varieties and the extraordinary baobab landscape of Ifotaka is a sight to behold.
Dust, desert, souks and spices. Colourful and exotic it's home to a fusion of Berber, Arabic and Moorish cultures. There are boutique riads, chic hotels and Bedouin tented camps with adventure aplenty. The sedate leisure traveller will revel in the culture, cuisine and history while more active types can seek physical challenges in the form of hiking, horse riding or desert adventures.
The beautiful island of Sicily has much to brag about. The largest island in the Mediterranean it has been at the crossroads of Europe and Africa for centuries and aside from its scenic diversity boasts a wealth of Greek temples and Norman churches plus archaeological sites and sandy beaches. Grand, historic hotels are the last word in elegance while the stylish cities are attractions all by themselves. It has an enviable climate year round and the cuisine is some of Italy's finest.
Small ship cruising
As cruising continues its upward trajectory, the experts at A&K predict an upturn in small ship cruises across the globe. These tend to be more expeditionary in nature, with fewer passengers, sometimes educational yet also relaxing and culturally enlightening. Some of their favourites are the stylish vessels from Aqua Expeditions which journey on the Peruvian Amazon, the soon-to-be-launched Sanctuary Ananda on Myanmar's Ayeyarwady River and The Jahan which cruises the Mekong between Vietnam and Cambodia.
Emerging from decades of civil war and rebuilding post-tsunami this idyllic island nation is one of the hottest destinations on the planet. There's something for everyone here with ancient cities, tea plantations and hill stations vying for attention with wildlife, temples and golden beaches. The people are warm and welcoming and it's easy to get around. Its culinary attractions are many and there are World Heritage sites and beautiful boutique hotels in abundance.
To book your A&K itinerary today or to enquire further please contact Abercrombie & Kent on 1300 590 317 or visit www.abercrombiekent.com.au <http://www.abercrombiekent.com.au>