Long haul landscapes you have to see
Can you think back to a moment in time where your breath was taken away by the sheer beauty in front of you? If you love to travel as much as we do, then you will agree that a huge part of going on holiday is being able to connect with the wonders of the world.
Visually enjoying some of the globe’s most stunning natural surroundings will awaken the senses and create long-lasting memories. Feasting your eyes on spectacular views, as well as smelling the scents of flowers or incense around you, hearing nearby wildlife or even the sounds of the waves or the wind rustling in the trees, creates a multi-sensory experience like no other. And while we have over 200 escorted tours across seven continents that promise epic landscapes and dramatic scenery to stir the soul, we think it’s some of these extraordinary long-haul destinations, as recommended by our expert team Cassie, Phil and Nicola, that you might want to consider for your next dream adventure with us. They reveal some of their favourite views and landscapes that they think you’ll love, too.
Antarctica is a destination visited almost exclusively for its astonishing landscapes and for the possible wildlife encounters. Nicola says: “Quite simply, Antarctica is a hauntingly beautiful and captivating destination. Never-ending horizons are only interrupted by huge banks of snow and giant icebergs that defy imagination. A cruise expedition to the Great White Continent promises countless unforgettable experiences - many of them unique. Stand out on deck and listen to the chunks of ice rumbling past the ship’s hull. Take a look downward and you might spot some of Antarctica’s penguin species. Colonies of gentoo, Adélie and chinstrap penguins make it their summer home and you’ll see them resting on icebergs or porpoising through the water. Iceberg rest stops are also a favourite amongst crabeater and Weddell seals, as well as the formidable leopard seal.
“At Deception Island you’ll sail into the caldera of an active volcano. The heat from the volcano here melts the snow on the ground and warms up the water at the shoreline. Those brave enough, can take the opportunity to swim in Antarctic waters! At Goudier Island, better known as Port Lockroy, is the world’s southernmost post office. You can write your postcard here and post it home, then head outside to make your acquaintance with this small island’s population of gentoo penguins. The cacophony of their calls is something to always remember.”
From lush rainforests and white sandy beaches lapped by azure blue seas, as well as an abundance of wildlife including the native Orangutans, Cassie reveals some inspiring landscapes from this South Asian destination.
“On leaving Kota Kinabalu during the drive up to Mt Kinabalu National park you can see spectacular views of Mt Kinabalu, which is the highest peak in Borneo’s Crocker range. The mountain’s craggy peaks sit behind a beautiful landscape of green Bornean jungle and is often in contrast to the bright blue sky around it. I just love it. When deep in the Bornean jungle and staying in Sukau on our Borneo holidays, you can take several boat trips down the Kinabatangan river, often at sunrise or sunset where you will be surrounded by dense Bornean jungle with Orangutans and proboscis monkeys hanging off the trees. You can also hear the birds and wildlife from the boat and see reflections of the jungle in the river waters – a beautiful and peaceful experience. And one that always stays with me.”
One of the most biodiverse destinations on the planet, Costa Rica is a must for all those seeking a holiday of a lifetime. With its magical cloud forests and outstanding coastlines, Cassie believes everyone should experience our Costa Rica wildlife holidays at least once.
“One of my favourite all-time landscapes is Monteverde which sits at 1400m above sea level and is home to the world-famous Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Not only does being in Monteverde provide breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside famous for coffee and chocolate production as well as the glinting ocean in the distance. I found being inside the Cloud Forest a spectacular and unique experience. I loved going on the ‘sky walk’ which are hanging bridges deep in the Cloud Forest jungle. Up there, you can walk among the tree-tops and savour the smells of diverse flora, listen to the multitude of tropical birds that inhabit the surrounding jungle and watch monkeys swing from the trees around you – often almost within touching distance. Being up in the clouds means the jungle can be surrounded in mist – this gives the air a cooler feel and literally makes it feel mystical and magical.”
Our Jordan holidays wouldn’t be complete without discovering the magical atmosphere surrounding Petra. And while this is one of the destination’s main attractions, Phil believes it’s a stunning spectacle than cannot be missed.
“Firstly, you have to walk 20 minutes meandering through The Siq, which is a narrow gorge made up of stunning reds, oranges and yellows. Then suddenly, The Siq opens up and you’re met with the Treasury which towers high above your head, even though it is hidden from everyone else. I think this is what’s special about Petra - the fact that you’re walking through a hidden city carved from the rocks and everything comes as a welcome surprise. Aside from Petra, Jordan has some other incredible landscapes to experience. Mount Nebo has huge significance from a spiritual and religious perspective, however, for me I just love being high on Mount Nebo as you get the most amazing vistas across into Israel and Palestine, where you can see Jerusalem, Bethlehem and much more. Jarash in spring is also magnificent. The Roman city comes to life with wildflowers and the site is blanketed in yellow.
“Meanwhile, whenever I’m in Wadi Rum or The Valley of the Moon – the breathtaking desert landscape famous for featuring in films including Lawrence of Arabia and The Martian, I always feel like I’m exploring a faraway planet. Surrounded by rock formations which defy physics, this is somewhere I could never tire of seeing.”
Our tours in Mexico combine steaming jungles and gorgeous beaches, vibrant colonial cities and ancient temples with sweeping deserts and sleeping volcanoes. Apart from some of the world's greatest archaeological wonders and the bustling squares of Mexico City, Cassie says it is the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza that has made a long-lasting impression on her.
“The landscape in Mexico is a diverse as it is beautiful. One of my favourites is the Mayan ruins of the city of Chichen Itza. Surrounded by Mexican jungle we visit this historic site at sunrise, before it opens to the public. You are deep in the Mexican jungle and reach the clearing where you can view the ruins. The particular highlight is the Temple of Kukulcan (known as El Castillo), a Mesoamerican step-pyramid which stands majestically dominating the site and looks beautiful against the backdrop of a Mexican sunrise.”
Phil believes that our South Africa holidays really tick all the boxes when it comes to mesmerising landscapes and views. From the simple pleasure of star gazing into South Africa’s inky black skies while relaxing on a verandah on an African safari in Kruger National Park to watching the sun set and rise over the magnificent rock formations of Graaff-Reinet’s Valley of Desolation, the choice is seemingly endless. If Phil had to pick a few favourites, what would they be?
“My personal favourite is the view from high above Blyde River Canyon on the South Africa Panorama Route between Johannesburg and Kruger. The view from here is like nothing I’ve ever seen. There is a sheer vertical drop of 900m where the gorge and mountains are covered in lush green forests, as well as the tranquil blue waters of Byde River running through it. Cape Point is also pretty cool. Just south of Cape Town, close to the tip of the African continent the views out to the never-ending oceans are raw and rugged. There is also a stunning red and white stripped lighthouse here which you can explore inside.”
What long-haul landscapes have you left you speechless? We'd love to hear about your perfect travel moments over on Facebook. Perhaps you've been inspired by these amazing views on our escorted tours. See these and more in our Worldwide brochure.
Article published on: 16th November, 2020
Ting has a serious case of wanderlust. Having travelled to over 40 countries, it’s her mission in life to make her way through her ever-growing list. Her two young sons have also caught the travel bug, and recent trips have seen them making snow angels in Iceland while watching the Northern Lights, as well as walking alongside elephants in South Africa.