Far-flung, untrodden and serene: Six Trips of a Lifetime

Island
Image courtesy of Papua New Guinea Tourism

By Angela Mack


Our guide to holidays a thousand miles from the package tour

Whether it’s a dream experience, a bucket-list destination or a luxury escape, it has never been easier to find a travel trip to match. The hardest part of choosing a holiday is refining the choice. For those seeking pastures new, here are a few suggestions.

Myanmar's star has been in the ascendant ever since the country's military junta relaxed its hold on this south-east Asian gem. Now a full-scale makeover has restored The Strand in Yangon to its former glory.

Combine a stay at this grande dame of Asia with a luxury cruise along the Irrawaddy on the hotel’s new 34-passenger boat.

The voyage between Bagan and Mandalay takes in a clutch of ancient capitals and preserved-in-aspic sights, including the stupa-studded plain of Bagan and U Bein bridge, built from 1,000 teak logs.

Volcanic activity, earthquakes, separatist rebellion and the sheer effort involved in reaching Papua New Guinea have kept all but a trickle of tourists from this far-flung island in the Pacific. Mount Tavurvur last erupted in 2014.

Tropical Fish
Image courtesy of Papua New Guinea Tourism

Rewards for the intrepid are high, with documentary-worthy wildlife, exceptional snorkelling and diving and dense rainforest. But these barely scratch the surface in a destination where skeletal remains speak of cannibalism and meetings with painted warriors in traditional tribal settings add to the intrigue.

Still firmly under the radar, yet every bit as alluring as Alaska, Iceland or Antarctica, Greenland's glaciers, soaring ice cliffs, pristine fjords and virgin snow are a match only for mid-summer's midnight sun, the aurora borealis (high on most bucket lists) and the deafening silence of the island's magnificent ice cap.

It’s possible to fly, sail, drive or hike to the cap’s outer fringes; the more adventurous can cross the ice sheet. For panoramic views of Greenland’s largest calving glacier, overnight in one of the new solar-powered “comfort lodges” at the Glacier Lodge Eqi.

British Airways was ahead of the curve when it launched twice-weekly flights to Tehran in 2016. For those interested in culture and ancient architecture, few sites compare with the miraculously intact ancient city of Persepolis.

Waterfall
Image courtesy of Papua New Guinea Tourism

What’s more, there are 20-plus other Iranian sites that have found their way on to Unesco's World Heritage List. Among them are tranquil Persian gardens, magnificent mosques and the desert fortress of Bam, a former Silk Road staging post.

The Northern Iran Explorer tour from Intrepid also includes a visit to Tabriz, the world's largest bazaar, the volcanic rock houses of Kandovan and a meeting with Sufis. Be warned that visas can take up to eight weeks to process (mfa.gov.ir).

Seeing the world by luxury train is surely one of life’s great pleasures. Hot on the heels of Ireland's luxurious Grand Hibernian, launched last August by Belmond, comes Japan’s Twilight Express Mizukazie, launching in June, and the Train Suite Shiki-shima. Book the top suite for a bath made of Japanese cypress. Not to be sniffed at, from a country that excels at rail travel.

Tribal
Image courtesy of Papua New Guinea Tourism

Crossing continents to Peru, Belmond will launch South America’s first luxury sleeper train this month [MAY]. The Andean Explorer will cross the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca on what will be the highest rail route on Earth.

Tempted? As one of the world's great travellers said: "Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth..."

Go have an adventure.

Do you have it covered?

Many people rely on travel insurance provided by credit cards or bank accounts. While these are seen as a “free” benefit, they could place limitations on cover compared to other products.

Quite often bolt-on products are designed for mainstream destinations and could have reduced cover or limit a claim settlement. Equally, inner limits ceilings on specific things and risks – and dangerous activities should be checked before travel.

Consider too that the world is becoming smaller with cheaper air travel and certain countries that were covered a few years ago may now appear on the excluded list compiled by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Kidnap and identity fraud can also be included with high net worth travel insurance to give further peace of mind.

When was the last time you reviewed your coverage and considered if this is right for your circumstances?

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