Virtuoso Experts Forecast Must-See Destinations for 2012
By Kate Rice
December 15, 2011 10:24 PM
Luxury travel network Virtuoso has some advice on the top travel destinations for 2012. Among their choices are Jordan, Thailand and Laos, Tasmania, Ireland, river cruising, the Republic of Congo, Colombia and Brazil.
To best experience Jordan, Virtuoso recommends Cox & Kings’ eight-day itinerary through Jordan’s cultural stops, like the spot on the banks of the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized, and the scenic ones, such as Wadi Rum’s desert sands.
When it comes to touring Thailand and Laos, Virtuoso recommends Absolute Travel’s customizable 11-day journey, starting from Chiang Rai in northern Thailand’s Golden Triangle, and floating peacefully down the Mekong River to reclusive Laos.
To see both the refined and wild sides of Tasmania, Virtuoso recommends The Tailor’s four-night exploration on the island’s eastern side. The itinerary includes gallery tours and wine tastings before embarking on bushwalks in Freycinet National Park and a half-day excursion to Schouten Island (an exclusive perk for Virtuoso guests; typically $250 each).
One way to see Ireland is to enjoy both its crumbling castles (ideal for history buffs) as well as its world-class golf courses. Virtuoso recommends Brendan Vacations because of the way it can arrange accommodations in formidable fortresses during its 11-day tour of some of Ireland’s most iconic spots.
For river cruising, which gives you an up-close way to tour Europe without changing hotels, Virtuoso recommends Avalon Waterways’ 14-night cruise from Holland to Hungary along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers with stops in Amsterdam, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.
The Republic of Congo’s consistent temperate climate and heavy rainfall allows for heavily forested regions with large populations of gorillas. To best experience this country, Virtuoso recommends a seven-day safari with Wilderness Safaris to the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, where two new tented camps allow guests to either trek to see completely wild groups of gorillas or to spend time up close (as near as 22 feet) with gorillas that are habituated to humans.
For Colombia, Virtuoso recommends Adventure Associates’ 16-day trip that begins in the capital of Bogot·, before traveling to the UNESCO World Heritage city, Cartagena. The real show stopper, though, is a two-day trek to the Lost City of the Tayrona, 5th century ruins that rival Machu Picchu -- except for the crowds.
Brazil is preparing for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics and offers travelers an array of sites from deep Amazon jungle to samba-dancing seaside cities. Virtuoso recommends Ladatco Tours’ eight-day beach getaway. The tour includes a climb to Christ the Redeemer and a visit to Ipanema’s Hippie Fair before a journey 800 miles north to Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort.