5 exotic bucket list destinations for 2018's long weekend holidays

February 22, 2018 @ 7:00AM
By NST

Enjoy your long weekends this year with a getaway to any of these exotic locations

THE many long weekends this year are a boon to travellers wanting to get away and see more of the world.

These long weekends can be used for a short-haul trip or that bucket-list journey of five to 10 days, or longer, without taking too much time off work.

Jacada Travel (www.jacadatravel.com) has come up with these intimate itineraries, designed to give the best of what the locations have to offer.

AFRICA: WINES, WATERFALLS AND WORLD-CLASS SAFARIS

LAND in South Africa’s oldest city, Cape Town, and be intoxicated by its nature and beauty. Surrounded by mountains and lush, green hills, enjoy fine wines and cuisine in the Winelands, or experience the spectacular beach scenery and world-class safari reserves of the Eastern Cape.

Next, head to Zimbabwe for the breathtaking Victoria Falls (still one of the most famous tourist spots in the world). The crashing falls and Zimbabwe’s wildlife make this a spectacular show. You can either see the falls by foot, or in a helicopter or a micro-light.

ASIA: THE BEAUTY OF BHUTAN IN NINE DAYS

THE special nine-day itinerary which starts in the capital Thimphu holds many surprises that bring this deeply Buddhist land to life. Visit the ancient dzongs, temples and museums and take part in a local village festival to experience Bhutanese life.

Next, head to Punakha for stunning hikes to find hidden villages, farmhouses and monasteries set in pastoral scenes. The idyllic walks continue into Paro Valley where you will marvel at striking temples before ending on a high with a hike up the spectacular Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which is famous for some of the world’s most splendid monuments and monasteries.

EUROPE: AN AUSPICIOUS TIME TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

THE Chinese and Japanese believe that the Northern Lights bring luck and fertility, making it a popular event with Asians. Some even say that they are a prediction of a forthcoming birth. Winter is the best time to see the Northern Lights as it offers typically clear and dark skies.

The arctic tundra of the Svalbard Islands will also appeal to adventurers with its kayaking, trekking, snowmobiling and dog sledding tours. Complete your wildlife journey by spotting polar bears and whales, and discovering glaciers, fjords and ice caves.

Jacada offers several different perspectives on Norway’s remarkable landscapes with tours by Zodiac, boat and car. Don’t miss an overnight stay in the Arctic Capital, Tromso, which character is shaped by explorers, fishermen and the Sami people.

LATIN AMERICA: THE HIDDEN COSTA RICA

FROM jungle waterfalls and wildlife to white sandy beaches, Costa Rica has it all. With a range of lodging options available from luxury and boutique to safari-style, Jacada offers private tours with expert guides while blending locations and activities to suit your taste.

Get up close and personal with the wildlife of Arenal while visiting the magnificent volcano. There, ride on sky trams and see nature on foot on canopy walkways. On the Pacific coast, kick back and relax on white sandy beaches and in wildlife reserves. Alternatively, see the coffee plantations, cloud forests and rainforests of the Central Highlands. Jacada provides private transfers to Tortuguero Village, from which most trails and expeditions begin.

AUSTRALASIA: FALL IN LOVE WITH FRENCH POLYNESIA

BE amazed by deep turquoise lagoons, white sandy beaches, and dramatic green volcanoes set in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. There’s plenty to explore, since French Polynesia consists of 118 islands — 67 of which are inhabited.

Occupying an area larger than Europe, it is divided into five groups of islands: The Society Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands and Austral Islands. Experience festivities, and mysterious ancestral arts and rites that have fascinated people through the ages.