While you are stuck indoors, you are probably dreaming of exotic destinations and amazing adventures. Why not make plans for your next vacation now while you have time on your hands? As soon as the restrictions ease, you can pack your bags and head to far-flung lands to enjoy new and unique experiences. In today’s guest post, from Jess of Outdoor Pursuits, we take you on a journey to four incredible destinations which should give you some travel inspiration during lockdown.
They offer a variety of landscapes, from Arctic ice to volcanic heat and desert sands to Caribbean seas. But whether you want to clamber over glaciers or paddle a stand-up paddleboard over coral reefs, you’ll need to take special care post-pandemic.
Post pandemic travel
In crowded travel hubs, wear a mask and keep your distance from other travellers. Carry antiseptic wipes so you can disinfect handles, switches, and faucets in your hotel room. Don’t relax the rigorous hand-washing routine you developed during the pandemic. Also, be sure to follow government safety advice for the places you plan to visit.
Then jet off to one of these dream destinations (although the local lido might seem exotic after this!)
Four extraordinary destinations
Did you know Antarctica is the only continent that has remained free from COVID-19? There can be no safer place to visit when travel restrictions are lifted. Furthermore, Antarctica is twice the size of Australia, so there is plenty to see.
The easiest way to experience Antarctica is on a cruise from Argentina during the summer months, from October and February. Argentina is situated close to the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. Wiencke Island features a museum, a gift shop, and the world’s most southerly post office. The green South Shetland Islands prove that not all of Antarctica is a frozen wilderness.
Antarctica’s rugged coastline features deep blue water dotted with icebergs of all sizes, some much larger than the boat. Mountains are visible along the horizon, and snow is frequent along the shore.
Many visitors go to admire the wildlife. The boisterous penguin colonies are fascinating, and seals prosper in the cool waters. During summer, you can see the cute grey penguin chicks preparing to take their first steps into the water. Killer whales and humpback whales also migrate to Antarctica for the summer to feed off the abundant fish stocks. Wildlife lovers will be in heaven!
On the opposite side of the planet, there is no more interesting place than Iceland. Active volcanoes, geothermal phenomena, glaciers, and glacial lagoons make this a unique destination for anyone interested in natural attractions. Unlike Antarctica, you can visit Iceland at any time of the year. When you go depends upon what you want to see.
If you want to see the Aurora Borealis or walk across a glacier and explore ice caves, you should visit during the winter months. The Northern Lights are at their best from September to April when the sky is at its darkest. Iceland’s low population density means there’s little light pollution to spoil the show.
Vatnajökull National Park covers 14% of Iceland and boasts active volcanoes and the Vatnajökull Glacier. Guided hikes across the glacier enable you to explore seasonal ice caves. And iceberg cruises are popular in Jökulsarlon Glacial Lake in the south.
Summer is the best time to go whale watching when humpback whales migrate here to feed on the abundant fish stocks. Between April and November, tour boats sail from Akureyri and Húsavík in the north and Reykjavik in the west. The same tours often take in the puffin colonies on small islands off the coast.
Other spectacular attractions include impressive waterfalls, faithful geysers, and the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, where you can bathe in hot pools of milky blue, mineral-rich water.
One interesting cultural activity not to miss is eating hyerabrauo, a traditional rye bread baked in the ground using geothermal heat.
Having explored the poles, you might want to visit somewhere a little warmer. Morocco May be one of the most fascinating countries in Africa with a broad range of natural and cultural attractions. If you head to Marrakech, you can use the old imperial city as a base for camel riding adventures into the Sahara Desert and trekking adventures in the Atlas Mountains.
In winter, you can ride a camel through the desert with the snow-topped Atlas Mountains on the horizon. In spring, you can see spectacular waterfalls in the Atlas Mountain foothills and visit remote Berber villages.
You can also explore museums, palaces, and fortresses in the city centre. The red city walls built in the 12th century stand 19 feet high. Enter the labyrinthian old town through ornate gateways such as Bab Agnaou Gate.
The Bahia Palace is a popular attraction, built to house the Grand Vizier of Marrakech along with his 4 wives, 24 concubines, and all their children. You will be impressed by the palace’s ornate arches, colorful tiles, and beautiful courtyards.
Casablanca is a fascinating cosmopolitan city. Morocco’s largest city contains a stunning modern mosque built by over 10,000 craftsmen and completed in 1993. The Hassan II Mosque is now the 2nd largest in the world.
Casablanca also boasts the only Jewish museum in the Arab world, the Museum of Moroccan Judaism.
El Jadida on the Atlantic coast is a well-preserved 16th-century Portuguese fortress and colonial town popular with Moroccan tourists. Abandoned by Portugal in 1769, the original cannons still stand atop the crenelated walls. The underground cistern constructed in 1514 draws many visitors to admire its stunning aesthetics.
And finally, if you want to combine a Caribbean beach holiday with an incredible selection of natural and cultural attractions, head over to Puerto Rico. El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the US national forest system.
Old San Juan, the capital is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a fantastic selection of 16th-century Spanish colonial structures and Puerto Rico boasts 3 of the world’s 5 bioluminescent bays.
One of the more unusual attractions is Monkey Island. In 1938, Rhesus monkeys from India were introduced to the tiny island of Cayo Santiago for scientific research. Today the island hosts some 2,000 monkeys. You cannot land on the island but
it is possible to kayak over from the mainland or take a tour boat to watch the monkeys’ antics from the sea.
Puerto Rico is a mountainous island providing many popular routes for keen rock climbers and cliffs for rappelling enthusiasts. These limestone mountains also feature extensive cave systems, such as that found within the new Cabachuelas Natural Reserve. Within these 60 caves are a selection of ancient Taino petroglyphs.
Oceans around the world contain microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates that glow in the dark. However, usually, they exist in such low concentrations that their blue-green light is not visible. Puerto Rico boasts 5 locations where these single-celled creatures thrive so well that they become visible whenever you splash or paddle through the water. Visitors love to kayak through the 3 bioluminescent bays on popular guide-led tours.
Have your say
I hope you will agree that Jess has given us some much-needed travel inspiration today. He’s certainly reminded me of how much I want to visit Antarctica!
But where are you dreaming of visiting once the current crisis is over?
Want to get to know Jess better?
Here is what Jess has to say about herself.
I had the good fortune to be born in a first-world country at a time when fast international travel became possible for average people. Having shared meals with families in huts with no electricity and dirt floors, I appreciate the “little” things that my fellow Englishmen take for granted. Over the years I’ve worked in many different fields. I’ve been an archaeologist in the Scottish Hebrides, an accountant in London, and taught English in China. However, I’ve never enjoyed any other job as much as writing.