Introducing… the best places I went in 2015! I’m so incredibly thankful and humbled by everything that came from two thousand and fifteen. From climbing the ruins of Machu Picchu to my first trip to Canada and everywhere in between, this year has certainly been a huge year of adventures for me and my readers (an enormous thank you to everyone following along and travelling the world with me)! When I first began writing this post I thought I hadn’t done nearly as much travel as I had… but alas! It was quite a year. I visited 20 something countries this year (I counted 23 but have probably missed a few in my jet lagged haze), with each being a fun-filled new adventure. Some travels were solo, some with my boyfriend (a two thousand and fifteen addition), some with friends and one with my little brother. Now for the tough decisions – picking my favourite adventures from 2015!
You can’t go to Machu Picchu and not have a good time…. it is just guaranteed. This incredible ancient city in the Sacred Valley, Peru, is magical and enchanting. The road there is long and windy, but once you arrive it is entirely worth your while to stand on the ruins and see for your self how unbelievable it is. If you’re after a happy snap with no tourists in the background, head up in the late afternoon and give yourself a couple of hours to explore and appreciate life in the clouds. For more tips on Machu Picchu, see Before you Go to Machu Picchu, Here’s 10 things you Must Know.
It isn’t often that I put resorts on par with cities and towns, but this particular resort really struck a cord for me. I visited Nihiwatu Resort with my boyfriend for his quarter-of-a-century birthday and really couldn’t have had a more romantic trip if we tried. Sumba island has been described as “Bali 30 years ago”, before the influx of tourists and luxury hotels. I really appreciated my time here and am sure this won’t stay a secret for long, so if you’re looking for somewhere EXTRA special, this is it.
One of my favourite adventures this year was early on back in April when I managed to meet up with my boyfriend over in the United States (he was travelling there at the same time) for a few days and go on an extremely optimistic Arizona road trip. We planned to drive the entire length of the state near abouts, from Scottsdale (just outside of Phoenix) through to Antelope Canyon, and eventually onwards to Zion National Park in Utah, followed by a couple of nights in Las Vegas. We did all of this in just 4 days and wound up in Los Angeles so that I could catch my flight to Peru. It was a whirlwind to say the least but by far one of my favourite trips. I’d strongly recommend you ditch the big cities in the US and opt for an outdoors escape as there really is so much on offer by way of landscapes and diversity! Absolute highlight from the trip: visiting Horseshoe Bend, Arizona.
Another highlight this year in the Northern hemisphere was my trip to Canada. This was my first trip to Canada (which many of you could not believe it took me so long to get here!!!) and I really had the best time. I made a friend (Hi Miriam!) in Whitehorse who made the experience all the more fun and we had a blast exploring the North West of Canada, aka “The Yukon”, which quickly stole my heart. This flight over Kluane National Park was an absolute highlight. Read More: Highlights from the Yukon.
Early in the year I made my way back to South Africa, a country that I have visited a handful of times but never seem to tire of. I’m still as gobsmacked as the first time every time I see a lion and for the life of me cannot compare any other experience in the world with that of the safari! After my time in South Africa I made a short visit over to Zambia and stayed at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, right on the edge of the falls. My highlight from this trip was flying over the falls in a microflight – so scary but so invigorating!
Having previously visited Morocco a few years ago for the first time and only scratching the surface by staying a few nights in Marrakech, I knew I had to one day return to see the rest of the country. Instead of picking just one place or experience that stood out, I think it is only fair and reasonable to say that my whole trip in Morocco was a standout moment for 2015. My itinerary consisted of Fez, Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains, almost the Saharan Desert and Essaouria.
With the temples of Angkor Wat being named the world’s most visited site, I started to question why I myself had never been. Struggling to provide myself with an answer, I knew that there was no time like the present. So I jumped on a plane bound for Cambodia! This country is amazing and an absolute highlight in Southeast Asia. The temples were also incredible but what I loved most about Cambodia were the people – so warm and so friendly.
Earlier in the year I started a hiring a small team of writers to travel the world and write about it for WOW, and later in the year I decided that it was about time we all met up and went on an adventure together. So I sent out some invites, booked all the plane tickets, and before we all knew it we were dressed in our sun dresses (reminiscent of the SATC film) and ready for adventures in Portugal! The highlight of the trip was certainly the Algarve in the south of Portugal, a favourite for both locals and international visitors to Portugal. While we had a week of bliss, I would jump on the next plane bound for Faro if the opportunity presented itself!
Singapore was one of my first stops this year and I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t particularly excited for this trip before I departed Australia. Having previously visited Singapore once before, I had convinced myself that I had already “been there, seen that, done that”… how wrong I was. The whole theme of my trip to Singapore was to uncover the strangely wonderful side to Singapore beyond the Singapore flier and Marina Bay Sands (pictured). Little did I know there was so much more to Singapore beyond the “must sees” and I really enjoyed this trip more than I could have ever imagined.
One of my very recent trips led me to the Dead Sea and I knew before I departed that this would be a trip to remember for a lifetime. The entire 7 days were packed with different cities and sites to explore, however by far my favourite experience was floating in the dead sea. This has been on my to do list for quite some time and I must say, it did not disappoint!
Earlier in the year I went to Fiji and looking back, it seems a lifetime ago! Although it was only a short one week stay, I had such a blast in this gorgeous country full of islands. By far my favourite part of the trip was to enjoy all of the water sports on offer, trying everything from SUP to kayaking, jetskis, boats and even snorkelling (despite a mild fear of the ocean).
Another great road trip in the USA this year was one that I tackled solo in a hire car, departing from San Francisco and driving myself all the way down to Los Angeles (aka the Pacific Coast Highway). This was my first time driving by myself on the wrong side of the road, so it took quite a while to warm up to the idea! However it was such a fun trip and the coastline was unforgettable.
Before I arrived in Wales, many of my English friends were quick to inform me of how “boring” Wales was and how I would be “trapped” in rain and gloomy skies for my week there. How wrong they were! Road tripping through Wales was one of my absolute highlights this year and not for any real reason in particular. I didn’t see anything too spectacular or do anything overly memorable, but I did have the best time switching off and spending time on my own to sift through my thoughts and get a grip on everything. With so many trips and adventures nearly non-stop, it can sometimes be hard to avoid burn out… but I think Wales was exactly what I needed at exactly that point in time!
Having been delayed years ago in Abu Dhabi and forced to stay overnight without any time to actually explore the city, I had never looked too fondly on the capital of the UAE (the delay had cut my trip to Moscow down to just one day….not nearly enough time to see the Kremlin!) So when I visited properly for the first time this year, I was eager to see what all the fuss is about. Undeniably the biggest attraction is the Grand Mosque and having now visited, I can see why. The city skyline and Emirates Palace were also highlights, plus a trip to the sand dunes in the desert is a must!
Last but not least, a final hidden gem this year was Oman. I only had a couple of days to explore different parts of the country, but what I did see and experience left a lasting impression. The souks of Muscat, the “Norway of Arabia” (pictured above) and the sand dunes were all trip highlights.