Travel Tips

Best Travel Experiences For 2020

Laura Pattara

Laura Pattara  |  13 December 2019

Where are you going in 2020? Here are some ideas.

Travel trends have never been more exciting than right about now: as more and more people shun cookie-cutter experiences and photocopy tours, they’re increasingly on the hunt for off-beat itineraries to exceptional destinations. The best places to travel in 2020 cover a wide range of experiences: from adventure-filled polar expeditions to wildlife-enriched safaris, hiking excursions and immersive cruises to some of the most fascinating places on earth.

Want a trip and a place that’ll touch your soul, in 2020? These are it!

Click the links below to skip through the article:

  1. Spot Polar Bears in the Arctic
  2. Sail the Patagonian Fjords
  3. Meet Penguins in Antarctica
  4. Snorkle with Seals in the Galapagos
  5. Spot Jaguars in the Pantanal
  6. Hike in Patagonia


Arctic Spitsbergen

Why go there?

Adventure polar travel is perhaps the fastest-growing travel trend of this current decade and this specific destination, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, is the top contender for ‘King of the North’ status. Known as the ‘polar bear crèche of the Arctic’ and attracting an untold number of Arctic wildlife species, Spitsbergen is not only an immensely rewarding place to visit in 2020 but also one that’s insanely easy to get to.  One short flight from Europe and voilà, you’re in the glistening white wonderland that is the Arctic region, most likely surrounded by polar bears, whales, walruses and seals. Being inhabited also given Spitsbergen an added edge. Here, you can take expedition cruises to the northern uninhabited coastline (where polar bears huddle in summer) and enjoy plenty of land-based activities from the capital (Longyearbyen) as well.

Polar bear on an iceberg, Spitsbergen

Polar bear on an iceberg, Spitsbergen


When to go?

Being inhabited means you can visit Spitsbergen all year long, however, you won’t see very much in winter (although granted, snowmobiling by headlamp is an absolute hoot).  For superb wildlife watching, you’ll want to head this north from about June as that’s when expedition cruises cast-off in search of elusive marine mammals to admire. The Arctic cruising season runs until September, with July and August considered ‘ideal’ due to a high concentration of marine life movement and greater sea access. These are also the busiest travel months in Europe, but hey, you can’t win them all. Aboard your expedition ship though, you may just feel like you have this whole region to yourself.

Svalbard reindeer, Spitsbergen

Svalbard reindeer, Spitsbergen


What to do?

Lots! Spend a few days in Longyearbyen and you can explore the town, visiting its fascinating museum and fitting in a day-trip to abandoned mining villages, nearby. Spitsbergen boasts a very long and tumultuous history and you’ll enjoy your journey much more if you delve into all its wonderous sides. Next, jump aboard an ice-strengthened expedition ship, either to the north, or perhaps a circumnavigating island cruise or across the icy pond to Greenland. Along the way, you’ll spend your days wildlife watching from the ship and taking daily excursions aboard inflatable Zodiacs. Cruising is by far the best way to get the most out of a Spitzbergen tour because most wildlife is spotted along the islands’ coastlines and on ice-floes at sea.

Zodiac tours in Spitsbergen

Zodiac tours in Spitsbergen


Click HERE to see our Arctic Tours

Expert Tips from Tara:

If you are keen to try and spot a polar bear in its natural environment then the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard is an amazing place to go. To have the best chance of spotting polar bears, take an expedition cruise, the longer the better! (My expedition "Spitsbergen in Depth - Big Island Big Adventure" was 2 weeks) An expedition vessel is a great platform to view bears from, for their safety and yours, and crew on board with be working 24/7 on “polar bear spotting duties”, so this definitely increases your chances! Be ready with your camera and a warm jacket to head out on the deck at any time of the day or night!!! Don’t worry, it doesn’t get dark due to the midnight sun. The season is May-August.

Click the link to learn more: Arctic Cruises FAQ


Chile’s Patagonian Fjords

Why go there?

The jaw-dropping fjords of southern Patagonia were, once upon a time, South America’s most hidden of secrets; many travellers never knowing they even existed until they literally stumbled upon them as they neared Tierra del Fuego. The secret may well and truly be out nowadays but there’s no denying that this maze of astonishing nature is still way off the beaten adventure trail. Imagine, if you would, a breath-taking 1600km-long natural alley of glaciers, volcanoes and fjords; of sky-high waterfalls cascading into the sea, of snow-capped peaks, remote historic fishing villages and startling colonies of Andean condors, South American sea lions, migrating whales, Magellanic penguins and, on land, guanacos. That sums up a Patagonian Fjord experience!

Pia Fjord in Patagonia, Chile

Pia Fjord in Patagonia, Chile


When to go?

Patagonia is a tough climate-nut, if you catch out drift, always throwing up all sorts of ridiculous freezing winds and temps at a moment’s notice. That’s just the way life is at the end of the wold! But if you head here between September and April (December and January being ideal) you’ll enjoy a tremendous amount of daylight and reasonable temperatures. The perfect combo to enjoy a spectacular Patagonian Fjord cruise.

Cruise ship in Patagonia

Cruise ship in Patagonia


What to do?

Jump on an expedition cruise ship and head off into this isolated and magnificent playground. Much like polar adventure cruising, Patagonia Fjord expeditions include daily Zodiac outings, so you can explore the remotest national parks of the region with ease. You’ll kayak aside ginormous glaciers and hike atop them too. You’ll visit prime wildlife sites to take a look-see at some of the most adorable animals on earth and stand, stupefied, in front of the Patagonian Ice Field, the second-largest ice field outside of the polar regions.

Shore excursion in Patagonia

Shore excursion in Patagonia


Click HERE to see our Cruises in Patagonia

Expert Tips from Flavio:

Hiking shoes and waterproof clothes are mandatory for all the landings! You don’t need to be very fit because they will give you choices for different activities. Don’t forget to leave all your cameras (phones, GoPros etc.) charging overnight because you don’t want to run out of battery in the middle of some fantastic hiking through the glaciers or the pristine forests. Of course, don’t forget multiple power adaptors because they don’t sell on board! Extra memory cards are also convenient. There are no internet on board so if you need to pay any bill or money transfer make sure to plan in advance or your last point to do it is at the visitor centre in Ushuaia! Since you will be there, you can stamp your passport at the Tourist Information Centre, they have 3 different stamps like the island of Tierra del Fuego, the lighthouse, or the tourist information house They all say, Ushuaia, Argentina, la ciudad mas austral del mundo, the southernmost city in the world!

Click the link to learn more: All You Need to Know About Patagonia Cruises


Antarctic Peninsula

Why go there?

Antarctica is often dubbed ‘the final travel frontier’ and despite centuries of intense research and discovery the southernmost continent on earth remains, for the most part, a glorious mystery. The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost region of the southern continent, the one that juts out as a finger pointed towards South America, right across the infamous Drake Passage. No matter what cruise you choose, if it’s bound for Antarctica proper (as opposed to only visiting the many islands), this peninsula is where you’ll end up. Here, you can visit penguin colonies that number in their thousands, visit international research stations and cruise along channels, like Lemaire, renowned for being ‘migrating whale highways’. Most of all, you’ll want to head here to be blown away by the wildest, most rugged and startling landscapes on our planet.

Iceberg in the Antarctic Peninsula

Iceberg in the Antarctic Peninsula

When to go?

Antarctic Peninsula cruising season runs from September to March, with each mini-season (early, high or late) offering a variety of highlights. Early season cruising means unspoilt landing sites and totally pristine landscapes whilst, in the heart of the high season, you can experience 24 hours of daylight and an abundance of seal and penguin chicks. February is considered the best month for whale-watching and late season is reserved for awe-inspiring Antarctic sunsets. Have a look at our "Best Time To Go To Antarctica" article to find out more.

Gentoo penguin colony, Antarctica

Gentoo penguin colony, Antarctica

What to do?

Expedition cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula are adventurous affairs and although you don’t need to be an athlete to partake, it helps if you’re active and agile. Getting in and out of those Zodiacs whilst being all bundled up takes some dexterity. Down here, you’ll spend your days on on-shore excursions and enjoying kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking and even ice-camping (depending on the ship) and evenings learning so much from onboard biologists and experts of all sorts, who give lectures and talks on all things Antarctica-related. Educational and inspirational, Antarctic Peninsula cruises are like no cruise you’ll ever take, anywhere else. This is the one place on earth no human being has ever truly tamed.

Zodiac tours in Antarctica

Zodiac tours in Antarctica


Click HERE to see our Antarctic Peninsula Tours

Expert Tips from Pia:

If you want to hang out with the penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula, it is necessary to keep warm, so consider wearing two pairs of socks. Always be patient, sit down for a while and watch the penguins, they quite often come near you, as they are pretty curious creatures. Just enjoy the moment without a camera or filming everything!

Click the link to learn more: How to Find the Cheapest Antarctica Cruises for 2020

Galapagos Islands

Why go there?

The wildlife haven by which all others are judged, the Galapagos Islands aren’t just a South America treasure, they are among the most prized islands on our planet. From the days of Charles Darwin to the era of pirates and buccaneers and, finally, to our modern age of fervent environmental protection: the Galapagos boast a truly extraordinary history. Know what’s even more extraordinary? The archipelago’s vast array of outstandingly unique wildlife. Home to the giant tortoise and flightless cormorant, the mating albatross, the boobie with the fluorescent feet, the dolphins, hammerhead sharks and friendly lazy sea lions: the Galapagos are an animal lover’s ultimate dream destination for 2020.

Seals in the Galapagos Islands

Seals in the Galapagos Islands

When to go?

All year long! The Galapagos straddles the equator and although the climate is actually a lot milder than their location hints (cold sea currents keep heat and humidity at bay), they are still a year-round destination. There’s a sensational ‘wildlife event’ happening here every single month so your own ideal time to visit will likely depend on what you want to see and do most. Will it be courting albatross? Seal bubs? Hammerhead sharks? Galapagos penguins? Oh, the choices! More on that below.

Land Iguana on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands

Land Iguana on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands

What to do?

A dozen main islands and several smaller islets make up the Galapagos archipelago and given that only a couple are inhabited, the best way to explore this amazing place is on a live-aboard small ship. Small ship cruising here is quite essential: restrictions on landing sites means large boast take forever just to disembark and you certainly don’t want to come all this way to spend half your day waiting in line, right? Most cruising is done at night (to maximise time on land) with daytime itineraries usually including morning walks on-shore exploring different islands, and afternoons spent kayaking, snorkelling or SCUBA diving, depending on the vessel you choose. The longer you cruise in the Galapagos the more islands you can visit and, given that each one is unique (with its own unique wildlife residents) it means a more comprehensive and varies experience rather than simply a longer one.

Kayaking in the Galapagos

Kayaking in the Galapagos


Click HERE to see our Galapagos Tours

Expert Tips from Tara:

Galapagos is the best place I have snorkelled – ever!! The sea lions are very playful creatures and will swim right around you, they are gentle and friendly so just relax and have fun! Take a GoPro with you – you are going to want to capture all their acrobatics in the water. Rent a wetsuit or take one with you, especially if you go in the colder seasons so you can stay in longer! If there is a specific animal you would like to try and snorkel with, for example, sea lions, turtles or marine iguanas, please let your destination specialist know, so they can help you choose the right itinerary – of course, nothing is guaranteed in nature, but in the Galapagos, you can get pretty lucky with some good planning!

Expert Tips from Pia:

If possible go on an 8day cruise as the first and last day quite often doesn’t give you time to snorkel, hence it will be a land excursion if any. If you prefer warmer water go during the warmer season Dec to May. I still recommend wearing a wetsuit though. The islands are also greener because this is the wetter season!

Click the link to learn more: How to Get the Most of Your Galapagos Visit

Pantanal for Amazon wildlife spotting

Why go there?

South America’s wildlife wildcard is one of the most biodiverse places on earth. The one main catch? Nobody knows about it! The world’s largest wetlands are an extension of the Amazon Rainforest and are inarguably the better side if animal-spotting is at the top of your ‘must do in the Amazon’ list. The lack of extensive foliage and flat landscapes means animals are easy to spot, especially if you visit during the drier months when river shores are peppered with capybaras, monkeys, sloths, toucans, macaws, giant anteaters, tapirs, caimans, anacondas and on and on we go. In the Pantanal, you can sit by your riverside lodge, cocktail in hand, and enjoy a smorgasbord of wildlife parade in front of you. In the Amazon rainforest proper, that’s simply not possible – you need to work much harder to spot an elusive creature.

Pantanal Landscape, Brazil

Pantanal Landscape, Brazil


When to go?

The months between June and October are the driest in the Pantanal and best for spotting animals. The great thing about dry(er) season expeditions is that you can add horseback riding, walking and 4WD touring in your itinerary, unlike wet season when canoe transport is your only option. Nevertheless, this is a rewarding place to visit, at any time of year.

Pantanal's Jaguar

Pantanal's Jaguar


What to do?

The Pantanal is still quite expansive and there are two main entry points so you can choose to visit either the northern or southern half. Note that if you want to visit outside of the dry season then choose to visit the north, which is traditionally the region that receives less rainfall. Your activities here will then depend on what time of year you visit. After reaching your eco-lodge, you’ll be taking wildlife-watching excursion both by day and night. This is a bonafide Amazon wildlife safari hub!

Boat tour on a river, Pantanal

Boat tour on a river, Pantanal


Click HERE to see our Brazil Tours

Expert Tips from Rachel:

My best Jaguar spotting experience was in the southern Pantanal, a region known as Mato Grosso Del Sur, even though traditionally it is easier to see Jaguar in the north. We were on a night drive when suddenly our guide spotted a Jaguar ahead on the road.  As we approached the Jaguar left the side of the road and jumped into a small river, swimming to the other side where it sat for a long time only 10 meters away.  It was observing us, and we it.  It was a huge beast, with strong eyes, with the most beautiful spots on its fur and being so close was a truly magical.   

I have been to the Pantanel many times and have not always seen Jaguars, however between June and October is the dry season in the Pantanal and this is when you are most likely to spot jaguars.  This is particularly noticeable in the north where they often come out and bask in the sunlight on the banks of the various rivers that snake through the region thus we always recommend heading out on a day tour by boat, or choosing one of the long houseboat cruises to maximise the chances of seeing the elusive Jaguar.

Click the link to learn more: The Best Wildlife Experiences in South America

 

Capybara family in the Pantanal

Capybara family in the Pantanal


Patagonia (Hiking)

Why go there?

Patagonia features twice on this list of best places to travel in 2020, a testament to the region’s many delights. Awash with outstanding Andean wildlife, unique cultures evolved from European immigration and geographical isolation, and boasting a spectacular concentration of iconic Andean wilderness, Patagonia is South America’s hiking capital, bar none. Exploring the region and its overwhelming nature is best done on foot, about the best way to totally disconnect from the rest of the world and immerse yourself in the region’s untamed wilderness. You could spend several lifetimes walking in Patagonia and just scratch the surface. Better get started asap then.

Laguna Verde, Patagonia,

Laguna Verde, Patagonia,

When to go?

Hiking season run pretty much parallel with cruising season (November to March) although given you’ll be more exposed to the elements, the most enjoyable months are December or January. Given this region is well equipped for hard-core hiking, with many multi-day trails taking walkers in the remotest corners, there are plenty of huts (refugios) open during the hiking season although you do need to book your spot in advance in the busiest months.

Relationship Manager Flavio in Patagonia

Relationship Manager Flavio in Patagonia

What to do?

Strap on the boots, pack a pair of binoculars, sunscreen and wet weather gear and just get out there! From the granite peaks of Torres del Paine to the blinding white playground of Los Glaciares, the exhilarating climb up active Villarrica Volcano (scary and awesome all at once), the nature-drenched walks in the Lakes District and all the spectacular walks to glaciers, lagoons and mountainous viewpoints – no matter where in Patagonia you travel to, you’ll find an amazing hiking trail nearby. That’s probably the best part of it all – yes, Patagonia is coveted by world-class hikers and mountaineers but it is also ideal for us normal folks who love nothing more than going for a walk in nature.

Hiking group in Patagonia

Hiking group in Patagonia


Click HERE to see our Patagonia Tours

Expert Tips from Flavio:

Hiking shoes and waterproof clothes are mandatory! You don’t need to be very fit or an experienced hiker, there are lots of different hiking trails to choose from. Don’t forget to leave all your cameras (phones, GoPros etc) charging overnight because you don’t want to run out of battery in the middle of some fantastic hiking through the glaciers or the pristine forests. Extra memory cards are also convenient. 

Expert Tips from Rachel:

There is nowhere I love hiking more than in Patagonia. The mountains in the Southern Andes are so bold, so powerful and so captivating.   I often have to pinch myself to check I am not dreaming.  

One of my favourite trekking destinations is El Chalten in Argentina, home to the mighty Mt FitzRoy.  And a great thing is that you don’t have to trek far at all for wonderful views of the jagged granite peaks with condors flying.    Even a 30-minute walk from tow to the Condor Lookout and you have wonderful mountain views however my two favourite treks are the full day Laguna De Los Tres & Laguna Torres hikes which take you through the forest, past beautiful lakes and into the mountains were and up close to massive glaciers and the towering peaks of Mount Fitzroy.

Across the border in Chile Torres Del Paine National Park is a walkers dream with hundreds of kilometres of tracks, the most famous being the W trek which is a 5 day walk through some of the most mind-blowing scenery you can imagine.  The pinnacle of the trek being arriving at the base of Las Torres mountains, three granite columns reaching to the sky behind an emerald-green glacial lake.

Click the link to learn more: Patagonia Trekking Guide

Hiking in Patagonia

Hiking in Patagonia

Similar Stories