Where to spend the holidays: 7 new trip ideas

Lighthouse Reef Atoll in Belize
Lighthouse Reef Atoll in Belize

Spend the holidays on a remote atoll, celebrate Christmas Day on the Inca Trail or welcome the New Year at one of the most remote places on Earth. Find seven exciting active adventures to do in December and January that'll make the festive season one to remember.

Break away on a remote atoll in Belize

In need of a tropical adventure? Then put our new Belize Jungle and Reef trip on your radar. Lighthouse Reef Atoll is the first marine protected area in Central America home to over 20 renowned dive and snorkel sites, including the world famous Blue Hole, Half Moon Wall and the Aquarium. Don a mask, snorkel and fins and swim in this rich reef system, second in size only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Submerged underwater is the best way to view Lighthouse Reef Sunset over the beautiful Lighthouse Reef Basecamp Mayan ruins of Lamanai in Belize Up close to a local Iguana in Belize Preparing to Kayak in the crystal clear waters of Belize Stand up paddle boarding in the warm waters of Lighthouse Reef Half Moon Base Camp backs onto the blue waters of Belize
 

Relax in a safari-style beach cabana with endless views of the Caribbean and enjoy day temperatures in December in the mid-20oCs – the sea could not be more inviting!

Plus, explore a different side of Belize: the jungle, where you will encounter a spectacular Maya world of ancient ruins, old Creole settlements as well as an impressive diversity of indigenous wildlife.

Treat yourself to spectacular safari lodges in Namibia

Harshly beautiful with stunning desert colours, endemic wildlife that has adapted to an arid environment and rock art spanning thousands of years, Namibia is a fascinating destination. But heading into the wilderness does not mean you have to rough it.

The spectacular safari lodges allow you to enjoy extra creature comforts, such as private en suite facilities, a swimming pool and sunset decks. The best part? Each safari lodge and camp are scenically located so you can best appreciate the impressive Namibian landscape and its wild.

Climbing the sand dunes of Sossusvlei |  <i>Peter Walton</i>

Enjoy game viewing in Etosha National Park, take in the ruggedly beautiful scenery of Damaraland, visit the colonial coastal town of Swakopmund and admire some of the world’s biggest sand dunes at Sossusvlei the views from the top of the dunes are well worth the climb.

Welcome the New Year in Ethiopia's otherworldly landscape

Camp beside the longest-existing lava lake in the world, hike up the ‘Smoking Mountain’, explore alien landscapes hidden deep beneath thick deposits of salt and witness colourful eruptions and active flows.

The unfiltered volcanic landscape of Dallol in the Danakil desert |  <i>Tanguy de Saint-Cyr</i> Active Lava Lake at Erta Ale |  <i>Lukas Bischoff Photograph</i> Edge of the world views in Ethiopia's Simien mountain range |  <i>Jon Millen</i>
 

The Danakil Depression desert, one of the world's most remote places, certainly makes for a memorable way to welcome the New Year. In the Afar region of north-east Ethiopia, it's on one of the hottest, driest and lowest places on Earth. The hundreds of impressive fumaroles and hot springs will feel as though you've stepped foot on another planet.

The trip also treks through the spectacular Simien Mountain escarpments, camping on the volcanic plateau with chances to spot unique wildlife such as the Walia Ibex and Gelada Baboon.

Spend Christmas on the Inca Trail

The classic hike along the historic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is considered by many to be one of the greatest short treks of the world. Our new Inca Trail Explorer trip offers the opportunity to overnight at quieter and scenic wilderness campsites away from the crowds.

Breathtaking views across Machu Picchu

Spend two days in the Sacred Valley to acclimatise to the altitude with walks through impressive Inca sites before you head out on the iconic Inca Trail on 25 December. On your way to Machu Picchu – and as you ascend dramatic passes, jungle trails and cloud forests – you will feel inspired by the panorama of Andean peaks.

Let Tasmania’s East Coast take your breath away

Celebrate the festive season on Tasmania’s East Coast, which offers access to some of the most breathtaking experiences on offer on Australia’s island state.

Head to the seaside village of Coles Bay and make your way to Freycinet National Park. Admire the dramatic pink granite peaks, secluded coves and white sandy beaches and, if you are up for the challenge, climb up Mount Amos for panoramic views of the captivating Wineglass Bay.

Just another glorious day on the Freycinet Experience Walk

Then explore on foot or by bike the beautiful Maria Island, a natural wildlife sanctuary known for its sweeping bays and historic ruins.

Reach new heights in Africa to kick off the New Year

If you are after an adventure to remote heights, head to Uganda’s rugged Rwenzori Mountains (also known as ‘Mountains of the Moon’).

Giant Groundsels and Lobelia Giants in Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains |  <i>Juniors Bildarchiv GmbH</i>

Begin the New Year on a high as you marvel at panoramic vistas from the so-called Observation Peak (4,328m) before making your way to the top of Margherita Peak, Africa’s third highest peak.

Discover remote alpine valleys and glacial landscapes, experience pristine tropical rainforests and cross through Giant Lobelia forests along the remote Kilembe Trail.

Hike along secret trails in USA's deserts & canyonlands

What better way to mark the end of year than with an exhilarating adventure in some of the world's most dramatic geological formations? Walk past endless natural stone arches and lava tubes, over petrified sand dunes and into a wonderland of stone towers and twisted sandstone rocks.

Vibrant colours as we hike though Arches National Park |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>

Although it can be a lot colder during this time of year, it's usually sunny and clearer during the daytime and with much fewer crowds.

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah |  <i>Susanne Lorenz</i>

Highlights include: the journey to Capitol Reef along a little known track which overlooks the immense monocline stretching over 100 kilometres; the giant amphitheater filled with purple, pink, and dark red stone towers at Bryce Canyon National Park; and witnessing the red landscapes of Monument Valley of the Navajo on trails off limits to tourists. The finale? Celebrating New Year at the Grand Canyon – amazing!

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