This one has been on my list for a while, and for one big reason — gorillas. There are only three countries in the world where you can see gorillas: Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC, and since the security situation in the DRC makes a visit there less than safe, you're really left with two options. I lean toward Rwanda because it's more of a luxury destination (and if I'm going big, might as well go big!), because it's a lot easier to reach the gorillas once you're in Rwanda than it is in Uganda, because Rwanda is where Dian Fossey worked and is buried, AND because there are more habituated gorilla families in Rwanda than in Uganda. The big downside? Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda run $1,500 per person per day, while they are only $600 per person per day in Uganda.
The Azores are one of those places that has simply fascinated me since these islands in the Atlantic Ocean first appeared on my travel radar. It's a less than 5-hour direct flight from Boston, so it's a great place to go with limited travel days. The landscape is volcanic, meaning waterfalls and hotsprings, geysers and impressive vistas are everywhere you look. And while it is very much an up-and-coming destination, it's far from a crowded tourist destination (at least so far). The weather is beautiful year round, so it's also an any-time destination. The hiking is breathtaking, the whale watching is some of the best around, and the hydrangeas that bloom in late July and August are the most vibrant blue you'll ever see. What more could you want?
If you're anything like most people, you probably hear the word "Tasmania" and your immediate thought is of the Tasmanian Devil. While those fascinating creatures do call this Australian island state home, (and I definitely want to meet them) Tasmania has much more going for it! It's one of the most beautiful natural places in the world, so any time you're outside, you're going to be in awe of the view — whether you're hiking a rugged mountain or relaxing on a beach without another person in sight. Food and drink is superb here, and the air is considered the world's least polluted. Plus, you can spot seal colonies and walk among the Fairy Penguins, so I'm pretty sure you'll fall in love!
If you are looking to escape the heat instead of run toward it like some travelers, Norway might be just the ticket. For me, the fjords are my main reason for wanting to visit Norway. If you head to Norway in the summer, you'll have very long days, and in the winter, the country compensates for the cold and dark with some impressive Northern Lights displays. I think the wooden stave churches that have survived for centuries are even more impressive than the stone behemoths you might find elsewhere. If you like to ski (not me!), you'll have plenty to keep you busy in Norway. The wilderness of Norway is wild and largely untouched, so there is plenty for nature lovers as well. Small fishing villages, staggeringly beautiful scenery, friendly people, charming cities and even polar bears (on the far northern Svalbard Islands), all add to the many reasons that Norway is on my list!
I have a real fascination with the history of the Ottoman Empire, so Turkey is one of those places that is always on my mind. I'm a tea-lover, so Turkish tea is another big draw for me, but I hear they also make a mean cup of coffee, so there's a little something for everyone, beverage-wise! Baklava (and all of the other delicious food in Turkey) is also a huge plus for me. I have dreams of drifting over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon, spending the day in a hamam, and strolling through a Turkish bazaar. I want to see the pools of Pamukkale, where blue waters cascade over brilliant white travertine terraces, and marvel at the huge statues on Mount Nemrut. Of course, I wouldn't miss Istanbul or the Hagia Sofia or any of the country's other breathtaking architecture.
What about you? Ready to check a destination off of your wish list? Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's get started making those dreams a reality!