It is the country from where I write and where I am spending the end of the year. Egypt made a strong bet to regain tourism, key to its economy. You can enter with a covid passport and enjoy all its beauties, in addition, with few tourists. I am not saying that one will be alone in the pyramids, but there is still much less overcrowding than before the pandemic (aP). Not to be missed is a Nile cruise of at least four nights, between Luxor and Aswan.
Krakow is one of the most beautiful cities in Central Europe. The city bathed by the Vistula, the religious, cultural and tourist center of the country. Its large medieval square, the pedestrian streets that surround it, the promenade along the river, the cathedral, the castle, Grodzka street … all the elements come together to create a perfect setting for an urban trip. But Poland is much more than Krakow. Warsaw was reborn after the devastation of World War II, and it boasts another very interesting historical center to visit. A visit to Auschwitz is also essential. And to the many national parks and nature reserves that it treasures.
Cuba is the big island, and not only because of its size. It is the dream island. The visit cannot be postponed. A complex reality with many overlapping planes. The Caribbean island reopened for tourists without the need for quarantine (just a covid or PCR certificate) on November 26. Havana is as charming as ever, with its glories and miseries, with its superb colonial part, and the devastating contrast of the slums of Centro Habana. The beaches and keys keep their sand as white and their emerald green water as always. If you decide to go, don’t cross an ocean to spend seven days on a beach: a Havana-Trinidad-Cayos combination allows you to discover the reality of this unique island much better.
It was my great discovery in 2021. A small country facing the Adriatic with a beautiful coastline, medieval villages that seem taken from a story and a very mountainous interior full of natural areas. Simplifying, I would tell you that it is the Croatia of 25 years ago. Pure character and Mediterranean essence.
Mozambique is not a common country for Spanish travelers, among other things because air connections are few and expensive. And the interior mobility, complicated. But if you are looking for an authentic experience in Africa, off the beaten track, I highly recommend it. Mozambique is the country of endless beaches. A destination to enjoy the coast, the sea, diving. There are good resources for independent travelers in Tofo – the best place for scuba diving – in Chidenguele Lake, in Vilanculos or on Bazaruto Island – the jewel of Mozambican coastal nature. The country also has some animal reserves, such as the Gorongosa National Park or the Maputo Special Reserve, but here the density of animals is very low.
Iceland has been in fashion for a long time. The island offers landscapes and a lifestyle so peculiar that it is unique. It has a reputation as a very expensive destination. I would say that it is not so bad; It is not cheap, but not something unaffordable for a medium pocket. More problem than the budget is that, since everything is concentrated in July and August, either accommodation and rental car are reserved in advance or one risks that everything is complete on those dates. In recent years it has become fashionable to also go in winter in search of the Northern Lights.
It is a gigantic country with many ecosystems. I mean, it has many trips, and all of them interesting. There is the urban trip through colonial cities, such as Quito or Cuenca. The journey of volcanoes and Andean nature, with the Cotopaxi national park and its farms, the hot springs with views of the Nevado Antisana, the Chimborazo and the entire Avenue of the Volcanoes, as Humboldt baptized it. Then there is the Ecuador of the Amazon rainforest. And the coast, with good beaches in Esmeraldas and Guayaquil. And to all this we must add the Galapagos Islands. A destination that never disappoints.
8. The castles of the Loire
France never disappoints. There are hundreds of sites that I could recommend from the neighboring country. Like, for example, the route of the castles of the Loire. These palaces, some of medieval origin rebuilt or renovated in the Renaissance, treasure a good part of the history of the French monarchy among their stones. A trip to the castles of the Loire is a unique experience. In total, the nobility built almost 200 palatial precincts along the Loire and its tributaries, a set that, due to the beauty of its natural environment and its historical wealth, was declared a Unesco world heritage site in 2000. You can do it in a traditional way , that is, by car; or much better, by bicycle. There are all kinds of facilities for those who travel on two wheels.
Namibia is almost twice the size of Spain, but it is a pure desert where there are hardly any rivers or water on the surface. But… what a desert! Beautiful no matter where you look at it. From Namibia are those beautiful reddish dunes that you will have seen in a thousand photos, the highest on the planet. Here is also the desolate coast of the skeletons, and those ghostly dry logs in the middle of nowhere. Also huge canyons excavated by the erosion of the rivers and, in the middle of all this dryland, one of the largest concentrations of African fauna within the Etosha National Park. As I was saying, a most unique Africa! And, in addition, one of the few countries that you can travel at your own pace with a rental SUV in complete safety.
10. Costa Rica
It is one of the few countries that have not closed the pandemic in our entirety, so in 2022 it will be even more open to travelers. In Costa Rica I learned what “pura vida” means. Not only the pleasure of living happily, but the pleasure of living surrounded by greenery and nature. That practically 50% of the country is covered with forest and that more than 20% is a reserve or a protected natural park subject to strong environmental conservation measures perfectly reflects that this is the destination for all nature lovers. There are so many natural spaces that the difficult thing is to choose which ones to visit.
11. Sardinia (Italy)
Sardinia is the perfect island for a summer getaway. Its beaches are famous for their quantity and beauty. Plus, there is so much to see and do on this huge Italian island. It has a strong culture of its own, monumental cities, such as Alghero or Cagliari, good gastronomy, a coastline with transparent waters and a well-preserved Mediterranean landscape. In addition, it is very easy to get around with a rental car.
Whatever happens with the covid in 2022, we will always have the neighboring country. Portugal remains a great unknown for many Spaniards. Big mistake, because it is full of incredible cities —not only Lisbon and Porto—, regions where you can enjoy good wine and good gastronomy, natural spaces, beaches and superb cliffs in the south (the Algarve). A fascinating country, close, easy to travel and always friendly with the Spanish traveler. The perfect excuse.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.