Sometimes the best way to experience a place is to go with the experts. Travel outfitters, with their extensive knowledge and on-the-ground connections, work tirelessly each year to craft trips that showcase the best of a destination. We collected the most exciting itineraries and then asked our readers to vote for their favorites. More than 79,000 AFAR travelers weighed in. The result? Your top trips of the year.
Embrace the romance of train travel on Goway’s trip on the Eastern & Oriental Express. As the train curves south from Bangkok through the Malay Peninsula to Singapore, take in the scenery from the window of your private cabin, or in the bar car, serenaded by its resident pianist. The 1,200-mile route connects some of the most legendary cities in Southeast Asia (including Langkawi, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Malacca), and guided tours at two stations along the way allow you to travel beyond the tracks. Various dates.
“Croatia and Slovenia Bike Tour” with Backroads
Trade the confines of a car for the freedom of a bike on this road trip from Ljubljana to Trieste. No windows will separate you from the sights of the Julian Alps, the scents of southern Slovenian vineyards and river valleys, and the feeling of the wind and sun on your skin as you ride toward the Adriatic Sea. Various dates.
“Cycling the Bolivian Salt Flats and Hiking the Amazon” with BikeHike Adventures
“Switzerland Journey Bike Tour” with DuVine
“SingleThread Cycling Trip” with Trek Travel
“Bicycling France: Normandy and Brittany” with VBT
“Savoring France: Paris, Lyon, and Provence” with Tauck
Indulge in a leisurely 10-day trip through France, including a cruise down the Rhône on the MS Emerald. First, develop your kitchen skills with a Parisian pastry class. Then, as you float from Lyon, France’s culinary capital, to Provence, you’ll have ample time to sip regional wines, savor local specialties, and enjoy a chef’s demonstration at a gourmet cooking school in Valence. Various dates.
“A Culinary Journey Through India” with Cox & Kings
“Vineyards of South America from Buenos Aires to Santiago” with Globus
“Armenia and Georgia Food Expedition” with Intrepid Travel
“Savor South Australia” with Swain Destinations
“British Columbia: Vancouver Island” with Country Walkers
Lace up your hiking boots to walk Vancouver Island’s wide beaches, rocky headlands, and old-growth forests on a six-day adventure from Pacific Rim National Park to Victoria. After all that trekking, rest your feet during a ferry trip to the island of Newcastle and a Zodiac boat trip to get a look at black bears. 2018 dates: Sept. 16–21, 23–28.
“Climb Kilimanjaro: Summiting the Machame Route” with Abercrombie & Kent
“Oman Walking” with Butterfield & Robinson
“Jordan’s Dana to Petra Trek” with KE Adventure Travel
“The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu” with Mountain Lodges of Peru
“Machu Picchu Volunteer Vacation” with REI Adventures
Its years as one of the world’s top destinations have taken a toll on Machu Picchu, but you can help preserve the enchanting Incan citadel for future visitors. On REI Adventures’ volunteer vacation, mix a little goodwill with an adventure that would make Indiana Jones proud: Assist with archaeological restoration, clear invasive species, and make repairs to the Inca Trail. 2018 dates: Oct. 31–Nov. 9.
“Classic Antarctica” with Abercrombie & Kent
“Culture, Villages, and Wildlife of the Mara” with Audley Travel
“Malawi Grassroots Change and Unique Adventures” with Elevate Destinations
“Journey Through Southeast Asia: An in-depth look at the link between poverty and human trafficking” with GoPhilanthropic Travel
“The Northern Lights of Finland” with Explorations by Collette
The bewitching, otherworldly aurora borealis lures curious travelers to far northern latitudes to gaze at the sky. Make your pilgrimage to Finnish Lapland, the land of reindeer, dogsledding, and Santa Claus. By day, get to know the culture; at night, lounge in a glass igloo and capture the dancing lights on camera. Various dates.
“East Africa Photographic Expeditions” with &Beyond
“Patagonia Hiking Adventure: ‘Condor’” with Active Adventures
“Yellowstone: Ultimate Wolf and Wildlife Photo Safari” with Natural Habitat Adventures
“Art Expedition Larapinta” with World Expeditions
“Galápagos Island Adventure Tour” with Classic Journeys
Get up close to marine iguanas, giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, and Galápagos penguins; explore freshwater lakes and volcanic calderas; and mingle with island residents. You’ll stay in boutique hotels on this seven-day trip to three of the Galápagos Islands, and when the day-trippers get back on their boats each evening, you and the locals will have the animals and landscapes to yourselves. 2018 dates: Sept. 2–8, Oct. 7–13, Dec. 28–Jan. 3, Dec. 30–Jan. 5.
“North Spitsbergen—Polar Bear Special 2018” with Borton Overseas
“Bird Watching in Costa Rica” with Costa Rica Experts
“Patagonia Puma Tracking Tour” with Quasar Expeditions
“Namibia: Giraffe Conservation and Safari” with Wilderness Travel
“Sea of Cortez Island Hopping” with O.A.R.S.
Paddle between more than ten islands on a nine-day marine adventure in the Sea of Cortez off Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Small boats are ideal for getting close to dolphins, mantas, sea lions, and a variety of whales, and slowing down to a leisurely pace makes it much easier to see them. 2018 dates: Oct. 13–21, Oct. 27–Nov. 4, Nov. 10–18.
“Dark Sky Stargazing Trips” with Holiday River Expeditions
“Deluxe Rafting through India’s Grand Canyon—The Zanskar Gorge” with Ibex Expeditions
“Rogue River Rafting” with ROW Adventures
“God’s Pocket Wilderness Resort Kayak Tour” with Sea Kayak Adventures
“Around the World: A Private Jet Expedition” with TCS World Travel
Be a true jet-setter and travel around the world on a 24-day extravaganza. You can explore ancient ruins and sacred sites in Peru, Jordan, and Cambodia; dive in coral reefs and walk in rain forests in Australia; make local connections in Chilean villages; and witness the wonder of Tanzania’s wildlife. Luxury hotels are your home away from home in the 10 countries where you touch down. 2018 dates: Sept. 27–Oct. 20. 2019 dates: Jan. 24–Feb. 16, Sept. 29–Oct. 22.
“Art in Africa: Galleries, Murals, and Private Collections” with GeoEx
“Skeleton Coast Flying Safari” with Journeys by Design
“Discover Greenland: The Natural Habitat Experience” with Natural Habitat Adventures
“Indonesia’s Cultural and Natural Highlights by Private Jet and Yacht” with Remote Lands