Kensington Tours’ Top Travel Destinations for 2020

Kensington Tours’ Top Travel Destinations for 2020

By Jen O'Brien

Kensington Tours’ Top Travel Destinations for 2020

The 12 best places to visit in the year ahead.

Vacation days are precious, however sometimes figuring out how to use them can be a challenge. Do you take a few short trips close to home throughout the year or embark on one big multi-week adventure in a far flung locale? Anyone who has traveled extensively knows that settling on the perfect destination can sometimes be challenging.

To make the decision-making process a little more manageable we enlisted the help of Kensington Tours’ Product team. These are folks who spend a good part of the year traveling around the world to source out hidden gems worth planning a journey around. From off-the-beaten path treks to view elusive animals in the wild to luxurious yacht charters in some of this planet’s most spectacular crystalline waters, they’ve seen it all.

In order to put together this list of top travel destinations for 2020, they looked at countries that are evolving, either economically or environmentally, as well as places that are making names for themselves in certain sectors of the industry, be it adventure travel, culinary tourism or luxury travel.

These are the 12 places you’ll be hearing a lot more about in 2020.

Uganda

The proliferation of five-star lodges and gorilla trekking options in neighboring Rwanda has had a positive influence on Uganda, driving the development of better accommodations, improved roads and enhanced tourism infrastructure. The country’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to half the world’s mountain gorilla population, while Queen Elizabeth National Park has ample opportunities to encounter elephants, lions and baboons. The best part is that in Uganda you can experience the wonders of Africa for a fraction of what you’d pay in nearby safari destinations.

“You can expect lodge-style accommodations in Uganda unlike the traditional tented camps you would see in Kenya and Tanzania. The lodges are quite cozy and intimate and since Bwindi National Park is quite elevated. Most lodges feature a fireplace to warm up at night. What’s great about Uganda are all the activities you can take advantage of. The destination truly offers more than just gorilla trekking. In Uganda, you can enjoy forest hikes, boat cruises, amazing birding (I’m a big birder myself!), and many cultural interactions.” – Marc Sison, Director, Product

Recommended trip: Uganda Highlights

Not what you’re looking for? See all Uganda tours

Photo by S B on Unsplash.

Peru

Peru is perhaps best known for the citadel of Machu Picchu, but there’s so much more to this South American country than ancient Incan outposts. Named the World’s Leading Culinary Destination 2019 by the World Travel Awards and home to several of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the country is becoming a go-to destination for foodies, with travelers flocking to Lima to experience the cuisine of world-class chefs like Gastón Acurio. A focus on food and spirits also has travelers venturing beyond the Andes to explore Peru’s jaw-dropping deserts and Pacific coastline.

“Peru’s unique geography allows it to produce an incredible range of produce from Amazonian tropical fruit to high altitude potatoes and herbs that bring dishes to life and are unique and curious to a North American palate. Traditionally, Peruvians have produced a local brandy called pisco in and around the area of the Nazca Lines. More recently, several producers have begun making red wine in the gorgeous desert-like setting of Ica. There’s nothing quite like stopping for a glass of wine surrounded by this beautiful dune landscape.” – Kelly Torrens, Director, Product

Recommended trip: Peru: Wine, Sand & Nazca Lines

Not what you’re looking for? See all Peru tours

South Africa

South Africa is one of those places that seems to have it all — cosmopolitan cities, great beaches, wine country and wildlife galore. The country is one of Africa’s top safari destinations, but there’s plenty more on offer beyond the Big Five. In addition to going off the beaten path in search of the inhabitants of Sabi Sands Game Reserve, travelers can take in views from atop Table Mountain, see African penguins at their breeding colony at Boulders Beach, sample the wines on a tour of the fabled Cape Winelands and take advantage of the country’s thriving culinary scene. With a new nonstop flight to Cape Town from Newark, New Jersey announced in late 2019, travel to South Africa in 2020 is bound to become a lot more popular.

“The food scene in South Africa is out of this world. I had a chance to do a food tasting tour with a food writer in Cape Town. He took me to all his favourite local spots to get biltong, koeksisters and spices and introduced me to hidden cafes, chocolatiers, creative vegan restaurants and some amazing burgers. Believe it or not Cape Townians love their burgers! Dining out was also mind blowing. When you are in Cape Town and in the Winelands, it is worth going to the top rated restaurants that you see on travel magazines such as FYN, Protégé, La Petite Colombe, Shortmarket Club and Chef’s Warehouse – they are popular for a reason! But the best part about this is that you are not paying an arm and a leg to experience top notch cuisine like you would in North America or Europe.”– Marc Sison, Director, Product

Recommended trips: Kruger, Vic Falls & Hwange Safari Highlights or Cape Town, Winelands & Safari

Not what you’re looking for? See all South Africa tours

The Baltics

With fairy-tale castles, medieval towns and untouched forest landscapes, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania offer the best of Europe without the crowds or the high price tag. Take in the region’s main attractions, including the medieval port city of Tallinn, Estonia, the breathtaking beaches of Jurmala, Latvia and Lithuania’s Trakai Castle or delve a little deeper with an extended journey that includes a privately-guided trek through the Estonian countryside, a foodie tour of Riga, Latvia’s markets, beer emporiums and black balsam bars and a visit to Lithuania’s Curonian Spit, a 98-kilometer-long sand dune that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea.

“There is nothing like the mysterious swampland of Latvia’s Kemeri National Park at dawn. When the cloak of fog starts to lift up from the ground revealing an untouched marsh landscape, morning dew shimmers in the light of the sun that starts to creep across the horizon. You’ll find an occasional cranberry ready to be snacked on straight from the ground and, of course, the impenetrable silence. I have not experienced anything like this anywhere else in the world. It really is magical.” – Greg Kostrzewa, Product Development Analyst

Recommended trip: Baltics Highlights

Not what you’re looking for? See all Baltics tours

Greece

Ever-popular Greece may seem to be perpetually trending, with the party islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Paros on the tip of every traveler’s tongue come summertime. However, for 2020 we’re looking at the country through fresh eyes and setting our sights on Crete. The birthplace of Zeus boasts dreamy pink shorelines, clear blue water and rugged mountain peaks and is a paradise for hikers, historians and beach bums alike.

“For some of the best food tours, cooking classes and olive tasting in Greece, head to Crete. It’s also a great year-round destination, unlike some of the other major islands like Mykonos, which fully closes down in the winter.” – Marc Sison, Director, Product

Recommended trip: Greek Sojourn: Athens, Santorini & Crete

Not what you’re looking for? See all Greece tours

Mongolia

Currently untouched by mass tourism, Mongolia is a destination that will intrigue even the most intrepid explorer and new airline routes mean this fascinating country is now easier to reach. Travelers can explore Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia’s enigmatic capital city, breath in the fresh alpine air of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park on a horseback and follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo trekking through the Gobi Desert.

“The Gobi Desert is as fascinating as it is remote. If you want to travel to a place with a unique culture and jaw-dropping landscape, Mongolia is the place to go!” – Marc Sison, Director, Product

Recommended trip: Vast Skies of Mongolia

Not what you’re looking for? See all Mongolia tours

Japan

With the 2020 Summer Olympics nearing, Japan will be top of mind for many avid travelers. Tokyo is already seeing a massive upswing in bookings and some luxury hotels are already fully booked for the the games. To sidestep the Olympic crowds while still enjoying the splendour of Japan, think about visiting before July. Cherry blossom season runs from March to May and is a particularly beautiful time for a visit. A stop in Kyoto, home to some exciting new hotels including a luxurious Aman property as well as a cool Ace Hotel, is also a must. Round your trip out with an excursion further afield for some spectacular photo ops.

“Our clients are increasingly interested in visiting the art islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Naoshima is a wonderful overnight trip from Kyoto or Osaka and is a haven for contemporary art aficionados, best-known for its iconic yellow pumpkin installation.” – Kelly Torrens, Director, Product

Recommended trips: Cherry Blossom Season in Japan or Japan: Temples, Gardens & Art

Not what you’re looking for? See all Japan tours

Alaska

Cruises around the 49th state have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, but for 2020 we recommend taking the time to visit by land instead. Kensington Tours offers the unique opportunity to explore Alaska by land alongside a local, private guide. On one of these journeys you’ll have the opportunity to experience transformative encounters with Alaska’s wildlife and its awe-inspiring glaciers all on your own schedule.

“The untouched, pristine beauty of Alaska inspired me to connect with nature again. The fresh mountain air is the perfect remedy to help you slow down and appreciate the present. Being surrounded by breathtaking topography and vivid wildlife, you just can’t help but feel grateful.” – Nadine Paulo, Director, Product

Recommended trip: Alaskan Discovery

Not what you’re looking for? See all North America tours

Australia

Travel + Leisure named Australia as the destination of the year for 2020, citing a rare combination of exciting new offerings, cultural relevance, and singular experiences, combined with an energy and timeliness that would compel travelers to visit now. New hotels and experiences in off-the-beaten-path areas of the outback, Western Australia and Tasmania have made the country particularly relevant for travel in the year ahead.

“I was most surprised by the incredible beauty of the Daintree Rainforest, which is one of the world’s oldest primeval forests and runs parallel to the northern coast, home to the Great Barrier Reef. Despite having visited rainforests across Africa and Latin America, the Daintree was the most vibrant and beautiful and also plays an important role as the ancestral home of aboriginal people with whom we work to explore their cultural traditions in this area through our day tours.” – Kelly Torrens, Director, Product

Recommended trips: Australia Active Luxury or Australia & New Zealand Grand

Not what you’re looking for? See all Australia tours

Utah

National Parks across the United States have experienced a surge in popularity over recent years and some of the most beautiful among them can be found in Utah. In 2019, on its centennial year, Zion National Park eclipsed both Yosemite and Yellowstone in terms of visitor numbers. With red cliffs, towering mesas and some of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable, Utah is poised to gather even more attention in the year ahead.

Hiking Zion Canyon Narrows, you realize just how small you are in comparison to these massive works of natural art. The dramatic views take your breath away.” – Nadine Paulo, Director, Product

Recommended trip: Wonders of the West

Not what you’re looking for? See all North America tours

Israel

With an airport expansion and a host of new hotels, including a luxurious Six Senses property set to open in 2020 in the isolated moonscape of the Negev Desert, Israel is primed to claim its title as a top destination in the year ahead. Beyond the Dead Sea and pilgrimage sites such as the Temple Mount, the country boasts incredible Mediterranean beaches, nightlife, culture and landscapes that range from volcanic plateaus to coastal plains.

“We’re seeing a notable increase in requests for customized tours in Israel, and for good reason. Tel Aviv has amazing beaches and nightlife as well as great contemporary art museums such as the Ilana Goor Museum, Design Museum, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Israelis are also very proud of their wines and you can find some excellent wineries right along the Judean Hills. Traveling with Kensington Tours you have access to some very special experiences that incorporate old traditions with modern living such as spending shabbat dinner with a local family.” – Marc Sison, Director, Product

Recommended trip: Israel & Jordan Highlights

Not what you’re looking for? See all Israel tours

St. Barts

St. Barts is back in a big way. Hurricane Irma ravaged the island in 2017 causing over a billion dollars in damage, but quick restoration efforts and a few major investments have St. Barts looking better than ever just two years later. The super swish Eden Rock, a St. Barths institution, took hurricane remodeling as an opportunity to add to its offering with a new ultraluxe villa and a much-anticipated spa. Refurbished hotels aside, there is simply no better way to experience St. Barts in 2020 than by superyacht. Yachting in St. Barts adds an extra layer of exclusivity to traveling the Caribbean’s most coveted destination, with access to hidden beaches, private quarters and a staff focused solely on catering to your preferences.

“St. Barts is both the ultimate island to be seen and the exclusive escape destination of choice among the international superyacht set in the Caribbean. No better New Year’s Eve party exists than anchoring off the port of Gustavia where the world’s most impressive yachts flock to celebrate under the stars. If seclusion is what you seek, your captain may head to the stunning white sands of Anse de Colombier – the island’s most private beach, surrounded by steep, rocky mountains and effectively only accessible by boat. It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s most prestigious sailing regattas also call this island home – plan to attend the annual St. Barths Bucket in March for an up-close, on-water view as the most impressive performance and classic wooden sailing vessels on the water race to the finish daily (and then follow it up with exclusive social events nightly!)” – Jackie Guenther, Director, Kensington Yacht

Recommended trip: New Year’s Eve 2021 in St. Barts

Not what you’re looking for? See all yacht trips

Need more inspiration? See our 2019 list.

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