From awe-inspiring experiences in the great outdoors to the unspoilt emerging hotspots, we bring you our favourite life-affirming travel adventures for 2019.
With climate change and the natural world so much in the headlines at the moment, it's worth reminding ourselves just how powerful and beautiful mother nature really is. Whales embody this spirit: powerful yet graceful, immense in size but fragile - and seeing them in the setting of the last great unspoilt wilderness is an unforgettable experience. There's never been a better time to book a cruise in Alaska and learn all about its ecosystems, wildlife and communities here, accompanied by a National Park ranger to give you the expert commentary that will bring it all to life.
Magnetic particles refracting light from the sun, or the gateway to another world? There's only one way to be sure... Perhaps we've had enough of screen time and information overload, but this year we're feeling a distinct pull towards Lapland and its still, silent, snowy landscapes. And the chance to catch a heavenly natural light show is pretty high on the agenda, too.
Could there be anything that speaks more loudly to the child adventurer in all of us than a visit to the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt? How about taking a cruise along the mighty Nile river to see the other treasures of this ancient land, without the high-season crowds?
Patagonia is one of the earth's richest sources of natural history: at the Milodon Cave, prehistoric fossils date back 14,000 years and include a sabre-toothed tiger and a gigantic sloth, which weighed more than a ton. With icebergs, glaciers and lakes teeming with wildlife, a journey through Patagonia is an incredible voyage through evolution - past and present.
If you had limitless wealth and power in the time of the Mughals, this is what love looked like. No expense was spared to create the Taj Mahal, an emperor's monument to his dead wife. From its sacred geometry and position, to its dazzling white marble and intricate botanical tiles, it's a work of art: and the most visit attraction in India. So the best time to see it is at dawn, when the crowds are calmest and the sun turns it from blue, to pink, to white - yeah ok, you could say it's a little like the light of Heaven transforming into the light of Earth.
Old Japan may have been and gone, but in Kyoto, you can be transported back to the time of the empire. This beautifully preserved city escaped the bombs of World War II, and is characterised by its exquisite gardens, calm temples, red-lipped geishas, and 2,000 vivid Buddhist and Shinto shrines. If you miss cherry blossom season, consider visiting at maple leaf season between October and November, when its stunning parks, temple gardens and boulevards turn many shades of crimson.
You may have seen a few temples throughout the world, but you haven’t experienced one until you’ve been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This 400sq-acre Hindu monument was built in the 12th century and represents an incredible work of human engineering, and is widely considered the spiritual heart of Cambodia.