While the pandemic is far from over, many of us are hopeful that 2022 is the year we’ll finally be able to broaden our travel horizons again.
And now – in as much a year-end tradition as Thanksgiving turkey or putting up the tree – travel publishers are releasing their annual recommendations of where to travel in the year ahead.
Lonely Planet got in there at the start of November, bigging up Slovenia, Oman and Mauritius, and now it’s the turn of venerable travel chronicler National Geographic, which has been educating us about our planet since 1888.
For its 2022 list, National Geographic’s editorial teams around the world have selected 25 “must see” destinations. These are spread across five categories – nature, adventure, culture, sustainability and family – with a focus on national parks and wildlife, outdoor activities and experience, green travel and multigenerational trips.
‘Reflect and regroup’
“In many ways, the pandemic provided a moment for travelers and communities around the world to reflect and regroup on how we explore the world,” says George Stone, executive editor of National Geographic Travel.
“With this year’s list, Nat Geo takes a look at what’s different, new, and inspiring – from the new Seine River bike trail in France to Chimanimani National Park, a new national park in Mozambique that signals the country’s environmental commitment.”
In the culture category, Procida, a little island off the coast of Naples, is an Italian Capital of Culture for 2022, while London’s legendary music hub Tin Pan Alley has had a recent resurgence, with the opening of three new music venues.
Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, is renowned for its natural beauty, stunning waterfalls and rich wildlife, but also for the unique heritage of its indigenous Ainu people.
For Sustainability, National Geographic’s picks include Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, a biosphere reserve in the Amazon which is currently under threat – just last week parts of the forest were cleared for an oil road and pipelines.
In Poland, the post-socialist industrial town of Łódź has become a thriving center of alternative culture, business and finance. The cotton factories that pepper its cityscape have been repurposed as galleries, museums, convention halls and and community centers, while its downtown is dressed up with striking murals.
How to get the best out of the Caprivi strip
Getting the nature nod, Namibia’s Caprivi Strip is an up-and-coming safari destination. Once off limits due to the long border war that plagued this region, safari camps and lodges are now sprouting up. Visitors can enjoy several large national parks, plenty of navigable waterways, and an impressively high ratio of wildlife to human residents.
Sun and adventure
The ancient waters of Lake Baikal, known as Russia’s “Sacred Sea,” are bigger than all the Great Lakes of North American combined, and it makes up close to a quarter of our planet’s freshwater reserves.
Tourism here is not without controversy: It’s currently the stage for a fierce battle between the state, a local population dependent on tourist income, and environmentalists concerned about mass development damaging its delicate ecosystem.
Adventure seekers are recommended to try the new 420-kilometer-long La Seine à Vélo bike route which runs from Paris to the Normandy sea. Or if hiking is more your thing, there’s the 147-kilometer-long Sentier Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq wilderness trail in New Brunswick, Canada. It follows the Nepisiguit River from Daly Point’s Nature Reserve to Mount Carleton Provincial Park.
Skiers and snowboarders should make their way instead to Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin, a high-elevation resort with runs for experts as well as beginners.
For family trips with loved ones, National Geographic’s picks include Turkey’s sweeping southwest coastline, a lesser known Mediterranean delight which was known in ancient times as Lycia. Sailing is the perfect way to explore its secluded bays and coves.
Another sun-seeking option is Bonaire – known, along with Aruba and Curaçao, as one of the ABC islands – which is close to South America and a little outside of what’s considered the hurricane belt. The snorkeling and diving is particularly good in its pristine waters, where underwater visibility can exceed 30 meters, allowing wonderful views of coral reef and forgotten shipwrecks.
For more of National Geographic’s Best of the World list, visit NatGeo.com/BestoftheWorld.
National Geographic’s ‘Best of the World 2022’ list:
Jingmai Mountain, Yunnan, China
Tin Pan Alley, London
Ruhr Valley, Germany
Parque Nacional Yasuni, Ecuador
National Columbia Gorge Scenic Area, Oregon/Washington
Chimanimani National Park, Mozambique
Caprivi Strip, Namibia
Lake Baikal, Russia
Belize Maya Forest Reserve
Seine River Bike Trail, France
Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail, New Brunswick, Canada
Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
Danube River Cruise
Eastern Shore, Maryland