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18 Trips of a Lifetime to Plan Now

After a year of venturing close to home—if anywhere—Indagare members are getting back out in the world, dusting off their proverbial travel wish lists with a renewed sense of wanderlust. In fact, in our most recent travel sentiment survey (of more than 1,200 respondents from the Indagare community), the number one type of trip people are looking to take is to a once-in-a-lifetime, exotic destination.

Where in the world can measure up to the lofty hopes of a 2021 traveler? Read on for our list of 18 destinations we love most for sensational journeys, from the silent steppes of Mongolia to the cosmopolitan bustle of Milan. And while some of these destinations are still closed to international arrivals, planning early for their reopenings can help ensure you have the best experience possible as soon as you’re able.

Related: How to Build Your Bucket List

Contact us to answer your travel questions or consult with our expert trip designers to start planning your next trip today.

An Epic Safari in Botswana

An African safari is one of the most thrilling trips for wildlife lovers. One destination that’s still under-the-radar to many Americans is Botswana, home to beautiful and diverse ecosystems. Since joining the safari circuit in the 1960s, it has pursued a low-impact, high-yield guest experience that sets it apart as more conservation- and sustainability-minded than some of its neighbors. What that translates to: up-close encounters with wildlife in situations where you’re often the only safari vehicle in sight. Two camps we love: Mombo and the just-reopened DumaTau Camp, both from Wilderness Safaris. Mombo (last renovated in 2018) is an Indagare Index 2021 property that amps up the wow factor with eight luxury tents perched overlooking the wildlife-rich Okavango Delta, while DumaTau’s eight safari-chic tents unveiled their new look this past May, on a lagoon in the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, one of the world’s best spots for seeing elephants and the endangered African wild dog. And while it may start as a once-in-a-lifetime idea, don’t be surprised if going on safari becomes a new obsession. Plus: Explore our upcoming Insider Journey to Botswana with Safari Legend Colin Bell.

Ideal length of stay: Seven days

Related: Sneak Peek: DumaTau Camp, Botswana

The Quintessential South Pacific Sojourn in Fiji

This South Pacific archipelago—with more than 800 islands and islets, of which just over 100 are inhabited—is a dream destination for experiencing far-flung tropical beauty. Visitors to Fiji can explore its jungles (the country ranks near the top for its forest integrity) and go on multi-island sailing excursions. And for the ultimate Fijian getaway, Laucala is a five-square-mile private-island retreat. Guests at its 25 bungalows enjoy myriad water and land activities, including access to a mini-submarine and an America’s Cup racing yacht—as well as the postcard-perfect beaches that surround the lush, hilly island.

Ideal length of stay: Five days

Related: Indagare Index: The World’s Top Hotels

The Eternal French Connection

Whether you’ve never set foot there, or—like many Indagare members and many on our team—you usually go every year, it’s impossible to ignore the allure of France. Paris is a global capital for culture, fashion and food, and travelers could have a “trip of a lifetime” simply by exploring its multifaceted arrondissements for days on end. But the rest of the country calls, too. We love adding in time along the French Riviera along with wine tastings and chateaux visits in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.

Ideal length of stay: 10 days

This month, we’re launching our French Gardens Club, a virtual tour through four major Parisian gardens with horticultural expert, guide, author and rose lover Amy Kupec Larue. And later this year, we hope to join Amy in person in Paris for an Insider Journey French Gardens trip. Learn more here.

Into the Wild in Alaska

The 49th State is another of the world’s great ecological masterpieces, with hundreds of thousands of square miles of protected wilderness. What’s in store: glacier-capped mountain ranges, vast tundras, rushing rivers and blankets of boreal forests, all home to elk, moose, caribou, brown bear, wolves and more. Indagare’s favorite Alaska lodges each give guests prime access to explore the untamed terrain, be it by foot, helicopter, horseback or bike. A top destination for fly-fishing, skiing and hiking, Alaska always brings the adventure.

Ideal length of stay:10 days

Related: 10 Ultimate Wilderness Vacations

A Spiritual Hiking Retreat in Bhutan

Deep in the Himalayas, Bhutan’s allure is twofold: its fascinating culture which remains proudly distinctive thanks to centuries of isolation—shut off from the world by geography—and its jaw-dropping mountainscapes. Ideal visits here include stops in several valleys, heading on daily hikes through the foothills to see Buddhist temples, monasteries and shrines, including the iconic Tiger’s Nest, and staying at chic, soulful mountain lodges along the way. Indagare can help you determine which lodge combination is right for you, based on your interests and needs.

Ideal length of stay: Seven days

Join our 2022 Insider Journeys Trip: Magic of Bhutan, with daily hikes through rural towns and lush forests, as you make your way to the legendary Tiger’s Nest and relax at incredible Six Senses lodges featured in this year’s Indagare Index.

Venturing to Antarctica in its Natural State

The White Continent, with a population of scientific researchers and penguins, is one of the most remote destinations a traveler can experience. Since it’s regulated by international law, overtourism—for now—is a non-issue. Climate Change, unfortunately, is still a major concern, and Antarctica is one of the places on earth where its effects, both current and potential, are most worrying. That added urgency has led a clutch of responsible travel outfitters to offer sustainable adventures there, hoping visitors will become entranced by Antarctica’s rugged, icy beauty and double down on their efforts to preserve it for future generations. That was the case for Colin Heinrich, Indagare’s Impact Manager. Read his essay on visiting Antarctica in 2019 here.

Ideal length of stay: 10 days round-trip cruising.

Join Indagare founder and CEO Melissa Biggs Bradley on our October 2021 Insider Journey, Antarctica Awaits. She’ll be leading a group of intrepid travelers aboard the state-of-the-art Quark Ultramarine expedition vessel in the company of biologists and glaciologists.

Culture & Cuisine in Japan

A country at once steeped in tradition and driven by an embrace of the future. One of the world’s most beloved cuisines. Glass and steel high-rises overlooking historic temples, with Mount Fuji rising in the distance. Japan checks all the boxes for travelers in search of cultural stimulation. And while we won’t be able to attend the Olympics this year, it’s still possible to look ahead to future visits. A comprehensive journey here includes time in Tokyo (the world’s largest metropolis), Kyoto (famed for its temples), the monuments at Hiroshima and Mount Fuji, with overnights at soothing ryokans.

Ideal length of stay: 14 days

Join Indagare founder and CEO Melissa Biggs Bradley and art editor Gay Gassman on our 2022 Insider Journeys Trip: Tokyo and Kyoto Design with Architectural Digest

The Best of Italy

The ideal Italian visit has so many permutations: Rome to Florence to Venice; the Amalfi Coast and Capri; the countryside of Tuscany plus Milan and Lake Como or the Dolomites; Puglia and Sicily….The options and combinations are endless, each with one hand full of pros and not a single con in the other. One thing to keep in mind when considering your Italy wishlist: balancing culture-heavy days in its historic towns and cities with time spent simply being in Italy. That could mean meandering the ancient streets of those same cities, or venturing into the country, coasts or mountains. La dolce vita is real. Contact your Trip Designer for help with planning a trip that best suits your interests and preferences.

Ideal length of stay: 10 days

Join our September 2021 Insider Trip to the Dolomites, with daily guided hikes and time to relax at the Rosa Alpina mountain lodge, plus possible extensions in Venice, Milan and beyond.

Multilayered Discoveries in Cambodia

Some of the world’s most impressive ruins complexes, coupled with a deeply spiritual society and a complicated history make Cambodia a treasured big ticket trip for Indagare members. An itinerary here combines stops in Siem Reap, near the incredible Angkor complex, as well as to Phnom Penh, the country’s buzzing, artsy capital city with must-visit memorials and museums devoted to the not-so-distant past of the Khmer Rouge regime. And along the coast, tropical islands shelter luxurious and soul-enriching retreats.

Ideal length of stay: 10 days

Adventure Overdrive in New Zealand

Lord of the Rings popularized New Zealand back in the early 2000s, cementing it as one of the world’s most visually stunning destinations. Two decades later—and more than a year since we’ve been able to visit—the country is still on our minds. It tops the wish list for many adventurers, with heli-skiing, fly-fishing, mountain hiking, and volcano touring all within reach from some of Indagare’s most adored, intimate hotels. First time visitors will want to schedule time on both the North and South islands, with wildly different scenery. The country is still closed to visitors, but we hope to be able to return by 2022.

Ideal length of stay: 14 days

Note: A backlog of postponed 2020 and 2021 trips makes planning New Zealand particularly challenging. And since the country’s top properties are small in scale, finding availability for a multi-stop trip can be a puzzle. Contact us to discuss options with an Indagare Trip Designer, who can coordinate stays at multiple lodges throughout the country.

Time-Traveling Through Egypt

Few destinations allow travelers to feel the weight of history so tangibly as Egypt. Its sheer span of existence boggles the mind: Cleopatra’s reign is closer in years to the moon landing than to the construction of the pyramids at Giza. The country is also home to more than one third of all the world’s antiquities, and archaeologists keep unearthing more: Last November, Egyptologists announced the discovery of more than 100 near perfectly preserved mummies in Saqqara, and this April, a 3,000-year-old lost city was uncovered near Luxor. By the end of 2021, the highly anticipated and long-delayed Grand Egyptian Museum is finally set to open.

Ideal length of stay: 10 days

Inspired by our sold-out 2018 Insider Journey, follow the same itinerary during our Treasures of Egypt Insider Trips in 2021 and 2022.

A Soulful Escape in Mongolia

Like Bhutan, Mongolia is a mythic destination. Sprawling over vast steppe plains north of the Gobi Desert, it is the world’s least densely-populated country. Outside of the capital, Ulaanbaatar, it feels—and largely is—empty, with few people, structures or even trees. It is precisely this sense of isolation that beckons travelers. Visitors here can experience true silence and stillness, while also encountering a rich cultural legacy that maintains its traditions passed down over centuries. Later this summer and again in Summer 2022, Indagare founder Melissa Biggs Bradley will lead an Insider Journeys trip here, bringing an intimate group of travelers on a 10-day itinerary into the steppes.

Ideal length of stay: 10 days

Related: 8 Hiking and Adventure Insider Journeys to Book Now

Evolution on View in the Galápagos

Charles Darwin helped put the Galápagos on the traveler’s radar when he published On the Origin of Species in 1859. More than 150 years later, this isolated volcanic archipelago in the Pacific, now part of Ecuador, still attracts naturalists and nature lovers who want an immersive wildlife experience. Endemic highlights include marine iguanas, Galápagos penguins, and the Galápagos tortoise. Visitors can set up a home base on one of the islands, or island-hop via a charter yacht or scheduled sailing.

Ideal length of stay: Seven days

Join our 2022 Insider Journeys to the Galápaos in partnership with Barron’s Penta.

Peru: Machu Picchu & Beyond

Machu Picchu features prominently in many jetsetter’s travel dreams. The mountaintop ruins, which date to the 1450s, are often the main draw, and many Indagare members have enjoyed both hiking the Inca Trail or taking the fabulous Hiram Bingham train from Belmond to get there. But Peru is so much more than the—admittedly jaw-dropping—UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only are there lesser-frequented Inca ruins throughout the Sacred Valley, but there are fascinating cities like Cusco and the too-often ignored Lima, a rising mecca for gourmands. Plus, travelers can venture into the headwaters of the Amazon and swim in Lake Titicaca.

Ideal length of stay: Seven days for Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu; longer for additional exploring.

The Multiple Worlds of Chile

Spanning barely 200 miles at its widest point, yet extending 2,600 miles north to south, Chile is an enigma. In the high-altitude Atacama Desert, salt flats and Mars-like red dunes meet the Andes; along the coast, visitors can find some of South America’s most fabulous beaches and colorful fishing towns; Patagonia is a lush wilderness of rolling mountains, fjords and glaciers; and Santiago de Chile is one of the world’s most modern metropolises, with some of the tallest peaks of the Andes forming a backdrop to its skyline of highrises. The perfect trip here relishes these distinctive regions, and sees travelers embarking on a comprehensive tour through the country—with the option to add in Easter Island or Argentina’s wine country in Mendoza.

Ideal length of stay: 14 days

Join our Fall 2021 Set Departure to Chilean Patagonia, spending a week hiking, horseback riding, glacier trekking and kayaking around Torres del Paine.

Cultural Resilience and Great Ape Encounters in Rwanda

We share around 96 and 98 percent of our DNA with gorillas and chimpanzees, respectively, and seeing them in their natural habitat is a life goal for many in the Indagare community. The experience involves trekking from one of Rwanda’s lodges into national parks, where the endangered gorillas and chimpanzees go about their social lives hidden in the dense mountain forests. What many travelers don’t know is that the journey plays a crucial role in protecting gorillas and chimps. Visits help fund critical conservation efforts, as well as continue to divert local economies and communities away from illegal poaching towards more sustainable practices. But a visit to Rwanda should always include Kigali, not just for a sobering visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial (a must), but also for a look at Rwanda today. The people of Rwanda continue to open their hearts to outsiders, sharing their own stories from the horrors of 1994 and the years after, as they came together over a shared mission: lasting, meaningful peace. Indagare’s favorite itineraries combine jungle and city, using the country’s top guides and stopping at the best hotels, art galleries, shops and restaurants.

Ideal length of stay: Seven days

Join our Fall 2021 Insider Journey, Rwanda Rising, for the ultimate highlights of Rwanda.

Following the Ancients in Greece

Like Egypt, Greece holds a special place in the hearts of history lovers. Athens, of course, is a must, both for its incredible ruins in and around the city, and for its laid-back, cosmopolitan energy. But even the contemporary beach destinations have ties to the past. Mykonos is the best home base for visiting Delos, one of the most powerful trading cities in the Ancient Mediterranean, and mythological birthplace of twin gods Apollo and Artemis. Santorini, meanwhile, is potentially the site of the lost city of Atlantis. Visits to the ruins of Delphi and Olympus on the Peloponnese, as well as of Knossos on Crete, can all be combined with fabulous resort stays. Not sure where to start? Our team helps you figure out which sites—ancient or otherwise—are the best match for your trip, and can craft a customized itinerary around your wishes.

Ideal length of stay: 10 days

Related: Secret Greece: Our Favorite Under-the-Radar Greek Islands

For Future Dreaming: A Multi-sensory Journey to India

Sadly, it may be some time before India is ready for visitors, but we will be waiting eagerly to return. Its intoxicating, multi-sensory blend of culture, color and cuisine, with a complex history and vibrant contemporary scene make it a perennial favorite destination for many in the Indagare community. The massive country is home to some of the world’s largest and distinctive cities, like Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur and Mumbai, and a dream trip here takes its time to explore each one—plus stops in gorgeous parks for spectacular wildlife, including the elusive tiger. And between visits to sites like the Taj Mahal and Hawa Mahal, a day or two should be set aside simply for relaxing on-property at the country’s indulgent palace hotels. We hope to revisit as soon as it is safe to do so. Contact us to discuss future options with an Indagare Trip Designer.

Ideal length of stay: 14 days

Contact us to answer your travel questions or consult with our expert trip designers to start planning your next trip today.

– Peter Schlesinger on June 3, 2021

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