Articles

Where to Go in 2021

Like all things in 2020, planning a trip is, well, different. For months, most of us avoided leaving our neighborhoods, and, currently, we find ourselves at a unique moment, when even visiting a neighboring state has potential logistical hurdles—from mandatory Covid-19 tests to possible self-quarantines—not to mention the ongoing risks of the virus itself.

While navigating the New Normal makes for a markedly changed getaway, it also offers several advantages if you’re looking to travel in the near future. Some of our favorite destinations have reopened with safety measures and cleaning protocols that will benefit visitors for years to come, and there’s a shift to spending as much time as possible outside. Another silver lining: no more worries about overtourism this year. It’s entirely possible that you’ll have previously buzzy destinations, from the beaches of Hawaii to the temples of Luxor, nearly to yourself. 

The lack of crowds has an alarming flip side, though. The United Nations predicts the travel industry will lose upwards of a trillion dollars this year, putting the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people who work in the sector at risk. The sudden drop in revenues has had a calamitous effect on the ancillary benefits of tourism around the world, especially conservation and community empowerment. 

With all of this in mind, we’re cautiously optimistic about recent progress made in vaccine developments, and are looking ahead to get back into voyager mode. From New England to East Africa, here’s what you need to know about the places that are open and enacting health measures to ensure safety.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning winter vacations for this year and the future. Our team can match you with the accommodations and activities that are right for you and provide information on coronavirus travel safetydestinations that are open to travelCovid-19 hotel policies, transportation options, private villas and charters and more. 

Related: Best Winter Vacation Ideas for 2020-2021: 25 Trip Ideas from Antigua to Zambia

Adventure

HAWAII

Volcanoes, waterfalls and verdant cliffs tumbling into the sea are all on offer in the Aloha State, where adventure is only a hike—or heli-tour—away. The water stays warm enough to swim, snorkel and surf year-round, and each of the five main islands—Hawaii, Maui, Lanai, Oahu and Kauai—come with their own temptations, including the lava fields at Kilauea or kayaking along the jagged Na Pali Coast. 

Entry Requirements: All arrivals over the age of five must show proof of a negative test result from within 72 hours of travel and conducted by one of a dozen health partners nationwide, including CVS and Walgreens. Visitors to The Big Island must take a second, rapid-result test upon arrival. At press time, inter-island travelers will still face a mandatory, and enforced, 14-day quarantine.

Indagare Tip: Maui’s iconic Road to Hana is a jaw-dropper of a day trip, but usually one that also comes with frustrating traffic. This year presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the lush coastal route with near-empty roads.

Interested in a long-term stay in Hawaii? Contact Indagare top discuss villa options. 

COSTA RICA

Get a dose of “pura vida” by exploring the incredible nature of Central America. Although it makes up only 0.03 percent of the earth’s surface, Costa Rica is home to six percent of its biodiversity, including everything from the ocelot to the Jesus Christ lizard—named for its ability to walk over water. And while the local sloths may be lethargic, visitors often opt for action: zip-lining through jungle preserves, snorkeling the reefs and surfing the Pacific.

Entry Requirements: Arrivals no longer need to show proof of a negative PCR test. Instead, they must purchase medical insurance to cover any Covid-related medical treatment or extended quarantine lodging.

Indagare Tip: The coasts get most of the attention, but Costa Rica’s interior is stunning in its own right. Where to stay: Nayara Tented Camp, which opened last winter just before lockdown on a reforested hillside that’s part of a sloth sanctuary. Expect tents with private, spring-fed plunge pools and views of the Arenal Volcano.

ALASKA

Embrace the season with a journey to America’s Last Frontier. The days are short and cold, yes, but they’re also filled with heli-skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and glacier-trekking. Plus, the Alaska night sky brings its own dazzling charms, with the aurora borealis dancing overhead. 

Move around between several of the state’s best hotels, each located within a ski-pole’s length of some of the area’s most breathtaking landscapes: Sheldon Chalet for the best access to Denali; Winterlake Lodge, where you can go dog-sledding on the Iditarod Trail right from property; or Tordrillo Mountain Lodge for helicopter-based activities.

Entry Requirements: All visitors must either show proof of a negative Covid PCR test result or purchase a test upon arrival and self-isolate until the results return negative.

Indagare Tip: Don’t rush it. The state is massive—larger than California, Texas and Montana combined—and warrants at least a week to get a true feel for its varied, natural beauty.

GALÁPAGOS

In the Galápagos, December to May is the warmest season, when daytime temperatures can hit 90 degrees and the ocean—usually chilled by the cold Humboldt Current—is warm enough for lengthy, wetsuit-free excursions. See dozens of endemic and endangered species, including the giant tortoise, Pacific green sea turtles, blue-footed boobies, penguins and marine iguanas on this famously remote archipelago. 

Entry Requirements: To enter Ecuador, travelers must provide proof of a negative Covid PCR test taken within 10 days before arrival. To continue to the Galápagos, you must provide proof of a negative result taken within 96 hours prior to arrival in the Galápagos. A new test can be taken in Ecuador, if necessary. 

Indagare Tip: With a chic, minimalist design, Pikaia Lodge, offers comfort with a conservation focus on Santa Cruz island. To maximize time at sea, combine it with an expedition yacht, like the new Origin and Theory vessels from Ecoventura, part of Relais & Chateaux. 

ANTARCTICA

Join Indagare CEO and founder Melissa Biggs Bradley on our Antarctica Awaits Insider Journey to the ends of the world next fall. Aboard the all-new, state-of-the-art  Ultramarine from Quark Expeditions, guests will see the White Continent up close, discovering some of the world’s most epic scenescapes and wildlife. Reserve your spot here.

Beach

CARIBBEAN

After months of lockdown, most islands are ready for visitors again. Two hotels we love: On St. Barth’s, the Oetker Collection’s Eden Rock reopened in October, still fresh after a two-year renovation it unveiled just months before borders closed last winter. And along the pink sands of Harbour Island—a Bahamian cay near Eleuthera with zero reported Covid cases thus far—The Dunmore’s beachfront cottages and villas reopened November 5. 

Entry Requirements: To protect both visitors and locals, the islands we love have enacted Covid-19 test requirements for all inbound travelers. Arrivals must have a negative PCR test within three to five days prior to departure in most cases.

Indagare Tip: For extra seclusion, consider Mustique, a private island in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. You may bypass the country’s five-day self-isolation requirement with proof of a negative PCR test (conducted within five days of the trip), and a rapid-results test upon arrival.

MALDIVES

November through March sees balmy temperatures and clear blue skies in the Maldives, an island nation of more than a thousand atolls—and some of the world’s most fabulous resorts—off the southern tip of India. Spend days lounging beachside or at your overwater bungalow, but be sure to take a dip under the water as well: manta rays, whale sharks, sea turtles and dozens of species of fish make the reefs here “feel like The Little Mermaid come to life,” says Indagare’s Sasha Feldman.

Entry Requirements: Proof of negative PCR test results from within 96 hours prior to departure.

Indagare Tip: The best resorts in the Maldives are on their own atolls—mini communities, which is a major safety feature in the age of social distancing. And while the country only began requiring proof of test results in September, some resorts took extra precautions. Soneva Jani and Soneva Fushi both require guests and staff to take PCR tests upon arrival and one week into the stay. The payoff: a mask-free experience, if you choose.

Culture

CROATIA

For a much-needed dose of European charm, head to this strip of land on the Adriatic Sea. Ancient walled cities—Hvar, Split, Dubrovnik, to name a few—and hilltop villages hug the coast, while Zagreb, the inland capital, has a medieval historic center and a thriving arts scene. This year, the northern port of Rijeka has vaulted onto the itinerary, as Europe’s 2020 Capital of Culture. Despite the pandemic, the town—just an hour’s drive from Trieste—has unveiled a slew of redevelopment projects, theatrical events and museum exhibitions, many of which will continue into 2021. 

Entry requirements: Arrivals must show proof that they are staying within Croatia, such as hotel reservations, and present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before arrival.

Indagare Tip: Time your trip to include Zagreb’s beloved Advent festival, held throughout the month of December. Officials have announced that the cinnamon-scented reminder of Croatia’s Habsburg heritage will still occur, albeit with alterations.

EGYPT

The sheer span of Egypt’s history boggles the mind: Cleopatra’s reign is closer in years to the moon landing than to the construction of the pyramids at Giza. Home to more than one third of the world’s antiquities and the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World—the pyramids—it’s been fascinating travelers for millennia. And visiting in the winter means you avoid the sweltering heat. 

Entry Requirements: Arrivals from North America must show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of their flight departure time.

Indagare Tip:  Be one of the first to see the decades-in-the-making—and still unfinished—Grand Egyptian Museum, which will soon house the complete collection of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Indagare can arrange private access and guides to the museum and the pyramids, as well as special experiences in Cairo, Luxor, the Nile and beyond.

Safari

SOUTH AFRICA

One of Indagare’s most beloved safari, culinary and cultural destinations reopened to international travelers in November. Its private game reserves are exemplary success stories for conservation, with fabulous lodges, gorgeous views and, of course, diverse wildlife, with nearly every animal on a safari-lover’s check-list.

Entry Requirements: All travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, performed within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight.

Indagare Tip: Pair a safari with time in the South Africa Winelands, one of the most physically stunning wine countries in the world and a mecca for foodies.

NAMIBIA

With windswept, shipwreck-peppered coastal dunes, a Mars-like desert and a population density akin to Mongolia’s, a safari in Namibia is more about taking in the silence than seeing animals en masse. While the country is home to fascinating wildlife, including endemic lions, critically endangered rhino and the cheetah, it makes visitors work harder to see them, as they’ve all adapted to blend in and don’t congregate in the massive numbers seen in the Serengeti or Maasai Mara.

Entry requirements: Visitors must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test, performed within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight and have a temperature below 99.5°F. 

Indagare Tip: December through March coincides with Namibia’s wet season, when watering holes are plentiful and resident springbok, zebra and wildebeest give birth on the plains of Etosha National Park. Spend a few nights at Onguma, The Fort, a neighboring private reserve with 11 standalone suites and some of the best game drives in the country.

KENYA

Home to quintessential “safari” scenery—the setting for films like Out of Africa and The Lion King—plus the most developed tourism infrastructure in East Africa, Kenya is also a convenient option for a wildlife-focused getaway, thanks to twice-weekly non-stop flights between JFK and Nairobi. 

After the short rains in early December, the grasslands will become lush and green before drying out once again in February. With little rainfall to worry about, this is one of the best times of the year for game viewing, especially lions and migratory birds. 

Entry requirements: Arrivals must have negative results from a PCR test conducted within 96 hours before entry and have a temperature below 99.5°F.

Indagare Tip: Discover Kenya’s contemporary culture with a few days in Nairobi, where fashion designer Anna Trzebinski has just transformed Nairobi’s 148 Hotel into Eden, an eight-room boutique inn that feels more like a home than a hotel.

TANZANIA

Tanzania is substantially larger than Kenya, with wildly varying climates between its plains, highlands and coasts. On the Serengeti, December through March is “Green Season,” when migrating herds of wildebeest and zebra converge by the thousands. Expect some rainfall, but also stunning photo-ops, with newborn calves against a verdant backdrop. On Mount Kilimanjaro, conversely, this is one of the driest—and best—times of year to climb Africa’s (and the world’s) tallest free-standing mountain. 

Entry requirements: Visitors must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, performed within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight.

Indagare Tip: End your journey with a sunny stopover at Mnemba Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago. Here, 12 beachside bandas overlook a protected marine conservation area where you can see green sea turtles, dolphins and whale sharks.

RWANDA

After imposing Sub-Saharan Africa’s first lockdown, Rwanda has been hailed as one of the world’s success stories in adapting to the pandemic. Stringent protocols for social distancing have protected both its citizens and endangered primates (who are also susceptible), and the country has gradually opened back up to visitors. December through February is dry season, making for optimal gorilla-spotting. What’s new: To ensure everyone’s safety, trekking party sizes have shrunk to just six individuals per gorilla family (down from eight), creating an even more intimate experience.

Entry requirements: All visitors must have negative results from a PCR test taken within 120 hours of arrival. Visitors must then take a second Covid-19 test upon arrival and quarantine until results come back negative.

Indagare Tip: Don’t miss the Kigali Genocide Memorial, an inspiring testament to reconciliation after unimaginable brutality and division. 

Related: Learn about Indagare’s upcoming Insider Journeys to Kenya and more. 

Ski

AMERICAN WEST & NORTHEAST

Across the country, expect face-covering mandates,  more outdoor dining options and a toned-down après-ski scene. Plus: as operators look to regulate—and predict—the total number of people on the slopes per day, advanced online reservations will be the norm. Some resorts, including any ski area in New York, will operate at half capacity.

In most cases, priority for reservation slots will go to season pass holders and members of multi-resort passes. Epic, the pass for 34 ski areas including Beaver Creek, Park City, Stowe, Vail and Whistler, is giving its members a full month in advance to reserve days during peak season. Resorts affiliated with the Ikon Pass are following a similar course. Aspen/Snowmass, Big Sky, Jackson Hole and Taos will require advanced reservations (including for Ikon members), while Deer Valley, Killington, Mammoth and Stratton will allow Ikon passholders without advanced reservations. In the Adirondacks, independently-operated Whiteface Mountain does not predict the need for early reservations for lift tickets either. 

Entry Requirements: Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming do not have entry requirements. New Mexico and New York mandate visitors from more than 30 states to quarantine upon arrival. To stay at a hotel in New Hampshire, out-of-state travelers (excluding the five other New England states) must have self-isolated for 14 days before visiting. Anyone traveling to Vermont by commercial plane must quarantine for seven to 14 days before staying at a hotel. Those arriving in their own car or private plane must certify that they either come from a county with low rates of Covid cases or have a negative PCR test result after a seven-day quarantine in their home state. California asks all out-of-state arrivals for leisure travel to self-isolate for 14 days.

Indagare Tip: If you plan on spending more than three days on the slopes, consider an Ikon or Epic pass for mountain access and securing refunds should resorts close unexpectedly.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning winter vacations for this year and the future. Our team can match you with the accommodations and activities that are right for you and provide information on coronavirus travel safetydestinations that are open to travelCovid-19 hotel policies, transportation options, private villas and charters and more. 

– Peter Schlesinger on November 18, 2020

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