Plan a One-of-a-Kind Getaway
While online casinos and web apps have given people the chance to stay in touch and enjoy a virtual escape over the past year, many are now looking outwards and considering their next great, in-person getaway. As the world starts to open up, so too do many favourite holiday resorts and destinations. But where is the ideal location for your next great getaway? Whether you’re a land lover or looking to sail the seas, a history buff or an adventure-seeker, we’ve compiled a list of five incredible destinations that are sure to captivate and enchant all travellers, thanks to their unique settings and one-of-a-kind charms.
Sun, Snow and a Light Show in Svalbard
While there are several destinations that offer holidaymakers a unique experience, Svalbard might hold the record for the most unique experiences in a single destination. This Norwegian archipelago is one of the northernmost inhabited regions in the world and offers everything from celestial wonders to one-of-a-kind wildlife.
The fun starts before you even get to Svalbard, as you board the cruise that will take you to this magical destination. Set sail across the sea and let the aroma of the ocean and the bracingly fresh air set the scene for the all-natural adventure that is to come. Alternatively, pass the time on the ship at the casino, a unique opportunity in its own right since Norway does not have any land-based casinos. This is a wonderful opportunity for online casino fans or for those looking to try something new en route.
Once you disembark, you’ll have plenty of options to fill your itinerary. Those who visit during the winter months will get unobstructed views of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. These stunning light displays have enchanted travellers for centuries, but few destinations offer such clear views of their hypnotic colours. If you’re arriving during the summer, fear not: the midnight sun is an equally awe-inspiring sight. While many will be used to longer days in summer, the twenty-four sunlight that Svalbard experiences is a truly striking experience that will stay with you long after you leave. Finally, make sure to spare some time for the archipelago’s wildlife. The chance to see polar bears in the wild is not to be missed, but reindeer and Arctic foxes are also worth keeping your eyes peeled for.
The Myth of Machu Picchu
The lure of South America has called adventurers and explorers since time immemorial and, today, that appeal is as strong as ever. While some are drawn to the vibrant nightlife of cities like Buenos Aires or Medellín, and others to the sun-kissed sand of coastal resorts like Cancún, Machu Picchu delights travellers with something altogether more unique.
The journey to Machu Picchu is worth the trip in and of itself. You will trek along mountain paths and roads that overlook and traverse the breath-taking Urubamba River valley. Avid hikers will appreciate the chance to explore some of the rugged and untamed wilderness of Peru, while novices will have an expert guide to help them along and point out sites of interest. Verdant prairies and awe-inspiring rock formations act as signposts along the route, guiding you towards your ultimate destination: the former city of Machu Picchu.
Built in the 15th century, this Incan settlement was once a thriving hub and a real gem in their empire. Perched high in the Andes, the citadel was a secure fortress against outside forces, thanks to the panoramic views that it enjoys over the sweeping valleys and mountain paths that surround it. Contemporary visitors can still enjoy these vistas, which are unrivalled among holiday destinations. The city itself is full of architectural gems, which offer fascinating insights into Incan society and the incredible skill and expertise these people had in construction, design and urban planning. Many of the buildings are aligned in patterns based on astrology and the movement of the cosmos, offering a peek into the technologically advanced and superstitious culture that once flourished in this region.
The Sands of Time in Kolmanskop
Few locations testify to the passing of time quite like Kolmanskop, a once-thriving mining town in Namibia. Once, visitors here came to visit the mines and witness the haul of sparkling diamonds that previously fuelled the local economy. Originally settled by Germans, the town flourished and wealth flowed as freely as the diamonds from the earth, turning this rural outpost into a local gem in its own right. What was once a small dot on the map soon boasted a glamorous casino, a lavish ballroom and even the first tram on the African continent – that alone would be enough to consider this one of Africa’s most unique holiday destinations.
And yet, as quickly as the diamonds appeared, they were gone. The earth that once provided the area with its most valuable resource became the town’s worst enemy, as the hostile desert sands blew in at alarming rates. With the diamonds gone, investors too fled and miners travelled south to the thriving diamond deposits near the Orange River. In 1956, the last settlers left and Kolmanskop was officially abandoned.
Today, visitors will find houses and buildings that are partially buried in the sand, which has continued to blow in and accumulate in this former hot spot. The ghost town is a testament to a bygone age and a humbling reminder of the staggering – and sometimes cruel – power of nature. Take a photo in a half-buried building, witness the now-abandoned casino reclaimed by the desert (a far cry from your favourite online casino!) and stand on what were once the finest and most lucrative diamond mines in all of Namibia. Standing in Kolmanskop means standing in history itself, a perfectly preserved relic of the glory days of a former luxury resort.
The Burren – Ireland’s Natural Wonder
Tourists have been visiting the so-called Emerald Isle for centuries, in search of the verdant fields and unspoilt nature that have earned it its name. Indeed, Ireland has prided itself on its natural wonders, from the imposing Cliffs of Moher to the expansive Connemara countryside. The Burren, however, may be its best-kept secret and one of the finest jewels in its crown.
Located on the country’s striking west coast, The Burren is a karst landscape, that is, a sprawling area made of glacial limestone. Years of natural processes have shaped the limestone in unique and beautiful ways, creating rock patterns and features that can be found nowhere else in the world. Caves, cliffs and fossils are littered throughout the area and warrant a closer look, but the real appeal here is the flora that flourishes in this strange and enchanting setting.
The fractured limestone pavement that covers The Burren is brought to life by colourful flowers that peek through the cracks and brighten the environment. What is more interesting, however, is that the diversity of plant life found in the region is almost unheard of. Indeed, due to the unique features of the karst landscape, plants from both the Arctic Alpine and Mediterranean Basin categories grow side by side, a fact that has long puzzled researchers and delighted visitors. Many of the plant types found here are unique to the area, while the staggering range – more than 70% of the flowers that grow in Ireland can be seen here! – means that there’s always something new and exciting to see. A walk in The Burren is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced – and will keep you coming back for more.
The Archaeological Treasures of Easter Island
Monuments and artefacts can be found the entire world over, testifying to a wide range of cultures and civilisations that have come before us. However, few inspire such wonder as the statues of Easter Island in Chile, the towering behemoths that have mystified explorers and settlers since Europeans first reached the island in 1722.
These head-shaped statues, which are actually called moai, were carved by the Rapa Nui people between 1,250 and 1,500 CE. While their exact purpose is not known, they are believed to have symbolised religious and political power and authority and house a spiritual power called mana. Mana was a common feature of many Polynesian cultures. All but seven of the moai statues face inwards onto the island, as though they are watching and protecting the local communities who inhabited it.
A trip to Easter Island is a chance to see these incredible monuments for yourself and to marvel at the ingenuity and skill of the local craftsmen. The tallest moai, for example, is ten metres high, while the heaviest weighs 86 tons. How did these people create and transport such idols hundreds of years ago, at a time when tools were more primitive and modern machinery was beyond the wildest dreams of the local people? We may never know the exact answers to these questions, but, as you gaze up at the immense artefacts before you, you will be reminded of the incredible feats that mankind has achieved throughout history.