Flight Centre’s Wow List 2020 is THE guide to the top 50 travel experiences in the upcoming year. The list is compiled from crunching the numbers and customer inquiries from 800 stores across Australia. Add this to the collective travel consultant’s rich knowledge and you end up with unique insights into the travel experiences Australians crave.
This year’s list ranges from soft adventure like glamping in the Kimberley’s King Leopold Ranges (#2) to full Indiana Jones moments such as caving in Belize’s Mayan ruins (#18) and climbing an active volcano on Vanuatu’s Tanna Island (#5). Or tick another dream trip off your list and float away on a Nile River cruise (19).
For luxury lovers how about setting sail on Aurora Expedition’s The Greg Mortimer or Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Endurance to the Antarctic (#7)? Or stargaze the galaxies (#20) at the world’s latest and (gold-standard) Dark Sky experience near New Zealand’s Lake Tekapo?
And even if your not an architecture buff, the fascinating Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise (#25) is a must. Or you can wake up and smell the coffee (#26) every morning on a Colombian coffee estancia (plantation).
Gate crash an Indian wedding on a private tour (#8) that takes an intimate look at the elaborate and colourful Hindu rituals that outsiders rarely witness. Or see another and more delicious side of Australian’s favourite holiday island – Bali. From Seminyak to Canggu, chefs are creating culinary delights fusing ethically sourced ingredients in local and international dishes (#17).
Many Flight Centre Consultants are experts in particular destinations and experiences. Anna Shannon is a cruise expert who shares her know-how with #24- a Viking Rhone River Cruise aboard a Scandi-designed longboat. #1 is Rail expert Riley Heathfield’s Switzerland by Swiss Travel Pass. For six days he crisscrossed the compact nation just so he could design his customers the trip of a lifetime.
Travel Ideas: WOW List 2020 is in Flight Centre stores and available online from today, December 5.
Canada expert Isabella Modra learns from her first moments in the Yukon why the destination’s tagline is ‘larger than life’.
Isabella conveys how small you feel in this dramatic snowscape of vast mountain ranges and wide-open valleys. She is totally intoxicated by the moments of pure, unplanned magic.
To explore the Yukon is quite simply life-changing for most travellers. Isabella is here for the greatest light show on Earth that takes centre stage every winter.
Travelling the remote, highways blanketed in snow to Klukshu Village and Alsek Valley, the Marion, South Australia Flight Centre travel expert is clearly exhilarated by the landscape. After a fresh salmon dinner at Mount Logan Lodge, the main attraction begins:
“… a gradual green glow starts to rise on the horizon until suddenly, a nebula of light takes form. Splays of the aurora boreal dance across the sky and it’s such a stunning, multi-dimensional phenomenon, surprising me with every passing minute…It is breathtaking even to the human eye and can be experienced any time between mid-August and mid-April”.
Isabella and her Flight Centre crew witness the spell-binding phenomenon twice in just six days.
Next day, they board a scenic flight with Rocking Star Adventures into Kluane National Park. Isabella remembers,
“Pilot Mike zigzags through the canyon, past walls of ice as blue as Caribbean waters, jagged and shattered and haunting”.
At the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, they walk with mule deer, watch moose graze and feed a family of lynx that creep silently through the snow. Gold Rush town Dawson City with its boarded sidewalks and multicoloured buildings was once known as ‘the Paris of the North’. Isabella loved local dining spots Alchemy Cafe and Red Mammoth Cafe as well as the Aurora Hotel’s pumpkin ravioli. The Yukon is fast becoming one of Canada’s culinary hotspots.
Isabella concludes the Yukon territory is “multi-dimensional with a long history, dangerous and untamed yet with modern amenities and the ability to consistently take my breath away. It’s a natural wilderness boasting freedom like no other and the opportunity to be alone in nature at its most spectacular. It’s a beautiful silence worth experiencing“.
Flight Centre’s Nicky Rundel swaps coasts from Claremont, WA to Queensland’s Heron Island.
Because it’s better down where it’s wetter – the marine wonderland in our own backyard.
From Gladstone airport its a ‘butterflies in the tummy’ helicopter flight to the reef. Nicky is blown away by the 20 minute ride above the underwater world.
“Flying over coral reefs with the ocean below glistening in 50 shades of blue, green and turquoise is definitely a ‘wow’ way to arrive”.
Heron Island is perched on a coral cay, surrounded by reef. It’s one of the few islands with direct access to the reef. Although she’s dived many sites around the world, Heron is the most accessible. It’s the diversity and colours of the marine life and that wows her. She loves every encounter with the local loggerhead and green turtles. Heron Island is a breeding ground for both species so if it’s turtles you’ve come to see, you’ve come to the right place.
Walking around the island, Nicky is astounded that you don’t have to be a diver to get the most from your stay at the resort. Rays and sharks rest in the sandy shallows close to shore while the island teems with bird life. At night from the comfort of your barstool you can spot turtles too.
Snorkelling right off the jetty brings its own rewards. Rays, sharks, turtles, tropical fish, sea cucumbers, starfish and plenty of healthy coral. These magical marine encounters are there for anyone who can swim and use a snorkel.
Nicky signs up for every reef activity and dives at every opportunity. Heron Island is her happy place.
The Travel Ideas Wow List 2020 is available now.