With summer over, most of our holiday seasons have also come to a close. Whether you enjoyed a swift city break, or two languid weeks on a far-flung beach, it’s likely that you’ve had your fill of vacationing for the year, and have now conceded to tough it out until the new year.
But wait! With winter fast approaching, a whole new host of destinations have opened up to you. So, to save you from the drudgery of desk work and drizzle, we checked in with our VIP Club luxury travel partner Black Tomato to get the lowdown on where we should be jetting off in the final months of the year.
Go island-hopping across the Maldives
There are few island nations as revered — or worthy of your time — as the Maldives. With over 1,000 islands, each boasting their own brand of blissful relaxation and homegrown luxury, it’s hard to know which paradise to choose.
So now’s your opportunity to take one of the most varied vacations in the world. Spend one night in an overwater villa, and lay your head the next in luxury camp on a private sandbar. Or hop on board your private yacht with a private masseuse, dive master and professional astronomer — trust us, the Maldivian stars are like nothing you’ve ever seen.
Flight time: 11 hours
Top local dish: For breakfast, try Mas huni (shredded smoked fish with grated coconuts and onions)
Best Instagram spot: Reethi Beach in Baa Atoll will get you all the likes
Don’t forget your: Swim shorts. With temperatures still soaring, the waters will still be warm.
Try skiing and sailing your way across Norway’s Fjordland
A ski trip in Norway might sound expected for an end-of-year escape. But trust us, this will be a trip unlike anything you have ever experienced. For one thing, you’ll find yourself skiing in location so remote and untouched that few others have ever laid eyes on them, let alone carved up their powder.
Secondly (and this is the best bit), we’ve found an historic sailing ship that oozes a sense of cutting-edge Scandinavian luxury, on board which you can reach these unnamed peaks. It’s all about skiing, hiking, kayaking and deep-sea fishing — then eating whatever you catch. If you’ve never combined ski and sail before, the Norwegian Fjordlands are just the place to do it.
Flight time: 2 hours
Top local dish: Lutefisk (dried white stockfish with potatoes, pea stew, bacon and gravy)
Best Instagram spot: Hornelen sea cliff, for simply incredible views.
Don’t forget your: Fishing rod. Skiing may be your priority, but set some time aside to fish.
Explore South Africa and Mozambique from bush to beach
We love nothing more than escaping the standard British winter and seeking a new perspective, and nothing offers a starker contrast than heading to South Africa. The perfect destination to combine stripped-back wildlife spotting and coastal relaxation, you also don’t have to skip across any time zones — a win for any of us prone to jet lag…
Why not pitch up in South Africa’s venerated Sabi Sands game reserve, the ideal base from which to see the Big Five in all of Africa. And, after you’ve had your fill of South Africa’s wildlife, hop across to Mozambique and settle in for a stay on Benguerra Island — our favourite island paradise that offers the perfect oceanside compliment to any time in inland Africa.
Flight time: 11 hours
Top local dish: Matapa (stewed cassava leaves blended with ground peanuts, garlic and coconut milk)
Best Instagram spot: Almost anywhere in Kruger National Park, where wildlife abounds.
Don’t forget your: DSLR. We’ll make a wildlife photographer of you yet.
South Africa and Mozambique
Discover the world’s greatest rainforest by private yacht
Rather than surfing for cheap DVDs and the latest hardback, it’s high time you spent some time on the real Amazon. The perfect combination of adventure and relaxation, a jaunt to the Amazonian rainforest combines Latin American discovery with an introduction to survival training in one of the world’s most stripped back environments.
And some of the trips available sound so adventurous they’ll have you hopping on the next plane. Embark on an introduction to jungle survival with a team of Brazilian Army Veterans, or cruise along the river in a luxury yacht. However you decide to enjoy this magnificent destination, ensure you take time to visit hidden jungle lodges and canoe deeper into the mystical forest’s hidden corners.
Flight time: 12 hours
Top local dish: Juane (chicken, rice, olives, hard-boiled egg and turmeric all tightly wrapped in banana leaves)
Best Instagram spot: Iquitos, a traditional town sitting isolated in the middle of the Rainforest.
Don’t forget your: Insect repellant. Not the coolest of tips, but you’ll thank us later.
The Amazon Rainforest
Check out Raja Ampat, Indonesia — with the help of a marine biologist
Indonesia has one of the least explored regions of waters and islands in the world — so what are you waiting for? Be a true pioneer and, if you’re so inclined, do it in luxury. Charter a sumptuous private yacht in this region of South East Asia and discover the most pristine waters, reefs, and archipelagos in the world. And what’s more — you can do it with an expert marine biologist by your side.
They’ll help you get better acquainted with the water below, suit up, lean back and immerse yourself in what is considered the world’s most bio-diverse ecosystem. Stop off on Kofiaru Island — which holds world record for the most amount of species found on any single dive; a staggering 284 — and marvel in just how serene and peaceful such a thriving eco-system can be.
Flight time: 16 hours
Top local dish: Nasi uduk (chicken, boiled eggs and soybean cake with anchovies and melinjo nut crackers)
Best Instagram spot: Cikahuripan, Jawa Barat — for that pensive new profile picture.
Don’t forget your: Philosophical literature, for you’ll never find a more tranquil setting in which to read it.
Want to explore on two wheels? Here are the best motorcycle trips from around the world…