Canoe down the Napo River.
Canoe down the Napo River. Rae Wilson

Hottest travel destinations for 2012

WHETHER it's a cultural sojourn, a spiritual recharge, an enlightening wildlife encounter or maybe an active adventure, A&K's Hot List for 2012 has the latest up-and-coming travel destinations.

A&K Australia managing director Sujata Raman said A&K have been busy researching new and interesting destinations.

"We are delighted to present this exciting collection of destinations that we have identified as being the next 'big things' in the coming 12 months."


The longest river in the world (7,000km), flowing through the heart of a rainforest which covers over a billion acres, the Amazon offers one of the world's truly unforgettable wilderness experiences. In Peru, the river system represents an astonishing 60% of the entire country and is best experienced aboard one of A&K's two luxury cruise ships - MV Aqua or MV Aria, where naturalist guides can point out the extraordinary wildlife and natural phenomena of the area.


Classic cars, the world's best cigars, captivating music and dance and a vast array of colonial attractions - these are just some of the reasons to visit Cuba. Discover your inner Hemmingway and immerse yourself in the bygone style and romance of Havana, drink in the green tobacco landscapes of Trinidad, the mountain ranges of Sierra Escambra and soak up the sun on Cuba's pristine white beaches.


One of the world's last great travel frontiers, mention of Mongolia evokes images of yurts, wild horsemen, nomads and dramatic landscapes little changed from the reign of its most famous son, Genghis Khan in the 12th Century. The exotic attractions of this little visited destination are myriad and in 2012 A&K is launching a small group journey to Mongolia focused around the famous Naadam Festival in Ulaan Baatar, where the nation's best athletes compete against one another in contests of archery, horse racing and wrestling.


Beautiful, peaceful and unspoilt, Myanmar's ancient culture, wonderful monuments, friendly people, a strong textile and handicraft tradition and Buddhist festivals aplenty will appeal to every south-east Asia aficionado. Natural wonders are abundant too, from the majestic Ayeyarwady River at the country's heart and the Inle Lake through to little visited areas like Mrauk U on the west coast and the beaches of the far south.


Boasting more of the world's highest mountains than any other country, Nepal is justly renowned for its beautiful Himalayan scenery, its medieval architecture and charming rural villages where Buddhism and Hinduism have flourished side by side for centuries. For your chance to experience a different Nepal - and some awesome wildlife in particular - searching for the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger from atop an elephant is also hard to beat.


For those seeking to go beyond the traditional delights of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the dazzling temple architecture at the ancient site of Hampi in East India is the latest star in India's constellation of World Heritage listed sites. Be among the first to visit this astonishingly rich and vast collection of temple complexes and shrines sprawled across the Deccan Plateau, some dating as far back as the 15th century, and prepare to be astounded.


One of Europe's most intriguing and fascinating destinations, Russia offers up a profusion of historic monuments and cultural attractions. Witness the extraordinary architectural contrasts of Moscow where Soviet-era construction sits alongside edgy futuristic edifices, and don't miss the famous Onion domes of St. Basil's and Red Square. For galleries, museums and grand designs, St Petersburg is where it's at. And if you're there between May and July, the famous White Night's Arts Festival is in full swing.


Home of the famous Serengeti, Tanzania will appeal to both first-time visitors to Africa and seasoned travellers alike. Its rich and diverse attractions include world class game viewing, extensive archaeological sites, Africa's highest mountain and its deepest lake, as well as colourful tribes and dazzling white sand beaches. And the Great Wildebeest migration which forges its way through the Serengeti in June - July and October - November is a truly unforgettable experience.


Quaint historic villages, idyllic seaside towns, pristine national parks, fine food and wine and an extensive range of exquisite boutique accommodation make Tasmania a unique and fascinating short haul getaway.  It is also home to the thought provoking Museum of Old & New Art (MONA) and Australia's newest super luxury lodge, Saffire at Freycinet National Park.


Known as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is an unexpected delight. Best known for its population of the endangered mountain gorilla, a spell at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp offers you one of the best chances of an encounter with this extraordinary primate. There are also chimpanzees and, in Queen Elizabeth National Park, a high density of plains game and predators.

>> Read more travel stories.

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