Five travel destinations to top 2017 wish-lists

Uros islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru. PIC: PA

Uros islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru. PIC: PA

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Remedy January blues by planning your holidays. Sarah Marshall reveals five destinations to top this year’s wish-lists.

Peru

Machu Picchu has long been Peru’s greatest tourist attraction, but the country’s jungle-swathed mountains conceal many more lost cities.

A new cable car in the north will improve access to Kuelap, a sacred site built by the Chachapoyas from the 6th century – pre-dating the Incas by several centuries.

The 25-minute scenic ride replaces a winding journey along treacherous hairpin roads, to reach temples and conical houses peeping through a misty forest draped with bromeliads.

Plans are also afoot to build a cable car to remote Inca settlement Choquequirao, packaging a two-day trek into a 15-minute journey, prompting Lonely Planet to vote the Sacred Valley site a top place to visit before the car launches in 2018.

Further south, the city of Arequipa, home to mummified Inca princess Juanita, will enjoy greater exposure from May when Belmond launches a new luxury train journey ending in Cusco. The two-night trip on the Andean Explorer sleeper train incorporates a stop at the dizzying 3,800m-high Lake Titicaca, where indigenous Uros people still live on floating islands made from reeds. Visit www.belmond.com

Finland

Next December, Finland celebrates 100 years of independence from the Russian Republic, with celebrations and new openings happening throughout 2017.

The most exciting project is the designation of new national park Hossa, in eastern Finland’s Kainuu region, which will become the outdoor-loving nation’s largest protected nature area.

Hike trails, canoe waterways, or seek out Stone Age rock paintings. Overnight in a cabin or embrace the wilderness by camping; bookings can be made at the Hossa Visitor Centre (www.nationalparks.fi/en/hossavisitorcentre).

Although the woodland setting perfectly matches author Tove Jansson’s whimsical imagination, you won’t bump into any Moomins in Hossa. Instead, head to Tampere, in June, when the newly renovated Moomin Museum opens, showcasing more than 2,000 pieces of memorabilia (muumilaakso.tampere.fi/en).

And everyone is invited to the party from August 25-27, when outdoor tables will be laid across the country for Finland’s ambitious Let’s Eat Together festival (syodaanyhdessa.fi/in-english).

Paphos, Cyprus

Offset hours spent snoozing on a sunlounger by clocking up cultural pursuits in 2017’s balmy European Capital of Culture. Throughout the year, 300 events will be staged against a backdrop of Hellenistic tombs and Roman fortresses in the birthplace of ancient goddess Aphrodite on the island’s south-west coast.

A varied programme will include open-air concerts in the medieval Castle Square, cinema screenings on the beach, dance shows in the street and an art exhibition along the Akamas Peninsula. For more details, visit www.pafos2017.eu

The mosaics of Nea Paphos (Aphrodite’s Sacred City) are rated among the most beautiful in the world and have earned UNESCO World Heritage status. In October, archaeologist Sharon Walker from the British Museum will be hosting a series of workshops about the mosaics at Paphos’ sophisticated beachside Almyra hotel. Rooms cost from £86 per night with breakfast; thanoshotels.com

Madagascar

Revered for its endemic wildlife, most notably the charismatic lemur, this African island, lapped by the Indian Ocean, is benefiting from improved infrastructure and accommodation options.

Managed by Norman Carr Safaris, the new Miavana resort sits on Nosy Ankao, part of a private five-island archipelago off the north-east tip of the mainland. Dissected by lagoons and fringed with reefs, it’s ideally located for observing the island’s marine bio-diversity. Visit between June and November to spot migrating humpback whales. To find out more, see www.timeandtideafrica.com/miavana (the property is due to open early 2017).

A more economical option for exploring Madagascar is G Adventures’ new eight-day Baobab & Tsingy Explorer trip, focussing on the central region and its famous spiky rock formations. The trip costs from £999pp, excluding flights; visit gadventures.com

Santiago, Chile

This month, British Airways launches its longest flight, a 14-hour and 40-minute direct route from London Heathrow to Chilean capital, Santiago. (Flights from £680 return if booked in March; britishairways.com)

Delve into the life of Nobel Prize-winning poet and political activist Pablo Neruda, the subject of new acclaimed art house film – Neruda – starring Gael Garcia Bernal.

Neruda’s three eccentric houses have been transformed into museums; two along the coast in Valparaiso and Isla Negra, and one in Santiago’s Bellavista district.

Visit www.fundacionneruda.org/en for opening times and entry prices.

A 10-minute walk away, across the capital’s fast-flowing Mapocho River, lies trendy area Lastarria, home to new boutique hotel Magnolia.

Built in 1929, the former family home has been restored to its former 
Neo-Gothic glory, with an elegant bar and reading library. Rooms from £145 
including breakfast, visit hotelmagnolia.cl

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