Top destinations... for travel in 2015
Are you curious to know which destinations offer particularly good value or experiences this year? Find out exactly that with our guide.
Hanging bridge, Costa Rica
We are now firmly into 2015 and a whole new year of exciting travel possibilities. So, where should you be thinking about travelling to over the next 11 months? We speak to senior product manager at Cox & Kings Nigel Hosking to find out which destinations offer particularly good value and promising travel prospects this year.
The first destination Nigel recommends is Romania, commenting: "It has a lot to offer, and it's really great value for money this year, and provides an opportunity to do something that's a bit different."
After all, this is the destination that the fictional Count Dracula calls home. You can even visit Bran Castle, which provided the inspiration for the setting of these famous tales of vampires. Interestingly, author Bram Stoker never actually went to Bran Castle or indeed Romania, instead basing Dracula's abode on descriptions of the fortification.
Dracula's Castle, Bran
As well as discovering the country's literary side, you can admire its ancient forests and visit Gura Humorului, where you can see remarkable painted monasteries that rank among Romania's many Unesco World Heritage sites.
In addition to the nation's high-calibre year-round attractions, there are also some fine festivals to attend. Indeed, Nigel stresses that part of the appeal of this year's Romanian itineraries are that some offer the chance to attend evening concerts at the George Enescu Festival. This biannual classical music festival is held in honour of celebrated Romanian composer George Enescu and enjoys international prestige.
Travellers with a particular interest in art might prefer to take the art tour of Romania instead. This follows a similar itinerary (including the chance to attend the George Enescu Festival), but has a stronger artistic focus. The piece de resistance? It will be guided by a lecturer, so you can get the utmost from your trip.
Voronet Monastery, Gura Humorului
Another highlight for 2015 is Namibia, which offers excellent value for money this year. What's more, there is an interesting range of options when it comes to the kinds of tours you can take. Nigel highlights that in addition to the group tour programme, tailor-made adventures with self-drive options and even the thrilling possibility of fly-safaris are available.
Stark, arid landscapes and remarkable wildlife are chief among Namibia's attractions. Destinations such as Etosha National Park are ideal for wildlife spotting. Indeed, in this particular reserve it's possible to view the likes of elephants, leopards and the even rare black rhinos. Also a haven for birdlife, the park plays host to more than 300 avian species and, when the rains come, it is flocked with pink clouds of flamingoes.
Springbok, Etosha National Park
Offering a charming medley of cultural and natural attractions, Sri Lanka is another promising destination for 2015.
"It offers really good value and more hotels have opened up quite recently, which means the rates are much keener," comments Nigel, who enthused about the nation's wonderful wildlife and national parks, which include Yala National Park and the splendid safaris available there.
Yala National Park
Indeed, perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of wildlife spotting in Sri Lanka is the sheer diversity of on offer - leopards, sloth bears and elephants are just some of the remarkable creatures you can hope to see.
Of course, another part of the nation's distinctive appeal is its wealth of cultural attractions, which include the 'cultural triangle' and the chance to visit fascinating archaeological sites, such as the ancient city of Anuradhapura, which is located in the heart of the northern plains or cultural triangle region. Capital from 3 BC to 993 AD, this now-ruined city was once one of the grandest in Asia.
Nigel's next tip for 2015 whisks us to Latin America. Costa Rica offers "great value this year; our rates are excellent", with prices able to stay particularly competitive as there is no need for domestic flights – something that can push up the cost of visiting other Latin American destinations.
Costa Rica is another destination whose attractions are largely nature-based. While there is a variety of wildlife, there are also some truly exciting landscapes – the Arenal Volcano, for instance, is a particularly dramatic feature.
The Monteverde cloud forest is another marvellous place to explore, especially because of its canopy walkways, which allow you to get that little bit closer to the remarkable local flora and fauna. This particular part of the country is home to some stunning butterflies, so be sure to look out for them.
Mixing traditional culture and amazing technological advances, Japan is an absolutely fascinating country. It's also one that has a reputation for being rather expensive to visit, but Nigel reveals that it's set to offer great value in 2015 largely thanks to the exchange rate, which has led to a significant fall in prices.
While Japan is a country that has much to offer throughout the year, Nigel urges travellers to squeeze in a trip in the spring if they can. At this time of year, the cherry blossoms transform destinations such as Tokyo and Kyoto; the scenery is utterly stunning.
Cherry blossoms at Mount Fuji
Of course, there is much of interest at other times of the year too. Nigel enthuses about Kyoto, where you can take part in special tea ceremonies and see gold leaf production – both amazing experiences.
Karnak Temple, in Luxor
Having seen significant social upheaval in recent years, Egypt beginning to regain its popularity among tourists, Nigel says. Again, this is a destination that's set to offer excellent prices over the course of the year, with Nigel highlighting that the Cox & Kings Splendours of Egypt introductory tour is amazing value in particular.
And the allure of Egypt lies not only in its long list of remarkable, unique attractions, but also in the fact that new sites are being discovered all the time. Just last year, a 4,000-year-old tomb of a pharaoh was discovered near Luxor.
Feluccas on the Nile, Aswan
Egypt also offers the additional appeal of luxurious accommodation and wonderful cruises, which are ideal for the traveller looking to mix culture with comfort and indulgence.
Elephant at watering hole
For those keen on further inspiration, Nigel suggests three additional destinations. Zimbabwe is offering particularly good value, while Rio de Janerio and and Singapore both have important anniversaries this year, which will be marked with a series of special events. Rio de Janeiro will be celebrating its 450th anniversary, while Singapore reaches it 50th anniversary of independence.
Where will you travel to this year?
Visit the Cox & Kings website for more inspiration, or call one of our expert tour consultants on 020 7873 5000.
Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de JanieroShare: