1. Take a soul safari in SA’s Slowveld. The South African lowveld (or the “Slowveld”, as it’s fondly dubbed) has some of the greatest game-viewing in the country, as well as some of the most luxurious bushveld palaces. One is Garonga Safari Camp, set on the bend of a dry riverbed. It’s not unusual to see elephants while you’re having breakfast, or herds of zebra with your evening cocktails. Pioneered by Garonga, the soul safari is where the great outdoors meets inner peace: think game drives combined with massages, reflective walks and natural inspiration.
2. Sail the bay of Waikiki in Hawaii. Hop aboard one of the chartered yachts that sail this glorious bay frequented by the rich and beautiful in the mid-Pacific. Oahu is part of the Hawaiian island chain and home to the island’s capital, Honolulu, where you can explore fabulous, historic Chinatown, lovely beaches, botanical gardens and, of course, Waikiki’s iconic beach, dining and nightlife area. Take a sunset sail for glorious views of Diamond Heat Mountain and the Honolulu cityscape.
3. Walk the walk in New York. Let’s face it, the Big Apple is the world’s sexiest city. Buy a subway pass so you can hop on and off to explore this giant, crazy megalopolis. Wander around Central Park, stroll through Prospect Park in Brooklyn, explore the graffiti in Williamsburg and, for the ultimate skyscraper experience, head to Manhattan – home of the Rockefeller Centre and the incredible Museum of Modern Art with more than 2 000 masterpieces by over 10 000 artists, including more Picasso, Rousseau and Matisse.
4. Stroll hand-in-hand through historic Ilha de Moҫambique. This is romance central – with a combination of history, culture and style. With its heady mix of Swahili, Arab, Portuguese, Dutch and Indian influences, the entire island off the East Coast is a Unesco World Heritage Site because of its unique buildings, constructed from coral rock. Stone Town is amazing – think narrow corridors, thick-walled, high-ceilinged houses with shuttered double-volume rooms and interior courtyards. Do the ultimate romance combo: start off at Jardim dos Aloes in Stone Town, a charming Afro-Mediterranean guesthouse perfectly placed to explore the town. Then take a dhow to beautiful Coral Lodge, which is quiet, chic and super-soulful.
5. Drink a Tom Yum cocktail in Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong. It’s actually a Thai invention, but this sexy Asian cocktail contains vodka, rum, lemongrass, lime, chilli and spices to rock your socks off. This Hong Kong district buzzes with clubs, delis, bistros, bars and restaurants and is a must-do for global party-goers – offering everything from jelly shots to rarefied wine pairings. Home to nearly 100 haunts, it’s a centre of late-night revelry and renowned as much for its dominance in Asian cinema as for its celeb expat revellers. Find a street-side perch for people-watching or head to one of the upper floors for aerial views of this famous playground.
6. Swim at Likoma Island in Malawi. The whole of Lake Malawi is a World Heritage Site because of its unique habitat and biodiversity – and Likoma Island is a quiet and beautiful spot from which to enjoy the surroundings. There are no hippos or crocs on these shores and the sunsets are outrageous. When you fly to Likoma, Tanzania’s ahead of you, Mozambique’s to the right, Zambia’s to the left and Malawi’s below. Stay at charming Kawa Maya, a series of designer houses overlooking the lake. The island is charming, with a cathedral built in 1903, a gentle sprawl of villages, a colourful weekly mercado (market) and lovely old baobabs.
7. Eat sushi and drink beer in the Faroe Islands, Scandinavia. Set in the heart of the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic, the remote archipelago of the 18 Faroe Islands lies north-west of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway, and is famed for its scenery and cuisine. Tórshavn is one of the world’s smallest capitals and home to the new Nordic food movement, where you’ll find the best sushi in the world, they say. Or enjoy avant garde cuisine along with a large selection of Faroese beer, reputed to be among the best in the world. The 125-year-old prize-winning Føroya Bjór, one of Scandinavia’s oldest breweries, together with Okkara, are just two breweries at the forefront of developing a small niche market of beers containing rhubarb, angelica and other herbs.
8. Take your ears to Haus der Musik in Vienna, Austria. Haus der Musik – or the Museum of Music – is in the historic palace of Archduke Karl in the old city centre. There are six floors of interactive musical adventures – and headsets are your guides. Observe the great composers, look over their shoulders as they work, confront the greatest musicians of our own time, peer into the future with digital music and create your own.
9. Listen to opera in the Amazon. Teatro Amazonas, or the Manaus Opera House, is in the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. No expense was spared in its construction at the height of the rubber boom in the late 19th century, when Manaus was a byword for luxury. Think marble from Italy, iron from Glasgow and 198 chandeliers of Murano glass – plus a newly restored gold dome edifice. The theatre holds regular recitals, rock concerts and art exhibitions. Many great performers have stood on its stage, including composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, who appeared in 1911, ballerina assoluta Margot Fonteyn and Spanish tenor José Carreras, who performed in 1996 to celebrate the theatre’s centenary.
10. Stay in a floating hotel in a Thai rainforest. Cheow Charn Lake is deep in the rainforest of Khao Sok National Park, in southern tropical Thailand, about three hours from Phuket. This long-conserved and largely untouched park is 600km2 of impenetrable jungle. Think warm rain, great jungle-clad hills with limestone faces, tropical palms, curling vines, trumpet-shaped flowers and a green canopy of creepers draped over a forest of ancient trees. Elephant Hills combines a floating hotel experience – your room bobs gently on emerald waters – with a luxury jungle adventure.
This in an edited version of the story that first featured in the December 2015 issue of Sawubona magazine. Download here.