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It’s time to start planning travel groups for 2018, 2019, and yes, even 2020. Goway’s top “hot” destinations will certainly not disappoint the group traveller wanting a good mix of culture, history, fascinating natural landscapes, culinary delights, and of course, unique activities to satisfy everyone’s interests. From cuddling koalas in Australia to standing in awe of ancient archeological wonders, the world awaits the ‘Globetrotting Groupie.’
The land of the “Long White Cloud” is a group traveller’s dream destination. What’s not to like? Cruising Auckland Harbour – one of the most beautiful in the world, strolling along fern-laden trails in a multitude of national parks, watching the playful antics of dolphins in stunning Milford Sound, sipping wine at a welcoming cellar door, or listening to the stories of the Maoris with bubbling mud and spouting geysers as your backdrop. Best of all, when the snow is falling in North America, summer hits its glorious peak in New Zealand.
Another dream destination from Downunder, Australia is an evergreen favourite of group travellers year-round. A group adventure here might mean snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, cruising Sydney Harbour (Auckland has serious competition!) watching a glorious sunset over Ayers Rock, searching for koalas, kangaroos, and wombats in the wild, listening to the stories of the Dreamtime with an Aboriginal Elder, savoring fresh delicacies from the sea, or sampling fine wine perfectly chilled from the bottle. And like New Zealand, Australia offers sublime warm weather for those needing to escape the northern cold.
As the fastest growing group destination in South America, Ecuador has much to offer, either as part of a South America tour, or as a stand-alone destination. The Galapagos Islands are undoubtedly its stars, and a must-see inclusion on any Ecuador group itinerary. The islands are blessed with a temperate climate and offer a multitude of unique experiences including expedition cruising, snorkeling, diving, and immersion into the natural history of the region. Beyond the Galapagos, Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest beckons with jungle lodges and cloud forests. The Andes also stand tall, demanding innovative transportation such as the mountain switchback track of the Devils Nose Railway. This peerless rail journey will amaze even the most seasoned group traveller, as will the colonial towns of Cuenca, and the capital, Quito. If the coast or big cities are a draw, be sure to include the modern, bustling city of Guayquil, located on the Pacific Coast.
Increased accessibility from North America, a remote location, and well-preserved culture and landscapes all come together to put Iceland at number four on our list of fastest growing group destinations. Of course, having provided locations for the wildly popular TV series Game of Thrones hasn’t hurt either. The tiny capital of Reykjavik is Iceland’s largest city and gateway to a land filled with rugged, snow-capped mountain ranges, glistening glaciers, dramatic volcanic peaks, and a multitude of geothermal springs. Summer is the most popular time to visit, with milder temperatures and a sun that barely sets. But don’t dismiss the winter season, when the Northern Lights come out, the Brennivin is flowing, and Iceland’s thermal spas go from ‘popular attraction’ to ‘oh blessed and decadent fountain of warmth.’
The days of excruciatingly long coach rides designed to pack in as many ‘sights’ as possible in the shortest period of time are rapidly disappearing. Today’s well-informed, active travellers want to immerse themselves in a country’s culture. There’s no better place to do this than the Emerald Isle. With so many layers of history and the kinds of cultural identities only Ireland can create, group travellers can enjoy a bountiful feast of activities and experiences. History buffs can relive the span from medieval times through the Georgian and Victorian periods right up to the relatively recent ‘troubles.’ For a sense of whimsy and fun, delve into the traditional folklore of fairies, fables, ghosts and ghouls. A faith-based trip might uncover the fascinating monastic settlements and churches of times past, while the nature lover can walk or cycle the green trails, or stand in awe on a wild coastal cliff. Foodies aren’t left out either enjoying the hearty, flavorful foods and warm spirits that are iconic to this special country.
South Africa is made for groups. The country offers a kaleidoscope of experiences both cultural/historical and nature-based. From the battlefields of the Boer War to the struggle for freedom from apartheid; from the traditions of the native South Africans to the unique traditions of the Cape Malay, Indians, and Afrikaners; from the stunning coastal regions to the high mountains to the famous game parks and wildlife, South Africa’s stunning array of experiences will not disappoint any group traveller. Walk in the footsteps of Mandela, become an “elephant whisperer” in Kruger, enjoy pampering in one of the many exclusive Game Lodges, sip, sniff, and swirl in wine country, or just relax in the sheer beauty of the Garden Route.
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