The situation surrounding 'air bridges' and quarantine* remains pretty unclear at the moment, meaning short-term travel is still very much up in the air (excuse the pun). Suffice to say, when the rules do change we've got some clever itinerary ideas up our sleeves. Looking further ahead, we believe that a year hence travel will have returned to at least a modicum of normality, and that's pretty convenient because some of the greatest travel experiences in the world need booking way in advance. These fleeting experiences in inaccessible places mean planning way ahead is not just advisable, it's essential. So, if ever the maxim: 'always have a trip booked so you've got something to look forward to' applied, it's now - even if that trip is in 2021. Here are four of our all-time favourite travel experiences, all of which need nailing down now if you want to go next year. They could be classed as travel clichés, but they're clichés for very good reasons. And, as ever, Original Travel's take on these trips will make them even more memorable.
(*We're proud to have been one of the key travel industry signatories to this week's letter to the Home Secretary requesting the ill-thought through two-week quarantine be abandoned. While the quarantine remains in place for now, watch this space.)
The Great Migration, Tanzania and Kenya
One of the most iconic of all travel experiences, the Great Migration sees one million plus wildebeest and zebras perpetually wheeling through the Serengeti and Masai Mara (in Tanzania and Kenya respectively) in search of fresh grazing grounds, with predators in hot pursuit.
'The climax of the action takes place in July and August,' says safari specialist Charlotte, 'when the famous river crossings take place and giant crocs feast on a few unfortunate wildebeest. But there is already only very little availability in the tiny tented camps for next summer! The good news is that the migration is a continuous annual event, and not just about peak season. We work with the best mobile camps, which move seasonally following the migration, so by definition you stay in remote spots with expert guides to enjoy the very best safari in total solitude.'
Cherry Blossom Season, Japan
Cherry blossom season is the prime time to visit Japan, with millions of cherry trees bursting into bloom across the nation's islands signalling that spring has officially sprung. It's an obviously great time to take in the highlights of Honshu (Japan's main island), such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone, but we'd recommend a twist on this classic because availability in the best hotels and ryokan traditional inns is at a premium, and prices go up accordingly.
'Head instead to the northern island of Hokkaido,' says Head of Asia, Jacqui, 'where the blossom season is a few weeks later (around the end of April/beginning of May) because Hokkaido is at a more northerly latitude. This means that when you then go to Tokyo and Kyoto it's less busy. That said, don't ignore Hokkaido's own charms at this time of year, such as killer whale and bear watching boat trips around Shiretoko Peninsula in early May.'
The Northern Lights, Swedish Lapland
One of the greatest natural phenomena of them all, the Northern Lights are reason enough to head north to Swedish Lapland, but while you're there, make the most of this wild and sparsely populated natural playground to indulge in some of our favourite activities.
'Lapland locals like to talk about the region's eight seasons,' says Europe expert Kate, 'so while winter is an absolute winner for the Northern Lights thanks to longer nights, they are visible from as early in the year as late August, when you can also add in a spot of foraging. In winter, mushing your own team of huskies through snow-clad forests to a remote cabin and then seeing the colourful shifting waves of the aurora borealis in the night sky is the dream. This winter, there are also new direct flights to Lulea in Lapland from London for the first time, making it even easier to enjoy an Arctic adventure. The sweet spot months are March and April, when the nights are still long and you can dog-sled, snowshoe and snowmobile, but it's not so cold.'
Semana Santa (Holy Week), Mexico and Guatemala
Semana Santa - the week leading up to Easter - is the perfect time to appreciate the remarkable synthesis of Catholic ceremony with more ancient (mainly Mayan) traditions in Mexico and Guatemala. The celebrations, which include elaborate processions and pageantry, are extremely impressive in Merida, the old colonial capital of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and Antigua in Guatemala, another colonial-era gem.
'But if you want to experience things in a less crowded environment,' explains Latin America expert Oliver, 'then the more rural and less-visited parts of Mexico such as the state of Chiapas might appeal. Stay in a charming hotel with a garden in the pretty hillside town of San Cristobal de las Casas for Semana Santa and then tread the path less trodden at Mayan ruins Palenque and Yaxchilan, two of the finest Mayan cities in the country, but with a fraction of the visitors at sites like Chichen Itza and Tulum. Even more remote is the dramatic Copper Canyon region in Chihuahua where you can join the Tarahumara tribe (famous for their long-distance running skills) to celebrate Holy Week and Easter.'