Rocking all over the World: Our travels this year

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This year was all about the world finally being open again. And Team HA were ready to take full advantage of it! From ziplining through the Costa Rican cloud forest and sleeping under the stars in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert, to trekking through the emerald tea terraces in northern Vietnam and a wildlife-packed safari honeymoon in South Africa. Our team’s been busy this year.

Here’s where we’ve been…

Erin, Vietnam

“This year I’ve been lucky enough to spend three weeks over in beautiful Vietnam. It’s almost impossible to whittle it down to just a few best bits, but a highlight of my trip was definitely cycling through the mountainous district of Lao Chai up in the north of the country. The views of the neat and endless rice terraces framed by the rugged mountains were truly spectacular.

In contrast, another highlight of my trip was whizzing through the bustling streets of Saigon on the back of a Vespa, indulging in Vietnam’s culinary culture amongst the locals at various street stalls and restaurants. A thrilling and truly unforgettable experience! Overall, it was the warmth and friendliness of the culturally rich nation which captured my heart on this trip, everyone I met along the way greeted me with infectious smiles, beautiful music and delicious food.” 

Ian, Jordan

“Walking, cooking, jeep touring (and a bit of relaxing thrown in of course!); my trip to Jordan was a bit of everything rolled into one! I started off exploring the impressive ancient city of Jerash, before heading down to the capital, Amman, where I enjoyed an immersive cooking course with a local family. This was such an authentic experience and the perfect introduction to Jordanian culture!

Then it was time to venture into the desert via a very windy Mount Nebo and head to the stunning Memories Aicha Luxury Camp, for a night under the stars. The silence was something else, and there’s nothing quite like waking up to the rumbles of a desert thunderstorm to start your day! Adventuring around the sands of the Wadi Rum and channeling my inner Lawrence of Arabia in the back of a jeep was a real highlight of my Jordan adventure for sure. But, an experience that can’t be beaten; Petra. My guided tour was fantastic and I made it up the 900 steps up to the Monastery (with the help of a lot of water – it really is crucial in that heat!). My trip ended with a walk around Kerak Castle and a relaxing float in the Dead Sea.”

Cat, South African honeymoon

Our Cat’s adventure this year was an exceptionally special one – it was her honeymoon! A huge congratulations to her and Ian on their marriage, what a way to celebrate it!

“It had been a long time coming, but finally I returned to South Africa and this time it was for mine and my husband’s honeymoon. Ian has never been to Africa before, and with my love of all things wildlife and the great outdoors, we headed to the KwaZulu-Natal region. Our adventure started with 4-nights at Makakatana Bay Lodge in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. We not only got to experience an introduction to the wildlife of South Africa, but we were treated to some of the best food I have ever tasted, all enjoyed around the roaring campfire.

Next we travelled onto the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and spent three wonderful days on safari. The wildlife sightings were so special, we couldn’t tear ourselves away – so added another 2-night safari at the Nambiti Private Game Reserve – it was our honeymoon after all… why not aye!). Finally, our trip of a lifetime ended with three nights in the Drakensberg mountains where we climbed through the Highmoor Nature reserve and hiked up to the San Rock art of the Kamberg Nature reserve.

South Africa was every bit the perfect honeymoon destination… and I’m pleased to report that my husband is already desperate to return!”

Louise, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of my favourite countries in the whole world, so of course, I jumped at the chance to return. There were so many amazing moments, but here are a few top bits…

The wildlife encounters: We saw a wild ocelot in Arenal! These cats are insanely rare and the excited look on our guide’s face was priceless. I also had an unforgettable run-in with two cheeky white-faced capuchin monkeys, opening the door to my room one morning to come face-to-face with a mumma and her baby. The birdlife in this country never fails to amaze me either. We saw so many colourful toucans, the hooligans of the bird world apparently – who knew!?

The adventures: I love an adrenaline rush, so was first up to zipline through the cloud forest. There was even a free-fall jump at the end… I just had to go for it (and managed to persuade the rest of the group to do it too!) – What a rush! Simply bobbing about in the sea definitely has to have a place on the list. Boasting a year-round temperature of 29°C, it’s basically just one giant bath!

The people: Last but certainly not least, there are just amazing Ticos everywhere you turn in Costa Rica. From the fabulous guides in the lodges, to gorgeous Elida at Chayote Lodge who taught us how to cook a traditional casado in her home.

I can’t wait to return again!”

Emma, Morocco

I was lucky enough to return to Morocco this year for my fourth journey through this wonderful country. I travelled from Marrakesh and the Atlas in the south, all the way through the lush oasis, out to ride camels in the Sahara (serious bucket list moment!), up to the twisting labyrinth of Fez medina, and around the misty, mountainous north, including the blue-hued town of Chefchaouen. It really filled my heart to go on an incredible adventure again after such a long time of no travel! Morocco is just as beautiful as it’s always been, the people are so excited to have travellers back in their country, and there are smiles at every turn here.

Kirsty, a family holiday to South Africa

“After a three-year break we finally made it back to South Africa for a quick half-term break in October. After catching up with friends and family we headed to the Champagne Castle region of the Drakensberg Mountains. This was a very active three days as we enjoyed zip-lining, a downhill monster scooter tour and a via ferrata. This area is superb for active families with so much to entertain all ages, and stunning scenery to boot. We ended with a final two nights on our first family guided safari (much easier to book now that our youngest has turned six!) We stayed on the private Nambiti Game Reserve, which was just beautiful. South Africa wouldn’t always be the first thought for a quick getaway, but all of this was possible within driving distance of Johannesburg Airport, so no pesky domestic flights to take up time. Plus, with no jet lag to tackle either, it was the perfect family escape from the autumnal UK weather.

Rebecca, the Maldives

“How could anyone not have a whale of a time in the Maldives? I was lucky enough to visit again this year on a group familiarisation trip run by Siyam Resorts – another BIG thank you to them! My 10-day trip took me to four different island resorts (travelling in true James Bond style by speedboat and seaplane of course) each of which was fabulous in its own right. Whether you’re after romance or a little bit of a buzz, there’s an island in this archipelago for you. There are far too many highlights to condense into a short paragraph, but sliding down my water villa’s very own slide into the glistening ocean is most definitely up there! Alongside the amazing food and wine (I think I want my breakfast served floating in a swimming pool forever more), the top-notch snorkelling and paddle-boarding the unfaultable service and dreamy spas. You can read more about my adventure here, where I go into much more detail about which hotels are best for honeymooners, families and those looking to keep busy in paradise! Bottom line, if you’ve always fancied the Maldives, I highly recommend you go for it… it really is just as special as they say.”

Fenton, Vietnam

“It was so great to get back to Vietnam after so long – I’d never get bored of it. Always far too many highlights to list, but heading off the main tourist route to Pù Luông Nature Reserve was brilliant. It’s a great place for hiking if that’s your thing. The Saigon evening Vespa trip is the most fun you can have I think, possibly anywhere. It’s a brilliant way to see the city (with food, rooftop bars, live music venues thrown in, too!). Travelling in November, there were incongruous Christmas decorations everywhere and we were subjected to Xmas tunes every day. This does have the added benefit of me returning to the UK feeling more festive than I ever have in November though. My top tip? Vietnamese coffee is incredible, (not so good for your calorie intake, but utterly worth every sip).

Gabby, Costa Rica

I was SO chuffed when I found out I was off to Costa Rica for nearly three whole weeks. We covered an awful lot and I spent the flight home mentally planning when I could return. The sheer amount of wildlife is verging on ridiculous – everywhere you look a tree is wobbling from the weight of a monkey swinging about or a Toucan taking a rest. From sloth tours in Arenal where we spotted EIGHT of the snoozy animals to floating in beautiful natural hot springs, ziplining through the cloud forest, coming face to face with a wild ocelot in the Mystico National Park (such a pinch-myself moment!), eating some incredible food – (I’m still dreaming of the fresh ceviche!) and bobbing about off a beach that looked like it was taken straight from Robinson Crusoe in the Osa Peninsula. All of this magic is capped off by the Costa Rican people. Ticos just radiate such genuine warmth and friendliness, I don’t think I passed a single person who didn’t smile and say hello. This is such a special place, can I go back now, please? Pura Vida!”

Where will 2023 take you?

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