Turkey, crackers, bad festive television and the Coca Cola commercial: the Great British Christmas is perfectly predictable and we love it. But this year why not opt for a change? Here are a few of the places you could find yourself on an Explore trip this Christmas Day. It’s not too late to book your escape…
Fly out the UK to begin your tour a few days before Christmas, travelling from the capital of Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, where you’ll glide leisurely through the fascinating floating villages of stilt houses and colourful markets. Your trip continues to the Angkor temples, where you can watch one of the world’s most magnificent sunsets over the former kingdom of Khmer kings, now reclaimed by the surrounding jungle.
Cuba’s beautiful, tropical landscapes make a captivating backdrop for a drive across the island. On Christmas Day you’ll leave the capital, Havana, to travel to the colonial town of Trinidad, stopping en route to visit the Bay of Pigs Museum. Learning about the infamous invasion, you’ll then explore the seaport of Cienfuegos with a walking tour, hopping back on the bus to enjoy the mountain and Caribbean views on the way to your homestay.
On a journey around Guatemala and Honduras you’re likely to spot lots of the local handicrafts, such as brightly-coloured woven blankets. A trip to Solola Market offers the perfect opportunity to pick some locally-produced goods up to take home, and is a colourful stop off point on your way to the Spanish colonial city of Antigua. Instead of the Nativity story, listen to your Explore Leader’s explanations of the pre-Columbian ruins at Iximche.
If only an Indian Ocean hideaway will do, an island-hopping trip around the Seychelles is the perfect solution. Leave Mahe on board a catamaran (keep an eye out for dolphins) and set sail for Praslin, one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever spend Christmas Day. Take a walk around the local village before spending the rest of the day how you wish – relaxing on the beach or checking out the pool, perhaps. Christmas Day will never be the same again.
Leaving on the 23 December, this trip to Colombia offers a very different view of Christmas. You’ll be staying in the capital, Bogota, where you’ll take a cable car up to the top of Mount Monserrate for a stunning vantage point over the city – weather dependant (a white Christmas is extremely unlikely here). You’ll then board a plane for a short internal flight to Popoyan, one of the country’s most beautiful and well-preserved historic towns.
For a Christmas to remember, you can’t get more spectacular than spending two weeks discovering the incredible scenery of Patagonia. Ticking off two countries on one trip (Argentina and Chile), you’ll get to visit Buenos Aires, Tierra del Fuego and the Torres del Paine. Christmas Day will see you spending the day at the spectacular Perito Moreno glacier, where you can trek on the ice itself or take a boat ride up close to the glacier face.
A night on a houseboat in the tranquil backwaters of Southern India has become a right of passage for any visitor to Kerala. On Christmas day you’ll wake up on day nine of your trip in the beautiful backwaters, drifting along the river on board a traditional houseboat. Disembarking for your drive to Thekkady, you’ll hop on a bus to travel through the countryside, with the chance to stop off at colourful markets en route.
Over half way through your discovery of Thailand you’ll find yourself immersed in the lush jungles of Khao Sok National Park, one of the most biodiverse wildernesses in South East Asia. Spend your Christmas Day relaxing at the jungle lodge where you can swim in a nearby river, or opt for the optional activity of kayaking. You might get to spot monkeys coming down from the canopy to drink at the water’s edge.
What more romantic a setting to spend Christmas with a loved one than viewing the spectacular marble mausoleum of the Taj Mahal? An early morning train from Jaipur to Agra sees you arrive in the chaotic city with plenty of time to plan your own afternoon activities: we’d highly recommend using the time to see the Taj Mahal at sunset, when the fading light turns the glowing marble a golden hue.
On Christmas Eve you’ll board a comfortable houseboat in the Okavango Delta, where you’ll go to sleep to the sounds of the river and the animals that live in the surrounding bush. Waking up in the middle of a wildlife-rich reserve means your Christmas Day could be spent in the company of hippos, crocodiles and elephants – a far cry from your relatives! Keep an eye out for local fishermen on boat dugout canoes, and don’t miss the evening sundowner.
With its petrified forest, strange pyramids, tombs and temples, the Nubian Desert is a quirky place to spend Christmas. On day seven of your journey through the incredibly welcoming country of Sudan you’ll experience Christmas in the desert, walking to the summit of Jebel Barkal for sunrise (optional, if you’d prefer a lie in), and sunset. What better way to toast your Christmas in the sun than with a view of the magnificent River Nile?
Spend Christmas Day morning walking through the mogotes and tobacco fields of Vinales and admire the lush vegetation, stark limestone and deep red soils. You’ll learn how the tobacco is grown and harvested to make the country’s celebrated cigars, with the afternoon free to relax and enjoy a very different Christmas Dinner to what you’d receive at home. Pay a visit to the small botanical garden or join your Explore Leader for another walk through the surrounding farmland.
Have you always dreamed of spending Christmas somewhere special? If it’s not on our list of inspiring escapes above, why not give us a call to find out if we can make your dreams a reality? If there isn’t a small group departure to suit, there’s always our Tailormade team…