Here are a few gift ideas you may not have considered this holiday season like a cooking lesson in an Italian castle, A wildlife safari in Tanzania, A stay in an 18th-century Brazilian farmhouse surrounded by pristine tropical forests and quartzite canyons.
The gift of travel is like no other; it draws together exploration, exhilaration, and inspiration, and resonates for a whole lifetime. Check out these diverse experiences for your holiday gift list.
1. FOR THE EUROPEAN HISTORY BUFF: THE DANUBE
To sail the Danube is to glide through centuries of European history, encountering Baroque palaces, Gothic cathedrals, medieval castles, and Roman ruins. Aboard the Scenic Amber, ports of call include Budapest, Vienna, Regensburg, Bratislava, and the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley—and you can choose from a whole host of excursions at every stop. Over the holidays, a special Christmas market cruise celebrates the traditions of the season in five different countries.
2. FOR THE NATURE LOVER WITH AN INDEPENDENT STREAK: COSTA RICA
Howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, iridescent morpho butterflies, and sloths are just a few of the species you’re bound to encounter while ensconced in three pristine Costa Rican rain forests. On a trip for just you and the companions you choose, raft the Pacuare River, follow naturalists through the Osa Peninsula, and cross the hanging bridges beneath Arenal Volcano.
3. FOR THE ADVENTURE SEEKER: AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
This 22-day trip takes a big bite out of your Down Under travel list, combining the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and the outback, wine tasting in Melbourne, and a cruise in Sydney Harbor. And that’s just in Australia. Head to New Zealand where glacier treks, glowworm caves, Maori villages, and gorgeous fjords await.
4. FOR THE FAMILY LOOKING TO MAKE LASTING MEMORIES: FRANCE
It is possible to steer clear of the beaten path on a family vacation in France. This adventure will have you and your loved ones kayaking under the Pont du Gard, baking pastries with a Parisian chef, picnicking among lavender fields at a private farm in Provence, and peering into the studio of artist Paul Cézanne.
5.FOR THE WILD AT HEART: TANZANIA
Whether you’re in search of lions or lovebirds, wildebeestsor warthogs, Tanzania’s national parks offer up amazing wildlife everywhere you look. Go on safari in three legendary wilderness areas, get to know Maasai culture, and stay in a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World set on the wildebeest migration path.
6. FOR THOSE HAPPIEST IN A WETSUIT AND FINS: POLYNESIA
Flung across the Pacific just to the west of the international date line, the southern Line Islands are surrounded by some of the healthiest reefs in the world. From Tahiti, hop your way from atoll to island to turquoise lagoon aboard the National Geographic Orion, snorkeling or diving amid dazzling corals along the way.
<4>7. FOR THE SOUL-SEARCHING TREKKER: SPAIN
Hike in the footsteps of pilgrims and solace-seekers on the ancient Camino de Santiago, stopping to visit UNESCO-listed cathedrals and Gaudí masterpieces, staying in historic paradors, and tasting Spanish wines at a local bodega.
8. FOR THE EQUESTRIAN IN SEARCH OF A HIDDEN GEM: BRAZIL
A few hours north of the Rio de Janeiro, there’s a place where the rich ecosystem of the Atlantic Forest meets a wild landscape of deep canyons, copper-colored natural pools, and mountaintop beaches made of crushed quartz. Stay in a centuries-old farmhouse set among organic gardens and striking art installations, and go hiking and horseback riding to secluded spots within this rare wilderness.
9. FOR THE ART-ADDICTED FOODIE: ITALY
If you’re looking for great art and great food, Italy is a natural choice, but this trip gets you closer to the source: Gaze at Titians and Tintorettos while visiting famous museums after hours, tour Florence’s Uffizi with an art historian, and roll up your sleeves for a cooking lesson in a Tuscan castle.
10. FOR THE TEEN ASPIRING TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER: YOSEMITE AND SAN FRANCISCO
What better place to learn how to take beautiful photographs than a national park immortalized by Ansel Adams? High school students get their pick of subjects during a workshop that starts in San Francisco with photo shoots at Alcatraz and Chinatown before heading for the granite domes of Yosemite. They’ll work on their artistic vision and technique alongside a National Geographic photographer, and then show their best images at a gallery opening in San Francisco.