PERU

While the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu top many travelers’ bucket lists, it sometimes eclipses the entire country of Peru as a “must-see” destination. This South American nation has so many fascinating treasures, both natural and cultural, outside of that famed mountain.

The modern city of Lima is filled with great architecture, culture, shopping, museums, history and delicious dining. In recent years, the food scene has exploded in Peru and goes far beyond the ubiquitous ceviche. The beaches of Peru are unparalleled, and a visit to Lake Titicaca gives visitors a glimpse into the area’s indigenous heritage and current way of life.

Of course, the archeological wonders of the Sacred Valley are spectacular. There are many ways to experience their beauty and mystery, and an experienced travel professional will find the opportunity best suited for each traveler’s preferences.

FUN TRAVEL FACT: Traditional weavings are a popular souvenir. It is estimated it takes up to 600 hours to spin, dye and weave a traditional Peruvian poncho. Peruvians are generally given one poncho upon entering adulthood, and it is expected to last a lifetime.

JAPAN

Tourism to Japan is exploding; the number of travelers has doubled in the last few years as people learn that a visit to this small island country can combine ancient culture with magnificent natural landscapes and dazzling modernity.

As capital, Tokyo is probably the best known city, but Kyoto might be Japan’s heart and soul. One of the best preserved cities,  Kyoto offers approximately 2000 Buddhist temples and shrines, along with wonderful gardens, dining and shopping. Japan is also a nature-lover’s paradise, from the view of Mt Fuji, to the gorgeous sakura blossoms and the magnificent Arashiyama bamboo grove.

The opportunities to immerse yourself in Japanese culture are abundant. Make sure you arrange to learn a traditional craft, take a cooking class, engage in a samurai sword lesson or get fitted for a silk kimono to truly have an authentic Japanese experience.

FUN TRAVEL FACT: It is appropriate to slurp noodles, especially soba (buckwheat), when eating in Japan. Slurping indicates the dish is delicious. It also cools down the hot noodles!

MOROCCO

Morocco is quickly emerging as a fascinating destination for everyone. Adventurers, history buffs, and anyone that loves mouth-watering cuisine should consider this small nation of stunning vistas and wilderness.

Marrakesh is probably the top destination in Morocco, boasting thousand-year-old mosques and palaces alongside a sophisticated restaurant scene and nightlife. The city is also the gateway to the nearby desert and mountains, best explored via a 4×4 tour, a leisurely camel ride or a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Many reputable travel companies are also offering overnight camping, where you can fall asleep under the expansive, starry sky. 

Visitors to Morocco are also beguiled by the shopping opportunities to purchase ceramics, leather goods, baskets, carpets and jewelry, but travel professionals advise attending the markets with a guide- both to keep you from getting lost and to help negotiate the best merchants and pricing.

FUN TRAVEL FACT:  Morocco is only 3 miles from Europe, and it is possible to see both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean at the same time.

NEW ZEALAND

Often overshadowed by its larger neighbor, Australia, the islands of New Zealand are frequently overlooked. But Lord of the Rings was not filmed there by accident! Visitors to New Zealand say it is the most spectacular place on earth and well worth the long journey.

Made up of two main islands and a group of smaller ones, New Zealand has more diversity than anywhere else: tropical forests, magnificent beaches, glaciers, lakes, snow-capped mountains and even volcanoes and hot springs. It’s hard to imagine another place where you can surf, ski, kayak, hike, parachute, horseback ride, and of course, bungee jump in the land where it was invented.

The locals in New Zealand, Kiwis, are extremely welcoming and friendly to travelers. The warmth and helpfulness of the natives, the great road network, and the relatively low crime rate make driving yourself around the country very easy.

FUN TRAVEL FACT:  You can enjoy the outdoors without fear because New Zealand is one of only two countries in the world that have no snakes!