India is marking its 70th anniversary with a programme of events nationwide. Or go west and join in with Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, involving special events and activities in National Parks and historic sites. In Europe, Finland’s 100-year anniversary celebrations include free concerts, sauna evenings, street parties and art exhibitions. Serbia will be celebrating 25 years of independence from Yugoslavia and you can enjoy an emerging gastronomic and craft beer scene. Other popular destinations include those that have recently opened up to tourists such as Ukraine, Colombia, Iran and Uzbekistan. Last but not least, Nepal is very much fully open for tourism and eagerly anticipating increased numbers of travellers.
Ukraine has had its ups and downs but it is set to become one of the most popular destinations in Eastern Europe in 2017. Its cities offer a brilliant mix from beautiful cobbled old streets lined with red-roofed buildings and secluded courtyards to remnants from its Soviet past like monuments to Lenin and rickety old trolley buses rattling past war memorials. A particular allure is the ramshackle abandoned buildings and the heart touching stories centred on Chernobyl.
Gujarat should be on everyone’s travel list for 2017. It’s a small corner of India that has often been neglected by visitors to the country, partly due to the earthquake that hit the state in 2001. Now it is being rediscovered by those eager to see the unique wildlife – Asiatic Lions and Indian Wild asses, the surreal salt pan desert landscape of the Great Rann of Kutch, and the friendly and colourful tribal people that inhabit much of the state and offer a warm welcome and a smile to its visitors.
Colombia has been celebrating some momentous occasions this year, with September's historic peace agreement between the government and FARC rebels ending decades of war and bloodshed. The Colombian President won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year, and there could not be a better time to witness this changing country and its famously friendly residents. Bogota's street art, Medellin's impressive innovations, the stunning mountainous coffee country around Salento and dancing salsa in colonial Cartagena are just some of the many things to celebrate in this evolving country.
Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2017, and with their charismatic Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showing leaders around the world who's boss, next year is the time to visit Canada in all its glory. To celebrate, Parks Canada is giving out free National Park passes to each one of its 38 National Parks during the entire year, which has helped Explore keep prices as low as possible. A perfect time to spot bears, elk, caribou, eagles and more in the Canadian wilderness.
On the 21st August 2017, the USA will experience a total solar eclipse for the first time in 26 years. Already gearing up to be one of the biggest touristic events of 2017, this phenomenon is a must see. Passing all the way through the States from west to east, there are multiple places from which to experience it, and we still have spaces left for a viewing in Oregon, Illinois or Tennessee, giving you the opportunity to see the best that the States has to offer as well as viewing the eclipse in the company of an astronomer.
In 2017 Finland is celebrating its 100 year anniversary of independence, which brought about the end of an 800 year battle between the Russians and Swedes to conquer it. Every region is expected to celebrate with a variety of events being held – everything from free concerts to sauna evenings and street parties to art exhibitions. They’re even getting a new landmark in Helsinki, the Central Library, and a new national park, Hossa, which is a glorious area of pristine pine forests and glistening rivers.
Next year it will have been 25 years since Serbia declared its independence from Yugoslavia and ever since its capital Belgrade has been attracting investment, which has transformed its run down neighbourhoods, and a range of new restaurants and bars have opened creating an exciting emerging gastronomic and craft beer scene. Outside of the city, Serbia’s lesser known and stunning natural attractions are just waiting to be discovered, from vultures sorrowing above canyons to mountains named after ancient gods.
20 months on from the devastating 2015 earthquakes, Nepal is very much fully open for tourism and eagerly anticipating increased numbers of travellers. With the fortitude and resilience that is so characteristic of the Nepali people the trekking routes have been made safe and many of the historic buildings that were damaged by the 2015 earthquakes have now been repaired.
Iran is overloaded with historical wonders, incredible architecture and the friendliest people on Earth, this has been kept secret due to the icy relations between the Iranian Government and the West. As relations are starting to thaw, Iran is moving to the top of everyone’s travel wish list; so we recommend going sooner rather than later! Fancy wandering through the 2000-year-old ruins of Persepolis with just your fellow Explorers? Travel to Iran in 2017.
Once the beating heart of the ancient Silk Road, Uzbekistan is bursting at the seams with over a millennia of history, from stories of bloody conquests, to beautifully mosaicked mosques and madrassahs, and the relatively recent history of its former Soviet rule. 2017 will see Uzbekistan’s government scrap its time-consuming and expensive visa process for UK nationals, meaning this little-visited but truly fascinating Central Asian nation is now more accessible than ever before.